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Will Satya Sai Baba live till 96? Well, the man who claimed he would has answered it himself when he died at the ripe old age  of (ahem, cough, cough)….of 85. Sai Baba is hailed by many as a lover of humanity. Infact, Sai Baba loved humanity so much that his wheelchair-based darshan was always available for those who had bucketloads of dough available & ready to part with truckloads of it for the “love” of him.

He was also a advocate of free love…sorry, an advocate of free press – so much so that he got then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee,  former CJ P N Bhagwati, Ranganth Misra, Najma Heptulla and Shivraj Patil to write a letter, declaiming the exposure or should we say coverage of his “love” for the fairer sex.

He has also been hailed as the “Sai Baba The Mighty!! Sai Baba The All-powerful!!” for his ability to produce vibhuti, or holy ash, and assorted trinkets, watches, sweets and fruits, on request. Sigh! One only sees it as a sleight of fate that Harry “Houdini” and John Anderson, who were remarkable for the same gifts in this line of work, never managed to capitalize on the same and create a Rs 40,000 crore ($8.8 billion)-worth empire. Someone ought to have had the good sense to make them change

their midnight blue magician’s robes for saffran-hued ones.

I mean saffron-robes to India, is what Bond is to Western cinema; It gives you – “The License to Kill.” You can get away scot-free with anything short of murder or anything, including murder, if you happened to be a 70-year-old pontiff of a South Indian matt. Now if you ever wanted to dally with a buxom South Indian actress or get some long-legged Mumbai models to strike evocative poses with you, all you have to do is rent those saffron robe from the nearby theatre shop.

Apparently there’s something super-hot & sexy about holy men claiming to life a life of renunication. They dedicate themselves to a life without sex and next thing you know all the lesser-known sex sirens are queuing up at his door; and within a month the poor guy gets hit with more sex scandals than you can say “Jack Robinson.” I mean even Dawood Ibrahim or Salman Khan don’t seem to be having it real hot in the “girls department,” if one were to go by what the media has to say about our “Goodmen,” sorry Godmen.

But then we really shouldn’t be going by what the media says – I mean if media is represented by what Arnab Goswami, Rajdeep Sardesai or Radia Tapes-famed/ill-famed Bhakra sorry Barkha Dutt have to say. Maybe the Godmen are right when they say “Don’t listen to the media. They are just jealous.” I mean top journalists have accused Godmen of brokering political deals, horse trading, political black-money funding, flying in private jets and and do a reverse-Robin-Hood of stealing money from the poor to give to the rich; and then (journalists) have been caught attempting to do the same thing on a smaller-scale.

Some people might find it the height of irony that Godmen like Sai Baba and D G S Dhinakaran – famed far and wide for their ability to cure other people of sickness – have always had to get their sickness cured away by human not “divine” intervention.  But they are the scoffers, the charlatans – for the purer, higher-minded believers, who have always chose to disregard, the sex, corruption, tax evasion scandals, — Sai Baba and D G S Dhinakaran have ascended to heaven to the rejoicing of angels and mourning of Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Advani, Karunanidhi & the like, who have always remained faithful to those lined with deep pockets & deeper handouts.

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Disclaimer* I am not pro-LTTE or pro-Sri Lankan Army, but recent events have made me break my self-imposed hiatus and state my views.

mgrvpNow that LTTE Prabhakharan is dead and the Sri Lankan Army has triumphed every mainstream media channel is quick to dub him a “fascist, terrorist, warlord, zealot, etc.”  The same media which pronounces him a ruthless and dreaded terrorist, is however not interested in asking questions like “Who was funding him?” If Prabhakharan is to be called a terrorist, what about all the Indian politicians from MGR, Vaiko to Karunanidhi who initially supported him? Only after the political weather turned rough post-Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination did TN politicians deem it wise to  maintain a safe distance from the LTTE. What happened to Karunanidhi’s fond reference to the LTTE supremo as “Thambi (brother) Prabhakharan.”

Who gave military training to the LTTE? Would the LTTE have grown to this stature had it not been for India’s overt and covert support? What about the Indian Army, RAW and other Indian intelligence agencies which trained the LTTE on Indian soil? Who gave the LTTE its guns? How did the LTTE develop from a small guerrilla force into a formidable army with a  sea wing, air force, police force, a border security force and home guards? Where did the money come from?

What about the IPKF’s involvement in the atrocities against Sri Lankan Tamils? Every media organisation is so quick to take a one-sided approach to issues. It was a war zone out in Sri Lanka! When the media can talk about Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, why is it not talking about the events (IPKF atrocities) that led up to the assassination?

When the media can talk about how the LTTE emerged as the only-Sri Lankan Tamil support organisation by killing leaders from other Tamil groups like TELO, PLOTE , why is it not talking about the Sri Lankan Army’s atrocities against Tamil civilians?If the Sri Lankan govt had never oppressed the Tamils, where is the need for the LTTE?

If the LTTE committed atrocities and violated human rights, it must be remembered that the Sri Lankan Army’s record and the Indian Army’s record is worse. The IPKF raped Tamil women in Sri Lanka. The Indian Army continues to violate human rights in J&K and in the North-East.  How can one ever forget this picture of women protesting naked in Imphal, cyring out “Indian Army men rape us”?

0719-01

(Naked women protestors shout slogans against the alleged rape, torture and murder of Thangjam Manorama by paramilitary soldiers in Imphal, capital of northeastern Indian state of Manipur, Thursday, July 15, 2004. In a highly unusual protest, some 40 women stripped naked and staged an angry demonstration outside the Assam Rifles base to protest the death in custody of 32-year old Manorama)

And India’s involvement even till date seems to be huge in the whole affair. Rajapaksa’s announced that the “LTTE has been defeated” right after the Indian Parliament election results were announced – Prabhakharan’s death was announced soon after – it is too fishy and doesn’t strike one as an accidental coincidence. It looks like they were biding their time for the announcement…..

One leading newspaper writes: “Prabhakharan ironically remains an inspirational symbol to thousands of Sri Lankan Tamils”…… after calling him a “Nazi-type dictator.” Why is it ironical?

If the Sri Lankan govt had never oppressed the Tamils, where is the need for the LTTE?

On the very same page in that newspaper there are pictures of Vellupillai Prabhakharan meeting MGR, Karunanidhi and the Editor of that newspaper. Why did someone who was feted and dined by Indian politicians and the press suddenly be labelled the “bad guy”?

The political opportunism that surrounds the sad, brutal tale of the LTTE is sickening to observe!

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pink-rosesWhen I recently visited Bangalore I was surprised to find that the hottest topic being discussed there was not the recession, but women’s sexuality. After the Mangalore pub incident and 53 other cases of moral policing by the right-wing elements in that state, one could say progressive views were the need of the hour.

While I am all for women’s freedom and celebration of individuality, there was something about the recent “pink chuddi campaign” that irked me. I really couldn’t be caught dead participating in it, though I’m a feminist and am anti-moral policing.

First, thing the idea of sending knickers to Mr Muthalik seems so undignified. I mean when the whole protest is for upholding the dignity and respect of women, why would you do something like that – which smacks of immaturity, childishness and is undignified to the extreme?

I’m also surprised that the journalist from Bangalore who started this campaign wasn’t worried about the fact that the most impressive thing on her resume might turn out to be that she started the pink chuddi campaign? I’m also not really for this whole journalists-turning-activists business – unless the activism had to do with problems faced by journalists.

I mean objectivity is the name of the game. Even if you didn’t like the BJP or the Congress, being a journalist you don’t take sides – you just report events. In that sense Ms Nisha Susan in her overt campaigning for women’s sexual liberties seems to have crossed the fine line between journalism and activism. I’m suprised that the media group she works for hasn’t taken issue with that…..only three years ago two journalists were fired from one of the largest English newspapers in India because they blogged on issues.

What irks me – is the popularity of the campaign. It was so popular only because of the sensationalism involved in sending pink knickers. Time and again journalists have protested so many worthwhile issues – including women’s sexuality. The recent attack on journalists in the Madras High Court didn’t even get reported in most media channels and newspapers. The hunger strike in protest of the attack got even less mention. But when does something catch the attention of the masses? Only when it has an element of sensationalism to it. Would the campaign have been just as popular if we had all been asked to send pink handkerchiefs or pink dupattas?

And again the gesture…..

In the book Scarlett, the heroine Scarlett would wish that the bride had not thrown bouquets but brickbats at the Yankee soldiers. Rhett would retort she didn’t have much imagination to appreciate the finesse of that gesture.

Its the same here! Since Mr Muthalik doesn’t like people celebrating Valentine’s Day or women going to pubs, would sending him pink knickers make him think any better of women? Would it kind of shame him into silence?

I remember when someone wanted to protest against the policies of Tony Blair they threw a rose at him…..much more dignified and costing a lesser imprisonment term than when a journalist threw a shoe at George Bush (much as we are all tempted to applaud him for that).

If it had been me, I would have preferred starting a pink roses campaign for Mr Muthalik. Same slap in the face – but in a more dignified manner!

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antonia-and-wife1When the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky affair broke out, I remember being quite surprised at the lurid interest the Western media showed. The Indian media for the most part never concerns itself with the private lives of politicians. Other than for politician Amarmani Tripathi- suicide/murder-poet Madhumita Shukla, the Indian media really hasn’t hounded anyone for their sexual peccadilloes. In fact, there are many politicians here, who have flaunted their wives/mistresses on stage along with them and the media hasn’t batted an eye.

But in the West, apparently it’s a big deal for the media. Politicians can be let off bringing the country to an economic crisis, corruption or even war mongering (Iraq, Afghanistan) but never for flings. Seeing the recent controversy with Eliot Spitzer and Silda’s coming out in support of her husband, I couldn’t but remember Clinton.

Bill Clinton’s affairs with many women like Gennifer Flowers, Elizabeth Ward Gracen, Sally Perdue and Dolly Kyle and sexual misconduct with Kathleen Willey, Monica Lewinsky and Juanita Broaddrick had due “exposure” or should we say “coverage” from the media?

But when he was caught! Whom did he turn to for support? His wife – Hillary Clinton! Of course one can cynically say that she had her own political agenda, but no one can deny that she must have suffered deep humiliation, embarrassment and anger. Why do politicians, who have been caught in sexual scandals, feel it is necessary for them to parade them wives as a standing testimony of support at press conferences?

Hillary’s disappointment and humiliation could be seen in her eyes and her stiff carriage as she stood by her husband. And since it is not the first time Clinton was pulled up….with memories of the Paula Jones case hardly behind her…… She knew perfectly well that Clinton was not in the least bit sorry. If  he had really valued his family or had integrity, he wouldn’t have pursued/harassed or sexually assaulted women for two decades.

It seemed so fake those pictures of family unity – with poor Chelsea also been dragged in to show her support for dad. Hillary’s well-tailored, candy-for-the-masses book also totally ignored his sexual misconduct. She tries to pass it off as Gay Governor Divorceif it is the Monica Lewinsky thing had come as a shock to her and she had never known of his behaviour before the media’s expose.

About the Clintons, Craigs and Spitzers of this world, I am stunned at the arrogance and the assurance with which they tell their tales of remorse and “disappointment.” How do they expect people to believe their feigned “sorrow”?

Its bad enough that they have betrayed their wives. But to drag their wives to stand by them is sheer cruelty on their part. It is cruel and just not on board. Every one of these “caught-red-handed politicians” conduct confessional press conferences in which the poor wife has to tag along and give her silent support as cameras photograph for posterity her humiliation.

Why should the wife have to support her man, when he deserted her for more than 10 years as he went philandering? Both Clinton and Spitzer share many commonalities in this regard!

When Spitzer spent 10 years away from Silda, why should he drag her in suddenly because he wants an umbrella of support and protection? But these political wives lack guts or seem to be on the lookout for their own careers – because all of them as a rule, including Larry Craig’s wife chelsea2Suzanne -have shared in their husband’s well deserved public-hour-of-reckoning when they could have left him high and dry.

And even worse some politicians use their children as props and make them share their humiliation. At least the wives are adults and have made a choice, what have the poor kids done? Imagine being a teenager and having to face school/ college after reading about your father’s antics in the papers. Chelsea Clinton when campaigning for her mother Hillary at universities across the United States, was forced many a time to respond publicly to a question about her father Bill’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

I used to feel so sorry for Price Harry and William when accounts of their parents’ love affairs always made it to the front page of every tabloid. It must have been hell and torture – their royalty I am sure did not protect them from taunts from their peers.

In office for only two years, NJ Governor Jim McGreevey would resign his post in 2004 due to an extramarital affair – an affair with one of his male aides, making McGreevey the first (openly-professed) gay governor in American history. The headlines for the say was his proclamation, “I am a gay American.” But his first confessi0nal press conference, of course had him towing his wife Dina Matos along.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, elected in 2005,  term in office has been marred by rumors of extramarital affairs, in particular with local television news anchor Mirthala Salinas. The scandal cost her, her TV job but Villaragosa is still in office with his faithful wife Corina in attendance. Corina might now be filing for divorce, reports say.

spitzer-and-wifeThere are so many who enlist the support of their wives to share their humiliation…the list includes, Former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome, who had a  sexual affair with his campaign manager’s wife.

When a person enters the public sphere as a politician, shouldn’t they realise the consequences of their actions? Every time they get caught in  compromising situations, its the family which has to come to their rescue.

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women_parkMy friend has tagged me!

And I am supposed to tell the www, the 10 most irritating things about me. I don’t pretend to be scrupulously fair or objective in recounting them 😉

Ok, here goes:

  1. In college, my friends wanted to beat me up when I prolonged class by asking inane questions.
  2. I chat online (instant messaging) while I’m on the phone with other friends.
  3. My friends say I keep sucking the straw even after the cup becomes  empty, sounding like a vaccum cleaner.
  4. I hate other people starting every conversation with “basically,” “initially,” “Honestly” and other such words. But my friends say I do the same.
  5. I rarely chew gum, but when I do, I can’t resist popping and smacking them.
  6. When I don’t want to answer a simple question, I go on a long-winded 10-minute ramble and do everything except answer the question.
  7. My mom used to often correct me. My mom: “You shouldn’t yell “on the light” you should request “please, switch on the light.” And don’t be such a lazy boots. You are younger than all of us here and you can very well do it yourself.”
  8. My English Lecturer used to correct us when we asked for permission to skip class. “You can of course leave the class, but I am not going to give permission for you to do so. The question is “May I leave the classroom?.” And this must be the 100th time I am telling you that Ms D Rachel Chitra!
  9. He also told me that my spellings were atrocious. I was always spelling “you’re” as “your.” and “they are” as “their.”
  10. My mom says,  she gets most irritated, when I take a packet of biscuits out of the fridge, finish it and put the empty packet carefully back inside.

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taj1

Indians abroad face very silly and annoying questions about India! Next time you get asked an annoying question on India, answer it like this…read on, it’s funny!

Q. What does that red dot on women’s forehead mean?
A. Well, in ancient times, Indian men used to practice archery skills by target practicing by aiming at their wife’s red dot. In fact, that is one of the reasons why they had many wives. You see, once they mastered the art of archery and hit the target….

A2: In the olden days there were no traffic signals in India. So vehicles were supposed to stop the minute they saw a married women cross the road.

(And again the bindi is considered the prerogative of Hindu women. When I sport a Bindi, people keep on asking me if I have converted to Hinduism. “If Hinduism is ok with atheism, I wouldn’t mind,” I reply. Actually I think Hinduism is not too concerned about atheism…can’t catch hold of the exact quote…but its supposed to be only a “way of life” not organized religion)

Q. You’re from India, aren’t you? I have read so much about the country. All the wonderful places, the forests, the snake charmers, the elephants. Do you still use elephants for transportation?
A. Absolutely. In fact we used to have our own elephant in our house. But later, we started elephant-pooling with our neighbors, to save the air. You see elephants have an “emissions” problem…..

Q. Does India have cars?
A. No. We ride elephants to work. The government is trying to encourage ride-sharing schemes.

(This question is now replaced by “Do you always travel by hand-drawn rickshaws?” My answer: “Definitely not! Hand-drawn rickshaws were banned in Tamil Nadu as early as the 1970s. Its only in states like West Bengal, which constantly keeps harping on human rights and Left politics, can you find hand-drawn rickshaws or govt-approved prostitution in Sonagatchi.”  Ok, Before everyone hailing from WB is up in arms, I am not anti-WB or anything. Just teasing!)

Q. Does India have TV?
A. No. We only have cable.

Q. Are all Indians vegetarian?
A. Yes. Even tigers are vegetarian in India.

(They might really believe this one as the only Indian authors they can recognise are R K Narayanan and Salman Rushdie. It might prove dangerous if they really believed everything that A Tiger in Malgudi has to say about a tiger’s food habits)

Q. How come you speak English so well?
A. You see when the British were ruling India, they employed Indians as servants. It took too long for the Indians to learn English. So the British isolated an “English-language” gene and infused their servants’ babies with it and since then all babies born are born speaking English.

A variation to the above is a compliment —
“You speak very good English.”   Response: Thanks. So do you.

Q. Are you a Hindi?
A. Yes. I am spoken everyday in Northern India.

My variation on this question is: “Are you a Madrasi?” Answer: “Are you a Golti/Mallu/Firangi or whichever place the questioner is from?” I’d be the last person to fan sectarinism, but the Madrasi question has been asked too many times for it to fail to irritate. And another thing I don’t get is why people from Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh also have to be clubbed as Madrasis. Must be a hangover from the pre-Madras Presidency and pre-Chennai name change era.

taj21Q. Do you speak Hindu?
A. Yes, I also speak Jewish, Islam and Christianity.

Q. Is it true that everyone there is very corrupt?
A. Yes, in fact, I had to bribe my parents so that they would let me go to school.

Q. India is very hot, isn’t it?
A. It is so hot there that all the water boils spontaneously. That is why tea is such a popular drink in India.

Q. Are there any business companies in India?
A. No. All Indians live on the Gandhian prinicples of self-sufficiency. We all make our own clothes and grow our own food. That is why you see all these thin skinny Indians – it is a lot of hard work.

Q. Indians cannot eat beef, huh?
A. Cows provide milk which is a very essential part of Indian diet. So eating cows is forbidden. However in order to decrease the population of the country, the government is trying to encourage everyone to eat human meat.

Q. India is such a religious place. Do you meditate regularly?
A. Yes, sometimes I meditate for weeks without food and drink. But it is difficult to keep my job, because I have to miss work when I meditate like that. But the bosses there do the same thing. That is why things are so inefficient there.

Q. I saw on TV that people there walk on burning coals. Why do they do that?
A. We don’t have shoes. So we burn the bottom of our feet to make it hard so that we can walk.

Q. Why do you sometimes wear Indian clothes to work?
A. I prefer it to coming naked.

Someone once asked my friend, “Are women in India allowed to go to school?”

She replied: “No! They had to get a special dispensation for Indira Gandhi, so she could take over after Nehru died.”

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computer2Do you remember that a few posts ago, I had protested against a Christian Wife Disciplining (Domestic abuse) book on Amazon.

I had said that I was shocked to check this link posted at TW. The stories written by Leah Kelly are truly sickening! Any idea on how to petition Amazon to stop selling such books?

Today, I check out Amazon to read the reviews on Kite Runner and I find that books of grown men spanking women appears as search history. And Amazon heads off that section with “You might like this…..”

Ugh! First thing I am annoyed that Amazon should record my search history and secondly the header is “You might like this….” Nauseating!

I am really not for these hidden cookies that are there on every site, which record your history. Its supposed to make your online experience better, but somehow all this electronic-spying freaks me.

On Facebook again, there might be walls. But I am not sure that I want all the 80 people on my friend’s list to read what I have been doing, who I have been chatting with and what latest games I played. Facebook, Orkut and Myspace collect and store personal information to increase the “user’s experience.” But then what is not often mentioned is that they are ok with sharing this information to google, other websites and SMS services.

Why should my age, occupation, gender and the fact that I like Asterix & Obelix, be made available for the general edification of the public at large? When asked, Facebook has stated that it wants to provide a “more personalized service that will increase our enjoyment.”

And what happens if Facebook or Orkut are taken over by another company? Well there is a transfer of all the information owned by these organizations to the new owner.

And again people do all kinds of stupid things on Orkut. They give their cellphone numbers; they give their home addresses; they even fix up dates via their scrapbook. If you made a fool of yourself when you were 14, would you like Facebook or Orkut, carefully storing that information so that they could “maximize your enjoyment” even after you were 21?

Google privacy policy forms part of signing up on YouTube. So if you have signed into your account, you will have YouTube happily storing away everything about you.

Let me see, what was the last video I saw on YouTube…….. it was this horrid video of T Rajender spouting his usual nonsense and insulting a fellow-member of the press.

So, will YouTube now take this as proof that I am a big fan of T Rajender?

I have never used Yahoo’s services. But reading their privacy terms didn’t really tempt me to sign up. They say, ‘Once you register with Yahoo! and sign in to our services, you are not anonymous to us.’

What is this whole ‘user experience’ that they use as justification? Well, its basically hidden cookies that track every website we visit and every product we see, so that they can jam our inbox with spam.

And then there are your friends. Some of my friends have no problem downing drinks in front of the cameras. Though a teetotaler, there have been many parties I have attended where the drinks were freely flowing. Now, I find that some of these pictures have been uploaded onto my friends’ social networking sites. I find that irritating to say the least! Even if you are very private and not given into sharing personal information on the net, you will find that you are on someone or something’s database.

And so far I am just talking about image-consiousness. What about more serious threats like that of sexual predators?computer13

I am also not for large corporations or government bodies (in particular the US) having access to my entire Internet history. What if a guy had been through sex abuse as a kid and hence reads up a lot on that subject. If he mails his CV to Amazon, what if they decide to look up his search history? They will no doubt dub him a “weirdo” or think he has bad taste and dump his resume.

One must never forget the moral behind the Quechup expose. This social networking site used the email addresses on its database for a spamming operation.

Basically this means “Invasion of Privacy.” And I am dead against it!

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