Tuesday, December 23, 2008

An Overdoze of Opinions

I ask myself, why no posts on this blog for such a long time?

A friend of mine asks, what is your take on the Mumbai attacks?

I realize that the latter one kind of answers the first question. If I wrote in my diary, it had to be about 26/11. When one is really tired of 26/11. Because this was true with almost every person in India, and each had their own piece of opinion. Ranging from War to Conspiracy theory.

Yes I was exhausted, listening to this overflow of opinions from all corners.

From television to office cab to newspapers to FM channels to dining tables to mailing lists to small gatherings to facebook to orkut to personal e-mails to bar tables. From intellectuals to comman man to common woman. Everyone had a say. And I did not feel anything new in any of it. Nor did I have anything new to say.

I desparately wanted to shake it off, and the first piece I wrote after the Mumbai attacks was about another (much smaller) threat that kept the security personnel at Kochi airport on edge for about an hour a couple of days before 26/11. I wrote it in Malayalam. (I will try to do an English translation for this diary).

Despite all this, this guy called Francois Gautier managed to get the better of me, and got me to comment on an opinion on these attacks.

Election results were probably the only reason to feel good this gone month. Apart from parts of Oye Lucky.., first half of Dil Kabaddi and sone scenes of RNBDJ. And the promos of Chandni Chowk to China. (I would like to forget a torture called Maya Bazaar). And yes, a historic run chase by the South Africans against Australia.

Let us hope for a better year ahead.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

NRI Minister goes mad, bans women traveling alone on Visiting Visa

വയലാര്‍ രവിക്ക്‌ വട്ടായി എന്ന് വേണം കരുതാന്‍.

Vayalar Ravi, our dear union minister for NRI affairs, says at a function in Sharjah yesterday that Indian Government will make sure visiting visa will not be issued to women who travel alone abroad.

I saw this statement in Asianet new channel yesterday.

P V Abdul Wahab MP was among the audience at that time, and he almost got into a fight with Hon'ble minister on this issue.

I don't know what drives Ravi to make such a statement, or whether this was decided at a higher level. Whatever it is, I think it is a huge leap backwards in time.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Barack Hussein Obama, The Next President

Thank you very, very much. Well, this isn't exactly the party I'd planned, but I sure like the company.

(APPLAUSE)

The way to continue our fight now, to accomplish the goals for which we stand is to take our energy, our passion, our strength, and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama, the next president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

* * *

We all want an America defined by deep and meaningful equality, from civil rights to labor rights, from women's rights to gay rights...

(APPLAUSE)

... from ending discrimination to promoting unionization, to providing help for the most important job there is: caring for our families.

And we all want to restore America's standing in the world, to end the war in Iraq, and once again lead by the power of our values...

(APPLAUSE)

... and to join with our allies to confront our shared challenges, from poverty and genocide to terrorism and global warming.

* * *

This election is a turning-point election. And it is critical that we all understand what our choice really is. Will we go forward together, or will we stall and slip backwards?

Now, think how much progress we've already made. When we first started, people everywhere asked the same questions. Could a woman really serve as commander-in-chief? Well, I think we answered that one.


(APPLAUSE)

Could an African-American really be our president? And Senator Obama has answered that one.

(APPLAUSE)

.. from Hillary Clinton's speech on June 7, 2008 suspending her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Why Raj Thakre is the winner



Nobody knew this nephew Thakre (ok English media writes Thackeray) till a few months back. Now any "small kid" does, and how! One should admit this guy has succeeded in grabbing the spotlight. Cutting across classes and cultures -- educated middle class to the Bihari labourers -- he has become an object of despise. In our "national media" and in our private parties alike, we dismiss it as "cheap tricks".

Because we really don't want to admit this war is real.

That this person has managed to gather good support among many "aam" Maharashtrians.

It is not rocket science. It is not Raj's intellectual property either. It is the basis on which Shiv Sena built itself. That is how SS got unprecedented kind of mass support in the seventies. Rooting for locals when it comes to jobs in Maharashtra, especially Mumbai. (The Hindutva came much later to Shiv Sena).

The jobless Maharashtrians is a real issue. As is lack of jobs in Bihar or UP. In other words, the imbalance in our very development model itself.

One may say "India is my nation" and be proud about it (Shiv Sainiks also do, and so do Maharashtra Navnirman Sainiks) but it remains a fact that Bombay is "the place to go" for most Indians. Then there is at most one Delhi, one Chennai, one Bangalore. And may be some smaller cities. A large part of India lives in darkness, without basic healthcare, without access to primary education, without anything.

No matter how much you try to romanticize the "village life" sitting in the air conditioned comfort of your city abodes, people are flowing from these villages to cities. And these cities are overcrowded, to say the least.

The living conditions in a slum in Mumbai are quite bad, but that does not put any breaks on the inflow. Which essentially means that the situation at home is worse.

And as long as we refuse to address that, as long as we do not wake up to the need for a more distributed and more localized development, as long as we are blinded by the "growth rates" and flying sensex (at least that has stopped for now), we are digging our own graves. The regional battles are here to stay.

* * * *

[a related link: Marathis in US justify Raj demands; but condone his means to achieve it, from NDTV dot com]

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Delhi Encounter: an interesting whodunnit

The whole encounter and the mysteries behind it are reaching new highs. It beats Agatha Christie.

Those who say the encounter was fake are living in wonderland, says Praveen Swami in The Hindu.

In reply came a detailed response Shuddhabrata Sengupta: Curioser and Curioser (those who have read Alice in Wonderland would know :-))

Latest news on this (from rediff): Delhi cops file Jamianagar encounter affidavit

"Ever since the Jamia nagar encounter at L-18 Batla House occurred, it has been surrounded by controversies. While the Home Ministry and the Delhi cops claim that it was this encounter that helped them solve the mystery surrounding the recent spate of bomb blasts in the
country, several activists have been claiming that the entire operation was fake.

The Delhi police while justifying their actions state in a detailed affidavit that their initial plan was to conduct a raid at Batla House..."

Whatever be the truth, there sure is an element of entertainment a sense of fear.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Additional DGP lashes out at Nanavati

"I am a police officer, committed to the Constitution, who has filed four affidavits before the Nanavati Commission. Every commission has the responsibility to analyse and probe the truth about the information even if it is scribbled on a torn piece of paper. As the report of a senior Intelligence officer in the state, my affidavits have their own seriousness in the state where genocide (it would be a big lie to history as well as to humanity to term the atrocities unleashed in Gujarat as Hindu-Muslim riot) took place. Many things, with proof, about the situations that led to the riots and the roles of the senior officials in them have all been included in the report submitted before the commission.

I have been threatened by Government Pleader Aravidn Pande and Home Secretary Murmu that it would cause repercussions if I tell the truth before the Commission. I have even recorded their speeches and presented before the Commission. The Commission had the responsibility to verify the truth about them. The Commission should also have recommended punishment for me had the affidavits I submitted been false. Instead of this the Commission canonized the perpetrators of the riots..
"

says R. B. Sreekumar, who was Additional DGP in Gujarat. [full article]

Friday, October 10, 2008

Gillette: The worst an ad can get?

(I know an ad campaign can get much worse. The title is not to be taken very seriously).

* * *

We live in a time when we are fed ads disguising as news. We have got quite used to it over last four or five years, and many of us have even developed a skill to tell an ad from a news byte. Yet, we look at some of these ads and feel like throwing up.

This time it was Gillette.



On September 17, HT City carried a survey report that 91% of Delhi women were turned off by unshaven men, 82 percent of Delhi men are clean-shaven (I refuse to buy that), and across the metros most women found clean-shaven men more kissable.

It went on to add that 47% of the respondents thought clean shaven men are more likely to become millionaires (what if 53% thought otherwise), 47% thought mistakes are overlooked if they are made by clean-shaven men, and 50% think that your Visa application will be rejected if you have a stubbled look. The survey was conducted by -- no marks for guessing -- Gillette India.

The survey also gave details of how women liked their favourite stars -- Hritik Roshan, John Abraham, Abhiskek Bachchan and SRK among others -- whether clean-shaven, stubbled or full-bearded.

If you thought this was a subtle and tasteless campaign for selling blades, the worse was waiting to come.

Audio ads on Delhi FM stations said, "Bankers are more likely to reject your loan application if you have a stubble." Since there is no such thing as 'news' on most private FM channels, this had to be a "commercial". The rest of the ad was essentially "Buy Gillette Mach 3 and shave off that stubble" or something like that.

This series of ads seem to be taking us back in time in more ways than one.

This is not about being better than your competitor. Somewhere, these ads give me an impression that people don't know there is something called razors. One gets a deja vu of the 19th century "don't stay dirty, get Pears" kind of ads.

(Note that this one can not be compared to adversitements like that of Nokia Navigator phones, as it is not the case that a company is introducing shaving blades in the market for the first time.)

Two, these ads are plain racist.

Do the creators of this campaign really think it is hip to boast about cultural biases like mistakes being overlooked if you are clean-shaven and all that? If they really do, I think they need to take a lesson from another series of ads in town. "I am not fair but I am lovely -- I am not yesterday" -- say hoardings that carry an image of a beautiful dark model. "Is it true that women make bad drivers?" "Ask Sunita Williams", goes another ad on air. Advertising Mail Today newspaper, of India Today group.

Two days later, Delhi Times showed us clean shaven make-overs of Milind Soman and Kunal Kapoor. The news, of the launch of 'Gillette Mach 3 Turbo' in New Delhi, went like this:

"It was part of their macho appeal -- Milind Soman's rugged beard and wild, long locks, and Kunal Kapoor's urbane but sexy stubble. But the two hunks have recently shaved off their stubble and chosen to go for the smooth, clean look. What made them do it was Gillette Mach 3 Turbo."

The actors, however, had a different story to tell. They did not quite owe up to the 'stubbles are for losers' campaign. They refused to disown the stubbled/bearded looks that they were in for quite some time now.

"I've never had any problem playing with my looks. We're actors, and need to meet the demands of different characters. And with Gillette, the best thing is it doesn't scratch your skin. When I decided to go for a makeover, it's the only one I could think of," says Kunal.

Milind said, "I don't know if women like men clean-shaven or with a stubble, but one thing is for sure -- a guy has to be confident about his looks."

Thank god, it is not the end of the world. Even as Gillette is doing its bit to kill the confidence of the sexy stubbled men.

* * * *

[The Hoot carried this article, with a few modifications. I felt there was too much stress on "ads as news" in the way they presented it. It was initially titled as "Ads disguised as news" or something. Later they changed the title after my comment.]
[Image: from The Hoot]

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Costume Designers of Delhi Police



Wondered how it came about that the three arrested suspects came to be in possession of brand new Taliban rumaals, which they could readily pull out of their pockets to cover their faces, asked SADANAND MENON in Karutha Mashi.


Original Malayalam version appeared in Malayalam Vaarika of the Indian Express, Oct. 3, 2008. Translated version, The uses and misuses of photographs, on The Hoot.

Police later admitted that they had bought these rumaals in bulk to cover faces of accused. What is the point that they want to prove?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm not yesterday: lovely ads







Lovely ads, on the roadsides of Delhi. Of Mail Today. I believe these ads are done by Capital advertising. (photos: sudeep)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Onam Release : Film on Chengara by Sharat

A film by C.Sharatchandran on the Chengara land struggle in Kerala. 36 minutes, split into four parts of nine minutes each. Music by another filmmaker K.P.Sasi. The titles running at the end (in part 4) says "copy left, right and centre."

Part One


Part Two


Part Three


Part Four


The film gives some insight into the cultural and historical background of the struggle. Some excerpts from the film below.

Some Historical Background


  • communist party held a convention at trichur in 1956 where they accepted the slogan 'krishibhoomi krishikkaranu' .. and thus came the land reforms bill.



  • the bill intended to distribute land to the tenants who 'leased' the land (
    പാട്ടത്തിനെടുത്തു കൃഷി ചെയ്തിരുന്ന കുടിയാന്മാര്‍) and to the dalits and others who were agricultural workers who toiled in the land..
    for this there were two conditions in the bill: one, to give ownership to the tenants, with a ceiling of 15 acres per family. two, the surplus land should be given to dalits and adivasis.

    if we consider the land distribution in kerala, it failed to account for the caste system that existed in that society, so the tenants and workers who could articulate better got the land.. there is no caste below ezhava which benefitted from this bill.. which meant the middlemen got the land.. they were exploiters of the dalit working class.. as a result, the dalits were naturally thrown out from the land..

    when ems govt initiated the land reforms bill, the liberation struggle (
    വിമോചന സമരം) started.. in turn the central govt dismissed the state govt. the govts which came to power later diluted it.. the landlords approached the judiciary to protect their property.. this led to changes by the intervention of judiciary.. this process left the land reforms incomplete and majority of the population remained landless..

    since majority of the lower caste communities were neglected in the land reforms, the govt introduced the right to shelter and decided to provide 10 cents in the villages, 5 cents in muncipalities and 3 cents of land in the corporations.. a large population was left out of this also..

    the govt stopped this and later introduced 'lakshamveedu' (literally, a lakh houses) colony or the harijan colony, but still a significant percentage of this population was left out without any land by the end of land reforms in 1970. they are the people living in small huts as outcastes in the roadsides and on the wasteland..

  • the plantations in kerala have been exempted from the land reforms act around 38 years back.. not any single political or social agency demanded that the waste land or the govt owned land in the plantation sector be distributed to the landless people.




  • Reactions

    നമ്മള് കൊയ്യും വയലെല്ലാം
    നമ്മുടെതാകും പൈങ്കിളിയേ
    എന്നുപറഞ്ഞ്‌ വോട്ടുകള്‍ നേടി
    അധികാരത്തില്‍ വന്നവരെല്ലാം
    തൊഴിലാളികളെ വഞ്ചിച്ചു..

    (a slogan that recalls a famous communist song/slogan of the earlier days that says the fields that we toil on will become ours)

    the leaders of communist movement took refuge in our huts in the earlier days..
    we used to go for daily wages works (koolivela) and get tea or coffee powder..
    we used to feed them with what we earned..

    please don't think we are speaking shamelessly, it is a matter of our integrity and culture..
    but thats how the dalits of this state have given their lives for the communist movement in kerala..
    we had many hopes when they came to power in 1957..

    they showed the black and downtrodden people of kerala the dream of getting a better life.. of getting land..
    that is how the communist party came to power through ballot (for the first time anywhere in the world).
    .

    അപ്പോ ഓണം ഉഷാറാക്ക്.

    [earlier post and comments : ..to kill a struggle?]

    Sunday, September 07, 2008

    Where does Aamir lead us?



    Aamir is being celebrated as a brilliant film by many critics and common viewers alike. The film has also done very good business at the box office, rather unusual for an offbeat film like this.

    I am not too concerned about this nor am I suprised at it, but I am worried when it gets labeled as a film that breaks the stereotype of Muslims in Bollywood, and in the psyche of the Middle class (majorly Hindu) India in general. I had heard some people talk of the 'sensitive portrayal of Indian Muslim' in this film, and then there was this article Beyond prisms of prejudice by Ziya Us Salam [The Hindu Magazine, Sunday 24 August 2008].

    That is a matter of concern because Aamir in fact upholds precisely those very stereotypes.

    Which is why I felt it was only natural for this film to have such a 'universal' appeal among the Middle class Hindu India.

    In one line, the film's premise is that Muslims are out to terrorize the nation. 'Brothers' sending in money from all over the world, the kingpins misleading the educated youth by brainwashing them and using them as pawns, the ordinary poor Muslims on the streets silently approving of all this with a smile on their face that they know this is how it works. And we have an exception in the lead character of the film who turns from a victimized, helpless position to be a real Aamir (leader) by refusing to be part of it.

    [If that weren't enough, the film tells us through its hero -- Aamir, the real leader -- that he has overcome difficulties by his hard work and become a doctor working abroad, and that is the way to go for the community to get out of the poverty and bad living conditions. Is it any surprise if it finds many takers among the anti-reservation warhead of the elite Brahman class?]

    Honestly, I feel this guy is much more dangerous than a bearded terrorist Muslim villain of Bollywood. (We have seen this 'achche Muslims bhi hote hai' caricature also many times in mainstream Bollywood itself).

    Aamir might have its directorial high points (I particularly liked the presentation of the villain), but let us not give it the sensitive film tag. This film takes the rotten path, feeding the most insensitive and unhealthy of the psyches precisely what they crave for. That is it.

    If you want to catch a more sensible film on a similar theme, try Mumbai Meri Jaan.


    Credits:
    [Image edited from a poster at the film's web site]
    [Thanks to my friend Bhakti who took me for Aamir]

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008

    Fukuoka Passes Away



    Masanobu Fukuoka died at the age of 95. The man who wrote One Straw Revolution.

    He was a farmer who questioned the fundamentals of farming -- he wrote about his experiments with what he calls natural farming, where he totally did away with tilling and weeding.

    He was not only a farmer. There are people who think the book is not about farming at all, but are shaken by the charm of this small book.

    I felt that once you read this book, you are not the same person any more. No matter whether you believe in his farming techniques or not. No matter whether you agree with his philosophy or not. It is one present I love buying for my friends (not just because it comes for under hundred rupees).

    ["This is the story of a Japanese farmer. You'll really like it. It's about farming, but not really..": from an online review.]

    * * *

    Masanobu Fukuoka: On Wikipedia

    Fukuoka Farming Web site

    Nature Knows Best: an article on Fukuoka

    Saturday, August 16, 2008

    Attacking women : Easiest way to kill a struggle?

    The news from Chengara (ചെങ്ങറ) is depressing. Women are being abducted and raped, men kidnapped, in addition to over two weeks of cutting off food and other lifeline supplies to people who have been protesting peacefully for more than an year now.

    [See: ചെങ്ങറ: 4 യുവതികളെ പീഡിപ്പിച്ചെന്ന്]

    Even worse, all this is not making news. It seems CPM goondas are doing all this, so one expects the likes of Malayala Manorama and Mathrubhumi to cover this as sensational news. But they are silent. Are they just scared? Or plain bought off? Or the managements have personal interests in protecting these people and finishing off this struggle?

    Indiavision reported the abduction and sexual abuse on women on last Sunday 10th August. When I saw no mention of this in next day's major Malayalam newspapers, I searched for Chengara" on Malayala Manorama online edition (English version). It returned zero results. "Nandigram" returned 100 results on the same page.

    * * *

    So is there a parallel between Nandigram and Chengara?

    The similarity is that both have CPM on the wrong side. The difference, in Nandigram it is people who have land who are struggling to keep it, whereas in Chengara, it is the landless who are at struggle.

    Which makes it difficult to understand their demand for many of us. Many of us who can connect to Nandigram as an emotional attachment of "man with land". (The time is not 1957 when we had some sort of land reforms in Kerala. Make no mistake, we are living in a time when the power centers of this nation are ruled by the land mafia.)

    * * *

    What is this struggle all about?

    Over 5000 families of landless Dalits, Adivasis and other marginalised people started this protest on 4th August 2007 claiming 6000 acres of land (you read that right -- six thousand acres) that is illegally kept by Harrison Malayalam Private Ltd in Pathanamthitta district, Kerala. Around 24,000 people from different parts of the region have moved to this area, with tents with poles and plastic sheets.

    * * *

    Why should they be given land? We do not have enough land to give everyone..

    I would not blame someone from a relatively better-off household who thinks like this (that is, if they came to know about it). But I hope we try to go beyond this and try to find out why these people would risk their lives in a life and death struggle like this.

    Dalits and Adivasis are the sections of people who were denied any right to land in the land reforms that said "krishibhoomi krishikkaaranu". That applied to the farmer, but it excluded those who worked at the fields. Needless to say, it also excluded others who were at the lowest end of the society.

    "The Sadhu Jana Vimochana Samyuktha Vedi (SJVSV), the collective that leads the struggle, has opted for the land take-over as strategy remembering the tradition of the great leader Ayyankali, the militant dalit leader whose mission was to ensure liberation of dalits from various forms of slavery, right to agricultural land, as well as right to education in Kerala," says an article that appeared in The South Asian.

    Add to it the fact that the land kept by most rich land owners have been encroachments traditionally, this becomes an even more severe power inequation. Many of them managed to get some legal right to their land with the power they had, and some did not even care that much. (Apparently the land where this struggle happens was leased to Harrison Malayalam and the lease expired in 1985. No rents have been paid to the State ever since).

    That is where a state intervention is required to ensure justice and right of living to those who are living in the "margins", so to speak. And it asks us to rethink the way we are used to looking at things. Labeling anyone who comes out in support of this struggle as a "Maoist" will not help.

    * * *

    Some links in Malayalam:
    Mathrubhumi news
    ചെങ്ങറ ഭൂസമരം ഉയര്‍ത്തുന്ന ധാര്‍മ്മികപ്രശ്നങ്ങള: a blog post with links to some writings on this issue.
    Randaam bhooparishkaranam viplavavayaditham ennu Pinarayi, Manorama news today without mentioning the word Chengara.

    Videos:
    Indiavision: Women attacked in Chengara


    Chengara land struggle: a report

    Saturday, July 19, 2008

    My Blueberry Nights: A Wong Kar-Wai let down



    Saw Wong Kar-Wai's new film My Blueberry Nights at a film festival. Was extremely disappointed. The only consolation for Wong Kar-Wai fans is that he has not lost his visual sense. Other than that, the director relies solely on some pretty faces and overdose of sentimentalism. Is it mandatory that all good directors have to do mediocre stuff once they are done with their best?

    I had loved In the mood for love. Yet to see his other films (2046, Chunking Express..)

    Saturday, April 26, 2008

    Tale of two useless captains : Bhajji and Laxman

    IPL T20 is under way but the most useless captain award is already shared by Harbhajan Singh and VVS Laxman without a contest.

    Laxman does not know what to do with the price catches in his team, and he tries to put a "solid foundation" to the innings with Venugopal Rao at the other end when Symonds and Afridi are yet to come. May be he was too keen to prove that he is as good a twenty-twenty blaster as Symonds (or better). Let us wish him luck.

    Bhajji is one step ahead. He tried eight bowlers in a match without luck, but insists he won't give the ball to Jayasurya. He cracks down under pressure, loses his cool often.. one wonders how the captain's cap went to him ahead of Jayasurya and Pollock.

    It isn't surprising to see petty personal interests ruling IPL. And it is refreshing to see that teams that have less of personal rivalries to deal with (like Rajasthan and Delhi) are doing good despite having teams that are not so strong on paper.

    The only other captain to give some comnpetition to these two was Rahul Dravid. (I was pleasantly surprised to see Ganguly not trying too hard too tie down other batsmen in his team.)

    Sunday, April 13, 2008

    Many Nandigrams (and six Maoist women)

    A few days back, a media friend of mine and five others visited the POSCO site in Orissa on the eve of a mass rally against the project. The next day, a local Oriya newspaper reported that six Maoist women -- some of them pretending to be media people -- came the previous night and camped at the rally site to give arms training to the tribals.

    News about the rally came in the "Non-Events" section in local Times of India. In Delhi edition, Times carried a oneliner (Massive rally at proposed Posco site: Anti-Posco protesters held a massive rally at the proposed Posco site near Paradeep even as police detained around 300 of their supporters on Tuesday. The district administration had imposed prohibitory orders in Balitutha where an estimated 3,000 villagers gathered on Utkal Divas and pledged not to give away their land for the proposed Posco project. The police blocked entry of protestors at several places. ToI Delhi, April 2) and Indian Express chose to look away.

    Native resistances to big projects and the displacements attached to such projects do not carry any news value any more (unless it happens in a state where a communist party rules). In the rush to globalize and to get things done at low cost (which most often means without paying for the resources), such struggles have become commonplace. And there are many Nandigram-like situations in many states in India. The POSCO project is just one of them.

    (It is not new to Orissa either -- the people's resistance to a big mining project in Kashipur is over 15 years old and a brutal police crackdown on tribals there happened only about three years back.)

    Some related links:

  • Democracy at gunpoint: a report, a case study, a map and other links

  • Armed procession against Posco: Indian Express, December 3, 2007

  • Posco officials taken hostage by villagers: Indian Express, May 12, 2007

  • Nandigram-like Situation in Orissa? The South Asian, December 2, 2007


  • [Post Script: One local guy told my friend, "You people are lucky that there are no metallic resources in your state. At least you will have some amount of democracy". Going by the list of mine-rich states, one sees he does have a point. But now, it is not only about the mines any more.]

    Do we have a Tibet in India?

    "Free Tibet" slogan is in. Boycott Beijing games, do not carry the Olympic torch..

    So Girish Shahane asks in Times of India today: "Free Tibet. And What about Kashmir?"

    I found many of the arguments made in the article interesting, and it is true that "the problem of Jammu and Kashmir is the elephant in the room which Indians debating Tibet are doing their darndest to ignore" and that In India, "there is no public or political pressure" to resolve such issues that plague us. Below are some more lines from the article for those who do not have time to read all of it.

    "..those who support the idea of an independent Tibet are misguided, and Indians who do so are hypocritical to boot.."

    ".. The former foreign minister Yashwant Sinha argued we should intervene to secure Tibet's freedom: "We want good relations with China. I am not saying let's have war with China. But if we reach a point of conflict over Tibet, we should be prepared for that eventuality.."

    "..Kashmir exacts a toll even when it is not in the headlines. There are hundreds of thousands of refugees displaced from their homes. There's the daily harassment of ordinary citizens fomenting resentment. And there's the expense of maintaining a massive security presence in the region.

    The Siachen misadventure alone costs us some 1,500 crore rupees a year, and has led to the death of perhaps 2,000 Indian army men.."

    ".. Pakistan, which in the past has played a largely negative role, favouring insurrection over negotiation, has altered its stance, and offered a number of creative options for the state's future.

    Our neighbour is looking beyond the binary of victory and defeat, and so should we.."

    [This is not the first time parallels are being drawn between the two issues. There was a game of words between Pakistan and India about five years back but the context was different. It was at a time when Vajpayee said on his visit to China that Tibet was an integral part of China.]

    Saturday, March 15, 2008

    Tingya among awards



    We had talked about a small Marathi film titles Tingya earlier on this blog [old post: Tingya does it..].

    Now that Tingya has won the best Indian film award and critics award in the international category at the Mumbai International film festival (news : TINGYA pips CHAK DE INDIA, TZP) in addition to best Marathi film award at Pune film festival, the Aravindan award and Lankesh award the best first film by a director, Tingya is not a small film any more. Director Mangesh Hadawale received the Aravindan award today at a function held at Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala.

    Cheers to Tingya, cheers to Mangesh!

    Wednesday, March 12, 2008

    When Kottayam woke up in the night

    Here is another one on women's day. Pictures of Malayali women reclaiming the night hanging out in the city and doing streetplays and songs. Keralatthil mathramalla Kottayatthu polum orupakshe aadyamaayi:-)



    To view them closer, visit this album.

    Sunday, March 09, 2008

    Chengara and Deshabhimani's turn as Manhappathram

    It was not long ago that one prominent CPM leader in Kerala, himself the general manager of the party's Malayalam newspaper Deshabhimani, called Mathrubhumi a yellow journal (Manhappathram).


    Now it is Deshabhimani's turn to do some real yellow journalism. After Kairali and People TV channels (they claim not to be party channels, and let us buy that) spied on some men and women late night at a vigil extending support to Chengara land struggle and aired some hot clippings that featured some of my friends, Deshabhimani today carries on its front page scenes from those clippings.

    The news piece also claims that it was found that those who came for the struggle are Naxal, Maoist activists feigning themselves as human rights activists.

    CPM knows that it may not be too long before Chengara becomes another Nandigram so this could be just a frustrationary measure. If they really think they have won some points with this one, I can only wish them get well soon.

    [The news is available on their web edition right now here].

    Below is a trailer of a video on Chengara struggle, for those who did not know about it.

    Women's Day Dance

    Nadia and Sreejitha celebrating Women's day. Nadia's mom Pushpa handles the camera. Aadil makes a guest appearance.



    Another one, shot by me.