Friday, January 09, 2015

Achuvinte Amma

One of my unpublished posts of 2006!!

After a long time, I saw a good Malayalam movie last saturday, on TV of course. Achuvinte Amma. A damn good movie which talks about the relationship between a mother and daughter. They are so intertwined with each other that each of them can't live without the other. The mother, portrayed by Urvashi, is so possessive about her daughter (Meera Jasmine) that she does not even let her friends to spend on her.
But as the usual story goes, she falls in love with a guy and her mother opposes for the only reason being that he is an orphan. When the daughter, who till she starts going to work never questions about her father, is puzzled and asks her mom to reveal his identity. The stubborn lady is so silent that she does not even speak a word even when the daughter leaves the house. However, when the daughter meets with an accident one day and is rushed to the hospital, the mother comes rushing to see her. But the daughter refuses to see her. On coming out of the room, she reveals her relationship with the girl to her lover.
Actually, the girl is neither her daughter not even a known one. The mother, who is an orphan herself, somehow lands up in a place where girls are sold to brothels during her teens. While escpaing from the clutches of the villains who are all set to take her to Mumbai, she happens to stumble upon a small 3-year-old girl whom she takes along with her and starts to live for her.
She tells the guy not to tell the truth to her daughter and walks off quietly.
But the girl learns the truth from her boy friend and finally comes to meet her mother. There
she sees another 4-year-old girl in her place whom the mother has adopted.
The mother finally says that now her girl is grown up and found a suitable guy to live with and hence she found this little girl to lead the rest of her life.
I was so touched by the movie especially by the subtle portrayal of emotions by Urvashi. If all of us in our lives start adopting such an attitude of just giving love and never expecting from the other one, I think most of our problems will end.
But, this is very difficult to come by. The detached attachment, as preached by the Gita, is evident in its full form in this character. I was moved to tears!! One of those sensible movies!

Friday, September 04, 2009

The real heroes

I had never been one of those person with an ardent nationalistic fervour within. Apart from the momentary goosebumps that one gets while hearing "Desh ki Darti" type songs, or a bit of guilt to see some pictures of our Army heroes slogging at the borders, I do not boast of any such feeling.

However, while watching the drama of the missing chopper of YSR and the massive rescue operation on television, there was a moment when my nationalistic pride actually perked up a little.

It was when the visuals of a mangled paper, wrapped in a Lifebuoy soap, appeared. The torn paper had some hurriedly scribbled mathematical jottings.

Later, when the reporter explained that the piece of paper contained some geographical calculations about the location of the falling chopper and that it was believed to have been dropped by the pilot of the ill-fated chopper, I was amazed.

I was stunned at the duty consciousness of the pilot who made his last effort to inform about the chopper's location when all the instruments on board malfunctioned.

Even while death was staring on the face, the pilot had the presence of mind to drop an SOS signal as there was a VIP on board. Though the note was found much later owing to terrain and weather conditions, it did help the rescue team to narrow down their search and locate the remains of the chopper.

Am sure such emergency tactics and SOS training are all part of the military curriculum and there would be many instances when officers, who died on their line of duty, had reacted But having witnessed one for the first time, I was amazed at the clear thought and precise action that impelled him to do so.

Kudos to our Forces and our humble prayers to captain Group Captain S.K. Bhatia and co-pilot Captain M.S. Reddy

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sen and the art of development

There is not much you can do these days without making a festival of. The Free-Binayak Sen campaign scheduled to peak out on May 14, when Dr Sen completes two years in Chhattisgarh Central Jail, is aiming to rally one million people on line. Activists must hope that a few zeroes on the right side of any number will translate to Sen’s freedom. If only democracy were a matter of ciphers.

Again, there is not much you can say about Binayak Sen that is not already in the public domain. Sen is a doctor who decided early on to work among the poor in Chhattisgarh. He is the General Secretary of People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL). In which capacity he campaigned for the rights of those who were victimised by the State, the police and Salwa Judum.

Salwa Judum, for the novice, is a “people’s movement” funded and armed by the respective state government and aimed at resisting Naxal overtures. The resultant violence in Chhattisgarh has killed and mutilated thousands of humans.

Quite a few of those Sen helped turned out to be Naxals or Naxal sympathizers. This might be considered natural in a state where tribals and scheduled castes form nearly 50 per cent of the population. They own and occupy substantial amount of forest and mineral land. Since the State has failed in considerable parts of Chattisgarh, the leadership of tribals and scheduled castes for the present rests with Naxals, not with parliamentary parties.

The natural resources in question are in fact central to the understanding of Sen’s personal tragedy. There’s a regular tussle in Chattisgrah for the appropriation of the riches by corporate houses and the government on the one hand, and by the indigenous people led by Naxals on the other.

In short, Sen is a victim of a certain kind of development model which seems to represent the top 25 % of the population. People like you and me. In India that translates to nearly 250 million people, and so the economy stays afloat on that critical mass. And land – whether setting up for plants or as a source of metals or minerals — as Ratan Tata would tell you is at the heart of India’s present and future unrest.

On May 14, 2007 Dr Sen was arrested under the Chhattisgarh Public Securities Act for collusion with Narayan Sanyal, a Maoist leader doing his time in the Central Jail. The authorities believe that Dr Sen was carrying letters --that furthered Naxalite activities in the state-- from Sanyal to one business man Piush Guha, who too was later arrested and locked up in jail.

Technically, as in the case of Josef K in Kafka’s The Trial, the case against Dr Sen is flimsy. Dr Sen’s meetings with Sanyal took place in the presence of jail authorities. The opening lines of The Trial capture the essence of Sen’s situation as well: “Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K: he knew he had done nothing wrong, but, one morning he was arrested.” And since Dr Sen was arrested under CPSA the authorities are exempted from giving an explanation for their conduct in court or elsewhere.

It is unlikely that Dr Sen will be kept in prison for too long in the face of escalating legal and activist pressure. But the appalling reality is that these missing years of Dr Sen’s life have already taken a toll. His wife, Professor Ilina Sen is living an unreal life. Unreal in the sense that she never thought she would be spearheading a public campaign for Dr Sen’s release. “If someone told me the story of my life two years ago, I would have told him, no, that’s not me.”

The family has been broken up. Both Sen daughters are in Bombay away from the primal politics of Chhattisgarh. Professor Ilina Sen, who is Dean at Wardha University, divides her time between her workplace and Chattisgarh. The professor is articulate and brave. But if you meet her you cannot escape the feeling that this is a beleaguered woman holding on to hope and reason by her finger nails, which seem well chewed. The arrest has changed at least the younger daughter’s outlook. She had wanted to do medicine. But after Dr Sen’s arrest,18 year old Aparajita wants to become a lawyer.

Since these are real people, they must hurt. But of course Dr Sen and his family are not the only ones hurting. There are 1135 prisons in India, housing 322,000 inmates. According to National Crime Record Bureau some 223,000 out of this teeming Republic of the Wretched are undertrials or people who don’t know what wrong they have done. A million Josef Ks.

Dr Sen’s case is representative of the major failings of the Indian state, be it democracy, development or speedy justice. And none of it, typically, figures in these general elections. That no political party including the morally high-horsed Left has succeeded in mainstreaming these crucial issues is proof of a real problem.

But equally Dr Sen’s case also showcases a dire possibility that the worst can befall the best among us. Take care. One of these days you and I are just as likely to swell the rolls of the undertrials. Don’t ask why. Shit happens. And in such an eventuality, unlikely as it may sound, the shame of our fate may outlive us, which was Josef K’s last thought as well as the knives went in.

Dr Sen will complete 2 years in illegal detainment on May 14, 2009.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

My new blog

Read my new blog about interesting news/events that can happen only in India.

I can hear you all telling me about why a new blog when I am not regular in updating this one. But the new blog is a news blog and is pretty much easier for me to post stories.

Friday, November 21, 2008

vaaaranam ayiram.. oh shanthi..

another lovely song..

vaaranam ayiram.. mundinam parthene..

I really love this song.. after a long time.. nice song.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

So why are the Gujjars hungry for the ST pie?

The Gujjar community in Rajasthan is fighting tooth and nail to downgrade its caste status in the government records. They want to be moved down to Scheduled Tribe (ST) status from their present categorisation under Other Backward Classes (OBC).

But why such a downgrading? All in the hope of getting preferential access to jobs and education for its youth. By being considered under the ST category, the Gujjars stand to benefit by way of more quotas in educational institutions and job quotas in government offices.

Government of India has classified various communities into a host of categories based on their social and economic status. Those under ‘Scheduled Tribes’ are people living in the forests or on the hills but are not necessarily socially backward, while OBC comprise castes that are not isolated from the society but still are educationally and economically backward.

In Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, Gujjars already enjoy ST status, but in states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat, they fall under OBC category. This is so because in these states, the members of the community are a more settled lot, engaged in agricultural activities.

However, the Gujjar fight in Rajasthan is to get things even with other communities such as Jats and Meenas. The Jat community in Rajasthan was accorded an OBC status in 1989 following a ‘caste’ struggle akin to the present Gujjar one. Jats, being a powerful community in terms of the vote bank, were able to manipulate the Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government to give in to their demand for OBC status.

Ever since then, the Gujjars were peeved at sharing their OBC pie with Jats. Gujjar youth have been complaining their Jat counterparts were garnering a greater share of the 27-per cent reservation quota in public sector for OBCs, thus grabbing their opportunities.

Hence, Gujjars insist on being downgraded to ST category that will enable them to enjoy the 7.5 per cent quota reservation as the Meenas, another nomadic community that has prospered through ST quotas.

Interestingly, this is not the first instance of a downgrade of the Gujjar community. Originally, the Gujjars had been branded as a criminal tribe and were brought under the infamous Criminal Tribes Act by the British in 1924, which was subsequently repealed by Sardar Vallabbhai Patel in 1951. Around the time of Mandal Commission, in 1981, Gujjars were enlisted as Backward Castes. But subsequently, in 1993, the community managed to downgrade itself to the OBC category.

Gujjars, who comprise more than 5 per cent of Rajasthan’s over 56 million population, had come up with this demand as early as 2003. The only Gujjar leader in the limelight was Rajesh Pilot. But after his passing, the community felt isolated with none to take up its cause.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, had included the Gujjar demand in its 2003 election manifesto and even Vasundhara Raje, during her election campaign, reportedly promised to promised to look into their long-standing demand for ST category inclusion. The Gujjars even sent six legislators from their community under the aegis of BJP to the state assembly to press for their demand but in vain.

The reticence of Chief Minster Raje to accede to the Gujjar demand seems to stem from the fact that if Gujjars are granted ST status, they are bound to take jobs set aside for other ST groups like the Meenas, and Meenas, another major votebank, are threatening a backlash.

Meanwhile, the Gujjars in Kashmir, who enjoy the ST status, are up in arms against the same being conferred on the Paharis of the state, claiming that there is no provision to classify a community as ‘Schedule Tribe’ on the basis of language or location.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The new New Year

The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, M. Karunanidhi, announced yesterday that Pongal, the first day of the Tamil month of Thai, will be announced as the Tamil New year’s day and a government directive to this effect will come into force very soon. He claimed that a group of 500 Tamil scholars after various deliberations had finally arrived at the consensus of making Thai as the first month of the Tamil calendar instead of Chithirai, which is currently followed and mostly falls on April 14.

But this disagreement over renaming the Tamil New year seems to have had its genesis in 1921 spearheaded by Maraimalai Adigal, a Tamil Scholar who lived during the early 19th century.

The Hindu calendar is based on both the solar and lunar movements and has been formulated based on their relative positions to earth. This is based on principles of Surya Siddhanta, a treatise of Indian astronomy written as early as 3rd century BC, which even Indian astronomers such as Arya Bhatta and Varahamihira too have made references in their works. It follows a 60-year-cycle culminating in a yuga or an era, which is even followed by the Chinese. As per this calendar, the Tamil New Year’s day follows the vernal equinox and usually falls on April 14. It also marks the Sun’s entry into Mesha rasi,

The astronomical significance of the Pongal festival is that it marks the beginning of Uttarayana, the sun's movement northward for a six-month period. Makara Sankranthi refers to the event of the sun entering the zodiac sign of Makara (Capricorn).
Uttarāyana is the six month period between Makar Sankranti around (January 14) and Karka Sankranti around (July 14), when the Sun travels towards north on the celestial sphere. The period from July 14 to January 14 is known is Dakshināyana

However, Maraimalai Adigal, a Tamil purist, while launching his Pure Tamil Movement in 1921, held a meeting at Pachaiyappa college in Chennai, to declare Thiruvalluvar time (31 B.C), to be used as a reference thereafter, instead of the 60-year cycle of the Hindu Vedic calendar, which does not contain any Tamil words. He also insisted that Suravam (thai), to be celebrated as Tamil new year month instead of sithirai. Tamil Nadu Government accepted the Tiruvalluvar year in 1971.For eg. jan. 17, 2008 is suravam, 2039.[2]

And guess it’s only from then on the Tiruvalluvar day on January 15 came into existence and was declared a state holiday!