Sunday, May 14, 2017

Madodari's lamenting of Ravana's death



I was reading up a scene in the Kamba Ramayanam, where Mandodari, Ravana's virtuous wife, rushes to the battlefield, sees the dead Ravana, and plunges into uncontrolled dirge. Out of curiosity, I wanted to compared how Valmiki has described the same scene in the original, and how Kamban's version stacks up.

My verdict - it is hard to say which one is better. Both are absolutely beautiful in their own ways. I am quoting the Original texts, as well as giving their their meanings as I understand them. It is apparent, looking through the verses in both Sanskrit as well in Tamil, that the two great poets have approached the same scene with their own different imaginations.

I am only quoting the relevant section of the Yudha Kandam here from Valmiki Ramayanam. . In the earlier part of the same chapter, Mandodari starts off , by waxing eloquent about Rama's virtues, and the fact that Ravana's infatuation for Sita cost him and his country dear. Here, in these verses, Valimiki has dwelled more on the virtues of Ravana, as seen from Mandodari's eyes, and the fact that his body has been sieved by Rama's arrows, and that that illustrious body has been reduced to a caracas by the might of the virtuous Rama's arrows. Of particular interest, is the way he has described Ravana's slain body, which now looks akin to " arrows looking like the seep spikes on the body of a porcupine" and " a mountain broken down by a thunderbolt".

Kamban, in contrast, focuses on the arrows piercing Ravana's body, and his interpretation of it. While saying that the arrows have pierced so close to each other, on Ravana's body, that there is no place even for sesame seeds to fall in the cracks, he goes further with this masterpiece of description, where he says " it is as if the arrows are frisking his entire body, to see if there is any place in his body that still harbours infatuation over Janaki ( Sita), in order to flush them out".

I really enjoyed comparing and enjoying both versions.

Valmiki Ramayanam:

स्निग्देन्द्रनीलनीलं तु प्रांशुशैलोपमं महत् || ६-१११-४४
केयूराङ्गदवैदूर्यमुक्ताहारस्रगुज्ज्वलम् |
कान्तं विहारेष्वधिकं दीप्तं संग्रामभूमिषु || ६-१११-४५
भात्यभरणभाभिर्यद्विद्युद्भिरिव तोयदः |
तदेवाद्य शरीरं ते तीक्ष्णैर्नैकशरैश्चितम् || ६-१११-४६
पुनर्दुर्लभसंस्पर्शं परिष्वक्तुं न शक्यते |
श्वाविधः शलकैर्यद्वद्बाणैर्लग्नैर्निरन्तरम् || ६-१११-४७
स्वर्पितैर्मर्मसु भृशं संचिन्नस्नायुबन्धनम् |
क्षितौ निपतितं राजन् श्यामं वै रुधिरच्छवि || ६-१११-४८
व्ज्रप्रहाराभिहतो विकीर्ण इव पर्वतः |

Rough translation:

"O king! The body of yours which was really dark as glossy sapphire, gigantic like a lofty mountain and resplendent with Keyuras and Angadas (two varieties of armlets) and necklace of cat's eye-gems and pearls and wreaths of flowers, which body looked more charming during your pleasure-walks and dazzling in battle-fields, which shone with luster of jewels as a rainy cloud with flashes of lightning lies transfixed in numerous sharp arrows today. Though it will be difficult for me to touch it again, it is no longer possible to embrace it. It has tendons cut to pieces, by arrows of Rama, dug deep into your vital parts and closely transfixed like the spikes of a porcupine. Though dark of complexion, it is now transformed into the colour of blood and lies fallen on the ground like a mountain broken into pieces when hit by a stroke of thunder-bolt."


Kamba Ramayanam:

வெள் எருக்கஞ் சடை முடியான் வெற்பு எடுத்த

திரு மேனி, மேலும் கீழும்

எள் இருக்கும் இடன் இன்றி, உயிர் இருக்கும்

இடன் நாடி, இழைத்தவாறோ?

''கள் இருக்கும் மலர்க் கூந்தல் சானகியை

மனச் சிறையில் கரந்த காதல்

உள் இருக்கும்'' எனக் கருதி, உடல் புகுந்து,

தடவியதோ ஒருவன் வாளி?

Rough Translation:

The incomparable Rama's arrows have pierced both the top and bottom halves of the body of Ravana, who had so nonchalantly lifted the Kailasa mountain, the abode of Shiva, who adorns the Crown flower on his hair, so densely that there is no space even for sesame seeds to fall in the cracks. Are they frisking his body for any remnants of infatuation for Janaki?




ஒப்பற்ற  இராமபிரானின் அம்பு வெள்ளை  எருக்கம் பூவை (முடியில்)
சூடும் சிவபெருமானுடைய கயிலை மலையைத் தூக்கிய இராவணனுடைய  அழகிய உடலின் உடம்பின்    மேல்பகுதியிலும் கீழ்ப்பகுதியிலும் எள் இருக்கும் இடம் கூட இல்லாமல் உயிர்   இருக்கும்  இடம்
முழுவதையும் தேடி ஆராய்ந்த வண்ணமோ? தேன் குடிகொள்ளும்
மலர்களைச் சூடிய கூந்தலையுடைய சீதாதேவியை மனம் எனும் சிறையில் ஒளித்து  வைத்திருந்த காதலானது உள்ளே (இன்னும்
எங்காவது) பதுங்கியிருக்கும்   என்று    எண்ணி; உடல் புகுந்து
தடவியதோ? உடல் முழுதும் நுழைந்து     (நுழைந்து) தடவிப்
பார்த்ததோ?

ஒருவன்  வாளி -  ஒப்பற்ற  இராமபிரானின் அம்பு;  வெள்
எருக்கம் சடைமுடியான்- வெள்ளை  எருக்கம் பூவை (முடியில்)
சூடும் சிவபெருமானுடைய; வெற்பு எடுத்த திருமேனி - கயிலை
மலையைத் தூக்கிய இராவணனுடைய  அழகிய உடலின்; மேலும்
கீழும்   - உடம்பின்    மேல்பகுதியிலும் கீழ்ப்பகுதியிலும்; எள்
இருக்கும் இடம் இன்றி- எள் இருக்கும் இடம் கூட இல்லாமல்;
உயிர்   இருக்கும் இடம்  நாடி-    உயிர்   இருக்கும்  இடம்
முழுவதையும் தேடி; இழைத்த ஆறோ?- ஆராய்ந்த வண்ணமோ?
கள் இருக்கும் மலர்க்கூந்தல் சானகியை- தேன் குடிகொள்ளும்
மலர்களைச் சூடிய கூந்தலையுடைய சீதாதேவியை; மனச் சிறையில்
கரந்த  காதல்   - மனம் எனும் சிறையில் ஒளித்து  வைத்திருந்த
காதலானது;உள்   இருக்கும்  எனக் கருதி - உள்ளே (இன்னும்
எங்காவது) பதுங்கியிருக்கும்   என்று    எண்ணி; உடல் புகுந்து
தடவியதோ? - உடல் முழுதும் நுழைந்து     (நுழைந்து) தடவிப்
பார்த்ததோ?



ஒப்பற்ற  இராமபிரானின் அம்பு வெள்ளை  எருக்கம் பூவை (முடியில்)
சூடும் சிவபெருமானுடைய கயிலை மலையைத் தூக்கிய இராவணனுடைய  அழகிய உடலின் உடம்பின்    மேல்பகுதியிலும் கீழ்ப்பகுதியிலும் எள் இருக்கும் இடம் கூட இல்லாமல் உயிர்   இருக்கும்  இடம்
முழுவதையும் தேடி ஆராய்ந்த வண்ணமோ? தேன் குடிகொள்ளும்
மலர்களைச் சூடிய கூந்தலையுடைய சீதாதேவியை மனம் எனும் சிறையில் ஒளித்து  வைத்திருந்த காதலானது உள்ளே (இன்னும்
எங்காவது) பதுங்கியிருக்கும்   என்று    எண்ணி; உடல் புகுந்து
தடவியதோ? உடல் முழுதும் நுழைந்து     (நுழைந்து) தடவிப்
பார்த்ததோ?

Source: tvu.org

हा राजन् सुकुमारं ते सुभ्रु सुत्वक्समुन्नसम् || ६-१११-३६
कान्तिश्रीद्युतिभिस्तुल्यमिन्दुपद्मदिवाकरैः |
किरीटकूटोज्ज्वलितं ताम्रास्यं दीप्तकुण्डलम् || ६-१११-३७
मदव्याकुललोलाक्षं भूत्वा यत्पानभूमिषु |
विविधस्रग्धरं चारु वल्गुस्मितकथं शुभम् || ६-१११-३८
तदेवाद्य तवैवं हि वक्त्रं न भ्राजते प्रभो |
रामसायकनिर्भिन्नं रक्तं रुधिरविस्रवैः || ६-१११-३९
वीशीर्णमेदोमस्तिष्कं रूक्षम् स्यन्दनरेणुभिः |

36-39. haa! raajan = Alas; O king!; prabho = O lord!; yat vaktram = that face of yours; sukumaaram = which was so tender; subhru = and distinguished by charming eye-brows; sutvak = a glossy surface; samunnasam = having an exceptionally prominent nose; taamraasyam = coppery lips; diipta kuN^Dalam = and brilliant ear-rings; tulyam indupadma divaakaraiH = which vied with the mood; the lotus and the sun; kaanti shrii dyutibhiH = in loveliness light; and luster; kiriiTakuuTojjvalitam = was illumined by a number of diadems; bhuutvaa madavyaakula lolaakSham = which shone with its eyes wild and rolling through inebriety; paana bhuumiShu = in banqueting places; vividdha sragdharam = bore garlands of various kinds; chaaru = was lovely and charming (in every way); valgusmita shubham katham = was lit with a captivating smile and indulged in a delightful talk; tava tadeva = that face of yours; na bhraajate = does not actually sine; adya = as before today;

"Alas, O king! That face of yours which was so tender, O lord, and distinguished by charming eye-brows, a gloss surface, having an exceptionally prominent nose, coppery lips and brilliant ear-rings, which vied with the moon the lotus and the sun in loveliness, light and luster, was illumined by a number of diadems, which shone with its eyes wild and rolling through inebriety in banqueting places, bore garlands of various kinds, was lovely and charming in every way, was lit with a captivating smile and indulged in a delightful talk - that face of yours does not actually shine as before today pierced with Rama's arrows, it lies dyed with streams of blood. It has its marrow shattered and has got soiled through the dust raised by the chariots."

स्निग्देन्द्रनीलनीलं तु प्रांशुशैलोपमं महत् || ६-१११-४४
केयूराङ्गदवैदूर्यमुक्ताहारस्रगुज्ज्वलम् |
कान्तं विहारेष्वधिकं दीप्तं संग्रामभूमिषु || ६-१११-४५
भात्यभरणभाभिर्यद्विद्युद्भिरिव तोयदः |
तदेवाद्य शरीरं ते तीक्ष्णैर्नैकशरैश्चितम् || ६-१११-४६
पुनर्दुर्लभसंस्पर्शं परिष्वक्तुं न शक्यते |
श्वाविधः शलकैर्यद्वद्बाणैर्लग्नैर्निरन्तरम् || ६-१११-४७
स्वर्पितैर्मर्मसु भृशं संचिन्नस्नायुबन्धनम् |
क्षितौ निपतितं राजन् श्यामं वै रुधिरच्छवि || ६-१११-४८
व्ज्रप्रहाराभिहतो विकीर्ण इव पर्वतः |


snigdendraniilaniilaM tu praaMshushailopamaM mahat || 6-111-44
keyuuraaN^gadavaiduuryamuktaahaarasragujjvalam |
kaantaM vihaareSvadhikaM diiptaM saMgraamabhuumiShu || 6-111-45
bhaatyabharaNabhaabhiryadvidyudbhiriva toyadaH |
tadevaadya shariiraM te tiikShNairnaikasharaishchitam || 6-111-46
punardurlabhasaMsparshaM pariShvaktuM na shakyate |
shvaavidhaH shalakairyadvadbaaNairlagnairnirantaram || 6-111-47
svarpitairmarmasu bhR^ishaM saMchinnasnaayubandhanam |
kShitau nipatitaM raajan shyaamaM vai rudhirachchhavi || 6-111-48
vjraprahaaraabhihato vikiirNa iva parvataH |




"O king! The body of yours which was really dark as glossy sapphire, gigantic like a lofty mountain and resplendent with Keyuras and Angadas (two varieties of armlets) and necklace of cat's eye-gems and pearls and wreaths of flowers, which body looked more charming during your pleasure-walks and dazzling in battle-fields, which shone with luster of jewels as a rainy cloud with flashes of lightning lies transfixed in numerous sharp arrows today. Though it will be difficult for me to touch it again, it is no longer possible to embrace it. It has tendons cut to pieces, by arrows of Rama, dug deep into your vital parts and closely transfixed like the spikes of a porcupine. Though dark of complexion, it is now transformed into the colour of blood and lies fallen on the ground like a mountain broken into pieces when hit by a stroke of thunder-bolt."

44-48. raajan= O king!; te shariiram= the very body of yours snigdhendraniila niilam= which was really dark as a glossy sapphire; praamshu mahat shailopamam= gigantic like a lofty mountain; keyuuraaNgada vaiduurya muktaahaara sragujjvalam= and resplendent with Keyuras and Angadas (two varieties of armlets), necklace of cat's eye-gems and pearls and wreaths of flowers; adhikam kaantam= which looked more charming; vihaareShu= during pleasure-walks; diiptam= and dazzling; sangraama bhuumiShu= in battle fields; yat= which; bhaati= shone; aabharaNa abhiH= with the lustre of jewels; toyadaH iva= as a rainy cloud; vidyudbhiH= with flashes of lightning; chitam= lies transfixed; tiikShNaiH naikasharaiH= with numerous sharp arrows; adya= today; punaH durlabha samsparsham= though it will be difficult for me to touch it again; na shakyate= it is no longer possible; pariShvaktum= to embrace; tadeva= it; sambhinna snaayubandhanam= it has tendons cut to pieces; baaNaiH= by arrows (of Rama); svarpitaiH= dug deep; marmasu= into your vital parts; lagnaiH= aim closely transfixed; shalakaiH yadvat= like the spines; shvaavidhaH= of a porcupine; shyaam= though spines; shvaavidhaH= of porcupine; shyaam= though dark of complexion; rudhira chhavi= it is now transformed into the colour of blood; nipatitam= and lies fallen; kShitau= on the ground; parvataH iva= like a mountain; vikiirNaH= broken into pieces; vajra prahaaraabhihataH= when hit by a stroke of thunder-bolt.



http://www.valmikiramayan.net/

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

My take on the Indian Economy, Circa Aug 2015

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDs5Q-zTilg&t=2009s

The NPA mess in Banks


No one seems to be happy, these days, in banking circles. The recent moves by the Government to give more teeth to the RBI to go after defaulting companies and their boards had caused euphoria initially, but that that is quickly giving way to despair amongst banks.

Reason? Hitherto, the banks were allowed to " sleep over" the Non_Performing Assets (NPA) mess, ie, loans given to big industrial houses that have gone sour,with little prospect of recovering them, under the existing laws, without writing them off in their books. Many Public Sector Banks ( PSBs) saw their CEOs  adopt this tactic very smartly, wherein, without writing off the bad apples, they kept on postponing the problem, for their successor to come in and handle. It may be noted that apart from a few "stupid" private banks, the PSBs were manipulated by greedy business magnates, over the years, to oblige them with loans that looked dubious, to say the very least. Some willing bureaucrats heeded the advise of their political masters, enabling swindling of huge swathes of money over the last 7 decades.

Now, firstly, the RBI is empowered to take on the defaulters, and bring them " to the street" if required, in order to recover the loans. That means, the Vijay Mallayas of the world cannot any more hide behind the "limited liability" concept, cajole politicians, bureaucrats and banks to lend them thousands of crores of rupees without proper risk assessment and collateralization being done.

Secondly, and more importantly, the banks will be required to "hand over" the bad apples to RBI, but only after writing them off in their books, after the mandatory waiting period, as laid down in the guidelines of the Indian Bankers' Association (IBA).

What are the potential fallouts of these over the short to medium term?

One, banks because of the write-offs, banks in general can be safely expected to report poor quarterly earnings over the next few quarters. Their stock prices may correct, from the rather lofty valuation currently. Banks are the backbone of the Stock market, and therefore, the ripple effect may be seen in the Stock Indices correcting, too. Any Geo political events that may weigh, over and above this, could only exacerbate matters. Therefore, the risk to reward, in stock markets appears to be diminishing for now. This view of mine is for the short to medium term only.

Two, expect more industrialists to be pulled up legally for default. This is likely to send shivers down the spine of many. Essar, Videocon, Bhushan Steel, GVK, GMR, Suzlon,Lanco etc come to my mind, but there could be many others too. The will throw water in the already poor investment climate, where fresh investments are hard to come by, a fact borne out by the fact that lending to the capital goods sector has actually been going down over the last three years. So, until clarity emerges on who is going to be spared, expect investments to lie low, and therefore, GDP growth to continue to be pale, at around the 7% mark. There is no reason to despair, though, since there is enough excess capacity available for the economy to absorb in case demand picks up. And, in any case, compared to even China, a 7% GDP growth is pretty good, by any yardstick. The unknown entity here is the monsoon. If we end up with a reasonably good monsoon, then things may not have much of an impact on demand. However, if the monsoon fails this year too, as has been happening over the last three years, then Modi will have a tough time coming back to power in 2019, and this likely economic backdrop.

I am disappointed that while the Government has addressed the immediate sick baby - NPAs - they have not yet gone to the root of the problem. While failed enterprises are the foundation of any robust capitalist economy, in India, Risk Assessment and management for Banks, is either very weak, or can be easily manipulated, or both. So, while, the nation may grin it's teeth and clean up the balance sheets of Banks as a "one-time" pain, the problem is likely to resurface, unless lending norms are tightened significantly. To me, Arun Jaitley's acid test lies here. So far, he has failed, but tomorrow could well be different.

So, are there no positives out of this seemingly despondent scenario? Of course there are.

Firstly, expect awareness amongst public and banks to increase. Expect push-back, when it comes to lending. Banks may insist on tighter norms for lending. Politicians may still have their way, but it is going to be more difficult than before. This clean-up exercise sends out a strong message to the sharks out there, that manipulating the system for their personal gains, is getting increasingly difficult, if not impossible.

Secondly, for every Dhoot or Ruia or GVK Reddy who will come under the hammer, expect green shoots to come in. This, to me, presents the more exciting aspect of this clean-up. Tomorrow could well see new business leaders, with fresher ideas, come in and make a difference.

Whether that difference will point towards the positive direction, remains to be seen.

<3 d="" p="">
Picture Courtesy: The Economic Times

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/indian-banking-wont-be-the-same-again-if-rbi-gets-to-clean-the-bad-loan-mess-heres-why/articleshow/58601700.cms

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The God of Honesty

It was less than 3 years ago. Arvind Kejriwal was then busy,  organizing one press conference after another. Targeting leaders from the Congress, to Shiv Sena to the BJP , and hurling one corruption charge after another. That was enough to get him the limelight. The presstitutes were only too eager to oblige. After all, who would want to give away freebie TRP ratings?

Cut the chase. Today, Brutus has stabbed Caesar, in front of cameras. The man, whose claim to fame was solely based on hurling unsubstantiated corruption charges, stands alone - getting a taste of his own medicine. The self-styled God of Honesty clearly is God no more.

A few take-aways from today's press conference:

1. Why did Mishra have to wait, and call for a grand conference call, in order to hurl corruption charges against his own leader. If he were that concerned about probity in public life, why did he not blow the whistle then and there? The onus is now on him, to provide prima facie evidence. Without that, to me, this will only be yet another of those political gimmickry.

2. The charges appear to be serious enough to warrant a criminal investigation. I hope the Central Government and the Governor have the spine to pursue this, rather than pussy-footing over the issue.

3. If Kejriwal is indeed clean, as he claims, then it is equally incumbent on him to file a libel or defamation suit on Mishra, in oder to clear his name. Allow the courts to decide, and give him the clean chit. There are too many lawyers in Delhi to help with him in this effort. Including the redoubtable Ram Jethmalani, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid, and - yes - Arun Jaitley   ;)


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The MCD results

Two and half years ago, the Arvind Kerjriwal was nick-named AK67 ( for winning all but 3 Assembly seats in Delhi).

It looks like that AK67 has misfired in all directions. Today's MCD elections are, as I see, not a vote for the BJP or Modi or Amit Shah, but a vote against Kejriwal. Plain and simple. For no voter is THAT stupid to give a 85% mandate in one election, and reverse it to 15% in 2 years flat.

To me, the results point to the following:

1. Rank anger against Kejriwal and his tall promises ( and no action).

2. Disappointment with the AAP for allowing Kerjiwal to hijack the mantle of Anna Hazare, and to get away with it, quite literally.

People are already signing on the epitaph of AAP and Kejriwal. To me, that is an overdo. To me, the following are the take-aways:

Firstly, People have always bounced back from the worst of election defeats, provided they learn their lessons well. Kejriwal should take heart from history, and should honestly strive to be " The New, Improved Kejriwal", rather than sticking to his dirty games and "shoot and scoot" politics.

Secondly, this is a lesson equally for the BJP. They should remain humble, and focus on DELIVERING what they have promised to the people. If not, they would meet the same fate - and they really have much more to lose.

Thirdly, all said and done, this is only the MCD election, and to me, it has no national significance, other than a warning signal for Kejriwal. I had maintained when Kejriwal had won big time, two years ago, that it was after all, the election for the Corporation of Delhi ( jokingly). Today, when he stands defeated and disgraced, I maintain the same - that the MCD results do not matter at the national level.

Fourthly, and more importantly, this means a potentially different political realignment at the national level that could shape, in the coming weeks. Coupled with the defeats in Punjab and Goa, the AAP has now has snatched failure from the jaws of glory. The rapid conquest of the BJP in state and municipal elections, consistently over the last 15 months ( after the Bihar debacle), I am sure, is sending shivers down the spines of the likes of Mamta, Nitish, Naveen Patnaik etc. I expect some of these " cats on the wall" now to officially realign with the Modi wave. I expect the others to huddle together, and concoct another " National Front" against the BJP. That concoction may well contain heady potions, with enemies like TMC and Commies sleeping together- and hey, who knows, the DMK and AIADMK may sleep together too, for Parliamentary and national affairs!!  Politics, surely, sees strange bedfellows, more often than not.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The re-emergence of National Parties

Post independence India always witnessed the presence of regional political parties (RPPs) in different states, with differing levels of strength. Some were fringe players, and continue to do so. Will-nilly, the decadence of the one mass-based National Outfit, the Congress(Indira)- which later on usurped the mantle of the Indian National Congress- also saw the emergence of not only the Bharatiya Janata Party, as a credible opposition at the national level, but also some RPPs - notably the SP, BSP, BJP, NCP, Telugu Desam, JDU, RJD etc...   wielding power not only in the states, but also influencing, and quite often playing nuisance-maker role at the national level. Parties like the DMK ( and with it, the the breakaway AIADMK), the Shiv Sena etc.  have always existed almost since Independence ( or shortly thereafter). Some break-away parties like the NCP, TMC have gained quickie popularity and acceptance, by deftly maneuvering the sentiments of the local populace.

India has always been a global showcase of unity in diversity. However, the parochial focus of the Congress in the "cow belt" ( read: Hindi-speaking heartland) had resulted in " more than equal" status to that part of the country, leaving many other "lesser" states far behind, in economic development. The regional players were quick on pounce on this disenchantment. The main national party had failed to put the nation's interest above petty parochial cow-belt and family politics. The regional outfits found it convenient to climb the popularity ladder, by focusing on regional ( read: linguistic, casteist and religious) disparities.

The collateral damage of this growth of the regional parties is that the narrow interests of a focus group have gained predominance over national interests. It does not help that the constitution did not clearly demarcate Central, State and Concurrent lists when it came to managing the resources of the country in a structured way. With due respects to the founding fathers of the nation, they perhaps were not visionary enough to see what was coming down the road. Some natural resources like water, rivers, land etc, which could have perhaps been part of the Central list, were left out. The seemingly insolvable water disputes between various states across the country that we witness today, could have been minimized, had the rivers been part of the National list. It is a shame that almost all national parties, including the current ruling party, play dirty double games, whipping up passions across the state borders.

I strongly feel that barring the odd ones, most regional parties have only served to divide the country further. Nationalism has clearly given way to regionalism. Objectivity has taken the back-seat, while parochialism reigns supreme. To add insult to injury, more often than not, the regional parties have become cases of the tail wagging the dog. It may be recalled that the AIADMK, with less than 10 members in the Lok Sabha, had played nuisance, and had brought down a central government, in 1996.

In an immature democracy like India, coalition politics directly means rampant horse-trading and corruption. The regional satraps end up enjoying their place in the sun, with very little stakes at the national level. Result? No one seems to take the national cause up seriously, any more, playing mere lip service all along. The present government appears to show some signs of change for the better, in that respect, but it is too early to say whether the nation is going to be put back on the path of a strong self-pride and oneness, by just one political party.

Yes, a strong opposition is required, in any democracy, to maintain the necessary checks and balances. It is easy for me to say that we really do not need a strong opposition for the country to grow and stay proud, if I am to take the example of Singapore. But one must remember the sheer complexity and diversity of India is perhaps matched only by the European Union, which is a loose confederation, at best, as opposed to a single country like ours. There, the member countries continue to retain their individual identities, while sleeping with each other, whenever convenient.  I am not going to entertain any arguments on whether India should remain one or not. To me, that is a given - India is one, and will continue to exhibit unity in diversity. The question then boils down to what is the best option for India - the emergence of RPPs, or strong national parties with a pan-India presence who avoid playing dirty double-games in different states and maintain a principled stand across the country in almost all issues.

If I am to stick my neck out and take a stand, I would rather see the re-emergence of a set of strong national parties. It is time that the national parties stepped up. The BJP is certainly accelerating the process of substituting the RPPs with itself. Whether that will lead to the extermination of these RPPs remains to be seen. Nevertheless,  it augurs well for national interest.

The Chinese had erased all regional identities in their country, including regional dialects, food, language, dress, culture etc., in favour of a unified China. They had even destroyed manuscripts and artifacts,  in order to facilitate a unified China. The Ming Dynasty had started it, and the Communist regime had perfected it. India, however, cannot afford to, and should not be foolhardy, to attempt that. India's strength is in tolerance, and unity and diversity, and we should maintain that at all costs. Therefore, it is incumbent on the national parties like the BJP and Congress ( without the Ghandys) to put aside their own hidden agendas. I see the BJP pushing Hindi forcefully down the throat of non-Hindi speaking population, and that is not going to help anyone, including the BJP itself. The Congress's pushing of "cow belt politics", coupled with the hegemony of one family, has pushed it into a position of an also-ran, in national and state politics, and that should serve as a stern warning for the BJP too.

A responsible set of national political parties with the vision and passion for a strong emergent India, will be the best case scenario.

RIP, RPPs.

The re-emergence of National Parties

Saturday, April 15, 2017

नामुमक़िन है

दिल-ए-नादान को रोखना नामुमक़िन है
ज़क्मी सीने को और ठोकना नामुमकिन है।
दिल के आईने से तुम्हारी तस्वीर ग़ाइब है
टूटे इस शीशे को अब जोड़ना नामुमकिन है।

दर्द-ए-दिल को समझाना नामुमकिन है
टूटकर फिर मुस्कुराना नामुमकिन है।
जब तुम चले जाओ किसीके हाथ थामकर
जहां से लौट आना बिलकुल नामुमकिन है।


Pakistan's Machinations

Of late, Pakistan has been busy "catching Indian agents" in "the act". First, it was Kulbhushan Yadav. India alleges that he guy was in Iran, when he was dragged into Pakistani border, and foisted with spying charges, tried and convicted. Whether Pakistan is right, or that they trying to frame, no one will really know. These are spy and war games and anything is indeed possible Today's news below adds more spice. So, is it the Silk Route turing into Spicy route?

To me, these do not appear to be isolated incidents. I see the the breathing of fire of the dragon in all this.

Take a step back and look at the big picture. Pakistan is increasingly cozying up to China, and it just suits China, at a time, when the US is consciously moving away from using Pakistan as the toilet paper to wipe terrorists away. With Trump now in charge, there is immense pressure to declare Pak a rogue state along the lines of Syria, Cuba, North Korea etc. It is in Pakistan's interests, therefore, to take refuge under the shadow of the dragon. And it that plays right into China's hands.

China is being increasingly being marginalized at the UN, in admitting India into the Security Council. So far, they have dodged with their veto power. However, they know that they cannot hold off for too long, and would naturally look for new ammunition against a strong India's case.

Pakistan, to me, is attempting to bracket India with itself. " You call me a rogue state! Now , what will you call India, who are fomenting trouble inside my territory? Call them a rogue state too! Stop all Nuclear shipments with them! Cancel all free trade with them!!"

That could, with one stone, kill two birds. One, the blooming bonhomie between India and the West, could be checkmated, much to Pakistan's glee, if they succeed in this attempt. Two, it gives China the perfect to ammo to stop any of India's dreams of making it to the Council. Plus, China could also easily say " See! We told you so! India is creating trouble in OUR territories like Ladakh, Tibet and Arunachal Pradesh, and Sikkim, and ( when India is sleeping a bit), TAMIL NADU too!!"

What would be India's response? Let us wait and watch.  

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/three-raw-recruits-arrested-in-pok-for-anti-state-activities-claims-pakistan/story-OorSGnUqw3A0H0et9SxYsI.html

Monday, April 3, 2017

Is this a sober judgement, your honour?


The recent Supreme Court order banning liquor shops is queer , to say the least. The honourable bench has decided that all establishments that serve liquor in any form, are to be relocated to beyond 220m from a state/ national highway.

I find this judgement very strange, for the following reasons:

1. Sikkim and Meghalaya roads are exempt due to " topological reasons". Strange. Which really means that you can happily drink and drive in these states, because nature wants you to!

2. Keeping the shops away from direct line of sight of the drinkers, is understandable. But it is a well known fact that seasoned drinkers seek "watering holes" , no matter where they are located. All it could take is a little de-tour, and you could fill your gullet with Ethyl Alcohol. And continue with the damage.

3. In making this ruling, the SC has effectively admitted that they are stepping on the toes of the Legislature, for the umpteenth time. Such rulings are to be done by the Governments , and the fact that the SC is forced to do it, in reaction to a petition, is a sad commentary on the total failure of the state governments and their police force in catching errant drunken drivers, and punishing them severely.

4.The small business owners , owning these shops and their lakhs of employees, are effectively paying for imbecile police force.  Nowhere has the SC, in it's ruling , pulled up the state governments or the police forces, asking them why they fail to strictly enforce the rules, and punish the offenders. Effectively, the SC is admitting that it is futile to expect the police to keep law and order.

Your Honour(s), whichever way I look at this judgement, it appears to be more like a knee-jerk reaction, rather than a though-out and holistic approach to reducing road accidents.  I this really a sober judgement, Sir(s)?




Thursday, March 30, 2017

The quirk of fate - My friend Raghavan

t has been a year, to the dot. A year, since my friend Raghavan decided to press the button of the parachute all of a sudden, and headed straight to heaven. He had probably fumbled when pressing the button. Which probably explained the rather gory scenes.
The end was vicious, and totally unexpected. His family was hit by a meteor, as it were. All who knew him, were devastated. But, probably next to his family, I was one of the most affected. I was in the final stages of completing my Chemo regimen when he had died, and my Oncologist had prohibited me me from seeing him one last time, for hygiene reasons. Just 48 hours before he had succumbed to a massive heart attack, we were talking for 3 hours on the phone, and I was scolding him for not doing his exercises regularly, and not taking his health seriously. But then, he was gone. Gone, in a jiffy.
I could not see him off physically then. I am unable to see him off my mind, one year after. Not a day passes without remembering him.
We became friends a quarter of a century ago. Through our respective professions. I had the chance to work with him, while he visited India, on a few projects. We had hit it off instantly. Both of us were very argumentative in nature ( I still am). Our vista of interest was similar, and so, we used to discuss, and end up arguing, on many of them. We used to talk for hours - in person, on the phone, and at work. But, invariably, at the end of it all, we used to smile and laugh the day off.

We were the bouncing board for each other. We used to share our thoughts, feelings, those dark secrets.. what real friends should be doing. We used to chide each other when we felt that the other person was doing something wrong. We were a sort of conscience-keeper for each other.

I still remember that fateful day, when Raghavan and I went casually to the hospital, in 2015, since I was feeling unwell. It took all of 45 minutes to turn my world upside down. When the doctor had broken the news of my Leukemia, Raghavan was the only one with me at the hospital. He had broken down inconsolably. He was a lot more worried about me, than I was, about myself. He probably thought my story was over, then. Little did we all realize it would be rather his story that would end sooner.

While looking for photos of Raghavan for this post, I realized that we had practically never taken photographs together!! I had to dig through my archives
for this decade-and-half old photo! We probably had taken each other's presence for granted. Probably thought that we were going to be around, forever, and never bothered to take portraits.

In anyone's life, people come. And people go. But there are a few who stay. A few, whose thoughts linger. A few, who leave an indelible impression, in one's life.

My dear Raghavan, dont ever think that you can escape from my arguments! God has given a few wonderful and close friends. He took you away from me, for now. But, one day, I will join you in heaven, and we can continue our friendly banters.