Friday, September 29, 2006


(This piece was written almost 10 years back when my son was fourteen. it was rejected by every newspaper I sent it to.)

My son had a dream. He dreamt that I had sent him to buy onions (it was a time when the spiralling price of onions almost brought down the Maharashtra government). On his way to the grocer’s, he saw a man pushing a cartload of onions. There were leg spin onions and off spin onions. The off spin onion, my son was told, cost Rs 8 per kilo. My son got into an argument with him. At the grocer’s, my son told him, leg spin onions cost only Rs 6 and so there is no reason why off spin onions should cost more (I don’t pretend to understand why it should cost less). A heated exchange followed – of words first, blows later. Soon passers–by joined in, and, in the free for all that followed, onions started spinning all over the place – off spin onions, leg spin onions, large onions, small onions. But the attack was medium pace with mostly full tosses, and the target - just anyone who happened to be around.

My son had been dreaming cricket ever since he was a toddler. But this was the first time his dream took a violent turn. Hopefully, the last time. So I refused to worry about it. But this dream set me thinking about the way this game had invaded our waking and sleeping hours. It appears that not a day in the life of an average Indian passes without his talking cricket or talking in terms of cricket. Recently, my nephew, who goes to the fourth standard, looked up from the picture of a ninety year old lady in the obituary column and said, “Aunty, look! This granny made ninety runs before she got out”. I refused to be scandalised at this irreverent attitude to the only certainty in life. This fledgling’s crickety sense of humour left me holding my sides.

Not just the younger ones, the older lot too seem to resort to this Anglo - Saxon game to express themselves. I once heard an elderly uncle protest against the regularity with which jackfruit dishes kept appearing in different forms on the daily menu. His wife, however, was not amused when he demanded to know whether she had taken a vow to hit a century in the jackfruit season. The situation did not improve any when his son playfully but tactlessly butted in to ask whether he should give his mother out so that his wife (the bahu) could go in to bat.

Cricket journalese has spawned yet another category of terms which has invaded the active vocabulary of Indians. These are a little hard to digest on account of the unnatural violence involved in dragging them into non-cricket contexts. Thus you hear of a compere being in a ‘devastating form”. My friend recently baked a cake which “collapsed” like the “Indian middle order”. A parent was once heard mourning that his son lacked the ‘killer instinct”! The other day I was at a Farewell meeting. My stomach heaved when I heard the retiring person being felicitated for ‘wrapping up his long and glorious innings” in a fitting manner. The “explosive start” of his career was found to deserve mention. He was lauded for proving to be the ‘danger man” who “demolished” the management’s something or the other.

O Lord! Deliver us from these loose deliveries!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Gandhi Jayathi is almost on us . AS ususal, there will be appropriate noises made by politicians, Congress party, media etc on the 2nd Oct., and then this great man will be shelved for another year. maybe this year things may be a little different- thanks to Munnabhai!!!

Not surprising that the great man should be treated like a necessary evil by the land which gave birth to him.

This cutting him down to size began before India became a free country. With the Partition, the pluralism (genuine pluralism, he believed, was native to India) which he tried to reinstate with his spiritual weapon received a deathblow. Poor man, what he did not realize was that he was incarnations ahead of those who fought with him for india’s freedom. Each of them had his agenda and the scramble began once the British were out.

After Independence,Nehru took care of edging Gandhiism out of the political and economic arrangement for free india. Mesmerised by modernity derived form the ideals of Enlighenment rationality (which was already taking the world to the brink of disaster), Nehru, who represented the sentiments of a nation rearing to go the western way, found Gandhi an embarrassment. And Gandhi withdrew from public life.

Gandhi had realised that India had the advantage of chosing the mode of development best suited for her. Time and again, throughout his engagement with the destiny of India, he wrote, spoke, advised, warned. He pleaded for grassroots movement, for organic village communities and agriculture centred economy. he had nothing against technology, but he knew that uncontrolled technology would lay waste India's greatest asset - human resource. He warned against the horrors of modern industialisation, commercialisation; of the dangers of the scientific outlook divorced from dharma. But no one paid heed to him. So India missed that chance and put the wrong foot forward. Since the die was cast, Gandhiji realised that India now can only learn the hard way. He came to terms with the fact that the post independence leadership had neither his hindsight nor foresight, that clarity of vision to see that its choice of the political arrangement and the economic policies will only serve the geopolitical and corporate interests of the developed west. For, the Indian 'elite' leadership in the period immediately following independence continued to be colonised in their minds. India had been decolonised only politically.

India is surging ahead , we claim today. But all those farmers who commit suicide - are they not India? All those small players in the industry who have to wind up their businesses that sustained them - are they not India? All those small time planters who had to sell out and have their means of livelihood taken from them - are they not India? All those tribals who are displaced by huge projects - are they not india? All those ultras, maoists and naxalites - are they not India? pray, which india is going to be the global leader? Does this potential 'global leader' include the majority?

Dismal thoughts on the occasion of a Gandhi jayanthi.

I must share a strange and disturbing scene i witnessed a few years back. I was at the Mani Bhavan ( where Gandhi stayed whenever he was in Bombay – it is a very badly maintained Gandhi museum now – compare it with the Indra Gandhi memorial , No. 1 Safdarjung Road - and we come to understand what is wrong with India today). Sorry for the digression. I continue -- - - It was in Mani Bhavan that I heard this question “WHO SHOT GANDHI?”

I turned around to find an East Europeon (i think) posing this query to an Indian tourist. ‘Godse”, the latter replied. “Why did he shoot him?”. To my utter surprise, the man threw a furtive glance around and made a hasty exit from the room which had miniatures of events from Gandhi’s life and last moments. I hung around hoping the Europeon visitor would put the question to me but he didn’t. He must have sensed something was wrong ( was something wrong? What was it?. I couldn’t figure it out) . He went around the room careful not to make eye contact with anybody.

Who shot Gandhi? Godse, yes. But his shot was the kindest of them all. The fusilade began long before Godse actually pulled the trigger. It began towards the last lap of freedom struggle when it became pretty clear that independence was only a matter of time. Gandhiji continued to be shot when the country was partitioned, when his lofty concept of India as a nation fell flat on its face with the communal riots. The unkindest shot was the political and economic dispensation chosen by the leadership of Independent India which totally ignored Gandhiism. AS early as 1906, Gandhi had, in his HINDSWARAJ warned against the mistakes of the post industrial, post Enlightenment modernity of the west (which ultimately would culminate in two World Wars and all its horrors).: " we want English rule without the Englishman. You want the tiger's nature, but not the tiger; that is to say, you would make India English. And when it becomes English, it will be called not Hindustan but Englistan. This is not the Swaraj that I want."

Gandhi continues to be shot today. We live in times which fear to even give a name and face to the forces which destroyed the man who ranks among the greatest of creations.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Gandhi and Mahatma

been browsing for the past half hour and made a strange discovery. a lot of people have a lot of grouse against Gandhi

there is this netizen who cannot forgive him for not taking up the cause of tne natives in S. Africa - he concernrned himself with the plight of migrant Indians only!
and then there is somene who wishes Gandhi wasn't a sex maniac!!!
yet another person who ccannot understand why he kept the company of Birlas and his likes.

I think the root of the problem lies in the title Mahatma. The fact is that it was Tagore who once referred to him as the mahatma and then the name stuck. Gandhiji never took this title seriously and never felt the need to live up to it.

Gandhi was an ordinary human like any other. he was intensleyy conscious of the fact that he had all the weaknesses of an ordinary mortal. But he also knew that like any other mortal, he too had latent spiritual and psychic strengths which needed to be released. His experiment with truth was an effort in this direction.

The greatness of Gandhiji lay in the fact that he was an ordinary human being and not a saint, or superman or a Godman or a genius. he showed us that one doesnt have to be born all these to become a Mahatma

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

media menace

was watching tv yesterday-the 11/9 anniv day- and realised that someone should drill some sense, and sense of propriety into the head of these media people. all this hype about the sept 11, the endless repetition of the images of the tower s collapsing, people weeping- arent we playing into the hands of the terror manufacturers? isnt the media doing just what they want? the terrorists must find it extremely gratiying to have free publicity through the constant reminders of what they can & will do if ----
which reminds me of the disgusting behaviour of media when arjun singh announced the decision of the govt(?) regarding reservation. CNNIBM was the worst- its behaviour was most irresponsible and mischivous- i think it is this channel that brought into currecny ther term Mandal II, suggesting that history should repeat itself- and the channel kept on showing , over and over and over again, that terrible shot of Goswami's self immolation effort- as though inviting protestors to follow suit! media should restrain itself from sowing dangerous ideas into the mind of youth- freedom without responsibility is lethal- particularly
in the hands of a machinery with such wide reach.
one more thing- media should show a little more sensitivity while dealing with issue which are personal and delicate in nature. it is with utmost embarassment that i watched rajdeep sardesai literally hopping around with excitement when promod mahajan was shot. however public figure a person might be, there are certain spheres in his life that are private. national channels should not behave like gossip columns.
time someone conducted a workshop or seminar for media professionals on responsible and construcive telecast..
the media is very touchy about its rights. but we, the people intensely resent being victims of situations artificially created by the media for cheap sensationalism or its survival or whatever.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi - The Mahatma's fall from grace

A hundred years since Gandhiji launched Satyagraha! and almost sixty years since he brought the British empire to its knees.
And what does the great man mean to India today?
Times of India reports that there are no takers for the courses in Gandhian Studies offered by Universities in India.
Khader wearing/flaunting politicians do not know what the initials M.K. stand for !!!!!!!
A few adcademics i spoke to think he is some/any/all of the following: hypocrite, street smart politician, hoax, irrelevant, intellectually challenged.
Sad. very very sad. How did this happen? This fall from grace?

I still feel he is the greatest man who ever walked the earth.