The Big B

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Growing up in the 90s, most Indian males fantasized about the day they could bring Pam Anderson home as their bahu—-she all sharmili in her red Baywatch-bikini colored sari, her mangalsutra gleaming in the diffused light, coming to the room with a glass of milk.

And then she would bend down and touch our feet.

Well at least bend down.

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The Political Consciousness of Tagore

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A prominent Indian intellectual, whose name I desist from mentioning since his identity is not germane to what this post is about , had come to Stonybrook for an invited lecture many years ago. In the course of his talk, he contended that in the nineteenth/twentieth century there were far greater intellectual figures than Rabindranath Tagore (he took one name) but none of them gained world acclaim since they did not possess the marketing savvy of Tagore and were not as willing as him to kowtow to the British.

Aghast at this accusation aimed at Tagore’s patriotism,coming from someone who should definitely know better, I was about to raise that point when the floor was thrown open for audience questions. But then I stepped back, reminded of one of my father’s maxims “You can only argue with someone who is half-right. If someone is fully wrong, it’s simply not worth your time.”

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Dishonor and Death

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Taking a break from the attempted hilarity over here at RTDM , I present something serious—from an article published October 18, 1946 (I am assuming this is genuine)

[Update: Puneet points out a one typo in the piece which he feels calls into doubt its authenticity. So here, to support the above "suspect" article is another one (October 18, 1946 and containing essentially the same report about Gandhiji asking for women to commit suicide), written by one Preston Grover, whose bonafides as a correspondent for the Associated Press is attested to by this obit in the NY Times.I also now have the full scanned page of the front page of the newspaper where this article was published originally. If anyone else doubts the veracity of the piece, kindly email me.]

Mohandas K Gandhi advised women in the riot-torn areas of Noakhali tonight to commit suicide by poison or other means to avoid dishonor.

Later on in the article,

Gandhi addressing several hundred listeners in the untouchable’s colony here advised “everyone running the risk of dishonor to take poison before submission to dishonor. “

In the official version of his statement given out by his secretary, no reference was made to other forms of suicide, but listeners fluent in Hindustani said he advised women in imminent danger of dishonor to use knives or guns to kill themselves, or to throw themselves into the water to drown.

[Full article here posted on this blog] (Link via Utsav)

For those who may be unaware, here is what Noakhali was. I urge you to follow this link and read about it, if you don’t already know the facts.

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The Urbane Murderer

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The HBO documentary “The Journalist and the Jihadi: The Murder of Daniel Pearl”, that premièred this Tueday is the story of two people: very similar to each other in terms of having had a privileged upbringing, having being high achievers in school and having achieved success in their respective professions at a very early age.

One of them is Daniel Pearl, a “rising star” journalist with the Wall Street Journal— a musician, a humanist and a true “liberal”.

And the other: Omar Sheikh, an urbane British-public-school educated Muslim fundamentalist who had made a name for himself in the world of Jihad with his masterfully executed kidnappings. [Yes the same Omar Sheikh who was released by India (along with his spiritual guru Azhar Masood, the founder of Jaish-e-Mohammed) during the IC814 crisis.]

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Gandhi Reloaded

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Boyfriend become boring? Well now you can dump him and feel good by invoking the Mahatma. Just like Shweta Polanki who cited “Gandhigiri” as the reason she broke off with her boyfriend after he made “hissing sounds to get the attention of the waiter”. Murderer and extortionist on the way to trial, looking to get some media attention? No problemo. Hand out roses in a Lucknow courthouse ala Babloo Srivastava. [More here]

If it was the Rang-de-Basanti-inspired “be the change” in early 2006 that captured the imagination of the nation, the last quarter has seen the the Return of Bapu—courtesy “Lage Raho Munnabhai”, a predictable yet pleasant movie about a Don who reforms himself after being visited by the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi.

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Vande Mataram

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So I get an email which asks me my opinion on the “Vande Mataram” controversy.

Simple. Making it mandatory to sing “Vande Mataram” is a gross infringement on individual freedom. No government has the authority to force a word out of my larynx. Or block me from reading a blog. Or prevent me from reading a book (like say for instance “Satanic Verses”) . End of story.

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The Passing Of a Friend —Desibaba

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[Originally published November 13, 2005. Reposted because of technical difficulties experienced by many in accessing the old post]

It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce the death of an old friend.

Desibaba is no more.

Desi Baba Desi Babes
Is closed till further notice.
Copyright © 1998 – 2005 DesiBaba.com

For those who came in late, Desibaba was the original Indian porn site. But it wasnt merely a “porn site”—it was a landmark in desi pop culture.

Let me explain.

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And Now It's 49.5%

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I have been asked by a few of my blog readers about my opinion on extending reservation to OBCs in IIT/IIMs thus increasing the quota in these institutions to 49.5%. I had blogged about my general opinion on reservations albeit in a slightly different context (quotas in private sector), and much of what I said then (with respect to the futility of trying to correct historical wrongs by perpetrating similar injustice in the present day) holds for this topic too.

But there is more to talk about.

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A letter from Andaman Cellular Jail

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Dadu
I have never had a guest blogger here at RTDM. But as of today, I am going to make an exception. I present (fanfare)—-my mother. A little context: My father, a professor at IIM Calcutta is going to retire in February. So on his last LTC, Baba and Ma went to Andaman Islands—both for some peace and quiet (they deserve it for having brought me up) as well as to visit Andaman Cellular Jail—-the place where my grandfather (my father’s father) , Jyotirmoy Ray [his picture in the Cellular Jail museum on the left] spent 4 years of his life [his sentence was for 7 years commutted to 4 as part of an amnesty program] as a political prisoner (He was part of the revolutionary movement in Bengal and transported arms to the revolutionaries). He died in 1991.This post is based on a mail my mother wrote to me after coming back from Andamans—-I have added some things to it based on phone conversations I had with her since then. In all, it’s a joint effort between mother and son—in some places the feelings are Ma’s (as conveyed through the telephone) and the words are mine and in some places both of them are Ma’s (being part of her original letter).

With January 26 here, I thought of sharing it with you.

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The Rising—-Fact or Fiction?

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Amit Varma, one of my favorite bloggers (and indeed of many Indians in the blogosphere) agrees with the criticism of “The Rising—the Ballad of Mangal Pandey” in the Telegraph where British historians have accused the movie of demonizing British Rule.

Despite not having seen the movie myself and basing my assessment solely on what the Telegraph and Amit says the movie contains , I shall have to disagree.

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