Hello Sir

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Hello sir. It’s me again.

Let me start out by saying what a delight it was to hear you speak.  One never comes away from a speech of yours without learning something new.

And your latest bhashan in front of the captains of industry was no exception.

For instance, I learnt that one could sit on a tide (“We are now sitting on an unstoppable tide of human aspiration”), which led me to look at the laws of Physics in a new light. Which in turn provided me the reference to understand the deep significance of your “India is not a country, it is energy” statement. After all Indian land-Mass multiplied by two successive “C”ongress governments (C-square) does equal to Energy, as per the laws of Relativity.

I also learnt that there are two kinds of systems—centralized systems and de-centralized systems. I could not have guessed that in a thousand years.

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Congratulations Sir

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First of all sir congratulations on becoming the Vice-President. Some may say that congratulating you for this is like congratulating eleven o’clock for coming after ten o’clock, or congratulating an apple broken from its stem for dropping to the ground  or congratulating P K Nag’s sons for  taking over P K Nag and Sons.

But still.

So I read your speech, the speech that you delivered to the party after your coronation…err…selection after studied deliberation by your peers in the chintan shivir.

And I noted a few things.

You said you felt optimistic. I understand why you would sir. I would too if I had a national party as a family heirloom, if I knew I would have an army of qualified courtiers watching my back, an army of guards clearing the road of commoners, and an adoring media to pump my ego. Yes. I would feel very optimistic then. About the future. My future. Which of course I would, using the royal pronoun, address as “our”.

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Why No One Guns For The Guns

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One of the many things that befuddle the rest of the world, and I presume some Americans too, is why a civilized nation like the US allows its citizens to own guns. Not just a hunting rifle or a pistol but military-grade weapons. And continues to do so despite the almost yearly litany of massacres, which is even the more ironic for a culture that otherwise puts great value on safety and the lives of its citizens in general.

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A Mirror To Ourselves

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We have seen this picture in our text books. Happy Indians, of all shapes and colors, holding hands, extolling the ideal of unity in diversity.

Hum Sab Ek Hain. We are all one.

It is a comforting gajar ka halwa national narrative.

It is also, like Santa Claus, patently untrue.

In reality, there are deeply visceral schisms that split us Indians apart on multiple axes—money, language, religion, education, Salman-Shahrukh. If we could take a bullshit-filtering lens and put it on the collective national psyche, we would see a picture that resembles a fifth day Cuttack pitch with its deep fissures, serpentine fault-lines and no binding top-soil . Hell, we don’t even need to do that. Go to Rediff/TOI, pull up any random article, and run through the comment board. You will know exactly what I am talking about.

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Darth Vadra

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[Caption: Robert Vadra is so shocked that DLF has given him yet another multi-crore interest free loan that he faints] (from NDTV)

Occam’s Razor, while not shaving Anil Kapoor’s chest, has something really simple to say, namely that if we have multiple explanations for an event, the one that makes the fewest outrageous assumptions is usually true.

Following that principle, one would say that the simplest way to explain the DLF Maximums handed out to Robert Vadra would be that these were tributes to the royal son-in-law, the modern-day equivalent of golden swords and diamond-encrusted elephants.

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The Compassionate Society

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While the Indian national spectrum allows for a surprising amount of political heterodoxy, with ideologies spanning temple construction, Gandhi-family installation, statue benediction, Bhaiyya defenestration, policy-paralysis-induction, and even more policy-paralysis-induction, there is an almost equally emphatic monochromaticity in economic thought among the political class. In that, there is not a single party of any note that consistently stands for free-markets and limited government. I am not saying, for a second, that what is roughly characterized as libertarian-ism is the solution to India’s economic malaise (far from it if I may add) but some sort of economic diversity in the stated policies of our political masters would bring a countervailing force to the overwhelming preponderance of the big-government protectionist socialism that all parties espouse.

The Swatantra Party tried, a long time ago, to bring a bit of an exotic flavor to the Indian polity, by attempting to infuse concepts like free enterprise into the socio-economic lexicon. They failed. Quite miserably.

The lesson was learnt. In India, the common people have a very definite anthropomorphism of an ideal government.

Namely, the male head of an undivided Hindu joint family.

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GOI Blocks

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Not only can the UPA government not implement anything that resembles policy, it is so darned incompetent that it cannot even be properly dictatorial. Forget North Korea or China, even Didi has it beat in that respect. Which is why when people call this Emergency 2012, I have to roll my eyes. Because the Emergency was a coordinated, strategic strike at the heart of India’s democracy, rolled out with clinical efficiency by Indira Gandhi, which actually served its purpose (well at least for a while). This government’s attempt to stifle dissent—well it’s like Suresh Raina on a juiced up Johannesberg pitch against Steyn bowling short deliveries.

Embarrassing.

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Patriot Missiles

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Around Independence day, I inevitably start feeling patriotic. And when I do, I turn to Bollywood for sustenance and succor. Honestly, where else would you find true greatness like Dev Anand’s “Peeya hoon main sat mulk ka paani, sabse meetha Hindustani”? Where indeed?

Which is why, in this post, I salute five of my favorite filmi patriots. A disclaimer: Since I am primarily a Hindi film man, I have avoided greats like Balayya in my list (I lack intimate knowledge of his body of work) and for that I apologize. I have also not considered Prabhuji simply for the sake of fairness. After all, everyone deserves a chance.

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The Internet Hindus, Trolling And Other Matters

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Sagarika Ghosh.Celebrity anchor. Ebullient demagogue. Neologist. Of the many ways in which she has enriched the political lexicon of the twenty-first century, nothing perhaps will be considered as significant as her coining of the term “Internet Hindus”, a generic epithet for those denizens of the Internet world who she believes assail her whenever she writes anything about Muslims, Pakistan or Modi.

It is not difficult to identify the “Internet Hindu”. Many of them, in fact, have appropriated proudly the pejorative label. For those that don’t identify themselves as such in their monikers themselves , there are other visual cues that reveal their Internet Hindu genus, like the preponderance of orange/saffron in their online avatar pages (like Twitter profile) or the use of Hindu religious imagery as abstract pictorial representations of their digital identities (Twitter DPs). Other distinguishing features include, but are not limited to, having highly connected social graphs, an intensely uncritical devotion to Modi, Subramanium Swamy and anyone who is taking on the Congress at the current time (an enemy’s enemy being a friend), consequent concerted swarm-like persistent engagement with those who criticize the exalted few (the intensity being a monotonically increasing function of how big a celebrity the person with the heretical opinion is) , and the ascription of conspiratorial intent (all contrarian opinion is mandatorily funded by Arabs and/or Sonia Gandhi) to all those who disagree, as if only they have the inalienable and exclusive right to speak from conviction while everyone else is compensated for their opinion.

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Cartoons Are Not For Kids

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When asked, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee also endorsed the stand, saying, “Cartoons are for mature minds; not for children.” [Link]

If there was any doubt that Pranab-da would make as great a President as Pratibha Tai, this line removed it.

I agree with the great Pranab-da. Cartoons are not for the younglings. Never has been. What kind of example do you think a duck that does not wear pants sets for children? Yes I am talking about “rakhta hoon main khulla” Mr Donald Duck. Popeye becomes powerful and aggressive after eating spinach. Hah. Don’t I know that’s spinach is just an euphemism for “London se sex ki goliyaan”? Is this what kids should be taught is acceptable behavior?

Cartoon Network? Call it the Playboy Channel.

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