Sunday, September 14, 2014

The "rockstar" Gandhi

......Shiva, dressed in a burgundy sari and a shawl the color of rust....“We would have no hunger in the world if the seed was in the hands of the farmers....They want to take that away”.....Shiva argues that the prevailing model of industrial agriculture....places an unacceptable burden on the Earth’s resources....Shiva has contempt for farmers who plant monocultures....“They are ruining the planet.....They are destroying this beautiful world”....
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The list of power ladies from India who carry high name recognition in the West (and the rest) reads as follows: (1) Arundhati Roy, (2) Vandana Shiva, (3) Sonia Gandhi, and (4) Mother Teresa. For people keeping score we have (3) christians and (1) brahmin, also (2) are naturalized citizens. 

How about the others? Indira Gandhi is probably fading from memory, even as Mayawati rises as a Dalit icon (she will need to capture the Red Fort for true greatness). We are guessing that not too many westerners know about Indra Nooyi and other corporate bosses.

Indian music and dance do not have (yet) a female Ravi Shankar, even though his first wife Annapurna Devi (born Roshanara Khan, daughter of Alauddin Khan) was more talented and stopped performing because of the unhappiness expressed by her husband. The Shankar progeny Geetali Norah Jones Shankar and Anoushka Shankar would (at most) be recognized as Americans with Indian influences.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Education is our birth-right

....Rekha, student of Class X, resisted marriage when 10 years old......Since the time many girls came forward to oppose the practice.....a Class V textbook of the State Board has a chapter on child marriage where her and another girl's names feature........“Such stories encourage adolescents to protest against child marriage” .....Asadur Rahaman, UNICEF in West Bengal....
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India is a land of the disadvantaged with a few creamy layers enjoying the fruits of a globalized economy. There are many ways to alter the status quo: Arundhati Roy favors armed revolution (because non-violence as preached by Gandhi - a humbug in her words - is a non-starter). This may still happen if Indians at the bottom of the ladder are left to rot with no helping hand from the fortunate class.
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The first step is that people should be free to vote and to speak (and India is an imperfect example of these principles being applied to the real world). Gradually we have increased awareness of rights (and responsibilities) as citizens, of which right to education must come first along with roti, kapda and makaan. We are looking for a few, new Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkars who can arise and awake their communities one by one (because other communities/castes will not care if they are left behind).

We sincerely hope that Rekha and her fellow sisters will take the non-violent revolution forward. We need many more voices in support of education (and against child marriage). Parents must be convinced to raise daughters as equal to sons. We want all the fundamentalists (of all colors and stripes) to back off. As women progress, we are sure that they will lead the country forward to a better place.
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David Cawthorne Haines

....The killer says: “This British man has to pay the price to arm the Peshmerga against the Islamic State.....he has spent a decade of his life serving under the Royal Air Force.....“Your evil alliance with America continues to strike the Muslims of Iraq .....playing the role of the obedient lapdog will only drag you into another bloody and unwinnable war”....At the end of the latest video, another hostage – apparently British – is paraded......
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The Maida Vale killer strikes again. David Haines has been reportedly beheaded. DCH was a British (Scottish) aid worker who was (we presume) trying to help out the miserable people of Syria, his family must be wondering why they agreed to this labor of love in the first place.
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A number of critical questions will be asked (and re-asked): What was David Haines...who has a military background...really doing in Syria? Should Britain and the USA consider paying ransom to terrorists? What will happen to the Brits and Americans still being held hostage (yes, we know)?


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

‘Aaj rapat jayein, toh humein na uthaiyyo!’

..In Bollywood’s rain songs....the heroine discovering herself.....The rain is a crossroads in a woman’s life where she throws caution to the monsoon winds and locks hands with a man she chooses....she defies elders...for her bit of bliss...Against this backdrop, the current drought of Bollywood’s wet saris is a matter of concern. ...
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Srijana Mitra Das clearly has impeccable credentials, a PhD in Social Anthropology from Cambridge. And what do you know...the (in)famous rain songs in Bollywood....the heroines and their wet sarees.....a tradition of spotlighting male lust going all the way back to Kalidasa in the 5th century.....now we have a feminist (third wave?) deconstruction...all these are but symbols of "pure romance" and women's liberation....
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We are a fan of old Bollywood songs (the play-acting not so much) but the ones that Srijana talks of are indeed screen classics: Raj Kapoor and Nargis in Shree 420 (Pyar Hua Ikrar Hua) and Amitabh Bachhan and Smita Patil in Namak Halal (Aaj Rapat Jaye). And while we are not too familiar with Nargis as a free-thinker, Smita was a top-drawer feminist and her acting reflected this in full glory. Her millions of devotees were heart-broken when she died so young (see below for details).
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Monday, September 8, 2014

Open doors (after 817 years)

Nalanda University was born in the 5th century CE and was consumed by flames in the 12th. Eight hundred years later the doors are open once again (classes begin Sep 14). We are hopeful that the distinguished faculty led governing board and the international funding from China, Singapore and Japan will make for a good start. Hopefully this will also put Bihar on the map......as the poorest in Bihar prosper, so will the rest of India.

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[ref. Wiki] The Governing Board of Nalanda University: Amartya Sen (Harvard), Sugata Bose (Harvard), Wang Bangwei (Peking University), Wang Gungwu  (National University of Singapore), Susumu Nakanishi (Kyoto City University of Arts), Meghnad Desai (London School of Economics), Prapod Assavavirulhakarn (Chulalongkorn University, Thailand), George Yeo (Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore), Tansen Sen (Baruch College, CUNY), Nand Kishore Singh (Member of Parliament – Rajya Sabha), Chandan Hareram Kharwar (Pune University). 
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