Monthly Archives: July 2010

Do we really need Sachin’s blood?

Sachin Tendulkar

No need for him to be another baba

Note: A day after this article was published on Sify, Sachin on Saturday (July 24) clarified that there won’t be any blood in the book. Read on to find out why it would have been an unnecessarily undignified act by the little champion, if he had allowed the publishers to go ahead with their original plan.

Almost 21 years ago, it was Waqar Younis who made the then 17-year-old Sachin Tendulkar spill blood in his debut Test with an awkward bouncer.

Now, it is the turn of a publisher.

For those of you who haven’t heard the news already, Kraken Media, the publishers of Tendulkar Opus, plan to print 10 deluxe copies of their 37kg tome with a signature page that “will be mixed with Sachin’s blood – mixed into the paper pulp so it’s a red resin”.

The editions, which have already been pre-ordered, are priced at $75000 each (Rs 35 lakhs at the current rate) and will also feature a DNA profile of the little champion generated from his saliva and more than 1,500 pictures, with each of the 852 pages being edged in gold leaf.

Kraken Media’s chief executive Karl Fowler explained the decision to the UK-based Guardian in this manner: “It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s not to everyone’s taste and some may think it’s a bit weird. But the key thing here is that Sachin Tendulkar to millions of people is a religious icon. And we thought how, in a publishing form, can you get as close to your god as possible?”

Certainly, they have hit upon quite an idea indeed!

Even Deigo Maradona, the other sporting star whose autobiography was touted as an Opus, hasn’t been subjected to this kind of hagiography.

Agreed the cause is good. The Rs 3.5 crores raised from the deluxe-edition sale will go towards building a school in Mumbai.

Agreed also that the market for sports books in India, where Sachin has his biggest fan following, is rather thin.

I am reminded in this context of a friend of mine who ended up spending lakhs of rupees from his own pocket to get his biography on Prakash Padukone, the greatest badminton player India has produced, published. Passion, in his case, only served to burn a gaping hole in his purse.

And of a senior colleague, who was offered a paltry Rs 10000 to do a ‘quickie’ on one of our current batting greats by a publishing major because anything more elaborate and costlier wouldn’t be worth the trouble.

With the sports publishing scene in India being this bleak, Sachin and Kraken Media might have felt (and justifiably so) that it made sense to target just an exclusive clientele instead of reaching out to the hoi polloi.

Finding 10 people capable of forking out Rs 3.5 crore was definitely an easier task for them than launching a search for a million readers willing to part with Rs 350 and buy the book.

Be that as it may, why at all let Sachin’s blood seep into its pages?

Funnily, the batting great was reported to have said that he wanted us to see it just as a “mind-blowing” tribute.

But don’t you feel that while it might behove the leaders of a cult, Sachin has little need to lend his name and his blood to something this shamanistic?

Even his bosom pal Vinod Kambli was shocked enough into admitting that “This is something you could have expected from a Vinod Kambli and not Sachin Tendulkar.”

For once, he  is right.

This is an unnecessarily undignified act for Sachin, whose career has been built on the bedrock of dignity.

With February 2011 being the launch date of the book, the little champion will be well advised to have a relook at this decision of his.

Just to drive home the point once again, Sachin…

Spilling blood on the field is one matter; spilling it in a book for a publisher who considers you a “religion icon” on the strength of your skill with the willow is quite another.

Don’t you all agree too?

R Rajesh Kumar

Flirting in office: Do you approve?

More than twelve years ago, a woman nearly unseated the President of the United States.

Just a few weeks ago, a woman got a publishing icon fired from a company he had raised.

Before shutting himself off from the world, David Davidar decided to confuse us all with three words – ‘consensual, flirtatious relationship’.

Can flirting turn into sexual misconduct? We spoke to professionals in the media, theatre and publishing industries across India, and here’s some of what they had to say:

“I think it’s essential to have an office spouse.”

“Sometimes, you vibe so well with someone that you like dressing up for that person, you miss that person when he is not around, and work is a lot of fun because of that connection. The colleague I’m referring to is married.”

 “I’ve gone as far as kissing. I do love my boyfriend very deeply. But…”

“You know, honestly, I think women are to blame.”

“An experienced correspondent said he wanted to discuss a story and stayed in the girl’s room until past midnight. Then he told her he could make sure she went places, if she cooperated, and when she asked what he meant, he tried to force himself on her.”

Watch out for the complete article on Sify.com this weekend! You can read it at http://www.sify.com/weekend

Nandini Krishnan

http://disbursedmeditations.blogspot.com

Will we inherit the dearth?

Hinduism & its Military Ethos

Hinduism & its Military Ethos

Superpower in waiting.  That’s how many of us would like to describe India. An economic juggernaut, a state with nuclear weapons, waiting to take its rightful place at the world’s top table.

Air Marshal (retd) RK Nehra believes that wait is likely to be a long one.

Because, thanks to Buddhism, the once martial Hindus, who still are a majority in Hindustan, have now become peace-loving wimps.

And a ‘soft state’ can never become a superpower, it will always be a waiter at the top table, if that.

I must confess when I first heard about his book, Hinduism and its military ethos, I was less than impressed.

The book jacket, which portrayed a pale brick wall, or pavement, with a crack running down the middle, did nothing to change that impression.

But I should have known not to judge a book by its title, or its cover.

Air Marshal Nehra has obviously spent a lot of time and energy studying not just Hinduism, but every major religion of the world.

He starts by examining the India-born religions, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, before moving on to   describe the Judaic religions – Christianity, Judaism and Islam – in a nutshell. (All this, in 13 pages of crisp text.)

He then concludes that “Hinduism,  ‘the first formal religion of mankind’, remained confined to Bharat (India) while Christianity and Islam spread rapidly across the world simply because of the ‘stark simplicity of the creeds of the two faiths. These are easy to understand by laymen with average, (or even below average) intelligence. By comparison, Hindu philosophy is highly complex and their view of life difficult to understand.”

But wait, I digress.

Nehra’s argument is essentially simple: We as a nation lack the killer instinct. We lack the ruthlessness, the cunning, the immorality needed to become a true world power.

And he blames Buddhism for our recent meekness.

‘Of the recorded Hindu history of around 2,300 years, Bharat was under the jackboots of slavery for some 1300 years—a dubious record.’

The ancient Hindus, he says, ‘were a set of martial people who lived by the sword. Somewhere along the line, Hindus lost their way and their martial spirit…(they) developed a deluded sense of Dharma under the influence of Buddhism, and that was the main reason for their downfall.’

While the Bhagvad Gita emphasises the duty to engage in holy (righteous) war, Buddhism and Jainism injected self-defeating concepts like ‘ahimsa, (non-violence), shanti (peace) and satya (truth) into the Hindu psyche,  ‘with disastrous results,’ argues Nehra.

It is that mindset, he says, which produces  ‘patriotic songs’ which say things like: Duniya ka zulum sehna, aur munh se kuch na kehna,’ which loosely translated means: “it is a great tradition of ours to bear all type and manner of atrocities, without ever complaining.

“In addition to ahimsa, another insignia fondly, forcedly and firmly put on the Hindu lapel is that of ‘Tolerance’. It is difficult to utter the ‘Hindu’ word, without uttering ‘tolerance’ in the same breath,” he says.

“The Hindu is being constantly told that his religion and scriptures require him to be ‘tolerant’. It is generally projected as if Hinduism has no existence independent of tolerance; a Hindu should ‘walk’ tolerance, he should ‘talk’ tolerance. During TV debates, one often hears Hindu leaders, both pseudo-secularists and ‘communal’, going hysterical about ‘Hindu Tolerance’. ”

But yet in the Ramayana, he notes,  ‘Laxman displays extreme intolerance in cutting off nose of a woman, Surpanakha. What was her fault? She had only made a marriage proposal to Laxman, who at that time, was without his wife. In any case, those days, rulers used to have multiple wives.’

While in the Mahabharata, Arjun, at Krishna’s behest, killed Karna when he was helpless. Bhima, again at Krishna’s urging, hit Duryodhana on the thigh with his mace, violating prevailing norms of combat.

Thus, ‘the projected tolerance of Hindus, born out of bogus spirituality, is a myth. It is an artificial web woven round the Hindus by people with base instinct and baser intentions,’ he concludes.

Superpower? Top table? Not just yet.

The meek, as they say, will inherit the dearth.

Read Excerpts: Where’s our self-respect? | A clerk, a typewriter, and Pakistan

Ramananda Sengupta


At last! A slice of real India in a Hindi movie

Udaan

Udaan

Enough has been written about the bloodbath at the Mumbai box office this year.

Mexican heroines, painted American presidents, songs shot in pretty places, heroines based on US sitcom clichés (Thou shalt eat a tub of ice cream when dumped) failed utterly to help matters.

As we yawned through one “Let’s-sell-our-film-to-the-world” attempt after another, we even began to wonder if we were better off with those tacky old themes and all-too-convenient storylines.

If the Roshans had fed their heroine to the crocs a la Khoon Bhaari Maang, and of course, ensured the heroine slid out of the water, picture-pretty with cosmetic surgery, would Kites have worked?

This weekend, though, a coming-of-age film about a teenager (A real teenager; not 40-plus men playing teenagers) shook off the boredom and cynicism.

There are many reasons why you should watch Vikramaditya Motwane’s Udaan.

Sonia Chopra’s review on sify.com calls it a  a film worth savouring.

Times of India’s Nikhat Kazmi calls it “a moody, introspective and ekdum different look at teenage angst”.

Anurag Kashyap sees it as a metaphor for the brave new cinema that can rid itself off the baggage of old-world filmmakers and cliches.

Udaan has its powerful performances, its silences, the sounds of the night it captures, its sensitivity in dealing with abusive parents.

You should also watch it for its hero (Rajat Barmecha). And for its two talented actors – Ronit Roy & Ram Kapoor. Such a shame that we associate them only with saas-bahu serials.

But most of all, Udaan gives a voice to the adolescent: The ones who’ve been too awkward for mainstream Hindi cinema.

We’ve caught glimpses of a young Lucky in Dibakar Banerjee’s Oye Lucky Lucky Oye.

And fans of Malayalam cinema will remember the glory days of the very young on screen (The Hariharan-MT team’s Nakakshathangal & Aaranyakam are personal favourites).

But when was the last time you saw a bunch of gawky teenagers who look and speak like gawky teenagers throughout a Hindi film?

Udaan must also be commended for daring to tell a universal story rooted in an Indian town. For bringing alive the best and worst of Jamshedpur: Its steel factories, the garish buses, the seedy bars, statues, secrets, dinner parties loaded with the unsaid…

It’s not often that you catch a slice of the real India at the movies.

Don’t miss this one!

Sarita Ravindranath

A needless symbol for the rupee

A symbol for the rupee

A symbol for the rupee

So, at last, the humble rupee has a symbol.

After sitting on a shortlist of five symbols for weeks, a jury of five has finally picked a winner and gained it the nod of the Indian cabinet too.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, who announced the winning entry (seen on left) said, “It denotes the robustness of the Indian economy.”

“The symbol for the Rupee would lend a distinctive character and identity to the currency and further highlight the strength and robustness of the Indian economy as also a favoured destination for global investments,” an official statement went on to add of the winning design by IIT post-graduate D Udaya Kumar.

But seriously does the exercise serve any purpose beyond adding another key to our already cluttered computer keyboards?

Did we as a nation have such a crying need for a symbol for our currency? Weren’t we doing well even without it?

Symbols, after all, are for those who are yet to find an identity. Isn’t our economy well and truly past that stage already?

What it seems like sadly is another instance of us blindly aping the West – the ‘financial superpowers’ like the US, the Britishers and the European Union countries. Since they have it, we too had to.

Talking of robustness of economy, will this exercise help curb inflation?

Will it trigger a mad rush of investments?

Or will it help empower the countless millions below the poverty line?

As for the symbol itself, the less said, the better.

Rs was easy to write, type.

The new symbol, meanwhile, requires quite some getting used to.

Even the government admits it will be at least a year before it gains wider currency as it needs the approval of the international unicode consortium’s technical committee.

A symbol expressing the strength of the Indian economy needing an international consortium’s rubber-stamp… Ironical, is it not?

Rajesh Kumar R

Population needn’t be a bad word

India's burgeoning population has seen a five-fold increase over the last 100 years and will surpass that of China by 2050.

World Population Day

Yet another World Population Day (July 11) has passed us by.  Many eyebrows would be raised if I were to argue that our government should de-control population growth,  just like how it decontrolled oil and gas prices.

But it is high time we actually considered launching a procreation drive.

We launched the population control programme decades ago to shape a ‘secure future’ for the country. The result: Thousands of nuclear families with one child each, children who  don’t know the value of sharing.

It’s time we encouraged bigger families, with many children.

Before you start hurling stones at me for expressing such a ‘wayward’ view, try answer this question: Is population a menace?

A ‘yes’ means You and I are a menace.  It means our presence is a threat not only to the country, but to the universe because we eat up the resources and contribute to the so-called global warming.

But are we really a menace?

Who would have replaced the ageing workforce had we not been born?

Who would have maintained the momentum of the country’s growth?

Our  country is lucky because we were born irrespective of its anti-population growth drive.

Now the crucial question: Who will replace us and support the country when we become old,  if the government goes ahead with the one child norm?

Recently, an Australian scientist said human beings would be extinct in the next 100 years because of over population and lack of natural resources to support it. But his argument doesn’t hold much water. The human race will never be extinct due to over population and its consequences. It will disappear from the face of the earth due to man’s aversion to have children and, perhaps, infertility.

Why look down upon population? It can never be a burden to any country.

If anything, it is an asset. It will never keep a country poor. Instead, a country with a robust workforce is a treasure trove for the world.

It is the workforce of India that brought about the IT revolution in the country. It is this workforce that made the world turn toward India to outsource jobs to it, thereby making the country rich.

Let me remind you of what Infosys cofounder and Unique Identification Authority of India chairman Nandan Nilekani writes in his book Imagining India: “The idea of population as an asset rather than a burden has especially gained currency with the rise of knowledge-based industries such as IT, telecommunications and biotechnology in the 1970s. In fact, the information economy is the culmination of what the Industrial Revolution started — it has placed human capital front and center as the main driver of productivity and growth.”

But this workforce needs to be maintained and improved. For this, we need to decontrol, not control, the population.

Also to be borne in mind are the consequences of China’s successful one-child policy. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:  “The suicide rate of women in childbearing years (generally between 15 and 34) has increased considerably since the policy was implemented, especially in smaller Chinese cities. This is believed to be due to pressure to produce a single child, as it is usually desired to have a male child.”

So let’s dismiss all thoughts of controlling our population and and learn instead to be proud of it.

After all, it is our people who will make our nation a super power.

Salil Jose

Why is Viveka’s ‘boyfriend’ being hounded?

Viveka Babajee & Gatuam Vora

Viveka Babajee & Gatuam Vora

It wasn’t a nice death – On June 25, Viveka Babajee was found hanging from her ceiling fan.

And if there’s an afterlife, it isn’t a wonderful one either – what with Viveka’s memories getting lost somewhere amidst her family releasing her private photographs to the media, her boyfriend denying the two ever had a relationship, and the press indulging in gossip mongering.

But that’s not what’s caught our attention.

We’d like to know why everyone is in such a hurry to tar and feather Gautam Vora?

We agree the two knew each other – though, reportedly, only for three months. Viveka’s diary entry says as much: “How do I make you understand that you have become so dear to me in so little time?”

We agree the two were close, but do we really know how close? Case in point – another diary entry. “Why can’t you give me a small place in your life?”

Could it mean Vora was actually speaking the truth when he said they were not in a relationship?

Then there was the report that Viveka’s friends told a leading newspaper “they had been in a relationship for only a couple of months… they were fighting all the time until one day they decided to break up.”

So how much abetting could Vora have done?

Viveka may have talked to him the night before she died, but is it fair to blame him for something not in his control?

Is it fair to blame any person for an ‘urge’ that suddenly popped up in the mind of a distressed woman in the middle of the night?

Why, then, do we see reporters hounding his friends, wanting to know why Vora was such a coward?

Let the man be. He doesn’t owe anyone – except Viveka’s parents and the police – an explanation.

Also see: Models who went off the runway

Surya Praphulla Kumar