Thursday, October 2, 2014
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Narendra Modi is a dangerous cliche
By Pankaj Mishra
In 2005, Narendra Modi, then the chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, was prevented by a State Department visa ban from attendinga rally at Madison Square Garden. On Sunday night, Modi finally made it there with a Bollywood-style extravaganza. All had been apparently forgiven as he stood against flickering videos of Indian robots and mansions and reminded his audience in Hindi of his humble origins as a "tea vendor." Here was a "small man," who can "do big things," nevertheless, such as building houses for all Indians by 2022, and restore a sense of self-esteem among Indian-Americans battered by years of shameful identification with a country known for "snake charmers." His audience -- more than 18,000 Indian-Americans, according to a controversial blog in the Economist, and "a...
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Let Go, Let God..!
By Robert Clements
Imagine your hands firmly gripped on a trapeze handle as you glance down 80 feet or more at the floor below. You push any doubts from your mind; doubts about whether or not your aerobatic partner will be waiting to catch you when needed. Are you going to release the handle of the trapeze, along with your total control over the outcome, or are you going to hang on and return to your perch? If you release the handle you demonstrate your faith in your partner. Your hopes would be based on your past experiences, but this moment is still in question. We are told, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Many of us are faced with decisions that require us to exercise some measure of faith, even if it's not exactly flying on a trapeze 80 feet in the ai...
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Jayalalitha Behind The Bars
A Post-Modernist Phantasmagoria
By Maharathi
"This is not the final word'', said a spokesman of Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli Prime Minister who lost office following a conviction of corruption on March 31, 2014. In the dock, Mr. Olmert termed it all "an attempt at character assassination unprecedented in scope and force". The drama that has unfolded now involving former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Ms. J. Jayalalithaa evokes a feeling of déjà vu. One of the ace politicians in India, who has lost her Chief Ministership and MLA post on September 27, 2014, convicted as she was in a Bengaluru Special Court in disproportionate assets case, she must have felt the way Mr. Olmert did. Her tens and thousands of followers in her party All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, including her Cabinet colleagues, must be hoping now, borro...
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Softly and Tenderly..!
By Robert Clements
Something I find most endearing and delightful is when a choir or singer suddenly sings a few lines or bars softly. This is called pianissimo in music and is something most choirs and singers don’t understand or follow. Many years back at my aunt’s funeral, we were singing, ‘Abide With Me’ at the side of the grave. The hymn was so beautiful, especially with eventide bearing on us, and the trees lending their branches in mourning. Suddenly I heard the most dreadful sound. It shattered the peace, the serenity of the earthly farewell to my aunt. It sounded like a foghorn and I actually visualized my poor aunt springing up from her coffin, and shouting for the sound to stop. She was sleeping in death, wasn’t she? But the way this noise came across, her sleep was over; it was like hell had o...
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Imperfect Afghanistan
By Gwynne Dyer
"We have to recognise that Afghanistan will not be a perfect place, and it's not America's responsibility to make it one," said President Barack Obama last May. No, it isn't, and Afghanistan is a strikingly imperfect society in almost every respect: politics, economy, security and human rights. But it isn't entirely a lost cause, either. President Hamid Karzai, who was given the job of running Afghanistan after the United States invaded in 2001 and subsequently won two deeply suspect elections in 2004 and 2009, finally left office on Monday, although he didn't move very far. (His newly built private home backs onto the presidential palace.) On the way out, he took one last opportunity to bite the hand that fed him for so long. "The war in Afghanistan is to the benefit of foreigners," he...
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Tell Me Why?
By Robert Clements
Been spending time with a little child lately, who is full of questions, but here are some answers to questions you would never have guessed: Why do men's clothes have buttons on the right while women's clothes have buttons on the left? Because when buttons were invented, they were very expensive and worn primarily by the rich. Since most people are right-handed, it is easier to push buttons on the right through holes on the left. Because wealthy women were dressed by maids, dressmakers put the buttons on the maid's right! And that's where women's buttons have remained since. Why do ships and aircraft use 'mayday' as their call for help? Because, this comes from the French word m'aidez - meaning 'help me' - and is pronounced, approximately, 'mayday.' Why are zero scores in tennis cal...
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A bad precedent
From CJI to Governor of a state
By Rajindar Sachar
Ever since news appeared that Union Government is contemplating appointing former Chief Justice Sadasiwam as Governor of Kerala, spate of comments, rather adverse have appeared in the press. Questions were rightly raised as to the propriety and also the dignity of the office of CJI being compromised by accepting this appointment. Speaking personally I do not mind confessing that I was deeply distressed because some judgments of Justice Sadasiwam a year or so before his retirement did give cause for faith in judiciary. His bold decision to direct the implementation of Election Commissions recommendation to introduce "None of the Above" in election law showed his broad look, considering that both BJP and Congress had been opposing it for over a decade. Justice Sadasiwam also showed his h...
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Take The Blame..!
By Robert Clements
Something that saddens me often are parents not taking the blame for the deeds of their children. My question to them is, didn't you build your child up to be able to handle life? Why are you blaming situations and circumstances when the foundation you gave your child was weak Dr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and founder of the M.K.Gandhi Institute for Non-violence, in his June 9 lecture at the University of Puerto Rico, shared the following story in parenting: "I was 16 years old and living with my parents at the institute my grandfather had founded 18 miles outside of Durban, South Africa, in the middle of the sugar plantations. We were deep in the country and had no neighbors, so my two sisters and I would always look forward to going to town to visit friends or go to the...
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Remembering two 'Golden' Classics
By Nikhil Gajendragadkar
The euphoria of Independence was receding; it was a transition time for the Hindi film world too. 'Art' cinema was yet to sink in and 'Commercial' cinema was trying to face the new world. Indian filmmakers were looking for new story ideas and themes. Business-minded commercial film producers were churning out either family dramas or cheap copies of American action films. But serious filmmakers did give a thought to the content and medium itself. As a result, India and the world saw two major films from two prominent filmmakers in the post Indo-China war period. By early 60's Satyajit Ray was an established name in the world of Art cinema. His 'Apu' trilogy had won acclaims the world over and in 1964 Ray came out with a brilliant film -'Charulata'. The film was re-rereleased in...
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Remembering Rachel Corrie
By Aijaz Zaka Syed
He does not make people like Rachel Corrie every day; people who can stare death in the face and offer their own life to save others. The 23-year old student activist Rachel Corrie just did that. She traveled thousands of miles from her Ivy League university in the United States to form a human shield protecting Palestinian families. This happened in March 2003 when her country and the world were obsessing over the non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Full of hope, idealism and dreams about a better, more just world, Rachel Corrie was too young to die. At a time when most of her friends were busy having a good time, Rachel joined the International Solidarity Movement and traveled to Palestine. She wanted to make a difference. She was so passionate about her cause and ...
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Mars and a Cup of Tea..!
By Robert Clements
A billion and more in India, jump with excitement at the prospect of owning Mars: In Delhi, where narrow lanes converge into narrower ones, and narrower ones converge into crawling space which finally end up in a shanty where one's legs when one sleeps have to be closely knitted to one's body, and where even a slight movement by one sleeping form can upset the symmetry of sleeping bodies, the people ere ecstatic, "Rocket to Mars very successful!" said one sleeping form who was waking up, to another as he tried to balance his newspaper on the upper part of his torso without upsetting the person who was drinking his tea who tried not to nudge the sleeping form of his wife next to him. "Why successful?" asked the tea drinking slum dweller, gingerly sipping from his cup and watching with anx...
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Girl Child In India
'Sloppy' execution of laws
By Dr S Saraswathi
The Supreme Court recently pulled up the Union and State governments for the "sloppy" implementation of the Pre-Natal Sex Determination Act passed in 1994. The Court was dealing with an appeal filed about a year ago by a member of the National Inspection and Monitoring Committee (NIMC) constituted under this Act on the wide prevalence of sex-determination clinics and tests despite the Act. The member criticized the NIMC itself for its slackness in conducting inspections and taking action. The Supreme Court then directed the State governments to provide up-to-date data on the steps taken to prevent female foeticide. While disposing off the appeal, it observed it's a reflection of "lack of concern for the female child". It noted that the Governments had failed to keep track of the hospital...
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Dog Fight..!
By Robert Clements
Very rarely do dogs come after me, but this one did! It's fangs red with sure intent, eyes glazed with cruel glee, there was no doubt as I saw it standing in my way it had evil reasons in its canine mind. And then without warning I saw my old, eleven year old dog, one who I'd picked up as a stray over a decade ago, attacking the menacing fellow, "No!" I yelled, but it was of no avail, my stray had seen the other fellow ready to attack his master, and not caring a bit whether he was too old to take on the huge enemy, he had thrown himself at it. At that very moment, my huge German- Shepherd came pounding: He'd heard the noise, and hearing him, I knew with certainty that the fight was over; no one had the guts to stand in this big boy's path, if they did they would not live another day to...
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After the deluge, the fog
By Jawed Naqvi
UJJAIN University's vice chancellor, J.L. Kaul, is an old-fashioned Kashmiri Pandit, a man of liberal values, somewhat in Nehru's genial mould. Armed men of the Hindutva brigade mercilessly beat him up the other day. Why had he appealed to the city's landlords who housed Kashmiri students to forgo the month's rent, the men demanded to know. Mr Kaul obviously thought the students could use the savings in their own small way to help their families cope with the catastrophe that has swamped their homeland. But the agitated men of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal, seen as the sword arm of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's anti-Muslim political coterie, saw Mr Kaul as a traitor to their cause. While the vice chancellor was rushed off to the hospital, a shattered portrait of Mahatma Gand...
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Laughable Laws..!
By Robert Clements
Nothing serious today folks! I thought we could spend some time together laughing at some amazing laws which our world offers us everyday: The first; the law of Mechanical Repair: This law says that after your hands become coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch! Now I've found this true whenever my hands are full! I've held a book during a concert and felt my nose beginning to itch, knowing that it's impossible to put the book down in front of audience and have a good scratch! Law of the Workshop: Any tool, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible corner! Why tool? Invariably when I play ball with my dog, the ball rolls to a spot which is the most inaccessible spot under heavy furniture I can't lift. I turn round and do I see my dog grinning at me? Law of the Telephone...
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