Saturday, January 30, 2010

Indians are hypocrites

In 1989, when I was studying for journalism, one of my closest friend was Sezlim Salim. We often shared a drink whenever the opportunity presented itself (which was quite often, as three of us would put Rs.10 each to buy half a bottle of rum. It was enough those days to give us the required kick for the rest of the day). It is another matter that I have lost touch with him, even though I meet him says once in five years. We no longer share the same intimacy that we had during those two and a half years. And it has nothing to do with the fact that he is a Musilm.
We were together in New Delhi for about two months in 1990. It was during the days of the Mandal agitation that I saw some sort of fear in him. He vowed never to return to the city. I duuno why. Thinking back I always wondered whether he encountered some sort of discrimination at the his work place.
Today, India has become less tolerant of its Muslim citizens, who have to prove their loyalty to their motherland time and again. Are the Hindus in the grip of a fear psychosis?
The reaction of ordinary citizens in the country seems to point to that direction. If this happened in north India I could still understand it, for they have a long history of Muslim bashing. They still have festering wounds (for generations?) from the early occupation by invaders to the refugee and partition riots. Even today it is difficult for a Muslim to get a house on rent in the country's capital. It would only have gotten worse from the stage it was in the 1990s when I was a resident of the capital city.
The Punjabis are also less tolerant of people from the rest of the country and practise some kind of an aparthide.
Of late, this north Indian culture of intolerance towards Muslims has seeped into the minds of southerners as well. For instance, Keralites never ever thought separately of the Muslims. People took part in all festivals as one. People did have Muslim friends. But not anymore. The events of December 6, 1992 took its toll. And rabble rousing Muslim leaders also played their part in generatiing in the Muslim a feeling that they are outcasts in India.
With most accused in incidents of terrorism coming from the minority community, people are scared of giving houses on rent to Muslism or even deal with them in the ordinary course of life.
A large number of crime in Kerala is now being committed by people of a particular community. Do you know why? It is mainly because employment opportunity for the Muslims, except in the Government sector, where they have reservation, have come down. Private-run establishments do discriminate against Muslims everywhere in this country.
Even in the media you have only a handful of Muslims as your colleague in places you work. Once a Muslim colleague asked, "You have a holiday for Pongal and even on Christmas. Why not for Ramzan?" Well, I had no answer to that. In the media you have four closed holidays in a year and other compensatory offs. So you know how many Muslims that would be working in the media?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Finnish tourist falls for... er an elephant

For Laura Gafmine, who is working at a restaurant in Helsinki after completing a four-year degree course in culture, it was love at first sight. A native of Finland, she fell in with elephants during a visit to Thekkady on New Year's eve.
The 23-year-old Finn is on her first visit to India. While touring Thekkady, she spotted an elephant walking past her car and instantly fell in love with the animal. In the three weeks since then, she has undergone a training course which now makes her a mahout, an elephant rider.
Her guide introduced her to Elephant Junction, a group which offers elephant tour packages that include a half-an-hour to a full-day ride on an elephant.
"It was on New Year’s Eve that I first touched an elephant and since then I have just one thing in mind, I want to get close to this magnificent animal which is intelligent and of course beautiful," said Laura.
A few days in Thekkady and after observing elephants at close quarters, she requested the officials at Elephant Junction to take her as an understudy with an expert mahout and they agreed. And every day, for three weeks now, she has been arriving at the office of Elephant Junction at 8 a.m. to begin her lessons.
Laura has been assigned to look after a 24-year-old elephant Ganga that she manages alongside her two gurus and also handles clients on the various packages.
Laura says that she cannot imagine living without being close to an elephant but her visa ends in three months. She says she will return with enough money to buy an elephant here, though it will take some time.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It is called the Apple iPad!

Dream pad?
Steve Jobs on Wednesday afternoon revealed the much anticipated Apple Tablet. It is called the Apple iPad.
Apple’s founder and CEO held up the device to the thunderous applause of the audience. The rumors surrounding it have been the talk of the town for months, but now Apple has put them to rest. This device is real.
The iPad supports touch input, multi-touch, swiping gestures, orientation detection, and all the rest of the features that the iPhone made popular with users, according to, a tech blog.
The operating system and software looks like a mix of traditional desktop applications and iPhone apps.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

India will put man on space, but no food for its people

A vast majority of Indians still do not have access to potable water. Many do not have the luxury of two square meals a day. Healthcare in a large number of villages across the country is a shambles. Malnourishment is one of the worst in the world, if not comparable to some of the African countries.
Basic infrastructure such as good roads and shelter is still a dream for many villagers.
It is in this context that India has decided to spend Rs.124 billion ($2.76 billion) to send Indians into space. The country's first manned mission is scheduled for 2016 with two astronauts for a week-long odyssey in space.
We needed satellite in space for a variety of reasons including security. But missions such as Chandrayaan and manned flights are nothing but reinventing the wheel, to say the least.
Of course, our scientiests' capabilities have to be proved. Why else did we have to conduct the nuclear explosions? We have to prove again and again we are the best or even better. But not when it comes to providing the basic necessities of life.
Have we not being crying hoarse about the exploding population? Do we plan for that?
Has Australia, Sweden or Switzerland or Saudi Arabia ever attempted space missions? Do they not have the means? They have got their priorities right. It is more important to provide food and healthcare to your people than sending an Indian to space.
Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia had said more funds would be allocated in two phases during the Eleventh Plan (2007-12) and Twelfth Plan (2012-17).
Boy, who cares about those children in the villages and the JJ colonies in the cities dying of diseases such as cholera?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Shah Rukh over the moon

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan has transcended his popularity on earth and is literally over the moon with a lunar crater named after him by the International Lunar Geographic Society.
The decision to rename the crater, earlier known as Arago B, after the famed actor came following overwhelming petitions from his passionate fans in India and around the world.
The crater is located on the Moon's Mare Tranquillitatis ("Sea of Tranquility) district and was given the designation as the Crater S.R. Khan on Shah Rukh's 44th birthday, Nov 2, 2009.
It is located at 3.4 degree North (latitude) and 20.8 degree East (longitude) on the so-called Earthside of the Moon and measures approximately seven kilometres in diameter.
The official designation of a Lunar crater is a singular honour bestowed upon only a select few luminaries like Leonardo da Vinci, Christopher Columbus, Sir Isaac Newton, Julius Caesar and Jules Verne.
The International Lunar Geographic Society, previously known as the Lunar Republic Society, is the world's largest group advocating privatised exploration, settlement and development of Earth's moon Luna.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Brangelina's split denied. Just in case...

Dream couple
I love watching this great couple perform. And their chemistry on screen is unbelievable. If news about their ending their fairytale romance of five years is true, I only hope that they continue to perform together onscreen even after the split.
The news says Hollywood superstars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have reportedly decided to go their separate ways.
The power couple, known in Hollywood as Brangelina, has signed a £205 million split deal after meeting a top divorce lawyer.
They plan to share their fortune equally and custody of their six children, the British newspaper News of the World reported.
The agreement will give them joint custody, the children, three of whom are adopted, will live with Angelina
Pitt, 45, and Jolie, 34, are expected to announced their break-up soon.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New look Rajadhani for Kerala

Rajdhani Express bound for Thiruvananthapuram now dons the colours of God’s Own Country. It has been painted in the beautiful colours of its beaches, backwaters and enchanting art forms. Kerala Tourism is hoping to catch the eyeballs of potential domestic tourists as the train snakes its way to Thiruvananthapuram and back.
The tourism officials hope to convert these eyeballs into footfalls. But the slogan ‘Go Kerala’ or ‘Chalo Kerala’ does not seem very original. Hoping to reach around 85,000 commuters who throng the platforms every day, the campaign will continue for the next six months while it journeys through Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka.
Domestic tourist arrivals to Kerala last year touched 75 lakh.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

He deserves better than this

Honestly, I am no admirer of KPS Gill. I even had reservations about the way he brought the militancy in Punjab under control. But for him we would have lost another of our states and given rise to more insurgency problems.
And I won't ever support harassing women. He pinched a senior officer's bottom and got punished for it.
Now, if they are going to disgrace him further by stripping him off his medals and Padma Shri, that would really be a shame. For, he has done much more than any other officer for keeping the Union of India together.