Thursday, December 28, 2006

The blackmailing continues

After Medha, it's Mamata's turn to blackmail. She has learnt the lessons well from the other 'M's known for blackmailing through indefinite fasts - Mahatma and Medha.
Medha briefly ventured to Singur, but has now disappeared. Now it is left to Mamata to carry the 'torch' of blackmail in Bengal.
Buddhadeb says he is ready to talk to Mamata 'anywhere', 'anytime'. But Mamata will have none of it.
While Buddhadeb is trying to get West Bengal past the strike-friendly Leftist unions and get some investment, Mamata is all set to derail his plans. Even if the Tatas succeed in setting up the project, other investors will think twice before venturing into Bengal.
It's high time the 'fasts unto deaths' and 'indefinite fasts' are classified as attempt to commit suicide and dealt firmly.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sabarimala and Buddhism

The following has been taken from several Web sites. Please let me know your opinions.

It's the Iyyappa season again. Millions of Iyyappa devotees converge at Sabarimala in Kerala. The Sabarimala pilgrimage has seen a sudden spurt over the last couple of decades.
The pilgrimage to Sabarimala is different from pilgrimages to other major centres in Hinduism. It requires the devotee to observe severe austerities for 41 days. The devotee must "keep away from all social activities and spend his time praying and singing bhajans" and "must eat only vegetarian food and abstain from meat, physical or verbal violence, alcohol and tobacco and intoxicants in any form. The devotee must sleep on the floor, use a wooden block for a pillow and walk barefeet."
Such austerities are not required for other pilgrimages. And it is this difference that makes the pilgrimage and Iyyappa interesting.
The austerities followed by the Iyyappa devotees are similar to the vows, known as ashta-shilas, taken by Buddhists.
The Iyyappa temple in Sabarimala was built by a Pandalam king. The Pandalam dynsasty is an offshoot of the Pandya dynasty of Tamil Nadu. And the Pandalam king who built the Iyyappa temple was not a Hindu. He was a Buddhist.
And naturally, the 'temple' he built was in fact, a Buddhist monastery. The temple is supposed to be the place where a great Jain or Buddhist monk attained Nirvana.
Whoever created the myth of Iyyappa as a Hindu God who is the son of Vishnu (Mohini avataar) and Shiva has also brought in a Muslim saint called Vaavar. All Iyyappa devotees go first to Vaavar's mosque at Erumely and then proceed to the temple. They never bother to think how Iyyappa who is supposed to be the son of Shiva and Vishnu, could have possibly met got help from a Muslim who lived just a few hundred years ago.
The pilgrims' chant of 'Swamiye Saranam Iyyappa' is similar to the Buddhist chant of 'Buddham Saranam Gachhaami'. In no other Hindu temple is the word 'Saranam' used in a chant.
The Makara Jyoti which appears mysteriously in the Sabarimala forests on the Makara Sankranti day gave it the name Potalaka. The surprise: The Dalai Lama's palace in Lhasa is called - Potala!
Hsuen Tsang refers to Avalokitesvara* on the Potala in the following words, summarised by Waters (1905): "In the south of the country near the sea was the Mo-lo-ya (Malaya) mountain, with its lofty cliffs and ridges and deep valleys and gullies, on which were sandal, camphor and other trees. To the east of this was Pu-ta-lo-ka (Potalaka) mountain with steep narrow paths over its cliffs and gorges in irregular confusion..."
The posture of Iyyappa is unique. He is the only God in the Hindu Pantheon who is in a sitting position. Almost all images of Buddha are in sitting position. Some Iyyappa temples in Kerala have the idols of Iyyappa almost alike the Buddha idol.
Iyyappa is also known as Dharma Sasta. As is well known that word 'Dharma' is deeply rooted in Buddhist literature. Eg. 'Sadhamma' means Teachings of The Buddha. Sasta is a well known epithet applied to The Buddha. Even today The Buddha is referred to as Sasta in the daily prayer of Buddhists, e.g. 'Sattha dev manussanam'. The Amarkosha mentions Sastha as one of the names of Buddha.
Unlike in other temples, caste barriers are weak in this temple, which is a common feature of all those shrines which were previously of Buddhist faith. This became necessary for the Brahmins to concede to, so that masses could be wooed away from Buddhism.
This must be viewed in the light of the fact that Brahmins, led by Adi Shankara, were on warpath against Buddhism. After driving away the Buddhists, they took over the Buddhist monastaries and converted them into temples. There are stories of Adi Shankara and other saints 'winning' in debates with Buddhists.
Though Buddhism disappeared from the South, it integrated into the southern culture. Buddha had become reincarnation of Vishnu. Some sects have replaced Balarama or Parasurama with The Buddha in the ten incarnations of Vishnu. The worship of Sathanar, Ayyanar, Dharma Raja and Bodhi Raj are old Buddha worship. (Notice the words Dharma, Satha, Bodhi etc)
Iyyappa has the vajradanda, a crooked stick in his right arm. The vajra is a characteristic weapon of Bodhisattva.

*Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva of compassion, is one of the most important and popular Buddhist dieties. Although he originally was conceived of in a Mahayana context, he has been worshipped under different names and in different shapes in nearly every form of Buddhism in every country Buddhism has entered. Avalokitesvara first appears in Indian Buddhism. He is originally mentioned as one of a number of bodhisattvas. These bodhisattvas are personifications of various attributes of the Buddha.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

How to rescue a drowned cellphone

All might NOT be lost the next time you drop your cell phone in the toilet.

According to Lifehack, even if your cell phone goes for a swim, you might still be able to rescue it:

"I took the phone home, removed the battery and put it in the oven for a good bake on the "warm" setting, followed by a half hour in front of the blow dryer. It sprang back to life. I thought that was pretty cool, although the first friend I called wanted to know if I’d washed the phone before dialing. I guess he was worried about getting toilet germs in his ear," says Anne, who had dropped it in the toilet.

Try it at your own risk, but since your phone is already wet, you really have nothing to lose by trying to repair it in this fashion; and if it works, you'll have saved yourself some money at the cell phone store.

I faced a similar problem an year ago (No! I didn,t drop it in the toilet.) We (the phone and I) just got drenched at a waterpark.

Though I was clueless, I put it out to dry in the blazing sun for a couple of days. It is still functioning normally.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thumbi Vaa (Sanghathil Paadatha)

This is a story of a mesmerising piece of music rediscovered after almost two decades.
There was a Tamil movie called Auto Raja (1982), with Vijayakant in the lead. The music was scored by Shankar Ganesh, except for one song - Sangathil Paadatha Kavithai - which was composed, set to music and sung by Maestro Illayaraja. The song sank without a trace along with Shankar Ganesh's mediocre songs in the movie.
After a few years, Director Balu Mahendra wanted the Maestro to use the same tune and music in a song for Olangal, a movie he was making in Malayalam.
This song Thumbi Vaa, became a huge hit. But neither this nor the Tamil original was popular in Tamil Nadu.
But things suddenly changed in 2005. Illayaraja conducted a live programme in Chennai. He sang the song (only humming) accompanied by one of the most brilliant orchestral performance by his troupe.
I saw the programme in Jaya TV and was mesmerised by the song. In fact, the entire Tamil Nadu really 'heard' the song for the first time. It has become so popular now that a jewellery house has used the tune for its advertisement.
I came across the clipping of the live performance of the song by Illaiyaraja in Chennai. He doesn't sing the song, but humms it, accompanied by his orchestra in all its grandeur. A definite must. This is in YouTube, uploaded by SaiSachin.
Here it is. It is one of my favourites.
How to play the clip: Allow the video to download at least 75 per cent before playing (watch the horizontal red bar below the clip). If the clip starts playing immediately, click the pause button and allow the horizontal bar to complete at least 75 per cent. Click the play button.

Here is the link for the Tamil original from Auto Raja. As this song is rarely available, the music quality may be bad.

And here is the super-hit Malayalam version sung by Janaki.

Demand for quota in cricket!

There was a joke spread through emails some time back on how the Indian cricket team would fare if quotas are introduced in cricket. It was just a joke, describing several funny possibilities. Now, our politicians have actually called for quotas in cricket!
This is what Ramdas Athawale has to say on our defeat to SA. His comments are in bold:

New Delhi, Nov 23 (PTI) Members of Parliament today expressed disappointment over India’s humiliating loss to South Africa in the second cricket one-dayer in Durban, with some of them demanding coach Greg Chappell’s removal and an explanation from BCCI chief Sharad Pawar.
Senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Kumar Malhotra said Pawar must take some hard decisions to ensure India’s sequence of defeats was broken.
‘‘People feel hurt after they watch the performance of the Indian cricket team. Since Pawar is BCCI chief, he should tell what are the steps he is taking to save the team from continuous defeats,’’ he said.
‘‘What he thinks about the coach has to be decided by him,’’ he added.
Holding Chappell responsible for the defeats, RPI MP Ramdas Athawale demanded removal of the coach and non-performing players.
‘‘This is a disappointing performance as India could score only 91 runs. This means Greg Chappell is not fulfilling his responsibilities. This defeat has brought disrepute to India. ‘‘We also have demanded that at the district level scheduled caste and scheduled tribe players should be given reservation and the players performing better should be nominated for selection in Indian team,’’ he said.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Private sector banks and passbooks

No doubt, private banks have stolen a march over public sector banks due to their efficiency and superior deployment of technology. But when making profit becomes the ONLY motive, service suffers.

The notification by the Reserve Bank of India on issuance of passbooks is one such case. The notification was issued on October 4. But not even a single new private sector bank has implemented it. Why?

If this is their response to RBI's circular, one wonders what will happen to our complaints.

This is the RBI circular:

Date: Oct 04, 2006

Customer Service – Non-issuance of Passbooks to Savings Bank Accountholders (Individuals)
RBI /2006-07/139DBOD.No.Leg.BC.32 /09.07.005/2006-07

October 4, 2006


All Scheduled Commercial Banks(Excluding RRBs)

Dear Sir,

Customer Service – Non-issuance of Passbooks to Savings Bank Accountholders (Individuals)

We have been receiving representations from customers including senior citizens' associations that many banks have discontinued issuing pass books to Savings Bank Account holders (Individuals). It has also been pointed out that this decision of discontinuing the pass book system has been taken by the banks unilaterally causing much inconvenience to the account holders. It has also come to our notice that these banks are issuing Statement of Account to Savings Bank account holders at quarterly intervals instead of at monthly intervals as stipulated in our circular DBOD.No.Leg.BC.74/ 09.07.005/2004-05 dated April 10, 2004.

2. In this connection, it may be mentioned that a passbook is a ready reckoner of transactions and is handy and compact and as such, is far more convenient to the small customer than a statement of account. Use of statements has some inherent difficulties viz. (a) these need to be filed regularly (b) the opening balance needs to be tallied with closing balance of last statement (c) loss of statements in postal transit is not uncommon and obtaining duplicates thereof involves expense and inconvenience (d) ATM slips during the interregnum between two statements does not provide a satisfactory solution as full record of transactions is not available and (e) there are a large number of small customers who do not have access to computers / internet etc. As such, non-issuance of pass-books to such small customers would indirectly lead to their financial exclusion.

3. Banks are therefore advised to invariably offer pass book facility to all its savings bank account holders (individuals) and in case the bank offers the facility of sending statement of account and the customer chooses to get statement of account, the banks must issue monthly statement of accounts in terms of our circular DBOD.No.Leg.BC.74/ 09.07.005/2004-05 dated April 10, 2004. The cost of providing such Pass Book or Statements should not be charged to the customer.

4. Please acknowledge receipt.

Yours faithfully

(Prashant Saran)

Chief General Manager-in-Charge

Monday, November 20, 2006

Access restricted Web sites with Google

(from )

Google free proxy! Access restricted web sites using Google language tools service as a proxy.Contributed by: bigthistle [12/20/05 Link to this hack]

A little tutorial found on the italian site inspired me for this hack. That tutorial suggests to translate a webpage, using Google translator, to access it even if restricted.
It worked fine but something else was needed... why translate?!
Ok, let's start from the beginning. We all know that Google is more than a search engine; we do use it as provider for email, mapping, news and many other services. Google is now also a free proxy service. Proxy is a device that stands between a PC and the internet, providing all the connections to the world wide web. What a proxy does is to receive all data from a requested site, so when you access web pages all data come from proxy.
What's the purpose for Google as a proxy? We often use office/school/university connections, usually those services are set to provide more safety, blocking the access to undesidered web sites (the "black list"). What you can do now is use Google translator service (language tools) as a proxy to bypass the restrictions set for our connection!
You just need to type the following URL: ( stands for the URL you need to go to...)
What you'll get is the translation (english to english!) of the page you want to see... your connection is directed to a page so this page won't be blocked (would be blocked only with on the black list), no matter what's the content.
Notice that the URL has been a little hacked because the parameter "langpair"(1) is set to "enen" (english/english) so the page is processed by Google but you can keep the original language of the page (no need to translate!). If you need another language (e.g. french) you just need to set the parameter langpair to "frfr" and you'll be able to read french pages in french!
A couple of examples:
italian (my own homepage!)...
Last but not least: if you use this trick, you're not sure to protect your privacy, this kind of connection lets you see blacklisted pages but doesn't hide your IP address. Just go to to see your IP is not hidden...
That's all, bye.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Unhygienic Eatery

The video here is of an roadside eatery. Eating in such places is fraught with risks. But this one is worse. Before and after the eatery's 'business hours', this place is used as a toilet.
Just see the brisk business in the clip.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wrong Focus

If there is any organisation or working without any focus, it is Indian Government. In the rare instance when it has one, the focus is not where it should be.

The anti-AIDS campaign is one such activity. There are several ways in which AIDS spreads, like during blood transfusion. But for some strange reason, the focus is only on sex. The 'sub-focus', if you can call it - is only on men. As if only men go astray.

Now, a study, by Royal Society of Medicine, has said India is making "perilous mistakes" in its fight against AIDS. Here is a report:

India flawed by focus on sex in campaign against AIDS: study

Paris, Oct 27 (AFP) India is making perilous mistakes in its fight against AIDS by assuming the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is being spread overwhelmingly by sex and especially by prostitutes, a study warns.
India is considered by many specialists to be an easy target for AIDS, despite the health authorities’ insistence that they are making headway against the disease.
In May, the Geneva-based agency UNAIDS said India had 5.7 million people living with HIV/AIDS - the highest figure in the world, ahead of South Africa where the figure stands at 5.5 million. The government says the tally is 5.2 million.
The new study, published by Britain’s prestigious Royal Society of Medicine, does not wade into the row over these figures, but instead lashes India’s assumption that sex, especially with prostitutes, is the main driver for new infections.
‘‘It is inconsistent with evidence and very likely wrong,’’ is the blunt verdict delivered by US researchers David Gisselquist and Mariette Corea in the society’s International Journal of STD and AIDS.
According to India’s National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), 86 percent of HIV infections are from sexual transmission, and according to three studies that have helped underpin the country’s AIDS strategies, prostitutes account for 27 per cent of the total.
But Gisselquist and Corea - who did extensive field research in India - say these calculations are terribly wide of the mark.
The total estimate of infections comes from hospital staff, who assess and report routes of transmission for patients admitted with AIDS.
But many personnel routinely assign cases to the category of sexual acquisition without asking if the patient may have been exposed to infection through blood, the authors say.
And they argue the official tally of prostitutes in India, their number of clients and the frequency of clients’ visits are probably huge overestimates.
In addition, there is evidence that commercial sex workers are far likelier to use condoms and less likely to have HIV than health officials believe, the study says.
Its best estimate is that prostitutes account for just two per cent of HIV infections - and a high estimate would be 13 per cent, less than half that of NACO’s figure.
This means that India is ignoring threats from other sources, in particular the re-use of unsterile instruments in hospitals, cosmetic services, dental surgeries and tattoo parlours.
In one incident, commercial sex workers reported they had stood in line for tattoos that were administered without changing needles or inkpot between customers.
And the researchers found a common mistaken belief among the general public as well as the medical profession that HIV survives no more than seconds or a few minutes outside the body. ‘‘The official sexualisation of the HIV epidemic has blinded just about everybody to considering (and protecting against) non-sexual routes of transmission,’’ the journal said in an editorial.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


The pictures speak for themselves. These are pictures that tell the story of the sorry state of most MTC (Metropolitan Transport Corporation) buses in Chennai.
On the left is what is left of a bus seat, and on the right is what the poor bus drivers have to put up with. The heat and engine noise near the driver's seat was unbearable. There is no point in blaming the drivers if they have to work in such conditions.
One wonders why the transport corporation still put these tin boxes on the road.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Everything changes, say the Communists. Though I am not a Communist, I have decided to change (the blog, not myself).
Why the change? No great reason. But my vision of life has been undergoing changes as my thinking becomes more mature (no, please don't laugh).
My friend Pradeep Nair said (long ago) that one day I will change my views on Hindutva. I don't think even he remembers it. It is happening, but in a different way.
I have veered more to the views of J.Krishnamurti and Osho from hardcore Hindutva. The way I look at religion has also changed drastically over the years.
So has the blog.
The blog will discuss everything under the sun. No restrictions. And there will also be more pictures.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Danger in waiting

The bus stop at Guindy in Chennai has a useless and rusted iron board with sharp edges which is used only for sticking bills. May be the sadistic bloke who put up the board at such a low height wanted to ensure that whoever uses the pavement will be in danger of hurting himself. The civic body too seems to be blissfully unaware of the danger. May be as usual, it is waiting for someone to get injured seriously before taking action.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Celebrating treason

Chandan Mitra (Pioneer)

With no logic, no legal figment and no public support at their command, the NGO brigade has descended to wringing out every drop of emotion, with the help of a misguided section of the media. They have spun out a tear-jerker that could be a Bollywood scriptwriter's envy. The leading light of the India-baiting jholawala brigade, one Nandita Haksar, was in her element on the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan last Thursday. Caressing seven-year-old Ghalib, son of death merchant Afzal Guru, she claimed that the (tutored) child told President Kalam that his life's ambition to become a doctor would remain unfulfilled if his father's life were snatched away. The boy cutely stood, suitably melancholic, under Haksar's ample protection while his mother and grandmother recounted their interaction with a sympathetic President. Split TV screens, meanwhile, kept zooming in on that blabbering classes' icon Arundhati Roy who can be guaranteed to cheerlead any gathering that aims to berate India's pride, rule of law, or economic progress.

Those who have made a profession out of running India down have found a new cause celebre in the death row convict. Having tasted blood by successfully browbeating the system into exonerating Afzal's co-conspirator SAR Geelani, the India bashers are convinced they can notch up another victory by getting the pusillanimous Congress leadership to buckle under pressure. Already, a jittery Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has spoken out in their favour, warning that the Valley may erupt if the hanging happens. Although his Cabinet colleague, Jammu leader Mangat Ram Sharma, has been forced to sound a dissenting note and one of the party's few mass leaders, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh picked up courage to demand Afzal's execution, the Congress is petrified at the thought of taking a decision either way.

To begin with, I fail to see why there should be a debate at all. The matter is clear-cut. Afzal Guru was one of the terrorists who stormed Parliament House on December 13, 2001 and it was he who first opened fire on security personnel, apparently killing three of the six who died protecting the majesty of democracy and the nation's honour that fateful morning. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to death by a POTA Court - a verdict upheld by the Supreme Court.

The same process of law failed to find sufficient evidence against his cohort SAR Geelani and acquitted him much to the chagrin of patriotic civilians as well as the security establishment.

Geelani breezed out of Tihar and held a Press conference amid the raucous applause of the 'Hate India' brigade, in which he extolled the virtues of the Indian judiciary, while slamming the political establishment.

Consequently, Geelani faced an awkward dilemma when the Hate India-wallahs started baying for the judiciary's blood in the Afzal case, claiming the convict did not get a fair trail. This was reiterated by his wife Tabassum, who falsely asserted before TV cameras that her husband did not even get the services of a lawyer - a charge she apparently conveyed to the President. The duplicity of the jholawalas who have taken control of Tabassum, in a way reminiscent of Teesta Setalvad's stranglehold over Zahira Sheikh prior to the latter's somersault, is mindboggling. If SAR Geelani got a fair trial in the same case, how come Afzal Guru did not? The bottom line of the NGO brigade's contention is that justice must conform to their likes and dislikes. So, if the Supreme Court refuses to stop construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam, it shows the Indian judiciary to be contemptible; if it awards the death penalty to Afzal Guru, there's a miscarriage of justice. But if it frees Geelani, the judiciary covers itself with glory.

Unable to explain the logic behind these contradictory assertions, some professional agitators are now claiming that most terrorist outrages in India are suspect. I heard one of them tell a TV channel that the Chittisinghpora massacre (on the eve of President Bill Clinton's visit) was "staged", while the Nanded bomb blasts were the handiwork of Bajrang Dal, the attack on the RSS headquarters at Nagpur "suspect", and there were big question marks on the Malegaon incident. First, each of these claims is patently false. Second, to obliquely suggest that the attack on Parliament was "staged" by Indian agencies reveals the depravity of their minds.

To be entertained, a mercy petition by a death row convict must consider whether he is remorseful or at least regrets his action. In the present case, the death peddler is not only unrepentant, but has actually refused to sign his mercy petition. At least he is an honest jihadi who carried out the Parliament attack in the belief (howsoever misplaced) that by seeking to destabilise India he was responding to a higher call. Afzal was driven by the same conviction that motivated several well-educated, sophisticated men to hijack planes and fly them into the WTC towers on 9/11 the same year.

Like them, Afzal was ready to die in the process, just as his five Pakistani colleagues did that morning. Why then, should his life be spared? Especially when we already have the example of Azhar Masood who had to be freed in exchange for passengers on IC 814? May be it is precisely in the hope that fellow jihadis will stage yet another successful hijack and get Afzal released that the Hate India agitators have mounted their tear-jerker campaign.

After all, their sole aim is to weaken and eventually destroy the Indian state and subsequently the civilisation itself. In any self-respecting country they would have been declared Fifth Columnists and prosecuted for treason. In India, on the other hand, they are celebrities who hog large chunks of airtime and column centimetres.

However, while the agenda and modus operandi of the NGO brigade is transparent, the Congress party's surreptitious scheming needs to be deplored roundly. Afzal's hanging, like Geelani's acquittal, is not a Muslim issue. The average Indian Muslim is not batting for Afzal. Like the rest, the Muslims regard Afzal as a traitor who has been sentenced to death by the due process of law and, therefore, deserves to be hanged. But bereft of any achievement in governance, the Congress has decided to aggressively fragment Indian society on caste and communal lines hoping to reap an electoral windfall. It believes that Arjun Singh's systematic destruction of institutions of excellence will get OBCs flocking to the party while clemency for Afzal will drive Muslims in droves into the Congress kitty. If in the process India gets irreparably mauled, so be it.

The people of India have repeatedly seen through such games. Had they been stupid, VP Singh would not have been reduced to a mere jhuggi-jhopri dwellers' leader today. The same fate could well be awaiting those Congress stalwarts who are plotting against the nation in cahoots with the jholawalas.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Of glib talk and substance

There is a beautiful article by Jonathan Freedland of Guardian in todays Hindu - 'Lesson of Gore ecofilm — don't vote on personality' in which he talks about Al Gore's (Yes, the former Veep of US) and his film 'An Inconvenient Truth'.

Freedland says, "Yet the film somehow gets right to your gut. Methodically, using graphics, photographs and the odd bit of computer animation, the former U.S. Vice-President sets out the case that the climate is changing, with human activity the most obvious culprit."

This posting is not about Al Gore or the film. Or even ecology. But about our personality-centred life. Anyone who can talk well and is "charming and easy" is regarded as perfect. We see this everywhere. Someone like Al Gore, who is supposed to be "stiff, unnatural, oddly robotic, a creature of 24/7 politics, unable to speak fluent human" gets nowhere.

Freedland concludes: "The film leaves a more direct political thought. You watch and you curse the single vote on the U.S. Supreme Court that denied this man — passionate, well-informed and right — the Presidency of the U.S. in favour of George W. Bush. You realise what a different world we would live in now if just a few hundred votes had gone to Mr. Gore (rather than, say, Ralph Nader) that fateful day.

"But you also remember what that election turned on. The conventional wisdom held that Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush were so similar on policy — Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, the pundits said — that the election was about personality. On that measure, Mr. Bush had the edge. Sure, he couldn't name any world leader, but the polls gave him a higher likeability rating. If you had to have a beer with one of them, who would you choose? Americans said Mr. Bush, every time.

"Even that was not enough to give Mr. Bush a greater number of votes: remember, Mr. Gore got more of those. But it got him closer than he should have been. And the world has been living with the consequences ever since.

"Perhaps Britons should bear that in mind at our next election. If the choice is between Tory leader David Cameron and likely Labour leader Gordon Brown — and, given the events of last week, that is now a serious if — then polls will show, as they have already, Mr. Cameron ahead on the affability index. Mr. Brown, like Mr. Gore before him, will seem stiff, unnatural, oddly robotic, a creature of 24/7 politics, unable to speak fluent human.

Mr. Cameron, like Mr. Bush, will be charming and easy. He won't make odd grimaces when he speaks.

But we should ask ourselves: is this any basis for choosing a leader? Surely we should choose the man of substance, no matter how he looks in a fleece or how breezily he can talk about his iPod. America made that mistake already and we are all paying the price. Let us not repeat it."

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

The world would be a better place with less hot air and noise, if we start recognising the merits of a person by his actions, and not by his speech and mannerisms.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Vande Mataram controversy

Another posting from my friend Maya's blog (

Was anyway.. planning to vent out the same sentiments. This one reached me by mail. Almost the same idea....

We are Hindu or Muslim or of any other religion because our parents follow that religion. There is no contribution on our part ! The religion which doesn't respect Mother Earth has no right to stay on that land. Also religion that does not respect or supress women can only produce terrorist! God is one we gave different name to them. God does not tell anyone to do something.

When master artist Bismillah Khan fell ill, all over India many Hindus performed 'havan' and 'yagna' for his speedy recovery. Similarly, a seven-year-old Muslim girl from Agra, Praveen, was on fast for seven days to appease Hindu God Indra - so as to get rains.We often hear about Muslims taking care of Hindu temples and Hindus managing tombs of Muslim saints. At many places, Muslims make effigies of Ravana and also help organize Ganesh festivals.

Our President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam pays obeisance in temples and gurudwaras. The hymns sung in praise of Hindu gods and goddesses by the legendary Mohammad Rafi have left remarkable impressions in our minds. All this is due to the common culture and civilization of India, a country of Kabir and Rahim. It is not astonishing if a Muslims sings Hindu religious songs and a Hindu pays homage to Muslim saint.

But if we view all this through narrow prism, then we may be violating so-called Islamic law or even Hindu culture."Vande Mataram" is a song that in status equals the national anthem. It is a prayer to Mother India, in Sanskrit. Some so-called custodians of Islam in India are claiming that the song violates Islamic law.

Perhaps, these custodians are not aware of the Ganga-Yamuna culture, the culture that unites. These few custodians put out meaningless statements that isolate Indian Muslims. Hundreds of thousands of Muslim children get education in English medium schools run by Christian missionaries where the prayer taught is inspired by Christianity. How many Muslim children refuse to learn it?"Jana Gana Mana..." and "Vande Mataram" pay homage to our motherland. These are not songs of any religion or community but are inspirational songs that give us pride.
Every Indian is proud of them and will remain so.

It is the fundamentalists and religionists who pollute the pleasant atmosphere by their controversial, useless and baseless statements. These few people have no right to stop Muslim children from learning or singing "Vande Mataram". By doing so they affront Indian Muslims and give more fuel to Muslim bashers.It is said that some parts of "Vande Mataram" are against Islamic law.

But Islamic law needs to be seen in the context of Indian civilization and culture. Our Indian culture has a peculiar place in the world. India is the only country where Hindu caretakers can be seen at tombs of Muslim saints and Muslims sing in praise of Hindu gods. It would be a great misfortune for Muslims and India if our laws do not take such circumstances into consideration.

The so-called custodians of Islamic law must learn a lesson from Indian Hindus, who worship Muslim saints just like their own gods and goddesses. Islamic law in India cannot work as it has been adopted in Arab countries. It may be that those who obey Islamic law in Arab countries prefer Islam to patriotism. But that can never be said of India.

Hindus don't place their religion above their country.If we agree with these so-called custodians of religious law, then emperor Akbar was against these laws. President Kalam's going to temples and gurudwaras is also against Islamic law. Dilip Kumar, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan are also against these laws. So are the music of Naushad and the poems of Shakeel Badayuni and Janisar Akhtar. The art of Meena Kumari and Waheeda Rehman will be pitted against Islamic law. If the fundamentalists are to be obeyed, A.R. Rahman committed a great sin by giving a new and attractive tune to "Vande Mataram"!

Indian Muslims have separate recognition in the world and are proud of Indian civilization and culture. They were proud of it and will remain proud of it. It was in India that the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board gave full support to the singing of "Vande Mataram". It will be better if the opponents of "Vande Mataram", instead of advising Muslim children not to sing it, inspire their own kids to read and render the national songs.

Such children, when they grow up, will not need certificates of patriotism from any Hindu group. Nobody will dare to see such children through suspicious eyes. People of all religions and communities in India must learn "Vande Mataram". Vande Mataram!

Vande Mataram

This is a posting from my friend Maya's blog Here's the full version of Vande Mataram, which many do not know. As far as I know, the only organisation which makes it a point to sing the full version every time in all its meetings is the RSS and other organisations under it.

Here's Maya's posting:

Rarely has a composition given rise to such a diverse range of debates or has been subjected to such a close scrutiny as India's National Song Vande Mataram.
Glorified by many as the last word in patriotic manifestation, the song was composed by Bankim Chandra in an inspired moment and was set to tune and sung by nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
It has been translated into all major Indian languages and set to music by Rabindranath Tagore and recently by A R Rahman.

Know your Vande Mataram. Given below are the lyrics:

Vande maataram, vande maataram,
sujalam suphalam malayaja sheetalam
shasyashyamalam maataram - vande mataram

Shubhra jyotsna pulakitayaaminim,
phulla kusumita drumadalashobhinim
suhaasinim sumadhurabhaashhinim
sukhadaam varadaam maataram - vande mataram

sapta koti kantha kalakalaninaada karale
nisapta koti bhujaidhruta karakarvalea
balakeno maa eto bale bahubaladhaarinim
namaami tarinim ripudalavarinim maataram- vande maataram

tvam hi durga dashapraharanadhaarini
kamala kamaladala vihaarini vaani vidyaadaayini,
namaami tvam namaami kamalam amalam
atulamsujalam suphalam maataram
shyamalam saralam susmitam bhooshhitam
dharinim bharanim maataram, vande maataram

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Parents of child with dyslexia take on school

Parents and teachers must understand that children with dyslexia need extra help and understanding. But with such insensitive schools around... (see Times of India report below)

Anahita Mukherji TNN
When 12-year-old Shreya Bende, a student of St Mary’s High School, Mulund, failed in class V the second time in a row in May this year, she had little option but to leave school. Her parents got her tested at Sion Hospital on the advice of a coaching class teacher and the little girl was diagnosed with Learning Disability (LD).
LD, which causes a series of neurological disorders such as dyslexia (reading disorder), dysgraphia (writing disorder) and dyscalcula (maths disorder), does not, in any way, signify a low IQ. It simply means the child has difficulty processing information.
The Bombay high court, in a recent ruling, had ordered all schools in its jurisdiction to provide concessions to such students, including a reader, a writer and an extra half-hour during exams. In addition, the state education department had issued circulars over the past 11 years stating that the onus was on schools to identify students with LD and they should ensure that such children are not discriminated against. But Shreya was not provided any of the concessions due to LD children.
Shreya had moved to St Mary’s after studying for four years at St Joseph’s, Vikhroli, where she had managed to clear her exams regularly. At her new school, Shreya had to cope with the added pressure of studying two new languages, Hindi and Marathi.
Shreya’s parents sent her for tuitions. But when her parents approached school authorities, they were told she was incapable of coping with the high standards of the school. Shreya failed in most subjects and had to leave school.
The trauma turned Shreya into a quiet and withdrawn child. “She often stays awake all night. After her exams, she used to wake up crying in the middle of the night because she was afraid she would fail,’’ said her father, Surendra Bende. The Bendes want her re-admitted in the same school.
But the school refused to accept responsibility for Shreya’s condition. “For the past two years, her parents have not informed me that their child suffers from LD. They saw her exam papers and yet they never said anything until she left school,’’ said school principal Sister Lucina C J. When asked if the school had a counsellor to identify and tackle such problems, she said: “The teachers themselves act as counsellors and they did not find anything abnormal in the child’s behaviour.’’
However, as psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty pointed out LD is a learning problem. “This reflects the gross negligence of the school in not picking up simple spelling mistakes, bad handwriting and problems in reading, with which a teacher can easily identify LD. The school has violated the dignity and human rights of the child,’’ Shetty said.
Advocate Sheetal Kumar, who is filing a HC petition on behalf of the Bendes, said the onus of detecting LD lay squarely with the school. Clause 3 of a circular sent by the education department to school principals on May 17, 1997, clearly states, “if any of the symptoms of Learning Disability are observed in class, parents should be personally informed and parents must be guided to ensure that the child has no physiological problems’’.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Ban on Blogs - Who is to blame?

Now, here's a twist to the tale. It seems the Government of India wanted only specific blogs to be blocked. But the Indian ISPs went overboard and blocked all blogs.
Is it because of lack of technology with the ISPs to block only specific sub-domains? Or is it plain laziness?
Are the Indian ISPs so technolgically incompetent to ban specific sub-domains? A report in The Hindu has a photocopy of the Governments order asking ISPs to block specific blogs and Web sites. The list has just 17 Web sites. Which means, the ISPs are to blame. Which again means, I have to withdraw my previous posting. If it is the ISPs which are in the wrong, I am sorry that the Government has come in for flak from everyone, including me.
But again, why is the Government banning Web sites and blogs? Why is it so paranoid about sites like
About this later.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Harebrained action

Trust the UPA Government to come up with one harebrained move after other. With Ministers like Arjun Singh (quota), Dayanidhi Maran (arm-twisting the Tatas), Anbumani (sacking the AIIMS chief and denying pay to the doctors) and Dayanidhi Maran again (blocking blogs).

Even after a week after the Mumbai blasts, the Government is clueless about those behind them. And it wants to show it is 'taking' action. What does it do? It bans blogs!

It is up to the bloggers to drive some sense into the Government (if you can call it one). CNN-IBN has a poll. Switch on to CNN IBN channel and follow the instructions to participate in the poll. You can also log on to

And write. Postin as many blogs as possible. Yahoo360 and MSN Spaces for example. Rediff, Indiatimes and Sify have blogs too. You can create fresh blogs and write against the censorship. But I don't know how many of them have been blocked. Anyway, no harm in trying.

If you want to read banned blogs, esp. in blogger (blogspot), you can do so in . You can also type . For example, you can type (he he, it's mine!).

Indiatimes has an article on circumventing the ban. Read it at : . I also has a link for a wiki site on reading banned blogs.

Now start.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Medha Patkar and Emotional Blackmail

By M V Kamath

On March 8, the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) took a decision to give the go-ahead for raising the dam height from the existing 110.64 metres to 121.92 metres. This set in motion a lot of turbulence and opposition from various quarters, but most importantly from the Narmada Bachao Andolan led by Medha Patkar.
The point is made that several thousand families, especially those of tribal people, will be displaced but will have nowhere to go. Even at the height of 110.64 metres, the construction of the dam has reportedly displaced as many as 11,000 families. Were the dam to be raised still further to 121.92 metres, the calculation is that a total of about 45,000 families—over two lakh people—would be displaced.
The charge is made that even after two decades, it has not been possible to arrange satisfactory rehabilitation for the 11,000 families already displaced. Many knowledgeable people—and not just the Narmada Bachao Andolan—believe that given this track record and the obvious unwillingness of the Madhya Pradesh government to find land for those presently displaced, it is unrealistic to hope that with another 34,000 families displaced by raising the dam height to 121.92 metres, the government would meet their needs on the basis of two hectares per family.
As matters stand, the government of Madhya Pradesh has reportedly made it clear that it cannot find land for the evictees, but would be willing to pay cash to the affected families in contradiction to the norms laid down by the Supreme Court. Clearly, those displaced have an indisputable case. But then how is it to be solved?
Prof. Saifuddin Soz, chairman of the Narmada Control Authority's Review Committee has promised "to ensure that the rehabilitation of the project-affected families is undertaken in letter and spirit and in consonance with orders of the Supreme Court of India on the subject". But while Prof. Soz has assumed full responsibility for ensuring that justice is done, even he, apparently, has not been able to make much progress. Which would explain the extreme step taken by Patkar of undergoing an indefinite fast.
As in the case of construction of almost every dam, the displacement of people, from thousands to lakhs, is an inevitable fact. It has been argued that in a city like Mumbai, thousands of illegally built slum hutments have been demolished displacing a couple of lakhs of people and no voice has been raised in their favour. But that argument is faulty. The case of displaced tribals is wholly different.
The tribals have lived lawfully in land that has been theirs for decades if not centuries. They are not, by any calculation, 'outsiders'. To summarily displace them without giving them alternative living sites is cruelty of the worst kind. These are not urban people, but are true sons of the soil with a culture all their own. To uproot them and let them fend for themselves is cruelty beyond imagination.
In the circumstances, Patkar has a sound case. But that said, one must also look at the other side of the coin, too. There are literally millions of people in states like Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Gujarat who have very poor availability of water and their needs, too, have to be considered. But then the question arises: can one set of people be punished to help another set of people, whatever be the justification?
Is it right to uproot people, especially tribals who have a clear sense of belonging to the land they occupy, and relocate them in an environment they can justifiably describe as hostile to their well-being? The answer is anybody's guess.
Patkar is right in fighting for their just cause, but is undertaking a fast unto death the right approach? That almost amounts to emotional blackmail. The case of the displaced has gone right up to the Supreme Court and there is no higher court of appeal. And there's the rub. Theoretically one can appeal to the World Court but no court in the world can do much if there is not enough forest land available to rehabilitate tribals accustomed to their own way of life.
So ways have to be found that could, on the one hand, give reasonable satisfaction to the displaced persons while, at the same time, enable the governments concerned to do their duty as best as they can. This is where Patkar comes in. Going on an indefinite hunger strike, or undertaking a fast unto death, is not the best way to tackle an admittedly difficult situation. To paint governments—run by whichever party—as inhuman and uncaring may be good heroics but poor judgement.
In the circumstances Patkar is doing no service either to the cause of the displaced tribals or to enforcing social justice by her behaviour. The point has been made by some experts that a wise move would be to give up the idea of raising the height of the dam by a further eleven metres and use the money saved for small-scale water conservation and collection projects and thereby minimising the discomforts to thousands of affected people. This should not be a matter of governmental pride or ministerial egos.
In a democracy, people—including illiterate and helpless tribals—are supreme. Progress achieved at the cost of people is no progress. The question is frequently asked: why can't tribal people give up their ancient ways of life and join mainstream manpower? In the first place the State has no God-given right to change the lifestyles of any people. In the second place, one cannot change the lifestyles of people overnight. In either case it is a painful imposition of one culture on another, which is only possible in a ruthless communist society.
India is a democracy, a fact that needs to be stressed again and again. Every problem has a solution and compromise is part of any solution. For Patkar to undergo a fast unto death is unwise because it makes compromise hard to arrive at. She has been ill advised. It was all very well for a Mahatma Gandhi to undertake such fasts, but they were different times. And in any event, Patkar is no Mahatma Gandhi. Like strikes, fasts unto death have become out of fashion.
There is a lot of social injustice prevalent in the land and, sadly, there are no quick or easily workable answers. That may not be a satisfying answer to a vexing problem, nor is organised violence such as is being resorted to by Naxalites, a way out. But one thing is clear: problems such as we are confronted with cannot be resolved either by emotional blackmail or by violent upheavals. In the end we must sit across the table and negotiate the best deal possible.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Gandhi and Ambedkar (Medha Patkar and Narendra Modi?)

I had written about the indefinte fast by Medha Patkar, quoting a speech by Osho about Gandhi and Ambedkar. Here is a more detailed version of Gandhi's fast, Ambedkar's response and Osho's talk with Ambedkar, in Osho's own words. Just imagine Medha Patkar in Gandhi's place and Narendra Modi in Ambedkar's:

Mahatma Gandhi was the uncrowned king of India. For the simple reason that he was able to torture himself more than anybody else could. For any small reason he would go on a fast "unto death." Every fast was "unto death," but within three, four days, it would be broken -- there were methods to break it -- and soon there would be a breakfast; everything was arranged.

But people can be deceived very easily.... He goes on a fast, and the whole country prays to God that he should not die. All the great leaders rush towards his ashram and pray to him to stop but he won't listen unless his conditions are accepted -- any conditions, undemocratic, dictatorial, idiotic -- any conditions.
For example he fasted against Doctor Ambedkar who was the head of the untouchables.

Ambedkar wanted the untouchables to have their own constituencies and their own candidates, otherwise they would never be represented in any parliament anywhere. Who would give votes to a shoemaker? In India a shoemaker is untouchable -- who is going to give him the vote?

Ambedkar was absolutely right. One fourth of the country is untouchable. They are not allowed in schools because no other student is prepared to sit with them, no teacher is ready to teach them. The government says the schools are open, but in reality no student is willing.... If one untouchable enters, all thirty students leave the class, the teacher leaves the class. Then how are these poor people -- one fourth of the country -- going to be represented? They should be given separate constituencies where only they can stand and only they can vote.
Ambedkar was perfectly logical and perfectly human.

But Gandhi went on a fast, saying, "He is trying to create a division within the Hindu society." The division has existed for ten thousand years. That poor Ambedkar was not creating the division, he was simply saying that one fourth of the people of the country had been tortured for thousands of years. Now at least give them a chance to advance themselves. At least let them voice their problems in the parliament, in the assemblies. But Gandhi said, "I will not allow it while I am alive. They are part of Hindu society, hence they cannot have a separate voting system" -- and he went on fasting.

For twenty-one days Ambedkar remained reluctant, but every day... the pressure of the whole country. And he started feeling that if this old man dies then there is going to be great bloodshed. It was clear -- he would be killed immediately, and millions of the untouchables would be killed everywhere, all over the country: "It is because of you that Gandhi died." When the whole arithmetic of how it would work out was explained to him -- "You figure it out soon, because there is not much time, he cannot survive more than three days" -- Ambedkar hesitated.
He was perfectly right; Gandhi was perfectly wrong.

But what to do? Should he take the risk? He was not worried about his life -- if he was killed it was okay -- but he was worried about those millions of poor people who didn't know anything about what was going on. Their houses would be burned, their women would be raped, their children would be butchered. And it would be something that had never happened before.

Finally he had to accept the conditions. He went with the breakfast in his hand to Mahatma Gandhi, "I accept your conditions. We will not ask for a separate vote or separate candidates. Please accept this orange juice." And Gandhi accepted the orange juice.

But this orange juice, this one glass of orange juice, contains millions of people's blood.

I have met Doctor Ambedkar. He was one of the most intelligent men I have ever met. But I said, "You proved weak."

He said, "You don't understand: the situation was such that I knew I was right and he was wrong, but what to do with that stubborn old man? He was going to die, and if he died then I would have been responsible for his death, and the untouchables would have suffered."

I said, "That is not the point. Even an idiot could have suggested a simple thing to you. You should have gone on a fast unto death. And you are so overweight." He was a fat man, four or five times heavier than Gandhi. "If you had asked me.... A simple solution: just put another cot by the side of Mahatma Gandhi, lie down, and fast unto death. Then let them see! I promise you that Gandhi would have accepted all your conditions within three days."

Ambedkar said, "But this idea never occurred to me."

I said, "You are a fool if this idea never occurred to you! That was the idea with which that man was controlling the whole country -- and it never occurred to you. The only difficulty would have been to go on a fast -- particularly for a man like you: fat, eating four times a day. Naturally you would not have been able to manage it. Gandhi has practiced his whole life, he is an experienced faster; and you may not have ever missed a single breakfast."

He said, "That is true."

I said, "Otherwise if it had been my problem and he was being so illogical, I would have just lain down, even if I was going to die, and let him be responsible. He would not have allowed that, because my death would have taken away all his mahatmahood, all his aura, all his leadership of the people. He would not have allowed me to die; he would have accepted my conditions.
"But unfortunately I am not an untouchable, and anyway why should I be bothered with you two idiots? To me both of you are idiots. You have one fourth of the country in your hands and you can't do anything; that man has nothing in his hands -- but just by fasting.... He has learned a womanly trick. Yes, I call his whole philosophy a feminine psychology."

That's what women do every day. Gandhi must have learned it from his wife. In India women do it every day. The wife will fast, she won't eat, she will lie down. And then the husband starts shaking. He may be right, that is not the point.
Now there is no point of right or wrong; now the point is how to persuade her to eat? Because she is not eating, the children are not eating -- and who is going to do the cooking in the first place? Is he also going to fast? And the children are weeping, and they want food, and the wife is on a fast -- so you agree. She needs a new sari, you bring it. First you bring the sari, then she goes into the kitchen. This is an old Indian strategy of all women in India.

Gandhi must have learned it from his wife, and he used it really very cleverly.But there is some strange side of the human mind which is impressed by anybody who is capable of torturing himself.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Krishnamurti on religious men

I had posted J. Krishnamurti's views on this in one of my blogs. Here is more:

A religious man does not seek God.
The religious man is concerned with the transformation of society which is himself.
The religious man is not the man that does innumerable rituals, follows traditions, lives in a dead, past culture, explaining endlessly the Gita or the Bible, endlessly chanting, or taking sannyasa—that is not a religious man; such a man is escaping from facts.
The religious man is concerned totally and completely with the understanding of society which is himself.
He is not separate from society.
Bringing about in himself a complete, total mutation means complete cessation of greed, envy, ambition; and therefore he is not dependent on circumstances, though he is the result of circumstance—the food he eats, the books he reads, the cinemas he goes to, the religious dogmas, beliefs, rituals, and all that business.
He is responsible, and therefore the religious man must understand himself, who is the product of society which he himself has created.
Therefore to find reality he must begin here, not in a temple, not in an image—whether the image is graven by the hand or by the mind.
Otherwise how can he find something totally new, a new state?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Not Surprisingly SBI

AT last, the'indefinite' strike in State Bank of India is over. The staff of the country's 'largest bank' have finally decided to get back to work after holding the entire country for ransom. They relaxed at their respective homes while the poor customers were at their wit's end.
Of course, they have the right to strike work. But why can't they have a day's token strike? Why an indefinite strike? Did the unions ever realise that the Indian middle class which depend on their month's salaries will be left in the lurch? I wonder even salaries from the companies were credited to their accounts because of the strike. The poor customers would have to wait for a few days more for that to happen and then withdraw their money.
It has become a habit to go on indefinite strikes and indefinite fasts. It's nothing short of blackmail. The unions that resort to such strike and people like Medha Patkar deserve to be thrown in jail. What they are doing is nothing short than non-violent terrorism. (See my posting 'Is non-violence violence?')
But the Governments - State or Central - too must share the blame. The Governments just don't listen if you submit petitions or write letters to editor in newspapers or talk to the representative they have elected (if they can find him). There HAS to be some violence. Block roads; throw stones; burn a few (Government) buses; block roads (again) by taking huge processions in peak hour through main thoroughfares. And like Medha Patkar and the unions, resort to indefinite strikes and fasts.
Just look what happened: After realising that Medha Patkar won't budge, three Union Ministers rushed to the SSP-affected areas. And and another Union Minister Chidambaram himself intervened and gave the SBI staff what they wanted.
Now you know what to do when you want something. Go on an indefinite fast or strike. You can have your way without being branded a terrorist, though you are one - a non-violent terrorist.
And who said SBI is gearing up to face the competition? PSU staff will be PSU staff. Nothing can change them. And the proof is - Not Surprisingly SBI.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Is non-violence violence?

Are Mahatma Gandhi (and Medha Patkar) violent?

This question may sound preposterous, but according to Osho, Gandhi's non-violence, was in fact, acts of violence. This is what he says:

"Gandhi thinks fasting is a kind of right means to a right end. And like his last fast he resorts to fast unto death every now and then. If a threat to kill another person is wrong , how can the threat to kill oneself be right? If it is wrong for me to make you accept what I say by pointing gun at you, how can it be right if I make you accept the same thing by pointing gun at myself? It would be a greater wrong on my part if I ask you to accept my views with the threat if you don't , Iam going to kill myself.
"If I threaten to kill you, you have an option, a moral opportunity to die and refuse to yield to my pressure. But if i threaten to kill myself , I make you very helpless, because you may not like to take the responsibility of my death on yourself.
"Gandhi once undertook such a fast unto death to put pressure on Ambedkar. Ambedkar had to finally yield to Gandhi's pressures, but said later Gandhi would be wrong to think he had changed his heart and still believed he was right and Gandhi was wrong, but in order not take the moral repsonsibility of the consquence he had to yield.
"It makes no difference whether i threaten to kill you or to kill myself to make you accept my view. In either case I am using pressure and violence. In fact, when I threaten to kill you, I give you a choice to die with dignity, to tell me you would rather die than yield to my view which is wrong. But when I threaten you with my own death, then I deprive you of the option to die with dignity. I put you in real dilemma . Either you have to yield and accept you are wrong or you take the responsibility of my death onto you. You are going to suffer guilt in every way and there is no choice."
"Violence to an extent is necessary if one has to live. Even which we term as an instrument of non-violence could be violence. If I put a knife on your chest and ask you to obey me, it is violence. And if I sit and starve at your doorstep, threatening to die if you do not do what I say? Is this not violence? The former goes out from me to you, the latter is going towards myself. The latter is self-violence. A forcible pressure, mental cruelty, it is!"

Friday, February 24, 2006

Business Line redesigned

The Hindu Business Line (this is where I work) has been redesigned by Dr Mario Garcia of Garcia Media. The financial newspaper of The Hindu Group is the fastest growing financial daily in India.

1. Click here for the PDF of the front page of the issue dated February 24, 2006.

2. Ramya Kannan's report in The Hindu of the lauch function.

3. Another report in The Hindu.

4. A report about the new-look Business Line.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Sai copycats

The success of Satya Sai Baba has spawned several copycat sai babas; they even dress and sport an afro like SSB. Here are some of them. Thanks to Sanjay Dadlani for giving permission to use the photos and text from his blog.

Swami Sai Premananda

Post deleted due to objections.

Swami Ananda Baba

Real Name: Ricardo Javier Ocampo (aka 'Swami Ananda Baba' aka 'Maestro Amor')
"Some we called Teacher Love, by the loving transformation that each one experiments when listening and putting in practice its message of life. "Some we called Teacher Love, by the loving transformation that each one experiments when listening and putting in practice its message of life. Its education includes and synthesizes all the spiritual currents, inspiring to all that that listens, to the investigation and deepening of the knowledge, taking each word and action to the experience of 'here and now'."

Bio: The Masterful Love, was born in the Rioja the 28 of June of 1974, and from very early age demonstrated to a deep knowledge of the espiritualidad and Sacred Texts.

Also already since then it had an incredible variety of gifts, that showed a very special being.Been at the moment in Catamarca, it shares his lessons with a collaborator group with whom it develops to manifold activities on watch and social action in different communities from Argentina and the outside."

Websites:Maestro Amor
Photo Gallery: Google CacheSee Swami Ananda Baba replicate the 'Vibhuti Abhishekham' miracle!

Swami Vishwananda

"Swami Vishwananda is a spiritual teacher and yogi from Mauritius. He is dedicated to the spiritual upliftment of people of all religions and cultures in order to bring them to Self-realisation, which is to realise the Divine within. He is here to inspire and to awaken the divinity within, and to assure us that mortal consciousness can no longer restrict us, if we instill in our hearts and minds the Truth, and know that we are of God.He spreads and radiates warmth and love throughout the world and has opened the hearts of many people.

Bio: Shri Swami Vishwananda was born in 1978 in a Hindu family, on the Island of Mauritius. At that time, he was given the name 'Visham'. From an early age he showed a keen interest in Spirituality. At the age of 15, He went into/experienced the state of Samadhi. From that day forth he has dedicated himself to the spiritual upliftment and transformation of mankind by guiding people to focus on love and forgiveness, through Patience and Unity to reveal and experience our Divine Reality.


Read about the Hiranyagarbha (Golden) Lingam: One - Two: "Swami Vishwananda kept the Lingam only for three days. On Monday, 7th November he dematerialised it and 'brought it back where it came from'."

Swami Nagananda

Bio: "It has been born in (to) in (to) 1951 Sri Nagananda Swamy Bukkapatnam. People (people) saw signs from early childhood local <>, which (who) showed, that he (it) was exceptional spiritual nature. People (people) were witness how (as) cobras, when he (it) slept. He (it) was known from spending of many hour in solitary meditation also well <>. From its (his) this time of power of curing, mortal bites of snakes particularly, they have caused object materializacji, that known has become beyond region well <>. Meditation, service other, equality (identity) there is most important aspects of lives - and sciences Sri Nagananda."
- courtesy of

Ashram: "Shanti Mandiram" - Usually stand in in (to) nearly village stay which (who) find (be placed) Swami Nagananda aszramie Shanti Mandiram Andhra Prasesh Putaparti where owns countrywoman aszram Sathya Sai. It is very tiny Aszram and it consists from temple (i.e. places, where public meetings proceed and spiritual practices), private headquarters of champions, for pilgrims habitable buildings and very tiny, but for it beautiful (fine) park. Meditative room (shop) is placed in the area also Aszramu. There is main aszramem Naganandy Aszram Shanti Mandiram but champion owns in whole india 40 centers near and in europe 50 and USA."
- Courtesy of

Swami Gopal Krishna Baba

"Now there is a cry in everyone’s heart. Let there be peace! Peace in the world and peace in ourselves so that all beings can be happy. But how do we create this World peace? Should we do it on our own or should we do it together? Swami Gopala Krishna teaches us that there must be a balance. When we work only for our own peace spending hours in meditation, we create selfishness, but when we work only for the outside world we will create egoism too ... So let us work together and make this dream of World peace come true. Let us learn to give and forgive and make this world a better place for all to live in."

Bio: Gopal Krishna was born to Sri. Venkatramanaiah and Smt. Yamunamma, in the auspicious Hindu month of Kartik, on 6th November 1951. He was very different from the other children and showed a great interest in spirituality.



Photo Galleries: One - Two

Bangalore Ashram:

Sri Sai Mandiram
No.1265, 8th ‘B’cross, 1st ‘E’main,
2nd Phase, Girinagar, Bangalore-560 085
Email 1:
Email 2:

Netherlands Ashram:

Sri Sai Mandiram
Contact: Bas van Velzen, Kannaiah
Noordeinde 40
1658 CB Lambertschaag


Real Name: Chandrasekhar Balasubramanian

Bio: "On the eve of Vara Maha Lakshmi Vratham in the month of Shravan, Susila completed the pooja and the labor for the next Mission manifested. Just after midnight, My Mother gave birth to Chandrasekhar Balasubramanian (Sekharji). It was August 14, 1959. In 1960, the Family moved to the United States of America."

Message: "There are Saints, Sages, and Avatars who manifest in embodiment with a Specific Purpose at various points in Time filliping the advancement of civilization. In this age, the fundamental nature of Humanity is diminished by the apparent success of extolling the negative qualities of humankind. Peace, truth, right conduct, compassion, service, and Self Awareness has given way to the torrid accumulation of power and wealth by any means. Success is no longer measured by skill, talent, knowledge, humility, and effort; but by comfort, possessions, arrogance, social status, and profession.

"The Time has come for the Universal Awakening to begin. Each and every individual must awaken to the understanding that every thought, word, and action contributes to the evolution of humankind, the restoration of the basic nature of Humanity, and the divination towards the Realization of 'the Self'."

Token Boast: "I eat one meal per day and have been doing so for decades. I consider anything solid as food. Of course, there have been occasions when it was necessary to snack during the day. But, these are rare occurrences. Additionally, I have a complete fast every thursday. I have been known to fast for countless days, even weeks.."


Sekharji.Org - defunct (see old versions)
T.N. Bala - Website of Sekharji's father (Memorial page for mother)
Photo Galleries: One - Two - Three - **Four**

Swami Roberto

Bio: "Swami Roberto is the founder of Universal Soul. Ever since he was just a child, he has invited those who suffer to turn to prayer, and many testify that, thanks to his spiritual help, they have overcome great problems of life. Roberto teaches people to rediscover God in their own consciousness, with the certainty that Love, Charity and Brotherhood are universal spiritual foundations which belong to the whole of humanity, beyond any religious creed, since God is Father and Mother to all people."


Universal Soul

Photo Gallery:Universal Soul (old page)Universal Soul (current page)


"Our main Ashram is in ITALY, in the town of Leynì, deep in the country of the Piedmont region a few kilometres North of Turin. The address is Via Enrico Mattei no. 58, Leinì (Turin), ITALY."

Swami Premananda

"At the beginning of the 20th century, a great saint, Swami Paramaguru of Sri Lanka, foretold Swami Premananda's birth and spiritual power to Swamiji's grandmother. He was born on 17th November 1951 in Matale, Sri Lanka and the elderly saint's predictions steadily came true."

Bio: "From time to time great souls are born into this world with amazing qualities. They come with a purpose to remove the suffering of the people and to lead them to the truth. Swami Premananda is one of these very special ones. Swami is a Hindu religious title meaning that he has mastered himself. Prema means pure, divine love. Ananda means the highest joy known to man. Swami Premananda lives up to his wonderful name."

Premananda Youth
Premananda.Net (Dutch)

Photo Gallery: One - Two

Hinduism Today: "The popular Swami Premananda, known as the 'Sai Baba of Sri Lanka,' has closed his three ashrams and orphanage in Sri Lanka and opened a new 150-acre sanctuary named "Poobalakrishna Ashram" near Trichinopoly in Tamil Nadu, South India.

"The traditional Sri Lanka Hindu community, who are mostly Saivites, are not particularly impressed with the Swami's 'miracles' (which many consider sleight-of-hand), nor with his crowd-pleasing catering to the masses."

Times of India, April 05, 2005 - "The Supreme Court on Tuesday confirmed life imprisonment for two consecutive terms against a spiritual guru who raped 13 girls and murdered an inmate in his Tamil Nadu ashram in 1994. The Madras High Court had imposed the sentence on Swami Premananda of Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu."

Rape Case:Rick Ross - Share International - Guruphiliac - ExBaba - Einterface

Rape Defence:Justice For Premananda

Times of India, June 03, 2005 - "Former Union law minister Ram Jethmalani has struck out at some members of the nation’s apex judiciary, upbraiding them for 'intellectual inadequacy', shortly after the supreme court upheld the conviction and life imprisonment of controversial godman Swami Premananda for murder and rape in April this year ... Premananda had been accused of a murder and the rape of 13 girls in his ashram near Trichur in Tamil Nadu more than a decade ago. He was arrested, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, and lost his final appeal in the supreme court in April 2005."

Sri Bala Sai Baba

Bala Sai Baba was born to Shri Kannanur Ramanadha Sastry and Smt. Jaya Lakshmamma, hail from a rich family of Brahmin Community of his town. Being a skilled Ayurvedic Doctor Dr. Ramanadha Sastry specialized himself in the curing of snakebites and healed many patients. Smt. Jaya Lakshmamma was a ideal wife with pious qualities to suit the principles of Shri Kannanur Ramanadha Sastry.

Bio - English - "Sri Balasai Baba is admired in India as Avatar. Among them one understands the embodiment of the Goettlichen in human shape. Every time hate, force and destruction take over hand, God in people shape (like Jesus Christ) appears, in order humans, who are will to show the correct way. As Avatar Sri Balasai Baba of the world wants to serve and be for all sincerely searching friend, teacher and sound one. Sri Balasai Baba was born on 14 January 1960 in the southIndian Kurnool. Its birth was predicted by the large Indian holy Sri Ramana Maharshi."


Sri BalaSaiBaba.Us
SriBalaSaiBaba.De - English
Sri BalaSaiBaba.Com - English

CNN Hoaxbusters - "A geisha-pale Indian with a Botox permasmile.""Bala Sai Baba has stolen from Sai Baba not just his name ... but also his look. He too wears orange robes and an absurd Afro.

"Dialog Center - "Disillusioned by the scandals, many disciples have been turning away from Satya Sai Baba and to the 35 year-old Palghat (Kerala) born Bala Sai Baba. Bala Sai claims to be the real Sai avatar. He has set up an ashram in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. He dresses like Satya Sai Baba, performs the same kind of 'miracles’ and has been successful in attracting a large number of devotees. He too has western disciples."
Photo galleries: One - Two - Three

Ashram in Kurnool:

Sri Bala Sai Nilayam
Kurnool 518001
A.P. India
Tel: 0091-8518-221332, fax: 0091-8518-220647

Ashram in Hyderabad:

Sri Bala Sai Nilayam
Domalaguda No. 1-2-593-8
Gagan Mahal Colony
Hyderabad 500029,
A.P. India
Tel: 0091-40-55 82 36 10, fax: 0091-40-27 61 62 80

SSB on the copycats

Sathya Sai Speaks:

"In this Kali Yuga also such imitations are cropping up just as Paundraka shaped himself into a Vasudeva [Krishna]. We have today even Sathya Sai Babas. They get the same type of robe stitched, they strain themselves to cultivate the crown of hair, they study photographs and hold their hands up very nearly like I do and make themselves ridiculous by frantic attempts to imitate Me. They forget that 'imitation is only human; but, Creation is Divine.'

"Those who attempt to become Sathya Sai Babas by this ludicrous process of imitation only destroy whatever faith some people have placed in the Divine. They are poisonous pests which injure the peace and harmony of society. They collect around themselves insects of like nature. For only birds of the same feather can flock together. These 'pretenders' fall into ruin themselves and bring ruin on the society where they operate, as the proverbial horde of monkeys that ruin themselves and bring ruin on the forest which they inhabit."

Despite the harsh rhetoric, Sathya Sai Babas have been cropping up all over the place. Just as he predicted, they have indeed taken to growing their hair, copying his gestures, and have even made several visits to the tailor. Looks like Sai Baba can do nothing about that except scream, shout, stamp his little lotus feet, and then sulk about everyone wanting a piece of his pie.