Musings, Potshots

Ayodhya: a child’s view

Now that the Special CBI Court in Lucknow has exonerated all the accused BJP and VHP leaders of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement from any charges of ‘criminal conspiracy’ in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, We the Wee Wee and Pee Pee People of India may heave collective sighs of relief that the 28-year-old case is over and pray silently and fervently for peaceful times to come.

Alas, we may also rest assured that with this verdict, our wretched politicians and their media-marketing chelas of every hue – saffron, green, white and red  – will only redouble their efforts to fatten themselves and their vote banks by fanning the fires of Hindu and Muslim religious fanaticism, so that the atmosphere remains charged with political lightning, TV anchor thunder, social media storms and affiliated atmospherics till the next Lok Sabha elections are held in 2024.

‘Tis an appropriate time to reflect on how everything seems to change but nothing really does; and conversely and perversely, how everything seems the same but nothing is unchanged. 

So, my dear and long-suffering Reader, here is an article I wrote for the Indian Express back in 2005, on how the infantile religious kooks among us might yet learn a lesson or three about true faith from infants.   

Child’s play

[Indian Express, January 13th 2005: http://archive.indianexpress.com/oldStory/62556/]

Watch a toddler at play with building blocks. She picks up a red block and places it on a yellow one. After deep thought, she selects a green block and sets it down next to the yellow one. Frowning in concentration, with an occasional gurgle of contentment, she continues to build her little edifice of blocks in this way. At length she is satisfied and leans back to admire her creation, a magnificent three-storied edifice.

And then… she brings her little clenched fist down upon it. The structure disintegrates even as she claps her hands and squeals in delight before gathering the blocks again to build another edifice.

The toddler’s just taught us a valuable lesson. That we must not get too attached to human-made things like shrines.

 Sure, it’s fun to build a pretty shrine. Every stone and brick, every cut of the chisel and stroke of the paint-brush, expresses our passionate faith in a loving, all-powerful Protector of the Universe. But when we build our shrine we must remember that its truly enduring value lies only in the very act of its creation.

The blocks and rafters with which our shrine is made will not endure, nor will the sculpture and ornaments that adorn it, nor even the icons we place within it. In time, all these things will crumble even as we, the creators of the shrine, must die. After we are gone, after our shrine has crumbled to dust, the only thing that will endure is the love and inspiration that drove us to build it in the first place.

Does this mean it’s perfectly alright to start tearing down religious monuments all over the place and building others on them?

Of course not.

All it means is that we must not suffer from the delusion that a flesh-and-blood Protector dwells within our shrine, or that She/He is destroyed when our shrine is destroyed!

That One, from whom all creatures and all creation have sprung forth, surely cannot be confined by the walls of any shrine, however magnificent it might be. Or by the codes and rites of any one religion, or by human-made borders.

That One dwells within every speck of life and matter in this Universe.

It’s hard for us adults to see this. But it’s child’s play for kids!

Maybe that’s why the toddler shrieks in delight and claps her hands as she destroys her building-block shrine with a single blow.

I am Creator, Sustainer… and Destroyer!” is what she says. “I create because it’s so much fun… and I break because only by breaking can I make again!”

Maybe all our priests and sants and mullahs should learn from the wisdom of the world’s toddlers.

General ravings, Potshots

A ‘Pilot’ Proposal: “Vishaal Ghudashaal” Luxury Resort for MLAs

Dear Reader,

I present below the complete text of a weird yet strangely interesting ‘Pilot’ project proposal for bank finance from India Bulls & Ghotala Bank; I found it in an envelope lying near Reserve Bank of India on Parliament Street, New Delhi.

I’m not sure whether to take it seriously or notand I can’t seem to locate this India Bulls & Ghotala Bank either. What do you think I should do?

Application for Small Business Loan—Sole Proprietorship

A. Personal Profile

1. Name of the applicant

MADHUSUDAN  NIGONI  PERIALINGAM

2. Residential address

Same as my business address (see 8 below)

3. Sex

Heterosexual; 2 to 3 times a week

4. Whether applicant belongs to SC/ST/EBC/OBC?

[Attach copy of Caste Certificate as applicable]

Not sure. However, I can arrange to submit any number of SC/ST/EBC/OBC certificate(s) as required by Bank

5. Technical qualifications

  • 2018-19. Double Diploma in ‘Creative Accounting Practices’ and ‘Advanced Fabrication Techniques’ from Diamond Institute of Business & Fabrication Technology, an affiliate of Nirav Modi Global University, Antwerp.  [Address: D.I.B.F.T. Delhi Campus, Room no. 163, 4th floor, next to A-1 Photo Studio, Laxminagar, New Delhi – 110092]
  • 2016. Discharge-cum-Good-Conduct Certificate issued by Superintendent, Tihar Central Jail,  Delhi on Authority of 3rd Additional Metropolitan Magistrate, Tis Hazari Courts, Delhi
  •  1977. Certificate of Lifelong Unemployability issued by National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), New Delhi

6. Line of Activity/Business

HOSPITALITY SECTOR.

7. Experience

I have over 41 years’ experience in Hospitality Sector, as Certified and/or Institutionalized Inmate as well as Visiting Fellow in various public and private Mental Hospitals.

8.  Business Address

Same as my residential address (see 2 above). 

B. Project Outline

(Explain the gist of your project and how and why it is technically feasible and financially viable; detailed documents, excel-sheets, charts etc. may be annexed as required)

The proposed Project is a new venture in a hitherto-untapped realm of Hospitality Sector that promises assured, highly attractive financial returns on investment at minimal risk, while also serving public good by supporting welfare of elected People’s Representatives and strengthening Democracy in India.

AIM

The project involves setting up and managing a Dedicated Luxury Resort for MLAs that will offer secluded, secure and supremely salubrious accommodation for MLAs from across the country who are being targeted and/or lured to defect to other political parties.  

RATIONALE

1. Backdrop

The last few decades of India’s political history has witnessed an interesting phenomenon. In the wake of almost every state assembly election, the newly elected Members of the concerned Legislative Assemblies (i.e. MLAs) are frantically herded together by their respective party leaders and transferred swiftly to Hotels and Resorts (often located very far away), where the MLAs can be strictly monitored and prevented and/or protected from defecting to some other political parties.  A few examples:

  • Currently (August 2020), several score Congress MLAs in Rajasthan are suffering untold agonies in a 5-star Hotel in Jaipur where they have already been corralled for over two weeks.
  • Karnataka, clear leader among all states, has seen its MLAs whisked off to resorts across India in 1983, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2019.
  • In 2016, Uttarakhand MLAs were herded and flown into a resort in Jaipur
  • In 2019, MLAs from Maharashtra were relocated to a resort in Jaipur.  In 2002, the Maharashtra MLAs were spirited away to hotels in Bengaluru.
  • Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh too are energetic players in the MLA-Hide-and-Seek game.

2. The Need & Opportunity

While the process of herding and physically transporting the MLAs has matured into a smooth and well-oiled machine (especially with the induction by all parties of fleets of private jet aircraft at public expense), it is very difficult to find enough rooms for all MLAs in any single Resort or Hotel. Usually, the MLAs have to rub shoulders (and occasionally, other limbs and appendages) with tourists and other kinds of aam aadmi riffraff in these 5–star establishments. This poses a grave security risk for all concerned, especially the concerned political party’s future. Also, the available Hotels and Resorts usually do not provide adequate security infrastructure for MLAs against snooping sting-seeking journalists, spies from rival parties and so forth.  These and other factors cause great distress and hardship to the herded MLAs and their party Minders, as well as great financial distress and biological stress to senior party leaders. The overall effect is detrimental to Indian Democracy as envisaged by our Forefathers and Foremothers.

Clearly, there is a huge need as well as opportunity for setting up a dedicated luxury resort exclusively for MLAs in each and every state in India, where the MLAs can be provided with all the comfort and resources— physical, psychical, and moral—that they might need during such times of crisis.

PROPOSAL

The applicant proposes to set up a Dedicated Resort for MLAs in the National Capital Region of Delhi. The Resort, tentatively named “Vishaal Ghudashaal” (English: “Magnificent Horse-Stable” to convey a sense of stability as well as the pleasant atmosphere of horse-trading) will have a capacity to accommodate up to 84 MLAs at a time. It will provide 7-star facilities to its illustrious guests even while ensuring that a Z++ -level security ring prevents any unseemly, uninvited or untoward surveillance or intrusions by reporters, photographers and other outsiders that might disturb the tranquility of the guests.

The Resort is proposed to be set up as a ‘Pilot Venture‘ (inspired by recent events in Rajasthan following the exit of Shri Sachin Pilot, MLA, from the Congress party).  In the long term, it is hoped that this Project can be scaled up to establish similar Resorts in other locations across the country.

Financial viability

[Detailed analyses attached at Annexures 1–18]

  • Occupancy level of the Resort is critical to the financial viability of the Project. Here, the occupancy prospects are extremely encouraging, with as many as 10 states going to assembly polls between 2020–2023 to elect 1260 MLAs, a large proportion of whom are likely to seek refuge in the proposed Resort.
Current Assembly lapses inStateNo. of MLA seats
2020 DecemberBihar243
2021 MarchAssam126
2021 MarchJ & K  87
2021 MayKerala140
2022 MarchGoa  40
2022 MarchManipur  60
2022 DecemberGujarat182
2022 DecemberHimachal Pradesh  68
2023 MayKarnataka224
2023 DecemberChhattisgarh  90
Total1260
State Assembly elections due between 2020-2023
  • Historical data and reports show that a Resort-bound MLA typically receives an incentive of Rs 10–20 crores for remaining loyal to his/her parent party or for switching loyalty to another party [e.g. see this report. This provides an assurance as to the liquidity of the guest-MLAs and their respective political parties, and thereby strengthens and assures the financial viability of the Project. [Thus, even at 50% occupancy in the proposed 84-room Resort for a few weeks at a time, the increased liquid assets of the 42 guests would be in the range of Rs 420–840 crores—please see Annexure 9(c)].
  • The Project requires a capital investment of Rs 875 crores towards construction, finishing and commissioning of the Resort, including ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ infrastructure creation. To meet this amount, the applicant will contribute Rs 87 crores (10%), and seeks a term loan of Rs 788 crores (90%). The applicant will bring to bear his considerable expertise and experience in the Hospitality business to ensure the success of the venture.
  • The Resort is expected to be completed and launched within 36 months of release of the Term Loan. 
  •  The entire Term Loan of Rs 788 crores, along with interest, is projected to be repaid in full within a maximum of 12 months of launching the Resort.
  • The Term Loan may be viewed as a ‘Revolving Fund’ that will mirror the ‘Revolving Door’ dynamics of MLA defections, and enable the financing of more such Resorts in the long term on a sustainable basis. 

Credit facilities required

PurposeAmountRepayment
Setting up and running one 84-room high-security Luxury Resort in NCR Region, to accommodate  MLAs with high defection potential from all political parties across IndiaTerm Loan of Rs 788 crores  Within 12 months of commissioning the Luxury Resort
Working Capital Cash Credit of Rs 30 croresOn demand

I/We certify that all information furnished by me/us is true; that I/We have no existing borrowing arrangements with IB&G Bank; that no legal action is currently being taken against me/us ; that I/We shall furnish all other information that may be required by you in connection with my/our application, that this may also be exchanged by you with any agency you may deem fit; and that you, your representatives, or any other agency as authorized by you, may, at any time, inspect/verify our assets, books of accounts, etc., in our factory and business premises.

Date: 28th July 2020  

Place:  Delhi                                                                        

General ravings, Potshots, Remembering

Why India need not fear Islamic State or Al Qaeda

URGENT

An open letter to:

  • Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India
  • Shri Rahul Gandhi, ex-President, Indian Notional National Congress [for easy comprehension, audio recording of this letter being sent directly to him]
  • All Members of Parliament
  • Cabinet Secretary, Government of India
  • Director, Research & Analysis Wing (RAW)
  • Director, Intelligence Bureau (I.B.)
  • Editors of all leading and misleading Indian media houses (online, off-line and over-the-line)

Dear Sa’ar/Ma’am,

1. On 23rd July 2020, the highly influential and largely ineffectual United Nations Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team (UN-ASS-MT) released its 26th Report suggesting that there are many Islamic State (ISIL, Daesh) and Al Qaeda cadres living in Kerala and Karnataka and plotting major terrorist attacks in India. This UN-ASS-MT Report is being widely quoted in Indian main-scream media, creating unnecessary panic among the citizenry.

2. As a responsible citizen I write this letter to assure you, as well as my co-citizens, that India has nothing to fear from Islamic State, Al Qaeda, or their affiliated kooks…because it is they who fear India!  I state this with complete confidence, because Al Qaeda founder (late) Shri Osama bin Laden has himself admitted that AI Qaeda is terrified of India. Shri Laden made this admission in August 2005 during an exclusive interview granted to the recondite and highly redacted investigative-speculative reporter (late) Ghatotkacha Hidimbi Bhimasena, who was my dear friend and in some sense a kindred soul.  

3. Alas, Ghatotkacha’s original online post of  his interview with Osama bin Laden has mysteriously disappeared from the Internet—I suspect the Watchers of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate may have cast it into their already Laden Recycle Bin.  Sadly too, Ghatotkacha himself has vanished without trace under mysterious circumstances.

Ghatotkacha’s original post at http://creative.sulekha.com/india-too-dangerous-for-al-qaeda_102378_blog – now mysteriously vanished like him

4. Fortunately, however, I have been able to procure an offline copy of this historical 2005 interview in my capacity as Sole Legatee of Shri Ghatotkacha’s worldly and other-worldly assets.  I present below the complete transcript of the interview, and request you to give it wide publicity so that Indian citizens may rest assured that we have nothing to fear from IS, Al Qaeda or any affiliated kooks.

Jai Hind!

India too dangerous for Al Qaeda

[Ghatotkacha Hidimbi Bhimasena, 2005]

Osama bin Laden has announced that Al Qaeda will not attack India. The reason: it’s too dangerous for his terrorists.

In a 12-minute videotaped interview, aired by the little-known Dubai-based Al Nakhli channel last Friday, the tired-looking terror-lord is seen standing on a parched, rubble-strewn plain along with a masked man holding an AK-56 assault rifle. In the backdrop looms what appears to be a bombed-out house. Speaking in a monotone, and with frequent pauses to wave a fist or gaze at the sky, Laden says that he and his followers will continue to target ‘evil’ Western nations and their interests across the world. “But we will shun India,” he declares. “India is a land already destroyed by its own leaders, its people terrorized beyond our reach.”

In Langley, US anti-terror specialists have tentatively identified Laden’s masked companion as Al Kali Feroz Sulfait, an expert in chemical detonators. In Delhi, security agencies say the taped interview appears to be genuine. “Judging from the bombed-out appearance of the rocky slope in the background, the interview could have taken place somewhere in the lawless northwestern districts of Pakistan,” remarked a spokesperson for RAW. However, other officials expressed doubts, albeit off the record. “That interview could have taken place in the equally lawless mining districts ruled by Pappu Yadav in Bihar,” remarked a senior Intelligence Bureau official on conditions of anonymity. “Or perhaps, in a granite quarry in Bhai Thakur’s Bhayandar, in suburban Mumbai. My personal feeling, though, is that the tape was made somewhere amidst the bleak and rocky Delhi-Gurgaon badlands. That derelict building in the backdrop has all the unmistakable marks of a freshly-constructed DDA apartment block.”

Cynical? Undoubtedly so. Indeed, it is precisely this couldn’t-care-a-damn attitude about India’s security that distresses bin Laden. A few excerpts from the interview:

Q: Why have you spared India from attacks by Al Qaeda?

Laden: (with great bitterness). “One cannot set fire to ash. The Indians are deadened to terror. India is a land where the most dreadful atrocities are being carried out on the people daily, not by terrorists but by the government itself. Al Qaeda has tried to strike India, yes…but we failed.

Q: Could you clarify?

Laden: For instance, some years ago we set off a small improvised explosive device and sent a train off a bridge in Kadalundi, in Kerala. Our cadres claimed credit, but what was the Indian response? The railway authorities blamed the disaster on a sudden cyclonic storm that swept in from the sea and blew the train off the bridge — even though the event took place on a calm, cloudless night! As for the media and general public, from the very start they held the railways responsible for the event. They said the bridge was 125 years old and had given way under the weight of the train; they said corrupt railway officials had swallowed all the money meant for the maintenance of the tracks; some even alleged that the locomotive wheels had fallen off because they were fakes, the original wheels having been stolen and sold to scrap dealers. The more Al Qaeda tried claiming credit for the operation, the less credence was given to our claims. People went to the extent of saying the Indian government itself was putting out ‘false’ claims by Al Qaeda to deflect attention from its own failures…(shakes head in disgust)

Q: Was that the only operation you undertook?

Laden: The only direct one, yes. But our associates have undertaken similar successful strikes, only to meet with similar miserable failure in obtaining credit for the strikes. For example, a suicide team of Lashkar-e-Toiba held up a mall in Delhi. But their deaths went in vain…nobody believed the police SWAT team, which finally martyred the Lashkaris. Till today, the Indian public believes the dead Lashkaris were in fact undertrials from Tihar jail, petty pickpockets and the like, whom the Delhi Police planted and got rid off in a stage-managed ‘fake encounter’ at the mall so that they could pick up some rewards and medals.

Q: But this is terrible. Surely there must be another way to strike at India…

Laden: (Shakes fist at sky) I have torn away great tufts from my beard in trying to find another way. No, no, Indians distrust, fear and despise their own rulers far more than they fear us. Despite the most glaring evidence that we have struck, despite our most frantic and sustained efforts to claim responsibility for strikes, they stoutly refuse to believe us. They only blame their own rulers. What can one do? Is it fair on us? Is it just? (Subsides into muttering)

Q: Perhaps Al Qaeda should liberate the suffering people of India from the clutches of their oppressive rulers?

Laden: (wearily) Alas, the rot has spread too deep in India. Terror breathes deep of publicity, for that is its oxygen. How can we derive publicity in a country like India? If we bomb a bazaar, they will blame it on exploding gas cylinders supplied by corrupt government agencies. If we bring down a building or bridge, they will blame it on adulterated cement and steel used by scheming builders and contractors…

Q: Perhaps you could outsource your strikes, send funds and arms and explosives to local Indian squads…

Laden: (trembling with rage) Don’t you understand? Our methods will not work there! Would it not be utterly idiotic to smuggle funds into India from abroad, when Indians can sit in that country and raise Rs. 20,000 crores quite openly and legally like Abdur Rehman Telgi did! (Waves arms about) What is the point in our smuggling arms and explosives into India, when Indian businessmen are legally importing live artillery shells and radioactive wastes as metal scrap? No, no! I have decided that our cadres must not be tainted by India’s cynicism and corruption. Nor must my people’s lives be endangered by live ammunition discarded in public places. Al Qaeda will stay away from India! We cannot attack law and order where none exists…”

General ravings, Potshots

Reliance on Self-Reliance : food for thought

 Prime Minister Modi has done a good thing by announcing extension of the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojana till November 2020 — ensuring that free food grain will continue to be supplied to more than 80 crore (800 million) people, at an additional outlay of Rs 90,000 crores.

Assuming that the scheme is implemented efficiently and honestly, this is money well spent for a worthy cause.

But what happens after November 2020?  

Covid-19 has settled down comfortably across the country and world and stubbornly refuses to go away. In fact it is proving to be as difficult to dislodge as a VIP neta or babu who refuses to vacate her/his government bungalow in Lutyens Dilli even after being de-seated and/or sacked.  

So, with Covid-19 likely to remain in the long term, how can the government raise enough money to feed India’s hungry crores—especially, children— through the years and decades beyond November 2020?

I think the Covid-19 pandemic itself has provided an unexpected and  golden opportunity to achieve this noble aim.

We all know only too well that the pandemic has brought enormous misery and suffering to the vast majority of people, especially the poorer sections of the populace. But weirdly, the pandemic has also brought about a huge increase in prosperity among the world’s richest people (read more about this here).

Among them, our very own Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd, has seen his net worth burgeoning to a whopping US$ 64.5 billion, making him the 8th richest person in the world (click here to read more).

And herein lies the win-win-win-win opportunity.

I do believe Mukesh Ambani has worked hard for his wealth – unlike so many other wealthy Indians, especially among our hereditary political families, who have worked hardly for theirs. I also believe Mukesh has contributed hugely to the well-being of India and Indian people. Hence, I propose a unique, innovatively deranged scheme for feeding crores of Indian children sustainably in the long term; a scheme that I think Mukesh, as a patriotic Indian as well as shrewd and seasoned businessman, would be glad to participate in by leveraging a modest portion of his wealth.

Working it out

The first question, of course, is:  how much does it cost to provide a hungry child a fulsome, tasty, nutritious meal?

The Akshaya Patra Foundation, which feeds 1.8 million schoolchildren daily, provides a nice baseline figure:  to feed one child for a year, Akshaya Patra needs Rs 1100 (see here  for details)

So…to feed one crore children for a year, Akshaya Patra will need Rs 1100 crores.

Next question: where in Alambusa’s name can we find this kind of money – that too when the coronavirus is still doing its Tandava across India and the planet?

Answer: Self-reliance. Rather, Reliance—that’s where.

Consider Mukesh Ambani’s wealth. Applying a generous conversion rate of 1 US$ = Rs 70 (which allows enough cushion for any necessary kickbacks and payoffs to assorted middlemen, babus and politicians), Mukesh’s fortune of US$ 64.5 billion works out to Rs 4515000000000 = Rs 451,500 crores.

In the spirit of Atmanirbhar Bharat, then:

  • Government of India could float a special and aptly named ‘Self-Reliance India (SRI) Treasury Bond’ scheme exclusively for Mukesh Ambani and his Reliance Group, carrying an attractive coupon rate of 11% interest per year for (say) 10 years.
  • The SRI Bonds will have one unique and innovative feature:  the Government will retain half of the interest earned, and use the amount exclusively to feed children across the country.
  • The Government of India may request Mukesh to monetize Rs 200,000 crores of his wealth (that’s less than half his current net worth), and invest the amount in SRI Bonds.

That’s all that’s required.

I am confident that Mukesh Ambani will welcome this proposal – because there is no greater blessing to be had in this world or in any other than the gratitude of a child who has eaten her/his fill. Besides, there is virtually nowhere else for Mukesh to invest his money; banks in Europe and USA are paying zero interest on deposits or even charging customers a fee for saving their money.  Also, even the half-share of interest earned by Mukesh (5.5% out of 11%) is comparable to what Indian banks like SBI are paying customers for fixed deposits of up to 3 years.

So what are the happy outcomes of the SRI Bond scheme?

Benefits

  • The SRI Bonds of face value Rs 200,000 crores @ 11% p.a will earn an interest of Rs 22,000 crores each year.
  • Mukesh may draw his share of  Rs 11,000 crores each year and use it as he wishes. Looking at it one way: Mukesh could happily blow away Rs 24 crores daily from his share of interest –that’s one crore every hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week – and still have over Rs 2200 crores left over from the interest at the end of the year, more than enough to add another 10 floors to his 27-storeyed Mumbai bungalow ‘Antilia’, expand his parking spaces from 168 cars to 300 and add two more helipads to the existing three…with maybe enough left over for a haircut and cup of coffee.   And after this spending spree he will still have his principal of Rs 200,000 crores intact and another Rs 11,000 crores of interest to collect and blow up the next year, and the year after that…for 10 years.
  • The Government can use its interest share of Rs 11,000 crores to feed ten crore (that’s 100 million) children every year –preferably through Akshaya Patra, to ensure that it is the hungry children who receive the nutrition rather than the ever-ravenous babulog.  

I am presenting the above SRI scheme idea as a proposal to the Government of India for urgent consideration and action.

I will suggest to the Prime Minister that the SRI Bonds may be opened up to other Indian billionaires in due course: as the table shows, they have plenty of resources to invest and plenty to gain too.

India’s 10 richest people – Forbes list for 2019

RankNameNet worth (billion US $)
1Mukesh Ambani51.4 [now, 64.5]
2Gautam Adani15.7
3Hinduja brothers15.6
4Pallonji Mistry15.0
5Uday Kotak14.8
6Shiv Nadar14.4
7Radhakishan Damani14.3
8Godrej family12.0
9Lakshmi Mittal10.5
10Kumar Birla  9.6
 Total173.3
Source: https://www.forbes.com/india-billionaires/list/#tab:overall

O patient and worthy Reader, any feedback from you will be welcome.

[P.S.: I shall be grateful if you would add a few onions to the tomatoes and eggs that you hurl…my omelets and my happiness will then be complete].

Jai Hind.

General ravings, Potshots

Yoga for Indian Left-Liberals

With International Yoga Day coming up on June 21st, yoga enthusiasts the world over are stretching their muscles and metaphors of peace with increased agony and zeal respectively…even as Indian Communists, Socialists and affiliated Left-Liberals are twisting their slogans and bending their lips in increasingly sulky slants.

I do believe this is because the Left always feel a little Left out when it comes to yoga, which they mistakenly associate with something that only those nasty Hindus and Hindutva-types do when they are not plotting how to construct Ram temples on every square centimeter of India that is Bharat.

May I hence recycle an execrable article on yoga (with a few slight but necessary amendments) that my late and lamented alter ego Ghatotkacha wrote over five years ago to bring mirth and the Satori of Shavasana to his dear Communist/Left Liberal friends.

P.S.: Mystery surrounds the sudden disappearance of Ghatotkacha soon after this article was first published; he was last seen attending a yoga retreat in Kumarakom, Kerala. Some conspiracy theorists link his disappearance with the publication of this article. However, I am convinced that Ghatotkacha achieved yogic dematerialization – his most ardent wish – while standing on his head and chanting the three sacred syllables…

CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury has come under much flak from yoga-lovers because he humorously compared the movements of yoga with the movements made by a typical dog. [click here to read]

All yoga exercises can be noticed in a dog’s body movement,” said Yechury while speaking at an event to mark the birth anniversary of Communist ideologue Harkishan Singh Surjeet in Bhubaneswar. “When a dog gets up, it stretches its front and rear legs and takes a deep breath. That’s yoga!”

Now, a Communist with a sense of humour is a rare and beautiful thing. 

Yechury is among the last members of this exotic and greatly endangered species, and hence we urge yoga-lovers to take his canine comparisons without howls of protest or baring of fangs.

Also, unconfirmed reports from usually unreliable sources suggest that at a secret CPI(M) capacity-building retreat in an undisclosed resort in Kumarakom, Kerala, Yechury urged his fellow-traveller Communists to appreciate and apply certain simple yoga techniques that would bring immense benefit to their brains, gonads, and other secular organs.

Excerpts from Yechury’s presentation, provided by our sources:

1. Incantation.

Hindu and Buddhist yoga performers across the world chant ‘Aom’ [thus: Aaooooooooommmmm]. 

Muslim yoga performers chant ‘Ameen’ instead of ‘Aom’ [thus: Ammmmmmmeeeeeeeeenn].

Cadres of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chant  “Gow’  (meaning Holy Cow’) [thus: Gowwwwwwwwwwww]

Communists rightly regard  ‘Aom’ , Ameen’ and ‘Gow’ as communal or Gowmunnal incantations. Hence, in keeping with our ‘secular’ credentials, we Communists could instead chant ‘Aom’ but in another way, as ‘Mao’ [thus: Mmaaaooooooooooooo]

2.  Postures.

(i) Upward facing dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana).  This posture relaxes and tones the muscles around the jaws and mouth. It is especially suited for Communists, who often strain their facial muscles and jawbones through constant chanting of the Sacred Jibe so beloved of Communists:  “Running dogs of capitalism”.

(ii) Wind-releasing posture (Pavana mukta asana).  This posture is excellent for releasing pent-up gases that might otherwise affect the secular organs of the Communist body-corporeal. It is particularly recommended for the campus-orators, who will take the Revolution forward and who may not always be able to afford Pudinhara and other medicines that are manufactured by the MNC pharma companies and their affiliated Braying Donkeys of Capitalism.

(iii) Plough posture (Hala asana). This posture is highly recommended for Communists, as it symbolizes our identification with the humble agricultural worker who wields the Plough. Besides, it is symbolic of the Plough Constellation, also known as Big Dipper, which Communists fondly associate with Boris Yeltsin, the Big Vodka-Dipper ex-president of Russia – the Holy Land where Communism was born. 

(iv) Son salutation (Surya namaskaar). This set of postures provides all-round health and vigour to the body. Unfortunately, it has lately come to be associated with the Son-worshipping Congress Party. Hence, barring the ‘Upward Facing Dog’ pose (see above) it should be avoided by the Communist Yogi.

Let us not be cowed down by the Gow-worshippers! Let us not be misled by gods and angels – instead, let us be inspired by dogs and Engels!” Yechury allegedly yelled at the conclusion of his speech.

He was greeted with thunderous cheers of “Workers of the world, unite in Communist head stands…we have nothing to loosen in our brains!”

Jai Hind!

General ravings, Musings, Potshots

People’s Daily goes Viral

I’m very fickle in my loyalty to media – as  I explained ad nauseum (puke puke) in one or more earlier posts. The simple reason is that I don’t trust any media house—Indian or international—to present me with the simple unbiased truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I believe that all media sources have hidden agendas…and hidden jhandas that together bear all hues of the political spectrum.

The more fiercely any media channel or website proclaims its own integrity, the more clearly I recall the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:

The louder he talked of his honour, the faster we counted our spoons

Yet I must know what’s REALLY going on in the country, in the world. As I’m sure you do, too.

I still trust my own common sense and ability enough to separate Truth from the Great Ocean of Media Ghoda Gobar  in which we all wallow. And so, rather than find and revel in stagnant, parochial tide pools filled with the kind of Ghoda Gobar that I would LIKE to believe is the Truth, I just commend my soul to the One and dive into the great and noisome Ocean itself, with two parallel strategies that have kept me afloat for…well…at least 15 days at a time:

  • I feed randomly on about 5–6 sources of ‘news’ each day, trying to cover the entire Left–Right political spectrum, Indian and international.
  • I switch loyalties as often and as unpredictably as I can.

Example: From February to April, my primary news feeds were Indian Express, The Wire, Republic TV, Rajya Sabha TV, CNN, Wion, and NewsLaundry.

Since May 5th or so, I’ve abandoned all but Indian Express and Rajya Sabha TV. Now I also chew awhile on DD Northeast Channel, Times Now, The Quint, Fox News, and People’s Daily (from People’s Republic of China).

It’s fun. Often, it’s hilarious. You have to try it to discover how highly renowned, greatly  adulated journalists, reporters and affiliated experts and academia the world over are manufacturing incredibly different, equally compelling narratives out of the same ‘Truths’ and ‘Facts’ and ‘Realities’ that each of them claims ’exclusively’ to have unearthed, and presents most convincingly for our education and enlightenment.

I’m getting particularly attached to the People’s Daily. True, the mountains of praise it showers on the glorious leadership and vision of President  Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party would make even the most well-seasoned Family-toadies of Indian National Congress gnash their rodentine teeth in envy. Yet, there’s something refreshing in its simple language, its directness, its unabashed upholding of Chinese interests…and particularly,  its corrosive articles on the USA and its leader President Trump in these Covid19-ravaged times..

Here are a few recent extracts from this wonderful e-paper:

Fourth question to American politicians: Why not fix your sick and twisted mind first?

[May 11]

…While rational voices in the international community have acknowledged China’s efforts and contributions to the fight against the epidemic, the U.S. has continued to defame and slander China, revealing its sick and twisted mind…

Despite having no professional background or practical experience, some U.S. officials have brazenly made irresponsible and ridiculous remarks amid the outbreak, such as recommending the injection of disinfectants into the human body to fight the coronavirus…

China leads vaccine R&D, no need to steal

[May 12: ‘Global Times’]

China’s Foreign Ministry and experts have slammed rumors hyped by the US side that Chinese hackers and spies are trying to steal their research materials for COVID-19 vaccine and drug development…

US could only harm existing cooperation mechanisms by making such ridiculous accusations against China, Lü Xiang, a research fellow on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday. China is fully able to research and develop COVID-19 vaccines independently. If the US claims China is stealing its data, then the US needs to prove that it has achieved more progress than China, said Lü, otherwise, why would China be interested in it?

Lü said the epidemic situation in China has been generally brought under control, and daily life and economic activities are returning to normal. Meanwhile, the US has more than 1.3 million infections and the number continues to increase.

We are not the ones who desperately need the vaccine, they are,” Lü said.

 Fallacious U.S. targeting of China over COVID-19 groundless: experts

[May 18]

…From a legal perspective, the pandemic is a global public health issue, and there is no such a thing as “state responsibility” of the first country to report cases, experts said, adding that AIDS was first reported in the United States in the 1980s and has spread across the world since then, but the global community has never asked the United States to be held accountable…

 

Peoples Daily Mirth

 

The People’s Daily provides mirth, and much-needed balance to both CNN and Fox News, even as Covid19 does its Tandava across the world.

I’m a die-hard fan…at least for now. As with Covid19, a fortnight’s usually the maximum time before fatigue and other warning symptoms of infection appear…

General ravings, Potshots

Dreadlock Visions during Lockdown

[or, Hair Today…Gone Tomorrow]

When the Union Government announced extension of the Covid-19 lockdown till 17th May, I felt a sharp prickling sensation in the back of my neck.

The prickling sensation wasn’t because of fear. It was a familiar and increasingly irritating reminder that my haircut is long overdue— and that now I’ll have to wait at least two weeks more to have one.  It’s a hair-raising prospect; especially because for the last 40 years, I have with clockwork regularity gone to the barber every 45 days for a “double fauji bina kanghee wale” job.

I do believe short hair lightens the pressure on the brain. Deliberately shorn hair also helps when my hairline is receding just about as fast as my intelligence and memory.

Anyway: with every passing lockdown day, what remains of my hair grows in about thirty-seven different directions at varying rates in five distinct shades of grey and white. I can’t do a damned thing about it, because barber shops have all been closed,  and ‘social distancing’ prevents me from seeking the amateur assistance of a friend who has volunteered to do the job with garden shears.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t mind enduring this minor discomfort—after all, overgrown hair is such a trivial issue when millions are undergoing such hardship  in these difficult times.

But I am chagrined that even as my hair runs riot and my face increasingly resembles that of a depressed and slightly deranged hedgehog, I see a large number of public personalities—political leaders, celebrity journalists and the like—appear with perfectly coiffured hair on TV and online screens every day.  In fact, these women and men look exactly as well-groomed as they did in December 2019!

Me
(L) Me; (R) Hedgehog (image courtesy medicine.net). Note: I apologize for any unintended hurt feelings, injured egos or ruffled quills that I may cause to hedgehogs by drawing this comparison.

It is obvious to me that these well-groomed public personalities are flouting social distancing norms! Their haircuts are just too good; they can’t be lawnmower jobs done by family or friends. I am convinced that these women and men are covertly availing the services of professional hairdressers, so that they can look suave and well-trimmed while the rest of us watch our own faces disappear under the overgrown undergrowth on our scalps.

Unfair?

Perhaps…but  I don’t grudge these fine women and men the privilege of getting their hair groomed while the rest of us can’t. After all,  they are respected and popular figures who are doing all they can to boost the morale of the Indian public in these trying times. Naturally, they must look their best.

Still, it’s tempting to know what these public figures might have actually looked like today, if they had not availed the services of hairdressers during the lockdown.

And so,  I’ve created projected images – crude, but hopefully indicative – of what a select few politicians and journalists would have looked like today WITHOUT their haircuts.  To create these projected images I’ve used the beta version of an Algorithmic Profile Projection software, code-named ‘Tonsure 101’, that is being developed for the Intelligence Bureau by the internationally derided Prof. Iqbal Taklu and his team under a shadowy India-USA security cooperation  project that is so secret that it does not find mention in any public or private records, and indeed may not even exist.

I plan to crowd-source bail bond funds in my next post.

Actual look                                               Projected image

Union Home Minister Amit Shah
Amit Shah, BJP M.P; Union Minister, Home

 

Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi, Congress M.P

Mamata Bannerjee
Mamata Bannerjee, West Bengal Chief Minister

Pinarayi Vijayan
Pinarayi Vijayan, CPI(M); Kerala Chief Minister

Uddhav Thackeray
Uddhav Thackeray, Shiv Sena; Maharashtra Chief Minister

Shekhar Gupta
Shekhar Gupta; Editor-in-Chief, The Print

Arnab Goswami
Arnab Goswami; Editor-in-Chief, Republic TV

Jai Hind!