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Mutiny India’s thought terminus

October 2008 Issue 1 Rs. 30

more Than a blog Now in print A passionate look at modern India through the minds of her people

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India’s thought terminus

EDITORIAL Mutiny Media Private Limited, 46A Hanuman Building, 308, Perin Nariman Street, Fort, Mumbai 400001. Editor-in-Chief: Jacob Joseph Managing Editor: Sanjukta Basu Editors: Joseph Thomas Sandil Srinivasan Shantanu Dutta Sub Editor: Munawar Shariff Designer: Saul Hardick Printed and Published by Ashok Bania on behalf of Mutiny Media Private Limited, 46A Hanuman Building, 308, Perin Nariman Street, Fort, Mumbai 400001. Printed at Young Printers, 239 Nirman Impressee, A-2, Shah & Nahar Industrial Estate, Lower Parel, Mumbai 400013.


utiny has been around for over five years now. From humble beginnings as the personal blog of a homesick globetrotting Indian, it has grown to be one of the most read Indian community blogs in the world. With over 200 contributors across the country, who write, edit, code, design, photograph and film on an almost daily basis, we could be mistaken for a mainstream media organisation. Why print? Why not just stay online and keep all the Google adsense revenue and move to Ooty? It is very tempting. But that’s not what Mutiny is for. What’s the point of remaining an Internet opinions website in a country where the numbers of Internet users are in such a minuscule minority? If we want our voice to be heard, we have to be in print. Mutiny is not about a revolution. Mutiny is not a rebellion looking for a cause. Mutiny doesn’t have a viewpoint or an ideology of its own. With a majority of our country’s population now under the age of 30, we need to talk and listen. Mutiny is a platform for thoughts. Thoughts that will shape our nation’s identity in the coming decades. Our thoughts on where our nation should and shouldn’t be headed can be the deciding factor. Where are we going to find readers? Where are we going to find advertisers? How do we fill up all these pages? How many months can this go on? Honestly, I don’t know. I never thought of these things when I started, I guess the answer depends on you. Do you want to be part of the Mutiny?

Editor-in-Chief: Jacob Joseph

October 2008 | 3


Cover image: Rohit Mattoo w w /iblog

None of the above A democracy gives people the power


A tight slap to the Left A blow in the form of the indo-us nuclear deal


Colonial democracy? is democracy in theory equal to democracy in practice?


Brown man’s burden Missing opportunities because of pre-conceived racial prejudices


Say ‘Mom’ kiddo moving ahead and forgetting your roots?


A half-Muslim’s view on how Muslims should be perceived perception is reality


The right to die euthanasia - no easy task


Hindi = Indian? the indian film industry does not mean bollywood


Stand up for yourself the indian gay/lesbian community gets gradual recognition


Promoting talent giving techies the right guidance


Sex education or education on sex why the taboo?


A textbook and related politics the hue and cry over nothing


Business interests vs national interests patriotism or profits?


Fruits of knowledge applying knowledge to secure food


Angrezi Hatao is now passé english is here to stay


Coming out marching with pride


The country of god’s men cons or religious gurus?


How fat is too fat to work? patriarchy in the workplace


A city of villagers home is where the heart is


What is the Idea Factory? a bunch of weird, absurd, useless ideas


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None of the above POLITICS

A democracy gives people the power to choose the political leader and idea that is most beneficial


egative voting is an option of exercising one’s franchise to none of the contesting candidates. This exercising of negative voting, could be construed as an expression of discontent with the candidates or as against the political parties at large. The need for such a provision could be argued based on the socio-political ground that people are discontented with the performance of the political parties and the leaders and hence are using negative voting as a tool of expressing this dissent. Many recent elections have seen a drastic fall in the polling ratio, which is being attributed to the loss of faith in the political parties. Lots of people have just 6 |

stopped exercising their right to vote. When less than 50 per cent of voters select a government, what legitimacy of ‘people’s will’ does that win carry? Will negative voting help as an alternative to this problem, is the moot question? As such, what does negative voting help? It helps those who do not want to select any of the candidates to the electoral booths express their dissent. But even then, the above-mentioned condition of a candidate getting elected by a very low margin of votes, as compared to the total number of votes being polled may continue, but the polling percentage has high chances of going up and thus could reflect

the actual will of the people. Though this would actually reflect good governance, this in no way is going to invalidate candidature of any of the contestants, but just that this helps to bring out the best of democracy. It is, at last, the choice of the people, and to prove the fallacy of depicting the common man as a fool, who has no other option other than choosing between two people on the basis of who is a little less corrupted than the other. The legality of this issue, as the position stands now is that a voter has the option to refuse to vote after he has been identified and necessary entries made in the Register of Electors and the marked copy of the electoral roll (this is in the case of Electronic Voting Machines). In the case of conventional ballot paper and ballot boxes, which was in use before, a voter could drop the ballot

paper without marking his vote against any of the candidate. This is as per the Rule 49-O of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961. But this throws up the issue of compromising secrecy. A secret ballot is one of the characteristics of a democratic poll. Here the polling officials and the polling agents in the polling station know the voter’s choice. So for an effective negative voting, it is important that it should have secrecy. The Election Commission of India (ECI), in its electoral reforms, has recommended: The Commission recommends that the law should be amended to specifically provide for negative/neutral voting. For this purpose, Rules 22 and 49B of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, may be suitably amended adding a proviso that in the ballot paper and the particulars on the ballot unit, in the column relating to names of candidates, after the entry relating to the last candidate, there shall be a column “None of the above”, to enable a voter to reject all the candidates, if he chooses so. Such a proposal was earlier made by the Commission in 2001 (vide letter dated 10.12.2001). There is a petition filed by the PUCL in 2005, before the Supreme Court seeking a right for the voter to cast a negative vote through the method recommended by ECI. But even though the petition is admitted, the final decision is yet to come, as no judgment or related news item can be located. As a sign of a matured democracy, it is high time that such significant improvements in the electoral regime are incorporated. Deva Prasad M

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A tight slap to the left Politics

Using unreal issues to boost their agenda, the Left has received a major blow from the Indo-US nuclear deal


n many personal debates or discussions, there are two people arguing and onlookers enjoying the proceedings. The on-lookers often just nod their heads in agreement or disagreement. When one argument gets weak and a possible winner is in sight, the loser often resorts to getting audience support to make some noise in order to boost confidence. Sometimes this goes wrong and the audience ends up supporting the enemy. The Left parties have just got themselves into such a situation. The 123 agreement with USA had the Left saying the Indo-US nuclear deal would never get Muslim support. This was their way of pressurising the UPA government. They were playing the communal card for political interest. But the Indian Muslims seem to have a different take. “The Communists are trying to give it a communal colour by linking

the nuclear issue with Muslims,” says Abdul Hamid Nomani of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind. The Jamiat Ulema-eHind, which organised massive protest rallies during US President George Bush’s visit in 2005, has not opposed the deal so far. “We are trying to understand what is in the national interest,” says Nomani. This attempt by the Left - the communal angle to sustain their anti-US politics and to reap Muslim vote banks - is creating grave dangers. Many of the extremist Muslim organisations have put up the veil of liberalism and now operate with new names and have even acquired political face lifts. They are making good use of the vacuum in their operations. They are now talking about liberation, human-rights, Dalit uplift …. All of this is very visible in Kerala. If only the Left realised this. Joseph Thomas

India’s thought terminus

Colonial democracy? POLITICS

The definition of democracy may be one thing but what it means in practice in India may be another


eading reports on the Gujjar agitation and the fact that apparently the Rajasthan government is seeking out alternate Gujjar leadership, I wonder sometimes about the nature of our democracy. Democracy is meant to be an inclusive process, listening to different and even divergent voices and then arriving at a decision that, even if it does not please every body, at least is accepted by every body. This listening, consulting, decision making process is what is meant to make democracy the most superior of all governance mechanisms. But is democracy working? And if it is, then why are so many people angry? Reflecting on how the State handles dissent today, not much of a difference is discernible between the Colonial times and now. The first response when any voice of dissent is heard is to repress it and crush it, hoping the uncomfortable voices will eventually die out. Many do. Many voices die down.

But some don’t and over time they get amplified. Then, when things go out of control, talks are summoned. That sounds very much like the cat and mouse game that Mahatma Gandhi and the British used to play. Gandhiji would launch one agitation or the other, he and his associates would be promptly packed off to jail, there would be a public outcry and then once a certain line was crossed, Gandhiji would be called for talks. More often than not, the talks would break down, after a while another agitation would be launched and then the whole cycle would repeat itself. Today, more than 60 years after independence, what is the difference? Be it the Maoists or the Naxalites or any of the numerous underground outfits of the North East and now even the Gujjars. As long as the movement is perceived to be small and inconsequential, the State’s weapon of choice is the jackboot to stamp out the fire. If that’s

not enough (in the presence of a capable leader like Colonel Bainsla or strong support as is the situation with many of the underground groups) they get called for talks after causing all the mayhem. In contrast, look at the khadi-clad Medha Patkar and her Narmada activists or the Telengana activists who are pursuing their goals through peaceful means. Nobody gives a hoot about them and their speeches as they do not block traffic, stop trains and damage public property. So in the eyes of the State they and their cause can rot. We pride ourselves on being the world’s largest democracy and that is fine. We do hold elections every five years or sometimes even oftener and these elections do provide an opportunity for governments to be voted in and out and that is a lot more than what many of our neighbours can claim though Bhutan and even Nepal might be catching up. But the nagging question is: what eventually is the essence of democracy? The process of holding elections alone or also the (implicit) commitment that one man one vote is more than just a slip of paper or a punch on the electronic voting machine – that one man one vote equates to one man one voice, too. That each individual and his or her voice counts, that democracy is not synonymous with the majority, that the one with the largest demography may get to rule, but they rule in a spirit of bipartisanship on key issues by forging, maintaining and sustaining consensus through listening, accommodation and inclusion. Unfortunately, we haven’t got there in the last 60 years. May be, we will be there in the next 60 years. Here’s hoping. Shantanu Dutta

October 2008 | 9

Brown man’s burden Society and Life

Racism as a necessary evil has long been addressed. But sometimes, those at the receiving end unknowingly indulge in a kind of reverse racism against themselves which originates in their minds


n Prasenjit Gupta’s short story A Brown Man, Vijay teaches in the English department in a small American town. He is single. His mother in India wants him to marry an Indian girl; no foreigners were to be trusted she said. So Vijay found Asha, his girl friend of three years, until she – more liberal in her ways than even the white girls his mother worried about left Vijay for a hippie! So, Vijay is single again and lonely, too. His department head, Philip and his wife Sharon are good friends. They sense Vijay’s loneliness and try playing match maker. Their efforts are futile as Vijay is very conscious of parental authority and won’t do anything to offend his mother. Of course, Philip and Sharon don’t know that. So, they introduce Vijay to their distant cousin, Amy, who is on holiday and is staying with them. 10 |

Vijay is not interested (because of his mother’s constant reminders of white girls who are out to seduce him) but out of courtesy to Philip and Sharon, who are good people, he agrees to spend some time with Amy and “show her around” town. They go out and get along well enough. Each tells the other about past loves and break-ups. But Vijay is always aware of his mother’s unambiguous message - “Don’t bring home a foreigner,” when out with her. As expected, friendship blossoms into …. Vijay finds himself falling in love with Amy – a white woman! And that despite all the warnings. On one of his monthly calls home, he crosses the Rubicon by admitting to his mother that he is seeing a white girl. She sighs hopelessly into the phone. Amy’s vacation is almost over and they go out one last time before Amy

leaves. That evening, Vijay thinks Amy has never looked more beautiful and that if he must propose, it has to be tonight. As they are settling into their meal, a guest at the restaurant (a white man) sits opposite their table and looks disdainfully at Vijay and admiringly at Amy. Vijay shrinks within himself as he remembers the many times he has been snubbed by white people over the years. The dinner ends without a proposal. Vijay drives a very visibly low Amy back home. The next day, as Vijay drops Amy to the airport, she casually mentions that her old boy friend wants reconciliation and she did too. Vijay shrivels further inwards as he bids her good bye. Is racism for real or is it an imagined shadow that Vijay seems to see every where, often without any substantial basis? His colleague Philip and his wife Sharon cared enough about

India’s thought terminus

him to notice his loneliness and fix him up with Amy. As their relationship developed, Amy dared to hope that the man she had come to love and to admire would one day propose to her. But though he skirted edgily around the subject, he never did. He was haunted by his own mother’s demons – that white American girls were bad, although Vijay’s own experience said Indian girls were no better. Now that racism is no longer institutionalised, it is that much more difficult to track down and identify. Also, separating real racism from that which is magnified by past experiences, mental imagery, perceptions true and imagined, leaves one with incorrect interpretations and often tragic consequences as in Vijay’s case. Vijay’s interpretation of what a white woman would be like was largely conditioned by what his mother filled his ears with while he was in India as well as on monthly dosages when he was in America. Although he had enough caring white people in his life, he still could not bring himself to trust them and himself when it came to the defining moment which eventually passed him by. Stereotyping whether racially, ethnically, religiously or in any other manner leads one to make flawed judgements that harm people, discriminate against them and deny them opportunities. But like the saying goes, what goes around comes around. Like a boomerang it comes back and denies us the very same joys that we imagine others are losing out on.

Say ‘Mom’ kiddo Culture and Entertainment

Moving ahead in our lives doesn’t mean forgetting our roots. But today’s generation is leaving it all behind


t is surprising to see now-a-days how much parents talk to their kids in English and how little in their mother tongue. Whenever I go to some restaurant and spot a family with children in the five to seven-yearold category, the kids are conversing in English slang. To each other, their parents may speak in their mother tongue but when addressing the kids, it’s English. I wonder why this is so. I mean, I am sure they are trying to give their kids a head start into the language they will use in their professional lives, but won’t they have enough time to master that in school? Isn’t bringing up kids, all about teaching them the stuff no school or teacher would tell them? Chances are your kid might never actually study your mother tongue and might never even be able to read or write in it. Since a lot of kids growing up in cities do not read literature written in their mother tongue, a lot of great stuff goes unread. For instance, most of the kids growing up in Chandigarh wouldn’t know that the very popular song Bulla Ki Jana Main Kaun by Rabbi Shergil is actually a Kafi (a Sufi poem) until they

heard it on television, even though such literature is very easily available in Punjab. I wonder if kids still read Sukumar Ray in Bengal? One of our college professors who grew up in Bengal said that it was unimaginable to not read Abol Tabol and other works of his while growing up. Perhaps this is just another change that comes along with the passing of generations, but any change that reduces exposure of young people to knowledge, cannot be termed healthy. Regional language literature is no longer in the news, primarily because of the sharp fall in the number of readers

over the last few decades. I would like to know how many of us have read a book in our mother tongue (or in any other Indian language) in the last five years or so? We only know how to do things in extremes. A few years ago, the government in MP called for a ban of English rhymes saying they wanted to promote Hindi literature for kids. Now every six to sevenyear-old around me talks to their parents in English. I wonder if we will ever learn to balance things? Ujjwal Grover

Shantanu Dutta

October 2008 | 11


A half-Muslim’s view on how Muslims should be percieved Culture and Entertainment

Perception is reality. In order for Muslims to be perceived as progressive and liberal, they need to behave so. Not just in India, but around the world


’m half-Muslim. The other half is Hindu. While there were no overt attempts in the house to make me choose between either religion, there was exposure to both. Outside of the home, you didn’t meet many Muslims and therefore the exposure outside the home was prima12 |

rily Hindu. And thankfully we grew up celebrating all festivals in the house, and had Christian teachers in school, so there was an ample dose of Christianity thrown in. I was raised by my Mother on Amar Chitra Kathas. (Uncle Pai therefore shares some of the blame for how

I’ve turned out.) I read comics on Jesus Christ, Rama, Krishna, Hanuman, Buddha, Mahavir Jain, Guru Nanak, Kabir, Agastya, Ghatotkach and a truckload on Hindu mythology. I read loads about India’s history, her invasions, her home grown kings, and Amar Chitra Kathas always presented an unbiased, usually positive viewpoint, the kind that kids should be exposed to. I grew up accustomed to people marvelling at my knowledge of “Hindu” mythology, and other religions. I also grew up practically unaware of what Islam was about. Since my family didn’t pay much

India’s thought terminus attention to it, I was only aware of who the “heroes” of Islam were: The Prophet, Hazrat Ali & his martyred sons Imam Hasan & Imam Husain, and their clan. As I grew older, I met more Muslims, relatives who didn’t have the advantage of a Western education, who were amazed at how little I knew about Islam. They tried to impress upon me, how good the religion was, what it said etc. Unfortunately, I was in my teens and rebellious, saying emphatic NO’s to everything. Also, these people were not exactly the best of teachers. Thankfully my Grandfather was an erudite, liberal scholar. And his daughter, my Mother had learnt her Islam from him. So she chose to teach me about the progressiveness of Islam. I found that my Grandfather’s interpretations of the religion were radically different from what the common Muslim knew and believed. My Mother taught me all about the history of the region where the religion originated and linked it to why certain things were expressed in a certain way in Islam. It made much more sense that way. Simple things like this: Islam considers Moses an earlier Prophet of Islam and his teachings are incorporated in the Quran. So “Thou shalt not kill” is an integral part of Islam. The damage however had been done by then. I knew my family was different, but the image of the common Muslim in my mind was this: they’re Islam obsessed. All they seemed to talk about was religion. If ever another topic came up, the answers were sought in

Islam. And that bothered me. Until I realised that all over the World, people seek answers and direction from their religion. Why then did it seem to me that Muslims were more religions focused than other religious groups? That is something I am looking for an answer to. With all the World attention on Islam and all the hate that spews out in blog forums and on the roads sometimes against it, I’ve been wondering if there is anything Muslims can do to clear the air. Here are some of the things that I think Muslims should/ should not do: Educated, liberal Muslims should use media to clear the air about what the religion stands for. It should showcase the lives of Muslims like themselves using TV, papers, novels, films whatever i available. The common non-Muslim deserves to know what Islam really stands for. They must undo the damage that the conservatives have caused. A PR exercise is desperately needed. Muslim majority countries like Iran should lay off minorities like the Bahais. Educated Muslims should actively condemn Iran when it does something like this. Countries like Saudi Arabia should allow freedom of religious expression in their countries. Unless they’re content to be knows as a hardline, conservative state. I as an educated, liberal, halfMuslim would be the first to condemn religious states! The Shia-Sunni divide needs to be bridged. This is easier said than done, but if the differences are irreconcilable, they should at least

lay off each other. And guys like Zakir Naik should be condemned publicly if they mouth any hate. Notice that I am not just saying “educated”. I am saying “educated, liberal”. There is a difference and that is the section in whose hands the image of Muslims worldwide lies today. The media doesn’t seem to be helping on it’s own. So there should be an active involvement with the media, a partnership that showcases the attitudes of people like Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Farooque Shaikh, Bin Laden’s niece who made a magazine cover in the USA. People like Dinara Safina, Marat Safin, Sania Mirza and their parents. I intend to do my two bits. This way while I can, and more if I can later. My mini-mission going forward is to impress upon each uber-conservative Muslim I come across, the importance of being as modern and liberal. And how it’s important for their community to come across as that, if they’re to contribute to solving the problems that face them today. I’m aware that most of them will take it as personal criticism and will react just the way I did as a teenager, but I must sow the seeds of the idea in their mind. If you agree dear readers, please help me do the same. Please speak to every hardliner you come across and tell them to live their life as they would like their religion to be perceived. If they want to be viewed as progressive, educated, liberal, loving and peaceful, then they must be that themselves. Do spread the good word. Shantanu Dutta

October 2008 | 13

The right to die Society and Life

Euthanasia is a difficult term. In simple words, it means mercy killing – wherein a terminally ill person can request doctors to take his/her life to end pain or suffering


eading the newspaper the other day, there was a tiny article about a teenaged girl in Siliguri who was demanding the right to die. Euthanasia or mercy killing has been discussed several times in India and all around the world and yet there is no provision in the constitution about it. The legal hassles involved are just too much. This girl, Fulbari Das, was requesting her right to a dignified end to her life. Mercy killing is when a person prefers to die rather than suffer a terminal ill14 |

ness or condition. It is voluntary. Das was requesting to end her life because she has been suffering from tremendous abdominal pain. After a surgery to remove kidney stones, her condition worsened and for the past year she has been living in a lot of pain. “I have lost all faith in doctors as I don’t know if my disease or a misdiagnosis is responsible for my condition,” said Das. She is currently admitted in the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital. There are a lot of factors

that one needs to take into consideration. This, like all euthanasia cases, is a rather complicated case. The first and foremost factor to be considered is terminal illness. An internet search on Fulbari Das yields no results. Hence, based on the information provided in the newspaper, all that can be gathered is the unbearable abdominal pain due either to the removal of kidney stones or a misdiagnosis. It is imperative to know Das’s case history, how her surgery was conducted and what the actual cause is of the unbearable pain. Once doctors conclude that her case is untreatable, then only can her pleas be considered. But that’s not all they need to know. Euthanasia is not an easy thing to do. Considering it is against the law here in India, doctors will never go

India’s thought terminus through with it. Also, Das is still a teenager and has her whole life ahead of her. Conversely, if her case is proved to be terminal, being an adult she has every right to decide her future. And while the nation ponders her choices and the doctors reach a diagnosis, Das is suffering abominable pain. Should that or shouldn’t that entitle her to end her life? The Indian constitution hasn’t helped matters either. Verdicts in the past have shifted either ways, based on the complexity of the circumstances. The Indian Constitution says that the “Right to Die” is not a fundamental right under Article 21. However for the first time in 1987, during the case against The State of Maharashtra vs. Maruti Shripathi Dubal, the judges at the Bombay High Court felt that the desire to die was merely abnormal/uncommon but not unnatural. They listed several circumstances in which people may wish to end their lives, including disease, cruel or unbearable condition of life and a sense of shame or disenchantment with life. The final conclusion the judges reached was that everyone should have the freedom to dispose of his life as and when he desires. That being said, there have been many more instances where panels of judges have simply overruled the plea. Authorities need to work on finer aspects and consider a variety of circumstances. The reason being the progress we’re making in science. If our constitution ideas are updated at the same pace, we will really be able to progress all.

Hindi = Indian? Culture and Entertainment

The IIFA claims to be the international awards for the Indian film industry. Yet, only Hindi movies are in the running


he International Hindi Film Awards, always wrongly mentioned as International Indian Film Awards, the most embarrassing event that insults every Indian, has celebrated its eighth year. As usual the awards happened outside India this time in Thailand. Eight years of embarrassment for the people of India from its Hindi film industry and not many seem to care. Instead of organising the event in India and letting the Hindi cinema fans abroad (if there are any) come to India they organise the events in foreign countries. What a shame! Not only is the IIFA embarrassing all of India, they’re insulting the country’s other film industries too. The word ‘Indian’ they use in the name of the event itself is an effort to publicise that Indian movies are Bollywood movies. They publicise the Khans and Bachchans to be the most prominent Indian actors. They portray the Roshans and the Chopras to be the best Indian directors. And all of this is happening in the land of the legendary Satyajit Ray, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Kamal Haasan and Mammootty. The organisers occa-

sionally invite South Indian actors to the function to cover up the event’s ‘Indian’ aspect. In 2006, they invited Malayalam actor and three-time National Award winner Mammootty on stage in Dubai where it was being held that year. He raised some important questions while he was there. He asked, “How can this be called the International Indian Film Awards when the competition is only limited to Hindi films? Indian cinema is not just Bollywood and Hindi is not the only language. Why should our films be called South Indian cinema instead of being under the banner of Indian cinema?” So far, no other film personality seems to have spoken against this except Aamir Khan who is against the Bollywood awards in general. Aamir Khan refuses to attend any Bollywood awards functions as according to him “they lack credibility”. Now following IIFA’s path are the Zee Cine Awards which were held in London this year. Watch out for more Hindi movie stars showcasing their events using the “Indian Film” tag happening abroad in the coming days. Joseph Thomas

Rishabh Kaul

October 2008 | 15

Stand up for yourself Society and Life

Indian society is slowly acknowledging those with different sexual preferences


ome time back I was invited by a Bangalorebased FM, Radio Indigo, to talk about one of the blogging initiatives I was engaged in. Before the show started, I was chit chatting with the RJ and casually mentioned the word alternate sexuality. She immediately shook her head in serious negation conveying to me that I shouldn’t talk about it on the show. And I didn’t because the context never came. Nonetheless, I couldn’t stop frowning upon the shallowness of the matter. ‘Normal’ people under ‘normal’ circumstances cannot talk about sex, even more so if it is not about heterosexuality. It’s a sad state of affairs but there is little we can do. That is unless society sees an upsurge of people calling themselves gay/lesbian/ transgendered/transexual or simply put NOT heterosexual. Only if the number of people calling themselves queer is large enough and the faces known enough will the society realise it is not something 16 |

so unnatural after all. And this responsibility lies with the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered) people themselves to come out of their closet and be confident of their sexuality. It’s time to stand up and stand tall. I see no reason why, an educated person in a free society, who is independent financially and otherwise and is aware of his/her rights, should shy away or feel guilty of his/her sexuality. I have come across such young people who are scared to come out. I think enough has been said and written about LGBT rights already and it’s high time they start asserting their rights themselves. You can’t seek respect from others unless you respect yourself and respecting yourself would mean being comfortable with your sexuality. In this context it is worth mentioning Prince Manavendra Singh Gohil from who young queer people in India should gain courage and confidence. Prince Manavendra has set an excellent example

by coming out with his homosexuality. Being part of the Royal family in Gujarat, one can guess how difficult it must have been for him to come out. Although he initially tried to hide it for many years, he even got married like many Indian gay men do, today he admits he made a terrible mistake. Things have not been easy for him, he was disowned by his parents and the royal name in 2006 when he came out, but now he is reunited with them and is loved and respected by all. Taking lessons from his own life he is now engaged in a lot of social activity for the sexual minorities. Prince Manavendra is also going to make the nation proud by being one of the three opening speakers at the forthcoming EuroPride 2008 in Stockholm. Jonah Nylund, President of Stockholm Pride said, “We have chosen Manavendra Singh Gohil because he can give EuroPride visitors an image of the situation for LGBT people in other parts

India’s thought terminus of the world” Source: Pink News Responsibility also lies with the mainstream media today to provide a more respectable visibility to queer people. Prince Manavendra’s achievement must be reported as a national achievement so as to give confidence to other queer citizens of the country. Last time another such person made queer activists in India proud was Zoltan Parag. He did so by participating in the Mr. Gay International contest. This news should have got enough coverage in the mainstream media. Sadly, they are all too weak politically to call a spade a spade. That said, I find it surprising that Parag is concerned about the media exposure he got. It was too much according to him. “Indian media has exposed me so much that now when I call my friends back home, their parents do not let them talk to me,” said Parag. Source: Hindustan Times My question, why should he be bothered about how is he looked upon by his friends’ parents? No one said it is going to be easy, but you’d have to face it and fight it now instead of being scared. It’s a popular rumour in Bollywood that Karan Johar is gay. His films also happen to have nicely placed gay people in mainstream society. He does not ridicule them in his movies. Now if he is indeed gay, I think he should be open about it. I personally have a lot of respect for him and I really hope he is honest about his sexuality. The taboos, illusions and ridicule surrounding homosexuals can only be done away with when famous, popular personalities declare themselves to be queer. There

still has been some progress with gay men, but there isn’t a single lesbian celebrity in the country. Rumour has it we manage websites that Rekha is a lesbian, if she is she should assert it. Tehelka has a list of cases we manage websites where doctors try to cure we manage websites homosexuality by shock therapy. Such disgusting activities have to end. That will only happen when more queer people speak and when more voices are heard. Some people are also why vunitemedia? who can be scared to come out because of a common fear in India Running a successful website is a If you have about homosexuality being demanding task. design rather not vunitemedia? who canFrom benefit from our services? illegal.why As unconstitutional why vunitemedia? who can benefit from our s and development, to hosting and cies of mai and unjust this law is, one Running atosuccessful website is a website If youahave and awould maintenance; reliable website;and an Running a successful is a a website Ifwebsite you have website still needs understand demandingper task. From design rather not dealrather with the requires attention. homosexuality se is ‘not’ demanding task. From constant design notintricadealfocus with on thewi development, to hosting andto hosting cies of maintaining running illegaland according to law.vunitemedia manages all aspects thenavunit andthis development, and cies ofand maintaining and r An actmaintenance; of ‘carnal amaintenance; intercourse reliable website website; and would to of your websites, you don'tprefer you.websit weand manage a reliable websiteso website; would prefe against the order of nature’ ishaveattention. requires constant attention. your website to. focus on what focus requires constant on whatdoes, your webs illegal.vunitemedia By this definition, anal manages all aspects vunitemedia are forservic vunitemedia manages then all aspects thenservices vunitemedia intercourse even between a of your websites, so you don't so youyou. of your websites, don't you. heterosexual man and womto. Everhave to. this an is have illegal. since law’s inception, however, the Need a design and technology partner for you country’s police only harass visit us at or contact us at info@vun gay couples and male sex workers. should never NeedFear a design and technology partner for your website? Need a design and technology partner for your website? come visit in the way of asserting us at contact us at visit us at contact us at human rights.

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To sum up, I quote senior lawyer, Anand Grover, speaking at the Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS unit. While addressing an issue of unsuspecting gay men/tourists being mugged then blackmailed with the threat of an arrest according to Section 377 of IPC, he said, “Blackmailers succeed simply because these gay men are too closeted to fight back. It’s this desire for secrecy and fear of being ousted that leaves gays open to grave security risks. The answer is to be more open as you cannot be arrested on the basis of your sexual orientation. Beyond that, there’s little refuge in law unless Section 377 is amended.”

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Need a Running a successful website is a If you demanding task. From design rather design and development, to hosting and cies o maintenance; a reliable website websi technology requires constant attention. focus partner vunitemedia manages all aspects then v of your websites, so you don't you. for your have to. website? visit us at Need a design and technology partner for visit us at or contact us at info

Sanjukta Basu

October 2008 | 17

Promoting talent innovation and technology

The Indian IT industry has its share of young entrepreneurs spread throughout the country. It also has a handful of open coffee meets and bar camps but there has always been a dearth of guidance for starting up, especially for young hackers who would probably associate operation cost with some sort of medical expense!


Accelerator, a startup summer school by IIM A is one such initiative that is built on the lines of Paul Graham’s yCombinator. The idea is simple, young aspiring hackers get enough time to build their products and then are helped by the in house management talent of IIM A to turn their products into viable business ventures. In this interview Ujj wal Grover talks to Aditi, the Senior Associate at the Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship IIM A. Ujj: Hey Aditi, nice to have you on Mutiny. Firstly, how was the whole thing conceptualised? I understand it’s inspired by the yCombinator model but I am sure you had to change a lot of stuff. Aditi: The iAccelerator was conceptualised between CIIE, Kuruvindum, Microsoft and NASSCOM. Identifying innovations in the Web and Mobile domain and creating an ecosystem to support them, brought about the need to conceptualise the programme. yCombinator was an inspiration because they have managed to float quite a few successful companies out of their short duration incubation

18 |

programme and India needed this at the earliest. Ujj: From the results page, I see that five teams have made it to the final. Tell us a little about the evaluation criteria and people involved and what is expected out of these young hackers? Aditi: We analysed the applications on our end first, to shortlist the best ones. From 75 odd applications, around 20 were selected for the second round. We then did a telephonic interview to see how motivated they were to form a company

yCombinator was an inspiration because they have managed to float quite a few successful companies out of their short duration incubation programme and India needed this at the earliest and take the idea forward. We also checked for their technical capabilities and the team’s bonding. People from all walks of life, were part of the judging panel. Ujj: It seems that the par-

ticipants will get help from IIM students in creating a business plan for their products. How exactly will that happen? Aditi: We are going to introduce the participants to the IIMA Students and will let them team up amongst themselves. This process will start from June. Ujj: I am sure you cannot talk much about the products being developed but anything in particular that excites you? Aditi: The five products that we have chosen are all great. I don’t think we are hyper-excited about anyone in particular. We are excited about the teams and ideas and the passion to create a good product. Ujj: Any plans of scaling up, as in taking more teams. Do you have a metric in mind for evaluating the success of this years’ camp that might help in improving it for next year? Aditi: It’s just a start - a modest one even by our standards. We invite more corporates and investors to join the bandwagon in our attempt to create quality products out of India. The success of the programme will depend on how many successful companies we are able to create from it. In addition, we are also trying to learn from the first experience. Ujj: And finally, there’s no girl in that list. Your thoughts on that? Aditi: Hmm. You want to know my thoughts on this question? Well, this is the only interesting question on the list. Ujj: Okay and you didn’t answer it. Aditi, thanks a lot for talking to us.

India’s thought terminus

Sex education or education on sex? Society and Life

Why is sex education so taboo in Indian society? Can the correct sex education at the correct time change the fabric of our society, our thought processes, our choices, our actions?


ex education was introduced in Europe because of a decline in fertility rates and a rapidly falling population graph. “Imparting sex education in schools is a western concept and is not welcome as it would damage the socio-cultural fabric of the country.” “Sex education is against Indian culture. It will affect the character of students and will lead to more crime against women.” “This is not the US. We will not allow the government to introduce the subject.” ”It will affect the character of our students. Nobody teaches animals about sex. Our children will learn about it when they are old enough. Parents and schools in my constituency

are opposed to the plan.” These are quotes by our politicians or care takers. The government has been directed again to set up a committee of educationists and legislators before taking a decision on the issue. These statements clearly indicate the government’s attitude on the issue of sex education, and the misconstrued notion of its unpleasant effects on people. So, what is sex education and why is there such a hue and cry about it? Sex education is different from education on having sex. This is what our so called leaders fail to differentiate further complicating matters. Do these leaders understand what they are talking about? Do they re-

alise the magnitude of the problem? We are not going to discuss the Kamasutra in those classes. At the onset of adolescence it is natural for all to get attracted to the opposite sex. At this stage, they also show their curiosity about the anatomy and are susceptible to experiment on their own with sexrelated things including porn. It is the curiosity that leads most teenagers into getting false notions of these things. Ignorance, misinformation and sex can be a disconcerting and sometimes perilous mix for young people where they don’t have proper guidance and knowledge about it and think what they are doing is right because they haven’t been told about it being wrong!! Children should be educated on this topic, not kept away from just for the sake of culture and such other. The harsh reality of our country is a large chunk of about 300 million young October 2008 | 19

people in the age group of 12 to 24 increasingly prefer pre-marital sex. Hence, the subject must be introduced in schools at the pre-teen level and subsequently developed in later classes. The question no longer is whether sex education should be taught, it is how should it be taught? Timely introduction is imperative as later either many children already know about it through their seniors or some other unreliable means or they remain grossly ignorant which is even more dreadful. Sex education is also a means to respect a partner, a wife, a husband, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, and a means to respect sexual preferences. It is also a means to question and understand the existence of assault and sexual violence in our country. The lack of understanding about sexual issues is more risky and more likely to lead young people to have unwanted pregnancies, abortions and STDs and sometimes sex-related violence. Each one of us comes across many cases where sex education could have helped radically. Contrary to what our politicians think, sex education does not encourage young people to have sex at an earlier age but it delays the start of sexual activity and encourages those already sexually active to have safer sex. However, despite the gravity of the problem, the various facets of child sexual abuse are never discussed within our educational system. In our conservative India, it is a taboo to speak or discuss 20 |

it so most parents are not aware of their role in imparting sex education and hence are unable to help their wards in any way. Most civilised nations use the educational system as a crucial means to inform children about what amounts to a sexual assault or crime against a minor. Today in our society many grown ups are also unaware of it completely and so unwanted pregnancies, STDs, sexual assaults are very common. The result? A limping society. We must ensure that young children know about socially accepted moral behaviour or the difference between a good touch or a bad touch. However small they are, they should be encouraged to communicate sexual harassment by a paedophilic relative. They must understand that an abuse is something wrong which they must report. An older child must know what is safe and what is not and about the right to say ‘no’ and not succumb to peer-pressure. Even if they get involved, they should know about medical consequences (STDs, pregnancy etc.) and their impact. The prupose of speaking on some sex-related issues in this article was not to laugh at it but to see the gravity of the situation. To recognise how ignorant or knowledgeable our youth is. In metro cities we’re all probably aware. What about those living in villages and small towns? How can we assure that an adult knows about benefits of a planned pregnancy, threats and risks of having multiple partners and, of course, family planning? Cuckoo

A textbook and related politics Politics

What was the controversy of the seventh standard textbooks all about in Kerala?


ver since the seventh standard textbook controversy began brewing in Kerala, some friends and acquaintances have been asking me why I am not writing about the issue in this blog. I was waiting to see its conclusion. After the Godmen/women hunt, this seems to be the next hot thing in Kerala. All religious/community leaders - Christian, Hindu, Muslim – and the Congress party are together in this fight against the Communist government in Kerala. They allege that the Communists are trying to instil Atheism and Communism in students. To be honest, I have never seen the opposition party, Congress, being active like this before. They have always been a weak opposition and sometimes it makes one wonder if there is an opposition party in Kerala at all. The difference this time, with this issue though, is how their groups are out in the streets like they have not done before. The Youth Congress as well as KSU (Kerala Students Union – the students wing of the Congress party) leaders are organising marches and rallies, clashing with police, destroying public property etc. If you observe closely, it seems as if they want to prove “we are more destructive than SFI/DYFI”. Their goons are on the streets,

India’s thought terminus leaving the ordinary Keralite with little hope about the political parties. Getting back to the issue of the seventh standard Social Science text book. I haven’t seen the original text book, but have seen scanned pages. From the five lessons I saw of the text book, the first lesson talks about the need for preserving our agricultural sector. Any sane person who has seen the poor agricultural productivity in Kerala would not see this as a disputable issue. There is a picture of a villager walking to a small shop and saying, “The price of rice will increase even more. We may not get enough.” The second picture shows a man watching trucks unloading bags of rice imported from other states. This man says, “Do you think the neighbouring states will be able to feed us all the time?” Food for thought. The lesson explains how land reforms happened, how the farmer got his land back from his landlord etc. There are quotes from the autobiography of Communist leader A K Gopalan. This might provoke the other political parties but what has been mentioned in the textbook is indisputable. It is part of Kerala’s social history. Agreed that there is a feel-good factor in it which doesn’t explain many of the current situations, but are we going to put the negatives into children at this young age or let them learn what has actually happened? The second chapter begins with quoting the oath “India is my country…” The third is a newspaper clip of a Dalit youth burned by the upper caste men for fetching water from the public well. This is

something not in good taste. There are better ways to talk about caste issues rather than talking about such a violent incident. This might make a Dalit student look at his upper-caste class mates in a different light. The rest of the lesson talks about the caste system and the social movements against the caste system. I think there is nothing wrong with that. But there is something that can provoke fanatics belonging to the Hindu/Christian/Muslim religions. Hindu groups might get upset about the events describing the caste discrimination in Hinduism that is practised in Kerala. Christian groups might get upset because the textbook says the caste system strongly prevailed in Christianity until the end of the 19th century. Muslims might get upset because the book mentions the movements by Vakkam Maulavi who fought against the wrong customs within the Muslim community. The chapter ends with an assignment to find out about any such divisions prevailing in one’s own religion. Are children going

to learn to become better human beings? On to the most controversial portion, I don’t understand how a lesson that teaches to see human beings above religion can be wrong. However in the lesson where it talks about the freedom movement, they do not seem to have given much prominence to Mahatma Gandhi. That is something objectionable. Another lesson teaches about the weather and the importance of preserving rain water. Another one talks about civilisations around the world, our rivers etc. Are any of these objectionable? To conclude, there is some disputable content in this text book which can be discussed, but nowhere has it anything against God or something that instills Atheism. Or if it is a crime to make children think above religion or to promote inter-religious marriages, it has something to provoke fanatics from all religions. But the protests from such religious fanatics or the political parties should be ignored in a progressive society. Joseph Thomas

October 2008 | 21

Business interests vs national interests business

As Indian companies grow abroad should they put their country’s interest before theirs?


ndian companies must be more pro-India. Indian companies must go beyond merely maximising shareholder value to look at value maximisation for India as a country - by taking steps which might carry costs in the short term but will help India as well as themselves in the long run. This is not to imply that Indian companies are unpatriotic or that they have not contributed to the Indian economic growth story. Far from it. The success of the 22 |

Indian growth story today is largely because of the Indian private sector. However, Indian companies have to take a strategic approach towards their home country. Free markets and shareholder value maximisation are great ideas, but just as socialism is a dogma, “free marketism” and shareholder value should not be allowed to become a dogma while protecting a nation’s interests. The reality is that the interests of the free markets do not always converge with

the strategic interests of a nation. Take the example of the mass manufacturing industry in India. Free markets dictate that economic activity should move to regions where they are most cost effective and efficient. However in spite of having a large young population base and one of the lowest labour costs - two critical input factors for low-cost manufacturing - mass manufacturing has moved away en masse from India. The reasons for this are poor infrastructure,

India’s thought terminus rigid labour laws and atrocious governance. The result: India today has a number of shops that are full of Ganeshas and Indian flags with “Made in China” tags. Can India afford to miss out on mass manufacturing? Given the large pool of lowskilled unemployed labour that India has, the country desperately needs mass manufacturing to help transition jobs from agriculture. For this to happen, Indian citizens must compel the political establishment to reform and improve infrastructure, reform labour laws and remove other impediments. In parallel, they must exert greater pressure on the Indian private sector to work to push India’s strategic interests. In the specific example above, Indian retailers should consciously develop Indian vendors for mass products. This will cost them more in the short term, but it will benefit them in the long term. By creating an alternative source, the retailers are hedging against single country sourcing risks. So what may seem counter-productive in the short term will work to their benefit in the long term. A similar parallel can be drawn in the Indian information technology (IT) industry. Rising labour costs have led to a number of Indian IT companies setting up large development centres in China and Malaysia. As a senior executive of a large Indian IT firm explained, “We operate in a global marketplace, and with the saturation of IT growth and rising costs in tier-one and tier-two cities, we will need to look outside of India and establish development centres globally in countries such as Malaysia and China.”

While there is no denying his point that global companies need to operate in a global context, why can’t Indian IT companies do more to expand their operations in tier-two and tier-three cities in India first? Why can’t the major players set up more offices in tier-three cities in India and invest more resources in upgrading manpower there first before setting up large facilities outside India? Many IT companies have indeed started doing this but the question is can more be done? Another example is that of processed foods companies in India. Given the large agriculture base in the country shouldn’t Indian companies be producing most of their products from locally grown produce? The reality however is otherwise. Many of the fruit beverages companies in India import fruit pulp from overseas and package it locally. There are genuine reasons for these, including poor quality of fruits and lack of cold storage facilities. The question is, can these companies not take a more long term perspective and work with farmers in developing supplies of appropriate quality fruit? Yes, this will probably cost them more in the short term but it will undoubtedly benefit them in the long term. A company is truly Indian if it has significant economic activities in India and it acts in the interest of the country. If one only considers shareholding to be the criteria for an “Indian” company one will miss out the impact on 85 per cent or more of the country’s population. It is largely by generating employment and through the trickle-down effect can Indian companies help the

Indian economy. The biggest challenge for India in the next two decades lies in creating jobs. The badge of identity for a company should be its level of domestic economic activity and the jobs it has created in India. Indian companies do not do anyone a favour by supporting the strategic interests of the country. On the contrary, they indirectly help themselves by promoting the country’s interests. They are merely returning to society the benefits that they have got through tax breaks, grants and subsidised land allocation from the government. In the case of the IT industry, it is true that they have done a great service to the nation by making Brand India one that is respected globally. But does that by itself justify all the benefits they still continue to enjoy after so many years of operation and healthy profit margins? The reality is that the benefits of these tax breaks flows to shareholders, some of who are directly or indirectly outside India. If they are meant as a compensation for the government inefficiency then by the same logic no Indian individual or company should pay tax. India should be looked upon as a key stakeholder by private companies. In addition to asking for more accountability from the Indian government, Indian citizens should actively ask for more accountability from Indian companies as well. Indian companies have no obligation to care about the national interest. GAURAV SABNIS: Lofty notions of morality dictating international relations sound perfect for a Utopian October 2008 | 23

world, but taking a realist’s perspective, a nation is well served looking after its own interests. A world that lives by a universal moral code would be the ideal, but the reality is that as long as even one nation abandons morality for its own interests, other nations would be stupid not to do the same. It would be like tying one hand behind your back and boxing an opponent who is using both his hands. This is why it is welcome to see the gradual, though still insufficient shift in Indian foreign policy from the Nehruvian notions of nonalignment, solidarity with Arabs at the cost of diplomatic relations with Israel and so on, towards a more pragmatic approach over the last two decades. Extending the same logic to business, there is not much value to Indian companies caring too much for national interest, especially when operating abroad. Just like the competition or rivalry among nations makes a realistic self-interest based approach advisable, competition among companies necessitates that they put their own interests before national interest. If there is a conflict between the two, then national interest must take a back seat. In reality, companies are likely to face a major dilemma while taking these decisions. There could be trade-offs involved in choosing one over the other. Especially in a regulation-heavy country like India, companies would be mindful of retaliation from the government if it is perceived as going against the nation’s interests. If the Tatas accept a contract from Pakistan for defencerelated research and de24 |

velopment, then the Indian government could make life difficult for the Tatas in India by denying them licenses, contracts and may even impose harsher sanctions. So in reality, keeping national interests in mind could end up being the realistic approach and ultimately in line with overall business interests. Of course, the example above is an extreme one. Helping out an adversary in building up a war machine is an open-and-shut case. But when it comes to economic issues, “national interest” tends to be ill-defined. What if Infosys realises that it could earn better margins by moving its software development to Philippines? That could be thought of as going against national interest, because thousands of Indians would lose their jobs. When American companies faced a similar decision, they chose business interests over national interests, and this started the outsourcing wave. The American regulatory environment is relatively free of interference, so the worst that politicians could do was threaten such firms that they will not be awarded government contracts. Even those measures did not gain much traction, possible because a strong capitalistic tradition in that country has created a sizeable segment of politicians who abhor protectionism and believe in free markets (though their numbers seem to be dwindling of late). India, on the other hand, has a tradition of protectionism and government interference in business. There is nothing in the Indian constitution or the Indian polity that would

stop the government from taking drastic steps against companies they perceive to be anti-national even where national defence is not concerned. But that will not be the end of the world. Laxmi Mittal and Aditya Birla have shown that it is possible to be successful Indian businessmen even if the government creates unnecessary hurdles - by taking their business elsewhere. But that would mean giving up the lucrative Indian market. Often, companies have to give in to the national interests of countries with lucrative markets to be able do business. Google had to give in to the Chinese government’s demands and doctor their search results, because it was not in their business interest to lose access to the Chinese market. They gave in to the pressure. Imagine the kind of pressures an Indian company - which gets its sustenance from the Indian market - would face from the Indian government. Where does that leave us then? Indian companies have no moral obligation to care about national interests. They should only be worried about their business interests. But the intrusive and even vindictive nature of the Indian polity combined with the scale and lucre of the Indian market means that in reality, worrying about Indian national interests might just also be vital to the companies’ business interests. Sameer Wagle is a venture capitalist. Gaurav Sabnis is a doctoral candidate in marketing at Pennsylvania State University and blogs at The Vantage Point ( First published in PRAGATI, (

India’s thought terminus

Fruits of knowledge Business

Applying knowledge-economy processes for food security is the path India should be following


he sharp increases in prices of commonly consumed staple foods (such as rice, wheat, and edible oils) worldwide over the last several months, have caused consternation among policymakers and the general public in many countries. Global futures markets suggest that there will be no significant price softening of food items in the near future. India’s annual inflation, as measured by Wholesale Price Index (WPI), is over 8.2 per cent; with the food price index rising by 40.8 per cent in the first four months of 2008. Adequate supply of these commodities and their equitable distribution among the population not only affects household welfare, but has wide ranging political ramifications as well. The need for politicians to be perceived to be doing something about the issue is therefore overwhelming. It is widely acknowledged that for India to achieve near double-digit growth, which also improves real income

and consumption of the people, annual agricultural growth rate (which averaged 2.6 per cent per annum between 2000 and 2001 to 2007 and 2008) would need to be raised to at least four per cent. The vast imbalance between agriculture’s share in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at around 17 percent and its share in employment at 60 percent must be addressed. Apart from unusual adverse weather conditions in the recent period in several important agricultural countries, there are several factors which help explain the recent increases in food and energy prices. First, there has been above-average growth of the world economy, with several countries with large populations (such as China and India) growing rapidly in real and per capita terms. This has increased demand for not only food, but also energy and other raw materials. Second, in 2008, for the first time in human history, the majority of the world’s

population has become urban. Urbanisation, industrialisation and infrastructure needs (particularly for roads) have increased the demand for land, which has reduced agricultural land supply. Third, the use of bio-fuels, which have diverted agricultural land and produce for energy needs in the developed world, has also been a contributory factor. British economist John Kay has argued that US and European ethanol subsidies represent a form of agricultural protection, with damaging consequences for the consumers in these countries and for the rest of the world. Fourth, large subsidies for petroleum based products, particularly for diesel and kerosene, and for water and fertilisers in many countries have also contributed to inefficiencies in their use. Fifth, the accommodating policies of the Central Banks around the world, which have increased supply of credit and very low or negative real interest rates prevailing in many countries, have diverted some of the financial investments towards oil and soft commodities, contributing to their price rise. A part of the food and energy inflation is therefore due to speculative demand. The above factors have also led to an increase in demand for food and energy in India. The supply of agricultural commodities (and of energy) has however not increased commensurately. While the measures, such as increasing domestic supply of rice by export taxes and bans, may temporarily mitigate inflation pressures, they aggravate medium-term supply incentives and therefore are counter-productive for India’s future food security. To attain October 2008 | 25

food security and diversify the agricultural sector, India will need to apply knowledge economy processes to this sector in a much more strategic and result-oriented manner. A knowledge economy in this context requires that different branches of existing know-how and know-why relevant for production, distribution and consumption of food products are applied throughout the country. For example, potatoes and chillies which are of uniform size and colour fetch higher prices than those that are not. But this requires capabilities to apply knowledge economy processes and tools at the level of an average farmer. It is through this that the incomes can be sustainably raised and quality of life improved. India’s share in arable land in the world at 11.5 per cent is second only to the United States. India has the largest share of irrigated area in the world. It however lags considerably behind other countries in yield per hectare of different crops. Thus, in 2004, India’s yield per hectare for paddy was only 75 per cent of the world average. The corresponding figures for wheat were 93 per cent, maize 38 per cent, cereals 73 per cent, pulses 79 per cent, and soya bean 48 per cent. In a recent study published by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), India’s total bio-capacity was only six per cent of the world’s total in 2003, while it accounts for one-sixth of the world’s population. There is therefore great urgency for India to apply knowledge economy processes to improve yield per hectare, bring marginal land into mainstream agricultural activity, improve post harvesting techniques to 26 |

reduce wastage and increase efficiency of its agricultural supply chain. While much of the relevant knowledge is already available, it will have to be adapted to the varying local conditions and contexts within India and diffused widely. The long-term focus is needed. There are certain pre-conditions which must be fulfilled before India can apply knowledge economy processes to agriculture. First, policy-makers in charge of agriculture must give their undivided attention to the sector’s challenges and actively engage individuals, organisations and companies with relevant competence and expertise. There is need for much more effective coordination between the centre and the states, as while agriculture is a state subject, inputs such as fertiliser, rural infrastructure and credit are still dominated by the centre. The agriculture ministers at the centre and the states, as well as those in charge of fertiliser, and other inputs for agriculture must be judged by their performance. The minister for agriculture, Sharad Pawar’s deep involvement in managing India’s cricket provides a negative signal, reflecting ruling rather than the governing mindset. Second, the declining trend in agricultural sector investment must be reversed. This involves such areas as better functioning irrigation facilities, farm to market roads, seed technology and integrating solid waste management with environmentally sound crop management practices. The Gujarat government’s Jyotigram Yojana project of providing rural areas and agriculture with 24-hour power is a good example of the investments needed to expand income earning opportunities

in the agricultural sector. The centre as well as other states will do well to initiate similar innovative investments which can make a lasting impact on the rural livelihoods and India’s food security. Third, measures which would unify India as a single market and remove inefficiencies associated with marketing of agricultural output are also needed. According to Economic Census 2005, India has 42 million retail trade establishments, with 60 per cent of them operating in the rural sector. Modernising and upgrading the retail trade sector will therefore have a significant impact on improving efficiency and incomes of both rural and urban households. This will also require restructuring of food subsidies and reorganisation of the Public Distribution System (PDS). Voucher-based and direct subsidies to the end user need to be given serious consideration. ITC’s e-choupal and other such initiatives are reducing transaction costs and information asymmetries between the farmers and the marketplace, but broader national level initiatives and removal of artificial restrictions on agricultural commerce are needed. Well-functioning and competently regulated forward markets for agricultural products and natural resource commodities could assist in better risk management. However, they require competitive fiscal arrangements (the commodities transaction tax levied in the last budget is a retrogressive step), and consistent policy environment. The plans by National Spot Exchange Limited (NSEL) to launch the country’s first agriculture spot exchange in Gujarat by August 2008 using

India’s thought terminus a public-private partnership framework is a step in the right direction and needs to be nurtured. Fourth, the network of agricultural universities and research centres must be subjected to zerobased budgeting, with a view to enhancing their effectiveness in bringing about greater application of knowledge economy in agriculture. Both the centre and the states need to review how these institutions can play a more developmental role. Fifth, as a majority of India’s population will be urban in the not too distant future, urban agriculture and related issues, including rain-harvesting, must receive higher priority. There are now affordable technologies which can assist in converting solid waste into fertiliser inputs to be used to grow food at urban locations. These could be encouraged. Sixth, there is considerable scope for improving food consumption habits which could lead to healthier and more nutritionally balanced diets. As the application of knowledge economy requires sustained efforts over many years, there is room for well-designed subsidy programmes in the short-run. Policy-makers must however realise that populist subsidy schemes, with large leakages and poor targeting, have huge opportunity costs as they distract attention and resources away from application of knowledge economy for food security for the population, and constrain agricultural and livelihood diversification. Mukul G Asher is professor and Amarendu Nandy is a doctoral candidate at the National University of Singapore. This article was first published in the July issue of PRAGATI (

Angrezi Hatao is now passé Politics

From the time of India’s independence, politicians have opposed the wide use of English as the official language of the country. Today however, the movement has been forgotten


ngrezi Hatao was once a very potent slogan in the 1950s and 1960s. It was a campaign which made the destiny of many politicians of the time - those who proposed it and those who opposed it. Prominent names who come to mind as leaders in the Hatao movement are Ram Manohar Lohia and former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee (then with the Bharatiya Jana Sangh). At the time, India had gained independence from the British and the English language was considered the most visible symbol of that rule and one that needed to be abolished as quickly as possible. Indeed, the constitution itself stipulated that English would be in use as a transitional measure for 15 years and from the Republic Day (January 26) in 1965, Hindi was to be the sole official language. With towering figures like Gandhiji and Pandit Nehru wanting Hindi too, it would not have been difficult to impose Hindi and displace English. That it did not happen and the Official Languages Act of 1963 was enacted allowing English to continue was primarily because of one man and one movement, the Tamil Nadu based DMK and the Dravidi-

an movement which loathed Hindi and the North Indian domination that they associated the language with. With a violent anti-Hindi agitation taking a separatist turn, and the DMK coming to power in 1967 (on a largely anti-Hindi platform), English was finally given some place under the sun as an associate official language with the clear understanding that one day an atmosphere would be created that would allow Hindi to be the sole official language. Since then, the Dravidian parties have held continuous sway and kept up their unrelenting opposition to Hindi. Gradually the fire to impose Hindi died out. Hindi however enjoyed state patronage in the cow belt as did the various regional languages in their respective states, thus gradually chipping away at English by restricting its use in official correspondence, reducing its importance in school syllabi and glorification of the mother tongue. The turning point for English probably came with Rajiv Gandhi, a man visibly more comfortable with English than Hindi. Although he just lived to serve one term, the changes he set in motion outlived him. The next regime to last a full term after his – that of Narasimha Rao - brought in reforms that made English more or less indispensable. The last nail in the Angrezi Hatao campaign was nailed by Atal Behari Vajpayee. Being one of the earliest war horses of the anti-English movement, he ran an election campaign based largely on an English slogan ‘India Shining’ and introduced reforms and policies that has made English, for the October 2008 | 27

moment at least, virtually irreplaceable. All these years however, the Hindi states continued to promote Hindi, even as savvy states like Gujarat and slow moving behemoths like the Left Front in Bengal gradually abandoned the emphasis on the mother tongue they had hitherto promoted. Their interest was in playing catch up with the Southern States which promoted English instead of Hindi and where knowledge economy businesses began to flow naturally. Present Chief Minister, Mayawati’s decision to introduce English in schools from Class 1 itself is in that sense the end of an era with states like Uttar Pradesh (which earlier eschewed English) having done a 180-degree switch, realising that it is increasingly the only way to transact with a wider world. Today, Mulayam Singh Yadav is the only known figure still to favour Angrezi Hatao and is known to hold the conviction that English has been the major stumbling block in the development of regional languages in the country. He has gone to the extent of terming it as “the language of destruction, which has had a telling impact on the economy of the country”. But considering his principal lieutenants like Amar Singh are silent on the subject and are themselves quite comfortable in English, it is not known how much of Mulayam’s polemics is for the gallery. But come what may, the anti-English movement (once an extremely emotive issue) has silently declined and has definitely died. Very few are even noticing its passing. Shantanu Dutta

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Coming out Society and life

India is finally embracing all of its citizens regardless of their sexual preference. The Queer Pride March was proof of the fact.


unday, June 29, 2008, was a special day. It was a day for the queer people to stand up, stand tall and assert their rights. Queer activism in India witnessed a landmark event, the first ever nation wide Queer Pride March was held that day. Thousands of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transsexual and other non-heterosexual people in Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata came out on the streets to join the march which was “not a protest but a celebration,” according to Leselie Esteves, member of the newly formed Delhi Queer Pride Committee. This was the first of any such pride march in Delhi and Bangalore but for Kolkata this was the fourth gay pride march. The gay pride march is held annually around this time of the year (June) across the world to commemorate the riots that broke out in New York City in 1969 when a gay bar was raided by police. At the Queer Pride March in India, men wore sparkling saris, women wore rainbow boas and hundreds of people chanted their support for gay rights in these three Indian cities in the largest display of gay pride in the deeply conservative country where homosexual acts are illegal. The march was a call for an end to discrimination and a push for acceptance in a society where intolerance

is widespread. The newspaper India Herald Tribune reported Alok Gupta, a lawyer from Mumbai as saying, “This is a national coming-out party. This is a simple thing: We are seeking the right to love.” A Bangkok-based web portal, Thaindian News reported that the Queer Pride March had banners with slogans that read “Drop 377” (referring to section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that considers homosexuality a crime), “Heterosexuality is not normal, it’s common”, “Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isai, Hetero-Homo Bhai Bhai” among others that floated above the hundreds of heads on the roads of Connaught Place, the business district and shopping arcade in the heart of the capital, Delhi. From a political perspective, the fate of the petition pending before the Delhi High Court seeking unconstitutionality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, it is interesting to note that, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, a senior leader of India’s main Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, said he opposed the gay activists’ march and called homosexuality “unnatural.” And then there was an article about Hindu extremists blaming Islam for the plight of the homosexuals! Sanjukta Basu

India’s thought terminus

The country of god’s men society and life

Proclaiming to be close to god and then cheating the common man is the forte of a lot of frauds. More often then not, they are backed by political parties, too! They should all be brought to book


od’s Own Country” is the slogan in all of Kerala’s tourism ads. This term coined by Dr. Vipin Gopal has been given the ‘Superbrand’ status. But Kerala is now hosting another set of super brands – god’s men. It is interesting to see the progress recent inquiries have made. Just one case of the fraud, swami Santhosh Madhavan, has led to the arrests or inquiries of so many other god’s men of all religions. The Sangh Parivar alleges some of these frauds have links with Communist leaders. Communists allege that the RSS is protecting the fake god’s men. A Malayalam news portal called keeps track of the fakes, calling it God’s men Aggregator. Their website says that a rationalist group has been attacked by the RSS while exposing the tricks of one such god’s man in North Kerala. The DYFI rallied to several ashrams and many more frauds were brought to light. This an-

noyed the Sangh Parivar and they (and SNDP) marched to Mathew Kuruvilla’s Christian ashram known as Pastor Thanku and to the office of K P Yohannan of the Belivers’ Church. Then the inquiries turned to Thanku’s and K P Yohannan’s homes from where foreign currencies, twin passports, etc, were retreived. Aryadan Shoukath - a liberal person, a Congress MP, son of a senior congress leader Aryadan Mohammad and an award-winning scriptwriter, said the inquiries should be extended towards other religions including Islam as well, especially to the Thangals of Malappuram district. This provoked the Muslim League and they clashed with the Congress party as they thought Shaukath’s reference was to Panakkad Mohammad Ali Shihab Thangal, who is the supreme leader of the Muslims and the Muslim League in Kerala. One of the Swamis of Mata Amrutanandamayi

Mutt warned the DYFI that its indecent protests against Hindu Sanyasis could well be the start their bad time (but according to public opinion, the government is not touching the pond’s big fish). It is surprising to see such a warning from the disciple of a spiritual lady Guru who had once said, “Anger is the root cause of all sadness in the world”. Even though the god’smen incident is something the Communists have to cover up for their ministry’s poor performance after two years in power, this will do good to the Malayali soceity. Let all the frauds – men and women – be brought to light. Swamis, pastors, priests, thangals - everyone. Let the inquiries be made on Amrutanandamayi, K P Yohannan, Pastor Thanku, Potta, Muringoor Divine Retreat Centre etc. Let the good come clean and the bad get prosecuted. Let people go back to God from religion. Joseph Thomas

October 2008 | 29

How fat is too fat to work? Society and Life

Why is it a big deal if an air hostess is fat? Why is it not a big deal if a police man is fat? We should be focussing on the fitness of our police force rather than wanting to see slim, young air hostesses serve us tea mid-air


f any definitive evidence was ever needed about the existence of overt, not covert, patriarchy in the workplace, the Delhi High Court has provided it. Its recent toppling of an appeal by air hostesses from Air India and Indian Airlines to ban the fact that they were being grounded on account of being overweight is proof enough. The debate on the need of fitness as an employment criteria (in the medical as well as, in the case of the air hostesses, in the aesthetic sense) has been ignited. Typically, in India, the only profession where fitness is really insisted upon is the Armed Forces. Soldiers and officers who are medically unfit are routinely discharged. The practice is fairly well entrenched. It may perhaps be argued that fitness is more important in some professions than in others and this 30 |

could be true. But one still wonders if this is another subtle manifestation of the patriarchal streak in Indian society that lays more emphasis on a woman’s beauty and physical attributes than on her work effectiveness and capability. Of course, if one looks closely at the judgment, the Court only emphasised the obvious – it was written into the contracts of the air hostesses that they would be required to remain slim and trim and the airlines management is merely enforcing this. In fact till 1970, the retirement age of air-hostess in Air India was 30 and married women were not allowed to serve as hostesses. Currently, women are put to pasture by being assigned ground duties at the age of 50, while the male cabin crew can fly till they retire.

If this was not evidence enough, look at this. One place where the fitness factor is most critical but is often ignored is our police force. The police forces in Karnataka, Chandigarh, Maharashtra and Punjab, at the very least, seem to have problems with fitness, obesity and alcoholism though surely these states are by no means the exception. In fact, we of late have become so fixated with the odd, glamorous, encounter specialist that we seem to have forgotten the fat policeman armed with a stick huffing after the culprit, who has been caricatured plenty of times in countless Hindi films, is really the norm. Even other wise, this is a common enough sight in urban policing. Being no feminist, the news about the air hostesses just points at the contractual obligations in their employment which seems to be enforced somewhat selectively. At a time, when terrorist attacks, big or small, are becoming so common, the emphasis ought to have been on ensuring that the existing police forces are strong, not just in numbers and weaponry but in fitness, too. After all, after every such attack, there is a hue and cry about the number of lives lost and the amount of property damaged. Yet, there seems to be no hurry any where to enforce fitness obligations and ‘ground’ fat and obese police men the way a bunch of air hostesses are being grounded! Look at it this way – between an overweight air hostess and an overweight policeman, who would be a bigger liability in their job setting? The answer should be obvious. Shantanu Dutta

India’s thought terminus

A city of villagers Society and Life

Metropolitan cities are places to earn money and make a future. Delhi is one such city. People live and work there but do not belong there. They belong to their villages of origin.


s I was stepping out of my house the other day, I spotted a man hovering uncertainly outside our gate. I asked him if he wanted to meet any one, he introduced himself as our newspaper vendor and said he had come to collect his monthly dues from our second-floor neighbour. I told him he had gone off to Kerala with his family, the man interrupted me and said, “Accha to woh gaon gaye hain?” The concept of gaon – village - is deeply rooted in the urban psyche. It is assumed matter of factly in Delhi – that every body who lives in Delhi, does not actually ‘belong’ there. They actually live else where and the gaon – village - is where the roots are, is where the spirit is set free. In the city – in this case New Delhi - the body is trapped. As a child, I remember those trips to my gaon – actually it was a city – Kolkata. Every other summer, armed with my father’s LTC, we would hop onto the train and go off to Kolkata where my mother’s relatives lived. On rare occasions, we went to a village, Sukhpukur (which means the pond of happiness!), near the border town of Bongaon where my father’s brothers had settled after hopping across the border shortly after 1947.

In May, when the schools close in Delhi, the sheer impossibility of getting a train ticket out of the city tells its own story. Enormous numbers of people who descend into the city in search of a livelihood abandon it every summer like homing pigeons flying back to the places they really belong to. Their transient watering holes in town are the Bengali Association, The Tamil Sangam, Andhra Association, the Maharashtra Mitra Mandal and numerous others. Delhi is the hunting ground of every one and home of no one – a nature reflected even in its governance structureShiela Dixit, the Chief Minister, was once a Member of Parliament from U.P and Kiran Choudhury, a former Deputy Speaker of the Delhi Assembly, is now a cabinet minister in Haryana. If Delhi is the crime capital of India, I wonder if it is because the city is every one’s abode but no one’s home. No one has a sense of pride or ownership in a place where they have no

roots. One’s heart is after all in one’s gaon – and as the saying goes - home is where the heart is. Delhi has also been described as a heartless city. I wonder if this is because no one owns it except for a multiplicity of bureaucratic agencies who exercise administrative jurisdiction over it. Less than a month ago a 52-year-old freelance journalist lay bleeding at a busy crossing for nearly an hour after his bike was hit by a speeding mini truck. Without any medical help, the victim bled to death on the road. Would this have happened in most of the small towns and in rural India? The sad fact of the matter is, no matter how cosmopolitan our cities might become, the social integration of a composite culture has not happened. And so when you scratch us below the surface, we are all Tamils or Malayalis or Bengalis or whatever. In Delhi, it is and always will be a case of mera gaon, mera desh, at least for a long while to come. Shantanu Dutta

October 2008 | 31

What is the Idea Factory?


e are a bunch of people with ideas: some stupid, some ridiculous, some absurd, and most of them absolutely useless, comprising of little or no constructive input to things that really matter. But hey, in spite of it all, we thought them worthy enough to be published here, so there you go. Live with it, or live with it, those are your options. No, we’re not ( yet) sponsored by Idea, nor are we, contrar y to what you might think, in any way related to the RGV Factor y except that we are united in our quest to entertain the audience and make them laugh: him, with his horror f licks and us, with our silly ideas

from near Najafgarh, the west Delhi urban village which also boasts of Virender Sehwag. Like Sehwag, once Sushil got a second chance, he raced to a bronze medal in 66 kg wrestling”. For the record, Sehwag has never won a bronze in the 66 kg wrestling category, although he has hit triple centuries with flawed techniques and modestly gone on to tell the reporters just that.

Why does it sound so much like New Rules? Okay, so you’re a wellinformed YouTube-r who’s been checking out Bill Maher. We won’t lie - now you know who inspired us. Thanks, Bill. And why can’t I find Ideas 1-16? While we toyed with this idea, we had 15 ultra-cool uber-funny ideas that came to mind: however, we had a

Idea #18 Deepika Padukone must stop saying that ‘Sexy is dressing Indian’. For most of India, the word ‘sexy’ was, is, and will be dressing in little, or nothing. The report says, “According to Maxim India, Deepika oozes more sex appeal than even Angelina Jolie and Megan Fox.” and I’m wondering who they asked: Ranbir Kapoor, or Vijay Mallya?

32 |

brainwade, Idea #16, which happened to be ‘The Idea Factory must grow up and get your act together after 15 horrid ones’. Ergo, we began with #17. Idea #17 The Times of India must stop comparing wrestlers to cricketers simply because you cannot. This headline from TOI says, “Sushil Kumar comes

India’s thought terminus Idea #19 People must stop making such a big deal out of Chiru f loating a party, and must accept it as a ‘natural career path’: from thespian to Chief Minister. Besides, if you can successfully convince the masses that tractors can f ly, and people can ride horses and skid along with the aforementioned pony under a truck as a Maruti Gypsy f lies from above the aforementioned truck, and after all that, come out unscathed: you deserve to be President, and Chiru, you got my vote. Idea #20 Last week, Kuwait and the UAE banned God Tussi Great Ho, and now, so must India. Not because it ‘violates teachings of Islam’ but simply because it is such a dreadful, horrid and unbearable bastardisation of Bruce Almighty. Idea #21 Send the DNA India marketing team to Ramkumar Nikumbh’s school for dyslexic children. Whoever came up with the caption for the poster that says, ‘If Sepang can have a F1 race, why not Bangalore?’ [Credit: Vis] First off, it’s gramatically wrong. If the acronym sounds like it starts with a vowel then you have to precede it with the word “an”. What the letters stand for is irrelevant. That’s why F1, which sounds like ‘Ef-Won’, which begins with an E, which co-incidentally happens to be a vowel, must be preceded by “an”. Sepang, with all due respect, cannot have “a” F1 track, synctactically atleast. And why not Bangalore? Well, we hardly have space to build

a blessed Metro in this city, so really, just ditch the idea of an F1 - oops, a F1 - track altogether. So, DNA , stop going around telling people you’re the all new “English Daily” in town. I highly recommend ‘Word Power Made Easy’ by Normal Lewis, which at Rs. 99 is an investment you won’t regret. Of course, I meant ‘a investment’ you won’t regret. PS: I guess they used Word to write their captions - I tried out “There is a F1 track in Sepang.” and Word didn’t throw up any error. That’s what happens when you rely on technology that Microsoft makes. Idea #22 Bangalore cops must stop planting near-smooches on potential drunkards and must start using a bubble tester. The last time I drove with a small vodka and coke down, I nearly got kissed up by a moustache-laden cop who had a horrible case of bad breath. There are better ways of finding out if someone’s drunk, Mr. Law Enforcer. And if there’s anything you really want to kiss, cop, I’d suggest my rear. Idea #23 Indian Olympians must stay back for the closing ceremony. Abhinav Bindra was nowhere to be seen at the closure, primarily because he got back home with his medal, smiles all around. Reminds me of the arrogant batsmen I played cricket with in the backyard as a child. They won the toss, batted first, put up a score and then rushed back home because they didn’t feel like staying back and bowling. Some sportsmen, these are.

Idea #24 Koramangala must declare itself an independent, selfsustaining nation/state/ district/city. I’m tired of driving my friends who live in Koramangala to M. G. Road, Cunningham Road, Vidhana Soudha and hearing them say ‘Oh! I’ve never seen this part of Bangalore before.’ Idea #25 Ajantha Mendis must stop bullshitting the umpire, the batsmen and the commentators with a fake guard. You cannot tell the ump you’re bowling ‘Right arm over, leg break’ and bowl everything else but leg-breaks to the batsmen. The ICC ought to book him under Act 4.2.0 which says, ‘Any bowler who falsely states his guard will have his balls rendered illegitimate.’ Idea #26 Sikhs must stop saying that Singh is Kinng depicts their community in a distorted manner and instead improve their naming conventions. With names like Happy and Lucky, how can you not sue Google for virtual sexual harassment, for having a button on their homepage that goes ‘I’m feeling Lucky?’. I don’t think Lucky would like it too much though. (Credit: MadHat) Idea #27 Our elders must stop frowning in disgust when their children tell them they went to watch Hancock. It’s not a porn movie, uncles and aunties. Hancock is not suggestive: it’s an American surname, their Godforsaken Vice President is named ‘Dick Cheney’, so October 2008 | 33

accept it already as their culture. Now you know what Russell Peters was talking about when you named your child Hardik, and the Americans went WTF when he signed up for an H1. Idea #28 RGV must stop making ‘scary’ films, because, invariably, we’re scared of watching every film he makes, for different reasons, of course. It’s a real pity: the last DVD rental shop I went to had his movies listed under the ‘Comedy’ section. Idea #29 Snoop Dogg must learn how to pronounce ‘Punjab’. If I ever catch him go ‘PoonJaab’ again, I of Kannada birth, swear to Kempegowda’s grave that I’ll make the whole city call him ‘Snoop Daagu’. You make a step towards our culture, mate, and we’ll make one towards yours. If you don’t take this threat seriously, ask the guys who gave us ‘Desert Rose’ - Shtingu and Chebbu Mami. Idea #30 And finally, Chiranjeevi must also stop saying that his is a ‘pro-poor’ party, because you cannot have a ‘pro-poor’ party and also have a VIP lounge in your party office. And what’s the gigantic LCD television going to do: play videos to entertain people? I suggest this Thriller-meets-Dracula-meets-Aerobic-act video because a) it entertains as hell and b) it’ll work towards reducing the queue at your party office. And after all that he has the nerve to say that ‘we’ called him into poli34 |

tics? Look, if he’s good at charity, let him do just that: charity. Why enter politics? Why take up realestate in Hyderabad for a party office? Why create a stampede at Tirupati? Why make me waste a slot for an Idea? Why? Idea #31 Restaurants in South India must learn to distinguish between ghee and dal, because the quantity doesn’t seem to matter to them when they’re poured onto rice. For the first time in the history of Indian Cuisine, the ‘ghee’ cavalry has threatened to conquer the ‘rice’ battalion in ‘Ghee Rice’, and if you visit Andhra Pradesh, C.M.H road in Bangalore or any such Telugu stronghold including TechMahindra, ghee is winning. Idea #32 Trucks should either have ‘Blow Horn’ in full as a complete sentence with the words ‘Blow’ and ‘Horn’ adjacent to each other — or not have it at all. Because when I see BLOW-RAGHURAMA-HORN written together, I tend to think of it as Blow Raghu, Ram A Horn, neither of which are pleasurable nor technically possible while I’m driving. Idea #33 The Mumbai police must not ban music while driving, unless you’re playing Himesh Reshamiyya. While on this, Himesh Reshamiyya must stop allowing the names of his movies to get the better of him. If the ‘Real’ Moviee didn’t warn us enough, here is Kar-zzzz, a movie title which automatically suggests how boring it will be. (Credit: Raja)

Idea #34 Pedestrians in Chennai must stop using the freeway for their casual walks and instead get back onto the pavement. Additionally, when a KA-registration-plate drives past them, they must STOP staring like it’s a terrorist vehicle. I’m not here to take my water back, no, I just came to town because I missed the beach and the stink. (Credit: Anonymous Kannadiga who wishes to live) Idea #35 National Highways Authority of India must stop scaring the shit out of drivers who drive on the Golden Q stretch from Krishnagiri to Kancheepuram. They make an excellent road where you can do 140+, and then they promptly put up boards that say ‘Speed Thrills but Kills’. Which was still fine. One board actually reads ‘Speed Ends at the Cemetry’. Needless to say, I dropped down 100-notches to 40kph after seeing that. Not fair. Idea #36 And finally, Idea #36, the ‘Mental Navinirman Sena’ must simply demand total independence. Last week, Raj Thackeray, ranked #two in stand-up comedy in Mumbai, Maharasthra (previously India) when he asked all shopkeepers to have their signboards in Marathi. He’s even dictating the font style (bold) and size (larger than English), and I’m only glad he didn’t force them all to use Verdana. Besides, if they separate, we can finally have Sachin Tendulkar out of the team, not because of performance of course, but because he doesn’t qualify to play for India anymore. Sandil Srinivasan

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