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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Living in apartments - compromising lifestyle for convenience?

In the early eighties, Bangaloreans were aghast when the apartment culture made an entry into Namma Bengaluru. They wondered how people could live in such clusters giving up their freedom and lead a zombie life dominated by the Owners’ Associations! Original Bangaloreans had their nice independent houses with good open spaces all around. The city was not yet so over-crowded and travelling to and from offices/workplaces was still a pleasure. Traffic snarls were unknown, although the (then BTS) public transport system left much to be satisfied with. New layouts were being formed by BDA as well as private housing societies and sites were available at much cheaper prices. People did not have so much loose money in their pockets and loans were difficult to obtain for real estate investments. The interest rates too were high. The few who bought their sites kept them vacant waiting for “development” and happily lived in rented houses closer to city center. The influx of IT yuppies was yet to begin. Money was still precious! Maruti cars were competing with Ambassadors and Premier Padminis. Bangalore enjoyed the envious sobriquets - “pensioners’ paradise” and air-conditioned city” and “city of gardens”. There were many lakes still filled with water. Heavy rains never submerged Bangalore! Life in Bangalore was uncomplicated, quite free and to an extent conservative.
The first non-congress government of Ramakrishna Hegde brought in good administration. Peace and calm prevailed in Karnataka. The nationalist image of Hegde made others open their eyes to the existence of Bangalore and renewed their interest in the ‘garden city’. The SAARC summit in 1996 firmly put Bangalore on the international map. Investments started pouring in. Industrialization was put on fast track. Computers were surprising people. ISRO and BEL were making headlines. The first-of-it’s-kind “electronics city” on Hosur Road was fast becoming a dream destination for entrepreneurs. The influx of outsiders commenced. Locals blamed RK Hegde for making Bangalore “outsider friendly”. Bangalore’s so-called salubrious climate was an added attraction. Thus began the onerous journey of Bangalore towards what some termed as ‘cosmopolitanism’ but in real terms was ‘degradation’ and crass commercialization. The genie had come out of the bottle!
Tenanted houses were in great demand. Rents soared. People started commuting in their own vehicles which meant they could stay on outskirts. The hitherto wide roads started appearing narrower.  Unable to meet the rapidly increasing demand, power and water supply infrastructure started crumbling. The massive housing society scams dashed many hopes. Lakes were filled up to make residential layouts. Independent sites became costly. To overcome the housing shortage, the government also provided sops for “group housing” and “multi-storeyed residential clusters”. Builders diversified into ‘Apartments’. The ‘yuppies’ were at ease living in apartments. Privacy and secure environment provided by apartment complexes was a solace, especially when one had to work late hours. They had good, well-paying jobs. Housing loans became easier to obtain. Property prices were appreciating. Real estate was seen as a safe investment. The apartment boom just happened!
What it means to live in an apartment complex?
    “Compromise” on lifestyle would well describe the life in an apartment and has it’s own benefits and disadvantages. Community living means living by the common rules and bye-laws framed by the Owners’ Association. “Independence” in terms of a totally free life is curtailed to some extent. But the advantages score over the perceived “oppressive” life. The social networking that is possible in an apartment complex and the variety of people one can meet and become friends with is amazing. The spirit of co-operation for cohabitation is of paramount importance.
One cannot play loud music or dance since that would disturb the adjoining flat resident. Late night rave parties cannot be held. Arranging family functions becomes difficult due to lack of common space. Visitors may have to park their vehicles outside the complex. Having domestic pets is disallowed by some Associations and some others impose strict curbs on walking pets and littering. Many builders include a clause in the agreement of sale prohibiting pet-keeping! Some apartments may be so cramped that one balcony opens onto another window! Privacy could be a casualty. Nowadays, apartments with just one common wall are becoming popular. But then, there is also a feeling that neighbors in apartments rarely know each other and care little about what happens outside their cozy nest. Social life is thought to be uninteresting and colorless. Then again social life is a function of how gregarious the residents are how much they wish to take on the responsibility of organizing social events and meetings. The Association on it’s part takes a lead in organizing social gatherings and entertainment events to bring all members together. Occasions like Independence Day, Republic Day, Ganesha Chaturthi, Navaratri, Holi, Onam, Karnataka Rajyothsava, New Year’s Eve etc., are celebrated with fun and gaiety in most of the apartment complexes in Bangalore.
An apartment owner has less of a say in many issues outside of his/her own unit. No structural modifications or alterations are permitted once the building is handed over by the builder. In fact, no construction materials or workmen are allowed into the apartment complex. Owners may need to obtain special permission from the Association to replace floor tiles or wall tiles or such other minor works. There again workmen will be allowed to work for limited hours so as not to inconvenience other flat owners. The building exteriors are painted and maintained by the Association. The choice of colorful painting is limited to interiors only. Any internal repairs of plumbing lines may involve requests to close the common water supply line much to the chagrin of other residents. Some Associations may insist that only the authorized service personnel may attend even to internal repair works. The owner may have no choice in employing outside workmen even if he is dissatisfied with the cost factor and workmanship of authorized service personnel.
Water leakage problems are the bane of apartment complexes. They cause much agony and acrimony. Roof is treated as common area and has to be taken care of by the Association. If there is roof leakage the resident immediately below the exposed roof suffers worst. It is natural for that owner to demand immediate relief by way of roof water proofing without delay. Until a corpus is built up by the Association, executing costly works like roof water proofing becomes impossible. Sometimes, the residents may themselves get such roof water proofing works done at their cost and thereafter claim a right to restrict the movement of other residents over the terrace which is indeed a tricky situation. Similarly, if a toilet leaks, the resident below such leaky toilet is the sufferer (For example, the leakage through the roof of a toilet in II Floor will be visible in the I Floor toilet below). The repair work has to be undertaken in the toilet above the one where the leakage is noticed. The cost of repair is to be borne by the owner of that toilet above and for the period of repair, the toilet remains unusable. Many such problems remain unresolved. The building condition deteriorates.
The Owners’ Association or the Residents Welfare Association or Society is a formal legal entity formed by majority of the flat owners and all the flat owners have to become members of such Association. They have their own bye laws and rules of occupation and are vested with powers to enforce such rules and bye laws as long as they are not against the law of the land. Some frame rigid bye-laws and rules of occupation while many just copy the standard format given in the Karnataka Apartment Owners Act. The system is akin to a local self-government at a micro level. Most of the Associations assume responsibility for the external common area facilities and infrastructure. The maintenance expenses are equitably distributed based on the super built-up area of individual flat. Maintenance charges are collected in advance annually or quarterly. Non-payment of the maintenance charges may lead to withdrawal of the services provided by the Association. Where the bye-laws permit, the Association may also be empowered to disconnect the power supply to the concerned defaulting flat even though such occupant may have made the payments to the service provider (electricity company). Collection of maintenance charges is by far the biggest and most cumbersome burden for the Association. More so in cases where the flat remains unoccupied. Until the defaulter clears the dues pertaining to a flat, the other flat owners will be cross-subsidizing the activities of the Association. In several apartment complexes, such maintenance charges may lead to ugly fights among members. The office bearers need lots of patience, maturity and wisdom to maneuver through all the tribulations they come to face in the course of managing the affairs of the Association. Running the Association successfully in terms of financial management, estate maintenance management and interactions with external agencies (both private and governmental) is a Herculean task. More arduous will be the jobs of operation and maintenance of swimming pool, gymnasium, club, reading rooms etc., where such facilities are under the charge of the Association.
The office bearers of the Association are usually owners themselves elected by the general body of the Association. They will be working in an honorary capacity. This is a thankless job. The time and effort contributed by these volunteers is rarely appreciated. The different functions of the Association may be delegated to Sub-committees (Security, Gardening, Electrical Maintenance, Civil Maintenance, STP, Lifts, Social Activities etc.) constituted for the purpose. Most of the services (cleaning, garbage clearance, security, gardening, lift maintenance, electrical, plumbing and sanitary services, STP etc.) are outsourced. Sometimes office staff may be hired to assist the office bearers to discharge their duties and responsibilities more effectively and efficiently.
Security is the most important aspect which is taken care of by the Association. Private security guards, CCTV cameras, intercoms and restricted access all add to the safety of people within residential the complex. Visitors are allowed inside only after the owner confirms their visit over the intercom. Some high-end apartments have video access to the entry gate wherein they can view their guests before permitting them to be let in. The credentials of domestic servants are screened and entry is upon production of a identity card issued by the Association. Even vehicles will be given identification stickers. In these days of rising crime and criminals, such precautions by the Association seem necessary. Many Associations insist that an owner who wishes to let out his flat provide the details of a tenant before allowing such tenant to occupy the flat. The flat culture provides an easy way for criminals to go into hiding and remain faceless by renting an apartment and remaining indoors. They can escape from the long arm of the law by staying indoors in an apartment.
Street lights and other common area lighting are maintained by the Association. Payments in this regard to the service providers are also made by the Association on behalf of all members from the maintenance charges collected by the Association. Water supply (if borewell-dependent) may be restricted and water deficiency is a common problem (which is also the case in the whole of Bengaluru). In case of tanker water supply, the costs are exorbitant and an added burden on the occupants. No individual dwelling unit has metered water supply and therefore the expenditure is equitably distributed irrespective of the consumption of water. This leads to heartburn and bitterness when a two member family has to pay the same amount as a ten member family for water consumption.
Gardening in common areas is also taken care of by the Association. Private gardens are limited to some potted plants in the balcony. Even here watering the plants leads to hostility as the muddy water spills over to the lower balconies. High rise apartments have escalators which add to convenience. Most of the apartment complexes have back-up power supply in common areas. Some have also provided limited back-up power supply inside individual tenements. The Association is also responsible for Operation and maintenance of common installations (lighting, water pumps, lifts, CCTV, water lines, UG sewerage system, STP etc.). Interactions with outside agencies (milk vendor, gas suppliers, vegetable vendor, newspaper agent, grocery trader, etc.) are controlled and monitored by the Association only for purposes of ensuring safety and security.
    Managing an apartment complex is equivalent to administering a small township. The infrastructure consists of roads, borewells, water tanks, UG sewerage lines, plumbing installations, pumps, generators, elevators, sewage treatment plant etc. Some newer apartments have bulk (cooking) gas storage and supply facilities with metered supply to individual apartments eliminating the risky need of having gas cylinders. Operating and maintaining all these diverse utilities requires engineering knowledge and skilled manpower. Although the operation and maintenance of these services are outsourced, the Association needs technical support and guidance if the plant and machinery are to run without hitches in a cost effective manner. In fact, any development that the Association plans or implements has to have technical inputs at various stages. Usually, there will be some in-house expertise among members (presuming that such members are willing to spare their time for such voluntary activities) of the Association in managing such issues. Otherwise, the Association has to depend on outside ‘consultants’ which involves consultancy charges. All these add up to a substantial expenditure which again is borne by members.
Most of the Apartments have rain water harvesting facilities. Many have adopted recycling wherein treated water is used for gardening, toilet flushing etc. Children’s Play Area is available in majority of the colonies. Members’ Club, gymnasium, swimming pool, shuttle courts, reading rooms, jogging tracks, skating rinks, cycling tracks and some such relaxing facilities are also provided in some apartment complexes. Some apartment complexes have an auditorium or conference hall for organizing any functions.
The functioning of an Association will be vibrant and satisfactory only if there is active participation and involvement by all members in the affairs of the Association. Members hesitate to come out of their apartments and would rather leave the burden to some ‘volunteers’. But, they also crib about the mismanagement and deficiencies or lacunae in the services provided by the Association. Sometimes, the General Body Meetings have to be adjourned for lack of quorum. In most of the apartment complexes vacant flats bear testimony to the speculative tendencies of flat owners. Many a times, it is difficult to get in touch with such owners who may default on their maintenance charges. There are websites available for instant communication between apartment owners on the internet. Notices and circulars can be shared through e-mails. Even electronic money transfer is possible which helps owners pay their maintenance charges through e-banking facility.
It is the primary responsibility of all members to take part in the activities of the Association and express their concerns, criticism or appreciation in appropriate fora in a civilized manner. All members should strive to maintain cordiality, co-operative spirit and unity among all residents. Personal preferences & priorities will take a second position while the interests of the whole apartment complex shall prevail and be safeguarded. Members should not do or cause to be done what he / she would require other residents to do or not to do in the overall interest & for the benefit of all residents. All members must follow & encourage / inspire others also to follow the Bye-laws and Rules of Occupation framed by the Association. Transparency is the key. All is not as hunky-dory as it appears. Many conflicts may be solved through discussions and negotiations.  Inflated egos and fight-hungry members may disrupt the functioning of an Association leading to the collapse of the system. It is natural for differences of opinion, varied inputs and arguments within any group, especially when everyone has a vested interest in the development and improvement of the estate. Some members may have genuine interests while some may have hidden motives and alternative agenda. But such diversities should be viewed as availability of larger matrix of choices for refined decision making. But then, even a small group of like-minded visionaries can make a huge difference. They can be the backbone of a well knit society.
Ultimately, life is what one makes out of it whether in an independent house or in an apartment complex. It is all a matter of give and take. A little flexibility and respect for others’ sensitivities can work wonders. The community is more than the sum total of individuals. Absolute freedom to do what one wants must give way to harmonious co-existence. On the whole, life in an apartment complex is interesting there can never be a dull moment.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Namma Bengaluru!

                       “ Today’s today
                              is tomorrow’s yesterday,
                                   throw not into
                                         the bottomless pit of past
                                                memories of the present,
                                                      for past shapes the future
                                                           and future revisits the past......”

My Bengaluru with all its grace, charm, lush greenery (as compared to other cities) and salubrious - though deteriorating - climate kindles love, admiration and loyalty conjuring up visions of contentment, romance and fantasies. I always say proudly that I was born and brought up in Bengaluru. But a wee-bit of hesitancy creeps in when I try to add in the same breath that I live in Bengaluru! Not because of my failing love for the city but because of its transformation into a characterless, soul-less mess, concrete jungle passing of as a city.

My Bengaluru of the past had earned envious sobriquets like ‘garden city’, ‘air-conditioned city’, ‘pensioners’ paradise’, etc. It had an inspiring and attractive character of love, hospitality, amity and communal harmony. Social and cultural interactions were varied and interesting. The pomp and pageantry associated with the celebration of Ganesha and Ram Navami festivals were to be seen to be believed. The color, gaiety and enthusiasm of Sankranthi are missing now. The enjoyable classical music programs and enlightening Harikathas in the evenings are rare. But the incomparable Ram Navami functions at Fort High School, Chamarajpet hold fort even today. Perhaps among the last remaining religio-cultural links with our hoary past.

Today, Bangaloreans have been swamped by materialism and consumerism. The city has grown way beyond its capacity. The four corner stones erected by Kempe Gowda marking Bengaluru’s boundaries have been engulfed and are part of the city’s center now. They are mere remnants of a by-gone era and objects of nostalgic memories. The present-day old areas of Malleswaram, Chamarajpet and Basavanagudi were prime localities. Jayanagar had just then come off the drawing boards. The City Improvement Trust Board (CITB), now BDA, was proudly flaunting this extension as one of the best in Asia. And unimaginably, one could go and select a site of his/her choice and get it allotted without any fuss or typical bureaucratic delays. No lost files or coffee breaks! My father got an interior site allotted instead of the one facing a main road. People preferred quiet environs and a leisurely life.

Bengaluru’s tryst with the future began in the eighties. It was during R.K.Hegde’s tenure as Chief Minister that Bengaluru started exploding and outsiders flocked the city. The resultant boom was accompanied by an insatiable demand for sites and houses. Unscrupulous real estate developers and housing societies cashed in on the situation much like hungry wolves devouring a fallen prey. The alien and dreadful yuppie culture changed the people and their lifestyles. The infrastructure development has not kept pace with the rapid growth. People are burdened with power and water shortages, traffic-choked roads, ever-increasing pollution and other ills that afflict most unplanned, urban concrete jungles. The crime rate is soaring, notwithstanding the protestations and white-washed statistics dished out by the police.

Sri. R.K.Hegde was also responsible for the industrialization and crass commercialization of Bengaluru. But he showed a lot of interest in preserving greenery. It goes to Hegde’s credit that many tree planting schemes were launched and we must thank him for whatever little greenery we see today. You only have to climb atop any high-rise building, now very common, and look at Bengaluru to enjoy the enthralling sight. Bengaluru South appears greener with lot of coconut trees dotting the area. Yes, coconut trees were a rage then and each proud site-owner had to have at least two of them ignoring the dangers they posed to his house. Many roads were also widened during the eighties. I wept when the majestic, huge trees that lined the (present) K.R.Road from National College to Kuvempu Kalakshetra (the then Sanjaya Theatre) were felled to make way for a double road. Come to think of it, the surveying for K.R.Road south of Netakallappa Circle began during 1975 and the road was laid much later. It is interesting to recollect that once even the Avenue road was open to two-way traffic. Today, you cannot even freely walk along this busy thoroughfare. In the early days autorickshaws were rare. Cycles and jutkas constituted the chief mode of transport. An odd car here and there would draw curious glances. Inexplicably, cycle rickshaws could never make a mark on Bengaluru’s roads. Traffic policemen were rare, in fact, non-existent. For the present, one-way traffic lanes and underpasses and elevated expressways appear to be the only solutions to ever-increasing vehicular-problems. And no viable solutions appear to curtail pollution, not to mention our pathetic traffic sense and road rage.

There were no bland traffic islands then. Circles with decorative grills and color-lighted water fountains and flowering plants lent variety, color and lively contrast to black asphalted road surfaces (before the gates of Lal Bagh, at the Minerva junction (J.C. Road), near Town Hall junction, etc). The only fountains we can see now are near the Kempe Gowda statue (opposite the Corporation offices). Sadly, they are also not operational and nobody seems to care!

Today selfishness, commercial interests and the filth of lucre are blinding us to the slow destruction of Bengaluru. The yuppie Bangalorean has disposable income and disposable morality too! Plastic money has made the yppies crazy. Count the number of posh clubs, elite bars and dance rooms and you can dwell upon the rootless culture that has hijacked the city. The IT BT effect has had it's casualties. The innocent Bangalorean has become extinct!

The malls and huge commercial complexes with gleaming facades, the multi-storeyed apartments, bars, restaurants and dance clubs are all alienating us from a rich and glorious past that some conservatives say is to be treasured and enriched, not to be frittered away. The mushrooming mini-temples on parks and footpaths ominously portend the communal divide and dangers of the insane games of religious one-upmanship indulged in by the hawks in different communities. Gone are the soothing tree-lined boulevards, ubiquitous parks, beautiful blooming mayflower trees, awe-inspiring jacarandas and lilting musical tweets of birds. The parks, natural lakes, wonderful boulevards and even play-grounds are encroached upon with impunity, obviously in connivance with the authorities. The site of Jayanagar Shopping Complex was a sprawling playground. The glory of vibrant childhood life has mysteriously disappeared. Children are no more interested in playing Kabbaddi, Chinni-dandu, Lagori or Ice-spice. Neither do they go outing on cycles to Vasanthapura, Bannerghatta, Ramohalli (Big Banyan Tree) or Hesaraghatta. They are either busy watching television or studying hard to satisfy their parents’ aspirations. The playing children on roads and in open grounds during evenings, their thunderous claps, their smiles and echoing laughter, their childish pranks and the joy of colorful, fun-filled playtime are also among my most cherished memories. The absence of this particularly electrifying aspect in a child’s life in Bengaluru now is indeed depressing and disconcerting. For, today’s children are Bengaluru’s future planners and protectors. What are they learning? Are we leaving for them a city worth living in? Is there hope and promise in their future? I dread the thoughts of later years when Bangaloreans may curse the city without realizing that Bengaluru was once indeed beautiful and lively.

The increasing crime rate trying to steal a march over the rapidly expanding city is a challenge to administrators. The deteriorating infrastructure and lack of maintenance will lead to a collapse. But, the much admired “adjust maadkolli” way of life of the Bangalorean has made him an antique piece in a city flooded with outsiders. The Metro Rail when and if it starts operating is expected to provide relief to harried road users who spend hours trying to wriggle out of traffic snarls. The changing weather and rain pattern is a cause for worry. The inundation of vast tracts of Bengaluru during rains does point to the encroachment of lakes and raja kaluves. But, those who man the city’s infrastructure are busy swallowing monies meant for development.

Surely, urbanization has it’s shortcomings. But how big a price are we paying for progress and development? The answer to that lies buried in the womb of the future!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The great Indian language quagmire!

The great Indian language quagmire!

The following e-mail “samvaada” took place just after a symbol was chosen for the Indian Rupee in II week of July 2010. Being fanatically pro-kannada, I was not amused that the symbol was not a symbol (like that of US dollar or Pound Sterling) but a hybridization of Devanagari and English scripts – the two languages which have had a demeaning effect on other indigenous Indian languages. The mail exchange took place between 16th July and 20th July 2010.
Peruse and enjoy the jovial-serious sharing of ideas, thoughts and information on the issue of language :

NDTV Correspondent, 15 July, 2010
Finally, the Rupee will have a symbol like the Dollar ($) or the Euro (€) or the Pound (£). The Cabinet today finalised the design for the Rupee.

IIT post-graduate Uday kumar's entry has been selected out of five shortlisted designs as the new symbol for the Indian Rupee.

The government had organised a symbol design competition with a prize money of Rs 2.5 lakh. Five designs were shortlisted from a competition and all new notes will bear the design finally approved.
The growing influence of the Indian economy in the global space is said to have prompted this move that will result in the Indian rupee joining the select club of global currencies like the US dollar, the British Pound, European Euro and Japanese Yen that have unique symbols.

The abbreviation for the Indian Rupee, 'Re' or 'Rs' is also used by India's neighbours Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

On Fri, Jul 16, 2010 at 7:12 AM, A. Bhanu wrote :

Don’t you all see the Hindi letter in it?
When India is a land of diversity with so many ingenious cultures, languages, arts etc... it is difficult to believe that English and Hindi get undue prominence in all spheres.....

My friend wrote back in response :

With all due respect Sir, Hindi does remain the national language because it is spoken, written and understood by a majority of the country. In my opinion the sole purpose of any language is communication. We as Indians have a unique ability to divide ourselves over totally ´faltu´ i.e. useless issues. We have in the past divided ourselves over religion, state and cast (and this continues even till date) and now we find another great opportunity to unite ourselves in hating Hindi!! This is fabulous indeed!!
We find all the time in this world to criticize the national anthem which some wise people believe was written for the king of England but fail to realize the amount of pride and values attached to it. We gather up at Chai (tea) time to criticize Mahatma Gandhi and his policy of non-violence and blame all the ills of modern India on the governance of Pandit Nehru. Aren’t we are a population of very wish-full people who live and die in fantasies!
I hope we don’t give this concept of unity in hatred as inheritance to our young ones. Can’t we just be Indians without any cast or religion or creed or language? I am glad and immensely proud to see the Indian symbol for the rupee and I would have felt the same pride even if the symbol was in Chinese!
cheers and jai hind!!

On Sat, Jul 17, 2010 at 7:14 AM, A. Bhanu wrote:

Let me clarify that there is no National Language in India. We have a national anthem, flag, bird, symbol, animal, tree, river etc., but no national language. You can verify this by perusing the Indian Constitution. There are 22 official languages listed in the Eigth Schedule of the Constitution of India.
Hindi is not our national language.All Indian languages are rich in history and literature. They all are to be given due respect and credit. Demanding equal respect to all Indian languages is not spreading hatred nor is it causing disunity. This is a paranoia spread by Hindi fanatics.
If the Rupee identity was to be symbolic, then there should not have been any linguistic connotations to it. If you see the American Dollar or Sterling Pound -they are mere symbols.
If we are to respect the diversity in language and cultures in India we need to be aware of and fulfill the representative character of the diversity and richness of our culture. Not by aping the west by glamorizing English or by using (indicatively) any one indigenous language.


My friend’s response was based on Wikipedia referenced literature and ran thus :
(Saturday, July 17th 2010 – 16:03)

Wopsi do!! that was a good reaction!!
Thanks for enlightening us but please check this out:

The principal official language of the Republic of India is Hindi while English is the secondary official language.[2] The constitution of India states that "The official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script."[3] Neither the Constitution of India nor Indian law specifies a National language, a position supported by a High Court ruling.[4] However, languages listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian constitution are sometimes referred to, without legal standing, as the national languages of India.[5][6]

This isn't from any rocket science source!! this is from Wikipedia ( and this is what you would get when you google for three simple key words national+language+india. Well then technically the constitution does not state that this is the 'national language' but it the 'official language'. But then we can always argue with the parrot philosophy that these two are different.

I really don't mind being a 'hindi' fanatic specially if it amounts to be a 'hindustani' fanatic!! viva india!! Jai Hind!!
Let me be specific about this issue. Having toured almost the whole of South India, i found a huge amount of problem in communication only in parts of Tamilnadu. To be more specific, i could not even get a decent glass of water to drink in a village because the people would not understand either of the 3 Indian languages that i speak fluently. i felt like i was not in the same country. I don't know how many of you have experienced this but i have. Now we could always argue about our rich history and past and culture (which incidentally also includes suppression of women and more recently female fetus abortion, our terrific cast system which brands a person not because of his ability but because of who his parents were and then we have the all time great regional/ religious divide). And then we can always continue to bang on our historic and cultural drums without moving an inch forward. Cant we ever get to look at one world (not even country) and only one religion - humanity.

sorry if i hurt any sentiments, but we certainly need to let the past be past and move on. Time never stops. The world is a global village now and if we like it or not we are the third world. Globalization is going to stay no matter how much we resist it by calling it aping the west but the truth is that the west is better off financially as well as socially. We definitely have a unique identity and that is because the rich culture gives us values that are very humane and immensely lovable for the rest of the world. In my opinion we must retain this identity (like the Japanese and Chinese have retained there's) and still move forward.

On Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 7:41 AM, A. Bhanu wrote:

I shall respond this mail in detail as soon as I can get sometime since its going to be an elaborate and emphatic counter to all the misinformation and half truths spread by the arrogant and audacious hindiwallahs who have tried to usurp the non-existent title of national language!
Let me just add..... If a Hindi zealot says 'jai Hindi' then I will also vociferously proclaim ''JAI KANNADA''

Deepak wrote back as follows :
(Sunday, 18 July, 2010 12:02)

By-god!! boss please don't get so emotional about this!
Jai Kannada
Jai Tamilnadu
Jai Kerela
Jai Maharashtra (I guess the Thakre gang is right in harassing non- maharashtrians living in Maharashtra)

Jai to the whole country and all the states and union territories individually jai Hindustan Oops sorry Jai Bharat!!

well Jai is also a hindi word so lets use neutral words ..............Viva todo el pais mas grande!!

Do we have a Kannada or Tamil or Telegu or Malayali or any other regional name for India (since India comes from the Raj)? if yes, please do let me know.

I don't wish to infuriate you any further but a small thought crossed my mind. Sometime ego there were news reports of leaking of a Chinese secret service document that stated that India's so called sovereignty
hangs by a very delicate thread which is very easy to snap. Well lets face the truth, i guess they are right since we are all either arrogant and audacious Hindiwallas or vociferous rest of the non-hindi speaking people.
BTW: i also speak Spanish so that should disqualify me from being Indian i guess!

My reply was : (Monday, 19 July, 2010 21:49)

You may do a lot of semantic circus. But technically, legally and etymologically "official" is different from "national". I re-emphasize that "official language" does not mean "national language".
Language is a tool for communication - to share ideas, exchange information, swapping data and spreading knowledge. If it was just that we would all be happy!
But, language binds people. It creates art and culture. Therefore, every language has historical, literary, social and emotional significance and importance. People speaking a particular language naturally will love and respect their language. Not that they hate another language.
It is not the language per-se that is damaging the society. It is the haughtiness of people one language having a superiority complex and acting in a manner that is demeaning other languages.
If analyze the facts, the south Indian languages (Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam and Tulu) are of non-sanskrit origin. They have been there in written form at least since about 500BC, if not earlier.
(Tamilians say their language is older than the Earth. One of their hypothesis is that God created Tamil first, then Tamilians and then a place for them all to live in! You may call it "self indulgence". That is the extent of Tamilians' love for their language.)
All other Indian languages (except Sanskrit) are of recent origin.
I once again reiterate that Hindi is not the national language of India. It is just one among the 22 official languages (including English) notified in Schedule 8 of Constitution of India. Hindi is in no way superior to other languages of India. Indians need not be ashamed for not knowing Hindi.
It is the sheepish attitude of non-Hindi speaking Indians that encourages Hindi zealots to wrongly proclaim Hindi as a national language, a status that does not find place in Constitution of India.
We have a national anthem, flag, emblem, animal, flower, tree, river and bird but no national language.

The framers of Indian Constitution were men of wisdom and vision who could foresee the disintegrating havoc that the imposition of Hindi would cause and therefore settled for ‘official languages’. nfortunately, next to religion, language has the troublesome potential of dividing people. The creation of linguistic states in the Indian Union has not helped matters either.
Can anybody say what credible purpose was served when Sri.Vajpayee spoke in the United Nations in Hindi? What brownie points did he score by playing to the cow-belt gallery in India from the podium at the UN? More importantly, what tangible benefits did India and Indians gain by this grand-standing? This deliberate action appears more illogical when juxtaposed with the fact that Sri.Vajpayee is very fluent in English.
The Hindiwallahs will point to the French, Chinese, Japanese and even the inconsequential Spanish speaking in their own tongue. By the same logic, what is wrong if a Kannadiga or a Tamilian or an Assamese seeks primacy for his language? Do the Hindi fanatics realize that a language is to be used to convey ideas and convince others? No, they are more interested in boosting their bloated egos unmindful of trampling on the sensitivities of others!
Hindi is known to just about 35% of Indians. Majority of the populace is ignorant of this language. One will elicit a blank stare if Hindi is used in interiors of Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, just to name a few states and not to mention the North-Eastern states. And this after Sixty years of rigorous imposition of an unwanted language through the backdoor! That is why Hindi is still alien to Indians. And, pushing Hindi as the sole (unifying) Indian language is doing a great disservice to the diversity of languages and culture in India.
Let us be proud of our diversity and aim at consolidating our strengths by integrating our rich history and culture rather than dividing the nation in the name of language. And the snobbish Hindiwallahs are not channelising their efforts towards this objective! Hindi can never integrate Indians as long as Hindiwallahs entertain a superiority complex!


Deepak’s reply was laced with irony and satire!
Date: Monday, 19 July, 2010, 22:34

Alright boss i agree and seek seize fire!!

The lessons from this conversation are: (any of you receiving this mail can add in if i missed out on anything)






Cheers to all
the circus man!! ;)
btw the people of gujrat and rajesthan speak good Hindi even in the interior parts. i have lived in both these states but that is inconsequential!

My response was subdued (Tuesday, 20 July, 2010 9:14)

I also have learnt Hindi. I can read write and speak good Hindi. I don't carry any grudge against any language. I also speak Telugu, Tamil, English and Kannada. For me language is a means of communication.
Just like I speak to people in Hindi when I am in Delhi, I would also be happy when the northies speak (or at least try to) in the local languages when they are here. But, the Hindiwallahs have a ghetto mentality and would not like to merge with the mainstream!
My only wish is that people up above the Vindhyas realise, appreciate and recognise that there are civilised human beings with a rich culture, language and social life down below the Vindhyas also.
It is the frog-in-the-well mindset where the Hindiwallahs seem to think that their Hindi is the only panacea to all ills dogging India (that is Bharat) and the domineering way that they try to change others' way of life is condemnable!
I rest my case.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

ದೇಶಪಾಂಡೆಯವರೆ, ನೀವು ಬೆಳ್ಳಂಬಿಳುಪಿಗಿಂತಲೂ ಶುಭ್ರ ಎಂದು ಪೋಸು ಕೊಡಬೇಡ್ರಿ!

ಕಾಂಗ್ರೆಸ್ ಪಕ್ಷ "ನೆರೆ ಸಂತ್ರಸ್ತರ ಪರಿಹಾರ ನಿಧಿ"ಯ ದುರುಪಯೋಗ ಮಾಡಿದೆಯೆಂಬ ಸುದ್ದಿ ಓದಿದಾಗ ಮೂಡಿಬಂದ ಅನಿಸಿಕೆಗಳನ್ನು ಬರೆಯಲು ಪ್ರಯತ್ನಿಸಿದ ಫಲ ಈ ಕೆಳಗಿನ ಬರಹ :

ದೇಶಪಾಂಡೆಯವರ (ವಿ.ಕ - ತಾ||07/06/2010) ಬರಹ ಓದಿದಾಗ ನಗಬೇಕೊ ಅಳಬೇಕೊ ತಿಳಿಯಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಅವರ ಮೂರು ದಶಕಗಳ ರಾಜಕೀಯ ಜೀವನದಲ್ಲಿ ಅತಿ ಕ್ಲಿಷ್ಟಕರವಾದ ಈ ಸಮಸ್ಯೆಯನ್ನು ತಾವೆ ಮೇಲೆ ಹೇರಿಕೊಂಡದ್ದು ಎಂದರೆ ತಪ್ಪಾಗಲಾರದು.
ಕಾಂಗ್ರೆಸ್ ಪಕ್ಷದ ಸಂವಿಧಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ಕಾರ್ಯಾಧ್ಯಕ್ಷರ ಹುದ್ದೆಗೆ ಅವಕಾಶವಿಲ್ಲ ಎಂದು ಅವರು ಹೇಳಿಕೆ ನೀಡಿದಾಗಲೇ ಅವರು ಡೀಕೇಶಿಯವರಿಗೆ ಸವಾಲು ಹಾಕಿದಂತಾಯಿತು. ಜೊತೆಗೆ
ಕಾಂಗ್ರೆಸ್ ಹೈಕಮಾಂಡಿಗೂ ಸವಾಲೊಡ್ಡಿದ್ದರು. ಏಕೆಂದರೆ,
ದೇಶಪಾಂಡೆಯವರನ್ನು ಪ್ರದೇಶ ಕಾಂಗ್ರೆಸ್ ಅಧ್ಯಕ್ಷರನ್ನಾಗಿ ಮತ್ತು ಡೀಕೇಶಿಯವರನ್ನು ಕಾರ್ಯಾಧ್ಯಕ್ಷ ಸ್ಥಾನಕ್ಕೆ ನೇಮಕಮಾಡಿದ್ದು ಕಾಂಗ್ರೆಸ್ ಹೈಕಮಾಂಡ್! ಡೀಕೇಶಿಯವರು ನೇರವಾಗಿ ಅಲ್ಲದಿದ್ದರೂ ಪರೋಕ್ಷವಾಗಿಯಾದರೂ ತಿರುಗೇಟು ನೀಡುವರೆಂಬುದು ದೇಶಪಾಂಡೆಯವರಿಗೆ ತಿಳಿಯದೆ ಹೋದದ್ದು ವಿಪರ್ಯಾಸ. ಡೀಕೇಶಿ ಸಿಡಿಸಿದ ಬಾಂಬ್ ದೇಶಪಾಂಡೆಯವರನ್ನು ಹತಾಶರನ್ನಾಗಿಸಿ ತತ್ತರಿಸುವಂತೆ ಮಾಡಿದೆ. ಇವರಿಬ್ಬರ ಕಿತ್ತಾಟ, ಕೆಸರೆರೆಚಾಟದಲ್ಲಿ ಕಾಂಗ್ರೆಸ್ ಪಕ್ಷದ ಮರ್ಯಾದೆ (?) ನೀರುಪಾಲಾಗಿದೆ. ಕಾಂಗ್ರೆಸ್ ಪಕ್ಷದಲ್ಲಿನ ಆಂತರಿಕ ಬಿರುಕು-ಬಿಕ್ಕಟ್ಟುಗಳು ಬೀದಿಗೆ ಬಂದು ನಿಂತಿವೆ. ಜನರಿಗೆ ಪುಕ್ಕಟ್ಟೆ ಮನರಂಜನೆ ಸಿಕ್ಕಿದೆ. ಜೊತೆಗೆ, ಕಾಂಗ್ರೆಸ್ ಪಕ್ಷ ಸಾರ್ವಜನಿಕರಿಂದ ಸಂಗ್ರಹಿಸಿದ "ನೆರೆ ಸಂತ್ರಸ್ತರ ಪರಿಹಾರ ನಿಧಿ" ಹೇಗೆ ದುರ್ಬಳಕೆಯಾಗಿದೆಯೆಂದು ದೇಣಿಗೆ ನೀಡಿದ ಕೊಡುಗೈದಾನಿಗಳಿಗೆ ಮನವರಿಕೆಯಾಗಿದೆ. ಅಷ್ಟೇ ಅಲ್ಲ, ಇನ್ನು ಮುಂದೆ ಇಂತಹ "ಪರಿಹಾರ ನಿಧಿ ಸಂಗ್ರಹ ಮೆರವಣಿಗೆ"ಗಳನ್ನು ಸಾರ್ವಜನಿಕರು ಸಂಶಯದಿಂದ ನೋಡುವಂತಾಗಿದೆ. ಈ ಹಣ ದುರುಪಯೋಗದ ವಿವರಗಳು ಬೆಳಕು ಕಾಣಲು ದೇಶಪಾಂಡೆ-ಡೀಕೇಶಿಯವರ ಕಲಹವೇ ಕಾರಣವಾಯಿತು. ಇಲ್ಲದಿದ್ದರೆ, ಈ ವಿಷಯ ಸಾರ್ವಜಿಕರಿಗೆ ಗೊತ್ತಾಗುತ್ತಲೇ ಇರಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಮುಚ್ಚಿಹೋಗುತ್ತಿತ್ತು!
ದೇಶಪಾಂಡೆಯವರು ತಮ್ಮ ಸ್ಥಾನ ಉಳಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು "ಅನ್ಯಬಳಕೆ - ದುರ್ಬಳಕೆ"ಗಳ ವ್ಯಾಖ್ಯಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ಬಿದ್ದು ಹೊರಳಾಡಬಹುದು. ಕಾಂಗ್ರೆಸ್ಸಿಗರ ವಿಮಾನಯಾನಕ್ಕೆ, ದಿನಪತ್ರಿಕೆಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಜಾಹೀರಾತುಗಳಿಗೆ, ವರದಿ ತಯಾರಿಕೆಗೆ, ಕಚೇರಿ ವೆಚ್ಚಕ್ಕೆ, ಕಾಂಗ್ರೆಸ್ ಪಕ್ಷದ ಕಾರ್ಯಕರ್ತರಿಗೆ ಹಂಚಲು ಟಿ-ಶರ್ಟ್ ಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಅಥವ ಬಡ್ಡಿಗಳಿಸಲು ಬ್ಯಾಂಕಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಠೇವಣಿ ಇಡಲು, ಜನ ಹಣ ನೀಡಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಕಷ್ಟದಲ್ಲಿದ್ದ ನೆರೆಸಂತ್ರಸ್ತರ ತತ್ ಕ್ಷಣದ ನೆರವಿಗಾಗಿ ಕನ್ನಡಿಗರು ಉದಾರಮನಸ್ಸಿನಿಂದ ವಂತಿಗೆ ನೀಡಿದ್ದರು. ಈ ಸತ್ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ಪರಿಹಾರ ನಿಧಿ ವಿನಿಯೋಗವಾಗದಿದ್ದಲ್ಲಿ ಮೂಲ ಸದುದ್ದೇಶ ಸತ್ತುಹೋದಂತೆಯೇ. ಇದು ನಿರ್ವಿವಾದಿತ ಸತ್ಯ. ಕಾಂಗ್ರೆಸ್ ಪಕ್ಷದ ಹೊಲಸು ರಾಜಕಾರಣದಿಂದಲಾದರೂ ಜನರಿಗೆ "ಪರಿಹಾರ ನಿಧಿ ಸಂಗ್ರಹ"ದ ನಾಟಕ ಸದೃಶವಾಗಿ ಮನವರಿಕೆಯಾಗಿದೆ.
ಇಷ್ಟೆಲ್ಲ ತಮ್ಮ ಪಾರದರ್ಶಕತೆ-ಪ್ರಾಮಾಣಿಕತೆಯ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಉದ್ದುದ್ದ ಬರೆದಿರುವ ದೇಶಪಾಂಡೆಯವರು ೧೯೯೬ರ ಮುಂಚಿನ ತಮ್ಮ ಆಸ್ತಿ ವಿವರ ಬಹಿರಂಗಗೊಳಿಸಲು ಹಿಂಜರಿಯುತ್ತಿರುವುದೇಕೆ? ೧೯೯೬ರಿಂದ ೨೦೦೬ರವರೆಗಿನ ಆಸ್ತಿ ವಿವರ ಎಲ್ಲರಿಗೂ ಗೊತ್ತಿದೆ. ಅದೂ ಚುನಾವಣಾ ಆಯೋಗದ ಕೃಪೆಯಿಂದ. ಆದರೆ, ೧೯೯೬ರ ಹಿಂದಿನ ಆಸ್ತಿಯ ವಿವರ ಸಾರ್ವಜನಿಕರಿಗೆ ಗೊತ್ತಾಗದಂತೆ ನ್ಯಾಯಾಲಯದಿಂದ ತೆಡೆಯಾಜ್ಞೆಯನ್ನು ತಂದಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಇಲ್ಲಿ ದೇಶಪಾಂಡೆಯವರು ಮುಚ್ಚಿಟ್ಟುಕೊಳ್ಳುವಂತಹುದು ಏನಿರಬಹುದು ? ಎರಡು ದಶಕಗಳ ಆಸ್ತಿವಿವರ ಹೋಲಿಸಿದರೆ ತಮ್ಮ (ಆಸ್ತಿಗಳಿಕೆಯ) ನಿಜವಾದ ಬಣ್ಣ ಹೊರಬೀಳುವುದೆಂದೆ?
ಸ್ವತ: ಶ್ರೀಮಂತರಾದ, ಅಪಾರವಾದ ಆಸ್ತಿ-ಸಂಪತ್ತಿನೊಡೆಯರಾದ ದೇಶಪಾಂಡೆ, ಡೀಕೇಶಿ, ರಾಮಲಿಂಗಾರೆಡ್ಡಿ ಮತ್ತಿತರ ಕಾಂಗ್ರೆಸ್ ನಾಯಕರು ತಮ್ಮ ಸ್ವಂತ ಹಣ ನೀಡದೆ ಭಿಕ್ಷಾಪಾತ್ರೆ ಹಿಡಿದು ಜನರ ಮುಂದೆ ಕೈಚಾಚಿದ್ದೇಕೆ? ಪಕ್ಷದ ಖರ್ಚಿಗೆ ಇವರಿಗೆ ಸಾರ್ವಜನಿಕರಿಂದ ಸಂಗ್ರಹಿಸಿದ "ಪರಿಹಾರ ನಿಧಿ"ಯೇ ಬೇಕಿತ್ತೆ?
ಈ ನಾಯಕರು ತಮ್ಮ ಹಣ-ಕಾಸಿನ ವ್ಯವಹಾರವನ್ನು ಒಬ್ಬ ಕೆಳದರ್ಜೆಯ ಕಾರಕೂನನಿಗೆ ಕೊಟ್ಟು ಅವನು ಮುಂದಿಟ್ಟ ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಕಾಗದ ಪತ್ರಗಳಿಗೂ ಹಿಂದೆ ಮುಂದೆ ನೋಡದೆ ಸಹಿ ಹಾಕುವರೆ? ಜನರ ಕಿವಿಮೇಲೆ ಹೂವಿಡುವ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನ ಮಾಡಲು ಇವರಿಗೆ ನಾಚಿಕೆಯಾಗುವುದಲ್ಲವೆ?
ದೇಶಪಾಂಡೆಯವರು ತಮ್ಮನ್ನು ಸಮರ್ಥಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಿರುವುದು, ಪ್ರಕರಣವನ್ನು ಮುಚ್ಚಿಹಾಕಲು ಪಡುತ್ತಿರುವ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನ, ನೀಡುತ್ತಿರುವ ಸವಕಲು ಕಾರಣಗಳು ಈ ನಾರುತ್ತಿರುವ "ಪರಿಹಾರ ನಿಧಿ ದುರ್ಬಳಕೆ" ಪ್ರಕರಣದ ಗಬ್ಬುನಾತ ಇನ್ನೂ ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಹರಡುವಂತೆ ಮಾಡಿವೆ.
ದೇಶಪಾಂಡೆಯವರು ಸುಮ್ಮನೆ ತಪ್ಪೊಪ್ಪಿಕೊಂಡು ಮನೆಗೆ ಹೋಗುವುದು ಒಳಿತು. ಇರುವ ಅಲ್ಪ-ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ಮರ್ಯಾದೆಯಾದರೂ ಉಳಿದೀತು.
- ಅ. ಭಾನು

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Indian Communists and their treachery

Blood-red Communists and their stooges!
In late 2004, the AP government led by YSR Reddy asked the police to step back when they had surrounded the top naxal leadership in the deep Telangana forests & had them on the cross-hairs of their guns! If the police had been given a free hand then, things would not have come to such a pass today. Naxalism, like LTTE would have been crushed. But, Congress, under pressure from Communist allies, let the naxal leaders escape. Both the UPA government & Communists must share the blame for allowing the naxalism to become an unmanageable monster & for the loss of so many precious lives of our brave policemen. At least now the government should make amends & wipe out the naxals who are challenging the authority & power of the mighty Indian state.
If the tiny Sri Lanka could achieve military victory by vanquishing the seemingly powerful LTTE, surely, the mighty Indian government also can eliminate naxalism. Only resolute leadership is required!
Manmohan Singh realised the anti-national character of the Indian Communists late; after four years of enjoying power with their support. It is a pity that our PM failed to understand their game-plan and surrendered to them meekly just to remain in power during UPA - I. And, he mentioned only the Communists siding with the British during the freedom struggle! But, the Communist zombies had also supported the Chinese during the Sino-Indian war in 1962. They arranged strikes so that supplies did not reach the Indian army men fighting near the border. The loyalty of the Indian Communists is always suspect since they never attempt to hide their trans-border affiliations. They now openly support China although that country gave up Communist ideology and pretensions long back. Our Commies are blind and deaf when it suits them. They enjoy holidays in Europe and send their children to study in England and Switzerland. But they want India and Indians to remain backward.
Read George Orwell's "Animal Farm" to understand the real Communist.
At no time in the history of contemporary Indian politics had a party extending outside support to the government so brazenly tried to influence the foreign policy as the Communists have sought to do in the recent past. Not surprisingly, the Communists' repeated deeds/actions only confirm their trans-national loyalties. Indians have not forgotten the treachery of the Communists during the freedom movement as well as their anti-Indian stance during the war with China. Their overt and covert support to the violence perpetrated by Maoists and Naxalites shows where their heart is. The comrades have also not concealed their intention to change the democratic character of the Indian Constitution if they were to capture power and do not deny the central theme of violent revolution to achieve this goal. The communist stooges continue to undermine Indian democracy from within little realizing that democracy alone has given them a chance to rule in some states and also enjoy power without accountability at the Centre. It is a tragedy that these ‘dinosaurs’ continue to survive in India and act against Indian interests while mouthing pious platitudes!
Trust our covert anti-national commie comrades to help China break India into pieces. The likes of Sitaram Yechury and Prakash Karat will not hesitate to encourage Maoists and other ultra leftist groups to fight a violent battle against federal Indian forces and destabilize the country just to please their communist bosses across the border in China! The Communists exhibited their true colors during Indian Independence movement and during the Indo-Chinese wars by supporting the British regime and the Chinese Red Army respectively. These blood-red Indian chameleons will not miss an opportunity to do so again even if it means destroying the great Indian nation. Because, in their hearts these Communists are disloyal and hate the spirit of Indianism and great cultural history of India which is the anti-thesis of communist ideologies.
They are like termites hallowing out the wood from within!
Indian public are more mature and intelligent to see through their wicked shenanigans. The Communists have got a befitting reply in the recent general elections. The communists, with their pseudo-secularism, dinosaur-age ideology based totalitarianism and fossilized mindsets will be wiped out from India soon.
Public memory is not short. We still remember that the central forces staged a farce and allowed the left terrorists to escape in Lalgarh! All the brave talk of "pincer attack" and "multi-pronged strategies" did not yield any Maoist leader in their net although the government forces had "surrounded" them and was "flushing" them - whatever that meant. In the end, nothing came of the hugely hyped up "attack" on the "cornered" Maoists in Lalgarh. Not one Naxal was captured or killed! How the Maoists could have escaped if they were indeed "surrounded" is a mystery. The same inefficient and non-serious government will also bury this issue of Naxals butchering civilians despite all the chest-beating now exhibited by the foxy Chidambaram and his commi-friendly gang. This "secular" UPA government is gutless and shameless, to put it modestly.
During the recent attacks and killing of CRPF jawans and the derailing of Gnaneshwari Express, the Communist worthies (Prakash Karat, Sitaram Yechury, Brinda Karat, Raja, Bardhan and the gang) who spare no opportunity to drop their pearls of wisdom before TV cameras went into hiding. These treacherous worms did not come out of their gutters to condemn the Maoists for killing innocents. Perhaps all their condemnations are reserved only for Gujarat, Modi & Hindutva!
The naxals are brothers-in-arms of the Communists with same ideologies, violence, hatred, vengeance, spreading anarchy, undermining the Constitution & democratic institutions in India. These zombies are front actors of China & will betray India whenever their Chinese masters order them to do so.
None of the Communists have condemned China for violating Indian space & disputing Arunachal Pradesh & Sikkim being integral parts of India.
The other great “secularist” Lalu Prasad Yadav said that naxals do not attack common people but only police informers. As if “police informers” were some sort of criminals. Lalu's Z category security should be withdrawn. Or his body guards should desert him because he is justifying the killing of policemen by the naxals. Lalu is a "traitor" - a "wolf" in "wolf's" clothing. Such comments by anti-national politicians lead to disenchantment in the police forces. IF the Maoists capture power through the gun as is their aim, then where will Lalloo be? Neither will the Maoist-sympathisers and human rights bugles be alive under naxal rule! Common man or a police man - the life is precious. Naxals are inhuman thugs! They should be killed since they are enemy number one for India and Indians. Lalloo and his ilk can go to hell!

The UPA government should act with haste & resolve to wipe out the Maoist terrorism. The government should not hesitate to use the army, air force & whatever means are required to eliminate these traitors. Will MMS and PC wake from the slumber?

The army & air force should protect the country. If there is a rebellion within & innocent citizens are targeted & the naxals practice violence, then it is imperative for the police & armed forces to protect the country against destabilization by armed and violent naxals. The armed forces should not just shoot in self defense but should chase these communist stooges and kill them all because they pose a great danger to democratic government in India. The Indian army cannot exist in its present state if democracy ceases to exist in India. These naxals should be prepared to face the might of the Indian State which they are trying to overthrow through a bloody revolution & by undermining the state apparatus. It cannot be a one-way street where only naxals can kill people. Human Rights exist for all Indians and not only for communists or naxals.

The naxals should also be prepared to die if they are indeed not cowards! One who fights by the sword should be prepared to die by the sword.


Although the destruction of nature brought about by human beings is a cause for deep concern, the fact that some meaningful steps are being initiated to reverse the damage, albeit in a very small way, is an encouraging sign - a beacon of hope in an otherwise desolate landscape. We need to introspect on what harm we have done and look at the future to see what we can do to prevent recurrence of such devastation. I hope the article contributes to the global efforts at protection and preservation of nature.
The following article of mine was published in Deccan Herald May 02 of 1999.

“Man is nature’s sole mistake” - W.S.Gilbert
Mankind’s unconcealed intent and unequaled ability to manipulate, exploit and abuse natural surroundings to satisfy self-serving interests are well established and documented. The extensive environmental degradation due to man-made causes has wreaked havoc on Mother Earth and severely disrupted the delicate eco-balance. Materialistic temptations and addictive comforts have blinded us to the irreversible destruction we are causing. Rapid urbanization and unbridled industrialization have seriously undermined nature’s resilience to the extent that our very existence is under threat. We don’t seem to realise that we have only one Earth to live on and nowhere else to go!
Industrialization and urbanization by their very character affect ecology and environment. The remorseless culprits responsible for ruining the ecology and environment consist of power generation stations (hydro, nuclear, thermal or gas based), mining (especially coal mining), quarrying, timber-logging, cement plants, iron & steel plants, dyeing units, tanneries, paper mills, petroleum & chemical industries - the list can be endless. Fortunately, many Indian villages are yet to directly suffer the adverse consequences of industrialization and the resultant environmental pollution. They have not been exposed to deleterious levels of development. Rural areas in India have based their sustenance largely on agriculture and thus remained free of the unusual problems haunting their urban counterparts. Progress and development should necessarily focus on villages and development of our countryside should be high on our priorities. But, such actions should also take care to control or remove the ill-effects that harm natural eco-balance. Progress and development are meaningless if they are detrimental to our existence!
In many developed countries eco-preservation and environment protection have justifiably acquired the prime status they deserve in urban life. Environmental Engineering is recognized as a core subject of study and attracts cream of professional talent. Afforestation schemes generate as much enthusiasm as wildlife safety measures. Water conservation and recycling projects are offered substantial financial support by governments and NGOs. Environment protection groups and ‘green’ volunteers often function with public patronage and abundant support for their pro-nature activities; so much so that even governments consult them and seek their opinion and advice on nature-related issues in order to ensure that fragile natural surroundings remain undisturbed and unharmed. The ideas of co-existence and mutual respect are sought to be advanced through education and entertainment.
However, the green house effect, acid rains, unpredictable climate patterns and an upswing in pollution-related physical ailments due to environmental degeneration have forced the advanced countries to devise and adopt safer and nature-friendly technologies and practices. The people also consciously extend their support and participate in programs aimed at reducing the adverse effects of their lifestyles and practices on nature. Some do not hesitate to willingly sacrifice their conveniences and comforts for the greater benefit of all living beings.
Industries are legally compelled to adhere to strict pollution-control norms. Some industries proudly flaunt their enviro-friendly credentials and their products are favored by people. Vehicular emissions are mandatorily monitored and controlled regularly both at the vehicle manufacturing levels and on road. Eco-friendly materials have replaced hazardous and environment-damaging substances (chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, CFCs etc.). Bio-degradable plastics have found wide acceptance and are routinely substituted for harmful plastics; plastic carry-bags are not offered by retail outlets since customers insist on recycled paper bags. Manufacturers prominently display instructions on product packages for the post-use safe disposal of containers. Waste Management is an integral and essential part of sustainable infrastructure development. Remarkably, waste recycling has been transformed into lucrative business.
We in India are aware of these developments. In some areas tentative steps have been initiated to curtail the usage of natural products thus reducing the strain on natural resources and thereby indirectly minimizing the damage to environment -- the most notable such innovation being the use of precast concrete sleepers on railway tracks thus eliminating timber and steel. The Central Public Works Department has stopped using timber in public works and instead relies on wood substitutes. The usefulness of Neem as an organic-manure and its significance as an effective bio-pesticide are being rediscovered. Renewable non-polluting energy sources like Wind Power, Bio-gas, Solar Energy etc., are being tapped for power generation. Rain-water harvesting technology in urban areas, though in its infancy, is attracting attention. Waste recycling is also gaining prominence. Plastic carry-bags are proposed to be phased out of use. These are some stray cases but welcome developments which indicate that concern for eco-preservation and environmental protection is acquiring importance. Yet more needs to be done.
The responsibility of safeguarding our irreplaceable natural wealth and environment squarely rests on our shoulders. There is an urgent and compelling need to learn from the experiences of developed countries so that mistakes committed by them are not repeated in India. In this era of globalisation we need not hesitate to approach these countries and seek the benefits of their research & development and expertise in the field of environment protection. Subjects related to ecology and environment protection should compulsorily form part of curriculum in our schools and colleges. The imaginative and innovative concepts of paperless offices and home offices must be vigorously persued & implemented by adequate investments in Information Technology & Computerization and Communications. Voluntary organizations and citizens’ groups can and should play a decisive and dominating role in efforts to boost environmental protection measures. The media, with its wide and deep reach must be more effectively used to enlighten the people and create awareness about the importance of balanced ecology and protected natural habitat. Conservation against consumption should be the logical corollary to preservation against procrastination.
Eco-consciousness and living in harmony with nature are no more mere options, they are imperative for the survival of humanity. As Francis Bacon said “Nature cannot be ordered about except by obeying her”. A. BHANU

Sunday, April 4, 2010

MF Hussain's departure from India, a good riddance!

I have copied below the text of series of exchanges me and another writer had on the subject of MF Hussain using his artistic freedom to portray Hindu gods in a demeaning manner and thus hurting Hindu sentiments.
The exchange of ideas occurred in response to my invitation to view the link activities/campaigns/national/ mfhussain-campaign/

The flurry of mails happened during May 2008.

My friend wrote:
I doubt if Hindu gods themselves would have minded MF Husain's art - we should resist the temptation to play god. An incident from Swami Vivekananda's life has helped me not to succumb to misguided campaigns:Swami Vivekananda was in Kashmir towards the end of his life but his heart was heavy even in that paradise on earth. Large-hearted though he was, he felt tormented by the fact that successive invaders had desecrated and destroyed countless sacred images of Hinduism’s Gods and Goddesses and pulled down Hindu temples and built mosques overtheir ruins. Unable to bear the burden of this humiliating testimony of history, Vivekananda poured out his anguish at the feet of the Divine Mother in a Kali temple? How could you let this happen, Mother, why did you permit this desecration?? he asked despairingly. Swamiji has himself recorded all this, and reports that Kali whispered in his heart the following reply to his question? What is it to you, Vivekananda, if the invader breaks my images? Do you protect me, or do I protect you?? - (mentioned in "Sita's Kitchen" by Ramachandra Gandhi, pg 10). Vivekananda's doubts and anger melted away on hearing this.

My reply was :
We do not need to protect God. But when someone with intolerance, revenge and hatred in his heart tries to impose his God and breaks/desecrates/damages our temples then there is nothing wrong in taking a stand against such arrogance and attempted domination. Same is the case with Hussain's paintings. Our temples were not just abodes of gods, they were fountainheads of cultural, educational (spiritual and philosophical) and social interactions. As such they are more sacred! Swami Vivekananda's episode as narrated by Ramachandra Gandhi in his book can at best be a conjecture that originated in the fertile mind of the author.
Peace and respect.

The rejoinder from Chandan :
Since the respondent questioned the scholarly integrity of the late Ramachandra Gandhi, I’m obliged to refer you to another documentation of Swami Vivekananda’s experience at the Kshirbhavani temple in his biography by Swami Nikhilananda published in 1953. Please click the following weblink to this biography’s online text and go to Page 172 or enter “Kshirbhavani” as a search term right above the printed page and choose the second result. 2536351/Swami-Vivekananda
(In any case, morality tales need not be historical events to have any meaning. It does not matter if the Bhagavad Gita episode actually happened in history or not). The MF Husain episode brings up the question of artistic freedom in relation to a community’s feelings of hurt. It might have been good if Husain had chosen not to paint Hindu goddesses in the nude, respecting the sentiments of Hindus. But, he chose to paint them. (He is one of India’s best known painters; so, we aren’t talking of a mediocre talent doing sensational things to achieve quick fame). How then must the Hindus respond? Asking for censorship is a display of insecurity about our selves and of intolerance towards anything that departs from what we accept to be good. Showing charitableness is to be magnanimous and secure in oneself. Or, if Husain has hurt you, then express it in ways that will persuade him to reconsider his decision. But, I feel, asking for legal penalties isn’t the way.This is an occasion to remind ourselves of Kalidasa’s explicit description of the lovemaking between Shiva and Parvati in his play, Kumara Sambhava. Should Kalidasa (and the hundreds of others who have written on erotica involving Hindu gods) have been punished for what he did? Is he insulting the gods? And, we cannot have different standards for Kalidasa and Husain.
Hope I haven’t taken too much of your time. I felt, I had to say it in the spirit of living ethical lives.

To this my response was thus :
Firstly, I have not expressed any reservations about the scholarly credentials of Ramachandra Gandhi. It would amount to throwing a stone at the Sun. I am a small inconsequential speck too incapable of blocking the light of knowledge radiating from such an enlightened person.
My reference is only in the context of the philosophical Q & A session (Do you protect me or do I protect you?) alluded to Swami Vivekananda in Ramachandra Gandhi’s book, “Sita’s Kitchen”. I have nothing but the deepest respect and admiration for Swami Vivekananda and his work.
Surely, moral tales need not be historical. But, moral values and morality keep changing from time to time and from people to people. What is one person’s poison today may be another’s soup tomorrow. Hence, moral issues need to be viewed in the relevant time-frames. They cannot be simply extrapolated. Copernicus and Galileo Gallelli are not mere examples of such time-warped moralities. Today, the Pope has expressed regret at the persecution of both these luminaries and agreed to unveil a bust of Galileo in Rome.
Hence, Kalidasa’s poetic description of erotic acts of union of gods cannot and should not be compared with the willful and vengeful nude paintings of MF Hussain.
MF Hussain being an acclaimed painter does not diminish his social responsibilities in a plural society. All the more reason for him not to resort to such cheap gimmicks to gain attention. Nobody questions his abstracts. But, when it comes to nude paintings of gods of the majority community, he cannot do as he pleases. Artistic liberty and freedom of expression are nice phrases and not just meant for the consumption of Hindus. Nobody explains or condemns the fatwa against Salman Rushdie or the vicious attack on Tasleema Nasreen or the violence against Danish cartoons. Why is it that Hindus must not protest when their sentiments are hurt? The dichotomy is there for all to see.
MF Hussain had hatred in mind when he painted Gandhi’s headless torso just as he gave a visual expression to his hatred and revenge against Hitler by painting Hitler’s headless body alongside Gandhiji’s. ( activities/campaigns/national/ mfhussain-campaign)
Why did MF Hussain choose Hindu gods for his nude paintings? He does not take any such liberties with Prophet Mohammed’s daughter or his own mother and daughter or Mother Theresa. He fears for his life. Period.
Would Hussain paint Madhuri Dixit (the ultimate beauty according to him) in the nude? He won’t, because the same beautiful Madhuri would transform into Kali!
And gods apart, why did Hussain paint naked Bharat Mata? Surely, he knows fully well that his actions will cause anger and anguish among patriotic Indians. Don’t we all respect Bharat Mata as our own mother? Yet, he does paint a nude Bharat Mata and we are expected to appreciate or remain benign.
MF Hussain’s nude paintings are to be deplored and condemned in the strongest possible terms. He should be punished (the legal way, not some mob-justice) for his deliberate, ill-conceived, prejudiced and malicious nude paintings. Hindus are reacting and responding in a more civilized and mature manner than the way followers of other religions do in such similar circumstances. And Hussain should count himself lucky.
I apologise for posting such a lengthy text. Thanks for perusing this rejoinder. I hope I have not intruded to snatch away your precious time.
The same feeling of living ethical life made me write this!

I have not received any reply for this from my friend!


PS : Thank you all for sparing your precious time to go through the longish text!

Now that MF Hussain has relocated in Qatar, he can very well find out the real meaning of ‘freedom of expression’ in that totalitarian country. He will understand the irony of seeking to protect his “freedom of speech” when the same is denied by his co-religionists to Tasleema Nasreen and Salman Rushdie or the Danish cartoonist. When Taslima Nasreen is hounded out of Bangladesh and India, Hussain does not utter a word of condemnation against the hooligans but expects all Indians to support him despite his misdemeanours.
In Qatar, Hussain will soon realize that the Indian judiciary is balanced and more liberal. Instead of fleeing India, he should have submitted himself before the Indian judiciary and sought relief. The fact that he refused to come back to India from his self-imposed exile shows his contempt for the Indian rule of law. A dreaded don like Muthappa Rai came back from the Gulf and faced the Indian courts and obtained relief. MF Hussain should also have reposed faith in the Indian judiciary. He knows for sure that Indian law courts treat everyone equally and he will not get special treatment. He also knows that he has committed serious mistakes in drawing nude Hindu gods apart from portraying Bharath Mata in a demeaning and disrespectful manner in his paintings.
Now that he is no more an Indian citizen, Hussain should stop commenting about the Indian way of life! Indians will go about their normal lives treating Hussain’s departure as good riddance!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

ASHTAAVADHAANA - A Cerebral extravaganza

The enduring vitality of the spirit of India reflected in its cultural and intellectual traditions is a mystery to most outsiders. This vitality is a measure of the genius of a race that quintessentially sets a civilization apart.
Avadhana an intellectual discipline of highest order, is an offspring of the great Indian tradition. It subjects the Avadhani's awareness, concentration, retentive and analytical power to the test. Avadhani has to acquire the capacity to let his mind dwelve on a variety of challenging and creative tasks set by questioners whose assigned role is to elevate the exercise to its highest potential.
Ashtavadhana means simultaneous completion of eight intellectual and literary tasks set by eight questioners. Ashtavadhana which is essentially an exercise in Telugu assumes a different format in Kannada. It is performed by an erudite scholar in the presence of a knowledgeable audience.
The tasks in the Ashtavadhanam includes Dattapadhi, Nisiddhakshari, Chitrakshari, Vyastakshari, Varnana, Pushpa Ganana, Vara Ganana and Sarasa Samlap. The Ashtavadhanam is deemed to have been completed successfully when the Avadhani recounts correctly all the solutions in a final summation which is termed Uttara Bhag.
Ashtavadhana - 8 fold concentration
The following refers to an ancient Indian skill. Apparently the skill has been dying & there are very few living legends. First, lets get the terminology out of the way:
Avadhana is Concentration of Mind.
Avadhani is the performer of the feat. The feat involves demonstrating outstanding ability to concentrate, retain, sharp mind & possess a wide range of knowledge on subject area.
Asta means eight; ability to demonstrate 8 fold concentration. In this case the Avadhani's ability is tested by eight Prucchakas (experts)The Feat: The scene is the forecourt of a village over four hundred years ago. There is a crowd of people surrounding and watching a man. He is an Ashtavadhani. Surrounding him are eight men each posing a different problem. Each of the eight men put their problem to the Ashtavadhani and in true 20th century multiprocessing style. He solves all their problems step-by-step in a time-sharing manner. The problems put to him are not strictly problems. They range from the multiplication of a 10 digit number with another, reciting stanza 1013-1027 of the Katopanishad to composing a poem in a particular ‘chandassu’ – a grammatical order. The Ashtavadhani attends to each questioner cyclically.
For instance, he might `output' the first three digits of the result to one questioner, recite stanzas 1013, 1014 for the next questioner and then compose the first two line of the poem to the third and then giving each of the other five people a piece of their solution before coming back to the first person and giving him the next three digits. If you think that this is easy, remember that the Ashtavadhani does not any paper, pencil or any material to help him. The questions are put by a random sample from the audience and can be twisted to be even more difficult - for ex., output the digits of the 20 digit number in reverse order. Right from the middle ages, the Ashtavadhanis have been a fascinating sight to see. It is a tradition passed down from father to son, from one generation to the next. They are most prevalent in Andhra Pradesh and quite a few Ashtavdahanis can still be found in the rural areas. Sadly, however, this great and ancient culture is slowly dying and it is ironic that as India plunges head forward into the Computer Revolution of the 21st century, we have forgotten the Indian Multiprocessor of the 15th century. [Source]
The Performance: Eight-folded Alertness or Ashtavadahana is a public performance in general knowledge, displaying memory retention, mastery in languages and literature, and time-awareness. Usually a well-known scholar in Sanskrit and two or three other Indian languages is in the "dock" or a platform surrounded by six or eight peers in an open-house program. A person with a bell keeps the time. The peers keep asking questions to the performer and keep distracting him (or her) with challenges. The show involves the performer (known as Avadhani) answering every question to the satisfaction of the peer while adhering to the grammar and linguistic or musical semantics. Sky is the limit for the questions, and could cover such fields as astrology, history, geography, literature, and science.

Avadhani might be asked to complete a half-finished verse or explain philosophical terms. The peers take turns to engage the Avadhani, except one "Idiot Peer" who follows no rules! The bell keeper doesn't ring at regular intervals, further distracting the Avadhani, yet the performer has to strictly adhere to timings and display his sense of time. Ashukavis or "spontaneous-poets" stand a very good chance in such pneumonic feats.
Vanishing skill: Unfortunately, this appears to be a vanishing skill. Depiction of Ashtavadana performances are found in period literature and inscriptions. In the ancient times, a poet was supposed to master various subjects including music, dance, painting, martial arts, sports, pastimes, and many other allied subjects. Memory training was given in their childhood, and the Indian method of oral education certainly helped memorizing innumerable subjects. Ashtavadhanis (those who can perform this eight-folded act) were common in Kannada and Telugu royal courts, duly honored by the kings. There were Dashavadhanis (those who could take on ten scholars) and Shatavadhanis (those who could answer a hundred simultaneous questions) !
Asthavadhana means doing eight things at one time. Dashavadhana means doing ten things at a time. Shatavadhana means doing hundred things at a time. Avadhana means attention and concentration. This, of course, needs training of memory and concentration. It is really a marvellous feat of the memory.
He who does eight things at a time is called an Ashtavadhani. You also can do eight things at a time. This demands of you gradual development of memory and concentration. First practise to do two things and gradually increase the number of activities. Now there are people who can do eight things at a time. He can attend to chess, play cards, multiply big numerals to eight or ten digits by eight digits (bringing out the answer alone). Tell the exact day in a particular month in a particular year, answer questions, dictate a letter, tell the number of beats of hand on his back by two boys at different spots, and play upon the harmonium. He will be accurate in his calculations. He will never commit any mistake. You will be taken a back if you would look at the performance of an Ashtavadhani.
Some twenty or thirty boys will stand in a row and each boy will give a number and name before the Astavadhani, only once. After wards, while the Astavadhani is engaged, if any one of the boys come in front of him, he will at once say: " You are gopal and your number is 25: you are Rama and your number is 19." How marvellous! There was a doctor in madras that could dictate eight different prescriptions to eight compounders at one and the same time. This is also a kind of Astavadhana.
In days long gone by, there were people who could do Shatavadhana. For this sort of Avadhani, one hundred questions are put in rapid succession by as many persons - some testing. The verbal memory of the performer; some others testing the power of his mental calculations; and some others again trying to test his artistic skill, -without giving him any time for committing the questions to memory. This faculty of concentration of and is often exhibited not only with reference to the intellect but also with reference to the five senses, A number of bells may be marked differently and the sounds may be allowed to be studied and made a mental note of, with the mark given to it. A number of objects of similar shape and colour which are likely to cause deception to the eye of an ordinary man may be shown once to the Avadhani with their marks. While he is attending to other things if a bell were to be struck or one of the objects suddenly exhibited before his sight, he will l at once mention the mark of the bell or the number of the object shown. Similarly, his keenness of touch is also put to severe test. Such feats of memory are not commonly known to any other country in the world.
You can also become an expert if you can practise concentration and memory-culture" You can take any two things at a time according to your taste- you can slowly increase the number. Make yourself perfect, at each stage and then take up the higher practice.
Ashtavadhana is worth practising. It wonderfully develops memory and concentration. It increases the earning and working capacity as also efficiency. It is of immense help in meditation and Samadhi.

Entire text sourced from WIKIPAEDIA. I have just compiled and put this text matter here so that it may create more awareness about the unique talent show called "AVADHAANA".

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Do we need bt Brinjal?

I write this article as a commoner having gathered a little knowledge about plant physiology from my study of biological science upto 12th standard. I am neither pro/anti BT Brinjal nor pro/anti indigenous Brinjal. I am in favour of healthy food. I also strongly feel that the Indian farmer who feeds us should prosper without being exploited. And, I like Brinjal a lot. Especially, the mouth-watering vaangibath and the delicious, hot gojju that my mother prepares using Brinjals! I just wanted to voice my opinion amidst the on-going heated debate across the country. This is not an expert analysis but a portrayal of the views and apprehensions of a layman confused about the whole issue due to conflicting opinions coming forth from different sources and the lack of consensus among the scientific community in this matter.
India has about 3185 traditional types or varieties (in common parlance) of indigenous Brinjal (also called eggplant). In scientific lingo these local strains are called ‘germ-plasm’. These indigenous types have evolved over centuries. Every living being in nature has an instinct for survival, procreation and proliferation. That is how seeds sprout, flowers bloom, pollination occurs and fruits are formed. The fruits mature and the seeds from these fruits start the cycle all over again. The mother tree ensures that the seeds are spread over a wide area so that the species survives and multiplies. Seeds are “engineered” to travel and establish colonies far away from the mother tree! Seed propagation is a marvel of nature. Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” premise says that only the “tough” ones survive so that the species continues to grow in a robust manner. In this process, the plant/tree also naturally develops immunity against diseases and resistance to pests & insects which would otherwise destroy the species. This course of development of natural immunity / resistance occurs over numerous life cycles. Simultaneously, the insects and pests, which also have their own instinct for survival, also mutate to checkmate the progressive immunity / resistance developed by the plant/tree species. This battle continues.
The ‘green revolution’ enhanced the food production in India manifold during the late sixties and seventies. Introduction of hybrid crops had a dramatic impact and India was able to proudly claim self-sufficiency in food production. But, the same green revolution also increased the use of and dependency on fertilizers, chemicals, pesticides and insecticides. Not many are willing to openly accept the deleterious effects of unbridled use of such hazardous chemicals on the land and human population. The fertilizer subsidy in India is expected to be Rs.1.20lakh crores during the next financial year!
Brinjal is grown in about 5 lakh hectares in India. Karnataka accounts for about 25% of the share of Brinjal production in India while West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa produce almost 50% of the total output. Baingan is staple food among the people in Bihar and West Bengal and tribals in Orissa,. This crop (as also cabbage, cauli flower, tomato, cotton etc) is susceptible to devastating attack from shoot and fruit-borer (FSB) insects. These six-legged insects are called "lepidopterons". The FSB attack is so deadly that most of the time, Brinjal is a loss-maker crop. With huge expense on the fertilizers, chemicals, insecticides and pesticides, a farmer would be lucky if he can get about 50% healthy yield. Not many farmers take the risk of growing this crop. To avoid total crop loss, farmers spray pesticides anywhere between 45 to 55 times over the Brinjal crop. That is a huge quantity, considering about 1Liter pesticide spray per application per hectare. Pesticide/insecticide companies profit from the use of these synthetic and dangerous chemicals. Many of these pesticides /insecticides are banned in western countries. The high pesticide residue levels are hazardous to consumers. Any attempt to reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides/insecticides would attract the ire of manufacturers. That is one factor we should keep in mind.
In fact, BT spray was available as early as 1980s. But, the effectiveness of this superficial spray depended on weather conditions. So, plant bio-technologists, in a novel procedure, isolated a particular gene from BT bacteria and introduced this gene into the cells of plants susceptible to attack from the FSBs. When the FSB attempts to bore into the shoot or fruit, this gene gets into the gut (where exists a very high alkaline environment, pH being about 9 to 9.5) and exterminates the FSB from within. This method has been successfully adopted in “BT cotton”. The use of pesticides / insecticides has virtually been eliminated in case of BT cotton. Manufacturers of these chemicals are panicking. This is one more facet we should keep in mind.
Monsanto (MAHYCO in India) calls it’s BT gene CRY 1A. ICAR (IARI) calls it CRY 2A. This is a protein (alkaloid) which apparently causes no side effects and works only in a highly-alkaline environment obtaining in FSB intestines. The BT gene is supposed to act against all lepidopteron. But, how sure are the scientists that no adverse effects will occur due to their “playing god” and tinkering with the genetic framework? Despite all the advances in bio technology, the scientists cannot control or place the gene with certainty in the chromosomal frame. The man-introduced gene will go and sit wherever it wants; not where the scientist wants. This is a tricky situation. The resulting fruit can be different in many ways. It may be small or big with different shapes. It may be sour or bitter. The flesh may not be soft and may have any other undesirable character! It may even make you sick. Vast research in bio-technology has still not been able to overcome the problem of uncontrollability and this unpredictability. This is another aspect we need to keep in mind.
Any food material (natural or artificial) contains “allergens” (or "toxins") and produces "anti-allergens" in consumers. The effect of these allergens is what is called “allergic reaction”. Many a times the allergic reaction is negligible. Some times allergic reactions can cause death also if not medically treated in time. The type, intensity and degree of expression of allergic reaction varies from person to person depending on the race, health, strength, robustness, life style, food habits, weather and so many other factors. So, it is difficult to predict what food causes what type of allergy in which person! That is another point we need to keep in mind. (For interesting anecdotes, read the splendid science-fiction-thriller “Acceptable Risk” by Robin Cook).
Another issue concerns the soil microbiology. As is well known, soil is by itself a micro biosphere. When the shoot/ fruit-borer insect is killed by the BT gene, it falls down and is degraded. What happens to the free BT gene? Where does it go? Scientists say that the BT gene has a very short lifespan and cannot survive outside the alkaline environment. Yet, the adverse effects of the presence of the dead lepidopterons in the soil also needs to be investigated deeply. For example, earth worms and numerous other microbial organisms in the soil should not be impacted negatively. It has to be established that dead lepidopterons cause no harmful side effects in the soil bio-sphere.
In USA many GM crops (mostly BT variety) have been in use since 1995. The GM food is marked and consumers are aware of their identity. Other non-GM foods are also available. The fundamental right to choose exists. Strict controls are enforced there to ensure that there is no cross pollination between GM crops and non-GM varieties. In India, GEAC, the regulatory body governing the approvals for commercialization of GM crops has already approved the introduction of BT Brinjal. Next, it will be BT Tomato and many more crops. The Union Agriculture Minister and his deputy have shown their inclination to favor BT crops. The Union Environment Minister has gone all round the country to gather inputs from citizens. The entire issue has assumed political overtones. The situation has worsened so much that bio-technology as a science has seemingly lost its credibility and bio-technologists are viewed with suspicion by the opponents of BT technology! The proponents allege lobbying by the "pesticide companies" and the "Organic Farming Lobby". Obviously, the leftists and the intelligentsia are also fishing in troubled waters due to their ideological war against MNCs creating a fearsome scenario of agricultural imperialism. Each group is accusing the other of bribery, intimidation and buying favours from key government officials. Who is right and who is wrong?
Cotton seeds are fed to cattle in India. We saw some sheep die in Andhra Pradesh after eating BT cotton seeds. We also saw the fictitious cloning research in South Korea. Recently, IPCC had forecast the scary scenario of Himalayan glaciers melting on the basis of unreliable, erroneous and subjective data. Science has its share of black sheep!
Introduction of BT crops would make the Indian farmer dependent on multi-national companies. Opponents say the indigenous Brinjal varieties would disappear. There is no way anybody can control the gene cross-over from BT variety into non BT variety. What is the current productivity / yield of Brinjal in India? What is the demand? Is there a shortage of Brinjal crop? By what quantum would the Brinjal productivity increase due to use of BT Brinjal? How safe is it when viewed in the backdrop of food and nutritional security?
What research has been carried out on sizeable population (in statistical terms) to ascertain the negative effects on humans or animals who consume BT Brinjal? What validated, reproducible, peer-reviewed, third-party audited (independently verified), genuine data (drawn from extensive, long-term field trials in different locations) is available in this regard? Are there any black sheep?
I would not like BT Brinjal to push the Indian farmer into perpetual slavery with forced dependence on MNCs for seeds? What controls are in place to ensure that Indian farmer is not exploited? The MNC seed company officials may legally seek the help of police to inspect and verify crops grown in farmers' lands to find out the presence of (marked) BT gene. This BT gene may have just crossed over (through open pollination) into the non-BT crop grown by the farmer from seeds produced from his own (previous) non-BT variety crop. What will be the consequences that the illiterate farmer has to face? (This is happening in the IT field where Microsoft is raiding offices and establishments along with police to verify the use of pirated software applications). Under IPR regime, this is perfectly legal. If the seed company cannot prevent the gene cross-over and contamination of non BT variety due to cross-pollination, should Indian farmer face the legal consequences?
I also would not like disappearance of indigenous varieties of Brinjal. What checks and security apparatus are available to prevent cross-pollination between BT Brinjal and the non-BT crop if and when they are grown in adjacent plots? Can our farmers understand and follow the intricacies of control measures when they sow BT seeds? What allergens/toxins are produced and what allergencity tests have been conducted to ascertain the allergic reactions in humans and animals? I would be happy if farmers can stop spraying pesticides and insecticides. Use of less fertilizers and chemicals would also be welcome. I would also like to exercise my right to choose between BT Brinjal and the non-BT Brinjal.
The heat generated in the discourse on the introduction of BT Brinjal has masked the light of knowledge in this matter. There is a lot of confusion. People are not sure who is telling the truth. Who are we to believe? Who will separate the chaff from the grain? Is there absolute truth? The Union Environment Minister has indicated the possibility of many lobbies working in the background for and against the BT technology. If we miss the BT Brinjal bus, what and whose will be the loss?
I would be happiest if my mother can get good quality Brinjals in the market to make more mouth-watering vaangibath and the delicious, hot gojju!
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