Sunday, December 20, 2009

Two States

Telangana and Andhra, the uneasily co-existing brothers , are now agitating for a nuclear and a joint family respectively.A division operation almost always leaves quotient and a remainder. Due to multiple parties involved in the division, there are
multiple of them.

Here is a list of people who matter in the current political scene in Andhra Pradesh. Forget about any sentiments you may have or you may support. This is an end of the day balance sheet of who got what.

Late Dr.Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR), Ex-Chief Minister:

He is a God now, graduating from his earlier demigod status. His image is now used only in the margins
of a placard. More akin to invoking "Jai Sriram" before the start of anything. He dreamt of a utopic state for his family, friends and the state, strictly in that order. His death in the helicopter crash was a curtain riser for the best show in A.P politics till now. Anyway, I had to invoke him before starting the actual list.

Mr.Rosaiah, Chief Minister:

He had got his stars right and became a CM just by living longer than his cabinet colleagues. He is a turtle. He is very slow from the wisdom he carries from the long innings he had till now. He has not gained much and won't lose much. He has no group of his own in congress and would be thrown out of margin soon. His 9-to-5-job attitude got him maximum returns and now he would definitely think of retiring.

Mr.N.Chandrababu Naidu, TDP Supremo:

He is in a fix now. He had inched closer to congress in 2009 State and General elections and might have taken on Congress very strongly in the absence of YSR in 2014 elections. He would have been busy formulating the vision of bringing in investments, which saw a slump under YSR, and also maintaining balance with the agriculture sector. Imbalance between the two along with continuous drought worked against him in 2004 state elections. The center's decision to split the state might have caught him unawares and spoiled his chance of a thumping victory in 2014 elections. Prominently, he has only one way out now: forming a Telangana TDP and moving to the Andhra state where the next big game hunting is. He would definitely stand out there, among the political saplings who are currently grappling for power. It would be interesting to see him build a capital for the new state, whichever city it may be.

K.Chandrsekhar Rao (KCR), TRS supremo:

Villages in Andhra Pradesh ( including Telangana) have village deities. After a bountiful harvest or during the time of a crisis, sacrifices are made to the deity for her blessings. KCR is a well decorated sacrificial sheep. His demand was for a separate state as soon as, he was out of TDP's uterus. He was a still born leader then. Fluctuating and fumbling in his strategies he resembled his blood sugar levels. But, as if in a trance from excessive toddy, he stuck to his strategy of going on a hunger strike. I haven't seen movements in recent years but the fire caught on quickly with this one. Potti Sriramulu, a Gandhian who sacrificed his life after 56 days of fast unto death seems to be a vague inspiration. KCR extracted a statement out of the center in 11 days. In the game of cards at 10 Janpath, KCR was always the joker on the Telangana card. He tried alliances with all the parties to see if things work but this was quite unlike the card game he plays at home. He did not succeed with anyone and came to a state of zero credibility with rebellion in his own party. Now he has to only wait till the new state forms and join Congress. More like a played card, a used shell. The Congress will steal the show from him in 2014 elections. Now he can retire or simply die out politically. His victory rallies are like ecstasy before death. He had a point to his life till now and he got it and that's the end.

K.Chiranjeevi, PRP Supremo:

A good hero with great dialogues but bad timing. He professed NTR as his inspiration (euphemism for imitation) to start a political party in the state. He broke into the scene with social justice as his main motto. Politicians from the OBC (Other Backward Class) section of TDP migrated to PRP with great dreams in their head. They were sleeping all the while. The movie was a flop in most of the centers in the state except in 18 constituencies. However, he was able to dent the TDP vote share which helped Congress to win the 2009 elections. He is a drawn card now. With his 15 of the 18 seats coming from Andhra region of the state he took quite some time in joining the demand for a unified state. He and his family, the only visible faces of the party, are ready to join Congress party of the Andhra region as soon as the doors are open. I wish him good luck on his tripping trips to Delhi.

Dr.Jayaprakash Narayan (JP), Lok Satta Supremo:

He envisions to bring in institutional reforms. A grand vision but needs mighty amount of political resolve. His party is still in a nascent stage and even if it is fully built, the response times for his call are two general elections away at least. He has nothing much to lose. He can now concentrate closely on the Andhra state and help in building some good institutions.

Y.S.Jagan Mohan Reddy (Jagan), YSR's son:

Analogies are badly understood. Sonia Gandhi:Rahul Gandhi (is not equal to) YSR:Jagan. He expected he would straight way walk into the secretarait from the last rite ceremony of his father. But things turned sour for him. Sonia Gandhi wanted to desperately control his growth so that he does not go on to become another YSR. His dad might have sent hundreds of crores extracted from Mining Brothers ( Reddy brothers from Bellary) to 10 Janpath. Nevertheless, there had to be a side tracking of Jagan and CBI cases on Mining brothers. This removed him from the fore ground of the political scene and he got deposed to another "son of a politician". Arguably, he is responsible for the resignation of the MLAs from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions there by getting back at Sonia and the groups who opposed his candidature for the CM post. But I doubt if he is that good a player. He might have covertly instigated the resignations but he himself is not in the foreground. Surely this fidelity would be rewarded by the High Command.

Sonia Gandhi and her strategy:

YSR loosened her hold on the party in AP but he was someone who gave 33 MPs to the center. This gave him good bargain in the projects for the state and funds for numerous schemes he started in the name of the dead of Nehru-Gandhi family. He was a bigger leader than he was cut out for by the High Command. His death left a political vacuum in the sate which was the right opportunity for Sonia to get back her hold. This is when she used the trump card called Telangana in a single sentence, mid-night statement issued by an over worked Chidambaram. Now she has become the hero (yet to be claimed) for the Telangana region where Congress, as a party that gave Telangana, is bound to cash the sentiment. There would be mid-term elections, after the formation of Telangana state is complete within 2 years. Handpicking candidates who are ready to dust her sandals, she would get her grip back from the current power groups.

Fasts unto death have already started in the Andhra region and are in full force now. Lagadapati Rajagopal is in the fore front from Congress and Devineni Umamaheshwar Rao (Uma) from the TDP side. Both these leaders are fighting for a better position in their parties in the separate Andhra state. I am not sure how the present stand off would be resolved but there must be some carrot to put to these fasting hares. The fight now is not for a unified state but it is for Hyderabad, the Kohinoor made out of thousands of crores of investment. This is the main point of contention. Geographically it is not possible for Hyderabad to be a capital of both the states. So the only way the investments can be protected is through a demand for a united state.

In her parleys with the ghosts of Indira Gandhi and Pandit Nehru, Sonia should blame Nehru for moving the captial from Kurnool to Hyderabad. Had it been Kurnool, it would easily be a union territory and a capital for both the states.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Taxed mind

Taxpayer's money is something that is relished with much shamelessness.You and I are scared of asking for accountability. This is mainly because of lack of awareness, hesitation and laziness. We being lazy, makes someone else doubly so and starts snowballing, till the topguns are caught sleeping in the Loksabha. Where else one could find the best lullaby! Whatever it is, we should be happy that we are a democracy. There are rules and regulations written down, agreed British, but still existent and helpful. The problem is ignorance of these rules. Ignorance of rules makes us more vulnerable to the system. By system, I don't mean a mile-long red tape. It is nothing but the next person you meet, who tries to take advantage of your awareness. I say, be shameless and ask for the rules in fine print. You might not have time for this but you can go that extra inch. This would help in setting you up for deeper questioning that could be required in life.

Though Hugo Chavez is an elected dictator and silenced many of his opponents, I am appreciative of one thing about him. He got the constitution closer to the people. Though the constitution was anti-elite and played a Robin hood for the rich, the methods he employed in getting the people learn about the rules he made for them are appreciable. To achieve this, his government encouraged formation of groups in the neighborhood of each locality which read constitution as it meant to them. It was interpreted and then discussed in these groups. This increased people becoming more aware of their rights as well as duties. These readings happened every week like a Sunday Mass. We need something like that in every locality where people get together and try to understand their rights, wrongs and duties. I don't deny the existence of the co-operative societies, welfare associations for colonies, ward member committees...etc., These are mostly into having high tea and cream biscuits. Decentralization of powers which has to happen in its final form by giving more powers and funds to panchayats in the country is still under covers. Unless and until the authority flows from government to people we would be have a long way to go. Corruption is another issue. More elaborately on that in the next post.

Friday, September 18, 2009

All about a quack

In his heydays, he was very old. Now he is a fossil of ninety four years, smelling of garlic and ginger that he once used to sell, from house to house. He doesn't do that anymore. He is totally into healing ailments by prayers in Dakkani. Earlier, he used to devote only a part of his time to the healing.It was in the evenings. After a day of selling the condiments.

At twilight, as the cry of muezzin emerged from the minaret, people would throng the small room opening into the road. The room was filled with bags of ginger, leaving little space for the crowd. They overflowed onto the road. They looked anxious like the visitors outside a house, where the dead body lay. He would sit down in the inner most corner facing Mecca. The walls of the room are red from the dust that wrapped ginger. They had to be frequently white-washed. This was sponsored, once a year, as a thanks giving gesture, by one of the healed. They didn't stay white for long. Ginger was loaded and unloaded, and the dust rose painting the walls red again. Matching the ambiance, at times, he used to dye his long white beard in crimson, making it look like a comet's tail.

The word spread quickly. People from distant areas would arrive to seek his healing. Many poor among them, who couldn't afford the clinic in the adjoining road, would wait for hours for a healing spell. He was reasonable, charging only a rupee or two based on the potency. Each healing brought in five other patients. Soon people started thronging the small room with wait times up to two hours.They started seeking spells for a whole lot of goings on in their lives. He would patiently reject most of them, except a few which didn't concern ending a life.He was a harmless experimenter.

As the number of patients grew, he retired from the selling of condiments to a full time healing with a break in the afternoon for siesta.He was seventy five then.He passed off the condiment business to his four sons who all these years were trained under him. They expanded it farther. Soon, patients from all these places thronged the small room, as if the smell of the ginger carried in itself a binding spell.

Years passed by and with them he became more and more sedentary. He could not walk back home for his lunch. One of his grandsons used to carry his lunch everyday and wait till he finished. The four sons by the night would come in a small auto and take their father home.This carried on for more than a decade, when his vision started blurring despite the thick glasses he wore.And one day he became blind. The word spread farther about this blind healer and the crowd increased in number.He still wanted to heal, as many patients, before his day comes. Only now, he groped for the patients in the dark corner of the small room.

That day, at the call for evening prayer people thronged as usual around the small room. He groped a bit for the first patient and uttered an ancient spell. A moment later he couldn't utter a word and move his legs and he slanted to the wall like a bag of ginger. Not to be lifted by one alone. Outside people stared anxiously with eyes flashing like lost sails.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Eternal recurrence of travel

I always liked looking up distant places like Mongolia, Chad, Irkutsk, Gdansk, Togo and some dots in the Pacific.The Atlas was my favorite book during the schooldays. Much admiration was for the time zones. The very fact that people were sleeping peacefully, when I was scratching my head in the summer heat of Hyderabad was a wonder. All was flat and fine, but for one thing about the USSR. Alaska was part of it. When I raised this doubt, the arms of The Atlas were twisted and the two ends were made to met. I gasped. Immediately it dawned on me that earth was round and what its diameter was. I then grabbed and pushed it under the bed so that it would be flat again.

Every summer I used to go to places that stayed almost static like a drowsy afternoon. I used to go on a journey, in search of roots, to the villages of my mom and dad. For me, the best part of the journey was the bus terminus. I would go round the platform and then read the names of the destinations written on the buses. Some of the names sounded strange and funny. I would come back and ask my mother, questions about these places and how far they were. She subscribes to the old school in geography. Even now she does the same. She would patiently explain which direction of the country these places were and what the characteristics of the soils of that country side. She never forgets her roots in agriculture. It's just built in. I used to be amused by the stories about the villages with red soil. How the people were very sly and cunning in those lands. I used to ask her more about these people. How she came to know about them and if she met anyone from those places. When I was too annoying, she would just say that she overheard this knowledge from elders in the evening parleys in her village and no more questions. I would then just walk away and start following a new bus that has arrived.

Such was my curiosity to know about new places. Just know them. Ever since I remember, travelling left me tired and piquant. I either catch a cold, even in the hottest weather, or fever or just a general weariness and slump in my mood, by the time the actual fun starts. The travails of travel always leave with me a bleaker image of the destination. And often I get blamed as an un-fun person. Naturally, I am all about Teleportation. How good it would be to just turn into molecules and then re-assemble at some other destination. It would be perfect for lazy bones like me. Talk about eternity and I know exactly what it means. The eternal recurrence of travel. An important piece of the existential jig-saw.

At times, the Return On Investment(ROI) for travel is the company you get. Sometimes you do feel the whole journey as a lock-period. Man, people talk! They talk, talk and talk, like I used to do once. These days, I practice a trick to counter this. I carry two to three big books with me. They really scare people away. They would not want to indulge into talking because of two reasons. One being you are too absorbed in the book and two, the book is really fat and overpowering. Let me see what I have in store for the next week's journey home . I have, The Complete Novels of Kafka : The Big Red Book and The Penguin History of Early India by Romila Thapar: History minus romance. Kafka seems to be a better grab than Thapar. She can just bore some one to death. But the intrigue and incomprehensibility of Kafkan characters would put people to silence immediately. Poor souls! they would find themselves in a Kafkaesque setting next Friday.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Masking glory

Today was a day without that morning rush to the office. I had time to watch the kids waiting for school bus. I cannot see their smile like always and feel happy about it. They are wearing H1N1 masks. Since a month or so, masks have become an organ much missed by evolution. Talk about creationism and intelligent design! Masks got sold like hot cakes in the initial scare days, when every news channel bombarded the country with the breaking swine flu news. I even got few masks and put it in the refrigerator so that it doesn't spread through food. Finally, a chief minister had to abscond for hours and later die, to shift the focus off the virus. The ultimate sacrifice.

I am sorry, I almost forgot the penultimate one : Rahul Gandhi travelling by Shatabdi express. Might be inspired by those numerous train journeys of Mahatma Gandhi by third class. Fortunately we don't have third class now. Or else, there would've been a stampede to catch a glimpse of the Prince. This reminds me of a small confession of Sarojini Naidu. When someone extolled the greatness of Gandhi who was always among the poor, she reportedly confessed, that it costs more to the congress to keep him among the poor than in a normal state. For security reasons, many congress workers were dressed up as poor people around the leader. These guys were good actors back then and in expensive garbs.

Rahul Gandhi would've been better off spending that time studying the Human Development Reports of various states or atleast perusing his recent election nomination affidavit, where he categorically states that he doesn't own a car. I could own a car in another year. The humble of the humbles, our former president A.P.J Abdul Kalam could own a car. Then how come Rahul baba missed it.His mom doesn't own a car. A waitress in Rome can. She missed the bus too. I think we as a country deserve these kind of illusions. We accept these things like we accept the bad smell of a dead dog in the bushes. We wait for some one to clean it or die a natural death under the sun.

We are idiots. Let's not hide this with some false affidavits. What more proof than the reported death of 140 odd people in the wake of a Chief Minister's death. I say these were more valuable as biomass than the living. This is worse than the terrorist attacks carried out in Hyderabad, two years back. Funnily, some of them committed suicide. Stupidity causes internal bleeding and it can lead to sudden death of a person or a country. The so called responsible journalism of ear-drum-breaking news suddenly evaporates in their camera flashes. They shout to be pro-active, much so in a corporate sense. They make money out of it. Do you remember any scene in the old rags-to-rugs-to-riches-to-bitches movies, where the hero as a kid cries for money to cremate his mother's remains? Next time you see that, remember breaking news.

The flowing black gowns, without much going on behind them, suddenly started billowing like Marlyn Manroe's. What is with this Justice? Is it bought out or Is there some sanity? Is it virgin? Is it still blind? Is it still "your honor"? Someone had his share of questions and filed an RTI to know how much are these guys making anyway by writing down all those affidavits? Suddenly the gowns started fumbling. There was much discussion about who should disclose what. Finally the Chief Justice came down, bent backwards and with a hood-wink, formulated the voluntary disclosure scheme. I am sure it is already practiced by the Bollywood actresses. Ladies, JJ school of arts is in urgent need of young posers for a nudity appreciation course. All their models are over 40 and there is a drop in attendance. The script begs, for once, begs for it.

I think, I can suggest a remedy to the rottenness of the current state. Why don't we all gather at Ambedkar Samajik Parivarthan Sthal(Ambedkar's Memorial for social change) in Lucknow and sing bhajans to behenji while a giant stupa is constructed over our head, slowly plastering us into bliss?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


This is a stimulus package to uplift this blog from the dire straits it is in as of now. Things have been happening in my poetry blog all the while but prose took a back seat or rather became extinct since three months. Lately I realized that prose would help me in inculcating the very essential quality of continuity.

This is not to say that poetry as a medium has less to teach in that area. You can have disconnected images in a collage like poem and pass it off as style. But really speaking, such poetry would be as esoteric as modern art. I strongly believe that poetry or prose should be sort of story telling. Look at grandparents, narrating the same stories and yet enrapturing the child audience. I think that's a rather difficult job to do. As the same children grow into adults there is a looking glass of experiences through which they tend to accept things. Slowly the grandmother's tales lose their luster.

I would be posting here some simple stories, experiences and interesting observations which I have up my sleeve. I would assure you that this would not be a space for any boring opinions of mine. However, things happening around could creep into the stories or anecdotes that are shared here.