Johnnie Walker Black Label is considered the sindhi alcoholic beverage of choice. Many sindhis choose to drink this with Coca-Cola or Diet Coke
Monday, December 20, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
“This distinction between Israelis and Jews would not have surprised any of us 50 years ago. Before the foundation of the State of Israel, none of us spoke about a “Jewish state”. In our demonstrations we chanted: “Free Immigration! Hebrew State!” In almost all media quotations from those days, there appear the two words “Hebrew state”, almost never “Jewish state”.”...“The source of all this evil is, of course, the original sin of the State of Israel: the non-separation between state and religion, based on the non-separation between nation and religion. Nothing but a complete separation between the two will save Israel from total domination by the religious mutation.”
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Being a fan, particularly in the hardcore club-loyalist sense, is in many ways a matter of deliberately sustaining a set of fictions. When players let us know that they see the game as a set of skills they practice for money, rather than as a midnight war of meaning waged for the soul of the universe, or whatever the guy says in the latest Adidas commercial, it becomes harder to sustain some of those fictions, so we get mad.But the fictions themselves are basically childish, aren’t they? I don’t mean puerile or selfish, exactly just basically congenial to the consciousness of a child. Childlike. After all, that’s the consciousness that many of us possess when we first become sports fans and that we frequently turn to sports to help us sustain.11 There’s a comparison to be made here with the way American sports have evolved a sort of secondary mythology of “getting paid”—the kid from the projects winning the max contract and buying his mom a house. That might not make it easier for fans to take a star leaving their team, but it gives the star a sort of existential defense against charges of greed. The fantasy of the game is the dream of lifting yourself up and winning incredible riches. Obviously hip-hop culture has had something to do with formalizing that narrative, which is also obviously basically a version of the American Dream. But it’s still interesting it doesn’t seem to have any real equivalent in soccer. You can call the Fever Pitch model of fandom—the OMG ARSENAL ARE THE GREATEST CLUB EVER AND I HAVE THEIR POSTERS AND I LOVE THEM model—a lot of things, some good and some bad. But in its preoccupation with heraldry and its belief that the arbitrary group you happened to join possesses uniquely redemptive qualities as compared to other arbitrary groups that are self-evidently almost identical to it, it is paradigmatically nine years old forever.
Monday, October 18, 2010
“The point simply, is this: The Commonwealth Games were no showcase, but a mirror of India 2010. If they showcased anything, they showcased Indian crony, casino capitalism at its most vigorous. To build such a society and then expect The Games won't reflect its warts and sores is high optimism. But never in our history have an elite been so in love with themselves, so soaked in narcissism; so anxious about what ‘the World' thinks. So contemptuous of what our own people think, about anything. (Though the Commonwealth wouldn't exist without them. Indians account for over 55 per cent of all people in the Commonwealth.)”
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
“Delhi is a city of traumas,’ he says. ‘You can’t understand anything if you don’t realize that everyone here is trying to forget the horrifying things that have happened in their families. Delhi was destroyed by the British in 1857. It was destroyed again by Partition in 1947. It was torn apart by the anti-Sikh rampages of 1984. Each of these moments destroyed the culture of the city, and that is the greatest trauma of all. Your entire web of meanings is tied up in culture, and if that is lost, your self is lost.[...]That’s why Delhi is by far the most consumerist city in India,’ he continues. ‘People buy obscene amounts of stuff here. Delhi has an impoverished symbolic vocabulary: there hasn’t been enough time since all these waves of destruction for its symbols to be restored. If I don’t have adequate symbols of the self, I can’t tell the difference between me and mine. So people buy stuff all the time to try and make up for the narcissistic wound. It’s their defence against history.”
Sunday, October 10, 2010
“They spoke calmly but clearly, a small minority with a sense of resignation but almost all others feeling pained that 21st century India could substitute reason with faith. There were no raised voices, no uncontrolled flashes of anger, no talk of invading the streets or starting an agitation. Mr. Shamshad Khan was “deeply disappointed” with the “extra-judicial” verdict but felt Muslims had other far more important matters to focus on: “Are we going to be held hostage to this issue forever?”
“Yet conversations revealed an impatience to leave behind the past and embrace the future, however uncertain. There were complaints about biases, about being shut out of opportunities, about a sense of alienation. Yet even by these yardsticks, the world ahead was better for the young than the violence and darkness of the past. Their parents would know: All that mattered to the community in the decade after December 6, 1992 was their personal safety. Mulayam Singh in U.P. and Lalu Prasad in Bihar became saviours not because they delivered jobs but simply because they pledged to protect Muslim lives. A constant refrain heard in those troubled times was: “Hum hi nahin to aur kuch ka kya matlab?” (If we are not alive what use is anything else?) Who would want a return to that blighted past?”
"In the last week or so the media has discovered a magic word: reconciliation. Nelson Mandela has shown the world that in certain circumstances there could be an alternate route to peace — Truth and Reconciliation. But in the land of the Mahatma there is no Mandela in sight and the demand of the hour is reconciliation minus justice, minus truth."
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
The famous Indian monk had gone to Kashmir towards the end of his life; anguished over the invader's desecration and destruction of countless images of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, and filled with rage at "this humiliating testimony of history", he approached the Divine Mother in a Kali temple, and falling at her feet, asked: "How could you let this happen, Mother, why did you permit this desecration?" On the swami's own testimony, Kali is reported to have said: "What is it to you, Vivekananda, if the invader breaks my images. Do you protect me, or do I protect you?
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
“Booyah, India,” shouted Manmohan Singh as he revealed this amidst peals of raucous laughter. “Now you know why we seemed to be so badly prepared for the Games. That’s cos there are no Games, duh! We just did it to show you guys up and boy did you fall hook, line and sinker,” said the PM as large numbers of press-types looked on sheepishly knowing very well that they had been mad fools of right and proper.
“You think we’d spend Rs. 28,000 crore on a sporting event that no one gives a shit about? This in a country where millions of children die of preventable diseases before they reach the age of 5? You must be kidding me man. You think we’re dumb?”
The 2010 Commonwealth Games logo. NOT!
The practical joke was apparently a very well constructed one with dummy detractors like Aiyer set up to “criticise” it in order to make it look a bit more realistic.
“Ha! Aiyer played it well didn’t he? Had you guys fooled to-ta-lly. We were a bit nervous about that; I mean how many people would believe it if a Congress MP went in himself and condemned his own government’s games. But it went off like a dream; nobody suspected a thing!” gloated Singh.
The bits about massive corruption in the games were also, as is evident, not real. As Suresh Kalmadi said, grinning from ear to ear: “How you guys fell for that story about Scheduled Caste fund being diverted to building stadium, I’ll never know!”
“I must admit the Government had me,“ says Delhi resident, Ravi Kumar, raising his hands in mock surrender. “I should have seen through it after that story about treadmills being hired for 10 lakhs hit the headlines. But hats off; this Commonwealth Games thing was an amazing gag. Nice sense of humour these government-walahs have.”
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
“I thought it had to be about August or September and I then went out to the 15th August. Why? Because it was the second anniversary of Japan’s surrender.”
Sunday, July 18, 2010
While I'm sure there might be more "sensible" (pfft) explanations, knowing Delhi, I'd like to think that this was a subtle warning to the ubiquitous public transport groper.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Gulab is large-ish shop in Gurgaon which sells an assortment of Indian sweets, mithai and such. Also has a number of things to eat besides mithai—thali meals, dosas and even the odd pizza—all ‘pure vegetarian’, of course (one day, I’d like to get my hands of something which is vegetarian and impure).
What I found interesting is that to advertise themselves, they chose to photoshop a picture of a rosy-cheeked, plump White man holding a thali which contains roti, daal, chaval and subzi. Not that using White people in Indian ads is anything new; they’ve been used in ads for cosmetics, perfumes and electronics. But to use a White chap to sell a Punjabi thali?
Sunday, May 9, 2010
It wasn’t always like this, though. At independence, political power passed largely to a highly educated, urban leadership. This class used its new found power to great effect, knocking out feudalism from India’s power matrix—an achievement which tends to be undervalued till one looks across our western border. A highly centralised power structure kept this arrangement going for 40 years till Mandal and Mandir changed India’s political landscape, drastically curtailing the middle class’ political influence.
However, at the same time, India’s newly liberalised economy helped the middle class not only to become a lot richer but also became a lot larger. And, though it had lost a lot of political power, the urban middle class still enjoyed a disproportionately large share of the pie—Delhi’s power cuts cause a lot more consternation than the lack of power in UP.
In a bid to win over this growing class, lost to the the BJP in the 90s, the Congress air-dropped Tharoor onto the political scene. This coupled with Manmohan Singh’s favourable image and the general disarray the BJP finds itself in helped the Congress significantly in winning over the urban middle class. Unfortunately, Tharoor’s style was too much of a break with the way Indian politics works. However, as this middle class grows, it’s only a matter of time before it gets its own political representation.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Sadly, the woman’s reservation bill (and more importantly, the Anti-Defection law, but more on that later) does a fairly good job of blowing this concept out of the water. Maybe the bill is well intentioned and, God knows, women in India can do with all the help they can get, but the feature of the bill which necessitates the rotation of parliamentary seats such that two-thirds of all parliamentarians will be compulsorily unseated every five years pretty much ends any incentive for an MP to even put up an act of representing the people of his constituency. As Pratap Bhanu Mehta puts it:
“The rotation principle is a peculiar one in a democracy because it produces democracy without democratic accountability. You don’t, as an individual, now seek the verdict of those whom you claimed to serve. Even the rightly heralded reservations at panchayat level have generated this problem, producing both an accountability deficit and a weakening of an institution as a whole.”
Ironically, Subhashini Ali has even claimed this rotation principle is actually one of the redeeming features of this bill as it would “discourage personal fiefdoms” and the rise of pocket boroughs.
In order to prevent fiefdoms in some constituencies, to uproot legislators from 2/3ds of India’s constituencies regardless of whether they are fiefdoms or not is an extreme use of the broad brush. To try and present an analogy, it would be like a law which requires 2/3rds of all companies in the country, regardless of their size or market power, to be penalised as if they were monopolies.
From where I see it, the only faction this bill will benefit will be large, established political parties. You could bring in a class/caste angle too, I guess, but for most part that’s a red herring, although, the logic behind asking for sub-quotas is the same as what drives the original bill and it would be slightly hypocritical to support one without the other. However, by periodically culling 66% of all sitting legislators, MPs, on their own, will have little or no clout left in their constituencies; the Party will be his mai-baap if he wants a re-election, not the voters.
Of course, this bill can hardly be credited of being the first legislation which tries to actually make an MP and, by extension, Parliament, less accountable to the voter. The pioneer there would be the Anti Defection law which makes it mandatory for an MP to follow his party whip. Never mind the merits of the way he is voting or how it affects the people he represents—unless he agrees with his party, he will actually be stripped of his post as “representative” of his constituency.
By and large, though, middle-class India is grateful for the law. After all, it does bring a semblance of order to the dinner table—the unruly kids are rapped on their knuckles and ordered to keep their elbows off the table. However, the fact of the matter is that pelf and corruption go hand and hand with power—it has always been like that and will always be like that. The only antidote is to distribute the loaves and fishes to as many people as possible—so it’s better that 500-odd MPs are corrupt rather than just 5 party cabals, the ideal case scenario being when all of India partakes of those loaves and fishes.
Also, what makes this law doubly galling is that fact that parties in India, who control our democratically elected legislators, are highly undemocratic themselves. The Congress depends on one Family for its leadership, BJP presidents are appointed by funny people in khaki shorts and the last time I checked, politburos weren’t exactly paragons of democratic propriety.
Our political system started out by being modelled on Britain’s—I’m afraid that it might end up being more like China’s: our parliament will eventually end up being an ineffectual rubber stamp and all power will lie with opaque party machines.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Sunil Joshi, a veteran Sainik, says that the plan of their group to jump out of their seats in the middle of the movie was abandoned mid-way as they were apprehensive that their red, puffy eyes—a result of the emotional maelstrom that the movie about religious stereotyping caused—would make them look like sissies. “Which, of course, is not true at all,” a fellow Sainik of Sunil hastened to add. “It’s just that we are ideal Marathi Manooses—hard on the outside and soft on the inside, you know...that’s all. But you never know as to what the TV channels would make of those images.”
Some other groups of Sainiks failed to act because the movie forced them to change their minds about the morality of their actions in the first place. In fact, quite a few refused to vandalise the theatre they were in after they learnt that Shah Rukh Khan played a character who suffers from Asperger Syndrome. As a Sainik, who did wish to be named, put it: “Accepting Balasaheb as my leader has inculcated in me a new found respect for people who are mentally challenged. I could never do this after watching Shah Rukh play Rizvan.”
Surprisingly, a few Sainiks, after the entry of Sonya Jehan in the movie, even went so far as to challeng the Sena’s stand of hating everything Pakistani, preferring to make a distinction between politics on the one side and things like cricket and actresses on the other.
Of course, most Maharashtrians in Mumbai paid little heed to the Sena’s message, even in some instance openly defying it. Unconfirmed reports say that Paresh Mokashi is even working on a film titled, My name is Kulkarni and I am not a Sainik.
In related news, the beleaguered Bal Thakeray, already smarting from the MNIK fiasco, was further brought under the scanner by India’s premier investigative news agency, India TV, in a report which, keeping up to their impeccable journalistic standards, exposes the truth as only they can:
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Whereas sovereignty over the entire universe belongs to Allah Almighty alone and the authority which He has delegated to the State of Pakistan, through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him is a sacred trust;
The glee that quite few Indians have shown over the IPL saga is understandable—to quote from one of India's most popular bloggers, Great Bong, the reasoning goes something like this: “Now since we are talking about a country who about a year before butchered our citizens and who allow the perpetrators of that crime against humanity to walk their streets amidst adulation and approbation” what the IPL has done is perfectly allright. Hell, it’s super.
Which is a fine sentiment.
But the thing is, does this, in any way, actually help in preventing further instances of terror, or even punish those in Pakistan who are responsible for this sort of thing?
Hiring or not hiring 5 or so cricketers from a nation of 170 mln is going to make no practical difference to anything, least of all the foreign policy of that nation.
Of course, not all foreign policy need be purely practical; India might make a symbolic point. Fair enough, other than the fact that India did not make a symbolic point. A symbolic point would have been made if the Pakistani cricketers would not have been allowed to participate from the outset and it would have been made clear as to the “issue”, in Shahrukh’s words , behind the ban. In fact the Government made in unequivocally clear that there was no “hint or nudge from the government ” in this matter.
Even explanations such as “it is business decision” do not stand up to scrutiny. As Offstumped explains:
IPL as a private business has the right to do what it wants but that right is not beyond the ethics and values how any business must conduct itself. Tacit collusion by a cartel to discriminate against individuals based on origin doesnt speak highly of IPL’s ethics and values as a private business.
This whole episode was an exercise in bad judgement—no two ways about it.
Of course, not be left behind in the stupidity stakes, some in Pakistan have erupted in near-hysterical rage, as if 5 players not earning some money in a private league is a national disaster.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
The two leading media houses of India and Pakistan - The Times of India and the Jang Group - have come together to develop a stronger Track 2 in the diplomatic and cultural relations between India and Pakistan. "Aman ki Asha: Destination Peace" looks beyond the confines of a 62-year-old political boundary to the primal bonds that tie together the two peoples.