June 2, 2016

Spitting on the moon

In most parts of the civilized world spitting anywhere attracts a financial penalty, but not in our very own Bharat. More so, if you are spitting venom on a Bharat Ratna there is no fine whatsoever. In all probability the guardians of individual rights of free speech will come forward to agitate, mostly in TV studios on why these barking dogs should not be touched.

Two icons of our times, namely Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar, both Bharat Ratnas and least controversial of personalities have done nothing wrong but have been heaped insults by a relatively unknown fellow called Tanmay Bhat of AIB, an outfit in the business of comedy shows. In fact most people accuse both these icons of not taking a stand on most issues facing the nation. Their stance has been consistent : we are not known for our views on matters of a political or social nature but for our exploits in our respective fields. Ask us about our work or at best our area of work. One would tend to agree with those positions.  

In response to the release of the snapchat video called Civil War : Lata Mangeshkar Vs Sachin Tendulkar by AIB's Tanmay Bhat, the two staunchly Maratha outfits namely the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirmaan Sena were quick to issue threats of physical harm to the guy. While these kind of threats to an individual who violates the dignity of our national icons are uncalled for. In any case breaking his legs will not in any way reduce the indignities dished out to our dear icons.

But the government of the day must make it a point to enact suitable laws to prevent such insults and the resultant violence that may ensue. I feel a wider debate is called for. May be it is time to legally provide protection against such attacks to all Bharat Ratnas.

May 18, 2016

A short Journey to the heaven on earth

Just back from a short break in Srinagar. On a hot summer day we bundled into a cramped economy seat on Indigo Airlines, bought at short notice for something like a king's ransom. The desire to escape the blistering 44 Degrees Centigrade in Delhi, albeit for a few days was reason enough to get up in the wee hours of the morning & go skipping breakfast. 

Upon landing in Srinagar, the ordeal to get to our hotel which is located across town began. Our local guide informed us that Srinagar has been dug up for roadwork for almost a decade. However upon arriving at The Taj Vivanta overlooking the Dal Lake all the agony of the journey, the loss of sleep & food was forgotten. The place, in one word, is ..... Divine. Excellent property and wonderfully maintained at that. 

Their staff literally walked the extra mile to make our stay wonderful and to ensure that the weary traveler comes back again. Their manicures lawns put any Heritage Garden to shame. As you can see in the photographs the place is actually an oasis of Peace and Tranquility. Here one can lie back and enjoy the hospitality and admire nature on the hill atop which The Taj Vivanta is situated.

The chirping of the birds and the beauty of the flowers and plants in spring are just too tempting to sleep on a chilly spring morning. A walk in the early morning is just what the doctor ordered for battered city souls.


Guys this is the time to pack your bags, whether you wish to stay in a hotel or by the Dal Lake on a House Boat. The Flowers are in bloom, the weather is pleasant, strawberries and cherries are aplenty, the waters are placid and welcoming.

Or else travel to the glaciers at Sonmarg for some sled riding or trout fishing if you so desire.


April 13, 2016

Religious bigotry in the 21st Century

The past fortnight, we were witness to the shenanigans of a gritty and dogged 31-year old girl. Trupthi Desai, President of the NGO Bhumata Ranragini Brigade. Trupthi Desai is a graduate of Mumbai's SNDT University and has been previously associated with Anna Hazare's movement.

The whole controversy started when Trupthi, a devout Hindu was stopped from making her offerings to Lord Shani at the Shani Shingnapur temple near Shirdi in Maharashtra. This determined girl refused to accept the dictates of the bigots running the temple on the flimsy pretext that since women menstruate they are unclean and thus rendered unfit to pray at the shrine. She along with like-minded girls who are part of her NGO, Bhumata Ranragini Brigade, have been fighting all sorts of gender discrimination  for the past many years across the state of Maharashtra.

Earlier this year she threatened to paratroop at the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Shani Temple in Shani Shingnapur and hired a helicopter for the purpose but was stopped from performing the act by the District Administration and arrested. However by then she had already achieved her objective of starting a nation-wide debate on the subject of gender restrictions at places of worship across India, be it at The Shani Temple in Maharashtra or The Sabarimala Temple in Kerala or The Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai.

The dogged refusal of the so-called trustees of the temple forced her to knock at the doors of Justice and the High Court of Mumbai in a landmark judgement in her favour made it obligatory for all places of worship to make available all facilities to women devotees that were available to the male devotees. The temple guardians citing tradition and religious practice prevented Trupthi again with the help of male chauvinists in the local police and misguided men from nearby villages.

However not one to accept defeat easily this gritty soldier for equal rights again approached the courts and called upon the state government to uphold the judicial verdict and after a protracted battle she was allowed entry at the Sanctum Sanctorum of the temple recently and allowed to make the customary offering of oil to Lord Shani.

More strength to this Dogged and spirited soldier of Women's rights !!
Hats off, Trupthi Desai. You bring glory to your family !! 
May your tribe increase !!

January 14, 2016

Odds & Evens

The 15-day experiment in Delhi when odd and even numbered cars were allowed to run on alternate days with the exception of Sundays (when all cars could come out ) and cars being driven by ladies accompanied by kids under 12 years or other ladies comes to an end tomorrow.

Opinions are likely to be greatly divided about whether the experiment was a success or not, based on the political leaning of the proponents. BJP & Congress leaders are likely to run it down as they have been doing for the last two weeks or so with a view to denying the AAP Government of Delhi any likely advantage.

Delhi has had a huge air quality and road congestion problem. Though half the cars going off the road may have reduced road congestion & traffic jams significantly and saved commuters a lot of time the air quality has not improved dramatically. This is attributed by government spokespersons to 2015-16 winter being the warmest winter in a long time and by the opponents to the scheme to it not addressing all causes of air pollution and just picking the car-driving middle class since this is not a core AAP constituency.

Both sides have a little bit of truth in their claims of whether it worked or it didn't. However politicians are generally myopic and are likely to miss the most important aspect of the scheme - that it is at least a beginning. Most parties concerned  forget that Rome was not built in a day.

The government's job is cut out if it is at all serious about improving air quality in Delhi. The most serious threats to public health are the unchecked construction activity of Delhi Metro & the Real Estate sector which leaves thousands of tonnes of dirt in our city flying about and the nearly 100,000 trucks transiting through Delhi every night. While NGT under the supervision of the courts is trying to do something about the truck menace no action on fighting the dust problem is seen

Even if these two are addressed in planned manner the AAP government would not have to resort to stupidities like banning the Lohri bonfires. 

Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, are you listening ?