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Mahashivratri vigil for a safe India

It’s that Hindu festival when many a devout Hindu keeps a religious fast and a nightlong vigil praying. And I fondly greet them on this Mahashivaratri (variously spelled as maha shiva ratri, maha shivrathri, etc) – the great night of Lord Shiva.

This year, as India braces itself for five different state elections (including one in the southern state of Karnataka), a year before the General Election to the Parliament, many Indians are keeping a fast and a vigil, not for any of their private needs, but for that ultimate spiritual-temporal need: a safe, harmonious India.

After they voted in an ambitious despot in 2014, believing in the hollow promises of depositing Rs. 1.5 million in every Indian’s bank account, the Modi-Jaitlie-Shah regime robbed most Indans of their hard earned money – on two major occasions: cruel demonitisation and shameless GST. The huge cache of black money -the source of promised Rs. 1.5 million- is still lying there in those foreign banks; they have only relieved of our hard-earned cash, and hit us hard in our stomachs, so that we hunger no more!

The Tsar who changes his  clothes three time a day, promised us 20 million jobs; but he has successfully robbed us our own jobs – about 20 million jobs every year since 2015, so that we don’t need to work anymore, don’t need to eat and deplete the earth. Noble intentions!

The big talker & his gang promised us everyone’s progress – “sabka sath, sabka vikas”; sure, they have ensured multi-billionnaires like Ambani and Adani prosper. Ambani, for example,  has now launched the biggest telecom company of the country Jio! It has control of our all our life and data- with the pernicious, bio-mitric containing Aadhaar card! May be one exception to this corporate progress: Shah’s son Jay, who invested Rs. 50,000 thousand, miraculously multiplied his wealth 16,000 times to Rs. 800 million (80 crores), only in THREE MONTHS! That has made all of us believe in miracles; that has made us not lose hope, only if we too were to have that political clout.

Everyone’s progress? Yes, everyone of the goons who wields clubs and rods in the name of ‘cows’ has become fearless; they know they can enter anyone’s house and check for refrigerators and call any meat therein as “cow” and lynch the household people.

Now everyone knows to survive all that you need is a Ram Temple in Ayodhya, and you will have no hunger, no thirst, no needs.

Woe to you if are a dalit (Scheduled caste), a tribal, minority, woman, or a broad minded citizen! Your ‘acche din’ (good days) are assured – like our own journalist Gauri Lankesh, rationalist Dhabolkar, left wing Govind Pansare, and writer Kalburgi, who are murdered in cold blood and day light/ twilight! Sad for you, if you are a student who thinks independenlty and critially – you will be jailed and incarcerated.

All that you need to do is shout some nationalist slogans, however hollow they are; just equate one megalomaniac with the “nation”; or else, you will be termed ‘anti-nationalist’ and killed. Well, in the notorious trio’s democracy, the only thing you have to do is incense the fake nationalists, and lick the megalomaniac’s boots. You don’t need dignity, because the other flies abroad on your taxes, on an average four times a months and for four days each, and changes his clothes three times a day (down from five times a day!), wears those self-named clothes evincing a serious disease, and take selfies with journalists and occasionally with some youth – there are paid IT-soldiers to send the tweets and videos viral. And we live! Happily, ever afer!

The the ony time you wait for the obsessive talker to keep quiet is violate some human/ Constitutional rights; and he goes mum for weeks! Or else, he keeps talking and talking and talking; no end! A truly prosperous country full of promises and talk!

On this holy day/ night of Mahashivratri, like my many Indian brothers and sisters, I also pray for my dear country – for prosperity, peace and the working of the Constitution of India, before it is changed by the unelected rulers of Nagpur.

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Bengaluru LitFest

It was the first time that I was attending an English Liteary Festival. It’s a nice ambience – people discussing and sharing their thoughts and opinions and experiences in different places. There is a celebratory mood. And plenty to eat and drink,  if you have money and time. [Pic: Bit coin and crypto currency- Cell photo] Lit Fest IMAG0002

The only downside was poor turn out. Today there were good many people. Some of my students told me yesterday the discussion halls were near empty! may be people have other things to do! More important.

Among the books, I saw plenty of new volumes – many and varied. I, with my friends, bought about nearly Rs. 8,000 worth books. Ramachandra Guha and Shashi Tharoor and Prety Tanuja and others.

Harvard scholar Sooraj Yengde educates SJC

It was an educative day at St Joseph’s College Autonomous Bengaluru. The young Harvard scholar Dr Sooraj Yengde, the first Indian with African – Indian studies (intersecting caste and race), addressed students and faculty on India for Diversity.

The well-attended lecture focused on the plight of dalits, tribals, and minorities, and with a special focus on women of these communities. His oft-repeated question was, if this was democracy, how can it be democracy?

Dr Yengde analysed in details India’s education sector (schools, colleges, institutes of national importance and universities. What is the percentage of various subgroups within the Indian society? And what is their representation in jobs of a arietyv of kinds. Of all the spheres of public service like education, politics, executive, judiciary, and media, the media shows that there is  no place of dalits and tribals.

Washington Univesity students visit SJC

A group of students from University of Washington, led by Prof. Julian Marshal and Prof. Moon, visited St Joseph’s College Autonomous on Saturday, 6th January.

The 17 students from mostly from Environmental Engineering and other science

subjects  are here as part of their international exchange programme.

The students and professors, along with Ms Aruna and Ms Menakshi of ILK, attended an interactive session with teachers from St Joseph’s College.

Dr Richard Rego, Director, International Exchange, welcomed the students and the faculty, and gave a brief introduction to St Joseph’s College, diversities in Indian education system and Indian society.

Dr Arun Thampan (PG Coordinator, Department of Physics) gave the students and faculty, a peek into his current research, while Dr Etienne Rassendren (Dept of English) spoke on areas of research in Humanities and Social Sciences at St Joseph’s College. Dr Michael Rajamathi followed it up with a brief session on research in sciences and teaching-learning at St Joseph’s, besides his own research.

The students and faculty engaged in active conversation over university level education in India and at St Joseph’s, besides discussing individual presenters’ research activities, and socio-cultural diversities in India.

After the interactive session, the University of Washington team visited Physics and Chemistry laboratories.

The team will be here for the next three months, till March, during which time, will engage in interaction with students and classroom activities. Profs. Marshal and Moon will also be interacting with their counterparts at St Joseph’s College, besides addressing SJC students.

Public intellectual Fr Ambrose Pinto no more

It was such a sad day. A day when we laid to rest one of the rarest scholars and men is God Fr Ambrose.

The 67-year Jesuit was an eminent academician, scholar, Researcher, social & political activist especially on human Rights, dalit & tribal rights, principal of St Joseph’s College Bengaluru, and deeply spiritual.

About 3000 people from all walks of life gathered to bid adieu to their dear Father, teacher, mentor, guide, friend, counselor, and ideal.

There’s too much written on him in newspapers and social media. I don’t want to add. My heart doesn’t permit me.

All I can say is, Fr Ambrose, we will miss you. I will miss you.

By invitation: Language is culture, don’t thrust it on us!

By invitation: Language is culture, don’t thrust it on us!

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | DR. FR RICHARD REGO

Published Nov 5, 2017, 6:53 am IST
Updated Nov 5, 2017, 6:54 am IST
There is no point in introducing compulsory Hindi in CBSE schools versus compulsory Kannada in Karnataka schools.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Bengaluru Development Minister K.J. George and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi at the launch of Indira Canteen in this file photo

 Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Bengaluru Development Minister K.J. George and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi at the launch of Indira Canteen in this file photo

Before I proceed let me declare that I am a proud mannina maga. Born in Karnataka, I studied in an appata Kannada medium school. What’s more, my  first four classes were in a single teacher government school, where I learnt by rote Govinda Pai’s monsoon song, “Banthai banthai suntara gaali”, Kuvempu’s “Kuhoo jug jug poovittoovittaavu,” Sanchiya Honnamma’s “Hadibadeya dharma” and so on. And then followed a Bachelor’s degree in Kannada major, learning  Pampa, Ranna, Ponna, Janna, and  Keshiraja, Kumaravyasa.

That’s not all. I also taught Kannada as a first language in a high school in Namma Bengaluru to children studying in the Kannada medium and Kannada as a second language to English medium boys. I have also written in  Kannada magazines and dailies, initially using R. Manohar as my pen name.

 

But we all don multiple identities in a wired world. I am a proud Kannadiga, a true manina maga, proud of his roots and heritage. But I am also living in my country India, which is a melting pot of creeds, cultures, and languages. That is where I draw my Constitutional identity from.

Then I live in this global Halli (village), in this satellite, mobile, information halli, mingling with any number of people from anywhere , even while sitting in the confines of my room. So I am faced with this strange conundrum: Who am I? There is no easy answer as one has to don all three identities simultaneously.

But going by the Kannada Language Learning Act 2015 (KLLA), no matter who you are, every school-going child in Karnataka must learn Kannada language till class X. And namma mukhya mantri is hell-bent upon every child hating him for this.

Let me confess that I am neither a lawyer, nor the  son of a lawyer and so cannot argue the legal ramifications of the law. So let me reason with my heart like every hrudayavanthikeya (good natured) Kannadiga. There is no point in introducing compulsory Hindi in CBSE schools versus compulsory Kannada in Karnataka schools. When such bipolar issues are raked up, you need common sense and a thinking heart, and not  intellectual arguments.

In my view, anything is best learnt in one’s mother tongue. So what is the point in imposing any language, Kannada or any other? You want education to be effective? Then employ your mother tongue such as  Kannada for mannina makkalu, and Marathii for Marathi manoos, and so on.

Language is culture, and it should emerge out of us and not be thrust on us. Imposition can’t save namma samskruti, anyway.  India is multicultural and we work in various states, both in the private and government sectors.   Just because the government of India happens to post me in Karnataka for a year, why should my child struggle and hate both me and the language of the state?

If every state mandates that its language must be compulsorily  learnt by every child, what happens to our poor children, who can’t comprehend this politics of language? Bengaluru, unlike most other capitals, has a special place on the world map, being home to every global major company , and India’s Silicon Valley producing most of Karnataka’s wealth. By imposing Kannada on every child in every school what are we telling the world?  That we are chauvinists, and please don’t come to Karnataka or set up your businesses here? That for us learning Kannada is more important than peoples’ lives and livelihood? That Bengaluru is amaralu nagara (sand-city) and can collapse like a sand structure any time?

I am sure namma mukya mantri wants to distinguish himself from  the narrow localism of the Thackerays and the opportunistic beef clans at the Centre. It is a known fact that many of our politicians and agitation stars -with due respect to namma bhaashe- send their children to study in prestigious English medium schools in India and overseas and these rules are merely for the voters.

Anything is best learnt and preserved with love and persuasion, and not by force. So also Kannada and culture. Just because someone lives on namma nela, should they forsake their larger, Constitutional identity for a forced language? Force breeds contempt.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has tasted blood with #HindiBeda in Namma Metro. He has also won the hearts of Kannadigas with his  Indira canteens. He does not need any more linguistic jingoism to counter the BJP’s communalism in the race for votes.  He may strike gold with a handful of appata  Kannadigas in the Kannada belts, but will the majority tolerate the politicians’ hypocrisy?

In the context of the fast approaching Karnataka elections, KLLA looks an attractive option. But political games have a nasty habit of boomeranging. Is Mr Siddaramaiah listening? Namma mukya mantri  could instead interest children in learning Kannada with incentives like optional extra credits at the school level, Kannada competitions with visible recognitions, singing naada geethe and so on.  If children are won over, you have won over the parents, and of course, votes! It goes without saying that you have also contributed to Kannada culture and language.

The author is an Associate Professor of Communication Media Studies at St Joseph’s College Autonomous, Bengaluru

Padmavati: Where history meets a boisterous democracy

Padmavati: Where history meets a boisterous democracy

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | DR RICHARD REGO

Published Nov 26, 2017, 7:25 am IST
Updated Nov 26, 2017, 7:25 am IST
There are few things the average Indian likes more than a good political scrimmage!
As the Padmavati controversy burns its way through the country, it must be said that we Indians have a great way of being in the news.

 As the Padmavati controversy burns its way through the country, it must be said that we Indians have a great way of being in the news.

As the Padmavati controversy burns its way through the country, it must be said that we Indians have a great way of being in the news. When we can ignore something and simply choose to not bother ourselves too much with the things that irk us, we go the extra mile to keep it in our heads and give it undue importance. And then realise we contribute to the popularity of the very thing we hate!

That’s what we did with Amir Khan’s PK and Atlee’s Vijay-starrer Mersal.  And before that, that’s we did it with Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, Deepa Mehta’s Fire and Water, and Vishwaroopam. There’s also Udta Punjab, An Insignificant Man, Nude and S*** Durga, Dashakriya, and now Bhansali’s Padmavati. What this long list has in common is that it somehow contrives to hurt our community/ religious sentiments, with an entitlement that hints at the possibility that our sentiments might be more important than those of others! Interestingly, most of our reactions come much before we watched the film or read the novel. How is it possible to understand the content of the work even before we have consumed it? Let’s take the case of Padmavati. The most oft-heard complaint about the film is that it distorts history.

 

There are two fallacies to this ‘history’ argument: Even if it were to distort history, how do you know that it does so without watching the film in question? Joining the bandwagon doesn’t correct history – right or wrong. My teacher used to exhort us when we schoolkids: to criticise any text, you must read it first and know what it’s about. Only after that can you respond. We have clearly faltered on the first premise and pandered instead to our mob mentalities. We passed our judgement before having heard the case.

Many of these films would have gone unnoticed had it not been for the publicity our virulent attacks provide them. Reasonable protests have a place of their own in any democracy. It is not so much protest against them so much as the violence unleashed against them and how we confer them with the limelight! Consequently, those who may not have heard about it before will do so now. Such protests may or -most probably- may not serve the protestors’ purpose; but it definitely serves the purpose of some small writer and performer. Now, many people want to watch the film which is powerful enough to create “hurt” feelings! The forbidden fruit is sweetest, after all!

The second fallacy is that there is some objective history. Is it? Let us reformulate this question: is writing objective history possible? Writing implies two things: that some human agency writes it, and that it is written in some human language. The moment someone writes something, it takes on his/ her perspective, and the myth of objectivity is busted. If it is someone writing one way, someone else could write the same in another way. If someone sees a phenomenon from one angle, another sees it necessarily from another angle. It is always to do with the angle of this person or that, and not the thing-in-itself. A careful analysis of words busts our own myths of objectivity.

When someone writes history, one employs a mode of expression. Writing is an expression of the writer, extension of the self, and therefore necessarily of his / her personality, strengths and weaknesses, biases and prejudices, and likes and dislikes are part of any writing. It is to, this extent, conditioned by the limitations of the writer and written to and written about. Hence, all writing is subjective; hence objectivity is a myth. This is true of history as well – objective history is a myth.

Now looking at historical aspect of it: seemingly the queen was mentioned first by a sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi, with a disclaimer that it is fiction. If that be the case, where is the argument of distorting history? History can’t emerge from poetry and fiction; nor can it emerge from majority’s beliefs. It can emerge only from hard facts and historical evidence, no matter how bitter they are. While respecting people’s personal beliefs about historical or ahistorical matters, we also need to respect others’ freedom to question their public expressions. That is what civil society is all about. That is democracy. Otherwise, we get into fundamentalism. And fundamentalism can only lead to doom.

The controversy surrounding Padmavati has already brought India a bad name from the international community; at home, it is wreaked havoc especially in some states ruled by a particular party. Reason would lead us to jump to conclusions about these sentimental infantiles, opportunist political parties, and fringe elements who take law into their own hands and tarnish the image of our country. Hence it is incumbent upon every elected government to reign in these loony elements, no matter how powerful they are or how violent they are. Political leaders are elected not to pander to the baser instincts of certain anti-Constitutional groups, but to uphold the Constitution. Violence can’t correct any history, it can only create lies. History or no history, through force, we distort the not history, but the story of an entire country.

The Master of Blunders takes on the Master of Lies

We have heard / read quite a lot of it. The sacked-Congressman Mani Shankar Aiyar has(d) a gift to put his foot in his mouth. Some even say that the BJP gives “supari” to him at the crucial juncture to puncture the fortunes of the Congress and tilt them in favour of the shamelessly communal BJP.

It happened on the eve of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, with Aiyar’s “Chaiwala” barb at the the Master of Lies from Gujarat. It happened at a very crucial juncture of the 2017 Gujarat elections, when almost everything seemed to have been loaded heavily in favour of the Congress to win the elections nearly after quarter of a century. And then came the foot-in-the-mouth adjective “neech” to prefixed to Modi’s lies. And all hell broke loose. Modi, with this entire gang of lies, twisted and turned and added lies after lies. Did Aiyar use the word “neech” (low) or the phrase “neech jaati” (low caste) as calimed by Modi and his liar-gang?

Whatever it is, the Congress lost it. The Congress-loyalist Mani Shankar Aiyar was sacked from the party he has given his life to. The communal party, which used to boast of “Gujarat model” of development won the Gujarat 2017 elections, without referring to ‘development’, but simply riding on ablatant communal polarisation and playing on a shameless lie called “neech jaati”. And here is Aiyar bearing his heart out:

https://www.ndtv.com/opinion/whoever-won-in-gujarat-i-lost-by-mani-shankar-aiyar-1792046?pfrom=home-topstories

Safety of bank deposits & BJP’s economy of trust

In the last days, I have been getting quite a few forwards of the SAME message on WhatsApp. The message told me that ONCE AGAIN (after demonitisation) our hard-earned money was in for a huge ditch by Arun Jaitley and Narendra Modi. This time another legislation on the cards to legally rob our bank deposits to feed the lazy, defaulting banks and save them.

For a while I thought it was another fake message; I asked a few not to forward such unverified messages to me. But then, some economist told that it was true, and such a bill was considered by our political dispensation unscrupulously feeding on our votes and our taxes in Dehli.

Then, I fond this article by http://www.scroll.in

Worries about the safety of bank deposits may further erode the economy of trust by 

The Big Story: Fear and savings

“This tsunami will wipe out your money lying in the banks,” warned a message that went viral on WhatsApp recently, spreading panic among depositors. It was referring to the new Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, 2017, lying with a joint parliamentary committee at present and expected to be tabled during the winter session. Among the more alarming features reported about the bill was a “bail in” clause that would apparently empower banks and regulators to dip into public deposits to rescue floundering financial institutions. The government has now gone into damage control mode, with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley clarifying that the bill would not compromise the rights of depositors, that it would in fact mean additional protections. But the panic comes at a time when public trust in institutions and financial systems is eroding.

Indian financial institutions are currently groaning under the massive weight of non–performing assets, created when banks lend to clients who default on payment. According to estimates put out in the Financial Stability Report of 2017, India has the second highest ratio of non-performing assets among the major economies of the world. The FRDI Bill is among the many measures planned by government to prop up failing banks. It proposes to set up a Resolution Corporation, which would monitor firms, calculate stress and take the appropriate “corrective action”. This body ensures that government would have a larger say in functions previously performed by the Reserve Bank of India and other financial regulators, which could signal another instalment in the turf war between the central bank and the Centre. It also proposes to do away with the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of India created in 1971, which insures all kinds of bank deposits up to a limit of Rs 1 lakh.

The contentious “bail-in” clause, which involves the use of depositors’ funds to prop up flailing financial institutions, is in contrast to a bail out, where tax payers’ fund are injected into (https://scroll.in/article/861038/the-daily-fix-worries-about-the-safety-of-bank-deposits-may-further-erode-the-economy-of-trust)

Shashi Kapoor on Hindi movie songs and their films versus our films

The heartthrob of our yester years is no more.  Shashi Kapoor is dead.

Here is a flashback from http://www.scroll.in

Excerpts from an archival interview with Shashi Kapoor for the British television series ‘Movie Mahal’.

Sometime in the 1980s, I had the great pleasure of meeting Shashi Kapoor for the first time at a film festival, and like millions of others, was struck by his utter charm, his winning smile and his natural ease. He was warm and personable, and even though he knew full well that everyone around him instantly knew who he was, with a glint in his eye, he would extend his hand for a handshake and say, “I’m Shashi Kapoor.”

Some years later, I asked him if he’d agree to be interviewed for the TV series, Movie Mahal, that I was making for Channel 4 TV, UK. The series aimed to document the history of Hindi cinema and consequently we had interviewed many leading film practitioners. I explained to Shashiji that we’d like to talk to him about film music and the 1950s. And although he was extremely busy, he agreed with no fuss at all and said he’d give us time between takes at Film City.

Shamefully, I do not remember the name of the film that he was shooting, but I know that when our camera was rolling, he gave us his complete attention. Our interview took place on April 25, 1987, and to think 30 years later he is no longer with us. It feels like we’ve lost one of our own… [for more, read]

https://thereel.scroll.in/860305/flashback-shashi-kapoor-on-hindi-movie-songs-and-their-films-versus-our-films

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