Saturday, March 27, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
To most of India Mayawati may look like a vulgarian with no sense of propriety. Boorish statues, garish diamonds and garlands with 18 crores (or is it 20?) worth of currency notes – this is the ultimate theatre of the absurd.
But these leaders were not in power when collections were conducted in their name. Mayawati is in power and therefore, inevitably, there are reports of coercion being used. Not only party offices but also government servants are given targets to meet. In the worst instance that hit the headlines last year, a BSP MLA in Auriya was arrested in connection with the murder of a state PWD engineer. The report was that the engineer had not contributed to the fund collection ahead of Mayawati’s birthday.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Draupadi had five husbands, each with unsurpassed capabilities. None of them came to her rescue when she was dragged into the royal court for disrobing. The political Yadavs of our time seem to have taken a self-serving lesson from this episode and resolved that women are unworthy of protection, let alone promotion. Either that or they have forgotten the double curse –pronounced by Gandhari, and then by Viswamitra, Kanva and Narada – that the Yadava race would destroy itself. Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav and Sharad Yadav have already reduced their parties to tottering relics. Their opposition to the Women’s Reservation Bill and, worse, the hooliganism of their men in the Rajya Sabha betrayed a 19th century mindset. The hooligans brought such shame to the country that they would be better off under the waters that swallowed up Dwaraka.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
M. F. Husain has class. And the magnetism to bring every TV channel to his doorstep when he so decides. One of the many astonishing things about him is that at 95 he knows what he needs to do and articulates it with amazing energy and self-assurance. In a few sentences he shows the attributes that make him exceptional -- his creativity (“ I cannot work without disturbance in India”), his maturity (“I do not feel betrayed by anyone”), his supremacy (“A few people don’t understand art, that’s all”), his sense of history (“Civilisations disappear, only culture lasts”), and his patriotism (“Wherever I am, I am an Indian painter”). What Mark Antony said of Caesar applies here: “His life is gentle, and the elements so mixed in him that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, ‘This is a man’!”.TV discussions as usual revolved around the fatuous and the moronic : The man is free to live anywhere, his decision to accept Qatar nationality is of his own free will, why is it important to get him back to India, why Qatar which is not a democracy, and so on. The real issue in the Husain controversy is none of these. It is, and has always been, aggressive communalism and the Indian state’s failure to protect a citizen from it.