26 August 2015

Face of a lover

The face of a lover is an unknown, precisely because it is 

invested with so much of oneself. It is a mystery, containing, 

like all mysteries, the possibility of joy or torment.

 - James A. Baldwin

A career in organised crime

16 August 2015

My own way to burn

“The real damage is done by those millions who want to survive. The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. 
Those with no sides and no causes.Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. 
Those who don’t like to make waves, or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honour, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. 
It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. 
But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe! From what? 
Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. 
I choose my own way to burn.“

Sophie Scholl (German resistance member, executed aged 21 in 1943)

Don't cry for an undivided India

Why I'm not nostalgic for an undivided India at all
  • Ramachandra Guha 
  • Updated: Aug 16, 2015 00:54 IST
Sixty-eight years is a fairly advanced age for an individual, but a small span of time in the life of a nation. This must be why, every so often, a book or article appears lamenting the Partition of India in 1947. These blame the Congress, the Muslim League, Gandhi, Jinnah, Nehru, Patel — sometimes one, sometimes several, sometimes all of the above — for not doing enough to keep India together, or for actively aiding in its division. These books and articles then feed into what appears to be a widespread popular sentiment, to the effect that the citizens of what are now India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, would have been better off had they all been part of the same country.
I have thought long and hard about this question, both as a historian and as a citizen. And I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that although the large-scale communal violence before and after Partition could or should have been stopped or stemmed, the division of British India was not by itself a bad thing.

If Partition was to be avoided, it would have been on the basis of the Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946. That plan envisaged a very weak Centre, which controlled currency, foreign policy and external defence. The provinces were in charge of almost everything else.

This aspect of the Cabinet Mission Plan is moderately well known. What is not, and in fact hardly discussed in the literature, is that under that Plan the situation of the princely states was left extremely vague. They could decide whether to join a province with whom they had boundaries, but the terms were not clearly specified. Besides, the possibility of individual princely states staking a claim to independence was not foreclosed.

It must always be remembered that when the British left the sub-continent, they left behind not two political entities but more than 500. For they departed without in any way resolving the problem of the princely states. A vast majority of these states were embedded in India; far fewer in Pakistan. It was left to Vallabhbhai Patel, VP Menon and their team to painstakingly integrate these chiefdoms, one by one, into what is now the Republic of India.

Had the Cabinet Mission Plan gone through, there is no saying what would have happened with the maharajas and nawabs. The Centre would not have had the powers it, in fact, enjoyed after August 15, 1947. The princes would have driven a harder bargain; the larger ones might even have stayed out. They might, out of vanity, have wished to retain their stamps, their archaic rail systems; some may have even applied for membership of the United Nations. And the British Tories who hated the idea of Indian independence would have actively aided these efforts.

This is the first reason why we must not be nostalgic for an undivided India; that this would have created a wholly disunited India, with not just the provinces but the princely states free to threaten, blackmail, or secede from the Union. How could we ever have created the unified Republic, with a single Constitution, a common rail system, and contiguous territory (‘from Kashmir to Kanyakumari’) that we have now?

The rejection of the Cabinet Mission Plan was crucial to the survival of what is now India. It allowed Ambedkar and his colleagues to draft a progressive and unifying Constitution that mandated multi-party democracy, judicial independence, free movement of people and goods and programmes to tackle social inequality. 

In India today, the Muslims constitute 13% of the population, or one in seven. Had there been an undivided India, the percentage of Muslims would have been closer to 33%, or one in three. The demographic balance would have been more delicate; and prone to being exploited by sectarians on either side. The politics of late colonial India had already emboldened religious fanatics; Muslim as well as Hindu. However, the Partition of India allowed Gandhi, Nehru and Patel to stamp down firmly on majority communalism and assure minorities a free and equal place in the Republic.

Because of these great leaders India is not — or at least not yet — a Hindu Pakistan. But had this been one country rather than two it would have been far more difficult to contain communal violence. The first civil war between Hindus and Muslims might have been on the question of the nation’s language, and the script in which it was to be written. Other and more bloody battles might have followed. India would then have been Lebanon writ large; a horrifying prospect. 

A third reason not to be sentimental about an undivided India is that we would then have been a frontline State in the Cold War. Sharing borders with Afghanisthan, we would have had to contend with Russian and American rivalries, and with jihad and jihadis, far more actively than we do now.
By rejecting the idea of an undivided India, I by no means condone the violence at Partition. The division could have been handled more wisely. The last viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, was in too much haste, and more concerned with saving British lives than Indian ones. He failed to heed advice to post more troops in Punjab, sending detachments to protect tea estate managers and missionaries in the interior, while riots raged untamed in the heartland. 

The Republic of India remains a work-in-progress. We are largely united and somewhat democratic. Yet deep inequalities of gender and caste persist. Religious and ethnic violence have not entirely abated. But while sentiment and nostalgia might induce a yearning for Akhand Bharat, the cold logic of history suggests that things would have been far worse for us if Partition had not occurred. 

Ramachandra Guha’s most recent book is Gandhi Before India. You can follow him on Twitter at @Ram_Guha. The views expressed are personal.

12 August 2015

Noble Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

Government TV Channel DD Podhigai telecast an interview with Mr P M Nair retired IAS officer who was the secretary to Dr Kalam when he was the President. Mr Nair had authored a book titled "Kalam Effect" . This is what he narrated.

  • "Dr Kalam used to receive costly gifts whenever he went as it is customary for many nations to give gifts to the visiting Head of state. Refusing the gift would become an insult to the nation and an embarrassment for India. So, he received them and on his return, Dr Kalam asked the gifts to be photographed and then catalogued and handed over to the archives. Afterwards, he never even looked at them. He did not take even a pencil from the gifts received when he left Rashtrapathi Bhavan."
  • "In 2002, the year Dr Kalam took over, the Ramadan month came in July-August. it was a regular practice for the President to host an Iftar party. Dr Kalam asked Mr Nair why he should host a party to people who are already well fed and asked him to find out how much would be the cost. Mr Nair told it costs around Rs. 22 lakhs. Dr Kalam asked him to donate that amount to a few selected orphanages in the form of food, dresses and blankets. The selection of orphanages was left to a team in Rashtrapathi Bhavan and Dr Kalam had no role in it. After the selection was made, Dr Kalam asked Mr Nair to come inside his room and gave him a cheque for Rs 1 lakh. He said that he is giving some amount from his personal savings and this should not be informed to anyone. Mr Nair was so shocked that he said "sir, I will go outside and tell everyone . People should know that here is a man who not only donated what he should have spent but he is giving his own money also". Dr Kalam though he was a devout Muslim did not have Iftar parties in the years in which he was the President." 
  • "Dr Kalam did not like "yes sir" type of people. Once when the Chief Justice of India had come and on some point Dr Kalam expressed his view and asked Mr Nair, "Do you agree?"/ Mr Nair said "No sir, i do not agree with you". The Chief Justice was shocked and could not believe his ears. It was impossible for a civil servant to disagree with the president and that too so openly. Mr Nair told him that the President would question him afterwards why he disagreed and if the reason was logical 99% he would change his mind.
  • "Dr Kalam invited 50 of his relatives to come to Delhi and they all stayed in Rashtrapathi Bhavan. He organised a bus for them to go around the city which was paid for by him. No official car was used. All their stay and food was calculated as per the instructions of Dr Kalam and the bill came to Rs 2 lakhs which he paid. In the history of this country no one has done it. Now, wait for the climax, Dr Kalam's elder brother stayed with him in his room for the entire one week as Dr Kalam wanted his brother to stay with him. When they left, Dr Kalam wanted to pay rent for that room also. Imagine a President of country paying rent for the room in which he is staying. This was any way not agreed by the staff who thought the honesty was getting too much to handle !!!."
  • "When President Kalam was to leave Rashtrapathi Bhavan at the end of the tenure, every staff member went and met him and paid their respects. Mr Nair went to him alone as his wife had fractured her leg and was bed ridden. Dr Kalam asked why his wife did not come. He replied that she was in bed due to an accident. next day, Nair saw lot of police men around his house and asked what had happened. They said that the President of India was coming to visit him in his house. He came and met his wife and chatted for some time. Mr Nair says that it is inconceivable that the President of any country would visit a civil servant's house and that too for such a simple reason."

01 August 2015

Fakir and Ameer

Mana apni jeb se fakir hain, 
fir bhi yaron dil se hum ameer hain

20 June 2015

Intellectual Prostitute

John Swinton 

John Swinton (1829–1901) was a Scottish-American journalist, newspaper publisher, and orator. He served as the chief editorial writer of The New York Times. He started a famous  American  labor newspaper called John Swinton's Paper, in the 1880s. Swinton also served as chief editorialist of the New York Sun for more than a decade.

Reproduced below is his toast.

"There is no such a thing in America as an independent press, unless it is out in country towns. You are all slaves. You know it, and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to express an honest opinion. If you expressed it, you would know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid $150 for keeping honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for doing similar things." 

"If I should allow honest opinions to be printed in one issue of my paper, in twenty-four hours: my occupation would be gone. The man who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the street hunting for another job." 

"The business of a New York journalist is to distort the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread, or for what is about the same — his salary. You know this, and I know it; and what foolery to be toasting an 'Independent Press'!"

"We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are jumping-jacks. They pull the string and we dance. Our time, our talents, our lives, our possibilities, are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."


Prostitute is derived from the Latin word prostituta
“ pro " =  up front or forward“
“ stituta “ = to offer up for sale

“ to up front for sale "