by Rajen KumarDildaar or Daag-daag? Redefining Delhi's Tagline?
Rather than forward a mail, which disturbed me no ends, to the Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, I have thought it prudent that I share it with my readers. For, I am not sure if the mail...
Special ReportsMay 2013
According to, “The State of Food and Agriculture Report 2012”, “world agriculture needs to feed a projected population of more than 9 billion people by 2050, some 2 billion...
First Person Singluar
Climbers Can Viagra Their Way Up to Everest?
On the 50th anniversary of the conquest of Mount Everest in May 2003, Sir Edmund Hillary, 83, his wife June along with the lone surviving member of the historic conquest by the Indo-British team of May 29, 1953 – Sherpa Gyalzen Sherpa, 85 ( the co-conqueror, Sherpa Tenzing Norgay had died in 1986 ), supporting Nepalese Royalty gifted yellow scarves around their necks, were in the lead of a procession of flower laden horse driven carriages, seating all summiteers till date, led by the Gorkha Army bagpipes and drums, through a sea of bunting-swept streets of Katmandu, hilt-lined by flag waving, cheering, clapping men, women, children.
Indira’s Parting Punch To Justice Shah!
The title of the book reveals all: “Shah Commission Report: Lost and Regained”. The enterprising author is Era Sezhiyan, a Parliamentarian from South India of his times, committed to the DMK ideology as laid down by its founder C.N. Annadurai, who took upon himself to pick up the pieces of a 3-volume Report of a Commission, which Mrs Indira Gandhi on regaining power in 1980, had gone the extra mile through the re-energised Sanjay Gandhi Brigade to destroy each and every copy, everywhere and anywhere. That I could not locate it at the International Book Fair last February was my ill-luck. But I came to know that an original copy of the Report exists in two libraries abroad – in Australia and the United Kingdom.
Narasimha Rao Who Brought Man Mohan(omics) To Politics Revisited by President Pranab Mukherjee !
Delivering the maiden 'P.V. Narasimha Rao Memorial Lecture' at Hyderabad On December 31 last, President Pranab Mukherjee went down memory lane, highlighted how the Prime Minister, P.V. Narasimha inducted Dr Man Mohan Singh as the Finance Minister, and how the duo set about liberalising economy
Extinguishing the Hope of Humanity!
The most hated assassin of his times was in the dock. For, he had shot dead the most loved man of his times. A year and 11 days after Nathuram Ram Godse had felled Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi with three fatal shots, he stood in the dock awaiting the verdict. The nation was glued to the radios. It was February 10, 1949. Justice Atma Charan Agrawal of Indian Civil Service, the specially appointed judge for the Special Court at Red Fort, took his high seat and pronounced the verdict.
Converting a Dream Into A Dream Drive!
It was Red convertible which defied any known model known to me. As it drove into the parking slot, curiosity took me closer to it. There wasn't any logo on it, not even a brand alpha-numerical insignia. It stood out as a mini wonder amongst the recognizable lot of modern makes. The gentleman behind the wheel stepped out, remote locked it. I extended my hand of appreciation wondering what make was it ? 'Maruti 800', he beamed. His pride was palpable. He had sensed my awe.
Legendary Chair Lives in Replicas !
In December 1960, the Gunlocke Company at Wayland in New York got an order it had not thought it ever would. The President elect John Fitzgerald Kennedy needed a customized chair for the Oval Office in White House. He had a bad back, and the Chair was to support his spine. It had to be ergonomic alright, but aesthetic enough as well, to go with the magnificence of the office he was to hold. What's more, the President-elect's orthopeadic, Dr Janet Travell was to give inputs to the wood crafters of Gunlocke. For, she alone knew where his spine needed support the most.
When Lata Sang For '83 Cup Winners !
I wonder if any city would ever see such an assemblage royale! Lata Mangeshkar was regaling a stadium, bursting at its seams, with immortal melodies when Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu walked up the stage. Round after round of applause for the First Couple of Bollywood had the Indira Gandhi Stadium rocking; its roof reverberating The decibels on the rebound were deafening. Press enclosure was choc-o-bloc.
'But The General Was Thrown Out': Gandhi
Except in Royal ceremonials, he was seldom hailed by his full name: Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, Viscount of Burma. At best, the great grandson of Queen Victoria was fondly referred to as the First Earl Mountbatten of Burma having being the Supreme Allied Commander of South East Asia who commandeered 128 million strong force but which in his own words had “no victories and no priorities, only terrible morale, a terrible climate, a terrible foe and terrible defeats.”
Most 'Blood-Stained' Answers Ever !
Go, get hold of 575 page 'The Butcher of Amritsar' by Oxford historian Nigel Collett, rated as the first ever biography of Colonel Reginald Edward Harry Dyer ( officiating Brigadier General of the British Indian Army ), widely despised as the man who massacred nearly 1,400 unarmed men, women and children at Jallianwala Bagh at Amritsar on Baisakhi in 1919.The most repugnant of answers ever by an army officer in his defence will make you go sick in the stomach.
Finally, Tricolour Had the Wheel; Not Charkha !
This is a tale of 'Charkha' being a part of the proposed national flag of India before it became Independent, and only a part of it – wheel -- being incorporated after India became Independent. To have 'Charkha' was Mahatma Gandhi's idea, and once he approved of the flag in 1921, he was pleased no ends even going on record that “I am the author the flag. It is dear to me as life…..This flag represents unity, non violence and identification through the 'Charkha', of the highest with the lowliest in the land. Any scar on the flag must have a deep scar on the Indian breast.”
‘Ever Since '79 July; Power Has Been With Ally'
Some politicians are of few words. Morarji Desai was of no words. The columnist met him twice. First in 1972, when he was 73, out in the wilderness after being a Deputy Prime Minister. Later in 1979, when he was 82, once again out in the wilderness after being a Prime Minister. Fresh into rudiments of political reporting in 1972, I had to labour hard to get a few quotes out of him. In the second face-to-face, though fairly seasoned by now, I failed to elicit even a monosyllable. Yet, looking back, I rate this 'encounter of silence' more of a landmark.
Music Is Where Man Is ! Nobody Knows Why ?
Armed with a degree in medicine from Edinburgh in 1825, and later a degree in biology from Cambridge in 1828, world's first evolutionary naturalist, Charles ( Robert ) Darwin, a British ( 1809-1882 ), set sail aboard HMS Beagle in 1831 for a scientific survey encompassing the waters, backwaters and islands of South Pacific and South America. He returned in 1936, settled in Downe, Kent in England and put pen to paper for an epoch: 'On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection', the co-author being Alfred Russel Wallace, in 1859.
Lion-heart Went Wrong After The British Left?
Sir Leslie Stephen, the Governor of ( British ) Bombay, in 1930s, recounts in his personal diary the swimming prowess of an ex-lifer, now incarcerated, after having served 10 years of his sentence in the Andamans from 1911-21; later shifted to Ratnagiri and Yervada jails till 1924 -- on appeals for leniency made to the British by his contemporaries Gandhi, Tagore, Patel and Tilak.
World’s Least Trusted Travelogue
At age 70, as Marco Polo lay dying at Venice in 1324 AD, many who were close to him, and many within them, who did not trust his travelogue -- ‘The Description of the World’ -- dismissive of it as a romanticized suppositional, enjoined upon him, as is the Christian custom, to ‘recant’, if his ‘recount’ of the overland ‘Silk Road’ to Mongolia and return 12 years later through the Pacific Ocean-Indian Ocean ‘Sea Route’ was not true, as he was now en route meet his Maker. Contemporary accounts have it that Marco’s reply was clearly more astounding than his claimed adventures: He bid adieu: “I did not write half of what I saw.”
Too Lively a Wife She Was For Jinnah !
February 20 is not in the days marked for any birth or death anniversary in Pakistan. This day, 112 years back, was born a girl who at age 16 fell for, loved Mohd. Ali Jinnah, eloped with him at age 18, converted to Islam, married him, bore him a daughter, walked out on him at age 28, and died of an overdose of morphine on this very day at the age of 29. She lies buried in the Khoja Shia Isna'Ashari Cemetery, ( Mumbai ).
Should The Winds Roar; Flap Wings & Soar !
I, indeed, savoured, “Whatever The Odds' by K.P. Singh. Not sequentially, though ! My primary pick was the chapter 'Winning Life Back' ( he tending to his wife, the lone survivor of a helicopter crash ). Then, the chapter 'DLF: Growth and Transition' ( his double-dip into the stream of sub-conscious – reconciliation-rancour-reconciliation with Haryana chief ministers of 80-90s, Bansi Lal in particular – incidentally, whom the columnist too had known, once ). Onto 'Building Lives' ( the DLF Foundation, his philanthropic effort ). And a flip back to the the chapter 'Mysteries of Fate' ( he cheated death five times). It was here that I came upon 'K.P Singh on K.P. Singh' in a confessional of sorts:
Got to go ? Go the Socrates Way : Nehru !
Mind of the Judge' is a lesser read, lesser known, and not easily available interpretative, though more important an objective literary output, by Jawahar Lal Nehru, put to pen while he was in Jail in 1935. Though serving a simple imprisonment, which on no count was rigorous – my surmise is in his unending hours of solitude, he felt superior to jail mates.
Dilip Kumar on Dilip Kumar
Sadly enough, I have misplaced a clip of a legendary movie-quartet -- the tallest among them, leading the three among-the-equals on October 11, 1966: Prithviraj Kapoor, resplendent in regalia, commanding a Pathan groom's procession. Astride the mare was a bejewelled Dilip Kumar. On the flanks were Devanand and Raj Kapoor. All four wore Green headgear wrapped around a skull cap as Pathans do. The bride: Saira Banu. The mare didn't trot much. Saira lived at Pali Hill as well.
When Steel Turned Into Spaghetti !
Of course, it is a coincidence of two Septembers: 30 years to the month, I bought a book 'The Terror Network: The Secret War of International Terrorism' by Claire Sterling, Reader's Digest Press. And 10 years to the month, the Twin Towers in New York fell to terrorism, in a never thought before mix of a hijack and coordinated hits -- 21 minutes apart, which has since tore apart the citizenry of the cosmos.
Faith Moves Mountains; It Moved Me Once !
Dusk had descended when the cab shifted to a low gear and braked in the hotel foyer. I offered 'bakshish' to the driver. Hesitatingly, he accepted. And asked: 'Ek baat puchun sahib ? Aap arabi ( arabic ) jante hain ? I said: 'nahi, bilkul nahi, kyun ?' He said: 'mein kuch kuch janta hun', and looked at the Holy Quran. I read the plea in his eyes.
Mahatma Gandhi's 10 Commandments on Fasting
And thus began my hunt – who inspired the Mahatma, halfway past his age at 45, to unleash his lone 'fast unto death' as a weapon, only after he had stepped on the Indian shores ? Flipping through volumes of his biographies and autobiographies, I did, at long last, found more than I had hoped for – even how to go on a fast unto death ?
Last Words of Nehru: 'What is the matter ?'
The second person, late Mrs Indira Gandhi, who, too, was by his bedside when Jawahar Lal Nehru relapsed into a coma, never shared his last words. I have attempted a scissors and paste job, filtering out falsehoods as much as I could. At the annual Congress session at Bhubaneshwar, he rose to speak and fell head long on the dias.
Coins, Calligraphy & A Quarrel !
My second curiosity stood satisfied, too. The complete set of coins with 12 zodiacal signs were in three museums across the world: Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, the Berlin Museum and the British Museum. Some stray pieces were with private collectors in India, or a collector abroad. For instance, the coin portraying the zodiacal sign – Sagittarius – is with the American Numismatic Society. The 'mohar' highlighting my sun sign –Cancer – is in the collection of an Indian, R.D. Bhatt.
Indira Cried Her Soul Out But To One !!
“They amuse me and they irritate me and sometimes I find myself observing them as if I were not of the same species at all.” When a film “All The King’s Men” wasn’t hailed, she wrote: “It irritates me intensely, (though) it is silly to be irritated at such trifles. All the same, not having anyone with similar tastes gives one a sense of loneliness and isolation which is not at all pleasant.”
‘HE Should Not Have Bothered To Create Another Woman’
Sajjad Hussain, like his contemporaries, opted to stay back. And flourished. Sadly enough, Noor Jehan, once in Pakistan was left with the same immortal voice but no music directors anymore to immortalize her songs. A compact disc or two of post 1947 Noor Jehan is on the shelves but not worth the buy or the ears. Lata, besides Sajjad Hussain became the preferred choice of late Naushad and late Ghulam Haider.
Of Indira's Stare & Benazir's Sari !
A greenhorn in Indo-Pak politics, Benazir wondered: “So how should I look?”. Bhutto repeated: “Don't look sad and don't look happy.” The Oxford-Harvard educated daughter argued: “That's very difficult.”
And Rest As they Say Is Ramayana?
I come to the climax ! How did Daasgreeva came to be called Ravana when all it means is a ‘scream’ ? Well, of all the peaks he attempted to move Mount Kailash. Atop it Shiva and Parvati were amidst conjugal bliss. Shiva flew in rage, held firm the swaying Mount Kailash with his toe. Beneath lay a crushed Daasgreeva screaming ‘save, save !!’
The Forgotten Grand Father ?
The wordsmith in Jawahar Lal Nehru wrote: “A report has appeared in the press about the engagement of my daughter Indira with Feroze Gandhi. As inquiries have been addressed to me on the subject, I should like to confirm the report. A marriage is a personal and domestic matter, affecting chiefly the two parties and their families.
August 15, 1947 When British Heels Over Indian Heads Was Hospitality
'Then leave them on,' said Nehru. 'Jusy walk over people. They won't mind. 'Oh,' replied Pamela, 'the heels will hurt them.'…… 'Don't be a silly, snapped Nehru, 'take them off and come across.”……With a sigh, the daughter of India's last Viceroy kicked off her shoes, picked them up and set off across the carpet of human beings…..
A Fairy Tale 27-Storey Tower
The Ambani home, called Antilla, differed. No two floors are alike in either plans or materials used. At the request of Mrs Nita Ambani, say the designers, if a metal, wood or crystal was a part of the 9th-floor design, it shouldn't be used on the 11th floor ? The idea was to blend styles and architectural elements with spaces, a feel of consistency, but without repetition.
Perks Other Than Perks
Out of the 100 top companies, I plumped for 13: each with perks alright, but above the usual, a supra package of perks. Mind boggled, I thought over and over for a tagline ( also this write up's headline ).
About superstitions and Nehru, Indira Gandhi
The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi, HarperCollins, 2001 – that she was not, sent me on a leather hunt. Having read her actions abiding by superstitions, I looked for her words deriding them. Since the father had brought up the daughter, I edifice the column on his considered views.
RAAG DARBARI Pvt. Ltd.
Small Time Businessman Meets Big Time Union Finance Minister
The sole inspirational force behind the write up was General Budget 09-10… The appointment materializes. The businessman reports at 8.30 am sharp. He doesn't mind the body search. In the waiting room, he's offered fresh lime juice.
Indian Education System – Macaulay legacy, Kapil Sibal reformer
The Mahatma, vent his sufferance of the Macaulay syllabi, before he sailed to England to study law: “I am firmly of the opinion that the Government schools have unmanned us, rendered us helpless and Godless. They have filled us with discontent…
3 Sons of 3 Prime Ministers - Rahul Gandhi, Ajit Singh, Neeraj Shekhar
The three are for three Members of Parliament - the only three elected to 15th Lok Sabha with a unique common denominator -- their fathers were Prime Ministers of India. More important, the three whom I had interviewed.
The Simmer of Summer – Indian summer captured by poets and moghuls
THE BOOK BRIDGE
On the sly though, and on a tightrope walk -- an iconoclast, an atheist, an agnostic -- I am, in three equal measures. I have stock answers to pointed questions, if my three-in-one thoughts, are inherited or acquired. But I do look back more than often. Through the dimly lit alley of upbringing.
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