Wednesday, August 31, 2011


(With sincere apologies to Dr HRB)

FBpath, FBpath, FBpath
Friends hon online bhalay
Hon chat pay present teray
Ek status like bhi
Maang mat, maang mat, maang mat
FBpath FBpath FBpath

Tu na log-off hoga kabhi
Tu na offline rahega kabhi
Tu na sign-out karega kabhi
Kar shapath, kar shapath, kar shapath
FBpath FBpath FBpath

Yeh mahaan screenshot hai
Browse kar raha manushya hai
Spam-virus-apps say
Lathpath, lathpath, lathpath
FBpath, FBpath, FBpath

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Letter to the Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister Sir, Dr Manmohan Singhji:

For the last 15 years or so, I have been reading and hearing about the impending miracle that India is. It first started with the Prophecies of Nostradamus, who supposedly predicted more than 400 years ago that India would one day rise to become a global superpower. Slowly the idea took shape, in the media, in magazines, books, the TV, people all around started talking about it. And the talk only grew with time. By 2004, your leading opposition party had even made "India Shining" its poll slogan, albeit one which resulted in abject defeat for it.

I grew up with an air of quiet confidence, and I saw change all around me. I didn't carry the baggage of our previous generation, which was used to a very different kind of India, which was restricted, which bound people. I grew up reading about the brain drain, about value conscious, money saving Indians who shunned ostentation, about engineering and medicine being the only possible career options (or else, elders would thunder - you are resigned to cutting grass). But I also remember sensing a tiny voice inside my head, telling me that this doesn't seem to be correct. What I was seeing was at odds with what I was told was the truth. I remember reading something vaguely about a payment crisis, about "liberalization", a word which I struggled to pronounce.

And then, more than 7 years ago, I remember that you became the Prime Minister.

I remember hope. About a decent man who would be at the helm of affairs in running the country. I shrugged aside the cynicism, the malicious remarks about "family retainers" and "seat warming"

I remember pride. In forwarding your exceptionally distinguished CV to everyone I could think of, with the "Can you guess who this person is" tagline

I remember confidence. In the quote of Victor Hugo which you used while commending the Budget to Parliament on that fateful day in July 1991.

I remember euphoria. When your party won an overwhelming majority and stock markets rallied by 20% in one day.

Thats how big a game changer it was. I rejoiced. No longer would you need to grovel before the ungrateful Left or the Ammas & Didis of the world.

You were always a decent man in an indecent time. I commiserated with you for the set of people you had to work with. Men and women of a far lesser standing, I reasoned.

But now, I am unable to comprehend anything.

I do not comprehend the deterioration in internal security that has taken place with alarming proportions.

I do not comprehend the corruption scandals which tumble out one after the other with numbing alacrity.

And worst of all, I do not comprehend the helpless look on your face. I do not comprehend your loss of dignity.

The Mahabharata states that Yudhishtira alone of all men, was truth personified. His chariot used to float above the ground, in honour of that status. But one small half-truth changed everything, and his chariot from then on always touched the ground.

I see your chariot doing the same. All those mediocre people who surround you, look at what they have reduced you to - from a great statesman to an ordinary politican. It is painful to watch.

True, you head an elected Government. India can remove you at the end of your 5 year term. But India is changing too fast. India cannot wait for 5 years to seek change. In fact the need of the hour is to introduce a rule which makes the Government seek a popular referendum at least mid-term to continue in office.

I would love to believe you. I would love to believe that things will be all right. I would love to give hope another chance. But somehow I am not able to do it.

Yours Sorrowfully,

An ordinary Indian

Monday, August 22, 2011

Identity Hierarchy & Religious Leaders...

A person can define his identity in innumerable ways. It can be on the basis of nationality, religion, education and so on. These identities will usually follow some hierarchy. For me, for example, species comes at the top. I think of myself as a human being first. When its a question of nationality and religion, I am somewhat confused. I believe the Indian ethos of secularism allows us to choose our hierarchy as to nationality and religion. I am not suggesting that nationality is subservient to religion or vice-versa. I am only saying that to some extent, India allows its citizens to define their identity by their religion first and their nationality second if they so choose. There is an apparent contradiction here, for to have this freedom of hierarchy, one will need to be an Indian. However, Indian nationality needs to be one of the levels of the hierarchy, not necessarily the topmost in all circumstances. The clearest illustration of what I am saying lies in the fact that we don't have a common civil code.

Throughout history, "religious heads" (no matter which religion) have always tried to increase their importance by declaring such things to be un-religious as which undermine their power; By restricting the flow of knowledge, ensuring economic backwardness and maintaining ignorance, they maintain their hold; What a religious leader says, is not the word of God; It is his interpretation of it; And it is more often than not, twisted and restricted to suit his ulterior motives

I still remember an episode of (of all things) Jonny Quest. One of the protagonists, named Race Bannon is being given some false mumbo-jumbo by a person who claims he can talk to spirits. When Race argues, the person says "You must not question the spirits, Mr Bannon". Race snaps back "It's not the spirits I am questioning. It's you". Bingo.

Imam Bukhari's statement I don't deem important enough to comment on. Hopefully he's becoming more irrelevant over time; The greatest enemy for such people is lack of attention and publicity and I hope it will increase to the point where people are not bothered about what he says anymore.

Indian Muslims would be as or more aggrieved by corruption in India as any other community They can and should protest accordingly; They need not be part of Anna Hazare's movement for that. Anna Hazare's movement is just one part of the battle against corruption.

However, if saying "Vande Mataram" is against the tenets of Islam (which according to me is a matter of context and interpretation but I leave it at that), then why don't we come up with an Islam compliant slogan, which can also suitably convey the feelings of Indian Muslims for India? This idea is in consonance with the thoughts that I have expressed in the first paragraph and retains the spirit of Indian secularism as to the freedom in identity hierarchy. Rather than imposing a nationality-first ideology, it allows space for Indian Muslims to reconcile any conflicts they may face in pursuing their faith and their nationality.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bond in the USA...

(With apologies to The Boss)

Got issued in an unwind spree
The first yield I got was when I hit the screen
You end up like a short that's been down too much
Till you spend half your cash just covering up...

Bond in the USA, I was bond in the USA
I was bond in the USA, Bond in the USA...

Got in a little ceiling jam
So they put a downgrade on my band
Sent me off to a foreign land
To go and woo the yellow man

Bond in the USA...
Came back home to Wall Street
Goldie Man said Son if it was up to me
Went down to see my Federal man
He said Son, don't you understand

I had an auction at Hong Kong
Fighting off the Spec Longs
They're still there, that's all gone
It had a bank who bet money a lot
I got the news of its failing just now

Down in the floor of the Assembly
Out by the terminals of the Treasury
I'm ten years maturing down the road
Nowhere to default got nowhere to go

Bond in the USA, I was bond in the USA,
Bond in the USA, I'm a Gone Long Asset in the USA
Bond in the USA, Bond in the USA,
Bond in the USA, I'm a Cool Rocking Asset in the USA...

Monday, August 15, 2011

On Independence Day, 50 Reasons To Be Happy & Hopeful...

1) The soon to happen overtaking of Japan. The 3rd largest economy in the world.

2) The 2011 Cricket World Cup. It was a high. Admit it.

3) The media. Rambunctious. Misguided. But free.

4) Over 700 million mobile connections. India is always calling.

5) The Supreme Court

6) No censorship in Google searches

7) The 1 auto rickshaw driver out of 100 who takes you where you want, cheerfully, at the first attempt

8) Secularism. Imperfect, but existing. Aren't we all?

9) Ads. The HDFC Standard Life Insurance ad. Two fathers, very seriously & positively discussing the futures of their daughters. Alternatively, the SBI ad where two old ladies visit their brother. Always brought tears to my eyes.

10) Food. Was there ever such an amazing variety! Tandoori Chicken, Dosas, Pav Bhaji & Rasgullas, never ends!

11) Festivals. Don't we love them all? The myriad colours, the ceremonies, the celebrations?

12) Nimbu Paani. Nothing's more refreshing

13) CAG

14) Modern Airports. If anyone had told me 10 years back that there would be spas in our departure lounges, I would have died laughing.

15) The Delhi Metro.

16) The Super-strong Family System. With you. For you. Always. (With apologies to Delhi Police)

17)  Traditional Weddings. Elaborate. Outsized. Required.

18) Musical Instruments. The mournful strains of the Shehnai, the captivating melody of the Flute, the mellifluous tingling of the Santoor, the rhythmic resonance of the Sitar...Bliss

19) Monsoons. The longing. The oneness.

20) IT. Yes, its something we are good at. 

21) Education. And its ethos. So much respect.

22) Historical monuments. Thousands of them. Each one tells a story.

23) The saints and reformers. Who spread the message of equality, peace, compassion and harmony. 

24) 845 spoken dialects

25) 0

26)  The Armed Forces. Protecting our borders. Keeping peace in far flung foreign lands.

27) Mythology. Every conceivable topic under the sun. So rich, so complex, so mesmerizing.

28) Freedom fighters. So brave. To die for hope, for the unseen.

29) Hill stations. Up above the world so high.

30) Jugaad. Can do. Will figure out.

31) Beaches. Who's to question what the sea-shells say?

32) Movies. The drama. The song & dance routines. The immortal lines.

33) Yoga. The perfect union of mind and body.

34) Classical dances. Far beyond the material plane.

35) Sand dunes in the deserts. Challenging. Inspiring.

36) Literature. Too vast to even begin describing.

37) Election Commission. A 120 crore strong democracy. Not an easy task.

38) ISRO. Don't underestimate all the satellites.

39) Television. 200+ channels. Spoilt for choice.

40)  Folk Dances. Bhangda. Laavni. Daandiya. Really get you in the groove.

41) Sportsmen. P Gopichand, Saina Nehwal, Leander Paes, Karnam Malleswari, Rajyavardhan Rathore, Vijender Kumar. Against all odds.

42) Fauna. The majestic tigers. The magnificent elephants. The stunning peacocks. Mind-blowing.

43) Theatre. Powerful narratives. Tell it like it is. 

44) RTI. Have you tried it yet?

45) Online transactions. Banking, Ticketing, E-Filing of Returns. So much time saved.

46) Progress in health standards. Live better. Live longer.

47) Demographic dividend. The biggest challenge. The biggest opportunity.

48) Aadhar. It will work.

49) Artists. Singers, Actors, Musicians, Painters. So much talent.

50) Possibility. Its difficult, but its possible. It's India.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


I draw on the canvas a form indistinct
The rains lash across; A blur remains

Your tears were your own to cry
No one, you said, had the right to pry
Was I wrong not to wipe them all off?
Was I wrong not to give myself away?

You said you found peace in the darkness
How could I then take you to the light?
Was I wrong to watch you, helpless?
Was I wrong because I was right?

There was & is only nothingness, you say
But that was choice, and also was fate
A cruel pair that held us in its sway
Why does hope now make you shy away?

I stand inert, the blankness is the same
How blurred my canvas, how empty my frame...