The Politics Of Movie Titles

Invariably movies from Bollywood get into trouble in India. It could be because someone does not like the title, or the theme. Sometimes it could be the story and at other times it is the fact that the city has not been called by its correct name. Take the case of Kiran Rao’s maiden film “Dhobi Ghat” that ran into trouble in Kolkata and Delhi on the day of its release. Many a washer men felt that the title was derogatory to the community and carried posters to that effect. In Delhi, the community leaders went one step ahead and approached the Delhi high Court seeking a change of the film’s title. In my opinion the community leaders were being highly “unambitious” when they protested against the title of the movie. After all, the word Dhobi Ghat has not been invented by Kiran Rao. It is a word that exists in the hindi language and also in the dictionary. The protest should have been against the language and the demand should have been that it be removed from the dictionary and the colloquial language. When the Shah Rukh Khan movie titled “Billoo Barber” was being released, at that time too there were protests from the barber community saying that the title demeaned them. I fail to understand how that could be. As per Wikipedia, a barber (from the Latin barba, “beard”) is someone, most often male, whose occupation is to cut any type of hair, and to shave or trim the beards of men. The place of work of a barber is generally called a barbershop, or simply the...

They May Exist, But We Can’t Communicate With Aliens

From time immemorial man has dreams of encounters with the aliens. There have been books written on it, movies made and it is the stuff of romantic scientific fantasy. I am however certain that even if there were other intelligent beings elsewhere in the universe, chances are that we will never get to communicate with aliens. This, in spite of the fact that there was a news item some days back that the chances of finding alien life were given a boost after NASA revealed it had found evidence of more than 1200 planets in orbit around far distant stars. It is also stated that if the findings are confirmed, it will more than triple the number of the known planets outside our own solar system in one full sweep; amazingly 54 of them could support life. Why do I think we may never be able to communicate with aliens The answer lies in the fact that planets that could support life are so far away that a meaningful communication would just not be possible. The NASA discovery is a case in point. According to the scientists, the newly discovered planetary system made up of at least six planets that could support life are orbiting a star 2000 light years away! 2000 light years away? So even if we were to make a rocket that traveled at the speed of light, it will take us 2000 years to reach them. Any message that they give will take another 2000 years to reach us. Can we have a communication where each dialogue takes 4000 years to complete? In 4000 years the entire complexion...

Should The World Invest In India?

These are the best of times for India – watch her growing economy, her people winning laurels the world over, her contributions to the world peace, her growing friendship and influence with other countries, her flight to the moon, her ambitions, her…. These are the worst of times for India – watch her attacked by terrorists, her plunder and division by politicians, her looting by a few corporate czars, her growing inability to quench the growing hunger and thirst of her people, her increased enmity with her neighbors, her… Using the above facts about India, it is possible to make a case, both for and against her future. I am however extremely optimistic about India’s future. It could be because I am an optimist by birth. It could also be because I am an Indian by birth. I am expected to believe that the motherland that has given me birth is better than heaven. Didn’t some of my ancestors said so long ago – “jan-a-ni janam-bhoomi-sch, swar-ga-dapi gari-yasi”. All this may be true. However, I believe that even if I was not an Indian by birth or descent, I would have still believed in the future of India. There are many reasons for it. Why invest in India? One, they say old is gold. India has been around for a long time. Longer than most people can remember. The culture of India, history of India and the people of India have survived every possible catastrophe – natural or man-made. Two, India has been a great teacher. Many may not agree, but I think India has been an equally good...

Gay Rights In India

The recent discussions about gay rights and same sex marriage demands made me remember the time when I was complaining a lot about generation gap. This was the time when I wanted to get married to the girl of my choice. The reason for these complaints was the fact that my mother wanted me to have an arranged marriage while I was, one opposed to the idea and two, more importantly, as I have said I had already decided whom I wanted to marry. Once during that turbulent time of my life, while talking to my now wife and then girlfriend’s boss, when I again spoke about the generation gap, he told me something which I do not think I’ll ever forget. He said, “Sanjeev, let us say 25 years down the line your son was to come to you with a man and tell you that he wanted to marry him, what will be your reaction?” When he saw the look of utter shock on my face, he smiled and said, “And then your son will complaint about this very same generation gap.” Anyway, this story is not about generation gap (may be we’ll discuss that some other time) but about gay rights, LGBT rights movement and same sex marriage. While it might be construed from the above episode I am not a big fan of the gay movement, but let it known that I go with Voltaire and believe that even though I do not agree with your ideas, I support your right to express them. I am therefore a supporter of  Equal Rights for LGBT community....

Why Sanction Should Not Be Required To Prosecute a Public Servant

Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan has started a debate in the public domain when he stated that the requirement to seek sanction for prosecution (of public servant) was acting as a stumbling block that tended to weaken the natural course of certain legal probes. It also acts as a deterrent in the fight against corruption in India. This requirement for sanction is part of The Prevention of Corruption Act under Section 19(1) which provides that “no court can take cognizance of” any of the more serious offences except “with the previous sanction of the authority that is competent to remove him from his office at the time when the offence was committed.” This means that if you wish to prosecute a central minister, you need central government permission or to prosecute a Government Officer, you need the permission of the Government (because he can be removed only by the Government). And this is one of the major causes of corruption in government. We’ll see the reasons for this a little later. This is also true for a crime under the Indian Penal Code.  Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides that no court can take cognizance of a case where a judge or magistrate or a public servant protected under the Indian constitution “is accused of any offence alleged to have been committed by him while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his official duty.” It further says that action can be taken only with the sanction of his employer. The need for such a provision is justified by the argument that...

Cabinet Ministers Protest Against Austerity Drive

A gang of Union Cabinet ministers protested against the suggested austerity drive of the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee during a meeting of the Union Cabinet on Sep 10, 2009. Some of the reasons given by our venerable ministers were: Sharad Pawar said that ministers can work better on flights if traveling in comfort Work better? When did they start working better? What they do not do in 5 years, do they expect to do in a 2-3 hours or even a 10 -12 hour flight? He went on to add that one of the “hazards” of flying in the economy was the prospect of being intruded upon by other passengers. Wow! But aren’t they supposed to interact with people? And what better place than the economy class of the airplane? Or is it that since farmers generally do not fly, the agriculture minister with Prime Ministerial ambitions would not like to interact with the middle class? He even suggested that such a situation (read intruding passengers and space constraint) is not conducive to dealing with files. Again, do our ministers read files only on planes? No wonder not many files get cleared? And pray what kind of files? Are they supposed to be taken around in public? What happens to confidentiality, security and other such concerns? Cabinet Ministers Question Austerity Measures According to the Times of India, some other ministers – from smaller UPA constituents – questioned the utility of token or impractical austerity in the era of liberalization. If someone can afford to fly club class, why not, asked a minister. Some even called the suggestion as “stupid”....

Why India Could Not Have Attacked Sri Lankan Players In Lahore

“It is a conspiracy against Pakistan.” – General Pervez Musharraf, Former President of Pakistan “There’s no way one can deny that Pakistan is not safe now. No country will want to send its players here for any tournament. This must be handiwork of outsiders.” – Imran Khan, Former Pakistan Team Captain. They both were following the time tested method of avoiding blame by pointing fingers on outsiders. India could not have attacked Sri Lankan Cricket Team Now, however much the likes of General Musharraf and Imran Khan accuse foreign power, read India, of having masterminded and carried out the Lahore attack on Sri Lankan cricketers, I am certain of two things: That it is the misfortune of General Saab and Imran Bhai that the foreign power they are pointing fingers at could not have done it, and That it is also a good fortune of likes of me to have been born in a country where the leaders do not have the balls to retaliate in this fashion against their enemies! Ironic, but true. There has to be a difference between us and them. Anyway I did not start writing this post to voice the above. The purpose of writing this article is to gently remind the men across the border that it is extremely likely that this dastardly act has been done by insiders, that is Pakistani Nationals. The reason that the supporters of foreign hand theory are giving is that the loser in this entire deal is Pakistan. After all now countries and players will not want to deal with them. So why would a Pakistan national do...

Politician Wants India To Snap Ties With Israel

Some days back I had read a small news item in The Times of India that read: Lok Janshakti Party headed by Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan staged a demonstration against Israel’s attacks in Gaza and submitted a memorandum to the President demanding that India sever relationships with the country. The reason for this suggestion is that the meticulously planned attacks on Gaza are nothing short of terror unleashed on the vast humanity of Gaza where hundreds of innocent, including children have been killed and thousands maimed. The party said that India as a responsible democracy should not only condemn this act of aggression by Israel, but immediately sever all diplomatic ties with it. The news item made me pause and ask a few questions to myself (since Mr. Paswan himself was not available to answer them). Did anyone demand that India snap ties with other countries when: India was attacked by 10 heavily armed terrorists on 26.11.2008 and it has been proven to everyone that they were Pakistani nationals. It is also being said that they received training from the Pak army and the ISI. It is a well established fact that Pakistan has been fomenting terrorist strikes against India. In this attack more than 200 innocent people died which included children. Why have the politicians not asked the Indian government to sever ties with Pakistan, when it is also clear to all that the government in Pakistan is not even giving lip service to our anguish leave alone act on it. Attacks on India by Pakistan and the terrorist outfits sponsored by it have been far too many...