Is BJP any different from Congress?

Mohan’s Musings

Is BJP any different from Congress?

BJP has not reached the pinnacle of power overnight. It has been the committed pracharaks and the leaders who have been at it crawling slowly as Jan Sangh.
The party won just 3 seats in the entire country during 52-57 parliamentary elections and 4 seats during the 57-62 elections.
I remember being a supporter as a nine-year-old. I had even joined the shaakhas of RSS for a few months and appeared for Hindi exams run by Nagpur. I did Prathmik, Prambhik, Pravesh and Parichay. Didn’t continue for Kovid and Rattan, though. I liked English more.
They taught us laathi and salute.
It was in Kandivali. The school was Dhanamal Vidyalaya.
I forget the name of the leader who came to campaign during ’57 but remember the cold night and warm greetings he received. He spoke in Hindi and was a good orator. Come to think of it, unlike Congress (where even the President and the Vice President give speeches with chits and notes and still fumble) BJP has several good orators.
To return to this nameless leader on this cold night, he talked about Hindu pride and we all, Sindhi refugees and their children, loved it. I had goose bumps. Sindhis didn’t like Muslims. They had to flee from Sindh because of them.
L K Advani and Hashu Advani were the popular figures who got more Sindhis to support Jan Sangh.
During the campaign, we could outdo the loudspeakers of Congress campaign and even stop it from proceeding further with our chant of Deepak Deepak. The election symbol of Jana Sangh was lamp. I have scrawled it on the walls during this period.
I don’t remember whether Jan Sangh candidate won or loss but this was the closest I got to the elections. I wrote the slips and witnessed the counting too. I remember how every mid-level leader would talk of growth.
I was disillusioned when these leaders refused to entertain the questions I had. I had read a few books and had asked questions. Questions that the RSS leaders (mid-level) didn’t encourage. Questions that Jan Sangh activists tried to answer but failed. And they didn’t like it.
As I got interested in writing and read progressive literature my opinion for the ideology of Jan Sangh started changing. They appeared koop mandook (frogs in the well) and I’d say it. They didn’t like it. And I came closer to Muslims. I saw that none of them resembled Aurangzeb, Genghes Khan or even Afzal Khan. They were like me. Middle class and struggling to survive. There was no reason to be hostile to them. I loved Urdu poetry, qawwalis and Urdu writings. I enjoyed Saadat Hasan Manto, Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, Ismat Chugtai and even Ibne Safi who wrote detective books. I also liked the songs sung by Mohammad Rafi, the music of Naushad and paintings of Maqbool Fida Husain.
My tryst with the progressive thinking too was brief. But let’s not get into that now.
I saw the Jan Sangh at close quarters during the emergency period and realised the strong network they have built up. They (and RSS) fought the tyranny of Mrs Indira Gandhi. I knew of the pracharaks or volunteers who would pick up pamphlets or handwritten messages and deliver them. It was fascinating but I kept away.
I saw Advani, Atal Behari Vajpayee, Pramod Mahajan and others at close quarters when BJP held its adhiveshan in Mumbai. I was a journalist and was covering them as a news-story. BJP was a disciplined lot. Advani was urging the party to spread its wings down south and about his dream of Ram Rajya.
Advani did bring ‘Ram Rajya’ and today BJP is ruling the country.
It is this obsession and single minded struggle that Jan Sangh became Bharatiya Janata Party and attained its dream. But it was his Rath Yatra that culminated in Babri Masjid demolition that divided the country once again after the partition.
It instigated riots and Mumbai bomb blasts. In fact, terrorism in India began after this. But BJP did come to power.
It happened when Vajpayee became the Prime Minister of a coalition government.
It also happened when Narendra Modi has become the Prime Minister with an absolute majority.
And now, I don’t see any difference between BJP of today and Congress of yesterday.
Even Narayan Rane is joining the BJP and someone has said that Congress would be left with only three persons – Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Ahmed Patel.
If this is what they wanted, they all could have joined Congress! What’s in a name.

*****

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Who will be the next President?

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Mohan’s Musings – President

Who will be the next President? Baba Ramdev? Sharad Pawar? Subramaniam Swamy? Amitabh Bachchan? L K Advani? Ratan Tata?

When Pranab Mukherjee said in his first interview after he became the President of India that he always wanted to have such a large lawn for morning walks he was only revealing the human side of his larger than life image.
While one doesn’t expect the President to be flawless, the idea always is to have a person of stature in the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Unless he gets to have another term, Mukherjee may not have his morning walks in the large lawns after July 2017.
The speculations about who will be the next occupant have already begun.
The post of the President of India is like that of the Queen of England. Persons with dignity and characters, who have lived a controversy-free public life without any political bias ought to occupy it.
In over six decades, persons of great stature like Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Dr Radhakrishnan, Dr. APJ Adbul Kalam and Dr. Zakir Hussain have occupied it. But along with them have been, in the list, Presidents we rather forget about.

Pratibha Patil was under a cloud when she was nominated. Her brother had been charged with murder and the apprehension was that she may use her influence in the case.
Yet, she went on to become the President.
Controversies about her continued during her tenure and even after her term got over.
One of the many of her scams is about acquiring a land, over 2 lakh sq feet, belonging to Defence and building a 4,500 sq ft bungalow in Pune while a retired President can get a house with a maximum area of Rs 2000 sq ft.
Her only ‘qualifications’ were that she would be the first woman President and she was perceived to be loyal to Gandhis.
It was the same loyalty to Mrs Indira Gandhi that made Giani Zail Singh declare in public that he was ready to follow her orders even if she asked him to sweep the floor. He went on to become the first Sikh President of India.
Fakhruddin Ahmed was so loyal to Mrs Gandhi that he could be woken up at midnight to sign an ordinance proclaiming national emergency. He signed it immediately and went back to sleep.

During the days of Vajpayee government, BJP didn’t have enough numbers to get the presidency to its nominee P.C. Alexander as Congress was averse to him. They settled for APJ Abdul Kalam, a choice of SP’s Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. But now BJP can have anyone it chooses to become the President. Seeing that Modi has an absolute control on the party, it is going to be his choice alone.
The first name that is making the rounds is of Lal Kishan Advani.
In fact, Union minister Nitin Gadkari had suggested Advani for President, but Narendra Modi reportedly felt that “age is a major factor”. Advani is in good health but seeing that the term is five years, Modi is right. The memory of the age factor diminishing the agility and health hasn’t still faded from the public memory.
Modi has totally sidelined Advani and the rest of old guards including Murli Manohar Joshi, Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha.
I don’t think Modi would risk having a President with his own mind.
The diminutive ball of fire Sushma Swaraj, once perceived as the Prime Minister candidate, too can be the final choice. But would she make an ‘obedient’ President?
Modi wouldn’t be happy with the idea of a controversial Subramaniam Swamy, either. Swamy’s name figures here because he has written about how J Jayalalitha wanted him to become the President. To quote Swamy, “In 2007, Jayalalithaa wanted me to become the President of India. I declined her offer telling her that I had a teaching assignment at Harvard University. I was also not sure about my winning chances. Because many political leaders were afraid of me.”
Swamy may be as unwanted now. No one wants an unpredictable and controversial person to become the President.
A more serious candidate is NCP Chief Sharad Pawar. Once in the running for the post of the Prime Minister, Pawar has vast administration experience and ‘friends’ across the party lines. Congress has been an ally for his NCP and his equation with Narendra Modi seems a major asset. It is because of this equation that BJP has virtually spared his nephew Ajit Pawar in the irrigation scam in Maharashtra and has settled only for the head of Chhagan Bhujbal.
During the parliamentary election campaign Modi had often accused NCP of being the most corrupt but is on record as describing whatever he has said about the opposition parties as election rhetorics not to be taken seriously.
Pawar is a ‘pragmatic’ politician and may suit Modi.
But there are others too. India hasn’t seen any industrialist occupying the Rashtrapati Bhavan but it may happen now.
Narayan Murthy, the founder and former Chairman of Infosys, is a respected figure and whispered to be as an ideal candidate. He can make the kind of President a Prime Minister, who has radical plans – some obvious and the others unclear – would welcome. He would be supportive no matter what the PM does.
Modi may find Ratan Tata too a good choice. Why, Nandan Nilekani (Aadhar) too may be in the running. He has always been a blue eyed boy for the establishment.
While Bollywood stars are considered good for campaigning, even holding portfolios, a Bollywood star as the President seems incongruous unless he happens to be Amitabh Bachchan. His name made rounds the last time but his strained relationship with Gandhis is said to have worked against him.
A politically neutral Amitabh may make a good choice if he lives down wife Jaya’s activism against demonetisation.
Seeing that Modi is the Monarch and BJP in absolute control – even if they lose every election in Punjab, UP and Goa – we shouldn’t be surprised to find RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat or even Baba Ramdev the next President of India.
And once Modi decides to make someone – even if he be Baba Ramdev – no one can change his mind. To quote Venkaiah Naidu, “It is not in his blood.”

*****

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Dissent is ‘treason’…

Mohan’s Musings/Mohan Deep

It is not an emergency, but dissent is ‘treason’…

Within an hour of the announcement of demonetization by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi I wrote:

“The main problem in India isn’t about the government having or not having enough money to run the country. The real problem is that only a minor fraction of that is spent on the welfare of the citizens, while the rest goes into different pockets.
“The essential honesty and character are totally missing from the governance.
“I will just give you an example of clean drinking water. The tap water in London is as potable as the branded water sold under fancy names.
“The reason we don’t get potable water at least in Mumbai is: (1) because half of the pipelines still belong to the British period. (2) The filtration plants need to be upgraded and their capacity expanded. (3) The water Mafia steals the water and sells it to us after an artificially created shortage.
“Where is the money issue if the richest Municipal Corporation in the entire country has failed to do even this basic duty despite having an absolute control for 70 years?
“So please don’t expect any great effects of the money government collects after demonetization.
It hasn’t happened in the past. It is not going to happen in future, either.”

I would call it mild criticism. It is my right. But within minutes, I found the pro-BJP elements – popularly called bhakts – pouncing on me. No one really argued back, but everyone questioned my patriotism and nationalism, and some of them poured scorn on me. The basic idea was to bully me into silence.
Angered, I wrote some more and found more bhakts trying to silence me. They called me anti-national and unpatriotic. It would have soured anyone’s mood and silenced him. But it didn’t happen to me, maybe because I have seen worse days during an emergency period. And it is because of this that the thought comes to me.
Are we in for another emergency? Or is it already an undeclared emergency?
The debate is out! A sensible argument has become irrelevant. Hired hands have been unleashed on the two social networking sites. They neither debate nor talk sense. They seem to have one aim: harass those who are critical of the policies of the Prime Minister.
That our Prime Minister cannot handle any criticism gracefully is clear for years. During his election campaign, on a channel I forget, he was interviewed by several journalists. Everyone asked questions that flattered him, but one of the scribes was asked to grill him. I could see that the young man was shivering in fear, but he went ahead.
Within seconds, we saw Narendra Modi glaring at him!
Our PM candidate wasn’t willing to answer a single hostile question.

*****

My earliest memory of national emergency declared by Mrs Indira Gandhi, on a personal level, is watching a police constable posted to control a bus queue, slapping a well-dressed bespectacled senior citizen for hurrying to get into the public transport.
His pair of spectacles was thrown several meters away due to the impact. Yet, not a single person protested.
The fear psychosis had gripped everyone. The electricity of the offices and the presses (Indian Express) was cut off. No one smiled as I stepped into the semi-dark office.
The list of the leaders and journalists arrested and thrown behind the bars along with hardcore criminals was a mile long. Along with them were the underworld dons.
On the first Saturday, in the afternoon, after the declaration of emergency, I stepped into an Irani Hotel on Bazar Gate Street. We, writers, used to conduct our story readings over tea. The tea would give way to beer and whiskey. Which group of writers would be satisfied with tea?
The manager cautioned us. “No alcohol. Emergency laga hua hai.”
The hotel didn’t have the permit and didn’t want to risk losing the license because of a couple of bottles hid under the table. As we emptied the tea cup, my contemporary writer Vishnu Bhatia made a crack.
“Indira Gandhi used to sit on these chairs before she became the PM.”
This was an innocent joke, private between us. And I laughed.
A lot of celebrities and politicians used to hang around in Fort, Bal Thackeray, and R K Laxman used to work in FPJ, a barefooted M F Husain along with a short and stooped K H Ara would stride in and out of Irani Hotels and I had seen J R D Tata entering a saloon without any fanfare. I used to throw different names.
Indira Gandhi?
A policeman emerged from nowhere. “Kya bola?”
We became nervous, but tried explaining. He wasn’t willing to listen. He wanted to take all of us to the Thana (Colaba Police Station). Our other writer friends explained to him with a lot of ‘sorries.’ When he saw that we really were writers and weren’t even expected to have enough money to bribe him, he let us go with a warning, “Emergency laga huaa hai, andar kar doonga to kissi ko pata bhi nahin hoga!”
Things may be worse today!
Saagar, a journalist from ‘Caravan,’ narrates his latest experience. (Incidentally, I was once a regular writer for this magazine.) Writes Saagar, “In an effort to document the tense situation (in the bank), I started recording the incident with the camera on my phone. Bemused, the official in the white shirt told me to stop shooting. When I did not stop, he rushed towards me—momentarily forgetting the crowd he was supposed to block—his arms outstretched. I asked him repeatedly, to not touch my camera and said that I was from the press. He grabbed me and dragged me down the stairs of the building, onto the road. Subsequently, other employees and security guards from the bank surrounded me. “Tere ko main batata hun. Tu bach ke nahi jayega”—I’ll show you now. You will not escape unharmed, the man in the white shirt said. “Tu janta nahi mere ko”—You don’t know me, he continued, “Mere upar pehle se case hai. Main khud police hun”—I already have cases registered against me, I myself am the police.”
The report is long, but it makes a point. A legitimate journalist from a respectable group is being threatened by the thugs appointed by the bank as guards while doing his job.

*****

D K Barua coined the notorious phrase: ‘India is Indira, Indira is India.’ It was the personality cult of epic proportions.
And now, if you’re against Narendra Modi, you’re anti-national!
They equate the Prime Minister with the nation, Modi with India. A slight criticism of the man earns you the abusive wrath of the bhakts. The abuses would have your ears turning red, but the bhakts, who represent a political party that prides itself on its hoary tradition, drags your mothers and sisters in the filthiest arguments you can have.
Like Congress tried doing it to the states ruled by the opposition parties, BJP too has tried the same trick with the states ruled by the opposition.
AAP humiliated BJP by almost erasing it out of the picture in Delhi. BJP hasn’t forgiven Arvind Kejriwal and has tried using whatever power at its disposal to browbeat the Kejriwal government.
Elected governments of non-BJP parties are not being allowed to function, like in Delhi. BJP was accused of trying to topple/toppling the governments run by the opposition in Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Assam. You can hear the echo of what Mrs Indira Gandhi did during the emergency. But one thing that made emergency the most hated, besides the press censorship and jailing of the opposition leaders, was the compulsory sterilization of men. Nasbandi. And the arrogance; the arrogance that Indians deserve danda, that they didn’t have the courage to retaliate to the police canes and army shoes. Magistrate Lateef Fatima (actor Shah Rukh Khan’s mother), Rukhsana Sultana (actor Amrita Singh’s socialite mother), and a few others close to Sanjay Gandhi had played a massive role in nasbandi drive. And then happened Turkman Gate massacre. The government tried to cleanse Delhi of slums and force poor residents, mostly Muslims, to move to distant settlements. Already seething with anger over nasbandi, they refused to go as they would have to commute every day paying heavy bus fares to reach the city to earn their living. They resisted the bulldozing of their houses.
The police opened fire on protesters, killing several of them. However, it was not reported in Indian media which had been silenced with censorship, but we learned about the killings through foreign media like BBC.
*****
What is happening in India also has a similarity with what is going on in, of all the places, Turkey! The only difference is that whatever the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has started is an aftermath of a failed coup attack on him. To Erdogan, his coalition of ‘Nationalists and Islamists’ is synonymous with ‘the national will’!
Here, they have started these games scared of losing the power.
BJP has not declared press censorship, either. But it doesn’t need to.
The state power has already been used to keep the press, particularly television media in chains. Major channels are owned by big business which has vested interest in being on the side of the establishment. It is because of this dirty connection that the entire television blacklisted Arvind Kejriwal within hours of his announcement that he would expose Ambanis.
Every BJP scam, including Vyapam, Nitin Gadkari’s shell companies, the nexus between the Prime Minister and the big business has been wiped out of public memory.
The government has also tried controlling the judiciary by trying to push in their favourites – like they did with the other institutions, and the tension between the CJI and the PM was so much that the judge publicly wept as he addressed Modi. Even then the problem of judicial appointments has not been solved till now.
As for the dissent, the fundamental right of every citizen, the BJP simply renames it treason.

*****

Mohan Deep is an eminent novelist and Bollywood biographer, based in Mumbai.

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The New Woman Has Arrived – Part II

shabana-azmi

New Woman in literature and films


Emancipated women have always figured in films and literature.

The earliest depiction in Hindi films that I saw was in Khwaja Ahmed Abbas’ film “Gyarah Hazar Ladkiyan.” Abbas got the title from the government’s official figure of the working women in Mumbai in 1954. Mala Sinha was one of them.

To me, as a Sindhi boy born after partition; working women were the independent women, as they are neither constrained by the tradition nor restricted by the customs. I had a working mother, and I know it.

I saw a woman like her in a Sindhi short story of Sundri Uttamchandani. The narration that left my eyes moist was about a Sindhi refugee wife who has to live on a limited salary of her husband. Whatever ‘sacrifice’ in the meal; whether mango or butter, would first be quietly from her plate and then she would have a conflict between reducing the nutritious food from the plate of her toiling husband or her growing Son (schooling).

The sacrificing woman decides to work to support her husband; and thus, becomes the second bullock of the cart. To me, this was the real emancipated woman.

She was the result of the changing tough world. But she had also come out of the pages of literature.

This bold woman who could fight the social pressure could be seen in the fiction of Sarat Chandra Chatterjee and Rabindranath Tagore. She was also present in the fiction of Punjabi’s Amrita Pritam.

I saw the glimpses of the woman ready to break the chains around her in The Deal. It was about dowry. Nirupama’s father was unable to pay a dowry of Rs 10,000 but gave Rs 7,000; and as the groom insisted, the marriage took place. But her life was full of torture. Her father managed to bring the rest of the dowry by selling his house. But Nirupama strongly urged him not to give any more money to her father-in-law. This was her moment as a strong woman.

She later died though torture, and her father-in-law arranged another girl with a dowry of Rs 20,000.

Nirupama remains in your mind as a woman who tried to fight the unjust social structure around her.

Tagore’s story: Mahamaya revolved around the ‘Sati’ custom, and she was married off to an old man whom she despised; she later became a widow. She was forced to become Sati. Mahamaya was able to escape the pyre and knock on the door of the man she loved. He was willing to accept her, but she had one more condition that she would remain in purdah. He wouldn’t see her face; otherwise, she would leave him.
One particular night, the anxious man came closer to see her uncovered face and saw a burnt face. He screamed, and she woke up.

Mahamaya left him.

She didn’t want pity. She was a proud woman.

More than Tagore, Sarat Chandra Chatterjee created what I consider ‘the mother of the modern emancipated woman.’ Just think of

Vijaya of Datta, Kiranmayi of Charitraheen, Hemangini of Mejdidi or Kamal of Shesh Prashna.

These were the women with their own mind during the days a patriarchal Bong society only suppressed them.

Like the Nora of Ibsen’s Doll’s House, these women were the original free women.

Not many have realized that the women who figured in the Sindhi and Punjabi folk stories were assertive and fighting women who had rejected the social norms and customs.

Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, the classical poet from Sind, treated them as such and these female characters were described as ‘his brave heroines’ (the term in Sindhi was Soormiyoon). The stories included Sohni Mehar, Sassui Punhoon, Noori Jam Tamachi, Sorath Rai Diyach, and Momal Rano.

Shah and many others wrote verses on these tales, which in turn adds more glamor to these female characters.

To return to Hindi films, one saw a reflection of that woman in Nikah. The climax scene when the former husband (Deepak Prashar) and the current husband (Raj Babbar) of Salma Agha are arguing over her has the twist. Nilofar (Salma) doesn’t return to her first husband.

This emerges the modern and bold woman who speaks her mind and tells the men that they cannot treat her like an object to be exchanged as a token of friendship.

Arth was a milestone, a turning point as far as the portrayal of a woman finding her own identity was concerned.

Pooja (Shabana Azmi) suffers a lot when her husband (Kulbhushan Kharbhanda) leaves her for another woman, an actress (Smita Patil). She soon becomes an independent woman with the help of another young man (Raj Kiran). When her husband returns to her feeling remorseful and apologetic, she refuses to go back to him. There is a strange reality in her portrayal as she refuses to go with the new man, either. She ends up like the modern single, once bitten twice shy, kind of woman.

There is continuity from Abbas’ Mala Sinha to Chopra’s Salma, Mahesh Bhatt’s Shabana, Vikas Behl, Anand Rai’s Kangana, Shoorjit Sircar’s Deepika, Tapasee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari, and Andrea Tariang. They are the large hoardings of the growing modern woman’s life calendar.

But the story of the women’s emancipation has yet to climax.

*****

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The Great Indian Banks Robbery

Mohan’s Musings

The Great Banks Robbery for which NOBODY will be punished.

I am being ripped off. And I am not the only one. Everyone of you who has an account in any bank is the victim of this great robbery. The amount is Rs 1.10 lakh crore. It is my money. It is your money. But the banks have lent it to big borrowers without proper scrutinies, without proper checks, without mortgaging assets, without proper collaterals and without verifying the authenticity of their claims, the papers and certificates submitted by them.

And that entire amount has been written off.

My questions:

Have they seized or tried to seize the assets of the managing directors, chairmans, directors and major stake holders?
Have they taken over the assets of the sureties and signatories?
Has there been an auction of the apartments, properties and vehicles owned by them?
Have the banks got the accounts of these people frozen?
Have the bank officials who sanctioned these loans been hauled up, questioned, suspended and charged?
Have the names of the people who conned banks been disclosed to public?
Has a single MD or Chairman moved in the house of a friend or in-laws because his apartment / bungalow has been seized?
The answer to every question I raise is ‘no’.
How the banks loot us.

Despite RBI controls, most banks take full advantage of the monopoly like situation. It is like a cartel.

Take for instance:

1. While it take a bank clerk the same five minutes to prepare a pay order, and when the money is ours, the charges change with the amount. A pay order for Rs 50 lakhs may cost you Rs 15,000. Plain robbery. Even the Shikarpuris issuing hawala chits charged less.

2. Banks use buying and selling of foreign currency as a business like the money changers. Why they charge any arbitrary charges without any value addition to the transaction.

3. Many private banks have different rates for RTGS (Real time gross settlement) depending on the quantum of money being transferred. It doesn’t take longer to punch in a transfer entry of Rs.1 crore as compared to a transfer entry of Rs.3 lakhs. If RTGS has to replace cheques it should be free or close to free.

The banks may call it business, I call it unethical business.

Moreover, there is a lot of difference in treatment to a ‘small’ borrower and the ‘big’ borrower.. The banks can easily get a car picked up if a certain number of EMIs are not paid, may embarrass a middle class borrower and recover the loan yet they make it more difficult for him to borrow than for a big borrower. Yet, it treats the small borrower as of no consequence. The pygmy sitting behind the desk with some fancy label, would look down at the person applying for loan like some needless chore. His documents are scrutinised, salary slip is checked and a bank representative would visit the house, check the credit worthiness and all the bank statements, deposit receipts etc

The small borrower is made to feel, well, small!

There are scores of instance. The govt can make a law and impose a fine of Rs 1000 for charging more than MRP on the mineral water, for breaking a signal and for several small offences of the common citizen, the small man. But the banking lobby is too powerful for the government.

The banks often sanction loans of unusually large amount for the corporates without proper security, over-valuation of the assets (as happened with Vijay Mallya) and by ignoring the usual safety norms before parting with the funds.Those amounts are in hundreds and thousands of crore.

It is not unreasonable to assume that cuts and commissions reach to the highest echelons of the corridors of every bank which ‘lends’ such massive amounts.

It is not difficult to understand why these huge loans are written off without much effort to recover them. Just compare the wide coverage the media gave to a single defaulter called Vijay Mallya who was hounded for an amount of Rs 8000 crore and has absconded to London. Even as the banks try to auction his bungalows, fleet of expensive luxury cars and personal jet, we learn that everything was overvalued. The banks will find it difficult to recover even half of the amount loaned to him, forget the interest and penalty. But this amount is peanuts compared to Rs 1.10 lakh crore the others have borrowed and swallowed.

Using the banking jargon, the banks hide behind phrases like ‘settlement of NPAs is a time consuming process’, ‘involves labour’ and ‘judicial process’ and opt for write-off. Simply put, the banks say that they don’t have staff and legal advice to recover the money! What they are trying to underplay is that the money has been squandered or siphoned out and the assets pawned by the corporates are not worth the valuation.

The blame lies at the door of the banks and their staff (and outsiders) who over-valued the assets. And if the bank officers are whispering that they passed huge loans under pressure from the politicians, let them name them!

Let us know how much loan was approved under the pressure from UPA2 and how much loan was sanctioned under the unsaid orders of BJP government.

And let’s have the names.

*****

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Donald cooks his goose

 

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Mohan’s Musings

Donald Trump may lose this time but had it been any time before 1920, he would have won with thumping majority. Women didn’t have the right to vote.

Donald Trump may have lost his chance to become the President because of the cheap talk and comments about the women (he has even pointed out a 10-year girl who was with him and has said that he would be dating her after 10 years) and numerous complaints of groping from different parts of America. One of the complainants is 74 years.
Major names in Republican Party have withdrawn support and even some donors, who have paid tens of thousand dollars, have asked for a refund.
Hillary Clinton has more than 80 percent chance of moving into the White House.
Being labelled ‘sexist’ has finished Donald.

*****

According to a survey if only women voted Hillary would have got 458 against Donald’s 80 votes but
if only men voted, Donald would have got 350 votes against Hillary’s 188!
Clearly men look at groping differently. For them what Donald Trump said, recorded with or without his knowledge (he seemed least bothered), was simply reckless locker room talk and what he did and could get away with is the dream of most American men. They would love to be in his shoes or maybe, most are already in his shoes. We need to know how an average American male behaves with women.
Interestingly, had it been any time before 1920, Donald Trump would have won with thumping majority. Women didn’t have the right to vote.

*****

I have an image of a naked Bill Clinton walking across in White House as described in one of the books about Monica Lewinsky episode. There were others too. But Clinton continues to remain an attractive figure. So does John F Kennedy who needed women as ‘if I didn’t have sex I’d get backache’.
They have remained attractive figures to men and women equally. Their philandering haven’t affected their popularity.
Why the women hate only Donald Trump?
Could it be because ‘sexist’ is a dirty word only now. And the feminism is in today. The American women don’t give a fig to what Bill Clinton did over a decade early and Kennedy is ancient for a young American girl.
She hates a groper. She hates a sexist. She is not going to vote for him whether it is JF Kennedy, Bill Clinton or Donald Trump.

*****

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Russia = China? Raj Kapoor’s Awara remake.

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Mohan’s Musings

Russia = China?
Will Raj Thackeray object to a remake of Awara if India had a border skirmish with China?

India has inked a deal with China for the remake of Raj Kapoor’s ‘Awara’. Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) and China Shanghai International Arts Festival (CSIAF) have signed a memorandum.
In an ironic travesty of truth, a claim is being made that Raj Kapoor and his ‘Awara Hoon’ was hummed by the Chinese and the showman was loved by the Chinese.
Raj Kapoor was popular in Russia. He even visited the country where he was welcomed like a state guest and hordes of people did sing ‘Awara Hoon’ along with him. (Was it K A Abbas connection?)

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Forwards and memes plead with you to boycott Chinese products. China has come in the way of India’s bid to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). NSG is an elite group which controls transfer of nuclear technology in the world.
China also has used Veto power to come in the way of India’s efforts to get the high chair (read: Veto power) in UN.
This country has also has blocked Brahmaputra tributary, virtually squeezing India out of the water supply.
It’s support for Pakistan is already well known. We can say that China is a potential enemy.
Yet, Chinese goods are freely sold in India and because of the prices, give a tough competition to Indian manufacturers. Even our government trade with China.

A hypothetical question.
The deal is that the remake will be released by 2017-2018. What if there be a war between the two countries, or between India and Pakistan where China supports Pak? Will the politicians like Raj Thackeray allow the film to be telecast?
Why don’t they object now?

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Hands Off the National Anthem!

 

imageHere is the letter I have emailed and Tweeted to our Prime Minister to stop the efforts to remove ‘Sindh’ from the National Anthem.

 

Honourable Prime Minister of India,
New Delhi-110011

Sub: Efforts to remove ‘Sindh’ from the National Anthem

Respected Narendra Modi Saheb,

Sir, once again some people have demanded that ‘Sindh’ be deleted from the National Anthem. Once again we, over 38 lakhs Indian Sindhis plead against it. We lost our motherland but retained our language and culture. Sindh in the National Anthem is our reward, our consolation.
In the wake of partition, during the largest mass migration in the human history, as a part of 14 million Hindu, Muslim and Sikh refugees, we came to India. Unlike the refugees from Punjab and Bengal, betrayed by Congress and even Mahatma Gandhi, we couldn’t retain any part of Sindh. The ratio between Sindhi Muslims and Sindhi Hindus was 78:22. Sindh was being governed by Muslim League. It was a state sponsored order to leave Sindh.
We came to India, surviving the massacre that killed upto 20,000,00 people.
The story of our growth is known to the world and to you.
Sindhis didn’t demand a state.
Sindhis didn’t ask for quotas, reservations and special categories. They grew and along with that grew the cities they occupied. Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Kolkatta, Bangalore…
We built schools, colleges and hospitals.
We didn’t ask for anything. We were happy that even if we didn’t have a state, the name of our motherland was a part of National Anthem.
It is a matter of pride for us.
There have been efforts to remove the name from the National Anthem but even the government has supported us.
In fact, there was a PIL that demanded to delete the word ‘Sindh’ from ‘Jana Gana Mana’
As the state was no longer part of the country after the partition. The Supreme Court issued a notice to the Centre.
In response the Home Ministry replied the anthem was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 24 January, 1950. At that time, Sindh had become a part of Pakistan and therefore the assembly was conscious of this fact.
“The word Sindh refers not merely to the province of Sindh but also to the Sindhi culture which is an inalienable part of the rich and diverse culture of India.”
HC and SC have rejected such a plea in the past.
I, on behalf of 38 lakhs Sindhis, plead with you that let ‘Sindh’ remain as a part of National Anthem.

With respect and hope,
Mohan Deep

Journalist-Author

The Prime Minister of India,
South Block, Raisina Hill, New Delhi-110011
Ph: 23012312

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Before you add Kashmir to National Anthem…

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Mohan’s Musings

The controversy that will never die

Did Rabindranath Tagore really wrote Jan Gan Man in honour of King George V?

Before I get into the flesh of the ‘Jan Gan Man’ controversy, let me say that this has been investigated a number of times and it has been clearly established that Rabindranath Tagore wrote it in honour of our motherland Bharat.
First, about the patriotism of Tagore. He was the one who wrote poems like ‘Where mind is without fear’ and Ekla Chalo Re. The massacre of Jallianwala Bagh so angered him that he renounced the knighthood in protest. The Knighthood was conferred on him by the same King George V after he received Nobel Prize Literature.
I have written this piece because it has been suggested that Kashmir may be added to the anthem. Some have gone as far as to suggest that Tagore’s Jan Gan Man may be junked.
Tampering with any creative work, specially of this caliber, is simply unacceptable.

It all started with two British papers (The Statesman and Englishman) who reported that Tagore recited Jan Gan Man in honour of King George V. Congress had invited the King to pledge its loyalty to the throne. (Remember this was 1911.)
Reporting the same event, Amrit Bazar Patrika had reported, “The proceedings of the Congress party session started with a prayer in Bengali to praise God (song of benediction). This was followed by a resolution expressing loyalty to King George V. Then another song was sung welcoming King George V.” (Dec.28,1911)
The Bengalee had recorded, “The annual session of Congress began by singing a song composed by the great Bengali poet Ravindranath Tagore. Then a resolution expressing loyalty to King George V was passed. A song paying a heartfelt homage to King George V was then sung by a group of boys and girls.”

Why the confusion?

The confusion had arisen because a different song, “Badshah Humara” written in Hindi by Rambhuj Chaudhary was sung on the same occasion in praise of King George V.

Years later when the National Anthem was being chosen, two songs, Tagore’s Jan Gan Man and Bankim Chandra Bannerjee’s Vande Matram made it to the finals. Vande Matram was unacceptable to the Muslim population. The government settled for Jan Gan Man.
However, the Hindu right wing was never happy with the rejection of Vande Matram. Even having Vande Matram as the National Song didn’t placate them.
Some of them chose to defame the national anthem and the poet who wrote it. Articles full of lies claiming that Jan Gan Man was composed to honour King George V were published. Memes and forwards have continued to spread the same lie.

Tagore’s clarification

Commenting on the controversy Tagore has written, “I should only insult myself if I cared to answer those who consider me capable of such unbounded stupidity as to sing in praise of George the Fourth or George the Fifth as the Eternal Charioteer leading the pilgrims on their journey through countless ages of the timeless history of mankind.” (Purvasa, Phalgun, 1354, p. 738.)

Tagore’s word should be enough. But the controversy has not died, will never die.
Fling dirt enough and some will stick.

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Was Gandhi a racist?

 

Was Gandhi a racist? Are we Indians racists?

1700 signatures and copies of Mahatma Gandhi‘s writings where Gandhi described the Black South Africans as Kaffirs (a high offensive racist slur, the way Muslims referred to Hindus) was enough to persuade the Government of Ghana to remove the statue of Gandhi from the University of Ghana.
One of the quotes included a letter Gandhi sent to former Prime Minister of England Neville Chamberlain in May 1899, claiming that Indians were superior to “kaffirs,” an ethnic slur for black South Africans. Ironically, Gandhi was living in South Africa to fight anti-Indian discrimination at the time.
(This once again establishes that Gandhi, #Jawaharlal Nehru and even #Muhammad Ali Jinnah treated themselves as brown sahebs though Gandhi got rid of his western dresses in favour of a lion cloth.)
Ghana government and it’s people didn’t worry about causing annoyance to India and causing a diplomatic row.
In fact the petition by the Professors of the University read, “It is better to stand up for our dignity than to kowtow to the wishes of a burgeoning Eurasian super power”, and quoted passages written by Gandhi which say Indians are “infinitely superior” to black Africans.
I am not surprised!
Indians are racist and there is no doubt about it. The way our people refer to those they consider lesser has an interesting narration.
The North Indians are called Chinki and the girls from this part of India are considered of ‘dubious character’. The story behind is the traffic in Nepali women and the confusion between the Nepali girls (who were, once, described as foreigners!) and the girls from North East.
Police describe the tall Nigerian drug dealers and scamsters as ‘blacks’ with contempt though, at least Mumbai Police is physically no match for the tall and muscular #Nigerians.
Ask yourself: will you ever hire a Nigerian?
We don’t stop there.
Our rigid caste system in existence since before the term ‘Hindu’ was coined to describe all has the civilised world laughing at us. The petition too says, “The caste system in India is among the world’s oldest forms of surviving social stratification. The system divides Hindus into rigid hierarchical groups.”
Our elections are caste-oriented, and the candidates are allotted tickets on caste (or money) basis. We live in ghettos what with Parsis living in their baugs, Muslims in their clusters and Christians in their Gaothans. Why, even Sindhis, who don’t follow the rigid Hindu caste system, have their colonies!
And, as far the color goes, the tales of discriminations are too many to recount.
The fair and lovely gets to be posted in the front offices, get quicker promotions and raises in the salaries but the dark skinned are left behind, in the back offices away from the glares of the visitors.
Yes, we certainly are racists.

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On the shutting down of a branch of ‘#Bru’

I was surprised to see the waiters who had served me my cuppa Latte for the last three-four years, packing the furniture.
Bru, Lokhandwalla Branch, downed the shutters.
I liked the coffee and sometimes, when the machine didn’t perform well, they would happily make another cuppa.
I liked the ambience. Inexpensive functional furniture that could be easily moved. The rickety chairs, the sockets to charge the mobiles and laptops – half of them dysfunctional  – and the little loo where the staff changed the uniforms making it difficult for the customers. The a/c didn’t always function.
All just right for the strugglers in Bollywood and some familiar faces from the industry. Every occupied table had energy around it, the energy that comes from positivity and optimism. Films were planned and made here, TV serials were conceived and scripts were written here.
Faces that became familiar to me, people who would greet me and always accommodate me on the same table…
I felt the energy, loved it.
I like strugglers, their optimism and the sparkle in their eyes. I love success oriented people and their drive.
Before Bru, I used to have my coffee at Barista and Cafe Coffee Day. It was the same Bollywood strugglers. Oshiwara has many. They go to the acting schools, get their portfolios made, go for auditions and wait patiently for the calls.
I see a lot happening here.
My last novel ‘Color Me Rich’ is set in Oshiwara and the story develops at Bru. It also has Adarsh Nagar which houses small producers, sound studios, editing rooms and costumes shops. You can get the entire technical support for making a film.
And on the main road in bigger buildings are located the big time producers and even the offices of some of the studios.
I compare Oshiwara with Hollywood. Here too strugglers get jobs as waiters and waitresses till they get a break in films. I don’t really know any waiter who has made it to the big screen. The only name I can recall is Smriti Irani. But I never saw her waiting tables. She worked in McDonalds and I don’t like the atmosphere there. I prefer eating at Indigo. Here you see the familiar faces from the big screen. Oshiwara has more hotels, restaurants and bars than any where else in Mumbai. And if you visit at night you can see a lot of familiar faces from films and TV serials. You’d recognise the film stars by their names and the TV stars with the names of the characters they play. The channels and producers neither give their names on the large hoardings nor in the credits. They don’t want them to become TV stars and have an identity of their own. The cleverer one indulge in brawls, get dragged to Oshiwara Police Station and find their names in the newspapers’ crime pages.
But to return to my cuppa, I’ll have to shift to #StarBucks. I love the Cappuccino of Starbucks whether at Oshiwara or at the Horniman Circle.
Why, I loved the Starbucks in Manhattan and London too, much more than the Starbucks in Mumbai. Mumbai has a way of Indianising everything, even Starbucks coffee.

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