The New Woman Has Arrived – Part II


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 New Woman Has Arrived – Part I


The New Woman has arrived!


Our world has changed. The woman has changed. She was once a closet smoker. She would look stealthily around and light up, take quick drags, and throw the butt away.

But now, she is relaxed whenever she places a cigarette between her lips and strikes a match. The smoke comes out of her nostrils, and she takes another puff.

She doesn’t care if people are watching. It is her life, her choice.

It is the same with alcohol or when she is snorting heroin or smoking hash.

She is equally guilt-free with a one night stand or sleeping with the husband of an office colleague she likes.

It is her life, her choice.

If she is an editor, she ensures that sexism and misogynist words and phrases are out. As a reviewer, her priority is to check whether the characters or the story is regressive; and if yes, to lambast the filmmaker.

If she is directing an ad film, she ensures that the man in her film is a wimp, his wife may order him around, or rather slaps him a couple of times. She is changing the way men are portrayed; she is changing the mindset. She is quietly working to transform the patriarchal setup to a society where the woman has the last word.

She is the new age woman. She has arrived.
She is a feminist who doesn’t need to explain herself for being what she is.

We have Vidya Balan (Ishqiya, Kahaani, Bobby Jasoos), Deepika Padukone (Piku), Anushaka Sharma (NH 10), Kangana Ranaut (Queen and Manu Weds Tanu and its sequel), Radhika Apte (in her bold scenes), and finally the three girls in Pink (Tapasee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari, and Andrea Tariang).

Vidya is aggressive and a dominating partner in Bobby Jasoos where Ali Fazal plays second fiddles to her. Not only is this a title role, but she breaks the ceiling by working in a male dominated profession, as a rare female detective, despite belonging to an orthodox Muslim family.

The kind of roles Kangana Ranaut has done have got her to become an icon for the feminists.

However, the three girls in ‘Pink’ have emerged as the ultimate in the portrayal of the feminists. They defy all the social norms, including living alone, going out at night, and drinking with almost strangers; even being sex workers. At least one of them even admits to having asked for money in exchange for sex (though only because she got tired of the hostile and offensive treatment by the Public Prosecutor); but the film doesn’t even have a hint of judgment against them, about their choices. Their lawyer, played by Amitabh Bachchan ensures that the message of the film “No means No” reaches everyone irrespective of what or who the woman is. This is a total acceptance of feminist values.

The real climax and message reaches the audience when Amitabh, despite being their lawyer, asks Taapsee Pannu in open court whether she was a virgin. He questions her till she opens up. Again, she’s guilt free. She admits that she wasn’t a virgin, but she lost it neither under compulsion nor for money. It was her choice!

It conveys the message Deepika Padukone sent some time back in a short message film. What a girl does with her life or with her body is her choice.
If she makes love to a guy she likes and loses her virginity, it is her choice. Her family, her friends, and the society had no say in the matter.

The New Woman is free from all crutches and every restraint, as well as every manacle.

Kangana Ranaut seemed to play a modern and independent woman who didn’t care for the conventions in “Tanu Weds Manu;” but she and her free and independent woman really emerged successfully in Queen. This coming-of-age story is about Rani. Her fiancé (Rajkumar Rao) calls off the wedding because he finds her traditional. She, a North Indian girl from a conservative family, goes on her honeymoon alone. Later, when her fiancé sees another picture of her where she appears modern, he repents and follows her on the honeymoon. He tries to win her back, but she rejects him.

The girl walking alone and laughing carefree has almost become the symbol for the carefree Independent woman.

Even in “Tanu Weds Manu,” Kangana’s tryst with the independent woman who rejects the social constraints, continued.

Deepika Padukone shifted from her traditional glamorous roles to play Piku, the unmarried daughter of an always constipated Amitabh Bachchan. Everything from her lines, her irritation and her concern for her father projected her as an independent woman. She would have ended up being just another sacrificing spinster Raakhi specialized in, but for the nuanced performance and the treatment.

In an interesting party scene, Amitabh reveals to her suitor that she wasn’t a virgin. This is a complicated situation in the story where an utterly selfish father creates obstacles in the marriage of his own daughter.

However, the point is made. Virginity is passé.

Not going further into the story, I can say that with Deepika’s Piku, the depiction of a modern woman became real.

(…Contd Part 2)


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Paybacks for the Blood Sucking Call Centres


Mohan’s Musings

Paybacks for the blood sucking Call Centres

Till the other day they appeared a little idiotic voices on the other side when you made a call to the call centre. They would read from a script. You knew that the American and the rest of the civilised world laughed at their accent and stupidity.
Unknown to us this voice had transformed into a criminally menacing voice with practiced American accent and has been extorting money, big money, from the American citizens. This new voice belonged to the unscrupulous and ruthless blackmailer, extortionist and scamster.
It used the voice-over-internet-technology, normally used by the terrorists and drug syndicates to hide their telephone numbers and locations.
The targets were the senior American citizens, men and women, the most vulnerable population.The annual financial loss to elderly victims of financial abuse in the US is estimated to be at least $2.9 billion!
Every employee was given a script upon joining the firms, the first line of it read: “Hello, I am an officer calling from the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) of which you are a tax defaulter.”

The victims were harassed, hounded and threatened with arrest with these unnumbered call and blackmailed into paying amounts ranging from $500 to $50,000, depending on their capacities, under threat of arrest!

Their executives would force victims to pay non-existent tax dues through gift cards of a specific brand or through wire transfers, allegedly making Rs 1.5 crore a day in this manner.

There has even been a case of an older American woman who died during this two hour long ordeal. Her son abused the caller who quietly disconnected the line.

Thane police raided at least 9 call centres, booked 700 people and made 70 arrests on charges of cheating, extorting and impersonating under the Indian Penal Code and other relevant Act.
This has turned out to be a Pandora’s Box. According to police, though the mother of these call centres is in Ahmedabad, the call centres have been operating from Andheri, Vile Parle, Bandra and several other locations.

In fact, there are also instances where these call centres have been operating from the homes!

The state police have also alleged hawala transactions by owners of the call centres.
The Call Centre Rackets and the paybacks
The word is that the Call Centre Racket is not limited to the few call centres that have been raided in Mira Road and Thane so far.
The Police have arrested 700 employees and the master mind, SagarThakkar alias Shaggy, is said to be holed up in Dubai. Shaggy is suspected of owning 17 call centres that were mostly managed by his friends. While nine call centres are claimed to be in Mumbai, the rest are in Gujarat. A total of 2,000 people work in these call centres.
But seeing the kind of money every call centre employee was making (Rs 15,000 – 20,000 plus a cut from the amount extorted which ran into a couple of lakh for every employer) and Rs 3-5 crore a month by the call centre ‘boss’, the racket seems widespread.
Sagar Thakkar alias Shaggy may not be the only big fish. The Police have even arrested his ‘mentor’! Borivili based Jagdish Kanani is said to have taught the ropes ‘some others’ too.
America’s prestigious Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is already in India and their blood hounds are on the trail of everyone who has played any role in this dirty business.
And I guess, the FBI will locate several ‘master minds’ and pick up a planeload of them to try them in the US, as it is a major crime against thousands of American.


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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



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.


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?)


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


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…


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.


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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… To be Continued (The story of serialised novels in India and abroad)

On every first Monday of the month, a group of friends who admired Charles Dickens would meet and read aloud the latest instalment of his ‘Dombey and Son’. This was one of the many groups of Dicken’s admirers who looked forward to his serialised novel. This was in the England of 1847. But even before, he had used this method to arouse interest in the readers when he serialised ‘Pickwick Papers’. While the readership for the first instalment was just 1000, the last instalment was read by 40,000 persons.

Dickens used this form all his life for all his novels. So did William Makepeace Thackeray for ‘Vanity Fair’ and Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock Holmes stories too were first published as serials.t The public response was so warm that there was a major protest in the form of fan letters when, tired of writing the series, wanting to write something else, Doyle ‘killed’ Sherlock Holmes. The writer had to resurrect his detective!

Serialising was popular in America too where Henry James divided his work into segments of similar sizes and let it first be published as a serial even when his story was already ready. Others, often, wrote the subsequent instalments even as the earlier one’s were in readers’ Often a novel would be read in instalments for as long as a year during which the authors would respond to the response of the readers. But in Russia, Leo Tolstoy‘s ‘Anna Karenina’ ran for four years!

As the world changed with the World Wide Web, a serial format on the net began when Stephen King wrote The Plant and many others did the same.

Websites like FanFiction.Net and web-based communities like LiveJournal, FictionPress and Fictionhub have even produced bestsellers that have overtaken the traditional novels.

The mobile devices too have made the serial format popular with JukePop Serials and the like promoting serialised novels.

India too has a similar tradition.

Bankim Chandra Chatterjee‘s ‘Anandmath’ was first serialised in his own magazine Bangadarshan (Bengali) in 1882. It was a heart warming novel about the Sanyasis who fought for the freedom of India. Bankim wrote the song ‘Vandematram’ for this novel. It was later published in book form.

‘Anandmath’ went on to get a cult status and Vande Matram ended up as the National song of India. Prathapa Mudaliar Charithram, a novel by Mayuram Pillai, written in 1857 was the first serialised novel in Tamil. Serialised novels with the freedom struggle, instilled patriotic pride in the people.

Krupa AJ Satthiananadan, considered the first Indian woman novelist writing in English. ‘Suguna’, her novel was serialised between 1887 and 1888 in Madras Christian College Magazine.

Chitralekha (Gujarati) often serialised novels written by Harkisan Mehta and Tarak Mehta. So did Sushma (Hindi) and Shamma (Urdu). I remember writing my first novel (‘Roop ain Sadhana’) for Jagruti, a Sindhi weekly when I was in my late teens. This is the only serialised novel in Sindhi. Writing a serialised novel is writing under a pressure. There always is a deadline though the magazines prefer to have at least one extra instalment in stock. But a deadline, more important, is in the head of the writer. He doesn’t forget his story and doesn’t part with his characters even when he goes to bed. There is a flow about it.

My friend, author and journalist Om Gupta has started his serials novel and seeing the first chapter I’m sure this is going to be a sure winner, an important step that would be noted as a part of the history of serialised novels. His link is profOmGupta.blogspot.blogspot.in
Om Gupta is a talented veteran. I look forward to his next installments.


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