27 May, 2006

To Gujarati protesters

I want to remind all those people who are hell-bent on preventing Aamir Khan's films from being screened in Gujarat and on boycotting the products endorsed by him of this famous saying attributed to Voltaire:

"I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it."

26 May, 2006

Green thumb!

Pawan kalyan, though eccentric in his own ways, is more senisble than his brother Chiranjeevi. He immediately withdrew from the ads promoting Pepsi once the CSE report was out. Now, Pawan Kalyan and Nagababu (their brother) have come forward to work for a cleaner environment. They have launched an organisation called `Eco Friends' with Chiranjeevi as the honorary president and Nagababu as president. The unit started its movement by planting 3,000 saplings at Bantumilli village in Krishna district, before the Republic Day. Later, they undertook plantation at Nagarjuna University. The programme would be extended across the state with the help of National Service Scheme volunteers. Later, a programme was chalked out to plant at least one lakh saplings across the state.

NOTE: Sir! planting the saplings is not enough. Please make sure that they survive!

(Source: today's The Hindu)

25 May, 2006

The Speaker

In India, three wings of democracy are:

The Legislature (The highest authority is the Lok Sabha Speaker. Within the House, even the Prime Minister has to obey the Speaker's orders and the cabinet is answerable to the House run by the Speaker.)

The Judiciary (The highest authority is the Chief Justice of India.)

and The Executive (The highest authority is the President of India.)

Persons holding these high offices are expected to set and follow high moral standards. Mr. Somnath Chatterjee could have avoided the embarrassment by resigning from the post of Sriniketan Santiniketan Development Authority immediately after allegations were made against him for holding the office however strongly he feels that it is NOT an "office of Profit". It does not augur well for Indian democracy if such high offices are dragged into avoidable controversies.

24 May, 2006

Subhash Kashyap

Subhash Kashyap is by far the most venerated constitutional expert. His books on Indian Constitution and the Parliament are indispensable for any student of Indian polity even as part of General Studies. He was Constitutional Adviser to the Government of India and was a Member of the National Commission on the Review of the Working of the Constitution and Chairman of its Drafting Committee (2000-2002). Earlier, he headed the CIDP at IPU (Inter-Parliamentary Union) in Geneva. But he himself is now involved in a controversy over the privileges of Parliament. It is very clear that the Speaker's decision ''cannot be questioned either in the House or outside''. Mr. Kashyap resorted to sort of sacrilege by casting aspersions on the impartiality of the Speaker.

On 4th August, 2005 Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee was informed that her adjournment motion on 'Inflitration in West Bengal and part of North-Eastern region' was disallowed by the Speaker under Rule 338, which states that the House cannot take up an issue which has already been discussed and negatived in the same session. Her notice was rejected on July 26 and Leader of the Opposition L K Advani's adjournment motion on the same topic was admitted and discussed, it was pointed out. On this, Mamata walked to the well of the House and threw some papers towards the Chair.

On the same day, commenting on this particular incident in a TV channel Kashyap said: ''Well, it has a personal aspect also which should not be forgotten. When Mamata Banerjee was elected to Lok Sabha for the first time, she had defeated a personality like Somnath Chatterjee.'' This kind of remarks are totally unwarranted.

What miffed the panel more was the fact that Kashyap made light of the matter by saying ''papers were torn and thrown like missiles on many occasions in the Lok Sabha. Even shoes and chappals were shown inside the House many a time''. It may be true but throwing shoes at a member is different from throwing them at the speaker. If we overlook even when Lakshman rekha is crossed saying several lines were crossed earlier, nothing beside remains. From this, it is also very clear that we are becoming more and more insentient.

He was also quoted as having said ''there are many instances when discussions on the same subject have been held twice or more during the same session'', but he could not substantiate this point before the Committee. It is appalling that even such 'experts' talk so casually on TV.

Though Lok Sabha has never admonished anyone before, it has 'reprimanded' - considered to be a harsher punishment - two persons previously:

Aug 29, 1960: R K Karanjia was reprimanded for calling Sucheta Kriplani "KripLooney"

Dec 9, 1970: Deputy secretary S.C. Mukherjee was reprimanded for misleading the Committee of Public Undertaking while giving evidence

11 May, 2006

No cross talk plz...

When I visited SreeKalahasti temple for the first time, I was awed by its splendour. It is really an architectural marvel. But when I went there again, what caught my attention was an altogether different matter. It was this:

A devotee was performing some yagna. I don't know what it was. Only one priest was officiating this yagna on his behalf. Flames were lit and the oblations were thrown into the flames one by one. So far so good. Suddenly a cell phone rang. And the ring tone was a romantic song! Whose was it anyway? Definitely it was not mine for two reasons:
1. My cell phone always plays THE BORING(?) TRING TRING.
2. While entering any place of worship or any library, I never forget to switch it off.

Well, Whose was it anyway? To my astonishment, it was the PRIEST's! He didn't show any signs of embarrassment, and lifted the phone and talked as if he was expecting the call. I got furious and also curious and kept watching him. At least 4 or 5 times he talked over the phone and more frequently he kept yacking in the middle of the yajna with whoever comes there. Meanwhile the devotee started showing signs that he was restive but chose to remain silent and be patient! 'What is this?' I asked myself about the priest. Isn't this asking God to 'hold on' in the middle of a dialogue/process that too done on behalf of a third party? How can a priest behave in such an outrageously irresponsible way? Is he really a believer? Does he really understand the importance of the yagna he is performing and what it means to the devotee? and the feelings of the devotee who entrusted him with the task of speaking on his behalf with God???

In the first place, why don't some people switch off the cell phones in the premises of the temple? How disturbing and nauseating it is if the cell phone rings while others are meditating on God? Temple, or for that matter any place of worship, is and should be a place which gives us peace of mind and the best way to get that mental peace is to forget about the outside world for a while and concentrate on God. For this, a peaceful atmosphere is a prerequisite. If THAT is lacking there, if the silence is broken by crazy ringtones, what is the use of going to temples and where else can we go? We only get more disturbed.

I don't really understand those who purposefully let the cell phone ring and respond to the calls in such places and those who MAKE calls from there. They should understand the feelings of their fellow devotees. If they are really expecting any important calls, they had better stay away fom temples till they answer all their important and urgent calls.

In Chilukuru Balaji temple near Hyderabad, everyday the priest keeps reminding the devotees repeatedly to switch off their cell phones.