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Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category


I am a dog parent. I regularly take my dog out for a walk. These days the number of stray (read free) dogs in our locality has gone northwards. When I see these ‘free’ dogs battling out the bitter winter months of the National Capital Region out in the cold, I pity their freedom. On the other hand, my dog is ‘not free.’ His freedom has been taken away from him. While he may move around in the house freely, he is put on a leash whenever he has to be treated to a whiff of the fresh air outside. But his lack of freedom is being compensated through efforts to provide care and comfort, love, food and a bed …

My neighbor goes to China quite frequently on official trip. During our chat, he informed me of the general well-being of the average Chinese citizen. He felt that the common citizen of that Nation is assured of basic amenities of education and healthcare and that ‘basic standard’ is several notches higher /better than what a common Indian citizen can ever dream off. But yes, there’re curbs and one can’t raise one’s voices as an Individual of a free democratic Nation. When one does summon enough courage to defy, the repercussions would be severe in the Communist country.

A recent economic report says that one percent Indians own seventy percent wealth of the Nation. Elementary mathematics would tell us that the remaining 99 percent is fighting over the residual thirty percent. At night when I go out to feed a few stray dogs, they usually fight among themselves for every morsel of the feed being provided …

For quite some time now, we’re witnessing that student protests (having political color) are disrupting academics in many institute of eminence and have even acquired the magnitude of a National crisis. In this context, it is pertinent to ask the fundamental question: should student participate in politics? The point that favors student participation is the fact that politicians in this country are largely from an older generation bereft of the knowledge of the pulse of the youth and students – the future of the Nation. However, the stalemate stituation in these institutes makes me opine that student politics should be banned from campuses, so that academic institutes should be left to deal only with matters that concern professional education. I would even recommend shifting the voting age in the country to twenty-five. By this age, an individual can complete basic education and have greater knowledge of issues bedevilling the Nation, and thus exercise the power of his voting rightly. What do you think?

In the aftermath of the Phulwama attack, a dear friend of mine, an ardent supporter of the BJP, posted something on his Facebook wall, which ridiculed the Congress party for being unable to read the mood of the Nation. That possibly was the genesis of this brief write-up. I can’t fathom how can any political party reap dividends or suffer electoral setbacks for the brave act of a few of our Armed forces. If that really happens, it will only validate a politician from Karnataka when he let the cat out of the bag.

It also triggered in me a flight of fancy. How would some of the great icons from our History (around the Independence struggle era) viewed the present day situation of the Nation most of whom are up there in their heavenly abode?

The great freedom fighter and socialist Ram Manohar Lohia was a fierce critic of the erudite Pandit Nehru. Wonder what he would have opined about the present crop of politicians …

The diminutive Indian of powerful intellect, Nirad C Chaudhuri, whose scholarly books (including some on Hinduism) forces us to reexamine the tenets of our accepted wisdom and ranks as a brilliant guide towards understanding the Indian psyche, is on record to have said, back in the 70s and 80s when he was living in Oxford, as to what a Nation of illiterates England had become.  Wonder what Nirad Babu would have said about living in present day India, the country of his origin.

Would Rabindranath Tagore find inspiration to write such idealistic verses ‘Where the Mind is without fear … ’

Like it or not, the people who actively fought during the freedom struggle were leftist in their leanings (Netaji Subhas Bose, Bhagat Singh …) or were from the           Congress party. Wonder how Netaji Subhas and Gandhi and millions of youths who sacrificed their lives for the Country must be feeling now up there from heaven. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are feelings that their struggle have come to naught. ..



During the erstwhile Congress regime, we had encountered the much abused term: pseudo-secular (sickulars according to the bhakts). Now during the BJP rule, we are witnessing a newer breed: pseudo-nationalists. The country needs to distance itself from these two types if we really dream of making the Indian republic to be counted as ‘great’ in the comity of nations. My thought on 70th Indian Republic day… have a great one…


I heard this on the air today in an FM channel. The news item struck for its shock value. These days sports shops seem to be doing a brisk business in selling hockey sticks. While you might conjure in your mind about a revival of the game of hockey, on probe by the sports shop owner it was discovered that 70% of buyers don’t play or would be playing hockey in the future… they intend keeping the hockey stick in their car. With road rage cases already touching alarming figures in Delhi, such unregulated sale of hockey sticks would only exacerbate the already grim scenario that prevail in the Capital …

Ever since we have had a new Govt. at the Centre, one is witness to efforts being made to revive Sanskrit from its rarefied position to the mainstream. A recent heading in Times of India dated Nov 13, 2017 caught my eyes: “Raj may make Sanskrit compulsory in schools.” Here is a part of the report in verbatim: “Rajasthan education department may make Sanskrit a compulsory third language from Class IV to Class X in state board schools to ensure that students have access to ‘ancient wisdom regarding Bharat Varsha. Currently students have the option to choose their third language from Sanskrit, Punjabi, Gujrati, Urdu, Sindhi and Bengali.

Some questions naturally arise: Was a Committee of Experts formed that looked into the merits and demerits of all these six languages, and decided that the other five languages have outlived their importance, and that only Sanskrit need to be retained because it is the language of the future. The other pertinent question would be “Can we find so many good enough Sanskrit teachers all of a sudden?”

As a Hindu, whenever we recite our prayers during Pujas, the priest recite something profound in Sanskrit and without understanding a single word of what is being said, we repeat the uttering of the priest and complete our duty of paying obeisance to our Gods…a believer often doesn’t need to understand everything.  Likewise, not everyone in this World needs to be a linguist; not everyone needs to appreciate Classical music. Something that is profound can only be appreciated by the Classy and the learned.

Like Wordsworth, I believe that YARROW UNVISITED is better than YARROW VISITED.

What’s your take on this?  …


Art imitates life. Today I am reminded of the supporting character of the father of one of the lead pair viz., Anil Chaterji in Satyajit Ray’s MAHANAGAR (1964) – an aged retired teacher with traditional beliefs unable to comprehend changing times. When he tries to reach out to his past successful students during his hard times, their insensitivity towards him is a reflection of how we treat our teachers in modern society. In Mrinal Sen’s EK DIN ACHANAK an academically bent Professor leaves his family for an unknown destination when his family and society doesn’t accord him the respect he felt due to him….

Happy Teachers Day in advance to all Teachers….

Silence speaks so eloquently

Why is there so much cacophony all around?

Words have lost their meaning

Languages and all this development in communication

Did it help us to foster brotherhood?

The killing fields are all around us

The echoing greens have vanished

As has the child in the Man

God made Man in His own image

See what Man has made of Man.

In case you aren’t aware, there has been a raging geo-tagging war recently in the media between Bengal and Orissa about the genesis of this white mouth-watering delicacy (rasgullas) that we all love so much. The Oriyas claim that rasgullas were offered to Lord Jagannath as early as the 12th Century, while the Bengalis stake claim saying that they first learned of the specialized milk splitting technique required for its making from the Portuguese who had settled in Chandannagore during the 17th Century. The noted sweet seller of Kolkata, Mr. K. C. Das and his family is credited with popularizing rasgullas since the 19th century across the country and beyond its borders…

It seems now that there aren’t any historical documents to prove the claims made by both parties. In the absence of valid evidence, I think it is futile to quibble in this manner. After all, we still believe that Sir J. C. Bose invented wireless communication, but lack of credible evidence has led the West to bestow the honor for the same on Marconi.This should make us wiser to document our important findings and inventions…

Vir Sanghvi in his recent article (Creation Myths, Brunch Hindustan Times August 23, 2015) mentions that “Odiyas cite classical references about temple food to back up their claim and insists that the Bong stole it from them. Is this a valid assertion? Frankly, I am dubious.If the Odiyas were great rasgulla-wallahs for centuries then why did the rest of India never hear about their great invention/ And even today, while we may ask somebody who is visiting Calcutta to bring back some sweets for us (mishti doi, even), I know few people who will say, “I am going to Cuttack/Bhubaneshwar; home of the rasgulla; let me bring some back for you!
But the truth is: we don’t really know who invented the rasgulla. Yes, we have KC Das version. But no doubt Odiyas will claim that this is a self-serving assertion made by a commercial enterprise. We have so few records about our food that nearly every claim made by anybody can easily be contested by somebody else.”

I am also unsure of what actual benefits would accrue even if it is proven clearly that it originated in one of these two states. This is an age of branding and marketing.

Say for instance Assam starts making lip smacking varieties of dosas and idlis and builds a brand name for itself and embarks on selling them across the globe. Slowly and gradually, the name of Assam would get appended to the list of fine centers for dosa-making, isn’t it?

At the end of the day, the efforts ought to be geared towards making better and better rasgullas from both the places and whosoever succeeds in the business of attracting more customers would eventually be laughing all the way to the bank.I guess propriety over product and even culture doesn’t contribute towards making it popular. Let us take the case of Rabindrasangeet.

Tagore,who arguably has written the best songs in the country, those that fits into every mood and conceivable human situations, yet the popularity of Rabindrasangeet doesn’t extend much beyond Bengal and Bengalis. While Tagore songs have been used by many Bengali filmmakers in their films made in their mother tongue, hardly anyone in Bollywood which boasts of several renowned Bengali directors as well could put Rabindrasangeet to any use. As far as my limited knowledge goes, we had Rabindrasangeet in Hindi films in a plagiarized version in ‘Yaraana’ (Chuker mere monko lifted from Tagore’s Tomar holo suru) and a less than perfect rendition of ‘Ekla Chalo’ by Amitabh Bachchan in Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani. I can’t recall any other works from Bollywood which have made use of the songs written by Gurudev.

I recently made a trip to an African nation and was pleasantly surprised to find the popularity of Bollywood films over there. Hindi films are dubbed in Swahili, the local language and are telecast regularly in the local channels. On the other hand, the art cinema movement in India which has produced the best films in the country languishes primarily because of the lack of marketing and their unavailability beyond the local areas—it has less to do with the dwindling of a serious audience…

In short, quality and marketing is the name of the game to survive and prosper in this age of instant communication. Historical facts are always relegated into the pages of rarely referenced tomes and eventually start gathering dust…

Even Vir Sanghvi ends his article in a similar vein and I reproduce verbatim his concluding lines “So who cares where the rasgulla was invented? It would be nice to know the history. But ownership? Forget it. Food is not about copyright. It is about joy.”

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  • Subhajit Ghosh: Have been reading that he had 'left' leanings in some articles recently..
  • mystic wanderer: Well put. It's difficult to imagine the sacrifices of our freedom fighters. But can Netaji Subhash Ch. Bose be called a leftist? Nationalist perhaps
  • Subhajit Ghosh: Your wish has been granted, and look how! Even NDA possibly didn't dream of this huge victory. Let's hope they deliver, and take the nation forward.