Monthly Archives: May, 2013

Meeting The Giants In World Of Writing: My Precious Moments With Ruskin Bond And Gulzar

Ruskin Bond: From His Writings I Learnt The Art Of Writing Simply!

Ruskin Bond: From His Writings I Learnt The Art Of Writing Simply!



The world of writing is marred by strange twists and turns. It’s never easy for a writer, whether established or novice, to keep pace with time in an easy-going manner in world dominated by materialistic principles, which treats nurturing aesthetic pleasures as some sort of waste of time. When selling rose becomes more worthwhile task than to appreciate its scent, it’s quite certain that one would not gain much by falling in love with creative pursuits. I faced extremely tough conditions with humiliating episodes taking place quite frequently, but I always tried not to take them to heart, remembering that great writers of previous eras also received similar treatment. Pain and humiliation do not break a writer ( unless destiny has predestined such a fate) but make him gain more insights, not available to ordinary mortals. The other thing that really kept me going ahead with ease despite huge setbacks was constant support of extremely talented souls, who appeared at various stages of my life as friends and colleagues. Apart from them, I feel really privileged that I also got an opportunity to spent some precious moments with towering figures in world of literature. These very special moments still keep me spirited and cheerful in depressing times even as memories related with those meetings have been clouded by the affairs of time.

I met Ruskin Bond and Gulzar at a time when my bonhomie with the writing world was gaining depth. However, after meeting them, I became certain that being a writer was no crime! I always met people who stupidly asked me( and thereby revealing the actual worth of their grey cells) about my work sphere even as I told them that I write! ” It’s okay that you write but what work you do?” That’s the sort of queries which always chased me. Thank God such queries today neither appear nor they have any relevance left in my life. The sight of Gulzar and Ruskin had left me spellbound, although I had met them separately, but exhibition of feelings remained the same.

I became the fan of Ruskin Bond at the very moment when in one of the boring literature classes of my school, I first came to read his story “The Eyes Have It”. The intensity of emotions expressed in this story fascinated my young heart to great extent. Though my class teacher, the other school mates and the old-fashioned academic standards, compelled me to anticipate the story in a given way, I came to visualize many other things as I read this story. And that’s why I met Ruskin Bond not only as reader but also as a writer! It’s the writings of Ruskin which taught me that how you say is equally important as what you come to say! However, the greatest lesson Ruskin taught me was that great writing is simple writing! Never use bundle of complicated expressions, which make a reader be involved more in picking up a dictionary than being lost in the content of the post! It’s one of the reasons why I avoid reading Arundhati Roy unless I have to sleep early!

The impressions left by Ruskin can also be traced in my being!

The impressions left by Ruskin can also be traced in my being!

Ruskin Bond, the Sahitya Akademi and Padma Shri awards winner, visited Allahabad, circa 2003. He had come here to attend promotional event organised by a leading publisher Rupa & Co. I wasn’t prepared for this meeting, but the moment I heard news of his arrival, I got prepared my manuscript related with my first unpublished anthology- The Petals Of Life.  When I met him, I saw him surrounded by his well-wishers. I waited for my turn, and fortunately when my turn came he had some spare moments. He gave a fabulous smile when I introduced myself as a writer and informed him about my literary pursuits. When I handed him my poems, he seemed to be very pleased by this gesture. He patted my back and asked me to keep writing. Though he was tired but he still obliged me by giving me his autograph at number of places. Our conversations lasted for few minutes but the undercurrents still remain alive. And so I refuse to leave the company of pen!

Gulzar- the Oscar Award winner lyricist-also visited Allahabad, at the invitation of same publisher, during the same period. My meeting with him was once again a hurried affair than a pre-planned affair. When I reached the place where he was about to arrive after couple of hours, I was apprehensive about the meeting. However, call it my luck, despite presence of huge crowd, I created space for my meeting with this amazing man. It was hard for my eyes to acknowledge the fact that maker of landmark movies like Aandhi, Ijaazat, Kitaab, Parichay and Achanak, to name a few, was sitting right before my eyes. Like always, this time, too, he was clad in white kurta-pajama. And like always donned his lips a typical smile, which any Gulzar fan would easily recognize had he/she been noticing photographs of him quite sincerely. To be honest, I had not read enough literature penned by him but I had watched his movies and heard his songs with exceptional zeal and abnormal seriousness. And that’s why his “surrealism” permeated in my writings as well. Anyway, he remained seated in relaxed way. When I informed him about my credentials, his faced remained expressionless yet I noticed that he was pretty conscious! And as I finished saying what I had to say, he gave a very deep look at me. A stare that refused to leave me and became part of my being. I left the space after spending couple of minutes with him but as I came out of that place and headed towards my home these particular lines from this immortal song “Aknhon Mein Humne Aapke” kept appearing and disappearing within mind’s chamber-

              “नज़रे उठाई आपने तो  वक्त रुक गया

               ठहरे हुए पलो में जमाने बिताये है “

         – When you looked at me, the time stopped
         And in those moments I came to live many lives.

Many thanks to these gentlemen who appeared at a very important juncture in my life. I needed some genuine encouragement and their generosity in display of emotions proved to be a tonic for my spirit chased by uncertainties. The uncertainties remain the same but my spirit attained the required evolution and so my writings. And so I am still writing! Pervert critics remain the same and situation remains hopeless like always and yet I am above all these negative concerns. A proof that meeting such enlightened gentlemen did not go in vain.

Gulzar: I still remember that I met you!

Gulzar: I still remember that I met you!

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Excerpts from the story ” The Eyes Have It” :

“I wondered if I would be able to prevent her from discovering that I was blind. Provided I keep to my seat, I thought, it shouldn’t be too difficult.”

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“The man who had entered the compartment broke into my reverie.

‘You must be dissapointed,’ he said. ‘I’m not nearly as attractive a traveling companion as the one who just left.’

‘She was an interesting girl,’ I said. ‘Can you tell me – did she keep her hair long or short?’

‘I don’t remember,’ he said, sounding puzzled. ‘It was her eyes I noticed, not her hair. She had beautiful eyes – but they were of no use to her. She was completely blind. Didn’t you notice?’”

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Song: Ankhon Mein Humne Aapke..

Movie: Thodi Si Bewafai

Singers: Lata and Kishore

Lyricist: Gulzar

Music: Khayyam

Gulzar: That's The Way He Smiles!

Gulzar: That’s The Way He Smiles!

Reference:

Rupa & Co.

Penguin’s List Of Books Written By Ruskin Bond

Poems Of Gulzar-Kavita Kosh

Pics Credit:

Gulzar’s Image

Globalization Is A Great Leveller: Patterns Of Exploitation And Corruption Now Become Same In India And Peru!

Bambamarca:  A Beautiful Place In Peru Haunted By Illegal Mining! Such places would become history!

Bambamarca: A Beautiful Place In Peru Haunted By Illegal Mining! Such Places Would Become History!


Globalization has reduced differences in geographical terms. But, at the same time, it has also changed the geography in a crude way by mindless destruction of flora and fauna. The sad thing about whole affair is that the stories depicting better aspects of globalization do reach us regularly but the negative sides either get censored or, for that matter, fail to get extensive coverage. Just to take an example, the commercials promote McDonald’s pizzas and burgers but are there enough advertisements which highlight the negative effect of consuming them?  Globalization believes in the fact that “all that glitters is gold”. It has nothing to do with pains of exploited workers who work in MNCs like a caged parrot, having no power to execute their discretion other than one serving the interests of global masters.

Sometimes back S Ambika, a 22 year old woman factory-worker, permanently employed at Nokia Telecom Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Sriperumbadur in Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu, got killed in a tragic way when she tried to repair the jam inside the loader machine. It proved to be fatal exercise for her since she was not a technician, but she still came to do that to meet the production targets. A wait for the technicians meant slowing the pace of production! That’s one of the stories, which reveal in sad way the plight of people working in MNCs.

Vaibhav Mani Tripathi, a by-product of Jawahar Lal University (JNU), in his research paper titled, “Democracy and globalization: Are they really compatible”, highlights the ways and means employed by the MNCs to ensure growth in democracies across the globe. ” In democracies of third world, which are new and have lesser degree of accountable governments; methods of bribery, and loot system were adopted by MNCs, in order to get established. By dealing in such ways MNCs get some illegal relaxations and manage to cut cost by getting cheapest labour and denying rules of pollution control etc. In democracies, which are most established and transparent, MNCs change their techniques. By promising high taxes and employment to countrymen, they demand for special industrial estates or special economic zones. This is the biggest irony of Globalization. They demand tax relaxations in order to get established and they promise government to pay huge aid for fighting poverty, pollution and social evils like AIDS!”  

One having a close look at the progress stories of various countries, especially the nations trying to emerge as economic giants, one would find that exploitation of workers along with rapid destruction of ecological balance are the integral part of every such story! Before I contrast the happenings in two different countries, India and Peru, to highlight the woes of globalization, I wish to highlight grave tale of negligence which suggests that so-called progress is not only destroying cherished values but also destroying cultural artifacts. One of Belize’s largest Mayan pyramids, which remained in existence for more than 2,300 years, got destroyed by a construction crew involved in a road project.The company used the structure’s limestone walls as road fill! In fact, Time Magazine reports that “much of the monumental architecture at Belize’s San Estevan site, which dates back to 800 B.C., was bulldozed during the late 1990s to provide material for roads.”

From Belize in Central America, now, let’s move to Peru in South America to notice the impact of gold rush in amazon! The lust for gold in other nations keeps increasing but the heavy price other nations pays to satiate the lust never becomes subject of discussion in mainstream media. True, there is lack of jobs and illegal gold mining ensures survival of large number of families but then how can one ignore the dangerous consequences of deforestation in Amazon? A report issued by NASA says that ‘with the price of gold skyrocketing (360 percent in 10 years from 2001 to 2011), unlicensed miners began pouring into Peru’s Madre de Dios. They cleared 12,500 acres from the forest between 2003–2009. Landsat images showed local deforestation increasing at a rate of 26 percent per year.”

The report also highlights the fatal consequences of mercury used in the mining process. The extracts of mercury which after vaporization turn airborne contaminate the water resources, which later enter into the bodies of residents.  A very recent study suggests “unsafe levels of the toxic metal in almost 80% of adults and 60% of fish sold at local markets” in Peru. The Peru’s mining department taking stern steps against illegal mining began raiding Madre de Dios. That has led to tense formation between miners, environmental activists and the authorities. However, it appears that such strict steps are now a necessity  to reduce the loss of forest area in amazon, which has already lost 18,000 hectares. Needless to state, that Peruvian amazon is remarkable for   its large degree of biodiversity. 

Farmers Protesting In Peru!

Farmers Protesting In Peru!

India is also facing severe consequences caused by deforestation. One of the major causes of deforestation has been depletion of forests to extract minerals of various types. Expansion of agriculture, timber harvesting and shifting cultivation are some of the prime reasons for loss of forest area in India. However, another grim consequence has been displacement of tribal people, leading to militant movement like Naxalism. It establishes something quite well that pattern of exploitation in India and Peru is one and the same and in both the places original inhabitants are in direct conflict with the authorities. If Peru is tormented by illegal gold mining, India is haunted by illegal coal mining and diamond mining! The “Coalgate scam” has clearly revealed that how sensitive rulers of this nation have been while dealing with mineral resources of this nation. In other words, globalization has ensured huge profits for government and private bodies but the same profit never got distributed to tribal people-ones who were responsible for protecting these resources. On the contrary, they got displaced and faced bullets instead of receiving rewards for their indigenous efforts. Now if we see such developments in light of environmental issues, like erratic weather pattern in Indian subcontinent, the situation is pretty grim.

Even Children Protested In Nandigram!

Even Children Protested In Nandigram!

It’s good that people, the ones affected by government’s poorly planned projects, have learnt to come in conflict with the authorities. Nandigram bears testimony to the fact that the Special Economic Zones, not taking care of interests of people in judicious way, shall always meet fierce opposition from people. The farmers in Uttar Pradesh also entered in violent protests in year 2011 over land acquisition policy framed by the state government. The trend pattern involved is that big corporate houses either forcibly acquire the land or they come to acquire it in fraudulent means by keeping in dark the actual content of the deal. The Allahabad High Court staying Ganga Expressway project, expressed deep anguish the way it got initiated without having environmental clearance! This project involving JP Group required acquisition of huge lands situated in the alluvial belt and still no homework was done on part of state government.

Even Indian Farmers Are Protesting!

Even Indian Farmers Are Protesting!

One can notice that how rules get manipulated to benefit big corporations, caring a damn for the interests of people. In fact, the concerns related with environment also get neglected. It’s not hard to decipher that two nations even if they are situated  in different continents could still exhibit similar pattern of exploitation and corruption. Globalization has not only roped in similar lifestyle patterns across the globe but also introduced identical methods of corruption. And who is the victim? The underprivileged, who never gets a chance to visit McDonald, who never gets a chance to buy gold ornaments, and who also never gets a chance to drive SUV on Expressways!  Noam Chomsky sounds quite right when he says that ‘  Market discipline is perfect for poor people in El Salvador, or working mothers in the slums. They have to learn responsibility, but not the rich and the powerful. They have to be protected.”

References:

Madhumita Dutta And Venkatachandrika Radhakrishnan: Ambika’s Death; An Article Published In Kafila.

Ollie John: Road Workers Destroy Ancient Mayan Pyramid; Time Magazine 

Cecilia Jamasmie: Mercury pollution linked to illegal gold mining in Peru reaches lethal levels

NASA: Gold Mining In The Peruvian Amazon

The Hindu: Protest against power plant in U.P. hits 1000th day

The Economic Times: UP agitation: Farmers protest continue on Day 2; four dead

Noam Chomsky: Can Civilization Survive Capitalism?

Noam Chomsky:  Globalization: The New Face of Capitalism

“Democracy and globalization: Are they really compatible”- An article by Vaibhav Mani Tripathi in Aavartan.

See The Impact Of Illegal Mining In Goa!

See The Impact Of Illegal Mining In Goa!

Pics Credit:

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In Conversation With A Well-Known Author: Revealing The Flaws Of Sourav Ganguly In Company Of Ramachandra Guha!

 

Sourav Ganguly: He also introduced divisive tendencies in the Indian Team!

Sourav Ganguly: He also introduced divisive tendencies in the Indian Team!


Sourav Ganguly’s 
contributions for the Indian Cricket Team cannot be ignored. He introduced the concept of aggressive captaincy.However, having said that, the fact that he systematically destroyed the harmonious unity which held the players together in previous eras is too bitter to be digested easily.The Indian Team, during his regime, also gave way to factionalism, wherein team spirit gave way to individualism of most worst type.  That’s why it’s hard to acknowledge him as a good captain. He might have been a successful captain but, in the same breath, it cannot be argued in his favour that he was a good captain.

That became clear as I discussed the same controversial aspect in conversation with Ramachandra Guha- the eminent historian whose passion for cricket makes us smile. He and Prabhash Joshi make it clear that even intellectuals dealing with grim issues can fall in love with charm of cricket! Anyway, this conversation took place some eight years back but that in no way undermines its relevance. After all, the game of cricket has shifted to lesser values in recent days.

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My Viewpoint:

This has reference to Ramachandra Guha’s article “Two cheers for Ganguly” published in The Telegraph on January 08, 2005. The naked truth about Ganguly is that he has failed to maintain a safe distance from narcissistic tendencies. Something that has always caused the downfall of the Emperors ( read Maharajas), who, however, were endowed with refined qualities. This fatal flaw in his personality has been behind the numerous judgmental blunders made by him in recent times- apparently a period that blemishes his stupendous achievements. The observation might sound cynical but the fact confirm this suspicion.

What could be the reason behind his strange absence from the crucial encounter with the Australians in the recent Border-Gavaskar Trophy? Well, cover-ups such as ‘mysterious injury’  aren’t enough to hide the glaring shortcomings in his mannerism, or, for that matter, satiate the curiosity, of his admirers, who unfortunately expect too much from him. Again he does not believe in the rule that match is open till the last bowl. His usual and the first line of defense at tense moments is either thrust himself or rope in one of his favourites. Instead of appearing composed, he looks more like wrecked ship in deciding hours.

Steve Waugh, Naseer Hussain and even Hansie Cronje depicted a much better attitude than him to safely rise above the critical situations. Without overshadowing his contributions, it would not be wrong to state that he does not qualify to share the platform with above mentioned gentlemen. They played solely for their teams and individual considerations never prevented them from framing innovative methods to take their team to glorious heights. Hasn’t Ganguly missed the bus?

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Ramachandra Guha: A Historian In Love With Cricket!

Ramachandra Guha: A Historian In Love With Cricket!

Ramachandra Guha’s Viewpoint:

Thanks for your mail, which very nicely elaborates which I had merely hinted at but not explicitly expressed.

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About Ramachandra Guha:

Ramachandra Guha (born 29 April 1958) is an Indian historian and writer whose research interests include environmental, social, political and cricket history. He is a professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) where he currently holds the position of Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs. He is also a columnistfor the newspapers The Telegraph (syndicated in several Indian languages) and Hindustan Times. A regular contributor to various academic journals, Guha has written extensively for the magazines The Caravan and Outlook.

His recent book “India after Gandhi” has managed to stir hornet’s nest.

Source: Wikipedia

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Even Serious Thinkers Cannot Remain Above Charm Of Cricket!

Even Serious Thinkers Cannot Remain Above Charm Of Cricket!

Suggested Reading: 

Ramachandra Guha: Two Cheers For Ganguly, The Telegraph, January 08, 2005.

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Pics Credit: 

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In Conversation With A Well-Known Author: A Discussion On Future Of West Asia With Bill Kirkman

Obama: Trying To Change The Approach!

Obama: Trying To Change The Approach!



Not much has changed in Middle East since my last conversation with Bill Kirkman in 2006. Israel and Palestine relations continue to remain tense even as US has given way to tactical shift in its policies aimed at bringing stability in that region. It has become more people oriented than relying absolutely on state-to-state negotiations.

Obama’s words make that aspect very clear– “Speaking as a politician, I can promise you this: political leaders will not take risks if the people do not demand that they do. You must create the change that you want to see…..Look to the future that you want for your own children – a future in which a Jewish, democratic state is protected and accepted, for this time and for all time. … There will be many voices that say this change is not possible. But remember this: Israel is the most powerful country in this region. Israel has the unshakeable support of the most powerful country in the world. Israel has the wisdom to see the world as it is, but also the courage to see the world as it should be.” 

It would be interesting to know the views which flowed between us as we discussed this very sensitive issue seven years back.

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My Viewpoint:

This has reference to Bill Kirkman’s article A war that is morally indefensible published in The Hindu on August 06, 2006. Well, the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers by the Hamas and brutal murder of some of its soldiers by Hizballah were enough to fan the suppressed desires of Israeli. It’s time to acknowledge the fact that in war both the sides end up as losers. Let’s not intercept it as clash of civilization but clash of religious ideologies. However, it’s a harsh reality that none of the religious ideologies advocate violence but the fallacious interpretation of them by their followers leads to volcanic atmosphere. A situation which is cashed-in-on by the US and its like-minded allies to serve their vested interests. Unless the followers come to elevate their consciousness, it would be nothing sort of foolhardiness to expect miraculous changes in the future. 

President Bush must heed to the words of Churchill: ” The statesman who yields to war fever ….is no longer the master of policy but the slave of  unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.” Surely, the way events have taken shape in Iraq, shattering American hopes one after another, should be enough for the US to intercept the dangers in pursuing imperialist designs in the name of restoration of human rights. 

However, Americans love to ignore the lessons offered by past debacle. Had US remembered setback it received in Vietnam, it would have certainly curtailed its habit of pulling the strings of weaker nation on one pretext or another.

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Words Of Bill Kirkman: 

Thank you for writing. I was interested in your comments. I agree that in war both sides end up as losers. I take a very gloomy view of the future of West Asia.

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About Bill Kirkman: 

” He began his career as a journalist on the Wolverhampton Express & Star, which he joined on graduating from Oxford. Bill then moved on to The Times, where he was Africa Correspondent and Commonwealth Staff Correspondent in the early 1960s, covering the period of rapid de-colonisation. He is the author of Unscrambling an Empire (Chatto & Windus 1966) and has been a columnist for The Hindu since 1994. He was a frequent broadcaster with the BBC World Service and Africa Service in the 1960s, and with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire in the 1990s. In 1983 Bill was awarded the MBE for services to journalism…..Bill was Head of the University Careers Service from his arrival in Cambridge in 1968 until 1992 (following four years as Careers Advisor at Oxford) and University Advisor on Public Relations 1992-1996.” 

Source: Wolfson College Cambridge

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A War Takes Its Toll On Innocents!

A War Takes Its Toll On Innocents!

Suggested Reading:

Bill Kirkman: A war that is morally indefensible; The Hindu, Aug 06, 2006.

Max Fisher: How Obama just reframed the Israel-Palestine conflict;  The Washington Post, March 21, 2013.

Pics Credit:

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Shyam Benegal: A Filmmaker Of Substance

Shyam Benegal: The director who defied stereotypes!

Shyam Benegal: The director who defied stereotypes!

(The article was first published in Dash Magazine, New Delhi, October, 2007) 

Shyam Benegal has dared to enrich cinematic landscape by making movies loaded with radical ideas. For example, in his movie Ankur he was successful in giving the impression that it’s not impossible to to turn the tables in society dominated by feudalistic perceptions. The movie successfully portrayed that awakening among the common people would alone bring revolutionary changes. His movies mainly centered around social and political dilemmas. His movie Manthan, which went on to win National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi in 1977 was based on White Revolution of India (Operation Flood). Interestingly, the story was penned by none other than Dr. Verghese Kurien, hailed as the Father of the White Revolution in India.

One can notice that Shyam Benegal was a sensitive filmmaker moved by the plight of the underprivileged. His movies dealt with the power of common man and his ability to emerge successful in society governed by anti-human tendencies. In movie Manthan we find that poor farmers  in Gujarat, learn to rise above individualistic tendencies to form the Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union. The film highlights the impact of caste-politics found in Indian villages. 

Smita Patil In Bhumika!

Smita Patil In Bhumika!

This maker of New or Alternate Cinema chose to flirt with complex themes in a masterly way. His movie Bhumika dealt with trials and tribulations of a woman in search of suitable place for herself in society dotted with so many prejudices. Smita Patil  once again played her part perfectly to highlight the various shades of Usha, the movie actress in love with various men, even with a married person much older than her age! One of the best things about Shyam Benegal is that he not only explores bold themes but also at the same time keeps experimenting with the style which sometimes makes us remind of Satyajit Ray. Nishant, Mandi and Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda (1993) prove that point quite well. Interestingly, Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda is a novel penned by well known Hindi writer Dharmavir Bharati, who hailed from Allahabad. 

As a matter of fact, he tried to force viewers to don the thinking cap by bringing to the fore various shades of problems plaguing the society. He helped many actors, including Smita Patil and Naseruddin Shah, to name a few, to carve a niche for themselves in the world of realistic cinema. However, having said that, let me state that directors of Parallel cinema are responsible for failing to interpret the mood of viewers with the changing times. Though it’s an uphill task to project complex themes in lighter vein, the art to present complex themes in a palatable way has to be learnt by the movie-makers. This has been learnt quite well by directors like Shekhar Kapoor and Kundan Shah but most of them have struggled to give way to flexibility. 

It’s a harsh reality that satellite channels and Doordarshan have been held hostage to a variety of cheap entertainment- all in the name of catering to the taste of new generation. To bring a change, it’s necessary that art filmmakers learn to blend their serious themes with interesting styles. Needles to state that  Shyam Benegal has the capacity to set a good precedent in this regard as well. 

A Movie Based On Novel Of The Same Name Written By A Writer From Allahabad!

A Movie Based On Novel Of The Same Name Written By A Writer From Allahabad!

Suggested Reading:

Shyam Benegal: http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/southasia/index.html

Pics Credit:

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In Conversation With A Great Writer: Discussion On Impact Of Movies With Sunanda K.Datta-Ray

 

Sunanda K.Datta-Ray: One of the writers who impressed me!

Sunanda K.Datta-Ray: One of the writers who impressed me!


The Indian cinema would complete 100 years of its glorious existence this year. It’s a fitting occasion to discuss the impact of movies on average cinema-goers. The Indian movies have always created deep impact in shaping the psyche of a large section of people. Sometimes back I had an interesting discussion with Sunanda K.Datta-Ray-the Editor of The Statesman (Calcutta and New Delhi) and contributor for the International Herald Tribune and Time Magazine
about the impact of movies.
In fact, he was so impressed with my views that he asked me as to why I did not send it to The Telegraph ( Kolkata Edition) for publication for whom I was a regular letter contributor in those days. The discussion is of paramount importance in wake of  centenary milestone achieved by the Indian cinema this year.  

The discussion, which took place in year 2006, was centered around movie Lage Raho Munna Bhai, directed by Rajkumar Hirani and produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra. The character played by Sanjay Dutt in this movie had the capability to interact with spirit of Gandhiji. The movie turned out to be a blockbuster besides restoring the faith of common people in simple gestures conveying heartfelt emotions. What an irony that the actor who taught us Gandhigiri is now about to face imprisonment after being convicted  in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case! 

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My Viewpoint: 

This has reference to the articleFollowing Fashion published in The Telegraph (Oct.07,2006).  Though Lage Raho Munnabhai, due to pompous and pretentious treatment of its theme does no justice to Gandhian ideology, it can be safely stated that such movies come to stir the hearts and minds of an average person. After all, parallel cinema with complex presentation fails to strike a chord with man on street. What’s important is that inherent message must reach to the masses. 

No doubt, well made commercial movies do not respect sense of proportion yet they leave an indelible impression on inert souls. Vidhu Vinod Chopra should be complimented for defying stereotypes with interesting version of serious issue, which provoke us to do some soul-searching. Regarding Gandhism it can be safely stated that the country which has not been able to showcase Gandhi’s ideals in real perspective does not deserve the right to probe their utility in such a casual manner. It’s better that we learn to anticipate Gandhism with the right bent of mindset instead of mirroring it in our prejudices.

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I too interacted with him at the Global Village :-)

I too interacted with him at the Global Village 🙂

Viewpoint of Sunanda K. Datta-Ray:

Thank you for your message. I greatly appreciate your comment but wish you had sent it instead to The Telegraph for publication so that there could have been a wider discussion. Such examination and analysis are necessary. No one could be happier than I if the film do have the effect you mention. My fear is that while no one will actually act on the principle of the dharna outside the Lucky’s house, lots of people will repeat catch phrases and that Gandhigiri will be exploited in many commercial ways. My internet already has a pop up about Shabana Azmi practicing Gandhigiri years ago! 

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About Sunanda K. Datta-Ray:

Sunanda K. Datta-Ray has been a leading Indian newspaperman and journalist for half a century. He has been Editor of The Statesman (Calcutta and New Delhi) and has also written for the International Herald Tribune and Time Magazine. He was Editor-in-Residence at the East-West Center in Honolulu. He was Editorial Consultant to Singapore’s The Straits Times newspaper. Datta-Ray also worked in Singapore in the mid-1970s with S.R. Nathan. After The Straits Times, Datta-Ray was a supernumerary fellow ofCorpus Christi College, Oxford.

Datta-Ray returned to Singapore in 2007 to work on book with Lee Kuan Yew at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies[7] based on a series of one-on-one conversations and a host of classified documents. The book was published in 2009 as Looking East to Look West: Lee Kuan Yew’s Mission India and won that year’s Vodafone Crossword Book Award.

Source: Wikipedia 

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Suggested Reading: 

Sunanda K. Datta-Ray: Following Fashion- An Article Published In The Telegraph, October 07, 2006. 

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The movie that introduced Gandhigiri!

The movie that introduced Gandhigiri!

Pics Credit: 

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In Conversation With British Author Jeremy Seabrook: Analyzing The Sexual Beliefs In The Modern Indian Society!

Sex education alone holds no meaning if they are not backed up by strong ideals.

Sex education alone holds no meaning if it is not backed up by strong ideals.


I feel really privileged that few well-known established authors had some time saved for me as well as they came to express their views on some sensitive issues. The issue at hand ” The changing sexual beliefs in modern Indian society’ is a very sensitive in nature. The views which I have shared here in this article have already found place in various other articles but it would be interesting to inform the readers that they first appeared in this discussion with Jeremy Seabrook.

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My Viewpoint:

This has reference to Jeremy Seabrook’s article “Sex Education And The Free Market” published in The Statesman ( March 28, 2005).  Unveiling the road-map for future, it’s evident that we cannot dispense with observance of better principles including those related with sexual attitudes. You ( read Jeremy Seabrook) have touched the issue in a thought-provoking manner, unfolding the requirements in an unambiguous style. However, having said that, there are missing elements as well, which I would like to highlight. The Indian society has always treated sex not as a taboo subject but considered it an essential element of balanced human life. This is why it finds place in four “Purusharthas” ( objectives) laid down in Hinduism as Kama; Dharma, Artha and Moksha being the other three objectives, which help the man to go up the ladder of evolution. It’s not very clear how did it come to attain its present distorted form.

One reason for it could be that long Muslim rule plus gradual inclination of Indian towards Victorian Ideals/perceptions during the British regime distanced them from its glorious aspects. While it’s true that taking refuge in Indian values cannot rescue impressionable minds from the mess, which has become part and parcel of the modern times, however, it could still be stated without doubt that had traces of Hindu ideals been altogether absent the damage would have been irreparable. If there is still a ray of hope, it’s only because Hindu ideals are still there doing what they have been doing since time immemorial- soaking the impurities without their lustre.

In nutshell, what I wish to state is that better results could be obtained by combining sex education with revival of past values. Sex education alone holds no meaning if it is not backed up by strong ideals. The issues you have touched has a very complicated angle as well. It’s a bitter truth that pornographic stuff helps us to relieve sexual tension, more so in age which keeps women at par with “use and throw objects”. Women liberalization movements may or may not have taught women to honour progressive ideals but it has certainly capped them with ability to use her body for commercial interests in the market-oriented world of ours.  As a result their bodies no longer evoke innocent delight but feelings mired in sexual fantasies.

How can you expect these young minds to behave like “expert yogis’ adept in controlling their senses?  Interestingly, adults themselves are surrounded by illusions of all sorts in these matters. Indeed, we are living in strange times. In my city, the prominent magazine corner lies adjacent to a theater showing “BF”. If that’s not enough, cast a glance around and eyes are soon going to intercept posters showing semi-clad women in suggestive postures.

Globalization has brought sea-change in our mannerism. Not only it has distanced us from finer values but also turned women into object of pleasure rather than turning them into instruments for attaining higher ends. The Western world has cleverly dumped its dubious habits in this country ( read India). Or, in other words, the Indians failed to borrow West’s glorious analytic abilities and instead zeroed-on their dark aspects to an extent that to many their bubble gum literature became the source of enlightenment. It may far fetched but it’s true that global powers have effectively projected woman’s false image to deviate Indian minds from higher concerns. Who knows they may have plans to shackle this nation again in their chains?  Young minds, after all, they have no knowledge of corrupt practices of the adult world, are bound to collapse, being too inept to counteract its charms.

Against this backdrop, it’s not hard to imagine why pornographic magazines, X-rated movies, and etc. have bombarded the lives of young people. That’s why their unusual interest in these matters should not leave us in shock and awe. This is bound to happen since aping Western values has become the prestige issue for both middle and elite class, even if that means deterioration of Indian ethos. Let me make it very clear that I am not trying to legitimize the existence of pornographic materials in our society. On the contrary, I am of the opinion that cheap titillation of the senses should give way to deep and mature relationship between man and woman. In my eyes, this can never be achieved by roping in sex education. It demands more.

The dynamics between man and woman and society at large needs to be governed by refined and elevated principles-the hallmark of Indian ideals.  Sex education does serve the purpose but in a flimsy manner. The perfect mantra for survival is possible only through tryst with Hinduism, or in secular terms, by once again establishing firm bond with the nation’s roots.

***********************************

Jeremy Seabrook’s Viewpoint:

Many thanks for your e-mail message, which I much appreciated. Of course, I agree much of what you say- in the West also women have shifted from being drudges, servants and comforters of men to being sex-objects. This is not what I understand by liberation. On the other hand, the repression and subordination of women is also indefensible. And there is no possibility of going back to the past- to some degree the past can inform one’s values and ideas which can be carried forward, but it is irrecoverable.

It is not a happy position, and I don’t think many people would have chosen to be where we are now; but we have no choice but to start from here. These are all intractable questions, and there is no obvious way forward. That does not however, mean we should stop trying and seeking.

*********************************************************

About Jeremy Seabrook:

*************************

My first book was The Unprivileged, 1967, the story of my own family, a path breaking oral history from the late 18th century to the 1960s. This was followed by City Close-Up, a portrait, through the words of the people, of Blackburn in Lancashire.
 
In the 1970s, I wrote What Went Wrong? Working People and the Ideals of the Labour Movement; a book which, when published in the USA, was sub-titled Why hasn’t Having More Made People Happier?
 

Mother and Son, a memoir, appeared in 1980, and an indictment of Thatcher’s Britain,Unemployment, in 1982.
 
Work on India and Bangladesh followed, notably, Notes from another India and Children of Other Worlds, a comparison of child labour in nineteenth century London and present-day Dhaka in Bangladesh. My book, Love in a Different Climate, described how male same-sex relationships in India differ from those in the West.

 I have contributed to most major newspapers in Britain over the years, and have written for Granta. I am a regular contributor to New Internationalist – which has published three of my books in the last decade, most recently Consuming Cultures: Globalization and Local Lives. I write for Race and Class and Third World Resurgence, based in Penang, Malaysia.

Courtesy: http://jeremyseabrook.net/biography.html

**************************************************

More About Jeremy Seabrook:

“He became an associate honorary fellow at the University of Bradford’s Department of Peace Studies 1995 to 1998 and an associate at the Institute of Race Relations, UK, from 2004 onwards.

He has made several documentaries for BBC radio and TV on social, environmental and developmental issues.

Since 1963, Seabrook has written for publications including: New Society, the Guardian, the Times, the Independent, New Statesman, New Internationalist, Race and Class, Third World Resurgence, Third World Network and others.

He has also written over 40 books, including;

Travels in the Skin Trade – looking at the psychology of western men who travel to southeast Asia for sexual adventures (Pluto Press).

A World Growing Old – the implications of an ageing population, north and south (Pluto Press).”

Courtesy: The Guardian

 ************************************

jssd
Suggested Reading:

1. Vaibhav Mani Tripathi: Democracy and globalization: Are they really compatible? ( An article published in “Aavartan” – A quarterly bilingual journal of academic activities in social sciences, environment and literary arena ) 

It’s a brilliant article which deals with the impact of globalization from many angles.

Excerpt from it: 

” But the educational system what globalization promotes is focused in making technocrats so that they get huge work force with technical abilities. Democracy also needs well-educated people for its growth. But democratic societies flourish in a value based educational system and not a technology based system. The technology based educational system is result oriented and it has nothing to do with the values which human beings nurtured for generations so that they can live as human beings.”

************************** 

2.  Jeremy Seabrook: “Sex Education And The Free Market” published in The Statesman ( March 28, 2005).

***************************************************

Pics Credit: 

Pic One 

Pic Two 

सरबजीत: आपको मरना ही था!

"तुमने जिस ख़ून को मक़्तल में दबाना चाहा आज वह कूचा-ओ-बाज़ार में आ निकला है कहीं शोला, कहीं नारा, कहीं पत्थर बनकर"

“तुमने जिस ख़ून को मक़्तल में दबाना चाहा आज वह कूचा-ओ-बाज़ार में आ निकला है कहीं शोला, कहीं नारा, कहीं पत्थर बनकर”

सरबजीत की मौत बेहद दुखद खबर है। ये अलग बात है कि मुझे आश्चर्य नहीं हुआ। ये मौत सम्भावित थी। ये एक तयशुदा मौत थी। पकिस्तान जैसे कानून विहीन और अराजकता के शिखर पर स्थित देश के लिए किसी की मौत क्या मायने रख सकती है! वो तो केवल ओसामा बिन लादेन को शरण दे सकती है फूलप्रूफ। दाऊद इब्राहिम और अजहर महमूद को ही बेहतर पनाह दे सकती है। सरबजीत की हिफाज़त करके उसे क्या मिलता? लिहाजा सरबजीत का मरना तय था। कसाब और अफज़ल गुरु के फांसी लग जाने के बाद अन्दर ही अन्दर सुलगते पाकिस्तान के लिए सरबजीत से बेहतर बलि का बकरा तो कोई हो ही नहीं सकता था। सरबजीत की मौत तो उसी वक्त तय हो गयी थी जब पाकिस्तान समर्थित दो आतंकवादी  कसाब और अफज़ल गुरु फांसी पे लटका दिए गए।

ये शान्ति वार्ता की नौटंकी, सरबजीत को माफ़ी देने की नौटंकी, उसका बेहतर इलाज़ कराने की नौटंकी ये सब आवरण उस कुटिलता को छुपाने के लिए था जिसकी झलक हर नज़र रखने वाले को साफ़ साफ़ दिख रही थी। सिर्फ ना देख पाने का भ्रम भारत की सरकार कर रही थी। खैर सरबजीत की मौत से एक बात तो साफ़ हुई। दो राष्ट्रों की राजनीति में मोहरे बनते है आम आदमी। जब मै राष्ट्र शब्द का इस्तेमाल कर रहा हो तो इसका मतलब ये नहीं है कि पाकिस्तान को मै एक राष्ट्र के रूप में देख रहा हूँ। ये एक राष्ट्र नहीं है। शैतानी लोगो का हुजूम है। शैतानी लोगो का भीड़ तंत्र है जहा पे राष्ट्रपति कोर्ट से भागकर नज़रबंद हो जाता है। खैर मै बता रहा था कि दो राष्ट्रों की दुश्मनी का शिकार सबसे कमज़ोर और मासूम लोग होते है।

कोई बताये सरबजीत का गुनाह क्या था कि पहले तो सोलह साल जेल में काटे बिना किसी गुनाह के और फिर इस तरह बर्बर मौत? उसकी मौत का जिम्मेदार कौन सा राष्ट्र ज्यादा है? रीढविहीन नेताओ के जरिए शान्ति की बात करता भारत या गुनाहों को साए में पलता पाकिस्तान? खैर एक बात तो समझ में आई की जेल में कैदियों को न्याय पाने की आशा से नहीं रखा जाता है बल्कि अक्सर सरकार की आँख की किरकरी बन चुके लोगो को चुपके से खत्म कर देने के लिए रखा जाता है। चूकि मौत पाकिस्तान में एक भारतीय की हुई है  लिहाज़ा  मानवाधिकार की वकालत करने वालो का ना भौकना लाजमी हो जाता है। ये तब भौकते है अगर भूले से कोई जम्मू कश्मीर में कोई भारतीय सैनिक के हाथो मारा जाता है। इनकी मुखरता तब देखते बनती है।

सरबजीत की आत्मा को शान्ति मिले। मेरी तरफ से यही विनम्र श्रद्धांजलि है सरकारी नौटंकी के इस दौर में। सबसे दुखद यही है कि मरते सिर्फ मासूम आदमी ही है। बिलखते है शोक संतप्त परिजन ही है। मुल्क के नेता तो हर अवसर को कैश कर लेते है। दुःख हो या सुख हर रास्ता सत्ता की तरफ ही मुड़ जाता है।

” तुमने जिस ख़ून को मक़्तल में दबाना चाहा
आज वह कूचा-ओ-बाज़ार में आ निकला है
कहीं शोला, कहीं नारा, कहीं पत्थर बनकर
ख़ून चलता है तो रूकता नहीं संगीनों से
सर उठाता है तो दबता नहीं आईनों से

जिस्म की मौत कोई मौत नहीं होती है
जिस्म मिट जाने से इन्सान नहीं मर जाते
धड़कनें रूकने से अरमान नहीं मर जाते
साँस थम जाने से ऐलान नहीं मर जाते
होंठ जम जाने से फ़रमान नहीं मर जाते
जिस्म की मौत कोई मौत नहीं होती “
   
   *साहिर लुधियानवी*  

Pics Credit:

Pic One

In Conversation With Well- Known British Author Jeremy Seabrook On Education System

JeremySeabrook: Never Missed To Say Right Words Always

JeremySeabrook: Never Missed To Say Right Words Always!

In the long writing career, spanning over nearly two decades, I got many chances to interact with enlightened minds and share with them a piece of my mind in matters pertaining to critical issues. A long back ago when I was regular contributor for The Statesman’s Viewpoint Column ( Calcutta Edition), I came in touch with Jeremy Seabrook who was then writing for one of its popular columns.

This conversation related with falling standards of education system took place after I came to read his article” Learning Revisited” published in The Statesman on March 14, 2005.

*******************************************

My  Viewpoint: 

Your write-up is an eye-opener, allowing one to reckon with the hidden facets of education. I am appalled at the manner in which institutions offering so-called gems of knowledge, which in reality are antithetical to creative tendencies lying latent within the recipients, have solidified their base. One reason for it could be that parents are now no longer interested in “value-oriented” teaching methods, simply because it stands in the way of attaining ‘name and fame’. No wonder this could be the reason behind the mind-boggling network of coaching factories, which are making huge profit in the name of offering conductive atmosphere for cracking the entrance tests. 

This attitude of parents has brought a sea change in the attitude of present day students, who weigh everything in materialistic yardsticks or, in other words, in rupee:dollar ratio. After all, who has time for values in the fast-paced life of ours! The real quest for supreme knowledge would always remain a distant dream in absence of change of mindset, especially the parents.  Well, it’s never too easy to change mindset without giving way to measures mired in transparent means. What has guaranteed failure of projects in this regard has been wide gap between theory and practice besides infrastructural bottlenecks. Let’s realize that mere propaganda is not going to solve this issue. 

Unfortunately, this is what both Left and Right wings are used to. Their stances, diametrically opposite to each other, have wiped out the vigour of those wishing to make worthwhile contributions, so much so that if one does not yield to their outdated notions one is bound to invite troubles of all sorts. The message is clear: Rise above ideological fanaticism to stop the degradation of education system, something so imperative to prevent the innocent minds turning into  robot. 

Vivekananda rightly remarked that ” education is not the amount of information that is put into your brain and run riot there, undigested, all life. We must have life-building, man-making, character-making assimilation of ideas”. Will anyone please translate this into reality? 

********************************

Jeremy Seabrook: One Of The Great Writers Who Inspired Me To Keep Writing!

Jeremy Seabrook: One Of The Great Writers Who Inspired Me To Keep Writing!

Jeremy Seabrook’s Viewpoint:

Many thanks for your helpful and kind e-mail. Indeed, education has become not an end in itself, noble and worthwhile, but an instrument for material gain and industrial conformism. In this sense, of course, the educational system is only an emanation of the society that produces it, and an expression of the social values and mores of which it is a symptom. Intervention for change involves a complete change in the social and moral structures of globalism-no small thing, but a project we should not abandon simply because of its apparent attainability. 

**********************************************

About Jeremy Seabrook:

*************************

My first book was The Unprivileged, 1967, the story of my own family, a path breaking oral history from the late 18th century to the 1960s. This was followed by City Close-Up, a portrait, through the words of the people, of Blackburn in Lancashire.
 
In the 1970s, I wrote What Went Wrong? Working People and the Ideals of the Labour Movement; a book which, when published in the USA, was sub-titled Why hasn’t Having More Made People Happier?
 

Mother and Son, a memoir, appeared in 1980, and an indictment of Thatcher’s Britain,Unemployment, in 1982.
 
Work on India and Bangladesh followed, notably, Notes from another India and Children of Other Worlds, a comparison of child labour in nineteenth century London and present-day Dhaka in Bangladesh. My book, Love in a Different Climate, described how male same-sex relationships in India differ from those in the West.

 I have contributed to most major newspapers in Britain over the years, and have written for Granta. I am a regular contributor to New Internationalist – which has published three of my books in the last decade, most recently Consuming Cultures: Globalization and Local Lives. I write for Race and Class and Third World Resurgence, based in Penang, Malaysia.

Courtesy: http://jeremyseabrook.net/biography.html

**************************************************

More About Jeremy Seabrook:

“He became an associate honorary fellow at the University of Bradford’s Department of Peace Studies 1995 to 1998 and an associate at the Institute of Race Relations, UK, from 2004 onwards.

He has made several documentaries for BBC radio and TV on social, environmental and developmental issues.

Since 1963, Seabrook has written for publications including: New Society, the Guardian, the Times, the Independent, New Statesman, New Internationalist, Race and Class, Third World Resurgence, Third World Network and others.

He has also written over 40 books, including;

Travels in the Skin Trade – looking at the psychology of western men who travel to southeast Asia for sexual adventures (Pluto Press).

A World Growing Old – the implications of an ageing population, north and south (Pluto Press).”

Courtesy: The Guardian

What will be her future?

What will be her future?

References:

Jeremy Seabrook

Guardian

The Statesman ( Kolkata Edition)

Pics Credit:

 


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