Monday, December 20, 2010

The Tribune-Chatterati-20th Dec.10

"Soft-soaping Sonia"

Last week was Sonia Gandhi’s 64th birthday. It seems that her strict instructions of no full pages of advertisement and no launching of new scheme had been followed. There were no celebrations at all. But she had enough callers who arrived early to great her at 10 Janpath. Needless to say that everyone who is anyone in the congress landed up. Surprisingly one of the first ones to arrive to personally great her was Kanimozhi, followed closely by Dayanidhi Maran. It seems that the DMK is a bit insecure after Jaya Lalita declared, she would support the Congress. Surprisingly Karunanidhi out did the sycophancy of the Congress leaders when he made a statement about the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi “a historic light of scarifies guiding the destiny of India”. It was also Pranab Mukherjee’s birthday last week which would have gone unnoticed had the chamber of commerce not celebrated it a day before. But the leaders who made their birthday memorable in the gone by week by throwing lavish parties with a galaxy of leaders present were JDU Chief, Sharad Yadav and Gopinath Munde. They sure need to make a hungama with their fading political careers.

"Trousseau for hire"

Our younger generation is becoming much savier and money conscious. They do not also believe in old mother’s tales of being “shubh”. I can never imagine my old aunt agreeing to me wearing a rented lengha or sari for my marriage. Today’s kid’s are more practical and do not want to spend huge amount of money on getting a designer lengha for their D-day. So, they go and rent exclusive lengha’s and wedding dresses without having to shell out a bomb. There are rental shops for these modern brides all over Delhi now. They take care of the fittings and give personalized attention. You could always rent jewellery to match with it. The rent starts from two thousand to twenty thousand depending on the style and design. They do not believe in the old tradition of that your wedding dress is supposed to be treasured and it also shows how brides are not bound by profound perceptions anymore. It is economical and it satisfies the bride of not having to burden her parent’s with that extra expense. These professionals who provide the rental trousseau also give you pre-recorded music so that you do not need to hire a DJ. They also provide luxury cars for the bidaai too.

"High-profile weddings"

Destination weddings once reserved for the rich and famous are now the norm even for high profile politicos. Gadkari recently charted aircrafts to ensure that the top BJP brass was able to get to his home town Nagpur from his current official residence in Delhi. N.K.Singh on the other hand ensured that his son’s wedding in Jodhpur acquired a distinctly regal touch, a far cry from his native Bihar. Here too the planes swooped down with guests displaying more that just family warmth. Mukesh Ambani was the top attraction and he certainly made it a family event by being accompanied by wife Nita and children. While Jodhpur was relatively small, the reception at the Taj palace in Delhi had everyone aflutter with the possible attendance of the Prime Minister being rumored. So, the drinks were held back, till Gurucharan Kaur finally appeared on her own. But N.K’s fellow bureaucrats turned up in large numbers and gaggle of politicians ranging from Satyavrat Chaturvedi from the Congress to Arun Jaitely of the BJP made evening complete for N.K and Tiny. Maharaja Guj Singh of Jodhpur lent the royal touch to the evening. N.K’s wife Tiny is Guj Singh’s sister. So, a lot of royalty was in attendance. But conspicuous by his absence the JDU chief Nitish Kumar did set some tongues wagging. N.K. is a Rajya Sabha member from Nitish’s party.

Sunday Pioneer-Dilli-Billi-19th Dec.10

“Delhi’s corridors are filled with powerful people but there are no lasting friendships here”

Delhi is the capital of the largest democracy of the world and so is full of powerful people. Atleast that is the impression that the common man gets when he arrives here. It is a cold and hard city for an outsider. It is a city which thrives on nexus between the Politicians, bureaucrats and industrialist. It is easy for a new comer to get carried away by being in the same sphere with the people who matter. Sometimes he gets carried away with his own self importance. There are enough wheeler-dealers in this town to make you feel they can do anything at a cost. They can easily sell you the story of how they can influence government policies. But are actually only boasting. In the corridors of power here, there are lots of wannabes too. This is a place which is heaven for those who want to make a living by just being seen with the powerful. But, here the powerful also use people as and when they want. There are no long lasting friendships or alignments here. You change friends like you change clothes. In this circle one does not talk to anybody who is not of any importance. An outsider will very easily get lost here. The people here can make your head swollen with attention and presents if you are in any position of importance. The minute you lose that place of importance you are dropped like a hot potato. Then you really do not know what has hit you. People hide when they see you and do not even want to waste their time saying a polite ‘hi’ to you.
I come from a small town and I know that senior politicians who come from different state’s to meet office bearers of different political party’s are shocked and surprised as to how little the leaders in the centre know about grass root. They look down upon these leaders of the states who actually win the states and make them powerful. The leaders in the centre are so arrogant and that these state humble leaders are left wondering why? They feel humiliated when they see that the corrupt and wheeler dealers get more importance here than them. The state guys who are the real winner’s do not wear Armani’s and carry designer’s pens and watches. These simpletons are not used to five star cultures. Their hard work in the state is not judged properly because of their so called senior leaders have the gift of the gab and are savy enough to hog and use the attention of the big guys here. It is a twenty four hour job for the non grass root person. It’s his survival instinct of buttering the powerful in the centre. They work once again in this theory of “you scratch my back and I will scratch yours”. Politicians feed stories to journalists and industrialist also do the same. It’s a small happy family together. If one is caught he is isolated immediately. There is also a use and discard formula.
A holier than thou attitude is not fit for anyone in this town especially not in the corridors of power. This is a town where boasting your access to someone important is a big thing. It is not fair to judge anyone. Everyone here drops name, thinks no end of themselves and no one can afford to point fingers in this town at each other. No one is better than the other. Some get caught and some get away.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tribune-Chatterati-13th Dec.10

The Obamas vs. the Sarkozys

Delhites are now used to international leaders travelling to the capital. Last month we had the President of America with his vivausious wife in India and now we have the French President and his model wife. People can not help but compare the two heads of the nation and their wives. The Obama’s have a great chemistry; they are warm, cheerful, witty and humorous. They came; they interacted with the young and the old, they danced and were actually charismatic. Michelle went shopping and showed enthusiasm for every thing she picked up. She was at ease playing the wife of the most powerful man in the world. But, she was also comfortable just letting her hair down at the craft bazaar. The Sarkozy’s on the other hand were actually trying to hard to show that everything is alright. We all know that things have not been very good in their marriage. There is uneasiness even when they are trying to hold hands or look into each other’s eyes it’s like trying too hard. Both the lady’s dressed concretively to their trip too India. But, there is no doubt that Michelle has won hands down. In Paris recently I learnt that this first couple had become figures of amusement to the Parisians.

“Amar’s middle name”

Amar Sing and Mulayam are back in news for all the wrong reasons once again. Delhi is now used to Amar Singh and his controversy. He always had a knack of speaking too much. Amar Singh’s once real power duo Mulayam and Anil Ambani have both drifted away from him. Amar Singh has tried tousle the media saying he has a lot of things on Mulayam which if he divulged in Mulayam would be in jail. Meanwhile Mulayam is on a high with his old buddy and party member Azam Khan’s re-entry into the Samaj wadi party. Mulayam’s son Akilesh Yadav is quite amused by Amar Singh’s old tactics of blackmailing and bulling. He is quite open to the challenge and hopefully for once Amar Singh will not be brave enough to take the challenge. He is already so short of friends at the moment. Maybe Amar Sing’s new party will give him some real power now.

“BJP celebrating in style”

The BJP at the moment seems to be in a celebration mood Rajeev Rudy the spokesperson of BJP held a reception of his nephew’s wedding in the capital. Leaders cutting across party lines were seen walking in and out of this reception. The BJP crowd who were present there right from Advani to Arun Jaitely and Sushma Swaraj. The guests were quite surprised by the two minute presence of Rahul Gandhi and Chidambaram. It is the Congress who believes in courtesy and quite willing to mix around with people belonging to the opposition party also. But the mother of all marriages has been of Gadkari’s son. It was a showoff of power with pomp and show cutting across party lines. There was Prithviraj Chavan Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Ashok Chavan followed with officials and big industrial houses. It’s quite amusing to see how lost the Bride can be when you have an overpowering father-in-law and ten thousand people. And of course in cases like this the newly weds just happened to be there. It’s more like a show of strength of political rally. I do miss the days when our dignified leaders used to set an example of small and simple weddings. Their families did not believe in extravaganza. The junior Gadkari’s reception took place at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium. Twenty private aircrafts were charted to fly in guest. All hotels in Nagpur had been booked. Even though Gadkari preaches austerity in his own case he surely does not act what he preaches.

Pioneer-Dilli-billi-12th Dec.10

Obamas score over Sarkozys

“There is a stark difference between the US and French first couple, and this has been noticed by all”

Now India is the destination for V.I.P’s and nation’s head all across the world. It is amusing time, for the public of India. First came The Obama’s and now the French president with his model wife Carla. It’s Carla’s state visit to India that had been pending for some time now. The first time she wanted to come, she was still not the first lady of France. So, we had a diplomatic crisis on our hands. She could not have been given the treatment that Sarkozy wanted for her as the first lady and there is no protocol for girl friends yet. But, now as Carla Bruni came into the country as the first lady did she make waves?
I was in Paris some time back and realized that Carla had become a figure of amusement to Parisians. She was leading her life according to her terms. In Paris I realized that the President and Carla had skeletons dropping out of their cupboard very often. At that time there was noise about how Carla was being linked with a young musician. It was such a blow to the president that he wanted his people to spread a story about how he was involved with a much younger lady. Carla’s romance had hurt his ego. How can the first
lady have an affair? So, whenever this first couple made public appearance together they tried to make enough gestures trying to communicate by holding hands and looking into each other eyes to fool the spectators. But actually it did not fool the peering eyes of the French. But trying to show off that there were still very much in love in what actually made them a laughing stock.
On the other hand the Obama’s have a natural chemistry. It is open, warm and sensitive to each other. They are also proud of each other. One can make out there is no acting here. They were so much in tune with each other that one can make out they discuss every action together. It’s like one big family. See them with their daughters it’s like any other ordinary family. The French President and his muse are so uncomfortable with each other and the effort they make just does not work. But on the whole the Obama’s came, saw and conquered. They were charming, witty and humorous. I think as a couple the Obama’s had more class and looked more at ease. The French President looked a bit uptight while his wife seemed to hog all the lime light. No wonder the poor guy is insecure to the extent that he has to wear covered heeled shoes. Back home both the Presidents are also not a secure footing. They will really
need to work very hard to win the next round. So, the first lady of France is beautiful yet cold. There is something that is calculating and clever and all knotted up. The wife of the most powerful man in the world Barack Obama’s is a lady who knows her strength and yet is warm and in a sense humble too. Intelligent she is no doubt but, not knowing all like the French one turns to be.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Pioneer-Dilli-billi-5th Dec.10

Scams and scandals, tapes and taps, theft and trickery, all there and more have dominated the capitals chatter circuit for the last few months. It just does not seem to stop. Yet it follows a some what pathetic life cycle of its own. An expose or an exposion followed by preventing a public anger, fuelled by a media circus. Then comes governments delayed and often apologetic response, a promise of action and some minor punishments for those caught in the live light. A few months of being treated as tainted and then it’s back to normal. The tainted and the painted, the pathetic losers unite around their favourite watering spots again and life is back to a new semblance of reality for those who survive the onslaught and manage to retain the loot. Whether it’s the CWG mess, the ‘adarsh land scams’ the, ‘housing collapse’ or the ‘media gate’ exposes, this pattern seems to repeat itself. Most of the time it is the ‘little guy’ who is caught and punished. The big guys after all are a part of the establishment and must come back to prop up the barl. The moment one scandal rocks the situation an earlier one get a convenient burial. But beneath all this there may well be a flood of public anger which we don’t see yet. The public will often wait to settle scores, not just once but even twice, as the Bihar elections and the destruction of scams fuelled Lalu seems to prove.

It is actually a shame that senior journalist have been dragged into it. They have spent all their lives making a name for themselves. I personally do not think that their credibility is at stake. It is a journalist’s job to try and get information from every nook and corner.
It is absurd if anyone thinks that ministers can be made and sacked due to a journalist talking or putting forward a name. It must be a very weak government which even listens to an input from the journalist as to what their union cabinet should look like. We have experienced, knowledgeable people at hem of affairs forming the cabinet. But in the case of this particular scam. The telecom minister was made by the supremo of DMK sitting in Chennai. To be truthful even the Congress did not have anything to do with it. It is insane to think otherwise. The DMK wanted five ministers and it was for them to place them in any portfolio they wanted.

The public does wonder. What happens to the big corporate who appoint middle men for their own benefits? Why it is that they are left untouched after all they are the ones to benefit maximum. After all the middle man gets a very small amount in the loot which is made by the corporate houses by indulging in these practices. Is it time that someone take actions against the business houses that start sleaze. We are aware of big names who twist government policies. They are never touched. Even as they manipulate the system. Which the middle man or the journalist cannot even think of doing nor has the power. Whatever impression he may give to the outside world is immaterial. It is more loose talk than anything else and self importance. Our politicians are too smart for them. Rest, it is easy to put some one’s dignity and integrity on doubt which has been built over the decades of hard work. And yes! If you start tapping phones randomly even more professionals’ and business men’s reputations will be at stake by some innocent remark. It’s absurd!

The Tribune- Chatterati-6th December.10

"Time for Congress to put its house in order"

As the page3 chatterati are busy discussing the various scams in the country. The Congress leaders are trying to get their house in order. At the moment their major problem seems to be “Jaganmohan Reddy” from Andhra. People are wondering, whether he is a real threat to the Congress or is he going to fade away like Kuldeep Bishoni of Haryana. There is a strong resemblance between the two. Kuldeep’s father was a Congress veteran; Bhajan Lal and Jagan’s father YSR were at one time indispensable for the congress. Kuldeep has always displayed a burning desire and impatience to become the Chief Minister of Haryana. Jagan seem to be going the same way. His brashness is there for all to see. The father’s of both the young men have had a history of rebellion. Which the son’s have inherited. The Congress hopes that Andhra in the end will go the Haryana way. Hooda has won over Kuldeep’s supporters and the new Chief Ministers of Andhra will hopefully poach into Jagan’s support base. Making personal attacks to the Gandhi family is not always a very good idea and the Congress will not easily forget that.

"M P’s make the best of both worlds"

Our Member’s of Parliament are on a holiday mood. And all together in the capital nowadays, its party time. They go to parliament for an hour in the morning and then they have their own programs for the day. Some take rounds of various ministers for their constituency work; some are seen lunching together with friends at famous joints. The BJP leaders use this time effectively discussing their next agenda on how to create a pitch on various corruption issues in the country. But, Last weak all MP’s across party lines were united and together to welcome film actor Aamir Khan to the parliament. This actor belongs to a group called “Citizen Alliance” that generates public awareness on malnutrition. He met the Prime Minister, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi too. Aamir has always been known to take up social issues effectively. Aamir through his various films like Tara Zameen Par, Peepli Live has highlighted these issues, of concern. If this has anything to do with the actor’s campaign for Oscar for Peepli Live then it’s a good start. The movie and the issue highlighted farmer’s suicide and the issue on poverty at the grass root level in India. Aamir Khan got all the attention of the parliamentarians cutting across party lines. The holiday mood of our MP’s continuing. It’s a good time for some of the MP’s as it is a kind of a paid holiday as they go around checking new malls and eating joints in town. In the evening too they are busy as they end up dining in some MPs house together. At the cost of ex-checkers it’s a shame that the deadlock is of no value to our members of parliament.

"Anish kapoor, the global artist"

The return home of mega star artist Anish kapoor exceeded expectations even for someone of his stature. Sonia Gandhi choose to inaugurate the event. That itself pitched the showing at the level that most artist can only dream off. Besides that the cultural secretary and worthies from the British Government and of course the MD’s did the necessary genuflection. Mrs. Gandhi used the platform to highlight the fact that the Indian cities need to focus more on public art, not just from gigantic figures like Anish but, also from best of local talent in our country. Indian born Anish Kapoor, even by the attention and reverence he got locally. Staunchly see himself as a global artist with strong sense of origin rather than any singular sense of identity, having over the last few decades. The UK’s most favored artist in residence. His gigantic sculptures evoke strong emotions in the view and he has reason to be proud that his message has been cut out nationality and even age groups. Now soon Anish’s show is travelling to Bombay. A great welcome for the hero of art.