Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Tribune-Chatterati-25th-July-2011

"The no-nonsense Mayawati"

Mayawati is fun to watch during her press conferences. She has a text in hand, reads it, takes no questions and does not mingle with any presswala, no small talk is allowed. She is punctual and precise and there is no commotion. She makes her point, conveys her message and swiftly walks away.

Her choice of grooming is a pinkish or pale yellow shiny suit, neatly combed short hair and small gold or diamond studs along with a designer handbag on her arm.

This iron lady of Uttar Pradesh does things in her own time and in the way she wants. She is not fazed or overawed by anything or anybody. She knows her clout and is confident of her workers and voters. Sacking ministers or secretaries is so easy for her.

This is a politician who has worked day and night and gives no leverage to sycophants or sycophancy. It could be the Congress, Samajwadi or BJP, she is not insecure of any of them. They may sit on dharna or fast, she will strike them down, with a decision or a new policy which will make her more popular. There is no way that she lets her vote bank slip. No leader is taller than her in her own state. She minds her own business and has no concern outside the state.

"Matronly figures of politics"

Madam, behenji, didi, amma or even auntyji are figures that work in politics.

Mamata didi swept the polls as she became the first woman CM of West Bengal. Down south, people came in hordes in Tamil Nadu and voted

Jayalalithaa, their amma, back in power.

DMK MP Kanimozi is daddy's girl but the beti image is not very popular in politics, it seems. Karunanidhi's fatherly instincts for his children do not seem to have done him any good.

Sheila Dikshit, the good old grandmother, soft and gentle, yet tough, became Delhi's CM for the third consecutive time.

Titles such as behenji for Mayawati, didi for Mamata Banerjee and amma for Jayalalithaa are all important for our voters. They are symbolic and spell goodwill and trust that these leaders share with the aam admi. Ammas and didis are names which spell affection and also respect for the immense amount of work that these women leaders have done.

Words such as bhai, bhaiya and brother for the male politicians are expressions used as a sign of popularity. Mamata Banerjee is today our favorite didi and so what if amma had lost a few elections and many times behenji (Mayawati) has faced immense public criticism. These titles do send a message that it's the ammas, didis, aunties and behenjis who are success stories. And the one who continues to be the most powerful of all politicians even in a male-dominated country like ours is "Madam".

So, it's the Indian traditional family names which can go a long way if you happen to be in politics. It has probably trust and 'apnapan'.



Crime is on the rise. While the blame game continues, it is the common man who is at the receiving end

Rape of minors, babies being kidnapped and violent crime against random strangers are on the increase. This is a frightening aspect of life in the Capital. As citizens get wary and weary of the statistics, the chilling anxiety is that it is tightening its grip each day. No citizen is safe today. And the natural reaction is for the pubic to blame the cops for the collapse in the law and order situation in the city.

Yet Delhi is unique. It’s police force is not controlled by the State Government. So, blaming the local MLA is of little use, even though angry neighbours very often vent their anger at their representatives. Despite efforts by the Government to involve citizens in keeping a check over crime in their area is not having the desired effect. In fact, today, the neighbours hardly interact with each other. Everybody is busy with his life. So the onus of safeguarding the citizens falls on the police.

With the growing crime, the question is whether the police is equipped to handle the increasing crime graph? We are well aware that there is shortage of trained personnel, equipment and training resources. Take the example of verification of domestic help in the city. Though everybody knows that is is extremely important and necessary to get the help’s background verified, the delay means that those who are desperately looking for domestic help say goodbye to the system. But that doesn’t mean that even after verification, people are safe in their homes.

Despite the citizen’s demand for better policing, the answers are slow to come by. Politicians blame the cops and the police blames lack of infrastructure. The result — it is the common man who is at the receiving end.

Everyday the newspapers are full of heinous crimes being committed. But what does one do? Nothing — the cops say they are investigating, the victim’s families do not trust the police. The rich pull strings, use their influence and get their way. And the aam admi continues to suffer in the hope that some day the Government will wake up and understand their plight. And ensure that the police has the proper manpower and equipment to check the crime.

And then there is the big divided between the rich and the poor. People with no money want to get rich quickly. Purse and chain snatching, theft in homes, murdering people for money have become commonplace. Vulgar display of the wealth leads to frustration and under such circumstances he is willing to do anything.

It is very unfortunate that while the rich spend crores of weddings and other luxury items, the poor can’t even afford one decent meal a day. It is even sadder to see small children begging at the red lights selling flowers or books or offering to clean the car with their dirty rags. This is definitely not a good sign and if the Government can curb this, then half the problems would be over.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Tribune-Chatterati-18th.July.2011

"The good and bad times of Hauz Khas Village"

Many years ago, all visiting friends were taken to the upmarket yet ethnic, rustic Hauz Khas market. It had everything. The cow dung everywhere which the foreigners looked at in fascination, stray dogs, the moongfali/chana walas and bad roads which had potholes and one had to literally jump, stumble and get up. It was fascinating. The look of pleasure on their faces said it all.
This was the India they had read about and come to see. In fact, there were the snake charmers coming out of streets and the look of awe on the visitor's face was a pleasure to see.
On the other hand, there were top boutiques and restaurants. The boutiques offered expensive western and Indian wear. The cuts were excellent and of course it was the favourite haunt of our now internationally known Indian designers. The restaurants had European and Indian cuisines. But suddenly no one went to Hauz Khas Village any more. It became dirty, unkept and as everything else, the peak time was over and the slump came. But once again, it's the favourite place of youngsters. There is a jazz club besides a great bakery. There are new furniture stores and new designers have opened their stores. A cute tiny restaurant serving Kerala food is a hit with youngsters. It has an art gallery and a shop where T-shirts are painted by rural artisans which is very popular with college-going students. The village is trying hard not to lose its character despite the razzmatazz. Most of the people as they walk through the rustic village lanes are spotted with digi-cams and Apple Macs. This is the Capital's new chic hangout zone but the 14th century village has been through some good and bad times.
"Great believer in astrology"

Astrology is something that all the politicians usually believe in. Jayalalithaa is also, it seems, a great believer. The stellar position in her horoscope will tell her which day she should wear green, grey or blue. Maroon seems to be her lucky colour as the day she won her election she was wearing maroon. Even on the day of the swearing-in ceremony, she was wearing maroon though all her saris are plain with a small border on them.
A few years ago, she added an extra 'a' to her name, so her name changed from J.Jayalalitha to J.Jayalalithaa. Her birth date being 24th-2-1948 which comes to 24 and adding an extra 'a', the numerological value then became 24 to 23. As she has sworn in on 24 ministers, her lucky number seems to be 7 and she contested for 160 seats which also come to 7. There was a time when everybody believed her lucky number was 9 as all her cars added up to 9.
"Phone lines are not trustworthy!"

Amar Singh tape, Radia tape and now the Bhushan's tape. It's getting a bit too much for everyone. Politicians and businessmen now only use the phone to fix an appointment and meet personally. Phone lines are not trustworthy any more. You never know who is taping you.
Recently the young Member of Parliament Varun Gandhi has issued orders to his guard that the phones of all the visitors should be confiscated at the gate.
The guard explained that a visitor had tried to tape Varun's conversation with him inside his house and was caught. So the phobia of phones in Varun's house is due to that incident. Not only are phones suspected, pens today have cameras and recorders and so have cufflinks and buttons.

Pioneer-DILLI BILLI-17th.July.11 "YOUNG & HAPPENING"


States under the aegis of single and unmarried leaders are witnessing development and prosperity

An in-depth study of Indian politics reveals the similarities between the top leadership. Sometime back, the Congress was known as the party of sycophants. This situation has changed a little after Rahul Gandhi’s entry. Rahul started the democratic system of Youth Congress President polls which has not been successful. However, if done properly, it could be a success. In fact, elections within the Congress should follow the democratic path. This will help the grassroot workers choose their own leaders at the top. People should be elected to the top on the basis of their popularity among the party workers.

The Congress has only two to three people at the top who make a difference. In the BJP, one has to give equal attention to all the leaders who constitute the top bracket of the party. Thus, the regional BJP visiting leaders are always over worked. With all the running around that they do, it is not surprising that they get tired. This is where the regional parties score, especially the ones headed by single, unmarried, divorced and widowed leaders. Mayawati, Narendra Modi, Navin Patnaik, Mamata Banerjee and Jayalalithaa are single and dedicated leaders who rule with an iron hand. Their goal is to be on the top since they have no family commitments. They all have one passion — to rule. They are leaders who are majestic. They don’t have any social life and stick to their small group of trustworthy people. Their next move cannot be mapped since they keep their cards close to their heart.

Nobody could gauge Mayawati’s move when she dethroned Vajpayee. Same goes for Jayalalithaa. Narendra Modi, Navin Patnaik and Nitish Kumar are extremely happy in their own States. They take pride in the development of their States and the confidence they share with their voter and vice versa.

There is no witch hunting in these States and their bureaucracy and Cabinet members don’t dare to tow the line. They don’t waste time coming to the centre to hob nob. One might call them recluses or arrogant but they are a force to reckon with and are growing steadily from State to State.

The latest example of this category of leaders is Jaganmohan Reddy. With his rise in Andhra Pradesh, the Congress may think of him as arrogant and corrupt but the voters have ensured that he win with the largest majority ever in the country.

The main political parties cannot follow the model of the regional party ruled States. Thus, it is best for them to form an effective and transparent Government at the center. This provides an option to the neglected workers of regional parties to join the main party. Many members of the Congress cadre have gone the regional way. But one must bear in mind that the regional parties are like a one-man army with no second round leadership to take over since a son or daughter or a lieutenant haven’t been allowed to emerge.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


"Different facets of a woman"

Delhi women wanting to prove themselves, get their one minute of fame by indulging in various activities

The women in Delhi are rather interesting. Take a backseat and watch them as they go about their work. Thanks to the Page 3 in popular newspapers, these women are now easily recognised. With their noses high in the air, these are typical Delhi wannabe socialites. With a dress sense that borders on ridicule — backless dresses, halter tops, short skirts, high heels supporting thin legs, the message they want to convey is — these are international brands. Their rich husbands/boyfriends who pay for these clothes end up paying not just for their wives/girlfriends, they also pay for the friend’s as well. And if this was not enough, the wannabes have a slew of bodyguards who walk behind them with their walkie talkies.

Then there are 30-plus women who want to be noticed but use a much sophisticated way. They either join an NGO or start their own. They rope in Bollywood stars for the opening to get their one minute of fame. While not all NGOs end up with a success story, it ensures that they can talk about it for months on end about their ‘noble cause’. Not to be left behind, the ‘have been’ models are also busy launching brands or stores or some exhibition.

And then there is the other kind — big bindi, khadi dhoti, klohapuri chappals with jholas on their shoulders. These women run successful NGOs and have contributed a lot to the society. But the reason behind each woman’s reason for this outwardly display is to get noticed as a woman of substance.

Therefore, Delhi women fascinating especially with a Five-star hotel setting in the background. One big table with elderly women carrying their designer handbags and sunglasses, huge rocks on their fingers. All that these women want is for the party to get over. The reason — to gossip about the other women in the party.

Another table has younger women having a party who have bored expressions on their face. For them the only use of the Internet is to shop online for international brands.

Yet another table is for the new moms. Their time is spent on only one thing — exchanging notes with friends on how to bring up their babies — new ways and techniques. Grandmother’s recipes are passe. Taking their little ones to birthday parties is called networking through the toddlers. Gone are the days when birthday parties used to be simple and organised at home. While the mothers are busy counting ways on how to get close to the VIP child in the party, the child himself is tired by the end of the party.

But there are a few women who do not believe in name throwing or showing off their jewellery and other accessories. They have a ‘don’t have a care attitude’. Described as a middle class woman, this woman is most secure. She does housework, juggles work and takes care of her family. She is comfortable eating at a dhaba and at a five-star hotel. It is this breed of woman who is rare in the Capital.

The Tribune-Chatterati-11th.July.2011

"Bold and beautiful Army daughters"

The bold and beautiful army daughters--Lara Dutta, Priyanka Chopra, Celina Jaitly, Gul Panag, Nikita Anand and Neha Dhupia--have all been former Miss Indias.

Also the three winners of this year's Pantaloons Femina Miss India pageant, Kanishtha Dhankar, Ankita Shorey and Hasleen Kaur are from the defence background. What is the quality of these girls that takes them to the top?

An officer's daughter does not only have to deal with the prospect of her father possibly going off into war zones, but also constant changes in her postal address. As an army kid, their upbringing is unparallel because they have to migrate all the time. It gives them the ability to adapt to any situation. They adapt equally well to the high pressure environment of the pageant. Easy adaptation is the biggest edge that army girls possess. This helps them in pageants and other fields. Not being confined to one place, they absorb the cultures of different places. This helps them grow as a person. Each military station has its unique cultural activities, including regular parties. Army has enough social evenings with the right etiquette. They are trained to be sophisticated at a very young age. No wonder, military girls in every field are usually ahead of their competitors. They have been taught to be punctual during the Miss India grooming sessions. Every morning, they have to report at a particular time, and many have to share a loo, so the only way they could manage is by being disciplined.

Army-bred participants are at an early age exposed to beauty contests as military stations host mini-pageants from time to time. The training these girls acquire at these pageants is at par with that of national pageants. They are given grooming and catwalk lessons and the sessions are usually conducted by former Miss India winners and celebrity judges, ensuring that the winners are of high standards.

"Travel benefits for mother"

In this time of recession, even our members of Parliament are feeling the pinch. The NCP MP Agatha Sangma has written to the Speaker, seeking permission for rail travel benefits for her mother as she still does not have a spouse. The spouse of a sitting MP can travel free with the MP in the first class AC free of charge.

When her father P.A.Sangma was the Speaker, she was entitled then. Agatha is the youngest minister in UPA-II.

All the married and unmarried, divorced and widowed MPs can now travel with companions which include people like Rahul Gandhi, Janardan Dwivedi and many others.

The MPs have also asked for a raise in the travel allowance by roads. Let us not forget that the MPs voted themselves for a threefold hike in this time of inflation in the country.
"Some devotion!"

Jayalalithaa is known for her temper and is a stickler for etiquette. The party members worship the ground she treads on.

And all this is not new. One of her ardent followers, her new minister for information and technology had been wearing chappals since 1997 and had vowed never to wear shoes to Secretariat. Amma has now ordered her minister to wear shoes and he has obeyed.

After all, he says she is his god and he has to obey her. Can you imagine such beliefs in today's educated lot?

Sunday, July 3, 2011



Summer vacations is the time when parents should teach their children about the country’s rich heritage

Most schools in Delhi are over with the summer break. With holidays that lasted for nearly two months, it was very difficult to to ensure that the children were kept busy all through the vacations. One does not really know how to properly organise the free time that children have.

Let’s be honest — children at home can be annoying if you have them sitting idle, watching television, playing games on their laptops the whole day or SMSing their friends. It can be a real pain, more so when the husbands’ come back home and vent their anger on the youngsters who have been caught doing nothing but whiling away their time and ordering everyone around them.

My mother used to say that our upbringing was very comfortable. We were never deprived of anything. But then, I believe, we were also not too demanding either. Today, the children think that living in the lap of luxury is their birthright and making demands is not rude. It is difficult to communicate with them because they think they are right and that their parents are old fashioned and do not understand what the outside world is like today.

The explanation the children have is that they have more exposure and hence, know more. Though they might have more exposure, it can’t be denied that they have become more rude, impolite, arrogant and have no manners.

Travelling around the country, visiting heritage sites, touring villages and discovering different cultures and cuisines doesn’t attract them. For them it is boring and passé. They would rather stay in Delhi and go mall crawling than familiarise themselves with the rest of the country.

Mention a trip across the country and pat comes the reply: ‘We will Google search the place and get the information’. A visit to the Golden Temple, or Trivandrum or J&K or Himachal Pradesh is not their idea of a holiday. Sri Lanka, Singapore, Bangkok and Europe is more their style.

Who is to be blamed? The parents or the children? Holidays are meant for family bonding, to strengthen emotional ties and improve communication channels. It is a time to monitor your child’s behaviour 24X7.

You can teach him as you observe him. Not destroying public property, obeying the rules, be kind to others, not to throw litter on the streets are some of the lessons they can be taught even when they are having fun. No child, in my opinion, should be allowed to have his way.

There are many parents who insist that their children first explore India before they demand a foreign holiday. For those in Delhi, teach your child classical dancing, tabla, painting or yoga. It is time we were familiar with our heritage and culture.

One is bound to be respected for having explored one’s own country rather than having visited some foreign destination.

The Tribune-Chatterati-4th.July.2011

"Every third MLA a crorepati"

The only people getting rich it seems are our politicians. Every third MLA today, a survey shows, is a crorepati. I remember Pranab Mukherjee said that the first election he fought and won was with Rs 100 which was given to him by Jawaharlal Nehru and even out of that amount, he returned some money.

Most politicians who fight elections are only candidates without any 'patis'. But by the time their five-year tenure is finished they are 'crorepatis'.

In fact, becoming an MLA is the best investment plan. It seems to be better than investing in gold, mutual funds and fixed deposits. The returns are the highest.

So is politics used as a platform to become a crorepati by many today?

And for the record, it could also be the other way round: if you are loaded, you can become an MLA.

In states like Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry where the Assembly elections just took place, the number of MLAs turning crorepatis has doubled from the last election

Karuna’s fish too feel the heat

Following the DMK losing the Assembly elections, it is not only party leaders or chamchas who are feeling the heat of the government following the 2G Spectrum scam.

Even Karunanidhi's fish are feeling the heat. His aquarium was put in the heat hall of the new Secretariat and it was full of gold fish. The staff at one time used to feed and clean the fish, but now it is filthy. Newspapers are swimming and plastic cups floating in the aquarium.

"Celebrities in airport trouble"

Minissha Lamba was detained at the airport recently with some undeclared jewellery in her luggage. This is not the first time that a celebrity has been detained in this manner.

A well-known industrialist was held last year and put in the lock-up for not paying duty on a very expensive watch that he had picked up. Some time back, an industrialist was caught at the airport for not paying for the three huge diamonds that he was carrying with him. He also had to spend a couple of nights in lock-up, but he came out as he had an influential minister as his friend.

It is sad that we hear of such incidents of the rich and famous who go abroad for their business/leisure and come back with objects worth crores, take VAT reduction at airport but are not ready to declare their new assets at the customs here on arrival. I wonder why one who is so rich, famous and influential would want to go through such embarrassment. Is it greed or just the thought that with the power you yield, nothing can touch you?