Interview: Dr RK Pachauri (IPCC)

“Is the climate change situation as dire as you make it sound?” Is invariably the first question that any interviewer puts to Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the director general of The Energy and Resources Institute. Ever since 2007, when Pachauri came out with earth shattering commentary that our planet was moving rapidly towards an ecological disaster of gargantuan proportion, somewhat of an Eco-Armageddon and it was human activity that is responsible for the same; he has been hailed as a hero and reviled as a villain across the globe. Since, then Pachauri has been asked above question over and over again, and yet the environmental Nostradamus always answers the question calmly and lists down all the dangers that confront us in a solemn demeanor.

For western nations like the US that after years of releasing obnoxious pollutants in the atmosphere and wanting other nations like India and China to take a commitment first, Pachauri is a somewhat of a bogeyman. Nonetheless, he has taken a strong stance on what the world needs to do forestall the doom and how the developed countries should not merely shift the onus and blame to developing countries. In recognition of his efforts and those of IPCC, the Nobel Committee conferred on IPCC and Al Gore, the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. In his acceptance speech on behalf of IPCC, Pachauri had invoked the Sanskrit adage, vasudev kutumbakam (the whole universe is one big family) and asked everyone to contribute to the fight against climate change.

Post Nobel, Pachauri turned into the most recognized face of climate change and he continues to invoke the same vasudev kutumbakam principle to ask all to join in the challenge. In a special discussion, he talks about the ways in which Indian corporate sector can play a significant role in battle, on CSS, nuclear energy and so many other things.

Whenever, we talk about climate change it is often from a macro perspective, namely what the governments can do on it. Do you think that at a micro level, say enterprises too have a certain amount of responsibility and can work towards a better world?
Indeed it is so. There is a whole range of things that companies and enterprises can do. The impacts of climate change are going to be very diverse, they are going to range from an increase in extreme climate events, to heat waves, drought, and also changes in precipitation pattern so the availability of natural resources like water is going to be definitely affected and it is going to impact on the working of the corporate sector. So companies need to start looking at how they need to adapt to these extreme events, for instance if there is an company that uses a large amount of water like a semiconductor fab; the water is not going to be available in the manner and to the magnitude they need in the future. So probably they need to think in terms of recycling of water, using processes that are less water intensive, etc. So these are adaptations measures that they can. And this will not only benefit the company but also go a long way in the fight against climate change.

What do you think about the eco-consciousness of the Indian corporate sector?
Well, it is growing, it is still not where it should be but I think the consciousness is growing. What is important is that there is desire to understand and to find out what they can do. But not all of them are not well informed on what the impact of climate changes are and how they should respond to it. I want to highlight the fact that the need to reduce the emission of green house gases (GHG) is also linked to energy supply because energy is going to be an issue that will affect countries, corporate entities, and even individual. The security of energy supply is certainly in question as far as the future is concerned. So to the extent that corporate sector can use energy more efficiently, perhaps to shift as much as possible to the use of renewable energy. There own security about the supply of energy will enhance. And while doing all that they will also be able to cut down on costs. They will have to carry out some due diligence, exactly define what they can do. The corporate sector in India needs to wake up to the challenge of climate change.

Right now, most of the green initiatives carried out by the corporate sector are clubbed under the CSR tag, what do you make of it?
You know, I think by and large a lot of corporate organizations treat CSR as a kind of a cosmetic effort. I don’t think that is the right spirit. CSR should be mainstream, after all if a company has to succeed it alsoRK Pachauri 1 has to ensure that the society succeeds as well. And hence, for that to happen companies need to start looking at some of these initiatives as part of their overall operating strategy, not something that you do external to the enterprise. Hence, it is essential to integrate the two.

Due to your association with TERI, you have been privy to a lot of information about the various sectors of Indian industry; what do you think about the eco-consciousness of the IT industry vis-à-vis the rest of the sectors?
Some of the IT companies are indeed getting conscious of the fact, but I am not sure whether they are doing too much about it. Even if you look at some of the buildings that they construct, they have not really paid any attention by and large to energy efficient design, reducing energy in a way to make it sustainable in terms of supply opportunity in the future. And I am not too sure whether most of them are looking at even at the hardware and the software that they use being focused on energy efficiency. So I still think that there is a long way to go and I am not singling out the IT industry, every industry and enterprise needs to gear up for the challenge. Continue reading

Killed by Blackberry?

“Heard the latest? Ranjan Das is dead,” my friend Sudesh updated over GTalk. The bit of news numbed me, and for a moment I thought it must be some other Ranjan Das he might be referring to. Certaily not the Ranjan Das that I knew, the MD & CEO of SAP, who was young fighting-fit with a cherubic face. Amongst the many IT top guys that I knew, he was by far the fittest, Ranajajoy Punja (ex-cisco and now Vodafone) would come in second. I remember meeting Ranjan a few months back, the suave and genteel man seemed completely in control and excited to drive the German company’s revenues in India. In fact, SAP after many years had nominated an Indian for the top job (followed by Alan Sedghi) and Ranjan seemed to be the best man for it proved by the soaring revenues even as the economy took a dip. Hence, after a few anxious moments, I asked Sudesh “the SAP one?” To my dismay it was. And all that remained was a shock.

The reason for this profound effect was his age. At 42, Ranjan could be termed to be at his prime. He was physically fit, in fact he was returning from a session at the gym when the hands of fate stopped his Rajandasheart beat. Going by my own gait and girth, I for once would have been a more likely candidate for such an event in comparison to Ranjan. But then Ranjan is not the exception when it comes to a life snuffed out in the prime, in my own personal sphere I have come across numerous instances like Dewang & Sunil Mehta from Nasscom, Vivek Dayal from Mphasis, etc.

The one thing that is common to all these departed souls except for their relatively young age, is the fact that they all were involved in fairly high-profile work. All of these people including Ranjan were complete go-getters, always on the move, with set goals for the future and moving briskly towards them. The only thing a miss was that such work and lifestyle brings in tons and tons of stress with it. Somewhere their bodies could not keep pace with their ambitions and it gave up. Hard stress and not hard work killed them. Continue reading

Caught in the slough of mammon

Media industry in India was badly hit by the global economic downturn and yet it is only their greed and ignorance that is to blame.

On a sultry February evening, the high and mighty of print media in India, namely, Indian Express’ Shekhar Gupta, HT’s Shobhana Bhartia, and TN Ninan of Business Standard dropped for a visit at Shashtri Bhavan to meet Anand Sharma, then the MoS for Information and Broadcasting.

The meeting was unusual as the triumvirate of Gupta, Bhartia and Ninan were meeting the Minister not as condescending journalists but as supplicants pleading for a bailout especially for the newspaper industry due to pressures borne out of the economic slowdown.

Apparently, the minister gave them a kind ear and promised to look into their demands. Within a few days, the government announced a stimulus package that comprised a waiver of 15% agency commission on DAVP advertisements and a 10% increase in rates for the ads released by the DAVP.

Certainly, it must have been a major embarrassment for the proud Czars of the Fourth Estate to mollycoddle the very government they are prone to stick a knife into. But ever since the tide turned in the US markets and thereby the rest of the world, the media industry in India and elsewhere has been under severe pressure in terms on increase in input costs and a massive reduction in revenues.

Not such a fine print’

Indeed the inputs costs in terms of newsprint prices have really ballooned over the past year so or so– by around 60% since 2007. According to recent study done by FICCI-KPMG, the sudden escalation in newsprint prices is one of the primary reasons why the newspapers have suffered.  The study estimates the print media industry to be collectively worth around Rs. 17260 crore for 2007-08, and due to the pressures from within and outside the collective growth of the industry has been pegged at a paltry 7.6% and projected to grow by some 6% in the current year. Continue reading

Mumbai Sea-Link: For Townies & Lal-battiwallahs

Yesterday, the first lady of India, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi inaugurated the 5.6 kilometre long sea bridge that connects Bandra and Worli amidst much fanfare and celebration. Dubbed as Rajiv Setu, the sea link —  the longest one in India — is touted as an engineering marvel that promises to cut down travel time between two distant suburbs of Mumbai from some 45 mins to 7 mins. The media guys, who have gone wonkers on the bridge, would have us believe that because of the sea-link gazillion gallons of petrol will be saved, atmospheric pollution will come down, global warming will be solved, India will become a super power, humanity will live in peace, etc. etc.

And yet, speaking for the average Mumbaikar or the Bombaywallah, there is something about this bridge that just doesn’t seem right; and it has nothing to do with its splendid architecture. The trouble to be honest is very existential in nature and can be stated as following:

DID MUMBAI REALLY NEED THIS SEA-LINK?

Mumbai, for the uninitiated, is a longitudinally spread city, i.e. unlike other cities that usually take a circular sort of shape spreading out from all directions, Mumbai does not.  Thus when the Britishers came here in the 17th century and settled down in what is now Colaba, the city has been stretched like a rubber band to the northern side.  In fact, till around 1950s, places beyond Bandra (or as Salcette Island as the Portuguese referred to it) were not considered to be Bombay at all. People would loathe to live in places like Goregaon, Kandivali, Joegeshwari, etc. In fact, most of the city denizens would not deem the suburbanites to be second class citizens, much like the compartments in the local trains.

But in the past few decades that has changed drastically. Driven by commercial needs the city has expanded frantically and what was despised in the 1950s is now much desired. While Churchgate, Colaba, and Dadar were the centers of the olden days; Andheri, Ghatkopar and Kurla are the new hubs of a modern and vastly overcrowded city. In fact, the change has been so drastic that it is almost as if there are two different cities that stare at each other over the Mahim creek. Continue reading

Learning to live with Ahmadinejad

 

Ever since the Persian nation went to polls some days back, the world had been waiting with baited breath for the results to come out. In fact, more than the local candidates, the global leaders seemed to have more at stake, starting from the very top from Mr. Obama to Monsieur Sarkozy. The interest level could be gauged by the direct address made by Obama to the Iranian public (which had been largely blacked out by the national media) exhorting them to vote for a change, which could be simply translated as anybody but the current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  

And where the western leaders stopped, the western media came in. Over the past few weeks, almost all the major news channels right from BBC to CNN have been airing special documentaries on the life and politics of Iran. Watching them, it is not hard to miss the subtext to it all, “Ahmadinejad is evil, Mousavi is the savoir. So vote for green”. Over and over again, people were shown the two Irans that live side by side; a modern nation of youths eager to break the shackles and the ancient land of peasants who just want to subsist on government subsidies. Images of young people with spiked and streaked hair, waving the “V” for victory glared at you through the screen. It seemed to be more Idaho than Iran. All through the past few weeks, the channels emphasised how life in Iran had taken a turn for the worse, and how badly Ahmadinejad had failed. It was as if Mousavi had enlisted the help of all these news channels in his battle for Iranian president ship.

But all that fell flat, when the results came out, the bugbear won and won handsomely; Ahmadinejad cornered some 63% of votes versus 34% that of Mousavi. All hopes of a Green Revolution on the lines of the Orange and Purple ones came crashing down to the ground. The verdict is quite unequivocal, even if there have been some irregularities in the process, they can in no manner bridge the immense gap between the victor and the challenger. For good or for worse, Iranians have chosen Ahmadinejad to represent and to lead them. Continue reading

2020: Just not cricket

Thankfully, the curtains come down on the IPL tamasha today in South Africa. Over the past month and more, we have been inundated with victories, defeats, controversies, etc., from the second season of IPL, the 2020 cricket tournament. Various teams named after different cities and regions of India dressed up in bright ‘in your eyes colours have a go at each other for some 20 odd overs in company of cheer leaders who strut their stuff every time a boundary is scored or a wicket falls. 2020 cricket has apparently found its feet and is now has some critical mass, so as to be dubbed as a form of sport in its own right. And yet, somewhere I feel it nothing more than an abomination on the name of cricket.

In a country devoid of many heroes, cricket is not merely a sport but a religion of sorts. People have taken to worshipping the cricketers, who are nothing less the avatars of the divine lords. Ironically, the game is a colonial import, brought  and introduced by our English masters. But it was in 1983, when Kapil Dev and his team lifted the Prudential Cup over their heads; we fell in love with the game. For a young and vibrant nation breaking from its past, the game came as an ego-booster; India had arrived so as to say.

Over the years, the game took on different connotations as we progressed, from being a steroid shot to a revenge mechanism (Indo-Pak matches), cricket continued to enthuse and excite us. We were fortunate as well, having a recurring crop of world class players, from Vijay Merchant to Sunil Gavaskar to Kapil Dev to Sachin Tendulkar to the current bunch of youngsters led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Though, we haven’t won another World Cup in one-day cricket, we continue to be a force to reckon with both on and off the field (financial clout).

Yet, even as the game has transformed over the past decades; there has been a steady descent. Thanks to the millions and billions of monies, cricket has ceased to be a ‘gentleman sport’ but merely a money spinner. And 2020 is the worst manifestation of the greed that now enshrouds and has its grip on the game. To be honest, cricket has died an ignomious death in the last few years, and strangely we the worshippers didn’t even realise it. Continue reading

A :( yet :) Communalist

Communalists like me in India are a wee bit dazed at the moment by the way the election results have unfolded in India. While, victory by NDA (led by a communal BJP) seemed improbable; the contrary (victory of UPA) did not seem a possibility either. To that end, I had stuck out my neck last time (http://shashwatdc.com/2009/04/who-will-be-the-18th-pm/) and declared that Congress will lose the hustings and so will BJP, and we will be see the emergence of a prime minister from one of the numerous fronts. May 16th proved me, and so many more like me, to be wrong and I stand corrected now. I had completely underestimated the intelligence of Indian voters (though I still quite doubt its existence) and had gone ahead and predicted the future as perceived from my rather urbanised mind. I had forgotten that India lives in the villages, thus the issues that were relevant to me were not the same with that of say a Shankar in Azamgarh. 

To be honest, I have never really been able to fathom as to what makes the Indian masses tick; is it a mere battle of survival, so that anyone who gives them the maximum freebie wins or is it caste/religious identity? Considering the way Indians politicians pander and beguile the populace year after year, it is hard to expect them to be sane and rational. Either my fellow countrymen, that number well over a billion, are very intelligent can segregate the wheat from the chaff or are complete idiots who can be easily taken for a ride by wily politicos. Looking at the results of the 15th Lok Sabha elections from this prism, I am a bit more inclined towards believing that Indian voters are more sensible than they are thought to be. And, before all the Congressi start jumping with ‘we told you so’. Let me clarify my statement.

The reason why I detest Congress more from an ideological point-of-view than from a logical one. For me the Gandhi-worship is akin to the dynastical worship of the past; recall how the zamindar babu’s son would be another zamindar himself, similarly, a Gandhi scion has no need to prove himself before being vaulted into the stratosphere of Indian politics. All that is required is a mere name that can be earned by birth or by marriage. This herd mentality, rather common trait among Indians who have been accustomed to be ruled for ages, pisses me no end. And that is the primary reason why I want the callous Gandhi party to be decimated. Continue reading

The Curious case of Two Mr. P(s)

One of the most baffling mystery that plagues mankind is whether our existence moves on pre-determined course or whether we are chance entities that live, exist and die in complete randomness. Is there really something abstruse as luck, chance, fate, destiny and if the cosmic movements of some 12 odd celestial bodies that keep moving in time and space dictate indeed our lives? Can all of mankind be divided into 12 sub sects, namely, Gemini, Virgo, Pisces, Capricorn, etc?  In fact, day after day, Marjorie Orr and her ilk come out with predictions based on these celestial bodies that are true for all mankind, so as to say. And they would like us to believe that inane predictions like, “you will have a fight with your loved one and you will suddenly discover a fortune under your financial dealings” is true for all Pisceans apparently, and there must be quite a few 100 million of them around.

Personally, I am unable to commit myself to either of these view planks; while it is hard to swallow that all my actions and its consequences are preordained, thus for instance, the fact that I am writing this article has been written earlier and the words that I will be using have been chosen beforehand, is a wee bit unfair to me. On the other end, there seems to be something as malleable ether that enshrouds us, that ensures that my contemporaries are well paid, well sought, and wealthier than I am. Hence, I won’t be naive to question the existence of certain lady who seems to be lucky to few and indifferent to rest, at the risk of antagonizing her.

Beyond the personal experience, now and then one does comes across strange happenings of life, that seem to indicate that the 12 celestial bodies do play a role in our lives. The curious case of Two Mr. P(s) is one such occurrences of life that is hard to put down as just another coincidence. Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Velupillai Prabhakaran are two people that have been much in news in the past few weeks. Rather well known as Prachanda and Prabhakaran, both are leaders of revolutionary movements in their respective countries and have been blamed for much mayhem by their detractors. And now, even as you read these words, both are facing the biggest challenge in their lives, while Prabhakaran is fighting an up-hill battle for his (and LTTE’s) survival, Prachanda is caught in a quandary, should he take on his old ‘Maoist’ mantle or stick on with the new democratic one that he donned a few months back. Both Mr. Ps are fighting a pitch battle at the moment, one of survival and other or relevance.

And it is not only the letters of the name that is common to these Mr. Ps; the links between the two are much deeper. Apparently, Mr. Prabhakaran and Mr. Prachanda were both born in same year 1954 and within a few days of each other, while the Tamil tigerist was born on November 26, the Nepali Maoist was born December 11. If an Indian astrologer was paid to make a janampatri (birth-chart) of these two Mr. Ps, there would be much in common between the two of them in terms of the 12 houses and the celestial bodies that inhabit them. Hence, astrologically speaking, the destiny curves of these two people must be more or less the same. And rather strangely it is.
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Happy B’day Manikda!

It must be a special day up in the heaven today, considering it is Manikda’s earthly birthday. In the lavish celestorium up above, there must be back-to-back screenings from the mastsatyajit_rayer’s repertoire, starting with Pather Panchali and if possible going on till Agantuk. Probably all his contemporaries and admirers like Renoir, Bergman, Bunuel, Fellini, Kurosawa must have arrived from their respective heavens, revisiting his  masterpieces, discussing, dissecting and deliberating on them. Meanwhile, the birthday boy himself, would be sitting in a corner, away from the glare, dressed up in white dhoti-kurta and a shawl draped over his torso. Sitting cross-legged, a pipe hanging from his mouth sending out small small tufts of tobacco clouds quite like the steam engine in Pather Panchali that amused Apu and Durga. Satyajit Ray or Manikda as he was known within the film fraternity, must be observing all and sundry with intent full eyes, and probably thinking of what more embellishments could have been made to these movies or how many more he could have made, only if he had seen Bicycle Thieves a little earlier or the finances had flown in evenly through the years. Or just probably, he might be seeing those movies now not as a maker but as a viewer and enjoying them as thoroughly as we all do.

Manikda lived for 70 years on this planet and in it made some 28 feature length films and some half-a-dozen odd documentaries; he started at 32 and ended only when his time on tera-firma was up. In these 35-38 odd years, he completely reshaped the cinema in India and also across the globe. If ever one is coerced to take a single name whose influence on film making has been the most impactful, it has to be Ray. Though, he was not beyond the slur of numerous critics and self-appointed nationalists; yet he never did let anything or anyone bog him down and much like Gupi and Bagha in his two comic capers (which were heavily satirical as well) continued to enthrall his audiences across the globe.

“Not seeing Ray’s film is like living in the world, without the sun and the moon,” Kurosawa had stated once, and there is little more that can be added or appended to it. Manikda’s film encapsulated life and times of an India that was caught between the past, present and the future. On one hand, he captures the rigors and tribulations of rural life in Pather Panchali, Ashani Sanket. And then he brings the camera into the city, capturing the vagaries of modern life in Apur Sansar, Mahanagar, Jana Aranya, Agantuk, etc. And even when he dealt with all these serious issues, Manikda never preached and seldom took sides. His films were npt about good or bad or balck or white,  they were merely grey much like the color they were shot in. It was as if, he was trying not to be biased for and against his characters, so in Jana Aranya, you have the son (the main protagonist) who is steadily becoming an instrument of crass capitalism, there is the idealist father who is trying to come to terms with the new realities of life and then there is indifferent brother and his caring wife. Between the four of them, Manikda captured and presented all the differing views that any Indian might be troubled or beset with.

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On Kashmir and Kashmiriyat, & Tahaan as well

Saw the movie Tahaan today. Have been wanting to see that film for a long long time and it had even been broadcasted on some channels a couple of times but I somehow used to miss it. Finally, I got my hands on the DVD and after much wait I managed to see it. The Santosh Sivan film tells a tale of young Kashmiri kid Tahaan (which literally translates into God’s blessing) and his donkey Birbala.

Through the intricate interweaving of the two central characters the story keeps moving indolently much like the gentle stream that is constantly shown in the film. While the story is about innocence, it somehow reflects upon the deep scars that have been imprinted upon the valley. More than a movie on Kashmir, Tahaan is a movie on Kashmiriyaat.

For me, Kashmir is basically a beautiful haze, a charming valley of deodar trees, where saffron flowers abound. Then there is the beautiful charming Dal lake, on which shikaras or small canoes keep floating hither-thither carrying all sort of goods and merchandise. Houseboats also abound on the Dal lake, where honeymoon couples can spend a few days and nights in looking at the millions of stars that shine in the clear skies. Then comes the lilting music that has notes from Sarod and little or no words, except the melodious twang of the strings. This is followed by the supposedly amazing Kahwa that is boiled continuously on curvaceous Kashmiri kettles. The amazing and intricate rugs come next, rather royal and heavy these carpets are fairly ubiquitous and yet hardly affordable.

Surely, one cannot talk of Kashmir without talking about Pashmina shawls, made from the wool of a much rare mountain goat these fabled shawls can fit in a matchbox or pass through a ring, even people who have never set an eye on these shawls can be heard swearing on these miraculous features. And finally, the oh so beautiful women of the valley, whose cheeks are even fuller and redder then those apples that are much famous   all over.

This is the image of Kashmir that we have kind of grown up with, embossed again and again by the numerous Hindi films and tales from parent and grandparents. Thanks to Kashmir ki Kaali, Silsila, Roja, Mission Kashmir, Fanaa, etc. there is a Kashmir that we all cherish in our minds, fantasise about in leisure, dream of a day we will see with our own eyes.

And yet there is another Kashmir that forces itself on our consciousness, a Kashmir of guns, grenades, blasts, killings, Terrorists, encounters, LOC, rocket launchers, Amarnath Yatra, JKLF, AK47s, Kargil, army patrols, strikes, revolts, anti India protests, Article 370, army atrocities, secessionists, Wazir-e-azam, POK, Panun Kashmir, displaced pundits, child warriors, curfew, dull elections, etc. There is a deep chasm between the Kashmir we dream off and the Kashmir we dread.
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Who will be the 18th PM?

Look at any newspaper, magazine, news channel, online media, just about anything, the hot discussion or rather the only discussion that is taking place these days is as to what will happen to the 15th Loksabha, who will win, who will lose and who will stay put. The best brains of this nation are trying to come out with the answers, right from the grey-haired political analysts to the scores of psephologists who have made a well paid business out of predictions.

And yet, as in the past, all these opinion polls and surveys fail to reveal the story, election after election. The reason is simple, the inherent bias. All Indians are political, whether they agree or not. Hence, when they are asked to make the choices they do so based on their desires and hopes (which by the way are shaped by their biases). It is very hard for any analyst, reporter, or even a psephologist to get rid of that bias. And yet, they pretend valiantly to do so. Thus, before every election there are these predictions that are built upwards and then fall flat like a house of cards.

Being a political Indian myself, I strongly feel the urge to add to the cacophony of these predictions. I think can foretell the future based on my ‘gut feel’ and am quite sure how things will turn out. And since, I am aware of my limitations (rather my communal bias), I feel the best thing to do will be to find a few more political Indians like me who feel strongly on the issue and have biases that are not quite like mine. So, while I am tainted in the communal colour of Saffron, I have asked my friend or rather comrade Abhijit Deb who is dipped in Red to make his predictions, and finally to balance the 2nd and the 3rd front, we have a supporter of the Gandhian family Akhilesh Shukla pitching in for Congress I.

Among us, we are making predictions on how things will turn out in the days to come. And all this at a fraction of the cost of all those psephologists and analysts, just a couple of ‘cutting chai’. At the end of the political tamasha, we very much intend to return to this post, and am sure one of us would be grinning to himself patting his own back, while the rest will be terming this to be a rather childish and immature exercise or just that Indian politics is beyond the range of any rational analysis based prediction, it is game of tart, for the tart-headed.

So, mere pyaare desh vasiyon. Here are the 3 scenarios from three biased journalists, please take them with a pinch of salt and a tequila too (if you can afford one, that is). Here it goes:

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Rediscovering Lakh Lakh Chanderi…

For some strange unexplained reasons, there are certain memories that linger and haunt a person for ages. This is more the case with childhood memories, a old home, a forlorn beach, a rabid fight, there is just no limit to what part of childhood you will carry with you through out your life and why?

In my case, it is a song, that too a Marathi one. I must have been no older than 7 or 8 years at max, and somehow a song that I viewed on television way back then stuck with me for all these years. In those times, early-mid eighties, there was only a single channel in India, Doordarshan and color television was not yet available (apparently it was after the Asiad games but the cost was so prohibitively high that only a select Indians could afford it).

The programs that were run on Doordarshan were fairly staid, in fact there was a regional offshoot of Doordarshan, namely Mumbai Doordarshan that broadcasted regional shows; namely plays, news, serials in Marathi. And on prime time, that is 9 pm, the national broadcaster used to take over, so you would have serials, news bulletins et al in Hindi. Since, back then there was no choice except for Doordarshan, we all sat in rapt attention watching the programs even in Marathi and even if it did not make any sense to us. For instance, I recall, just before the the Batmya (news in Marathi) at 7.30 pm, there used to be this show called at Amchi Mati, Amchi Manase, it was basically a show that was targetted for the farmers, telling them how to take care of the cattle, when to sow the seeds, etc. Also, just before the news bulletin, there used to be this small caption of lost and misplaced people, Apan yana pahilat ka, where there would be photos of missing people and sketchy details about them.

On Saturdays, there used to be Marathi movies shown and on Sundays it was Hindi. Thus our schedule was pretty packed in that sense. To be honest, the little Marathi that I know and understand is not because I had it as a subject till the 8th standard, but because I was trying to laugh at all those gags in Arr..tch tch.. or trying to figure out the news in Batmya. Continue reading