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India in 2011 – The Top 20 Videos

Best of 2011
(via pastemagazine.com)

You may term 2011 as whichever kind of year you want to, but one thing we shall perhaps unanimously agree that it was an year of news. All kinds of news. News of things which happened, and also, on the other hand, few things which happened only for the sake of news. Paid and deliberately created news and also the organic news which surprisingly topped the chart. Some were pushed to us down our throats, some went viral because they were kept secrets. Some of the videos can be revered for the visuals, most for the audio and the genius in the voices. But, most of these were revelations, not with surprise but with sheer awe. Invaluable for showcasing the gigantic amount of genius with super entertainment values.

With this kind of list, I am not quite sure about the title this post has, a portion of which says ‘top 20’. We could rightfully use dozens of adjectives and their superlatives of these videos. In many cases, each of the videos can attract a separate superlative exclusively for itself. Excellent, WTF, genius, lame, stupid, idiotic, outrageous, entertaining, courageous, sad, anger, pathetic, hilarious, shameful, irritating, mindless, mindful(!), and so on. But, I took the simplest path available. Apologies if you decided otherwise.

So, forget all the lists of 2011 videos you came across by far and check this one out.

 

20. Kolaveri Di
This was the ‘most deliberate’ viral video ever, thus not a viral, and certainly broke all barriers of language and region. This video can be referenced as a marketing excellence in entertainment industry, nevertheless, this was totally lame and stupid. If you feel otherwise, fine, but I’ll still include this video in this list because it turned out to be too “irritating” in the end, even more than 10 Rakhi Saawants put together. Why? Because it became responsible for 100 of other versions of Kolaveri of all shapes and forms. Fuck, even in the Netherlands. And those videos were everywhere, each of them shared via social media by each of our friends.

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धर्मकाँटा

 

राजा मेरा गज़ब का, किये थे अद्भुत काम
सागर लंका धाँस दी, पाप मिटाता नाम.

उस दिन तेरे देश भये सुखी सभी सुबः शाम
न्याय, सत्य, और प्रेम ने किये कुशल व्यायाम.

याद बिसारी तुने तब, जब पड़ी तेज है घाम
लेकर तेरा नाम यहाँ मच रखी घोर संग्राम.

नज़र बिराजे रामचन्द्र, अधर निहारे दाम
आयुध तानी फैज़ पे, और किया घोर बदनाम.

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Time magazine on Sachin

“When Sachin Tendulkar travelled to Pakistan to face one of the finest bowling attacks ever assembled in cricket, Michael Schumacher was yet to race a F1 car, Lance Armstrong had never been to the Tour de France, Diego Maradona was still the captain of a world champion Argentina team, Pete Sampras had never won a Grand Slam.When Tendulkar embarked on a glorious career taming Imran and company, Roger Federer was a name unheard of; Lionel Messi was in his nappies, Usain Bolt was an unknown kid in the Jamaican backwaters. The Berlin Wall was still intact, USSR was one big, big country, Dr Manmohan Singh was yet to “open” the Nehruvian economy.It seems while Time was having his toll on every individual on the face of this planet, he excused one man. Time stands frozen in front of Sachin Tendulkar. We have had champions, we have had legends, but we have never had another Sachin Tendulkar and we never will.”

Image source: Google Images

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On Celebrity Social Responsibility

The do’s and dont’s of a citizen’s action list can fall in two categories – what she must do and what she should do. The ‘must’ is largely related to legal duties such as paying taxes, abiding to civil and criminal laws, following traffic rules, respecting the liberty of fellow citizens, and so on. The ’should’ list includes what a citizen does beyond the ‘must’ list.

The ‘must’ list appears very important because we, the Indians, mostly donot understand the difference between freedom and liberty, and also rights vs duties and what others should do vs what we should do. We are very intelligent and rational as individuals but pathetic while collaborating and cooperating. If each of Indians only take care of this ‘must’ list, the country will change and see its pinnacles. The interesting part is that the ‘must’ list doesnt require us to sacrifice much of our resources, money, or time. This is a part of the daily life chores and only ’self regulation’ can make this possible.

The ’should’ list is optional, depending on one’s own choice or discretion – by not doing which one’s not legally or morally wrong/irresponsible. This list is not even required to discussed if everybody is self-regulated and takes care of ‘must’ list for oneself. This list is being discussed only because ‘must’ list is ignored by one part of the inhibitants and the apathy of those who sould have taken care of the ‘must’ list. And thats where the celebrities, corporate, or somehow privilaged section of citizens come into the picture.

A celebrity can be anybody because, according to me, a celebrity is a person who has ‘an area of influence”. A common man can influence herself, however a celebrity can influence a group of people. The larger the area (of influence), the bigger the stature of the celebrity. When a common man starts this mission (in the form of social or political activism), she has to first work towards increasing her reach and the area of influence. A celebrity gets this by default, so, when a celebrity enters in the arena of activism, she starts with the immediate action. And when a bigger celebrity comes in picture, she can immediately make many people acting on that task. So, the celebrity stature gives a person an edge, which is mostly the power to influence and width of her reach.

I think this is the reason people raise their heads towards celebrities. But that doesn’t mean a celebrity must do it, definitely not. In this sense, everybody fall in the same pool, hence it is pretty senseless to criticize a celebrity (or for that matter, anybody) if she doesn’t do it. If she takes care of the ‘must’ list, doesn’t influence others to go against it using her reach, she is already a responsible citizen. What more, she is an excellent professional which is already somehow contributing to the development of the country. If somebody leaves her profession (no matters how lucrative or profitable it is), then it is way too great; if she doesn’t, it is still great. We founded one such organization called ‘Dream India Project’ two years before and during last 2 years, much more people joined DIP and involved in debates and activities. Most of us are excellent professionals and are contributing to our professions very well. I am running my own company and when I spend my time, effort, and money with DIP, it is totally my choice and interest. Same goes with fellow DIPians. Even if we don’t do this, we are responsible citizens and contributing to the development of the country with our works in our professions (and this is already beyond the ‘must’ list). Cribs never help, acts do. And I have found that most of the cribs and complains come from those who don’t act. I feel very great that these kinds of topic are being discussed very widely nowadays.

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Mi Vilasrao Deshmukh Boltoye!

Now, this one is really a classic case. Seemingly too much frustrated with the corruption and bribery in government offices, Sanjay Dhotadmal, a man in Pune, applied for ration card and got it issued in the name of Maharashtra’s CM Mr. Vilasrao Deshmukh. After feeding 2000 bucks to the ration officer, it is indeed not a difficult task to get a ration card in the name of whosoever your choice is. IBN Live reports:

Sanjay had actually visited the office to get a copy of his original ration card which was in a poor condition. But when he was asked to pay up for it, he decided to expose the officials. “I wanted to test how sincere the officers were, so I gave Chief Ministers name,” says Sanjay.

And this is what the Divisional Commissioner of Pune Division had to say on this:

“Here something has gone wrong, because we have checked up with the card that has been issued, there has been exploitation of system, money has been paid therefore we have put two people under suspension,”

Such fun and WTFness! But, all the way, this is not something which should surprise us. Corruption is everywhere, at each place and almost everyone in the government offices is corrupt. What matters is the level of work and person who has to be sucked out by the babus. This is known to one and all. However, such cases come to the media only with the occurences of serious or humourous cases. For example, the bribery related with political ghotalas or something like passport of Abu Salem. But, in those cases, the client and moolah both are high and mighty.

Even Rs 2000 isn’t something cheaper bribe of sorts. I have seen policemen and panchayat sewaks asking for Rs 2-10. RPF jawans in Passenger trains or state police on the street markets or traffic police don’t ask for more than 10 Rs or so. This happens everyday, everywhere. And this is something which is very much impossible to curb. The ground-level corruption will always be inevitable.

Another WTF News: NRAI President Digvijay Singh slams shooters Abhinav Bindra and Jaspal Rana for not acknowledging the system’s contribution to their success. He said that the success of Bindra and Rana had been possible due to the system set up by the Indian shooting federation but it seems to have gone to their heads and their statements betray arrogance. (source) (more on Abhinav bindra)

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We shall never forget you, Abhinav!

Back to those days, when Indian shooters have started featuring in international tournaments, an era had started striving to culminate some day. And this was 1994 with Commenwealth and Asiad games. Before that, I don’t think anybody had expected us to do anything in shooting. After the ups-and-downs of Indian hockey, there wasn’t many hopes left. In the 90s or few years before that, lifters, first men and then women, had started emerging in many game events. Olympic was still a dream for every and all. Weightlifters performed quite well in the 90s, snatching many medals at Commonwealth and Asiad, later with a bronze by K Malleshwari at Sydney Olympic. Shooters were also participating and winning medals sometimes, but it was the mid-90s when they came on the forefront. Led by Jaspal Rana and Mansher Singh. Rana was miraculous and very popular among Indian sports enthusiastics. This was the sign of emergence of Indian shooting when the name of Rana, from an unconventional sport, begun mumbled by the common Indians. So, when the hockey was shrinking and track-and-field was still in far horizons, these new-gen sportsmen (and women) were new hopes for Indian sports. I remember people, who used to shout hockey whenever Olympic got mentioned to them, making predictions for medals and counting names of Rana and sports like shooting and weightlifting. From that time, it remained the same for more than a decade. In general, there is nothing much special about it, but if we look at this again, it is no doubt a tremendous developement. Ofcourse, a nation which doesn’t think of anything except Cricket and whenever it came to non-cricket, it was India’s ol’ days hockey stincts and Milkha Singh’s loss by 1/10 seconds. Besides these, there were occasional talks about Kabaddi (at Asiads only) and Tennis. Billiards, Badminton, and Long Jump were mentioned with their lone riders. Except that, I am not able to recall anything from my childhood memories which is broadly concerned with my seniors from that time and newspapers eteceteras.

It was 1994, when India grabbed 3 golds in the commonwealth (5 in total) in shooting, featuring Jaspal Rana with 3 medals. Since then, Rana overshadows Indian shooting till 2006 Asian Games. Mansher Singh and Samresh Jung complimented Rana in Pistol events for a long time. Samresh Jung’s failures at Olympcis, now and then, can’t defy his talents that he posses and has shown at times. It is unfortunate that he is yet to reckon in the frontline. Among the females, there were two noteworthy players – Usha Unnikrishnan and Anjali Vedpathak (Bhagwat). Commonwealth 2002 was the culmination of Indian shooters (and weightlifters). Indians almost swept both categories with 24 medals (14 golds) in Shooting and 27 medals (11 golds) in Weightlifting. Mansher Singh and Usha Unnikrishnan had retired till then to give places for other future players. Many of them emerged as the stars of Indian shooting. Some of them were Anjali Bhagwat, Rajyawardhan Singh Rathore, and a young chap called Abhinav Bindra.

Indian Shooters at Commonwealth 2002

Gold

Mens 25m Standard Pistol – Jaspal Rana
Mens Centre Fire Pistol – Jaspal Rana
Mens 50m Rifle 3 Position – Charan Singh
Mens Double Trap – Rajyavardhan SinghWomens 50m Rifle 3 Position Anjali Bhagwat
Womens Air Rifle – Anjali Bhagwat
Mens 25m Standard Pistol (Team) – Jaspal Rana, Samresh Jung
Womens 50m Rifle 3 Position (Team) – Anjali Bhagwat, Raj Kumari
Mens 50m/Free Pistol (Team) – Samresh Jung, Vivek Singh
Mens Air Rifle (Team) – Abhinav Bindra, Sameer Ambedkar
Womens Air Rifle (Team) – Anjali Bhagwat, Suma Shirur
Mens Centre Fire Pistol (Team) – Jaspal Rana, Mahaveer Singh
Mens Rapid Fire Pistol (Team) – Bhanwar Lal Dhaka, Mukesh Kumar
Mens Double Trap (Team) – Rajyavardhan Singh, Ali Khan Moraad

Silver

Womens 50m Rifle 3 Position – Raj Kumari
Mens 50m/Free Pistol – Samaresh Jung
Mens Air Pistol – Samaresh Jung
Mens Air Rifle – Abhinav Bindra
Womens Air Rifle – Suma Shirur
Mens Air Pistol (Team) – Jaspal Rana, Samresh Jung
Womens Air Pistol (Team) – Sheila Kanungo, Shweta Chaudhary

Bronze

Mens Air Pistol – Jaspal Rana
Mens Clay Pigeon Trap – Anwer Sultan
Mens 50m Rifle 3 Position (Team) – Charan Singh, Subbaiah Airira Pemmaiah

Among the weightlifters, the star medalists were- Kunjarani Devi (3 golds), Kunjarani Devi (3 golds),Shailaja Pujari (3 golds), Pratima Kumari (2 golds, 1 silver), Thandava Muthu (3 medals), Sunaina Sunaina (3 medals), Prasmita Mangaraj (3 medals), and Neelam Sethi Laxmi (3 medals).

Commonwealth 2002 made Jaspal Rana and Anjali Bhagwt household names. Everybody knew about them back then and super-performance at Commonwealth pushed the expectations much forward. However, this glory didn’t remain luminous in the 2002 Asiad games. Shooters could grab only 2 silver medals, much below the earlier performance. But, the stints at commonwealth were enough to sparkle the hope for the fans. The target was already set and the aim was the olympic. In 2004 Olympic, Armyman Rajyawardhan Singh Rathore finally won the excellent Silver medal, in men’s double trap. This re-iterated the Indian claim in shooting. In the coming sports events, although the stage was not properly set at the international stage, the prime indian attention was mainly on the shooters.

After a mixture of success at Commonwealth, excellent entry into the Olympic, and failure at Asiad, the journey of shooter again started in 2006 which was much better than the earlier performances. The stardom didn’t remain the same, however.

Indian shooters at Commonwealth 06

Gold
Mens 50m Rifle 3 Position – Gagan Narang
Mens Air Rifle – Gagan Narang
Womens 50m Rifle 3 Position – Anuja Jung
Mens 50m/Free Pistol – Samaresh Jung
Mens Air Pistol – Samaresh Jung
Womens Air Rifle – Tejaswini Sawant
Mens Double Trap – Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore
Mens Rapid Fire Pistol – Vijay Kumar
Womens 25m Pistol (Team) – Saroja Kumari Jhuthu, Sushma Rana
Mens 25m Standard Pistol (Team) – Ronak Pandit, Samaresh Jung
Mens 50m Rifle 3 Position (Team) – Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang
Mens Air Pistol (Team) – Samaresh Jung, Vivek Singh
Mens Air Rifle (Team) – Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang
Womens Air Rifle (Team) – Avneet Kaur Sidhu, Tejaswini Sawant
Mens Centre Fire Pistol (Team) – Jaspal Rana, Samresh Jung
Mens Rapid Fire Pistol (Team) – Pemba Tamang, Vijay Kumar

Silver
Mens 50m Rifle 3 Position – Abhinav Bindra
Mens Air Pistol – Vivek Singh
Womens Air Rifle – Avneet Kaur Sidhu
Mens Rapid Fire Pistol – Pemba Tamang
Womens 50m Rifle 3 Position (Team) – Anjali Mandar Bhagwat, Anuja Jung
Mens 50m/Free Pistol (Team) – Samaresh Jung, Vivek Singh
Mens Double Trap (Team) – Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Vikram Bhatnagar

Bronze
Mens Air Rifle – Abhinav Bindra
Mens Centre Fire Pistol – Samaresh Jung
Mens Clay Pigeon Trap – Manavjit Singh Sandhu

Indian shooters at Asiad 06

Gold
Men’s 25m Centre Fire Pistol – Jaspal Rana
Men’s 25m Standard Pistol) – Jaspal Rana
Men’s 25m Centre Fire Pistol Team – JUNG Samresh , KUMAR Vijay, RANA Jaspal

Silver
Mens Clay Pigeon Trap – Manavjit Singh Sandhu
Mens 25m Standard Pistol (Team)
Mens Clay Pigeon Trap (Team)
Mens Double Trap (Team)
Womens 10m Air Pistol (Team)

Bronze
Mens Double Trap – Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore
Mens 50m Rifle 3 Positions – Gagan Narang
Mens 25m Rapid Fire Pistol – Vijay Kumar
Mens 10m Air Rifle (Team)
Womens 10m Air Rifle (Team)
Mens 50m Rifle 3 Positions (Team)

No wonder, why the shooters were at the main target of any Indian who has anything to know about or do with Indian athletes and sportsmen at olympic, this year. The association also had said, before the cast and crew left for the big event, that the shooters, pugilists, and lee-hash are the super favourites this time and we are hoping for a better performance because the hockey has not overshadowed rest of the sports. I must remind that the 8-time Olympic gold medalist had lost the chance to participate in Beijing Olympics earlier after loosing badly in the pre-qualifiers. Anyways, the statement of association was kind of an exaggeration, as I thought at that time. I mean, okay, look at stats, what is India in Olympics without hockey! Man, we had Gold metals good 8 times. In the next moments, shooters gave me hope and it was for our good otherwise whats the use of sending Indian troop to China if our entire hope is based on sticks only. And anyways, there will be no Indian hockey in the olympics this time, so what!! what all they had been able to do since 1980. Damn 28 years!

Anyways, the Olympic started. All eyes were centered on RS Rathore. I don’t know about others but the other favourites must be Samresh Jung or Gagan Narang. And then, a guy came from nowhere. He struggled in the qualifier rounds and was at the 4th position among 4 qualified shooters for final round, but whom of us knew that he had saved his best for the best. And, then he shot and shot it all on the target. Much better then all the Rajnikanths, ofcourse! And what we saw next was a shing medal(Bingo, it was the gold) on the chest of a spectacles-powered spectacular handsome guy with the tricolors, waving humbly and proudly and hugging his female coach. What a moment! Just like a dream! It was clearly apparent on his face that he meant what he said earlier: “I believe in myself”. And it was a due from a guy with such talent, never a surprise! In the midst of this grand celebrations, there are still many unheard sounds which were delivered from the same guy whose gun roared before getting the gold. Those words were, I think, equally important as we must believe that our heroes posses much power in their minds and words, besides their guns and roses. Many of us – especially those who are extra-enthusiastics, like the association, politicians, and the ‘fans’ – will not like to hear and remember his other deliveries such as –

I would like to reiterate that everyone who represents India at the Olympic Games has put in years of toil and sweat. I ask the Indian people to support our athletes more. It is fine to celebrate our achievements but it is just as important to keep up the backing when we are not on top of our game.

It is important for India to do better at Olympic sport as these are the true measure of a nation’s sporting depth. I wish more private initiatives come up with corporate support apart from the backing of the government. The joy that the nation feels at my win is humbling. I just wish that this is repeated more and more often.

With our depth of talent and expanse of people I firmly believe India can be a world-class sporting power. What we need are precise systems. I will try to do my bit at grooming the next generation. I would like to appeal to each Indian to also do their bit in prodding us out of sporting complacency”

Which means why do we forget Ranas, then Rathores, and Bindras? How is it possible for us to flock in lakhs when our cricket team wins t-20 and after few months, throw stones at the houses of same players who lost a match or two after few months? How the first individual olympic medal winner of India died in poverty? It also says that why a nation of one billion population and billions of resources was unable to win single gold model? And how the same players thrived at the same occassions when supported by their rich parents (Abhinav Bindra) or supported by some private organizations (Saina Nehwal and Akhil Kumar, supported by Mittals)?

Abhinav Bindra

Abhinav Bindra is a hero but we didnt make Bindra a hero and nor did the government, no matters how much they scream. But, indeed he is an hero of one billion Indians, now and forever. And we could have more Bindras if we listen to that great boy! Had we given this flocking award money to the players like him during their training and preparations, we would have dozens of Bindra grabbing medals every olympic day!

As usual, everybody (our politician mai-baaps) was distributing our hard-earned money to Bindra (as if it was their own) after he returned India. The most amusing award was from Laloo Prasad. He gave one-year (or it was lifetime, I dont quite remember) free travel in Indian Railway’s AC coach. Mister! this guy had enough money to train himself in France, would you take him Paris on you railway coach!!! This guy has corporate value of over $ 20 million per year and his father already gifted him much than you could imagin! Now, please, give free rail passes (2nd class, not AC) to our rural sportsmen, they will get much more benefits!

And to Bindra, we salute your success and we are not going to forget you and your talent in this lifetime! And we have similar respects and appreciations for Saina Nehwal and Rajwendra Singh Rathore, Akhil Kumar, Jitendra Kumar, Vijendra Kumar, and all our other sportsmen! For now, I am going to cheer out loud for our rocking pugilists. Come on, guys, dikha do!

Images source: rediff.com; Commonwealth Data from thecgf.com

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Who says India lags behind in education?

…When the size of “Coaching for admission to the IITs and other engineering colleges” industry is Rs. 10,000 Crore. ASSOCHAM says:

“The amount of money which goes to these institutions is enough to open 30 to 40 IITs with lots of seats that can ensure admission to average candidates,”

Of course, it doesn’t include coaching institutes for management tests, civil services exams, other government services, international tests, medical entrance tests, computer courses, et ceteras.

Also: The Economist has an article on how to learn the right lessons from other countries’ schools.

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The Third Mistake

The 3 mistakes of my lifeI received June edition of ‘Book Today’, a monthly newsletter of India Today Book Club, today. The cover picture of the newsletter was of “Amitav Ghosh” who has recently released his new novel, Sea of Poppies, the first in the trilogy of novels. ITBC is offering 10% discount on this book.

The interesting part was that Chetan Bhagat’s latest book “the 3 mistakes of my life” is coming absolutely free with the purchase of Sea of Poppies. This book was released only two months before and the writer, who was the all time bestseller author after release of his first book, is being distributed free with another book. Seems the magic is lost now or was it really a magic ever before?

The reason is not the market, rather it is very much the marketers and the producers themselves. After one book of an author becomes bestseller, the publishers seduce the author with a very hefty sum of money which makes the writer to write anything and everything but the literature. Then, begins the exploitation of author, literature, readers, goodwill, subject matter, and so on. I remember authors of yesteryears used to take gap of 5-13 years in writing and releasing a book. Ayn Rand took 4 years to release Anthem, 5 years to release The Fountainhead, and 14 years to release her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged. For Richard Bach, it was 7 years for “the bridge across forever” and 4 years for “the one”. The gap between the release of “the golden gate” and “the suitable boy” was 7 years. Chetan Bhagat took 2 years to write each of his books. Paulo Coelho is the rockstar, he writes two books every year. It is an urge to exploit the market hence the books are no more a piece of literature these days, but a product to sell. Something like – think about the plot which can be sold and write something on it. If you couldn’t think of writing more pages than the petty plot demanded, write anything bullshit that you have read during your college years and afterwards.

Not only that, the subjects and plots are also being badly exploited. Take two examples – one, IITs or IIMs or any premium college with a bunch of youths; two, stories (mainly, cultural clashes) of Indian diaspora (NRIs). Now, search the market for the books based on one of these subjects and count the number of books available out there. Here, we are bypassing the non-fictions (better say, self-help or so-called management books) which are more bullshits than the fictions. Many of them give you a feel that even you can write such books after reading 8-10 similar kinds of books. But, this is the way it goes. And this is the reason why books of Ayn Rand and Joseph Heller are still bestsellers. Authors like JRR Tolkien and Mario Puzo had created truly fascinating, unique and separate world in their books and characters of authors like Ayn Rand and Albert Camus were so visually elaborated that we created a flawless images of them in our minds. So much that we are not able to accept and enjoy a movie based on those books and characters. Whereas, mostly books of these days are very stereotypical and identical to their peers. Characters are boring and plots are repeated.

Books are written because they have to be written and to be read by the world. Its a pity that most of recently released books lack this reason. They have a plot which has been repeated umpteen times and an idea which could easily be expressed in an article or a blog entry. Writing is no more a passion, but a fashion. This has created a peculiar kind of gap in demand and supply where both are increasing with the same speed.

Image courtesy: Chetan Bhagat, Brain Stuck

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The Hunger Cafe

Mumbai Journal of New York Times reports:

The world is filled with eating houses of every kind, from hamburger joints to three-star restaurants. There are places you drive through and places where you sit down. But the world may be unfamiliar with a Mumbai variation on the theme: the hunger cafe.

The hunger cafes have stood for decades on a stretch of road in the Mahim neighborhood. Mumbai’s broken, drifting men squat in neat rows in front of each establishment, waiting patiently. Vats full of food simmer behind the doors. What separates them from the food is the 25-cent-per-plate cost — a gulf harder to bridge than one might assume. But every so often, a car pulls up and makes a donation, and the men dine.

Also,

Among the swelling middle class, anonymous, checkbook-style charity has yet to catch on. Indians have shown scant enthusiasm for giving to abstract causes. Indian charity is feudal charity: making donations to those below you in your household chain of command. And so, to bring these men indoors with the notion of safeguarding their dignity would risk their starvation, in the calculation of the restaurateurs. They believe the men must be exhibited like this, sunken and sad-eyed. They must gaze at passers-by with that obedient, mournful, reverential stare that well-born Indians have learned to expect. They must be advertisements for their own cause.

Image source: New York Times

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2008: The Year That It Can Be

Greetings, folks!

It is another happy new year. Sounds cliché, eh! But no, it’s 2008 which has become alive for the first time, with new resolutions, new plans, new schemes, new this, new thateverything will be new, as we expect, right! Well, it has to be, it’s a new year after all. But, the foundations of most of the New Year happenings are already set in 2007 itself and significantly all the news headlines will be the extensions of the last year’s editorials. Some of them will turn out to be marathons whereas most for them will be sprints only. Yet everybody hopes for a change and a totally afresh string of events, whether it is Hillary Clinton or Saurav Ganguly or you or me. This hope is the almost similar everywhere, irrespective of the political and geographical and social boundaries. A Pakistani will hope to get rid of General and Fatwas, whereas an Indian will expect to get the Comrades and rallies sacked by their destinies. The expectations are the same whether it is a mortgage loans defaulter in US or the oil barons in Middle East. Whether they are the monks of Myanmar suspicious of how the juntas act this year or the rural Indians speculating that how much money finally comes out from the government funds and policies after the largest logistics channel of the world formed by Indian bureaucracy and politics which can get a place in Guinness Book if some news channel gets an idea of it and start some Lead Guinness or send SMS for national pride campaign. In short, though the details could differ, the essence wouldn’t.

I also have some questions which will be taking my curious attentions this year. Let’s see if the answers could be obvious or the New Year will really welcome some real changes.

1. First, I am fed up of the Obama-Hillary teasing drama now and I am very much curious to know that which one of them is the filthiest flirt?

2. Second one is quite related to the first question. The reason behind this relation is that if you open any US or international magazine or newspaper you will find yourself reading about the latest episode of O-mama Hillo-ree soap or a column on Time’s person of the year, who once happened to be my favorite politician, Czar Putin. So, how will the political events take place in Russia this year? This is precisely important because Putin will be finishing his presidential terms. Though he has already appointed his close friend as president and he’ll stay in power as the prime minister. The change of positions are known to all, but it will still be an important event.

3. Few years before, one joke was very popular in virtual world which used to ask – If Bill Gates finds one dollar bill on the street, what will he do? The answer was – he’ll ignore the bill because he will be making 10 times more money in the time spent to pick the dollar bill. On July 31st this year, he’ll be retiring from Microsoft from day-to-day activities. So, according to the grapevine, Billu will have lots of free time after July 31st. Will he, now, pick the one-dollar bill from the street?

4. Aaaah, now here goes my favorite question. Hmmguess what? It could be yours as well. Well, curtains have been raised again after 4 years, this year in Beijing. And it’s the Olympic. And the question is..? I don’t know what should I ask – will India win a gold or how many medals will India win or after all, will India win any medal or not? Well, let’s say, who gives a damn!

5. Now, some serious questions. Moditva and non-moditva and everything seem to be working for BJP everywhere except in the central politics. Will this be continued in this year as well, as the month of November is scheduled for assembly elections in four Hindi states – Delhi, Rajasthan, MP, and Chhattisgarh? Nevertheless, I would like to skip Mizoram in this case.

6. Though we can skip Mizoram in the case of BJP, we can’t skip morons (no pun intended) of Indian politics in case of overall Indian politics. And the stupidity will steal the show again, as in 2007, it has been outlandishly performed by Karunanidhi, Devegauda, Gujjar leaders, comrades, Shiv-sainiks, and suchlike last year. But there is one guy who always stole the show, stealing the show, and will continue to steal it in the coming years. This rockstar is none other than Comrade Karat. And the question is – which all types of raga will he recite in 2008?

7. This year, as it is predicted, the world’s urban population will exceed its rural population. So, though India will still be the county which lives in villages, the most of world’s population will be living in towns. This, in effect, will increase the rich-poor differences, environmental challenges, and social disruptions. Henceforth, there will be more campaigns by Bono and much more meetings and reports will take place from UN office, IPCC, et al. As the Nobel peace prize has been awarded to mainstream world’s environmental activists for the first time and the UN has declared the year 2008 as the International Year of Planet Earth, the question will be the same as the Yaksha had asked Yudhistir in Maharbharata. What next?

8. Despite the fact that the international politics ought to be much interested in the change of executives of US and Russia, the most speculating event is taking pace in our neighborhood, Pakistan. Last year has provided a big stage for the drama and as the General sacked the court, new military chief got appointed, Benezir assassinated, and the opposition has just weaken by the lack of alternate leadership in PPP and another opponent Nawaz Sharif is already tired and feared. General is also facing many challenges from outside and inside forces. West is also frustrated by the mis-utilization of anti-terror funds. So, will any of the political parties emerges to compete with Musarraf or general will retain the position or will the democracy get a life? What will happen to Pakistan, after all?

9. The biggest question is more related with predictions, analysis, speculations, trends, and numbers, at the global stage. Every country, industry, and people is anxious about how the global economy turns in 2008. There are just too many questions – will the US market face recession, will rupee rise more, will Sensex reach 30K, will oil prices rise, which way and how will the 3 trillion dollar tidal wave flow, and suchlike. And the answer will probably be – nobody knows until it comes.

10. The last question may constitute several little questions, like will Taare Zameen Par go (if yes, then will it be selected) to Oscars, will Darsheel Safary get nominated for best actor in any of the movie awards, how will the Indian cricket team perform, what will happen to Rahul Dravid, will MF Hussain return India, will Sanjay Dutt go to jail again, how will the union budget be, how will the terrorists and naxal movements proceed, what will happen to Nandigram, how will the Tata’s 1 lakh car look like, will India really send a satellite to moon this year, will the Indian IT outsourcing/BPO industry tend to crash this year, how will Bollywood treat the audience and box office treat the Bollywood, etcetera, etcetera. We surely seem to be waiting for the year 2008, aren’t we?

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