Sunday, October 02, 2011

Food prices

Hail the highly respected Montek Singh Ahluwalia , aka “former World Bank man” and India’s resident economic genius, whose team reckons that Rs. 32/- per day is enough to keep an Indian above the poverty level.

Honestly, doesn’t this smell more of a ‘garib hato’ pogrom, rather than garibi hatao?

This is an appeal to home grown social activists/eco-terrorists. Kindly hijack the gentleman and some of his cohorts and dump them in some out of the way slum or village. Let them spend twelve…nay, give them grace for being chronically wealthy; let them survive five days on Rs. 32 a day and show us all how well that goes; prove their point in public interest, if not that of the ivory-towered Planning Commission and the government of India’s creditability.

Is it not ironic – while our growth rate rises, our calculations of GDP spiral, salaries of top stars and top honchos, corporate, bureaucrat and political , go through the roof, somehow it is reckoned that the poor need less and less to survive.

India has a billion people, give or take a few millions. Let’s assume that that ‘give or take’ millions are those of our population who fret over ‘cut backs’ on luxuries, not cut backs in household budgets. Of the residual billion, the vast majority belongs to households caught in a bind today:

With food prices shooting, whether to purchase adequate nutrition for growing children/working adults/family seniors? Or save and invest? After all, wasn’t it those small savings that led the way to the economic makeover that led to Shining India? And those brave subsidy cutbacks on fuel, i.e. petrol and LPG, snowball to hit the aam admi most.

Their primary concern is with the retail prices, while Montek & co. only deal with suitably adjusted wholesale prices of 3 – 6 weeks ago. So, effectively, prices will never fall and food will not reach the mouths that need it.

It is the interests of coalition partners, interests of the fertilizer lobbies, those of the dealers of hybrid seeds, MNCs, World Bank’s pet babies etc that are more important in the ‘overall big picture’ …… not that huge segment of that billion.

A suggestion was floated, about an ‘interest subsidy’ for exporters and importers affected by the slide of the rupee. Poor rich people!

How about poor poor people and poor middle class ones? Something like an “EMI subsidy” for those who put lifelong savings into a new home, only to find the interest rates spiraling out of control?

Or a “nutrition subsidy” for all those wondering whether to buy food? If so, how much?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

SPEAKING OUT

Dust thou art, to dust returnest
Was not spoken of the Soul.
Naa, toh nahi sahi
Par kya karoon main is Soul kaa
Ne chain se jeeta
Ne marne ki ijazat detaa.
Jeete ajo, jeete jao
Chain khokar, mann ko maar kar.
KYON?
Kyon maaron main apne mann ko?
Kyon nahi maarun doosre ka mann?
Mere mann ke marne se kya hoga
Main ne rahoongi
Ek dukhi kukurti awaaz
Shayad kam hogi.
SHAYAD bola...
Kyon kiu ek aisi awaz jayengi
To dagli doosri ayengi
Pata nahi kahan kahan se aa jaati
Hainhain karti, apna matlab bataane
Aur dusroon ka laksh bhulaane
Chain se jeene ne deti.

The Women's Bill

Bring out the candles and the placards
The sit ins at India Gate or the Rani of Jansi's
Women of India unite
You have nothing to lose but your Patriarchal chains.
They wasted decades in the run up to the Bill
Leth them not now cut it up into a Reservation Pie.
They've stepped up rapes in U P
A minister's niece murdered in A P
Is it to remind us
That men hold up the sky
And women are underneath.
We talk of Arab women debarred from driving
What about the Indian woman's right to Legislate?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rewriting history

Just finished rereading the book that set me off on my Mastani trail..."The Sword of Tipu Sultan" written by Dr. Bhagwandas Gidwani who also wrote another amazing book "The Return of the Aryans."
The amount of reseach that Gidwani puts in takes him into territory which stands at odds with the British sponsored history we learnt at school and opens new vistas, which is what encouraged me to look behind the sponsored dancing girls myths created around Mastani.
Even if Gidwani is totally enamoured with his characters, the pictures he delineates of the India of the times of Tipu Sultan reveal one inwhich Hindus and Msulims shared much common space; it also throws light on the perfidy of our so-called Rajahs and Rajputs who have a history of letting India down at every invasion since Time Immemorial. In Tipu's time, apart formhis father Hyder Ali, the only ones who stood up to the British were the Marathas, led by Brahmins.
Tipu Sultan himself was tutored by a mullah and a pandit, and his prime minister was a Brahmin. Gidwani draws an intriguing picture of a man torn between being a Fakir, a King and a Patriot, offering long forgotten lessons in history and its creation by ' the mindless little men of the future who call themselves historians..."
the Hindustan of the 1700s described by Gidwani holds that
"God is not excluded form any religion, nor is he confined to any. it recalls Ashok who renounced war, Akbar sought to bind all religions, both Kalidas and Kabir's poetry and the Gita, Granth Sahib and the Quran, welding and assimlating from all the invaders to a flow of culture that which conquers even as it remains gentle and spiritual........ a single harmonized Indian cultural unity.
Tipu Declaration of 1787 is perhaps most contentious in these times of jihad and quaida and taliban and terror. it enunciates:
"The Quran holds there can be no compulsion in religion. " (where did jihad spring from then?)
"The Quran calls upon you not to revile the idols of other religions, lest they, in ignorance should revile Allah"
"The Quran requires that you say to people of scripture : We beieve in that which has been revealed unto us and revealed unto you. Our God and yours is one and to unto Him we surrender."
" The Quran expects you to vie with each other in good works and says : We have appointed a divine law and a traced out way. Had Allah wished, he would have made you one community...so vie one with another in good works."
Can the land where Tipu Sultan lived set an example for the rest of the violent world?