MONEY OFTEN COSTS TOO MUCH & “BLACK MONEY” MUCH MORE !!!

No one would acknowledge the title of the post more than the Finance Minister (FM) Arun Jaitley. Black money may or may not come back but the FM is surely scoring some self goals and giving black eyes to his government while trying to defend the indefensible.Reputation at stake, the NDA regime has some deft handling to do or else “Kaale din aane waale hain” !!!

In 2011, a stolen CD containing details of HSBC accounts and a purported statement of the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) claiming that Indians had deposited USD 1.4 trillion in Swiss vaults brought the spot light on the retreival of black money.782 names from the CD were handed over by the French to the Indian government.The Supreme Court (SC) of India directed the government to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to deal with the issue.

The UPA regime dragged its feet for 3 years and also did not declare the names siting “confidentiality clauses” in its Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAA) with various countries. The BJP, in opposition, attacked the UPA regime over this issue and promised that, if voted to power they would secure the entire black money in 100 days and from within it deposit rupees 15 lakhs in the account of every Indian!

In April 2014 the UPA regime however did share 26 names of “blackiyas” with the SC.

In May 2014 the NDA regime took over and promptly constituted the SIT.By now additional 627 names of “blackiyas” had been received from various countries including Switzerland.Three names were made public (Pradip Burman,Radha Timblo and Pankaj Lodhya ) and the FM cited the UPA’s “confidentiality clause” to not reveal the entire list.The BJP was now accused of doing a “U -turn” on the issue.

The government contented that it was bound by treaty obligations to make the names public only if the alleged “blackiyas” were to be found prima facie guilty of tax evasion.Otherwise it would impinge on their privacy (!!!) guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.The FM also alleged that it was the DTAA signed by the Congress in 1995 which was today a stumbling block. Later the Congress stated that the DTAA in question was signed in 1996 when it wasn’t even in power and that the subsequent NDA regime had signed 18 similar DTAAs! Then why was the BJP blaming the Congress alone?

The SC threw out the government’s contention and sought the names in a sealed envelope.Accused of shielding the “backiyas” the humiliated FM beat a hasty retreat and eventually handed over “the list” to the SC.

But the damage had been done.Narendra Modi’s government was facing its first major political embarrassment and was unable to explain its actions. One of its major poll planks was now haunting it.

But they weren’t the only ones getting the jitters.

Pending the handing over of the names reports came in of water shortage in plush areas all over India as the occupants were seen spending too much time flushing water in the washrooms.

Wives handing over grocery lists found their husbands jumping and sitting on ceiling fans to stay as far away as possible from any “list”.

Lines to Switzerland were busy all day with banks being told by the account holders that they would be shortly forwarding their own death certificates ! Swiss bankers being sticklers insisted that till the deceased did not come and prove he was indeed deceased the name would continue to figure in “the list” !!!(ISD call ke paise bhi kharab hue!!!)

Barbers had a field day as they realised all that they had to mention was “black money” and  the hair of their customers would stand on its end and make it ever so simple for the barber to ply his trade !!

Opposition parties convinced people that the government was planning to label the income generated out of milching black buffaloes as “black money” ! Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad have since painted their buffaloes saffron, green and white ! Bharat Mata ki Jai !!!

Arvind Kejriwal hollered himself hoarse over the issue but i think before he does anything about “kala dhan” he should cure is “kaali khansi”.

Last but not the least,the FM is still washing the smear from his face.

The Amul ad/ topical ob Black Money  is inspired by the ruling BJPs supposed U-turn on the issue of retrieving the ill gotten gains.It shows a caricature depicting a politician furtively inspecting his loot in a vault with the Amul Girl making a sudden entry with the keys of the vault and indicating that the game’s up!

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The Tag Line...Going Black on Promises.… is a nice play on the term “black money” as well as the aborted volte face by the BJP led government.The white crosses on the “o’s” in the red font draw on the Swiss connection.

The Punch Line….Indian Butter not Swiss Cheezproclaims Amul butter as truly Indian and not a Swiss product with the word “cheez” implying an object but at the same time being a play on the “Swiss Cheese”.

It needs to be understood that black money is what is generated after tax evasion however in financial parlance there’s “red money” too where the source of the income itself is illicit and unknown.The government in its affidavit has focused only on tax evasion and has inadvertently clubbed “red & black money”. Red money is the bigger of the evils and tax havens exist only to chanellise it back into the global economy.It is imperative to retrieve and declare the names of the red money account holders as well.

The UPA and the BJP both seem to be in cahoots and need to explain their actions, especially their reluctance and rationale for seeking refuge in confidentiality for data obtained illegally and irrationally under the DTAA.

A word of caution for Narendra Modi.The Nation has given him a mandate for change and a fiasco of  this magnitude will eventually render him a lame duck PM. He must resolve this issue in the best interests of India or else this incident can cost the government its credibility….and much more!

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KASHMIR AND THE DELUGE – A FINE MUDDLE IN A HUGE PUDDLE !

Its early September and Kashmir Valley is in bloom and bustling with tourists.Then it rains for 6 continuous days and soon South Kashmir and the State capital, Srinagar, are submerged under water.With flood waters raging and a dysfunctional State administration the situation became dire and unleashed untold misery on the people, who were left to fend for themselves.

Just prior to the rains, the Pir Panjal Ranges had witnessed heavy snow fall and rapid melting and combined with incessant rains the Jhelum and its tributaries soon brimmed over.Water levels rose steadily and hundreds perished and many thousands remained marooned.

Left to themselves, the local population found its heroes amongst its youth, shikara operators and hundreds others who risked their lives to save others.Make shift rafts, human chains and lines laid across swollen waterways led to the rescue of a huge number of flood victims.At this stage the Indian Army (IA) ,though reeling under the effect of the floods, mobilised more than 250 flood relief columns and went about its job professionally and rescued thousands of people and re-established road and communication links and set up temporary relief camps and dispensaries.The Indian Air Force (IAF) too played its part.

Social media sprung into action and set up numerous links to help those who were stranded in remote areas.Aircel extended its services universally to all mobile users and Indigo airlines joined in as well.NGOs and local youth set up adhoc call centres to provide details of survivors and convey messages from those yet to be recovered.

It was the combined effort of all involved that let to some succour being provided in those harrowing days.

This is when “Peepli Live ” happened.

The media arrived , not at the scene, but in New Delhi and started imagining wild fantasies.Arnab Goswamy shouted and posed questions to which he didnt want answers to.Overnight,it seemed, he had conducted a survey (with the flood waters rising) of every individual in the Valley and arrived at the conclusion (?) that none acknowedged the effort of the IA.

And Barkha Dutt? She went on an aerial survey in a service aircraft and without wetting as much as her little finger assessed all about the situation !

Both these characters and many others like them – self styled (idiots?) custodians of the image of the Security Forces – depicted the people of Kashmir as ungrateful because they had failed to acknowledge the “heroic efforts” of the IA, an institution they reviled, yet were saved by its efforts.Nothing could have been dumber than this and more damaging too!

Did the IA do a favour?No! The institution knows its role and its commitment towards the citizen of the country.It just did its job and sought no reward or recognition.The good work done by the IA was negated by this unwanted media hype.And for old mindsets to change it takes time and not hectoring by the likes of Dutt and Goswamy.

For this yeomen service to the Nation, Barkha and Arnab should permanently travel to the deepest Amazon jungle and cover the “effect of sun light on the menopause of the butterfly” for the rest of their lives.

Interestingly,during the trying times the face of the State administration was Omar Abdullah alone.Where were the others – DC, the Police and the ministers?All had vanished ! They probably thought that if they aren’t around they wouldn’t be blamed at all ! And that after the floods not many would remain to remember it anyway!!!

The Minister for Flood Control didn’t do anything about the measures required while there was time as he thought that his job was to control the flood when it happened and not prevent it !!! (English language !!)

Many blame the CM for not pulling up his colleagues to make them respond during the crisis.But he did “tweet” in his own inimitable style.But could not reach them.So its not their fault, right?After all they are all Cerelac babies and needed to be spoon fed !

The Police too vanished and it seems they have decided to sacrifice themselves to reslove the financial crisis in the State.After this “no show” the Police in the State is now ready to be disbanded and the money thus saved could go towards flood relief !

The Amul ad/ topical on the Kashmir floods depicts a flooded Jhelum and the IA personnel assisting in evacuation of the local population by wading in the raging waters.The Amul Girl is one amongst those being rescued. The strip is showcasing the relief and rescue efforts of the IA but could have done a better job by depicting the efforts of the locals too.

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The Tag Line.Mission Koshishmir..is a play on a hindi movie title “Mission Kashmir” and the hindi word “koshish” which means “to try” and on the name of the Kashmir State.It accentuates upon the mission of the IA to rescue as many people from the floods as possible.

The Punch LineSpread the Word…talks about spreading the word regarding the people still stranded and to be rescued as also subtly endorses the Amul butter.

When Omar Abdullah had been passed on the baton by his father Faroque Abdullah,a lot was expected from the young Chief Minister.With the largesse of lineage to back him he had the mandate to go beyond the normal discourse and stereotype in Kashmiri politics.But he largely failed to control the local “satraps” and in all was a damp squibThis hurt the people of Kashmir when they needed his leadership the most.A previous Amul ad strip on Omar Abdullah had captured the hopes that his elevation in politics had raised.

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The Amul ad shows caricatures representing the father son duo on a shikara (a traditional boat used in Kashmir) with Faroque Abdullah having a reassuring arm over Omar’s shoulder and seemingly presenting him to the people as the new face of the state leadership.The tag line and the Punch line are a take on Omar Abdullah’s name and his elevation to the post of Chief Minister.The Amul Girl is shown rowing the Shikara in the Dal Lake, in traditional Kashmiri attire.

In the final analysis, what emerges is that similar floods have hit Srinagar in 1902 and 1959 as well and the lessons were there for all to pay heed to.Yet the deluge was a direct consequence of the neglect of flood control infrastructure and exploitation of wetlands.Flood-monitoring systems are on all rivers in the country with the exception of J&K as the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) has handed over all of Kashmir’s rivers to Pakistan – but given them no concomitant management rights. Besides, there is no room for storage on Jhelum and limited storage on Chenab.

In 2010 the State government had predicted a massive flood within 5 years and recommended preventive measures.Nothing was done about it.Time is up and there’s no guarantee this wont happen next year as well.Its winters in the Valley and no infrastructure can come up before next summer.So lets just keep our fingers crossed.

For the people of Kashmir – see through the media smokescreen.There was genuine effort from the IA and the entire Nation stood by you and felt your pain.

NOW SERVING – SHAKESPEAREAN OMELETTE WITH INDIAN CHUTZPAH !

A successful director, a yet-to-prove-himself actor & a Kashmiri journalist as the script writer along with generous support from Shakespeare, have combined to create a critically acclaimed but controversial Bollywood flick – “Haider”.

“Haider” is an adaptation of the Shakespearean classic- Hamlet. Set in the militancy ridden Kashmir of the 1990s the plot has betrayal, love and revenge intricately woven together. Adapting it to Kashmir in a particular period is a challenge well met. Revolving around the revenge that the wronged son seeks for his father’s betrayal and death, from his uncle, the lead characters Shahid Kapoor (Hamlet), Tabu (Queen Gertrude), KK Menon (Uncle Claudius), Irrfan Khan (Ghost), Shraddha Kapoor (Ophelia) have rendered power packed and committed performances. The ability of Vishal Bharadwaj,the Director, to get the best out of the cast is amply showcased as well.

It’s a satisfying finale for Bharadwaj, as with “Haider”, he has successfully (commercially as well) completed his Triology on Shakespearean plays – Maqbool (Macbeth) & Omkara (Othello) being the other two.

“Haider” portrays the rigours of daily life in a strife torn Kashmir way back in the 90s.Its setting and the depiction of the Indian Army’s (IA) role in the conflict in light of the sequence of the destruction of the house while smoking out militants, alleged custodial disappearances as also the supposed torture methods has tended to portray the Army in a negative and controversial shade by the script writer,Basharat Peer.

Some have even lamented that the Indian government “imposed 41 cuts” on “Haider”, through the censor board. Well, 35 of those have been imposed by Bharadwaj himself for getting the length right!

I think the next project that these India baiters and conscience keepers should take up can be a flick on the strife torn areas under the Islamic State (IS), where they will be filming as embedded journalists (without bullet proof jackets- BPJs) and depicting the barbaric nature of the IS fighters and their excesses. The IS has kindly consented not to cut the film short through its censor board (unlike the Indian government!). Instead they have decided to cut a head from the production unit each time they find something objectionable. So, Basharat, Vishal & Shahid would you like to take this on? No censor board.Liberal enough, right?

And why no BPJs? Because the IS made up its own deficiency – so to hell with the film unit!

Okay I made a difficult offer. Why not film in Swat on the dangerous liaison between the ISI and the Taliban. An issue worth taking up( like the supposed excesses of the IA). FYI, Geo TV tried this and their license was withdrawn and offices ransacked ! So, game for it? No?…..Why? After all no censor board, just the Taliban and the ISI…AND YOUR LUCK!

By the way a word about the Pakistan Censor Board. They banned Ranjhana as it showed a love story between a Muslim girl and a Hindu boy (?)! Then they banned Khiladi 786 as the use of the number could hurt religious sentiments (??). Banned Chennai Express as it was against the business interests of the Pakistani film industry (???). And also Agent Vinod because…wait…well that wasn’t way off the target and their Indian counterparts should have done it for the sheer torture it inflicted on the audience!!!

I have a few themes in mind too.

To begin with, an Indianised Charlies Angels as “Subramaniam Swamy’s Angels” starring Jaylalita, “Madame ” Gandhi and our very own Mr Kejriwal.

Then “The Wolf of Raisina Hill” directed by Kapil Sibal designed to expose the guile and cunning of one man who has jettisoned the Grand Old Party into outer space.

Adaptation of “Hum aapke hain kaun” to have a climax in which the dog (as in the original) entrusted with handing over the letter of support from the Shiv Sena (Madhuri Dixit) to the BJP (Salman Khan) mistakenly hands it over to the NCP (Monish Behl).Unlike the original there would be no union between Madhuri & Salman but Monish will do all he can to keep Salman away …oops..confusion…to keep the Shiv Sena away!!!

Not too sure if these will pass the Censor scrutiny though.

The Amul ad/ topical on the movie Haider depicts a scene from the movie with a caricature depicting Shahid Kapoor’s character sitting in the snow with the Amul Girl filling in for Shraddha Kapoor’s character. The detailing is good with the protagonists being shown in the same attire as in the movie complete with the chequered kurtas ,the pink scarf, the umbrella and the facial resemblance.

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The Tag Line….Try with Haider Bread or Rotiis clever play on the ubiquitous acceptability of the Amul butter with any kind of bread or roti (flat bread)as well as on the name of the movie itself.

The Punch Line.. A Modern Day Classicis a subtle way of showcasing the quality of the Amul butter by using the expression that can best describe the cinematic effort that went into creating a critically acclaimed movie.

Lastly, to those who have felt aggrieved at the negative depiction of the IA, be rest assured it’s an institution with intrinsic strength and cannot be swayed by its depiction in a movie. The IA’s actions are there to speak for itself. It is one of the few armies which has not hesitated in taking the harshest actions against its own in order to right a wrong. In a conflict there are many situations when shades of grey emerge, but over time the IA has been able to discern through these too and made sure that its impartial and just image and ethics are upheld at all times.

By the way, the Lion King too was an adaptation of the “Hamlet” (Simba=Hamlet & Scar = evil uncle) and Lion King II…an adaptation of “Romeo & Juliet“!

Shakespearean omelettes always taste good and to make them better add some Chutzpah…yes you can..in India.Other places?Well…they may shoot first and that too to kill !!!

POST SCRIPT

3rd February 2015;In the recently announced 60th Filmfare Awards 2015 winners list saw the Bollywood movies ‘Queen’ and ‘Haider’ sweeping the field with a whopping six and five awards respectivley.

The Amul ad/topical on the Filmfare Awards shows the Amul Girl with the runaway winners of this year’s edition.It shows two caricatures depicting Shahid Kapoor in a tuxedo as he wore on the awards night and Kangana Ranaut in her famous “girl-next-door” attire in the movie “Queen”.They are both shown holding the “black lady” which they have won for the Best Actor and Best Actress roles respectively.

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The Tag Line is in the form of call out boxes with the Amul Girl making an overt attempt to let the readers know about the identity of winners in terms of the movies and the actors themselves.They translate into “Haider-tea is here” and “Kangana-have a bun”.

The Punch Line…Always in a Leading Roleis a take on the awards won by Shaid and Kangana for their leading rooles in the two movies  discussed above and once again subtly promotes the leading status of Amul Butter and the brand in general.

Queen is a 2014 Bollywood comedy-drama starring Kangana Ranaut and Lisa Haydon and Rajkumar Rao in supporting roles. It is directed by Vikas Bahl and produced by Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane.

The plot revolves around Kangana playing the lead role as Rani, an under-confident girl who suffers as her fiancee calls off the wedding at the last moment.Shocked and hurt,Rani decides to proceed alone on her pre-arranged honeymoon.Here she rediscovers herself in the company of staranger.She eventually returns with her fears conquered and inner demons exorcised for good.The fiancee ,Vijay, also learns his lessons when he attempts to make amends.

The movie premiered at the Busan International Film Festival,had received wide critical acclaim for its unique story line,writing,direction and Kangana’s performance.Produced at a cost of Rs 12.5 crores it earned Rs 98 crores at the box office.Previously nominated in 13 categories at the Screen Awards it won three of them including Best Film and Best Director.At the Filmafare Awards 2015 the movie won six including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress for Kangana Ranaut,Best Editing, Best Cinematography and Best Background Score.

‘Haider’ was a close second with five awards including Best Actor for Shahid Kapoor , Best Actor in Supporting Role (Female) for Tabu, Best Actor in Supporting Role (Male) for KK Menon and also for Best Costume and Best Production Design.

The Filmfare Awards are the Oscar Awards equivalent for Bollywood and have had its share of controversies and ups and downs.These have been attacked for their poor or biased choices in the past but off late have been able to make justified choices more often than not.

BILAWAL BHUTTO; FANCY SLOGANS & STUPID NOTIONS !

Bokata-Bokata! Buzdil Khan!Tsunami ka soolab (?)!Lawange…Pakistan ka (?) Kashmir Laawange!These are but just a few of the pearls of wisdom shared by Bilawal Bhutto in his inaugural days as the “gen next” of Pakistani politics & his Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).Sounds eerily familiar to a similar coronation a few months back in India.Its deja vu and seems “har shaakh pe Pappu baitha hai”!

Touted as the biggest thing to happen to Pakistan in the last 20 years (after Gullu Butt?), Bilawal has left no stone unturned to be the butt of all jokes.Foreign accent, poor Urdu , effeminate mannerisms & a bungling persona make him an easy target in the machoistic politics of Pakistan.While delivering “bulldog dialogues” (as per Hasan Nisar) he is unable to look up from the script & indulges in mock anger & ridiculous voice modulations – like being locked in a room with the grunts of Monica Seles, Maria Sharapova & Serena Williams to keep you company!

Trying to imitate Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s firebrand style & the mindless rantings of Benazir Bhutto, Bilawal is ending up making a caricature of himself.His conduct during speeches has been farcical & immature. (Sherry Rehman are you listening?)

He drives himself into a misplaced frenzy by frequently alluding to being the “nawasa” of ZA Bhutto & the son of “shaheed” Benazir to gain sympathy & establish a connect with the famous title – “Bhutto” & repeatedly shouts “may Bhutto hoon” (may—phonetic expression of Bilawal’s dialect).The more he shout the more the “Zardari” in the name gets accentuated.

Bilawal showcased his terrific hold on Urdu when he coined the term “Tsunami ka soolab (?)” (its “sailaab”) and this has got Faiz,Iqbal & Ghalib turning & loading their guns in their graves.To cement credentials he opened the Sind Cultural Festival by delivering a speech in English, wearing a Superman t-shirt!!!! (Clark Kent was from Sind ?) Then he came up with a phrase “desi-donkey-derby”…what does this mean??????Can any Sindhi please explain this?For me it implies that the guy is definitely a “desi donkey” with pretentions to compete in a “derby”.

Compounding his troubles is the issue of Bilawal’s genes. Father Asif Ali Zardari tried to be a leader but ended up being a “dealer”.Not much of an intelligence to fall back on Bilawal becomes insolent & crass in his speeches.He calls Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister, a “cat having milk from (Joe) Biden’s cup”, Imran Khan – “buzdil (coward) Khan”, Shahbaz Sharif -a progeny of Zia-ul-Haq & Altaf Hussain is threatened with personal vendetta by the chocolate faced disaster -in-waiting himself!

His reference to the Indian Mars mission as “frivolous” smacks of envy & mental bankruptcy.And this time China cant help- their orbiter is sleeping peacefully in the Pacific!!!!

He even got the concept of the “External Affairs” ministry wrong & reportedly had an affair with the incumbent minister ,Hina Rabbani Khar. True love.com?(as per the Weekly Blitz,Bangladesh)

Now when this unintelligent man wants to get entire Kashmir back from India but does he realise he will have to give “10 percent ” to his dad! Old habits die hard, isnt it Mr Zardari?

Pakistan is most welcome to compete & better India in every aspect.But why did they have to develop their own Pappu (call him “Billu” to avoid patent issues)?

Its evident that son’s dont really inherit the political mantle of their father/ mother – for eg Rahul “Pappu” Gandhi, Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah & poor Mulayam Singh Yadav doesnt know which buffalo to blame for the “specimen” called Akhilesh Yadav. Talking of “kapoot ka soolab” – Abhishek Bachchan- but for him Amitabh Bachchan wouldnt search for work at age 72!!!

Thankfully ,as yet, Rehman Malik & Digvijay Singh are not intending to unleash their genes on the hapless millions in the two countries!!!

But the same isnt true for the girls.Indira Gandhi,Benazir Bhutto,Sheikh Haseena,Khaleda Zia & Chandrika Kumaratunga are all stellar torchbearers of the legacy of their fathers or husbands.Why dont we convince “Billu” & “Pappu” to undergo sex change and may be then….Billo Rani & Ragini MMS can be their new names too!

This Amul Ad/ topical on Bilawal Bhutto came up after Bilawal’s unrealistic call to arms for getting entire Kashmir to be a part of Pakistan.A caricature depicting Bilawal Bhutto is shown alighting from a car with a security guard in tow & pointing a finger at the Amul Girl to not to stop his path.The Amul Girl has stopped his car from moving ahead-probably on a confrontational path on Kashmir.

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The Tag LineBilawal Phutto is a take on the protagonists name & Phutto is play on the hindi word “phuto” implying -get lost (or to go away & not lay eyes on Kashmir)

The Punch LineMakes You Fighting Fit…extols the virtues of the Amul Butter as also subtly hints at fighting back any designs of inimical forces on the integrity of India.

Lack of political ideology & corruption has forced the political parties in the sub continent to rely on personality based politics.Practically resulting in dynastic rule-less the Monarchy. Mostly the “heir apparent” is good for nothing & is foisted upon the people.They tend to start believing their hypocritical portrayals & make life miserable for the hapless electorate.Its time to shun this brand of politics. Otherwise we shall have no one to blame, as after all WE GET THE GOVERNMENT WE DESERVE!

In 1969, angels representing the people of India & Pakistan had assembled in heaven to discuss the fate of the two countries.Disgusted with the way things were going they decided to give 50 years to the two peoples to improve their lot.Failing which they decided to unleash disaster & havoc by ensuring the ascendancy of incompetent leaders.If we dont improve the way we run our affairs then Pappu & Billu shall be Prime Ministers in 2018/2019! Qayamat duur nahin hai…God gave us a 50 year lease..5 of those are still left- or “Bokata,bokata” (term used to declare victory in kite flying) will be a joke directed upon us by these buffoons!

 26 October 14 – London; While leading the “million march” on Kashmir,Bilawal Bhutto was pelted with tomatoes,shoes & rotten eggs by his fellow countrymen! Bokata !

A SLIVER OF PEACE, SOME SMILES & A FEW CHUNKS OF CONTROVERSY !

Amidst a recent conflagration at the Line of Control (LOC) between India & Pakistan, Kailash Satyarthi (India) & Malala Yusufzai (Pakistan) were declared the joint recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014.Coincidence?Agenda Based? There’s enough intrigue associated with the Nobel Prize & surprisingly & there’s enough to make us smile too!

In 2012, Malala was shot in the head for championing the cause of education for girls & for defying the Taliban in Pakistan’s restive Swat region. She miraculously recovered in a hospital in Birmingham. Embodying strength & belief she went back to school & once again fearlessly stood up for her espoused cause.She has since addressed the UN, met Barak Obama & gained access to those who can make a difference. The Peace Prize was awarded to her in recognition of her work & the indomitable spirit of the 17 year old.

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An erstwhile electrical engineer, Kailash Satyarthi was chosen for the award for his work in securing child rights & fight against child labour. He has rehabilitated thousands through his NGO,Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) & has received numerous awards from various countries. Interestingly,for the Peace Prize he was nominated by the European Parliament & is yet to receive any official recognition for his work by the Government of India.Instead it has been reported that he is a “persona non grata” for some sections of the Indian officialdom-  as his stance supposedly hurts Indian industry.Narendra Modi has felicitated him after the announcement of the Peace Prize.

Controversially,incidents relating to children being tutored to falsely speak about their alleged bondage have been cited to disprove the Mr Satyarthi’s credentials as a genuine choice for the Peace Prize & the the Nobel Committee has been accused of bias & favouring NGOs affiliated to western countries.

Even the Nobel Committee’s statement that “It is an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism,” was criticised for hyphenating two unrelated issues & painting it in a religious hue. This was seen as “Christian Missionary Mischief” by Madhu Kishwar (as reported in the Global Post).

The timing of the announcement itself was interesting as it coincided with heightened confrontations between India & Pakistan.

Even earlier,the Nobel Peace Prize has occasionally raked up controversies. Henry Kissinger’s selection for his role in bringing an end to the Vietnam conflict was roundly criticised & his credentials as a war monger forced some Noble Committee members to resign.Then in 1994 Yasser Arafat shared the honours along with Israel’s Shimon Peres & Yitzhak Rabin & it was denounced globally for his terrorist credentials.

Mahatma Gandhi was nominated thrice for the Peace Prize but never received it. Quoting Wikipedia Gandhi could do without the Nobel Peace prize. Whether Nobel committee can do without Gandhi is the question?”. And this cannot be undone as posthumous nominations are not made.

Another controversial rule stipulate that a Nobel Prize can only be shared by three individuals; sometimes only three in a team have been chosen thus raising heckles all around.

I need a comic relief now.

Did you know there are “Ig Nobel” awards as well to “honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.”(Improbable Research).Some of the top winners are covered here on.All of these have later proven to have significant scientific utility beyond the obvious.

2000- The British Royal Navy “for ordering its sailors to stop using live cannon shells, and to instead just shout “Bang!” (After the government drastically cut military budgets.)

2003- W. Moeliker’s 2003 inquiry into the existence of homosexual necrophiliac ducks.

2007- USAF researchers at Wright Laboratory in Dayton, were working on : the “gay bomb.” ! To compel enemy soldiers to make mad, passionate love to each other instead of fighting a battle .(USAF reps did not attend the award ceremony & mercifully did not bomb the venue with the deadly aphrodisiac!!!).

2008 – study determining that lap dancers ear­n higher tips while ovulation.

2009for inventing “a brassiere that is converted into a pair of protective face masks”!

Coming to the Amul Ad/ topical on Malala Yusufzai and Kailash Satyarthi.It depicts the two joint winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, seated side by side with the Amul girl holding the medals.The caricatures are seen in the attire associated with Mr Satyarthi & Ms Malala.The rostrum, the arch way & the “peace” dove with the olive branch rounds up the ad in a subtle manner.

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The Tag Line..Satyartea aur Maskala …is a take on the names of the two winners & otherwise alluding to having a toast with Amul butter as a tea time snack.

The Punch Line…Noble Piece Prize..is a spin on the award conferred on Mr Satyarthi & Ms Malala as well as endorsing the Amul butter as the claimant for the noblest piece amongst all butter brands.

Malala’s struggles have been celebrated previously in an Amul ad in October 2013 while also marking the occasion of the release of her autobiography “I am Malala”.

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The Nobel Prize signifies the highest honour that can be bestowed on an individual in the designated fields.Since there are so many claimants for the honours, the Nobel Committee does have an onerous task in remaining totally objective.And its creditable that it has remained above board mostly.To say that the Nobel is spiked with vested interest is to denigrate the legacy of the extraordinary men already feted by its awards.Also it is undeniable that at times the Peace Prize has been awarded or not awarded out of overbearing political interests.

The bottom line is that the legacy of these awards is ever enduring & most importantly it brings the spotlight on issues which merit attention & spurs others to follow & make efforts to make this a better & more knowledgeable place for us all.For us Indians however ,its a matter of pride that beginning with Rabindra Nath Tagore , eight other Indians (including Mother Teresa) have been honoured by the Nobel Committee & cover all categories of the Nobel!

In the end-I wonder if the following will find a place in the list of “Ig Noble” awards

Effect of knuckle cracking on the mental balance of Pervez Musharraf (for his recent ballyhoo on India-Pakistan dynamics).

10 December 2014,Oslo

Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yusufzai  today received the Nobel  Peace Prize for their pioneering work in promoting child rights in the Indian Subcontinent.It was awarded to them by the Chairman of the Nobel Committee Thorbjorn  Jagland in Oslo today.They received received the Nobel Medal which is 18 carat green gold plated with 24 carat gold and weighs around 175 gms. 

Both recipients addressed the gathering which included King Harold V of Norway and former Pakistan PM  Yusuf Raza Gilani. President Barak Obama also congratulated the winning duo.

MAHACHAOS: EXIT CUPID;ENTER AFZAL KHAN !

To be allies for twenty five years in Politics is a ‘Nirmal Baba’ miracle of “kripa” proportions.So,“breaking up” is not only unthinkable but also spells certain doom. But in Maharashtra, its not doom ,but “Dhoom Macha Le” time as the four principal groups seem to be enjoying their new found status –“Single Again”! But only on the face of it, for there’s more to it than meets the eye!

The Indian National Congress (INC) – Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) combine had been thrashed in the general elections & Narendra Modi’s ascendancy had thrown up a tremendous opportunity for the BJP-Shiv Sena combine – to assume leadership in the upcoming State elections.

However in a classic example of putting the cart before the ox, the BJP-Shiv Sena combine hurtled towards a shocking & quarrelsome split! Elections were barely announced & the protagonists were already squabbling over installing their own Chief Minister!

Shiv Sena had mentored the BJP in the state & were a larger state party with a broader appeal & thus felt they had rights over not only the larger portion of the electoral cake but also the cherry on top of it. Whereas an ascendant BJP was unwilling to play second fiddle to its longtime ally & also staked claim to greater number of seats than before & also to the Chief Minister’s position. The recent by election results had not gone in favour of the BJP & this too had strengthened the Sena’s case.

Many rounds of tea, bhel puris & bondas & 25 years later the two partners, BJP & Shiv Sena decided to go it alone in the elections.

Certain of losing power in Maharashtra after a 15 year rule.Sharad Pawar, party chief, NCP, was desirous of ditching the sinking INC Titanic to save his outfit.For the INC – NCP grouping there best bet lay in imitating the actions of their rivals & the very first thing they did to follow in their rivals’ shoes was- to part ways – after a 15 year rule during which they presided over Maharashtra’s collective deterioration.

With no coalition in the fray the stage was set for an humdinger of a four cornered contest.And also for some bizarre storytelling..with some modicum of truth as well.

Its rumoured that to better his electoral prospects, Udhav Thackeray,the Shiv Sena Chief sought the blessings of Nirmal Baba.The God man has purportedly advised Udhav to act childish & immature if he wants “kripa” descending on his electoral ambitions. Udhav has since been steadfastly following the advise.

The BJP has been reveling in its single status & is riding high on the popularity of the Prime Minister.Such is their confidence, they have now demanded that the Democrats & the Republicans in the US get into a seat sharing arrangement with them in the upcoming US senate elections.

Raj Thackeray has been having a whale of a time.Maharashtra Nav Nirman Sena (MNS) is unlikely to win anything substantial & so he has a lot of time on hand. He has bought the full set of Amar Chitra Katha & Indrajal comics.He is sharing his joy & the plots of the comics with brother Udhav,just as they did in their childhood. And Udhav is then selecting the most bizarre ones & attributing them to the BJP, like it was the BJP that Shivaji fought against in the battle of Singhgarh! Also that BJP was on the side of the Mughals in the Battle of Haldi Ghati & that Afzal Khan, a turncoat Mughal chieftain from the 17th century was responsible for the BJP – Shiv Sena split.

The INC has been busy doing nothing to further its prospects. To rid themselves of the agony of campaigning & losing, Congress leaders have requested Rahul Gandhi (aka-Pappu) to campaign for them. The “Shehzada” obliged & in his first speech forgot the name of the candidates he was endorsing. The audience have not come to know of the candidate thus sealing an emphatic defeat at the hustings!

The NCP for its part is working so discreetly that even its supporters don’t know whether the party is in the fray or not! They are waiting for Ajit Pawar to utter some “utter non sense” so finally the party can have some hope of gaining visibility.!

The Amul Ad/ topical on the Maharashtra Elections has been well timed & conceptualized.It shows two gransdiose looking chairs depicting the chair of the Chief Minister which is being vied for by the political parties.On to the right of the Amul Girls are erstwhile allies Prithvi Raj Chauhan & Ajit Pawar (INC-NCP) & onto her left are Narendra Modi & Udhav Thackeray (BJP-Shiv Sena).Each of the individual is carrying their respective electoral symbol as well.The Amul Girl is seen handing out equal measure of butter from a deliciously golden block of butter and unlike in real life, in the scrip the “allies” seem satisfied with their respective share !!!

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The Tag Line….Can’t share seats?Share eats…is taking a swipe at the inability of the political groupings to arrive at a satisfactory seat sharing arrangement. It exhorts the readers to “share eats”, an obvious reference to Amul butter & the numerous dishes this butter supports!

The Punch Line…Allied with Bread..is a take on the fickle mindedness of the political parties to not be allied to their long standing allies. It also stresses upon the loyalty aspect of the butter to the bread & hints at the fact that its consumed best with bread!

These elections are a watershed event in Maharashtra & for the nation. If the BJP forms the government then Modi shall be firmly seated in power. For the Shiv Sena too these are a make or break elections as a defeat will marginalize it further in the state politics. As for the NCP , it can hope to retain some strongholds & luckily is not seen allied to the INC, who in these elections are going to be DECImated!!!

None of the rivals have ruled out coming together after the elections.So..i guess…Picture abhi baki hai mere dost!!!I predict an outright BJP victory.What say?

19 October 14; the results are out & the BJP is the single largest party with 124 seats but short of the 145 majority mark.The gamble has paid for them but the intrigue & suspense persists.

BJPs astonishing win – result of its bold gamble plays out on yet another Amul ad strip.It depicts two caricatures representing Devendra Phadnavis & Pankaja Munde (of the BJP) along with the Amul girl announcing their win with a traditional Marathi trumpet.The CMs chair,finally belonging to the BJP, is shown with a yellow block of butter.

Sweeping winners indeed!!!!

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31 October 2014; Much drama has already unfolded in Maharashtra since the last update.Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as the Chief Minister of the first ever BJP government in the State, albeit without the requisite numbers !

The split with the Shiv Sena widened to a seemingly disastrous level. And the scam tainted NCP offered outside support to the BJP led minority government in a display of opportunistic pragmatism and shockingly the BJP accepted it too !

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12 November 2014;Much chaos preceded the vote of confidence. Shiv Sena’s brinkmanship cost it heavily and the state level acrimony spilled on to the national stage when Modi inducted Sena dissident Suresh Prabhu as the BJP nominee in his cabinet.

The vote of confidence took place on the anointed hour but was controversially passed by a voice vote rather than a division of votes. The Shiv Sena sat in the opposition and staked claim for the position of the leader of the oppositon. The voice vote was a departure from convention and sullied the BJP government’s image to a great extent. It certainly has not put its best foot forward.A credibility crisis has already gripped the nascent government.

08 December 2014; Good sense prevailed and the BJP and the Shiv Sena have now patched up, albeit on the BJP’s terms, and the Sena has now joined the Maharashtra government.The NCP is out of reckoning for now.And the Congress is no where to be found.Probably the undercurrent of the publics disapproval of the political wranglings and a scary prospect of going to elections again has impelled the principle protagonists to come together.Shiv Sena stood to lose the most especially after being relegated to the second place in the State’s saffron politics.And this development also augurs well for the NDA in the Lok Sabha and more so in the Rajya Sabha where it is in minority.

Hopefully the government will complete its five year term.But be prepared for an even larger round of Mahachaos in 2019, if not earlier !

OMG! DEEPIKA PADUKONE & THE “DIRTY TIMES”!

When a leading daily decided to “showcase” the cleavage of actress Deepika Padukone ,it had no idea of the furore about to unfold.Spurred by a spirited counter attack by the actress herself,celebrities & netizens tore into the reputation of the Times of India (TOI).

On 14 September 2014, TOI Entertainment tweeted a link to a web photo gallery with the caption: “OMG: Deepika Padukone’s cleavage show.” The clips shows Deepika wearing a low cut dress designed by Anaita Shroff Adajania for the trailer launch of Chennai Express in 2013

Padukone responded by tweeting -“YES! I Am a Woman. I have breasts AND a cleavage! You got a problem!!??”.

Within no time Deepika was hailed as a crusader.Her reaction was re tweeted more than 7,000 times & #IStandWithDeepikaPadukone started trending.

The newspaper has since tried to backtrack telling her the tweet was intended as a “compliment” !

Padukone came up with her Point of View,titled -My issue is objectification of a real person!In this the actress essentially arguing that the media & the society in general should differentiate between the “REEL” world, depicted by the characters she portrays & the “REAL” world wherein she is woman & deserves to be treated with respect & not objectified by showcasing parts of her body for the sake of head lines & leveraging the power of “influence to proliferate recessive thought”.

TOI came up with its defence wherein it accepted the actresses’ “reel versus real argument” but accused her of hypocrisy especially since she has been photographed “flaunting her body off screen” in “real” life.

Not accepting the faux pas & facing the heat from rivals (who have themselves indulged in similar “objectification”), TOI put forth a vacuous argument & justified its actions by disregarding the actresses’ reservations & confirming the notion that they totally ignored the fact that Deepika is a woman first & an actress later & she needs to be respected.

Media houses need to survive & sometimes they adopt reprehensible tactics (News of the World is a case in point) & justifying their scrupulousness by laying the blame on the society, that they present what is likely to be read or watched more!

Bollywood too is under the scanner for constantly raising the bar for indecency & vulgarity & relying on raunchy “item numbers”, in the name of artistic expression & that “the script demanded it”. Though Bollywood as an entity rallied around Deepika but it continues to perpetuate the very actions which are leading to the increasing objectification of women.

Shakespeare never needed a rape or an intimate scene or an “item number” to progress his script, yet he is known as the greatest playwright ever. Food for thought?

The women in Bollywood too need to stand up against being depicted as “Pinky hai paise walon ki”, or as ” Main to tanduri murgi hoon yaar,Gatkale saiyan alcohol se ” or inviting the hero with ” Aabroo ke silaayi khulegi, Sharm ka bhi lifafa phatega ,Kaddu katega to sab mein batega”.And please stop taking pride in being “item girls”..for an item is essentially an object!!!

Sadly, Deepika, you fumbled when Barkha Dutt asked if you would take the issue of objectification of women in films to its logical end? Your answer was the same banal “if the script demands”….

This is getting too serious!

I have realised that there are some who willingly get exposed & dont mind getting ripped of all dignity as well.And remain thick skinned enough to repeat their ridiculous acts.

Some of the “guests”  on Arnab Goswami’s News Hour are the chief culprits.

Peerzada from Pakistan, is a classic. Almost gullitioned each time that he appears on the show, yet in his exposure lies publicity & may be financial interests.After all “muft mein koi itni beizzati kyon karwayega”..okay i am not game for it !

Next – the spokespersons of political parties.

Rahul Gandhi tears an ordnance in public & gets kudos from his media team!!! Sakshi Maharaj rant about Love Jehad & their party spokesperson defends it by invoking everything under the sun & still doesn’t sound convincing! Stout defence can after all get them in the political fray itself!

Ajit Singh shamelessly tries to blackmail the government into letting him be a regularised “squatter” in a bungalow, by unleashing hordes of “distressed farmers” on New Delhi & its water supply. Exposed totally!! But appears next instant as the “lokpriya kisan neta”! And the closest that Ajit Singh has been to the word ” farmer” is when he orders the Farmhouse Pizza from Dominoes!

Kapil Sibal stated that there was zero loss to the exchequer in the 2G scam when the CAG pegged it at Rupees 1lakh 76 thousand crores!You see in a hurry to make brownie points ,Sibal saw 176 on one page & a pageful of zeroes on the other..and showcased his inteligence!!Then he wanted to be re-elected in 2014!!!

The nation & the crocodiles demand an answer for the secret of the thick skin on these stalwarts!!!!

Coming to the Amul ad/ topical on Deepika Padukone.It depicts a caricature of the actress wearing a similar gown as the one which generated the controversy.A bit of the cleavage too is shown to draw parallels.The Amul girl is the likely assistant while reporters are obscenely vying for odd angles to take sneak pics of the actress.

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The Tag Line…Newspaperazzi…is an apt take on newspapers crossing the line & including tabloid & paperazzi content in the name of news.Thus the inglorious correlation of serious reporting with that of the paperazzi kind!

The Punch Line…Star Power…is inspired by the power of a star to stand for a cause & rally massive support.It also draws a parallel with the Amul butter being a star product with the power to pull customers!

Lastly, Deepika..Shah Rukh Khan..Hrithik Roshan..do take up cudgels against excessive violence, vulgarity & obscenity in films because most confuse the “reel for the real”!

And unlike all papers which reported the incident – I am not tagging this as the “Deepika Padukone cleavage row” .I don’t need publicity at the cost of a woman!