Archive for April, 2009

If you’ve been watching the IPL, like me, I am sure you too are thinking that this edition just isn’t as good enough as the first. Half the reason for that is that it isn’t being played in India and the other half is that a lot of the big names are missing. But the one player whio has really impressed me is Chennai Super Kings all-rounder Suresh Raina. This kid has class stamped all over him. I’ll go as far as to say that if there’s one player who should find a place, not just in the one-day squad, but in the Test side, it’s this boy from Uttar Pradesh. 

I’ve been watching all his innings in the IPL and I watched every ball of his innings against the Rajasthan Royals today. I couldn’t help marvelling at his timing, power and grace as he blasted the RR bowlers. If CSK win today’s match, they have only Raina to thank for. They had their backs to the wall till he opened up.  If the Indian selectors have any sense they should draft him in to the Test side without too much discussion. 
Chandu Borde had told me some time last year that the two youngsters he was very impressed with and who he believed have a great future, are Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina. I can see why. 

Remember Harshvardhan Nawathe? He was the first guy to win Rs one crore on KBC years ago. I was reading today, about how he is still being hounded by the Income Tax Department for unpaid dues. Winnings from lotteries etc are taxed at 40 % instead of the usual 30 %. The I-T guys goofed and only taxed him 30%. On realising their mistake they sent him notice to cough up the rest. Now, so many years later, Mr Nawathe is still paying! Okay, mistakes happen and the I-T guys were only doing their job. So how come, the same I-T guys don’t do their job as diligently when it comes to our politicians?

What really puts my mind in a whirl, is a full time politician whose sole source of livelihood is the pay and perks he gets as a MP for the past 10 years, declaring he has crores of rupees in the bank. How? Why doesn’t the Election Commission or some RTI activist ever ask him where he got that from?

I was sent a very neatly compiled document from the I-T department a few months back, telling me that the entries in my Form 16, bank accounts and TDS paid by various entities where I take lectures, were in order and there were no discrepancies, thank you very much. If as much as a rupee went hither thither in my accounts, wouldn’t the I-T department have fried my butt?

Which brings me to the next question: How is it that a majority of these politicians don’t have PAN cards? Heck, if I open an FD in a bank or put 50 k in my post office savings I have to submit my PAN as proof, otherwise the bank or P.O. will refuse to accept my money. So how do these guys manage to purchase NSCs and open FDs, unless of course, they keep only cash stuffed in mattresses (a la Sukh Ram)!

Take Rahul Gandhi for instance. For him to say that his 22, 700 sq. yards of property in Mehrauli (which is prime South Delhi land) is worth just Rs 9.86 lakhs (Rs. 4.40 per sq. yard) is a bit much! Go with that amount to any broker in Delhi to buy 22, 700 sq yards in Mehrauli, and he’ll laugh at you.

If someone like Anil Ambani is contesting an election and says his net worth is $ 35 billion or whatever, one can understand that. But if the same guy was a local level politician and said his assets were just Rs 35 or 40 lakhs, and five years later, claimed he had assets worth Rs 5 crore? If I was a member of the Election Commission or the Income Tax department, my antenna would be up and buzzing! So how come neither the I-T department nor the EC reacts?

Verse by a 12-year-old

Posted: April 24, 2009 in family

Here’s something that I’ve never been able to…My son Ashutosh, who’ll be 12 this May, penned some verse and I just thought it was worth putting up here.

The Junk Box
I saw the box in the corner
It was just filled with junk
I had to just throw it away,
In the corner garbage dump

Just then I saw a boy
Crying across the street
He had no proper clothes to wear
Nor anything to eat

I quickly searched the junk box
Saw some clothes were small and torn
But when I looked at them again
Saw they could be worn

I ran with the clothes and some bread
And gave it to the boy
“Thank you, Sir, you’ve very polite,”
Said the boy with a bow

“You have been like God to me,
By giving me this bread
And with the clothes that I now have
I can happily go to bed”

Have you ever thought
What moms do for you?
They love you, and cuddle you
And always take care of you

When you feel hungry
You order her for food
Do you ever think
Of her mind and mood?

You cry when she shouts
And say she’s very bad
But, she’s still you mamma
And you’re still her loving lad

Mother Nature
You crib on your birthday
For not getting the right gift
So look out of the window
And see the best gift

Those trees and these birds
What’s life without them?
Like saying, can you have eggs
Without a hen?

All I want to say is
What’s life without nature?
If you try to harm it
You’re nothing but a traitor

So love trees and all creatures
Wherever, big and small
C’mon, isn’t Mother Nature
The best gift of all

The vote was cast

Posted: April 23, 2009 in Politics

I went to the polling booth early this morning and voted. Did the confusion clear a bit? Just a bit. I could have walked away exercising the ‘no vote’ option but I got so tired reading the long list of candidates, that I couldn’t find it! What a long list of candidates. I know it is any citizen’s fundamental right to contest an election, but do many of these people actually believe they are capable of becoming MPs? I guess, going by the kind of people who are actually elected, I am not surprised that every T, D & H believe they have it in them to become our elected representatives.

Anyway, the button was pressed and it went beep. Now let’s see what the person does in the next five years.

On the eve of polling day, my confusion has increased. Who do I vote for? The manner in which the politicians have been gunning for each other, it makes one wonder what they are really interested in – running the country or running down (and riding roughshod over) their opponents. And hey, none of us at home have voting cards yet, just numbers! What a democracy!
Politicians, former bureaucrats, social workers, retired cops, they’re all there promising the gullible voter the moon. Can they deliver? We’ll have to wait another five years to find out.
If one looks at my city (Pune) things couldn’t have been messier. I remember reading the PR material of a very prominent builder which spoke of Pune as the perfect city. The manifesto said Pune would never have water or power shortages because it was surrounded by four rivers and two dams. Oh damn!
I wonder where those rivers have disappeared and I also wonder how much of the water from the dams is reaching us. More importantly, do the rivers and dams have the capacity to feed the city? Six to eight hours of power cuts everyday, water that comes two hours in the morning and evenings respectively. But, I guess we are luckier than a lot of other housing colonies, even the up-market ones where I see water being supplied by tankers, which cost a bomb.
Logically, the sitting MP should get a second chance, because it is next to impossible to get things done in five years. But the fact of the matter is Pune has seen traffic problems multiply, infrastructure struggling to cope, and housing that’s unaffordable (unless you have loads of cash stashed away somewhere).
But instead of doing something about it, everyone’s busy trading charges as things spiral out of control. Somehow, the reputation Mr Kalmadi has gained, is of someone more interested in making money, getting in front of the cameras shooting his mouth off or posing with celebrities, then being seen as someone who the people voted to look after their city’s interest. That may be untrue, but that is the image he has. Since I didn’t vote for him the last time and do not know Mr Kalmadi personally, I will reserve my comment.
But let me tell you what happened in Lucknow when we lived there some years ago. During the last election in 2004, Lucknow’s candidate was then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. On voting day, my landlord asked me if I was interested in voting. Since I was part of the floating population, I could not vote, but as a journalist I was curious to know what he was proposing.
On probing further he produced a sheaf of slips with names of voters of different age groups. He then gave me one and asked me to go to a party’s polling booth. It was quite funny, actually. The guy at that booth, studied my face for a while, ran his finger down the list and stopped at one. Then he pulled out the slip with the corresponding number and asked me to cast my vote. My wife got one too and she was kicked as hell because the slip mentioned her age as 29! She wanted to keep it as a souvenir!
She walked to the booth and strolled right in just to see what would happen. I refused to go in. I was absolutely appalled by the brazenness of the entire exercise. And mind you, this was then the Prime Minister’s constituency. I called up the editor of the newspaper I worked for, and told her about the incident. Needless to say that the story never appeared in the newspaper, for ‘various’ reasons! I guess, it wouldn’t have looked nice for something like this to emerge from the PM’s constituency.
But back to the present, So for the first time in so many years, I am confused – not because there is an embarrassment of riches, but because I don’t see a single deserving candidate for whose sake I should get that indelible ink put on my finger.

I’m back from a class reunion organized by some very enterprising school friends at Brightland’s in Mahabaleshwar last week. It’s been a long time since we all met and as one of our peers said, we now understand the meaning of ‘keeping in touch’! We hadn’t met in 35 years and where all of us have reached in terms of our respective careers is truly amazing and inspiring!

We talked about the old days and about those of us who weren’t with us anymore. I also heard the story of one of our classmates who is still ‘missing’ in the Tsunami that hit on December 26, 2004. Even the wives who were present looked on indulgently at all the horse-play indulged in by their husbands!

The reunion also brought back a flood of memories, which were spent right next door to a girl’s school! Bishop’s is today a co-ed school but during our time it was all boys affair so to be allowed into St. Mary’s or have the girls visiting was every schoolboy’s dream!

The St. Mary’s fete was one we all waited for every year. Of course, our teachers were always around us when we visited next door, because boys, will after all, always be boys. The smart ones were quick to ‘pile on’ but the rest of us could only watch tongue-tied as the blue uniforms swished past us, without even a glance.

I remember the time, when some of the seniors persuaded the Head Boy to allow us to stand on the side of the hall which was closer to the St. Mary’s School wall, right next door. That would allow a lot of the taller boys to observe the ‘blues’ next door as they went through their PT exercises! The good fortune was short-lived, because Mr. Roberts, our then Principal, put two and two together! The next day we were back to our old spot at the other end of the hall overlooking our quadrangle which housed the basketball courts and the bicycle stand!

I also heard an interesting story from one of the guys about how the Principal of a school called an ex-student and asked him to sponsor an event the school was organizing. The former student was ready to sponsor the entire event, till he heard of the amount – it ran into lakhs of rupees and was definitely way, way, above what it would have cost to organise such an event. I mean, I know we must pay back to the Alma Mater, but paying back does not mean bending over and letting the school extract their dues! More later…

The death of common sense..

Posted: April 16, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

The Times, London carried an Obituary of the late Mr. Common Sense.
Interesting and sadly rather true in the present times. It was sent by a friend and former colleague Gouri Athale. I thought I should share it with you…
‘Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
Knowing when to come in out of the rain; why the early bird gets the worm; Life isn’t always fair; and maybe it was my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an Aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.
Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.
Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason. He is survived by his stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, I Want It Now, Someone Else Is To Blame, and I’m A Victim.
Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.