rants of a meat-eater


Ever since my early days i wasn’t an enthusiastic meat eater. I ate mostly because my parents wanted me to saying it’s a good source of protein, it will provide strength and all that. In the early 1990s, the only meat we had at home was eggs, fish, chicken, goat and the occasional shrimps.

While i was in my teenage years and was sane enough to take decisions for myself i stopped eating meat in periodical bouts. The first was after watching the cruel treatment of animals in the Indian TV series Heads and Tails. Once while descending a bunch of stairs i slipped and twisted my ankle. My parents didn’t blame it on my carelessness but the fact that i wasn’t eating meat then. The second bout of abstention was when i was in high school. I had been to the marriage of a cousin where goat meat was to be served during the night feast. I saw the halal slaughtering of at least half a dozen goats and it left an ugly impression on my mind to the extent that i stopped eating meat – particularly goat, for almost half a decade, since that day.

We have meat only occasionally at our home- hardly once in a week and mostly alternating fish and chicken. We have the rare shrimps as well. Egg curry isn’t particularly considered non-vegetarian so excluding that out. When i entered the professional stage of my life i began venturing out and that was when i started experimenting and as of now i have had crab meat, pork, duck meat and beef (the first time accidentally and the second time knowingly trying a pizza bite with beef topping) also. I am actually a fan of bacon strips. The fact though remains that we are sporadic meat eaters and when i say we, i mean my entire family.

As is evident, even though i eat meat i am not a proponent of it. The primary reason being i don’t subscribe to killing of animals for consumption.

dhaka

bloodied dhaka streets after eid al-adha

A few days ago, pictures of bloodied streets in Dhaka during the occasion of Eid al-Adha were getting viral. It was disgusting, unhygienic and horrific. Although this is extreme, i can’t just blame Islamic festivals. Hindus also indulge in sacrificing animals. The largest sacrificial festival was Nepal’s Gadhimai until it was banned. I am a Hindu but i am against animal sacrifice – even using the preferable jhatka method which results in quick death as opposed to halal method. I have seen sacrifice of goats on multiple occasions – at Kolkata’s Kalighat temple and Gorakhpur’s Tarkulha Devi temple, and it disgusted me. I have seen water buffaloes being taken for slaughtering at Guwahati’s Kamakhya temple and it sickened me. Why do humans need to find an excuse to eat meat? Why on God’s name? Trust me; the Gods give a flying fuck!

What also disgusts me is the unhygienic and unethical method of selling meat in India and probably many other countries. Many roadside shops slaughter in the open – right in front of kids, which is something i don’t approve of.

meat1

selling meat out in the open

Although i have eaten pork and beef, i am particularly against the consumption of these because it involves slaughtering huge animals that undergo immense pain during the process. In advance countries like USA, i am sure these animals are slaughtered keeping quick death in mind but i am not sure of less advanced countries. I have seen countless videos on the cruel methods of slaughtering these big animals. Chicken, fish and crustaceans meet quick death but not a cattle or a pig.

There is also the environmental angle. Raising meat – particularly beef, takes a heavy toll on the environment for the sheer amount of resources it needs. There is also the spiritual aspect of avoiding meat and i have seen a few videos. This one by Sadhguru is a must watch https://goo.gl/hjN1KJ. Also, considering how meat is a staple for both casual and fine dining, it has led to much unhealthy practices of rearing meat.

As an adult who has eaten meat most of his life i think skipping meat for good would be pretty difficult – if not impossible, but to sum it up, i would say, even if you eat meat, keep it to a minimum or at least avoid eating meats that require butchering of huge animals. Even if you have to, ensure they haven’t been tortured to death. I have seen some very gory videos of how animals are slaughtered and trust me it’s very unappetizing. Also, please don’t eat meat on the name of God. Eat it on your name.

cattle

i prefer this any day

india’s sprinting performance at olympics


When it comes to sprinting, most Indians only know about Milkha Singh and Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil Usha. Ignoring the winning performances of Norman Pritchard at the 1900 Summer Olympics where he won 2 silver medals representing India, the sprinting performances of Singh and Usha are the best in Olympics for Indian sprinters. Milkha Singh finished 4th in the 400 m finals at the 1960 Summer Olympics and Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil Usha finished 4th in the 400 m hurdles at the 1984 Summer Olympics. Both of them missed a bronze in their respective categories by 1/100th of a second.

What most Indians don’t know is that there are several other Indians who have qualified for sprinting events and quite a few have reached the semi finals and finals too. Below is the list of all who have represented India at Olympics in sprinting events for both men and women with mentions of their semi final or final finishes. If i have missed any name(s), kindly bring it to my attention in the comments section. Sprinting consists of 100 m, 80/100/110 m hurdles, 4×100 m relay, 200 m, 400 m, 400 m hurdles and 4×400 m relay.

Men’s 100 m

  • Norman Pritchard – 1900 – SF
  • Purma Banerjee – 1920
  • Wilfred Hildreth – 1924
  • James Hall – 1924
  • Terence Pitt – 1924
  • R Burns – 1928
  • Bunoo Sutton – 1932
  • Ronald Vernieux – 1932
  • Eric Whiteside – 1936
  • Eric Prabhakar – 1948
  • Lavy Pinto – 1952 – SF
  • Raj Joshi Tilak – 1960
  • Kenneth Lawrence Powell – 1964
  • Adille Sumariwalla – 1980

Women’s 100 m

  • Nilima Ghose – 1952
  • Mary D’Souza – 1952
  • Mary Rao – 1956
  • Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil Usha – 1980
  • Dutee Chand – 2016

Men’s 110 m hurdles

  • Norman Pritchard – 1900 – Final – Did Not Finish
  • Cheruvari Kottieth Lakshmanan – 1924
  • Abdul Hamid – 1928
  • Bunoo Sutton – 1932 – SF
  • Jim Vickers – 1948 – SF
  • Chand Ram – 1956
  • Jagmohan Singh – 1960
  • Gurbachan Singh Randhawa – 1964 – Final – 5th
randhawa

Gurbachan Singh Randhawa finishing 5th in the finals behind Hayes Jones (USA), Blaine Lindgren (USA), Anatoly Mikhailov (USSR) and Eddy Ottoz (Italy)

Women’s 80/100 m hurdles

  • Nilima Ghose – 1952

Men’s 4×100 m relay

  • Bunnoo Sutton, Ronald Vernieux, Mehar Chand Dhawan, Dickie Carr – 1932
  • Anthony Francis Coutinho, Makhan Singh, Kenneth Lawrence Powell, Rajasekaran Pichaya – 1964 – SF
  • Anna Durai, Rajeev Balakrishnan, Ajay Raj Singh, Anil Kumar Prakash – 2000

Women’s 4×100 m realy

  • Valdivel Jayalakshmi, Vinta Tripathi, Saraswati Dey, Rachita Mistry – 2000

Men’s 200 m

  • Norman Pritchard – 1900 – Final – Silver
  • James Hall – 1924
  • Terence Pitt – 1924
  • Wilfred Hildreth – 1924
  • R Burns – 1928
  • James Hall – 1928
  • Ronald Vernieux – 1932
  • Eric Whiteside – 1936
  • Lavy Pinto – 1952 – SF
  • Milkha Singh – 1956
  • Milkha Singh – 1960
  • Kenneth Lawrence Powell – 1964
  • Subramanian Perumal – 1980
  • Dharambir Singh – 2016 (DISQUALIFIED FOR DOPING)

Women’s 200 m

  • Mary D’Souza – 1952
  • Saraswati Saha – 2004
  • Srabani Nanda – 2016

Men’s 400 m

  • Purma Banerjee – 1920
  • Terence Pitt – 1924
  • James Hall – 1928
  • Gyan Bhalla – 1936
  • Ivan Jacob – 1952
  • Milkha Singh – 1956
  • Milkha Singh – 1960 – Final – 4th
  • Paramjit Singh – 2000
  • Kalayathumkuzhi Mathews Binu – 2004 – SF
  • Muhammad Anas – 2016

Women’s 400 m

  • Stephie D’Souza – 1964
  • Kamaljit Sandhu – 1972
  • Mercy Kuttan – 1988
  • Kalayathumkuzhi Mathews Beenamol – 2000 – SF
  • Mandeep Kaur – 2008
  • Nirmala Sheoran – 2016

Men’s 400 m hurdles

  • Abdul Hamid – 1928
  • Jagdev Singh – 1956
  • Amrit Pal – 1964

Women’s 400 m hurdles

  • Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil Usha – 1984 – Final – 4th
  • Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil Usha – 1988

Men’s 4×400 m relay

  • Makhan Singh, Amrit Pal, Ajmer Singh, Milkha Singh – 1964
  • Lijo David Thottan, Jata Shankar, Purukottam Ramachandran, Paramjit Singh – 2000
  • Mohammad Anas, Ayyasamy Dharun, Kunhu Muhammed , Arokia Rajiv, Mohan Kumar, Sumit Kumar- 2016

Women’s 4×400 m relay

  • Vandana Rao , Shiny Abraham , Manathoor Devasia Valsamma, Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil Usha – 1984 – Final – 7th
  • Vandana Rao, Mercy Kuttan, Vandana Pandurang Shanbagh, Shin Kurisingal Abraham – 1988
  • Kalayathumkuzhi Mathews Beenamol, Rosakutty Kunnath Chacko, Shiny Abraham, Jyotirmoyee Sikdar – 1996
  • Kalayathumkuzhi Mathews Beenamol, Rosakutty Kunnath Chacko, Paramjeet Kaur, Jincy Philip – 2000
  • Kalayathumkuzhi Mathews Beenamol , Sathi Geetha, Manjeet Kaur, Rajwinder Kaur, Chitra Kulathummuriyil Soman– 2004 – Final – 7th
  • Tintu Luka, Nirmala Sheoran, Anilda Thomas, Machettira Raju Poovamma, Ashwini Akkunji, Debashree Majumdar, Jisna Mathews – 2016

tallest flagpoles of india


One can say a lower middle-income country like India should invest more in pulling out its teeming millions from poverty but not denying the importance of it, it’s also important to instill a sense of pride, unity and patriotism amongst the countrymen. It can count for little for many but the emblems of sovereignty have their own importance. I am not sure how proper comparison with the USA would be considering it’s a high-income country but nationalism and per capita GNI are two different things and can continue simultaneously in even differing worlds. The first time I saw a tall flagpole with the Indian tricolour was at Delhi’s Connaught Place in May, 2014 and it was a wonderful feeling. Ever since moving to the USA in June, 2014, seeing so many tall flagpoles with huge fluttering stars and stripes, I always thought why can’t we have the same back in India. Apparently, the trend of having tall flagpoles in India was started by Naveen Jindal. He is also the pioneer in initiating amendments – both constitutional and judicial, for enabling private citizens to display the Indian tricolor on all days besides Republic and Independence day. The Indian parliament approved it in 2002 and the Supreme Court of India followed in 2004. Thereof, Naveen Jindal’s Flag Foundation of India (FFI) has been instrumental in the construction of 12 flagpoles across the country each standing 207 ft tall. There are a few others which are taller and have been described below including a few of FFI.

1) Ranchi flagpole

Height = 293 ft

Flag dimensions = 99 ft x 66 ft (6534 sq ft)

Flag weight = 60 kg

Inauguration = 23rd January, 2016 by Manohar Parrikar

ranchi

2) Hyderabad flagpole

Height = 291 ft

Flag dimensions = 108 ft x 72 ft (7776 sq ft)

Flag weight = 65 kg

Inauguration = 2nd June, 2016 by Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao

hyderabad

3) Raipur flagpole

Height = 269 ft

Flag dimensions = 105 ft x 70 ft (7350 sq ft)

Flag weight = N/A

Inauguration = 30th April, 2016 by Raman Singh

raipur

4) Faridabad flagpole

Height = 250 ft

Flag dimensions = 96 ft x 64 ft (6144 sq ft)

Flag weight = 48 kg

Inauguration = 3rd March, 2015 by Amit Shah, Manohar Lal Khattar and Ranbir Kapoor

faridabad

5) Bhopal flagpole

Height = 235 ft or 228 ft

Flag dimensions = 90 ft x 60 ft (5400 sq ft)

Flag weight = N/A

Inauguration = 27th May, 2015 by Shivraj Singh Chouhan

bhopal

6) Navi Mumbai flagpole

Height = 225 ft or 222 ft

Flag dimensions = N/A

Flag weight = N/A

Inauguration = 19th February, 2014 by Sharad Pawar

navi mumbai

7) Bangalore flagpole

Height =207 ft

Flag dimensions = 72 ft x 48 ft (3456 sq ft)

Flag weight = 31 kg

Inauguration = 23rd January, 2014 by Hansraj Bhardwaj

bangalore

 

8) Delhi flagpole

Height = 207 ft

Flag dimensions = 90 ft x 60 ft (5400 sq ft)

Flag weight = 37 kg

Inauguration = 7th March, 2014 by Naveen Jindal

delhi

Kindly let me know in case one figures out any discrepancies.

india at miss world


The first Miss World was held in 1951 at London, Greater London, UK and India did not send a representative then.

The first time India sent a representative was in 1959 in Fleur Ezekiel who failed to place. Since then India has almost always sent a representative except in the years 1963, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1973 and 1989.

Between 1951 and 2015, there have been 65 Miss World contests and India has sent a total of 51 representatives out of which she has 23 placements – a strike rate of 45%.

Out of the 23 placements India has 9 Top 5 finalists – in the years 1966, 1972, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2008. Out of these 9 finalists India has 5 winners – in the years 1966, 1994, 1997, 1999 and 2000.

Below is a brief of the 9 Indian finalists (including the 5 winners) at Miss World.

reita faria

reita faria, miss india world 1966, was the winner that year!

malathi

malathi basappa (extreme left), miss india world 1972, finished 5th! the winner was from australia!

Optimized-aishwarya

aishwarya rai, miss india world 1994, was the winner that year!

rani2

rani jeyraj (left), miss india world 1996, finished 4th! the winner was from greece!

diana

diana hayden, miss india world 1997, was the winner that year!

Optimized-yukta1

yukta mookhey, miss india world 1999, was the winner that year!

Optimized-priyanka

priyanka chopra, miss india world 2000, was the winner that year!

Optimized-ami

ami vashi, miss india world 2003, finished 4th! the winner was from ireland!

parvathy

parvathy omanakuttan, miss india world 2009, finished 2nd! the winner was from russia!

fleur

fleur ezekiel, miss india world 1959! she was the first indian to participate in miss world contest and did not place!

 

SuVi


Suvek and Vishobhan were the best of friends and loved traveling. They regular planned trips to the forests and mountains of India. The trips were never for leisure but to explore the place and write about all the nondescript things they observed for others to read and follow. For the preservation of a place’s heritage, it’s important that people know the facts. This time they planned to trek to the base of Rajat Prapat – a plunge waterfall in the heart of Satpura tiger reserve. Satpura is one of the largest, healthiest and most pristine of our forests and they were really excited about the trip. Finally the day came and they boarded the Azad Hind Express to reach Pachmarhi – a small cantonment town which serves as the gateway to the park. They reached Pachmarhi by day break. They had planned to do a reconnaissance of the place for a day and do the trek the next day. Although they had planned everything in details, there were a few missing links in absence of much information regarding how to do a trek inside a park.

After a few cups of morning tea they decided to hunt the local market for some maps and information. While in the market they met a person dressed in olive green uniform with the logo of the park – a giant Indian squirrel. They approached the person and asked the procedure of doing a trek inside the park. The friends introduced themselves as Su and Vi. The gentleman was a guard inside the park and his name was Bhabuna. He appeared to be a jolly person. He told us that one needs to book a gypsy and a guide to enter the park. The gypsy would cost around Rs 1000 and the guide entry fee and service charge would also be Rs 1000. He said that if they confirm, he can make himself available the next day. Although Su and Vi were budget travelers they thought Rs 2000 was a pretty decent amount to do the trek. They took Bhabuna ji’s number and told him they would start the trek early morning and he can pick them up from their hotel. The friends had a comfortable sleep that night.

IMG_3756

The next day, as planned, Bhabuna ji was present at the hotel to pick them up. They stopped at the market for a while to buy some bananas, biscuits and water which would be required during the trek. They again halted at the entrance of the park to pay for the gypsy and the guide. A few miles from the entrance, the gypsy came to a halt and everyone got down for the trek. Bhabuna ji informed that the treks should be over in 4 hours if Su and Vi were experienced trekkers. At this moment, Su started off with a list of all the treks he had done and his list was really impressive. Vi hadn’t done that many but enough to be taken seriously. They continued on the trek route which opened to nouveau grand vistas every few minutes. After a nearly arduous trek of 90 minutes through undulating and steep terrain they reached the base of the waterfall and what an amazing feeling that was. The waterfall dropping from such a height looked awesome. Vi asked if people came for this trek regularly. “Not many”, said Bhabuna ji. He continued, “Many people don’t do treks inside the forest because of the cost and others because of the effort and still others for lack of information. Mostly government officers who know about the trek come for it.” They sat down to have some snacks before having a bath at the pool formed by the waterfall. Bhabuna ji told them he was a poor folk living off with his meagre government salary along with his wife and 3 children. On knowing that Su and Vi write about their experiences he went a bit emotional and told them to write about him as well so that he can supplement his salary with some extra earning to take care of his family. He said the government should do more to promote healthy tourism in the park to improve the well-being of the locals.

When it was time for having a bath, Bhabuna ji told Su and Vi he would go and relieve himself and return in a jiffy. The friends were done with their bath pretty soon but there was no sign of Bhabuna ji. They started taking pictures of the area and the surrounding places and continued waiting for Bhabuna ji. When it was more than 30 minutes and he still hadn’t come, they got tensed and all kinds of thoughts started to come. Did a wild animal attack Bhabuna ji? They were deep inside the jungle and their phones showed no network. They also didn’t know the way back to civilization. While they were discussing all this Vi heard some rustling behind the bushes on the opposite side of the stream that flowed from the pool formed by the waterfall. Their hearts skipped a beat anticipating some wild animal. Thankfully it was Bhabuna ji. They sighed with relief and asked what took him so long. Bhabuna ji looked disheveled, hurried and a bit uncomfortable. Bhabuna ji suddenly took out a gun and shot a few fires at Su who dropped on the ground. Vi was shocked at the turn of events and rushed towards his friend as he lay with a pool of blood around him. Vi turned back but was himself hit by a bullet and he too dropped on the ground. Before his eyes shut down he saw Bhabuna ji escaping with their bags in the depth of the jungle. Su was lying dead nearby. Bhabuna ji had run way from the scene assuming both to be dead but Vi gained consciousness in some time and somehow made back his way out of the forest.

IMG_3798

Vi gave a loud shriek on seeing the gypsy which had dropped them at the onset of the trek. The driver of the gypsy ran towards him and was shocked to see him covered in blood. He asked about Bhabuna ji and Su but sensing Vi was on the verge of collapsing he rushed him towards the hospital. An emergency surgery had to be performed on Vi to remove the bullet lodged in his chest. The same night when Vi regained consciousness he saw a doctor near him. He tried to sit but the doctor prevented him from doing that and told him that some cops wanted to speak to him since his friend Su and the guide Bhabuna ji were still missing. Vi told everything that had happened. The next morning the news of a forest guard killing two tourists deep inside the jungle spread like wildfire. The forest guards found it hard to believe that one among themselves – the guardians of the forests and a tourist’s best friend and protector in the forest, could commit such a crime. The cops rushed to the base of Rajat Prapat to recover the body of Su. They were shocked to see nothing at the base of the waterfall but they did see a trail of blood following which they reached a dense bushy area. On further inspection they found the partially-eaten body of Su. In all probability it was eaten by a tiger. It was weird because the region didn’t have any resident tiger. Su’s body was taken for autopsy and it was confirmed that the body indeed was partially consumed by a large feline. There was both enthusiasm and gloom in the city. The enthusiasm was of having a tiger in a jungle which was losing its ancient glory to wanton destruction of flora and fauna. The gloom was because of the death of a tourist and a forest guard turning out to be a murderer.

The cops did multiple reconnaissance of the forest area surrounding the base of Rajat Prapat to find about the still missing Bhabuna ji. He hadn’t gone to his home since that fateful day. People wondered why a much-loved forest guard will murder trekkers from a middle class family for a few extra bucks. True he was poor but he was honest and righteous. It didn’t make sense but the way Vi narrated the entire episode correctly and with neat certainty every time, there was no doubt that Bhabuna ji did what he did. Vi was discharged from the hospital in a few days and he returned to his home tome Kolkata. The cops were still busy in figuring out the whereabouts of Bhabuna ji. A few months later, Vi got a call from Pachmarhi and the police department wanted to meet him to verify a few things. Vi was not provided any details and told that his tickets would be emailed at the earliest. It was difficult for Vi to plan out a short trip to Pachmarhi again because he had agreed to volunteer at Sundarbans tiger reserve during the final stages of the tiger census exercise. It’s a daunting task to arrive at a number going through thousands of pictures from the camera-traps laid inside the forests but since the cops had summoned him and it was about the incident involving Su, Vi had to go.

IMG_4092

On reaching Pachmarhi’s police headquarters, Vi was shown a few photographs which stunned him to the core. The pictures were from inside the forest and clearly taken by the camera traps and belonged to the same day they were shot. It showed two people – one in olive green uniform and another in a black overflowing outfit, apparently involved in a tussle. Vi was quick to point out Bhabuna ji from his uniform but the second person also looked a lot like him. Vi didn’t believe what he was seeing. Who was that other person? Was he Bhabuna ji’s twin brother but what was he doing in the forest that day? It came to everyone’s reckoning that the person who shot at Vi and Su might as well be that other person but where was he now? In absence of any other information the case was getting murkier. All the assumptions Vi had formed of Bhabuna ji after that incident came crashing down. Vi had to return to Kolkata to help with the census.

A few months passed again and one fine morning the nation was rocked again by the news of a ghastly naxal attack on a police convoy near a place called Bori. I knew Bori was within Satpura tiger reserve. More than 72 army men were killed by the naxals. A few of the naxals too died and some were captured alive as well. Vi felt sad at all the bloodshed. The picture of one of the killed naxals caught Vi’s attention. It resembled a lot like Bhabuna ji. What was he doing there with the naxals? Vi then suddenly remembered the pictures he had seen at Pachmarhi police headquarters. Could he be that other guy?. A few days passed and Vi again got a call from Pachmarhi and he was asked to visit the police headquarters again. Vi was excited this time and he was hoping maybe something has come out after all these months. Vi was quick to reach the place.

naxals

At the police headquarters, things finally fell in place. The inspector who was looking in the case informed Vi that on that fateful day Bhabuna ji met his Naxalite twin brother Veera in the forest when he had gone to relieve himself. Veera told Bhabuna ji that he will kidnap the trekkers who had come with him and ask the government for the release of a few fellow Naxalites. Bhabuna ji obviously protested against the idea and there was a tussle between them. Veera overpowered his brother and kidnapped him. Veera had come to the base of the waterfall to kidnap Su and Vi but what propelled him to shoot them instead is something we will never know. Bhabuna ji was rescued from a hideout the information of which was provided by the captured Naxalites. Vi went with the inspector to meet Bhabuna ji in his hut. Bhabuna ji was very happy to see Vi and rushed to hug him seeing him alive. Tears rolled down his cheeks and he asked for forgiveness for his inability to be their guardians in the forest. Vi wiped his tears and touched his feet in reverence and told he will remain the guardian of the forest and the tourists who come visiting till eternity.

india at miss universe


The first Miss Universe was held in 1952 at Long Beach, California, USA and India sent a representative in Indrani Rahman who failed to place.

The next time India sent a representative was 14 years hence in 1964 and since then India has always sent a representative except in the year 1988.

Between 1952 and 2015, there have been 64 Miss Universe contests and India has sent a total of 52 representatives out of which she has 22 placements – a strike rate of 42%.

Out of the 22 placements India has 7 Top 5 finalists – in the years 1966, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001. Out of those 7 finalists India has 2 winners – in the years 1994 and 2000.

Below is a brief of the 7 Indian finalists (including the 2 winners) at Miss Universe.

yasmin daji, miss india universe 1996 finished 4th. The winner was from Sweden.

yasmin daji (extreme left), miss india universe 1966, finished 4th! the winner was from sweden!

madhu sapre, miss india universe 1992, finished 3rd! the winner was from namibia!

madhu sapre, miss india universe 1992, finished 3rd! the winner was from namibia!

namrata shirodkar, miss india universe 1993, finished 5th! the winner was from puerto rico!

namrata shirodkar, miss india universe 1993, finished 5th! the winner was from puerto rico!

sushmita sen, miss india universe 1994, was the winner that year!

sushmita sen, miss india universe 1994, was the winner that year!

manpreet brar, miss india universe 1995, finished 2nd! the winner was from USA!

manpreet brar, miss india universe 1995, finished 2nd! the winner was from USA!

lara dutta, miss india universe 2000, was the winner that year!

lara dutta, miss india universe 2000, was the winner that year!

celina jaitely, miss india universe 2001, finished 5th! miss puerto rico was the winner!

celina jaitely, miss india universe 2001, finished 5th! the winner was from puerto rico!

indrani rahamn, miss universe 1952! she participated in the first ever miss universe contest and was not placed!

indrani rahman, miss india universe 1952! she participated in the first ever miss universe contest and did not place! she is the only miss india universe who was married (in 1945 to habib rahman) at the time of participation and even had a child (sukanya rahman born in 1946)!

rising intolerance


The BJP has been under attack ever since its inception so the present outrage on the bogey of “rising intolerance” and “minorities living in fear” is hardly an aberration; just that since times are a bit difficult for certain people under Narendra Modi as the current PM, the tension is palpable and with a mostly biased media at disposal, pretty visible as well. Last summer, NDA won a decisive mandate during the elections for the Lok Sabha with the leading partner BJP alone collecting a majority – rare in a multi-party democracy like India. The BJP in general and Modi in particular has been the thorn of the eyes for many  – henceforth referred to as the club and mostly consisting of elements from the media, the art and entertainment industry, etc. and who have self-labelled themselves as liberals, seculars, progressive, intellectuals and the conscience keepers of India. Genuine criticism against BJP and Modi is rare and rather amazingly mostly provided by their supporters. What passes off as criticism by most others is unquantified hatred. The reasons put forth are the bogey of 2002 Gujarat riots, Hindu rashtra, rising intolerance, other daily or periodically manufactured outrages, etc. but in reality it’s the fear that with Modi at helm, the patronage they enjoyed otherwise will stop. Modi, unlike most others in the BJP, isn’t the kind of person who will co-opt the club and use them as a shock absorber in times of need. Modi is also a nationalist and unapologetic of the Hindu faith he practices. The club on the contrary has a visceral hatred for Hinduism and are biased towards Abrahamic faiths. It’s this hatred and biases that result in their hypocrisy.

I agree there are some motor mouths and outright stupid people even in the BJP who pay scant respect to the office or position they hold and speak utter garbage. There are others who work against the ideals espoused by the party or the government. There are still others who despite being loathed by the club display a weird sadistic affinity towards them. Nevertheless, overall, I don’t think of the BJP (particular under Modi) being digressive of the ideals I want it to stand for – providing employment opportunities, development sans corruption, ensuring law of the land, effective reach of governance and social equality. Yes, there definitely are things which I want the BJP to put more focus on – like conservation and getting rid of dogmatic laws, but I think if there is any government that will work in the interest of India it’s the one headed by the BJP. I have cultivated my support for the BJP over the past decade and after many changes and churning and I find it extremely nauseating that the club thrusts its opinions as if that’s the only thing which should matter. This attitude of “you minions should listen since it’s coming from me” is outright arrogant and ironically bourgeoisie.

Let’s talk a bit more about the hypocrisy of the club. The recent outrage by a section of writers, filmmakers and other assorted members of the club is against the “rising intolerance” under Modi as the PM. The various cases they mention are the murder of “rationalists” in Maharashtra and Karnataka, the standoff at FTII, the lynching of a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh for allegedly slaughtering a cattle and consuming its meat, the attack on a Dalit family in Haryana, etc. Do such isolated cases – often blown out of proportion and misreported, really translate to “rising intolerance” under Modi? What data has been presented by the club in favour of their argument? Nothing actually but it has to be true since it’s coming from the club. If anything, they are unduly influencing the law of the land. This though is not new. Like I spoke earlier, the club has always come together when their interests are at stake and has tried to influence others under their weight to get rid of a government that isn’t patronizing. Unfortunately, with the advent of Social Media, the weight of their opinions has been much reduced and getting redundant. I know it hurts them hard but it’s a truth they have to accept sooner or later.

Yes, I enjoy the works of many from the club but I am not entitled to be a party to their naked biases. Many from the club are there because of benefaction and consequently a lot of their worth is puerile at best. The club has told us several times that when one from them speaks you ought to listen and feel sorry for your choices. Isn’t it weird? Why am I supposed to listen to them sans questioning? Amazingly, inquiring the blatant biases or the hidden politics of the club is termed as a vicious attack on their freedom of speech. I have always maintained, the only freedom of speech the club members want is for themselves. People questioning them are blocked, called names, sidelined as fringe and their worth questioned. The club wants a monopoly on opinions, narrative and agendas.

In a truly intolerant government, nobody gets to speak about the intolerance via countless media bytes, TV interviews, articles, etc. The only truly intolerant government in independent India was the one headed by Indira Gandhi. She was the one to impose Emergency from June, 1975 to March, 1977. If any intolerance is worth talking about now, it’s the intolerance of those who hate Modi and the government he heads.

I agree, every attack on an individual and the liberties allowed by the law of the land is condemnable and the perpetrators should be found out and punished. Even if a person commits a wrong, the sole authority of awarding punishment rests with the judiciary and not self-appointed guardians of the country. The problem per se is not with protests against tolerance. On the contrary, it’s always a nice thing to do that. The problem is with the reason offered by the club. Where is the “rising intolerance”? What substantiates that minorities are living in fear? What proves the government is against dissent or is curbing creativity? The problem is also with the timing. This act of protesting selectively divides the society even more than it joins. It creates a sense of paranoia. Muslim deaths have happened in the past as well. Dalit deaths have happened in the past as well. The club though rises up in protest only when they have to put the BJP in the dock. If anything, ever since India achieved independence some of the most glaring atrocities have been ignored by the so-called conscience keepers of the nation. Some of these include the murder of Sikhs in the aftermath of the assassination of the then PM Indira Gandhi in 1984 and the murder of Kashmiri Pundits in the early 1990s. Also ignored by the club (both in the past and the present) are the daily murders of Hindus and the persecution of anyone who is critical of the Abrahamic faiths.

When the BJP won the people’s mandate last year by garnering more than 30% of popular vote, some of the club members said that nearly 70% are still against it. The proposition is laughable but that’s how the club narrative works. How many times was the percentage of votes against INC in the Lok Sabha elections of 2004 and 2009 mentioned by the club? By the same argument, why hasn’t the club calculated the percentage of writers, filmmakers, et al who still haven’t returned their awards? They don’t do it because it will give them a rude shock of perspective. Personally, it doesn’t matter to me. I am guided by my own reasoning and logic and not by the “percentage” of awards returned. I leave others to decide for themselves.