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The media has mauled her
mercilessly without facts.
As the IPL controversy rages on,
Sunanda Pushkar sets the record
straight in an intimate
and exclusive interview
> P32


F R E E FA I R F E A R L E S S |



Like Ambedkar,
I too have been
branded political
Rajasthan BJP leader Kirori Singh
Bainsla tells SHOBHITA NAITHANI his
goal is quotas for Gujjars, not
targeting the Congress government

for reservation. Would you step down this time as well?

No. When other communities are not willing to part with

their quotas, how do you expect me to settle for something
lesser than 5 percent? I am not asking for the moon.
Earlier, you relinquished your demand for an ST status.
How do you expect the Rajasthan government to possibly
exceed Supreme Courts 50 percent reservation limit?

Constitutionally the government cannot exceed the limit.

And legally it cannot deny us 5 percent reservation. If the
government really wants to and has the will power to grant
us that, no one can stop it.

Thats because I am ready to cooperate with the government. I dont want my community to suer.
There are allegations that you are acting at the behest of
Vasundhara Raje to target the Congress government?

When I launched the agitation, Raje was the chief minister.

Was I with the Congress at that time? The doubt was created because I contested the Lok Sabha polls on a BJP ticket.

Will you settle for a quota less than 5 percent?

Do you regret contesting that election?

Right now Rajasthan already has 49 percent reservation. For

a permanent solution, the Gujjars are willing to settle for
reservation within 50 percent. I am not rigid about being

Not at all. Had Bhim Rao Ambedkar not joined politics,

could he have done so much for his community? Ill take part
in polls again. But on quotas, I am not with any party.

Meenas and Jats are powerful

communities the government is
afraid of alienating them
given reservation outside of that. Now its for the committee
appointed by the High Court to decide.
Neither the Meenas (within ST) nor the Jats (within OBC)
agree to share their quota pie. What is the alternative?

Do we have fair governance in the country? Meenas and

Jats are powerful communities; therefore the government
is afraid of alienating them.
Why are you rigid in your demand to halt recruitment for
the 80,000 government posts? Departments will come to
a standstill if there is shortage of staff.

We dont want to deprive other communities from this

recruitment drive. But at the same time, I dont want my
people to be deprived of their genuine dues.
In the past, you have agreed to scale down your demand


Still, you are a political person now. You enjoy the status
of a special invitee in the BJP National Executive.

Like Ambedkar, I too have been branded political. But my

primary aim is to safeguard the interests of my people. I do
not hobnob with any political party on the issue of quota.
Are you satisfied with the state governments special
package of scholarships and training for Gujjar youth?

This is not something new. The same package was given to

Gujjars by the Digvijay Singh government in Madhya
Pradesh. We want jobs, security and educational opportunities. Rs 280 crore was sanctioned at the time of the BJP
government in Rajasthan. Where is that money?
As part of the BJP, you should be able to find out now.

(Laughs) Whether fair or foul, I

am forever branded BJP.
Every year, why do you choose
summer to launch your

Farmers are free at this time as

the harvest season is over.



SINCE 1985
Phone: 0422-2402225





cover photo: ANSHIKA VARMA

CELEB CAUSE Bianca Jagger on why she joined the

peoples tribunal on rights of Indias indigenous tribes


POETRY JAMMING The international mushaira in Delhi was a

performance savoured by aficionados and amateurs alike P58

the menu
Will the CBI manage to nail
Mayawati, or is its claim
politically motivated

A definition of poverty needs
to be agreed upon before the
Food Bill is passed

The new mines Act is set
to usher in benefits for
local stakeholders

Rock music in India is alive
and kicking, despite TEHELKAS
assertion to the contrary P53

Chidambaram needs to tone
down his rhetoric and rethink
his anti-Maoist strategy P16

Baba Ramdev explains how his
Bharat Swabhiman Manch
will change Indian politics P28

Malnutrition and starvation are
rampant among the Baiga
tribals of Madhya Pradesh P46


The miser, the millionaire, the
mammas munna meet the
typical Marwari man

EDITOR Tarun J Tejpal

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Exclusive interview of
Ramanna, the
mastermind behind
the Dantewada
A report from the
ground on the state of
readiness of the CRPF
at their Silda camp, a
day after the
Dantewada attack
A new generation of
rickshaws, designed
by students of SRCC,
are all set to hit the
streets of Delhi





Eminent Microbiologist

Please send in your feedback to


Refer to How Many Deaths
Before Too Many Die, April 17.
Thank you for the well-written
article. I enjoyed reading it as
much as it disturbed me. Lets
not forget the unsavoury, ever.
All the best with the hate mail
youre bound to receive. Its
unbelievable how blinkered the
well-read, modern, educated,
city slicker Indian can be.
Sabbah Haji, on email

You have done it again. Very

well-written. Thank you for
fighting for the right side.
Anand Bala, on email
Brilliant writing. How I wish
our elite would think along
these lines.
Pradipta Saha, on email


Refer to The Indian Premier
Leak, April 24. Awesome piece.
An insightful peek into the
distasteful pile of filth that
the IPL seems to have become.
An engaging expose of the
sleazy and murky goings-on
behind the apparent glitter.
Gopal Saijpaul, on email

with a 1215 percent stake.

And he also has a stake in
Kolkata Knight Riders.
Kanika, on Facebook
Read your investigative story
on the IPL. Its a great revelation. I understand now how
you earned great respect
among the Asian journalist
Kaswar Klasra, Islamabad
Great story about the IPL. I was
wondering what the controversy is about till your story
helped me understand the unholy mess that the IPL is.
Adite Banerjie, on email
I am glad that you have written such an apt article. I
would like to know if
Tharoor was at fault as it is
hard to believe with all that I
have understood and read.
Aayush V Jayadev, on email


Maybe Chidambaram is right

in saying that Maoists are an
internal security threat. But
then is he himself not a threat
to us? The logic behind this is
simple. To run the government you need money. A very
small percentage of people
pay tax in the country and the
rest of the money goes into
the pockets of the rich. So for
money, the natural resources
of the country are sold to corporate companies like in the
iron-rich mountains of south
Chhattisgarh. The question is,
till when will you keep selling
our country like this to run
your government?
Kaustubh Tiwari, on email

Your article made me feel that I

should start a collection of
TEHELKA articles. Keep on writing such fantastic, intellectually stimulating articles that
give voice to human conscience and offer just arguments. Your words of wisdom,
in-depth research and analysis
can be heard over the inces-

sant noise made by the rest of

the immature media.
Tejas Shinde, on email
There is a serious need to
discuss the third position
without using polemics, and I
found your article very balanced, objective and sincere. I
am glad that TEHELKA is giving
space to these difficult issues
that other magazines generally avoid. Looking forward to
more articles from you.
Biman Nath, Bengaluru

Informative story. There were

a lot of facts that I didnt
know before reading the
story, such as Sunanda
Pushkars actual equity, the
role of other corporate giants,
how players are approaching
new franchisees and how the
Indian Premier League became the Indian premier leak.
Mihir Gautam, on Facebook
I loved the article. I know for
sure that Lalit Modi is a silent
partner in Rajasthan Royals

Amazing article. I had a bad

feeling about the IPL all along.
It has been difficult for me to
defend my position as the
popularity of the IPL has been
growing exponentially. The
article really brought all of it
together nicely though.
T Thekaekara, on email
Your article on the Indian
Premier League was simply
amazing. We are really
fortunate to have media
groups like TEHELKA and jour-



nalists like you who can

bring us the truth amidst all
this eye wash.
Rajarshi Guha, on email
Refer to The Departed, April
10. The reference to Vidarbha
having a third season, the suicide season, was a really
touching expression of human
helplessness. The article shows
why Vidarbha is clamouring
for statehood after being neglected by Maharashtra. It is disheartening that it is the state
and society rather than unpredictable monsoon, which are
responsible for these suicides.
Sajim S, Thiruvananthapuram
Refer to The Hell Diggers, April
3. Rarely does one get to see
such cold pursuit of truth as I
found in your article on Bellary
mining and the Reddys dirty
politics in action. How can the
nation know this and still stay
silent? How can political parties talk of nationalism on the
one hand and encourage the
Reddys on the other?
Raj Dutta, on email
Refer to The Gene Gun at Your
Head, March 6. A well-written
and well documented article
which gives me a lot of information. Like you, I am interested in saving this planet for
future generations.
Bernard Duclox, Bengaluru
Refer to Their Crime Was They
Were Boys, April 17. After
reading your story I was reminded of a complaint which
security agencies usually
make - that they dont get
ground intelligence from vil-


lagers. Can you blame the

tribals when you are not even
sparing their children?
Nilabh, on email
Stories like these reinforce
our belief that the state government will have to first get
their act together by reining
in their police before they can
think of controlling Naxals.
Shocking to note that even
children are not spared in this
senseless conflict.
Priyanka, on email
Refer to Dyeing to Reclaim,
April 17. I recently read the
article on the Wadia group
and Raheja group, and appreciate the detailed investigation. I am not a regular reader
of TEHELKA but this article
really caught my attention.
N Hazarika, on email
Refer to Dont Believe Everything You Hear, April 17. I
salute you for telling it like it is.
I have one query though. Why,
according to you, should the
media refrain from covering a
genre where musicians are
looking to connect with the
audience rather than sucker
them into buying CDS; where,
for every 100 bad bands, there
will at least be one Indian
Ocean or Avial, with their very
own original Indian sound?
S Chatterjee, Mumbai
What youve written is
absolutely true. It is a shame
that the current rock scene is
in the hands of the rich and the
upper-middle class, like you
said. They are more interested
in posing rather than actually
creating music.
Shashank P, Hyderabad



THE CITATION: For addressing a serious issue like

human trafficking from a
gender perspective, Neha
Dixit is awarded the UNFPALaadli Media Award for Gender Sensitivity 2009-10.
In her investigative feature
'Sold Pimped Abandoned,

Refer to The Shock Therapy
Man, April 17. Being a public
health person myself, I think
Jeffrey Sachs has a point. However, with diminishing
resources and increasing pollution/climate change problems, saving all may not be
practical for any nation. The
right approach is to emphasize
on family planning, preventive
and pre-natal care, nutrition
and behavioural management.
Ramney Koul, on email
Refer to Tiger Truths, April
24. A very well-written and
thoughtful piece. Shekar Dattatris recommendations on
how civil society can bring
about change in the Tiger
conservation scenario might
appear to be facile, but under
the existing system they are
the best possible steps to
take. And if this action is

(TEHELKA issue dated November 1, 2008), Neha Dixit uses

case studies and hard-hitting facts to expose issues
related to human trafficking.
She has presented the issue
sensitively, yet strikingly by
interviewing the survivors as
well as the perpetrators. Her
reports effectively convey the
plight of girl children caught
in the human trafficking net.
Laadli is Population First's
Girl Child Campaign that addresses an important social
issue the bias against girl
child, which makes her unwelcome in many families.

heeded by a few thousand

people, I believe it will make a
critical difference.
Belinda Wright, on email
Refer to Collateral Consequences, November 7, 2009.
As a member of the fact-finding team that visited Nendra
village on October 10/11,
2009, and subsequently met
victims in Dantewada, I wish
to point out that the incidents of Gacchanpalli and
Singanmadu happened on
September 17, 2009, which
has been erroneously printed
as October 17, 2009 in your
S Purkayastha, on email



SINCE 1985
Phone: 0422-2402225






Below Poverty Line bar

raised to 37.2 percent
In a move that will benet
approximately 1.1 crore people, the Planning Commission
on April 17 accepted that 37.2
percent of the population
lives below the poverty line as
opposed to its previous
estimate of 27.5 percent.
The decision will have a
direct bearing on the number
of beneciaries of the proposed Food Security Bill.


Detectors to be
installed at all ports
Weeks after four people in a
scrap market in Delhi suffered injuries after coming in
contact with Cobalt 60, a
radioactive substance, the
government has asked all
the 12 state-owned ports to
install advanced radioactive
material detectors. These
ports handled 102 million
tonnes of iron ore in 200910. There are at present only
two such detectors at the
Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust.

20 new IIITs under publicprivate partnership

The Ministry of Human
Resource Development
plans to set up 20 IIITs (Indian Institute of Information
Technology) under publicprivate partnership in 85:15
ratio. Each of these institutes
would be set up at a cost of
Rs 200 crore and will spe8


cialise in a particular eld.

The government is also planning to confer on them the
status of institutes of national importance by bringing the IIIT Bill in Parliament.

110 IAS, IPS officers face

trial on criminal charges
In what could be seen as a
disgrace to the Indian Civil
Services, Minister of State
for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Prithviraj
Chavan in a written reply in
the Rajya Sabha, has said that
110 ocers from the IAS and
the IPS are currently facing
trial on criminal charges in
CBI cases. He said that the
government had set up
special CBI courts for speedy
trials to restore public condence in the IPS and IAS.
Extensive IT raids, targeting
bureaucrats and businessmen were conducted in February in MP and


Mayawati expels
Ansari brothers
Mukhtar Ansari and his
brother Afzal were expelled
form the BSP by party
supremo Mayawati on April
16, for anti-party and criminal activities. The Ansari
bothers had joined the BSP
just before the 2009 Assembly
elections. Mukhtar, who is
currently in jail, is facing 30
criminal charges including
murder and kidnapping.

India to get $ 4.5 mn from

US to fight terrorism
In an attempt to strengthen
the ght against terrorism,
the Obama administration
has asked the American
Congress to double the antiterror budget for India to $
4.5 million. This follows a request by India for high-level
training from the US after
the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
VHP leader skips

appearance before SIT

Pravin Togadia, general secretary of the Vishwa Hindu
Parishad, skipped his April
19 appearance before the
Special Investigation Team
probing the Gujarat riots.
SIT ocials say that fresh
summons will be issued
soon. Togadia, like Gujarat
CM Narendra Modi, who
was also questioned by the
SIT, is one of the 64 accused
in the Ehsan Jafri case.

Pinarayi Vijayan: The

CPI(M) leader was given a

clean chit by the CBI in the
Lavalin corruption case

Tamil Nadu: Rs 1,000

crore allocated for worldclass roads in 11 cities


ISRO: The GSLV-D3 falls

into the sea after the

indigenous cryogenic
engine fails after take-off

Indian Air Force: Of the

74 air mishaps in the last
six years, 45 percent have
happened because of
human error, says the IAF



Is the Congress using the CBI to bully
Mayawati into submission?



bullying through CBI tactic earlier. The same CBI had earlier
in its majestic equality forbids all men
to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and
led two intervention applications (IAS) in quick succession
to steal bread the rich as well as the poor,
in the disproportionate assets case against Mulayam Singh
French writer Anatole France had said. The
Yadav in 2007. Next July, Mulayam supported the governCentral Bureau of Investigation (CBI) follows
ment. The same agency in November sought to withdraw
this line in letter and spirit. It spares neither backward leadthe intervention applications. Even the Supreme Court
ers Mulayam Singh and Lalu Yadav nor Dalit leader
wondered why the CBI was withdrawing the applications
Mayawati albeit for a specic purpose.
when it had a cast-iron case against the defendants.
The recent assertion by the CBI that it has substantial proof
Given the level of corruption by the powers that be, the
against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati is a classic
dimension has assumed alarming proportions. Allowing
case of how institutions are used for political manipulation.
legal immunity (after an initial bullying) to corrupt leaders
The assertion per se is unwarranted as the matter is in the
and seeking their support to run minority governments
Supreme Court and is listed for hearing. There was no apparthis is the best example of a pay-o system of corruption
ent reason for the CBI to make such an assertion in the public
that has dogged democracies in semi-literate societies across
the world. Institutions, the legal framework and the
through the media. If there is a cast-iron case, the agency can
apex democratic edice are
easily present the same before
used to perpetrate corruption.
the Supreme Court.
Fragile coalition governments
Recall the then Governor T
An unobtrusive, though very
have time and again used this
Rajeshwars decision in June
eective, protection is given to
bullying through CBI tactic
2007 not to accord permission
the corrupt so as to further
to proceed against Mayawati
the cause. The pay-o system
even though a prima facie case was made out against her.
has a tendency to breed more corruption unless the entire
The Governors decision was based on the opinion of none
body politic gets involved.
other than the Attorney General. The Attorney General had
It is the same CBI that had told the Allahabad High Court
opined that there was no need for the Governor to give
in the multi-crore foodgrain scam that it had no wherepermission, in view of the material made available to him.
withal to carry out the investigation. But when the chips are
Today, when the UPA Government is facing a hostile
down and when the Congress bosses nd the going tough on
opposition during the ongoing budget session and needs
the oor of the lower house during the budget session, the
support to see the budget through, a message is sought to
CBI gets its act together and announces its commitment to
be sent to Mayawati so as to shackle her into submission.
book the guilty however high or mighty he or she may be.
The Government is worried that the ongoing anti-govCorruption is the most infallible symptom of constituernment pitch by the united opposition which is baying for
tional liberty, Edward Gibbon wrote in his scholarly book
the governments blood, might upset its applecart. Those
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. If he were to
leaders who are vulnerable may come to its rescue once the
write the book again he would have said: The CBI is the most
whip is cracked by the agency brass.
infallible manifestation of political exigency that makes the
Fragile coalition governments have made use of this
corrupt cajole [others], and allows political stability.










Eight days after

the killing of
76 CRPF jawans
in Chintalnar,

meet the Maoists

who planned it

OUR DAYS after one of Indias

most deadly Naxal attacks, we
received an anonymous call. It
was an invite from the Naxals. A
ight to Raipur, a bus into the
interiors of Dantewada, a phone-call
directing us to a guest house, and then a
long journey into invisible India.
It was the morning of April 14. We
TEHELKA and ve other journalists arrived at the edge of a forest. A 30-km
walk began. Eight hours later, a surprise
awaited us the mastermind himself,
Ramanna alias Ravula Srinivas, the chief
planner of the Dantewada attack and secretary of the south Bastar regional committee of the CPI(Maoist). The son of
farm labour in Andhra Pradesh, Ramanna, 44, joined the Radical Youth
League after school. He migrated to
Chhattisgarh 30 years ago, and hasnt
seen his family since. Accompanying him
was Ganesh Ueike, 48, the partys political strategist, a BSc from Osmania University, uent in English.
Over the next 36 hours, many things
would be revealed. Ecstatic at having
killed the largest number of security
forces in one day, Ramanna would contradict government claims in broken
Hindi. It was the CRPF who red rst.
There werent 1,000 Maoists; more like




Arms and the Woman

Poverty and despair or angry ideology? Whether as Adivasi or as
Maoist cadre, women play a crucial role in this unforgiving region.
From fetching water (opening
page) to washing clothes with the
meagre water available (left) to
patrolling their villages (right); as
guerillas, they need to be ready,
even while enjoying a dance performance (far right)

Homegrown Arsenal
(Below) Maoist IED experts explain
how they plant pressure bombs
using syringes and camera flash;
(Below left) The rebels use lethal
country-made handguns, with
cartridges seized from the police





300. The Naxals had spotted CRPF jawans

carrying supplies between camps, and
tracked them for three days till their own
cadre reached a substantial number. At
5.20 am on April 6, two groups of Naxals
surrounded the CRPF company, forcing
them into a wide eld adjacent to the road,
where a third group of Naxals struck.
Over the next 36 hours, many things
would become evident. There would be
talk of violence, meticulous strategy, intense militarisation, cartridges stolen
from the police, IED experts explaining
how to defuse pressure bombs with sy1 MAY 2010 TEHELKA

ringes. There would be rickety huts, malnourished children, near-empty wells,

crushing poverty, clay pots, dry rice, lthy
drinking water. There would be a parched
lake; all the water is diverted to Essars
steel projects, Ramanna would say. That
would become one the reasons for the
massacre, along with the 96 MoUs the
Chhattisgarh government signed with
multinational mining companies, and a
list of 115 Adivasis killed by the State during Operation Green Hunt.
There would be Geeta, our guide
through the dense jungle. A shy tribal

woman in a faded sari, she would surprise

us later by disappearing into a mud hut
and emerging seconds later, dressed in
battle gear. It is this shifting kaleidoscope
that would mark much of our journey.
There would be men and women who
would remind you insistently of others:
take their guns and uniforms away and
they could be migrant construction workers living in a shanty, or the faceless poor
anywhere in India. There would be children running down hillocks with bows
and arrows. Later we would learn they
formed the partys Balak Sangathan litCURRENT AFFAIRS 13


Springtime in
(Top left) Fragile and
impoverished, the tribals of
Chhattisgarh are caught in the
web of violence and acute poverty;
(Top right) Take the gun and
uniform away, and you see the
faceless poor; the appearance so
blurry, the State might fail to
distinguish them as it mounts its
offensive; (Bottom left & right)
After years of struggle, the
oppressed have turned into
oppressor. The CRPF massacre of
April 6 has brought a strange sense
of elation among Maoist cadres




tle spies who help in identifying enemies

of the village.
Over the next 36 hours, we would be
immersed in a world that is fragile, combustible, as if it were the tip of something
about to explode. On the evening of April
14, we arrived at our destination
thatched roofs, idle cattle and two commanders brandishing AK-47s. Hours of
conversation followed. Factoids about
Indias defence budget, land policy. Questions about a media and government
sold to corporates, IPL and the West. Assertions that violence was the only way
to restore a just, equal State. We returned
from the jungles of Dantewada, from one
victors den, to another preparing for victory. Dogged by all the old questions.
How can this war be stopped? How can
the journey to a just, equal State begin?






All the reasons why Chidambaram has got the wrong end of the Maoist stick

State is threatened
given in all the media, but the way in which
by revolution its greatest
Chidambaram turned them into a challenge
nightmare is that the into the State itself.
surgents may nd some
When the rst police minivan was blown
way of welding the hosts
up on April 4, Chidambaram, who was in
of discontented that exist in every society, into
Lalgarh, called the Maoists cowards. Why
a cohesive political and military force. To do
are they hiding in the forests, he asked
this, they need to highlight its iniquitous and
rhetorically. This challenge could not have
Senior Journalist
oppressive nature, and oer an alternative vicome at a worse time for a day before the
sion of the State. But this will not serve their
minivan was blown up, the Maoists had
purpose if they cannot communicate their assessments
begun a second, entirely separate operation against a CRPF
and their programme for change to those whom they wish
company based in Chintalnar. Thus, although there was no
to mobilise. It is therefore no surprise that from the begindirect connection between the two operations, when they
nings of the modern state in the fourth century BC in
wiped out the company a billion Indians concluded that this
was the Maoists riposte to Chidambaram.
China, one of the main preoccupations of the State, in
Chidambaram completed his promotion of the Maoists
every country, has been to isolate pockets of discontent
from a local into a national threat when he told the Lok
and deal with them piecemeal, through either accommoSabha on April 15: I did not lose my nerve. I did not lose
dation or elimination.
my will. I do not fear the Naxalites. It did not occur to him
This is the isolation that Union Home Minister P Chithat by protesting too much he was in
dambaram has now irretrievably shatfact sending the opposite message to the
tered. Till April 6, the Maoists were able
Unless they are given
public. Not content with this, he then
to spread their message only among the
timely back-ups, it
made sure that every Indian got the
Adivasis of the central Indian Red Belt.
message that the Maoists had been
Today, that message has reached virtually
will not be long
to send for the last decade:
every home in the country. Chintalnar, in
before security forces struggling
The Maoists have declared war on the
Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, is
start refusing to fight state. They call us enemies. They call
not the only place where Maoists have
this hallowed hall (Parliament) a pig sty,
slaughtered a large number of policemen.
he said in a voice choked with emotion.
In June 2007, a supposed informer led a large police party
Not surprisingly, the Maoists now loom large in every
into an ambush in Chhattisgarh, in which 25 policemen lost
conversation. As the outpouring of opinions on television
their lives. In July 2009, Maoists ambushed and killed 36
and not a few newspapers shows, they have become the tarpolicemen, again in Chhattisgarh. In the previous three
gets of rage in the new India. But one can only wonder how
months they killed 16 policemen in Gadchiroli, Maharashmany of the millions that daily face extortion by unactra, 10 near Bokaro, hijacked an entire train in Jharkhand
countable petty bureaucrats; that wait for years at courts
and killed 10 more policemen during an attack on a bauxfor a justice that is never rendered; and know that a third of
ite mine in Orissa.
candidates that political parties ask them to vote for are
These attacks alarmed the cognoscenti but hardly dented
criminals, share this rage. Today, many of them must be
the publics consciousness. What made the last two attacks
looking at their government with new eyes and asking quesin Dantewada dierent was not just the large number of
tions it had not occurred to them to ask before.
policemen killed, nor even the huge publicity that they were




Chidambaram has thus given tangible shape to Prime

Minister Manmohan Singhs worst nightmare. But one does
not need to be a psychologist to understand what has made
him do so. For years before he became the Home Minister,
the state governments had been begging for more arms,
better training and additional, specialised personnel to ght
the Naxalites. Chidambaram gave them all of that and
more. For he personally oversaw the replacement of the earlier, bumbling, defensive strategy, which was based on the
premise that Maoism was a law and order problem, with an
oensive strategy based on aggressive patrolling designed to
secure area dominance. His personal commitment was
reected by several visits to the Red Belt and his castigation of the West Bengal government for not falling in line.
In December, Chidambaram put his personal seal on the
anti-Maoist operations by coordinating (in reality, launching) Operation Green Hunt.

Green Hunt seems to have widened the gap between the

capabilities of the Maoists and the security forces. In the
Chintalnar massacre, the Maoists took a page from the
Taliban and laid an ambush in a pre-selected spot, planted
anti-personnel mines in the trees where the soldiers were
certain to take cover and forced them back into the open.
This is what turned Chintalnar into a killing eld.

OT SURPRISINGLY, Chidambaram has been openly

castigated by the former Chief Minister of
Madhya Pradesh, Digvijay Singh, and openly
opposed by Defence Minister AK Antony and the Army
and Air Force chiefs. Thus, when he spoke in Parliament on
April 15, he was defending not so much his government
as himself.
But no matter how it happened, the genie is out of the
bottle. In the Red Belt, there is a mystique of invincibility

The Maoists aura of

invincibility will be
hard to counter
through intelligent,
humane reforms

Slammed Chidambarams
anti-Naxal strategy has
come in for criticism


building up around the Maoists that

will make it more and more dicult to
erode the support they enjoy through
intelligent, humane reforms. Thus it
may be dicult to abjure the use of
force till the State re-establishes its
authority. But turning the Army and
Air Force loose on the population will
not do so, for innocent civilians will
be killed.
The answer lies in providing full
body armour of the kind worn by the
Americans and the Chinese riot
police, in close air support for them, in bringing in reinforcements and encircling the Maoists even while a reght
is on, in securing better intelligence and in constantly
oering a political alternative to violence to the people of
the areas from which Maoists draw their recruits.
In Afghanistan, ground-air coordination is now so good
that air support for a beleaguered force arrives in as little as
three minutes. In the Maoist belt, even if reinforcements
could be brought in within 15 minutes, it would turn the
tide. It is for military experts to decide how they will achieve
this but evading the issue, or getting bogged down in the red
tape that surrounds defence procurement is no longer an
option. If the government allows this to happen it will not be
long before the security forces start refusing to ght.

But Chidambarams tactics have boomeranged. In 2009,

even by ocial estimates, Maoists killed 312 members of
the security forces, against the polices tally of 294 Naxalites. But the real disparity was almost certainly much
greater, for the police have very few bodies to show for their
successes. This was the fourth year in a row in which the
Maoists had got the better of security forces. It was therefore inevitable that when the Congress began to sense that
things were going wrong, he would be the main target of
the doubters. Chidambarams plans for Operation Green
Hunt met with opposition in a meeting of the Cabinet
Committee on Security as far back as October 8, last year.
But he was able to prevail over the sceptics.
But far from achieving area domination, Operation





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There was a time when

Bianca Jagger was known
as rock star Mick Jaggers wife.
But for the last 30 years, the
Nicaragua-born fashion icon
has been a peoples rights
advocate and a goodwill
ambassador for the Council
of Europe. Recently, on her
way back from her travels
among the Kondh tribals in
Niyamgiri, Orissa, she spoke
about how multinational
mining giant Vedantas operations are threatening the tribals with extinction. Excerpts:

Ive been a human rights, social justice and environment

protection advocate for the
last 30 years. I am the founder
and chair of the Bianca Jagger
Human Rights Foundation. I
also love India and have a
long relationship with this
country. Many people know
this. This is why Action Aid
approached me to meet
Sitaram Kulisika, a tribal
leader who was coming to
London to testify at a
Vedanta shareholders meeting. I was very moved by his
compelling testimony, his
commitment to his homeland
and his people. Once they
start mining, the mountain
will be bulldozed, the rivers
will dry up and our livelihood
will be lost, he said. We
dont know how to adapt and
survive and our way of living
is not available in the cities.
We will be extinct. I was so
appalled to hear what
Vedanta was doing in Orissa
that I bought shares and attended the shareholders
meeting. Vedanta screened a



How did your trip to Niyamgiri and Vedantas mining

project there come about?



glowing lm of all the wonderful things it was doing in

India. But there were many
organisations there, like
Amnesty International and
Action Aid, Survival International and Indian groups
where Vedanta is operating,
who asked very serious questions and presented evidence
of the companys atrocious
human rights record.
Vedantas founder-director
Anil Agarwal had no answers
for this so I began to write articles in The Guardian and
campaign to urge investors to
reconsider their involvement
in Vedanta. The trip to Orissa
was my next logical step.
If you were to distill what is
wrong with the project,
what would you pick?

At the heart of whats wrong

is a very important question.
Are we saying today, in the
21st century, that in the name
of progress and development
we are prepared to sacrice
the fundamental rights of
tribals and indigenous communities? Are we going to
endanger their survival, in
order to enable corporations
to exploit our natural resources? Havent we arrived
at a point in time when corporations and states can voluntarily acknowledge they
have a social and corporate
responsibility to safeguard
peoples livelihood? The
Niyamgiri mountain is a very
important rainforest. Not
only do the Kondh tribals see
it as sacred, they have managed to retain their tradition
and lived a completely selfsucient life in harmony
with nature. The only thing
they buy from the outside
world is salt and petrol. One
of the tribal elders told me,

Just as a sh cannot survive

outside water, we cannot
survive outside Niyamgiri.
When you get to this remote
place and see these beautiful
people, you really understand
how can we expect them
to survive anywhere else?
Also, the Kondhs are not
the only issue. The top of the
mountain has a bauxite-rich
plateau. Bauxite collects rainwater very eciently. The
water collected at the top of
this mountain feeds two
major rivers in India and approximately 34 streams.
Vedantas project will not only

about their irrational environmental policies, I was told

again and again Bianca, we
need to do this for progress
and development; we need to
bring jobs to the people; pay
our foreign debt, improve the
lives of the poor and downtrodden. What I want to say
to you is that neither did it
improve the lives of indigenous people, farmers and the
poor nor did it create jobs. It
only left behind a trail of
environmental destruction
and abuse of our natural
resources, helping MNCS to
make huge prots. But it

I come from a country that

has had many foreign occupations and a revolution. Ive
worked with people for many
years in countries ravaged by
war. And, everywhere, I have
seen how the indiscriminate
abuse and exploitation of natural resources at the expense
of peoples livelihood breed
insurrection. This is not new
or indigenous to India so
the Indian government needs
to seriously reect upon this
question. They need to understand that if you expel
thousands of people from
their ancestral lands and deny

Abuse of natural resources

leads to revolt everywhere
endanger the lives of the
Kondhs, it will aect water
sources and impact other
communities further down
stream. So is the project
worth it? The only reason
they can get away with it is
because they have co-opted
the State. I have been told by
a reliable source that the State
owns 25 percent of Vedanta
in India. Therefore, Orissa
can no longer be an honest
broker, make the company
accountable and adhere to
human rights and environmental laws. The State has
become part of the company.
Do we need to rethink the
very premise of development? Where does that
leave us, who speak for the
poor, but are beneficiaries
of the progress we criticise,
flying around, using ACs,
driving big cars

Throughout my life I often

confronted governments in
Central and South America

never beneted the people. It

didnt even raise the status of
the countries in question
just made some people into
multi-billionaires. So yes, we
do need to think about a development that is sustainable,
inclusive, and improves the
lives of people, without destroying the environment.

them their fundamental

human rights, these people
will be left without a means
to survival, and as the Kondh
said to me, they dont just
want to be compensated.
Merely money cannot substitute for land, so it is a question of how to avoid war. You
dont avoid war by bombing
people or calling in the army
but by really getting at the
root causes.

Across the world, including

India [see TEHELKA: Its Rape,
Reap, and Run, April 3,
2010], mining is dogged by
corruption. We can legislate
but people can be bought
out. Whats the answer?

What was your experience

in Latin America of
mining, State repression,
revolution and its fallout.

I believe that we have pushed

our civilisation to a tipping
point. If we are serious about
reversing catastrophic climate
change, we do need to lead
very dierent lives. Of course
everybody gets nervous when
we talk about real changes in
our lifestyles. But quite apart
from this, there is something
very important that governments need to think about.

Everything about it was archetypal. You had the great

gap between the very wealthy
and the very poor. You had
governments that aligned
themselves with multinationals that exploited the natural
resources without ever beneting the people they displaced. You had a trail of
people who died of diseases
in the mines of Nicaragua,


other Latin American countries and throughout the

developing world. And then
you had insurrections everywhere. Guatemala, Salvador,
Nicaragua and many other
parts of Latin America. Unfortunately, many of the revolutions eventually betrayed
the people too. So it is important for the government of
India to look at such examples. and for the chief minister of Orissa and other states
to think twice about what
methods they want to use
against the tribal people and
farmers and the oppressed.
Maybe its important for
political leaders in Indian to
read what Gandhi or Nehru
said about tribals rights. You
cannot push development

everyone, displacing only one

village. They have already displaced four, and I have been
told that they promised one
lakh rupees to those who had
land titles (as you know, very
few have land deeds, especially tribals) and Rs 50,000
per acre to those who had no
titles in exchange for their
rights, and worse, Rs 1,000 to
those willing to give up their
houses. One thousand rupees! Thats just over $20! Its
shocking. And of course they
havent given them jobs. I
think there are some 57 foreigners who are running this
renery. So, in 2003, when
the people in this village saw
that the company had started
cutting down the forests way
beyond the declared area, and

This is a serious human rights

violation, and it is extraordinary that all this was done in
collusion with the police and
the Orissa state. All the documents I have show the collusion between the state and
Vedanta. When I arrived at
the Biju Patnaik airport in
Bhubaneswar, I was struck by
a billboard that said Mining
happiness for the people of
Orissa. What a cruel irony.
The aluminium renery has
brought nothing but misery,
disease and impoverishment
to the communities in the
area, and if Vedantas bauxite
project is allowed to go
ahead, it will endanger the
very survival of the Kondhs.
Did you speak to Chief
Minister Naveen Patnaik?

There is collusion between

the Orissa state and Vedanta
down their throats.
What makes Vedanta symptomatic of mining and bigcorporate malpractices?

Vedanta is one of the worst

companies I have come
across but whats most shocking is that its happening in
the 21st century. This company is misleading the world
with its incredible PR campaign. It is making people believe it wants to do good for
the people, that it will build a
university etc, but this is all
ction. Heres just one example of the kind of things they
have been doing. In Bandhaguda, a place very close to
their [alumina] renery, in
2002, the company told the
village that they would build a
factory, give employment to

that all the promises made

were false, they decided to
demonstrate outside the construction site. About 400 people gathered men, women
and children. The police jailed
all the men for seven days.
When they were released,
they were told they had become outcaste and needed to
go to Puri to pray and redeem
themselves at Lord Jagannaths temple. The state police
were used alongside Vedanta
company goons to forcibly
take them to Puri, while they
built the renery wall. In violation of customary law, their
ancestral graveyard was destroyed and the area illegally
enclosed in the Vedanta compound. This meant the people
could no longer go to pray.

I tried but couldnt. I hope

he realises that respect for
justice and humans is not
just important for the tribals
but for stopping the spread
of insurrection in his state.
The trouble with Indian
democracy is that it is now
merely equated to elections.

This is not an Indian problem.

This is a concept that America had brought in rst. You
have elections in Afghanistan
even if everyone is busy
killing each other in the
end they were not even democratic. You had polls in Iraq
even if you didnt have people
participating, or in Latin
America. One should understand, that you dont have a
democracy because you had
an election. Building a demo-

cratic state requires a lot

more than just an election.
So how do we push for more
ethical corporate conduct?

I have been working with

communities that include
ve indigenous tribes in
Ecuador. As you might know,
the oil giant Texaco (merged
with Chevron and is now
known as Chevron) was in
Ecuador for 20 years and
during that time they devastated large swathes of the
rainforest and contaminated
all the water sources. There
was a law passed in Texas in
1919 that demands that oil
companies line their pits so
that the contamination does
not seep into the water
sources but they didnt do it
because that would have required them to spend a bit
more. So for years people
have been drinking, cooking,
swimming and bathing in
this contaminated water and
are dying of cancer and
leukaemia, the children suffer from skin diseases and
women suer from spontaneous abortions. In 1993,
they organised themselves
and led a class action lawsuit against the company in
the US. The trial is still going
on, but today they have a
chance of winning a 6 billion
dollar case against the company. You would have never
dreamed that a remote indigenous people would have
been able to galvanise and
organise themselves to take
on a giant. But they did, and
if they could win this case
which I hope they will it
will send a clear message that
corporations can no longer
act with impunity in the
developing or emerging
industrialised nations.










Grain drain Bridging

the demand-supply gap is
the biggest challenge





scheme of UPA
the proposed National
Food Security Act (NFSA),
has become a policymakers nightmare. If suggestions by the Finance Ministry
(reportedly at the instance of Congress
President Sonia Gandhi) and the state
governments are incorporated, the
yearly food grain requirement would be
close to 80 million tonnes. But considering food grain procurement in an
average year is 40 to 41 million tonnes
half the amount that is needed how
will this gap be bridged?
The point was raised at the meeting
of the Empowered Group of Ministers
(EGoM) earlier this year: The allocation
under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) and other welfare schemes
this year has been 56 MT, against which
the otake will be around 43-46 MT for
PDS and another 3.5 MT for other
schemes. Availability of food grains for
ensuring food security could become an
issue. Therefore, to ensure that demand
does not exceed supply, it proposed
shrinking of the food security net by
limiting the number of beneciaries and
reducing their entitlements. This led the
EGoM meeting to covering only BPL
(Below Poverty Line) families under the
NFSA , and entitling 25 kg of food grains
per family per month 10 kg less than
the existing norm. It was also decided to
conne the NFSAs role to ensuring food
grain security and its de-linking from
the larger issue of nutritional security.
Expectedly, none of this found favour
with either the state governments or the
Congress high command, and Finance
Minister Pranab Mukherjees oce sent a
harshly-worded note to the Food and
Agriculture Ministry questioning the
limited coverage, BPL quotas, inadequate
emphasis on PDS reform and the weak
accountability and grievance redressal
The note also sought xing of the
number of beneciaries. But then, just
how many BPL families are there? That
depends on who you ask. Currently, the
government recognises 6.52 crore BPL






(35 + 11.7) KG



(25 +11.7) KG



(35 + 11.7) KG



25 +11.7) KG



(35 + 11.7) KG



(25 +11.7) KG



(35 + 11.7) KG



(25 +11.7) KG



(35 + 11.7) KG



(25 +11.7) KG







AT 10.98 CRORE

POVERTY @ 37.2%-8.14

POVERTY @ 50% - 10.87


POVERTY @ 77%-16.75

Source: Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution

families, but there are 10.98 crore BPL

ration cards. Similarly, there are 11.52
crore APL families, but 13.26 crore ration
cards. Whatever we do, we should not
reduce coverage of BPL families to below
10.8 crore, says the note, which is highly
critical of the NFSA .
The Tendulkar Committee estimates
BPL families at 8.14 crore; the Saxena
Group at 10.87 crore; and the Sengupta
Commission at 16.75 crore. Given that
the NFSA is justiciable the government
can be taken to court for failing to deliver
the list of beneciaries is important.
All state governments are in favour of
revising the 6.52 crore BPL gure and
retaining the 35 kg per family norm; and
they all want APL families to be included
under the NFSA . In fact the most populous states Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal and Punjab
have said the entitlement should be for
the individual rather than the family. A
per capita approach might raise the food
grain requirement even higher.
The 35 kg per family norm presumes
a poor family of ve will consume 70 kg of
food grains a month. The TPDS aims at
catering to 50 percent of this requirement, says environmentalist and scientist

Dr Vandana Shiva, who calls this institutionalising aadha pet (under-feeding).

It was also proposed that the separate
category of Antodaya Annapurna Yojana
(AAY), numbering 2.43 crore families and
comprising the poorest of the poor, be
merged with BPL. But again, the Finance
Minister will have none of this. He is
totally against a ceiling on entitlements
under the AAY for single women, the aged,
the urban homeless, street children,
primitive tribal groups and the destitute.
The mechanism dealing with food
security violations previously the sole
domain of the district administration
could also be reviewed after Mukherjee
intervened in favour of an independent
oversight/accountability and grievance
cell. Charging the machinery that is
responsible for the Acts implementation
with oversight and accountability functions constitutes a conict of interest,
says the note, resulting in the failure of
the existing PDS.
The need for a law on right to food is
underlined by the rising demand for
food grains under TPDS over the last ve
years: the otake was 29.3 MT in 2004-5
and 34.6 MT in 2008-9. Meanwhile, a few
good harvests will surely help.









they kill my husband? He was a

farmer not a Naxal. This is what Madvi
Hurre, a tribal widow from Chhattisgarh told
TEHELKA when she arrived in Delhi seeking
justice. That was October 2009, two weeks after her husband
Madvi Deva was shot by the security forces as he returned to
his hut in Singanmadu village. After hearing gunshots in the
distance, Hurre went looking for him. She found his smashed
bicycle. Three villagers later told her they saw the CRPFs Cobra
battalion re gunshots that pierced his body. I want them
punished, Hurre told TEHELKA, clutching one of her three
children close. She was in Delhi to register herself as a petitioner in a Supreme Court writ petition against the Chhattisgarh government. A document with her ngerprint exists. So
does the testimony she gave TEHELKA. So does the testimony



she gave several human rights activists when they met her at
a Dantewada ashram the next month. But according to the
Solicitor General of India, Madvi Hurre is ctitious; she has
never existed. Petitioner Number 9 is a non-entity, he
argued before the Supreme Court on April 19. Earlier, the SC
had directed the state to ensure that all 16 petitioners survivors and victims of Operation Green Hunt, eyewitnesses of
police brutality; the family of a blind man who had been
stabbed, of a 70-year-old handicapped woman whose breasts
had been cut o reach the apex court safely. The state had
alleged that they are untraceable. What is happening in
Chhattisgarh? We are shocked, Justice Sudharshan Reddy had
said, visibly outraged. If he were to see this picture, there may
be reason for outrage once again.



10 years
after the shocking
murder of model Jessica Lall, the Supreme
Court, on April 19, upheld the life sentence for accused Manu
Sharma. TEHELKAs expose had uncovered the truth buried under heaps of
money and muscle power, giving investigators crucial evidence on how eyewitnesses were inuenced by Sharmas
politically-connected family.
The evidence regarding the actual
incident, the testimonies of witnesses... as
well as his (Manu Sharmas) conduct after
the incident, prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, said a bench comprising
Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Swatanter Kumar. Jessicas sister Sabrina Lall and
retired Delhi High Court judge RS Sodhi
have now demanded action against
witnesses who lied on oath. TEHELKA
spycams have evidence of these lies.
It all began on April 29, 1999. Time: 2
am. Venue: Tamarind Court, an up-scale
New Delhi restaurant. Siddharth Vashisht,
alias Manu Sharma, son of Congress
leader Venod Sharma walked into the bar
and demanded a drink. Jessica Lall, a
model and celebrity bartender refused to
serve him. He shot her dead in a room
packed with Delhis power elite actors,
models, bureaucrats and police ocers.
Two days later, Manu Sharmas abandoned Tata Safari car, seen earlier at the
club, was found in Noida. Sharma then
surrendered to the police, but denied
that he killed Jessica.


conjecture: witnesses had been boughto or threatened into silence. TEHELKAs

investigation added to the groundswell
of public outcry. Venod Sharma was
forced to quit his post in the Haryana
government. And the Delhi High Court
reversed the trial courts decision, holding Manu Sharma guilty.
The admissions to TEHELKAs spycams
were unabashed. They showed how
Congress politician Venod Sharma had
abused power and money: Karan Rajput
had been bought over. Though Rajput
died of a liver disease, three people his
nephew, Jitender Raj (a waiter in
Tamarind Court), a friend and his landlord, vouched on spycams that Rajput
had been paid at least Rs 25 lakh. He
(Karan) never worked after the murder,
Jitender told TEHELKA .

MUNSHI, a model and Jessicas friend, told TEHELKA that

the Sharmas were very powerful
people. Munshi earlier said he saw Manu
Sharma re the gun twice, but turned
hostile in 2001. He did not identify
Sharma in court and said his earlier
statement against Sharma should be disregarded because it was written in Hindi,
a language he was not familiar with. By
this time, Munshi had acted in a Bollywood movie. TEHELKA met him posing
as a casting agent and producer of an
Indo-British, bilingual production. Munshi walked the extra mile to prove his
Hindi skills, even proving his eciency
in dierent Hindi dialects. He even admitted, everyone knows who did it, so
why are they beating around the bush.
Shiv Das, an electrician at Tamarind
Court, admitted that he had been intimidated. My rst statement was the truth,
so was everyones, he told TEHELKA .
After the Delhi High Courts guilty
verdict, Sharma had appealed to the
Supreme Court. The SCs verdict this
week caps a case that had come to symbolise an ordinary citizens ght against
the powerful, and gives hope that, however delayed, justice is doable.

It was an open and shut case. Three

eyewitnesses Karan Rajput, Shayan
Munshi and Shiv Das were more than
enough to ensure a life sentence. All
three recounted the events. Their testimonies were identical the killer had
rst red in the air and then at Jessica.
They also identied the man in the
white T-shirt as the murderer. They had
even gone to the police station, identied Manu and put their signatures on
his photograph. Manu too, in his testimony to the police, had confessed to the
crime. But conviction is another matter.
Manu Sharma walked away a free man.
One by one, each witness turned hostile.
A trial court in Delhi acquitted Sharma
in February 2006.
A three-month long TEHELKA sting
operation, aired on Star News in September 2006 blew the lid o all the



Yoga guru Baba Ramdev is on a new mission. In a freewheeling interview

with NEHA DIXIT, he explains the need for his political party Bharat
Swabhiman Andolan while expressing his often controversial views on capital
punishment, homosexuality, ancestry of Indian Muslims, etc.
You already have numerous followers.
Why did you launch a political party?

This precisely is the reason why I am joiing politics. I want all the honest and good
people to come together and be a part of
this force. Like yoga, through politics too,
I will continue the work I am doing: building character. There was a time when a
government had all the power but ordinary individuals could not raise their voice
against it. Now Ive become so powerful, I
can uproot a government. I dont
have nancial or legal power, but
in a democracy I have the power
of the people.

clothing, language and sentiment.

How do you ensure that your party
members are not corrupt?

Honest people manage to get the company of honest people. Those who search
for god nd their way to the temple;
those who need to drink alcohol manage
their way to the bar without diculty.
You are unwilling to hold a post in your
party? Why is that?

I have already earned the love and

respect of people that a prime minister or president of a country gets,
so posts are immaterial for me.
Politics is an additional job. All I

else they face utmost poverty.

How would you solve the Naxal issue?

Corrupt politicians are responsible for

the Maoist problem. Politicians should
go and die if they cannot provide security. If a bullet is red anywhere near a
politician, theyd pee in their pants.
Recently when I met Prachanda in Nepal,
I told him that Maoism has to go hand in
hand with spirituality and he agreed with
me on that. Only then, can there be
development of the masses, opening
paths for a dialogue. The direct solution
would be to disarm and make them incapable of any violence.
How is your Hindutva different from
that of BJP? Is it potential future ally?

There are two parts to the issue. Firstly,

there is Hindu dharma involving all the
rituals; secondly, there is Hindu darshan

What is the agenda of your

party, Bharat Swabhiman Andolan?

Our rst aim is to get back to India the

Rs 300 lakh crore stashed away in Swiss
banks and use it for the countrys development. I want to withdraw the rupee
and issue a new currency, and take the
old money out of criminals pockets.
Second, I want a law that seeks death
penalty for corruption, adultery, rape,
dowry and slaughter of cows. The British
formulated policies to loot the country.
Legal professionals in my political party
are convinced that the age old Indian
Penal Code must be replaced by stricter
laws. We will call for a boycott of all foreign companies, and campaign to make
yoga compulsory in schools to improve
childrens IQ, prevent drug addiction, and
curb sexual feelings among teenagers.
Isnt capital punishment very harsh?

China has capital punishment. Even our

ancestors invoked capital punishment for
the sinners. In fact, capital punishment
will help criminals attain moksha.
Isnt ban of foreign brands regressive?

Globalisation should increase our power,

not the other way round. It has converted India into a market that the world
is exploiting. This type of globalisation is
a farce. Education should be in the
national language as in Germany and
France. There should be Indianness; in

Politicians should
die if they cant give
security to people
want is to engage in is nation building
through my party that will follow the
same ideals I believe in.
Lalu Yadav said 'aap baura gaye hain
(youve gone loony). What is your take?

Neither do I know what he said, nor do his

remarks bother me. I dont need a character certicate from him, nor is he my political advisor that I should take his advice.
What is your view of caste-based politics for example that of Mayawati?

It is not in ones hands to be born in one

caste or the other. I dont believe in it.
People exploit caste to do business.
Country's wealth should be used for uplifting the poor, downtrodden and dalits
instead of self-glorication. In whichever
country, if the king practices austerity,
the people are happy and prosperous

or the Vedic darshan which is scientic in

nature. The problem with BJP is that they
havent been able to explain Hindutva to
the young. The young only understand
Hindutva as Ram Mandir. The RSS karsevaks have their idea of Hindutva but
they havent managed to percolate the real
meaning to the common man.
BJP chief Nitin Gadkari asked you to go
slow on politics. Your response?

I am not against any political party or

person. All that I wish is that people who
join politics should be courageous and
honest. If all the parties start following
this, I will not need to enter politics.
Has the UPA brought about development through its various schemes?

Harping on NREGA , without eradicating

corruption, will only lead to the nations





downfall. In such circumstances, Sarva

Shiksha Abhiyaan will be Sarv Bhiksha
(alms) Abhiyaan. If the Congress takes
credit for whatever little development
that we see, they are also responsible for
the increasing poverty, illiteracy and poor
health of 80 percent of the people.
You also criticised Manmohan Singh.

He is the representative of a particular

person and not of the people at large. No
doubt he is a very good economist, a
honest and sensitive person and understands growth rate perfectly well but
he does not understand the economics of
dal-roti. GDP can grow with the rise in
the sale of liquor and tobacco. However,
that has an inverse eect on the poor.
This is negative growth. Manmohan has
the willingness but he is helpless.

Women have the power of motherhood.

Forget 33 percent, I have already reserved 50 percent of seats in my organisation for women. I believe sub-quotas
unnecessarily complicate the issue. Once
women get 33 percent reservation, there
should further debate on future steps.
Do you think Article 370 and the Babri
Masjid issue isolate Muslims?

Our aim is nation building. If we achieve

it, our Muslim brothers will themselves
ask us to build the temple at the disputed
spot. Politicians have misdirected the
public. Even Muslims believe that Lord
Ram was their ancestor.
You said homosexuality is unnatural.
Gays are sick people.

All living beings in the world engage in

sex to reproduce. The problem is when

people engage in sex for enjoyment.

Homosexuals cannot reproduce and
hence they are unnatural. Sex needs the
involvement of an outer body, which is
not permanent. Something that is within
you, like love, is permanent and does not
need anyones support. Hence, its natural.
The Swami Nityanand sex scandal
has sullied the image of gurus. How
should a Guru ideally behave?

True saints dont crave power and money.

A godman should be known 99 percent by
his character and 1 percent by his clothes.
Before accepting anyone as guru one
must test him on reason and logic. His
thoughts must be scientic. People who
believe in superstitions are bogus. Religion
must be accompanied by intelligence.
Who is your ideal politician?

Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel.


What is your stand on the Womens

Bill? Should there be sub-quotas?






his ngers at
Sharm el-Sheik last July, for
which he was upbraided by
his own party, Prime Minister
Manmohan Singhs response at the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) held last week
at Washington DC, showed that this time
he had done his homework, by sidestepping the US-Pakistan camaraderie ditch.
In the backdrop of the Hillary-Qureshi
head-snuggling bonhomie, where the
ebullient Pakistan Foreign Minister tried
to re-hyphenate his battered country with
India, it was imperative for Singh to display independence from US interests with
sagacity. The outcome of the PM-President
Obama bilateral meeting preceding the
NSS went beyond the usual diplomatic
parlance of good progress and robust
ties between two great democracies. The
fact that President Obama conceded
Indias concern and contribution towards



stabilising Afghanistan, and conveyed his

engagement with Indias ght against terrorism, probably emboldened Manmohan
Singh to directly raise issues like David
Headleys extradition and the reining in
of anti-India terror outts operating from
Pakistani soil with his counterpart.
Sources in the Indian team conveyed
to the media that within the legal ambit, it
was the rst time the US had contemplated providing direct access to pursue
Headleys involvement in the Mumbai
carnage of 2008. The only point of divergence during this bilateral meeting was
the issue of sanctions against Iran, about
which President Obama and his NATO allies are very keen on immediate action.
Having earlier been lampooned as a US
puppet, Singh showed an independent
streak by stating that sanctions only end
up debasing common people, as was evident in Iraq. Speaking to the media dele-

gates at the famous Willard hotel, he said,

India believes that Iran seeks nuclear fuel
for its growing energy needs. However, it
must fulll its international obligations as
a nuclear NPT signatory.
With Teheran thumbing its nose at the
western world, Obamas so-called smart
sanctions will probably soon lead to a new
slanging match. India kept its options
open in line with its age-old friendship
with Iran. This way, the US will be compelled to question the subterranean proliferation of nuclear weapons in Pakistan.
Having conducted the largest ever gathering of world leaders on nuclear security
and the spectre of a jihadist nuke, President Obama will be hard-pressed to dispel
the worldview about Pakistan being the
epicentre of global terrorism. Another US
ally, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, did
not attend this summit, citing nuclear ambiguity as state policy. This at a time when



Camaraderie of confidence US President

Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at
the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington

that needs urgent action, and for Obama

to succeed, both the State and Defence departments have to be in consonance.
The dichotomy between the words
and deeds of President Obama on the
Middle East question is becoming more
obvious by the day. Clearly, the supporters and sceptics of US Middle East policy
are divided into two camps the more
time is needed camp versus the time is
running out camp. If we add US doubledealing vis-a-vis Indo-Pak relations to its
Middle East stance, it can be best described as Obama needing to walk, and
not just talk. His detractors at home, both
outside and within the US Congress, see
this as a weakness though some see his
desire to engage adversaries like Iran, and
his show of humility towards rising powers like China and Japan as a refreshing
change from the Bush era.
Remarking on the Indian PMS address
at the opening plenary of the NSS, President Obama said, We welcome the an-

Obamas acceptance of Indias concern to

stabilise Afghanistan encouraged Singh to
raise the issue of terror outfits in Pakistan
world opinion is tilting in favour of unambiguous clarity and complete reduction
in both nuclear ssile material and nuclear
stockpiles. As Zahed Amanullah, a Palestinian working with the New America
think tank, said, Any sanctions on Iran,
without clarity on Israels nuclear proliferation, can never result in Middle East
peace. When 47 nations are signalling a
will aimed to prevent a terrorist-inspired
nuclear holocaust, the isolationist stand of
Iran, Israel and North Korea will have to
be taken out for any global eort to come
to fruition. A young journalist remarked,
The lust to acquire nukes by rogue states
and independent terror outts is a threat

nouncement of setting up of the Centre

for Nuclear Energy Partnership by India.
This will be one more tool to establish best
practices in our quest for nuclear safety.
With the global media in full attendance,
many experts were of the view that the
new Obama doctrine is to nail Al Qaeda
and its oshoots, without harping continuously on democracy or the lack of it in
the Af-Pak region. The emergence of BRIC
nations [Brazil, Russia, India and China]
and the dilution of US economic superpower status were seen as reasons for a
narrower denition of US goals. Obamas
concern is the repair and restoration of
Americas image in the comity of nations,

said Wei Jing of the Global Times.

Having met with moderate success in
Afghanistan after the surge, the US is keen
to compound its gains by cohabiting further with Pakistan, said Naveed Ashraf, a
Pakistani columnist writing for the Dawn.
He added, A feeling of mutual mistrust
still exists, as Pakistan is also wary of US
intentions. Are they committed to the
long haul, or are they looking at a shortterm use and throw policy? So long as
India depends on the US to convince Pakistan to turn against the militant networks
like Lashkar, Jaish and others nurtured by
the Pak army and ISI nothing is likely to
happen in the short run. Naveed adds,
General Kayani cannot cross certain
lines, to avoid the impression that he takes
orders from America.

NDIAS CONCERN, and rightful presence

in Afghanistan, is resented by most

Pakistanis and some American critics, which is why they question our
$1.6 billion Afghan initiative in
infrastructure, health and education over
the last six years. India should allow an
independent audit of its spending in
Afghanistan, while asking both US and
Pakistan to account for an audit of the
over $10 billion that Pakistan has received
in aid from the US since 9/11. That should
set the record straight.
Manmohan Singhs re-emphasis on
our security concerns, in light of new information that emerged during this visit,
showing Al Qaeda and Talibans control
over one of the three camps where Kasab
and the other terrorists got their training,
should further embolden our pursuit of
the perpetrators of the Mumbai massacre.
Even after six bilateral meetings in
three days (besides the NSS), the stillyouthful PM set a blistering pace at Brasilia,
where the BRIC/IBSA [India, Brazil and
South Africa] summits were scheduled.
Interacting with the media onboard the
special ight home, the PMS last remarks,
India must take advantage of the goodwill it enjoys, we have a lot to do for our
people, carried with it the promise of a
quiet triumph, amidst the ruckus over the
IPL that greeted his return.







MIDST THE immense noise of the IPL controversy, away from public view, a woman has

been confronted with a deeply personal crisis: she can no longer recognise herself. A
massive juggernaut has rolled over her, crushed her out of shape, and moved on without a backward glance. She has been left to cope with the painful out-of-body experience of watching the mangled remains of who she used to be. Left to muse, in private
bewilderment, why her image and the person she knew herself to be no longer matched.
Sunanda Pushkar, the woman in the tableau, was not hit by some unheeding truck. She was hit by the
media. As Rajesh and Nupur Talwar, the doctor parents of the slain Aarushi, know only too well, this is
not the rst time its happened. In its feeding frenzy for 24 /7 excitement, the media has developed a curious way of turning fathers into murderers; women into vamps. Facts, evidence, the line between public and private all the good, old-fashioned gears of journalism no longer have any place. Rash allegations
are enough. The rear-view mirrors are gone. You can now recklessly ride over people and not look back.
Over the last two weeks then, every real and ctitious fragment of Pushkars life has been dragged onto
airwaves and newsprint: Men she has and has not married; men she has and has not slept with; money
she has and has not made; jobs she has and has not done. People have
spoken with dripping scorn about her eye-popping life, her insatiable
ambition, her work with starlets and bimbos, her vampire-like thirst
and her Louis Vuitton victimhood. They have dissected her diaphanous
saris and conjured clingy ones shes never worn. The general consensus has
been: She isnt enough a girls girl. And for this transgression, she had to
be crushed. So, overnight, Sunanda Pushkar was transformed from a living, breathing woman with a history of her own into a proxy bimbette.
What did Pushkar do to merit this public mauling? The reasons trotted out are that Pushkar is romantically involved with former Minister of
State for External Aairs Shashi Tharoor and has therefore been given
disproportionate sweat equity worth Rs 70 crore in the Kochi cricket team
he helped put together. One can debate the ner points of propriety about
Pushkar having equity, independently or otherwise, in a project Tharoor
was closely associated with. Prima facie, it appears there was absolutely no
exchange of money. Nor was there any misuse of public funds. In a world
of brazen corruption then, this could only count as a minor lapse in manners. The curious thing is, the uproar over the sweat equity itself seemed
misplaced. With the same reckless disregard for fact, everyone has forgotten that the oending Rs 70 crore does not exist as yet. Sweat equity is risky: There are no payments
upfront. If the going is good, you take the ride; if not, theres nothing.
So, the truth is, the reasons Pushkar has been pilloried lie elsewhere. Imagine for a moment that instead of Pushkar some nephew of Tharoor had been given sweat equity. Would the media have ferreted
out every last detail about his girlfriends and colour of bedsheet imagined or real? Pushkar says the
last fortnight has been akin to a medieval witch hunt. She is right. A deep and unthinking misogyny has
underscored all the reporting on her. Her real crime is that she is an attractive 46-year old widow, who
is bright, vivacious and hot in the way only those women can be, who have a comfortable relationship
with themselves; who understand that beauty does not preclude one from being kind; or protect one
from sorrow. If the media had wanted to try the two for nancial impropriety, it should have stuck to
doing that. Instead, all of it has become an ugly spectacle about a society trying to decide what women
are allowed and not allowed to be. Ambition, sass, and self-assured sexiness are clearly high on the list
of Indias penal code for women. This is why Pushkar has been asked by well-wishers to stay out of
view. This is why shes in the process of being tamed for Indian public life. The story of how Sunanda
Pushkar has been treated then is not the story of just one woman: it is a parable about the society we are.


Sunanda Pushkar
with son Shivy
(facing page)





Im proud of bringing up
my son all by myself



There are so many versions of your

life floating in the media, would you
like to put the facts on record first.

I dont really want to. My son and parents have already suered enough on
this. How many times I got married, who
I dated what does any of that have to
do with the IPL?
Thats true, but unfortunately the
absence of facts has allowed everyone to maul your image. Thereve
been reports that you divorced your
first husband Sanjay Raina because
you fell in love with his friend Sujit
Menon. Also that Sujit committed
suicide because he was in financial
trouble. Even if all this were true, it
still wouldnt make you a bad person,
but the key thing is to establish how
much is truth, how much fiction.

(Sighs) You are right. Its probably

important to set the record straight. My
rst marriage was a very dark period in
my life. Everyones saying Sanjay
Raina divorced me, but thats not true, I
divorced him. It was a very painful
relationship but I dont want to go into
that. Its over; hes moved on, Ive moved
on. I was 19 when I met him and very innocent. My dad was in the army and I
had a very protected childhood. I was always sorry for the underdog. My family
and friends used to teasingly call me
Mother Teresa. I was helping ood victims in Ambala in grade six. When I was
in Jesus and Mary Convent, I used to
work with abandoned and physically
challenged children at an ashram. There
was a blind and spastic kid there who
was particularly attached to me. No one
wanted him because he wasnt very nice
looking, but I used to bathe and feed
him. Curiously, many people spoke badly
of Sanjay, saying he was strange. Maybe
in the beginning that is what drew me
more to him.
But the marriage was a big mistake. I
was totally unprepared for the worst.


Soon after we got engaged I told my

father I wanted to break it o. I had realised Sanjay and I were very mismatched but my father wouldnt listen.
For Kashmiri Pandits, if you got engaged, you had to marry; wed never had
a broken marriage in the family. Mine
fell apart within days. I had a really tough
time getting a divorce in Delhi. It was a
very lonely time. My parents didnt want
me to divorce even though they knew
what was going on. Looking back, I understand them now, but I felt very abandoned then.
The truth is Sujit rescued me. He gave
me the strength, as a friend, to quit a

very painful marriage. But he was dating

another woman; I was just a friend. I got
my divorce in 1988 and went o to
Dubai in 1989. I married Sujit in 1991;
my son Shivy was born in November
1992. If I had left Sanjay over Sujit,
why would I have waited that long to
marry him?
What about Sujits death? That
has been turned into something very
mysterious as well.

Yes, my son has had a really rough time

dealing with those reports. But my husband died in an accident in Karol Bagh
in March 1997. I can show you the death
certicate. I had a really harrowing time


ing them, someone tell me what happened to him because when I went to
pick up my son, he had stopped talking.
I took him to Dubai but in those days
there was no concept of speech therapy
there. I began to look for the best aordable health care and thats how I hit upon
Canada. I moved there to help my son. I
had been doing pretty well at work, but
I didnt have that much money to spare.
I was supporting my parents, supporting
my brother through engineering college,
trying to pay o Sujits debts.
(Top left) Sunanda Pushkar
with her now deceased second
husband Sujit Menon, her
father and uncles in Jammu,
(Top right) Pushkar celebrating Diwali with her son and
friends in Toronto, Canada in
2003, (Bottom left) With her
father at her wedding to Sujit
at the Shiva temple in Kochi,
Kerala, (Bottom right) With
baby Shiv at home in Dubai

Why did you need to support your

parents financially? Everyone says
your family was very wealthy.

nding the body and had to go from

morgue to morgue searching for it.
Again, it was a very dark time. Sujit was
a nancial consultant and he had run
into some nancial trouble. I disagreed
with many of his business decisions at
the time and after his death I got several
threatening calls from his creditors. But
that was less important to me than the
fact that after his death, Shivy suddenly
stopped talking. It was very strange, he
probably got scared. He was barely four.
There was so much to do papers and
fresh visas to be sorted, debts to pay. So
I left him with my sister-in-law and, later,
my parents for a few months. I keep ask-

ily, they were wealthy enough that they

didnt have to go live in a tent. But I did
help them nancially to nd their feet
again. They couldnt aord to put their
son through college you know you
have those donations and capitation
fees. I did all that.


Yes, we were wealthy till the trouble

began in Kashmir in 1989. We had orchards and a lot of land. But after 89, my
family suered like everyone else. Luck-

proud that I have made it alone on my

own terms in a mans world. And
here, in one minute, without bothering
to nd out any facts the media just
turned me into a slut, into some kind of
brainless eye candy! I dont know why
people nd it so hard to understand this
I really dont care about money in that
grasping way. Yet, please dont misunderstand me. I enjoy making money, I
think theres absolutely nothing wrong
with a woman being ambitious. I like
cars and watches but I dont need any
man to get anything for me. My kick is
to buy it myself. I like to earn my own
keep. Id be very happy to set up home
with a man I loved, but I would not
marry a man just because he can buy me
diamonds. Im not judgmental about
women who do that, Im just saying I

The media said, why

should the Kochi team
pick me? As a woman
am I not good enough?

Part of the muck being thrown at you

for having sweat equity in the Kochi
team is that you dont have professional standing that merits it, so you
must be a front for Shashi Tharoor.
How do you respond to this?

I cannot tell you how insulted I feel. Ive

been ercely independent and self-reliant all my life. And Ive always been

wouldnt. So when people say I got into

all this as a front for Shashi, chasing inuence and money, it savages my soul.
What else can I say?
The media has said, for Rs 70 crore,
the Kochi team could have hired any foreign marketing rm, why would they
pick me? Forget that no one in India
seems to have understood the basics
about sweat equity there is simply no
70 crore on the table, in fact not one
paisa has changed hands so far, and there
will be no prots for years to pay anybody but what is this attitude? As a
woman I am not good enough? Some
foreigner can do better than an Indian?



Shashi Tharoor and Sunanda
Pushkar at a New Delhi book
launch in March


Calling me a
beautician from Dubai
is not derogatory. Its
just not true

And we call ourselves a superpower? Is

this 21st century India or the British Raj?
Could you then run us through your
career graph a bit ?

When I came to Dubai for the rst time

I worked in tourism. I had ideas about
dhow cruises and dune dinners much
before Emirates Holidays even existed.
Our accounts included Philippines airlines, Romanian airlines, Brazilian airlines so I had lots of corporate clients.
After I married Sujit, I got into events.
Someone reported that all my shows
made losses. That hurt. Sujit and I did
only one event together which went
badly a Mammooty show which people have been writing all kinds of nonsense about. But apart from that I dont
think I did any events that made a loss.


I started my own company called Expressions with four or ve people. We

began to do many model shows for
product launches. Everyone does it now,
but it was a complete trendsetter then. I
did 13 shows with Hemant Trivedi,
shows with Rhea Pillai, Vikram Phadnis,
Aishwarya Rai. When the Gulf War
started, we did big fund raisers for the
We love Kuwait campaign.
After a while I got a great oer from
an ad agency called Bozell Prime. I handled many big campaigns for them
Wella, Hersheys, Chrysler cars. I did big
multi-million dollar events for Modern
Pharmaceuticals. That was the most
beautiful time of my life. But after Sujit
died, I gave up Bozell for Shivy. I didnt
want a baby-sitter. He had gone into a

complete shell and I was frightened for

him and wanted to be there for him. So
that last year in Dubai before I went to
Canada, I worked with Ravissant.
In Canada, I had to start from
scratch. Id literally gone there with a
suitcase and my child. But you know,
Shoma, I have never taken my resume
and looked for a job.I have always felt I
can carve a niche for myself on my own
terms. Ive always been an entrepreneur
that way. So for a while, I did many odds
and ends. Then some friends in New
York two doctors who are still among
my closest family friends suggested I
get into the IT sector which had just
begun to boom. Everyone was looking
for computer engineers from India, so
we tied up with companies like Compaq
and head-hunted in India for them.
After a while a friend in San Francisco
alerted me that a company called Valley
Resources wanted a partner. I told them
I had no money to invest but they still
wanted me. So, talk about sweat equity
(laughs) that was my rst sweat equity! It was a lot of fun and we did
mighty well and made good money. I put
Shivy in a private school; I bought ourselves a house; I got a BMW. And I did all
this from the basement of my house.
And through all that, I never used babysitters. Im proud of bringing up my son
by myself. Many of my friends across the
world who knew me at that time are really disheartened and outraged by the
way I am being portrayed in the media.
The press has been saying you are a
beautician, a spa-owner, a mystery
woman from Dubai where did they
get all that from?

Can you imagine! I have no idea where

they got it! These reports were meant to
deride me. I dont even feel theres anything derogatory about being a beautician its just that its completely not
true! I ran a small jewellery shop for a
while, but while they were trying to ferTEHELKA 1 MAY 2010






the poor performance of

the Indian cricket team in the
1999-2000 India-Australia Test series, as an ardent cricket fan, I had
led a public interest litigation
against the Board of Control for
Cricket in India (BCCI) and its member association, the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA). In October 2004, the Delhi High Court ruled that the BCCI is
accountable to the public, as it discharges important public
functions. The ruling came even as the BCCI argued hard in
court that its a private body not answerable to anyone. This
case was once again upheld by the Supreme Court and referred to in the television rights case by Zee Telelms.
Despite the judgment, the BCCI continues to enjoy monopoly power sans accountability. There still isnt an iota of
transparency in its functioning. It is common
knowledge that the BCCI receives enormous benets and concessions from the Union and state
governments. It buys/hires land and stadia at ludicrous rates, gets entertainment/income tax exemptions and security free of cost.
No sports federation in the country, however
rich or powerful, can be allowed to function like
private empires of businessmen without any
accountability or obligations to the public. Once
again, the IPL controversy has brought forth the same issue
that I had raised through my PIL in 2000. It is shocking to
know that the IPL has no constitution of its own and is only a
sub-committee of the BCCI. This makes the IPL, like its parent
body, a Not-for-Prot as well. But is it really one? Only the
probe ordered by the Finance Minister can reveal the truth.
It is imperative, therefore, for the BCCI/IPL to reveal how
much money they have generated and how it is being spent.
All such nancial and other details should have been made
available on its ocial website, which for reasons best known
to them has been under construction for over three years now.
A glaring example of the IPLS unprofessionalism is the whole
issue of conict of interest. BCCI Secretary N Srinivasan owns
a 100 percent share in one of the IPL franchisees, the Chennai

Super Kings (CSK). This is unethical. If one is a BCCI

oce-bearer, a member of the IPL Governing
Council and also a stakeholder in one of the eight
franchisees the conict of interest is evident.
Why, then, was CSKS initial bidding not disqualied? Besides, Chief National Selector K Srikkanth
also happens to be the brand ambassador CSK.
Iconic players like MAK Pataudi, Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi
Shastri two of whom gave up their jobs in ESPN-Star Sports
allegedly because they were promised higher fees by BCCI to
be on its panel of commentators are also paid members on
the IPL Governing Council and head various BCCI committees.
It is learnt that these three players are being paid astronomical fees by the IPL to attend Governing Council meetings.
Gavaskar and Shastri have been known critics of BCCI. However, one hardly gets to hear anything critical about the way
BCCI or IPL functions from them
anymore. Probably, this is how
dissent is pre-empted. And
most of us till now have been
sitting comfortably thinking
that these stalwarts are performing the key function of
being watchdogs. Can these
players and the BCCI come
clean on this?
Today, instead of internal monitoring procedures, we have
a scenario in which relatives of franchisee-owners are employed by IPL. Websites are being registered in the name of
such beneciaries, rather than the BCCI and the IPL. Numerous
allegations are being investigated into by the IT and ED for violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), the
Company Law, the Money Laundering Act, amongst others.
Some progressive and proactive oce-bearers of the BCCI
have often been heard saying that they themselves would like
to be accountable and transparent. What is stopping them,
then, remains a mystery? Is it the politics of the BCCI that is
preventing them from doing the needful? Or is it the faulty
mechanism where an individual is superior to the system?
(Mehra is a lawyer and sports enthusiast)

Players like Pataudi,

Gavaskar and Shastri
are on the BCCI
payroll. They dont
criticise it anymore






Sunanda Pushkar with the UAEs
Minister for Foreign Trade
Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi

ret ctitious details about my life, they

didnt even come across that!
You know, all through my life, at different phases, things have fallen apart
and each time I have just picked myself
up and put the pieces back. I am a very
positive person: I always say, this too
shall pass. I am a great believer in Shiva
and the idea of karma, so I never question and complain and ask why is this
happening to me. I always tell myself that
things happen to you so that you can
learn from it. But this has been the
biggest test I have ever faced.

buzz. But Shivy was not very happy and

I was just planning to go back to Canada
and start again, when I was oered a job
by Mohamad-bin-Ghalib of Tecom to
work on an International Media Production Free Zone. This was one of the most
exciting projects Ive ever worked on.
We had to plan publishing zones, convention centres, hotels, schools and hos-

Well come back to the way the press

has reported on you and what
impact thats had on you; and what it
says about attitudes to women in
India. But, first, could you finish
telling us about your professional life.

Just as our IT business was booming,

9/11 happened. This hit us bad and we
had to shut shop. There was four months
of anxiety and no work. We were
cleaned out nancially. Thats when I got
into Emotional Intelligence. It was the
latest thing in Canada those days. I did a
course and joined a company called
Noble House International. We started
something called Human Potential Reengineering. [sighs] We did lots of programmes for banks like Royal Bank of
Canada and ABN Amro in Miami, Amsterdam and Geneva. It was fun but I was
not earning enough.
Then in 2004, Best Homes oered to
send me to Dubai to set up their operations there in real estate. If I think about
it, real estate runs in my blood. More
than buying and selling, I love developing properties. I love the blueprint stage,
the planning and the zoning. So I came
back to Dubai in August 2004 as general
manager of Best Homes and worked on
a big project with them.
Dubai had changed completely. My
friends had all become rich and powerful; there was a completely dierent


for you socially and financially. How

would you speak of yourself? As middle-class, well-to-do, very well-to-do?

I think Im pretty well to do. I drive a

Range Rover. My son has a driver and
a Ford. I live in a decent apartment
because I dont want to live in a villa and
have the headache of a garden and stu
because theres just the two of us. I have
a cook and a domestic help.
I own two 3-bedroom apartments in Jumeirah Palm. I
also own a beachside apartment in Jumeirah Beach Residence, and I have two
apartments in Executive
Towers. I only live in this
rented apartment because its
close to Shivys school and his
friends live around here. I
also have my house in
Canada and some land in
Jammu. So Im pretty alright,

The film Corporate

disgusted me. Must a
woman sleep around
to get business?
pitals over 44 million square feet of land.
Then I was oered a position that the
company usually only gives to locals I
had to sell land to Gulf nationals. Everyone thought Id fail because I didnt know
Arabic. But as one of my bosses said
about me, She can sell sand to the Arabs
and ice to the Eskimos!
Were you a sales manager there?
Some press reports have been saying
that you actually live to use their
words in a low-class ghetto in
Dubai and that Shashi was a leg up

I think. Im pretty alright. [laughs]

Thats an understatement.

Yeah, I guess, Im okay. The part I feel really good about is that Ive done it all on
my own. The only thing theyve got right
about me is that I was a sales manager at
Tecom. What they dont get is that this
suited my entrepreneurial spirit just ne
because it allowed me to get a commission over my salary.
Of all the kite flying about you in the
media then, what aspect has really
upset you the most?






HEY GAVE him the sobriquet of the

game-changer with great fanfare.
He looked down at them with imperious pride, the new-age messiah of big cash in Indian cricket,
Lalit Modi. As India miraculously
triumphed in the inaugural T20 World Cup, the
nation was swept in an unrivalled frenzy. Far removed from
the great 1983 glory of Kapils Devils at Lords perhaps but a
world champion tag nevertheless. Lalit Modis nostrils
snied some serious money as crowds thronged Marine
Drive and Yuvraj Singh did a balle balle atop an open bus
cavalcade. The ICL a edgling Zee venture in a T20 format
was contemptuously snued out using BCCIs formidable
bulldozing power and before we could say Sachin Tendulkar
the IPL was born. In short, it was a controversial, conspiratorial birth in convenient circumstances.
To the credit of Modi he had no false pretensions about the IPL; it was to be Indian summers
hottest reality TV show. As the India story gained
massive momentum at glitzy summits like Davos
and in sleek analyst reports of Goldman Sachs, the
IPLs embarrassment of incredible riches through
franchise auctions and TV rights seemed a logical
corollary. An entertainment starved nation on a
two-month holiday swarmed stadiums and
stopped switching channels to experience the novel experiment, a slam-bang three-hour live episode unseen before.
Modi gave lengthy interviews on the emerging global IPL
brand and its nancial infallibility. But unknown to all he had
violated cardinal principles of corporate governance (excuse
the accompanying snigger). The IPL management itself had
been reduced to a disorganised back-oce of an event management company. Reality shows unfortunately also have end
credits rolling up at some stage. And exponential growth in a
nite world even as big as the Indian household market is unsustainable. But Modi cared a damn for meaningful dialogue;
IPL is recession-proof, he said with dramatised panache. For
him IPL was like a soft pornographic lm, the same old predictable stu, and totally unaected by business cycles. The

valuation theory was brilliantly manufactured as it

was home cooked (till date not a single published
result of an IPL franchisee has been sighted). IPL became a personication of crony capitalism at its
exemplary best, a close-knit cartel-driven structure forever sporting the look of lottery winners.
Congressman Shashi Tharoor was just a peripheral cipher for Modi, an exasperating gady who deserved
to be hurriedly swatted. The Twitter insinuation on the former UN diplomats alleged business interest in the Kochi franchise was meant to embarrass Tharoor, considered an
awkward political novice, into servile submission. But Modi
did not expect the avalanche of media backlash and the deep
probe into IPL that it would trigger. The initial ndings are
frightening; slush money, kick-backs, Income Tax violations,
conicting ownership and assorted contraventions.
The IPL is a victim of a new
national syndrome, the inability to cope with sudden deluge
of nancial windfall leading to
immeasurable hubris, seething
contempt for transparent prudential norms and those who
question some incongruous inconsistencies. A bloated bubble
was imperceptibly being created, with industry captains, tinsel town superstars, international sports management rms, canny politicians, cricket
administrators all in close cohorts. But the belated purge
should not end with Modis exit alone. After all, he is BCCIs
own patented Frankenstein. The BCCI administrative structure
needs a thorough overhaul under government dispensation,
akin to a dynamic PSU managed by talented professionals sans
the self-aggrandising men in white, the politicians.
Our cricketers deserve much better. As do the passionate
fanatics who weather sweltering heat and serpentine queues to
get into claustrophobic stadiums, and wait hours for a eeting glimpse of MSD post-match paying for their tickets with
hard-earned post-tax income. Are you listening, Mr Modi?
(Jha started CricketNext and is also a corporate consultant)

The IPL became

a cartel-driven
personication of
crony capitalism
at its very best








Oh God, I can so tell you that! Its been

like a medieval witch hunt! Its been so
misogynistic. The bizarre part is, I think
its not even just to do with my being a
woman, its to do with my being an attractive woman. Thats what makes it
even more disgusting. Thats what really
makes me sick to the core of my being.
That, to so many people in this society, if
you are attractive you are immediately
deemed to be a loose woman.
What have they not said about me! I
am supposed to be married to some automobile businessman in Delhi; my second husband is supposed to have
committed suicide; I am supposed to
have slept with god knows how many
men, and I am supposed to be a tart.
I have always prioritised Shivy because he is the most important thing in
my life and I have always been proud
that I had made it alone, on my own
terms, in a mans world, and in one
minute, without checking on any facts,
they have just reduced me to a slut. Just
because I am an attractive working
woman in a mans world.
All my women friends in Dubai
women from all across the world, Serbia,
England, America, Canada are so
upset. They are furious! As one of them
said, we thought India is going to be a
world power, but how can they be when
their attitudes to women are so warped!
I have realised that women have
made some inroads into politics in India,
but in business? God forbid, you want to
be feminine and wear nice saris or
dresses into a boardroom thats totally
not allowed. I saw a Hindi lm called
Corporate it disgusted me. A woman
must sleep around with someone to get
business, she cant get it otherwise? She
must utilise her body and only then her
brain will function. Suddenly boom!
her brain is functioning because men
are sleeping with her!
I have a wonderful, grown-up son

Why are they accusing

me of being a proxy for
Shashi? Cant I make
my own money?

a son who says that whenever he thinks

of duty and integrity and honesty, he
thinks of his mother. I want to ask all
these people in the media, if I was sleeping around, when did I have the time to
bring up my child?
Do you know that there was a report
that said I went to Jitin Prasadas wedding wearing a bright-red, clingy, seethrough sari with a low cut blouse and
some socialite is supposed to have sniggered that this was just not the Congress code. I wasnt even in Delhi for
Jitins wedding. I went to his reception
huddled inside a black sari and shawl
because I was so cold. How much can
the media lie?
Theres another thing I want to clarify. They are saying I have given up my

shares to save Shashi Tharoor. Now, Im

not even supposed to have that much
agency of my own! I DID NOT give it up
for Shashi Tharoor. I gave it up for exactly the reason that I said in my statement: I have no enthusiasm to work on
this anymore. You tell me, Shoma, after
all that has happened would you have
the enthusiasm to work with the IPL? I
might still do stu for them, as I said, because I love Kerala but how can they
turn around and crucify me for something I am giving up in disgust? One BJP
man said that the fact I am giving it up is
further proof of my corruption. I mean
how much more perverse and bewildering can things get? And now I have
someone impersonating me on Facebook when I dont have either a Twitter



Shashi Tharoor and Sunanda
Pushkar (facing page)

or Facebook account!
I have to say the conjecturing about
you has been shameful.

(Starting to cry) I have always thought

of myself as a kind, proud, honest and
ethical person. I cant recognise what
they have turned me into publicly. In my
family, everyone calls me Didi even
my father because I am the person
everyone turns to for help. I was always
the boy in the family. I never even had
a doll as a child. So even now, though
this is my worst fall, I am not asking
why all of this has happened to me. I am
sure there is a larger lesson to be learnt
and I am sure I am going to grow
from this. And mark my words, I will

closeness only developed less than ve

months ago. I am very proud to know
him because, most of all, he is a good
and honest man.
As far as the IPL goes, again the media
has twisted my words. I have known
Karim and Ali Murani since 1998, since
we were all in the events business. Over
the years they have become close
friends. When they took on KKR , I was
generally throwing ideas at them about
how they should market and package the
team. Ali liked my ideas enough to ask
me to come down to Bombay to discuss
working for them the Muranis, not
KKR itself. The conversation was serious
enough for me to y down to Mumbai,

One of my bosses said

about me, She can sell
sand to the Arabs and
ice to the Eskimos!
grow, I will come out of this a bigger and
better person. I can feel it in my bones.
Im sure Ive made mistakes in my life;
Im just a regular human being. But I
keep telling myself, I must be a good person because, god knows, I have brought
up a good child.
Lets talk about Shashi Tharoor and
the IPL. How did you meet? How did
the IPL thing come about? What is
the sweat equity everyone is in a
tizzy about?

I dont really want to talk about Shashi

because everything I say will have some
repercussion for him. He is a public gure, I am not. But I met him about two
years ago through a friend called Sunny
Varkey, and we got along immediately.
We are certainly close now, but that

but Shivy was still in school so we all just

let it slide. But thats how I rst got to
know about the IPL.
As far as the sweat equity for the
Kochi team goes, I am genuinely bewildered by the allegations of corruption. I
did agree to oer my skills as a marketing consultant. I have a knack for it. I
also helped them raise a lot of money.
But theres been absolutely no exchange
of money between us. I dont even have
the shares. Its more like a promissory
note with absolutely no guarantee that
the shares will amount to anything. People are calling me and saying why did
you give up the Rs 70 crore? What Rs 70
crore? Its not there! I havent earned it
as yet, theres no surety I ever will. People have been throwing up fantastical

numbers what no one seems to understand is that all of it is notional. I am

told Mumbai Indians made a loss of 40
odd crore last season, so theres a huge
risk involved. Theres no money upfront.
And again, why are they accusing
me of being a proxy for Shashi? Thats so
insulting. Cant I make my own money?
He has not been corrupt for so many
years for which I am proud to be
his friend why would he be corrupt
now? Just look around you in India and
see the corruption in government, in
industry, in every crevice of public life
and they call this corruption! Indians
couldnt handle a man who is not corrupt so you tainted him and literally
made him look corrupt so that he had to
leave government and not embarrass his
party! [laughs]
My faith in India is so shaken. Shashi
and others keep telling me not to say
this, but I dont know Shoma why
shouldnt I say it? I am shocked at the
way events unfurled. It had no basis in
truth. There was no intention of even
getting to the truth. Why has the media
taken this beyond the realm of reality. I
cant understand it!
There were three people in politics
that really created hope for millions of
Indians across the world that even clean
men can join politics Manmohan
Singh, Rahul Gandhi and Shashi Tharoor. I know that when Shashi entered
politics, many Indians felt, oh, if he can,
even we can. Otherwise Indian politics
was always thought of as such a dirty
game. But Shashi has been hounded out
for now ironically for not being
dirty enough. In just the cricket scene I
know how much corruption is oating
about, but the big powerful men will get
away, and Shashi has been made a sacrice. Was Shashi given a fair hearing? The
media made sure he couldnt get one. As
I said, it was a medieval witch hunt in
every way.








2010. Early in the
morning, Finance
Minister Pranab
Mukherjee asked
two of his closest
ocials in the Enforcement Directorate
(ED) to start investigating along with
the CBI, the Income Tax (IT) and the
Economic Oences Wing (EOW) the
nancial irregularities in the hugely successful Indian Premier League (IPL) and
its Commissioner, the ashy arriviste
Lalit Modi. Mukherjees directives came
amidst the gathering storm of allegations about match-xing, betting,
money-laundering and rigging of the
bidding process for all the franchisees.
Standing close, a senior ocial of the
Finance Ministry quietly remarked:
They should start with the Big Three.
The ocial was hinting at Manoj Badale,
Chairman of Rajasthan Royals, Venu
Nair, the CEO of World Sports Group,
and Sundar Raman, the CEO of IPL . All
three have been questioned twice before
by ocials of the Income Tax. No
wrongdoer will be spared, Mukherjee
told reporters after nishing a gruelling



meeting with Home Minister P Chidambaram and Agriculture Minister and

former BCCI supremo Sharad Pawar.
The heat is on. While Modi gets ready
for some extensive grilling by ED, IT and
EOW ocials, Badale is already being
questioned over Modis alleged hidden
stake in Rajasthan Royals (RR). Meanwhile, Nair faces investigation for being
part of a murky television deal last year
that helped a Singapore-based middleman earn a whopping Rs 400 crore in
commissions; and Raman is being questioned for allegedly sourcing illegal funds

Modi is allegedly
involved in land
scams in Rajasthan,
and routing of
funds through
oshore entities

into IPL . Nair and Badale remained

incommunicado, though the latter had
actress and stakeholder Shilpa Shetty
defending him by saying that the RR
stakeholder is clear as crystal. Raman, in
a brief telephonic conversation with
TEHELKA, said: The IT ocials had some
very basic queries.
ED sources told TEHELKA that ever
since investigations were launched, a
number of people have been forthcoming with their stories of what looks like
rampant insider trading at every level of
the IPLs business. There are chances that
Narendra Modis home minister Amit
Shah could also be questioned for his
role in the bidding for IPL4. It has been
reported that Shah had asked industrialist Gautam Adani to bid for an IPL team
for Ahmedabad and was hoping along
with Modi to get the Kochi franchisee
Former Gujarat Cricket Association
president Narhari Amin, a Congress
leader, told TEHELKA that both the Modis
were keen to get Ahmedabad a team but
failed. In a spirit of camaraderie resplendent of the Resurgent Gujarat ideal, he
added, If they Shah and [Narendra]



Shah Rukh Khan, Manoj Badale,
Rajiv Shukla and Preity Zinta in
happier times

To save their own

skins, his former
at the BCCI seem to
have now ganged
up on him

payments and equity stakes worth crores

of rupees using oshore entities.
IT and ED ocials say they will also
question Deepa Raizada, the CEO of
Modi Entertainment, and Samir
Thukral, founder of Delhi-based Shree
Capital Advisors, who is another condant of Modi. He is said to own an online lottery business and a private jet,
and has been named in several real es-

tate scams across India.

The charges are serious. No one is
saying that Modi will be sent to jail tomorrow, but its undeniable that theres
tremendous internal politics within the
worlds richest cricket board over the
fate of a man who loved to call himself
Indias Don King. The Governing Council of the BCCI is split over what decision
should be taken after this weekends nal

of the six-week tournament which

The Guardian of London has described
as a social, sporting and commercial
phenomenon, worth an estimated $4.13
billion in just three years.

say Modi who is seeking advice from a top public relations

rm (in addition to Adfactors PR)
remains upbeat about the investigations
and says he has nothing to lose. At the
time of going to press, he had thrown a
direct challenge to what appears to be a
ganging up of his former brothers-inarms in the BCCI, out to save their respective skins by making him the latest
fall guy. Lots in media speculations.
Welcome all investigation. Ready to
extend all co-operation, Modi tweeted
from Dubai where he, along with IS
Bindra, represented the BCCI at a meeting in the headquarters of the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Those who know Modi are not surprised. Long ago, he had once shunted
out a member of the UAE royal family
during a cricket match in the desert emirate only to have several cases slapped
on him by the royal family. He was eventually saved by the hectic lobbying of a
group of UAE-based Indians and put on a
ight back home immediately.
But this time the charges are serious.
No one really knows what will eventually come out of the investigations, that
could more than a decade after the
match-xing scandal had rocked cricket
haunt the Indian cricket board in the
days to come.
Modi, for the moment, wants everyone to watch the two semi-nals and, of
course, the nals of his beloved brainchild, the IPL3. His nal he has told
his condants will play out then,
almost a fortnight after he and Tharoor
tweeted to their doom, and possibly
to that of the games most glamorous
and exciting avatar.


Modi had sought my advice and not

acted as novices, I would have told them
to get more industrialists involved and
up the stake.
Similar inside stories have landed on
the table of the ED and IT ocials from
one Sanjay Dixit of Rajasthan who was
once a condant of Lalit Modi. Dixit, say
IT ocials, has been singing like a canary
and revealing what he claims is concrete
evidence to nail Modi who, it is
alleged, is involved in manipulation of
land deals in Rajasthan, and has routed





1 MAY 2010, VOL. 7 ISSUE 17

Visionary (Left) Dr Mannar Jawahar,

vice-chancellor (below) main campus

Dr Mannar Jawahar, VC of Anna University,
Chennai, tells us why his university is the best
How has Anna University developed
over the years and what have been
the main factors that contributed to
its success?

In 1978, University Grant Commission

(UGC) gave permission to start Anna
University by integrating four technical
institutions: College of engineering,
Guindy, Madras Institute of Technology
(MIT), Chrompet, AC College of Technology, Guindy, and School of Architecture to form an unitary university.
Among them, College of Engineering,
Guindy was established 217 years back


and the other institutions were started

60 years back.
Out of 9,500 universities worldwide,
Anna University ranks among the top
200. In India, Anna University features
in the top 5. We have campuses in
Chennai, Coimbatore, Tiruchi and
Tirunelvelli. The Guindy campus is on
90 acres and MIT campus is on 50 acres.
We are give a lot of importance to research and teaching. Every year we
admit 3,200 students. More than 1 lakh
students join engineering courses annually in Tamil Nadu. Among them the top

2,000 prefer Anna University because of

the excellent infrastructure and highly
experienced and research oriented faculty. Almost every year, more than 95
percent of the students are placed. Even
during the recession last year, 90 percent of the students were placed. When
students are in their third year, industries recruit them for two months
summer internship. There are 35 undergraduate fulltime programmes and
around 15 in part time courses.
In the recent years, a lot of private
universities have come up. What is
your view on them?

Of all the private universities, only a few

are doing well. Universities are meant for
research purpose. In many of the colleges in Tamil Nadu, since most students
come from rural background, private
colleges concentrate only on teaching for
undergraduate programmes. But universities, whether private or not, should
spend more time on research. This is an
essenstional requirement in order to be a
good university.
What are the factors that a student



1 MAY 2010

D-Day Anna

laborate with us for a national institute

on coastal ocean zone management If
approved, we will get Rs 217 crore. Nano
technology is another emerging eld. For
the rst time, we are starting a master
degree in nanotechnology. The government is also funding projects in
How are your students helping the
society other than contributing in
terms of technology?

We have a syllabus that includes extra

curriculum activities like NSS, and Red
Cross. Students are involved in conducting blood donation camps, assist cops in
maintaining trac regulations, and also
helping rural people.
As a VC of one of the leading technical
universities in the country, what is
your expectation from your students?
should keep in mind for selecting a
good university?

When they want to select a university,

they should consider its infrastructure.
They should check the lab facilities, library, computer facilities and how much
support are these institutes getting from
various funding agencies.
Next priority should be to how experienced, qualied and research oriented the
teachers are. Institute-industry interactions are also important, only then can a
student be transformed into a good engineer. The students should have industrial
visits every semester, they must know the
developments taking place in the industry. Face-to-face interaction will gave
them a better idea about the industry.

but also by funding agencies like

Department of Science and Technology,
Organisation (DRDO), Indian Satellite
Research Organisation (ISRO), Department
of Information Technology and Department of Biotechnology. Our faculty
members are also benet from the funding agencies. Apart from these government organisations, we are get a lot of
funds from industry as well. Industries are
giving us a lot of consultancy work and
testing work. Sometimes, the industry
people come and associate themselves
and through that they get some certicates from us.
What kind of foreign collaborations
do you offer?

Tell us something about the

institute-industry collaboration that
your university is involved in?

We have student exchange programme,

faculty exchange programme, and joint
PG programme.

Apart from placement, if the industry

wants to do some project testing and
consultancy work, they do it here. We
are giving training to the industry people, in return, they come and do research
in our campus.

What are the new and innovative

programmes that Anna University is
delving into?

Do you also receive fund from the


Yes, we are funded not only by industries

We have established innovative centres

like nano technology centre, crystal
growth centre, climatic change centre,
institute of remote sensing and institute
of ocean management.
Also, the government wants to col-

Apart from being education oriented,

value-based education is also important
for us. Vocational involvement is equally
essential. If the students involve themselves in industry-related activities, then
they will become good engineers. Our
students are working across the world,
and they are appreciated for their loyalty,
innovation at work, and also for their
problem solving skills.
During the alumni meetings, most of the
them come back to the university. Those
working in the industries also come, to
help their juniors. In this manner, our
students receive industry-oriented projects from the alumni and get training
sessions from them every week through
department associational activities. We
request alumni to come and help train
the students to enhance their industrial
employability skills.
Does this training also enhance
entrepreneurial skills?

After three years of training, most of the

students end up having their own
venture. The alumni-student interaction
helps to improve the entrepreneurial
skill not only for the students but also for
the alumni. This has certainly helped our
students in becoming sucessful in life.



SHRIYA MOHAN uncovers shocking

tales of tribals battling hunger and

starvation in the heartlands of
Madhya Pradesh

MAUSAM will not eat. There is just

enough wheat our left for three rotis but
she stretches the dough thin to make four.
She grinds a chutney of raw green chillies
with salt and spreads it on each roti one
roti each for her two, three, ve and sixyear-old. They eat slowly and despite the struggle to
swallow the spice, waste no morsel. The bread it covers is
the only solid food they will get for the next day. They nish
in a few minutes mouths on re and stomachs numb.
Hunger has vanished. The chillies have served their
purpose. Water will ll the rest of their stomachs. One more
day has passed. Mausam has to wait until her husband
returns from town with wages to buy this months food
grains from the ration store.
Currently, in the power corridors of the Union government, debates rage about the National Food Security Act.
As per the provisions of the Act, families living below the
government-dened poverty line will be provided 25 kg of
rice or wheat per month at Rs 3 per kg. There are however
sharp disagreements on the net pool of people who should
qualify for the food subsidies and if the alloted 25 kg of
grains will prove to be sucient for the family.
Consider the case of Madhya Pradesh the state often
billed as starvation central of India, where hundreds of
thousands of Mausams scrape through each day not knowing if there will be food tomorrow. For at least a fth of





Madhya Pradesh, comprising 46 Scheduled Tribes, the state

is the powerful sun whose light and warmth never touches
the darkness that envelopes them.
Of these, four specic tribes, forming nearly 20 percent
of the total ST population, are the most impoverished, faring
the lowest in all the human development indicators the
Baiga, Korku, Mawasi and Saharia. Most live in inaccessible
terrains where government schemes are fractured and
development still an unknown word. Every year, malnutrition aects their children, taking away their childhood and
very often, their lives altogether. Even today, the Baiga and
Korku children ll their stomachs only with paige, the
simplest and coarsest possible soup.
In 2010, a report published by the Asian Legal Resource
Centre, a human rights organisation with a General
Consultative status with the United Nations Economic and
Social Council, stated that 71.4 percent of tribal children in
Madhya Pradesh are malnourished. The gures pose pressing questions to the state. How has Madhya Pradesh really
dealt with its tribal population in the face of new development and wildlife conservation projects? What is the root
cause of malnutrition is it a lack of proper government
schemes, an unsustainable source of income, poor agriculture or abysmal healthcare facilities? Can the state conceive
of an inclusive policy where the tribal population
contributes to its development, instead of being hand-held
to even pass the basic benchmark of survival?



time Samli got her rst

period, she had eloped and
had gotten married. That was
three years ago. Today at 15,
she is the mother of two boys twoweek-old Umal and 17-month-old Sajanu.
Samlis family and the rest of the 80 families in Jami village in Madhya Pradeshs
Balaghat district are Baiga a tribe famous for their unique culture and liberal
values about women, love and marriage.
Jami village is tucked deep inside the
940 sq km core zone of Kanha National
Park, one of Indias largest tiger habitats.
It is the 28th village to be displaced from
the parks core zone as part of the nationwide Save the Tiger project. While the
idea of children like Umal and Sajanu
being raised in the wild with tigers on the
prowl might appear dangerous, the Baigas
disagree. The jungle is their home and
they have oered more protection to the
forest and wildlife than any forest department ever has. The survival of the children is however under threat not by the
100-odd tigers in the park, but because of
hunger and severe malnutrition.
At 2.4 kg, 15-day-old Umal is a low
birthweight child. A boy that old should
weigh at least 3 kg, says the World Health
Organization (WHO). His brother Sajanu at
6.7 kg is also severely underweight; the
normal weight for a boy his age is 8.6 kg.
The consequence is that while boys his age
walk normally, Sajanu continues to crawl
on all fours. He was fed rotis with raw
chillies from the time he was 8-monthsold, since his pregnant mother could no

Over the next four weeks, Weighed down Unlike

TEHELKA will unravel how mal- normal one-year-olds who can
walk, malnutrition means that
nutrition operates in the most Rinki, at 4.5 kg, can barely crawl
desperate tribal hamlets of rural
Madhya Pradesh. The series will cover the Baigas of
Dindori, Mandla and Balaghat, once known as the lords of
the jungle; the Korkus tribe in Khandwa whose ancestors
believe themselves to be descendants of the mythical
Ravana; the Mawasis of Satna, a tribe who served as guards
for native rulers in Central India and nally the Saharias of
Shivpuri, traditional hunters who were inseparable from the
wild jungles of Madhya Pradesh. While some are battling
hunger as a direct consequence of being displaced from
core forestland, others are exchanging food for money by
cultivating cash crops. What unites them all is that constant
vacuum throbbing inside the stomachs of their young ones,
impairing their growth, stunting their minds and snatching
away their lives.
Victor Agauayo, nutrition chief, UNICEF India, says, If
severe acute malnutrition is not controlled within the rst
two years of birth, then the impact on physical and mental
growth is irreversible. Right now, 12,60,000 severely
malnourished children in Madhya Pradesh are strapped to
live time bombs. The state has to make a quick choice: will
it reach out to save them or be a silent spectator as their
tiny shrivelled up bodies are piled up to merely be counted
for yet another report?



Barely there 15-year-old Samli with her

two malnourished children outside their home

 Mostly live in:
Dindori, Mandla, Balaghat
 Population: 3,17,549
 Percentage malnourished: 51%
 Number of NRCs: 7



longer breast feed him. The most common reasons why malnutrition occurs in
these communities are child marriages,
frequent pregnancies, anaemic mothers
and no exclusive breastfeeding. During
the rst six months a child is to have only
breast milk. Not even water, says Dr
Manohar Agnani, health commissioner
for Madhya Pradeshs National Rural
Health Mission. A reasoning that holds no
water with the impoverished Baigas.
The Baigas have been victims of relocation since the 1970s. Thirty kilometers
from Jami village is Ghursi Behra, a village
that was resettled 40 years ago. At the
time, the government had handed out
6.25 acres of unirrigated land per family
as part of the rehabilitation package. It
was a raw deal most families were
allotted uncultivable land. For the Baigas
who depended extensively on the forest
for their survival families cultivated 18
varieties of crops including rice, wheat,
millets, corn, and pulses life changed

Sajanu ate rotis

and raw chillies
from the time he
was 8 months old
drastically. They now grow only one crop
in a year. Sporadic rainfall has aected soil
productivity and hence crop yields.
Yet another reason for hunger is the
debt traps that families often nd themselves in. Rai Sinh, a father of four, typies
migrant families in the region. Every year,
for four months, he migrates to Mumbai
or Delhi to work at a factory for Rs 100 a
day. And yet it is better than the 10 to 12
days of labour that he would get annually
under the National Rural Employment
Guarantee Scheme. The money he sends
home is used to pay o debts with a
marginal amount used to meet expenses.
Two years ago, Rai Sinh took a loan of Rs
3,000 from a local moneylender at an

exorbitant Rs 3,600 in annual interest

alone. In two years, he has managed to
pay back Rs 2,000. It is a debt trap he will
probably never come out of. We have cut
down on eating at home just to repay the
loan, he says stoically.



THE FIRST voice you hear in
Simon Chambers' film, Cowboys in India, is his own. His
remark to the people he is filming, about wrapping up the
shot and moving on, is made in
passing, even as he (Chambers
is the cameraman) walks with
the camera. We get a distinct
feeling of having walked in on a
conversation a feeling that
stays with us right through the
79-minute film as Chambers
journeys through Orissas


ILOMETERS AWAY, a mobile dispensary van drives down the

bumpy road. Baiga children
come running through the clouds of
dust trailing it. At rst glance, this could
be Sub-Saharan Africa desolate, dry,
and empty, and children with bulging
bellies, sunken eyes and skinny limbs. A
Right to Food campaigner is examining
the children, talking to their mothers
and handing out medicines. In a few
minutes, both the medicines and oral
rehydration salt packets are over.
The Nutritional Rehabilitation Centre
(NRC) located 100 km away is teeming with
people. Currently a 20-bed centre, children are fed a monitored diet of powdered
groundnut, coconut oil, milk and sugar,
known as the F100 formula. Questions
abound what would happen to the
child after discharge; is there a permanent
solution to address the problem of child
marriage that leads to malnutrition?
Convenor of the Right to Food campaign
in Madhya Pradesh, Sachin Jain, says, It
needs prolonged awareness-building for a
community to resolve to discontinue child
marriage. The government cant give up
on the tribals that easily saying that they
tried talking them out of child marriage
and it didnt work. It requires serious continuous eort to change social behavior.
Eighty kilometers away from Dindori,
it is daybreak in Ranjhra village. Last
night, 15-year-old Janki eloped to get
here to marry her lover. The starry-eyed
couple stand in front of a small committee of village elders and declare their love
for each other. Janki refuses to go back
home, saying she will die here if she has
to. The committee is pleased with her
boldness. The marriage is approved. The
Baiga circle of life continues one
short-lived joy at a time.
Shriya Mohan is a media fellow of the
National Foundation for India




tribal belt. He talks aloud, at

times to no one in particular,
and at times to the people he is
filming. The conversation is
natural and unaffected; even
when he steps into a narrator's
voice to talk with the audience.
Chambers' stated mission
in the film is to investigate the
corporate social responsibility
(CSR) programmes of Vedanta, a
British mining company that
wants to extract bauxite and
produce alumina in Orissa.
Vedanta promises to pioneer
new ways of eradicating
poverty and bring prosperity to
the area, with officials claiming that the company has set

up child care centres and

hospitals in the area. Thwarted
by the company officials in
London, Chambers travels to
Orissa seeking evidence of
these. When he lands in Orissa
and meets with his local
guides, Satya and Doya, the
film jumps a level. His interactions with the guides and with
the people he encounters enters centrestage and the
metaphor of cowboys plays
itself out. He asks himself that
question is he (Chambers)
the cowboy riding in from afar
to understand the problems of
the natives? Are they Satya
and Doya more realistically
the cowboys helping him find
his way through the terrain?
The charm in Chambers'
films lies in his ability to treat
the documentary even on
grave issues as an extension
of conversations. A narrative
style that continues from his
earlier film, Every Good Marriage Begins With Tears. Shots
that most filmmakers would
have edited out of the film (in
Cowboys in India, Satya's attempts to frame Chambers
and his own instructions to
pan down from the hills to his
face, find a place) add that necessary comic relief.
Chambers' film winds down
to an unsurprising conclusion,
excusable since the journey
has been promising. Not a film
that will have the crowds
marching out of the auditoriums with a slogan on their lips.
But that is not the only requirement a documentary film has.







Come on over
Priya Kumar, a corporate
trainer, demonstrates the
motivational firewalk

HE NAME of the game is

to win. The rules of the

game are to hold on.
Every human resource
(HR) executive is stalked
by two frightful gures
the employee who wont perform and
the employee wholl quit. To silence
these nightmares, HR managers hire
behavioural experts, dubiously called
corporate coaches. On any given day an
Indian corporate employee may be asked
by a coach to walk on re, be packed o
on gruelling jungle camps, or have their
minds tricked with dubious psychotherapy so they can hold on and win.
To the baed outsider these workTEHELKA 1 MAY 2010


shops seem like the wrong medicines for

the wrong disease. Anyone walking on
hot coals to notch up sales must loathe
his work. Any group trudging through
jungles to build team spirit must detest
one another. And any company ordering
its employees into therapy to retain them
must hate itself. Some say these devices
are mere symbols and should be seen as
such. But to expect symbols to substitute
solutions seems more like superstition.
Gaurav Tekriwal, CEO of an education
consultancy in Kolkata, has put himself
and his employees through various kinds
of corporate workshops from re and
glass walking, to sky-diving, to motivational speech sessions. These workshops satisfy the spiritual needs of
corporates, he says. Good karma for a
corporate culture of instant gratication.
Imagine an India Inc which promotes entrepreneurs and independent
thinkers. It would change the nation,
liberalise it from within. But behavioural workshops dont mould such individuals they create the corporate
soldier with the crooked killer instinct,
the spokes of the revolving corporate
wheel. And here are the people who
come along to make it happen:

Hemant Kumar, CMD Remy Distributors.

How did his session with Rao help him?
When an ocer was gossiping about
how celebrities have aairs or get drunk,
I didnt believe him I understood he
was miscommunicating. Are we to believe that before Rao, Kumar wouldnt
know this? How worrying. Sometimes,
Rao asks volunteers to tap into their own
ESP. They are asked to concentrate and
aim an invisible mind arrow to topple
an empty plastic bottle placed precariously on a table. When the bottle falls,
there is jubilation and more motivation
speak. Rao charges between Rs 1.5 and
3.5 lakh for each ESP show plus training
sessions. He does 50-odd shows plus sessions every year.

HR team. It is then played during lunch

hour and in the canteen. Once, however,
Sharma decided to anchor employee optimism in something employees had easier access to the oce water cooler. If
the employees in that workshop had actually gotten anchored, then this would
be a redening moment. That drab water
cooler would never be the same. It would
do what it would have done for parched
nomads stuck in the Sahara. It would be
a beautiful oasis of truth, the one reason
for never abandoning an organisation
where water is aplenty. Theyd sway,
united at lunchtime, work and be happy,
as long as they drank from their communal well of joy the water cooler. 1984
would come thirstily alive.



Coaches often use tools like hypnosis

which even psychologists would be cau-

Every HR managers secret fantasy is to

have employees who are obedient foot


tious about. Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), for instance, uses words and
phrases to attempt to alter an individuals
subconscious. Gestalt therapy focusses
on what an individual is thinking at
that moment to lead on to attitudinal
changes. There are many more.
Gitanjali Sharma, head of a Gurgaonbased corporate training, Transform
Lifestyle, uses NLP as well as hypnotism
to facilitate team-building and manage
corporate stress. She uses what she calls
anchors everyday objects that workshoppers can pour positive and peaceful
feelings into. Like the temple bell, says
Sharma, which gives you tranquility
when you ring it. At Rs 30,000 per workshop she likes to root the peace and
positive energy of her participants in
music that she plays during the workshop comprising basic drumbeats
which is handed over to the companys

HR teams often employ an entertainer to

serve motivational manna that wouldve

otherwise tasted tedious. A lot like magicians who come to school to teach children not to litter or to observe trac
rules. Mumbais Deepak Rao is one such
magician well-known for his ability at
telepathy and telekinesis. He conjures
before the cynical corporate eye an ESP
(extra sensory perception) show called
Mission Impossible. He guesses phone
numbers, birthdays and even songs that
viewers might think of. He levitates objects, bends (without touching) spoons
and keys. Then begins Mission Possible
where Rao lectures his awestruck audience on organisation, communication,
and positivity. Like a godman discoursing on how to live, Rao tell his clients
how to work. If he can focus his mind to
bend metal, we can focus too, enthuses

Executives should be
like Osama bin Laden
effective, says Joshi
soldiers who do the dirty work, ght
to the nish and kill. And who cant quit
on a whim. This fantasy nds fruition in
the corporate outbound a programme that could extend from days to
weeks and involves executives roughing
it out in inhospitable climes. How
thrilling it must be for the average HR
professional to see ckle suits, ever ready
to bargain for a higher salary, sweat it out
and try to snare little animals in some
forest reserve, or painfully inch their way
through cruel obstacle courses, or hang
hazardously o a rock face. These Gulag
experiences supposedly prepare participants for boardroom battles. They also
teach them team spirit. An outbound organising company called Strawberry
Outbound, for instance, makes participants drive through an obstacle course,
blindfolded, with team members shouting directions. Now we know where the

average over-competitive executive refuels on his road rage. The high demand
for army ocers in HR departments, is a
good indicator of the prevailing fantasy
of total discipline and obedience.
Captain Joshi is an ex-armyman who
went on to become Associate Vice-President of HR at ICICI Prudential. He quit to
create Fitcomb his Delhi-based
combat training institute, which also
conducts corporate outbounds. A
cornerstone of Fitcomb philosophy is
Positive Aggression. Joshi explains this
in unnerving detail: There are those
who only think, without doing. There are
those who think and then do, like PC
Chidambaram. There are those who do
and then think like Sanjay Gandhi, or
Osama bin Laden. And nally, there are
those who do, without thinking like
Lalu Prasad Yadav. What should the executive be? The third prototype those
who do and then think. Like Osama bin
Laden? He was very eective at achieving what he wanted.


Priya Kumar is a corporate motivator
highly in demand for her re-walks. She



blance to crazed cults which like to enforce an archaic idea of oneness must be
purely coincidental. Kumar continues:
Fire-walking teaches them to act, and
not be bystanders. Also, it teaches them
things are not as dicult as they seem.
This last reason hints at how these
walks are actually conducted with
fundamental dishonesty. The walker
may imagine the temperature of the
coals is about 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit,

To save the executive sole,

Kumar chooses small, safe
pieces of glass to walk on
charges around Rs 1.5 lakh per day and
does one every alternate day somewhere
in India. She has even appeared on Rakhi
Ka Swayamvar to motivate Rakhi
Sawants suitors. Walking over red-hot
coals and shards of glass might seem like
perfect punishment for white-collar
criminals, but what makes them motivational? Priya responds with an anecdote.
She once asked a group of executives
whether they thought they would get
burnt, and one replied: No. Our company will obviously not pay you to burn
us. So, Kumar says, her walks reinforce
ones faith in the company. Any resem-

Kumar explains. Kumars website says

the temperature is about 1,200 degrees
Fahrenheit. But Kumar says the actual
temperature is only about 200 to 300
degrees Fahrenheit. So the rewalker,
having anticipated an obstacle much
hotter than the one he tides over, walks
o with a red-up ego.
Or not. People can still get burnt at
200 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit though,
Kumar explains. So we have to train
them to do the walk. Similarly with broken glass. What saves the executive sole
is that Kumar chooses which glass
pieces to walk on discerningly pick-

ing the smaller, atter ones. Other trainers even use plastic to fake glass shards.
At a recent rewalk in the FICCI
complex at Delhi, for instance, some college girls tried to conquer their fears
with rewalking. They burnt their toes,
and the Delhi Police cracked down on
rewalks altogether. Enlightenment emanates here, from what happened to
management guru PS Rathore, organiser
of the ill-fated walk, who was detained
by Delhi Police. His tagline ironically
read: Burn all phobia and stress of life.
You cant look at walking on re, or
outbounds in isolation, defends
Santosh Babu, founder of OD
Alternatives, a renowned executive
coaching company. Theyre part of a
larger training process. True. But the
prevalence of ashy, supercial programmes stand out as symptoms of a
system gone wrong.
Nevertheless if these workshops
actually succeeded, no snide critic would
have a leg to stand on. Unfortunately, regardless of the many manhours spent in
motivation, regardless of how enthused
people seem in the few hours after a
workshop, corporate India is still leaking
employees and dissatisfaction. Priya
Kumar herself says, Average attrition
rate is between 15 and 25 percent for
India Inc very bad." But the names of
most of the company games is still to
win. And the rules to hold on.







stream media took

contrasting positions in analysing
the counterculture of Indian
rock. Mint Lounge (March
26) announced to our astonishment that indie bands are
earning more than their
bread and butter with homegrown nancial models.
TEHELKA (Don't Believe Everything You Hear, April 17)
trashed the medias hysterical coverage of the rock
scene which, it declared, did
not even register on Indias
music landscape.
As a biographer for one of
the countrys better-known
bands, I am compelled to ask:
What is Indian rock as the
media understands it? Is it
about the explosion of televised competitions, quaintly
named music conventions,
and big-brand-backed rock
festivals and performance
venues? Is it about the legitimacy that Bollywood
accords it? Or is it just a vehicle to sell jeans, bikes and
alcohol? Why pile it in one
store shelf labelled rock?
What about Carnatic blues,
Malayalam metal, Hindi folk-



rock, or Kannada funk? And

why ignore the Northeast,
where indigenous rock has
thrived for 40 years?
TEHELKA ranted that the
vocabulary and context for
rock criticism does not exist
in India. When was the last
time an editor commissioned an investigation into
this counterculture? And
when did a reporter do some
legwork to unearth Indias
underground music scene?
MTV and Channel [V ] dont
care for indie acts. Rolling
Stone India, which has never
devoted a cover to an Indian
band, promotes tribute concerts to Dire Straits. Mint
interpreted a stray success as
the resurgence of rock.
TEHELKA got it half
right the Indian
rock scene barely
exists. But the jeremiad fell foul of the
real reasons.
As an insider I vouch

festivals, launch amateur

bands every year. Enterprises
like Mumbais Only Much
Louder, the artist management concern behind
Counter Culture Records,
have been living o bands for
eight years nothing indie
about their revenue model.
They sign desperate bands to
draw crowds for restaurateurs
and event organisers. The
hosts prot on food and beverage sales. In 15 years the
paltry concert fee has hardly
improved. Serious artists prefer to remain independent
and unsigned. Sadly, bands,
by undercutting each other,
have only fattened the sharks.
The real counterculture
thrives online. Irrespective of whether bands
play concerts, the endorsement of 5,000
Facebook fans for original music is more comforting than 20,000 screaming
for Metallica. A senior mu-

Tehelka got it half right the Indian

rock scene barely exists. But it fell foul
of the real reasons
for this: Indian bands are
making prolic music (of
variable quality) but they
arent making money. But
even the best music, by indie
bands across the world, is
produced under considerable nancial strain and
doesnt fetch returns from
online sales. So its important for bands to
tour to break even.
Theres the rub.
Brand managers and aky
promoters are tucking in
while bands go penniless.
Great Indian Rock and IRock, Indias oldest rock

sician told me in jest that an

ageing hippie goes from acid
to antacid. If our bands went
professional theyd starve.
Not all rock musicians are
bankrolled by indulgent parents. The ones I work with
are in their 30s and send kids
to school. Weve quit secure
jobs to make careers in
music. Weve sold four albums in 15 years without
benefactors in the media or
the absent industry. We play
for love. And we wont stop.
(Venugopal is a biographer for
the Bengaluru rock band
Thermal And A Quarter)












AM A MARWARI. I know. If three words could dene

the world of the Marwari man Taboo, Society
and Marriage would be them. To see how they interplay, look at the most recent Marwari divorces:
Husband A was having an aair with his mothers
friends. B was too addicted to sex. C was too addicted to
porn. Welcome to Indias most repressed community: the
Marwari tribe. Pleasure is the tribes best kept secret for
generations, good values have elevated them above base
desire. Except when no one is at home the remote is
duly programmed to the cleavage show on Fashion TV.
The heads of this tribe roam in shiny black cars. They
parade inside glass malls, wearing creaseless Armani suits,
reeking of Eau dHermes. They run the Factory that provides for the rest of the clan. From this comes their sense
of entitlement, the power to issue diktat. Morality is a
shade greyer for the Marwari man. The tribes most stringent diktats apply to the female: the new urban Marwari
woman must own at least one Sabyasachi the latest
marker of a chic, non-Marwari fashion sense. She can
now indulge in a career (mostly a hobby or a fashion designing boutique run from home) as long as
shes present when the men return, tired from a
day of gold-digging. Many Marwari women are
forbidden inside their own kitchen or temple when
they are menstruating. Some cannot even eat on the
same breakfast table as the tribes chieftains. Marriage
(as life itself ) is clearly a community aair. A woman
cannot wed just a Marwari man, she must marry his
entire family. Their collective worth now depends solely
on how she conducts herself. In Marwari this translates to
Dress Up. That is why Delhi-based physiotherapist Divya
Poddars mom-in-law wont let her attend social gatherings
without a few diamonds. It is the tribes secret code: I
belong to this family. They are treating me well. Any
display of dazzling cleavage, however, is strictly
taboo; good Marwari women must not be seen
with such prohibited possessions.
The diktat for men is more production oriented Get married, have a
business with 1,000 slaves under you
and procreate, procreate, procreate,
until you have a male child. That is how
Kushal Ruia, 32, a Mumbai-based cre-



When Kushal Ruia

switched from
selling towels to
animation, baffled
aunts asked, Beta,
khargosh banaoge?

ative director of Amar Chitra Katha recalls the decree.

When confronted with the enticing prospect of selling towels all his life, he switched to animation. Baed aunts asked,
Beta, khargosh banaoge? (Son, you want to make rabbits?)
Youre expected to enter the family business. Even if
you branch out, there is a stigma attached to working
under someone else, Ruia says. The Marwari tribe has
always been obsessed with the idea of ownership; the maverick artist is only noteworthy after he inaugurates his own
studio. An alternative where the lure of wealth isnt a driving force is unimaginable, almost blasphemy. That is why
when Ruia was recently featured in Marwar magazine, he
was heralded as the harbinger of a new social order. Drumroll. It is a momentous occasion. Please put your hands together for the new Marwaris who can make their fortunes
themselves. Truly, a giant leap for the Marwari kind.
Apparently, this leaping lot is now challenging the
tribes diktat. A rather daring specimen once proved a
point by drinking beer in front of his mother on Navratri.
His wife, however, could attempt no such feat; the Curse of
the Mummy would forever be upon her.

that these free-thinking revolutionaries

continue to survive at home. If I didnt have the safety
of my familys business, I wouldnt have experimented,
Ruia admits. It may be taboo to move out his parents
house, but the Marwari Man also doesnt want to. Even
those who break the mould do it cautiously. Years of conditioning have turned him into a charming sort of puppet
inextricably linked to the tribes support system. When
the safety net comes with strings attached, the burden is
passed to the woman. She becomes the sole upholder of
tradition and good value. Once a Marwari man in Nagpur
politely explained to his parents why his wife shouldnt
be restricted to virtuous sarees. He considers it an accomplishment that he secured her the freedom of salwars and
jeans Libert, Egalit and Fraternit!
Such monumental churnings aside, the likes of the rabbit-maker and beer-drinker are only contemporary lore. In
popular imagination, the caricature of the Marwari has
always been laced with oodles of unscrupulous ghee
and paan. In her award-winning novel Kalikatha, author Alka Saraogis protagonist, Kishore Babu, is a
Marwari with literary and political leanings. She recalls the rather perturbed reaction of eminent Hindi
author Rajendra Yadav. He refused to believe this character could possibly exist, she laughs. Yadavs disbelief
may not be entirely unwarranted, given that Kishore
Babus urge to serve the country extends beyond the very
patriotic act of serving the Bombay Stock Exchange.
If political inner life is an essential ingredient of an
intellectual man, the Marwari draws a blank. (Proximity
to the oce of the Finance Minister does not count.) At




his core, the Marwari man is a

staid, almost docile, apolitical creature. Independent thinking has never been
a good value. Asking questions is taboo.
That is why a good Marwari mummy was horried when her 16-year-old boy declared he wanted to
be a journalist: I have failed to bring you up. Soon, the
trauma took on entirely new proportions. English honours? Isnt that what girls do? That was the rst time the
boy realised what it means to be a Marwari man. (Unless
3/50 in Math counts as the denitive moment of truth.)
What has been deemed sacred in the Marwari home is
respect for elders a master stroke, a classic euphemism to ensure the old patriarchal values remain unchallenged and unquestioned. In the Marwari world, the
daughter is merely an impediment in the quest for a son. A
child of privilege, the Marwari man has always been comfortable with this status quo. If the rst child is a daughter,
theres a fear of what the second will be, says Reshma Jain,
editor of Marwar. If the second is a girl, try a third. If that
fails, the bride and her chromosomes have clearly not understood the good values that prevail in Marwari society.
Most Marwari rituals revolve around the attainment and
well being of a male heir. Bless the Father, Son, and Holy
Husband. Theres Mai Chauth the equivalent of Karwa
Chauth for the boy, (none for the daughter) and theres
Bachwaras a puja and a day-long fast for the son. In
joint-families, the less endowed mothers watch from sidelines feeling duly inferior. This is true not just in the home
of the baniya oozing paan and ghee. None of this oends
the slick Modern Marwari either. Both cling to the same
brand of good values; only an Armani separates them.
Yet, the usual markers of community language,
literature, song, dance, geographic location are curiously absent in the Marwari tribe. The language is nearing
extinction and culture has been relegated to gambling on
Diwali and a bajre-ki-roti at a wedding. Indardan Detha,
70, part of Rajasthans literary Detha family, warns against
seeing the urban Marwari as representative of Marwar.
The Marwari merchants do not represent the culture of
Marwar, he says Except for food habits, they share nothing with the Marwari peasant or the Marwari craftsmen.
The Marwari man rarely thinks about identity; when he
does, it usually draws another naught. Besides entrepreneurial abilities, theres nothing else left, says Devend Darda,
CEO of Lokmat group of newspapers. With no cultural
framework, the Marwari mans role models have always been
good Mr Birla and Mr LN Mittal. To see how this has shaped
the Marwari value system, read the latest SMS doing the
rounds of Kolkatas Marwari circuit My daughter is engaged to Rahul Khaitan. MBA from Wharton. Owns Ajanta
steel mills. Astounding vital stats that have permanently
secured his market value. A fathers dream has come true


a good Marwari boy, brimming with good Marwari values from a good Marwari family will guarantee his daughter the good life. What more could she possibly want?
For the Marwari, the Market is not merely a place of
trading. The Market is an existential construct that denes
him. Enter the bazaar and some broad stereotypes become
evident. Meet the old Marwari moneylender gold chains
swinging over his potbelly, he stoops over his accounts:
Maro pissa katthe? (Where is my money?) Then theres
the Mawari trader chanting Oh Bhaiyo! Aato mein ghato
aa gayo! Wheat sales are dipping. The terror of his daughters dowry is looming large. Theres also the quintessential
Marwari miser. Flamboyance is only a new good value. This
original Marwari may own a BMW, yet hell be seen in his old
white Ambassador. Especially during income tax season.
Distancing himself from the baniya Marwari, you will
nd the suave, polished, new Marwari tycoon (and the notso-suave tycoon getting himself polished full body massage style inside his glass oce cabin). This tycoon has
most rapidly overturned the conventional stereotype the
crass hoarder has now become Indias most elite consumer.
This Brand Marwari has suddenly become more revered,
almost envied. The new Bengali, the new Tamil all are
aspiring for access to his bustling Market. A decade ago, a
Bengali might have been embarrassed about his Marwari
friend, says Saraogi. Now they aunt it. Since having money
has become respectable, everyone wants to be Marwari.
The cosmopolitan tycoon retraces his roots only to check
upon his haveli and to further solidify his contract with God.
The temple of Salasarji in Rajasthan is the one-stop Marwari
destination for such transactions. The Marwari man really
believes this will work, says gourmet chef Ritu Dalmia. He
tells God, give me so many crores, 10 percent aapka.
Scratch the surface and the tycoon hasnt evolved too far beyond Kolkatas most famous jalebee superviser: Munna Halwai. Most Marwari men remain lifelong Munna Babus, and
some even graduate to becoming your 60-year-old uncle
Munnaji. Most are likely to tell Mummy to intercom the
driver to turn on the AC before they reach their car. Most


Munna Babu, Munna

Halwai, Munnaji, the
Marwari man has
remained the eternal
infant, always Mummys
Suitable Boy

Mummys are likely to oblige, relieved that beta still needs

them. Growing up on manicured lawns, the Marwari boy
has never been allowed to trip, let alone fall. The survival
skills that come from negotiating reality, failure and injury
are alien to the Marwari man. A clockwork-like support
system mothers, wives, daughter-in laws, and precisely
trained domestic help has ensured the Marwari man
remains the eternal infant, always Mummys Suitable Boy.
Thats why when a Marwari woman lamented about hours of
post-Holi washing, her husband oered promptly, Ill ask
Mom to scrub you. Thats why a grandfather exclaims in disbelief when his grandson gets into college, You are the rst
child in our family who has got admission on his own merit!
Thats why a Marwari man returned after years of investment banking in the US Yaar, I needed my servants.

EET THE Gen-Next Marwari man gelled hair,

gleaming shoes, he always has a reputation to salvage. He must get an MBA and work in a reputed
MNC. Even if he insists he wants to work for Daddy, Daddy
has his own reputation to salvage. Eve-teasing, overt crime,
street-ghts are beneath the rened Marwari. Contemporary art, Bordeaux, the gym and spa at rst
glance, nothing suggests the 21st century Marwari is parochial. Yet he
leaves girlfriends to marry a woman
who can adjust into his family. Yet
he has Sunday rendezvous with the Boys
Club, but doesnt allow his wife the same freedom. Yet he uses phrases like duties towards the
husband, and responsibility towards my family. It
is almost as if the modern Marwari man is at odds
with himself. He desperately wants to overcome is
Marwariness, yet he is too dependent on it. In
many ways, the new Marwari man is synthetic, almost
plastic; you miss scruy edges, raw soul, eccentric passion.
He is polished like tall glass buildings; you miss the surprise
of archways. He is ne red wine, you miss sour whisky. It is
a curious paradox: the Marwari man is not macho or aggressive he obeys when his father doesnt let him wear
T-shirt and shorts on the ight to Bangkok because you
might meet people, or when his grandmother decides what
he must name his son. Yet he is steeped in patriarchy, in the
comforts of the old ethos, much like the community itself.
That is why Marwari evolution has mysteriously stopped at
Gucci, Prada and Victorias Secrets. Mention the other
brands of the West theyve forgotten to imitate the idea
of equality, dating, live-in relationships, and ancestral good
values are instantly evoked. But things are changing, says
Kolkata-based photographer Leena Kejriwal. I hear people
are meeting for even six months before they get married.
(Some names have been changed to protect identities)




Urdu couplet
and a
mushaira is a
of Urdu poets. At the centre
of any good sher, lies irony.
A similiar irony lay in the
11th edition of the annual
Jashn-e-Bahar Mushaira
renowned for the far-ung
countries it gathers its poets
from. Last week, Delhi audiences heard shers from London, New York, Jeddah,
Kabul, even Beijing.
At the venue Delhi Public School, Mathura Road
rotating fans with in-built
water sprinklers, sprinkled
rose water rst and then plain
water on the sunstruck audiSHER IS



Live poets society (L to R)

Shakeel Azmi from Mumbai,
Anjum Rehbar from Bhopal and
Sarwat Zahra Zaidi from Dubai



ences resplendent either in

traditional clothes or designerwear. A make-shift white
ornamental trellised fence sat
pretty, in front of 21 seated
poets. The irony at the centre? The backdrop of the stage
where the poets sat, where
ministers Farooq Abdullah
and Salman Khurshid pronounced Urdu shouldnt be
treated as a Muslim language
but as an Indian one, was a
huge cloth print of a mural by
MF Husain, prime patron for
the mushaira and famously
stuck in exile.
At the centre of any good
mushaira, lies its audience.
The chasteness of Urdu has
reduced, says Aparna Srivastava Reddy who has con-


vened this mushaira for some

years now. Most couplets at
mushairas nowadays can be
understood by anyone.
Which is why such mushairas
attract the casually dressed
minority of the 1,500-strong
audience they dont know
Urdu well, but can understand this poetry. The casual
listeners matched the wellversed in racuous shouts.
And so the voices of audience
came across as one in their
waah waahs (very good),
their bas karos (stop) and
ghar jaos (go home).
The proactive audience
also decided how long a poet
could perform. So Iqbal
Ashar, from Delhi, was allowed to sing his Taj Mahal
even though it went on for
a while. And when Mumbais Shakeel Azmi was
asked by the organisers to
nish fast, he appealed to
the audience to let him read
more of his shorter verses.
They relented.
Ribbing was the order of
the day. An elderly Delhi
poet, Amir Ahmad Mumkin,
who recited SMS shayari in a
waspish voice, was introduced by moderator Mansoor Usmani thus: Hes so
old that when he begins performing, you might well say
Namumkin (impossible). On
being jeered and dismissed,
Mumkin dealt a parting shot
at the audience: Jee chaahta
hai unhein goli maar doon
mera sher to sunaa nahin,
apna saat sunaa gaya (I wish
I could shoot him He didnt
listen to my couplet, but recited seven of his).
Some poets hit back.
When new poems
were exhorted from
Bollywood lyricist

Javed Akhtar, he replied:

First understand what Ive
written so far. Then Ill pen
new ones. It isnt easy.

HILE GOOD poetry

did score its
points, great delivery often compensated.
Munnawar Rana, from
Kolkata, for instance, was
one of the most popular
poets. His verse runs
straight: Ajeeb duniya hai ki
titli ki paron ko noch leti hai,
ajeeb titli hai ki nuchne par
bhi roya nahin karti (Its a
strange world that crushes
the wings of a buttery. Its a
strange buttery that doesnt
cry out at being crushed).

the virtues of peace and love,

was too tame to enthrall. On
the other hand, Ashfaq Hussain Zaidi, an Urdu scholar
from Toronto, met with great
approval: Dard se koi taaluq,
naa ilaaqa-e-gham se, sirf
lafzon ke barasne se ghazal
nahin hoti (No relationship
with pain, nor with sorrow,
Just the cascading of words
does not make a ghazal).
These diverse nationalities
represent the Urdu diaspora,
which has spread the language far and thin. It is one
reason why Urdu poetry has
largely dissolved into colloqualisms and discarded complex and chaste vocabulary.
At the mushaira, the ethnici-

winner, rousing its listeners

to uproar, came from
Khushbir Singh Shaad, a
Sikh shayar from Lucknow.
He recited a nazm (poem),
in the presence of a Congress minister, that could
not but have reminded one
of the Sikh riots: Ye tera
taaj nahin hai, hamaari
pagdi hai, ye sar ke saath hi
utregi, ye sarka hissa hai
(This isnt your crown, its
our turban. It will only come
o when the head does).
The last poet was Dr
Shahryar and it was with
him this mushaira audience
proved that it could do more
than cheer or boo. It could
also respect. Doyen of Urdu

Poet Amir Ahmad Mumkin was introduced

thus: Hes so old that when he performs, you
may say Namumkin impossible
But it is Ranas powerful, almost Demosthenesian oratory that makes him loved.
A winning combination of
content and delivery came
from Pakistans Fatima Hassan. She made many a burqaclad listener grin and applaud
as she fashioned feminism for
the good Muslim girl. In one
of her award-winning couplets the oppressed woman is
analogous to a boat and patriarchy, a boatman: Kashti ko
sikhayee hai, mallah ne do
baatein/ toofaan se guzar
jaana, saahil par thahar
jaana. (The boat has been
taught two things by the
boatman: cross the storm,
and stop at the shore). This
year, for the rst time, the
mushaira had a Nepali
poet Khwaja Moazzam
Shah. His poetry, extolling

ties each brought forth their

own politics, transcending
the given theme Aman-oDosti (Peace and Friendship).
Feminism was a recurrent
theme from Pakistan. So was
the Partition, and the plight
of refugees. Musaafir saath
barson se abhi tak ghar nahin
pahunche. Kahin par bhi
nahin pahunche (Travellers
for 60 years, they still havent
reached home. They havent
reached anywhere), by
Asghar Nadeem Syed of Lahore, hung quietly over the
suddenly silent audience, before the rst Kya baat hai.
Kolkatas Rana demonstrated a clear leftist bent,
reminiscent of the times of
the Progressive Writers
Group (PWG) when Urdu
was a language adopted by
the communists. But a true

literature and lyricist for

Muzaar Alis Umrao Jaan,
he read plainly and simply,
without any aectation. The
waahs were uttered in
amazed whispers, not
shouts. It is the stately Dr
Shahryar who explains,
There is a dierence between mushaira and adab
(literature and culture).
Some poets at mushairas
will hardly get published. Yet
they are there because they
are ne performers. A
mushaira must be enjoyed
for what it is a performers gathering. A couplet from him? Dekh hum
phir jalaa rahe hain chiraag,
ai hawaa, haunslaa nikaal
apna (Look, were lighting
the candle again. Dear
wind, we hope youre up to
the challenge).





The Sun in My Pants

Ian McEwans superb hero tries to save us from climate
change, but it's so much fun to see him fail, says GAURAV JAIN

Sunny side up
Author Ian McEwan

change. The book opens with

his crumbling fth marriage
(hes a habitual adulterer)
and his setting up of a new
institute for clean energy. We
witness Beards personal and
professional turbulences
divorce, philandering, a girlfriend demanding marriage,
unwanted pregnancy,
another girlfriend demand-


N THE last decade, Ian

McEwans novels have
been depressingly artful. His last two books
Saturday and On
Chesil Beach have
been particularly airless.
Describing the condition of
human happiness, his sensibility became nicky, tricked
out, contrived. The books
seemed too readable, as if
the author had untangled his
people in his head, attened
them on paper and then
calmly lled them with the
smooth helium of his prose.
Solar is happily dierent.
It returns us to McEwans
conventional pleasures of
narrative, of English narrative
a straight tale that hugs
the mind of the central
character, told with dry
humour, forever on a rim of
irony. Meet Michael Beard,
55-year-old Nobel-laureate
physicist whos coasted on
his eminence for 20 years.
He retains the monomania of
a rationalist, is against religion and sceptical of climate

ing marriage; a colleagues

death, Beards emergence as
a climate change convert and
proteer, his media scandals,
setting up an American site
in the grand quest to
replicate photosynthesis,
and all his ineptness in between. We meet Beard in
2000, then skip to 2005, and
nally to 2009 when all his

Ian McEwan
Jonathan Cape
304 pp; Rs 550

circumstances nally crunch

up on him.
This is novel writing as
heroic set pieces. The books
pitch-perfect scenes and
cleaned-ute prose provide
ready satisfactions for any
reader. We visit the British
country, the Arctic, the
American south, airports,
trains, hotel bars, dance shops
each sketched with delectable realism. McEwan is as
clinical and unforgiving as
ever, always quick to take the
shine o a situation in the
Arctic, Beard quickly suers a
mans ultimate accident in his
iced groin (his heartbeat
seemed to have migrated
down there). And McEwan
is nothing if not accomplished hes got the science
down pat, is properly restrained in explaining it, and
aptly skewers its inhabitants.
McEwan is pitiless, of
course, hes done his homework, of course, and provides us the modern panic of
urban existence that grips us
all sooner or later. No bun-

We are giving away three hardback
copies of Solar personally autographed
by Ian McEwan! Just answer the following
three questions and email them to



1 Which Muslim country in Africa did McEwan

spend a lot of his childhood in?
2 McEwan participated in an Arctic expedition
which inspired Solar. Name the expedition.
3 Which climate talks last year prompted
McEwan to rewrite Solars ending?


gle, fumble, miscue or

calamity is omitted. Beard
cheats on his wife and his
colleagues, frames someone
for murder, neglects his
partners and daughter. In a
superbly comic midsection,
he gets roasted by the media
for a politically incorrect
utterance. McEwan satirises
postmodernism how
relativity has sneaked out
of science to create havoc
in the social sciences. The
comedy steadily increases
in pitch till were almost at
Bellovian levels more
than anyone, Beard reminded me of Saul Bellows
Herzog, without the interiority but tangled in similarly
preposterous sexual and
professional excitements.

ERES A HINT of whats

new the exquisite
pain of conversations in McEwans earlier
books has been socialised in
Beard hes secure in his
self-esteem, and brackets
dicult conversations with
fatty foods. The British man
has been Americanised. His
bumbling knowingness has
turned into a willed, searing
innocence. Beard faces all
the epiphanies and drama of
his life, takes the buzz of
potato chips, fellatio and the
Arctic cold alike, with a
reliable assurance of his
good naturedness, his
With this light-hearted
masterpiece of cosmopolitan
follies, McEwan can be
justied again as Britains
national novelist curious
savant, earnest activist,
ironic storyteller, awless
writer-technician all in
all, a lovely pedant.

tors, without Indian friends, enact a

fantastic reversal where their Americanborn Indianness matters to the story
only while theyre in India, and almost
no mention of it is made in the USA.
The problem of this reversal, however, is addressed in one story: a memoir
writing class professor tells the narrator
that he seems to be tiptoeing around
race. He responds saying: Race is incidental Its about desire, as if desire
was a free-oating object outside race
relations. While weve for long ranted
against the familiar narratives of the Indian American, surely
indierence to race is
not the response thats
going to complicate
these accounts.
The stories work
least when set in India,
examining or reproducing cliches, describing places lazily as
a remote province in
stories in a cliched,
the North. One imRahul Mehta
Random House
possibly bizarre female
colourless monotone
252 pp; Rs 399
character whose
friend on Marine
Drive throws about
the casual phrase darling has chilever, a few stories like Yours where
youd forget the narrator is Indian if you dren living as citizens in the USA. When
her daughter broaches the topic of citihadnt already met him show Mehta
zenship, Mehta expects the reader to
as a competent writer whose neat prose
take the mother seriously as she asks the
is capable of drawing readers into what
younger woman, What does this mean,
are gentle and compelling tales of love.
citizen? By explanation were only
Yet this ease shows no eort in
oered: Her English was not good.
tuning dialogue. A teenage lower-class
The queer Indian reader perhaps
white girl, a reasonably well-o 50-yearunaware that many good novels reold black performance artist, a successleased recently in the subcontinent have
ful middle-aged rst generaa gay or bisexual protagonist whose
tion immigrant Indian
queerness is masked by ambiguous
doctor they all
phrasing in jackets, blurbs or reviews
speak alike. While
will presumably buy this collection
Mehta seems detersimply because Mehtas protagonists
mined to avoid any
are outed on the jacket itself. If only
nostalgia for India, its
the editor had insisted on these pages
remarkable that his
returning as a single novel with atIndian narrators make littention to dialogue, it would
tle note of how a post-9/11
have done far better
America includes
both for itself and
South Asians.
for sales.
These narraHE TITLE of this collection
of short stories by West
Virginia-born gay writer
Rahul Mehta is taken from
the rst one, where you
meet the rst-person, moody, gay Indian
narrator of the rst seven of nine stories.
If you ignore the small shifts in cities,
white boyfriends and jobs you keep
meeting the same narrator, small eccentricities notwithstanding. The seven stories end up reading like draft chapters
for a novel, the novelist uncertain about
where to place his quirky bottom. How-







Compiled by NISHITA JHA

doubt, and a distinct lack of all-knowing parent

figures. The parts where Quentin and his fellows
go to Fillory, a Narnia-like magical realm that
Quentin had long been obsessed with (he read
about it in fantasy novels), are particularly chilling. Grossman is great with pacing; the big moments come when youre not expecting them;
my favourite was the first appearance of his
genuinely scary villain, the Beast. The more
mainstream fantasy becomes, the more well see
richly written, intricately imagined works like
The Magicians or Gregory Maguires Wicked.
As a reader, I couldnt be more pleased.
Basu is the Delhi-based author of
The GameWorld Trilogy

Kapoors art takes
one out of the real
and into the



Of the recent exhibitions that I have seen, I liked

the work by Roohi Kapoor, Trishna Singh and
Abhishek Singh, all curated in New Delhi. Although Roohi is the youngest of the lot and is
still learning, I feel that these three really have
what it takes to express themselves through the
medium of art. I have seen people responding to
their canvases, and for me that is always the true
sign of an artist when people want to gaze at
your painting for hours, take it home and hang it
on their walls, it is a sign of having achieved
what you set out for.
Nirula is an art curator and consultant for the
Nirula Family Company


Harry Potter for

grown-ups with a


I recently read Lev Grossmans The Magicians,

a complex and demanding novel that you could
call literary fiction or fantasy. Its the sort of book
Donna Tartt might have produced if someone
had held a gun to her head and demanded that
she rewrite Secret History with wizards in it.
Harry Potter for grown-ups with a non-religious
Narnia is a crude description, but theres a lot
more to it. Quentin Coldwater gains admission
to Brakebills, a hidden New York magic school,
and enters a world where magic isnt about cute
creatures and funny names and life lessons;
theres violence, and sex, and boredom, and


The Indian food scene has changed tremendously as chefs are getting creative and
adventurous, especially in five star hotels and
high-end restaurants. The Taj Palace in New
Delhi has some amazing food and great cocktails theirs is an entirely modern take on
traditional food. At the same time the chefs at
the Bukhara at ITC Maurya Sheraton Hotel
stick to a typical way of preparing Indian food,
which is their forte. Apart from these places, I
have eaten great Indian food in London as well
Vineet Bhatia of Rasoi and Atul Kochhar
of Benaras Restaurant in Mayfair both serve
delicious Mughlai food, which ensures I never
miss home too much! Also Ashwini Kumar's
Mango Restaurant opposite Windsor Castle
has sumptuous food that I just can't get
enough of.
Baljekar is the UK-based winner gourmand
of the World Cookbook Awards, and is a
member of the Guild of Food Writers


I am a huge fan of Hindi films, all my

influences have only been Hindi films and
filmmakers. I wish we made films like the old
Golmaal starring Amol Palekar, and the unforgettable Hrishikesh Mukherjees Chupke
Chupke. The premise of these films was simple
and never goes out of style a man tells one
lie, then to cover up tells many more lies, thus
creating a series of events that have the





I SAT UP IN ALARM when the Censors Certificate appeared. The movie I was watching was apparently titled
Funny men A scene
Get Educated - Paathshaala. The hyphenated title is a Bolfrom Hiranis Lage
Raho Munnabhai
lywood genre in the making, and Im fairly certain future
historians will light on the 1999 film Daag - The Fire as its
locus classicus, but it invariably makes me want to run in
viewer in splits. The kind of comedies made
the opposite direction. The film begins with a rain of
today are absurd and mindless. I don't want to
newspaper clippings whose purpose, I suspect, was to let
leave my brains at home! The only answer
us know education is in crisis, and that the filmmakers
available for cinema that entertains with
read The Times of India. We then see the grim-visaged
brains is that of Raju Hiranis films today I
principal (Nana Patekar) giving himself a pep-talk. The
loved the Munnabhai series!
rest of the film is devoted to
Kohli is a Mumbai-based filmmaker and has
uncovering the mystery
made films such as Fanaa and Hum Tum
though the cat ambles in
and out of the bag.
The school changes character overnight. Brand
managers are brought in,
Lately Ive been listening to a lot of Thievery
the students audition for
Corporation. They suit every mood and converreality shows, and the
sation. I love the ambience their music creates
school goes to pot. Shahid
and often play their music in my restaurant. I like
Kapoor plays a factoryTools music even though it can get quite infresh English teacher
tense at times. Another favourite is Them
whose brow develops deep
Crooked Vultures the rock supergroup that
furrows as a result of these
has Dave Grohl, Josh Holmes and John Paul
changes; Ayesha Takia and
Jones. I heard Slashs new self-tiAnjan Srivastava lead the
tled album at a friends place and
rest of the cast in providing
I am really glad the man has fianguished expressions in
nally decided to go solo!
support. Kapoor eventually launches satyagraha and
Warier is the manager
everything is magically sorted out. And Patekar, who
of the Delhi-based
has spent most of the film with his face turned away in
band Mena grizzled scowl, finally smiles.
The problem with the film is an endless majoring in the
minors. Much energy is expended in achieving an overall
cuteness the films characters are introduced in a series of slam-book pages, the intermission is titled Recess,
Kapoors skills as English and Music teacher are to be
gauged from the fact that he sings a song which turns a
bunch of furniture-decapitating young sods into blissedout groupies, and some anonymous woman warbles
wordlessly on the soundtrack to signpost intense moments. Such old-fashioned things as allowing the script
to provide movement or define problems go out of the
Going solo
No one rips those
window. The films engagement with the all-round idiocy
chords like Slash
that besets education in India is thus laughably off-target.
And a bunch of possible sub-plots that might have saved
it stay still-born. All in all, a god-awful pill.








Wardrobe functions
Aishwarya Rai returns

It's not because shes quoting

a high price. Its because our
budget for the film was less
(In an attempt to explain why he has not
worked with Kareena Kapoor so far)


It may take a little while to find out what
Freida Pinto is capable of. As of now she is
sitting pretty. Shes been cast in the Woody Allen
movie You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger along with
Antonio Banderas, Anthony
Hopkins and Naomi Watts. The
Bond girl rumours have lapsed and
been replaced with Pintos desire to
have a singing career. But all that is in
the ephemeral future. We can check
her out in Julian Schnabels Miral, a
film about Palestinian women in Israel. Schnabel, of The
Diving Bell and Butterfly fame, must be excited about the
film kicking off meaningful conversations about the
Middle East in Cannes. We, of course, will be merely
focussing on Freidas red carpet appearance.



The utterly terrifying London Dreams by
Vipul Shah has not faded from our collective memories. Somewhere there is
a holocaust memorial to the hours
lost to its insanity Salman Khan,
bad music, simulated blow job et al.
But be warned swiftly coming in
your direction like Godzilla is Shah
with his next film, frighteningly
named Action Replay. Starring
Akshay Kumar and Aishwarya
Rai. Have we said enough? Dont go
yet. Theres more. Rai changes 125
costumes in the movie because her character is obsessed with clothes. On a
side-note, we want to know what happened to Ranjitha, Ashs Ravan co-star,
after her unfortunate appearance with
Swami Nityananda? Are her scenes in
the film on or not?

Ever wanted to know
what Lisa Ray eats?
This might be your
opportunity. Along with
the 102 cast and
crew members of the
Dilip Mehta film Cooking With Stella, Ray has
contributed to
a commemorative
cookbook. Mehta insists that this is not
another spices-and-my-mothers-recipes
movie. Its a social satire, he says.
Bengali author Shankars classic
Chowringhee has just been shortlisted
for a Foreign Fiction prize organised
by the British newspaper Independent. Chowringhee, a novel set in the
fictional Hotel Shahjahan, is over 50
years old. It has been popular ever
since it was first serialised in the
Bengali weekly Desh. A 2009 English
translation by Arunava Sinha led to its
rediscovery by a whole new generation
and non-Bengali readers. And now
perhaps readers abroad.
Compiled by NISHA SUSAN





What is the best thing about being a celebrity?

Lots of things. You can be inappropriately dressed

and arrive late. I take full advantage of it at
restaurants and clubs. Nobody has ever refused
me a table.
How has your definition of the ideal
relationship changed over time?

I think the major change is that I have discovered

that there is a lot more practicality involved. Its
not always romantic and ideal like we believe. For
example, the rst girl I loved, when I was 16, was
someone that I was sure was the one from the
rst time I saw her. But she completely screwed
me over and ruined my life. While with my anc,
Avantika, there were no sparks involved. But our
relationship has grown organically.
Would you judge somebody if they were
cheating on their spouse?

Yes, I would, because its wrong in my head. I live

by a very strict moral code, and dont allow room
for all this, be it for me or anyone else I know.
If you ever found out your partner had been
cheating on you for some time, how would
you react? Would you make a scene or
just cut off all contact?

I would end it right away and walk out.

I wouldnt wait to hear any explanation,
because it doesnt matter. It doesnt matter what you thought, and what you felt,
the fact is that you did it. An action is
the most relevant thing. You
have to take responsibility for
your actions.


If you found your

colleague was trying to
steal focus from you in
a movie, what would
you do?


I would be very forgiving up

to a point, but I would let it
be known that I know what is
happening. And then when it
gets to be too much, I will get
everyone concerned in a room,
and then will just urge everyone to say what they feel right
then. The issue will have to
be thrashed out in front of





that once you realise that the
parallel wires of a telephone
pole never really converge as
they appear to, your view of the
world is irrevocably and subtly
altered; like the man who realises that all that surrounds him is
maya. Visit Enlightenment where B
Kiran Kumari plays with the relationship between electric wires and street
lamps. Till May 5, at Reflection Art
Gallery and Studios, New Delhi.


miles for the sake of art and
beauty, others cannot escape
their work and their desks to
soak in the truly aesthetic experience. If you belong to the
latter category, take heart for
Velmurugan K has put his beautiful
sculptures online for you to admire
and purchase at
Catch it between May 12 to 24.


passed, but Anand from the play
Red Sparrow, finds heroes at the turn
of every page. A thrilling quest for the
mythical Red Sparrow leads Anand
through a tumultuous world of
characters, such as Hindi
writer Vinod Kumar Shukla,
Rumi, Kafka and even Kafkas
father! Written and directed by
Manav Kaul, who was intrigued
by Bukoswkis work, the play
will run at Prithvi Theatre,
Mumbai, from April 29 to 30.
Do you and your friends compete to see
who can come up with the snarkiest comment as heroines scream Bhagwan ke
liye mujhe chhor do! Sharpen your wit with
this Pakistani masala movie archive, named
after an ice-cream parlour in Islamabad
guaranteed to juice your bad movie fetish.


| COUP |

Dave Besseling
Is 31. He is a Canadian writer and
artist living in New Delhi


I didnt know what to

expect. It was my rst
time under martial law

king, said my friend, apparently placated. Dave, my king

LOVE the word junta. Even more, I am fascinated that
says it, now army rules.
during Thailands political roulette Army green,
We were ocially under martial law.
Royalist yellow, Thaksin red these last few years, Ive
Days later, I read news speculating whether King Bhuminot seen the word used once. But when the Thai army
bol had okayed the thing or not. That night, however, there
staged a coup in 2006, it was the rst word that came
was no question in my mind. I entered my room and
to my mind.
switched on the television. Gone was CNN, BBC, NHK, Al
It was an underhanded move by the Royal Thai Military stealing into Government House in Bangkok while then
Jazeera, everything. Aside from the Orwellian daze Id alprime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was away from his desk.
ready seen at the bar, the other channels were broadcasting
While Thaksin was likely informed of the coup during
grainy images of the king in his younger days dedicating
his ight to New York that night, I was in Thaksins old
hospitals, cutting ribbons, navigating a map or looking
stomping ground of Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand,
through binoculars, all set to karaoke-like singalongs; a show
when the Land of Smiles started to show a dierent kind
reel identical to the Royal propaganda lms shown to audiof teeth.
ences, standing at attention, before every movie shown in a
I was with a couple of Thai
Thai cinema.
friends in a dingy bar, sitting
I didnt know what to
A friend had gone to Bangkok that
expect. It was my rst time
at an upturned industrial
morning, for three days of hedonism. under martial law. I called my
spool used for a table. Then,
friend in Bangkok. She was
as if on cue as it had been on
It became three days of lockdown
ne, just getting ready for
9/11: a chirping chorus of
bed. When I turned o the TV, I heard helicopters circling
mobile phones. The ringtones drowned out the insects
Chiang Mai, Thailands second-largest city. When their
humming in the overgrown patch of grass outside.
Doppler whooshes passed overhead, lights on the choppers
A friend had taken the bus to Bangkok that morning, for
sent barcodes of shadow across the walls. It was anything but
three days of hedonism before a mutual friend ew out of
a restful sleep in Thaksin country.
the country. It turned out to be three days of lockdown. She
Chiang Mais old city centre is square-shaped, surrounded
was in a hotel room, under curfew, absorbing conciliatory
by a moat, and the next day, there were sentries. At Chang
messages on television, telling everyone to stay calm, things
are under control. The last time this sort of thing happened,
Puak, the old citys north gate, there were jeeps, a Gatling
there were more than a few deaths in the streets of Bangkok. gun and a few soldiers standing around with machine guns
She was nervous. Stay inside, Ill call you later.
pointed at their toes.
Behind the barman, a television hung precipitously over
A family passed me, and the mother and two children
the shelves of Sang Som, 100 Pipers and Hong Thong. It was sidled up to one of the soldiers. The father got down on one
written on the screen, in Thai abugida, that the trouble was
knee, and squished a camera to his nose. His family, hunched
conned to Bangkok. Stay calm. Things are under control.
in around the soldier, did what the Thais are most known for.
The King of Thailands emblem above the script conveyed They bore their teeth and smiled.
the authority it sought, and I was surprised to see everyone
As the days went by, military presence decreased but still
take the message at face value. This is a message from my
existed, as did my fears.





RNI. NO. - DELENG - 2004/12605, Regd. No. - DL(S)-01/3053/2010-2012

Regd. No. KA/BGGPO/2508/2010-2012

APRIL 25-MAY 1, 2010

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