Monday, October 7, 2019

The art of writing a ridiculous piece in 'The Hindu'- Making allegations and not conveying anything

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference:

I got very concerned after seeing the op-ed article in The Hindu on October 3rd, 2019. Concerned not for the country, but for the employees at The Hindu’s op-ed desk. Concerned because they seem to have yet not recovered from the shock of the 2019 verdict. On Day 1 after the verdict, they wrote an editorial and an op-ed article deriding the choice of the people of India. Such immediate reactions were understandable given the massive shock they received. But to continue to reel under the shock for more than 100 days is something that should concern all of us. Because what else can explain this ghastly headline and article on October 3rd, 2019?
Instead of decoding an imaginary “corporate-Hindutva alliance”, The Hindu should have spent time decoding why they are not able to recover yet from the verdict of the people of India. But for now, let’s try to decode what they are trying to decode – a “corporate-Hindutva alliance”. Boy, what a term really!
The article opens with a mysterious line – “Hindutva “nationalism” unlike anti-colonial nationalism does not comprehend economics.” Mysterious because I am unable to comprehend if he is deriding the voter or deriding the government! If he is deriding the government, then it is again a mystery as to how a government that cannot “comprehend economics” delivered an average 7% growth for five years continuously. I, for one, cannot comprehend the over excitement of analysts when growth is done for a quarter or two. If he is deriding the voter, then this arrogance is not surprising at all anymore.
But for the author, this isn’t mysterious. He tells us that “The reason is simple.” And goes on to explain in a laborious paragraph that because British shipped away profits to foreign shores, we cannot equate them to the Mughals! “Hindutva obliterates this basic distinction, putting the Mughals and the British on a par, because it does not comprehend economics.” Again – just in case you forgot from the first line, we are reminded yet again that “Hindutva does not comprehend economics”.
The author throws in in complicated terminologies like “corporate-financial oligarchy” as the basis of “the formation of the corporate-Hindutva alliance which currently rules the country”. And before we lose track in this maze of complicated words, we are quickly reminded of the “blunders” of demonetization and GST! I don’t understand this – demonetization was done in 2016 – how on earth can it impact the economy in 2019? The impact it had was done and dusted in early 2017 itself. But the “eminent journalists” are still desperately trying to impose their ridiculous comparison on us – this kind of brainwashing would have perhaps worked in days when Social Media was absent, but not today, not now!
We are then told about Balakot strikes and how farmers voted for Modi because of the Balakot strikes! The author is actually telling us that the farmers of India did not like Modi and yet were foolish enough to vote for Modi because of Balakot strikes! And this in an article titled “corporate-Hindutva alliance”!
At this point of time, the author realised that he hasn’t yet spoken about the “corporate” in “corporate-Hindutva alliance”. So he directly brings in, surprise surprise (not!), the INR 1.45 lakh crore recent corporate tax reductions! Hailed widely as a move that will revive the economy, the author has a whole different take on this move – that it will have a “negative effect on the level of activity in the economy, and hence on employment and output, though obvious, is scarcely articulated.” This is perhaps the first time one is hearing that a tax concessions will have a negative effect on level of activity!
We are then treated for more complicated terms like “neo-liberal capitalism”, “demand-contracting effects”, “globalized finance capital”, “ceteris paribus” before moving to the all time favorite topic of eminent journalists – intolerance! It is because the government succeeded “in keeping alive the Hindutva hyper-nationalist discourse”, that the economy is in a crisis it seems. Not happy with just intolerance, the author throws in NRC, Citizenship amendment bill, the alleged “one country, one language” controversy that are, surprise surprise (not!) a “threat to our very existence as a secular and democratic society and polity”. Isn’t it time that these folks atleast stop being so lamely predictable?
We are finally told that the current “pro-corporate and anti-working-people economic policies would mire the economy deeper in crisis”. I know that I cannot “comprehend economics” but how is a pro-corporate policy an anti-working-people one? Corporates are made up of working people, not imaginary souls from a far-off planet!
In my humble Hindutva opinion, this article should be included in the syllabus of Journalism schools. Because this is the best example of how to write an article without trying to convey anything worthwhile!

The Grateful to Gurus Initiative and the unique story of the Chilkuru Balaji ('Visa Balaji')Temple

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference:

If you are from the telugu states, you would have definitely heard of the “Visa Balaji” temple. The temple is located in a village called Chilkuru, close to Hyderabad. It got the name “Visa Balaji” because of the belief that if you visit this temple then your US Visa dream will be fulfilled!
Yesterday (Sept 29th), I came to know that the chief archaka of this temple, Sri C.S.Rangarajan, not only holds a degree in Bio Medical Engineering (Osmania University, 1988), but also has several Biomedical engineering patents to his name! Following an inward calling, Sri Rangarajan quit a very lucrative job and became a full-time archaka at his ancestral temple at the young age of 35 years, to serve the temple and its devotees!
Devotees visiting the temple would have observed that there is no Hundi in this temple; and that there are no special lines, pujas, and privileges for VIPs. However, devotees would have definitely not known that Sri C.S.Rangarajan and his family won a 20 year long legal battle with the government, to stop it from taking control of the temple.
Yesterday, we also came to know that in 2018 Sri Rangarajan re-enacted the 2700 year-old ritual of 'muni vaahana seva', wherein he carried a 25 year old Dalit devotee on his shoulders into the temple premises to commemorate Bhagwad Ramanujacharya's 1000th Birth Anniversary! It took me a while to digest this wealth of information! All along we only heard about the “Visa Balaji” temple but never knew about how multi-faceted the chief archaka of this temple is.
Yesterday, my learning didn’t stop at knowing about Sri Rangarajan only. At the #Grateful2Guru program, I had the wonderful opportunity to know about 24 such gurus who have displayed unparalleled commitment to their dharma and to the society. #Grateful2Guru is yet another innovative concept developed by the Indic Academy, through which, this year they have honoured 108 outstanding gurus across India. Yesterday’s event at Hyderabad honoured 24 such gurus.
We also learnt about Dr. Korada Subramanyam who has 8 M.Phils and 1 Ph.D to his credit, across subjects that spread from Paniniyan Grammar to Occidental theories of languages to Vedangas! We learnt about that in addition to the lifelong dedication to music, Sri Mohan Hemmadi had also conducted various programs to raise funds for Indian Army during the 1962 war. We learnt about how Sri Dorbala Prabhakara Sarma continues to conduct free Learn Sanskrit in 10 days classes, whilst being an extraordinary achiever in Sanskrit Astavadhanams and Satavadhanams. We learnt about Dr. Deekonda Narsing Rao who has so far hosted more than 600 videos on Youtube on Sanskrit learning.
We learnt about how former DGP of AP, Sri Arvind Rao, post retirement, went on to learn, write and become a valued teacher of Vedic and Sanskrit studies. We learnt about how Dr. K. Seshu Lata Vishwanath went about travelling to every nook and corner of the telugu states to render and popularize the composition of her guru Sri Nedunuri Krishnamurthy. We learnt about Dr. P Geervani who is an eminent researcher in Food Science and Tehcnology. We learnt about Sri K.V.Ramakrishnamacharyulu who is a pioneer in computational linguistics.
And of course we learnt about many other gurus who have spent their entire lifetime towards various dharmic fields (some of them even retired as principals of colleges and vidya peeths). With due respect to all of them (am appending the entire list of those who were honoured, to this article), my intention of mentioning a few was only to highlight the variety of topics in which various gurus have contributed immensely.
Amidst all this, there is one thing that has left a lasting impression on my mind. And that was the child-like enthusiasm of many of the gurus while the citations for the other gurus were being read out. These gurus, accomplished beyond belief, were very expressive in their appreciation of their fellow accomplishers. It was really a sight to watch them being unabashed in their admiration, even intercepting the citations. It is perhaps because of this humbleness that they have reached where they have.
This program was presided by Sri Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji who very aptly described that many gurus are unsung heroes because a diamond never has to market itself. Just like a diamond brings value to those who adorn it, these gurus have bought value to out lives through their lifelong commitment to their passion. There was no one in the audience who could have disagreed with this.
No mention of this program is complete without referring to the short yet powerful speech by the founder of Indic Academy, Shri Harikiran Vadlamani. His awesome outlining of the vision of Indic Academy was referred to by both Sri Aravinda Rao garu and Sri Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji too.
What these gurus have accomplished in such trying and difficult conditions is very difficult to fathom. To many of us in the audience, this was indeed one of a kind of felicitation program that has enriched our knowledge. It was indeed inspiring to witness so many gurus who have spent a lifetime on a cause and the subject they dearly believe in, often facing hardships all along their path.  #Grateful2Gurus is indeed a pioneering initiative that will bring into limelight many more gurus in the coming years.
The list of gurus we were grateful to are as follows:
  1. Sri Bhagavathula Anjaneya Sarma
  2. Sri Burugadda Narasimhacharyulu
  3. Sri C. S. Rangarajan
  4. Sri Chalamacherla Venkata Seshacharyulu
  5. Brahmasri Chirravuri Sreerama Sarma
  6. Dr. D. Narasing Rao
  7. Sri Daruri Raghavachary
  8. Brahmasri Dorbala Prabhakara Sarma
  9. Dr. K. Aravinda Rao
  10. Smt. Dr. K. Seshu Latha Viswanath
  11. Sri K. V. Krishnamurthy
  12. Sri Kandadai Ramanujacharyulu
  13. Sriman Kandala Venkata Ramakrishnamacharyulu
  14. Dr. Korada Subrahmanyam
  15. Dr. Medasani Mohan
  16. Sri Mohan G. Hemmadi
  17. Dr. N. C. Tiruvengalacharuyulu
  18. Sri Narendra Kapre
  19. Dr. P. Geervani
  20. Brahmasri Pasumarthy Ramalinga Sastry
  21. Dr. Sahadeva Dasa
  22. Dr. Sripada Subrahmanyam
  23. Dr. Tripuraneni Hanuman Chowdary
  24. Brahmasri Viswanatha Gopalakrishna Sastry

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Course Correction by KCR by inducting New ministers in his Cabinet

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference:

Telangana chief minister finally expanded his cabinet on September 8th, 2019. Till today, the cabinet had 12 ministers. With today’s expansion, the limit of 18 has now been reached.
When KCR took oath as the CM for the second time in December, everyone was surprised that he inducted only one minister in the cabinet along with himself. He did not further expand his cabinet for more than 50 days! That’s right – this was a two-man cabinet for a full 50 days. Two days after the election victory in December 2018, KCR appointed his son KTR as the working President of the TRS party. When he finally expanded his cabinet in February 2019, he left out two of his best-performing ministers from KCR 1.0 – his son KTR and his nephew Harish Rao. All those warriors of "one-man show", "dictatorship", and all those who get a high even when a BJP corporator sneezes - perhaps it is time to take a look at how KCR 2.0 has been functioning.
The TRS party won 88/119 seats in the Assembly elections in December 2019. Yet, within just 3 months, they had further inducted 12 Congress MLAs into the TRS folks. This rendered the Congress party irrelevant in the Assembly. With 100/119 members belonging to TRS, there is now no recognized leader of opposition in the state Assembly. 12/18 Congress MLAs were poached by the TRS within just 2-3 months of winning the elections. If you are living outside of Telangana, there is a very slim chance of you knowing of this unnecessary poaching by the TRS party!
In KCR 1.0, we often saw and heard the ministers speak, work (or not work) and interact. KCR 2.0 removed Harish Rao. Unimaginable for many cadres even till date. This move of his to exclude his nephew, Harish Rao, from the cabinet was widely criticized across the state. People saw this as a ploy by KCR to keep control of the party and the government within just his family.
He kept out key members of KCR 1.0 from the cabinet. He kept a lot of portfolios to himself, including the finance ministry and the irrigation ministry. He presented a vote on account budget citing elections to the Lok Sabha! KCR 2.0 held long meetings with officials all by himself. He called for a two-day assembly session only to pass a new Municipal Act that ends up giving more powers to the Collectors than to the elected representatives.
The Lok Sabha results were a rude awakening to KCR. His daughter lost her Lok Sabha seat. BJP also won the Karimnagar Lok Sabha seat – the home turf of his son KTR! Despite this rude awakening, KCR continued to function with the limited cabinet members only. He went on to inaugurate the most prestigious Kaleshwaram Irrigation project. Meanwhile, the BJP started to gain in strength after the monumental decision by the Modi government on Article 370. This has worried KCR so much that he has been postponing the holding of municipal elections. The Health Minister in KCR’s cabinet, E. Rajendar made some sensational comments on how he is not a gulam to anyone and is the co-owner of the pink flag. This had created some ripples in the party. In addition to this, the state is facing a fever crisis right now. And a man-made Urea distribution problem, for which the CM had to personally step in!
Amidst all this, KCR has finally resorted to course correction today (September 8th, 2019). He has bought back his son and nephew. Not only that, he has made his popular nephew Harish Rao the Finance Minister of the state. His son gets back his old portfolios of Municipal Administration and IT. He has also inducted 2 women cabinet ministers after facing massive criticism that he never had any woman in the Telangana cabinet.
With this, KCR hopes to regain some lost ground with the cadre and the people. With no eligible opposition party in the Assembly, he will still have his way with any law that he wants to. But the difference now is that he will have a full-fledged team to implement all these decisions. Politically it is, of course, too early to comment on electoral prospects, but it is surprising how KCR has been on the backfoot ever since he won a 2/3rd majority in the Assembly elections! 

The fear factor

The following article was published in The Hindu way back in 2009. Pasting it here for reference:

Right from the black and white era, there has always been a satire in our movies in which one character will open up a newspaper and read only death related news and then sigh with exasperation. I used to always think it is an overdose and does not clearly reflect the situation in the country. How I wish I still can think the same way.

So many of us keep on protesting against such indecent and cheap methods to make one’s point, but all that protest is lost in the world of "vote bank" politics. The only people who have to listen to us refuse to do so, taking shelter in the fact they will lose elections and thereby power if they do the right thing. What is the use of power when you cannot ensure the safety of innocent civilians. What we need in people who are in power is action; not just an analysis of why the same event keeps repeating again. While dealing with the lives of people, how long can the State and Central governments blame each other and then do nothing about it. The fear factor that is gripping the country is undoubtedly detrimental in nature.

What is it that is stopping the police and the politicians from acting tough? To the common man, the solution to this problem looks woefully simple. But to the leaders, it is apparently very complicated. A sense of innovation is clearly missing in coming up with solutions. A sense of courage is clearly missing in dealing with unruly elements. And a sense of compassion is also missing in dealing with the victims. Are we really safe from the whims and fancies of leaders whose only sense of duty stems from the fact that they want power, only power and nothing else. Alas, the only thing I can do is write and protest.

A complicated relationship

The following article was published in The Hindu, way back in the year 2006. Pasting it here for reference:

DURING THE course of my +2 education, one of my teachers once told our class, "A teacher is a bridge between the textbook and the taught." It has been about 10 years since he told us that, but that sentence still reverberates in my mind. In the same year that my teacher told us that particular quote, we were also taught by a teacher who took some sort of pleasure in beating the students! We were also taught by a teacher who had a penchant to pick up not so good students and mock them in the class. We were also taught by a teacher who, at the slightest pretext, threatened the students with dire consequences in the final exams. All through my educational career since, I have come across such teachers in the majority. Teachers who enjoyed wielding their power, but did not want to own up the responsibility that goes with it. 

If the foundations of a bridge are not strong enough, then the bridge is sure to collapse. So is the case with this bridge. And the onus for making this foundation strong is more on the teacher than on the student. Unlike other relationships, a student-teacher relationship is not built on trust. It is built on the comfort levels the teacher can provide to the student. It is built on mutual admiration. The student admires the teacher for understanding his/her limitations, and the teacher respects the shortcomings of the student, and then tries to bring the best out of him/her. It is built on hope. Hope that the student will come out a better person upon completion of the course. But in today's world of competitive exams, the average and not so average students are looked down upon. 

Most of the times it so happens that the bright students of the class are given preferential treatment over the average and not so average students. If the person entrusted with the responsibility of making you a better person shirks that responsibility within a couple of weeks, imagine the kind of effect that is going to have on the psyche of the student. Here are a few examples. A bright student seldom fears to ask a doubt in the class. One of the reasons is that he/she is sure that the teacher will not call the doubt a silly one. If a similar doubt is raised by an average student, most of the times, he/she is always told what a silly doubt that is. In lab sessions, a bright student is not asked too many questions, but an average student is pounded with questions, the answers for which sometimes the teachers themselves do not know clearly (this is true...I have seen that happen). 

All students obviously do not have the same level of intellect. Nor do all of them have the same interest level. Isn't it the responsibility of the teacher to see to it that each student realises his/her true potential? The most common method to make them study is by instilling a sense of fear in them. I still fail to understand how beating a student will make him a better student!

Improve confidence levels

There are students who refuse to be taught. There are some who think being rude is confidence. I am not talking about them here. There are many students who, if provided the right guidance, can shine in their careers. Improving the confidence levels of a student can do wonders to him/her. Unfortunately, most of the time, either the student is deemed good or deemed fit for nothing. 

A teacher is the only person who is entrusted with the enormous responsibility of making an average student a good one, a good one a better one, and the better ones the very best. At each stage of their education, students, bright and dull, look up to them to learn, they look up to them for help and they look up to them to grow. Instead of realising the true greatness of their profession, most of the teachers (particularly at the +2 level) feel that instilling a sense of fear will earn them respect. 

Mr. Vajpayee was right when he said (though in a different context): a sense of respect has to be commanded, not demanded. And when respect is commanded, the student-teacher relation will blossom to its fullest.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

“He has done a lot for ISRO ” Prannoy’s defence of Pallava is almost as horrible as Pallava’s behavior

The following article was written for TFI Post. Pasting it here for reference:

Here’s a question for you. Without any context, if you read the following line – “Pallava has done more for ISRO & India’s science than all the ghastly trolls put together.” – who would you think Pallava was? An eminent scientist? An eminent scholar? An eminent teacher? Or an uncouth journalist?
My bet is that you will choose one of the first three options. But since this is the age of information, by now you are well aware that Pallava is an uncouth journalist (from NDTV) who shouted at the Director of ISRO, Mr. D.P.Karnik; called him a “junior” person; and boorishly demanded why the ISRO chairman isn’t addressing the press conference.
What marvels me though is the confidence with which high eminences of the journalistic fraternity have tried to tell us Pallava is the next best thing to happen to Indian science, and one bad day shouldn’t take away his achievements.
Executive editor of NDTV, Nidhi Razdan tells us that “Pallava Bagla is one of the finest, most experienced journalists in the field. His passion for science has been reflected in his body of work over the years.” It is to this tweet that Prannoy Roy added that “Pallava has done more for ISRO & India’s science than all the ghastly trolls put together.”.  Not to be left far behind, Shivam Vij tells us that Pallava Bagla is “India’s best and senior most space journalist
Neither of them, nor anyone from NDTV nor anyone from the WhatsApp group of “Eminent Journalists” have shared with us atleast one single link that will give us a sneak peek into the “body of work” of “one of the finest” and the “best”.
So I did what any lazy person would do – google “Pallava Bagla science articles”. This linkcame up where all of Pallava Bagla’s articles have been collated. I was looking for articles where he is the sole author. I first stumbled upon“ How ISRO Bounced Back To Launch Chandrayaan 2, An Inside Story”.  Wow – an inside story. This must have crazy technical details on how ISRO bounced back. I read this article twice. I would also earnestly request you to show to me any exclusive detail that has been sourced by Pallava Bagla. The only key point in his long piece on an “inside story” is  this –“It was a simple to fix problem that got sorted by simply tightening a component,” explains Mr Sivan without going into the fine details of the problem.” Surely, India’s finest can do much better?
Or take a look at this report on an ISRO connection for a satellite image of the Balakot camp. Is this what we expect from the “finest in the field”? I stumbled upon his report on the “unusual move of postponing Indian Science Congress of 2018”. He attributed it to fears that students of Osmania University would protest against Narendra Modi and therefore the event was moved out of the University. The reality being that Chief Minister KCR doesn’t want to step into Osmania University. The fear of protests were for the CM and not the PM. But then if you are with NDTV, then there is ofcourse only one reason for anything wrong in the country – Narendra Modi. So much for India’s “finest” and “best”.
He has an article on “ScienceMag” titled “Thorium seen as nuclear’s new frontier”. Since I have no membership, I did not have the good fortune of reading this report in detail.
In 2011, India’s PM has asked for a safety review of India’s nuclear reactors. NDTV then claimed that the Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission for a “sat down for a highly combative interview with Pallava Bagla.”. First of all, I do not understand the need to be “highly combative” with soft spoken scientists. But that’s NDTV and Pallava Bagla. Second of all, I’d urge you to read the “combative” interview, because it had earth shattering questions like this – 1. “Can you keep your hand on your heart and say Indian public need not fear Indian reactors?”  2. “People don’t inherently trust the Indian atomic energy establishment”, 3. “Most people think that the Department of Atomic Energy is secretive about what it does. It is not transparent. It does not give out data?”. Is this what we would want to ask the Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission? 2 questions related to the subject and 20 “combative” questions make you India’s “finest” and “best”?
Am currently checking out material from 2011 articles. Am yet to come across what he specifically did for Indian Science. Looking at his “body of work”, it looks like he has done what he is designated to do – report on developments in S&T. He is a science journalist, not a scientist! A journalist reporting on science doesn’t automatically assume the mantle of having contributed towards Indian Science. The arrogance of the WhatsApp group of “Eminent Journalists” is simply astounding, where they only intend to use the power of language to either spread falsehoods or praise themselves.
The boorish behavior of Pallava Bagla has left a bad taste. Pallava Bagla has subsequently apologized. Maybe the matter would have ended there, but what made it worse is him being certified as some savior of Indian Science who was just having a bad day. We don’t need a Prannoy Roy to tell us about “ghastly trolls”. He can find them aplenty in his news studios.
PS: Maybe she was feeling left behind or was simply jealous of all the attention Pallava was grabbing, The Print’s Jyoti Malhotra tells ustoday that “think I know the ISRO story better than many…”. Again, I did the lazy thing – google “Jyoti Malhotra ISRO”. And came up with zilch. Isn’t is simply astounding how journalists think that they know “better than many” on pretty much any topic and any field?

Chandrayaan 2 - How ISRO's audacious attempt will inspire crores of Indians

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference.

Frankly, I was a little wary that the Prime Minister’s speech to the ISRO scientists, the morning after we lost communication with Vikram lander, will perhaps be a rehash of some popular dialogues. And when he said “the best is yet to come”, I thought my fears were coming true. But for me everything changed when he said two things.
One was when he said when poets/writers will write about this event in the future, they might write that Chandrayaan was perhaps too eager to go hug the moon (it came out much better in Hindi when he spoke!). And the second was one he said that he is not here to give a lecture but is here to take inspiration from the scientists. And after delivering a 24-minute speech (one of his finest), the Prime Minister of India walked down the podium and shook hands with every single scientist who worked on Chadrayaan-2 project and was present at the ISRO center. Every single scientist.
Even before we all witnessed the heart-breaking moment of the ISRO Chairman being consoled affectionately by the Prime Minister of India– a momentous leadership lesson was already witnessed by many Indians. I can’t even imagine the inspiring impact this small gesture of the Prime Minister of India will have on the scientists who have put in their heart and soul into the project.
For a couple of hours, I was choking every time I was seeing the video clipping of the ISRO Chairman being consoled affectionately by the Prime Minister of India. I am sure you did too. The outpouring of such emotion is only possible when you love and respect the work you do. The outpouring of such genuine emotion is a culmination of years of toil and the sadness that we were literally so near, yet so far! We were just 2.1 kms away from the moon surface when we lost communications with the Vikram lander. And when P.T.Usha tweeted her support and mentioned 1/100th of a second in her tweet, it stuck to me that there is perhaps no one better than her to understand the true impact of being so near, yet so far.
The Principal Scientific Advisor to the government of India then put out a series of tweets that explained the full nature of the Chandrayaan mission. We were slowly getting enlightened about how nearly 95% of the mission was indeed a success, and how Chandrayaan will continue to orbit around the moon and send back precious data for us to analyze and learn more. ISRO’s pioneering of space technology and leadership lessons were bought to the fore yet again. After all, how would such momentous project be successful one after the another if not for some stupendous leadership of ISRO over the years?
Crores of Indians were awake late into the night to watch Vikram lander say hello to the moon. Lakhs of school children were discussing about space and what frontiers needed to be breached. Scores of newspapers across the country carried out multiple articles and easy-to-understand graphics so that crores of Indians are familiar with the scale of what ISRO has set out to achieve. This scale of involvement from the citizenry hasn’t happened earlier and must make us all feel proud that instead of debating useless topics we are now well equipped with enough information to discuss such informative topics.
While Pakistan was gloating that ISRO couldn’t achieve the last 5% success, leaders of various countries of the world have congratulated ISRO and expressed their support too. Atleast I don’t recollect any such thing happening earlier. This outpouring of support towards ISRO must truly warm the scientists’ hearts. We all already know that the scientists will be the first people to analyse what went wrong and how it can be corrected (if it can be). If at any moment of despair they need support, they must just look back to this day and recollect how an entire country right from the Prime Minister to a 10 year old, have stood right behind them.
As for the miniscule few who were gloating in this failure, I am taking the liberty to copy here, the response of my friend Deepak Karumunigkar.
In the next attempt, ISRO will land the rover, do a wheelie, then a little drift and leave skid marks forever, while leftist sociology honors graduates will continue to take seven attempts to find the side-stand on the Bajaj Boxer.
Jai Hind!

Friday, September 6, 2019

Here is how these 7 opinion pieces in 4 days reveal newspaper The Hindu’s legendary level of meltdown and arrogance

The following article was written for OpIndia. Pasting it here for reference.

While the vast majority of our country is rejoicing at the bold move by the Modi government on Jammu and Kashmir, the self-proclaimed liberal intellectuals have gone into a tizzy. Their OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) levels have been consistently rising. But, this week, there is someone whose OCD levels have peaked! None other than “India’s National Newspaper”, The Hindu. You think I am exaggerating? Let’s take a look at their opinion pieces, published in their print edition, in this week.
The lack of creativity is really amusing! For how many more years do they want to continue with the same “Democracy under siege” and “Idea of India” phrases? For all the talent at their disposal, can’t they really do better than repeating these boring phrases? Most articles say the same and mean the same. However, there are two articles that are quite upsetting, because they seem to assume that the reader is na├»ve and will believe anything that is written.
The first such article was published on Wednesday, August 21st: Choppy waters lie ahead. The author of this article is a former National Security Advisor of India, Shri M.K. Narayan. In the section titled “Global reactions and lessons”, he begins thus: “International opinion is unlikely — whatever gloss we may apply — to accept at face value our reasons as to why the steps taken in Kashmir were necessary.” 
I was immediately reminded of this awesome tweet of Ashok Mallik where he roasted Sadanand Dhume’s vague definition of “internationalization”. But since I was reading a piece by a former National Security Advisor, I was really expecting more depth than Sadanand Dhume. He continues by telling us that “Already, voices critical of India’s actions are beginning to be heard. China made its views clear…
Yes, China is not happy, we know that. We want to know from the former NSA who else is not happy? He enlightens us that “Most nations across the world may adopt a similar line…”. So we have a grand total of one country not happy with what we did. No other nation has adopted a “similar line” like China. If this article came in a piece of advice within a day or two of the monumental decision, then it made sense. This advice came a full three weeks after no country commented on India. And yet the former NSA found it fit to continue the fear-mongering that the alleged liberals bank on!
The fear-mongering by the former NSA doesn’t stop. Weeks after the government had emphatically clarified that there will be no impact on Articles 371, he chooses to write that “It could also induce fears across the entire Northeast, even though Article 371 still holds sway there.
To top it all, we are also told by him that “It would be an error of judgment, however, to believe that “all is well” in J&K.”. Slowly, but surely, all is getting well in Ladakh, Jammu and parts of Kashmir. Why can’t he acknowledge the areas where things are getting normal and the areas which are still problematic? He was NSA for quite some period of time – why can’t he tell us what is it that he did to resolve the problem of Kashmiris? Why, instead, resort to this fear-mongering?
The second such article was also published on Wednesday, August 21st: Recognising fair criticism.
The Lancet is a reputed medical journal. They, however, chose to comment on India’s decision to remove Article 370 from J&K. This invited a rebuke from many in India and also the Indian Medical Association. And this rebuke hurt these self-proclaimed intellectuals, so much that R. Prasad wrote in The Hindu– “The editorial is not an “act of commission” by The Lancet, as the IMA calls it, but what the journal considers as its beholden duty to speak up for people in health distress.
The Lancet editorial has only one mention of a “formidable health crisis”. This is based on a study done in two districts of J&K which concluded that “that nearly half of Kashmiris rarely felt safe and of those who had lost a family member to violence, one in five had witnessed the death firsthand. Therefore, it is unsurprising that people in the region have increased anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.”
There needed no study to be done to understand that Kashmiris live in fear because of the terrorism infested violence. There needed no magazine to tell us that people living in conflict areas suffer from anxiety. And there is only one way to solve this problem – end the violence! And that is precisely what India is aiming to do now. The Modi government is reaching out to Kashmiris to put an end to all their woes, “health distress” included. The Lancet finds this move “controversial” is even more surprising.
What’s even more surprising is that R. Prasad repeatedly comes to The Lancet’s defence on grounds that Lancet focused on health! Sample another line from his article – “But the central focus has always been on health, and the editorial on J&K is no different.” Slow claps for the ingenuity, (over)confidence and the staggering boldness of the author when he emphatically declares that the editorial on J&K is about health. Does the author, R.Prasad, really think that people today will not have access to Lancet’s editorial; will read it and understand how the focus is anything but health?
Then we have an article on “State breaking is not nation-making”. This, after repeated assurances by the government that while Ladakh will continue to be a UT (a long-pending people’s demand that was finally met), full state status will be restored to J&K at the earliest possible opportunity. Yet this ilk continues to perpetuate the same old argument, only to spread fear and rumours.
The icing on the cake though is the following conclusion by The Hindu’s readers editor in his Monday’s article – “A cursory reading of the responses to critical voices in the comment section of this newspaper proves that there is an explosion of ignorance.” In my opinion, no one can beat The Hindu in their legendary arrogance. They will continue to display this in abundance in the days to come

Arun Jaitely and Sushma Swaraj leave behind a huge void and an incredible legacy

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference:

In the pre-2009 election days, I was the typical “liberal” often swayed by what the likes of Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai said on television. Though swayed by them, I never could get myself to even remotely think of supporting either the Congress party or the Left parties. The 2009 defeat was sadder than the 2004 one, because I firmly believed it was a very good opportunity lost.
Those were also early days of blogging, and immediately after the 2009 election loss, I wrote a blog titled “The next Vajpayee for BJP”. I voted for Sushma Swaraj. And while doing so, I had also written then why I thought the others won’t fit into that role. Writing about Arun Jaitley, I had this to say – “but his recent behaviour during 2009 polls doesn’t inspire any confidenceabout his performance at the national level. His choice for the post of Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha did raise a few eye brows (justifiably so)
Today, I have no idea what instances I was referring to when I made such conclusions! Maybe I was swayed too much by what I saw on TV; maybe I didn’t hear enough of him, to understand Arun Jaitley better; but today when I look back and read those lines, I am so glad that I was proved totally wrong. Like a slap on the face. But I am really glad that the slap has awakened me!
While the role of Vajpayee-Advani duo is now being taken care of by the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo; we should never forget that for a brief yet very critical time for BJP, it was the Sushma Swaraj-Arun Jaitley duo who have essayed those roles for the party. Their exemplary performance as the leaders of opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha respectively from 2009 to 2014, must be treated as training material for all generations to come. The heft they bought to the role; the dignity with which they conducted the role; the alertness they exhibited in opposing the government’s machinations; the support they extended to UPA in many matters of national importance; the role they played during the turmoil filled days of “Anti-corruption”; and most importantly the way they used their oratorial skills to put forth many complex arguments simply wowed many people like me. Especially Arun Jaitley.
I still remember the 2011 discussion on the impeachment of Kolkata High Court Judge, Soumitra Sen. I was amazed at the mastery he exhibited while making the case against the HC Judge. I was then imagining how his arguments in court would have been. And then have strived to follow almost all of his speeches in Rajya Sabha ever since, often wondering how is it possible for someone to speak like that!
Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley held the BJP baton from 2009 to 2014. We can never forget their role during those testing times. They stood rock like behind the party’s decision to appoint Narendra Modi as the Prime Ministerial candidate. Infact, Arun Jaitley is often credited with getting the then party leadership around to the idea that Modi is the next leader of the party.
2014 to 2019 also surprised many of us. Because most of us only saw opposition leaders Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj. When they were ministers in the Vajpayee government, we were young. We didn’t have media that discussed the work of ministers then. We, ofcourse, didn’t have social media. And now when we look back to 2014 to 2019, can you just imagine a government without them?
Sushma Swaraj’s people connect in a ministry like the External Affairs was something no one even imagined could happen. How she simplified this ministry so that the common citizen has been benefitted, has been written about in great detail.
Arun Jaitley was a different league altogether. Imagine this – in a country of such diverse political parties, Arun Jaitley presided over bringing in the revolutionary GST after getting the go-ahead from every single state government of India. Every single one of them. He then went on to chair 33 meetings of the GST council. All 33 meetings were day long meetings. Decisions and resolutions of all 33 meetings were unanimous. 2014 to 2019 had perhaps the most vicious opposition parties we ever had. In that context (or in any context), I am not able to find the right words to describe the magnitude of this achievement – achieving unanimity in times of such extreme enmity, could have been achieved only by a Arun Jaitley.
To me, 2009 to 2019 was the culmination of an exemplary buildup of careers by Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley. Just in these 10 years, there are way too many achievements to be listed here or discussed about. We not only saw what they were capable of, but we also got to see and hear the many humane stories about them. We got to see how closely knit the top brass of the BJP was.
I had the opportunity to hear Arun Jaitley from close quarters, a few times in this 10 year period. The first time was in 2010, when I didn’t have an opinion either way on him. The party was down. He walked into to a room full of party enthusiasts wanting answers on what went wrong and how we can recoup. That was the first time I saw him patiently listening out to various critiques and then answering them like only he could! The last time I heard him live, was in October 2018 at the India Ideas conclave (and had written about it here). Arun Jaitley was also the first big leader who shared one of my articles on Facebook.
Unfortunately, I never got to hear Sushma Swaraj from such close quarters. But I have been benefitted immensely by the changes she bought into the foreign ministry. And thousands like me too. In the passing away of Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, we have really lost true leaders who have steadied a rocking boat during a very challenging 10-year period. I feel we are fortunate enough to have been here when they led us.

How is common sense eluding the Indian National Congress?

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference:

On August 15th, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi didn’t even bother to turn up for the flag hoisting at the Red Fort. While most of us are familiar with the petty-minded thought process of the Gandhi family, this was a total new low. It is exactly this kind of pettiness that the people of India rejected, just a few months back. How can such common sense elude the mighty Congress party?
Or let’s even take the entire drama orchestrated by P. Chidambaram yesterday before his arrest. After getting a record 28 anticipatory bails, the law finally decided that it is time he be granted no more bails. Then he goes incommunicado for a full 24 hours. Then he turns up at the AICC office and waxes eloquence about constitution, life and liberty! He then hurriedly rushes out, whilst the whole country is witness to the fact that all this drama was played out at the headquarters of the AICC. At the headquarters of the AICC! Even staunch supporters like Malini Parthasarathy were aghast at these childish dramatics. Which definitely begs the question – how can such common sense elude the mighty Congress party?
The mighty Congress was reduced to a rubble – not once, but twice. One just needs common sense and does not have to be an intellectual to understand why they were rejected so badly by the people of this country.  And so, no one was surprised when Rahul Gandhi resigned taking responsibility for the second drubbing. Everyone knew this was simply a charade. However, what followed for the next 70 days was comical beyond belief.
We were told that Rahul is insisting that his resignation be accepted. Then we were told that he is also insisting on finding a non-family member. Then we were told that Rahul will stay on. Then we were told that the CWC is meeting without Rahul Gandhi. And then we are told that Sonia Gandhi is the new President of the mighty Congress party! Articles galore have cropped up on this regressive (and comical) move, so there is no point in further harping on this.
But how could the mighty Congress party not see that the people of the country will laugh at this charade they orchestrated? How can such common sense elude the mighty Congress party?
If one were to read the English papers and follow the INC handle, one would have the impression that it is all gloom and doom in Kashmir only from the 5th of August. While I am quite active on social media, I don’t have many political discussions in real life. And even I was surprised at how many folks had approached me to express their happiness on this bold step by Prime Minister Modi. After listening to Amit Shah’s reply in the Rajya Sabha, more folks approached me telling me that they were totally unaware of how bad this article was! Some were shocked that there existed an article like this that alienated a portion of our country too. Some were shocked that many laws didn’t even apply to J&K all these years.
And then Ladakh MP, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal’s, speech went viral. The popularity was because of the new information the people of this country received. Crores of us didn’t even know the problems of the people of Ladakh and Jammu regions. We didn’t even know how they were being held hostage to the machinations of Article 370. Armed with this new information, people of the country were even more ecstatic at this bold decision of the Modi government.
And yet miraculously, the mighty Congress party has been going against this very tide, right from the word GO. P. Chidambaram talks of “fatal legal flaw” without telling us what the fatality is. Adhir Ranjan Chowdary, on the floor of the Lok Sabha, questioned if J&K was even an internal matter of India! The comment was so horrific that Sonia Gandhi didn’t even need sources to tell us that she was disappointed – she conveyed it quite clearly on the floor of the house itself.
The regional media was full of praise for this move. Many political parties joined hands with the government to support this move. Many apolitical folks were congratulating the government on this move. Yet, miraculously, the mighty Congress party and the ecosystem could not see how popular this move is. How can such common sense elude the mighty Congress party?
Take a look at Rahul Gandhi’s twitter handle – he is carrying out with the same rhetoric and language that the people of this country have rejected. The responses to his twitter feed are enough to give him a reality check. Rahul Gandhi visited his new constituency for a few hours – and we had pliant media telling us how he is charting a whole new course! The author of the article also tells us that Rahul Gandhi didn’t speak on Article 370 to avoid confusion but going forward he will speak more in Parliament. How long does Congress party want to feel good on planted news like this? How can the Congress party continue to think that people of India will still buy these stories? Am still amazed at how can such common sense elude the mighty Congress party?
One can surely understand the turmoil the party is going through. A few mistakes are indeed expected. But the basic level of mistakes that are being committed, the eagerness to be on the wrong side of history and the unmatched arrogance with which they are approaching the democratic verdict of 2019 – one cannot wonder and ask – how can common sense elude the mighty Congress party?