November 2006

Victory DanceRemember this name. MARY KOM.

Mary Kom achieved a hat-trick as hosts India grabbed four victories to claim team honours in the fourth world women’s boxing championships on Thursday.

The diminutive 25-year-old scored a clear points victory over Romanian Steluta Duta in the 46 kg, the lowest weight category of the 13 title bouts.

Her compatriots Sarita Devi (52 kg), Ralte Jenny (63 kg) and Kozhummel Lekha (75 kg) also won, helping the hosts to tally 34 points and finish ahead of Russia by six points.


Sanjay DuttOne of the few things I picked up at Sunday school at Church was, ‘Every Saint has a past and every sinner has a future.’

While some might argue that Sanjay Dutt aka Munnabhai has been let off by the courts, I think the verdict was just.

Sanjay Dutt is no OJ Simpson. He was caught red handed with the arms he bought from a terrorist. That seems to be the only wrong he has done. He spent 16 months in jail for causing much heartburn for his family.

Sanjay Dutt told TADA Judge P D Kode that the burden of his family had fallen on his shoulders after the death of his father late Sunil Dutt 18 months ago. “I have a young daughter aged 18 studying in New York and I am supporting her as her grandparents are old. Her future depends on me,” he said. Sanjay said his father had started a cancer foundation 23 years ago after the demise of his mother, actress Nargis Dutt, and now he had taken up the work.

The foundation is based in USA and Canada and it purchases equipment and sends them to India to help cancer patients who cannot afford the treatment. “I personally raised funds for the Prime Minister’s relief fund for Tsunami. I love the country and the people of the country. Please show mercy and leniency on me,” Sanjay told the judge.

Admitting he was slightly nervous, he told the court that he was in custody for 16 months prior to his release on bail in October 1995. “I was on bail for 11 years and there was no complaint of misuse of liberty when I traveled within the country and abroad. I abided by the conditions imposed by the court.”

Sanjay said he had no previous case pending against him.

He has learned his lesson and deserves a second chance. Doesn’t he?

In an article in the Hindu titled The scientist Pakistan chose to forget, Nirupama Subramanian writes about the Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam, and his struggles to be accepted as a muslim by the Pakistani religious and political establishment:

Dr. Salam died on November 21, 1996 in England at the age of 70. By then, he had lived abroad for many years retaining his Pakistani nationality until the very end. Before his death, he expressed a wish to be buried in Rabhwa in the Punjab province, where Pakistan’s Ahmediyya sect has its headquarters. His wish was fulfilled, but not without a bizarre twist. A magistrate, out to enforce the law, had the word “Muslim” erased from the inscription on the tombstone which said: “Abdus Salam The First Muslim Nobel Laureate.” What remained read thus: “Abdus Salam The First Nobel Laureate”(!) A comical outcome, if it were not so tragic. Later, the name of the town was changed to Chenab Nagar.

If I remember correct, there is an anecdote in The Second creation of Robert Crease and Charles Mann which tells about the kind of facilities that existed during Prof. Salam’s school days in his village: apparently, the school teacher told the children, “There is a type of energy called electrical energy; to watch it in action, you have to go to Karachi”, or, some words to that effect. To have been taught in such circumstances, and to have reached the stature that he finally achieved, Dr. Salam’s story is truly inspiring indeed!

Here is the official biography of Prof. Salam at the Nobel page:

Abdus Salam is known to be a devout Muslim, whose religion does not occupy a separate compartment of his life; it is inseparable from his work and family life. He once wrote: “The Holy Quran enjoins us to reflect on the verities of Allah’s created laws of nature; however, that our generation has been privileged to glimpse a part of His design is a bounty and a grace for which I render thanks with a humble heart.”

Here is a website that gives more information on Prof. Salam. Here is another with some more information. Finally, here is the Nobel lecture of Prof. Salam. Have fun!

If any of you had read my profile on the Mutiny, you would have noticed that one of the reasons why I’m absent from the blog at times is because I’m busy stopping Tamil Nadu from stealing Kerala’s water. That’s a joke.

Unfortunately things have taken a turn for the worse. The kind of voices we are hearing from Thrivanathapuram and Chennai is close to what sides itching for a battle would do. The one thing this entire episode is not about is water. Never has Kerala said it would not give water to Tamil Nadu. I don’t think any Malayalee would be able to sleep at night know what we are knowingly denying Tamils water.

The issue is safety. The dam is over a hundred years old. It if breaks, the lives of 3.5 million people in Kerala is at risk. The attitude shown by some in Tamil Nadu towards this concern is worrying. They have blocked roads into Kerala and asked the centre to take over the dam. Tamils have to understand, that if they play the community card and paint Malayalees as villains for short-term gains, it will have a very negative impact on our future relations.

The Mullaperiyar dam was built as a goodwill gesture, for 18 years Tamil Nadu government has not paid for the water. Kerala has continued to supply water inspite of this. The government in Chennai needs to ask itself what it would achieve by creating this kind of a situation.

For every argument raised by Tamil Nadu in support of its claims, there is counter-argument in Kerala that appears equally plausible. Yet, each time the controversy gets embroiled in extraneous issues, two things stand out: One is Kerala’s refusal to ack nowledge the genuine need of the farmers in the otherwise drought-prone regions of Tamil Nadu for the waters of the Mullaperiyar; the other is Tamil Nadu’s refusal to see that it cannot rely on or continue to expect more and more from the resources of an other State to satisfy its own requirements to the detriment of the other State. A solution perhaps lies in acknowledging the two truths, but neither government can afford the political repercussions of such a confession.

The first thing that struck me about this book is the diversity of characters in an otherwise gray landscape. The novel is set in Ghachimat, Algeria, where land is as desolate and parched as its people later become. In a place of utter hopelessness and dearth, Yasmina Khadra introduces characters in each chapter that are intertwined with this place, each living his life the same way each day. These people live everyday lives, (some) have jobs, and have loves and loves lost. Everything seems stagnant for a few chapters, but soon we discover that it takes but one event to strike a nerve, and previously benign occurences now drive them to insanity, and sometimes to do what can only be described as pure evil. In the Name of God is about a group of men who are driven to fanaticism from what starts as a simple yet clandestine Islamic movement. Even those not initially part of this movement are forced in by threats, and they succumb to the compelling wishes of their superiors to unleash wrath of their village through brute force and sheer ruthlessness. Perhaps the most chilling aspect of this novel is the utter simplicity with which it is told. Khadra structures her sentences in a very lucid fashion, excluding dramatic verbiage and telling it like it is…which turns out to be more descriptive than any metaphors could accomplish. Although the events that occur are unfathomable, it’s alarming to think that radicalism can take root so effortlessly, and Khadra does a fantastic job of teasing out the radical propensities from arguably normal human beings.

Cross posted here 

The story begins with Ram Mohammed Thomas, a poor boy from the slums of Mumbai who finds himself in prison for winning the most popular tv show at the time, “kaun banega crorepati” (Who wants to be a bilionare). The authorities are puzzled as to how someone with no education and living in dire poverty could possibly answered all 13 trivia questions correctly to win the highest sum ever paid out in a game show. Ram Mohammed Thomas is represented in court by an attorney, whom he tells the story of his life and how some aspect of his upbringing, travels, and misfortune allowed him to gather the answers to each of these questions. He tells the story of his years trying to deduce how he acquired his name, a rogue who disables children them to make them effective beggars, and his years at the taj mahal as a tour guide.

The story was engaging, but I was pretty incredulous because I couldn’t believe that someone could have gone through all of that at such a young age and come full circle by the end of the book. What is more surprising is the relative light-heartedness with which Swarup tells the story of Thomas’ unfortunate, sometimes utterly depressing adventures. There’s no subtlety, no allusions, no chance for too much suspense – the problems are often presented and resolved in a span of a few pages. In addition, this book lacks sophisticated prose, and the reader is rarely given a chance to absorb the magnitude of what has just happened because Swarup quickly moves on to the next installment of the story. Don’t read this if you’re looking for a completely believable story or fantastic writing, but do pick it up if you’re looking for some entertainment.

Ram Guha writes in the Hindu about the legacy of Golwalker and his failed project; he is also optimistic that the project may never succeed:

For, Golwalkar was a guru of hate, whose life’s malevolent work was — as Jawaharlal Nehru so memorably put it — to make India into a “Hindu Pakistan”. That project has not succeeded yet, and may it never succeed either.

An article worth a look!

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