Sania Mirza – A Name to Respect

Olympics 2012. India won 6 medals. Some, including myself, are happy over what has been India’s best performance in the Games so far. Many others are not so happy, reasoning that a country of a billion deserves to do better.

Two sportspersons from Hyderabad – Saina Nehwal and Gagan Narang – won bronze medals in the Games, making this edition of the Games special to the city. When they won the medals many congratulatory messages were posted on social networking sites. Rightly so. Everyone is happy at their success and achievements.

During the same time, I also came across two specific images on social networking sites, which I felt were improper, unfitting, and disrespectful towards another respectable sportsperson from Hyderabad, who also participated in the Games but failed to win any medal – Sania Mirza. The first one had images of Saina and Sania, proclaiming Saina as a champion or something to that effect (rightly so), even while using an unpleasant term to describe Sania (not appropriate at all). The second was a comparison of two images of Sania – one in which she was dressed in a traditional attire and the second in which she was in her playing costume, with a caption that read ‘Sania in Pakistan’ and ‘Sania in India’, or something to that effect. The image seemed to suggest that she appeared traditional when visiting Pakistan, but very un-traditional while in India (as though it were an offence to be so!). I found both these images to be in bad taste.

Normally, I would brush aside these images and get on with my work. That’s what I have been doing for years. However, of late, I have been seeing a greater danger in these kinds of images and communication – a danger that goes beyond the person depicted or attached in those images. A danger that I have been sensing for some time now. Something that I think needs attention. And, that is our increasing tendency these days to get both judgmental and abusive, impatiently, without having any regard to full set of facts and circumstances that exist. We may have somehow started to believe that disagreements are a license to abuse. Can’t be so, isn’t it?

Comparisons between Sania and Saina are unavoidable – they have so many things in common. Striking similarity in name, both are based from Hyderabad, both burst in to the scene as teenage sensations, played and achieved international success in a game that hardly had a serious following among girls those days, ended up as role models and inspiration for countless young girls. But the similarities have to end somewhere. And they do. But, as much as the comparison between them seem unavoidable, it is unnecessary. They are certainly not in a race to outdo each other. Better performance from one cannot and should not undermine the performance of the other.  I think we should just enjoy and appreciate the performances and achievements of both these talented people instead of pitting one against the other.

As far as the second image goes, I must first admit that I don’t wear my traditional attire anytime other than when there is some function at home. And all the people whom I know are similar. So I don’t understand the big deal that is attempted to be made about in the image. There is no certainty when they were shot, where they were shot, what was the occasion – the list of uncertainties would be endless. Anyway, what she chooses to wear is nobody’s business but hers alone. What she wears is not offensive by any standards. One may not approve of it, but then many others may not approve of what that oneself is wearing. So, what is the purpose of all these images except trying to be disrespectful towards her? And, by the way, what else does one expect her to wear while playing the game?

Let us move aside from these silly images and focus on what she has done on the tennis court so far. For beginners, Sania’s achievements are definitely staggering, appreciable, and make her a personality to respect. Let’s take a look at some of the things she has accomplished so far:

  • She is the highest ranked female tennis player from India, ever.
  • She is the first Indian woman to be seeded in a Grand Slam (and to the best of my knowledge, maybe the only one so far – please correct me if I am wrong).
  • She got up to the 4th round of US Open in 2005.
  • She won the 2003 Wimbledon Girls Doubles title.
  • She is the first Indian to win a WTA tour title of any kind.
  • She is the only Indian woman to have won a Grand Slam. She has won 2 Grand Slam Mixed Doubles titles – 2009 Australian Open and 2012 French Open. She was also the finalist on two more occasions – 2008 Australian Open Mixed Doubles & 2011 French Open Ladies Doubles.
  • She was named the WTA newcomer of the year in 2005. Some prominent stars who were at some point of their careers named the newcomer of the year, include, Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters, Serena and Venus Williams, Martina Hingis, Jennifer Capriati, Gabriela Sabatini and more such stars.
  • She has wins over Martina Hingis [former World No. 1 and winner of five Grand Slam singles titles], Svetlana Kuznetsova [former World No. 2 and winner of two Grand Slam singles titles. Kuznetsova was the reigning US Open Champion when Sania beat her early 2005] and Dania Safina [former World No. 1] among others. What does that mean? It is like me winning some cases against Ram Jethmalani, Harish Salve and Soli Sorabjee. May be just one, but wouldn’t that be enough for most?
  • She was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2004 and Padma Shri in 2006.

Take a look at the list above. They include some which no other Indian woman has ever achieved. None from your family and mine. None by me or you. Definitely not in tennis, and most likely, not in our own fields as well. And that, undoubtedly, calls for respect. Yet some appear to be disrespectful to her and her achievements? Why? Maybe they think she didn’t achieve her full potential. Maybe they don’t approve some of her actions off the field. But that surely doesn’t call for any disrespect towards her.

It might appear to some that maybe she didn’t justify her full potential. I might be one of them. But that shouldn’t take anything away from all the good work that she has done. If there was any such failure, it would surely hurt her the most. More than all of us. And if any of her actions do not have the approval of some, let’s remember, she doesn’t need one to begin with. She doesn’t need approval from you and me for whatever she does. And, she hasn’t broken any rule or law or authority. She played by the rules and none of her achievements listed above came by way of any special treatment to her. Instead, they all came on the back of hard work and performance.

It would appear to me that Sania Mirza has, for most part of time, appeared to be, has been, and behaved like someone of her age. She didn’t attempt to exhibit maturity beyond her years. While that should be no fault, guess some mature men couldn’t accept that. Maybe they had higher expectations, but that cannot be her fault. And surely, that doesn’t warrant any disrespect towards her.

It is only when you see the effort that went behind any achievement that you will truly be able to appreciate the magnitude of that achievement. Take into consideration the cultural background that she came from, the state in which Indian Women’s tennis was at the time she came on stage (and the stage it is in even today), maybe lack of adequate coaching facilities during her formative years, and many more such factors, and you may have a glimpse of the effort that went behind all her achievements.

The purpose of this post is only to reflect upon how I think we, as a society, are often straying into a dangerous habit of getting disrespectful and abusive towards other individuals, without properly appreciating facts or giving due consideration to their situation and circumstances. The post is only an attempt to share that view through the example of Sania Mirza. I must admit that I am no big fan of her. I may not personally endorse or agree upon all that she says or does. And I may disagree with her views on more than a few things. But I do respect her. For all her achievements, for her effort and for her success. And, anything less than that might be totally inappropriate.

Categories: Society | Leave a comment

The Martyr’s Funeral

The town wore a festive look. It had never seen a funeral like this before.

Anybody who was somebody was present there. Along with everybody who aspired to become somebody. They felt happy about this funeral. After all, it gave them an opportunity to be visible. It gave them a platform to get noted. It gave them a chance to speak before a crowd.

They came there wanting to be seen with the martyr. And the crowds came there wanting to see them.

Externally, they all put up a somber appearance. Striving seriously to look grim. To appear shocked and saddened. Sorrowful and pained. Even while being careful not to expose how they really felt. When, in fact, they all knew how each other felt.

Amidst the gathering were also a few people to whom he was dear. People with whom he had shared his joys and sorrows. His aspirations and insecurities. People with whom he had played games. People who had seen him grow up. People who had seen him falter. People who had seen him commit mistakes. People who knew him even when he was just a common man. People who knew him even long before he became a martyr.

And those people close to him, listened to speeches about him by those who hardly knew him. Everyone spoke the right words. Picked the right adjectives. Made the right noises. Stout netas spoke about sacrifice. Corrupt souls preached selfless service. Idiots discoursed emotionally, even as intellects grieved in silence. Who said what and who meant what? Hardly mattered to anyone.

Somewhere in the gathering, also stood the grieving father. He had wanted many things for his son. He had wanted him to be successful. To become respectable. To get married. To become a father. Instead, his son had become a martyr. Something that he never sought for him. But that is how destiny blessed both of them.

The ground was packed, but he felt lonely and weak. It was his son’s funeral, but he felt alien. He wasn’t even allowed to cry. ‘Don’t’, advised those around him. ‘One shouldn’t grieve for martyrs’, he was informed. He was mature. He controlled himself. And the people around him took credit for that too.

He was sad. That was for everyone to see. But unseen to others, he was also uncertain and angry. He had his own doubts. Was his son really a martyr? Martyr is someone who dies for a cause. Victim is someone who gets killed in vain. He was not sure in pursuit of what noble ideals did his loving son return home dead. Instead, he appeared to have paid the penalty for other’s lapses. His life was sacrificed in quest of glory for few others. His dreams were traded in pursuit of the dreams of few others. Few influential others.

And he could do nothing about it.

He was numb. Pained by the loss of his son. Pained that others were oblivious of his loss. Pained of the deceit and drama. And he froze.

And the unaware crowd appreciated that, too. The father had accepted his son’s martyrdom, they declared.

And the spectacle continued.

Categories: Society | Leave a comment

Sachin and his ‘Bidai’

If you are an Indian, irrespective of whether you follow cricket or not (non-followers would anyway be in a miniscule minority), you know Sachin Tendulkar.  And like all other Indians, and cricket followers all over the world, you would have, for most part of his glorious cricketing career, been in awe of this amazing gentleman. He is one rare combination of extraordinary talent and remarkable humility. Soft-spoken. Professional. Unassuming in personality, imposing in stature. The world is at his feet, yet his feet are firmly grounded. It would appear that God created him to demonstrate something to humanity. If only we are observing.

While he continues to travel on his chosen path, still attracting huge crowds wherever he plays, discussions on his retirement plans have now started appearing at every medium. Questions are now being asked about his role and future in the Indian team. What started as a murmur has now become a noise.  So, should be retire now? Why? Why not?

At the outset, I must admit that my achievements in my field of endeavor would be less than 1% of what Sachin has achieved in his field. While Sachin has been an inspiration, admirable and positive influence on countless kids and adults alike, I am hardly such a person even within my close circle of loved ones. And, I am, only like most other people. Yet, I venture to suggest to Sachin that it is time he hung up his boots. He must retire now. I say this out of affection and concern, not disrespect. And I say this fondly to the 16-year-old who debuted for India with starry eyes.

To many, Sachin has never been an ordinary player. He has been a great one. A legend. And he has set up the mark so high for himself that today even he may be finding it difficult for him to match. So what should he do? Arguably, he may still be better than most ordinary cricketers. So, does he stoop to the level of mortals to compete with them? Please, NO! Let not the lion become a dog for the sake of a bone. Leave us with just the memories of how you ruled on field, not of how you struggled to progress from 96 to 100.

I believe that anyone who has in mind the best interest of Sachin, should venture to suggest him to retire now. His body, enthusiasm, commitment, and all the positive virtues that he has, may allow him to play, at the most, a couple of years more in the international circuit, and may be fetch India a few more wins, and personally to him a few more centuries and laurels. But they will all come at a very heavy cost. He has gifted us with countless memories. But his greatest gift to us has been this image of a committed professional who performed for the team’s cause. A professional who battled to triumph, not a professional who struggled to survive. He runs the risk of having to pay for this extended run with his stature, standing, reputation, and goodwill.

Sachin, on field today, resembles a shadow of his past. Don’t read a lot into the scores – whether he is making them or not; whether they are favourable to him or not. I do not attach a great deal of reverence to statistics. Not because they don’t help, but they can be easily manipulated. Anyone can be pleased. You just have to pick the right numbers.

Ever since he first made début as a teenager, Sachin Tendulkar has come across as someone who put the interests of the team above himself. What is in the best interest of the team today? That is a question that he has to answer himself honestly. And he will be judged by his answer, as much as by the amount of runs he has scored.

Retirement is not the end of the world. We would like to see Sachin often, in one form or the other. And we will see him of course. But however we see him, we like to see him as someone who excels. Never as someone who struggles. He is not like us. Let him not become like us.

Agreed I haven’t played cricket even at school level. Agreed that I cheered for him till not so long ago. While I can’t cook, I complain if the food served to me in a restaurant is stale. I love Madhuri Dixit and her smile. Yet, should a movie be made today, I would not prefer her to be the college-going heroine opposite Ranbir Kapoor.

Majestic voyage, it has been. But the ship is running aground now. And the sooner the captain acts, the better it would be.

Finally, Sachin, at this point of time, reminds me of an Indian bride at her ‘Bidai’, shortly after her wedding. Surrounded by loved ones in tears. Loved ones who are pained at the thought that she has to leave, even while realizing within themselves that she has to leave. Loved ones hoping to make the most of the few moments left. Loved ones hoping that time would stand still and the bidai would freeze in time.

However, that doesn’t happen. The bride must leave. She must set up her own household. We must allow her to leave. And advise her to leave. And fulfill her destiny. Before the Groom loses patience and heads home alone.

Categories: Society | 4 Comments


Steve Jobs is no more.

It is natural for the World to pay homage whenever a prominent personality dies. In the case of many leaders, the tributes are mainly customary. Speech writers often scramble to identify characteristics that could be attributed to the departed soul, to make the homage appear realistic. At times they succeed, but often times soulless words get uttered and printed – words, which both the speaker and the reader know, make no meaning, have no impact, and establish no connection.

A select few personalities are, however, different. Their death generates spontaneous outpouring of grief, sense of loss, and emotions ranging from disappointment, to sorrow, and to pain. And Steve was never one in the crowd, to say the least. He was always among a select few. More than that, he was often unique.

Steve Jobs had so many positive qualities, inspiring traits, and admirable characteristics, that it would be a herculean task for an amateur like me to capture even a fraction of them. At the risk of sounding to be just another guy jumping on to the bandwagon of people expressing their homage to Steve, I venture to share my feelings about him, and a few characteristics of his that I admired the most.

First of all, he seemed to be blessed with an amazing sense of clarity in respect of what he wanted, an amazing clarity of thought. It seemed like he exactly knew what he wanted. Knowing what you really want is a trait not everyone is blessed with.

Secondly, his communication abilities were remarkable. He was a born presenter, communicating clear and simple. He got to the point quickly, and made them precisely, without leaving any room for misunderstanding. His ‘Stay Hungry Stay Foolish’ speech is one of the most inspirational and wise speeches of all time. I really wish that it is made part of curriculum at some level in high school.

Thirdly, it appeared that to him, everything was personal. Mostly, that is a limitation, but he gloriously displayed how that could be an asset. May be, that was one huge difference between him and the other boy genius of his times, Bill Gates. Jobs is credited to be behind every single, minute detail behind Apple products. Every face-off and competition he had in the commercial world, from Microsoft to Dell, he made it all personal. Even towards the end when reports started coming out about Google’s plans to come up with mobile handsets, he is famously reported to remarking ‘but we didn’t get into the search business.’

Fourthly, he made the world a better place – few could argue against that. In a world where speculators pass of as visionaries, he was a true visionary. He made bold moves, justified them when questioned, and they finally emerged as he predicted. He satisfied demands (at times after creating them), and fulfilled expectations. He raised the bar – be it while demanding from his team, or while delivering to his customers.

I must confess that I am not half as much a fan of Apple, as I am Steve. But for an iPod gifted to me by my brother, I have never used an Apple product. And pricing of Apple products, undeniably, had a major say in this. Even as a child, I was identified as ‘stingy’. As I grew up, I realized that as much as I got my priorities wrong at times, the world too, mixed my desire to evaluate ‘value for money’ with stinginess. And I, somehow, found the other mp3 players that come at a fraction of the cost of an iPod, to be serving my purpose. Similarly, I am not too inclined to spend money on an iPhone, when comparable utilities are available at lesser cost. And my views on the iPad are getting aligned in the same direction.

However, that does not mean I don’t respect or like Apple products. Apple products were always a statement. And they meant QUALITY – always! Seldom, did their products fail. No doubt, they appeared to be steeply priced, but regular Apple customers always trusted that Apple knew exactly what they wanted. They were seldom disappointed. And, in fact, Apple often delivered to them experiences that even they never imagined of.

Finally, I must also admit that as much as I admire him for all his abilities, talents and his achievements, I, by no means, can claim to have implemented any of the lessons that he shared with the world. True homage is reflected more in actions than words. And by that yardstick, I would be a miserable failure. That however should not take away any of my right to be in awe of this man. As a member of the human race, I am entitled to that much indulgence – to be in awe of an extraordinary genius and an inspirational personality.

Categories: Society | 2 Comments

Patriotism, My Son

Dear Son,

Today is August 15. Indian Independence Day.

This year, being 4 years old, you started participating in the Independence Day celebrations for the first time in your life. Naturally, you were very excited. You went to your school with a flag stapled to your shirt, and waiving the Tricolour. You wished a ‘Happy Independence Day’ to everyone you saw.

You were happy. You were enjoying. And I was happy to see you happy.

Like you, I sent greetings to all my friends too. However, I wonder if our motives were similar. It seems to me that while you were wishing everyone with a sense of joy, I was wishing more as part of custom and tradition.

Witnessing your innocent celebrations, I feel like admitting something today. I am not a patriot. If you question me after you grow up, I may deny this. My ego, maybe thoughts like what you will think of me, etc. may prevent me from admitting this. But the fact is I am not a patriot. I want to confess. I want you to know this, when you are ready. So that you would never ask me that question.

True, I celebrate when the Indian Cricket team wins. I feel bad when they lose. I am happy seeing Indian sportsmen excel. I am happy when Tata acquires Corus, when Obama says Namaste. When Russia falls in love with Raj Kapoor, when Japan honors Rajinikanth. When Tagore wins the Noble, when Rahman wins the Oscars. On many more such occasions, I proudly claim to be an Indian. I also voice my opinion against corruption. I vote. I pay my taxes.

But don’t be misled. I do all the above only because it suits me. Only because it benefits me. Only because I get something from it.

Every man desires to be successful. All want to be winners. While you may not understand much today when you hear people say that success has many fathers, and failure none, you will surely appreciate its wisdom one day after you grow up. And my situation is no different.

So I celebrate when fellow Indians excel because it gives me an excuse to indulge in an illusion that I am part of a winning team. So, I rejoice upon hearing about India’s growth story, when my own growth is hardly proportional to it. While I have never seen Vishy Anand, Saina Nehwal, Vijay Mallya, Ratan Tata, Narayanmurthy, I always imagine that I am part of their winning team whenever they succeed. That I too, have contributed to their individual achievements. That I too, am an Indian just like them, and that I am entitled to rejoice in their glory.

Does that make me a patriot?

I believe patriots act in the interest of the nation. Their interests, and their nation’s interests are aligned in the same direction. They don’t harm the nation’s interest, they don’t cheat or exploit the nation for their own benefit. They stand up for their nation. When they see their nation being exploited, they raise to defend it, irrespective of who is causing such destruction – outsiders, fellow citizens, even loved ones.

Also, a patriot must be ready to sacrifice. Centuries ago, you couldn’t claim to be a patriot unless you would be willing to sacrifice your life in the interest of the nation. Thankfully though, the same yardstick does not apply today. In fact, no one attempts to define the term any longer. It is easier to declare that one is a ‘Proud Indian’. If that is not enough, some are ‘Very Proud Indians’.

So, where does that leave me? What sacrifices can I make? You may not enjoy hearing my honest answers. And that is about as honest as I can get.

The purpose of this communication is not to be cynical or sarcastic. I am being candid with you, just letting you know of an obvious fact about me.

My confession may serve a purpose if it makes you think and makes you try to define who a real patriot is. Then, if you ever come across such a person, you won’t miss him in the crowd. Instead, you would reach out to him, embrace him and offer him at least your respects, if not your assistance.

And in the meanwhile, if you find someone not fitting into the definition of a patriot, don’t think badly of him. Just remember, your father too was just like him.



Categories: Society | Leave a comment

Apologies, My Son

Dear Son,

You are now 4 years old, old enough to know what a holiday means.

Your experience in life so far, makes you believe that a ‘Bandh’ means a holiday. You don’t think that the two could be different. Don’t worry. At 35, even I mostly fail to distinguish between them. “So, what is the difference?” you ask.

We – you and me – seem to have some close connection with bandhs. I was at Hyderabad when you were born in a town in Tamil Nadu. As I travelled to see you for the first time, I was stopped at the Andhra Pradesh – Tamil Nadu border. A bandh had been declared in Tamil Nadu on that day, in protest against a judgment of the Supreme Court. It was a state-sponsored bandh. No, not state-sponsored terrorism. We don’t do that, Pakistan does that. This is different. No, I may not be able to exactly say what the difference is. Your questions often expose my ignorance. Anyway, it was a state-sponsored bandh, so everything was shut-down. I explored a new town, waiting for the bandh to come to an end, and got to see you for the first time after what appeared an eternal delay.

Bandh, Strike, Civil Disobedience. Figuring out the etymology, researching on their origin, history, and evolution, requires skills, abilities and effort, which I am incapable of. Instead, I will try to explain them to you in a way that I can. Irrespective of whether it is right or wrong, in the way I want you to see them.

It takes two hands to clap. As you grow older, you will realize that you will need the help of other people to lead your life normally. Just like how today you need your mom to cook for you and feed you, your bus driver to take you to school, your teacher to help you with your learning, and your friends for play, so on. It doesn’t change much.

And in the process of seeking help from others, you will also be obliged to helping a few. That is the way it works – You will help some, and seek help from some.

Sometimes when you are unhappy or annoyed with someone, or feel that someone has done injustice to you, you don’t feel like helping them, irrespective of how much they may be able to help you in return. You just don’t feel like or want to cooperate with them. And you don’t. That’s what bandh is all about. You simply refuse to help others, risking both your interests and their interests, hoping that they would see how their desires cannot be fulfilled without help from you, and force them to agree to give you what you want.

You already do that with me. Remember, you refuse to speak to me when you are angry with me, refusing me the pleasure of enjoying a few happy moments playing with you? Well, that’s bandh at your level.

That is what I understood, that is what I believed. That is what I remember our elders did during the freedom struggle. Thus for a bandh to be legitimate, you must be in a position where you can help the other person, and choose not to help that person.

Today, however, it has become slightly different. It would seem that what I believe is different from what I am being told, which is again very different from what I see.

Today, bandh does not mean refusing to help or cooperate. Instead, it is more about preventing those who can help from helping. It has become decibel driven, with crowd as its strength, as opposed to conviction. It has come to mean forcible closure of schools, colleges, banks, offices, shops, establishments; and limited public transport means. It is treated as a show of strength, display of might. At times, the forcible closure is also telecast in television channels as News. Crime, if one does it, revolution, if many do it!

Government, Police and Administration, do not consider these forcible closures as a symbol of their incompetence, failure or weakness. No one considers that these constitute a failure to discharge the constitutional responsibility of protecting citizens and their interests. Well, they have their own problems, limitations, reasons and justifications. Inconvenience to a few inconsequential people can wait.

And how much I wish to tell you that surprisingly, wine shops are rarely closed during bandhs.

Anyway, I am sharing these things with you, because I feel that it is important for you to get familiarized with bandhs, as we are becoming a nation obsessed with bandhs. Price rise, corruption, farmer suicides, unhappy with court judgment, negligent doctors, hike in school fees, local player dropped from national cricket team – for anything and everything, bandh is a universal solution. A national pastime. It would therefore help, if you understood bandhs better.

As much as I wish that you get to know bandhs better, I must confess that I fail miserably in understanding them. They insultingly expose how powerless I am, how inconsequential I am. Of how I have allowed my rights, feelings and entitlements to be trampled upon. Of how I have erred, allowed myself to be belittled. Of how I have allowed myself to be treated like a pawn in a game of chess between multiple, dubious, self-serving groups playing for their selfish ends.

And it is not me alone, but my entire generation is guilty of this. We haven’t cared. We have been too busy with ourselves. We were too focused on what we were accumulating for you, that we failed to notice what we are actually passing on to you. We haven’t been wise to stand up for you. We haven’t been courageous enough to fight for you and preserve your rights. We didn’t stop to check the tumor till it was diagnosed as cancer. And now, we may be terminally ill. Worse, I am afraid, we may never be able to do it for you and your generation. They remind me about how I and my generation are failing you.

While I try to come to terms with this reality, hoping to explore what we can salvage for you, at this moment, I have nothing to offer to you, except my apologies. So, forgive us, my son. Our lapses were both out of ignorance, and lack of desire and will.


– vijven

Categories: Society | 1 Comment

Elections 2011 – Campaign Awards

The Tamil Nadu 2011 Election process [EL11] is close to completion. Polling concluded. Counting remains. Results awaited. The campaigning itself was loud, full of gimmicks and posturing, mostly personal and at times cheap, dominated by film personalities, and was devoid of any meaningful effort from any party [apart from may be the Lok Satta] to educate, analyze, and discuss their policies and proposals with the common man. Mudslinging became the sole duty of speakers. Unlawful money distribution was probably the most discussed aspect of this edition of the election campaign. It always existed, only this time it received some spot-light. This election campaign had all the ingredients that, for some years now, have become most essential in election campaigns in Tamil Nadu and across most of India.

Revisiting the concluded election campaign, I have come up with the Elections 2011 – Campaign Awards. I don’t reside in Tamil Nadu, nor have I been following much of the election news, hence the Awards are based only on the news items that I came across. I hope that I didn’t miss much.

Following are the winners of the TN Elections 2011 [EL11] Campaign Awards:

Best Performance of EL11                                    – Vadivelu

Worst Performance of EL11                                 – Vaiko

Best Comic Performance of EL11                         – Thangabalu-S Ve Sekar Duo

Best Performance in a Cameo                              Rajinikanth in the ‘Polling Booth

Best Performance in an Invisible Role                  – Dr. Manmohan Singh

Best Action Sequence of EL11                              – Congress-DMK Pre-Poll Seat Sharing                                                                                   Arrangement Discussions 

Best Scheme of EL11 [Popular Choice]                 – Free Laptop

Best Scheme of EL11 [Critic’s Choice]                  – None

[There were no discussions on policy and manifesto. The campaign was dominated by ‘personal’ attacks by both groups. In the absence of any discussion, agenda of all parties appeared similar. Hence a suitable winner could not be identified for this Award]

Best Original Screenplay/Script                             DMK Freebies

Best Adapted Screenplay/Script                            AIADMK Freebies

Best Director                                                        – Dr. J. Jayalalitha

[Roped in Vijayakanth, Dumped Vaiko, Kept Communists in check and has managed to still keep a door open to the Congress for any post-poll adjustments]

Dialogue of EL11                                                  – “Captain na Dhoni, Nee verum chaani”

Critic’s Choice Award                                          – Election Commission and Other Law                                                                                  Enforcement Agencies

[Their efforts in seizing nearly Rs.50 crore amidst this mad campaigning chaos is appreciable. While some opined that it may just be a fraction of what was in circulation, they deserve this Award in recognition of their contribution]

Honorary Lifetime Contribution Award                – The Voter

[Record 78% turnout. He still believes in the system!]

Consolation Prize                                                – Vaiko for his Gandhigiri Movement 

Namellaam Maaravey Mattoma? Aiyyo, Aiyyo …………………… 

Categories: Society | 3 Comments

Forest Chronicle: The Orphaned Animal

The orphaned young animal was confused.

The forest had been kind to it. All the animals in the forest allowed it to join them, be with them and play with their young ones. But it was like no other animal. It was part of all the groups, yet did not belong to any. It mingled with all, yet remained lonely. And it was confused about its identity.

The young animal set out to discover itself.

It wished it was a tiger. Then the entire forest would fear it. But it soon realized that it could hardly live in solitude. Also, it did not have any stripes.

Peacocks were admired for their beauty and dance, and so it wished it was one. But it realized that it could hardly dance.

It wished it was a cow. Then it would be revered. But it realized that it was hardly docile and also could not give milk.

It wished it was a deer, but realized that it would not like to be seen as meek.

For every animal that it wished it was, it saw some characteristic of theirs that it did not possess. And the confusion kept growing.

A wise elephant took pity on the poor animal and offered to help. The elephant admitted that the young animal was indeed unique. It could, unlike other animals, appreciate the characteristics of other animals. Only human beings are blessed with that ability. The elephant hence suggested to the young animal that it was probably a human being.

The young animal was pleased for a moment. At last it had some clue to its identity. And the young animal now wished that it was a human being. Then it would be respected and feared for its intelligence.

As the young animal continued to evaluate its identity as human being, it suddenly realized that it had a deep respect for and always adhered to the laws of nature. It never believed in violating the laws of nature for its benefit. It never believed in, nor could it ever manipulate nature to satisfy its wants. Is this characteristic in tune with being a human being? The young animal was not sure.

And so, the orphaned young animal was once again confused.

Categories: Society | 1 Comment

Revenge Of The Village

They were long waiting for this excuse. They would not let go of it.

He started as one among them. Looked like them, talked like them, thought like them and behaved like them. Somewhere along, and no one remembered exactly when, he became different. He started choosing right over easy. He stopped dancing to external noises and started listening to his inner voice. He stopped doing things that they claimed would lead to happiness.

Yet he appeared happy. He appeared content.

He seemingly threatened the foundations of their beliefs. They tried to influence him. They tried to reason with him. He seemed not to care.

Then, he made the mistake. An inconsequential mistake. A Mistake that mortals make. A mistake that hurt nobody more than himself.

The village spotted its opportunity. It was now the time to get even, to exert authority, and to proclaim victory in this undeclared tussle. Some wanted revenge, some wanted to reassure themselves of their success with his fall, and some just wanted to match others in the crowd.

Perched on the top of tree, a confused crow was watching the spectacle. Limited by nature, it could not understand the ways of the highly evolved human mind. It was still struggling with the basic questions – How could one man’s failure be another man’s victory? Is not every man’s folly a step backward for humanity?

Meanwhile, unmindful of the crow’s queries, I stood there in the crowd, playing my part and seeking that he be crucified.

Categories: Society | Leave a comment

Forest Chronicle: An Ayodhian Dilemma

A Lion, a Cheetah, and a Hyena once had a fight claiming a kill. They had their own justifications.

They sought wise counsel. They were directed to divide and share the carcass equally.

A group of lions felt it was not proper. Claiming to represent all lions, they declared that lions could never share their kill with any other animal. Groups of cheetahs and hyenas expressed similar sentiments.

The carcass and the debate attracted other hungry predators. Crocodiles, wolves, vultures, jackals, all took sides, supporting the animals that they perceived favorable to them. “Which part of the carcass would the concerned animals keep?” they questioned. “This is not fair”, they opined.

“All or nothing”, they declared. About something, that was never anything to them prior to this debate.

Soon, the entire forest joined in the debate. It was no longer a question of one carcass; it was now a matter of appropriate interpretation of the jungle law. What is the hierarchy, who is above whom, who is below whom and who is beside whom. And that justified the involvement of the entire forest. Now even elephants, zebras, donkeys, crows, camels, pigs, had an opinion on this issue.

Amidst all this, the carcass was rotting. With the entire forest engaged in debate, the animals failed to notice that the forest itself was shrinking. Humans were poaching, cutting the trees, sucking the lakes dry. Forest was giving way to mines, industries, settlements, resorts and farms.

It appeared that these issues will have to wait. The forest must first deliver the carcass to its lawful claimant.

Categories: Society | 1 Comment

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: