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POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 29, 2012 AT 23:59 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 29, 2012 23:59 IST

 

US President did the usual annual stand-up comedy at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, Washington Hilton Hotel

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 29, 2012 AT 23:59 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 29, 2012 23:59 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 27, 2012 AT 23:24 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 27, 2012 23:24 IST

Who should write about India? Last week, Patrick French wrote about Writings on India in the Hindustan Times:

there is a growing antagonism towards the idea of foreigners engaging with India, a latter-day literary swadeshi predicated on the theory that Indians should be doing it for themselves, rather than listening to what outsiders have to say. It is a view that arises out of a justified sentiment, namely that for too long India had to endure books by foreigners which distorted its culture and history. But today, the denouncers of the foreign hand on the keyboard are more often than not vigilantes in search of a crime. In my experience, the people who hold this view most strongly are those who have studied at universities in Britain or North America, and in some cases still live outside India. The kind of career made by David Frost, Daljit Dhaliwal or Fareed Zakaria in the United States would be impossible in India. Although foreigners are occasionally regarded as entertaining and even interesting, they remain a curiosity. I think it’s fair to assume that when Fareed Zakaria, the Mumbai-born son of the Congress party stalwart Rafiq Zakaria, presents his weekly show on CNN, he is not greeted by catcallers asking him what right he has to discuss American politics. He does not face intellectuals in Washington DC who pose, in all seriousness, the preposterous question: Who should be allowed to write about America? Yet this is precisely the debate that recurs, time and again, in India, spurred by people who would not think of applying the same rules to themselves in an overseas context. The British journalist Edward Luce recently published a book titled Time To Start Thinking: America and the Spectre of Decline. Even those American reviewers who disagreed with his thesis did not think to question Luce’s right to write the book. As Francis Fukuyama wrote about him: “In a tradition stretching back to de Tocqueville, sympathetic foreigners are often the keenest observers of American life.”...

India’s writing elite is fundamentally pro-establishment, and dislikes the way the nation has changed. Global power is shifting. It is a different world now, one in which many writers of Indian origin make a living abroad, and the richest person in England is Indian. Contrary to what we are fed, Indian voices are not stifled, but vociferously heard. Literature should not be constrained by parochial rules of engagement, self-censorship or the pious, self-affirming orthodoxies of social media. Creativity should not be stifled by finger-wagging. Let the “Who should write about India?” question be consigned to the dustbin of history. Let Xuanzang go free, to write the books he wants. Let India accept the rest of the world, as the rest of the world accepts India.

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 27, 2012 AT 23:24 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 27, 2012 23:24 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 26, 2012 AT 20:52 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 26, 2012 20:52 IST

Tongues had been wagging since morning when Sachin Tendulkar and his wife, Anjali called upon the Congress president Sonia Gandhi, in the company of the BCCI vice president Rajeev Shukla.

And then came the news the union home ministry had recommended that Sachin Tendulkar be nominated to the Rajya Sabha, along with yesteryears' filmstar Rekha and industrialist Anu Aga.

It is not clear yet whether Sachin Tendulkar has accepted the nomination in the absence of any statement from the cricketer — there is nary a tweet from him —but the fact that the president has approved the nominations seems to indicate that the move has his assent, the first time we are likely to see an active player in the Rajya Sabha as a nominated —or elected — member.

Is this a desperate gambit from the beleaguered Congress?  Is this just an ephemeral distraction? Should an active sportsperson be nominated? Does he deserve it? Should he accept it? Were there no other deserving candidates? Would the acceptance indicate an imminent retirement? Out of 50 sports associations, some 49 are run by politicians as the head-honchos, and will the presence of an active sportsperson help the cause of sports in the country? Would he make a good Rajya Sabha MP? Is this just a precursor to his joining active politics? 

Incidentally, Lata Mangeshkar, who did not have anything as close to a professional life, but is no less a great in her field — and is a Bharat Ratna, noless  — did not attend the Rajya Sabha even once during her tenure as a nominated member. The record  of another great, Dilip Kumar, was no better.

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Some of the reactions on Twitter:

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 26, 2012 AT 20:52 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 26, 2012 20:52 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 25, 2012 AT 23:49 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 25, 2012 23:49 IST

April 2012 marks the 25 anniversary of the Bofors-India media revelations, which began on April 16, 1987 with revelations on Swedish state radio. Sten Lindstrom, the former head of Swedish police who led the investigations into the Bofors-India gun deal, reveals himself as the Swedish Deep Throat, and explains why he chose to turn whistleblower, to former Indian journalist Chitra Subramaniam-Duella, in an interview for the Hoot, where he goes on to say, inter alia: 

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 25, 2012 AT 23:49 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 25, 2012 23:49 IST
POSTED BY Omar Ali ON Apr 24, 2012 AT 23:59 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 25, 2012 02:59 IST

Pakistan is in the throes of an existential crisis. Pakistan has always been in the throes of an existential crisis. Pakistan’s interminable existential crisis is, in fact, getting to be a bore.  But while faraway peoples can indeed get away from this topic and on to something more interesting, Pakistanis have little choice in this matter; and it may be that neither do Indians. 

The partition of British India was different things to different people, but we can all agree on some things: it was a confused mess, it was accompanied by remarkable violence and viciousness,  and it has led to endless trouble. The Paknationalist narrative built on that foundation has Jihadized the Pakistani state, and defanging that myth is now the most critical historic task of the Pakistani bourgeoisie.

Well, OK. We don’t actually all admit any of those things, but all those are things I have written in the past. Today I hope to shed my inhibitions and go further.

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POSTED BY Omar Ali ON Apr 24, 2012 AT 23:59 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 25, 2012 02:59 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Apr 24, 2012 AT 22:46 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 24, 2012 22:46 IST

Dropbox and SkyDrive have Competition. Google has launched a new consumer service offering 5GB of storage for free, with an upgrade offered to 25GB for $2.49/month, 100GB for $4.99/month or 1TB for $49.99/month. Upgradation to a paid account would also result in the Gmail account storage expanding to 25GB.

Google announced the launch on its blog:

Today, we’re introducing Google Drive—a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff. Whether you’re working with a friend on a joint research project, planning a wedding with your fiancé or tracking a budget with roommates, you can do it in Drive. You can upload and access all of your files, including videos, photos, Google Docs, PDFs and beyond

At the moment of writing, not every Google user's Drive was ready.

More here

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FILED IN:  Google|Internet
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Apr 24, 2012 AT 22:46 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 24, 2012 22:46 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 21, 2012 AT 21:26 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 21, 2012 21:26 IST

 

The controversy surrounding the "sex CD" allegedly featuring Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi refuses to die down.

Despite the court injunction obtained by the senior Supreme Court lawyer's legal team, the controversial video -- or at least some portions of it -- have been circulating freely on the internet -- including on social networking sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitvid.

The only response from Mr Singhvi directly was to the news agency IANS which quoted him as saying:

"It is obvious that the adage 'be you the ever so high, law is above you' does not apply to any social media."

"Not only is there a court injunction, not only has the author of the alleged CD sworn in an affidavit in court and accepted that the contents were fabricated and morphed, but even as respectable a media group as India Today has accepted the position of the court."

"Obviously, an organised gang has been purposely used by motivated interests to concertedly use the social sites for sensationalism and permanent damage. Remember, this can happen to anyone and if this lawlessness is allowed to continue as it is, we will all be consumed shortly."

Sources in Mr Singhvi’s team confirm that despite their constant complaints to these online platforms asking for removal of the video, they could not prevent a 12:40 minute excerpt of the video going viral on Thursday and Friday, i.e. April 19 and April 20.

YouTube acted on complaints and the video was clearly removed many times on complaints but the video segment kept being uploaded using different accounts, not only on Youtube but also on Facebook and Twitvid.

This was followed up with two more excerpts being released today.

These are two segments of 4:00 minutes and 3:31 minutes.

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 21, 2012 AT 21:26 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 21, 2012 21:26 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 13, 2012 AT 23:46 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 13, 2012 23:46 IST

The cartoon that apparently led to the arrest of a Jadavpur University professor (52) along with his 72-year old neighbour, on charges under IT Rules of "intent to insult the modesty of a woman through words and gesture, defamation and dissemination through computer of information that they knew was false but was meant to “cause annoyance, inconvenience, criminal intimidation”"

The photo below depicts a scene from the film, Sonar Kella:
 



For those not conversant with Bengali or have not seen the Satayajit Ray classic Sonar Kella:

Mamata: dekhte pachho mukul, sonar kella? [Can you see Mukul, the Golden Fortress -- this is actually a dialogue from Sonar Kella a film by Satyajit Ray, which also has a young protagonist called Mukul]

Mukul: otaa dushtu lok! [Here the Mukul is Mukul Roy, the railway minister appointed in place of Dinesh Trivedi, who was forced to resign after presenting the railway budget: That is a bad man!]

Mamata: Dushtu lok? Vanish! [Bad man? Vanish!]

Reacting to this outrageous development, on Times Now, Professor Ashis Nandy said, inter alia:

"I would advise Ms Banerjee to seek the help of psychiatrists in Calcutta. I would diagnose her as suffering from incipient paranoia. She sees enemies and controversies against her everywhere...She is taking upon herself the responsibility of interpreting the constitution of India when there are far better people than her to do so... All sorts of people manage to come into power these days, from nuts to psychopaths to paranoids... and I am afraid West Bengal has been saddled with a chief minister who seems to be suffering from paranoia...Mamata Banerjee should be advised to dismiss all the editors of all the newspapers and become the editor herself. She should even draw the cartoons herself. Then she would not have any reason to grumble.... We are stuck with a nut."

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 13, 2012 AT 23:46 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 13, 2012 23:46 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 13, 2012 AT 23:43 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 13, 2012 23:43 IST
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Shah Rukh Khan Detained at Newark
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

India has apparently "reacted strongly" to the detention of filmstar Shahrukh Khan at a New York airport, and summoned a top American diplomat after External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said "detention and apology" have become a habit with the US, which cannot continue. This is what the Daily Show had to say something like this happened the last time around

Meanwhile, this is what Mr Khan himself had to say about the incident:

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 13, 2012 AT 23:43 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 13, 2012 23:43 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 11, 2012 AT 01:46 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 11, 2012 01:46 IST

Salman Rushdie on Twitter:

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 11, 2012 AT 01:46 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 11, 2012 01:46 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 10, 2012 AT 23:50 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 10, 2012 23:50 IST

While there is jubilation among Narendra Modi supporters over the Special Investigation Team (SIT) finding no prosecutable evidence against the Gujarat Chief Minister and 57 others in the 2002 Gulberg Society case, the legal battle against him is far from over and is bound to go all the way to Supreme Court all over again.

It is not, however, just what Mrs Zakia Jafri feels. Regardless of the court verdicts, Mr Modi also needs to win the battle in the court of public perception for his national ambitions to come anywhere near fruition. While Mr Modi has a band of loyal followers, and is clearly the BJP's most popular leader among the party supporters, his real test would be in converting those opposed to him -- not only those outside but also inside the party.

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 10, 2012 AT 23:50 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 10, 2012 23:50 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Apr 10, 2012 AT 23:29 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 10, 2012 23:29 IST


Photo Courtesy: Frances Pritchett

Writing in the DNA, Iftikhar Gilani says that in its efforts to make a “watertight case” against the the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), Maharashtra police is citing such "evidence" as a Ghalib sh'r:

Bordering on the insane and the improbable, the affidavits are a testimony to the fact that the police have been plain lazy while preparing against SIMI. Of the several affidavits — filed in court asking for the ban on the group to continue — accessed by DNA, one by inspector Shivajirao Tambare of Vijapur Naka, Solapur, cites a Ghalib verse — as part of evidence — to show how dangerous SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) is.

Mauje khoon ser se guzer hi kiyon na jay, Aastane yaar se uth jaein kaya! A loosely translated Marathi version in the affidavit concludes that these lines speak of bloodshed and animosity. [Read on: Mirza Ghalib is fanning hate feelings: Cops' theory]

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Apr 10, 2012 AT 23:29 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 10, 2012 23:29 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Apr 05, 2012 AT 01:41 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 05, 2012 01:41 IST

First, a few days back, the Economist wrote on the BJP, or the Big Joke Party:

leadership rivalries are only one of the party’s difficulties. The BJP’S grass-roots organisation is miserable. It needs to widen its appeal from urban, middle-class and mostly northern, upper- or middle- caste Hindus. And it needs some policy coherence—or less incoherence.

Swapan Dasgupta, a Delhi-based columnist, reckons the party is divided into three competing strands: a traditional, pro-Hindu, religious one; a pragmatic group keen to kick out Congress; and right-of-centre liberalisers. None has the upper hand, but the last two represent the BJP’s best bet for widening its appeal. The trouble is that large bits of the party reject their prescriptions.

And then today, Pratap Bhanu Mehta in the Indian Express writes a Letter to Sonia:

you as Congress president are presiding over a party and government that are medieval in their workings. Your authority at the top is unquestioned. You must therefore shoulder the blame for the dismal farce this government has become. First, look at your party. It looks more like a series of ageing courtiers, more adept at palace intrigue, than winning the hearts of the voters. Like a courtly culture, loyalty seems to matter more than competence, envy more than collective action, unmeaning words more than genuine ideas. At least in vibrant courtly cultures, people ingratiate themselves by honour; in yours they seem to do so by god knows what. No one can understand why the Congress Working Committee continues to be dominated by people for whom only one phrase suffices: political liability. It is a collection of people not only far distant from the concerns of the country; they don’t even have an intelligent concern for themselves and the party. They are individually able, but it is a hallmark of a courtly culture to reduce the brightest to blathering hangers on.

Unfortunately, the medieval mindset has infected government as well. Most of your cabinet brings neither grassroots political capital, nor administrative competence.

 

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Apr 05, 2012 AT 01:41 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 05, 2012 01:41 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Apr 04, 2012 AT 20:53 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 05, 2012 01:11 IST

On March 13, rediff.com carried what seemed then to have been an innocuous story,India's elite paratroopers meet their match in fog, traffic during mockup, which talked about the elite Parachute Brigade of the Indian army, based in Agra playing out two different scenarios depicting " the need for a quick operation almost akin to the situations that obtained in Maldives last month and the consequences of the mutiny by the Bangladesh Rifles (now Border Guards, Bangladesh) two years ago:

During the exercise, elements of the brigade travelled by road from Agra to Delhi to link up with the Indian Air Force base at Hindon on the outskirts of the capital, since the recently acquired medium lift transport aircraft, the C-130 Js are stationed there.

Army itself held an official briefing on the subject two days after that—on March 15, 2012—in Agra.

***

But the innocuous story (along with another instance of troop movements towards Delhi on the same day) found itself featuring in a three-deck, four-byline, eight-column banner headline by the Indian Express today— The January night Raisina Hill was spooked: Two key Army units moved towards Delhi without notifying Govt— to a full front-page story that was authored by none other than the paper’s editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta, jointly with Ritu Sarin, Pranab Dhal Samanta and Ajmer Singh, which, inter alia, also went on to state: 

Nobody is using the “C” word to imply anything other than “curious”. All else is considered an impossibility.

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Apr 04, 2012 AT 20:53 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 05, 2012 01:11 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 02, 2012 AT 19:54 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 02, 2012 19:54 IST

First came Aakar Patel's column in the Mint: Why is it better to live in the south, which, was followed by the introduction: "The south’s urban culture is more intellectual and much more tolerant."

The intro, originally, went on to say, "My hypothesis is that this is so because its culture is dominated by the Brahmin." (This part has since been removed)

And now comes the riposte:

Your article was a serious stereotype of both South Indians and North Indians, generously free of facts, and patronizing. It was also clichéd like the masala dosa in a Udupi restaurant...

I understand that you have friendly feelings towards my tribe and you would expect me to ha-ha your story and ho-ho it because it should please me to be praised.

 

It didn’t. Your article was a serious stereotype of both South Indians and North Indians, generously free of facts, and patronizing. It was also clichéd like the masala dosa in a Udupi restaurant.

Read the full blogpost

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Apr 02, 2012 AT 19:54 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 02, 2012 19:54 IST
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