Fastest talking anchor in town, Sagarika Ghose on CNN IBN presiding over yet another ‘secular’ discussion, this time about Hinduism through Kumbh Mela. Much scope to bashing superstition and dirt (generally synonymous with Hinduism and always applicable to Hindu organisations which wouldn’t be there but for opportunists like her). The question for the viewers poll itself was highly loaded, whether the faith trade had hijacked the festival, which naturally elicited the yes from a majority, giving lip smacking satisfaction to Sagarika, Sardesai and those who employ them.
Madhu Kishwar (now known as Madhu Purnima Kishwar for numero-logical or logical reasons) let loose a cannonade against the shit that was flowing into the ‘sacred’ Ganga, and seemed to be fixated on the youth who were on an undefinite fast for definite steps to clean up the river. Good. She also put Hinduism baiter Kancha Ilaiah, who shed hot tears over the money that was pouring in into Hindu coffers, in his place, pointing out that he speaking on behalf the missionaries. This in a country where the government runs most temples in the land and siphons off the funds given by the Hindu faithful for totally extraneous purposes.
Sushmita Sen might have beaten Aishwarya Rai (now Bachan) in a Miss India contest by a whisker! way back in 1994, but the latter of the blue-green-grey eyes is generally way ahead in the film world and otherwise. After entering tinsel town through Maniratnam’s Iruvar ( a projection on celluloid of Tamil Nadu’s political tangle and triangle of Karunanidhi, MGR and Jayalalitha), Aishwarya managed to cast herself as a celebrated Bollywood heroine. Sushmita’s film career has in comparison been tepid, with recognition coming more as a supporting actress than as a leading lady. But that’s only in the world of make believe. In the real world, Sushmita seems more of a dominant force. She didn’t marry, but adopted a daughter Renee in 2000. Obviously the experience was a good one, as she has repeated it. After clearing a legal hurdle (posed by the Hindu adoption and maintenance act), another baby is in her lap. This is one (more) sphere where Akbar’s Jodha pales into insignificance…unless you consider going in adoption to Bollywood’s B company as comparable to Sushmita’s heroic real life acts of humanity.
India Illegitimate has done it once again…killed a crusader for honesty. Pune’s 38-year-old RTI activist and exposer of land scams, Satish Shetty has been brutally murdered in the outskirts of the city while he was on his morning walk. Masked hoodlums chased him and attacked him till they were sure he was going to die. This is the price of championing honesty in public life.Shetty had feared for his life and applied for police protection. As he wont be obviously needing it now, the cops can double the protection for the goons.
The stakes have been so high for the land mafia that it even planned to knock off Magsaysay award winner Anna Hazare, who happens to be Shetty’s guru. Giving ‘supari’ (killing contract) for Shetty was therefore no big deal.
But India of the new millenium must not take this is as any routine killing. The culprits must be found (a lawyer and his sidekicks have been held), the truth established and all convicted. It must be hanging as in the rarest of rare cases. Are not honest men of integrity the rarest of the rare in today’s India?. If their killers are not punished in this way, then even before the tiger is extinct India’s Mahatmas will be a species of the past, and new India’s history will not be about experiments in truth, but extravaganzas of lies.
Road to safety
There is a move to bar those above 72 from driving on Indian roads, on which more than a lakh people die every year. From a layman’s point of view I can say this is nonsense. It is not well-maintained old men and women whose eye-sight has been sharpened by cataract operations and whose sense of balance helped them sail through seven decades that drive over sleeping pavement dwellers or bang into two-wheelers. There is chaos on our roads, with overspeeding, overtaking and law-infringements going on without any hindrance. The cop surfaces only to register a case for the book, or for the grease amount. No will or discipline is being enforced on the traffic from above. There are rash drivers…intimidating drivers…and killer drivers. These can be easily identified and weeded out. But where is the will, where is the heart?
Recently, a Madras high court judge called for stringent measures to prevent accidents on roads (there were 12,000 road deaths in Tamil Nadu in 2009) . But unless rash and negligent driving, and the lackdaisical attitude of the police that allows it, are made punishable, and every life on the road gets its due respect and regard, road deaths are abound to hurtle towards two lakh a year. The insurance companies are feeling the pinch and the bite and moving the courts…but will the government of the republic feel for its citizens and bring sanity to our roads? Where there is a will, there is a safe and secure road…and our seventy plus citizens are the green signals on that route.