Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Hindi is NOT the rashtrabhasha

OK, let's settle this once and for all. I'm not in the mood to write too much about this now coz there's plenty of material on it. I'll just direct you towards a couple of links.


And if you're wondering what was it that you learnt in school about Hindi being 'national language', like the tiger being the 'national animal', then please read:


Hindi is 'A' national language (along with 22 other languages mentioned under the 8th schedule of the Indian constitution), as opposed to the common perception that Hindi is 'THE' national language.

I rest my case.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Mahabharata: epic or propaganda?

Growing up in India, whatever schooling you go through, you're sure to hear about two of the greatest epics our country has come out with: The Mahabharata and The Ramayana. Both are considered absolute masterpieces in their own ways. And growing up watching the serials on national television and reading the stories in Amar Chitra Katha comics thrilled me to bits. But today, as a 23 year old, I'm having second thoughts about all the revelry in my childhood. Let me explain why.

Before getting into the Mahabharata, let's discuss about the original inhabitants of ancient Hindustan. In the northwest corner of the Indian subcontinent, in what today is Sindh (Pakistan) and present day Saurashtra (India), existed a very highly developed and sophisticated civilization - the (Sindhus) Indus Valley civilization of Harrapa and Mohenjo Daro. The people who lived in these cities were the original Negritos(Naga) and the Dravidians, the highly intelligent but smaller and dark brown descendants of Mediterranean origin. Around 1500 BC, there was another development occurring several thousand miles west and north-west of the Indus valley. The nomadic, Caucasian, well built but rustic, cattle rearing people from the region around the Caspian Sea were restless. They were looking for newer and greener pastures. They began migrating to different parts of what is now Europe, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent.

The Sanskrit speaking people, the Aryans, traveled towards the Indus Valley. Initial migration appears to have been in the form of a few 'scout' or pioneer groups. A full scale migration occurred within the following decades. The Aryans with their superior physique and their horse driven chariots established unquestionable superiority over the Dravidian and tribal population of the Indus Valley. Now does this ring a bell when you think of the Mahabharata?Now the whole 'Aryan invasion theory' itself has more or less been proved to be a myth, along with the hitherto understanding of the vedas, as pointed out by David Frawley in his research that can be found at http://www.sol.com.au/kor/16_01.htm.

That aside, the Mahabharata is replete with references of dark skinned people, refered to as asuras, or evil spirits, whom the Pandavas and other princely states in the north had to battle against. The word asura, in Sanskrit, is cognate with Ahura, the all powerful Persian deity Ahura Mazda. This is because the Iranian 'h' is cognate to the Sanskrit 's'. Going by history and the facts presented above, it was these asuras, or the Dravidians, who were the original inhabitants of the ancient land of Hindustan. According to the Mahabharata and other vedic scriptures, or at least going by the current general accepted understanding, the asuras are considered as being 'bad', villains in this great story. My only question here is, since when have we started considering defending ones family and homeland against foreign invaders evil?

If calling the dark skinned asuras evil and what not wasn't bad enough, there are oodles of hyporcrisy in the depiction of certain characters in the great epics. Two of main characters in the Mahabharata, prince Arjuna and Lord Krishna (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu), who were dark skinned, are depicted in blue colour in all books that have illustrations, as well as comics (Amar Chitra Kathas) and other media where their picture appears. And if memory serves me right, even Draupadi, a damesel of dark complexion, is depicted in a colour other than dark brown, and it's the same case with Lord Rama (another incarnation of Vishnu) in the Ramayana.

Now all this brings me to another point. There is no way to verify the facts provided in the Mahabharata, so for all we know, it might as well be a complete fabrication, someone's wet dream for all I care, just to make the Aryans 'look good'. This should make any rational person question the authenticity of such a record.

I have no intention of kicking up a storm in a tea cup over nothing, but the fact remains that this cannot be considered nothing. One cannot but help asking the question: is the Mahabharata a propaganda tool, targetting all dark skinned Indians? If true, it's implications can be far more consequential than the present skirmishes we witness over language in our country. Is this what has lead a lot of north Indians to revile south Indians and other dark skinned people? 23 years of my life and I never thought about these and accepted them as gospel truth; how long is it going to take you?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Decoding the code

Well well well, what have we here. The Cannes Film Festival screens the much awaited movie, The da Vinci Code, based on Dan Brown's best-selling novel of the same name. And much to the surprise of the common junta like me, the reviews weren't too good.

Anyway, that apart, I'm more interested in the controversy that was generated by the book and now, the movie. I have a simple query, if the Christians find the movie so offensive, why should they watch it? No one's made it mandatory for them to watch it.

So what's all the brouhaha over the movie and wanting a ban on it? Is the Indian Catholic Church Association, whatever it's called (yes, I don't give a shit), worried that Christians would start questioning the Church, which all along seemed to have a "our word is Gospel truth attitude"? And look what that attitude lead to, they didn't even acknowledge the fact that the Earth was geoid and not a flat table as they believed. Poor Copernicus, he'd be spinning in his grave now, only this time laughing at the Church's paranoia.

Another theory could be that the Church is worried that followers would lose faith in the religion since it targets the very foundation. If that's the case, shouldn't the Christians actually question THEIR FAITH in the religion rather than the accuracy of the book?

Whatever be the case, their arguments are flawed. Freedom of expression in supreme and sentiments here are not hurt for the fact that Dan Brown has stated categorically that the story is fictitious inter laced with a lot of true facts. Period. Personally, I would have loved for that story to be true (by story I mean the part of Christ being human and having descendents), but then that's just me at my provocative best.

If M F Hussain can paint Bharat Mata and Hindu Goddesses in the nude and it can be called as freedom of expression, I can't see why those crazy bigots are protesting against the movie. The same yard stick has to be applied here too. It's the same thing Mrs. Shabana Azmi, and even the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad are to be taken with a pinch of salt, so don't cuss those Danish artists unnecessarily.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Oh Bangalore, where art thou headed?

First and foremost, most of the content in this article has been provided by my good friend Abhijith Shetty, a fellow member of RNSIT's famous 'last bench gang'. Next, the image you see here is my T-Shirt, a neat piece of work from Tantra, the brand created by Rajiv Ramchandani and Madan Chabria. At Rs. 295, India on a T-shirt really rocks.

Now, for the story about my dear, dear city. I'm going to skip a few history lessons here and move on to the present day Bangalore; present here refers to the year 1983 onwards (that's when I was born).

Since being founded by Kempe Gowda, Bendakaalooru, or village of boiled beans has come a long way. From being called 'Pensioners Paradise' to 'Garden City' to 'India's Silicon Valley', Bangalore has evolved into a suave, cosmopolitan city to which hoardes of mallus, tams, teluguites and trainloads of north Indians coverge everyday. The city's like one of those neon tube lights that attracts insects in the dark, and here the insects(no disrespect meant, it's just for the effect) are drawn towards the city for its beer, weather, jobs and the babes.

Communicating in Bangalore is fairly simple. People from outside the state may have noticed that to survive in Bangalore you don't need to know excellent Kannada...or for that matter ANY Kannada! This is probably the only city in the world where you'll find people living for 3 or 4 generations and still can't speak the local language. Blame it on the Bangaloreans' over-the-top courteousness I guess! And if you DO speak Kannada, you'll see that people in Bangalore speak a very strange kind of Kannada, where words like 'time', 'bus', 'water', 'air' are all part of the vocab. And as ex-Radio City RJ Priya Ganapathy once said, the killer formula to survive in Bangalore is: English word + 'aa'/'oo' = universal understanding.

If you aren't some egoistical brat with a 'holier-than-thou' attitutde and 'my word is gospel truth' attitude, then if you study in Bangalore for a few years (generally most 'visitors' come for higher education via the CET), you would pick up words like 'machcha', 'maga', 'devaru' and a few superlatives like 'chindi' or 'sakkath'. Abuses are galore and generally those are the first to be picked up, but I'll take a moral highground and not publish those (unless the need arises).

The best line that Bangalore has given to India, that best describes the attitude of every Bangalorean in 'swalpa adjust maadi', or 'kindly make an adjustment'. The usage of this lines cuts across professions and various aspects of the city's life. If you get into a rick in Malleswaram at 9:30 P.M. and the driver asks you for “one-and-half” and if you ask him why…you most definitely will hear “Swalpa adjusht maadi Saar”. If you’re in a bus in Majestic which is so full that you can smell the ear wax of the guy standing in front of you…the conductor pokes you in the spine with his Reynolds pen and says “Swalpa adjusht maadi Saar…Please move forward!”.

As for driving in Bangalore…that’s a whole different story. People around the world drive either on the left side of the road or on the right…,but in Bangalore you drive where there is space! There isn't any 'right side' and 'wrong side'; for people here, there exists only one side: THEIR SIDE. Our auto drivers would put any Mikey Schumacher to shame. These guys armed with their 150 cc Bajaj RE Autos with Shah Rukh Khan portraits and ‘Hai! Manja’ emblazoned on their canvas tops deftly maneuver their 3-wheelers through gaps more efficiently than VVS Laxman's flick through mid-wicket. And if you’re on your bike, beware of projectiles from the mouths of BMTC bus passengers…you wouldn’t want to be smelling of vomit on your graduation day!

All this traffic and dust has stripped Bangalore of the clean air that it was once known for. In fact, scientists have conducted extensive tests and have shown that the average 21-year-old Bangalorean has the lungs of a 60-year-old American chain smoker!!! Well, actually they haven’t, hehehe, but I’m pretty sure someday they will. The only saving grace is that Bangalore is still pretty much the only city with some decent greenery.

As for all the hoopla and hype associated with the city and it’s night life…there are a whole lot of pubs in Bangalore where you can blow 150 bucks of your Dad’s hard-earned money on things that’ll lower your sperm count. And if you decide on hanging out at MG Road or Brigade Road (the most ‘happening’ places in town), here’re are a few rules of thumb-
1> DO NOT speak in any language other than angrezi . If you don’t know English…shut up!
2> Wear your best outfit and your best fake accent.
3> Even if you’ve never inhaled any smoke apart from those of your hostel’s burnt chapathis, at least hold a cigarette…because that’s whats ‘cool’ (a.k.a. stupid) dudes do.
4> Speak loudly about how you ‘laid’ your ‘very hot’ imaginary ‘girlfriend’.
5> Finally, stuff your wallet with visiting cards so that it looks like you have a lot of cash to burn.

(The current trend, however, is the ‘Intellectual Look’, where you are seen in a coffee shop reading a big, fat book on ‘Metaphysical States and Extra-Terrestrial Dimensions in the Time-Space Continuum’ sipping on some hot Cappuchino.)

So what do you have to say about Bangalore? For all the shit it gets from the politicians and certain sections of the Indian hoi polloi (read as non-Karnatakans), she's still the numero uno city in India, irrespective of what people tell you. Take this as gospel truth from a true Bangalorean who's lived here all 23 years of his life (with frequent visits to neighbouring cities during vacations to be able to tell the difference). And as my buddy Abhijith says, "You can argue that Bangalore is a pretty fucked up city, but what the hell, it's MY fucked up city". It's what we call home, and NO ONE messes with our home.
Provided by website-hit-counters.com site.