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Monday, February 25, 2008

Sorry Ms Farrow

Watched a documentary on Darfur on the Australian channel the other day and was informed that Ms Farrow is active as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UNICEF trying to bring peace to this war torn region.
Which made me squirm a bit about my careless slash at her.
I am sure you've read my blog Ms Farrow, and were tormented by this bit of unprovoked cruelty from a total stranger.
Sorry Ms Farrow.
Next time I'm in Manhattan, I'll buy you a pizza.

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Maharishi's Flower Power Rules !

Reading through the material on the passing of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, I am struck by how much of the stuff appears to be mere regurgitations from a 60's time warp.

Without the Beatles he would have been just another importuning Indian hairy.

A charlatan, who made a pass at Mia (Mia...who?) Farrow and was immortalized by John Lennon for his pains.

Slick marketeer, made a lot of money, but no difference.

This happened to me:

A few years ago, I was at a studio to transfer my documentary "Hyderabad. August 1948." to a DVD.

As I was about to review the result, a young man of medium height and regular features, invited himself and watched it with me.

He was there to do some post production work on some engineering movies. But he seemed keen to talk about my film. He did...with an insight and acuity that I found remarkable.

This kid's mind was pumping.

My documentary had been well reviewed in the Indian press...but none with the curiosity and closeness, that this otherwise unprepossessing young man had displayed.

No he did not have a background in Indian History... he had not studied Film.

He was an MBA he said, somewhat apologetically.

From where? Bangalore. Which school? From MIBS.

What was that? Maharishi International Business School.

Had I heard about it?

I had heard about the Maharishi and I asked him...did they teach any of that meditation stuff in the B school?

Of course, students had to meditate an hour every morning. He still did.

So that was the secret.

Unconsciously and quite apologetically, this youngster had developed the The Ever wakeful Third Eye of Consciousness.

Not the bored narcissistic eye. Nor the fearful Authoritarian Eye.

But the skeptical, compassionate, creative, disillusioning Third Eye.

The Eye that perceives the essence and the context.

The Eye that grasps the fleeting detail and the gentle interrogations within the obscured sub text.

This kid had it.

But like Harry Potter in Muggle world, he probably understood the burden of his gift of creativity and disturbance and wisely kept it hidden; even from himself.

I am a child of the late fifties and the office of Frank, Fearless Blitz, was just across the street from where we used to live in Bombay.

No question that there was a sense of Orientalist derision about the way we viewed ourselves those days.

The Blitz, the equivalent of the proliferating popcorn television of India today, had a great time sending up yogis.

The term "godmen" coined by Khushwant Singh for the Illustrated Weekly came much later.

The Sputnik went up, Yuri Gagarin came to India, we had our "temples of progress" and a certain lazy, cruel, Herodesque, "prove to me that you are no fool, walk across my swimming pool ... prove to me you're divine, change my water into wine...." kind of attitude to our deshi, India that is Bharat, selves.

But as we all know, there is no integrity to the palimpsest that is the Indian mind and underneath this terylene facade gushed a roaring deshi torrent.

Shri Umaprasad Mukherji, elder brother of Shri Shyama Prasad, visited us and I still remember walking him along with my Himalayan mountaineer uncle, to some place near Azad Maidan.

Swami Sivananda, Ramana Maharishi, Kanchi Periyaval were all regulars in my Nani's chats with me.

And we were completely immersed in our music.

Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan sa'ab regularly came home, to teach Nani, both in Kanpur and Bombay and I was ordered to hang around.

The Guru who lived closest to us was Shri Mukthananda at Ganeshpuri and even though I have no doubt he took a personal liking to me, I was a very verbal six, the legend is that he prophesied I would be a judge one day, my own joy came from the hot, sulphurous springs at Vajreshvari and the anticipation of watching the deer that roamed his ashram.

Years later, Nani dragged me off to Guru Purnima at Ganeshpuri.

Even as I waited for the prasad, they rang the bell to start meditation. I took my place on a platform under a great tree, went into a deep snooze and woke up when they rang the bell again.

Looked around and sitting next to me, deep in meditation was Nargis Dutt. Her brood came in a little later all dressed in their Guru Purnima best.

Sunjay Dutt was much shorter than me and was in a little three piece suit and bow tie!

What do I think of Sunjay Dutt?

Like most Indians and the Kanchi Sankaracharya, a victim of a corrupt Indian state and political system .

The Kanchi Periyaval and Chinna Periyaval had allowed me to sit very close to them over several years - The Elder had started our exchange by offering to teach me a mantra, that would enable me to see the next day - the very thought that they would be involved in violence is laughable.

If I had a chance, I would hug, cry and condole with each person who suffered in Mumbai, Gujarat, Punjab, Kashmir, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East, the West and all the gorgeous animals and forests .

The Maharishi did immensely more than that of course.

On the few occasions that my service provider offered the Maharishi channel, I was delighted to find him and his disciples to be well informed, trenchant and unflagging critics of the West.

They questioned Western dogma. They insistently opposed the war on Iraq.

But their challenge like the Mahatma before them was loving and they offered a tried and tested alternative.

So it is noticeable, how the Western Press and the dalal press in India chose to confine the Maharishi in a time warp...outside the context of its massive recent and current insanities.

The Maharishi's flower power survived the hippies and the Soviet Union. He did not instigate a "cultural Revolution" nor did he sow any killing fields.

I f ones values are truly sane and life centred, it is clear that this giggly, hairy man has towered over the so called leaders of the so called free and other worlds.

To the best of my knowledge, none of his actions resulted in the loss of any life.

The Maharishi was an adventurer who makes Columbus look like a klutz.

The Maharishi was not a batty charlatan, nor was he a flaky evangelist. He was no "parasite".

He was an angry, impatient bodhisatva, who transformed lives; and I believe could have cooled our fevers.

He is what I may have been, if I had transcended my addiction to nicotine and aversion to walking as a form of physical exercise.

He is what nations may yet be, if they transcend their fascination for the wrecking ball.

The Financial Times UK can have the last word:

"To die leaving a multi-million-dollar global business empire is an achievement. To do so while countless devotees still regard you as a spiritual leader is about as likely as Yogic flying. The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, guru to the Beatles, pulled it off. His legacy – beyond the mundane $2bn his estate is reckoned to be worth – is a treasure-trove of tips for management success."

Sunday, February 3, 2008

RTI For Babus too!

In his column,"Dilli Ka Babu" in the Deccan Chronicle,(Sunday February 3) Dilip Cherian complains, " Babus misuse RTI Act".

The Central Information Commission is "busy playing agony aunt" to a score (sic) of babus 'whining"(sic) over various promotional and compensation matters.

Quoting "insiders" on this "trend in babudom"(sic) he says "many bureaucrats are now actually using the RTI Act for their own personal vested interest".

"Ranging from scrutinising file details when superseded to "petty" complaints on out of turn allotment of houses, these complaints make up an "alarming" 40% of the ones received by the CIC.

"No wonder" commiserates Cherian, Wajahat Habibullah, Chief Information Commissioner is "worried" about the backlog, as it is already dealing with a huge- one of more than 12,000 second appeals by "citizens".

Cherian then names a few a babus, who according to him have committed the heinous, unpardonable act of demanding their rights under the law and I do not know any of them, in fact I do not know another soul who has used the RTI.

As somebody who has been at the receiving end of serial babu bellicosity since the last twenty years, I ought to find this news appealing.

I find it appalling.

Because in typical "babu" fashion, this snippet of PR cleverness, diverts our attention from the real culprits, PIOs who appear to be hoarding simple, innocuous information that may be necessary to the appellants for the dignified conduct of their daily life and misdirects our indignation on the hapless victims who have been recalled to be skewered in public.

Is it possible that these vilified babus are actually the orphans? Those currently orphaned without a powerful sugar daddy?

But they are also citizens, entitled to the full protection and succor of the law.

To label any group,vilify them and strip them of their rights and dignity is... not cool.

The piece makes another diabolical Catch 22 distinction.

Between "private" and so called "public" interest .

So, now, you can deny information because it constitutes mere individual interest...and also because it might compromise the glorious national interest.

Is "private interest" such a shameful and socially undesirable disease? Does our Constitution only permit "thekedars" of the public interest to exist?

So,who's manufacturing the backlog of second appeals?

Is it the hapless petitioner or the callous appellate authority protecting "vested interests",patrons and mafioso types?

Shovel it out , I say.

If that's what it takes to unshackle our babus from the choke hold of the mafioso types.

And what value are the appellate authorities adding?

Would it not be more rational and productive, for the Commissioners to wield their powers like a hot cleaver to smite the dysfunctional appellate authorities who refuse to "apply their minds" to protect the Law?

Do that Sarvashri Commissioners and watch the backlog -12,000? Such a big deal? In a nation of a billion citizens ? In the Land of the Rising IT Sun?- melt away.