Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The Tiger and the Jackal

#Mythicaltales  The Tiger and the Jackal -  Many many years ago, there was a king named Pourik . He was a cruel and tyrant ruler and his subjects remained unhappy with him. As a retribution, he was reborn as a jackal after his death.

But he remembered everything about his past life and that made him grieve always for his wrongdoings as a tyrant. He always rued the fact that as a king, he was not worthy of good deeds that could be his salvation.

As a penance the Jackal gave up on eating flesh and started living on fruits and vegetables. He also started being truthful always in his action and speech and soon he become a very pious being.

The jackal lived in his lair near a cemetery. The other jackals who lived there were very surprised with him and they would always taunt him “Brother, you eat vegetables and fruits . That's idiotic to say , the least . With abundance of flesh here, why do you have to be a vegetarian?" , they would say.

The Jackal did not get vexed at their taunts. He replied them without rancour- “Friends, do I have to keep off the right path only because I am born a Jackal? If I can live by eating fruits and vegetables, then why do I have to eat flesh? "

A tiger was passing that way. He overheard this conversation and was pleased with the jackal. He thought- “Ah, this jackal seems to be a pious soul and a wise animal. Let me make him my Chief Minister. "

He called the Jackal” I am sure you are a very noble soul. Be my Chief Minister, O Jackal. "

The Jackal replied” O King, I am honoured by your offer. But I have a few conditions, which, you should agree before I accept the offer. You have to abide by whatever I decide for you. When I advise you, nobody else should be present there. And you can't punish me even if you are cross with me."

The Tiger said “I agree to your conditions. Now you come with me."

This way the jackal now became the Chief Minister of the tiger's kingdom. Within a very few days, the Tiger realised what a good choice of minister he has made. He too placed the Jackal at a high esteem and valued his advice with a lot of respect. The Jackal too enjoyed his new role and put in his full efforts to serve the king in a selfless manner.

But the coterie of the old courtiers who used to surround the Tiger became very insecure due to the Jackal. They were used to the good life of corruption and cheated the king. These rascals found that with the coming of the Jackal as the Chief minister, the various sources of their income was drying up . So they all joined hands and sought a way to get the Jackal banished from the court.

Everyday, the best cuts of meat were earmarked for the Tiger. Nobody else was allowed to eat those pieces. One day the mischievous servants of the Tiger stole them from the Tiger's cave and spread them near the Jackal's lair. Neither the Tiger nor the Jackal had any inkling of this because they were asleep. In due time the Tiger woke up and felt hungry; but there was no meat for him in the cave.

The Tiger roared in anger. He wanted to know who was responsible for this . His rage knew no bounds. The wicked courtiers were waiting for this chance to poison his mind. They said - “My Lord, it is the Chief Minister who has done this. You may think him to be a pious animal. But he is actually a very greedy and crafty fellow." Then they took the Tiger near the Jackal's lair where they had hid the pieces of flesh. The Tiger was out of his senses. He asked the servants to kill the Jackal.

The servants would have killed the Tiger, had it not been for the king's mother who was a very intelligent tigress. She understood the plan of the wicked courtiers and approached the Tiger saying- “My son, you know these people and how they were ruining you before the Chief Minister Jackal came here. Just recall, how many times you have wanted to gift him with valuables, but he has never had any use for them. Why should he steal your share of flesh? You inquire about this in detail. I sense some foul play. “

The tiger came to his senses, hearing the soothing words of advice from his mother. He realised his mistake and remembered the conditions he accepted before the Jackal took up his employment. Now he made a thorough enquiry and learned about the conspiracy by his servants. He punished them.

The Jackal was now held in very high esteem by his employer the king Tiger. But the intelligent Jackal could well understand that working for such a temperamental master was always risky. So he bid his time and after a few days very politely excused himself and left the service of the Tiger, wishing him all the best of luck.

Monday, 22 May 2017


#Posto not only touches but tugs at the heart too . Again a very good movie that I have watched after #Bishorjan. It proves that the creative Bengali film industry is alive and evolved with new identity of its own . Since this movie showed a sold out Sunday evening show in INOX Raghuleela Vashi, I had to drive about an hour up and down , pay toll tax of Rs 70 and forego the afternoon siesta to watch it in Bhandup , about 30 kms away from my home, on the insistence of my wife who never likes to miss a Bengali film or program in Mumbai. But it was really worth it.

The mindless copy of crass commercial copies of southern blockbusters full of colour, action , dances and unreal story-lines  may have helped the Bengali film industry in raking money but cinematically they have brought Bengali films at par with Bhojpuri films.  Away from all this flashy and garish over the top drama,  the realistic , soft , mature , emotional , focussed and issue based films that was the forte of Bengali films have come back to the mainstream due to the effort of some very competent contemporary filmmakers who have also brought in audiences to recoup the investment . That Posto has done well at the box-office is a redeeming feature.

The duo of Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee has given us some memorable movies over the last decade or so. They have consistently tried to make meaningful films with a central theme linked to our lives. The currently running movie #HindiMedium which has been hailed for its theme is said to be greatly inspired by the movie #Ramdhanu created by this duo. The recurring feature of their movies have been their soft and understated handling of emotions and a very mature sense of blending the story with the characters.

#Posto  brings forth the issue of parenting and upbringing of a child and explores the father son relationships between three generations. Veteran actor Soumitra Chatterjee is just awesome in his role as a grandfather to a small boy. The nuances, depth , facial expressions , dialogue delivery , physical movements  each one of them has been presented in such a masterly manner that the audience never feels that he is a character from the film. He seems to be one of our own , a father or an uncle. Speaking about or praising his acting skills will be  absurd and laughable as coming from a person like me. But let me point out that this gentleman , a great banyan tree of acting is 82 years old and reportedly suffering from some critical ailment. But would you believe that when he acts ?

Among other actors Jishu Sengupta  as the son of the old man and father of the child proves his talent and matches up to the challenge . Lily Chakraborty is a seasoned professional for her role. Paran Chatterjee delivers a fine serio comic performance . After a long time , saw a court room drama which is a substantial portion of the film. The directors have very cleverly used Sohini Sengupta, a veteran stage actress in the role of the defence lawyer against Paran Chatterjee to highlight the dramatic court room dialogues and keep the attention riveted with their stage acting skills. Argha , the young boy Posto is so lovable and inocent that he steals your heart .

But to me, the surprise package of the film is Mimi Chakraborty . She will be remembered for this role and establish her as a leading actress of the Bengali films . Perhaps when she  will look back on her career after a decade hence , this role will be a milestone and turning point for her. 

Personally I was not too much impressed with the music but one song by Nachiketa was superb and  though written and composed by Anupam, it was only Nachiketa who could have sung the song  - Keno Erokom kichhu Holo Na-  in that way. 

Cinematically,  #Posto has some flaws in its composition and presentation. Perhaps the story could have been  put in a tighter script and be made a bit more pacy. But the emotion, acting and dialogues take care of these blemishes. Without being boring or sermonising , it brings out the need of a family and family values in our lives. And like most of the movies by Shibu-Nandita , this too is also a feel good movie. With subtitles in English , this can be  a good watch for everybody who would like to have a relaxing , soft and uncomplicated movie experience.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Random thoughts 21052017

#Justsaying  While watching old Hindi (even Bengali) movies , you may notice that those Izzatdar and Rais aristocratic characters are shown to be wearing a thick loungecoat over their clothes at home. These lounge suits were called housecoats by us, lesser mortals.

Those days homes were not air-conditioned , even for rich people ; at least it doesn't seem so from the scenes. And they always smoked cigars and pipes. I wonder how they managed to wear those wraps in Indian summer. Or is it that they all lived in Shimla or Darjeeling ? The housecoats symbolised wealth and position of the person in the society. Many middle class gentlemen (I know a few) also followed this fashion at home , mostly limited to the first or second housecoat.

On the other hand , nowadays  even middle-class homes have air conditioning . But housecoats have gone flimsy and are invariably worn by lissom heroines  more as a prop to reveal their physical assets rather than their bank balance.

And aristocrats  ? That breed seems to have vanished even from silver screens. The rich and powerful are now shown wearing sportswear and shorts are the in thing as fashionable lounge dress. And we middle-class follow the fashion at home . Good for summer.

Well , the answer to these thoughts coming to my idle and blank mind would be , yes you have rightly guessed , when everything fails - blame it on global warming.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Random thoughts 20052017

#Randomthoughts I have a feeling that the next car that we will buy in our family will be an electric powered or at least hybrid. That it will be with auto transmission , I am sure.
The first to make entry will be electric bicycles or mopeds. Remember the late seventies and the early eighties . Yes that is the scene more likely to start for the next year. If you notice the adverts and sale of these two wheelers have started on a lowkey but steady pace.
The writing is on the wall . Solar powered electricity and electric powered vehicles will swamp the horizon soon . This will be the new technology that will change how we travel.
Let us be ready to embrace the change. The first thing we need to do is to plan about the charging point for the vehicle .

Friday, 19 May 2017

Random thoughts 20052017

#Justsaying Won't it be better to make Rajnikanth the President of India rather than make him the CM of Tamil nadu. That way his reputation will remain intact. Otherwise people may always point out his reluctance to join politics as long as Jayalalitha lived and infer that he was afraid of her.  Also if , as rumoured he joins or takes support from BJP and becomes the CM , it will relegate his status as the invincible.

Personally I have no problem with Rajnikanth as the President of India. He will probably be a better choice than many. And the circus that  democracy has become in India needs a brand ambassador to highlight the make believe show of it.  Rajanikanth will fit the bill perfectly.

Mind it Yenna Rascalaa .

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Random thoughts 17052017

#BitterPill  News reports speak of the plans by the Indian Railways to charge Rs 50-100 extra for allotment of lower berths and window seats. This will be hailed by a section of people as a masterstroke , true to form . But actually this is nothing but shameless baniazation , as different from commercialisation which offers a service worth its name against the charges paid for it.  The way this government is hiking the charges of all services in the name of rationalisation  you don't know where they will put their finger next to extricate their paise from .

So don't be surprised if you hear tomorrow  that they will charge the Mumbai local train users for availing the free full body massage during peak hours.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Random thoughts 14052017

#BitterPill ATM s are to ease the operations for the convenience of the people who keep deposits of their hard earned money with the bank's at rock bottom interest. They are categorized as public convenience and in the modern world they are required in a civilized society just as much as we need public toilets. The ATMs also help the public to plan their withdrawals and do away with the need to carry a large amount of cash in their pocket or hoard at their homes. Further the ATMs also manage to do away with long queues at the Bank branches for withdrawal ( and deposit) of cash and also informs the account holder a summary of the balance in the account. Therefore the ATM can not be treated any more as a value added service; rather it is now a part of the basic services provided by the banks.

So it is very surprising to find banks trying to regulate the usage of ATMs by levy of charges and deciding on ad hoc ceiling for its use by depositors. The recent developments in the banking sector gives a strong reason to believe that this is just another convenient ploy to shore up the bottom lines to hide the inefficiencies of the system and subsidise the bad management of assets and liabilities by the banks. And if this is not enough, banks have all of a sudden stepped up on their efforts to make a killing from all kinds of services they provide. The dichotomy of the situation is such that on one hand the banks are trying to take banking to the old elitist way of transacting business where all transactions have to be paid for not as a service received but as an obligation and on the other, the government is pushing hard for universal banking and digital economy. It is not clear what the actual aim of the whole exercise is , in totality.

Banks owned by the Government of India can not hide behind the brazen assertion of - all services need to be paid- like the private banks . Because they get a large amount of government funds as deposits without making any efforts for it . Further as they are owned by the GOI , their losses are accounted for by the government funds which is nothing but the tax payer's money. And the government ownership also means that it is people's ownership. So their contention about being a fully independent mercantile firm like entity is a false notion which is being used to hoodwink the public. The PSU banks are very much organs of the government and they cannot deny their commitment to the public at large. If their is any doubt about this then that should be cleared first.

And actually that is what is being attempted . There is a concerted move to bleed these banks , make them anemic and then make a great hue and cry before handing them over to private management at a throw away price. But before that it is also necessary to show people that as far as charges are concerned, there is not much difference between the public or private sector banks. It is a gradual step towards preparing the public , the corollary to which will be a massive privatization of banks. And mark my words, this has to happen before 2019. Like the ill executed demonetization, this move will also be clothed with some great objectives and named like - " New economy" , " Second Liberalization" , " Economic Freedom" etc. Of course there are plenty of spin doctors waiting in the wings along with the numerous media channels to hail such moves.

Presently our country is passing through a phase of reckless self gratification by the masses whose levels of aspiration is now sky high. The generations which have been raised post 1990 are the beneficiaries of the material gains from the liberalization of economy and digital age. They can not relate to age old theories, rhetoric, sacrifices, mindset, worldview and education of socialism and class conflict. Moreover the commercialism and commodification of everything including even ideas, values and icons have changed the way of the people's outlook and views. So the people at large may not realize, as they don't do about many other things , that the one sector that this government has screwed right and proper during its three years tenure till now is the Banking sector. And very soon we will witness many other developments. Just wait for the drama of absurd to unfold.

Random thoughts 15052017

#OBOR One Belt One Road is a grand and audacious plan of connectivity being given shape by China . This program is being personally pushed by the present President of the Chinese Republic, Xi Jinping who would like to go down the history with a stature equivalent , if not superior to Mao Zedong or Deng Xiaoping. On one hand the plan seeks to revitalize the traditional silk route , both on land and the seas. On the other, it wants to change the global power structure and integrate Europe and Asia as a large trading zone .

The participation of more than 65 countries in the project is proof enough that quite a number of the countries in Europe and Asia look towards the OBOR as something which could benefit them economically. Russia and Turkey are both backers of this program and countries like Bangladesh, Nepal , Myanmar and Srilanka are participating in it. Pakistan , of course is one of the primary, if not the first stakeholder of the program. But India has expressed its apprehensions about the project and have decided not to join it, as of now.

Indians have been always wary of China since 1962. And the Indian foreign policy have always been shaped by a British understanding , American guidance (except during Indira Gandhi) and Pakistan obsession. Beyond that the Indian foreign policy does not really exist, at least for the people of the country. Our troubles with China began only after the Tibet issue as before that there was no history of wars between the countries , nations and very old civilisations. In fact Tibet was the buffer which allowed the status quo of peace between the two countries. May be the Tibet issue is keeping the Kashmir issue alive . But as it seems now, as long as the present Dalai Lama remains ( May God bless him), there is very little chance of the Tibet issue and the India -China relations improving.

But we must not overlook the Chinese initiative as if implemented, it will change the whole geo political alignment . President Putin of Russia has stated his support for the initiative unequivocally as - “Everything that is being proposed fits the trend of modern development, is extremely necessary, and is in high demand. Therefore, Russia not only supports the One Belt One Road project, but will actively participate in its realization together with our Chinese partners and, of course, with all other interested countries.” He further said that the project takes into account modern trends in the global economy while also reflecting the general need for coordinating integration processes not only on the Eurasian continent, but around the world.

Before this China has demonstrated its capability to execute programs which their leaders wanted to be implemented in a planned and if required ruthless manner, be it the cultural revolution, one child norm, liberalization of economy, Olympic Games or other developmental initiatives. And they are famous for doing everything in a magnificent manner with a huge canvas. This time too , they seem to be on a solid ground to take over the leadership as the economic power from USA. What that will lead to is a matter of speculation at this moment. But India should be wary of clinging to the US apron strings. The USA has never stood behind its allies at crunch situations and always exported war overseas to benefit its own industry.

So treating OBOR with disdain, suspicion or nonchalance will be a folly for India. There is no benefit in creating enmity with a powerful country and getting encircled by its satellites. As we are still debating over the viability of Bullet train or its infrastructure , China has already launched a freight train from the city of Yiwu in eastern Zhejiang province with London, all of 12000 kms covered in 18 days. That is their level of planning and execution. Not that they do everything correctly . But they get things done once they plan something.

The article attached here may not be liked by many Indians . But it is necessary to know about the Chinese viewpoint , too.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Random thoughts 12052017

#Randomthoughts There is a lot of shock , consternation and discussion nowadays about the loss of jobs in the IT sector. But is it really surprising ? What we call Computer jobs are basically program code writing. Somewhat like a kind of glorified document copying before the photocopying came in. Now artificial intelligence has reached a stage when programs and robots will be able to generate programs. So this army of code writers will become obsolete , gradually. What happened to those document copiers and typists outside courts will happen to these code writers.
The analogy may not be exactly reflecting the present situation and there are other dimensions too , in the issue. But the basic theme underlying is that of disruption and obsolence in its wake. The quicker one realises this the better it will be. Because change will happen .

Random thoughts 13052017

#TotalBakwaas My Saturday morning is spiced up with mirth after reading two news items :
1. Jackie Chan and Sylvester Stallone are coming together for a film tentatively named Ex-Baghdad where both play the role of former special services soldiers.
2. Mithun Chakraborty is back in action and he will play the role of a psychiatrist in Ram Gopal Verma's horror film. And he is also supposed to play the role of the National Security Advisor in another film.
Did anybody else too notice these monumentally important news items ? Or is it me that is attracted to them like a fly on a jackfruit. Come on, thank me for the smile after reading this post. FB has a new emoticon for that. Or did you not notice that too ?

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Random thoughts 09052017

"The real difficulty is with the vast wealth and power in the hands of the few and the unscrupulous who represent or control capital. Hundreds of laws of Congress and the state legislatures are in the interest of these men and against the interests of workingmen. These need to be exposed and repealed. All laws on corporations, on taxation, on trusts, wills, descent, and the like, need examination and extensive change. This is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people no longer. It is a government of corporations, by corporations, and for corporations. — How is this?"

The above quote is attributed to Rutherford B. Hayes , the nineteenth President of the USA who held office from Feb 1877 to March 1881.Hayes was elected president in one of the most contentious and confused elections in the electoral history of the USA. He lost the popular vote to Democrat Samuel J. Tilden but he won an intensely disputed electoral college vote giving him the presidency by the margin of one vote.
The result was the Compromise of 1877, in which the Democrats acquiesced to Hayes's election and Hayes ended all U.S. military involvement in Southern politics.

The telephone was installed in the White house for the first time during his incumbency.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Random thoughts 08052017

#Randomthoughts. It is a common practice of most people working in offices, particularly in big cities to stay up late. It is induced not so much by the volume of work but more by the need to suck up to the boss. There are some( actually many) bosses who equate work with late staying at office. And they get sadistic pleasure by keeping people glued to the desk upto late hours. The reason for this is because these middle-aged (mostly) do not have any attraction to go home. They neither look forward to a nice evening with family , nor do they have  good hobbies , friends or clubs to spend time. So they elongate their office hours. Therefore, until the Boss leaves , the whole chain downwards ( at least those who bother about promotions and incentives) slog along or fake it, like orgasms. Uhh uh uh , see Sir, I am working.

The younger subordinates quickly get the message. They fill up their time by Google search , job search, property search,online shopping, gossip, social media etc. and start working after lunch. This way a vicious cycle is perpetuated down the line.There are also some persons, particularly in Metro cities, who delay their return to avoid the office hour rush in public transport systems. The simple truth is that everybody whiles away their time. Anyone who leaves in time is seen as a job shirker and termed as self centered. And everyone starts believing that by overstaying they are working more. Some even feel proud to announce how late they sit in office to show the importance of their post and the job they do. Whenever I hear such morons, I laugh at them inwardly and kick their asses in my mind , while trying to keep a serious face hiding my utter revulsion.

And what great jobs do they do ? Mostly answering emails on MS Outlook, writing notes on MS Word, analysing data on MS Excel and preparing presentations on MS Powerpoint.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Random thoughts 01052017

#MayDay In spite of concerted attempts to wipe out the significance of May Day  from the mind space of the new generation , its relevance is even more today. We now live in the era of trans-national corporations and a globalized work force. Technology may have rendered many of the labour intensive jobs as obsolete but the plight of the unorganised labour and the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few have only increased.

Random thoights 02052017

#BitterPill On one hand, Sajjan Jindal meeting Nawaz Sharief at Murree is termed as back channel diplomacy. On the other side, the decapitation of two BSF jawans at the border is officially stated as Pak army action. Meanwhile, we have all relations with Pakistan as a state, except playing cricket.

The defence ministry is a part-time occupation, the foreign minister, God bless the lady, is recuperating from a serious health problem, the Nindaa ministry is working overtime. The NSA is incognito and not accountable to anybody. People are howling for a war, without worrying for the consequence. What a circus in action for the summer!

The security of the cowntry is as safe as a Gaushala. So let us sing

मेरे हाथों में नौ-नौ चूड़ियाँ है
थोड़ा ठहरो साजन मजबूरियाँ है
मेरे हाथों में नौ-नौ चूड़ियाँ है
थोड़ा ठहरो साजन मजबूरियाँ है

@chetan_bhagat Half Girl Friend  is a fiction . Half Defence Minister is a reality.