Padmavat, A Regressive Film?

After a lot of protest, threat mongering, some violence and vandalism, Padmavati was finally released in UP, Haryana and rest of India. In Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh film was not released. States where movie was released saw footfall of viewers. So much so, in the first week of release, film is believed to have grossed 149 crore rupees.

Despite popular appreciation, the film still faced attack. This time from a member of film fraternity. Ms. Swara Bhaskar, known for her left leaning feminist outlook, wrote a very scathing letter to Mr. Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Ms. Bhaskar described the film to be regressive, a film that glorifies jauhar and Ms. Bhaskar felt she was reduced to a vagina. In the furious debate that followed, many supporters of Ms. Bhaskar’s point of view also argued that glorification of jauhar indicates a patriarchal mindset. A woman is being denied her right to life after being raped by a man. By glorifying jauhar, we are potraying women to be weak who were not courageous enough to be captured and tortured.

While Ms. Bhaskar is entitled to her opinion. Was Ms. Bhaskar angry at escapades and infatuation of Alauddin Khilji with women or was she angry with Bhansali that he had shown jauhar? It is important to understand that Mr. Bhansali is telling a story. If the story writer claims a lead character embraced fire to protect her honor, Mr. Bhansali cannot change the story line.

I think, there is some confusion between jauhar, sati and rape. It must be clarified that jauhar used to happen in medeval India. Rajput women would jump into fire to avoid being captured by invading army. When a decision to commit jauhar is made, most likely no male member of woman’s family is alive. Woman risked being captured and used as sex slave in the harem of conqueror. As per historical documents several jauhars had happened at Chittor and Ranthambhor royal families in 14th and 16th centuries. There might have been  a few other jauhars in other parts of India.

It will be unfair to brand ladies committing themselves to Jauhar as cowards. It would take a lot of courage for anyone to walk or jump into blazing fire. Compared to Jauhar, it may be much easier to submit to your conquerors. Many others had chosen to do the same. 

In contrast to jauhar, sati used to be a practice where a woman would join her husband in funeral pyre. In many cases, relatives of the woman used to persuade her to commit sati to grab her family property and wealth. Raja Ram Mohar Roy had fought agains thte practice of sati. The practice was made into a criminal offence during British rule. In modern India it is a crime to practice sati.

While sati can be said to be coercive, jauhar used to be a self made decision. Question remains was it a right decision? Should a woman not chose to live rather than embracing fire? I think, every individual should have right to end his or life at a point when it is felt death is better than living a life of dishonor. A similar debate also happened to free Ms Aruna Shanbhag from her body, that was in a state of coma for nearly three decades. Indian laws do not permit mercy killing, but a few mature democracies in the world allow mercy killing. In ancient India people at a certain stage in life will renounce society and live a life of ascetic and wait for death. Even today members of Jain community embrace death voluntarily. At the end of the day it is my life, I should have some say how I live and if I do not want to live. It may be difficult to understand psychology of people in medieval India using standards of 21st century.



  1. At The End of Your Magnum Opus… I Felt Reduced to a … – The Wire

  2. Jauhar – Wikipedia


Zee Jaipur Literature Festival

This year I attended Jaipur Literature Festival, also known as Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, this year. This festival happens every year, for five days from 24th Jan till 29th Jan. Festival organisers are Mr. William Dalrymple, Mr. Sanjay Roy, and Ms. Nandita Gokhale.Festival venue is Diggy Palace, an old haveli on Tonk Road. It has been converted to a hotel and festival happens in the premises of this haveli. A few guests also stay there.

At Diggy palace, literature festival happens in five venues – Front Lawn, Charbagh, Mughal Court, Baithak and Samvad. Each venue can hold at least 200 people, may be more. In each venue eight discussions / lectures of one hour duration take place, along with audience interaction, from 10am till 7 pm. Eight lectures multiplied by five venues multiplied by five days. A total of 200 discussions / lectures are delivered by eminent guests from fields which include academics, writers, poets, film personalities, politicians, members of civil society even scientists with flair for writing. All venues remain packed from morning till evening. First hour of the festival from 9 am to 10 am remains dedicated to live performance artists playing Indian classical music.

One can register for the festival by logging into the festival website. One can book a hotel through website of the festival. Different hotels suitable to different pockets are listed on the site. It is important to register twice, once for hotel booking and second time to register for the festival. Registration to festival is free. Of course, one can also register as a delegate by paying fee. A delegate may have access to speakers for a more intimate conversation. Because the festival does not charge any entry fee, many students from Jaipur and around visit the venue. Most days, venue is chock a bloc with young people milling around the venue. According to statistics, nearly 60% visitors to the festival are students. Hope these people imbibe knowledge and wisdom of eminent people who participate in the festival.

While delegates get to eat lunch in festival cafeteria, common participants have to buy tea, coffee, snacks and meals. Cash does not work in festival venue. Every one that buys food have to use cash card by depositing money. Cash card can be refunded to get back balance. A whole variety of foods ranging from Rajasthan kachori to chicken Tikka roll is available for purchase. So are Belgian waffles and filter coffee or Masala tea. Participants also can purchase gifts using their credit cards.

From New Delhi one can avail Ajmer Shatabdi for up and down journeys. Journey takes around five hours. Another superfast train is double Decker Jaipur-Sarai Rohilla express, which also takes around five hours to cover the journey. Once in Jaipur, travel is easy because one can dial Ola cab, and auto. Interested tourists can also avail Ola bike service. Ola cabs go by map and fare is more reasonable and honest, compared to private auto / cabs. One should be little careful about choosing right hotel. The one I selected was not a great one. But, fortunately I spent most of my time at the festival venue.

I enjoyed my two days at the Jaipur Literature Festival. I had the good fortune to listen Pico Iyer, Lisa Randall, Tridip Suhrid, Dipanka Gupta, Rohan and Sudha Murthy, Ashok Bajpayei, Hamid Karzai, Nandita Das and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, among others.  It was an invigorating experience to be aware of raging debates in our society. It is a great forum to create better citizens of tomorrow. I wish to go back next year for five days.

Padmavat Protest : Blurred Line Between Fact and Fiction

Recently, I was returning from Jaipur. At 5 am in the morning, I saw Mr. Lokendra Kalvi, supreme leader of Karni Sena, at the railway station. He was coming to Delhi NCR region. We travelled in the same compartment. I sat a few seats away from Mr. Kalvi. Despite his age, Mr. Kalvi was standing ramrod  straight. He had confident stride and was self assured. A few people came to touch his feet in the platform. He was gracious to bless them in Indian style and talked to them. Inside the train, when ticket checker asked for an identity, Mr. Kalvi did not throw his weight around, showed his papers. In general, I found Lokendra Kalvi to be a reasonable man who was at peace with himself.
Now from the deeds of Karni Sena in recent times, it is hard to explain with a leader like Mr. Kalvi, how can position of Karni Sena be so unreasonable? Time and again group members have been found to shout out opposition in TV debates, threaten actors and directors of film with physical violence, vandalise public property in defiance of Supreme Court order, stone a bus full of school children and try to set it on fire. To top it all, group had hired a lawyer in Mr. A P Singh to Singh virtues of Rajput pride and Rajput women like Rani Padmavati. It must be remembered that it is the same Mr. A P Singh, who had represented rapists in Nirbhaya rape and murder case. After losing the case in the supreme court, Mr. Singh had famously claimed, “If my daughter or sister engaged in pre-marital activities and disgraced herself and allowed herself to lose face and character by doing such things, I would most certainly take this sort of sister or daughter to my farmhouse, and in front of my entire family, I would put petrol on her and set her alight.” It is ironical that Karni Sena has chosen a misogynist to sing virtues of Rajput women.
Till date, I have not understood what is the objection of Karni Sena towards Padmavat(i).
Is this antipathy is rooted in a sense of personal affront to Mr. Kalvi, that director and producer did not consult him while writing the script? Mr Kalvi had declined to watch the movie. He was seen to comment what would I say about a movie. I do not even understand English language. It seems there is a sense of hurt in being ignored. But no one is admitting such a thing.
Alternatively, is the outrage represents a more global affront to Rajput pride and sentiments? Without going into arguments around existence of Rani Padmavati and benevolence of Alauddin Khilji, it has been reported from time to time that Rajput Karni Sena is angry about  a dream sequence between Rani Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji. The scene it was believed to have show a romantic affair between Khilji and the queen.  Director had denied existence of such a scene. Even if the scene is there in the film, it is Alauddin’s dream and not that of Rani Padmini. Can a person not have a dream about subject he desires and can a director not take liberty to think of such a sequence?
There was a discussion on a dance sequence in the film. Rajput groups have claimed their women, let alone queens, do not dance in open court like that shown in the film. We do not know how Rani Padmavati acted more than 800 years before. Rani Padmavati is eulogised for her bravery and her desire to die than to give up her honour. Still, unlike Meera Bay, another queen from the same lineage a few generations later, Rani Padmavati was no saint. Could a queen not dance in inner palace in the presence of ladies? Can a director not take such a liberty to show a sequence?
In the movie Rajput king and people have come out looking good. Rajputs have been shown to defend their fort and honour but eventually lost. This is history. We cannot change this history. But we can act and behave in such a way that future historians discuss us in a better light.
As a sign of sanity and apparent maturity, Karni Sena has decided to make a film on mother of Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The idea being, if mother of Rajput people is being insulted by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Karni Sena would insult Bhansali’s mother. I find the move childish because for a successful film, one has to have a target audience that may be able to enjoy or relate to sequence of events. Life of Mrs. Leela Bhansali is otherwise indescript. Why would anyone like to watch it? But that is Karni Sena’s choice. They should resort to doing anything they feel like in a peaceful manner
Meanwhile, I think our governments have a lot to learn how to uphold rights of people who cannot defend themselves from organised gangs like Karni Sena and many other similar groups. If we start taking objection to every scene and sequence in movie or a story, then in a culturally rich and diverse nation like India no one can make a movie on the life of a personality from past. Along the same line, in the west, the move “Last Temptation of Christ” had shown fight of Jesus Christ with lust among other things. This  movie was released all over the world. Only in France there was an explosion where 13 people were injured. In rest of the world, film went on peacefully.

All Pervasive Duplicity

I am stuck by double standard displayed by left and left leaning civil society groups. Assault and murder of Akhlaq, Pehlu Khan, Junaid and Afrazul, were horrible and repulsive. No amount of rationalisation can justify such acts. Killers should be punished in the harshest manner possible. I agree and accept every life is equally important. No one should be bullied for their personal choices. Loss of everylife must be mourned. Life and liberty cannot be measured in terms of statistics.

The same logic, however, was deserted on the issue of triple talaq. It was put forward that only a miniscule number of Muslim women get instant divorce. Should every life of a Muslim women not be equally important, irrespective of her marital status?

It was argued who will take care of a Muslim woman, if their husband is jailed for issuing instant divorce? More important question, never ever raised in 70 years, what used to happen to a divorced Muslim woman and her kids when man used to walk out? Why sudden concern?

Then the eternal dilemma why not address issues of Hindu women, specially those who stay in old age homes in Varanasi and Vrindavan? Problem is some Hindu widows renounce society and live alone in old age is search of their spiritiual quest. Without denying there are many women who are deliberately abandoned by their kin. It must be remembered that such a Hindu practice is social in nature not bound by religious diktat. Unlike the practice of triple talaq, as claimed by preachers, banning a Hindu practice will not hamper Hindu dharma. So why equate an apple with an orange?

Some politicians have even brought marital status of prime minister into debate. It is true, Mr. prime minister did not lead a married life. But his wife was free to seek a divorce and marry anothr person of her or her family’s choice. She chose a life of her choice, that is to stay single. How is this situation related to women who are pronounced to be divorced by uttering talaq thrice?

I think many civil society and political party organised protests are motivated less by plight of victims, and more by deep antipathy to prime minister and ruling party.

Train Travel in Foggy New Year

I love to travel by train. Of course, I have to have a seat by the window, I should not have to haggle with co-passengers for a luggage space, food is served during travel and train has a clean toilet. So with a great hope and expectation, I boarded executive class of Delhi – Lucknow Shatabdi express on the penultimate day of 2017. I had hoped to look through the wide window, while sipping hot coffee and enjoying snacks, as the country side flew by.

Train started on time. Lo and behold, dense fog covered countryside. Instead of travelling at 60 mile per hour, we were travelling at half the speed. We arrived at our first station, Ghaziabad, 30 min late. As we moved along haze covered countryside, often simply standing on the track, we were getting late by the hour.

At Aligarh station around 11 am, like a weary traveller Howrah-Delhi-Kalka mail entered the station, running late by nearly 18 hours. In my mind I had an image of Kalka mail from my childhood days. In those days, Kalka mail used to be a premier train. Travellers were prepared to face any hardship to get a seat on this train. Not only very punctual, travel time from Kanpur to Howrah used to be less by Kalka mail, compared to other trains. With time, Rajdhanis and Durontos have replaced Kalka mail from its premier position. Now the train looks awful in its blue coloured coaches with small pigeon hole type windos. Train runs slow and is often out of schedule. But why blame Kalka mail alone? This journey we saw many premier Duronto’s, Rajdhani’s and Shatabdi’s falling way behind their scheduled arrival time.

By the time we reached Kanpur, it was 3.30 pm. We were running late by four hours. Sun that came out at some point, was beginning to be covered by fog. Hungry and tired we moved on towards Lucknow. We had our scheduled breakfast. No meal was expected to be served as we were to arrive in Lucknow by 12.30 in the noon. It was indeed a relief,  when hot rice and dal were offered by railways after Kanpur. We reached Lucknow five hours late at 5.30 pm.

We spent a sunny day in Lucknow. That is another story. Return journey, on the first of Jan, 2018 was even more eventful. Departure was delayed by six hours. We started at 9.30 pm in the evening, instead of 3.30 pm in the afternoon. We reached New Delhi at 11 am in the morning, nearly 12 hour late. Train was half empty. Passengers could stretch out on the seats and sleep at night. Not much breakfast in the morning. It was not part of plan. Relieved when disembarked in New Delhi. Some start to New Year!

Mr. Vijay Mallya, and His Worries

Billionaire business tycoon, Mr. Vijay Mallya, who ran an airline and a liquor business, defaulted on loans taken from nationalised banks in India. Amount of his due was believed to be upwards to 3000 crore rupees. Tycoon did not pay salaries to his airline employees, let alone the money that was due to banks. Finally, Mr. Mallya left with all his bags and baggages, twenty two large suitcases, in a private plane and settled in his mansion in London. Government of India is trying to bring him back to India to face trial. First hurdle being getting an UK court to let British government to pack Mr. Mallya off to India. Without going into intricacies of legalese, what has come to attention of a lay person like me is Mr. Mallya is contending that Indian prisons are not suitable to hold him. Mr. Mallya fears his life may be in danger in Indian prison.

My pure blue nationalist blood boils at such aspersions being cast against our jails. That too on a foreign soil. Though, Indian side has assured UK judge that Mr. Mallya will have good time in Indian jail, I think, it is time, Indian government must parade in front of UK court, the likes of

  • Shri Lalu Yadav, Ex chief minister of Bihar, convicted in fodder scam;
  • Ms Sasikala Natarajan, right hand person on Tamil Nadu chief minister convicted on disproportional wealth case;
  • Mr. Subroto Roy, a billionaire chairman of Sahara India, very much like Mr. Vijay Mallya, arrested in chitfund scam;
  • Mr. Suresh Kalmadi, sports minister accused of CWG scam;
  • Mr. A Raja, ex telecommunication minister in UPA II government, accused of 2G spectrum distribution scam;
  • Ms. Kanimoji, powerful daughter of DMK supremo, also accused in 2G spectrum scam.

These are only a few prominent names. Many others run a complete business empire from within jail with access to full privileges.

We must assert that if one has adequate money and access to power, both of which Mr. Mallya is not is short supply, one can have access to private toilet, personal office equipped with fax machine. Ask Mr. Subroto Roy, who owes a measly sum of 3000 crore to his clients. With adequate power, one may enjoy privilege of having snacks and chai with jail superintendent. Ask Kalmadi and A Raja. One may have a bungalow fitted with all amenities to rule a state, if you happen to be ex CM of a state. Ask Lalu ji. One may even go out for shopping, have a masseuse and home cooked food. Ask Ms. Sasikala Nagarajan.

Indian side must parade these worthies in London court to reassure the judge that Mr Mallya has nothing to fear. He may have his scotch whiskey, his mutton biriyani and a bevy of girls in attendance in jail. He will not have to face pesky reporters and answer their questions. In fact, Mallya will have a better life in jail, all expense taken care of by Indian tax payers. Is this not what is happening in London too?


Vijay Mallya: Mallya will have good times in jail: Official – Times of India

Dengue Death at Fortis Hospital : Medical Insurance not Enquiry is the Answer

A little girl was admitted to a super specialty hospital in Gurgao for treatment of severe form of Dengue fever. The girl was transferred from Rockland Hospital in Dwarka to Fortis Hospital in Gurgaon. Girl passed away after 15 days in intensive care unit. Her medical bill was close to 16 lakh rupees. Girl’s father said he objected to the insensitive manner the hospital dealt with him. For example, dead body was not released till all formalities were completed including full bill payment. Parents had to wait 8 hours to get access to the body of their daughter.

The story as it emerged, set the media on fire. Of the two issues such as (a) insensitive treatment and (b) high hospital bill,  media probably could not make a great story out of administrative indifference. As a result, media houses latched onto issue of high medical bill. Media highlighted how many gloves were used, how many syringes were billed, what was the cost of medicine, how much fee was paid to physician and how much to dietician etc.

Under relentless media pressure, central government and state government of Haryana has promised to look into the issue of high medical bill. Haryana government has formed a high level committee to investigate and will in most liklihood share its report with central government. There is also suggestion to create a mechanism to regulate private hospitals. West Bengal government has initiated such a mechanism by ensuring passage of a bill in state assembly.

It cannot be denied that many corporate hospitals operate for profit. More than patients, these hospitals probably own their allegiance to share holders. That is why doctors are given target to suggest expensive procedures. Doctors who meet targets are given a percentage of business accrued. This could be the reason why father of the patient was suggested plasmapheresis, even after doctors gave up hope.  Still, I think media is barking on the wrong tree when it accuses hospital of inflated bill, for the following reasons:

  •  First, though generally self curing, in some cases in children under 10 year of age Dengue fever can take serious turn. As in the present case, the child was suffering from septic shock syndrome. To treat such a serious condition she had to be admitted in intensive care medicine, and kept there for fifteen days. Charge of a day’s stay in intensive care unit  may be close to one lac rupee, depending upon seriousness of condition.
  •  Fortis hospital is a corporate hospital. It usually follows standard operating procedure for every action and maintains a record for the same. Because in case of a lapse, hospital may get sued and definitely it will get bad publicity.
  • Even in the present case, hospital has supplied a 16 page bill with break up of professional fees and consumables. As it has emerged through discussion on TV, hospital had informed parent / guardian of patient every evening of days medical bill incurred. According to Dr. Narottam Puri, an advisor to Fortis Hospital, in all likelihood signature of patients parent / guardian was taken on medical bill of the day.
  • Media houses that are complaining about use of so many gloves and syringes, will probably turn around and claim negligence if the same patient had developed an infection for not using fresh pair of gloves.
  • Compared to many government run hospitals, likes of Fortis, Apollo, Medanta etc., are comparatively high end hospitals. These hospitals cater to upper middle class and rich Indians and to overseas clients. High hospital charge may be to maintain exclusivity as well as to maintain a standard of efficiency in medical, surgical and diagnostic procedures and to execute in an orderly fashion administrative processes like cleanliness, hygiene, security, cafeteria and housekeeping  etc.
  • Instead of asking why hospital is charging high fee for specialist physicians, which they deserve based on their expertise, one may question could the hospital have supplied generic medicine compared to branded products?

Instead of blaming Fortis Hospital, opinion makers must direct their attention towards (i) creation of better government hospital and that charge less and / or (ii) creation of a system of universal insurance card for every citizens. Such that any individual can be treated in any hospital without worrying about buying a hole in his pocket.  In many developed nations, citizens are issued a health insurance card, free of cost or for a nominal charge. Such basic Medical insurance, Medicare, takes care of hospital admission cost for certain illnesses. Over and above Medicare, people are free to purchase private insurance, that cover more extensive coverage.

There are several commercial insurance policies available in the market. Most of them are beyond the reach of poor people of India. Dr. Devi Shetty of Narayana Hridyala had created a health insurance for 3.4 million farmers of Karnataka by paying Rs. 20 per month. The insurance will cover procedures for more than 800 common surgeries.


After Lakhs Allegedly Billed By Gurgaon Hospital, Father Of Dead …

Fortis Hospital Dengue Death Case | Corruption in Private 

Dengue patient dies, parents billed Rs 16 lakh for 2 weeks in ICU

Health Ministry Demands Probe Into Fortis ‘Overcharging’ Family of Seven-Year-Old Who Died of Dengue  The Wire

Fortis Hospital dengue death case: Haryana govt orders probe

West Bengal assembly passes bill to regulate private hospitals in state …

Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty – health insurance scheme for Karnataka farmers



Violent People and Turbulent Sky

It is generally accepted that air space around India’s crowded airports is not ideal. We have heard horror stories of aircrafts coming dangerously close. We have heard incidence of computer in air traffic control failing and manual management of busy airports often become difficult. All said and done, by gods grace, we have not seen many or any major accident.

On the other hand, space within aircraft is also becoming very dangerous. We have heard of a privileged and entitlement conscious passenger beating an airline employee for being slighted. The incident forced government to bring law that would empower airline employees to handle unruly passengers. A side effect of such a law has manifested itself, when a middle aged passenger was body slammed in the tarmac after an alteraction in New Delhi.

A video of the event has emerged in public domain. In the video, the following can be seen and/or heard:

  • one can hear Mr. Katiyal using abusive language, “F-word”;
  • employees, it can be heard, objected to use of such a language;
  • an employee was shouting stop him from boarding the bus.
  • It can be seen that Mr. Ravindr Katiyal was prevented from boarding a bus that would take him from tarmac to terminal.
  • It can be seen that an employee was physcially restraining Mr. Katiyal.
  • When released of the vice grip, Mr. Katiyal was seen attacking another employee on charge of pushing him.
  • In turn, the employee tackles and throws him on the ground. We can see employee was restraining Mr. Katiyal by holding him by his throat.
  • Mr. Katiyal, lying on the ground, can be seen hitting the employee.

As the video went viral and picked up by TV channels additional information emerged.

  • Mr. Katiyal was travelling from Chennai to Delhi by Indigo airline. His plane landed in Delhi at noon when temperature in the tarmac was close to 37 degree celcius.
  • Mr. Katiyal allowed elderly, ladies and children to board the shuttle bus.
  • Mr. Katiyal was waiting for the bus, under shade of the plane. His conflict started when an employee asked him to come out of the shade. According to Mr. Katiyal employee spoke to him rudely.
  • The person with whom Mr. Katiyal had physical conflict was not even the person who instigated the initial fight.
  • To add insult to injury, in police station Mr. Katiyal was told whole incidence was his fault. Katiyal’s wife was told her husband was psychotic. They were threatened with a counter law suit by Indigo.
  • To be fair, keeping in mind passenger safety, no one is allowed to come close to the aircraft. A member of ground staff, of an airline was sucked in by engine of a jet liner in an Indian airport.

Even if we agree that Indio ground staff did not hit Mr. Katiyal, despite being attacked and abused, and Indigo staff were going by the rule book that a passenger is not allowed to go near the aircraft for his own safety,  a few points must be considered:

  •  Mr. Katiyal was not allowed to board shuttle and physically prevented him. This cannot be permitted. Does Indigo has any right not to let a customer board shuttle bus to settle score?
  • Even if Mr. Katiyal, a 50 plus year old passenger, had thrown the first punch, Mr. Katiyal was no match to airline staff. Could trained staff of airline have not handle him better? One can see a tall guy holding and restraining Katiyal. They could have simply resorted to such a tactic.
  • Airline staff should be trained to deal with all kind of passengers. One thing is a rowdy client on board a flight and another is dealing with a passenger on tarmac. More so under peak mid day sun. Indigo staff should have controlled themselves, let the passenger move to cooler climes of bus and terminal. That is how a mature and trained staff behave.
  • Mr. Katiyal was thrown on the ground. He could have been seriously injured in the process. Mr. Katiyal was a paying customer. He certainly did not bargain for sucha treatment when he boarded the flight. Indigo could have handed him over to CISF. The person who instigated had left. In 40 degree heat if a passenger was waiting for bus, he could have treated much more professionally.
  • If Indigo was on the right side of legal and moral divide, why did they sit on the video for so long?

Overall, the airline came out in very bad light. In the US, a passenger was injured when security personnel tried to deboard him forcefully. United Airlines had pay a hefty compensation to the passenger. I think the Incidence merits serious compensation and criminal investigation.


1.IndiGo incident video: What led to passenger, ground staff fight; who …

2. My Colleagues Were Trying to Prevent a Serious Mishap: IndiGo Prez …

Demonetisation, One Year Later

One year has passed since the decision to demonetise high value currencies was announced by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi on Nov, 2016. A lot has been said both for and against demagnetisation. Nobel laureates Prof. Amartya Sen and Prof. Paul Krugman have denounced efficacy of the mechanism. On the other hand, Prof Jagdish Bhagwati had praised demonetisation as a bold move, and S. Gurumurthy, an idealogogue of RSS, has claimed demonetisation to be a paradigm shift. In the political front, former finance minister Mr. P Chidambaram has called demonitisation the biggest scam, while the current finance minister Mr. Arun Jaitley has enumerated numerous benefits of demonetization on the posterity.

As the GDP figures on second quarter of financial year 2017 -18 came out, opposition and media had attributed low GDP numbers as an adverse effect of  demonetisation. Though economists have advised not to link demonetisation to low GDP growth, critics were relentless. Many of the expected deliverables of demonetisation were not achieved, for example:

  • Terror funding was not affected as incidence of stone pelting in Kashmir did not come down.  We know, however, that post demonetisation there had been several bank robberies in Kashmir valley. Could this not indicate there was cash crunch and terrorists ran away with cash?
  • Black money was not affected by demonetisation. Not only almost all money had come back to bank, no one has been arrested and or prosecuted for holding black money. There is no doubt that people that had black money, had peddled it ingenuously. But consider this fact that 30 thousand crore has  emerged as black money and 290 thousand crore of unusual transactions are under scanner. This may suggest around 320 thousand crore unaccounted money under scanner. Is that not nearly one fifth of Indian currency in circulation?
  • Economy has crawled back from cashless to cash driven. Prior to demonetisation, cash to GDP ratio was more than 12. This ratio has come down to 9 one year after demonetisation. Some data suggest, there is definite increase in cashless transaction. All said and done, bringing behavioural change takes time. Government has made an effort. It must persist by giving incentive to using cashless transactions.
  • Many people had to endure a lot of hardship. As many as 120 people lost their lives directly or indirectly due to demonetisation. Post demonetisation, I had visited Haryana and Assam on my personal capacity. I did not see the type of misery, and devastation being propagated by TV channels and news papers. In addition, ruling party had scored significant victory in many village panchayat, municipality and state assembly elections, most notable being landslide in Uttar Pradesh.

As I hear debates for and against demonitisation, it appears that both sides are speaking the same thing. While pro demonitisation group is putting emphasis on long term benefits, opposition is not denying exactly long term benefits, but they are focusing on short term inconveniences. Pro demonitisation groups claim hardship came with the package, and people were warned. Nature of the move did not allow great preparation. Anti demo group claim perceived benefits could have achieved by different means without causing less discomfort. Who is right? Indian people will decide, may be in 2019.



  1. The-poor-have-embraced-modi-and-the-vote-merchants-still-dont-get-it

2. From-harvard-to-house-how-notebandi-naysayers-got-it-so-wrong

3. Demonetisation was a fundamental corrective to the economy much like liberalisation of the 1990s :

4. Why DeMo, GST are not to blame for slowdown – Times of India Blogs

5. Modi’s Mission 2022: Government is methodically shattering the glass ceilings that trap Indians in poverty





Padmavati, Controversy’s Child

The movie Padmavati seems to be getting entangled in protests and controversies. In the earlier part of the year, set of the movie was destroyed by angry Rajput Karni Sena. Now that the movie is about to be released, Rajput groups want the movie be shown to them before it is released to general public. The bone of contention being a dream sequence where Alauddin Khilji is believed to fall in love with Padmavati. Director of Padmavati has denied such a scene exists. Protestors, however, are not ready to buy any assurance.

There is a strong undercurrent against Alauddin Khilji and several other muslim kings who had invaded Rajputana and India. Stories of Rajput women sacrificing their lives by jumping into fire, rather than submitting to victorious muslim army, is a matter of great pride and part of folk tales, It is, thus, very difficult to reason with protestors that even if a dream sequence exists in the movie, it is the dream of Alauddin Khilji and not of Rani Padmavati. One cannot control what Alauddin Khilji is thinking. A man who can march an army to conquer wife of a neighbouring king, can he not have a lurid fantacy? But this cannot be held again Rani Padmavati. Because she had no soft corner for the Khilji king.

As the debate around Padmavati intensified, some scholars claimed that Padmavati never existed.  How could a princess from Ceylon become queen of Chittor in Rajputana? Some doubted occurrence of Jauhar. Some even suggested Padmavati was a loser, who chose death over life? According to scholars, historians who accompanied Alauddin Khilji in his conquest, never talked of Padmavati. It can be argued that, history is written by victors and not by the vanquished. Indian history has traditionally been spread word of mouth by bards. Over a period of time, exaggeration might have crept in, but actual occurrences probably remained undisputed. Thus story of Rani Padmavati is part of hindu folklore.  Jauhar kund exists in Chittorgarh fort. Historians report of three jauhars that happened in Chittorgarh, after Sultan Alauddin Khilji of Delhi, Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat and Emperor Akbar of Delhi. In the middle of all this, I want to see Ranveer Singh as Allauddin Khilji.

People have tried to potray Alauddin Khilji as a benevolent general, who  administered his kingdom well, expanded  it, and protected it by keeping invading mughals at bay. Others think of Alauddin Khilji as a ruthless person who killed his own father in law, coveted a neighbouring king’s wife and generally cruel against vast population of hindu subjects.  By the way, Alauddin Khilji was not a devout muslim by his own standard. He had a lover in Malik Kafur, his trusted general. Practice of homo-sexuality is a heresy for devout muslims even today.

Without condoning Alauddin Khilji and muslim invaders after him for their cruelty against majority hindu natives, is it fair to judge the man of 1306  by todays standard of 2017? Both Alauddin and Rani Padmavati were products of their time. Their morality, their value system, their concept of honour, and their outlook to life were totally different. We may not like them, but we cannot change them. That is history. We can make better history by letting others watch Padmvati. I am dieing to watch Ranveer Singh as Alauddin Khilji. I loved the way he portrayed Peshwa Bajirao. Let us hope good sense prevails.