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The Rising

Expensive Movie they say

Sounds like junk to me

I am a very lucky person , I just cannot sit through any movie. English or Hindi. I often come across an English movie while changing channels and within 5 seconds a gun appears, in Hindi ones a wedding, a birthday or hospital scene will crop up, if it is the latter the howling is so loud that dogs run away with their tails between their legs.

I believe The Rising makes no apology for not being aware of the facts. I once watched the entire Titanic though, where they wove a love story into a very tragic incident. However the details were meticulously reproduced. The actual sinking simulation would have made any technical and computer animation laboratory beam with pride. In the case of The Rising resources were not lacking, perhaps ideas were. And that is an unfair expectation from our movie directors.

If you really want to know details of the Mutiny you could download one very comprhensive account with Delhi as its pivot . This was downloaded from the great repository of Human Knowledge called Project Gutenberg. The details are to say the least disgusting. I read somewhere that the more gruesome acts of the mutiny in Meerut were the responsiblity of hardened criminals who were released when the old jail was broken . The Indian soldiers, or sepoys as they were called at that time did not participate in the atrocities. Predictably the British reacted in a like manner. You would rather not read about the orgy of killing which took place in Chandni Chowk. Click here to download .

The Wealth of the Nations

And you may want to view the crown of 6100 diamonds which King George V wore for the the durbar in 1912. Who paid? The poor farmers of India ! Through a vast system of collection called settlements. Who collected ? "the district collectors" obviously. The crown in Britain was not allowed to leave its shores.

"Amongst these development of the nineteenth century stood the imposing Queen, Victoria. Her example, concern and genuine interest in India and her welfare touched a cord with Indians in all ranks of society. Her assumption of the Imperial title in 1877, seen as a natural outcome of the personal, yet remote, relationship that had been developed over the past quarter century. Henceforth, the princes of India would see Victoria and her successors as their sovereign, to whom they gave their loyalty. Public demonstrations of this were amply given in the various wars in which Britain engaged and in the Durbars arranged at Delhi and elsewhere. Begining with the Proclamation Durbar in 1877, and repeated with increased ceremony and grandeur at the Coronation Durbar of 1903 and culminated in the magnificent spectacle of 1911. The King-Emperor George V and Queen-Empress Mary attended the 1911 Durbar in person, an unprecedented event in both Indian and Imperial history. Practically every ruling prince, nobleman and person of note, attended to pay obeisance to their sovereign, in person. The Sovereigns appeared in their Coronation robes, the King-Emperor wearing the Imperial Crown of India with eight arches, containing six thousand one hundred and seventy diamonds, and covered with sapphires, emeralds and rubies, with a velvet and miniver cap all weighing nineteen and a half ounces. They then appeared at a darshan (a sight) at the jharoka (balcony window) of Red Fort, to receive half a million or more of the common people who had come to greet them." - There is so much you need to know about our colonial past, you were not afraid to ask but just could not find where to look . Well I found the site to answer ALL questions - Made in England will put up the URL soon. The above para comes from that site. Click here I found the site again !


The PM's Independence day speech

at Red fort

I cannot remember when I last heard a speech let alone an Independence day Speech. People in political life should really be considered our leaders. People who we look up to. There are not many of that shade around. The bare minimum for political life should be integrity and even that is rarely available now. For the young his speech would be a boring speech. It talked not of reaching for the sky but of building a very basic foundation on which greater things could be based. The words came from a sincere honest and genuine man and it was clear that he meant what he said. There were no flowing scarlet and crimson robes no crowns of 1000's of diamonds. Yet it felt, that at least at the top of a crumbling structure there was a good man and that should lead to nothing but good. We need a 'Mahan Vyakti' at the top and it seems we have one. The Great Indian Paradox has always been this - So much to be done , so many people to do it .. nothing gets done and full employment is the lowest in the world.

The Red Fort has been traditionally the place of Royal proclamations and ceremonies. Jehangir and Aurangzeb used to appear daily so that the people of Delhi could see that they were indeed at the helm. At the left is a picture of King George V and Queen Mary following the same tradition. The year is 1911. They had come to India to announce the shift of the British-Indian capital from Calcutta to Delhi and the creation of a New Delhi. Fort William then, was the equivalent of South Block and North Block. And yes I would vote for a replacement of these dreary colonial legacy buildings by something which would display the talents of modern Indian Architects . Surely more space is required now, and that can only come with more floors.

I actually read a reaction in the press about the rural employement guarantee scheme. It was labelled as 'populist'. This is a word the know-it-all types use . It implies - 'We know better but must go along with the masses' . The thing is that NOBODY knows better in these days of rapid change in everything . In fact those restricted in their vision by outdated textbooks know the least, because their minds are shackled and constrained often by centuries old knowledge. Once proper Municipal services and Cooperative structured Electricity supply is organised there would be wave upon wave of employment even in the urban areas. Electricity Supply in the USA in low population and remote areas is provided not from a central grid but by cooperatives.

Another recent speech

The PM's Speech at Oxford (England)

I was reminded of a sentence Brother Mahoney used to recite everyday when threatening us with dire consequences. "I mean what I say and I say what I mean". He was an Irishman and probably understood that it is very difficult to determine what we Indians really mean ( that probably holds for the entire human race ). My own opinion on the Empire is this - I have great respect for the Britons who stayed back on their Island. When it comes to self-adulation the British come just next to Indians. You must have heard the cliché "the Sun never set on the Empire". And that England ruled over territory 100 times its own size. This gets watered down terribly when you notice that this statement included Australia. And that mainly had kangaroos when this cliché made the rounds.

Read this one ( the one on the right) to understand how they justified all this to hordes of church going Britons.

What about man-made famines, which made efforts to "exterminate the Jews" by Hitler look like petty theft? ( Victorian Holocausts - Mike Davis 2003 Click here to read one chapter) What about sending Indian Armies to fight battles to forcibly peddle Opium in China? What about Bentinck ( Lord, Governor-General, Viceroy :) ) wanting to dismantle and sell the Taj Mahal... What about leaving behind regulations which show a marked preference for "permissions" as opposed to dependence on "Laws of Negation" and "Natural Laws"? ( There was a reason for this ... Instead of Indians buying British goods, Chintz( a very fine cloth) became so popular in England that mills in Manchester started closing down. Click here . The first faltering steps of the East India company were a disaster..Not for long .. There were other ways - controls when they got into government.!!)

"The British Empire was an act of adventure enterprise and creativity" (!!!!!!). We can excuse our PM on the basis that a major portion of his education has been in the UK and it is but human to pick up their point of view. On a kinder note perhaps he was only following the ancient Indian tradition of only saying complimentary things to his hosts.

Electricity

No complaints

Because there is no use in complaining. Noticed now nobody talks of rural electrification now as Electricity has vanished even from the towns. 'Mera Bharat Mahan'. Minimum charges pay for salaries of the employees so there is no need to actually provide electricity. In all this , we must not forget, that there are an enormous number of families who have no generators. And a summer like this in cramped surroundings without electricity ... :( most of us would prefer the luxuries of a german concentration camp.( They always had electricity if only to keep the gas chambers working :( ). Whose fault is it? Well it is the responsiblity of the planning commission ( very coveted babu job ) to look at least a decade ahead.. Wind power is no good in this area .. but it is the quickest way to supplement a shortfall. 2 weeks later : it just keeps getting worse day by day( 3rd Aug. barely 4 hours of Electricity / 17th August even less. It is never on even an unbroken hour. 22nd Aug: things may have improved for the last 2 days . It never lasts though - it is always Forever Backward.) . Surprise, Surprise the Babu and Fauji areas have 24 hour electricity. Public money is meant to benefit the public right? You must be joking.

Mumbai Rain

Cannot believe what you see?

In India's most modern city?

We live and learn. Who is to blame ? For an act of God.. Nobody, we could have been better prepared and at least have shown some signs of tackling the problem. Knowing our beloved country even that was too much too expect. (Forget about tackling emergencies, we in Meerut live with man-made emergencies all the time - what with the electricity going off unexpectedly at all hours off the day - off for at least 12 hours a day now and increasing ). Put another way even expecting the Government to do something must be taken as a great compliment to it. I was amazed at the naiveté of the very urbanised and cynical Mumbaikar. What the Government does very well is collect and spend it on themselves or embezzle by the 100s of crores.

Nobody can deny that Mumbai is India's most modern city and Meerut and others like it have been around for thousands of years. So a look at the disaster from our vantage point can be a very interesting exercise.

Bombay started off big. This picture was taken after Fort St.George was dismantled in the 1860s.

Mumbai is built around electricity. It has had lifts and electric trains since the 1920s. Switch off electricity and you switch off Mumbai. ..No trains, and people would die in Lifts.. Yet we could see that something was indeed very very wrong. Why are there such great distances between places of work and residential areas? The answer is not difficult to find . Mumbai's structure was laid when people were fascinated with breakthroughs in Transportation. Cars and Railways. Now it feels like the main albatross around Mumbai's neck.

Hate History ? Well read, this it may change your attitude. It is the most well researched history of Mumbai I have seen. From Mumbai-on-the-net . The page is written by Dr.Ardeshir Damania.

Nothing could have removed the enormous distress but at least a few things would have alleviated it. The Army has numerous helicopters and inflatable rafts. Maybe someone saw them :). It seems it takes days to get a clearance for a helicopter and from the very highest level. And it has to be done with paper. Forget about email and SMS. Yes.. the largest chunk of the budget goes to the Army. They did not even appear in J&K to fight the militants. That was for the BSF to do.

The tribulations will not end with the rains stopping . Mumbai has an enormous lot of crumbling houses, some actually classified as Heritage buildings and these could start becoming rubble when the the sun comes out. Finally a solution for the commuting problem . It is time Mumbai built a Metro style Railway system like a double decker above the current railway tracks. Mumbai pays 57% of the country's total tax and it deserves to keep some of that for itself.

Is Meerut Looking cleaner?

The Civil lines areas and the army areas have certainly improved. Garbage bins are visible only in those areas . Still, there are less garbage heaps visible. Someone must sing praises of the people who operate the Excavators and Dumper trucks - they can be seen working at all times of the day. Even hot summer afternoons.

Now something must be done about Abu ka Nala. It used to be cleaned every month about 15 years ago now due to lack of regular cleaning the level is so high that it does not serve the purpose it was made for . The water does not flow into it from the feeder "stormwater" drains.

The Heat

What about a quick week end trip to Mussoorie? We always manage to forget how close the hills are. Start early to avoid the flood of cars making a beeline to the hills. Stay at Carlton Hotel close to the Lal Bahdur Shastri Academy in Happy valley. Get a whiff of colonial times. Request Anu/Ajit to see the Drawing, Dining and the Reading rooms. Book in advance Tel: (0135)2632800, 9358120911. The best place to stay, if you want to keep away from the madding crowds. About 15 mins. walk from the Library. Take your pick the entire Mussoorie is hotels :).


****

The heat came late but it has not disappointed anyone in its intensity. A few days back I saw a calf lying at the crossroads near Masonic Lodge on Roorkee Road. It looked half starved and almost dead. It seems passers by revived it with water. A good samaritan even called up a Vet in Saket who came and gave it an injection , and made it good enough to tackle the rest of the day.


In the years before TV people used to feed stray dogs and cows. They do it now too but their health is certainly looking worse. It is heartening to see young people with a powder in their hands feeding ants. It was a common sight once.

And another thing while looking up the weather on the net I came across something interesting. Have you checked the visibility figure for Delhi ... It rarely exceeds 5 km . Today I checked up Delhi , London and New York. And here are the figures , Delhi - 3 km , London - 10 km , New York - 20 km. It is good to keep that in mind when we sometimes revel in our backwardness.

Why Does UP Not Prosper?

Corrupt Government

As if you did not know!

Yesterday's Dainik Jagran (26th Jul)has a nice write up about our beloved PVS Shopping Mall. Never before has Meerut had anything to show off. When people from other towns come even for a little while it gets a little difficult to impress them with anything. But now PVS becomes the place to take them to. Well is the Government laying the red carpet for them and giving them all sorts of benefits and encouragement to enhance their good work ? So you don't know Uttar Pradesh ! They have been slapped with an Entertainment Tax ( close to 4 crores ) which is more than the money they have made since inception. Why ? It seems the local DM ( not named in the paper) and other petty officials were badgering them for this bribe or that bribe ... When that was not forthcoming this was it.. You should read yesterday's Dainik Jagran for a very good coverage of what the chief representative of the PVS group has to say about why talent and capital flies from UP. There is a simmering discontent which may end up in terrifying consequences . People see only the obnoxious consequences of tax. Pompous and half-witted officials, lines of cars parading behind inconsequential, ineffective, expensive pocket-filling Government minions. Almost no Electricity, unbelievable filth, and almost no water. Tax ? What for? Government employee welfare?

Drowned

An 11 year old girl

In the ancient Wheler Club Pool

Monday 30th May : The nonsense about who is to blame will continue. One can only hope that something like this does not happen again. An enormous amount of space has been devoted - rightly so - about so many aspects of the drowning. However one could not find an important piece of information. Did anyone care to figure out how long after the diving the child's body was discovered? The reason being that most people, and certainly a young child can be revived by artificial respiration . There are cases of people being saved after long periods especially if drowned in cold water. ... Many years back school books would always carry a chapter on how to give artificial respiration, as well as how to save a person who cannot swim, from drowning. These days it is so easy to Draw and Print from the computer. Swimming pools should display pictures with text about Artificial Respiration. Shouldn't there be a trained life guard on duty at every swimming pool ? These training schools provide an invaluable service by giving something to do in boring summer holidays, they cannot be summarily closed down.

The police investigation is really an exercise in futility. What rules were they flouting ? What are the rules for swimming pools? This pool was made even before swimming pool filters were invented. This "checking of papers and documents" etc. is typical "smoke in your eyes tactics" when the real attention required is elsewhere. Cantonments still quote British rules going back to the early 19th century, that is a time even when cycles were not in use, and railways a few decades in the future.

Summer Scenes

Skating club outside Wheler Club. Starts 5:30 am. Join now for a great start to your day.


The mall looking good while the temperature soars to 44ºC. This is the section next to St. Mary's Academy.


As the heat rises, so many trees explode in color . The most visible being the Amaltash. All over the town. St. Mary's is surrounded.


Meerut is Burning

A few days of 43ºC heat and the clouds rush to protect us. Hope this continues. The heat has certainly been delayed this year.. However that is being rectified now (19th May). The temperature as noted by a car thermometer in the TransYamuna area was 48ºC ! . At the domestic airport at Delhi 46ºC. Meerut was around 43ºC on the same thermometer. 28th May : the clouds seem to be to faraway to hear our cry for help.

All about VAT

All the fuss about Vat

The last I read something about it was a bureaucrat waxing eloquent about how lower forms of life did not know what was good for them . "We are from the Government and we know what is good for you." That attitude really sets the tone for a lot of trash. This attitude harks back to colonial times when all talk-back mechanisms were omitted from the system. "What on earth could they tell us about?". I will write later of what traders say when they are off-guard. To put it mildly there is little respect for the collecting class.

Do read the scan from a Times Of India Late city edition of Saturday 7th August 2004. It deals with petrol and diesel prices. What connection does it have with VAT? They fall under the broad heading of T A X . A rose is a rose no matter what name you give it. And the truth is Excise is by far the largest revenue generator. So what is this fuss about methodology. In fact just above that news item is an item about Chauthala . This is where the tax really goes - to sustain such people lavishly. In fact in all probability the Government will save a lot of money if it eliminates Sales Tax all together. "It is done all over the world"... Then let us peg our excise duties to their levels . In the US they do not cross single digit percentages.

Overheard : "Hamare pas kala dhan kahan hai ? Kala Dhan to Sarkari jaibon main hain. Hamari to khoon paseene ki Kamai hai." This is true, if the trading community has wealth then it is the result of thrifty and spartan living and slow accumulation sometimes over generations. Just give it away to the scruplously honest Sarkar ? You must be joking..

Another :" Tax se hamen kya milta hai. Bijli dekho adhe din nahin hain. Pani ka bhi wohi haal , gandgi ka pucho mat. Kutchery se Khuda bachaye. Haan Sarkari Gaadian rasta rokte badhti jaati hain."

I am sure you must have heard similar comments. They get straight to the point and cannot be ignored.


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