Monday, April 25, 2011

The Tribune-Chatterati-April.25th.2011

"Akon’s concert: Audience on song"

Delhi has had its fair share of fiascos whereas concerts are concerned. Bryan Adam's concert in February getting cancelled upset a number of Delhiites. What made up last week was pop star Akon who enthralled the audience on his 38th birthday in Gurgaon. True to Salman Khan's style, this rapper dressed in all black stripped off his shirt and jumped into the crowd asking the boys to do the same.
Akon and the crowd had a blast as they cut a birthday cake on stage for him and he fed some of the audiences who were standing close to him. The crowd grooved to hit songs like "Smack that" and "Party Animal". The star was full of gimmicks which enthralled some while some were put off by the singer. Akon was not accustomed to the Delhi heat so he splashed dozens of bottles of water to cool himself and his fans. Rosina, his wife wore a lehenga choli proving she loved India and that they would be back for a holiday soon.
It was clearly a special night for the Akons as he wanted to celebrate his birthday with the crowds and he requested that the VIP stands be open for all audience who could not afford to buy the tickets. There were VIPs in the crowd; there were Bollywood stars and Akon's music and stage antics left them spellbound.
Actor Suniel Shetty's charity will benefit from this event as some proceeds will go to it.
"Women rule the roost"

Women clearly are the flavour of the day. A lady speaker, United Progressive Alliance chairperson and hopefully the Women Reservation Bill will be passed in Parliament soon to make sure that you will see more honest, hardworking and pretty women sitting in Parliament.
We have various organizations in Delhi today which have the Women Achievers awards.
Last week Kumari Selja gave out Achievers Awards which was hosted by young FICCI ladies' organization. Rani Mukherjee was clearly the centre of attraction there and she got the award for excellence in cinema.
The others who got the award were Promila Bahri and Ranjana Aggarwal. This hall was full of rich designer sari-clad wives of influential and wealthy industrialists, but they were in no mood to discuss the designer stuff. They were all busy talking about supporting NGOs. Surinder Kaur, the captain of Indian women hockey team, asked for more recognition of women in sports.
There were lots of cheers for the winners who excelled in their chosen filed of work.
"Six dummy candidates!"

Have not heard of anything so funny or confusing! With this new tactic, we know the Congress is getting smarter day by day. It has fielded six dummy candidates with the same name for the by-election to the Kadapa Lok Sabha seat in Andhra. Six candidates with the name "Jaganmohan Reddy" have filed their nominations as independents.
And in the same way, three women candidates with the same name of Jagan's mother Y.Vijayalakshmi filed their nominations as independents. Vijayalakshmi is contesting on behalf of the YSR Congress party. A few more "Jagmohan Reddys" and "Vijayalakshmis" are expected to file the nominations. As the Election Commission has not recognized Jagan's party yet, the two are independents. So to confuse the public, the Congress has fielded half a dozen candidates with the same name.
Both will contest the polls on different election symbols. It is clearly a Congress conspiracy to defeat the mother and son by hook or crook, or at least reduce the margin of his victory.
But Jagan has invested in strong campaigners to educate the voters about the election symbol which is still to be allotted.
Both Jagan and Vijayalakshmi have applied for "cot" or "candle" as election symbols.
Jagan's declaration that assets have risen from lakhs to Rs 365 crore, besides the Rs 41.33 crore in the name of his wife Bharati, has given the Congress enough to attack him with.

Pioneer-Dilli-Billi-April.24th.2011-"FAMILY BOND IS IMPORTANT"

"Family Bond is important"

The live show of the two Behl sisters being rescued in Noida has left India shocked and upset. These two were both educated girls over the age of 40 and daughters of a retired army officer. One does feel sorry for those who live alone and cannot handle the loss of their near and dear ones. The two skeleton like sisters were taken out from their house by the Police and deposited in the I.C.U of a hospital. One died while the other is still fighting for her life. Six months there were no relatives or a friend who took the initiative of either showing them how to handle the loss of their parents or of their brother leaving with his wife and settled far away from them. It was the neighbors who contacted the Police. The door was broken and the sisters were rescued from a dirty stinking house.
The joint family system that existed in our older generation now we realize is so valuable. There were jealousies and there were spats over useless egoistic matters but in the end blood was thicker than water and everyone stuck together in a crisis. It was upto the elders in the family to keep everyone happy and give the same attention to the daughter-in-laws and grandchildren. There were no lonely moments. Yes! May be at times one felt intimidated by so many members of the family. My generation got more independent and moved far away from the interference from in-laws which got over bearing and we thought we know the best. My generation went on a trip of bringing up children our way who sometimes ended up a confused lot of western influence which was far more open minded and what we call modern where there was no time for any one and infact can be called selfish.
Younger generation today has gone back to the joint family system in a big way. The girls work to afford the luxuries and also to pitch in to a more flourishing household. Hence found it more convenient that the in-laws or parents share the responsibility of looking after their children at home. You may pay a nanny an obscene amount but a grandmother or an aunt cannot be replaced. Infact the younger generation has also gone back to the old off the kitchen shelf grandmother ways of treating the child with more organic stuff with less side effects. There is an emotional security and the support of so many members of the joint family through their depressed days and is a boon to many. If these sisters had reached out to their relatives in time or vice-versa they would have not been in the I.C.U today. It is depressing that these two sisters were all alone to cope by their friends and by their brother. Just shows that how busy your neighbors are too, not to worry about you. Money cannot fight depression nor can fame and name. It is the family and may be some very close friends who will come to you because of their personal relationship with you. Today’s joint families are very much broad minded where space is given to each member yet responsibilities shared and in this fast life it is a boon to have your children grow up with the right family values than left at a play school or nurseries with nannies.
Depression, we see can be lethal and loneliness can kill you. Even Indians abroad who have their parents in some tiny villages die a lonely death as dollars sent to them cannot substitute the rejection and in old age defending for themselves. So, in today’s world it is not money that matters but the bond of families and friends is what is precious.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Tribune-Chatterati-April.18th.2011

"From ‘Peepli Live’ to ‘Anna Live’"

Now that the World Cup hysteria is over and the Assembly elections campaign is also over, the cocktail circle in the Capital is busy discussing Hazare ki hazar Khwahishein. Anna Hazare's topic rules the Delhi's elite circles whether it is a wedding reception or a small dinner party. Sharad Pawar had to give into pressure and resign from the GOM on corruption. Controversies and criticisms are a part of Pawar's life, but Anna's potshots at the Maratha leader have got Pawar's PR managers working overtime. From the NCP members and his friends in the political circles or industry are all out to criticize the UPA high command giving in to Anna Hazare. Delhites think the lawyers turned politicians still treat the TV studios and the evening drawing rooms as court rooms and this is across party lines.
The Maharashtra leaders are surprised as to how Anna became a mega star in Delhi. The likes of Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushil Kumar Shinde have successfully handled the veteran activist in their state without making him into the Mahatma Gandhi of today.
Youngsters are busy on Twitter to make Anna into a hero wearing Anna Hazare caps, T-shirts and even on-line games. Nehru caps are a fashionable thing now with Anna's face on it. Wipe out corruption is their message while the nitty-gritty of the Lokpal Bill is not what they really understand. So, from 'Peepli Live' to 'Anna Live'.
"Bhagidari Mela"

Delhi is a place where melas, exhibitions, art shows are organized every day. But for the busy city people, it is not an interesting prospect to attend a Bhagidari Mela when a cricket match is on and most of them are glued to their TV sets. But this time at Pragati Maidan, there were interested parents with their children who were buying chips and cookies made and sold by the Tihar inmates.
The horticulture department had set a stall of their own to teach the locals to have a kitchen garden in flower pots which was a sellout because hardly anyone in Delhi today has a garden. There was a skit which had the crowd roaring in appreciation from over 2,000 visitors. It is very unlike a sarkari affair but still got thousands of people lining up for a free health check-up and queues waited patiently to try out the vehicle stimulator put up by the transport department. Most city kids have never seen plants and most teenagers will have to wait for a long time to get their own car. So, a fun day with new learning inputs.
"Blogs stuck in a time warp"

In today's world of Internet-savvy leaders worldwide, our own senior leaders' blogs are stuck in a time warp. Shashi Tharoor's Twitter got him into so much trouble that he had to in the end face embarrassing situations. Sushma Swaraj and Omar Abdullah use their Blackberry regularly to make a point. Advani once came across as a tech-savvy, but now seems to have given it up. Rahul Gandhi unlike Obama, it seems, does not believe in this technology. Mamata Banerjee used the Obama way and swayed West Bengal with messages on the Net day and night asking for support.
Jayalalitha has also made full use of her Net-savvy managers. The younger lots like Priya Dutt, Jai Panda and Supriya Suley somehow do not believe in this new technology, though students use this technique regularly in their university elections.

Pioneer-Dilli Billi-April.17th.2011 "Fight for what is right"

"Fight for what is right"

Anna Hazare’s fight against corruption was a wake-up call for the Government which has slept through scams

The last couple of weeks witnessed a peaceful agitation across the country in support of Anna Hazare. This was a triggering point for the aam janata who is tired of the corruption all around him. All of us have been guilty at some point or the other of bribing people who could have been a postman to a tout outside the passport office who can get the work done faster than the External Affairs Ministry. We have succumbed to this pressure because we are tired of fighting with the delays that have become an inherent part of the system.

The Government should be aware of one thing — the younger generation will not pay a penny in bribe to get their work done. After the partition, that generation was busy making a sound base for the generations to come. The next generation (our generation) that came did not have to struggle like their predecessors. We only had the job of strengthening the precedent set by them. We gave our children better education, a luxurious life and exposure to the outside world. Our children live in a world that is dominated by tech gadgets, making full use of them. They are extremely vocal when it comes to the responsibilities the Government has towards the society and the duties of the lawmakers. This is a generation which supported Barack Obama’s coming to power. They are the ones who are going to form a new India in accordance with their ideology.

The Lokpal Bill is a complex Bill which might not have been understood by half the people who joined the peaceful agitation. The complexities if not drafted clearly, can lead to serious problems. The agitation was not about the clauses of the Bill, but was against the politicians and bureaucrats who are involved in minting money through corrupt means and the fact that the guilty are never brought to book. The involvement of bigwigs is intimidating for the investigating agencies which manage to net a few but the main culprits go scotfree.

With the increasing number of regional parties and alliances, campaigning has become expensive. We are witnessing this scenario in Tamil Nadu at the moment. There was a time when we had reconciled ourselves with the fact that we will have to live with corruption. But, there is a ray of hope in Lokpal Bill. Hopefully, our Prime Minister takes a tough stance to weed out corruption. He can create history and remove the label of being a weak Prime Minister.

Our youngsters have taken lessons from Egypt and Libya and know how to take on a strong establishment and get their way. Before the outside forces start intervening in our internal matters, it is better that the Government listens to the millions of young Anna Hazares who will not bribe their way for what is rightfully theirs. The frustration and anger will spill on the streets which will be disastrous. The scenario might even take the Mandal like situation once again.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pioneer-Dilli Billi-April.10th.2011 "The political gamble"

"The political gamble"

The Assembly elections have forced the national parties to cater to the whims of regional parties

As the Assembly elections get under way, the two major parties of India — the Congress and the BJP are feeling insecure and helpless. The States of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and to an extent, Kerala are dominated by regional parties. Thus, we are not sure about the position of the Congress viz-a-viz the Left.

It was pathetic to see the Congress fighting tooth and nail for seats in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. Both Mamata Banerjee and the DMK made them run from pillar to post before giving them two extra seats in their States. One felt sorry for the leaders in the Congress who were negotiating on behalf of their party. One wonders why this party finds itself at this juncture.

The BJP is no better; the top leadership is openly squabbling and giving different statements. But one has to praise Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley for being the responsible Leaders of Opposition in the Lower House and the Upper House respectively. It is good for the nation that we have such a strong opposition which keeps a check on the ruling Government. Also, the UPA has been in a state of panic about several allegations. Even the BJP is facing problems in finding the right candidates to field in each State against the coalitions there.

The Congress is finding it difficult to face the fact that it is losing its grip. The party has been hit hard by corruption. A weak Government has ruined the reputation of the top guns. The differences between the PMO and the UPA chief are increasing, thereby leading to an unstable Government. But if they manage to win Assam, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu their arrogance will be difficult to handle. Little they would realise that the victory has been made possible by the dominance of the regional parties in the respective States.

During the seat sharing process, the list sent by the General Secretary of Youth Affairs, Rahul Gandhi also gave some trouble to the Congress. The list which didn’t feature many winnable people gave the Congress sleepless nights. Several good candidates had to be sidelined to accommodate the young guns who were mentioned in the list. It will be interesting to see how many of them win. People sitting in Delhi are not aware of the ground realities in the States.

It is very difficult at this moment for the UPA to keep it’s head above board. If General Elections are held today, the UPA knows that it won’t return to power. A weak leadership only leads to chaos and mayhem which is harmful for the nation. The leaders disrupt the Parliament, give themselves pay hikes and set a bad example for the TV viewers. Their unruly behaviour makes the aam aadmi unhappy. The MPs who are lawyers argue as if they are in court. The members shout and forget the decorum of the House.

It will be interesting to wait and watch if DMK can come back to power or if Mamata Banerjee’s new image managers can get her a clean sweep. After all, politics is a gamble and luck is a big player here.

The Tribune-Chatterati-April.11th.2011

"Poor politicians, rich better halves!"

So what if the West Bengal Chief Minister Buddha does not own a house or a car and that he has only Rs 5,000 cash in hand. He has no bank deposits or investments. But his wife Meera has an income, according to her tax returns, of approximately Rs 7 lakh in 2009-10 and jewellery worth many lakhs along with investments.
It is an odd situation today where the political bigwigs are relatively poorer than their wives. Assam has the richest political wives. A senior minister's wife in the Gogoi government owns 17 plots of land. The wives of 13 of the 19 ministers, including the Chief Minister, are all crorepatis. Interestingly, the declared assets of Chief Minister Gogoi and his several ministers were only worth a few lakhs of rupees. Their wives seem to be savvy in their investments. They have shares of different companies valuing in crores and are land owners driving in posh cars. These political wives have flats and houses in Delhi and Guwahati too. The husbands may be lakhpatis, but the wives are all crorepatis.

"VIPs catch cricket fever"

The Gandhis are no doubt a spontaneous lot. As the cricket fever caught up with the rich and poor last week, Manmohan Singh sat in VIP box in Mohali while Sonia Gandhi sat in the stands with her son Rahul and the aam aadmi cheered the Indian cricket team. Even during the Commonwealth Games, they sat with the public and not in any VIP enclosure.
After the match, Rahul Gandhi went off to the guesthouse in Chandigarh for a meal. Though the kitchen was nearly shut, he did get a bite there. Sonia Gandhi's enthusiasm led her to the streets at midnight shaking hands with the public at large after the World Cup win.
Pranab Mukherjee was so excited with the fact that he was the finance minister in 1983 when India lifted the World Cup and he is finance minister even today when India lifted the World.Cup after 28 years.
Wow! The spontaneous gestures of the Gandhis leave the Congress walas amazed. Rahul also walked into Advani's chamber at Parliament to sip coffee with him on the latter's birthday. Rahul can be seen at many local places like Sagar Ratna or the Big Chill in Khan Market with a friend sharing a meal. He stops his car to help a cycle wala if he notices someone needs help or lift a cute kid walking in the park. So it's not really that you will find the first family only at 5 star hotels. In fact, their favorite joints are where most locals eat. Mostly mother and son travel in the economy class in every airline.

"Designers, models savvier"

As Fashion Week proceeds, it is a full season for our designers who are well known internationally. One notices instantly a difference in our designers and models as being savvier and have learnt the ropes of promotion. It is not just the event where you have to show your designs but every move here is a tactical well-thought-of be it a hug or a wave.
The right media coverage may lead to a new contact, client, even a business deal if your after-show party is a hit. Celebrities and bigwigs may arrive wearing the creation of the designer which helps in getting the right media hype and which will lead to business. The parties are hosted at 5-star hotels where some ambassadors of different nations will be present. You might spot Robert Vadra at designer Rohit Gandhi's after-show party. Rahul Gandhi and Robert Vadra are usually present at Ashish Soni's parties.
So, fashion parties are now more business than pleasure with the right PR thrown in and as it so happened last year and now this year too the Fashion Week and the IPL season are neck to neck. So all around the atmosphere is of celebration and every moment is a PR exercise for liquor companies or new clubs.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Tribune-Chatterati-April.4th.2011

"Jeffrey Archer draws literati"

Jeffrey Archer Guess who came to the Capital last week? It was non other then the Lord Jeffrey Archer. We are all familiar with Jeffrey Archer's books and he was in town to launch his new book, "Only Time Will Tell". The book launch at the Imperial Hotel started with a bang as the dais fell down and the stage quaked. But the author's humour negated the lapses and the show started with laughter. The author had the city's literati support as Jeffrey Archer is a familiar sight in Delhi.

This author has declared bankruptcy twice in life and was in prison for perjury for many years. In there he wrote some interesting novels too. His books are full of intrigue and the reader wants more. A great lover of cricket and India's culture, he is a regular visitor to India.

"Connecting artisans with market"

The India Islamic Centre presents a great space for informal yet intimate mini-melas. The spaces came alive last week when Sarah Pilot hosted an artisans' mela with a mix of clothes, toys and soft furnishings on display at Jamila Bazaar. And arrayed below them were exotic biryanis and chaat as well as some musicians. Sarah's NGO 'Centre for Equity and Inclusion' as well as similar like-minded NGOs were there.

It was an effort to ensure that the connect with the market would make them improve their product. At some stalls girls were trying out their skills at foot massages. A toy train was put up to entertain the children of skilled artisans who had travelled to Delhi with their mothers. A fashion show using clothes as well as girls from among the targeted communities completed an afternoon of socially responsible revelry.

Sarah managed to rope in celebrities, including her father Farooq Abdullah, Salman Khurshid and her mom-in-law Rama Pilot.

"Celebrities grace fundraiser"

Sushmita SenLast week the NGO Khushii got together Delhi's and Mumbai's celebrities for a fundraiser. Bollywood seems to be taken in completely with the Delhi scene now. At the fashion show hosted by Khushii there was Sushmita Sen with her daughter, there was Karan Johar who was the life of the evening and then there was Farah Khan who also walked the ramp and gave dance lessons to some guests there. Kapil Dev with wife and daughter also walked the ramp. Among the special guests were Koel Purie, Raseel Ansal, designer Varun Behl and Sunanda Tharoor who came with her son and not husband Shashi.

Pioneer-Dilli Billi-April.3rd.2011 "Ignorance is not bliss"

"Ignorance is not bliss"

Youngsters want to celebrate Holi with fervour and spirit. They start preparing weeks in advance. Things like where to go, what to wear and how the festival will be celebrated — are discussed. Girls are cautious about the quality of colours since their skin is sensitive and some are even allergic to colour. For boys, the festival of colours is all about masti and bhang. They are excited about the wet Holi. Thus, they order sufficient quantity of beer — for bathing as well as drinking.

Pichkaris, water balloons, buckets filled with coloured water, gulaal — everything is ordered in advance. After all, this is one festival where a little fun with the opposite sex is forgiven and forgotten easily. However, they are not curious about the reasons for the celebration of Holi. For them, Holi signifies the advent of summers and the exit of woollens.

Traditionally, it is celebrated by the followers of the Vedic religion as a harvesting festival. People celebrate the festival in high spirits with no differences of status, caste or creed.

The colours of Holi help in breaking the barriers of status and hence, affirm the essence of universal brotherhood. But I am sure our youngsters do not know the origin of the word Holi. It comes from a word Hola which means thank God for a good harvest. It signifies that evil will be punished by the mythical character of Holika.

Holika was the sister of the demon king Hiranyakashyap who ordered his son Prahlad to denounce Lord Narayana. When he failed in his evil designs, he asked his sister Holika to sit in a blazing fire with Prahlad. Fire could not burn Holika because she was blessed by God. But, in a turn of events, Holika was gutted in fire and Prahlad escaped unscratched.

Ras Leela is performed at most Holi functions. Also, Vrindawan’s Holi is famous and is remembered for the Gopis of Krishna. I am sure youngsters love Ras Leela. Ask them the the history behind the ritual and you will draw a blank for an answer.

I wish our younger generation showed a little more interest in knowing the reasons behind the celebration of these festivals. They should make an effort to understand the meaning behind them. Some of our young professionals do not even know the difference between the Mahabharat and Ramayan! They are well-versed with the Bible but that is due to their interest in the western world.

I do understand that the parents of my generation are a busy lot as they try and mix jobs to make ends meet. They lead a hectic social life which helps them unwind from their stressful jobs. However, the duty of the parents is to ingrain values which are inherited from the religion. In some cases, parents feel guilty of not spending too much time with their children. Hence, they end up giving in to the unreasonable demands of their wards.