Saturday, July 1, 2017

Between a crop and crop...



Poverty and unemployment have haunted India continuously within living memory. The cities may now be dotted with pockets of enormous affluence, but the lot of the small farmer, the rural labourer, remains unchanged:

His speech is of mortgaged bedding,
On his vine he borrows yet,
At his heart his daughter's wedding,
In his eye foreknowledge of debt,
He eats and hath indigestion,
He toils and he may not stop;
His life is a long drawn question
Between a crop and crop.

- Excerpt from the last chapter Panorama of the Lost Decades in We The Nation By Nani Palkhivala.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Godman Chandraswami - An Encounter



By Manuwant Choudhary

Controversial Godman Chandraswamy is dead....age 66. If India's much feared Enforcement Directorate (ED) could not get him...then it says a lot about how India is being run.

Among Chandraswamy's followers were India's Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, Chandra Shekhar, Rajiv Gandhi...and virtually who's who of Lutyen Delhi.

He was also a suspect in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.

Born Nemi Chand Jain in Alwar Rajasthan...he went on to become a Tantric and was India's most influential wheeler-dealer Godman.

International arms dealer Adnan Khashogi was also his follower.

I met Chandraswamy once.

As a reporter in Bombay with the Afternoon Despatch & Courier I got a scoop that Chandraswamy is visiting....

I am not sure how I gathered the courage to go all the way to Dadar at 9 pm...it was quite dark..and Dadar itself is a leafy suburb with those old colony houses.

I wasn't sure if I would be allowed to meet the Godman.

Outside the house there was a flurry of activity with cars all lined up....mercedez and contessas.

I was quite surprised that when I said I was a reporter I was easily allowed into the house..the room was not well lit....but here I was sitting face to face with the Godman.

Chandraswamy looked dangerous.

All kinds of things went on in my mind..what if I asked him a `touchy' question he may use his Tantra on me.

How does a reporter interview a corrupt, dangerous, holy man ?

I simply had no clue.

Yet, I recall mustering courage to ask him my question...but he just stared at me.

He had this stick with a shiny diamond like magic wand in his hand...his eyes looked deadly and red.

I thought this may be my last night...I may not be able to get back home.

After a few times..the host tells me that Guruji is on a maun vrat (vow of silence).

We sat opposite each other for 20 minutes or so....and I did report on this darshan of Chandraswami...

Just to build my silent interview I said let me see who his followers are...perhaps some Bollywood heroes...and as I looked around I see this Blue Contessa...(early 90s this was the best car available) come into the drive way and out came Gulshan Grover, a Bollywood villain.


Chandraswamy's chela was India's Prime Minister Narasimha Rao but that evening I spent in the company of eminent villains.







Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Ganga Behti Ho Kyun - A revolutionary song by Bhupen Hazarika.



By Manuwant Choudhary

The decision by Narendra Modi to demonitize high value indian currency has been painful for the people of india....some 150 died waiting in queues outside banks, clutching onto their hard-earned savings but a heartless, careless government let them die.

This has pained me and I wonder if in this noise called News we even ponder on human tragedies facing this great country of ours.

So let me just say I am not bothered about elections...or who wins and loses anymore.

I am concerned about India and her people who live here.

Listen to this song  "Ganga Behtee Ho Kyon" and each word, every pause or even a breath taken ...is about the pains of the people of  India.

A truly revolutionary song by Bhupen Hazarika for India to win her freedom again.

Let this be our song to defeat Modi and such like him..

Lets take him on and his machinations.

The Ganga will pause and protest...when we sing this song together...as Indians.

The English Translation is amazing...read it slowly. The song has its origins in Paul Robsons Old Man River.
The songs starts with a verse  in Assamese language. The English translation in brackets ().
Bistirna paarore( On your wide/mighty banks)
Axonkhya jonre
(That are home to countless people)
Hahakar xuniu
(In spite of hearing their anguished cries)
Nixobde nirobe
(so silently and unmindfully)
Burha luit tumi
(Oh you Old Luit – Luit is another name of Brahmaputra river.)
Burha luit buwa kiyo?
(why do you or how can you flow?)
[ I am thankful to Mohan Bhuyan for translating the Assamese verse  into English]
MAIN SONG
[Opening line] The people who live in the vast stretches on your both side are screaming in grief, yet meekly, as always, O Ganga, you! O Ganga, why do you flow [without a protest]?
[1] Morality is destroyed and humanity is corrupted, yet shamelessly why do you flow [without a protest]?  With a loud voice of anger, the history  beacons, O stream of Ganga,   yet why do you not turn weak into strong warriors and complete doers?
[2] There are uncountable numbers of uneducated, illiterate, and unfed  people, yet like a blind that cannot see, O Ganga, why do you keep silent  ? With a loud voice of anger,  the history is beaconing, O stream of Ganga,   yet why do you not turn weak into strong warriors and complete doers?
[Female Voice] The people who live in the vast stretches on your both side are screaming in grief, yet meekly, as always, O Ganga, you! O Ganga, why do you flow [without a protest]?
[3] People are self-centered and society is bereft of a character. O Ganga, why do you not dissolve the lifeless society? With a loud voice of anger,  the history beacons, O stream of Ganga,   yet why do you not turn weak into strong warriors and complete doers?
[Female voice] The people who live in the vast stretches on your both side are screaming in grief, yet meekly, as always, O Ganga, you! O Ganga, why do you flow [without a protest]?
[4] Why did you stop being a source of action and energy? Why did you become inanimate? Why you stopped giving inspirations to lives. Where are the battle cries of Avani or Kuruskshetra  ?  O mother Ganga, in the newIndia, why do you not beget a victorious son like Bhishma, the great warrior?
[Female Voice] The people who live in the vast stretches on your both side are screaming in grief, yet meekly, as always, O Ganga, you! O Ganga, why do you flow [without a protest]?