• The rape, torture and murder of a 23 year old woman in New Delhi is not the reason for the current public outcry. It was that final weight tipping of the scale; it came at a point when the nation just couldn’t take any more. Rape has become so frequent that its presence is like the repeat telecast of the same episode running forgotten in a television while the family dines. The other compelling reason was the terribly familiar circumstances in which something grotesquely unfamiliar happened. The girl next door boarded a bus from a crowded place supposedly safe for students at 9:30 pm, and was skewered with an iron rod by six men. This can happen to just about any woman, anywhere, at any time. Thus the identification.

    Since it’s so close to us, and has made us finally, finally uncomfortable enough, let’s get closer to the remedy as well. Yes, we need to stop rape and we need justice. But how to do that without researching on the Indian psyche for the next 20 years or waiting till a

    Read More »from Hard Light : Time to Dirty Our Hands with the Indian Penal Code
  • Soft Light : Why Indian Men need to Protest against Rape

    Are you Indian and a man? Have you never felt up an unknown woman’s legs or accidentally ‘jostled’ her on the street? Are you a responsible father who loves his children? Are you a husband who has never beaten his wife? Are you a brother or son who doesn’t believe in ma-behen gaalis? In short, are you a man, potent, sexually capable, well-placed in life, having  perfectly normal relationships with women (mother/wife/friend/sister/daughter/colleague)?

    If so, please speak up against rape. Because if you don’t, guess what, the world will think you don’t exist. With a little help from our politicians, their allied theoreticians, and a certain section of the friendly press, you will either be declared extinct, like the dodo, or be placed on the list of endangered species along with the Royal Bengal tiger. Poachers will come looking for you, there will be a Wikipedia page on you in past tense.

    If you think I am over-reacting, look around you. Learned panelists on television are discussing

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  • Apathy was just another word for me until recently. And then three leaders, two of them at the helm of the sled-team drawing our nation through these cold, unfeeling times, broke the silence – and expanded my vocabulary. Apathy is no mere word; it is not just the gloomy, all-consuming emptiness in place of an emotion. It is in fact a god for our politicians – a worshipful, omnipotent deity that must be propitiated and appropriated to win those much-coveted keys to the nation’s governance -- and, I say this contentiously, for its coffers. And just as the rest of us may worship Ganapathy or Venkatachalapathy or Umapathy, our netas worship Apathy.

    And just as some of us believe that God made Man in his image, Apathy, too, manifests in a face. Witness, hereunder, the three faces of Apathy that we have seen in the week that was in these Grim Fairy Tales for Troubled Times.

    Grim Fairy Tale # 1 – Nero’s Fiddling Lesson
    Grim Fairy Tales - Nero's Fiddling Lesson - Bijoy VenugopalGrim Fairy Tales - Nero's Fiddling Lesson - Bijoy Venugopal
    Great Nero was in the midst of his fiddling lessons administered by his

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  • What's the point?!

    Long ago, I read something that stuck in my mind. The quote might be inexact, and its provenance is lost in the mists of memory, but the argument went like this:

    "When Christ was crucified at Calvary, the enduring image of that one man dying for our sins gave birth to a religion that swept the world; when millions of Jews were massacred during the Third Reich, it left us intellectually disturbed but largely emotionally unmoved, because who in the hell can identify with millions?"
    That line came back to me last night while reading some mails people sent in after reading yesterday's post. Some at least argued on these lines: Yes, the Delhi rape is horrific, it is tragic, but why did it take this incident to wake people up? Is it because it happened in Delhi, and hit too close to those who, by virtue of making their home in the national capital, conferred on themselves a special, protected status?

    The argument is analogous to what we heard in the immediate aftermath of 26/11, when a Read More »from What's the point?!
  • The problem is apathy. Not activism.

    News has four cycles.

    There is, first, the child, flapping its arms and legs and yelping in excitement at having been presented with a brand new shiny object, wondering what to do with it: toss it in the air? Kick it? Try and stuff it, whole and entire, into the mouth? (Think of days one and two of the aftermath of the Delhi rape, when 'coverage' was a series of increasingly shrill freeform yelps without coherence or substance but with lots of lung powering it.)

    Then the teen, as volubly excited but with a greater awareness of his peers. (That channel had the Home Minister on the griddle and called for the resignation of the police commissioner? We need to ask for someone's resignation too. Oh and that other media house? It gave the victim a symbolic name - that's so cool; we need to give her a name too!)

    Then the adult, who has outgrown the follies of youth and, cleansed his palate of the metallic aftertaste of adrenalin, discovers maturity, and fairness, and balance. (We reported the

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  • 28 Mahindra XUV 500s are traversing across 9 countries, covering a total distance of 8000 kilometres and spreading the message of solidarity. Catch all the live action from the 2012 ASEAN-India Car Rally.

    On the occasion of the 20th commemorative year of India-ASEAN relations, the 2nd edition of the ASEAN-India Car Rally was formally flagged off from Yogyakarta, Indonesia on 27th November and will wind its way through 8 of the 10 ASEAN countries before finally ending in New Delhi. However, since there is no road that connects Indonesia to Singapore, the rally begins from Singapore.

    Day 1: Singapore to Ipoh (Malaysia)

    28 Mahindra XUVs were lined up at the Marina Bay Formula One Circuit for the flag off on 28th November. Hundreds of people, including children waving flags, cheered as Singapore foreign minister K Shanmugan flagged off the rally.

    Here begins the epic journey of 28 Mahindra XUVs carrying politicians, diplomats, movie stars, journalists, rally enthusiasts and laymen,

    Read More »from ASEAN-India Car Rally 2012 Coverage
  • For three years we observed the anniversary of 26/11 with tears and rage. This year, strangely, the wails are muted. The remembrances are scant. If anything, the saddest murmurs doing the rounds in Mumbai have come from cricket jingoists mourning India's defeat to England in the Wankhede Test.

    For three years our rage simmered from the fact that we kept in our custody an unwelcome guest who fuelled our vengeful hate by the very news of his presence. As we fed, clothed, medicated and kept Ajmal Kasab alive in his high-security prison cell, we wished him dead with all our hearts. For three years we dangled justice before the world and then, in one swift surprising move, resolved it before further questions could be raised. Those who had expected more prudence from this great democracy were distraught.

    Was it all a travesty, then?

    It mattered not that Kasab was a mere puppet on a string, a souvenir, a prisoner from a war we can never mourn enough. He was ours for the killing, anyway. We

    Read More »from Have we closed the book on 26/11?
  • 31 Mahindra XUV 5OOs, 8000 kilometres, 22 days, 9 countries… ASEAN countries and India are gearing up for an adrenaline-filled experience as the 2nd edition of the ASEAN-India Car Rally is all set to kick-off on 26 November 2012. On the occasion of the 20th commemorative year of India-ASEAN relations, the rally will be flagged off from Yogyakarta, Indonesia and wind its way through 8 of the 10 ASEAN countries before finally ending in New Delhi, India.

    Senior Union government officials and representatives from the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Auto Car India have already chalked out the possible road routes for the rally. The convoy will traverse through ASEAN countries Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar and then enter India from Moreh in Imphal.

    The rally will pass through Guwahati on December 17, when economic ministers of ASEAN countries will meet in the principal business city in northeastern India. The flag down of the rally in Guwahati and the

    Read More »from ASEAN-India Car Rally – A curtain raiser
  • I sack, therefore I am

    This devil doesn't wear Prada! The trademark stubble, digital watch and disheveled looks...all these cheat you from believing that he is the 53rd richest person on the planet. So when Roman Arkadyevich Abromovich - a 36-year-old Russian tycoon purchased a debt-ridden Chelsea in 2003 - he didn't fit the picture quite well. It was not easy to associate a young, unshaven Russian billionaire in the stands, with the game of football. But then, with money, you can even buy faith. His fat pocket paid off the club's debts, brought star players to Stamford Bridge, and took Chelsea to the heights within a matter of year.


    The 'misfit' soon turned into a 'messiah' with the Blues winning their first English Premiere League title in 50 years with the most number wins (29) by conceding the fewest goals (15) in a season. Abromovich didn't have to wait too long to silence his critics; just as his phenomenal rise to glory. After all, patience is not a term you can associate with him. This man hardly Read More »from I sack, therefore I am
  • The R8 is the slowest car Audi has ever built! You might now be thinking I have gone off the rocker. Not really. I am referring to a tongue-in-cheek slogan Audi designed to bring attention to the time it takes to build an R8. Unlike other Audis, the R8 is meticulously hand-assembled in small numbers. It's a slow and lengthy process, but what it loses in time, it gains in craftsmanship.

    The performance figures tell a very different story. Powered by a 5200cc V10 engine that develops a whopping 525 PS and 530 Nm of torque, the R8 rockets from 0-100 km/h in 3.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 313 km/h. Needless to say, these numbers make the R8 the fastest road car Audi has ever built.

    Driving an Audi R8 on a race track has two advantages -- it certainly is the best way to appreciate this scrupulously crafted machine, and it's a great opportunity to polish your driving skills. Audi has designed their Audi Sportscar Experience (ASE) programme in such a way that the participants get

    Read More »from Audi R8 Sportscar First Drive Impressions

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