Passing the buck ....

In olden days ,movies had separate comedy tracks and comedians ruled the roost .They usually accompanied heroes and the heroines as friends and had their own love tracks ,songs,etc.Then there were also item dancers who did scintillating numbers usually to entertain the villain's den .That was a long time ago ..Now we have heroes doing the comedy themselves and heroines doing what look like item numbers ...That is not what I wanted to write about ..

In olden days ,many politicians came to public life to serve,some to be famous and a few to earn money .There were a few corrupt ones at all times .Most might have been arrogant but had clean hands though their noses were up in the air.Look at now ...Politics is the only profession where you can be powerful ,arrogant ,corrupt ,criminal and to top it all get away with it ...

Going on to the top rated reality show that is the Central government and its head ,The honourable Prime Minister .. whose only interest is to serve USA (someone must check his nationality ),who tries to paint his image as not being political but who can trigger off the worst horse trading if he needs to survive (hardly apolitical ) ,who seems to aid and assist his ministers as they indulge in themselves but manages to keep himself clean and most dangerously ,a man whom the media does not wish to talk about .....

Yet whatever is happening in today's India is what Mr.Manmohan Singh scripted as finance Minister and Prime Minister .Opening up not only the market but also India's vast resources has been his singular achievement .It is he who is responsible for making the Ambanis and the Tatas so very powerful that they run the government de facto .Above all ,he chooses to keep silent when all around him are shamelessly looting the country and its people .And dangerously and surprisingly he keeps himself clean .....

The Bhopal tragedy continues to bleed afresh with the throw away compensation ,the PM remains silent.All those accused in the Bofors scam ,get away and the PM aids their escape.The inefficiency and blatant corruption in the Commonwealth administration keeps hitting headlines ,the PM chooses to ignore even till the last moment...The spectrum scam comes along ,he is silent .News about his pet Tharoor and the IPL spills out and he does nothing .He gets him to resign only to reinstate him in a parallel office with equal authority and power.And the list goes on .

India's natural resources have been handed out to MNCs on a platter ..the Maoists are striking with local support ....the ministry seems to consist of nobody but criminals ...train after train crashes killing people in hundreds and 2010 has been shown to be the year when the farmer suicides were highest .Yet the Prime Minister continues his foreign trips unabated and his silence unchecked ...

These are the evils of having a PM who is not a politician and therefore need not face elections .No elections -no need to fear - not even Sonia Almighty ....



Who will bell the cat ?

It has been two days since Jayalalitha triggered off a set of frenzied political debate on all the national networks .In astutely timed interview ,she offered support to the Congress led government on the only condition that Raja be dropped .She also philosphied that holding onto the past blocks progress, meaning that the Congress should forget its past experiences with her . But what really set the stage was her claim that she can manoeuvre the support of eighteen MPs if the DMK withdraws support.

Immediately the already -in -alliance with ADMK parties like the Left said a grim ,we have made note of this statement .Congress gave a No vacancy announcement and DMK said that Jaya had no moral right to comment on corruption and the Congress had shut the doors to the ADMK (which should have been said by the Congress actually )and the news channels went on overtime .The DMK said that Raja only followed what his predecessors had done ,shifting the blame on the NDA government ,but surely the list of predecessors includes Mr.Dayanidhi Maran ?

The Congress spokesperson when asked why the Congress which had asked Mr.Chavan and Mr.Kalmadi to quit, did not ask for Mr.Raja’s resignation answered that it was for "his" party to decide .If this is the command the Prime Minister has on his cabinet ,I think, it is time for him to go too.He has dared to be Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world without facing direct elections even once .Everytime there is a scandal ,the Prime Minister sits snugly behind his Mr.Clean image and watches silently .Even after allegations were made against Mr.Raja he not only let him continue as Telecom Minister but also succumbed to pressures of giving him a second term with the same portfolio .

Then there were days, when people in power resigned owning moral responsibility.This seems to have become an outdated vestigial terminology now .Once a scam is exposed ,everybody seems interested only in making as many statements in as many channels as they can and despatch the loot to safer places .If at all asked to regin they can always get back under a different guise .Look at Shashi Tharoor …..

Some interesting points were raised in the television channels
1.His resignation is not the solution and the money squandered has to be replaced –well if we cannot even get the Minister out …..
2.The Prime Minister somebody interestingly said, needs to sort this out before he flies out of the country again .This was immediately shot down by the anchor ..who said that he is here for the next two weeks …?!

If there is anybody who needs to take responsibility in this scam ,it is the Prime Minister and it is time somebody takes him to task …



Enthiran -The Robot

I like to watch Rajini movies within the first week of release.The ecstatic crowds ,the noise and the excitement make it an unforgettable experience .I remember watching Baasha ,three days after its release .It was an out of the world experience, truly .I also remember watching Baba ,second or third day with only around twenty more people with me and that was a scary experience .Now Enthiran with all its hype and hoopla ,I wasnt going to miss it .

Enthiran did make decent start . Rajini as Chitti the Robot,especially in the negative has given a commendable preformance .The special effects in the last few scenes is very entertaining for the kids .That was that ..

Everything seems to have been wrongly decided, beginning with make up .Rajini's beard looks like a toilet brush and Aishwarya Rai's costumes could have been better .The songs are such a let down and the locations unwarranted.Would any scientist who spends a decade finalising his grand research project just hand it over to his lover for keepsake just like that ,even if she is a former Miss.World?If you thought that villains have graduated from negotiating shady deals in deserted places to more sophisticated methods,you are wrong .They still do it the way their ancestors did .

Many more things -the home (everybody is in such elaborate make up all the time ,like in a tele serial) ,the labs? ,the scientist who is forever tightening nuts , seem to be out of place in the movie and they jar on you . The only saving grace is Rajini's flamboyant performance as the Villain robot.

This is a movie Rajini might have been more comfortable doing twenty years back.
Shankar has to accept that Rajini is aging and stop attempting to make him look like he did twenty to thirty years back.
Aishwarya is better suited to pair Abhishek or Hrithik ,she just isn't comfortable with Rajini.
And considering the promos and all the hype that has been going on ,surely ,
"empty vessels make more noise....."



UmaShankar IAS ,the game plays on

No bureaucrat in the history of the Indian Administrative Service has enjoyed public support even remotely related to what Mr.Umashankar does .What he did ,what was done to him and what followed is as we are fond of saying "history"...His reinstatement has been proclaimed as a success of public opinion and the humbling of the power centres under people power .

In truth what seems to have happened is a clever cover up.Here was an IAS officer ,known to be honest .When he raises certain embarassing questions ,the govt cleverly in a seemingly malicious move dumps an obvious loop holed case on him and suspends him.The expected trail of events follows . There is outcry amongst few organisations ,there is an outpouring of support in the press and then ,the govt in what is seen as softening ,constitutes a committee to probe the charges .The outcry continues . The govt totally gives up and reinstates him .So far so good .

What the govt has done is infact diverted the limelight from the issues he has raised and instead brought it to focus on the issue of his removal and reinstatement only.Now that he has taken charge ,the cries have fallen silent in most parts and the few remaining voices will fade out soon.Why should he have been given charge when the probe was still pending ?Who will follow up the charges that he initially raised ?He himself seems to be busy in answering queries regarding his religious practices .

Let us hope that these allegations will not gather the dust of the celebrations of his success ...



Amma on the ground

Puratchi thalaivi .Amma alias Dr.Jayalalitha descended on the ground the second time in a few months .The threat of nearing elections are enough stimulus for even the AIADMK supremo. In a tit for tat style ,she held the rally at Coimbatore ,the venue for the Semmozhi Manaadu that recently concluded. All local and national media carried a reasonably good coverage of this event.

The crowd was really breath taking ,and that for a leader whose party second line has virtually abandoned her in lure for greener pastures .Whoever was at the grass root organization level for this rally deserves commendation (which is very unforthcoming in the party .)The crowd was great ,the mood was upbeat and the event was well covered .That is for the better things .

What was disappointing was the Jaya’s speech which should have been the highlight of the rally.When people gather in huge numbers ,they expect you will say something remarkable .But as usual nothing or nobody can change the ways of Madam Jaya .She went on in a monotonous tone narrating the various allegations she had already said in the media many times over .It was like listening to a JayaTV news broadcast (though one must concede that the newsreaders do a better job with the reading ) .Nothing except the last few lines which hinted at an alliance and urged the party cadres to get ready for elections stirred the crowd .When she could have easily used the occasion to galvanise the workers and get them going ,she watered down all the good work some loyal functionaries had done on the ground with her dry talk (time to have separate writers for the speeches and the statements ).

As for her declaration that, the DMK is on its way out, the ruling party was quick with the retort ,”She is not octopus Paul !”



Brithday ,then and now

Every morning after the school prayer assembly was over ,the teacher leading the assembly for the day would call out , “all the birthday children come forward .”Once they gathered the whole school would go “Happy birthday to you ….”.There was an interesting tail to this when the birthday children had to sing back ,
"I thank you I do ,
I thank you I do ,
I thank you dear children ,
I thank you I do”.
It was, I or we ,depending on the number .The ones who presented themselves for these honours usually belonged to the primary school .Amongst the high school and higher secondary ,coming forward to sing I thank you I do into the mike was rather too embarrassing. Then followed sweet distribution , mostly nutrine and rarely eclairs,to the teachers and all classmates .Back home ,birthdays were more of auspicious occasions marked by a kesari or payasam and a visit to the temple .Some got new clothes, others wore their most recently purchased new dresses on the birthday .Birthday parties were for cinema stars and anybody who got to cut a cake belonged to the rich and the famous .

As a college student ,it was the era of greeting cards .Any approaching birthday meant visits to the greeting cards showrooms (which were rather sparse then)or the fancy stores which also stocked few cards for any occasion.Of the exclusive showrooms ,Greetings Gallery in Egmore was a favourite haunt .It was mindblowing to see the range of cards that they had ,you name an occasion and they had the card for it .Greeting cards with sentimental (almost close to the mother sentiment in MGR movies) ,tear jerking write ups were for close friends and they inspite of all the writing were not really complete without a personal touch of art or graffiti .Very rarely some thoughtful friends pooled money to buy a gift .The only birthday treat I remember giving was buying cool drinks to five of my close friends . My bottle was broken and also what was left was that part on which few ants had already partied .The alarmed shopkeeper immediately replaced it with a new one ,unbroken and unshared.

Today birthdays are what only family and few close friends care to remember .Some websites remind a few friends and what surprises me is how some shops in which you carelessly scribbled out your birthday ,take care to send cards every year without fail (my brother fractured his leg in school and the orthopaedic centre still sends him cards though it is more than fifteen years now. Remarkable patient follow up that ).

My kids birthdays though are never complete without a party .There are upto twenty, below ten kids in my apartment and that means birthday parties every month .Last year when I asked the kids to suggest a game for the birthday party ,one little girl promptly responded , “Aunty,Let’s play guessing what is the return gift game ….!!!!!!”.Return gifts and snacks are the yardsticks of any birthday party today .

More alarming than this is the recent trend in schools of children distributing gifts to whole classes on their birthdays .I find my little son returning with anything from pencils, fancy stationery ,stickers and pencil boxes .Last week one kid gave small fancy bags with his name imprinted on it for due remembrance .Assuming that each bag would have cost atleast fifty rupees and the class strength is around forty five ,even my not very mathematically sharp brain calculates it as a purse breaking amount .Time for schools to say NO to this whole sale gifting and restore some equality and childishness ...



HPV and the doubts ...

I recently attended a meeting addressed by an oncologist to clear the doubts regarding the HPV vaccine .The audience was a mixed groups of gynaecologists ,paediatricians,nurses and NGOs .Some points that were discussed and clarified were ,

1.The death of the four girls in the now infamous PATH vaccine trial (that was conducted in Gujarat and Khammam ,AP and sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) were in no way related to the vaccine .Two deaths were due to drowning and two due to other causes .
2.The trial was trying to test whether the vaccine could be given to even the most backward rural areas (in this case a tribal region ),a so called "feasibility study".The outcome of which could affect public health initiatives .This could enable inclusion of the vaccine in the Universal Immunisation programme with wide ranging benefits.
3.Safety trials have been successfully concluded and the vaccine is USFDA approved and in wide use ( even in men in some parts of the world).
4.The press which raised a rightful hue and cry over the deaths has been underplaying the investigation report and the clarifications of the health ministry and the ICMR in this regard.
5.Even among doctors ,the reports have led to confusions over administering the vaccine and a few doctors said that they had indeed stopped vaccinating their patients and were not aware of the clarifications that have been issued .
6.Also ,most importantly ,the vaccine can succeed only when combined with strong screening programmes which unfortunately is severely deficient even among the urban ,literate population .

Time to take the call ...



Lost and found

The story goes like this .We took a vacation and travelled to Malaysia and Singapore .After a refreshing tour ,purchases and numerous photographs ,we returned on the Indian Airlines flight . On unpacking I realised that the most precious possession of all, the digital camera had not returned .After a lot of brainstorming ,we decided that the camera must have been left back in the flight itself.

We tried calling the airlines number ,tried sending mails but there was no response .So finally we thought it might be better to go in person as our travel agent suggested (nothing other than a personal appearance will work ,he had emphatically said).We were little skeptical about going through all this trouble for something we had definitely lost .Anyway ,thinking of the photographs we decided to give it a try .

Lo and behold !on receiving the letter the airlines official said that the camera was indeed there and he needed the boarding pass and proof that the camera was ours to hand it over.We fortunately had the pass and of course the camera had around five hundred photographs of us and that was some kind of proof.After a few formalities the camera was handed over .Finally we got the camera and many sweet memories back thanks to the flight crew..



HPV vaccine and the controversy

The HPV vaccine has been a major medical breakthrough in recent times .Worldwide, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women whereas in India ,Cancer of the uterine cervix is the commonest .This for a disease which can be detected very early by a simple screening test called the PAP smear .Even among the urban population less than 10 % of women get screened for Cancer cervix.

The vaccine has been in wide spread use in India for sometime now .The recent deaths in a research trial in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat has understandably created an outcry in the press and the public.Now the Government has gone on record that the deaths were not vaccine related .Whatever may have been the cause of death ,there seem to have been serious lapses in the conduct of the trial .These lapses have led to the interruption of the vaccination and also cast a cloud on its efficacy and side effects .

The government should act fast in elucidating the cause of deaths of those vaccinated and also identify and penalise those who have been responsible for the serious lapses in obtaining consent .By and by ,India is becoming a site for research trials for various international organisations .The need of the hour is to set up appropriate monitoring mechanisms for the approval and the conduct of these trials .This will ensure that ,we will stand to get the benefits of worthy trials and trials which are aimed at using our population as guinea bigs will be kept at bay ...
Undue delay in the investigation will jeopardise the use and credibility of the vaccine which could render protection to so many women ....



leaders to followers

Yesterday ,I travelled from Mandaveli to Annanagar .To my surprise too many political leaders seemed to be on the prowl yesterday .All along the route from Mandaveli to Nungambakkam it was Amma who towered in the cutouts on either side of the road .There were all kinds of declarations and a huge banner just under the Gemini flyover called her the Muthalvar ?:))))I departed from Amma at Valluvar kottam from where for a short while I was accompanied by Thayanidi Maran.

All around the Valluvar Kottam area were huge banners of Thiruma with Kalaignar .Sharing the
screen space with them was Baba Saheb Ambedkar whose birthday they were all celebrating .From then on it was Annan Alagiri all the way ..Alagiri ,Mrs.Alagiri ,Thayanidhi Alagiri all waved from the colourful banners and what more in colourful costumes too .Making himself visibly inconspicuous along with Thayanidhi was another youngster, his partner ? in JAK TV I suppose ..

While Amma had stepped out to garland Ambedkar's statue ,Thiruma was gearing up to add one more award to the Chief Minister who seems always ready to grab one more .Annan's outing was more of a family occasion where he stepped in to bless his son's business venture.They definitely brightened the Chennai landscape with banners and party flags and pithy quotes ...
I was wondering what a drab Chennai life will be without Amma ,Ayya and Annan.....



Every morning ,six days a week ,patients walk in and out of my consultation room .They come with all kinds of complaints ,all kinds of stories.They expect that I will not only prescribe but also listen and react to what they say and suggest if possible the single universal remedy for all their worldly troubles and more so without any medicines .Since all my patients are HIV infected ,they always come hoping that I will tell them that a permanent cure is on the horizon .

Some , believe all that you have to say ,take any number of medicines that you care to prescribe and trust with all their heart.But there are also the sceptics who after hours of patient explanations go back with the least faith in me and my medicines.These two are better than the third group which chiefly consists of cats on the wall .They come ,they talk ,they get examined and they take away the prescriptions with due respect and regard but when they come back always tell you that they have taken one month of medicines when three were due and half tablets were one was prescribed and come back after one year when they should have returned after three swift months .These are the rebels of the system .They loathe the fact the fact that they should be prevailed upon by a woman wearing a white coat to take what they know is not good for them .They believe ,that modern medicine is a conspiracy against humanity and its natural immunity and it is better to fight from within .It is these people who make the practice of medicine as lively and challenging as it is today .

Every patient I believe ,is a walking lesson and it is by proper study of them that my prescriptions can ever get their due recognition and adherence......


The Lost Symbol

I read this book in the last week ,finally .The style was there ,the historic monuments were there and of course Langdon was there but essentially the plot was not very strong .Still the book made interesting non stop read material.

What I found very very fascinating was the fact that Brown has woven the story right into the monuments in Washington ,an unlikely location for a Brownian tale .The author holds you right till the end and even kills Langdon when it is almost over .The little twist about the anti hero is really exciting .Brown goes into so much intricate detail about the Capitol ,that ,if I were to lose my way there I surely would be able to get out on my own .Then there is the Masonic rites in all its details with a good number of the rich and famous tossed in .

The details also bore you after a point especially if you have read the previous two books in the series .Brown seems to go on and on about the symbols and their meanings ,it really clogs your mind after a decent while .The masonic rituals are described so elaborately ,you get the impression that it must be boring to be a mason .Then the plot ,rather hairline , with not so strong events to hold it up .The antihero ,excuse me ,really doesn't seem to know what he is upto and naturally like all antiheroes ends his mission disastrously .The climax is big letdown .

To say it all ,Dan Brown ,weaves history (or should it be archaeology )with fantasy and ensures that you read through the volume with engrossing narrative and good handful of plotters from the rich,the famous and the powerful .Happy reading folks !


Indian Parliament

The Indian parliament really lived up to its name yesterday ..I was rather afraid that they might let the opportunity for a grand ruckus slip through their fingers .They proved me wrong and how!While the earlier commotions on almost all issues were merely a energetic rushing into the well ,yesterday we saw our elected members do us proud by snatching the paper from right under the Chairman's nose .When it comes to guarding our rights ,our MP s are truly aware that they are the rulers and they are the ones who have got the mandate .So who is a chairman to them ..just a man on the chair ....

The woman's reservation bill is one ,that I sincerely believe, will never go through parliament .Even if it does, all those who enter through those reservations will be wives , daughters ,grand daughters and daughters- in- law of existing netas.So as party after party shifts blame they all know that the bill will mostly remain what it always was ... just a bill ...So whether the bill was debated or whether they voted is not something I am seriously concerned with .

I am ,within my short memory trying to look for a date on which the parliament was allowed to function .As far as I can recall ,nowhere in the recent past has the esteemed house able to function without the hoologanism that has come to characterise its members.Day after day we see members rushing to the well ,shouting slogans and in the chair the Speaker sits and pleads that they let the house function and in an act of final desperation adjourns the house .Business in parliament has become synonymous with no action and all noise.

If I am right ,it was in the days of Rajiv Gandhi that the ruling Congress formed an official "shouting brigade ",as it was nicknamed in the press, with the irrepressible Mani Shankar Aiyer at it head .Their only duty was to shout whenever an opposition member spoke low of the Govt .All other parties which have seriously simulated the Congress in factionism and what not have also incorporated into their own systems ,their own shouting brigades .With all parties letting loose their own version of it how can any work go on ?

Every newspaper carries articles on how much money is wasted when the house does not function and how politicians are demeaning democracy and so forth .All these unfortunately do not remedy the situation or take us anywhere near the solution .With television channels becoming the new age image makers or breakers ,we cannot blame our netas for not foregoing their chance on primetime .After all there is no business like show business..........



Everyday I want to write about this and then everyday I restrain myself.What has been left to say ?I wonder.Has not enough and more been written on the Revered Swami's now very famous video which must be inspiring to scores of his followers and to some I must say disappointingly mundane .

Inspiring I guess to know that the Swami is not wholly divine but has ascended to divinity through mortal means and disappointing to those who staunchly believed that he has attained divinity and thence bid goodbye to the more mortal itches .So far so good.I personally think there is nothing more to be learned from this episode than that boys will be boys and girls will be girls ..

The more intriguing answers lie in those to the questions of who did the picturisation and why ..Let us not forget that the Sun is a media meganame and political meganame too .Did it place the highest bid or did it finance the entire sting? operation .On both accounts the question remains WHY ?Did we really need the video to tell us that most Godmen have sex ?Are'nt Godmen in the news for all kinds of reasons stretching from politics ,murder,abuse and rarely Godliness ?

Already tales are around about a real estate angle ,sibling rivalry and the yarn runs so forth .I am sure that there is more to this than merely meets the eye and what the mind does not know ,the eyes do not see and so we can rest assured that we might really never get to the bare facts .Until then happy viewing...