Wednesday, July 27, 2011

D*** of the month: Yeddy!

A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I were enumerating reasons that would rule us out if we were ever to try running for an elected office. We considered the skeletons in the cupboard that won't hold up well to scrutiny, inability to be diplomatic, hesitation to make the hard compromises that comes with politics, and many others. Apart from those, my blog would be an embarrassment too. I would never be able to offer a dignified justification for the name-calling I've indulged in in my posts, especially in those posts where I flippantly call politicians dorks. As I grow older I've been embarrassed about those posts and have even wanted to go back and edit them out.

However, every now and then, there comes a politician so brazen and thick-skinned, that no amount of french is unjustified. Our chief minister, Yeddyurappa, has been facilitating looting of our mining resources, has looked the other way when there were attacks on religious minorities, has done nothing about encroachment...not unlike other politicians of my state, you would say. But he's made a fool of himself, like when he put out an ad inviting his adversary to testify against him in a freakin' temple. And now, faced with incriminating evidence against him, instead of stepping down and allowing the investigation to happen, he said "All our all India leaders are with us. All our MLAs are with us. And the question of my resignation does not arise,". It's a uniquely Indian idiosyncrasy to think that a politician is answerable to his stooges and/or to his high command. For not knowing that his primary accountability is to the people, Yeddy is not just the D*** of the month, but for his consistent shamelessness he gets a free pass into the hall of fame too.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Kallanai


Last weekend, we made a trip to a remarkable place called Kallanai, a dam over the Cauvery river built by the Cholas nearly a thousand years ago. It is said to the oldest water regulation structure still in use today. More fascinating was this curious behavior by the fish at the downstream end of the dam. For some reason, they kept trying to swim upstream, at times jumping with all their energy to counter the rapids. Why they did this I have no idea, but the futility of their exercise lent a tragic touch to it all. That apart, the trip was a lot of fun. The rest of the photos are here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The inaction of the good

What's common to every election manifesto, every political speech, every media interview with a neta, every excuse for a scandal? The incessant use of the word "Development". It's not necessarily a bad thing, but while the Yeddys of the world go about turning Bangalores into Singapores and Mumbais into Shanghais, I feel there are two counterforces that are absolutely necessary to keep it sane; environmental activism and voices speaking for social justice. 

While the media was filling in as a bumbling champion for social justice, I feel that environment had long been ignored. Minister for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh, I thought, was filling that gap fairly well. I blogged about him not so long ago, expressing my guarded appreciation. He seemed like a smart, erudite man, capable of dealing with ethical ambiguities, so crucial a skill in his role. He also seemed to do it all without the fanfare that's associated with someone like Shashi Tharoor. Most importantly, by all accounts, he seemed to assign the highest priority to transparency and accountability.

It wasn't a surprise that he was booted out his ministry yesterday for he had ruffled too many feathers. The surprise was that the PM's reason for the reshuffle was to "signal accountability". So it's goodbye to good hope for now. There will not be any twitter campaigns. There won't be candle light vigils. There definitely won't be media outrage. Sometimes I do wish Jairam Ramesh had operated like Shashi Tharoor too.