All entries for February 2006

February 13, 2006

Asia Times Letters

Siddharth Srivastava's article [When a Muslim paints nude Hindu gods, Feb 11] brings out the inherent dangers of Hinduism being misrepresented by the very cadres who claim to be its vanguard. It is to be noted that M F Husain has never portrayed an unclothed Muslim woman in his paintings, but it is also to be noted – as Mr Srivastava points out – that traditionally Hinduism has always been rather open about matters pertaining to erotic art and nudity. The protests should have been aimed at questioning the double standards in Mr Husain's paintings, and whether they arose out of certain prejudices, and not that they offended Hindus per se. All the protests have achieved thus far is portray Hinduism has "yet another religion" averse to free speech, when India has one of the strongest argumentative traditions alive on the planet. On a different note, Draupadi is not a Hindu deity, Mr Srivastava. She was the main woman character in the epic Mahabharata.

February 10, 2006

The Right Balance

The Telegraph, 10.02.2006

Abhirup Sarkar presents a well-balanced argument in “Absolute poverty” (Feb 2). However, there can be no denying the gaping inequality in India. Sarkar cites the Human Development Report of 2004, but even in its 2005 edition, the pattern remains unchanged. There is no doubt though that India is far more equal than most countries in a comparable income bracket, and many countries that are considerably richer. We may find John Rawls’s “difference principle” relevant in this context since it allows inequalities as long as it makes the poor better off than before. It could provide us with a useful cut-off line beyond which inequalities must be discouraged. As Sarkar suggests, what is needed is a balanced approach. Extremism in economic policies — be it laissez faire capitalism or socialist utopianism — must be discouraged.

February 03, 2006

An Open Letter to Sachin Tendulkar

Outlook India, 03.02.06

Dear Sachin,

I’m sure you’ve heard this line a million times: 'I’m a big, big fan.'

Our country has many gods – the Durga is not revered with the same vigour outside Bengal, while the Ganapati is Maharashtra’s elite deity. Muslims and Christians have their own God. We have appropriated the various avatars of the almighty and jealously cling to them.

But no one appropriates you. You belong to India – from every little town to the bustling metropolis.

We have many demands from you. Most of the times you’ve paid heed, but when you don’t, we cry in anguish. The only time our mothers ever stopped doing household work was when you walked in to bat. The one cricketer whose name all our mothers could remember was Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.

Life has many experiences in store for us, but it leaves very few permanent imprints. Your exuberant celebrations after the final ball of the Hero Cup semi final, your feats amidst the Middle Eastern desert storm and violating the dreams of Shane Warne were such imprints. We grew up being fanatical about our little champion.

But those were the 90s.

Our mothers have come a long way – these days they know most of our cricketers. Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, even Yuvraj Singh and Irfan Pathan have all occupied a chunk of our cricket euphoric minds. It is no longer fashionable to take less than 5 seconds to answer when asked who our favourite cricketer is. Do you feel slightly dethroned?

You needn’t be – your knock in the 2003 World Cup against Pakistan assured us: "Arre bhai, Sachin is Sachin."

You made your 35th test century 7 innings ago. You are perhaps feeling crestfallen at newspapers headlines such as "Endulkar". But don’t you understand that you are not supposed to have slumps? You’ve had a few, and each time it is equally painful for us to handle. 16 years of international cricket or not, you’re still 32. How can you be done?

Rahul Dravid has crossed your test average and Ricky Ponting is threatening your record of test centuries. More than you, this is a cause for worry for us. You have so much more to do – a certain Brian Lara still holds the record for the highest test runs. Your record suddenly looks mortal – whatever happened to Sunil Gavaskar’s prediction that you will leave the field with records impossible for anyone else to touch?

India – the land of a million deities – is suddenly one short. Our little master has gone missing. "God is back", hoped a journalist upon your explosive return to one-day cricket after injury. But obviously that was more a spark than a blaze.

When a batsman scores 163, the others are supposed to fade. But the 1,00,000-odd people at the Eden Gardens about eight years ago were deflating their lungs not at Mohammed Azharuddin, who had, admittedly, played a gem of an innings.

86 balls, 79 runs – 12 fours and 2 sixes. This was the majestic Tendulkar at his very best. Rahul Dravid must’ve felt dejected at the huge cheering that erupted at his dismissal after making a typically assured 86 off 150 balls. The crowd knew they had lost a star, but a master was about to take centre stage. That was the first – and only – time I saw you play live, and like the other 99,999 people, I was stunned.

I – and many others, I’m sure – pray that the sun has not yet set on our little champion. We hope that the drums and bugles will be back even louder. And we hope they will reach their crescendo at the Kensington Oval in Barbados next year at the highest stage cricket has to offer – the World Cup final. The writing will then be definitely on the wall- "The God of India has returned".

And the lesser mortals will again gape in pure admiration.

Yours sincerely,

Aruni Mukherjee


Aruni Mukherjee who sent us this open letter to Sachin Tendulkar is based at the University of Warwick, England.

February 2006

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