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Showing posts from September, 2019

Why Hindu rites make me recall theatre of absurd and Backet's Waiting for Godot

As I was student of English literature for five long years (1970-75), doing my BA (Hons) and MA course from Delhi University, I (quite like my classmates) never read anything about a term towards which I was to become fascinated in late 1970s -- theatre of the absurd – apparently because it was a French concept. Coined by critic Martin Esslin in his 1960 essay "Theatre of the Absurd", at that time I had only vaguely knew that it pertained to post-World War II plays written by European playwrights.
My curiosity for theatre of the absurd especially arose after I saw the Hindi adaptation of a French play by Samuel Backet, "Waiting for Godot" in a theatre in Mandi House, Delhi, where I used to see lots of plays. That was late 1970s. I was told it was one of the top plays which was considered part of the absurd genre. In this play, two characters wait for the arrival of someone named Godot, who represents the ethereal, the unknown, maybe a god. The Godot never arrives, …

Observing 'biased' cops, indifferent administration in a Saurashtra taluka

His name is Dhaval Chopada. A smiling young face, whom I used to meet at the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Ahmedabad. I believe it was several months ago, after he got married, and he "disappeared". Never bothered to find out whether he had gone to some other NGO, or got an assignment elsewhere, I saw him suddenly rushing to me the other day with, smiling as always, “How are you, Rajivbhai?”
Oh! Where did you disappear?, I asked him, and he replied, he is with Arvind Khuman, a lawyer and social worker with CSJ in Amreli, Saurashtra, and is currently stationed in Rajula – “just 40 km from Una, where five Dalits of a family were lynched, an incident which shot into national fame”, he recalled. Who doesn’t know the incident? The Una movement that followed threw up Jignesh Mevani, a major Dalit leader from Gujarat. Currently, Mevani is an independent MLA, won with Congress support.
So what’s going on? I asked Chopada, a lean, thin, tall guy, who wore a trendy jean. Prompt cam…

Privatised and modernised, what's wrong with this top Gujarat hospital?

VS Hospital. Privatised and modernised, even the word sends a negative stimulus in you. This is one of the two biggest hospitals in Ahmedabad, founded by one of the most respected philanthropists of the city, Vadilal Sarabhai, in 1931. The only time I visited it was when I visited Ahmedabad from Gandhinagar, where I was posted as the Times of India representative. I think the year was 2007.
That was when I suffered a dog bite while, accompanied with children, we went in search of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, rumoured to have been opened in the Municipal Market area on CG Road. I parked our Maruti Fronty, we looked around, couldn’t find one, and lo, when we were about to re-enter the car, the dog hit me.
A journalist friend helped me go to VS to see a doctor, who immediately called me in, even as telling me he wasn’t supposed to look after patients on that day, but since he had got a phone call from “someone important” he was obliging. He ordered for the injection, and I was t…

Why should one doubt 'popular' Soviet support to Nehru was spontaneous in 1955

A lot is being written on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Howdy event in Houston. Indeed, none can can deny it was a grand success, so much so that even Opposition Congress leaders have begun praising it. One of the most commented, adversely of course, is President Donald Trump calling Modi "father of India".
With this comment, it seems, Trump seemed to be making desperate attempt to gather popular support among Indian immigrants when his popularity is sharply falling, if a recent Fox New survey is to be believed. However, what has puzzled many, especially diehard opponents, is, how could Modi gather so much of support -- 50,000 people in a jam packed hall. It was a PR success by Modi lobbyists, helped by Trump's.
One of the more famous comments was triggered by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who erroneously tweeted that Jawaharlal Nehru collected spontaneous crowd in USA in 1954. Others said the year was 1956. Pratik Sinha, in an article in his fact-check site, altnews.…

Gujarat Media Club foundation day: Between welfarism and 'compiling' archives

Six years is indeed a big gap. After retiring from the Times of India in January 2013, last week I attended the annual meeting of the Gujarat Media Club (GMC), which I very recently came to know is, legally speaking, a registered as a non-profit company, working for the welfare of journalists. The term welfare seems vague, but its past office office bearers would tell me it’s not a union, that’s the great difference.
Be that as it may, the last meeting I attended (perhaps it was in early 2012, or what it late 2011?), was when the then GMC president, Bharat Desai, then editor, the Times of India, put forward a series of demands before the chief guest, who happened to Narendra Modi.
The demands included giving land for a GMC building, where he had planned to set up a journalism school, in which, I was told, I should also be involved post-retirement. Modi nodded, and journalists were happy: Land would be allocated, cheap, subsidised.
Bharat Desai didn’t remain president after that. I …