Sunday, August 29, 2010

Go Nuke Yourself....!

This appeared in the Asian Age \ Deccan Chronicle

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Candid question: How many Indian citizens understand the implications \ ramifications of the Nuclear Liability Bill? Out of a billion plus population , it would be hard to find more than 10,000 super brains capable of figuring out the gol-mal…. the gobbledygook. And yet, when Manmohan Singh sought unanimous support from the Lok Sabha, he pretty much got it(through a voice vote), with an impressive majority of 252 members. Amazing! First those M.P.s pushed through a hefty pay hike for themselves in record time, now they’ve passed a bill that is maha controversial …to say the least. Simran Badal, who spoke right after the P.M., was the only person to make some sense during a heated television debate the same night , when she asked the sort of practical, commonsensical questions that any Indian – dumb or otherwise - would want comprehensible responses to. The answers, such as they were, made very little sense. It was more an exercise in theatrics and the sort of intellectual masturbation most smarty pants on tv indulge in each time they have to defend their party bosses on slippery issues. What can these motor mouths do, but resort to fancy language and that very obvious and intensely annoying ‘buying time’ tactic - “Please repeat the question…kindly give me an uninterrupted chance to respond…may I answer that question?” Yes, you mutt. That’s why it has been asked! Once that silly pantomime is out of the way, the debate rages on pointlessly, with at least three people talking at the same time. The hapless anchor is reduced to playing an ineffective traffic havaldar, waving his\her arms, raising his\her own voice above the din, scolding panelists by wagging a finger and pretending to be in control even as mayhem rules. This is exactly what happened on Wednesday night, as bewildered viewers wondered what the hell was going on…and why was everybody so worked up.
Next came press reports of the Prime Minister’s Stooge Speech. Hello? Who called you a stooge, sir???? Sacrilege! Manmohan Singh whispered softly and sweetly, “ To say that this ( bill) has been brought to promote American interests and corporations, I think, is far from the truth.” Hear, hear! Good news, guys. Our Prime Minister ‘thinks’ this is far from the truth. Maybe a few years down the line, we’ll ‘know’ the truth. And if India’s karma is good, that truth won’t hurt ,damage or kill us. As of now, we can only pray for the benevolence of Bhagwan that this bill is indeed in India’s interests. And even if some American companies make zillions and zillions from us, it will only be in the country’s interests. Never mind if the rest of the world ( America included) is looking for other energy sources – cheaper and less dangerous. We have now committed ourselves to going along with Obama. And no… we are not his stooges. When Manmohan Singh pleaded, “ I beg of this House to pass the bill with unanimity,” members promptly obliged. Yup. Even those BJP blokes. Jaswant Singh’s muted ‘protest’ was noted (Who are you calling a hustler, huh?) , not that it mattered all that much. Demanding the safety of nuclear power plants, is apparently not such a radical issue after all. It is amazing that it almost became a secondary one, given our recent tryst with the Bhopal bungling, where again, safety was the first casualty. The beauteous Ms. Badal pointed out several in built hazards and asked tough questions about India’s preparedness to deal with a nuclear calamity. Of course, she received no replies from the official spokesperson, who chose to be characteristically evasive and totally off the point. It was a little like someone quoting Shakespeare when the debate was on Tagore. But then again, that may have been the whole idea.
It is obvious that deals within deals have been struck across the board. It is equally obvious India will never know what those are. The principal players may or may not be around when citizens live through the contentious bill, hoping all the while that there is no accident in the future. When we cannot even construct a safe stadium for the Games, when nearly every aspect of our everyday lives come with a ‘Dangerous to your health’ sign, whether it is crossing pot holed, flooded roads, or risking plane collisions on the ground and in the air, sab kuch routine ho gaya hai - what is a mere nuclear disaster ? Another statistic? Even if thousands, possibly millions, are at risk, does that stop us from chasing ‘progress’…. sorry…n-commerce? God forbid, but if something horrific does take place – who pays? How much? A liability cap for the operator at $320 million, IMF special drawing rights at $450 million? In any other genuinely developed nation, these sort of concerns would have been directly tabled before citizens . Especially in a democracy. It is obvious from the way the cookie has crumbled during the past week, that the government is only concerned about protecting the interests of politicians and their influential allies. The height of insult to the people of India was Lalu Prasad Yadav justifying a pay hike when his own miserable record as a scamster who has done time, is known to all. It is this same level of brazenness and audacity that has pushed a potentially lethal bill through. But then, when Obama does show up in India later this year, we shall be ready with not just the red carpet, but also our contracts for American companies. Oh… did Obama really say all those rude things about desi techies? And has he also made it much tougher for Indians to get work in his country? Gee… that’s too bad. Let’s put all that behind us, and show him the true meaning of Desi Chamchagiri … err… hospitality. It was a former U.S. President (Nixon) who once famously declared, “ I am not a crook.” We know the rest. Now that our P.M. has said, ‘I am not a stooge,” shall we give the guy the benefit of the doubt? Sure. Why not? Do we have a choice?
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I spent a really,really hectic day in Ahemdabad ... and may need a week to recover. I was there for the launch of the Gujarati editions of 'Spouse' and 'Speedpost'. I was lucky that one of Gujarat's oldest and most respected publishers , R.R.Sheth ( third generation now running the show, after the grandfather, a freedom fighter and Gandhiji associate, started the firm 126 years ago). It has been an absolute pleasure dealing with young Chintan Sheth and his team. Some of our high handed, arrogant English language publishers can take a leaf or two out of this book! Sheth publishes close to 125 titles a year, and has all the top names signed up. The chief guest at my function was the highly respected writer Shri Gunwant Shah. Also present were my translators, two attractive and feisty ladies - Kaajal Ojha and Sonal Modi. Over 700 readers turned up for the function, held in a large hall. They were responsive, respectful and raring to ask questions. But before that I had to pack in close to 20 interviews ( tv, radio, print), which left me a little dehydrated and drained by the time it was my turn to speak. I valiantly carried on , adopting my own brand of Gujarati-Hindi-Marathi-Bengali-English. The superlative sitaphal basundi I had enjoyed at lunch, gave me the much needed extra energy - though it could as well have been the hand churned chikoo icecream. Next time you find yourself in A'Bad, even for a few hours, head straight to the The House of Mangaldas Giridhardas, a 200 year old haveli , which is a magnificent urban heritage hotel ( highly recommended by Lonely Planet). Take a short flight of steps up to 'Agashiye' - the wonderful terrace restaurant which serves an authentic Gujju thali. It's worth taking a flight from anywhere in the word to the historic Walled City which takes you right back to the 15th century. More details on : www.houseofmg.com.

20 comments:

anamika said...

First of all I feel bad for BJP..It seems as if there vont don count and congress can do away with any thing now.

Intelligent manstrubation:Dlolz

U come up with the best:D

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cmpershad said...

"Maybe a few years down the line, we’ll ‘know’ the truth."

May be, it will be too late :)

Sidhusaaheb said...

How do you manage to say so little in a blog-post so long?

:D

Harsimrat Kaur Badal's name could perhaps be shortened to SimraT, but not SimraN. I wonder if she's the heroine of this piece mostly because she's a woman.

Indian_Hottie said...

nice writing....a good read.

Theyoginme said...

Shobhaa, The issue of energy (Nuclear vs other sources) is complex, and even more complex for India. Nuclear energy will def. help in India, given the current crisis. A combination of solar, nuclea and wind could provide India with a solution it needs to resolve its energy crisis to start with. Some energy experts think it will be good to India to have more nuclear power - good example France.. but it doesnt mean it should not pursue other means of clean energy....But ofcourse the politicians can mess up anything they want for personal gains.

Given the number of cars on the road and traffic crisis it is imperative the govt does something in parallel about solving the infrastructure problem and convert to electric vehicles and more efficient public transport, and perhaps even limit the number of cars on the roads.. follow the Singapore model.

goodluck said...

You wear many hats. That of a movie critic, political writer, social commentator and gossip writer. Dont panic about nuke deals. They are as safe as electricity and as dangerous as our neighbours. By the way Manmohanji is the most endearing person and why dont you pay even minimum courtesy to the prime minister of a country? And we have more dangerous things to deal with than this nuke deal like naxalism, terrorism, regionalism and corruption which are destroying India.

Latha said...

'he pretty much got it(through a voice vote), with an impressive majority of 252 members. Amazing'.
There is nothing to be amazed. That is the point precisely. All the politicians would pretend to understand the liability bill because their ego will not permit them to say, 'We didn't quite understand it. How can we vote unless you make it intelligible.' They have egos bigger than their paunches. So next time anybody wants to get things done, they just have to use bombastic language & get away with the votes. Of course, everybody would vote for sure just to show off that they understood everything.
You have hit the bull's-eye. Hope it reaches the right people.
Unfortunately people wake up only after the disasters. There is nothing called 'prevention' or 'disaster management' in our country. Who cares ? After all the politicians would not be the ones to get hit.
There were several warnings about Bhopal. One of them was 'Bhopal is a bomb waiting to explode. Time is ticking.' But the people woke up only after the tragedy.

sonal said...

Dear Shobha Tai, going gujju now, so now the gujju bens will read ure'Stuff'!anyways just kidding, all the best and good to see u so much in demand!! looks like after AB,Gujrat beckons the indefatigable Ms.De.u 60 somethings are sure giving the rest of us a run for our money!! Cheers!!fie

krunal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jignesh Gandhi said...

Dear Shobhaji, I seen ur interview on gujarati local channel programme called Atithi, Mam what can we do to control this politician who have no care of Nation and Nationals they have only to care is themselves. Mam please give us some idea how to control them they are really broken their all limits and they don't have fear now to doing curreption............they are all currepted.

Jignesh Gandhi said...

Dear Shobhaji, I seen ur interview on gujarati local channel programme called Atithi, Mam what can we do to control this politician who have no care of Nation and Nationals they have only to care is themselves. Mam please give us some idea how to control them they are really broken their all limits and they don't have fear now to doing curreption............they are all currepted.

Satish Ashtaputre said...

Madam,nuclear bill has quite become a vexed issue.Hence;its implications/ramifications are beyond d scope of lay man,ordinary people.Even those 252 M.P.s who voted in its favour,god knows!how much have de understood about it.It is not a coincidence that the bill was passed after a hefty pay hike to M.P.s This is a part of Indian politics for which even our gentleman P.M.can't help.One thing that is commendable about Dr.Manmohan Singh is his grasp of the subject in short time.In spite of being a finance/economics expert;the way in which he is handling Indo-U.S. nuclear deal is laudable.

Pooja said...

longback you had written an article on nuclear deal stating dal mein kuch kala hein but i will not be surprised if dal hi puri kali ho! - you are right not many understand the nuclear liability bill i hope the ones who are responsible ( and signing the deal) know what they r getting into it after CWG scandalcant trust these politicians ( when in power they only think for themselves and their party).hope for the bestand rest live it to god as we live every matter ,including prestigious CWG( as u put divine intervention , what r our options anyways?
i read the interview of sheena Iyengar(suggested by you on twitter) she is amazing!she has achieved her goals inspite of her handicap , Nothing is impossible!

ms said...

mz de, just a little info: Mr B as launched a cyber enquiry into one of his ardently abusive blogfans. he has unleashed the combined hounding talents of the cyber cell to unmask this terrible person and "bring him/her to justice, either here or in country of origin". may i suggest you do the same to protect yourself from similar fans.
ps: by the time you read this, cricket-match-fixing will be at the height of frenzy. our CWG fiasco will fade into oblivion. do you think kalmadi and company have pulled this one off? mz dikshit wants delhi people to stay off the roads during the games so that the firangis don't see the moronic driving and absolute filth that is the capital. "adjust, please" she says, how? all this training that should have been done from birth onwards cannot be accomplished in 31 days!! her administration could have saved so much money by not painting white lane lines, putting up road signs, traffic signals, public urinals. delhi will never change, CWG or not. all is sham: just be well behaved for the duration of the games, mz dikshit advises and then go back to being yourselves! it is only for a few days, my people.
a job half done is a job not done, mr kalmadi

Radhika Gupta said...

nice post shobhaa...n yeah.. u hv pointed out the scenario of a television debate where the anchor's job is more or less like a "traffic hawaldar"... on reading this what came to my mind was the scene of lok sabha/rajya sabha session where the speaker acts like a "traffic hawaldar" and our "able" politicians put their views forward simultaneously such that no one gets to hear who is speaking and what!!

AnotherWorld said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AnotherWorld said...

AnotherWorld said...
Good one...
It we be too late when everyone find out's the truth.. .
""..Reality Bites..""

http://anotherworld-realityornot.blogspot.com/

sonal said...

Dear Ms, De, I have been a ardent fan of urs and i identify with u very strongly , with ure life and ure views. Its begun to upset me that u often receive so much criticism and flak for your comments.I was jst going through one of ure older blogs,Why we love Sachins wife,! and the comments were vicious.Well i jst want to say that yeah sure Anjali is a wonderful dignified wife and adds to Sachins stature.The photos posted by one of ure readers were amazing!But looks like u will always be controversial!Like most Capricorns i think u are a deeply misunderstood woman, though i think that those who do understand u, love u for who u are!I wonder how u haNdle all the criticism, u must be made of very strong stuff!Touchwood!Anyways take care and keep writing, we believe in you!

cherag said...

Shobha De,

I love to read your blog.

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