Rashomon Effect (9)

Recently Mahatma Gandhi’s personal items were sold at an auction and it was bought by the Indian businessman Vijaya Mallaya.
Culture Minister, Ambika Soni:

“We have been able to procure them through the services of Mallya who was in touch with us,” an elated Culture Minister Ambika Soni told media-persons in New Delhi [Images], hours after the items were auctioned for $ 1.8 million.

Vijaya Mallaya:

In a shocking statement, industrialist Vijay Mallya has said that the Indian government had nothing to do with his bidding for Mahatma Gandhi’s memorabilia in a New York auction. Mallya said this in an interview to a TV channel from France. “I bid independently… I wanted to get back the items to the country… I am not sure if anyone was aware that I was bidding,” chairman of the United Breweries Group said. “Nobody from the government advised me on the bid… Our national treasure was up for grabs, for me it was emotional,” he said.

(hat tip: rand0mwalker)

See Also: Episode 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Can the CEC turn a Mongoose Golden?

When Yudhishtira’s yagna was about to end, a mongoose with half his body in golden color turned up. This mongoose, who could speak, opined that this sacrifice was not equal to the deeds of a poor brahmin who lived in Kurukshetra.
Perplexed, the brahmins who were sapient in matters of yagna, asked him to explain. They had done the sacrifice as per the rituals. They had uttered the mantras without thinking of the Reed Wharbler or Whitethroat. So what could go wrong?
The mongoose simply said, “story time.”
There lived a poor brahmin family with nothing to eat. One day the head of the household got some barley. The food was divided and they were about to eat when a guest arrived. The brahmin gave his share to the guest but the guest was still hungry. So his wife gave her share. Soon their son and daughter-in-law followed. The guest departed and the family too departed — to heaven.
The mongoose who was watching this came out, rolled in the barley, and half of his body turned golden. The mongoose rolled around in Yudhishtira’s palace and the other half did not turn golden, but just became dirty.
Yudhishtira told the mongoose that if he visited the Chief Election Commissioner, the fate would be the same. The mongoose read a Rediff article and was shocked

“If you go to his residence, he won’t even offer you a glass of water. He may even eat in front of you without offering you anything,” a close friend said. This attitude is more because of a give-nothing-take-nothing principle than anything else, insiders say “He had to attend so many dinner meetings. In the two decades or so that I have known him, I have never seen him eat outside,” a friend said, adding, “He will entertain you in the drawing room and may talk to you for two hours, but there won’t be a single offer for any refreshments or even water.” [He lives by the give-nothing-take-nothing principle ]

The mongoose thanked Yudhishtira for the tip. He read other Rediff articles and found a person who could help him.

Chawla was also found to have exercised ‘extra-statutory control in jail matters’, including ‘the treatment of detenues’. Not confining himself to dictating to his boss as to the persons to be arrested, he also prescribed how they were to be treated in prison. For instance, he was for constructing special cells with asbestos roofs to ‘bake’ certain prisoners. [Unfair to impute motives to CEC]

The ‘asbestos treatment’ would definitely bring a glow to his skin, the mongoose thought, but he would be dead. Finally the mongoose looked at the 401(k)s, bank balances and house price of various people and decided to be content with what he had. He lived happily ever after.

Hey Ram!

Observing the death anniversary of late chief minister C N Annadurai, the ruling DMK will offer 31 special pujas at various temples on Tuesday. Ironically, Annadurai was an atheist and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi’s son, M K Stalin, named after a Communist leader, will be attending the maximum number of pujas — three, including one at a temple near the party headquarters, Anna Arivalayam. [‘Rationalist’ DMK turns religious ]

When there is a break between first and second puja, Stalin can probably ask Lord Rama which engineering school he graduated from and tell his daddy. Also in the break between the second and third puja, all those DMK followers and Stalin can discuss what Periyar wrote about Hindu gods .

The Butterfly Effect

However, the Government has argued in court that such a bridge cannot exist and to support its claim, it has reffered to the Padma Purana in Ramayan which mentions that Lord Ram destroyed the bridge built by him using his magical bow and arrow.[Oh Lord! Now Govt says Ram destroyed Setu]

President Bush tells Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the Nuclear deal is valid till the end of his presidency. Manmohan Singh develops spine and asks Karat and Co to become fossil fuel. To win the vote Congress cuts deals with DMK. DMK’s pound of flesh is that the Sethusamundram Shipping Canal Project should go on. Govt. officials read Padma Purana and find that Lord Rama, who did not exist before the vote, not only existed, but he himself destroyed the bridge.

Who would have thought that President Bush flapping his wings in the White House would result in the Govt. accepting the existence of Lord Rama? Even Valimiki could not have come up with such a twist.

A Tomb Robber's Tale

A man identified only as Quan has died after a Liao Dynasty (907-1125 AD) tomb he was attempting to rob collapsed on him. Six people who were also involved in the attempted theft were still trying to extract him when police arrived.

Ironically, the tomb he was trying to raid had nothing in it – most likely because it was emptied by previous tomb robbers.[Tomb Raider Dies as Grave Collapses on Top of Him]

Only a limerick can do justice to this adventurer:

There lived a man in China called Quan.
He wanted a bag full of yuan
His role model was Indiana Jones
But all people heard were loud moans
When under a tomb, they found him withdrawn.

Rashomon Effect (7)

Sen. John McCain on if he voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.

“I voted, campaigned for, worked as hard as I could for President Bush’s election in 2000 and 2004,” he said. “It’s nonsense.”

Bradley Whitford and Richard Schiff who attended a dinner with Sen. John McCain in 2001

McCain replied that as a member of the GOP, Whitford added, he always intended to back the party’s nominee. Then, the actor said, someone asked McCain whether he had cast a vote in favor of Bush.

“He put his finger up to his lips, shook his head and mouthed, ‘No way,'” Whitford said.

Schiff remembered the conversation the same way. “My memory was he said pretty clearly, no, he did not vote for him,” he said. “I discussed it with others afterwards. It was clear to everyone he said no.

See Also: Episode 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

More, the Merrier

Shriya Reddy (who?) married Vikram Krishna (hoo! hoo!). From the reports:

Well, chief minister M.Karunanidhi wasn’t able to make it to shower his blessings and his family members including his wives Thaayal Ammal and Rajathi Ammal, son M.K. Stalin and grandson Udayanidhi conveyed their wishes.[Blissful moments for Shriya – Vikram]

Is it legal for Karunanidhi to have multiple wives? Well, apparently the rules are different in some parts of the world for some people.

The DMK chief now divides his time in the houses of both wives – spending mornings at the Gopalapuram residence with Dayaluammal while moving to the house of his other wife, Rajathiammal, at CIT Nagar in Chennai in the afternoons. The Chinna veedu concept is fairly common in Krishnagiri and Salem districts of TN, where males believe in more the merrier.

At least one top Union minister from Tamil Nadu is known to have two wives and so does a senior DMK official, who married his daughter’s classmate. An academic said, “The social sanction for two wives can be traced to religion and mythology. Lord Muruga, for instance, had two wives.”[In South India, more the merrier]

Then has the academic heard about Lord Rama who had only one wife? Probably that explains the DMK hatred towards Rama.

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Quantifying Sominism

The past month Public Radio had interviews with various authors regarding the rise of India and China. Kishore Mahbubani, dean and professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore,  rightly mentioned that both India and China were the economic powers till 1820 and are only rightly regaining their space in the world. Tarun Khanna, professor at Harvard Business School and author of Billions of Entrepreneurs: How China and India Are Reshaping Their Futures–and Yours, is optimistic that the economic rise of these two countries is good for Asia. Even in  popular fiction , characters are talking about these countries.

If you are shocked that India is shining, all you need to do is pick up New York Times and get your daily dose of Sominism. In an article on the development happening in Gugaon, she writes:

Almost half of India’s population has no access to the electricity grid, and many more people suffer hours without power. Nearly 700,000 Indians rely on animal waste and firewood as fuel for cooking. [Thirsting for Energy in India’s Boomtowns and Beyond]

Many great bloggers have worked on the expression Sominism, but so far no one has quantified it. Unless we find a way to measure Sominism it will be hard to compare articles by Pankaj Mishra, Arundhathi Roy and Praful Bidwai. While a complex mathematical formula involving string theory would be the ideal, we will settle for something simple due to lack of time and number of people to criticize.

For now we will use a measure which takes the position of the hatchet paragraph relative to the entire article. In the above article, it appears in paragraph five of a 28 paragraph article: the Sominism Coefficient would be: 5/28 = 0.18 S.

A number by itself is meaningless unless you put it in context. To see where Somini stands in the Sominic scale, she has to be compared to her contemporaries and one place to look for some would be in the Ramayana — yes, the timeless classic written by Valmiki. We don’t know whose brilliant idea it was to get Pankaj Mishra to write the introduction to R. K. Narayan’s shortened version of Kamban Ramayanam; maybe Prakash Karat was not available.

By the fourth paragraph, Mishra hits the goal post.

Indeed, the popular appeal of the story among ordinary people distinguishes it from much of Indian literary tradition, which, supervised by upper caste Hindus, has been forbiddingly elitist [Ramayana]

Mishra’s introduction which covers the mandatory “Hindu nationalist movement to build a temple on the alleged birthplace of Rama”, “North Indian Brahmin called Tulsi Das” and a quote from Romila Thapar that the televised Ramayana was an attempt to cater to the right-wing middle class of India, is 31 paragraphs long. The hatchet job appears in the 4th paragraph giving it 0.13 S, thus giving him an upper edge over Somini.

Since this author does not have the stomach to read an Arundhathi Roy or Praful Bidwai article, finding similar values is left as an exercise to the reader. My guess is that Arundhathi Roy will is the one who will achieve the ideal value of 0 S, where the ‘job’ will be done in the title itself.

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Side Effects of Indian Spirituality

Today’s  WP has the story of how Rep. Dennis Kucinich met his current wife.

That very morning, believe it or not, guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who teaches peace through meditation and rhythmic breathing, had come to town. Dennis and Ravi have known each other for a long time. Ravi asked about Dennis’s love life. Dennis said he was still looking for that special someone.

“And his response was, ‘Stop looking and then she will appear,’ ” Dennis says. “And I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to stop looking.’ I said that.

Her first inkling that Kucinich might be different from the run-of-the-mill congressman was the presence of two Indian nuns from the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University in Kucinich’s reception room. She chatted with the nuns about India and felt herself being “opened” up by the conversation.

Then she and Zarlenga were called into Kucinich’s office.

Dennis watched the young woman’s eyes. First they went to a bust of Gandhi sitting on his bookshelf. Then they went to a picture given to him by the Hindu nuns — a burst of brightness against an orange background meant to depict “conscious light.” Then her eyes went to his.

“That was it,” Dennis says now. “One, two, three.” He knew.

Thanks to Indian spirituality, one more person has found moksha