Category Archives: News and politics

Political cartoons and commentary

Benazir Bhutto R.I.P.

William Dalrymple‘s Op-Ed on Benazir Bhutto is a pretty even-handed historian’s comment on the assassination and it aftermath.  All the more cogent given the histrionic tone of writing by the likes of BERNARD-HENRI LEVY.  BHL is often insightful and pithy, but his WSJ piece on Benazir is pretty pathological and agit-prop. Talk amongst yourselves.


From Dalrymple:

Benazir Bhutto’s death is, of course, a calamity, particularly as she embodied the hopes of so many liberal Pakistanis. But, contrary to the commentary we’ve seen in the last week, she was not comparable to Myanmar’s Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Ms. Bhutto’s governments were widely criticized by Amnesty International and other groups for their use of death squads and terrible record on deaths in police custody, abductions and torture. As for her democratic bona fides, she had no qualms about banning rallies by opposing political parties while in power.

Benazir Bhutto was certainly a brave and secular-minded woman. But the obituaries painting her as dying to save democracy distort history. Instead, she was a natural autocrat who did little for human rights, a calculating politician who was complicit in Pakistan’s becoming the region’s principal jihadi paymaster while she also ramped up an insurgency in Kashmir that has brought two nuclear powers to the brink of war.

From BHL:

They have killed a woman. A beautiful woman. A visible, indeed a conspicuously, spectacularly visible woman.

A woman who made a point not only of holding rallies in one of the world’s most dangerous countries, but did so with her face uncovered, unveiled–the exact opposite of the shameful, hidden women, the condemned creatures of Satan, who are the only women tolerated by these apostles of a world without women.

They killed a Jew, Daniel Pearl. They killed Ahmed Shah Massoud, the great guerilla leader against the Taliban, a moderate Muslim, a cultivated man and free spirit. They tried for years to kill a man, Salman Rushdie, who dared say that to be a man is also sometimes to choose your own destiny.

And now they have killed Benazir Bhutto–killed her because she was a woman, because she had a woman’s face, unadorned yet filled with an unswerving strength, because she was living out her destiny and refusing the curse that, according to the new fascists (the jihadists) floats over the human face of women. They killed this woman incarnation of hope, of spirit, of the will to democracy, not only in Pakistan, but in all the lands of Islam.



Filed under News and politics, Pakistan

Genius … Pure Genius

This is listed on YouTube as being by a user called CamPain2008 … I’m not sure if that’s just the name of the page where they have assembled Campaign 2008 videos or the actual videomaker. Anyway as I said … genius Pure Genius …

Fr those of you who want the lyrical love translated Here are the lyrics to chori chori hum gori se pyaar karengey in English … bumpy, aged, dated Hinglishy English.

chori chori hum gori se pyaar karengey
Unbeknownst to all, I will love the fair one
chupke chupke dil ki baatein yaar karengey
Hidden from all, the two of us will convey our hearts feelings
chori chori hum gori se pyaar karengey
Unbeknownst to all, I will love the fair one
chupke chupke dil ki baatein yaar karengey
Hidden from all, the two of is will convey our hearts feelings

aane waali, kabh aayegi koi de bataa
When will someone tell me when she will walk into my life
dhoond rahe hain, jaane kabh se, hum uska pataa
I am searching for her address, since ages back

aaja aaja aaja aaja aaja aaja aa
Come! Come! …

chori chori hum gori se pyaar karengey
Unbeknownst to all, I will love the fair one
chupke chupke dil ki baatein yaar karengey
Hidden from all, the two of is will convey our heart feelings
chori chori hum gori se pyaar karengey
Unknownst to all, I will love the fair one
chupke chupke dil ki baatein yaar karengey
Hidden from all, the two of is will convey our heart feelings

mahiyaa, mahiyaa
Dear one, dear one
jaldi se aa ja sun mahiyaa
Please, come soon, dear one
mahiyaa, mahiyaa
Dear one, dear one
doli mein le ja sun mahiyaa…
Dear one, lead me to the altar

ooo hoo hoo
ooo hoo hoo

ek na ek din mil jayeegi
I will get her, some day
humko bhi sapno ki rani
My dream girl

Hmm hmm hmm
hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm

ek na ek din mil jayeegi
I will get her, some day
humko bhi sapno ki rani
My dream girl

aise shuru phir ho jayeegi
And this is how it will start …
pyase dilon ki prem kahani
The love story of two thirsty hearts

apni bhi shaamein rangeen hongi
My evenings will also become colorful
apni bhi subhein hongi suhaani
And my mornings will be beautiful

pyaare pyaare dekh na pyaare
Oh you romantic, don’t see …
din mein taare
Stars in daylight
dil ki baazi koi na jeeta
No one has ever one in the matters of the heart
saare haare
All have lost

mar jayeega, mit jayeega
You will die, you will disappear …
kar na aisi khataa
Commit not this foolish act …
nahi mili hai, nahi milegi
Never have people met and, never will …
are teri woh dilruba
Their sweetheart

aaja aaja aaja aaja aaja aaja
Come! Come! …

jaa, chori chori hum gori se pyaar karengey
Unknownst to all, I will love the fair one
chupke chupke dil ki baatein yaar karengey
Hidden from all, the two of is will convey our heart feelings

chakh le, chakh le
chakh le, chakh le

kitney haseen hain saare nazaarey
How beautiful are the surroundings
kitney haseen hain jag ke isharey
How beautiful are the signs of this world

aa aa aa
aa aa aa aa aa

Hey hey, kitney haseen hain saare nazaarey
How beautiful are the surroundings
kitney haseen hain jag ke isharey
How beautiful are the signs of this world …
jis ki tamanna hai is dil ko
The signs that the hearts desire …
aayengi jaane kabh woh bahaarein
When will those times arrive

koi to ho jo raha mein roke
There must be someone who will stop me on my path
koi to ho jo naam pukare
There must be someone who will call my name

pyaare pyaare, o mere pyaare
Romantic! Oh romantic …
tu ruk ja re
Stop right there
tere jaise aashiq phirte, maare maare
Romantics like you are roaming all over
lut jayega, bik jayega
You will be looted, you will be sold
de na aisi sadaa
Stray away from your foolhardy deeds
is dharti pe kahin nahin hai
There is not one in this world
teri woh dilruba
Who will be your sweetheart?

aaja aaja aaja aaja aaja aaja

jaa, chori chori hum gori se pyaar karengey
Unknownst to all, I will love the fair one
chupke chupke dil ki baatein yaar karengey
Hidden from all, the two of is will convey our heart feelings
aane waali, kabh aayegi koi de bataa
When will someone tell me when the “fair one” will walk into my life
dhoond rahe hain, jaane kabh se, hum uska pataa
I am searching for her address, since ages

aaja aaja aaja aaja aaja aaja…

Depending on whether you go with gori as  ‘fair one’ as in

Mirror Mirror on the wall,

Who’s the fairest of them all

or a little more brutal  to the ‘white girl’ side … could tweak your reading.

Here’s a little something from an unrealized T-shirtI was working on for South Asians for Obama just to round out the love.



Filed under Bollywood, News and politics

Grumpy Old Indian Men for an Error Free Internet

Grumpy Old BBC Listeners everywhere love Sandi Toksvig … and hate spelling and biography errors.  Keep the internet accurate.  Keep the BBC admirable. Write a Grumpy Old Letter today!    

Dear Grumpyji,


    Thank you for your e-mail regarding ‘Excess Baggage’.


    I understand you would like to report the mispelling of ‘Mamaroneck’ in Sandi Toksvig’s biography.


    I would like to assure you that we have registered your comments on our audience log. This is the internal report of audience feedback which we compile daily for all programme makers and commissioning executives within the BBC, and also their senior management. It ensures that your points, and all other comments we receive, are circulated and considered across the BBC.


Thank you once again for taking the time to contact us.




Scott Boyd

BBC Information


    Have your say about the complaints process in the BBC Trust’s current public consultation –


    Would you like FREE tickets for BBC TV and Radio shows? Call us on 0870 901 1227 or visit

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One Flew Over the Coup Coup Nest

One Flew Over the Coup Coup Nest

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There’s just so much Shilpa Shetty

There’s just so much Shilpa Shetty to go around these days.

You’re Soaking in It

If that Orwell fellow had only known how lucrative this Big Brother gig was … think how he could have cashed in early and retired.

Reasonably fresh from being first reservedly hand-shook by Elizabeth Regina II and then vigorously deep-dipped by one Mr. Richard Gere – Shilpa’s having quite the year. A right old Annus Shilpabilis … that’s something like Fergalicious but more Englishy.

Everyone’s favorite mangalorean mami, now Dr. Shetty, has taken residence in balmy groves of Honorary Doctorship. Dr. Shilpa Shetty, I presume.

Beyond the Beyond at Blogwired reports:

‘ News around Shilpa Shetty just doesn’t stop flowing. (((Boy, that’s for sure. The woman’s a global publicity machine.))) And this time the buzz is about a doctor’s degree that has been conferred upon Shilpa Shetty by the Leeds University for her outstanding contribution to cultural diversity. ‘

Ohhh the luck of the Mangaloreans … all the phii, haitches and dees … the very best bits of the angrezi alphabet with none of the tiresome study or student loans, deadlines, dissertation writing, tutorials, teaching … just beaming Mango-flavored Maa-Baap in the Leeds Metropolitan audience.

Plus some funny hats and robes. Very Harry Potter … vhii haitch phii … Every new Volume of Shilpa Shetty meets an eager readership and a profitable filmic adaptation.

Still Dr. Shetty ain’t content with the sweet smell of simply one success.

You can smell her, you can see her and once she’s been seen, she’s a …

Shilpa Seen Sans Frontières … No Border can Hold this Doctor Back!

The Times of India reports:

Shetty’s fragrance, S2, has risen to the number 3 spot in the UK fragrance charts within a fortnight after it was launched in London.

Shilpa has beaten off stiff competition from the likes of other international stars such as Kylie Minogue, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Lopez and Paris Hilton. Her inimitable S2 perfume has proved itself to be a cut above the rest amid the sea of other celebrity fragrances launched in the lucrative perfume market, sources said on Sunday.

Describing the popular fragrance that has been created by the oldest French perfumer, Robertet, Shilpa said: “The perfume is truly unique because of the whole edge we have with the ethnic aroma.

Sadly for the rest of us … ethnic aroma is not usually such a smashing success. The neighbors complain and the landlords worry about never getting it out of the upholstery.

That Shilps she could sell ice to eskimos, aroma to ethnics … good gods … I bet she could sell racism to the Brits.

A veritable Marvel of Mangalorean marketing modernity.

Props to La Shetée … she’s getting all Twelve Monkeys out for her Sterling British future.

AIM reports:

Ethnic agency Sterling Media has taken over from publicist Max Clifford in representing actress Shilpa Shetty in Britain.
Managing director Natasha Mudhar said: “We are delighted to have won the account, and look forward to propelling Shilpa across an international and mainstream platform. Shilpa has some very interesting projects lined up which we are sure will generate extensive talkability.”

… I think that was a Homi Bhabha paper I once heard …

Ethnic Agency: Generating Extensive Talkability from the Upanishads to the Booker Man Prize.

Well Ethnic Agency … Shilpa’s Soaking in IT … take a dip … I hear the water’s fine.



Filed under Bollywood, Cartoons, Celebrities, Grumpiness, News and politics

Being Shashi Means Never Having to Say Its Your Sari

Shashi Tharoor says SariMore proof that the S-G letdown is Sending Shahsi Tharoor down the long stony path to crankdom and grumpy Uncle-ness. He’ll be swilling Johnny Walker Black and talking out his neck with Christopher Hitchens any minute now … although as Hitches still has his turn of phrase and the relevance that comes with a current best-seller … Shashi will once again be an also-ran.

The latest proof of Shashi’s descent into Grumpy Old Indian-ness is that after a bloviating, pompous-ji article on the disappearance of the sari from the modern Day India as it is raked by his Shashi-esque gaze. He did not receive the approbation to which he is accustomed

He has responded to criticism with all the aplomb of an uncle chortling through his moustache …

Have a gander at the musings.

Remember if you don’t read the Tharoor-ists have already won!

The Sari Saga (via The Khaleej Times)
By Shashi Tharoor

13 July 2007
EARLY IN 2007 I found myself unwittingly caught up in a row over sexism (mine) and feminism (others’). It all began with a casual observation in one of my columns, prompted by my last few visits to my homeland: whatever became of the sari?

For centuries, if not millennia, the alluring garment, all five or six or nine yards of it, has been the defining drape of Indian womanhood. Cotton or silk, Banarasi or Pochampalli, shimmering Kanjeevaram or multi-coloured bandhani, with the pallav draped front-to-back over the left shoulder or in the Gujarati style back-to-front over the right, the sari has stood the test of time, climate and body shape.

Of all the garments yet invented by man (or, not to be too sexist about it, mankind) the sari did most to flatter the wearer. Unlike every other female dress on the planet, the sari could be worn with elegance by women of any age, size or shape: you could never be too fat, too short or too ungainly to look good in a sari. Indeed, if you were stout, or bowlegged, or thick-waisted, nothing concealed those handicaps of nature better than the sari. Women looked good in a sari who could never have got away with appearing in public in a skirt.

So why has this masterpiece of feminine attire begun fading from our streets? On recent visits home to India I have begun to notice fewer and fewer saris in our public places, and practically none in the workplace. The salwar kameez, the trouser and even the Western dress-suit have begun to supplant it everywhere. And this is not just a northern phenomenon, the result of the increasing dominance of our culture by Punjabi-ised folk who think nothing of giving masculine names to their daughters.

At a recent Press conference I addressed in Trivandrum, there were perhaps a dozen women journalists present. Only one was wearing a sari: the rest, all Keralites without exception, were in salwar-kameezes. And when I was crass enough to ask why none of the “young ladies” present wore saris, the one who did modestly suggested that she was no longer very young.

Youth clearly has something to do with it; very few of today’s under-30 women seem to have the patience for draping a sari, and few of them seem to think it suitable for the speed with which they scurry through their lives. (“Try rushing to catch a bus in a sari,” one young lady pointedly remarked, “and you’ll switch to jeans the next day.”)

But there’s also something less utilitarian about their rejection of the sari for daily wear. Today’s younger generation of Indian women seem to associate the garment with an earlier era, a more traditional time when women did not compete on equal terms in a man’s world. Putting on pants, or a Western woman’s suit, or even desi leggings in the former of a salwar, strikes them as more modern.

Freeing their legs to move more briskly than the sari permits is, it seems, a form of liberation; it removes a self-imposed handicap, releasing the wearer from all the cultural assumptions associated with the traditional attire.

I think this is actually a great pity. One of the remarkable aspects of Indian modernity has always been its unwillingness to disown the past; from our nationalists and reformers onwards, we have always asserted that Indians can be modern in ancient garb. Political ideas derived from nineteenth and twentieth-century thinkers have been articulated by men in mundus and dhotis that have not essentially changed since they were first worn two or three thousand years ago. (Statuary from the days of the Indus Valley Civilisation more than four thousand years ago show men draped in waistcloths that Mr Karunanidhi would still be happy to don.)

Gandhiji demonstrated that one did not have to put on a Western suit to challenge the British empire; when criticised by the British Press for calling upon the King in his simple loincloth, the Mahatma mildly observed, “His Majesty was wearing enough clothes for the two of us”. Where a Kemal Ataturk in Turkey banned his menfolk’s traditional fez as a symbol of backwardness and insisted that his compatriots don Western hats, India’s nationalist leaders not only retained their customary headgear, they added the defiantly desi “Gandhi cap” (oddly named, since Gandhiji himself never wore one). Our clothing has always been part of our sense of authenticity.

I REMEMBER being struck, on my first visit to Japan some fifteen years ago, by the ubiquitousness of Western clothing in that Asian country. Every Japanese man and woman in the street, on the subway or in the offices I visited wore suits and skirts and dresses; the kimono and its male equivalent were preserved at home, and brought out only for ceremonial occasions.

An Asian Ambassador told me that envoys were expected to present their credentials to the Emperor in a top hat and tails. This thoroughgoing Westernisation was the result of a conscious choice by the modernising Meiji Emperor in 1868. One sees something similar in China today: though the transformation is not nearly as complete as in Japan, the streets of Beijing and Shanghai are more and more thronged with Chinese people in Western clothes. In both Japan and China, I allowed myself to feel a perverse pride that we in India were different: we had entered the twenty-first century in clothes that our ancestors had sported for much of the preceding twenty.

Today, I wonder if I’ve been too complacent. What will happen once the generation of women who grew up routinely wearing a sari every day dies out? The warning signs are all around us now. It would be sad indeed if, like the Japanese kimono, the sari becomes a rare and exotic garment in its own land, worn only to temples and weddings.

Saying which, I went on to appeal to the women of India to save the sari from a sorry fate.

Feedback is, of course, the life-blood of the columnist, but sometimes you get so much feedback it amounts to a transfusion. Practically every woman in India with access to a keyboard rose up to deliver the equivalent of a smack across the face with the wet end of a pallu. Emails flooded in to all my known addresses, including to my publishers and agents; the blogosphere erupted with catcalls, many of which were duly forwarded to me by well-meaning friends. Having digested as many of them as I can take, the only fashion statement I was left in a condition to make would be to don sackcloth and ashes.

So where did I go wrong? It seems my innocent expression of concern at the dwindling appearance of the sari on Indian streets and offices was offensively patriarchal. It reflected the male gaze, demanding of the female half of the population that they dress in order to be alluring to the masculine eye.

Worse, by speaking of the declining preference for the sari amongst today’s young women in terms of a loss for the nation, it placed upon women alone the burden of transmitting our society’s culture to the next generation. And this was unacceptably sexist: after all, my column only called for the sari’s survival, never demanding that Indian men preserve the dhoti or mundu. These arguments were made, with varying degrees of emphasis, by a variety of critics, most notably in a lengthy email from Vinutha Mallya and in an “Open Letter” addressed to me by a blogger who signed herself Emma.

I admitted right away that all these points were valid ones, as far as they go. Yes, I wrote as a man, because that is what I happen to be. If columnists were all obliged to be Ardhanarishwaras, we might be more even-handed in our judgements, but I doubt very much that all our columns would be worth reading.

The purpose of a column is to offer an individual perspective — with which the reader is, of course, not only free to disagree, but encouraged, even invited, to disagree. I apologise if my point of view offended any of my female readers, but I do not apologise for having expressed my point of view on this subject, as on any other. If a female columnist were to expatiate on the merits of tight jeans on male hips, I may not agree with her, but I would not excoriate her for taking a female view of male attire. What other view could she take but her own?

What about my unreasonably demanding of women that they preserve and transmit Indian culture? I have to concede that Indian men have abandoned traditional clothing in even larger numbers than women have put aside the sari. At the Press conference I described, there were a few men in mundus, but the vast majority was in the Western shirt-and-pant combination that dominates working attire in our country today. For every Karunanidhi or Chidambaram who adorn our public life in spotless white mundus, there are ten others in trousers. And, as several of my critics pointed out, my argument was a bit rich coming from someone who spends his working days in a Western suit and tie.

POINT conceded, but I should hasten to add that this is not a result of my own preference, but of the norms of international officialdom. Early in my UN career I turned up at work in an elegant cream kurta, only to have my Danish boss ask disparagingly, “who do you think you are — a surgeon?”

I still wear kurtas all the time after hours, at least when the climate permits it, and mundus in Kerala; but it was clear to me that if I was to represent the United Nations to the world, I was expected to do it in a suit and tie. Indian women in India, on the other hand, would face no disdain for sporting the sari: if they choose not to, it is because they choose not to, not because their employment obliges them not to.

And let’s face it — whatever the aesthetic merits of the dhoti or mundu, they pale in comparison with those of the sari. It’s fatuous to suggest, as several of my critics did, that the two are equivalent. Ask a fair-minded jury of women and they’ll agree that the beauty of a well-crafted sari is a source of non-sexist pleasure — to them, not just to men — in a way that no dhoti can possibly match.

Saris may well be a hassle to wear, and less convenient to get around in, but those are points I had already conceded. What they are, though, is special – and to my relief a handful of Indian women wrote to say they agreed with me.

Shreyasi Deb sent me a blog post in which she declared that “I know that the ultimate weapon in my kitty is the saree … This Sunday I have taken down my Ikat, Chanderi, Puneri, Laheriya, Bandhej, Bomkai, Gadwal, Narayanpet, Maheshwari, Kantha and Kanjeevaram sarees and stroked them in the reflecting sunlight.” (I guarantee no man would ever think of doing anything similar with his dhoti collection.)

And Sindhu Sheth wrote that she would heed my appeal: “I have decided to wear a sari (instead of my regular churidar-kurta) — once a week, to begin with.” In that “to begin with” lies the hope that my original appeal will not have been entirely in vain….

Shashi Tharoor, the former UN diplomat, will write a fortnightly column for the magazine.



Ohhh Shashi … do shut up .. I mean, you’re a pretty consummate old ass, aren’t you? Not that I want to hurt your feelings, of course. What with being in the guild myself and all. Still a purist might well consider you more or less off your onion.


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Back and Grumpier than ever

After a hefty Sabbatical from blogging , I, the most esteemed, Grumpyji, am back. INSERT HERE: (smattering of sincere applause)
In my time away I was heavily involved with a sub-division of UNDP (United Nations Desi.door.darshan Programme) helping Ban-ki-ji Moon Moon deal with the general regional diasppointment at his Usurpation of Shashi Taroors bid for Secretary General (EssJi).

A spokesperson (yours truly, but I can’t confirm) for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the world to remember the pain and loss of the disaster, but at the same time expressed hope about the prospects for a return to normalcy in the affected regions. These being both follicular, concentrated on the Upper East Side, all future Sonny/Gita Mehta parties and also at Shashi’s mother’s house.

“Science (Vedic science of Vaastu Shastra) has shown that, after two decades, a return to normal life will be a realistic prospect for people living in the Tharoor-affected regions,” the spokesperson (hello again) said on behalf of the Secretary-General.

My work done at Banki-ji’s house of cards, I felt I coud return my attention to a Grumpy assessment of the press. What should greet my horrified eyes upon first perusing this weeks back log of NY times but to see that once again some young pup, who had his heart broken because the nice Indian girl down the hallway at Swarthmore or Columbia, is again wreaking journalistic vengeance upon the community.

They cant even let us have Spelling Bees. I kid you not : The actual headline is

Torn From Parents, a Top Speller Vents His Anger, Letter by Letter

Akeelah get a Bee and a teaful victory

Kunal gets caterpillar on his lip and a lot of typical time backchat about the ‘lush’ smells of indian cooking round his parents motel, how they don’t sit at the front desk so their dark faces don’t scare off the tourists and how generally disliked they are by their Utah neighbors. Kirk Johnson somehow manages to make it seem like it might just be the uppity Sahs fault … Im almost sympathetic as the Dad is some sort of VHP thug, but fearless boy reporter KJ manages to wander off that angle and into a general portrait of surly, dark faced bastards spelling for Anger while stinking up the joint with their cooking.


Oddly they have now excised the adjective ‘lush’ from their description of the cooking … I suspect Kirk got an in-office bitch slap from a desi colleague. Hope it stung.

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