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October 26, 2010

India After Gandhi – Ramachandra Guha

Filed under: book, election, India, politics, social change — Tags: , , — neosurya @ 06:32

A must read for anyone remotely interested in Indian democracy. Guha does not go left, right, center, or anywhere else except trudge along the path of Indian democracy from 1947 all the way up-to 2000 (The date the book was published). Where the events demanded, he also went a little bit before 1947, for example to explain how the Lahore convention of the Congress was where the Muslim League was born. The references make for more interesting reading, but I followed up only a few of them.

Some reviewers say that the book should have had some analysis of events. But this book was meant to have a historical or journalistic flavor, and getting into an analysis mode is incredibly academic in nature. Most books out there wax eloquent on their preferred political leanings. Once Indian historians start writing an analysis, they end up making holier-than-thou statements. The reader is hopelessly lead into a particular view point, and the event itself is lost in the melee. Very few tell the story as it happened, and in words that the common man can understand. Guha rises up to the occasion in this book.

The book reads fast, and I could not put it down once I had picked it up. This may not be the book for individuals seasoned in contemporary Indian history. They may already be familiar with most its contents. However, this would be the book I shall recommend my daughter to read instead of the history textbooks that muddle our brain cells in school.

October 3, 2010

123 Kms of cycling and some social work

Filed under: personal, social change, travel — neosurya @ 19:29

On 2nd Oct, I and KP rode to the village of Tekulodu to visit proto-village, a project on village development (Pics here). Kalyan and a bunch of his friends are planning some pretty amazing work in this border village, and I wanted to see it first hand. Also, this was my first long cycle ride. Thanks to Mayank who helped me get a good bike. There was no way I could have done it on my Thunder MTB. Also thanks to my wife and kids, who had to stay back at a friends place at IISc.

The distance was approximately123 Kms (googlemaps) which we covered in about 6 hours:

4:30 AM: Met KP at Sanjay Nagar flyover.

5:20 AM: Crossed BIAL flyover.

6:00 AM: Stopped for a 10-min break at Jain temple.

6:50 AM: Saw the photo of a dosa outside a restaurant, decided to drive through Chikballapur in search of an eating place.

7:00 AM: Stopped at “Hotel Brindavan Garden”

9:46 AM: Crossed the AP check post. By this time, KP was ahead of me by about a kilometer or so. As I rode under an overpass at Bagepalli, KP yelled from the bridge – he was having a Sprite and wanted me to pull over. I continued yelling: “Cant stop now man, my body will refuse to get back onto this saddle.”

10:00 AM: Caught up with Kalyan who was riding from Hindupur toward the NH-7 – Lepakshi junction.Chatted for a while and started off for Tekulodu.

10:45 AM: Reached Tekulodu.

The regular hydration, and chikkis kept us in great shape. We were stretching all through the route and took a couple of minutes break every hour or so. We were energetic enough to walk through the village. There was one problem though – my left shoulder was aching, and I had pins and needles on my left palm. The shoulder pain went off after some stretching, but the pins and needles on my palm refused to go away till the next day.

We dropped by the house of one Harish, a youth from the village who was to be the host for the afternoon. The kids in the village were totally ga-ga over our bikes. In about a few minutes there were about 20 of them asking us all sorts of questions. Several of them rode our bikes.
Bikers !!!

We walked over to the primary school where a celebration about the ICDS program was on the way. Kalyan also spoke for a few minutes.

 

ICDS program

ICDS program

 

We had a long walk, where Harish (a youth from the village) showed us around the place. Kalyan and I discussed various problems going from water all the way to ecological housing. All the while, KP was getting popular with the kids:

 

KP getting popular with kids.

KP getting popular with kids.

 

We had lunch at Harish’s place. KP had to leave in the evening, and I stayed back for an SHG meeting. Most women of the village participated in the meeting. We discussed the flouride problem in their water. Kalyan described possible solutions, and recommended that they should plan on having a purification plant installed by Nov. end. He had already spoken to a firm in Ahmedabad, and went over the pricing details.

It was almost 10:00 PM by the time we ate our dinner. We climbed onto the terrace of a house that was still under construction, and settled down for the night – the bedding was sparse: a straw mat, a pillow, and a bed sheet. Nani, the Panchayat president’s son accompanied me and Kalyan. What a night – the sky was so clear that we could almost see the milky way.

A nice way to spend a national holiday, I thought. I and Kalyan left for Hindupur on Sunday morning. After breakfast at Kalyan’s place, I took the APSRTC bus from Hindupur bus stand to Mekhri circle.

October 1, 2010

Please extend the SMS ban.

Filed under: India, news — neosurya @ 09:11

22nd Sept – More than 30 SMS messages on my phone “The best deals in town” “Dinner for two at Rs 150” “Incredibly cheap homes only 26 lakhs (in the middle of  nowhere)” “Problems with your boss, wife, girlfriend? Call ABCD” “Get masala girls for cheap” WTF.

23rd Sept – Two messages. (The Govt. had banned Bulk SMS messages ahead of the Ayodhya verdict [1])

24th Sept – Two messages.

25th Sept – Two messages.

and so on….

Till

30th Sept – Two messages.

The verdict is out [1, 2]; most cities seem calm [1, 2]. It seems like the SMS ban will now be removed, and I will have to contend with the regular stream of people trying to sell me masti, Desi girls, food, and everything else under the sun. This is my humble request to the powers-that-be to restore the ban.

I know it wont be heard though :-/.

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