Enron & Political Corruption

Dabhol Power Project at Night

Deep inside one of today’s newspaper pages was a small report about the closure of corruption case of Enron’s Dabhol Power Project. As per the report the case has been closed on an application moved by the BJP-Shiv Sena led Maharashtra State Government. What an Irony!! https://epaper.bhaskar.com/detail/300915/04120254190935/0/12042019/18/image/

I remember this controversy vividly as it was during that time I had moved to Mumbai in 1993 for my further studies. NCP Supremo Sharad Pawar who was then in the Congress had just been moved from the Defence Ministry  to take over as the Maharashtra CM to control volatile situation post the Babri Masjid demolition riots and the Mumbai bomb blasts.

Indian Economy was then just opening up and the Government had got a major FDI for a Power Project in Dabhol, Maharashtra which was to be set up by Enron Corporation. Reports started coming out about opacity and underhand dealings in this project. The opposition led by Shiv Sena Supremo Balasaheb Thackeray went hammer and tongs about this alleged corruption and his newspaper ‘SAAMNA’ was filled with stories about it. He went so far to say that if his party was elected to power he would throw the project in the Arabian Sea.

Balasaheb Thackeray with Enron’s Kenneth Lay and Rebecaa Mark at his residence ‘Matoshree’ in Mumbai.

Riding high on this above point besides the Hinduvta card the SS-BJP combined formed the government for the first time in the State and guess what nothing like promised ever happened to Enron’s Power project. Balasaheb went on the entertain Enron Chief Kenneth Lay and the alleged face of everything wrong with Enron deal – Ms. Rebecaa Mark at his residence. The controversy was soon put in the back burner and twenty years later it has died its natural death.

Our political discourse is filled with narratives like these that the political leaders use as a stepping stone to power. Hearsay, without sound legal backup, playing the emotional card, blaming the other side and playing holier than thou!!

From The 2G Scandal’s absurd loss figures that were dismissed by the Special Courts, to tall claims of putting the entire Congress Leadership in jail in 2014 election rallies the list is endless.

The current NDA government is once again asking for mandate on these very alleged cases without acting out on its claims in the last 5 years or managing to get even a single conviction by the courts. For they know it makes out for an excellent vote catcher but a really bad legal case.

Till we have people who are constantly fed on propaganda and are ready to lap it up, we shall have cases like ENRON whose initial wildfire quickly turns in cold ash and helping bring political gains without ever managing to jail a single alleged culprit.

ADVANI JI

भारतीय जनता पार्टी ने आगामी लोक सभा के लिए अपने उम्मीदवार हाल ही में घोषित किये, चर्चा टिकेट मिलने से ज्यादा जिनको नहीं मिला उनकी थी, मुख्यतः आदरणीय लाल कृष्ण आडवाणी जी की!!

उनके बारे में आज कल कम ही सुनने और पढ़ने में आता है जब से उनके शिष्य और हमारे देश के प्रधानमंत्री मोदी जी ने उनको मार्ग दर्शक मंडल में डाल दिया है. कभी कभार आप श्री के हाथ जोड़े वाले विडियो ज़रोर वायरल हो जाते हैं.

लेकिन पिछले दो दिन से अडवानी जी सुर्ख़ियों में नज़र आ रहे हैं जब से उनकी पारंपरिक सीट पर मोटा भाई को लड़ाने का निर्णय लिया है. कारण कोई भी चाहे उनको टिकेट नहीं दिया या उन्होनें स्वयं मना कर दिया , एक बात तो पक्की है की वाजपेयी जी के युग के नेताओं का युग का समापन. वह युग जहाँ राजनेताओं में थोड़ी बहुत आँख की शर्म और आपसी सामंजस था और अब की तरह विषैला, संकीर्ण और कटुता भरा नहीं था.

एक बात कुछ दिनों से ज़रोर सुनने को आ रही है की उन्होनें अपनी पुत्री प्रतिभा जी को अपनी जगह टिकेट देने से मना कर दिया क्यूंकि वह वंशवाद नहीं फैलना चाहते. आशा करता हूँ की इस सिधांत पर उन के परिवार जन हमेशा द्रढ़ संकल्पित रहे क्यूंकि यह भले ही सुनने में अच्छा लगा लेकिन सत्ता के मीठे फल को छोड़ने का मन आज तक इतनी आसानी से आगामी पीढीयों में देखने को नहीं मिला.

इतिहास उन के राजनीतिज्ञ के रूप का आकलन कैसा करेगा? एक ऐसे नेता के रूप में जिसने १९८४ की 2 सीटों वाली पार्टी को श्रीराम के सहारे मात्र एक दशक में सत्ता के करीब ले आने वाले या एक लौह पुरुष के रूप में जिसने कंधार में आतंकियों को छोड़ा था ??

या उस व्यक्ति को याद रखेगा जिसने भारत को धर्म के नाम के दो हिस्सों में बंटवारा किया और जिनके मकबरे पर आपने उनको सबसे बड़ा धर्मनिरपेक्ष व्यक्ति कहा, मैं बात कर रहा हूँ क़ैद-ऐ-आज़म मोहम्मद अली जिन्नाह की.

मेरे लिए अडवानी जी हमेशा वोह व्यक्ति रहेंगे जिनकी सोची-समझी रणनीति के तहत निकाली रथ यात्रा जहाँ जहाँ से निकली दंगे और समाज में अविश्वास फैलाते चलती गयी. ऐसी रथ यात्रा जो शरू तो हुई थी १९९० में लेकिन जिसके पहिये ना जाने कितने घर दबाये आज तक हमारे दिलो में एक दुसरे के खिलाफ शक और पूर्वाग्रह लिए निरंतर घुमती जा रही है. मैं उनको हमेशा याद रखूँगा जिनके कारण मैंने पहली बार मेरे शहर में कर्फ्यू लगते हुए देखा 6 दिसम्बर की घटना के बाद. जहाँ तक मुझे याद है तब शायद ही मेरे शहर में कोई दंगा हुआ था, शुक्र है उस समय व्हात्साप नहीं था वरना ना जाने मात्र अफवाहों से कितनों की जानें और चली जाती.

आशा है की अब सार्वजनिक जीवन से अलविदा ले अपने सगे-सम्बन्धी और शुभ चिंतकों के बीच सुख-समर्धि से रहे.

Dear Mr. Kejriwal

Dear Mr. Arvind Kejriwal,

I write this letter while you and some others are busy in back room maneuvering to have a tie-up with my party i.e. The Indian National Congress.

I do not know what my party’s Central and State Leadership is going to decide on this tie-up but what certainly I do now know is that you are no different from the others you so vehemently criticized from the grounds of Ram Leela Maidan and can henceforth take no moral high ground on the basis of principles, ethics for being a party with a difference.

In not so distant past you had painted the entire political class with one stroke of brush as Corrupt, inept, inefficient, unprincipled etc and garnered these anti-establishment votes to a spectacular win in Delhi Assembly. A model you tried so hard to replicate pan-India but failed with most of your candidate forfeiting their deposits in Lok Sabha and Assembly Elections barring a few exceptions.

I was never a fan of your kind of politics because you offered the people of India Utopia when you yourself knew there was none. One by one people started leaving or were made to leave the movement that Anna Hazare had started and whose fruits you were the only one left to devour and relish.

From swearing on your children never to have a tie-up with the Congress to actually doing it and now bending over backwards to accommodate them is not surprising to those who have watched you closely. Let the truth be told you are a Delhi Centric Party with an influence over 7 Lok Sabha Seats and 70 Assembly Seats, other than that it is just an exception.

During the heydays of the Lokpal Movement I was made to feel guilty about being a Congressman by your fans and now when I see your antics I feel sorry for them.

I just hope my party leadership listens to Ex. CM Shiela Dixit ji who successfully led the state for a record three terms and hope you too focus on your core competence i.e. Delhi and not spread yourself too thin !!

Regards,

A Congressman

BADLA

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This movie is about a woman who wakes up to find a mystery murder of a man in her hotel room which is locked from inside and no trace of any other person entering the room.

Thus begins the movie and the beginning of the whodunit:  finding motives, culprits and the innocent by the woman framed and her lawyer and the people involved.

The Framed Woman is Tapsee Pannu.

The Lawyer is The Amitabh Bachchan

The People involved are mainly Amrita Singh.

They have set the movie in gloomy snowing winter England which frankly could have been set anywhere. The location hardly does anything unlike the director Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahani wherein Kolkatta played an integral part of the film. It was more the case of की producer के पास पैसा है उसे कैसे दिखाएं जनता को ?

We all are now well aware of the acting prowess of Mr. Bachchan and also that of Tapsee Pannu, so they bring what they are supposed to in the movie i.e. brilliant acting. However what is the surprise element is Amrita Singh who is back after a long brake.

The movie is engaging but gets but lacks the punch of movies like Kahani, you kind of know the killer but the time the filmmakers take to get there takes too long even for a 2 hour long movie. However some of the analogies of Mahabharata does offer interesting insights.

What also surprises me is the lack of investigation / inefficiency of the London Police and how easy it seems to buy witness, proofs and find fake proofs of innocence. इस मामले में तो इस मूवी ने भारतीय पुलिस को भी पीछे छोड़ दिया.

Sadly the sum total of all the individual talent of the producer, director and the actors of this film is less than what it should have been.

So एक बार देख लीजियेगा, वैसे भी सस्पेंस वाली फिल्में एक बार ही अच्छी लगती है.

SHAADI MUBARAQ

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प्रिय नीता भाभी,

सर्वप्रथम आकाश बाबू और श्लोक बिटिया की शादी की बहुत-बहुत मुबारकबाद !!

दो दिन से नवदम्पति की फोटो देख-देख कर मलाल हो रहा है की काश इनकी शादी में आ के उस फूलों वाली फोटो वाल के आगे अपनी तस्वीर खिंचवा पाता, पर यह हो न सका !!

खैर आपके परिवार की दो शादियाँ छोटे से अंतराल में सम्पन्न हुई. एक की वैभवता तो उदयपुर वासी होने के नाते करीब से देखी और अब यह वाली सोशल मीडिया के माध्यम से.

वैसे पहले वाली जैसे चर्चे इस बार नहीं!! ना ही इस बार बादशाह, शहेंशाह और भाई को बैकग्राउंड में नाचते हुए देखा, ना ही इस बार पुरुस्गारी / मेहमाननवाज़ी करते दिखे और ना ही इस बार आपके नृत्यकला और मुद्राओं को देखने का मौका मिला.

वैसे कुछ सवाल जिज्ञासा वश मेरे मन में उठ रहे हैं जैसे की :

  1. यह जो सेलेब्रिटी आप बुलाते हैं यह फ्री में आते और परफॉर्म करते हैं या कुछ मेहनताना लेते हैं ??
  2. अपनी संतानों की शादियाँ कराते हुए जो ख़ुशी आपके चेहरे पर दिखती है वह शायद हर माँ के चेहरे पर दिखती है, लेकिन कई बार ऐसा मुझे क्यूँ लगता है की they all dwarf in ur shadow, क्या आपको भी यह लगता है?
  3. घर घर माटी चूल्हे वाली कहावत तो आपने सुनी होगी, क्या आपके यहाँ भी फूफा / मौसा / देवरानी / ननद का रूठना मनाना शादी में चलता रहता है ?
  4. क्या आप डिज़ाइनरज़ मुख्यतः सब्यसाची को पाबंद नहीं कर सकते आपकी शादी में पहने हुए कपड़ों का सेल्फ-प्रमोशन करने का, बहुत ज्यादा इन-योर-फेस टाइप लगता है मुझे ?
  5. हमारे यहाँ बहु से सबसे पहले लापसी बनवाते हैं, आपके यहाँ क्या बनवाते हैं ?
  6. क्या नव-दम्पति पर अपनी दादीजी को सोने की सीडी चडाने का प्रेशर है ?

खैर सानू की ? आपकी शादी, आपका घराना, आपका धन मुझे क्या ??

अभी आप से इज़ाज़त लूँगा क्यूंकि अभी-अभी मेरी शरीक-ऐ-हयात (बीवी) ने आकाश बाबु के फेरों का सात मिनट का विडियो व्हाट्सएप पर भेजा है जिसको तुरंत देखना अति आवश्यक है.

सासू माँ को अनेकों बधाइयाँ,

आपके परिवार की हर शादी को बारीकी से देखता एक भारतीय

PS : पिछली बार जब ईशा बाई सा की उदयपुर में शादी हुई थी तो एक मेरी FB पोस्ट पर टिका-टिपण्णी से उखड़े एक जानकार को अन-फ्रेंड करना पड़ा था. आशा है की इस बार ऐसा नहीं करना पड़ेगा.

LUKA CHUPPI

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This film is set in the small town of Gwalior and Vrindavan and the whole premise hinges on the “Modern Concept” of LIVE-IN.

The hero is TV News Anchor on a Local News Network where the heroine also starts interning after graduating from Delhi. Her father is a right-wing neta, dead against Live-In relationships and is the protector of Bhartiya Sanskriti. The pair fall in love and the only condition by the heroine is the she wants to live-in before they take the final plunge.

And this very demand takes them to Gwalior, pestered by nosy aunty and sneaky neighbours before being caught by the hero’s relatives and the confusion ensues. From the falsehood about their marriage to the failed attempts in actually getting married with each other haggled on by their relatives.

The star cast starting from Karthik Aaryaan, Kirti Sanon, to the colourfully dressed Pankaj Tripathi, to the Neta/Father Vinay Pathak and the side kick of the hero Aparshakti Khurana play their parts well. So does the ensemble of actors playing the relatives. The songs in the first half seemed forced and unnecessary. And the real peppy song like Coca-Cola gets wasted in the end credits and Poster Chapwa wasn’t there only. That’s certainly unfair.

Movies set in small towns seem to be flavour of the season for Bollywood. So like this genre there is situational comedy, relatives with their own quirkiness, use of local dialect, shot on real location etc. These movies are like the millennium versions of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chaterjee’s films.

What works for me in the movie is the lead pair and their easiness and some of the scenes are really funny. The movie doesn’t real offer anything new what the movies from this genre haven’t offered earlier. But it doesn’t disappoint either.

One of the sadhus when asked about his take on LIVE-IN says “प्रेम है तो सब पवित्र है”, and in another there is this line “मुस्लिम हूँ एलियन नहीं”, with some interesting writing this one is light-breezy film, fulfilling the entertainment quotient for the weekend.

War

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My heart goes out to our Brave hearts – Our Soldiers who lost their lives for our country. More than 40 soldiers were martyred by the dastardly act of terrorist organisation that is sheltered / promoted and trained by our neighbour – Pakistan.

It is time we must all stand behind our Government for it to take whatever steps necessary to give a befitting reply. The government has definitely acted swiftly by withdrawing the Most Favoured Nations Status granted to Pakistan, security to separatists and killing the mastermind of this act.

rama sea.jpgThere is this famous doha of Tulsidas ji in Ramcharitra Manas-

बिनय न मानत जलधि जड़, गए तीन दिन बीत।

बोले राम सकोप तब, भय बिन होय न प्रीत।।

This incident happens when Lord Rama after requesting and waiting for the 3 days for Lord of the Sea – Varuna to make way for Him and His army to reach Lanka does not relent and then He threatens to use his arrows forcing Lord Varun to finally relent. To put my point across there can be no peace without fear and this has to put forward in no uncertain terms to Pakistan that we have defeated them in wars earlier and can do the same again if need be.

There has been an outpouring of emotions and rightly so – from rage to grief to sadness. In times like these it is difficult not to vent out emotions but this clarion call for war is baffling, it has to be thought over and then waged. I am sure that our armed forces are fully capable to give it back to Pakistan but this jingoism is certainly uncalled for.

हम अमन चाहते हैं, मगर ज़ुल्म के ख़िलाफ़,

गर जंग लाज़मी है, तो फिर जंग ही सही …

But let this call be taken by the highest echelons of our Military, but not on TV News Shout Matches, not thru Self Promotion on Social Media, not by having one to prove their patriotism and most certainly not via making videos on Tictoc app !!

Gully Boy

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A story of a slum dweller who refuses to give up on his dreams in spite of all his hardships with a little push from his mother, his over possessive girlfriend, his questionable neighbourhood friends and a Tiger Mentor – This is Gully Boy for you when the sum total of all this adds up into a perfect weekend watch.

I have a confession here that I am tone deaf, do not understand English Songs and only Baba Sehgal comes to my mind when I think of Rap but this film has already made me read about the artists involved in its music, for the film’s music genre is something that no filmmaker has tried exploring and that also so brilliantly.

There are 4 major stand outs apart from the music for me :

  1. Ranveer Singh – As the underdog who refuses to give up on his dreams, this is like never before Ranveer Singh. downloadThe last movie he portrayed such a calm character was in the boring film Lootera. He is shy, non-confident but with the fire simmering within and his eyes speaking volumes. With a shade darker of his skin and bereft of any flamboyance he is the perfect Gully Boy.
  1. Alia Bhat – She portrays the possessive Girlfriend who has no inhibitions fights for and with her man. 3gtnlsno_alia-bhattinstagram_625x300_05_January_19Belonging to a conservative Muslim family but who has her own ambitions, desires and dreams which she isn’t ready to give up for anyone. Like someone recently said that she is truly the Meryl Streep of India. She slays it with her performance.
  1. Mumbai – This is a film that shows where actually Mumbai lives and how it commutes. Living in the slums travelling in the locals, the BEST Buses, sweating it out to survive in this City of Dreams. Some living after suffocating dreams, while others living to make their dreams a reality. imagesOne can actually smell the garbage, the sweat, the hot and humid Mumbai. The Mumbai lingo is pitch perfect.
  1. Zoya Akhtar – She is the perfect example of parents passing on their genes to the kids. All her three previous films have been different and brilliant. If nepotism gives us filmmakers like her and I am all for that. Long Live Nepotism !! More Power and Glory to you.

 

My verdict is very easy on this one – There can’t be anything better to do this weekend than catch up on Gully Boy unless you are going to go one a date with the leading pair of this film. You can select any one according to your preferences for Iove is gender neutral.However considering this scenario is highly unlikely considering their current relationship status : GO WATCH IT !!

Memories

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A few days back while on cycling on the banks of Lake Pichhola, amidst the trash that some of us throw so carelessly were photographs. A close inspection revealed they wern’t mere photographs but indeed wedding albums – torn and thrown in the lake. Still lying there, not yet swept away by the water to the depth of the lake bed.

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There were happy faces of elated parents, siblings and friends on the wedding rituals of their loved ones. The memories carefully stored in glossy albums in plastic cover- Photographs that were posed for, smiled for and fussed over, lying here now unclaimed, unloved and grieved over.

The relationships that may have once been investigated, checked over now all that covered with moss of broken dreams and unfulfilled desires.

How does one recover? How does one forget?

When things get thrown away, do we also necessarily empty out what once lived within?

How long before these photographs becomes part of the soil??

Or like the non-degradable plastic covered albums these memories continue to live with us forever??

Who to judge, who to questions and what to remorse??

And this reminded me so much of the famous lines of the Ghazal sung by Late Jagjit Singh:

तेरे ख़त आज मैं गंगा में बहा आया हूँ ,

आग बहते हुये पानी में लगा आया हूँ ………

Kedarnath

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A debutante Star Daughter, a director with an impressive track record barring the last outing and actor with promise and talent. That’s what made me watch this movie straight after the Voting ended in my state for the assembly elections 2018.download.jpg

The plot is set in the holy temple town of Kedarnath, with an inter-religion love affair and the devastating Floods that rocked the state or Uttarakhand as the climax. So there is Nitish Bharadwaj aka Lord Krishna of the Mahabharat serial a Brahmin priest running a Guest House in Kedarnath with his wife and two daughters; the sombre elder one and feisty younger one played by Sara Ali Khan. Then there is Mansoor – the local Muslim porter who ferries pilgrims to the temple. The kind hearted, believer and then is this villain so to say i.e. first the fiancé of elder one and later of the younger daughter of the priest.

Sara Ali Khan plays the feisty, talkative girl with aplomb and doesn’t disappoint reminding so much of her mother, so does the ever bankable Sushant Singh Rajput who plays the understated, inhibited man. imagesWhat however fails is the blossoming of the love between the couple; it seemed forced and not natural. Somewhere I read that usually in a Hindi Film of a Inter Religion love story the boy is usually a Hindu and here the director does take that risk of reversing the roles but doesn’t deliver on this risk. The conflict that appears too seems just for the heck of it.

Then there is floods of Kedarnath that appears in the last 20 minutes of the movie and also fails to create the lasting impact. The movie though just around 2 hours seemed long and plays out at a languid pace. The music is passable barring the title song.

One thing that stands out is the way valleys of the Himalayas and the path to the temple has been shot. They look spectacular and makes one take the holy pilgrimage to Kedarnath sooner than later.

As far as the movie Kedarnath is concerned it is a pilgrimage that can be taken though a little delayed when it plays on a TV screen near you.