December 31, 2006

Mysore Officers Club

Listening to Karnataka folksongs may not be everyone’s idea of spending New Year's eve. Members of the Mysore Officers Club celebrated the occasion with folksongs, followed by a traditional feast, including bissi bela bath, vada, ubbhitoo, served on plantain leaves. My wife and I, and our six-year-old house guest from Coonoor, Ashika, attended the club celebrations, courtesy Mr Raghottam Rao, friend, relation and a club committee member.

Mr Rao said the idea was to make the occasion truly family-friendly. The booze-and-buffet NY bash held in most other clubs is not the kind of party to which everyone feels comfortable taking their wife and children. Ashika might not have fancied the folk music at the club. But she enjoyed the dinner, thoroughly.

You know, the officers club does not even have a liquor licence? The deputy commissioner is its ex-officio president. Mr Rao, who has been an active club member since it was founded nearly 25 years ago, recalled that the Mysore officers club was the idea of the then city police chief, Mr K R Srinivasan (who, incidentally, took over as the state DGP on New Year eve) and a few other officers. The founder members used to have their club meets at the police chief’s residence.

Those with a flair for local history would be interested in knowing that the Mysore Officers Club, functioned for 14 years from a rented house, at Lakshmipuram. The house belonged to the R K Narayan family. The monthly rent was Rs. 850, said Mr Rao, adding that they shifted to the current premises, close to the University oval grounds, ten years ago, when the then divisional commissioner, Mr Negi, allotted an acre for the club, for Rs. 3.5 lakhs – ‘we mobilized loan from the Canara Bank’.

December 30, 2006

There's life after retirement

In response to e-mail alert to a few friends on my piece – FAQ: What do I do the whole day? – asking if they or their retired friends have had to face this question Dr Bhamy V Shenoy cited examples of several senior citizens who spent a full and fruitful life after retirement in social initiatives. Dr Shenoy, who leads a very public life as convenor of Mysore Grahakara Parishat, has several other facets that are not, perhaps, so widely known – that of an energy consultant to a former Soviet republic, a freelance feature writer, a Pratham activist, promoter of an educational institution in his native village, and social activist with conviction that the educated middle-class should embrace politics, to make it clean, caste-free and socially relevant.

Says Dr Shenoy in response to my alert mail: " How can we change the mindset of people, making them realise that retired people, especially in India, can do far more to fulfill their social responsibilities after retirement? Look at Mysore, supposedly a "heaven" for retired people. There are hundreds of them for whom society has done so much during their working years. Can't they spare some time to give back something to society? I was once surprised to find we had among Mysore residents a retired director of an IIT. He was led a reclusive life. There are many retired vice chancellors among our residents . Can they not take initiative in educating our slum and government school children. Look at this ' young man' Dr. Parpia, his relentless work to improve education for the poor. He may well be as busy now as he was while working for CFTRI.

We have a BARC scientist, Dr. Krishnan, searching for schools that will accept his services (free) to teach children basic science. He is coaching failed SSLC and PUC students, to enable them to reappear in examinations.

We have an 82 year principal of B.Ed school going to a Pratham school to teach first graders.

Mr. Madhavan's late mother-in-law used to coach children till she was 100 years old.

No doubt these are exceptions. But why cannot we make this the rule for our retured folk? When someone enjoys what he or she is doing, it does not become a job. All the examples I gave, are of those who were/are having a nice time doing their stint in society, after retirement."

December 28, 2006

Putting teachers in under-staffed rural schools

I am not a government school teacher. Which is, probably, why I see the Karnataka ordinance on teacher transfers as a refreshingly radical move. For those who missed it, the Karnataka State Civil Services (regulation of transfers of teachers) Ordinance, 2006, stipulates a compulsory five-year stint in rural schools for all government school teachers in Karnataka.

Provacation for bringing in the ordinance ought to be obvious to everyone, other than, perhaps, those politicians and officials who thrive on transfers trade. The government move is bound to cause panic among teachers, notably, the city-bred who have so far evaded transfer to rural schools, through political connection, contacts in higher bureaucracy, or, plainly, through currency persuasion.

Transfer-dodgers, below 53, better be ready to be moved to a zone ‘C’ school, which could be anywhere beyond 15 km from their city municipal limits. Luckier ones could get placed in ‘B’ zone, that is in a school within 15 km of the city limits. The ‘B’ zone schools are also categorized as rural, though they may be within commuting distance from an urban centre.

If the ordinance is enforced effectively, and, if the ruling coalition has the political will, our city-bred teachers would do well to get used to rural living.

December 27, 2006

A day out for Bangalore orphanage kids

I wish other public and private sector agencies, in other places, emulate the Coffee Board of India, in sponsoring a fun-filled day out for the orphanage and other socially disadvantaged children everywhere. The coffee board is reported to have organized a spin around town on a topless double-decker for some 60 children, all below 10, of Anatha Sishu Nivasa, Basavanagudi, Bangalore.

Thoughtfully, the trip organizers put a Santa Claus on board to hand out balloons, toffee and other Christmas goodies to the children, who rarely, if ever, get a chance to stir out of their institution. Wouldn’t it be nice if such children could find someone to take them out now and then, to the local zoo, to picnic at a park or to a movie?

Finding sponsors, and volunteers to escort the children, may not be difficult. The tough part, I reckon, is convincing the authorities of orphanages and other charity institutions to allow their children to be taken out periodically. They tend to view it as safety and security issue; and they are generally unable or unwilling to take the responsibility. In many cases, it entails permission from the governing board, which has its share of members who are not amenable to fresh ideas.

The governing body of an orphanage or charity institution is a mixed bag. A typical managing committee is precedent-driven. Stock reaction to any fresh idea is, ‘have we done any such thing before ?’ A negativist would think of risks, and little else, of trying out anything new. What if something were to go wrong?And then there are, what I call, ‘can’t-doers’ who can trot out six reasons why what you suggest cannot be done. I have heard someone objecting to children’s outings, for fun and exposure, because they could ‘get used to them’.

December 26, 2006

Mysore Oriya initiative in temple restoration

A view of the Cauvery from the time-ravaged temple.

I was skeptical when I first learnt of the Orissa Association Mysore (OAM) temple restoration project. It is a tough task, taking on a 11th century temple that remained neglected for the last 400 years. The initial cost estimate was Rs.12 lakhs. Could the Oriya association mobilize the resources? That an association, with less then a hundred member, could even consider such a venture spoke of their think-big mindset. Or was it naivety? I shared my misgivings with OAM president Mr Dilip Kumar Misra. This was a year ago.

When I met Mr Misra and another committee member Mr Ghanshyam Pradhan recently they said the project cost had risen to Rs.30 lakhs, but added that the pace of progress was encouraging. A Kalakarshana ceremony (a ritual marking the start of inner temple restoration work) was performed at Belagola village, off the Mysore-KRS Road, this October. Mr Misra expected the work to be completed in two years. Details of the project and also the status of progress made so far can be accessed at

To a question about fund-raising Mr Misra had a four-word response - “I believe in miracles”. The progress made till now, from the day when the idea occurred to him and a few others, on the Ganesh idol immersion day in 2003, was in itself the result of a series of minor miracles. “It is as if we are being driven by a divine force,” said Mr Misra, adding that there was no room for pessimism in this scheme of things.

It took the Oriya association well over one year to get official clearance. There was so much of paper work that, after a point, Mr.Misra said he simply signed on, without even looking into the papers. He didn’t want permission to be denied for want of a single signature. Most form-fillings were, anyway, a formality and a bureaucratic requirement. Mr Misra was not complaining. Merely stating what it took to get the government go-ahead for the temple restoration project.

December 25, 2006

A run on the highway eateries

I happened to be on the road, from Mysore to Bangalore on the day before Christmas. And I found our favourite breakfast joint run by MTR packed, with a spill-over of customers waiting for table. We moved on to Kamat, further down the highway, only to find a much bigger crowd. Our taxi-driver suggested a self-service eatery that served special idli at Bidadi. Same story there as well. We had to make it to Bangalore without breakfast.

On our return from Bangalore, at lunch time on Christmas Day, the situation was the same at Kamat, though we managed to get a table at the MTR. But then the lunch hour rush proved too much for the catering staff. The waiter took much longer to serve, the puri we ordered came with chutney and plain dal, instead of the customary kurma or masala. And then we had to hang around for 15 minutes at the payment counter, because even the manager-cum-cashier was drafted to serve tables to cope with a run on the restaurant.

In contrast to the chaos at MTR, the Coffee Day next door was relatively empty. Maybe our middle-class clientele isn’t yet ready (or pretentious enough) for the Starbucks culture. Maybe Coffee Day, unmindful of its scrupulously nurtured image, ought to add to its menu items such as thali meals and idli-vada breakfast.

We could do with one or two more strategically located middle-class eateries on the Bangalore-Mysore highway. The middle-class goes for brand image. Several small eating houses, and so-called dabhas along the highway don't seem to attract the car-borne middle-class that goes for the Kamats and the MTR. Mysore’s own GTR, Ramyas or Maheshprasad, I reckon, would do well, if they set up shop on the highway.

December 22, 2006

Pranoy (NDTV) Roy hogs talk time

I have a problem with Pranoy Roy hosting a chat-show. He tends to hog the talk time. In NDTV Q & A (Dec.22), featuring Inforsys Narayanamurthy, a large and very informed studio audience could get no more than two questions. The 30-minute show, of which three or more minutes were lost to commercial break, was dominated by the host, Mr Roy. Who isn’t fond of hearing his own voice? But I wish Mr Roy had let his guest finish his thoughts or have his say without interruption. Before N M finished answering a question P R came up with a fresh one. I am sure TVwalahs have their reason; time constraints. NDTV programme producer could turn around and say, ‘we haven’t the whole day, mate’.

I recall, during the Emergency, Indira Gandhi (so feared at home) was once cut off in mid-sentence by an interviewer of an American news channel, saying, 'Thank you, Madam Prime Minister, that's all we have time for'.

During the NDTV show there were moments when we had Pranoy Roy butting in with his one-liner. As Narayana Murthy articulated his thoughts on giving away much of his vast wealth, by setting up a corpus, the show host came up with a quip, ‘what, if your son were to hear this’, or something to that effect. I wonder if Mr Narayana Murthy would have put up with such impolite intteruption, had it come from a lowly newspaper reporter during a press conference in his native Mysore. But then N M managed to have the last word. When the show host invited questions from the audience - ‘the suited gentleman there, on the third row’ - Mr Murthy put Mr Roy down, saying, he (Narayana Murthy) had set a ground rule on Q & A.

Which was, a woman and a gentleman would take turns in asking him questions, and a lady in the audience would make the start. And the lady asked why N M wouldn’t enter politics - ‘we would like to see you in the cabinet’. When Mr Narayana Murthy reiterated that he had no desire to enter politics, we had Mr Roy saying, rather pointlessly, that Mr Murthy may not want to, but it was the desire of society (that he should be in the cabinet).

To be fair to Mr Roy, the NDTV show managed to bring out the man behind India’s best known IT corporate face. In his young days (in Mysore, presumably) Mr Murthy used to make daily visits to the railway station, and part with some small change by way of alms. For him, making money was less of a priority than seeking respect for his company in the corporate world - ‘coming from the middle-class, respect means a lot more to me’.

Now that he got tons of it, what did he spend his money on? Gadgets, and books. He said (if I heard him right) he bought books worth Rs.20,000 a month.

P R to N M: What is your one big ambition? Having asked him, Mr Roy wouldn’t allow Infosys Murthy time enough to marshal his thoughts. We heard him saying that his son kept nagging Mr Murthy - ‘you still haven’t written it down what you want to do in the next five years’. Viewers were left wondering what it meant. Was he being pushed by his son to do a book? Was a Murthy memoirs in the works? Mr Roy wouldn’t let him finish his thoughts before he sprang the next question, on Mr Murthy’s business ethics.

Mr Narayana Murthy justified the early Infosys policy of giving company stocks to all its employees, which has made very many employees filthy rich. The Infosys founder observed it was the first such move by any Indian company, and the largest experiment in democratization of wealth. This resulted in some employees leaving Infosys to set up their own companies. Mr Murthy referred to an ex-Infosys man getting into developing a golf course.

December 19, 2006

SSLC through Sunday school

US based scientist, Mr Krishnamurthy, who passed his SSLC from a Nanjangud municipal school, runs SSLC (Surya Shloka Learning Center) course at his home (Chandlers ?) on Sundays for NRI children. The Krishnamurthy couple are known in the Phoenix, Ariz., Indian social circle; and have been, should I say, widely known Kannada Sangha activists in America's sixth largest city. A Bombay IITan, with over 100 published papers to his credit, Krishnamurthy (who, we declare with pride, is related to my wife) has been running SSLC for the last seven years, along with wife Girija, who, I believe, teaches at a school for tribal Indians in Arizona. An alumnus of Mysore University Girija is the daughter of a well known Mysorean, Vakil Srikantaiah.
Referring to his passion for educating ABCDs (America-born/brought-up-confused-desis) on our culture and values, Krish e-mailed the other day, " Surya Shloka Learning Center meets every Sunday from 11 AM to 12 noon. It is somewhat like a Balvihar with the objective of educating children, growing up in the US, about Hinduism, our culture and traditions. Some 20 kids in a wide-ranged 2-16 age group attend our classes regularly. Many parents (and, sometimes, grandparents) sit in with the kids and they tell me that it has been a learning experience for them as well. Of course, I enjoy explaining the Sanskrit verses and telling stories. It's lot of fun".

December 16, 2006

It's my turn to change diapers

I missed the TV soap but its title - Saas bhi kabhi bahu thi - set me working on this piece, of which the theme is - Bahu meri bani beti. To those who find my use of desi words irksome I submit that words such as daughter and daughter-in-law, in plain English, sound mundane, and they do not convey the sense of distinction between a bahu and beti . Both are four-letter words. But beti is an endearing term; bahu , somewhat lower down on saas-sasur's endearment scale.

A bahu usually comes to in-laws place with pre-conceived notions, some social baggage; and she feels stifled by the terms of reverence she is constrained to adopt while staying with her in-laws. This needn't be so. The month my bahu, beta and our potha , Siddarth, spent with us in Mysore recently was a learning experience. For a start, I discovered that there are at least four versions of 'Ring Around Rosie'. This one, said to be mom of all ring-around nursery rhymes, predates Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. I couldn't figure out my bahu's favoured version, for she sing-songs in an accent I have problem grasping. Never mind the words. They all sound the same to our year-old Siddarth, so long as the rest of us are there to dance to his tune.

I can't say my daughter-in-law Meera fits into the traditional mould of a bahu. For one thing, she is America-born. And, as such, she is free from hang-ups of a home-grown daughter-in-law, who is portrayed in movies as some one who, in the presence of elders and strangers, hides her face behind gunghat ; someone who doesn't share dinner table with saas-sasur, but serves them instead, before she takes food. Far from wearing gunghat, Meera prefers to move about the house in T-shirt and slacks, which, I suspect, come from my son's wardrobe. Such informality is a kind of social licence to which only a beti would be entitled in standard Indian households.

But then neither my wife nor I has ever been saas-sasur to Meera. And we don't have a biological daughter. That Meera continues to address us aunty-uncle, as she did before her wedding, is not lost on some of our tradition-bound relations. I wouldn't have her address us any differently. If Meera were to call us Appa-Amma, as our son does, it would sound put on, phony.

Siddarth proved a cementing factor that brought each of us much closer to the other in the family. It was as if we discovered each other all over again and Siddarth-centric family dos gave us all a fresh perspective of life around us. I could not imagine that I, at 68, would ever get to play 'Ring Around the Rosie' with daughter-in-law and grandson. My wife joined us in clowning with our ever-smiling Siddarth. Our living room tuned into a kindergarten for adults, with even my aged mother joining in the fun. Family outings, to the zoo, to watch the dancing fountains at Brindavan Gardens, to picnic on the Karanji lakeside; taking in a round of mini-golf at Planet-X with son Ravi, our visits to Devaraj Urs Rd. Coffee Day, ordering pizza for dinner, or simply lounging on our living room sofa gossiping late into the night, all added value to our relationship, by way of sharing in-family private jokes; evolving our own code words for an incident, episode or an anecdotal reference.

Diaper-change is a code word for us. Whenever Meera mentions diaper-change I connect it to an incident. It happened on a day when Siddarth had tummy trouble, when the other three in the family, my wife, son and daughter-in-law, took turns to wipe Siddarth's behind and change diapers. I was the odd man out. When our little friend did it the fourth time, within hours, I heard Meera observe, disarmingly, 'wonder whose turn is it now'. It triggered all-round laughter in the family. A bahu wouldn't bring herself to so banter over diaper changing. A beti would. If I were to pick a defining moment, this was when, I would say, Meera became our beti. And you know what, she didn't let me get my hands on it, changing Siddarth's diapers.

December 15, 2006

Women: A question on their status

The Washington Post blog - PostGlobal - posed the question: Are women making real breakthroughs in the 21st century or is it still one-step forward, two steps back for half the world's population? -- Samina Ahmed
Though not an answer to the question that has been raised, I thought I would share with you what the publisher of Washington Post, Mrs Katherine Graham, had to say about women in her generation. from her autobiography, Personal History.
Five years after Mrs Katharine Graham became Washington Post publisher (1969) a magazine article on her observed, "Mrs Graham accepts her responsibilities much more often than she asserts her authority". In her autobiography, Personal History , Mrs Graham conceded that this had to do with her sense of insecurity in job; and her feeling that she was a pretender to the throne. Washpost publisher said her feelings then were in character with the generation to which she belonged.
As Mrs Graham put it, "I adopted the assumption of many of my generation that women were intellectually inferior to men and that they were not capable of governing, leading, managing anything but our homes and children. Women, she noted, remained largely silent in a group, unable to participate in conversations and discussions. Such incapacity, she added, produced in her "a diffuse way of talking, an inablility to be concise, a tendency to ramble, to start at the end and work backwards, to over-explain, to go on for too long, to apologise".
For many years into her postion as a newspaper publisher Kathy Graham had this belief that the only reason she had her job was 'the good luck of my birth and the bad luck of my husband's death.

Battling a crippling bone disease

Sanjay Dalal
My son Ravi sent me link to the blog of a friend, battling metabolic bone disorder. Sanjay Dalal, 38, has Osteoporosis of the lumbar spine, and Ostopenia in couple of other areas. How does one be supportive towards a friend one just discovers to have been suffering from a disabling, painful and not easily curable disorder ? Sanjay, who had till now given no inkling, even to close friends, of his worsening condition, blogs, “I realize that friends may distance themselves because they perhaps don't know how they can support someone during a time such as this. However, just knowing that they are there, and I can even enjoy their company even through the occasional email and phone call, at times, is enough”.

Of his determination to fight the disease of the bone Sanjay says, “If Lance Armstrong can fight cancer, and come out fully recovered and then go on to win Tour De France several times, I can do better in my fight against Osteoporosis. I also have two young kids who are growing and who provide me every incentive every day of the week to become active, get better physically, and play with them”.

December 12, 2006

Putting a face to e-mail IDs in my address book

I have been meaning to do this piece for a while, but couldn’t get down to it, presumably, due to the L-factor that seem to afflict many of us Mysoreans. L here stands for lethargy. I plead guilty to name-dropping, in the process of saying, thank-you, to those who turned up in response to my e-mail invite, and also those who wrote to say they wished they could make it, to the Regaalis on November 18 evening. They included veteran journalist Mr Krishna Vattam, who came to the hotel, only to leave a note at the reception desk, saying that he couldn’t join us because he didn’t not wish to pass on his cold & cough to the guests at the party.

I was looking forward to meeting him. We have been in e-mail touch for several months, but could not find time and occasion to meet each other till this date. The thing about our Nov.18 party was that it gave me an opportunity to put a face on many names in my e-mail address book. I also realized that quite a few of our guests had also not met one another earlier. The pretext for our get-together was to celebrate Siddarth who was visiting his grandparents in Mysore for the first time since birth one year ago.

Excited at our first meeting some of us traded promises to keep ourselves in closer touch. Dr.(Lt.Col.) Y N I Anand, a retired military doctor specialized in nuclear medicine, overwhelmed us by dropping in at our place the other day to deliver a CD of the pictures he had taken at Regaalis. I was equally touched by the gift of a book by the Madhavans. Must concede that, at the time of posting this piece, I had read only 55 pages of the 160-page novel, The Silver Pilgrimage by M Ananthanarayanan. Mr A Madhavan, our former envoy whose postings included Berlin and Tokyo, and his wife struck a connection with my son, who shares his first name with theirs. And both are based in California.

Dr Javeed Nayeem, cardiologist by profession, responded to my invite, in letter and spirit, by turning up with his wife, daughter and son. The doctor has, in recent months, blossomed into a widely read Star of Mysore columnist. My grouse is Dr Nayeem doesn’t write more and frequently for his blog, which is part of our new-found site – Mysore Blog Park.

Mrs & Mr T S Satyan (need I say who?) were among the first guests to arrive. A stickler for keeping time, the Satyans were there right on the dot, at 7.30 p m. I can brag that we have known each other since the early 60s, when Mr Satyan was a Life magazine photo-journalist, and I, a minion at the Press Information Bureau, New Delhi. Another Delhi connection of ours who showed up at Regaalis, from Chennai, was Mr Sam Rajappa of The Statesman. Mr Satyan mentioned that he had last met Sam Rajappa some 30 years back.

Another friend who came from Chennai was Mr M R Venkatesh of the Telegraph. Speaking of outstation guests I was pleased to meet my new-found blogger friends Mr C N Ramesh and Mr L Venkata Ranga, who came with wife and two-year old kid from Bangalore. Another out-of-towner who came to Mysore specifically for the party was Mr Vijendra Rao of Bangalore Bias. We count him among the five charter members of the now inactive MyMysore Forum.

My professional affinity with journalists probably accounts for the presence of quite a few of our tribe. Mysore media veteran Mr Gouri Satya and wife, who were not likely to come because of a previously committed engagement, showed up briefly. It was such endearing gestures, particularly by those I didn’t know long or well enough, that made my evening. Mr Srihari, a retired CFTRI scientist who has morphed into a Star of Mysore editorial writer, turned up even though he was nursing a fractured ankle. Another Mysorean who has taken to writing in his ‘second adulthood’, Mr E R Ramachandran, was there and wanted us to invent excuses for such gatherings with reasonable regularity. Of the NRI parents who turned up was Mr N D Bhagavan and his wife. I had got in touch with him after reading a media report on Mr Bhagavan's initiative to form an NRI Parents Association in Mysore. As was the case with most other e-mail contacts of mine, Mr Bhagavan and I were looking forward to meeting each other.

Must mention here the help I have had from two of our guests – Mr T Raghottam Rao, and Mr M B Nagakumar. A former Lions Club president who is into full time social work, Mr Rao, used his membership of the Cosmopolitan Club as well as the Institution of Engineers, to arrange much needed accommodation for rooming some of our outstation guests. Mr Nagakumar, a leading light in the Mysore chapter of the Builders Association of India, put in a word that weighed with the Regaalis management to give an appreciable discount on our food bill.

Notable among those who e-mailed to say they wished they could be there was Mr Shankar Prasad, an IT executive and active member of the Mysore IT Forum. Shanks, as he is generally addressed, said he couldn’t make it as he got caught up in a downpour while visiting a friend on way to the party. Energy consultant, Mr Shankar Sharma, was candid enough to tell me he wasn’t a partying type. Capt. Anup Murthy, an aviator-blogger, called from Goa on the morning of the party to say he had to be away from Mysore that day on a pressing engagement.

Periyar’s Brahmin connection

The Hindu zealots who vandalized a statue of Periyar at Srirangam, Tamilnadu, the other day wouldn’t have known or cared to know that E V Ramasami Naicker (1879-1973), had once been a trustee of a Ganesha temple at his native Erode. I heard this from a journalist friend, N Nageswaran, whose family were friends and neighours of EVR’s at Court Street, Erode. Dubbed anti-God the Dravidian cult figure sustained the reputation by breaking idols of Hindu daities.

The social reform movement he launched had a pronounced anti-Brahmin edge. But, in his personal life, he had Brahmin friends, of whom the most notable was C Rajagopalachari. Mr Nageswaran refuted the commonly held belief that Periyar was a Brahmin-hater. Far from it, he held his Brahmin friends in high regard. When EVR , in his 70s, chose to marry, for the second time, a much younger woman, much to the resentment of his followers, including the current Tamilnadu CM Karunanidhi, he turned for advice and guidance to Rajaji. That EVR was given to abusing in public his Brahmin friend and then chief minister, Rajaji, was quite another matter, says Mr Nageswaran, who used to cover Periyar’s speeches as a reporter for Indian Express. He subsequently moved to the Economic Times, and retired as its Resident Editor in Bangalore.

Of EVR’s Brahmin connection Mr Nageswaran could claim personal knowledge. His school-teacher grandfather Kavandapadi Ananthanarayana Iyer was a close friend of EVR’s father E Venkata Naicker, And Mr Nageswaran had gone to school with a son of EVR’s brother. When his father was worried about young EVR’s waywardness it was Mr Nageswaran’s grandfather and some friends who helped set up a turmeric wholesale business for E Ramasami Naicker. He prospered in business so much that EVR became socially respectable enough to be a trustee of a Pilliar Temple at Erode. Irony was that Mr Nageswaran, who had known of his temple trustee background, was to witness EVR breaking Ganesh idols, as Indian Express reporter in Madras. The media, he said, used to make fun of him, but EVR couldn’t care less so long as the newspapers helped him stay in the limelight.

Recalling his earlier Erode days my media friend said EVR used to address public meetings at Erode’s Karaivaikkal maidan. Power connection for loudspeakers came from an electricity line drawn from an Iyer lawyer’s place close to the maidan. At one such meeting the Dravidian Kazhagam supremo, in an anti-Brahmin rant, called on his followers to go for Brahmins with scissors and have their sacred-thread snapped. As lawyer Dhandapani Iyer heard EVR holding forth on cutting off Brahmins’ sacred thread he cut off power to the public maidan, leaving the mike system dead .

Realising his tactical mistake EVR swiftly made amends by raising his voice, loudly enough for him to be heard by the advocate Iyer, that his followers must ensure sure that nice Brahmins such as Dhandapani Iyer were spared. Power connection got restored and EVR carried on his speech, avoiding references that could hurt the man who powered his public address system.

Long before he founded the black-shirt brigade, Dravida Kazhagam, Periyar had been a staunch Congressman and, as Mr Nageswaran put it, ardent Gandhian – ‘I have seen EVR hawking Khadi clothes, carried on his head, on the streets of Erode’. Gandhi had once stayed at EVR’s place at Erode. Mr Nageswaran reckoned that, if only EVR had stayed on in the Congress, and had he given his due place in the party hierarchy, the Congress might still be in power in Tamilnadu. EVR had left the Congress because he felt its Brahmin-dominant leadership – Salem Vijayaraghavachariyar and Satyamurthy – ignored the aspirations of non-brahmins. EVR believed he was ignored by party leadership in Tamilnadu for the only reason that he was non-Brahmin. And this one man’s belief gave rise to the Dravidian movement that has held the Congress party back from power in Tamilnadu, for decades now.

December 4, 2006

A Mysorean who didn't know his worth

T S Elliot said of Dr V Ramakrishna that he didn't know his own worth, like a flower that is not aware of its own fragrance. Dr S Radhakrishnan was full of admiration and very impressed by his profound modesty, and depth of his learning. Somerset Maugham, who wanted to shape a character in his book after him, couldn't get Dr Ramakrishna to talk about himself - 'in spite of my repeated requests for details about him he has been evading me very cleverly'. As Maugham put it, " it is strange that a person of this type is found these days when everyone clamours for undeserved recognition".

A Mysorean who now leads a retired life with his daughter in the US, Dr Ramakrishna, 82, in the words of his Nobel Laureate friend T S Elliot, ' shirks publicity of any sort and does not talk about himself'. I heard about him from his younger brother, Dr Ramaprasad of Chamarajapuram, a retired BHEL dentist now settled in Trichy. "His work is not recognised in India," Dr Ramaprasad said of his elder brother, "I'm sure very few here know of him".

Dr Ramakrishna, a Mysore University agri. science graduate, pursued higher studies in Paris, London and Edinburgh, and received an honorary LL.D from Berne University. Besides being an agro-scientist who has served the World Bank and the Universities of Bangalore and Jabalpur, Dr Ramakrishna retained an enduring interest in child development issues. A Ph.D in child psychology from Sorbonne, Paris, Dr Ramakrishna's UNESCO prize-winning book of 1952 - 'Freedom from Want in Early Life' - Has been published in 14 languages.

He donated the prize money and also the cash component of many of his 13 international awards to UNICEF. The National Defence Fund (set up in the wake of 1962 Chinese aggression) and the Hiroshima Fund were among the notable charities to which he donated his prize money. Apart from literary awards Dr Ramakrishna is a recipient of the Magsaysay (1984) and the King George V Gold Medal awarded by the Royal Psychological Society.

T S Elliot, in his convocation speech at Sorbonne, spoke of his association with Dr Ramakrishna and recalled their first meeting at Delhi airport in December 1951. the Nobel Laureate got held up in transit for four hours. Dr Ramakrishna accompanied Sir John and Lady Crombie, then on a visit to India, to the airport to spend time with a stranded Elliot. While the other three were busy talking 'shop' the young agricultural graduate just listened for about 25 minutes without uttering a word, "but smiling at some of our silly jokes".

So silent was he that the other three made fun of him in a bid to provoke Ramakrishna. A reluctant talker and a slow starter, but once he got going, Ramakrishna could talk "with ease and clarity" on a variety of subjects - literature, science, religion, philosophy, psychology, music dancing and arts. Entomology was his favourite, observed Elliot. The Crombies told Elliot about Ramakrishna's art criticism published in the 'Illustrated London News'. He was a good sportsman and represented his university in football and athletics and was champion in walking and middle distance running.

The man has a dual personality. As Elliot said, what was visible outside is 'all humble, quiet, unassuming and modest; and what isn't visible is the remarkable versatility, wide knowledge, generous heart and a remarkable strength of will". Elliot concluded his convocation speech with a few lines from Grey's Elegy, which, he said, applied to Dr Ramakrishna down to the last word:

Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear,
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
Losing its fragrance in the desert air.

November 25, 2006

A health city Bangalore can do without

Read in the media that Karnataka government plans to acquire 500 acres to develop a health city near the upcoming Bangalore aireport at Devanahalli. I thought Bangalore would be the last place in the state that needs the government help in promoting such investment. Besides, medical tourism is not an area that is crying out for government promotion. If anything, the city needs to consolidate its growth to be able to serve the best interests of its residents. Infrastructure in Bangalore, such as roads, public transport, sewage disposal and affordable housing, are already stressed out as a result of haphard growth that is unmindful of its impact on quality of life of those who are constrained to live there.

A responsive government would think in terms of addressing the infrastructure situation and in regulating the growth factors contributing to this social malady, instead of aggravating the pressure on the woefully inadequate social infrastructure. The coming up of an international airport is bound to promote investment in varied sectors. And a government with foresight ought to be thinking in terms of developing health and other sector-specific townships, away from the city, within a 100 to 150 km radius, with well served rapid transit facilities.

The six-lane Bangalore-Mysore expressway project holds out opportunity for developing sector-centric, growth-oriented townships along the transitway. The expressway gains significance, not just because it can shorten Mysore-Bangalore travel time (to 90 minutes) but, more importantly, because it opens out prospects for growth oriented townships all along the expresseway. If the government is really concerned about betterment of its capital city and the greater Bangalore region, it ought to 1) facilitate early completion of Bangalore-Mysore expressway, in time to take advantage of investment triggered by the upcoming international airport; and 2) take steps to locate the proposed health city midway along the expressway.

November 10, 2006

Dhoni goes for a haircut; and the media goes ga-ga

Some cricketers, it seems, can’t even go out for a haircut without causing a law and order problem. The Ranchi police chief, Mr Akhilesh Kumar Jha, is reported to have made a plea to the city’s celebrity cricketer - “I’d request Dhoniji to please inform the police before he goes to any public place, so that it would be slightly easier for us to deal with such situation”. The situation the police chief refers to was a drive Mahendra Singh Dhoni tookthe other day to a neighbourhood shopping mall for a haircut.

A news agency report had it that some 2000 fans mobbed the mall, locking in Dhoni at Kaya Beauty Parlour, Ranchi, for well over four hours. The police were summoned to rescue and escort him home. Wow! What a story. The Hindu even carried a picture of the crush of Dhoni fans at the Ranchi mall. It became a media event because of Dhoni’s propensity to pull a crowd at the drop of his hair. It shows we have people who are prepared to drop everything to be wherever a test player is sighted.

Such is our craze for cricket, which, as Lord Mancroft put it, is ‘a game which the English, not being a spiritual people, have invented to give themselves some conception of Eternity’. My aged aunt’s take on cricket is plainly polemical. She says life would be a lot less miserable, if only they didn’t have the blessed live telecast. Her aversion to the game at any given time is directly proportionate to the level of her addiction to the daytime soap she is obliged to miss on the days of a live telecast of a cricket match. Her son and his son are cricket addicts, like millions of others who get glued to their TV sets, unmindful of the phenomenal national waste of man-days caused by cricket telecasts.

Every nation is entitled to its obsession. It is soccer in Brazil, baseball in US. Our consuming obsession is cricket. Unlike soccer or baseball, which has a season and relatively short duration of play, cricket is a day-long affair and played, nowadays, all the year round. Almost every match is telecast live and re-telecast during the ever shortening non-playing season. And there is a social dimension to the cricket telecast. It tends to interfere with your routine. You can't take the family out on days when a big match is on, nor would anyone visit you. And drawing room conversations, even within families, centre round finer points of something that someone did or didn't do at gully, slip or silly mid-on. You are made to look silly if you don't keep up with the live telecast. You can ignore the ball game at your social peril.

November 4, 2006

Remembering Rajaji

During my recent Bangalore visit I spent an evening with Mr N Nageswaran, former resident editor of Economic Times. He lives alone, with his 2-year-old Dachshund, Randy, a much mis-spelt breed. In stark contrast to his working life, when Mr Nageswaran routinely invented reasons to turn down party invitations, not many call him or drop in for chat, after retirement. This includes his professional colleagues. Friends dropped out of his life after he lost his wife a few years back.

Our association dates back to the late eighties when we used to have adjacent cabins at the Times Group office on Nungambakkam Road, Chennai. Mr Nageswaran was in a reminiscent mood, talking about his early days as a newspaper reporter in the Madras edition of Indian Express, then under the control of the one and only Ramnath Goenka. Stuck inside his head were loads of stories, anecdotes and eminently bloggable material that could be melted down into words over a couple whiskies. He wasn’t interested, not in whiskey, but blogging.

I referred to our own media veteran in Mysore, Mr Krishna Vattam, who has taken to blogging lately (with much prodding from his daughter and with help from his school-going grandson who ran a computer crash course for grandpa). When I mentioned a blog post by Mr Vattam on an incident relating to Rajaji and Mr Nageswaran’s face lit up and he promptly related a C R quote. “Consistancy is a donkey’s virtue,” Rajaji told his critics, “why should I, an intelligent human being, be expected to be consistent”. This was CR’s response to those who took him on for joining the anti-Hindi agitation, after having introduced Hindi in schools when he was in power.

Rajaji did not tolerate the media mis-reporting him. He used to send a post card to the editor the next morning. Mr Nageswaran was among the few reporters the old man trusted - ‘so I used to be assigned to all Rajaji functions’. As a reporter he was occasionally summoned to his residence where Rajaji dictated a statement, laid out on an easy-chair and sipping steaming hot coffee. The reporter had to sit on the floor to take down dictation - ‘he always asked me to read back to him what I had taken down’.

Mr Nageswaran recalled that when Sir C P Ramaswami Ayyar joined the Swatantra Party founded by Rajaji, Nehru had called it a party of old men. In a rebuttal CR observed, “Pandit Jawaharlal Neru has called us a party of old men; I would like to tell you that Jawaharlal Nehru is not a spring chicken”. Mr Nageswaran was among the newspapermen who was present at the Madras Music Academy function (in 1956?) at which Nehru paid his much-quoted tribute to M S Subbulakshmi. “Who am I, a mere prime minister, to say anything about the queen of music”, Nehru told the gathering.

October 31, 2006

Mega-family household, dates back to Shivaji

Two is company; three, a crowd. When the number goes up to 180, it becomes a TV story. Deccan Herald correspondent Shyam Sundar Vattam wrote about a 180-member family in rural Dharwad that was featured in a BBC documentary. As Mr Vattam put it, the telecast has led to a steady flow of visitors to Lokur, a village 15 km from Dharwad. Lokur (which means people’s place) is home to the Narsinganavar family that has 180 members living under the same roof.
At an age when an increasing number of young couple are constrained by circumstances or contrive to live away from parents the Lokur family represents social anachronism. The mega-family phenomenon, I presume, is something peculiar to remote rural locations that are remote in more than a geographical sense. The BBC crew that went to film the Lokur family found they didn’t even have television. The crew donated a TV set so that the family could watch the BBC documentary on them.
I know of a mega-family at Avlegaon, Maharashtra, that is not accessible by road. An unmade cart-path stops a mile short of the Fauzdar household that had some 150 members when I visited them during Ganesh festival some 10 years back. It was a mansion-like house in the middle of a paddy field. It belonged to a fauzdar, who was the village land-record keeper and he registered births and deaths in the village, in Sindudurg district of Maharashtra.
I went to Avlegaon with Mr R S Sawant, a Chennai-based company CEO whose wife belonged to this village. Mrs Sawant traced back the Avlegaon settlement to the days of Shivaji. The villagers shared their surname with the Maratha ruler - Bhonsle. The fauzdar’s forefathers were in Shivaji’s army. When their menfolk went out to fight battles the women and children of the basti came to stay in the fauzdar’s house, which was built 300 years ago. The fauzdar family owns half the village land. According to Mr Sawant, they are self-sufficient in terms of their needs of rice, cereal, fruits, vegetables and milk.
The core strength of the household is around 80, mostly middle-aged people and young children of those employed in towns. Those of the employable age in the family have gone out of the village, to towns and cities such as Mumbai for employment. They make it back to Avlegaon for holidays and festivals. The house strength was 150 when Mr Sawant and I visited the village. We were there on a Ganesh chaturthi day.

October 26, 2006

Infosys: Paying its social dues in China

As many as 50 of the 100 Chinese undergrads who went through a three-month course at Infosys training centre, Mysore, went back to work for other companies. They were not obliged to join Infosys, according to Infosys china CEO, Mr James Lin. The students who spent three months in Mysore represented the first batch of an Infosys sponsored internship programme.

The company website said China Scholarship Council together with Infosys selected 100 undergraduate students in their fourth year from leading universities in the software engineering field. The program involves a three-month intensive training course on interpersonal and technical skills at the Global Education Centre at Mysore, and a four-month internship at Infosys’ development center in Bangalore.

In return for the favour China is reported to have exempted Infosys China unit from the provisions of the labour law pertaining to trade unions. The Infosys unit in China has 700 employees, of whom 95 percent are Chinese. And they have no union. Mr Lin is reported in The Hindu as saying, “we will never let a trade union be formed here”. The Hindu’s Sandeep Dikshit, in an op-ed page piece says China needs a workforce that is talented and familiar with international practices and business environment. The Infosys sponsored internship programme partly takes care China’s HR needs. To quote Mr Lin (this time, from his company website), “We believe that a truly global company has a global view of not only markets, but people and culture. Through this initiative, along with our investments in China, we hope to provide Chinese software professionals with an opportunity to train on cutting edge technologies.”

Our students can also do with some company sponsored internship. As The Hindu report put it, Infosys paid its ‘social dues’ to China through the internship scheme. I don’t know if the company feels it owes anything to Mysore by way of ‘social dues’. Wouldn’t it be a good idea, if they were to sponsor a few seats in every training batch at the Mysore centre to the bright but socially disadvantaged students from Mysore ? Like China, we could also do with multinationals sponsoring internships to our students who lack employability skills. According to a Nasscom study, three out of every four engineers our educational institutions turn out are found to be deficient in tech. skills, fluency in English, ability to work in a team, and to deliver basic oral presentations.

At campus recruitment big companies skim off the best and the brightest. A company sponsored internship programme for some of those who are left out might be one way the corporate sector could pay its social dues to educational institutions.

October 24, 2006

Spreading the green message, Somnath style

It's the kind of story, I wish, the media would do more often. It is about a young man's effort to convey a green message in a down-to-details way that appeals to those with an accountant's mind. Whenever someone comes up with an idea or message, we tend to ask, 'what's in it for me'. Cost-benefit ratio is the key to sell anything. Which is what T N Somnath, a PUC student, has tried to figure out, to promote his case for saving trees from axemen.

A hundred year old tree, he says, is worth Rs.11.2 lakhs. How ?
Oxygen it produces is worth Rs. 2.5 lakhs
The soil erosion it stems saves Rs.2.5 lakhs
Impact on humidity - Rs.3 lakhs
Ecological benefits of a tree sheltering birds/insects - Rs.2.5 lakhs
Air pollution control - Rs.70,000

Put in such neatly calculated and tabulated format, it raises the question: How did Somnath come up with the numbers ? But I would let that pass.

The pertinent point is Somnath has come up with an imaginative way to create public awareness about the importance of trees. The next time you see full-grown tree being felled, you'd say, 'there goes Rs.11 lakh worth of our wealth'. Somnath is reported to have nailed printed notice boards, carrying his tabulated figures, on the trunks of a hundred old trees in Bangalore city. The credit for bringing the story of Somnath's crusade to save trees to public notice goes to The Hindu reporter Govind D Belgaumkar.

Great work, Somnath ; good show, Govind.

And then, S G Neginhal, retired forest service officer, says in Deccan Herald, a tree does the function of five air-conditioners in bringing down urban temperature. What's more, it harbours nocturnal birds such as owl that feed on rodents and mosquitoes, thereby keeping a check on the spread of rat fever, chikungunya, dengue and malaria.

October 10, 2006

A plate of fruits, stuffed and knitted

The latest Wonderweb mail, from Vibhuti Jain, has 10 photos captioned 'Knitted Food'. To know how these fruits are 'grown' and what it takes I Googled and found a knitting site - Jimmy Beans Wool. Besides Size 7 and darning needles you need dyed organic cotton yarn and polyester batting as stuffing material.

October 8, 2006

Take his tea, but vote for me

Shashi Tharoor, jeetega zaroor. That was the slogan on which he contested the St. Stephen's College Union election, 1974. In his column - The Hindu - Mr Tharoor writes the slogan turned out to be prophetic. His 'most memorable achievement', as college union president, was improving the quality of vegetarian food at the mess. Mr Tharoor had also kept his union out of the JP moment, a stance, he said, he later regretted during the Emergency.

I had won a campus election too. This was at the Delhi School of Economics (DSE), a few minutes walk across the road from the St. Stephen's. Unlike Mr Tharoor, I can't say I achieved anything . At DSE those days we didn't even have a canteen ,for me to improve the quality of its offerings. We used to stroll across to Ramjas College for snacks and smoke. Like Mr Tharoor, I had a regret. I could not keep DSE from joining the Delhi University Students Union.

Till my term DSE students had kept themselves away from the university union affairs. Our college didn't even call its students body as a union. At DSE we were part of, what they called, a 'fraternity', of which the president was DSE director. And the students elected the vice-president. It was during my term as VP the student body adopted a resolution, affiliating itself to the Delhi University Students Union. For the record, I cast my vote against the resolution.

The DSE Students 'Fraternity', presumably, hasn't since been the same again. Politics came to characterise student body election. Mine was the last term - 1959-60 - when election was won through a fraternal contest. My slogan against my only rival was : 'Take his tea, but vote for me'.

October 1, 2006

Medical ethics. Where's it ?

A surgeon who won't take kickbacks from the lab or radiology facility to which he/she sends patients; and won't give a cut to the physician who sent him the patient might lose referrals from other physicians.

Is he naive? Or is he just being ethical ?

Dr Abraham Verghese: I think in the US, and perhaps in India, we've drifted so far away from the ideal that we are not even aware that there is a standard that we're supposed to adhere to.
Dr Verghese, Director, Centre for medical humanities and ethics, University of Texas, addresses this and many other ethics issues in an interview with C K Meena that appears in The Hindu.

Author of My Own Country: a doctor's story, a best-selling memoirs about treating AIDS in smalltown USA, Dr Abraham Verghese was in India to attend a Clinical Ethics Conference at Christian Medical College, Vellore.

September 28, 2006

Manipulated media

A 22 year old Oxford graduate and aspiring journalist, Willem Marx, had a stint in Baghdad as an intern in a US PR firm. Which resulted in a lengthy, but engaging, account of how the US forces make/fake news for media consumption. Willem interned with a PR-firm that processed military-fed material into news reports and features and flogged them, as reports sourced from ‘independent’ agencies, to Iraqi media - print, TV and radio.

The media was paid for their publication. A newspaper charges anything from $50 to $1.500 a piece. TV and radio commanded a much higher fee.

The PR company made millions. Its total earnings during the two months of Willem's internship was $19 mill. The company got $ 20,000 for every news story it placed in the Iraqi media. Placement of 32-op-ed articles and 80 half-page advertisement fetched $400,000. Plastering Baghdad with 140,000 posters meant another $400,000. The company also designed nine Internet news sites (for $2,500 each) and produced five DVDs ($ 580,000).

Willem Marx article, a must-read for reporters and other media-related folk, appears in AlterNet

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September 23, 2006

Celebration of dancers

My friend Vibuti Jain of Wonderweb sends me loads of photos on a wide range of subjects. the one on the left is from the set of 12 pictures he sent me under the heading - Celebration of dancers.

September 21, 2006

Coping with your in-laws situation

I don’t watch saas-bahu serials on TV. Presumably, they typecast saas as the devil-in-residence; and a bahu as the tormented underdog. Pa-in-law (sasur) is usually painted as a well-intentioned, but good-for-nothing, guy, and the prime ‘yes-man’ in the household.

Richa Pant in a feature articulates here thoughts on how a woman could handle in-laws, for maxing domestic harmony. Maybe there is nothing in the piece that you don’t know about already. But then it is the kind of theme that you would want to read about, if only to self-rate yourself in Richa’s 9-pont scale. The article is mainly for women who can’t ‘escape’ in-laws trouble, by staying away from saas.

Part II of Richa’s article deals with the husband’s perspective on marriage and in-laws.

How about a piece on the in-laws perspective, Ms Pant ?

September 19, 2006

Lalu at IIM-A

My thought on seeing the newspaper headline was: ‘What was he doing in a place like that?’. I could not quite place our top entertainer-politician in a sober setting of a management class-room . Besides, my perception (I stand corrected) of our rail minister was that he probably knew about cows, rather than issues of high management of railways.

I was mistaken. In his interaction with management students at Ahmedabad Mr Lalu Prasad impressed the gathering with his plans for the railways. What’s more, the rail minister told the IIM students a thing or two about cows as well. A Jersey cow, he says, falls sick, if she is not milked fully. So would the railways, if their full potential for development is not tapped.

The minister spoke of his dreams of developing our railway stations to global standards - with shopping malls, large parking lot, transit hotel and all. He makes sense with his suggestion that access to platforms should be restricted only to passengers. Apart form security concerns, the ban on visitor entry to platforms would make them far less congested.

As a security measure, the move for passengers-only platform would have merit, only if the ban on visitors is backed by proper arrangement, at the platform entry, for security check of both passengers and their baggage (x-ray screening). However, provision can be made for allowing in visitors who come to see off elderly passengers, needing help in boarding a train.
Railway stations in future would look more like airports. Hopefully, with no entry fee, for access of visitors. to the lobby, the mall and areas other than the security-cordoned railway platforms. Airports would also so well to scrap entry fee to arrival/departure lounges. Aviation minister, Mr Praful Patel, should take a leaf from the rail minister.

September 17, 2006

Damned by Debt Relief

In June 2005 the finance ministers of the G8 industrialised nations struck a deal worth a seemingly whopping US$72billion that cancelled the debt of 18 of the poorest countries in the world, 14 of them in Africa.

So how’s that working out for those on the receiving end, for those who live in the poor African countries that have been liberated from debt? ‘It is rubbish. It stinks. This debt relief is making things worse.’ says DeRoy Kwesi Andrew, a science teacher and BA student in his twenties who lives in Accra, Over the past year he has been working on the film Damned by Debt Relief, a scathing critique of the economic and political straitjacket imposed on the poor countries that signed up for debt relief.

‘Debt relief has taken away very much: our independence, our ability to develop, our self-respect

it has meant the country being forced to submit to more stringent international regulation of its spending habits and priorities, Says Andrew. ‘It does not deliver development and it also denies us the freedom to pursue development.

The post-G8 debt relief programme ties poor countries into a relationship of child-like dependency with international institutions.

They tell Third World countries how to run their affairs, prioritise their investments and they insist on regular check-ups to make sure these countries are adhering to ‘good policy performance’
In order to win debt repayment or relief Third World countries must agree to mould their political and economic life – the very lifeblood of sovereign states – around the diktats of Western governments and banks.

From Spiked interview with Ghanaian teacher and film maker.

Toxic childhood

A letter in London's Daily Telegraph, signed by 100 experts evoked a Spiked reaction, saying that experts, while raising critical questions about how we mollycoddle chldren, are suseptible to childish prejudices.

Spiked essayist Helene Guldberg writes: The best thing experts can do for children is to argue for them to be given more freedom – not to do whatever they want, of course; they need clear boundaries set by parents. But unsupervised play isn’t just some kind of childhood luxury that kids can do without. It is vital for children’s healthy emotional and social development. Study after study has shown that it helps to develop children’s ability to negotiate social rules and to create their own rules. Children need to learn to deal with risks and develop the capacity to assess challenges. They also need to be given the opportunity to develop resilience to life’s inevitable blows. In short, taking risks in childhood goes hand-in-hand with developing new skills. Click here.. to read on.

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September 14, 2006

If only MS could’ve blogged….

The Hindu photo - MS with T Sadasivam

M S Subbulakshmi had this habit of jotting down minute details about all her performances. So says an article in The Hindu Friday Review. Her jottings contained details of concert organizers, venue, accompanists, the song list, the dignitaries in the audience, and even the colour of the sari MS wore for the occasion.

If only they had invented the blog when she was at her prime MS would have been a great blogger. Sulochana Pattibhiraman’s article is full of tidbits on the daily routine of MS - an early riser (well before 5 a m), she started her day with piping hot coffee before a brisk walk-around in her garden. At times she preferred ‘sukku’ coffee.

MS had always discussed with husband T Sadasivam programme details prior to every concert. He chose the songs and listed them out and she scrupulously followed the list of numbers.

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September 6, 2006

Anne Frank’s Diary

We all know of the book; many of us may have read it. Translated into 67 languages, The Diary of Anne Frank reportedly sold over 31 million copies. I didn’t know that the book had problem finding a publisher in Britain and the US till I read about it in a letter to the editors in The New York Review of Books. The death of the book’s editor at Doubleday, Barbara Zimmerman Epstein, (in June) occasioned the letter.

The Diary of Anne Frank was published in America in 1952, five years after the book first appeared in the Netherlands. The author of the NYRB letter, Kem Knapp Sawyer, points out that Anne’s father, Otto Rank, received numerous rejections from publishers before Doubleday acquired the manuscript (1951). Following its publication he got over 30,000 letters from readers.

In the introduction to the US edition Eleanor Roosevelt wrote:
Anne Frank's account of the changes wrought upon eight people hiding out from the Nazis for two years during the occupation of Holland, living in constant fear and isolation, imprisoned not only by the terrible outward circumstances of war but inwardly by themselves, made me intimately and shockingly aware of war's greatest evil—the degradation of the human spirit.

Anne Frank died at Bergen Belson concentration camp

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September 5, 2006

TTK Group’s First Lady

A Tehelka interview with wife of TTK group chairman makes a racy read. Mrs Latha Jagannathan emerges as a plain-talking person with a sharp mind that appears refreshingly free from hang-ups one might associate with corporate social environment.

Her response to some rapid-fire questions:
If you met Bush, what would you ask him to do?
To resign.

What about Mother Teresa, if she were alive?
I’d ask her to do things differently. She gave away freely to people. I’d say give them something that makes them responsible and independent

An issue you feel strongly about?
Corruption. An issue that is dragging down the country badly.

Narayana Murthy or Anna Hazare?
Neither. Azim Premji.

Coping with 'hate' mail

No newspaper, or website, worth its image can claim to be free from hate mail. None can be expected to entertain them in the name of freedom of expression. Spreading hatred towards something or someone can get to be some people's obsession. The Hindu readers editor, Mr K Narayanan makes a reference to this media virus in his latest op-ed column. As he put it,

Newspaper ombudsmen are familiar with what is called "campaign" or "hate" mail. In such instances, there is an organised flow of messages all containing the same idea, only slightly differently worded. From the pattern, it becomes obvious that these motivated missives need no consideration. As a rule, the Readers' Editor of The Guardian does not read them and indeed has them filtered out of his inbox

September 4, 2006

Film Critics, Endangered Species

No matter what film critics say about his flicks - plot-less, pointless, silly, goofy - Karan Johar seems to be laughing all the way to the bank with his latest, Khabie Alvida Na Kehna’ (Kank). Gone are the days when producers looked upon film critics as mai-baap, who made or mucked up a film’s chances at the box-office. Film-goers those days relied on newspaper reviews to set their minds for them. They now have sneak-previews, studio generated puff-shows on TV, fan sites and entertainment blogs. A film critic can no longer play god- Read more, click on Dateline Mysore.

August 31, 2006

Our crorepathi ministers

Now we know how much our ministers are worth. It's something we all wanted to know, but couldn't bring ourselves to ask when politicians make eve-of-poll vote-getting visits to our neighbourhoods. Must say, Deccan Herald has done a good job, reporting in detail the Lokayukta statement on the assets declared by our legislators/ministers. The DH online version doesn't fully reflect the coverage given in the print edition.

The newspaper not only gives details of assets of those who have declared their wealth, but has also listed the 53 MLAs/MLCs who failed to furnish the mandated information within the two-month grace period that expired on August 31. A couple of defaulters are reported to have claimed they were unaware of the Lokayukta deadline. A likely story. An MLA reportedly blamed his PA for the failure to communicate in time details of the MLA's assets to the Lokayukta. And then a has-been minister, still an MLA, is believed to have sought an assurance that details of he declares to the Lokayukta be held confidential.

Our elected representatives may have many virtues, but transperancy is not one of them, for at least 53 of our legislators. Of course, we can rely on them to raise their voice for our right to information, so long as it doesn't have anything to do with their information.

August 29, 2006

For award-winners, standing room only

A group photo in Star of Mysore (Aug.29) features 10 achievers in Urdu journalism and literature, honoured with awards instituted by the Urdu Academi. The photo, showing the award-winners along with those representing the Karnataka Urdu establishment, was taken shortly after they were presented with the awards at a Kalamandira function.

Seated upfront in the photo are CIIL director, Maulana Azad National Urdu University vice-chancellor (who presented the awards), chairman of the Urdu Akademi (which instituted the awards), a former Minister, and registrar of the Akademi. Behind them are seen lined up, and standing, the award-winners, in whose honour the function was held. Maybe no one thought of this, least of all, those who set up the photograph. Maybe, the award-winners took the back row because they outnumber the organisers. But I sense in the setting of the group photo , what I would call, our ‘mai-baap’ syndrome. It is not that we honour Urdu achievers less, but we are given to respecting our establishment biggies more.

August 23, 2006

Our CM slept here

Was it Sarojini Naidu who was credited with saying that it cost the nation a fortune to keep Gandhiji in poverty ? (Mr Gouri Satya/Mr Krishna Vattam could correct me on this). I remembered this saying as I read in Deccan Herald about the CM, Mr H D Kumaraswamy’s night stay at Hire Mannur village in Gulbarga dist. the other day. (Nice story by Mr Anand V Yammur). The newspaper carries a photographs of the CM sleeping on the living room floor of a party worker’s residence.
In a nine-para story the reporter captures the setting in all its mundane details. The CM used a common bath and bathed in water brought from the close-by Bheema river. Had he chosen to go to the river for a bath, as most villagers usually do, our CM would have provided the media with an excellent photo opportunity. I am not making a judgment here, on whether the CM’s night at the village was a PR-hype or he was being his plain simple self. My point is that persons in high position, with such austerity gestures, cannot hope to make much difference to the cost of VIP travel, involving an entourage, bandobast and security. Ms Sarojini Naidu’s reference was to the high cost involved in arranging for Gandhji’s rail travel in III Class, and his stay at the Punchquian Road Harijan basti in New Delhi.

August 21, 2006

Celebrating Dasara, on Sarkari dole

Our public works minister, Mr H D Revanna, has released in the media the financial demands made on the state government by various agencies in the name of Dasara:

Mysore City Corporation - Rs. 5 crores (for road works and improvement of public parks)
Tourism Dept. - Rs. 1 crore
Horticulture - Rs. 1 crore
Chamundeswari Electric Supply Corp. - Rs. 40 lakhs (for roads illumination)
Heritage sites renovation - Rs.2.25 crores
Public Works Dept. - Rs. 12.85 crores (for repairs on 25-km stretch of city roads)
Dasara Celebrations - Rs. 2.25 crores.

The figures add upt to Rs. 24.75 crores. Not a big deal, perhaps, for the government. But I don't suppose anyone, least of all the departments concerned, expect the government to meet their demands fully. And we can expect, at the end of the day, a blame game to be played out, in which we can all blame the governemnt for being tight-fisted in releasing grants and giving us too little, too late.

We don't hear much about contributions from the economic beneficiaries of Dasara celebrations - contractors, city shopkeepers, tour operators, hotel owners, auto-drivers etc. They all have associations. Could we expect them to persuade their members to plough back part of their season's windfall into a permanent trust fund, devoted to making Dasara a festival to which tourists would want to come back , again and again ?

When are we, if ever, going to change this mindset - of celebrating Dasara on sarkari dole ?

August 19, 2006

MyMysore cloned

It is nice to learn that is being missed so much by someone that he has set up a clone. Mr Badri Hiriyur e-mailed us the link to his site - OurMysore - an alternate forum for mymysoreans. Says Mr Hiriyur: Every day I stop by the site only to return disappointed. I even spent the better part of Saturday setting up an alternate forum to keep the discussions going.

OurMysore blog makes it clear that it is a Mymysore clone, set up because the original site has been shut off due to spam attacks. It has three discussion forums modelled on the mymysore site.

Shortly before all forums in our site got turned off Mr Hiriyur managed to post a message:
For many months now, I have been a mute visitor here (one of the many, I am sure). Just found out that the two I-s (Issue & Ideas) message board has been cordoned off from public view with password protection. I am assuming this is in response to the recent spam attacks on this site. Would the forum administrator please give us an update on how we might access that board?- BKH.

Your assumption was right, Mr Hiriyur. Toxic spamming turned us off. For how long, we can't say, right now. Would keep you posted on the developments. Meanwhile, thanks for the proxy site. On my part, I would like to see OurMysore taking a life of its own, even after bounces back.

August 17, 2006

Plea to BAI: Building flats isn't enough

The Mysore centre of Builders Association of India (BAI) is talking in terms of raising, over the next one year, 50 lakh sq.ft. housing space, which means a hundred apartment blocks, with an investment of nearly Rs.600 crores. So said BAI chief, Mr K Sriram, on the eve of a Myrealty Expos at Southern Star Hotel. Some 30 property developers, who clubbed up to put up the show, have also involved institutions providing housing financing and insurance to facilitate prospective buyers all-round information at a one-stop expo.

I wish BAI also focuses its attention on after-sales service aspects. Evidently, such large scale apartments building BAI seeks to promote would exert pressure on maintenance and security services that are an integral part of apartment living. In Mysore, where apartment living is a relatively recent phenomenon, apartment-life support services are far from satisfactory. There is a definite need for developing these services on a professional footing.

Apartment builders, after completion of work in all its aspects - landscaping, proper rain-sun shade over common areas, intercom phones etc. - hand over real estate maintenance to residents association. Its office-bearers usually lack knowledge and management skills required to access and co-ordinate the upkeep of common facilities - power generator, plumbing, electrical fault repair, manning/maintenance of lift, 24/7 helpline, high-rise glass panel cleaning and other services for which there would be a spurt in demand with the growth of apartment blocks. Shouldn't BAI, which creates the steel-and-cement infrastructure, deem it its responsiblity to address issues pertaining to apartment-life support services ?

Then, there is the aspect of security. Till such time we become progressive enough to provide electronics security system in apartment complexes, BAI would do well to ensure that the mushrooming security services outfits in the city are run on professional lines. What we have now is that the uniformed staff provided by the so-called security agencies are under-paid and over-exploited, which make them poor security guards. If indeed BAI wants to function as a one-stop facilitator, the association should address issues of professionalism and efficiency in apartment-life support services in residential blocks, that often carry the brand name of their builders.

August 12, 2006

Are both rail ministers on the same track ?

Our CM, Mr H D Kumarasamy, and rail minister, Mr R Velu, appear to have differing perceptions on the Mysore-Bangalore double track issue. The chief minister brought cheers to Mysoreans with a statement the other day that work on this long-pending project would be resumed within weeks, if not days. Karnataka, he said, had sanctioned Rs. 25 crores for this year; and a NOC by the Centre to the railways was round the corner. CM's made the statement following an all-party delegation meeting with union rail minister, Mr Lalu Prasad in New Delhi.

Within days after CM's statement Rail Minister Jr. , Mr R Velu, was in Mysore for a railway function; and his take was the double-tracking work was not on the cards, not anytime soon. The project, as of now, had been sanctioned only upto Ramanagaram, from Bangalore. And to get the work extended entailed certain ''. Mr Velu was in no mood to give us any hope, not even a false one.

As for CM's statement, Mr Velu let it be known that he was not even aware of an all-party delegation having met Mr Lalu Prasad. Doesn't this make you wonder if both of them work for the same ministry ?

August 6, 2006

Mysore Dasara: A spurious issue

Local media has been, for the last some days, polling readers on their preferences in respect the person they think should inaugurate Dasara celebrations next month. The Dasara high power committee (has anyone heard of low or medium powered committee ?) is pondering four candidates - Girish Karnad, Prof. Chenneveera Kavavi, Prof. U R Rao, and Rahul Dravid.

Star of Mysore’s invitation to readers to express their choice would presumably help us understand the Mysorean mind on the matter. To my mind, the issue that has been raised is spurious. Does anyone care who inaugurates Dasara? Would it make any difference to the celebrations? What if a critical mass of Mysore residents were to say, ‘none of the above’? Would the high powered committee consider such a verdict?

I suspect Mysoreans have no say in the matter. Nor do they have a mind of their own, to come up with their own name. I mean someone local, rooted in our soil; someone who would cherish the town's recognition, and brag about it to his or her folks. Someone who has made Mysore proud with her work at the grass-roots. Someone such as Putteeramma of Vidyaranyapuram, Dr. B Nirmala of the Maharani’s who has secured over 2,000 eye-donation pledges from college students, or Mr K Gangadhara Rao, 80, who has carried on a one-man mission to educate people on the importance of donation of body parts for transplant and medical research.

July 28, 2006

Collarless at the club

So, you insist on wearing a collarless shirt, said my friend Mani who came to pick me up for an evening out during my recent Chennai visit. That was his way of telling me I sabotaged his plans for drinks & dinner at the Madras Gymkhana. The club insists on members and guests wearing shirt with a proper collar. And I had given it up years back, in favour of half-sleeved ‘kurtha’ that is a cross between ‘safari’ and T-shirt. My ‘khadi’ signature dress is exclusive; it is available only at Chennai’s Rayapetta branch of the Khadi Gram Udhyog Bhavan. The club and I appeared mutually exclusive when it came to the dress code.

I have been to Gymkhana a few times in the line of duty as a wining/dining media person. This was before I switched to ‘khadi’. And once, after. But then I had to borrow one of Mani’s shirts for the evening. This time I wasn’t in a shirt-borrowing mood. We ended up at GRT Grand.

A decade back, during my stint as Chennai correspondent of The Times of India, a PR-friend invited a few us to lunch at Madras Cricket Club, with a visiting executive of a multinational, an American. There were a dozen of us, and we all drove to the club together and filed into the bar that overlooks the Chepauk grounds. Moments after we settled at the bar, a club official walked up to our table and whispered something to the PR-man.

Clearly embarrassed, our PR friend let it be known that we were not welcome at the club bar, as one of us was wearing something without a collar. The club secretary, however, condescended to set up a table for us at the pavilion, adjacent to the club bar. Our American guest took it sportingly. My efforts to make some excuse for leaving the club, so that others could lunch in air-conditioned comfort, didn’t work.

As a gesture of solidarity the mighty media in Madras was prepared to have its chilled beer and chicken biriyani at Chepauk grounds pavilion on a sultry mid-summer afternoon. Speaking of the power of the media, here was a group, representing the media corps of Chennai, that got pushed around, because the club management insisted on upholding an archaic club code. We, the media, accepted it without as much as a murmur. I don’t suppose any of us wrote about it either.

July 12, 2006

Wanted: A new democratic order

My last blog entry - Caretakers of status quo - pertianed to the levels to which our babudom can stoop to stonewall an infrastructure project that doesn't happen to be their flavour of the month. When it comes to changing its mind our government appears to put in the shade even the most fickle-minded of the proverbial woman. Mr Kheny's expressway project has had its ups and downs (more downs than ups, Mr Kheny would say). And the pace of the project is stepped up or slowed down , depending on the stance of the ruling politics of the day.

Upshot of such push-pull pace of development isn't particularly fancied by business leaders, who believe that our politics is not conducive to attracting corporate investment in development projects. Compare FDI figures for China and India in recent years, and you get the drift of MNC mindset. Not long ago in Davos we took pride in putting out advertisements on public transport buses, conveying the message that India is the fastest-growing free-market democracy. It did little to alter anyone's perception that China grows faster; holds out more promise to foreign investers.

The World Economic Forum (W E F) is reported to have plans to hold regular summer summits in China. It is not as if India doesn't matter to them; it is just that China matters more. We are not the first choice for investors so long as China is in the race; we gain only if China slips. The thing, they say, that is wrong with us is our politics - " a messy democracy, producing shaky coalitions; five PMs in the last 15 years".

Accepting that we have no alternative to democracy, the question is: How do we make democracy work for our people, not just for politicians ?

July 8, 2006

Caretakers of status quo

No company CEO would want to be in Mr Ashok Kheny’s shoes right now. Not many companies, in fact, would want to do with business with Karnataka. Whatever the outcome of the govt.-Kheny tussle over the Mysore-Bangalore Expressway project, it’s not doing much good for the investment outlook in our state. The twists, u-turns and the roundabouts Mr Kheny of NICE has had to negotiate in the corridors of power wouldn't encourage project promoters to make a beeline to Karnataka.
Investor confidence in our govt. has not been very high for some time now. Our politicians and bureaucracy don’t give the impression of being pro-changers. If anything, they seem to act as if they are caretakers of status quo - ‘custodians of poverty’ is Mr Kheny’s preferred term to describe the Mysore officialdom.
Deputy commissioner, Mr Selvakumar, the highest district official, in his dealings with Mr Kheny and NICE, hasn’t come out as someone who acts with conviction. He directed the police to block work on the expressway from the Mysore end on the plea that MUDA had yet to get some Rs.84 lakhs as acquisition dues for nearly 15 acres KIADB (industrial area dev. Board) had acquired to be handed over to NICE. Mr Kheny who claims NICE has already cleared the dues wondered why his work on the project was being blocked, that too, with an unseemly show of police force.
The deputy commissioner, who is also MUDA chair, may justify his stand on a technicality, with transactions between government agencies being usually a matter of book adjustment . Question is: does a lapse on the part of KIADB warrant a forcible hold-up of work on the expressway, particularly when its executing agency is not at fault? It is not as if the govt. hasn’t allowed earlier any project implementation, pending compliance of a transaction between two govt. agencies. When Mr Kheny wanted a letter stating reasons for the hold-up the DC suggested Mr Kheny to approach KIADB. The DC may well have been bureaucratically correct. Some may call it buck-passing. Upshot is such conduct doesn't further our image of being investor-friendly.

July 7, 2006

I’ve “pet-lag”, jetlag of the soul

Photo: A fruit-sauce friendly face.

I blog to brag . And grandson Siddarth is my particular weakness. Whatever our six-month old friend does is a source of unceasing wonder for us, my wife and me. We often join him in contriving clownish antics and make funny noises to make Siddarth break into his toothless signature smile. At times, I see him smirking, and wonder if he senses how much of an ass we make of ourselves to humor the guy. Like all other grandparents we felt a lump in the throat when we had to leave for Mysore. It has been a week since our return, and I still have ‘pet-lag’ (jetlag of the soul), for having left behind Siddarth in San Ramon, CA.

It was in such frame of mind I browsed , only to discover that Siddarth has been featured ‘Baby of the Month’. Every month this web mag. chooses a baby out of the many entries they receive from young parents. I had bunged in Siddarth’s entry, on behalf of his parents, way back in May. I had almost forgotten about it.
BoM feature carries a brief note on the likes, dislikes and skills of the chosen baby.
Siddarth likes watching Tamil flicks (grandma’s choice) on TV; loathes a whistling pressure cooker. He is skilled enough to put his grandma to sleep whenever she lullabies him, seated in a rocking chair.

July 4, 2006

Bravo, Minister Horatti

A school kid who can’t or wouldn’t declare his/her caste affiliation can fill in ‘Indian’ on the relevant dotted line, in the school admission form. Karnataka primary education minister, Mr Basavaraj Horatti is reported to have so announced in the state legislature. Let’s pray the minister sticks to his stand. He would have brought more cheer had he used the word ‘human’, instead of ‘Indian’, a term which in its commonly accepted sense, refers to nationality rather than caste. To be a human is to belong to one of the two universal castes, the other one being the caste of war-mongers.

In a sense, the minister’s choice of word is apt in our national context. For the word ‘Indian’ denotes a sense of solidarity that cuts across the regional and linguistic divides. Mr Horatti, however, made the statement in the context of nine Mysore school children who were denied transfer certificates because they had not mentioned their caste in their application for TC.

If the media has got the minister right, Mr Horatti is quoted as saying, “Any child not willing to or who cannot divulge his caste can, simply, write ‘indian’” (Deccan Herald, July 5). The statement opens out refreshing possibilities. Public spirited parents with pre-school children can now test the govt. intention, and break out of the castes-line by declaring their children’s caste as , simply, ‘Indian’, at the time of school admission.
Such concerted move would hold out a semblance of hope for India to become a casteless society in the generation after next. I use the term - semblance of hope - because a majority of us have a vested interest in highlighting our caste affiliation under the quota system. In the ultimate analysis we can become truly casteless only when the quota system goes away, and the caste clause is scrapped from all official forms, altogether.

July 2, 2006

Back in Mysore, to dead phone, un-ticking clocks

My phone had gone dead; the TV remote wasn’t working. I couldn’t access the Internet. And two of the three wall clocks at my place had stopped ticking. In short, my urban middle-class ‘life-support’ system was down. I realized I was back in Mysore, having been away for three months. Such things could happen anywhere, to anyone who has been gone for that long. My point is about getting things that had gone wrong back in running condition, without hassles. The time and effort it takes to get things done depends on where you live - Milpitas (Calif.), Mysore or outer Mongolia.

My scene is Mysore. Prof. Raghavan, my friend at a local b-school, would like to see Mysore become a dependable place for those who demand a certain quality in life, and promptness in service. As he put it, this town, which was My-sore (point) should be turned into ‘My-sure’(thing). As of now, it is a town where one can’t be sure of getting anything done right away or without hassle. The BSNL phone at my residence was dead. It took three phone calls to officials in strategic positions to get it ringing, this, within the same working day. A creditable performance in customer service for a public sector undertaking.

My problem is with the private sector that tom-toms about its customer-friendliness . I called the show-room that had sold me the TV to send a technician to fix my remote or have it replaced. The person who attended my call gave a patient hearing, assured me he would get the company’s service centre to attend to my TV remote before the end of the day (Saturday). When I didn’t hear from anyone for some hours I called the TV show-room again, only to be connected to someone else, who was polite, but wanted me to tell him about the faulty TV remote, all over again.

Mildly irritated, I mentioned that I had been through it all with so-and-so earlier in the day. “We have no such person here”, he said. This, I thought, was a bit thick. I had called the right show-room number; and spoken to a receptive person who heard me out, took down my phone number, and even wanted to know when it would be a convenient time for me to have the TV technician home. After all this, this show-room person, the second one I spoke to, wanted me to tell him what my complaint was about. He had no word of regret for what I (a ‘valued customer’) had been put through. And then, he said in a matter-of-fact tone, “I’d pass on your complaint to the company service centre, and they would attend to it Monday”.

When I mentioned that I had been given to understand my TV remote would be fixed the same day (I wanted to watch Germany-Argentina World Cup tie) the show-room guy talked me through their standard operating procedure. Which was, the service centre could not (or wouldn't) attend to any customer complaint on the very day it was reported. Besides, my complaint was made on a Saturday. So nothing could be expected to happen till Monday. So much for the customer-friendly (after sales) service centre.

June 27, 2006

NYT freak copy

My home-delivered copy of NYT on Sunday had a thick grey strip running right down Page 10 of the Business Section, blacking out columns of classifieds. Was the freak page a piece of avant-garde art or an act of vandalism by a graffiti artist at work during the paper's print-run? Maybe none of the above. Maybe it's oversight on the part of the production staff. Whatever the case, the freak copy, I thought, was a collector's item. And I have saved it to be shown to friends and media buffs in Mysore. If only to show that things can go wrong, even at NYT.

My Google search of the company history, to check for any record of such botch-up, revealed a load of other trivia in the life of NYT since it was first published as the New-York Daily Times on Sept.1851. The thing about the paper is that it is rich not only in reading material but also in ruddi value (not in the US). The Sunday paper on Sept.13, 1987 reportedly weighed 12 pounds, containing 1,612 pages. The largest week-day edition was printed on April 19, 2000, with 174 pages.

The NYT masthead slogan - 'All the News That's Fit to Print' - first appeared on Oct.25, 1896, on the editorial page. It was moved to Page One, on Feb.10, 1897.