Tuesday, September 24, 2013

'Never Mind Yaar' - Good One Time Read

“Never Mind Yaar “ as the title suggests is an attempt to explain an attitude which the author feels is ingrained in the spirit of the Mumbaikar through a fledgling college romance which has atypical ending what one would expect in a Bollywood movie.
K Mathur uses a free flowing prose in the book which is refreshing at times. The book talks primarily from the point of view of the typical college going youngster and revolves around a story line involving 3 friends Binaifer Desai,Louella D’Costa and Shalini Dayal at Gyan Shakti college. The story then transgresses into a romance between Shalini and Bhagu; an idealistic young man who believes he can change the world and people’s beliefs.
The story starts off pleasantly enough with friendships being formed amidst a lovely college campus and lectures. As the romance blossoms between Shalini and her impulsive activist friend Bhagu amidst college politics the narrative dips without warning into the Mumbai communal riots and just as abruptly ends with a speech from the principal of the college Dr Nakwa. Also a lot of hooha is made about ‘Mem’ an aristocratic ageing matriarch which could have been more gripping had there been more interactions with Shalini and possibly her friends.
The author takes a potshot at the much appreciated resilient spirit of Mumbai and the willingness of its residents to take everything in their stride. Mathur makes a snide reference to the structures which have come up and blocked the view of Louella’s house in all directions except one – it says that even if the one available west side is blocked by a structure the mumbaikar will say “Koi baat nahin”.
The narrative also talks about the indifferent attitude of the Mumbaikar and the general lassitude of the Aam Adami which often is a mute spectator to events. Examples of this are scattered throughout the book whether it is the leering auto rickshaw driver or the public beating suffered by Bhagu where no one comes forward to help(Bhagu’s signature campaign gives a shot in the arm to his stature and popularity in college)– herein is the attempt to justify the title ” Never mind yaar”.
The author has some interesting snippets to share about Mumbai and its cosmopolitan environment with its complexities. But it fails to grip the reader and provide actual fresh insights or a new perspective about life in Mumbai. In the attempt to infuse life into a seemingly boring love story the book ends up being a pot-boiler of unnecessary cultural information and bits of history cold pressed into fiction which is neither intriguing nor compelling.
The story though, starts off interestingly, tapers off into monotonous ho hum fare. The book is at best a onetime read.
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Friday, September 06, 2013

'Hiccups' of A Life

Hiccups is a fiction written by Harsh Pande, a computer engineer by profession. He was born in Pune and was educated there. Inspite of suffering from complex orthopaedic disorders by birth, which entailed battle for rehabilitation, he showed remarkable lust for life.
He passed away on 23rd April 2012 when he was 24 years old. Hiccups was his first and last book published by Jaico Publishing House with the contributions of his brother- Digvijay Pande, parents and other well wishers.
The most novel thing about this book is that the protagonist on whose life the story revolves, meet a girl who becomes his friend, close friend and then his partner .The boy and the girl are not referred by any names. It is the story of him and her.
 The book starts with The prologue –monologue with God, in which an 18 year old boy, who had lost his father in childhood, sells his property for basic necessities, studies and treatment of his mother who is in coma after an accident. He prays his last prayer to God in a temple in the hospital corridor for his mother’s recovery. It is the last prayer because if God heals his mother, he will have no desire to pray again and if his words are not heard by the God he will never pray again.
He is always calculative and accumulates money for basic necessities and mother’s treatment .He is afraid of dreaming.  He competes in quiz just to earn money for his basic needs. Every evening he updates his mother about his activities. He is apprehensive to be happy because of the fear of his encounter with misfortunes.
She is a jovial, witty, freedom loving girl and loves to spend the money in night clubs in week ends with friends especially Suparna. Hiccups is a popular night club where she often goes drink and dance for enjoyment.
Destiny brings two engineering students together and their love blossoms in Hiccups club. After he meets the beautiful girl, he tries to dream and come out of his hiccup of being unhappy about his misfortune. Fastermind quiz brings them closer. He starts going to Hiccups with her and experiences enjoyment .It takes two years of their friendship to take her to his mother in coma. After the studies she goes back to her parents and starts working. Twist in the story is given by the author recovering his mother who comes out of  coma. He feels that the hiccup is gone. Mother meets his love and ask to get married.
Though the mother of the girl agrees for the marriage, her father rejects because of the boy’s financial status and misfortune. Again a twist in the story is brought by the author is that of boy’s  mother developing embolism caused due to blood clot in lungs due to which she cannot survive. Again another hiccup for him, ailing mother’s last letter convinces the girl’s father that misfortune is of the mother and not of the son. Mother emphasizes on boy’s financial status which could be overcome by his skill .Mother’s letter convince the father to accept for the marriage. As a mills and boon story ends up in will you marry me and slipping of a ring over her finger and beginning of their new journey, this story also ends up in the same way.
The poetries by the protagonist written in his diary at times are apt to the situation sometimes very touching to the heart. The book is like a slow moving river   without any change in currant or deep jump or blunt twists.
The boy’s helplessness, loneliness, apprehensiveness, attachment to the dying mother, depression etc are beautifully expressed. The blossoming love leading to commitment is greatly evolved. His outlet was only the girl and Dr.Roy the doctor treating the mother. Dr.Roys’s advice as a friend enriched his life.
It is an exemplary book to read. It is a book for one reading. The quiz competition is exorbitantly illustrated along with the feelings and thrill of the participants which can be a source of guidance to the enthusiastic people.
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Sunday, September 01, 2013

Three Reasons Why Narendra Modi Won’t Be Indian Prime Minister in 2014

The hype around the media – print, visual and social is that come next general elections and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is going to be Indian Prime Minister. Lot of potential voters is talking about a “wave” in favor of Modi but is there any realistic chance of him becoming Prime Minister after next election? As a person who understands the political landscape of this county, I believe that Narendra Modi is not going to be the Indian Prime Minister after the next general elections. Here are the reasons for it.
BJP just don’t have the numbers 
I believe for a person like Narendra Modi, who has an image of being “divisive” to ever become the Prime Minister of India, BJP has to get majority of its own or at least come close to the majority in Lok Sabha that they can make up the numbers with their trusted allies like Shiv Sena or Akali Dal. Even at the peak of the popularity (after the Rath Yatra by L K Advani) BJP could only win 120 seats and the mid term elections in 1999 (under the leadership of Vajpayee) won 183 seats (maximum seats BJP won so far in one election to Lok Sabha). In the coming election it will be very tough to come anywhere near the 1999 tally. Maximum seats BJP can possibly win in various states wont exceed the number given below unless a miracle happens. 
Andra Pradesh – 3/42
Assam – 3/14
Bihar – 10/40
Chhattisgarh – 7/11
Goa – 2/2
Gujarat – 23/26
Haryana – 6/10
Himachal Pradesh – 1/4
Jammu and Kashmir – 1/6
Jharkand – 6/14
Karnataka – 10/28
Kerala – 0/20
Madya Pradesh – 20/29
Maharastra – 10/48
Odisha – 7/21
Punjab – 5/13
Rajasthan – 13/25
Tamil Nadu – 2/39
Uttar Pradesh – 15/80
Uttarakhand – 3/5
West Bengal – 3/42
North East – 2/11
Delhi and other Union Territories – 9/13
This all adds up to 160 and BJP needs another 100 for a simple majority in Lok Sabha; for that BJP is dependent on likes of Jayalalithas, Nitish Kumars and Mamata Banerjees to make that numbers and if couple of them have objection in making him the leader of BJP due to his public image that is it – not going to be Prime Minister. Whenever there is coalition government the leader chosen to lead is always an “inclusive” person and not a “divisive” person and I am sure Narendra Modi is going to lose his battle.
Whenever Congress government has lost power at the Center, it has resulted in unstable governments most of which were coalition governments that came together with a single point agenda – “hatred towards Congress” (Jantha government of Moraji Desai in 1977 and Charan Singh in 1979; Janatha Dal government of V.P. Singh in 1989 and Chandrasekhar in 1991; Janatha Dal government of Deva Gowda in 1996 and I.K Gujral in 1997). The political reality points to a repeat of such an scenario after 2014 elections when no national party is going to get majority and regional parties with the support of one or the other national party is going to form the government. If that happens BJP may end up supporting some government or may be sitting in opposition.
Peaking too early
Those who followed the BJP lead NDA government’s 2004 election campaign they may remember “India Shining” campaign. If I remember correctly, NDA government and BJP started this campaign almost 7 to 8 months before the actual day of elections. Eight months is a long time in politics and the buzz surrounding “India Shining” has lost its shine by the time voters actually went to polls. Also the opposition had enough time to plan and present a counter campaign against “India Shining” campaign of NDA. It is well known that NDA has paid a heavy price in 2004 elections due to Indian Shining campaign.
I feel BJP has not learnt the lesson from this “India Shining” disaster. I believe BJP has started projecting Narendra Modi as Prime Minister little too early. Even if you have good number of spin doctors around to build a brand image called “Narendra Modi” it is tough to maintain this tempo for another seven to eight months. A wrong word used there or a wrong gesture is enough tarnish this image that will be too tough to rebuild. Again by the time the people actually go to vote, because of the overdose of Narendra Modi, majority of the people (actual voters) would have lost interest in brand “Narendra Modi” in a similar way the people lost interest in “India Shining” campaign.
Where will I put my cards for Prime Minister Candidate after 2014 elections? With regional parties gaining strength someone having profile similar to H.D Deva Gowda (who was nowhere in the picture during the election time of 1996) is going to become the Indian Prime Minister. I don’t want such a scenario to happen but the political climate prevailing in the country is converging towards such a situation.
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