Thursday, October 28, 2010

Saina Nehwal - the girl child who was not wanted.

Saina Nehwal the gold medallist in the badminton event of the recently concluded Commonwealth Games tells us, in an article titled Time for girls to come out and play she wrote for India Today, how tough it has been for her.
Some extracts:
" I was told that my grandmother did not come to see me till a month after my birth"

"My uncles and other relatives are against encouraging girls in every aspect and that includes sports. I hardly interact with them.My parents are more open. They back me all the way..."

Click here to read this beautiful article written by a brave and gutsy girl.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Salman Rushdie Talks about Luka and the Fire of Life

The novelist Salman Rushdie talks about Luka and the Fire of Life, a sequel to Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1990).

Conversation with Mathew Sweet, BBC Radio 3, 12 Oct 2010.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Of Shyam Benegal's Bharat Ek Khoj and General Zia's Pakistan

Bharat Ek Khoj was Shyam Benegal's serial based on Jawaharlal Nehru's Discovery of India. This was telecast on Doordarshan (national television) during the late eighties on sunday mornings. It was one of those few well made serials on Doordarshan. And in spite of being rather academic in flavour it had a huge fan following.

The other day I happened to see a DVD set of this serial in an Indore bookshop. That led to a search for the DVDs on online bookshops. In one of these sites I came across a comment by a Pakistani viewer:

"When it went on air way back in 1980s, I was also a school going kid. In those pre-dish antena days, we used to struggle with our VHF aerial to catch Amritsar station of Doordarshan TV. Discovery of India was mesmerising experience for me. Those were the days when General Zia was in power through martial law and had put all kinds of censorship to distort history to make it more Islamic. Discovery of India not only allowed me to strike a mental balance but also enabled me to have an organic link with the past of my people, whom we were being taught to consider the Indian enemy."

Interesting. As Naipaul had once said "The convert denies his origins." Pakistanis have done this in a bewildering manner. When it comes to music and literature they have no option but to look eastwards towards their cousins on the other side of the Radcliffe line but when it comes to fundamentalism they look westwards and deny their subcontinental origins and roots. This denial of the pre-Islamic past was done with a vengeance during General Zia's time.

It is more than two decades since I read Naipaul's Among the Believers. If memory serves me right Naipaul talks about history books in Pakistan which talk of the Indus civilization (pre-Hindu) and then fast forward to the advent of Islam in the subcontinent and then to independence from Britain. Besides Jinnah, Liaquat Ali and some other politicians the heroes of Pakistan are their soldiers who, the text books say, fought valiantly against India.

Zia's efforts to Islamise Pakistan ended with the fundamentalists virtually taking over this 'moth eaten' state. It is a strange nation. We have Pakistani generals who plan the next invasion of India and interact with hardcore Islamic fundamentalists and then go home and listen to a Lata Mangeshkar song while sipping Scotch and patting their rather un-Islamic pet Pomeranians.

And we also have those who admit that Pakistan will never be able to host a Commonwealth Games. I do not know whether that is a blessing or a curse. But the admiration of India pleases the heart even though there is a Kalmadi connection.