The GREATEST South Asian leader of all time??

The BBC News asked the public, in an informal poll this week, who the greatest South Asian leader ever, has been. The results surprised me, and the phrase “vote early and often” came to mind.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah 1876-1948
Lawyer and politician who fought for the cause of India’s independence from Britain, then moved on to found a Muslim state in Pakistan in 1947. In Pakistan, Jinnah is revered as Quaid-e-Azam, or ‘Great Leader.’

Up until the very end, Jinnah was a runaway winner. It looks like Gandhi made a late inning push however, when looking at the final 39% to 36% margin of victory. The Hindustan Times picks up the story:

Jinnah has relegated Mahatma to the second spot, emerging as the South Asia’s greatest ever leader in an online poll conducted by the BBC. While Jinnah has polled 39 per cent votes, the ‘Sabarmati’s Sant’ could garner only 36 per cent votes.

While some surfers have raised objections over the inclusion of Zia ul Haq, that Ahmed Shah Masood has also made it to the list of the greats flummoxes one and all.

What is more intriguing is the near-annihilation of almost all the stalwarts – such as Nehru, Chandrika, Jayawardene who failed to gather a single percentage of votes – save Subhash Chandra Bose who polled an alarming 21 per cent of the popular votes.

Well come on. The Bose result should not be surprising at all. We all love our audio speakers. I myself would have voted for the controvercial Mujahideen leader Ahmed Shah Masood, but thats mostly because his nickname was “The Lion of the Panjshir.” Someday I would like to be remembered as “The Lion of the Blogosphere.”

Anyways, the bottom line is that web polls are pointless.

Next time, just stick to liquor.

Not_the_lion_king It’s not often that one hears of a government which is mandating an animal’s extinction; then again, India is and has always been a nation of exceptions. Her Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has decided that it is last call for the “cocktail lion”, a hybrid composed of Asian and African lion genes. All 300 of the mixed cats remaining in zoos and safari parks will be sterilised and allowed to die out, since Indian laws and traditions forbid killing them.

The authorities say the hybrid lions have weakened the blood pool of India’s lions and have turned out to be mangy, emaciated and suffering from mental and physical defects…Critics say that the breeding programmes across India were largely unsupervised over the years.
The end result has been a large increase in “cocktail” lions that have been interbred and are genetically weak. The hybrid animals bear characteristics of both species, but are low on immunity and prone to disease. Some are reported to be suffering from tuberculosis.

Zookeepers first experimented with “cocktails” by cross-breeding their Asiatic lions with African lions who were travelling the country in circuses. At places like Chhatbir Zoo in the Punjab, almost 100 of the cats were created during an era when no thought was given to genetics or preserving certain bloodlines. Zookeepers were focused on the short-term; they bred as many animals as possible, to improve exhibitions. Unfortunately, their careless efforts created the exact opposite result;

The (Chhatbir) zoo’s once healthy pride of lions is now no more than a motley collection of disease-prone animals barely able to stand up.
According to zookeepers, almost 45 lions have died over the past three years. “We lost 13 cubs in one go,” remembers wildlife warden Neeraj Gupta. Almost all the deaths occurred because the animals suffered from severe immune deficiency which slows down or prevents healing whenever the animals fall sick or are hurt.
…While the zookeepers do their utmost to treat the animals and keep them as comfortable as possible, there is little they can do for those born paralysed or for others whose open wounds refuse to heal.

. .

BBC NEWS: Feeble roar of the hybrid lions Continue reading

Seeing this makes me NOT want to be your Warrior Princess…


The December 27, 2004 issue of In Touch magazine has a very special picture of our beloved, much-blogged-about-here, erstwhile-Apprentice candidate, Raj Bhakta. Page 53 of the fluffy publication features Raj sans bowtie…hell, sans PANTS in a tribute (?) of sorts to Brad Pitt’s Achilles character in the film “Troy”.

“It’s better than being Pee-Wee Herman,” says Raj of his attire, which he describes as “humbling”. Though he’s gained a reputation as a ladies’ man, Raj isn’t convinced that dressing like a Greed God will improve his chances with the opposite sex. “But,” he says, “the closer you’re associated with Brad Pitt, the better.”

Stick with the unique neckwear and natty red trousers, Raj, PLEASE…for the sake of my crush, I implore you… ;)

Sepia Mutiny: Raj, Raj and more Raj

Rest in Peace, Mr. Rao.

PV Narasimha Rao, who served as Prime Minister of India from 1991-1996 after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, had a heart attack two weeks ago; He died today at age 83.

PV Narasimha Rao was the first Indian leader outside the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to complete a full five-year term.
But his tenure was marred by the destruction of an ancient mosque in the city of Ayodhya by Hindu nationalists in 1992.
The demolition of the mosque led to widespread riots between Hindus and Muslims across India in which several thousand people were killed. Bitter religious divisions exist to this day.
Mr Rao also has the unwelcome distinction of being the first Indian prime minister to be convicted of corruption.

His conviction was later overturned. Rao is also remembered for his economic policies;

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who served as Mr Rao’s finance minister, said he would be remembered as the father of India’s economic reforms.
Mr Singh, an economist, was brought into politics by Mr Rao to tackle a balance of payments crisis.
They are credited with opening up the Indian economy, now one of the world’s fastest growing, after years of socialist controls.

BBC NEWS: Ex-Indian PM Narasimha Rao dies

CNN International: Former India PM Rao dead at 83

New channels put Disney’s mouse in the house

The Walt Disney Company launched last week their first two channels in India, hoping to stake a claim to the country’s 100 million children under the age of 10.

The multi-genre Disney channel and the animation-led Toon Disney are being broadcast in three regional Indian languages apart from English.

The channels will target different age-groups at different times.

The two channels will be available in English and Hindi in northern Indian and in Telugu and Tamil in the south.

They join a fast-expanding marketplace for children’s programming in India, which has welcomed three additional channels this year alone.

BBC News: Disney launches India TV channels

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Tigers continue unabated assault on “widows”

Perhaps the only thing more murderous than the commute in Los Angeles may be the daily trek that workers in Gosaba, India have to deal with:

Between 150-200 people from Gosaba have been killed going about their daily work — fishing and cutting wood on the edge of the park or gathering honey deep in the jungle.

The impoverished villagers say they have little choice but to risk their lives in order to eke out an existence in a hostile environment ill-suited to farming.

Every year, 20 to 30 people are carried off by tigers in the Sunderbans, home to 270 of the big cats, according to regional forestry department figures.

Such tragedies have earned Gosaba the unfortunate monicker of “island of widows.”

AFP/Yahoo!: Man-eating tigers wreak havoc on India’s island of widows

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Sex (gasp) in India: juxtaposition

the fuzzy images of the 17-year-old girl having oral sex [NSFW] with her high school boyfriend has sent shock waves through urban India, exposing the growing friction between the conservative middle class, its increasingly Westernized children and modern technology. [Chicago Sun Times]

The boy got off (as it were) with a slap on the wrist, despite cries for his blood. Meanwhile, the girl got sent off to Canada, as if enceinte.

Magistrate Santosh Snehi Mann released the boy on bail after his parents put up 25,000 rupees ($570) and surrendered the minor’s passport. The judge called his actions a “misadventure”. The court ordered the boy, who cannot be named, to undergo a month of counselling and told his parents to supply weekly behavioural reports. However, police and prosecutors had called for the boy to be kept in juvenile detention. A police petition said: “The act of the boy was obscene, depraved and showed his animal instincts and he should undergo psychiatric treatment and counselling. The girl involved has reportedly been sent to Canada by her parents. The teenagers were both expelled from their school. [BBC]

Meanwhile, in a charmingly quaint attempt to grab the limelight, Kareena Kapoor is suing a newspaper for having had the audacity to print photographs of her canoodling with co-star Shahid Kapoor in a restaurant.

An Indian Bollywood film star has begun legal proceedings against a tabloid newspaper that published photos of her passionately kissing her co-star. Kareena Kapoor – one of Bollywood’s most famous actors – is seeking an unconditional apology from the paper. She and her co-star Shahid Kapoor say the photos were doctored, and were not of them. The poor-quality photographs appeared to suggest that the two stars were kissing intimately in a restaurant. The BBC’s Zubair Ahmed says that the photographs and film clip of the two actors – who are not related – were apparently taken by someone with a video-enabled mobile phone. On Thursday, some news channels ran the entire clip. [BBC]

Previous Posts: The next M. Knight Shyamalan? CEO arrested over sex clip Continue reading

19 great free tracks

BoingBoing directs our attention to David Boyk’s sweet Bollywood site, “Bollywood for the Skeptical“. It includes 19 classic tracks and a good basic primer about Bollywood for newbies.

My favorite part of the site is David’s list of “Words that Show Up a Lot in Bollywood Songs” It’s like a Berlitz for Bollywood; once you learn these, you should be able to understand almost anything in a Bollywood song. That assumes, of course, that the song makes sense in the first place. [Thanks to ME-L for the link]

Liliputian Brown Baby

rumaisa.jpg The BBC reports on the world’s smallest baby:

The world’s smallest known surviving baby has made her first public appearance at a US hospital, alongside her slightly larger twin sister. Rumaisa Rahman weighed just 244g (8.6 ounces) when she was born prematurely in Chicago on 19 September – less than a can of soft drink. Rumaisa’s Indian-born parents hope to take her and sister Hiba to their home in the city by early next month.

Continuing with the theme of comparing babies to common consumer goods, we are told that

Rumaisa was about the size of a mobile phone when she was born, 15 weeks before her due date. She still only weighs 1.18kg (2 pounds 10 ounces).

Amazingly enough, the twins can “survive” on their own, even though they were only around 4.3 months into term before they were delivered via C-section:

“They’re maintaining their temperature, they don’t need an incubator…. They’re normal babies,” said Dr William MacMillan at Loyola University Medical Center.

To provide a browner basis for comparison, I estimate this baby’s head was roughly the size (and possibly even the weight) of a gulab jamun when she was born ….

Controversy Erupts Over SASA Hotel Choice

One of the rites of passage for many college-aged desis in North America is the annual conference of the South Asian Students Alliance, more commonly known as SASA. The conference, this year being held in Los Angeles from January 13-16th, seems to be drawing the ire of workers rightsÂ’ and other activists concerned with a boycott/strike being endorsed by almost 3,000 hotel workers against nine luxury Los Angeles-area hotels over an ongoing contract dispute with the owners, according to Labor groups including the AFL-CIO, The Los Angeles Coalition to Support Hotel Workers and the Los Angeles hotel worker’s union UNITE HERE Local 11 are boycotting the hotels located throughout the city, including the official SASA conference hotel, The Wilshire Grand.

The Coalition said 3,000 hotel workers have been without a contract since it expired in March. Workers are demanding increased wages, health care benefits, a contract through 2006 and a national voice to ensure a fair contract. “They don’t respect us,” said Donald Wilson, banquet chef at the Century Plaza Hotel, one of the other hotels being boycotted. “They say they treat us like family, but when it comes to contract time they treat us like stepchildren.” Wilson said he had worked at the Century for 26 years, and until their contract ran out this year employees always had free health care. A $40 monthly co-payment is now required, an amount many employees with families cannot afford.

In all fairness, according to a story in USC Daily Trojan, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Hotel Employer Council said a contract currently being offered by the hotels offers free health care along with a 20 percent wage increase over a five-year contract period.

The Hotel Employer Council spokesmen alleges however, that “workers don’t want to accept it because it is a five-year contract” and the workers “want a two-year plan so they can join up with other cities for a 2006 national labor action.”

Anyway, to promote some kind of action from the South Asian student community, a group, known as the South Asians for Change is calling for the organizers of SASA to either change the location and show solidarity with the workers, or for students to boycott SASA altogether.