Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tribute to Tiger Patudi

Tribute to Tiger Patudi
Syed Ali Mujtaba

I really did not know Mansur Ali Khan Patudi personally, the legendry cricketer who passed away on September 22, 2011 in New Delhi. I was following the news of his illness in the media all along and today when it was announced that he is no more, I felt strongly for him.

This was because I have been reading hearing, watching him since I have started following the game of cricket. Patudi came from aristocratic family who played cricket for the love of the game. He was also known as Tiger Pataudi and Nawab Pataudi.

Pataudi, was the ninth and the last Nawab of Bhopal when India abolished royal entitlements. His father Iftikhar Ali Khan Patudi too played cricket for British India.He lost his father at a young age of 11.With his demise, comes an end to an era of aristocrat cricketers in this country.

Pataudi suffered a setback at the age of 20 years, when he lost the vision of his right eye after a car crash in England. However, his steely resolve made him make his international debut against England in Delhi, in December, 1961. He became the youngest player to captain India in a Test (at 21 years 77 days v West Indies at Bridgetown in 1961-62)

Pataudi retired from international cricket in 1975 after playing 46 Test matches and scored 2,793 runs including six hundreds at an average of 34.91. He led the country in 40 of his 46 Tests and guided the team to nine wins and was easily the greatest captain ever.

During his stint as captain, Pataudi married actress Sharmila Tagore in 1969. The unconventional marriage was much talked about in the media and his popularity soar high.

When ever any one talked about cricketers, Tiger Patudi’s name surfaced for his looks, style and grace. There was some thing unique about his personality.

He outshines many film stars in looks and grace. I use to see him Gwaliar suiting ads. Later, I saw him in few car ads too. The last ad I remember was of ‘lays’ where he was with his son Saif.

As a student at AMU Aligarh, I use to play cricket for “VM Hall.” At the cricket ground I remember seeing Patudi’s photographs adorning the walls of the Cricket gallery there. I am told he had visited there many times.

Many years later as a journalist in Hyderabad, I played cricket for the press club of Hyderabad. I heard stories of Tiger Patudi who use to visit H yderabad during Moin-u-dullah cup.

A journalist told me there that Patudi was a charming personality and had sponsored coke and beer for both the teams after one of the matches.

Many people whom i had conversation on cricket told me that they went to see a test match India played only to watch the Nawab of Patudi in action. I am sure every one will agree that he was a cricketer par excellence.

Even though Patudi may have left us for heavenly abode,his iconic persona will be remembered as long as cricket is being played in India.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kasthuri charms at Shreyas - Inter-Collegiate Culturals

Kasthuri charms at Shreyas - Inter-Collegiate Culturals

Syed Ali Mujtaba

Chennai, September 15, 2011: “Protection of environment is a matter of habit and not a choice, said actress Kasthuri, to large group of college girls that had assembled at Shreyas - Inter-collegiate culturals event at SSS Jain College for Women, Chennai.

Every day when I get up, I segregate my daily household wastes into two bins, non biodegradable and biodegradable, said the model turned actress, giving tips to young girls how to green.

Kasthuri who made a come back in 2010 featuring in a item number in the hit film "Tamil Padam" was at her best in attracting the young girls, as they cheered her speech that was laced with pun and humour.

The actress who has been hosting TV shows, got a very warm response when she asked to students to volunteer for her dream project of building an international quality old age home in the outskirts of the city.

Later, Kasthuri, switched from the dais to sit with the students and the competition, feeling at ease with the students gathered for Shreyas - Inter-collegiate culturals event. 

The actress who studied at the Ethiraj college, and was a popular figure at the Inter-collegiate culturals event, promised to be the 'quiz-master' in the next edition of the cultural event at the SSS Jain College for Women. 

Kasthuri was a popular south Indian heroine in the 1990s. She had her schooling in Madras and started modelling while in high school. She won the Miss Madras title in 1992.

Subsequently, she got offers to act in films. She debuted as heroine in the Tamil film "Aatha Un Kooyiley" in 1991, and had appear in a number of Tamil fims that imcluded the horror flick "Rasathi Varum Naal", "Government Mappilai",Chinnavarand "Senthamizh Paatu" alongside Prabhu Ganeshan in 1992.

Kasthuri acted in many Telugu films which gained her enough fan following in Andhra Pradesh. After the success of Bharatheeyudu, in which she acted as beloved daughter of Kamal Haasan, she got several opportunities to act opposite top heroes. Films like Soggadi pellam, merupu did give footage to her career.

Kasturi was the subject of a 30-minute documentary film Kasthuri: A South Indian Film star made by Richard Breyer and N. C. Rajamani in 1995. Kasthuri bowed out of films after her Hindi short film The Bypass in 2003.
Last year, she made a come back in a item number in the hit film "Tamil Padam."

“A person like Kasthuri can juggle with many roles,” said Dr Padma Shanker, Principal SSS Jain College for Women, Chennai, in her welcome address. 
'She is a multi faced personality, a source of inspiration said the dynamic principal of the woman's college.

Shreyas - Inter-collegiate culturals event at SSS Jain College for Women, Chennai is a two day cultural extravaganza, where girl students from thirty colleges are participating at various events to win fabulous prizes.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He teaches Visual Communication at SSS Jain College for Women, Chennai.He can be contacted at

Friday, September 2, 2011

Anna Hazare the Pied Piper of India

Anna Hazare the Pied Piper of India
Syed Ali Mujtaba

Anti graft campaigner Anna Hazare ended his 288 hours of fast on Sunday August 28, 2011 and by doing so he gave the nation a sigh of collective relief. The 74-year-old social activist began his fast on August 16 and continued for 12 days uninterrupted.

It was a rare show of unanimity and purpose that saw unprecedented mobilization of the people across the nation. It resulted in special session of the Parliament to hold discussion on the Lokpal bill, stretching over nine hours in the Lok Sabha and eight hours in the Rajya Sabha.

Going beyond party lines at the Parliament passed a resolution agreeing to his three core demands of Anna Hazare for Citizens' charter, Lower bureaucracy under Lokpal through appropriate mechanism and establishment of Lokayukta in states. Parliament also passed a resolution to forward the proceedings of the House to the Standing Committee for its perusal while formulating its recommendations for a Lokpal Bill.

There are few very seminal points that have emerged out of the twelve days agitation led by Anna Hazare. The overwhelming response of Anna Hazare’s call to end corruption has set a precedent of sorts for mass mobilization in the country. In near memory there are three events that stand out for mass agitation.

One was the mobilization of the masses against rising prices, unemployment that led to the proclamation of national emergency in 1975. Then the agitation against it that was led by Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan, and Achrya Kirplani, the veteran freedom movement leaders, that led to the ending of the dark days in India. The anti emergency stir caught the imagination of the nation and people from wide spectrum of society came on the streets and rested only when the proclamation was withdrawn.

The second mass mobilization was seen in India during 1998, primarily from the youth of upper caste who were opposed to the implementation of the Mandal Commission report that gave 27 per cent reservation to the other backward caste categories of the Hindu society. This agitation was primarily confined to north India, where upper caste youth came out in large numbers and some even immolated themselves for the annulment of the law. Its was mass hysteria with the underpinning of suicidal impulses on the lines French sociologist David Émile Durkheim proponed in his study, ‘Suicide: A Study In Sociology, published in 1895.

The last was the Sangh Parivar’s mass mobilization centering on Ram Janamboohmi. A wounded civilization came out in large numbers to destroy the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992. As the angry agitators pulled down the three domes of the Muslim’s place of worship, in that carnival of rebellion, it seems the three domes, on the Parliament, on the Supreme Court and on the Rashtriapathi Bhavan, crumbled. In hindsight, the mobilization of the masses was more for destruction than actually for construction, as the intended purpose thereafter could not mobilize the masses.

Contrary to all of them, Anna’ Hazre’s agitation was unique in many sense. It demonstrated to the world that even in this age, there are pied pipers who can bring the people on the streets. The charismatic figure of Anna Hazare, caught the imagination of the nation many equate him with Mahatma Gandhi and his method of agitation.

Some may point out that the mass mobilization was due to spread of the social media, others may say it was the handiwork of the television channels, that went gone gung-ho telecasting this reality show, some may also credit the organizational acumen of team Anna, the fact is there was unprecedented mobilization of the masses never seen, since the independent movement of the country.

The other feature of the movement was the discipline shown by the agitators and volunteers’ having a total control of the situation is something remarkable. Skeptics had cast doubts over the agitation and some even predicted it may end up in Chauri Chaura way, and like Mahatma Gandhi, Anna Hazare too calling off his fast in a dejected mood. However, every thing went of the scripted way of the reality show and this something laudable.

However, it’s not that every thing was picture perfect in Anna Hazre’s agitation. There were many flaws in it as well. The twelve days agitation of Anna Hazare has able to dictate the content of the Lok Pal bill. The government was forced to bow down to the pressure that was applied on it through the strength drawn from the street, even though it took eleven days to do so. This is unprecedented.

It has set a new precedent for future political discourse in the country and the future governments have to be prepared to handle such dictate from the so called people’s parliament.

Imagine a situation when the farmers of the country march to New Delhi, to press their demands or the Hindutva forces muster such strength and pressurize the Parliament to build the Ram temple or in wake of terror attack, the people’s Parliament ask the government to go to war with Pakistan. Let’s leave it for propriety as imagination stops to build future scenarios.

Certainly, Anna Hazare should have avoided the ill advised call to his followers to gherao the Prime Minister, MPs and MLAs. He and some of his spokespersons called people’s representatives as dacoits and thieves and that amount to spreading hatred. Apologies on this count in the closing speech were dished out, but the damage done certainly lowered the dignity of the movement.

Another matter of extreme concern was the source of funds for sustaining the movement for twelve days. Even earlier to that, the members of team Anna were flying at different locations in the country and there were huge shows being organized. All that needed money, where did it come from? Many people visiting Ram Lila grounds are reported to have been fed with snacks and food. All these would not have come without money? It is quite possible that such money may have come from the followers of Anna Hazare but the country need to know the people who have funded them.

In the closing speech, it was said that the money spent during the agitation were from public donations and from admirers of Anna Hazare. To some this sounded more like a politician’s comment then the words of a social activist. It leaves an element of deep suspicion among the civil society about the movement it represents.

In such issues, transparency is a very important. In a rare show of solidarity countrymen belonging to a cross section of the society have given unstinted support to Anna Hazare’s protest against corruption. Team Anna should clearly make public the names of the people who have funded the twelve day agitation. Keeping the curtains over the faces, would go against the noble cause that the movement represents.

Even before the agitation has begun allegations of impropriety came forth regarding all the NGOs to which category Anna Hazare and his team belong, that they are not corruption free. A few of them have been accused of swindling large amount of money and misusing the NGO portfolio for ulterior purposes. The fact of the matter is; Anna Hazare has missed to comment on this disturbing fact for whatever reasons.

Anna Hazare’s practice of giving a free hand to his hand picked people has raised eyebrows. There are certainly many more knowledgeable people in the country with great credentials that Anna should spot and utilize them for the larger good of the nation. Keeping the tainted faces in the crusade against corruption takes away the sheen out of the movement.

Finally, the claim that the battle against corruption has been half won seems bit exaggerated. The fact is that the battle against corruption has only just begun. The movement still has a long way to go. What is required is to fine tune it to a substantial extent to provide dignity to the campaign.

The bitter truth is that during the twelve days of fast, team Anna have not been able to elevate the quality of the campaign to the lofty level necessary to sustain such movement. It’s imperative to plug the loopholes in future.

In the end, let’s hope and pray that human greed is over powered in our country and corruption is banished from this land. If and when it happens, Anna Hazare will be hailed as the pied piper of India.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at

How to Make Lokpal Bill Effective – The Debate Continues

How to Make Lokpal Bill Effective – The Debate Continues

Syed Ali Mujtaba

How to make Lokpal Bill effective was the theme of a debate competition for college students organized by a NGO ‘Nandini Voice for the Deprived’ on August, 13, 2011, in Chennai. The objective of the competition was to provide an opportunity to the college students to give their views on the subject.

Number of college students from several Chennai city colleges including Indian Institute of Technology Madras, School of Excellence in Law, JBAS College for Women, Loyola Institute of Business Administration participated in the debate competition.

This author, Mr. P. K. N. Panicker, President, Chemical Industries Association and educationist and Mr. N. L. Rajah, senior advocate were the judges in the first panel. Prof. S. Radhakrishnan, Professor of Economics, Mr. S. M. Arasu, Founder, Anti Corruption Movement, Mr. Kris Dev, social activist were the judges in the second panel. Trustee, Nandini Voice for the Deprived, Mr. N. S.Venkataraman moderated the debate.

Quite a few students argued that Lokpal Bill may not be necessary, since enough laws and regulations are in the country to root out corruption. The problem, they felt, was that those in power including politicians and bureaucrats circumvent the existing rules and regulations to indulge in corruption and prevent punishment for the corrupt persons.

Students wondered that Lokpal Bill if enacted into law, may also end up with the same fate as the several of the existing anti corruption regulations and institutions

At best, Lokpal may function like Central Vigilance Commission, so instead of enacting a new law, the Central Vigilance Commission can be strengthened in variety of ways, which would produce quick results and avoid protracted arguments and delay.

Some students felt that Lokpal is only likely to function as an advisory body, with no powers to punish the corrupt. Therefore, the Lokpal’s report has to be substantiated in the court of law and judiciary would ultimately decide the case. Therefore, there may not be really any change in the ground realities. So the students argued that Lokpal may function like Central Vigilance Commission, referring its conclusions to the court.

Most students said that the Lokpal Bill should cover all sections of the country irrespective of age and position including judiciary and defense. The present move of the government to restrict it to certain sections of bureaucracy alone will mean nothing.

Some students insisted that Prime Minister should be included in the Lokpal Bill. They dismissed the argument that the inclusion of Prime Minister will lead to vested interests, paving way for false charges against the Prime Minister to destabilize the government. The students said that instead of excluding the Prime Minister, Lokpal Bill can have certain built in safeguards to ensure that vague and false charges against the Prime minister would not be entertained.

There are multiple vigilance organizations today like CBI, CVC and others which sometimes work at cross purposes. Such organizations should be brought under Lokpal to ensure coordinated approach and transparency. This aspect should be examined by the government for its administrative feasibility.

Students suggested the selection process for Lokpal Chairman and members should be broad based. The nomination should be invited from public for Lokpal Committee members, just like nominations being invited for Nobel prize award and selection must be very strict and should not be left into the hands of politicians and judges.

While the students greatly applauded the initiatives of Anna Hazare and his team members, they pointed out that Anna Hazare is only aiming at forming some regulations at the government level by seeking to introduce one more law. Anna Hazare has not looked into the option of strengthening the existing anti corruption institutions by closing the loopholes in them which would produce quicker results.

There was an unanimity that the ultimate solution for the problem is to change in the mind set of the people. Many people in India are involved in corrupt practices and corruption is not restricted to politicians and bureaucrats alone. Some people in India think that the act of small corruption is not immoral and this mind set needs to be changed.

The students disagreed to the concept of second freedom struggle launched by Anna Hazare. They pointed out that the essential difference between the movement led by Mahatma Gandhi and the movement initiated by Anna Hazare is, while Mahatma Gandhi led the freedom movement against the British, but simultaneously fought against several social evils such as caste system, untocuhability, liquor habit and strove to reform the individual Indians and their mind set, Anna Hazare movement lack the broad based approach.

The students felt that even now, it is not late and Anna Hazare should look back into his activities during the last one year and redirect the movement in appropriate direction, without giving an impression that mere change of laws will make India corruption free.

The debate had some very valuable inputs from the judges who commented on the issue of corruption and the aspects on the Lokpal bill. Their broad theme was in India; traditionally success is measured by the money accumulated by the individuals irrespective of the means adopted. This has resulted in a situation where corruption remains has permeated at all levels and in all sorts of activities. The public campaign against corruption should continue just like the anti liquor campaign and anti tobacco campaign.

The battle against the corruption must be fought in the minds and hearts of people and NGOs have a big role to play in this. The country should learn to hate the corrupt people which will happen only by millions of Indians not being corrupt in private and public life, was the ultimate conclusion of the debate

The debate competition would further take place at Coimbatore, Trichy and Madurai in September. The participating students would be awarded prizes during a meeting on October 1, 2011 the eve of Gandhi Jayanthi. The views expressed by the students would be forwarded to the Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha Chairman for their consideration on the formulation of Lokpal bill.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a senior journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at