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When I get time, I read or listen to music. If any is left, I blog!

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Legacies of The Genius

'Harry Potter' is not the end of a great legacy; neither is he the beginning! Surveys continue to reiterate that the world of books is indeed a treasure trove of eponymous characters, lighting up young minds.
To many, this may be kid's stuff! But, as a parent, if you haven't heard of those titles which have excited and enticed growing generations, shame on you! If you don't feel it, here are five reasons why you should:
  • Reading Arouses Curiosity
  • Reading Stimulates Thinking
  • Reading Encourages Learning
  • Reading Improves Communication
  • Reading Builds Character
Essential are these factors to support your child's mental, emotional and intellectual growth! Introduce your child to reading. It is never too late to do that.

7 Easy Steps
Take that first step. And keep going, until your child finds joy in the company of books.
  • Read books yourself.  Let your child see it.
  • Narrate to him/her, what you read in simple language.
  • Demonstrate the use of a dictionary.
  • Take the child to a library, bookshop, or book exhibition.
  • Teach your child to handle books with love and care.
  • Gift books for a child's birthday, not dresses or sweets.
  • Encourage the child to spend pocket money on books.
To help you, here is an author-specific list. It is only a starter kit, and hence maybe far from being comprehensive. But, as you go along, the list also will grow, making it an excellent reference for your child.
  1. A A Milne- Winnie the Pooh
  2. Alf Proysen- Mrs Pepperpot series
  3. Arthur W Ryder- Panchatantra
  4. Beatrix Potter- The Tale of Peter Rabbit
  5. Charles Dickens- A Christmas Carol

  1. Rajagopalachari- Ramayana; Mahabharata
  2. Dr Suess- Cat in the Hat; Green Eggs & Ham
  3. E B White- Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little
  4. E Nesbit- Railway Children; Enchanted Castle
  5. Enid Blyton- Famous Five; Secret Seven

  1. Eric Carle- Hungry Caterpillar, Grouchy Ladybug
  2. Francis Thomas- The Jataka Tales
  3. Hans AndersonEmperor's New Clothes; Mermaid
  4. J K Rowling- Harry Potter series
  5. J M Barrie- Peter Pan series

  1. Jerry Pinkney- Jean De La Fontaine Aesop’s Fables
  2. John Masefield- Midnight Folk;Box of Delights
  3. Jonathan Swift- Gulliver's Travels
  4. L Frank Baum- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
  5. Lewis Carroll- Alice in Wonderland

  1. L M Montgomery- Anne of Green Gables
  2. Mark Twain- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  3. Narayana & Haksar- The Hitopadesha
  4. Pamela Travers- Mary Poppins
  5. R L Stevenson- Treasure Island

  1. R L Stine- Fear Street, Goosebumps...
  2. Roald DahlBFG, Charlie & Chocolate Factory
  3. Rudyard Kipling- The Jungle Book
  4. V Goyal- Fix Your Problems - Tenali Raman Way
  5. W E Johns- Biggles series
As Katherine Paterson said: "It is not enough to simply teach your children to read. Give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imagination. Something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own."
I leave you with a memorable quote by Ruth Crowley who used to write advice columns under the pseudonym Ann Landers:
"In the end, it is not what you do for your children,
but what you have taught them to do for themselves
that will make them successful human beings.
"

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Head Over Heels...!

You look after your hair, face, skin, hands..., but not your feet. Doesn't it sound strange? Maybe you think, beauty is in the face, and your feet in no way contribute to it. You are wrong.

Heels talk a lot about your sense of beauty, hygiene, health, and self confidence. For example, who does not dream of wearing sexy high heels, stilettos and designer sandals? But if you have cracked heels, you would not dare do it, because you know how embarrassing that could be!

Cracked heels are both painful and unattractive. With a bit of care and attention, you can make them healthy and beautiful. Remember, cracking of heels does not happen overnight. It takes time and neglect to get it.  Like any ailment, signs and symptoms precede in the case of cracked heels too.
Common Causes
  • Neglecting the thickening of skin around the heels
  • Extra pressure on the heels because of being overweight 
  • Standing too long on cold and hard floor 
  • Ill-fitting footwear that lets the fat-pad around the heels to expand
  • Diseases like Athlete’s foot, Psoriasis, Eczema, Diabetes etc.
  • Lack of hygiene, vitamins etc.
The slower you notice the symptoms, harder it will be to prevent the problem.

5 Ways To Take Care

  • Clean your feet, soak in warm soapy water, and pat your heels dry every night.
  • Rub in a mix of one teaspoon of Vaseline and the juice of one lemon.
  • Apply a paste of ground coconut and ripe banana. Leave it on for 15 minutes.
  • Massage Petroleum jelly on the heels.  Go to bed wearing a clean cotton socks.
  • A mixture of glycerine and rosewater can also do wonders.
Be Food-wise
Cracked heels are often caused by a deficiency of vitamins and minerals. Hence, consume a diet rich in Calcium, Iron, Zinc and Omega-3 Fats:

  • Vitamins: Carrot, Sweet potato, Spinach, Pumpkin, Cereals, Nuts
  • Calcium: Milk, Cheese, Yoghurt, Broccoli
  • Iron: Meat, Chicken, Fish, Eggs, Beans
  • Zinc: Oysters, Chicken, Crab, Kidney beans, Yoghurt
  • Omega-3: Fish, Flax seed, Walnut
Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water daily. Your skin will turn soft, supple and healthy.

Easy Tips

  • Keep your feet clean
  • Avoid walking bare foot
  • Wear soft, right sized footwear
  • Wear clean and dry socks
  • Walk barefoot on grass every day
How true was the German poet Bertolt Brecht, when he said:
. "Everyone chases happiness  
not knowing that happiness is right at their heels."

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Make Room For More Rules

Rules can be funny, stupid, at times even annoying. No wonder, some say: “Rules must be broken. If it is for a good cause, do not hesitate...” But there are others who caution: “No. Rules should never be broken. They bring into our lives a sense of right and wrong, order, and discipline.”

Far from these contrary views, it is the logic behind rule-making that surprises me. And it is not without reasons.

Recently, I happened to call on my family physician.  As usual, I followed the instruction at the entrance of his clinic: “Please remove your footwear.” The doctor sent me over to the pathological laboratory nearby for a blood test. There, a rather unusual instruction greeted me: “Do not remove your sandals/shoes.” I read it a second time. Although confused, I decided not to think about it any more.

That brought to my mind a funny incident.  Years ago, I had to shift to another city, and had to take a flat on rent. The first thing I noticed as I entered the premise, was a series of stickers. Each one had an instruction for the tenants and the visitors.

The one at the entrance read: “Do not leave the gate open.” Closing the gate, I walked in. “Do not pluck flowers”, read the second sticker. As a nature lover, I only knew to enjoy and admire their beauty, never to pluck them. A series of instructions followed: “Do not throw litter around”; “Do not smoke”; “Do not chew pan and spit”; “Do not play music loud.”

Thoroughly amused, I met the Secretary of the housing society and asked 'tongue-in-cheek': “So many dos and don'ts there! Are you sure, you haven’t missed any?” The secretary said earnestly: “Well. We could have. If you have noticed any, let us know. We will have them put up immediately.”

Rule-making gives those in authority, ample opportunities to wield their power. Assuming a 'larger-than-life' demeanour, they ignore the purpose, logic and realism behind the rules they conceive. Naturally, we are tempted to challenge them, at times jumping the traffic signal at a deserted junction or filing a 'shortened' tax return because of a clause perceived as unfair. Yet, we do not attempt to break free. Perhaps that was why E F Schumacher said:
"It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage 
to move in the opposite direction."

Saturday, 26 November 2011

It Happens This Way Too

Ten years have gone by, yet the incident refuses to fade away from memory.

I had left my job, an act most of my friends felt was impulsive. As a Profit Centre Head, I was doing well, but my relationship with the boss was strained. Not wanting to put up with the daily routine of blind arguments, I resigned. The notice period was drawing to an end; no other job offer was also at hand. Naturally, I was beginning to get desperate.

Then, one morning, a 'situations vacant' advertisement in the newspaper caught my attention. The profile was a close match, and the location ideal. It was too good an opportunity to ignore.  Hoping for some 'tips', I telephoned a long time acquaintance, a placement agent. He said, “I don't think you fit the bill. They prefer MBAs with an MNC background. Don't waste your time.” My wife, however disagreed, “Go by your instinct. You're not going to lose anything.”

By Monday, my CV was ready. It had to be weighed and stamps affixed. The General Post Office seemed to be the best bet. So carrying the envelope, I boarded a suburban train. As usual it was packed, but en-route, I was lucky to get a window seat. As the cool breeze hit me, I slipped into nap. The train seemed to have reached its destination sooner than expected. I got down. The crowd of office-goers took me out of the foyer and on to the main road. All of a sudden I noticed that the envelope was not with me.

I turned around and rushed back to the platform. The train was still there. A thorough search of the bogey in which I travelled turned out to be fruitless. I thought, maybe while getting down, the envelope had fallen on the tracks. I waited impatiently for the train to pull away. It was not there on the tracks either.

The logical thing to do was to go home, make a new CV, and mail it the next day. But I was crestfallen. Losing the original seemed to be a bad omen. I gave up.

Three weeks later, I got a letter. It referred to my application, and invited me for a meeting with the company's Managing Director. I was surprised. How did the letter, which went missing, reach its destination? There was only one explanation. Someone who travelled with me that day had found the envelope. He might have asked around, and eventually carried it with him. Realising the importance from the job reference code on the envelope, he must have bought the required stamps and mailed it.

I tried to recall the faces of my co-commuters on that day. Who could have been so kind and helpful as to go through that extra trouble for apparently no benefit or reward? Why did he not contact me in spite of seeing my address on the envelope? To this day, I have no answer.
My meeting went on as scheduled, and within a month, I landed the job.  That lucky break evoked memories of the film 'The Sound of Music', where Maria tells Captain Von Trapp:
“... when the Lord closes a door,  
somewhere he opens a window.”

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

It Doesn't Happen Every Day

… usually not even once in a lifetime.  Yet, every one of us on this earth, at one time or another long to experience the strange phenomenon called 'miracle'.

The reason to harp on the topic is a news report that I came across recently about an incredible incident.  It set me thinking.   How does a miracle happen?  Why does it happen to only a select few?

I remembered the inspirational best-seller 'The Power of Positive Thinking' (1952) by Norman Vincent Peale who also wrote 'The Art of Living' (1937).  To many who read the book, 'Positive Thinking' became a synonym for the power of one's mind.
Look at the room you are in.  The windows are open and the room is bright with sunlight.  Now close the windows, and you will find darkness everywhere.  Your mind is like that room – an open and shut case, and very much a matter of your own choice!  If you have a mind, bright with hope and happiness, you could be in for a pleasant surprise.  But we generally ignore and sometimes even scoff at it as a far-fetched suggestion.  Bernard Berenson, the art historian once said, 'Miracles happen to only those who believe in them.'  Both Laura and Linzi believed, and the miracle did happen.
In January 2011, Laura Binder, 32, was diagnosed with Cancer of the breast.  Within weeks, the Cancer had spread to the liver.  Laura said, ‘I was heartbroken.  I had a Mastectomy operation, but it had spread to my liver already.   The doctors told that it couldn’t be treated and that they would give me some Chemotherapy, which could hopefully buy me some more time.'

But Laura's nine-year-old daughter Linzi refused to give up.  Every day for the next seven months while Laura was undergoing Chemotherapy, Linzi would send her small notes telling how much she loved her and wanted her back healthy and alive.

Laura said, ‘I would look forward to getting her letters each day.  It brightened everything up for me.  To read them was inspiring.  I was exhausted from the chemotherapy, but her letters gave me the strength to fight on.’

In September. Laura underwent tests again.  The results were astounding.   There was no trace of the tumour that was spreading for the last seven months.  Her doctors were mystified and said: ‘Positive thinking provides an incentive to get better.  It’s amazing how things like this can happen.  There is no explanation for it.’

Laura added: 'I was scared that I was going to die and leave my daughters without a mother.  But Linzi refused to give up on me.   She was determined I was going to get better.  And her wonderful letters helped a miracle happen.’
That is the Power of Positive Thinking. It does wonders. It helps even miracles happen! Hence, no matter what, just don't give up. 
"Reality is the mirror of your thoughts. 
Choose well what you put in front of the mirror."
- Remez Sasson

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Cooking Oil and Aching Hearts

Walk into any mall or departmental store.  You want to purchase cooking oil.  What you come across is mind boggling!  It is not the brands, but the variety of oil on the racks that foxes you: Coconut, Groundnut, Mustard, Olive, Rice Bran, Safflower, Sesame, Soy bean, Sunflower...  Each one sports a luring label: 'Total Protection for Your Heart', 'Fight Cholesterol', 'Shed Excess Weight'.... You are confused: 'Which one should I buy?  How safe would it be?'

The first thing to know is, each type of cooking oil differs in characteristics from the other.

Composition:
This depends on the method of extraction. Take for example Refined oil. When treated with chemicals to refine, the oil loses its flavour, colour, odour and suspended particles. The Unrefined oil extracted through cold pressing, however, loses only undissolved substances. Its original bio-active compounds, flavours and vitamins remain untouched.

Smoke Point:
Equally significant is how much and how long you heat the oil while cooking. Beyond a certain temperature, the oil begins to break down, affecting both its flavour and nutritional values. Consider the much hyped Olive oil. At room temperature, extra-virgin Olive oil is green and loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. But as you heat, these components are 'smoked out'. That the Olive oil is thermally stable, because it is highly mono-saturated, is a fallacious theory.

Fatty Acids:
Between Saturated and Unsaturated fatty acids, the former is more harmful, because it is not easily digestible. The Unsaturated fatty acids are of two types: Mono unsaturated Fatty Acid (MUFA) and Poly- unsaturated Fatty Acid (PUFA). MUFA is healthy, PUFA supposedly isn't.

Hydrogenation:
To ensure longer shelf life and increased temperature stability, the manufacturers of cooking oils resort to 'Hydrogenation'. This process, in which hydrogen is added to the oil, produces Transfats. Being PUFA rich, Transfats have a negative impact on your health.

Cholesterol:
Cholesterol, Triglyceride, and Lipoprotein are nothing but different forms of essential fats. Cholesterol helps in building cell membranes and supporting digestion. Most of what is required of it comes from the liver. We also get it from meat, poultry and dairy products that we eat.

Fat is fuel for the body. Depending on your physical activity, the body uses these fats as required. The surplus is converted in the form of Triglycerides and stored in the cells.  This meets the body's additional demands.

All such fats (lipids) have to be transported to various parts of the body. Being insoluble, the fats combine with certain proteins in the blood to achieve mobility. The compound thus formed, is called Lipoproteins.

The Lipoproteins are classified amongst others, as High Density Lipoprotein (HDL), Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL), Intermediate Density Lipoprotein (IDL) and Very Low Density Lipoprotein (VLDL). For the sake of brevity, let us assume that anything other than HDL is LDL.

Watch Your Lipids:
The HDL acts as main transporter for the lipids. The LDL helps in the process, but goes on depositing extra fats onto the inner walls of blood vessels. Gradually it accumulates, causing the vessels to thicken and narrow, and hampering the flow of oxygen-rich blood. If it happens in the coronary artery, your heart is affected. If the arteries on either side of your neck get clogged, lack of blood in the brain causes a stroke. If the blood flow to your limbs, pelvis or kidneys slows down, you face other fatal ailments.

Even as the LDL goes about damaging your health, the HDL extracts the deposits from the vessel walls and carries it back to the liver for processing and eventual expulsion from the body as waste. That is why you hear a lot about the 'Total Cholesterol to HDL' ratio, or the 'good HDL to bad LDL' ratios.  The HDL level shall be ideally higher than the LDL.

Be Safe, Be Healthy
  • Cooking oils do not contain Cholesterol. They only promote the formation of Cholesterol in the body. However, they do contain Transfats, because of Hydrogenation. Hence, traditional oils could perhaps be a better option. If you choose Unrefined oils, use it only for light sautéing, not for frying.
  • Use at least three different types of oils for Sautéing, Shallow frying, and Deep-frying. Do not mix them.
  • Avoid heating and using the same oil again and again. When you re-heat, 'smoke point' of the oil drops. It turns rancid and starts releasing cancer causing components.
    "Had I known I was going to live so long,
    I would have taken better care of myself."
    - Mickey Mantle
     * Do not take my word for everything. Seek expert advice in case of doubts.*

    Thursday, 20 October 2011

    Beauty and Mystery: At Its Best

    Poetry means different things to different people.  To me, it is a world of verse that stretches from a 3-line haiku to a book-length epic.  The best way to sense its spread and depth is to take in the following three quotes:
    • 'Poetry is a mirror, which makes beautiful that which is distorted.'    -  Percy Shelley
    • 'There exist only three beings worthy of respect: the priest, the soldier, the poet. To know, to kill, to create!-  C Baudelaire
    • 'Writing poetry is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon... and waiting for the echo.'  -  Don Marquis
      Great thoughts! This is what makes poetry both beautiful and mysterious.

      There was a time when poets were expected to fit their verses within the framework of rules.  Although with time, this perception has changed, the issue has remained debatable.  It would not therefore be out of place to revisit some of the rules viewed as sacrosanct even today.

      Acrostic 
      Here, the first letters of each line combine to spell a word vertically down the poem.

      'Gather information in lightning speed
      One perfect search engine sufficed the need
      Our transport machine in this time and space
      Get events, facts and ads in wise displays
      Look! Everything is in our fingertips!
      Expansive knowledge now all within grips.'

      - David J Serana

      Cinquain 
      Cinquain has 5 lines. The first one has just 1 word, usually the title of the poem. The second has 2 words that describes the first line. The action is narrated in the the third line in 3 words. The fourth has 4 words to convey the feeling. And the fifth and final line has 1 word that refers to the theme.

      'Tree
      Tall, Green
      Growing, reaching, standing
      Witness to the past
      Future'

      Clerihew 
      Invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley, this form of poetry commonly referred to as a Quatrain has 4 lines in a stanza, of which the second and fourth lines rhyme, displaying a similar syllable structure.

      'Sir Christopher Wren
      Said, 'I am going to dine with some men.
      If anyone calls
      Say I am designing St. Pauls.'

      - Edmund Clerihew Bentley

      Couplet
      The most popular type of poetry, the Couplet has stanzas made up of two lines which rhyme with each other. 
       
      'As long as men can breathe, and eyes can see
      So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.' 

      - –William Shakespeare

      Haiku
      The Haiku originated in Japan. It has three lines having 5, 7 and 5 syllables respectively. The poem that generally relates to nature, does not rhyme. 
       
      'I love Winnie the Pooh
      Winnie the Pooh loves to eat honey
      Bees chase Winnie the Pooh.'

      Limerick
      A limerick is a humorous poem having 5 lines in a specific pattern. Lines 1, 2 and 5 are long, whereas lines 3 and 4 are shorter. However, all the lines rhyme with each other.

      'There once was a woman of ice
      She never knew how to be nice
      She spent all of her life
      on the edge of a knife
      cutting herself off from advice.'
      - Paul McCann

      Free Verse
      To hell with rhyme, rhythm and rule! The Free Verse is all about freedom of style. Express your thoughts freely. Many modern poets seem to prefer this type of poetry. 
       
      'I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
      And what I assume you shall assume,
      For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
      I loaf and invite my soul,
      I lean and loaf at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.'

      - Walt Whitman

      Sonnet 
      It is a 14-line poem written in iambic pentameter. The earliest form, 'Petrarchan sonnet' named after the Italian poet Petrarch has two stanzas: an octave (eight lines) followed by a sestet (six lines). The octave presents an argument or an observation, while the sestet counter argues or clarifies. Henry Howard who translated many of the Petrarchan sonnets into English, later modified the structure into a new format having three quatrains followed by a couplet. This came to be known as the Shakespearean sonnet.

      'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
      Thou art more lovely and more temperate;
      Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
      And summer's lease hath all too short a date;
      Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
      And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
      And every fair from fair sometime declines,
      By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
      But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
      Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
      Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
      When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:
      So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
      So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.'

      –William Shakespeare


      A poem is born out of spontaneous inspiration. In reality, inspiration does not follow any rule. However, the fact that a set of rules in any activity invariably brings in essential discipline, cannot be wished away. That must be why Robert Frost once said:
      "Writing Free Verse is like 
      playing tennis with the net down." 
      - Robert Frost

      Thursday, 29 September 2011

      'Personalities Die, But Not Causes'

      In 1957 when V K Krishna Menon became the Defence Minister, Indian army’s main weapon was the World War-1 Lee-Enfield rifle. A few squadrons of vintage Canberra, Hunter and Vampire adorned the Indian Air Force. Our defence budget was a 'princely' Rs 305 crores! 

      Menon aimed to bring about quick and effective changes. His proposals however, were blocked by political opponents. Speaking on the 1957 Defence Budget, J B Kripalani said, 'The mounting defence expenses must be cut down. The followers of Gandhi and adherents of universal peace cannot increase military expenditure.' Morarji Desai, the then Finance Minister was only too happy to support this argument.

      Refusing to be browbeaten, Menon decided to explore surplus production resources within the defence set up to manufacture kettles and cookers, sell them in the open market, and raise funds for his modernisation plans. Unable to comprehend the ingenuity or purpose behind this plan, his detractors alleged that Menon had dismantled the Ishapore Rifle Factory to manufacture coffee-pots!

      But nothing could stop Menon in his efforts to create a modern and self-reliant defence structure. The Avadi Heavy Vehicle factory, HAL, Bharat Electronics, production facilities for Avro aircraft and Leander Frigates, research centres like the DRDO, ADE and so on bear testimony to his great vision. Armament factories were set up in remote locations for tactical reasons. Salaries of defence personnel were raised. Such was his involvement that Menon even established a chain of Sainik Schools to prepare the youth for entry into the prestigious National Defence Academy. He also made NCC training compulsory at the school level.

      Krishna Menon pioneered India's missiles programme by constituting a study team named SWDT (Special Weapon Development Team). In 1960, he inaugurated the DSL (Defence Science Laboratory) and a year later, the DRDL (Defence Research & Development Laboratory) marking the beginning of an ambitious programme. Menon's initiatives in due course not only helped India develop guided missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, but also become the seventh country to launch space crafts and satellites.

      Menon's passion for defence projects finds mention in Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam's biography. Then a senior scientist at the DRDO, Dr. Kalam recalls how Menon, delighted at seeing a prototype hovercraft, chose to ride in it with Dr. Kalam at the controls, brushing aside all concern about safety.
      People who criticise Krishna Menon for India's failure in countering the Chinese aggression in 1962, forget that within three years of this debacle, we won a major war against Pakistan, and six years later a hugely successful military operation in East Pakistan (now Bangla Desh). Today, if any one believes that soon after Menon's exit, the 'mismanaged' defence set-up went into an 'auto-correction' mode, that too in those days of tardy five-year plans and obstructive red-tapism to win two spectacular victories, it would be ridiculing one's own rationale, reasoning and sense of judgement.
      Menon was elected to the Parliament thrice (North Bombay in 1962, Midnapore in 1969, and Trivandrum in 1971), perhaps the only one to have represented India form the East, West and the South. He died at the age of 78 on 6 October 1974. Menon-bashing soon became the pastime of self-styled historians and super scribes. Yet, the British media resentful of Menon for his role in the UN during the Suez Canal crisis, gracefully applauded his statesmanship thus:
      "In retrospect, the plan presented by Krishna Menon would have salvaged more for British interests than was eventually 
      gained (or lost) by force."
      - Time Magazine 

      Click below to read the earlier parts of this story:

      Tuesday, 20 September 2011

      He Had Nothing to Flaunt, Except Genius


              V K Krishna Menon was an extraordinary person. Aggressive and over- bearing, contemptuous of fools and pseudo-intellectuals, he went on making enemies, caring little for his name or image. The West hated him for his stinging retorts and biting sarcasm, and gave him such choicest epithets as the 'Devil's incarnate', 'Snake charmer' and 'Mephistopheles in a Saville row suit.' Yet, the world listened with rapt attention when he spoke, because of his sound reasoning, quick repartees and power-packed eloquence. 
                Today, as India, devoid of imagination or determination, goes about strutting and stumbling in its international engagements, 'Menon and Menonism' keep returning. Read, how he summarily put in place some of the bullying brow-beaters who strode the diplomatic scene in those days. 

      *
      A British parliamentarian once boasted, 'Remember. The Sun never sets on the British Empire.'
      Menon: 'That’s because not even God trusts the British in the dark!'
      *
      John Foster Dulles, the US secretary of state once justified that arms given to Pakistan was only to defend itself against a Soviet invasion.
      Menon: 'The world has yet to see an American gun shoot in one direction!'
      *
      When India annexed Goa in 1961, Dulles severely castigated the country's action.
      Menon: 'Did you expect us to send a postcard to the Pentagon seeking your approval?'
      *
      After a heated debate in the UN, the British delegate told, 'No hard feelings, Krishna. We have a very thick skin.'
      Menon: 'I know, sir. That’s why you Britons make the best boots in the world!'
      *
      An Englishwoman once expressed surprise at his excellent command over English.
      Menon: 'My English is better than yours, madam. because you inherited it by an accident of birth. I spent years learning it.'
      *
      Kennedy, the US President sent an aide with a get-well message to Menon convalescing after a brain surgery in 1961.
      Menon: 'Your boss thinks I am a lunatic. You can now tell him on good authority that you've indeed seen me, and I am a man with a hole in the head!'
      *
      To an African delegate who once extolled Britain's international policies, Menon said: 'There's no use asking which one you could choose - British imperialism or Nazism. It's like asking a fish, if it wants to be fried in margarine or butter!'
      *
      Menon did not spare his detractors at home also. J B Kripalani was one who was at the receiving end of Menon's sarcasm several times. Once when he criticised Menon for not sharing with the Parliament, information about a defence deal, Menon retorted:
      'I can give the respected member all the information he wants. But I am sorry I can't give him the intelligence to understand it.'
      *
                His image as an intolerant and impatient man, obscured many facets of his unique personality, as well as his immeasurable contributions to building a modern India. The fact that Menon was never too enthusiastic to talk about himself or his achievements added to this mystery. What is visible is unfortunately a distorted portrait, his die-hard foes have drawn with a vengeance beyond common sense or decency.
                Click below to read further....

      History is not a record of what really happens,
      but what is narrated later by some in their own words

      Monday, 12 September 2011

      Loved by Few, Hated by Many & Feared by All

      Have You Heard of V K Krishna Menon? Five out of ten may say 'No'. The rest might remember, but most would choose to heap abuses on the man they vaguely knew or knew only through prejudiced caricatures. The super scribes and superfluous historians had always an extra word or two to portray him!
       
      Read the opening sentence of an article that appeared in the Time Magazine of 26 May 1961:
                'In stately procession, the delegates rolled up to the Palais des Nations in Qeneva - the US's Dean Rusk in a black Homburg, India's smartly tailored V. K. Krishna Menon sweeping an arrogant eye over the press gallery, Russia's grinning Andrei Gromyko, China's dumpy Marshal Chen Yi...'. 

      The man who rubbed shoulders with the world's mighty and sardonically rubbed them on the wrong side, was on the cover of the Time Magazine of 2 Feb 1962, a rare achievement for an Indian those days. Twelve years later, Time Magazine wrote his obituary thus:
                '- Died. V K Krishna Menon 77, virulently anti-Western former Indian Defence Minister and delegate to the United Nations of an apparent heart attack in New Delhi. Son of a wealthy lawyer, Menon was an ascetic, acerbic, anti-colonialist firebrand who lived in London and agitated against British rule in India for 28 years...'. 

      Krishna Menon reached England in 1924 to pursue education. He earned his BSc with first class honours, following it up with MSc in Political Science and MA in Psychology.  He co-founded with Sir Allen Lane two publishing firms, 'Penguin Books' (fiction) and 'Pelicans' (non-fiction), both of which grew to be successful ventures. The partners however split over publishing E M Forster's novel, 'A Passage to India'. Anticipating objections in publishing a book with favourable references to India's freedom struggle, Menon tricked Allen Lane into believing that it was a travelogue!

      'Fight the enemy in its own territory' - that was Menon's strategy. He joined the Labour party and was elected Borough councillor for St. Pancras. He held the seat for the next four more terms. During this period, Menon initiated a library movement sponsoring a chain of mobile libraries, book exhibitions and literary meets. The launch of the 'sixpence' books, while at 'Penguin' and 'Pelican' had made him the 'architect of the paperback revolution' in Britain. As a tribute, St. Pancras conferred on Menon, the coveted 'Freedom of the Borough' title, the only other recipient being Bernard Shaw. 

      Menon nearly became a Member of the British Parliament when the Labour Party decided to field him from Dundee in 1939. But his refusal to relent in the fight against the British empire cost him that honour. 

      He once said, "I have no past, have no journals or diaries. When I die, I will leave nothing behind'. 

      As if on cue, Menon's bronze bust by the famed sculptor Fredda Brilliant erected at the Fitzroy Square in 1979 was stolen. A bust that replaced it was also promptly stolen. The third bust erected at Camden Centre is now kept under 'lock and key'!
      Why in the world would anyone steal the bust of a much maligned person? 

      Click below to read further....

      "Nobody in India appreciated the fact that I encroached 
      upon 4000 sq. miles of territory belonging to China."
      - V K Krishna Menon

      Monday, 29 August 2011

      A Corrupt Theory

                     Corruption is undoubtedly an avoidable act. It happens when two or more people or groups collude to realise an illegitimate favour, not available to them in the natural course. That the act deprives the 'partners in crime' of all claims to moral and ethical behaviour is seldom a deterrent. 
                     One way to understand the nexus between conspiracy and corruption is to take a searching look at your kitchen basket. The white and spotless manifestation of a deliberate conspiracy lies there! Ludicrous, you may feel. Yet it is a considerable analogy! 
                     The key conspirator is the rooster, gung-ho for a while with a seductively corrupt theory in his head! The hen, which ambles in is the co-conspirator. Their collusion leads to a watertight conspiracy! 
                     You may conspire to break it, boil it, or even hatch it! 
                     That, you could be the unexpected victim of a rotten egg is altogether a different controversy!

      "Beware of those in power who do nothing without money,
      and those who do 'everything' with money!"
      - Indira Gandhi