Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Remarkable letter by Martin Luther King Jr

We talk about freedom of expression. But more important than that is the heart and mind of the individuals who are expected to make use of that condition of the environment.
Freedom is a very important social and political condition for a strong mind to flourish. At times i feel that not everyone deserves it. Especially not people who harbour racist tendencies in their minds.
This cartoon that got published in the New York post indicates that as much as the world advances through progress in technology and better governance, there are going to be people with primitive and weakening thought processes. Press is the last group which should entertain such kinds of work.
Check out this amazing letter by Martin Luther King Jr written in 1963.
Mark these words which are timeless-
We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.
What a beautiful and clear understanding of Philosophy of Justice. I feel that such people were living embodiments of divinity. So much to learn from their lives.

Jai Ho !

A R Rehman's attainments by winning the coveted Oscar is a clear testimony to the significance of values like Passion for work, Innovation, Perseverance in the field of Music. Such awards more than anything else are strong symbols for what goes into attaining them. Lots of lessons for the emerging talent to keep striving for the best.
In the midst of assembly line songs churned out by the Bollywood with almost nil memory life, his music (along with some other talented and genuine artists of the country) would continue to mesmerize the generations to come.

Hats Off to You, Rehman!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Insightful report on Youth in developing countries

Considering the fact that youth comprises a very significant proportion of the population particularly in developing countries, the recent World Development Report 2007 focuses in a very detailed manner on the aspects which need to be catered to so that this section of society is able to constructively engage in economic, social as well as political activities.

The report can be downloaded from >>

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Review of Reviews of Slumdog Millionaire

No. Its not about Aparajito.

I have not seen Slumdog Millionaire yet but reading the reviews have brought more entertainment value to me than I guess what the movie would be able to provide.

Here are some of the opinions I came across. (not using the exact words though)

  • Lot of people have praised the movie in terms of the starkness with which they have shown truth and also for the entertainment value that the movie provides through a nice storyline, great music score, direction etc
  • India has been shown in poor light while this is not the real India
  • We come up with so many films but our good movies always tend to get ignored while here we have a western director who takes a snapshot of slum life in India and aims to get an Oscar. These hollywood guys know how to pat their own backs.
  • Some have stated that movies where India is shown in sad light are always preferred for awards. They have remembered Ray and Mrinal Sen's movies in which many a times the director has tried to cover the dire state of people and how those movies got several awards
  • Jagjit Singh vents out his frustration on seeing Rehman getting an award for coming out with great music score for the movie. It was really in a very bad taste
  • Some people have criticised on why the director has projected that the victim in the movie was at the receiving end of Mumbai riots and why has he shown to be a Muslim particularly.
  • Some have stated that they should not have used the word 'dog' as it is derogatory

I will not talk about all perspectives here, but we as Indian viewers should admit that we really are not great promoters of really nice artistic movies. Somehow in the midst of drudgery of daily life, movie is only seen as a medium of entertainment which in turn has been crudely defined by songs, dance, comedy and drama. Anything which remotely tries to touch upon the finer aspects of human emotions, be it tragedy or serious themes, tends to go down in viewers category. And media doesn't feel like talking much about such movies after that.

We still see no brainer movies like Singh is King raking good moolah in the industry.

The great sign is that experiments in lateral themes have started and we are seeing some wonderful work emerging as well but in general as an audience we fail to see the beauty depicted by previous directors who were really able to successfully showcase strong human emotions through richly carved themes. The people who comment on poverty being glamorised are the ones who never go to watch Aparajito by Ray, Meghe Dhaka Tara by Ghatak or Dweepa by Kasravali because these movies have projected poverty. The thing is probably they havn't yet developed the eye or the sensitivity to understand what the director is trying to show. If we observe minutely, poverty is just the context. The lens is always on very subtle and profound human sentiments.

Thats the very reason why a movie like Maine Gandhi ko Nahin Mara which was an amazing depiction of the death of Gandhian values after his physical death by not just one person but by people at large. Or for that matter a movie like Khuda ke Liye from Pakistan which was brillliant on several accounts from the point of view of the pain of the director which drove him to make the movie to which he did phenomenal justice, music, cinematography and performance.

A movie like Tingya where the director had to approach over 23 producers after getting acceptance of one, failed to draw any footfalls to the theatre while the same won international recognition. Yes. The story was again based on a poor child from Vidarbha- an area in Maharashtra which is more in the news for the farmers who have commited suicide on account of harsh economic state. The performance of the child was amazing in the movie.

I don't know what the western panelists have in mind. Maybe they are biased or maybe not. But the point is, the question we should ask ourselves is, as a society have we been able to promote good quality movies based on rich stories, great performance which can appeal to the sensibilities of not just few people in a nation but viewers from across cultures. That is a hallmark of a great movie. Unfortunately one of the biggest entertainment industries in the world- Bollywood, can't boast of many such works since it has always catered to populist tastes.

Will a movie like 'Children of Heaven' by Majid Majidi get support from the audience?

Friday, February 6, 2009

For Whom the Bell Tolls?

Very thought provoking interview on sustainability by John Sterman where he touches upon aspects of systems thinking, personal values, economic imperatives, global needs etc

He gives an indication of the gravity of the problem in a very cogent and non threatening manner. At one point he states,

Pretty quickly people discover for themselves that as long as everybody in the world wants more—as long as everyone in the world wants to be as rich as we are, and we all want to be richer than we are today, there's no solution.

“As long as everybody in the worldwants more, there’s no solution.”

What makes it particularly hard is that this is a conversation that's not permissible in our society. Even the English language doesn't allow it! There are words for not having enough—shortage—but there's no word for excess demand. There's no such word as a "longage" of demand.

Its one of the most intriguing questions in front of the world today. On one hand we all understand that economic prosperity is the key to growth, while at the same time we know that nature has put a cap on us with regards to how fast and how well can we grow. If we ignore that signal on the signpost, it is only going to be at our peril.

Growth in economy will result in damage to environment and that growth will then fuel further damage in terms of more vehicles on the road, more power consumption, more water consumption and a lifestyle centered on excess of everything.

The question in front of the society today is in the continuum of time, which road should we take? Should we continue to consume more and destroy more or do we attempt to figure out that mysterious proportion at which each nation can meet its need as well as manage its greed without causing grave consequences for the next generation?

The countries which have progressed at the expense of environment and also other nation's peace and harmony need to take a strong stand and exhibit their leadership at this juncture to set a worldwide movement for a cleaner lifestyle.

And this movement has a role for each an every individual as even switching off an extra bulb is a contribution in that direction.

Wish we all ya 6.7 billion people on this earth could stand in solidarity and express our commitment towards a cleaner future for the generations to come.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

In support of Teachers

In the midst of growing debate on how the bail out money from the Obama government needs to be spent, here's a very strong case by Thomas Friedman where he makes a pitch for bringing down the tax for teachers .

He makes a great point when he says that instead of merely providing more money to people, it should also be used for coming up with better labs and good quality teachers on board for our children as thats when we will be able to get the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates of the world who would be able to generate employment for lakhs of people.

The fact that market forces have not been successful in improving the quality of teachers, throws open a very important challenge which is not getting its due in India.

Quality of education, which is the fundamental lever to decide the way the society is going to meet the challenges of future remains a majorly undecided question not just in the most powerful nation of the world but also in a developing country such as ours-India.

Its time we start giving it the thought which it deserves