if one wants that bird

you know,
there was a king in mongolia,
who once invaded some
distant kingdom, where
he heard a new bird singing,
and wanted the song for himself.
for the sake of the song , he wished to capture
the bird , with the bird its nest,
the branches that held the nest,
the trunk of the tree, the tree itself ,
the roots, the earth that held the roots,
the village,
the water,
the surrounding land,
the country,
the entire kingdom......

wanting to take them all
he gathered together all the remaining
elephants, horses, chariots
and soldiers,
conquered the entire kingdom,
annexed it to his empire

and never returned home.

- a.k.ramanujan,
translated from kannada by s.k.desai.

here, my own amateurish effort to describe unreason in rhyme. or whatever.


out of africa

'i don't want money, and i don't want hand-outs.' browsing, those lines caught my attention. the man who was saying that was the president of senegal. a very level-headed man, you'd agree, after you read this interview.

'i believe in a liberal economy and have never put much faith in the state-run economy, because it fails. i support the state, but not the state-run economy. the state should intervene only to create the conditions necessary for the private sector to thrive. i am counting on the private sector, because it is crucial to senegal's future.' i agree with that..to a great extent. indian politicians can learn a thing or two from this president.

probing more, you learn that senegal is a functioning democracy, with a vibrant, multi-party political culture. its economy is growing at more than 5% per annum for the last ten years. and no coups in the last forty five years. pakistan can learn a thing or two from senegal.


a horror story

"the basic feature that dominated the socio-economic life of the people of hyderabad and especially in telangana was the unbridled feudal exploitation that persisted till the beginning of the telangana armed peasant struggle.
out of the 53 million acres in the whole of hyderabad state, about 30 million, that is about 60 per cent, were under the governmental revenue system (the diwani or khalsa area); about 15 million acres, that is, about 30 per cent, were under the jagirdari system; about 10 per cent constituted the nizam's direct estate (the sarf khas system)...
the income -or loot- from the sarf khas area, amounting to rs.20 million annually, was used entirely to meet the expenditure of the nizam's private estate. he was not bound to spend any amount for economic and social benefits of and for the development of the people's livelihood in that area. whatever was spent, was from the other general revenues of the state. in addition, the nizam was given rs.7 million per year from the state treasury. "

perhaps things were okay in the jagirdari area ?

" in the jagir areas, constituting 30 per cent of the state, paigas, samsthanams, jagirdars, ijardars, banjardars, maktedars, inamdars or agraharams, were the the various kinds of feudal oppressors. some of them used to impose and collect taxes through their own revenue officers. some of them paid a small portion to the state, while others were not required to pay anything at all. in these areas, various kinds of illegal exactions and forced labour were common. in the jagir areas, the land taxes on irrigation were ten times more than those collected in the diwani areas, amounting to rs.150 per acre, or 20-30 mounds of paddy per acre.
...the extent of exploitation by these jagirdars, paigas and samsthanams can be judged from the fact that 110 of them collected rs.100 million every year in various taxes or exactions from the peasantry. out of this amount, rs.55 million was appropriated by 19 of them. (it must be noted, by way of contrast, that the whole income of the hyderabad state before 1940 was no more than rs.80 million)."

at least the diwani areas had to be better..

"...apart from these were the deshmukhs and deshpandes who were earlier tax collectors for the government, but who were, after direct collection by the state apparatus was introduced, granted vatans or mash (annuities), based on a percentage of past collections, in perpetuity. these deshmukhs and deshpandes, as collectors of taxes, grabbed thousands of acres of the most fertile lands and made it their own property, reducing the peasants cultivating these lands to tenants-at-will.
these feudal oppressors had acquired these lands by innumerable foul means from the people. the major portion of the lands cultivated by the peasants came to be occupied by the landlords during the first survey settlement. using the power in their hands, they got lands registered in their names without the knowledge of the peasants cultivating them; the peasants came to know of this later, when it was too late to do anything. even lands which were left in the possession of the peasants in the survey settlement were occupied by the landlords in the years of the economic crisis of 1920-222 and 1930-33. owing to bad harvests or unfair prices for the crops, the peasants were unable to pay the taxes; the landlords tortured the peasants, unable to pay the taxes, and took possession of their lands. in many instances, the acquisition took place without the knowledge of the peasants. lending agricultural products like grain, chillies, etc., to the peasants at usurious rates, the feudal oppressors later confiscated the peasants' lands under the pretext of non-repayment of the loans.
the scale of the acquisition of lands can be judged from the fact that the jannareddy pratap reddy family had one and a half lakh acres of land, and had laid a mango grove on a plot of 750 acres.
....in short land concentration in the hyderabad state and the telangana region was tremendous. the adminstrative report of 1950-51 showed that in the three districts of nalgonda, mahbubnagar and warangal, the number of pattadars or landlords owning more than 500 acres each were about 550. they owned about 60 or 70 per cent of the total cultivable land."

what makes kcr so very nostalgic and misty-eyed about the glory of telangana of the nizam era? why does he keep talking, so very fondly, about 'our nawabs' ? one reason could be..that he was born in a house whose grounds itself covered six acres.

in a way, i should thank srt and cosmic voices for this post.


a problem with authority

because it is the anniversary of the day osman pasha signed his last firman :

mournful koel

the rains let loose the streams, rivers this year
you know there were no seasons, the last ten years
listening to the koel's welcome, as i stepped into jail
i wondered, has the spring arrived so early?

walls from the nizam's time, barbed wire, electrified to kill
the sentry ramparts, walls within walls, gates within gates
locks locked unlocked, between the guards
the captured greenery
the pigeons that can't fly
the sky imprisoned in the yard
the faint call to namaaz in the absent noon
the moist-eyed ground giving the wind a chill
it's here the seasons had been held since long
the mango sprout neem blossom taste the same
the jail koel sings all the time
like belli lalita
a chained song
in my honour perhaps
or because my mate kanakachari isn't here.

vara vara rao wote that on 25.08.05 in chanchalguda prison, hyderabad.

the poet wasn't thinking about punctuation when he wrote that.. so it's to be read as it drones - like life in a prison, i suppose. i tried to capture, that word again, the sense of the poem. i know others can do it better. so i'm inviting them to do so (especially the poems that follow) - especially gadde anandaswarup. i mean to update this post in the near future - this is a work-in-progress in a way. but in this poem i like the use of the word - 'ruthuvulu' (seasons). it could be understood as seasons, plain and simple, or as the peasant's season 'kaalam' which is the monsoon. when he says there haven't be seasons for the last ten years - he means the incessant drought during the naidu rule..or the repression, as he perceives it, let loose during the period..or he means simply a long period. or that he hasn't been in prison for a long time. or just time.

it's the peasant's

the peasant who staked life felling
fierce jungles, creating
fertile lands, grinding bones
to ash tilling, filling
the nawab's coffers with gold,
it's his, telangana is his; will
the old fox get it?

o nizam demon! there
hasn't been one like you;
you plucked the strings and dipped them in fire
my telangana, a crore gem-studded veena.

this is where the purists can begin whetting their knives - this poem, of course, defines the telangana freedom struggle, or the telangana peasants' struggle.. and has been a war song, especially the last line since it was written (but published later in 1949). in nizamabad prison by dasarathi. but i wish they'd wait..until they read this :

i can't endure this beating anymore ramappa, save me

i said i'd do good, what do i have to fear
i gathered varaha moharis for your servants

i gave not a pie to others, i submit at your feet
they whipped me govinda, i can't endure this

i trusted in you, govinda, can't endure this
where's the courage that bound the ocean, demon slayer, save me

rama bhadradrisitarama rama, didn't i chant your name, always.
what have you done to ramadasu ?

that's a kirtan written/composed by kancherla gopanna, or ramadasu, in prison inside the golconda fort some..day in the seventeenth century. here's the original, ( if the pundits haven't guessed that by now). what's the point in translating a kirtan that's more music and mood than a poem? only to complete this short compilation of prison lore.

yes, they must be bad translations..but i was only trying to make sense of those times..identify..what's common among those experiences and the times.


sucking the world dry

'the company admits that without water it would have no business at all. coca-cola’s operations rely on access to vast supplies of water, as it takes almost three litres of water to make one litre of coca-cola. in order to satisfy this need, coca-cola is increasingly taking over control of aquifers in communities around the world. these vast subterranean chambers hold water resources collected over many hundreds of years. as such they represent the heritage of entire communities.'

no, i haven't joined the greens..yet. but i think this is a lousy trade-off. i agree we indians are a hardy race who can nonchalantly imbibe 'levels of pesticides around 30 times higher than european union standards' and burp any health concerns away..but three litres of water for one litre of coke?


bovine spongiform logic

'yes. i think americans are safer today than they were five years ago. i also think it’s a more dangerous world than it was five years ago. both things are true. the conventional statement we made in the report is that we are safer but not safe. we still have a lot to do to make ourselves safer.' said lee hamilton, vice-chairman, 9/11 commission.

does that make any sense to you? around three decades ago, philip roth wrote about the unspeakable things nixon was doing to language..political language in particular. the bush adminstration seems to be engaged in doing unthinkable things to logic. now consider this :

"some people, both in this nation and abroad, have questions about that strategy, make no mistake: president bush is acting to protect the american people against further attacks, even when that means moving aggressively against would-be attackers."said dick cheney, talking about the invasion of iraq. see what i mean? in roth's book 'our gang', the nixon character supports what he calls the rights of the 'unborn', or as cheney would say, 'would-be babies'.

perhaps there is some logic in there that we don't see.. especially those of us who aren't american. perhaps the 'americans are safer today'. but the world has become a more dangerous place. not because of 9/11..but because of what happened after that.


less than 10% pro-poor

please read my new post on the performance/implementation of the employment guarantee scheme at shivam vij's blog, national highway.
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