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Democrati World March 2013


It was purely a matter of chance, that the man on our cover in this month, is one of the former Finance Ministers of India, Shree Yashwant Sinha. Keeping with the matters of business and budget, we have interviewed the father-son duo Rakesh and Rohan Verma of MaymyIndia and introduce a new writer—Marryam Reshii. She will be one of the travel columnists for Hitchhiker’s from this month. I hope that you have a good month, and for the men, celebrate the women that you have in your life. They deserve it!

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  • pg 1
									                                                           MARCH 2013 `25
                                                       Issue no. 16 Volume no. 43
                                                  An MBD Publication RNI No.: 23870/72

           D E M O C R A T I C W O R L D



                                  A BRIEF CHAT WITH
                                  YASHWANT SINHA PAGE 12

                                 GARNISH     FOREIGN DESPATCHES
EDIT ORIAL                SONICA MALHOTRA KANDHARI | editorial@democraticworld.co.in

                          A Backpack of
                          ALL EYES WERE on Finance Minister P. Chidambaram          of the most high-profile FMs that India can boast of,
                          when he presented the Budget 2013-2014 on February        greatly admired and equally criticised. We spoke less
                          28, 2013. There have been issues which have been in       about business and more about matters of the heart.
                          the foreground in the past year, and the FM and his       The man of substance left us truly impressed. Read
                 BYTE     team had issues that they could take credit for—allow-    about him on Page 12.
                          ing FDI in retail and civil aviation, and decontrolling      Keeping with the matters of business and budget,
                          fuel prices—albeit these issues were not a part of        we have interviewed the father-son duo Rakesh and
                          Pranab Mukherjee’s Budget Agenda. This Budget             Rohan Verma of MaymyIndia. We have added a twist
                          session started on a stormy note, with the Hyderabad      to our Looking Back section this month and made our
                          blasts and Home Minister’s remarks about Bharatiya        master entrepreneurs look back at the initial days
                          Janata Party disrupting sessions. The month-long          of business. Do let us know what you think about it.
                          session began with a customary address by President       Since we are all about celebrating women this month,
                          Pranab Mukherjee to the joint sitting of the Lok Sabha    it gives us great pleasure to introduce a new writer—
                          and Rajya Sabha. We hoped that the sessions would         Marryam Reshii is one of the most familiar names in
                          prove to be productive over time—after all it carried a   the gastronomical and travel writing in India, and has
                          heavy legislative agenda, including getting Parliament    been for the past 20 years. She has written for a slew of
                          nod three ordinances, introduction of as many as 16       prestigious Indian and international magazines. As I
                          bills, consideration and passage of 35 Bills.             said, surprise! She will be one of the travel columnists
YASHWANT SINHA:             I know that the aam admi was waiting with bated         for Hitchhiker’s from this month. I hope that you have
"When India lend a        breath for the budget. Being one of the crowd, I          a good month, and for the men, celebrate the women
helping hand to the       hoped that the February Budget would bring some           that you have in your life. They deserve it!
emerging nation-state     good news for us, the women. Come on Mister
of Bangladesh, India’s    Finance Minister, we deserved it—it is after all our
stocks rose further       month in March when the world celebrates Women’s
globally. A nation, I     Day on March 8th. We are the people who buy goods
believe deeply, has to    being sold, who hold on tight to the purse strings. It
be strong and confident   was purely a matter of chance, that the man on our
in order to emerge"       cover in this month, is one of the former Finance
                          Ministers of India, Shree Yashwant Sinha. He is one

                                                                                                                      WORLD               1
                                                                                                                                                                                                    RAKESH AND ROHAN
                                                                                                                                                                                                    VERMA FATHER AND
                                                                                                                                                                                                   SON ENTREPRENEUR
                                                                                                                                            PATHFINDERS                                              DUO LOOK BACK AT
                                                                                                                                                                                                    THE INITIAL DAYS OF
                                                                                                                                                                                                         READ MORE ON PAGE 24

                                                                        TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S        | MARCH         2 0 13

                                                                        COVER STORY                                                                                            VIVEK BHANDARI
                                                                                                                                                                                                24 | SOURCES OF THE
                                                                         12 | The Kite Runner                                                                                                   INDIAN SELF: Excavating
                                                                                                                                                                                                India’s political foundations
                                                                        Former Finance Minister and BJP
                                                                        politician Yashwant Sinha talks of the
                                                                        world of administrative service, politics,
                                                                        inspirations and mentors                                                                               SIDDHARTHA VAIDYANATHAN

                                                                                                                                                                                                28 | INDIAN CRICKET
                                                                                                                                                                                                DOESN‘T OPERATE IN
                                                                                          COPYRIGHT Democratic World is published & printed by M Gulab Singh & Sons                             A VACUUM: It is a part of
                                                                                          (a unit of MBD Group) at Gulab Bhawan 6, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, New Delhi
                                                                                          110002, India and printed at Perfect Printers Gulab Bhawan 6, Bahadur Shah Zafar                      a society that discourages
                                                                         Please Recycle
                                                                         This Magazine    Marg, New Delhi 110002, India. Democratic World is for private circulation only.                      women from excelling in
                                                                          And Remove      Material in this publication may not be reproduced in any form without the written
                                                                         Inserts Before
                                                                           Recycling      permission of M Gulab Singh & Sons.                                                                   ‘male bastions’’

                                                                        2                 DEMOCRATIC
                                                                           30 | IS SMALL, SIMPLER?
                                                                           A closer look at the smaller
                                                                           states and do they solve the
                                                                           administrative problem?

                                                                           01| EDITORIAL
                                                                           06 | UP-TO-DATE
                                                                           10 | FOREIGN DESPATCHES
                                                                           26 | LOOKING BACK
                                                                           36 | READING ROOM
                                                               44          48 | STICKY NOTES

44 | Bite-sized China in Tanbdoori India
Chef Liu Zhijun brings a bit of his
homeland to India

GOOD KARMA                     WAREHOUSE                      SOCIAL AGENDA                       HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE

34 | THE ‘FARMGURU’            38 | GADGETS &                 20 | GO AHEAD MAKE                  40 | CITY OF ARTS AND
OF INDIA Rikin Gandhi          GIZMOS TESLA MODEL             A SCENE Is the Twitter              SCIENCES A bit of botj
of Digital Green is teaching   S Why the car is fast, smart   app—Vine—creating the right         with loads of fun, that’s
the Indian farmers, the key    and green—enough to make       vibe in the social media scene?     Valencia for you—Marryam
to a better produce            your neighbours envious        Tushar Kanwar explores...           Reshii

                                                                                                             WORLD        3
EDITORIAL                                         SALES & MARKETING
Managing Editor: Monica Malhotra Kandhari         Mayank Khantwal
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                                                  Statement of ownership and other particulars about Democratic World, as required by the Registrar
                                                  of News papers of India.

                                                  FORM IV (SEE RULE 8)
                                                  Place of publication                         :    New Delhi
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                                                  Printer’s Name                               :    Alok Kashyap
                                                  Citizenship                                  :    Indian
                                                  Address                                      :    MBD House, Gulab Bhawan
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                                                  Publisher’s name                             :    Alok Kashyap
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                                                  Names and addresses of individuals, who own the magazine or partners or shareholders holding
                                                  more than one per cent of the total capital.

                                                  M Gulab Singh & Sons,
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                                                  I, Alok Kashyap solemnly declare that the particulars given above are true to the best of my
                                                  knowledge and belief.


4                    DEMOCRATIC
                                                                   POPE BENEDICT XVI                                    THEY
                                “I have come to the certainty that                                                       IT

                             my strengths are no longer suited to
                              an exercise of the Petrine ministry”


In the Valley: Spectators wait for the final news

Afzal Guru Hanged Guru Labelled
as ‘Martyr’ in the Valley
HUNG\\ Afzal Guru, 43, was hanged inside the Tihar        epitaph in Afzal’s name was discovered by a group of
Jail on the morning of February 9, 2013, for plotting     youngsters. Its inscription in archaic Urdu read: “The

                                                                                                                   Feb 9
an attack on Parliament on December 13, 2001. He          martyr of the nation, Mohammad Afzal Guru, Date of
was buried inside the jail complex in accordance with     Martyrdom: 9th February 2013 Saturday, whose mor-
the jail manual. The death triggered protests across      tal remains are lying in the custody of the Govern-
the Valley. Kashmiri separatists reserved a grave for     ment of India. The nation is awaiting its return.”
the “burial” of the body of Afzal Guru at the expansive     Bhat was executed in the same prison as Guru for
cemetery at Iddgah in downtown Srinagar, just as          the murder of a police officer and a bank manager on     was the
they have done for the body of Jammu and Kashmir
Liberation Front leader, Maqbool Bhat. Tucked in a
                                                          February 11, 1984. Both have been buried on the jail
                                                          premises. Abdul Ahad, a grave digger, said that not
                                                                                                                   date of
freshly-laid tombstone of cement concrete on Mazar-       less than 1,000 militants and civilians were buried at   hanging
e-Shuhada, beside Bhat’s empty grave, a black granite     the Mazar-e-Shuhada in the past 22 years.

6                     DEMOCRATIC
                                                                                                 FROM AROUND THE WORLD //

                                                                                   ICC Women’s World
                                                                                   Cup; Aussies Win
                                                                                   CRICKET\\ In this edition of the ICC Women’s Cricket
                                                                                   World, the Indian team got eliminated as early as the
                                                                                   group stages for the first time in eight editions. The
                                                                                   team lost to Sri Lanka. Runs overflowed from the
                                                                                   opponents’ bats, while the Indian side saw some way-
                                                                                   ward bowling. When it came to scoring, Indian bats-
                                                                                   women functioned at snail’s pace and failed to fire.
                                                                                   Barring Thirush Kamini’s hundred in the first game
                                                                                   and Harmanpreet Kaur’s knock against England, only
                                                                                   Karuna Jain and Poonam Raut managed half-centu-
                                                                                   ries. Reema Malhotra (38) was the highest scorer for
                                                                                   India against Sri Lanka. That was the turning point,”
In Worse Condition? An Agustawestland chopper
                                                                                   said Diana Edulji, former Test cricketer. The tourna-
                                                                                   ment which was spread over 18 days in which 24
                                                                                   matches produced outstanding individual and team
After Coalgate, its Choppergate                                                    performances, with Australia crowned champions,

AK Antony denies resignation                                                       and New Zealand captain Suzie Bates named Player
                                                                                   of the Tournament.
SCAM\\ The  Choppergate controversy began after Italian agencies arrested Fin-
                                                                                                                    THE GLORY
meccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi for suspected corruption to seal a deal made                                              CUP
with Indian officials. A CBI team and defence ministry officials left for Italy
to get more information on the alleged kickbacks in the $750 million (`3,600
crore) chopper deal. Playing down reports that he has offered to resign over
Choppergate, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said he will do his duty and be
present in the Budget Session. Answering questions on whether there were
“differences” between the government and the ministry over the scam, he ruled
out the allegations. Antony added that the government was acting together in
the matter and said that the Centre and his ministry had “nothing to hide”.
He assured that “nobody will be spared” if any wrongdoing was found. On the
other hand, Britain allegedly will help India in investigations into the alleged
AgustaWestland chopper deal controversy, Manmohan Singh said.


                                                       John Kerry; US Secretary of State John
                                                       Kerry was ceremonially sworn-in by
                                                       Vice President Joe Biden as the new
                                                       US Secretary of State. Kerry took over
                                                       from outgoing secretary Hillary Clinton
                                                       in a private ceremony. Mr Kerry was,
                                                       until then, the Democratic Senator for
                                                                                                                    WORLD              7

                                                                                                    The Flight Path (left) The trail of smoke left by the meteorite
                                                                                                    Aftermath (below) Rubbles and broken glass at the site

Meteorite Shoots Across the
Russian Sky 400 People
Injured in the ‘Fireball Shower’
METEORITE \\ Around 400 people were               Mountains. “I felt like I was blinded by head-    at the Chelyabinsk Zinc Plant but there was
injured when a meteorite shot across the sky      lights,” he said. No fatalities were reported     no environmental threat, a plant spokeswom-
in central Russia in mid-February sending         but President Vladimir Putin, who was due         an said. Such incidents are rare. A meteorite
fireballs crashing to Earth, smashing win-        to host Finance Ministry officials from the       is thought to have devastated an area of more
dows and setting off car alarms. Residents        Group of 20 nations in Moscow, and Prime          than 2,000sqkm (1,250m) in Siberia in 1908,
on their way to work in Chelyabinsk heard         Minister Dmitry Medvedev were informed            smashing windows as far as 200km (125m)
what sounded like an explosion, saw a bright      immediately regarding the incident. A             from the point of impact. The Emergencies
light and then felt a                                                  ministry official said the   Ministry described the events as a “meteor
shockwave, according to                                                meteor shower may have       shower in the form of fireballs” and said
a Reuters correspondent            There was a                         been connected with an       background radiation levels were normal. It
in the industrial city
1,500km (950m) east of
                                 flash...and felt                      asteroid, the size of an
                                                                       Olympic swimming pool,
                                                                                                    urged residents not to panic.
                                                                                                       Chelyabinsk city authorities urged people
Moscow. The meteorite              a shockwave                         that was due to pass Earth   to stay indoors unless they needed to pick up
raced across the horizon,
leaving a long white trail
                                  that smashed                         at a distance of 27,520km
                                                                       (17,100m), but this could
                                                                                                    their children from schools and kindergar-
                                                                                                    tens. They said a blast had been heard at an
in its wake which could              windows                           not be confirmed. A          altitude of 10,000metres (32,800ft), apparent-
be seen as far as 200km
(125m) away in Yekater-
                                   – bystander                         loud noise, resembling
                                                                       an explosion, rang out
                                                                                                    ly signalling it occurred when the meteorite
                                                                                                    entered Earth’s atmosphere. The US space
inburg. Mobile phones                                                  at around 9.20am. The        agency NASA has said an asteroid known
worked only intermittent-                                              shockwave could be felt      as 2012 DA14, about 46metres in diameter,
ly. Chelyabinsk city authorities said about 400   in apartment buildings in the industrial city’s   would have an encounter with Earth closer
people sought medical help, mainly for light      centre. “I was standing at a bus stop, seeing     than any asteroid since scientists began rou-
injuries caused by flying glass. “I was driving   off my girlfriend,” said Andrei, a resident.      tinely monitoring them about 15 years ago.
to work, it was quite dark, but it suddenly       “Then there was a flash and I saw a trail of         Television, weather and communications
became as bright,” said Viktor Prokofiev,         smoke across the sky and felt a shockwave         satellites fly about 500m (800km) higher. The
36, a resident of Yekaterinburg in the Urals      that smashed windows.” A wall was damaged         moon is 14 times farther away.

8               DEMOCRATIC
                                                                                                            FROM AROUND THE WORLD //

                                                                                                                     SALT    &
Hyderabad Blast Kills 16
                                                                                                              FUNNY ONE-LINERS POP-
BLASTS\\ Twin bomb                    south of Musi (river) in        and the second near                     UP AS THE POPE CALLS IT
blasts rocked Hyderabad               the southern part of the        Konark theatre. Reports                 QUITS
on February 21, 2013,                 Andhra Pradesh capital          state over a kilogram of
killing at least 16 people            and about 15km from             explosive was used in
and injuring over 100                 the heart of the city,          each bomb. A specific
others. In the first terror           when the busy commer-           alert warning attack by               “Local soothsayer insists
strike in the city since              cial area was crowded           Pakistan-based terror-                ominously#Pope resigns
2007, the blasts triggered            with people returning           ist group was allegedly               & lightning bolt strikes
by Improvised Explosive               home. The first blast           shared by central secu-
Devices (IED) tied to                 took place around 7pm           rity agencies with Hyder-
two bicycles took place               near a tiffin centre oppo-      abad police on Thursday               by Italian Helicopter
in Dilsukhnagar area,                 site Venkatadri theatre         morning, officials said.    scandal..Comprende?” Dilip Cherian@
                                                                                                  DILIPtheCHERIAN | Columnist

Sri Lankan Army faces flak after                                                                            “Since#Pope’s resigna-
photographs surface Slain LTTE                                                                             tion, lightning has hit
Chief’s Son Allegedly Murdered                                                                             St Peters, a quake struck
                                                                                                  south of Rome, and now Etna is
                                                                                                  erupting.” benwedeman@bencnn | Twitterati

                                                                                                              “#Pope Benedict Resigned
                                                                                                              to Avoid Arrest, Seizure of
                                                                                                              Church Wealth by Easter”
                                                                                                  Anonymous 4thEstate @4thAnon | Hackers

                                                                                                             “Apparently special break-
                                                                                                            fasts are being served on
                                                                                                            the 1st March, the day
A Victim? A file photo of Balachandran Prabhakaran before his death
                                                                                                  after the #Pope stands down—
                                                                                                  Ex Benedict.”
ALLEGATION \\ A series of photographs showing Balachandran Prabhakaran, son of                    Barra Best @barrabest | Twitterati
Villupillai Prabhakaran, head of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), shot
and dead were revealed recently leading to allegations that the boy’s death may
have been slaughter. The allegations were brought to the fore by Channel 4, one of                        “I just want to point out that
the leading UK media channels. One of the photos shows the boy sitting in a bun-                          Noah was more than 500
ker, alive and unharmed, apparently in the custody of Sri Lankan troops. Another                          years old when he built the
picture which was taken a few hours later shows the boy’s body lying on the                       ark. #Pope #quitter”
ground, his chest pierced by bullets. The images, contained in a new documentary,
                                                                                                  Leith McPherson @leithmcp | Twitterati
No Fire Zone, are slated to be screened at the Geneva Human Rights Film Festival
during the UN Human Rights Council meeting in March 2013, suggest that the
boy of 11 years was captured alive and killed at a later stage.

                                                                                                                               WORLD          9
foreign despatches

                                                                                                        New York,

 Are Indian
                                                                                                                     RAHUL CHOUDAHA A
                                                                                                                     higher education specialist
                                                                                                                     based out of New York, Dr
                                                                                                                     Choudaha blogs on www.
                                                                                                                     DrEducation.com and

B-schools in a
                                                                                                                     specialises in strategic
                                                                                                                     management of higher
                                                                                                                     education, institution
                                                                                                                     building, collaborations
                                                                                                                     and market development.
                                                                                                                     He holds a PhD in

bubble, as US
                                                                                                                     higher education from
                                                                                                                     the University of Denver,
                                                                                                                     an MBA from NITIE,
                                                                                                                     Mumbai, and BE from
                                                                                                                     Jabalpur University. He
                                                                                                                     edits a blog, DrEducation.

colleges are?
                                                                                                                     com and writes, speaks
                                                                                                                     and consults on trends
                                                                                                                     related to student mobility,
                                                                                                                     collaborations, quality and
                                                                                                                     policy at the intersection
                                                                                                                     of research, marketing,
                                                                                                                     technology and strategy

   ARE INDIAN B-schools in a bubble, as some experts are claiming
that American colleges are? Joseph Schumpeter, in a recent article in
The Economist entitled The Latest Bubble? argues the American higher
education bubble is already beginning to burst. He quotes PayPal co-        B-schools and corresponding media frenzy associated with corpo-
founder, Peter Thiel, “Higher education fills all the criteria for a bub-   rate top pay packages.
ble: tuition costs are too high, debt loads are too onerous, and there is     The social prestige associated with an MBA has also contributed
mounting evidence that the rewards are over-rated.”                         to the demand for MBAs. One crude indicator is the matrimonial
  This claim is also applicable to Indian B-schools. With more              classifieds, where an MBA degree is often positioned as a measure of
than 3,000 such schools in the country, India has three times more          success and achievement. We can also see it when someone says that
B-schools than the US. This difference becomes stark when one               they have an MBA vs MEd—we are already judging that the person
considers that the size of the Indian economy is one-tenth of the US        with an MBA is “better” than one with an MEd. These social stereo-
economy. The result is poor quality education and an oversupply of          types of MBAs as a measure of success have contributed to undue and
MBA graduates which, in turn, increase unemployability and under-           irrational expectations for people to pursue them.
employability among graduates. According to economists Karl Case              On the supply side, given the appetite for MBA degrees, many
and Robert Shiller, a bubble represents “A situation in which exces-        entrepreneurs and politicians have seen an opportunity to make easy
sive public expectations for future price increases cause prices to be      money. The barriers to entry to start a B-school are quite low, both in
temporarily elevated”. In other words, a bubble simply represents an        terms of financial and regulatory requirements. These barriers are
over-estimation of future expected returns. Based on this simple defi-      even lower if one ignores the regulatory requirements. In addition,
nition, we can clearly see that Indian B-schools are in a bubble. On        the emergence of new models—especially the one-year MBA and
the demand side—from students and families—expectations of social           distance learning—have accelerated the supply of MBA programmes,
prestige and career advancement from an MBA degree are reaching a           many of which are not recognised by AICTE. The result is too many
level of irrational exuberance. Similarly, on the supply side, promoters’   unrecognised, poor quality MBA programmes in the market. So,
expectations of earning easy money are also blown out of proportion.        what is the way out? One of the ways out seems to be the foreign uni-
  One of the characteristics of a bubble is “herd behaviour”. This          versities bill which is hanging fire. India must wake up to the need
can be seen in the large number of students who continue to aspire          for internationalisation of higher education and put in place a policy
to an MBA degree. MBAs are perceived to offer a safe and reward-            framework to address concerns, if it wants to reap the benefits. The
ing career path. This perception, and accompanying herd behaviour,          foreign universities bill has turned out to be like a car with square
are largely driven by the salary war (read: inflated salaries) among        wheels. Though the bill is still awaiting approval of the Parliament,

10              DEMOCRATIC
                                                                                                     foreign despatches
                                                                                                          NOTES FROM THE DIA SPOR A //

                                      “According to
it has generated excitement
                                        the Ministry                        absolute scores are still considered the only benchmark for admis-
among many institutions in            of Labour and                         sions, ISB adopted a holistic admissions process on the lines of the
India. There are questions
about the bill’s effectiveness
                                      Employment,                           best B-schools by integrating personal interviews and essays. This
                                                                            expanded the choice for many talented students. Unfortunately, regu-
and relevance. Also, there are        while 12.8mn                          latory structures had tried to restrict the ISB model and its growth.
a few foreign institutions, like
Lancaster University, which
                                          people are                        India is slated to become a top ranking talent provider, globally by
                                                                            2020, provided it brings about quantitative and qualitative changes in
decided not to wait for the bill       added to the                         its vocational and doctoral studies curricula. As of now, they are poor
and have started their cam-
puses in partnership with
                                        labour force                        cousins to the more lucrative course choices for India’s youth. The
                                                                            two extremes of post-secondary education, vocational and doctoral, are
GD Goenka.                                  annually,                       facing acute quantitative and qualitative challenges in attracting talent,
   This is an example of how
a disjointed approach can
                                          vocational                        delivering value and meeting society’s expectations. Vocational edu-
                                                                            cation is impaled on the quantitative front by the large gap between
render a policy irrelevant.                training is                      demand and supply.
It highlights the need for a
comprehensive internation-
                                            available                          According to the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government
                                                                            of India, while 12.8mn people are added to the labour force annually,
alisation policy on higher edu-              to only a                      vocational training is available to only a miniscule 4.3mn. On the
cation which can maximise
the relevance and benefits at
                                           miniscule                        qualitative scale lies the dismal skill development and training scenar-
                                                                            io. A report by the World Bank notes that over 60 per cent of gradu-
three primary levels: infusing                4.3mn”                        ates from the vocational stream in India remain unemployed even
excellence, encouraging insti-                                              three years after graduation. If vocational training is in shambles, not
tutional diversity and building                                             much can be written about the postdoctoral education system either,
capacity. Jane Knight defined internationalisation as the “process of       struggling with the issues of quality and accessibility. According to the
integrating an international, intercultural or global dimension into        Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India,
the purpose, functions or delivery of postsecondary education.” This        universities enrolled nearly 36,000 students in doctoral programmes
definition clarifies that internationalisation is a much broader, more      in 2005-06—a small number for one of the largest education systems
comprehensive and flexible concept. It recognises and encourages            in the world enrolling more than 8.5mn students at the undergradu-
diverse approaches and accepts that there is no one prescriptive for-       ate level. Despite such a small number, concerns for quality have
mula for all institutions. The context in India is different, and so, the   been growing. Challenges faced by vocational and doctoral educa-
concept of internationalisation should be adapted to the unique chal-       tion systems in India are complex and dynamic, wherein choices are
lenges and needs of the country.                                            driven by societal and labour market rewards. Competition for scarce
   There is no denying that Indian higher education is struggling to        resources and jobs is high. As a result, there is a marked preference
infuse quality at the systemic level. Consider the recent case of the       for career paths with low risk and high employability.
100 per cent cut-off requirement by the Sri Ram College of Com-                Five major changes proposed at societal, policy and institutional lev-
merce, Delhi, for admission to undergraduate programme. Instances           els, will pave the way for better post-secondary education in India.
like these question the whole premise that Indian higher education             The Indian post-secondary education system needs to recognise
is reforming and expanding access to college courses. In reality, the       the value of institutional diversity. To quote noted higher education
availability of quality institutions is unable to keep pace with demand.    researcher Frans van Vught, member of the Group of Policy Advisors
Indian institutions are facing a crisis of confidence where many            to the President of the European Commission, diversity among insti-
students are aspiring for the same select institutions. A systematic        tutions is expected to “…better serve the needs of the labour market,
approach to internationalisation may help bring in global good prac-        offer more and better access to a larger student body and allow insti-
tices and more high-quality institutions. For example, in just a decade,    tutional specialisation by which the effectiveness of the overall higher
ISB, Hyderabad, has emerged as an inspiration for many other Indian         education system increases.”
institutions. It is a hallmark of global practices adoption, covering          He adds that institutional diversity offers various career pathways to
admissions, teaching, research and governance. In a country where           students and stimulates upward social mobility.

                                                                                                                              WORLD              11
                                                            cover story
                                                       THE KITE RUNNER //

Former Finance Minister and BJP politician
Yashwant Sinha talks of his journey into the world of
administrative services, politics, inspiration and his mentor
                                By Rohini Banerjee
                                Photographs by Subhojit Paul
                                Design by Sameer Kishore

                                                                WORLD       13
cover story

                                             ere is a small story.
                                                        It starts in a place called     blur of colours; colours of bright kites and glass marbles.
                                                        Kadamkuan in Patna in           These were the games he would cherish playing with his
                                                        the 1940s. For those who        neighbourhood gang in those sprawling compounds and
                                                        are from the eastern part of    fields of Kadamkuan. Then, there was a game called
                                                        India, they may be familiar     “chance”. A mix between “catch me if you can” or “lock-
                         with the place. For those unaware, Kadamkuan remains           and-key”, he was the master of this game, being quick on
                         in the living memory because it was home to Jayaprakash        his feet. Up the walls and over the fields he would tear
                         Narayan. Jayaprakash Narayan, JP, Jayaprakash or               through, spending his hours. But, it was flying kites which
                         Loknayak—one of the most prominent freedom fighters            he was obsessed with. So obsessed in fact that one of his
                         and social activists—was known by many names. He               recurrent childhood dreams was of him and his friends
                         was to lead a movement in the early 1970s against the          running after one particularly large bright kite. Confident
                         Centre’s regime. However, this is not the story of JP. It is   of his abilities, and an eternal optimist, the lad would
                         of a young lad, also from Kadamkuan, and who was to            manage to catch the string right at the end, beating the
                         hold JP in the highest esteem so much so to pave a path        rest; all the time.
                         according to the elder man’s ideals. The young lad was            The idyllic childhood games were paused when he
                         so enchanted by the movement and the man at its helm           was led to Sir Ganesh Dutta Patliputra High English
                         that he would, years later, change his career path as a        School. The name of the particular institution was longer
                         tribute to him. But we get ahead of ourselves. Revert to the   and grander than its premises. Housed in a disputed
                         Kadamkuan of the 1940s.                                        building, there was a legal war being waged between the
                            The area was home to several eminent people who had         school authorities and the land-lord, who also happened
                         made their houses with sprawling compounds in the              to be the neighbourhood lawyer. One day the legal battle
                         “New Area”, built after the 1934 Bihar Earthquake—             ended, and the boy and his friends hurried to their classes
                         one of the worst recorded earthquakes in this country’s        to discover (to their unbridled joy) that desks had being
                         history. In New Area, there also lived a large family of       thrown while text books lay strewn on the ground like
                         seven brothers and four sisters and their parents in a large   flotsam. With alacrity students went back to their homes
                         rented house. The protagonist of our story is the seventh      to declare their independence from studies to alarmed
                         brother and the ninth child of this family. The boy, as        parents. That holiday continued for fourth months, after
                         it would be clear later, was a late bloomer. Being one of      which the school was re-started and re-established on a
                         the youngest, he was left to his devices for a long period     new premise, a little further ahead, and the kite, marble
                         of time. Till he was seven, no one in the family really        and chance games were put away for a bit longer.
                         worried enough about him to send him to school. His               In that school, our protagonist continued his studies.
                         elder siblings home schooled him and he learnt the letters,    Academics was yet to become a priority (such a contrast
                         alphabets and basic arithmetic thanks to his brothers.         to his later life). His elder brothers had taken care of
                         Probably, when he became too inquisitive or noisy, he is       that legacy or burden; call it what you will. Most of
                         not too sure which of his attributes was to blame, one         them were intuitively good in their studies. There were
                         of his much-elder brothers caught hold of him and took         few regrets or complaints in that family, barring one.
                         him to the nearest school in the neighbourhood—a walk          None of the excellent academically brilliant brothers had
                         from his home. Thus, till seven, life was immersed in the      managed to crack the Union Public Service Commission

14         DEMOCRATIC

                                                                                                             of a Swadeshi

                                          “A high-ranking IPS officer was present
                              in my interview panel. He saw my NCC record and
                              asked me why had I placed IPS so low on my rung
                                of priorities. I said, just because I had excelled in
                               the NCC, it did not necessarily mean that I should
                              be condemned to a life of a policeman. I think that
                                            statement might have sealed my fate”
                                                                                                                —Yashwant Sinha

Examinations or UPSC—as of then. None of them
belonged to the government cadre. However, our young
protagonist was least plagued by such worries; now in
Class VIII, he had consecutively failed his mathematics
examinations (and scored a solid zero twice in a row).
He had bigger problems on his mind. And then there was
this new emotion that he was feeling increasingly. In a
gist, he was starting to feel inadequate.
  In that New Area of Kadamkuan, where all the
eminent people lived, there were also the children of those
eminent people. Our protagonist was a friendly chap
with friends from all sections and some of them went to
“good” schools. They came back with tales of class and
home work and a better curricula. It made the boy think
that perhaps, he, too, wanted to be in a “good school”.
Suddenly Sir Ganesh Dutta Patliputra High English
School did not seem adequate. So, the carefree lad who
bothered more about kites than kilogram tables, went up
to his parents. For the first time, he demanded to be put in
a”good” school. In those days admission was an informal
affair. The boy’s father—bemused by the change in his
youngest son—obliged. He spoke to people and there
ended the Patliputra days and a new chapter started in
the reputed Patna Collegiate School.

There are few people who can narrate a story well.
There are even fewer still, who can do it quickly.
Former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha is one of                  A bureaucrat-turned-politician, Yashwant Sinha is
the few who blessed with a sharp memory, solid hold            considered by many as one of the Finance Ministers
over words, and more importantly, a deliciously self-          who transformed the Indian economy. He has
deprecating, yet confident, sense of humour, which             been held in high-esteem by his friends, and more
makes him an excellent narrator. He not only tells a           importantly, by his foes, as a man of character. His
story crisply and lucidly, but also, takes his audience        life has been impressive—early on he tasted success
into its very fabric. Thus, when he speaks of his              as a bureaucrat. Then Sinha took a U-turn to enter
seven-year-old self—dreaming of a kite and running             Indian politics with a ticket from Janata Dal. He
after it—you are with him. You can sense his hope              served as a spokesperson for Bharatiya Janata Party
and determination.                                             (BJP), served stints as the Foreign and Finance

                                                                                                                           WORLD    15
cover story

                                                         “I could be a
                                                         minister if I wanted
                                                         to be, but you
                                                         cannot be an IAS
                                                         officer even if you
                                                            —Yashwant Sinha
                                                            A retort to a former CM of Bihar

                         Ministers in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.            quite an arrogant person. From his stories, however,
                         However, Sinha is perhaps best remembered as an              the BJP member emerges as an intuitive person—in
                         administrative officer who held important posts for          control of his destiny. As he shares his life story, the
                         24 years upholding Indian concerns in international          root cause of his confidence emerges. As a student
                         conferences and in social and political delegations.         hailing from a Hindi-medium, neighbourhood
                           At the end of the day, the man who sits across             school, Sinha struggled to gain the confidence of his
                         me in his political uniform of a crisp kurta-pyjama          new teachers in the reputed Patna Collegiate School.
                         and a Nehru jacket, is ready with a smile. Being             And the label of being a “Hindi-medium student” was
                         the storyteller, he does not make his life seem less         one that he carried into his college and Master’s days.
                         or more than what it was, or is. He swings between             Sinha recalls one particular teacher who seemed
                         being self-deprecating and confident. Sometimes,             to take pleasure in pointing out his mistakes. He
                         with a hearty laugh or with a smile that his seven-          took to referring Sinha as the “Patliputra Boy”. In
                         year-old self might have flashed, he admits to being         those days of strict attendance and roll calls, students

     TIME LINE                                                                                                                   Resigned from
                                                                                                 Worked as the                   the Indian
                                            Completed his Master's                               Consul General                  Administrative
                                            in political science from                            of India from                   Service and joined
                                            Patna University                                     Frankfurt                       active politics

                                    1937             1958         1960            1971               1973          1980               1984

                                Born in Patna,                  Selected         Served as First                  Served as
                                Bihar, to Late                  for Indian       Secretary at the                 the Joint
                                Dhana Devi and                  Administrative   Indian Embassy in                Secretary in
                                Bipin Bihari Saran              Service          Bonn in Germany                  the Ministry
                                                                                                                  of Surface

16         DEMOCRATIC
                                                                                                                                cover story
                                                                                                                           THE KITE RUNNER //

were marked FA—fled away—if they were missing                    (Master’s), a fierce debater, the young man was
from afternoon classes and roll calls. An indisposed             preparing himself unknowingly for a life under the
Sinha, hoping to be excused from classes, wrote an               public glare. The pressure he put himself through,
application for leave one afternoon. He, however,                was not for a career. He wanted to be a man of several
mispelt key words; headache and permission. Not                  parts, and shed the Patliputra label. This was like
only did his teacher cancel his request, he read out             his dream again—chasing a goal, only this time, his
the misspellings before the class. Sinha did not mind            rivals were not his neighbourhood boys but young
                                                                                                                                “Everyone in the
the Patliputra Baggage, as he saw it. Instead, he chose          men who came from English-medium schools.                      college was a friend.
to concentrate on his lessons and in a short span he               “Everyone in the college was a friend. I have some           I have some of these
was one of the top students.                                     of these old friends in my life still. However, there          old friends in my life
  “Patna Collegiate School produced large numbers                are a core group of three of us who came from Hindi-           still. However, there
of first-division state rankers. When my batch                   medium background. One day we decided that we
                                                                                                                                are a core group of
                                                                                                                                three of us who came
passed out, we were just 11 first-division boys. The             would speak to each other in English and English               from Hindi-medium
usual score was around 25. Though the school did                 only. Determined, we dispersed for the day. Next day           background. One
comparatively worse, a Patliputra Student got through            onwards, we started to avoid each other like plague.           day we decided that
one of the most reputed colleges of the region, (Patna           If we spotted anyone, we would try to look the other           we would speak
College),” Sinha says with a chuckle.                            way. For a while, we judiciously continued to avoid
                                                                                                                                to each other in
                                                                                                                                English and English
  In those days, Matriculation was followed by an                each other, till I decided that we couldn’t carry on.          only. Determined,
Intermediate degree, then two years of Bachelor’s                My friends and I decided we would converse in                  we dispersed for
and two more years of Master’s. The memory of the                English, but occasionally,” he said breaking into a            the day. Next day
consecutive zeros had managed to scar Sinha enough               booming laugh.                                                 onwards, we started
to wipe traces of arithmetic from his life. He happily
                                                                                                                                to avoid each other
                                                                                                                                like plague. If we
moved into liberal arts. Little did he know that years           THE PUNJAB MAIL                                                spotted anyone, we
later, numbers would be a part of his every day life             “In college, I decided to break my Hindi-medium                would try to look
as the Finance Minister. Also, he knew that he never             mold and joined the debate team. The best orator               the other way. For a
wished to be a “boxwallah”—a jargon used to describe             among us was a young man who came from Doon                    while, we judiciously
a corporate guy, derived from the large number of                School. There was no way I could beat his skills.
                                                                                                                                continued to avoid
                                                                                                                                each other, till I
Patna youths who opted to be employed at Metal Box               Instead, I decided to be the second-best. I joined his         decided that we
India Limited.                                                   team for an Intermediate Debate, a pretty prestigious          couldn't carry on. My
  On one hand, Sinha was becoming stronger in                    event, held between top colleges in Patna, namely the          friends and I decided
academics, on the other his parents were getting                 Patna Women’s College, Magadh College and some                 we would converse
alarmed, even their sixth son had failed to crack the            more. I doggedly prepared a five-minute speech.
                                                                                                                                in English, but
UPSC tests. So, Sinha was to be their last hope. As a            And then rote learnt it while pacing the banks of
student of history (Bachelor’s) and political science            the Ganga. I went and delivered it without pausing.            —Yashwant Sinha

                                           Served as the
                                           Finance Minister                                       Served as the
                                           in Prime Minister                 Served as the                                                   Resigned from
                                                                             Finance Minister     Foreign Minister
                                           Chandrasekhar's                                        in the Atal Bihari                         the post of
                                           cabinet                           in the Atal Bihari                                              Vice-President
           Elected to the                                                    Vajpayee ministry    Vajpayee ministry
           Rajya Sabha                                                                                                                       of BJP

1986         1988            1989               1990           1996                1998            2002                 2004                       2009

Became the                                                     Became the national                             Was defeated in the
                            Became the                                                                         Lok Sabha elections
All-India General                                              spokesperson of the
                            General Secretary                                                                  from the Hazaribagh
Secretary of the                                               Bharatiya Janata Party
                            of Janata Dal                                                                      constituency in Bihar
Janata Party

                                                                                                                                    WORLD            17
cover story

“After his death, I finally joined active
politics as a tribute to him”                                                 —Yashwant Sinha
                                                                              On his life mentor, Jayaprakash Narayan

                         Friends later informed me that I had earned a              remains were discovered recently, I hope you have
                         nickname—Punjab Mail—one of the few fast trains            heard”, he informs me). He also played Sergius in
                         travelling from Patna in those days for my non-            Arms and the Man. He was one of the active members
                         stop rant. Though, I was forewarned, I continued           of the National Cadet Corps from his school days.
                         in the same breathless fashion in the main debate.         His participation also earned him a seat at Indian
                         Thankfully, my partner, (Doon student) was an              Military Academy in Dehradun. “I took part in the
                         excellent orator. Together we bagged the team cup. I       Republic Day parade, I was an NCC cadre. I was on
                         realised that I loved debating.” Due to his relentless     stage acting and debating. If there is a single regret
                         pursuing of all debate competitions, he soon became        that I have, is rejecting the military academy offer. I
                         one of the busiest and best debaters of his college.       was and remain fascinated by the military uniform. I
                           The incident sheds light on yet another impressive       have a tremendous respect for the men and women
                         attribute laudable in Sinha. Faced with any                who go to war for our well-being. I have to make do by
                         impediment, he has always managed to see it as a           reading fiction based around wars,” he says.
                         challenge, and turned it around to his advantage. And        Even if the Army uniform was not for him, another
                         through it all, he often manifested the energy and         uniform was waiting. That of a civil servant. He was
                         rigour of a seven year old pursuing his kite. In college   almost ready for his role having chosen the “right
                         he took up multiple activities; theatre being one.         subject” and the “right attitude”. Sinha interjects and
                         He played Lord Hastings in Richard the Third (“His         states he just had an attitude. Though he was one of

18         DEMOCRATIC
                                                                                                                         cover story
                                                                                                                    THE KITE RUNNER //

                                                                         RAPID FIRE
the top scorers in the civil entrance tests, he scored
poorly in the Viva Voce (140 out of 400) something
he suspects was due to one of his answers. “A high-
ranking IPS officer was present in my interview
panel. He saw my NCC record and asked me why had
                                                                 Tribute to a Mentor
I placed IPS so low on my list of priorities. I said,             If his world travel
just because I had excelled in the NCC, it did not                shows his confident
necessarily mean that I should be condemned to a life             stride, the mention
of a policeman,” he says, laughing. Even if his answer            of JP throws up a
was not smart, his scores were—enough for him to                  softer side of Sinha.
get through the Bihar Cadre of the IAS. Punjab Mail               He becomes mellow
was right on track.                                               and contemplative.
                                                                  Not joining the Indian
“I COULD BE A MINISTER, BUT YOU                                   Army, and active poli-
CANNOT BE AN IAS OFFICER”                                         tics sooner, are the two
First the district training course in Arrah, then as              regrets he harbours.
a sub-divisional officer at Giridih and then finally
becoming the Deputy Commissioner of the Santhal                   “There were two chanc-
Paraganas, Sinha rose through the ranks quickly. His              es I had to work with JP
stint was marked by difficulties—one of them being                closely. At the end of
the 1967 Bihar Famine. Though the situation was                   1974, when I was back
tragic, it brought him a step closer to his childhood             to India, JP was in the
hero–Jayaprakash Narayan.                                         middle of his protests against the Indira Gandhi regime. He offered me a chance
  “I had grown up hearing stories of the man being                to manage the Rajendra Memorial Trust and run the Peace Corps parallel to it. In
tied to a slab of ice, being tortured and yet never               exchange I would have received a token salary of Rs 500 and a small apartment.
giving in. I had grown to idiolise him. During                    My wife and I went to a common friend's house where I wanted to formerly seal
the Bihar Famine, JP was leading the Bihar Relief                 the deal. JP's wife, Prabhavatiji, hugged my wife to welcome her to the family.
Committee. In order to help him out, I organised an               Allegedly, my wife shed a tear. She understood that my and her's lives were to
entertainment programme. We managed to gather a                   change. JP saw her reaction. He later told me that even if I was ready to quit my
sum of `1 lakh, which I presented to the committee.               comfortable life, my family was not. So, he asked me to wait a bit longer. In 1984,
He acknowledged our effort by agreeing to meet me.                I tried again. Some well-meaning politician friends stopped me. After his death, I
Two days before the scheduled meeting, the then                   finally joined active politics as a tribute to him.”
CM of Bihar (who shall be unnamed) and his CPI
friend visited my office. In those days, government               Sinha first joined the Janata Party, then the Janata Dal, and then the Samajwadi
ministers manifested their superiority by behaving                Janata Party. Finally luck brought him to the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1993, and
badly with bureaucrats. I had heard so many horror                he heads its Policy Formulation Action Group (PFAG). A Member of Parliament
tales that I was pretty nervous about the meeting.                and former Finance and Foreign Minister of India, he has finally found his place.
It turned out to be as bad as I expected. We had a                “Though you have not asked me, but others do. No, I have never regretted quit-
tiff,” he remembers. At the end of the argument,                  ting the Indian Administrative Services. And yes, this is what I was meant to do.”
Sinha uttered his “famous last words”—“I could be a               It seems that the man in question has found his uniform at last. The kite runner
minister if I wanted to be, but you cannot be an IAS              has caught his prize yet again.
officer even if you wanted”.
  “I was nearly suspended. However, the worst bit
was that I never got to meet JP,” he recalls.
    That meeting with JP was to be further postponed,      arrogance, had his journey been easy. However, it was
as Sinha would do rounds of top official posts in both     well-earned one. Confidence is key to his being—it
Indian and foreign shores before landing up in India       is not a matter of how one perceives himself, but
in 1974. His stint at the Ministry of Commerce took        how others perceives a confident being. Say, even a
him all over the world. I was tempted to ask, for a        nation. “I was in Germany when the Pokhran Tests
man who battled with the English language for so           happened. Overnight, I noticed the world’s perception
long, how was it to actually land on shores were it        of us had changed. When India lend a helping hand
was spoken? “I felt that it was long overdue, my visit     to the emerging nation-state of Bangladesh, India’s
to those places,” he says with a laugh. There is a flash   stocks rose further globally. A nation, I believe deeply,
of his confidence again. We would have labelled it         has to be strong and confident in order to emerge.”

                                                                                                                             WORLD              19
social agenda

        Go Ahead And
       Make A Scene
         An online six second video app is taking the
         world by storm              BY TUSHAR KANWAR

20         DEMOCRATIC
                                                                                                            social agenda
                                                                                                 GO AHE AD AND MAKE A SCENE //

S                                                                                                   TIPS & TOOLS
         ix seconds. That’s the sort of time it   stitched together video is decidedly low-
         takes for a luxury sedan to hit 100      definition to boot! The videos even remind
         kmph, or how long most recruiters        me of the animated GIF files people have
look at the average resume before making          been putting up on the Internet for well        1. For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn,
a ‘fit or no-fit’ decision. Of late though,       over a decade now!                              is one of Earnest Hemmingway's short
six seconds has assumed a whole new                 Yet, in less than a couple of weeks since     stories. Not the title of the story, but
meaning in the social space courtesy Vine,        Twitter launched the Vine app for the           the story itself. If Hemmingway could
a new app released by social networking           iPhone (an Android app is in the works),        say all he had to in six words, you could
titan Twitter. What Vine does is let people       media houses have used it to report sto-        certainly do that in 6 seconds. What
shoot and share six-second looped videos,         ries, brands have used it to create ads         you need to know is how to 'cut the
turning the person on the street into a           and contests and designers at New York          crap.' When the time is less, choose
mini-movie-maker.                                 Fashion Week have broadcasted real-time         your content wisely and say what you
   Sounds like you’ve heard this pitch            backstage clippings during the show.            have to. Only, what you have to. Period.
before? Sure, tonnes of apps have tried to        Celebs like Paul McCartney and Arnold
                                                                                                  2. Vine could get you your 'six seconds
bring mobile video sharing to the main-           Schwarzenegger are already on it, sharing
                                                                                                  of fame'. However, that shall only
stream, but where Vine excels–its secret          snippets of their lives.
                                                                                                  happen if you remember to keep it
sauce, so to speak–is its simplicity. (Of           Not to mention the bad press the app
                                                                                                  real and more importantly original.
course, having the backing of Twitter and         has gotten for initial glut of smut upload-
                                                                                                  Sourcing other people's videos could
a direct connection to its hundreds of mil-       ed by users, leading Apple to slap it with
                                                                                                  land you in the Vine Hall of Shame.
lion active users doesn’t hurt either!) At its    a 17+ rating. You see, like everything else
core is the idea that sharing a video can be      online, Vine users shared inappropriate         3. Make a plan and stick to it. When
almost as simple as sending out a tweet,          videos on the network a.k.a porn. But           treading on new waters, you need
and just as Twitter’s 140-character limit         that’s not the biggest of complaints I have     to be better prepared. Therefore, it
forces people to write more efficiently,          with the service. Basic features, such as       would be best to make a plan and
Vine’s six-second limit challenges you to         the ability to find people to follow, are       follow it, that will help you navigate
use visuals that convey (and get to) your         broken. You can’t change the title or tags      better through the new platform,
point faster. But besides that incredibly         of the video once it is posted, or block        will keep you organised and help
simple premise, it’s pretty easy to use as        people who post offensive comments. You         you conquer the space faster.
well. Touch the screen to record. Lift your       can’t save or export content. You can’t use
finger to stop. Fill six seconds, write a         the front facing camera on your iPhone          4. Be up-to-date. If you don't keep
caption and post immediately, either to           to record the Vine, only the rear camera.       up with the changing times, you'll be
Twitter, Facebook, or Vine’s own network.         And oh yes, the service isn’t available on      left behind. Keep an eye on what your
That’s it.                                        any other platform other than Apple’s,          peers are doing; keep a track of the
   Sounds simple enough, right? What’s            which cuts out a ton of folks who could         latest trends. Make notes, brainstorm,
more interesting is that compared to              be vine-ing today! If you get a feeling it’s    pick ideas and implement them.
social video apps that have been around           a rushed service without all basic features
                                                                                                  5. Be Unforgettable: Keep your
recently, Vine is as easily characterized         of today’s social networks, that’s not
                                                                                                  content fresh and keep it flowing. If
by what’s not there. For example, there’s         entirely incorrect.
                                                                                                  your content is not innovative, and
no way to edit your video, no Instagram-
                                                                                                  more importantly, is not flowing in
like filters, not even a playback button          VINE @ BUSINESS                                 regularly, people will forget you.
to review your video. The focus is front-           Not surprisingly, it’s easy to get hooked
                                                                                                  And that would be the end of the
and-center on the short stop-motion               onto the service, watching streams of
                                                                                                  road for you. So remember to keep
video you shoot. Heck, forget editing your        sometimes inane, sometimes remark-
                                                                                                  it fresh and keep it coming.
video, you can't even upload a video from         able videos that creative minds across the
your phone’s media gallery, and the final         world are dishing out. But is there more

                                                                                                                        WORLD                 21
social agenda

                                                                                                                        BLOG WATCH
to Vine than cute puppy, cat and baby
videos? Is there a professional connection
to the service, as businesses grapple with
how they can best leverage their 6-sec-
                                               The Girl Who
onds-of-fame on this new social network?
   Absolutely, if the past few weeks are
                                               Walked Out...
anything to go by. Already, marketers and      A man who touts himself as a ‘one-man           we were required to be ‘modest’. So
retailers are pushing out how-to videos        army for social reform’, Dr Rajith Kumar        we’d read all about patriarchy in Virginia
of their latest products, showing off the      recently delivered a talk at a Trivandrum       Woolf’s gently mocking, quietly angry
product in action. Restaurateurs and cof-      college to discuss ‘gender equality’.           style and laugh at that absurd declara-
fee shops are pushing out recipes for the      Since it takes 10 minutes for a man to          tion form we all signed. Some would
day, promoting their menus and giving          transfer his sperm to a woman and 10            wear sleeveless clothes and cover up
their brands a video fillip. Tech startups     months for a woman to deliver, the pro-         when going past problematic professors.
and media houses are promoting com-            fessor advised women to remain ‘within          These were small, tiny rebellions. But
pany culture by offering Vines on behind-      their limits’. He added that women              there it was that beautiful idea that our
the-scenes-looks at their offices. So, how     shouldn’t jump too much—they could              bodies were our own.
can you make Vine work for you?                displace their uterus.                          This particular incident sparked off my
   First, bear in mind that it is a new        While such misogynistic BS flies around         nostalgia because something similar
service, so pretty much everyone is learn-     often, what was spectacular about this          happened when we were students—as
ing their way around. Don’t let the hype       talk was one girl who walked out. She           a part of value education, we were
machinery make your decisions–use the          didn’t stop even when Dr Rajith made            required to attend lectures on religions.
app only if you have a clear purpose of        disparaging comments about her. I love          I will give this to Stella Maris, we were
being on the network. Your business must       her unhesitating stride, the expression         not gagged. For one on Islam, someone
have a clear reason to present videos to       of outrage on her face. I see in her a          asked the speaker why it was okay for
the world before your first Vine is posted.    hope that someday it will be considered         a man to have three wives but not for
Think of Vine as a micro-storytelling          offensive, even criminal, to express            a woman to have three husbands. The
app – clearly, you must know what story        anti-women sentiments, just as it is to         speaker said this was because it was
you are to tell for it to interest the audi-   express sentiments that are against a           ‘proven’ that women were at a higher
ence and result in commerce. Remember          religion, race or caste.                        risk of getting STDs. I asked the speaker
to keep the content original–don’t “vine”      I remember when I entered Stella Maris,         if he knew that lesbians are at the lowest
clips of movies or material that is subject    I was pretty naive. The women I met             risk for HIV transmission (lower than
to copyright–showing other people’s copy-      there shook me from my comfort zone.            heterosexuals).
righted works, even for those six seconds,     I was judgmental, moralistic even, when         He tried convincing us why wearing a
could result in legal action.                  I was in school. I read Woman’s Era sin-        purdah was a good idea—by claiming
   Once you’re on the platform, plan for       cerely and thought feminism was just a          that if two women went past a man, one
it much like any other medium–keep the         lot of screechy women. I was entrenched         wearing the purdah and one without
content fresh, and keep it coming! And as      in a thought system that I couldn’t break       it, he’d obviously look at the woman
always, keep an eye on what others from        out of—because I didn’t have the intel-         without it. Many asked him why the man
your industry are doing on the platform.       lectual backing. College changed all            couldn’t be blindfolded instead. He had
Know what’s trending on Vine, pay atten-       that. It wasn’t just the inspiring literature   no answers for any of it and ultimately
tion and take notes and incorporate the        we studied, but interactions I had with         bowed out saying he was out of time.
really compelling ideas into your own          friends. We were in a women’s college           The girl who walked out, Arya, spoke on
Vine strategy.                                 that was conventional—I remember the            Asianet later. Simply and sensibly, she
   Additional Reading: Mashable’s Going        first question during my interview was          answered that even if religions corrobo-
Viral Visualized (infographic): http://        ‘What’s your favourite book’ and just as        rated Dr Rajith, she didn’t see the point
on.mash.to/W5UTNo                              I was rambling about Shame (I thought           in upholding prejudices just because
                                               quoting a Rushdie novel would get me            they exist. I only wish her friends had
                                               a seat), they asked me a second—‘Will           walked out with her. I do hope she awak-
                 Tushar Kanwar,
                  a self-confessed             you wear sleeveless clothes to college?’        ened in them that anger we have always
                 gizmo-holic, is Benga-        It’s ironic that I found my freedom within      been taught to tame.
                 luru-based technology         these cloisters. While classes were             (The blog has been edited and modified
                 freelancer, who has
                                               primarily about writers and thinkers who        for print. To read the blog visit http://cal-
                 contributed to leading
                 Indian technology publi-      were non-conformists, on the corridors,         amur.org/gargi/)
                 cations for years.

22             DEMOCRATIC
                                     VIVEK BHANDARI | Political Analyst

                                  Sources of the
                                     Indian Self
                                Excavating India’s
                             Political Foundations

WHILE WATCHING Daniel Day-Lewis’          the connotation of these ideas really                             the self”, has always lent itself to a
riveting performance as Abraham           was in the 1860s. This begs a ques-                               variety of interpretations.
Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s biopic      tion: If the American experience is        ABOUT THE                 Acknowledging that the issue
Lincoln, many viewers were struck by      described as a story about “liberty”,        WRITER               of the raj in swaraj referred to the
how effectively the film captures the     what were the foundational ideas that                             pursuit of political independence
complexity of debates surrounding         gave shape to India’s “Indian-ness”?                              from colonial rule, and therefore the
                                                                                    DR VIVEK BHANDARI
the meanings of words like “free-         At the level of ideas, is there any       is a noted historian
                                                                                                            goal of political sovereignty, Vajpeyi
dom” and “equality,” terms that are       concept that has come to capture the      and former director     chooses instead to focus on the swa
the staple of political contestation in   story of the making of modern India?      of the Institute of     (i.e., the “self”) part of the term.
liberal democracies. National consti-     Of an India understood as an imag-        Rural Management,       Then she asks: What were the dif-
                                                                                    Anand (IRMA), a post
tutions, which delineate the param-       ined community (to use Benedict                                   ferent ways in which intellectuals,
                                                                                    that he took up after
eters for the functioning of political    Anderson’s evocative phrase) mak-         spending 15 years
                                                                                                            opposed to colonialism in the early
systems, use words and phrases            ing sense of itself as it traversed the   in the US. Today he     20th century, imagined conceptions
with connotations and are subject to      journey from colonial subjugation,        is a keen observer      of the Indian “self,” of the swa- in
multiple interpretations and read-        to political independence, and one        of a dramatically       swaraj. In pursuit of the answer, she
                                                                                    transforming India
ings. Reflecting on all that must have    that now nurtures hopes of global                                 constructs an analysis in which she
transpired in those turbulent years of    ascendency?                                                       assigns concepts that provide the
the American Civil War and it’s after-      There are many answers to these                                 framework for these individuals’ con-
math in which slavery was outlawed,       questions, this is only to be expected.                           struction of the Indian self. For MK
one cannot but marvel at the compli-      Ananya Vajpeyi, in a new book                                     Gandhi, it is ahimsa (non-violence),
cated ways in which powerful ideas        entitled Righteous Republic: The                                  for BR Ambedkar it is dukha (suffer-
like “freedom,” “equality,” and “jus-     Political Foundations of Modern India,                            ing), for Rabindranath Tagore viraha
tice” acquired the connotations they      approaches this issue in a refresh-                               (longing), for Abanindranath Tagore
did, and went on to shape the lives of    ing way. She constructs an analysis                               samvega (aesthetic shock), and for
countless Americans by redrawing          around a term that served as rallying                             Jawaharlal Nehru both dharma (aspi-
the map of race relations. One also       cry in the days of Indian nationalism                             ration) and artha (purpose). Since
realises how distinctly American—in       and continues to excite the Indian                                each of these individuals needed to
the sense of being a product of the       imagination, the idea of swaraj (self                             evolve a conceptual platform from
very specific circumstances that          rule). This term, which can mean                                  where to launch an intellectual cri-
shaped the American experience—           both “rule by the self” and “rule over                            tique of colonialism and western

24              DEMOCRATIC
                                                                                                                           VIVEK BHANDARI //
            — Write to us editorial@democraticworld.co.in

                                                      ...the idea of swaraj (self-rule)is a
                                                      term, which can mean both
                                                      “rule by the self” and “rule over
                                             the self”, has always lent itself to a vari-
modernity, these categories could
not, by design, be derived from

                                             ety of interpretations...”
European ways of thought or western
texts, but need to have their moor-
ings in the diverse Indic traditions
that populate the Indian landscape.
This was the realistic way in which
leaders could respond to the predica-
ment they faced, i.e., of articulating       “the people,” came to be imagined by      India, punctuate this mood all too
a sense of Indian sovereignty that           the makers of modern India. Just as       well. As does that fact the Indian
was not derived from the conceptual          American connotations of terms like       state is in war with many of this own
vocabulary of western modernity.             “freedom” and “equality” are deeply       people in large swathes of the central
This quest forced them “to swim out          embedded in the American history          Indian tribal heartland over issues of
into the wide deep waters of the tradi-      of slavery, empire, and capitalism,       land acquisition, cultural autonomy
tions that had once been their own.” (p.     Vajpeyi’s analysis provides us with an    for adivasis, and the management of
xvii) Thus, the “search for the self—the     approach for grasping the conceptual      natural resources.
self whose political sovereignty had to be   vocabulary shaped by India’s his-            Clearly, the aspirations for the Indi-
reinstated—took the form of an attempt       tory of colonialism and nationalism.      an republic as articulated by the five
to recover a line of moral inquiry from a    In many ways, Vajpeyi furthers the        iconic figures analysed by Vajpeyi are
welter of Indian traditions.” (p. xxi).      analysis of Sunil Khilnani’s The Idea     far from being realised. For this rea-
   The choices of these five individu-       of India by explaining how, despite       son, it is provocative to place Ananya
als reveal the distinct ways in which        the ascendency of Nehruvian concep-       Vajpeyi’s intellectual history of the
the founders of modern Indian                tions of nationalism and socialism in     idea of India characterised as a Righ-
political discourses chose to set lim-       the early years of the Indian republic,   teous Republic alongside Arundhati
its on what constitutes their India,         other imaginings have continued to        Roy’s characterisation of contem-
indeed the connotation they accorded         serve as the protagonists of India’s      porary India as a Broken Republic,
to the Indian “self”. It is noteworthy       epic journey.                             the title of her last book. While both
that the preambles of both the Indian          It is tempting to ask whether the       books are different in their objec-
and American Constitutions begin             righteousness that the early nation-      tives, style, and content, their conclu-
with the phrase “we the people”, in          builders imagined for the Indian          sions only serve to remind us of how
acknowledgement of the democratic            republic is, in fact, reflected in con-   contentiously the different Indian
principle that “the people” are the          temporary ground realities. Most          selves—from the Adivasi, Dalit, rural
sovereign power that sustain their           would answer this question in the         selves on the one hand, to the global-
respective polities. What Vajpeyi’s          negative, since the country is clearly    ising, liberalising, nationalist selves
analysis does so admirably is to             struggling to resolve a variety of        on the other—continue to shape the
deepen our grasp of how the category         social and institutional pathologies.     destiny of the Indian republic.
of the Indian self, which serves as          The ongoing debates about corrup-         (The views expressed in this column are
the basis for what is Indian about           tion and the position of women in         of the author alone)

                                                                                                                                WORLD          25
                       looking back
                            \\ MAPMYINDIA

                                      Father-son duo looks back at the process of pioneering digital maps
                                      of 5,79,000 towns and villages, street level maps of over 4,000 cities
                                      and 1.8 million kilometres of road network, and how MapmyIndia
                                      got to know India, inside out

                                       Rakesh Verma: By 2004, we realised        Rohan Verma: I was in my first year     models around the world for digital
                                       digital maps would be a crowded mar-      of electrical engineering at Stanford   maps—companies like MapQuest,
                                       ket. We knew the only thing that could    University, US, when my father had      YahooMaps and Maporama. At that
                                       differentiate us from the crowd was a     this idea— web maps. These were         time, we weren’t really thinking about
                                       brand that people could rely on. Being    early days of the internet. There had   a consumer focus as opposed to a
                                       a product company, we were nothing        been a boom and bust but people         focus on enterprise clients. We were
                                       without a brand. The first step towards   hadn’t thought of many ways of mak-     just excited by the possibilities of what
                                       making a brand was to take it to con-     ing money through the internet. I       we could do with this business. It took
                                       sumers. So, we thought of the internet.   began benchmarking the different        us three months to build the website

                       26         DEMOCRATIC
                                                                                                                            looking back
                                                                                                                                   MAPMYINDIA //

                             and load it with our digital maps. We
                             were going to call it Mappls because
                                                                        “My own experience of working with
    DOSSIER                  the enterprise and government com-         product companies in the US...shaped
                             munity knew us by that name then.
                             But, somehow this didn’t jive. One         my interest in consumer businesses.
Rakesh Verma
                             day over lunch, we came up with the
                                                                        Along with ideas and products, a
                             Rakesh Verma: When we launched             consumer business needs money. You
                             the portal in September 2004, it was a
                             hit. In months, we were getting 5,000-     cannot survive in a consumer space
  2004: Launched the
portal, MapmyIndia, in
                             6,000 unique visitors a day when inter-
                             net penetration was barely there.
                                                                        without sufficient cash...”—Rakesh Verma
September of the year. The   Rohan Verma: I think we were lucky.
entry was in the internet    We were in the right place at the right
                             time. There was no company like            of Sherpalo Ventures (who had invest-       In 2007, we were moving from being a
  2007:                      MapmyIndia in this country. When we        ed in Google, Amazon and Zynga).            software to a hardware company.
Moved from being a           launched, we also got press attention.     Kleiner Perkins and Ram Shriram             Rohan Verma: Even though we were
software to a hardware       In fact, the media has been our lucky      invested in us in August 2006. With         a small company, we gave in to the
company                      charm because we had a solid product       money in the bank, we could focus on        demands of professionals, and went
                             to back it up.                             technology. Around this time, the world     in for television and print advertising
                             Rakesh Verma: We were thrilled to          was moving from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0.         campaigns in 2008-09. But what we
                             see the traction. The scale of reaching    My father wanted us to upgrade, too.        did well and differently from other
                             out to more people is what is exciting     So, I took a quarter off from Stanford      players was that when we started sell-
                             about the consumer space. As entre-        to do this. Soon, MapmyIndia became         ing devices in 2007, we invested in
                             preneurs, we found this connect with       one of the first Web 2.0 technology por-    educating the market. We hired 150
                             people very exhilarating. Looking back,    tals in India.                              sales people on the ground. This built
                             I know we wouldn’t have enjoyed our        Rakesh Verma: Since then, we have           long-lasting value. When people went
                             journey as much if we had only stayed      raised $25 million in total, and reached    to buy our product, we had a guy at the
                             in the enterprise space. My own experi-    four investors—Kleiner Perkins Cau-         retail point. That organically created,
                             ence of working with product compa-        field and Byers, Sherpalo Ventures,         and helped perpetuate what the GPS
  NAME:                      nies in the US, and on programmes          Nexus India Capital, and last year,         was. This kind of street presence was
Rohan Verma                  like Project Saturn for GM had shaped      Zenrin Co. As a product company, we         a conventional FMCG approach but it
                             my interest in consumer businesses.        needed a lot of upfront investment.         was unconventional for a company of
                             Along with ideas and products, a con-      Plus, our challenges were greater           our size. Investing in a market before
Second generation
                             sumer business needs money. You can-       because we didn’t just create a brand,      it’s even born is what forerunners do.
                             not survive in a consumer space with-      we created an entire category. We are       That has had a lasting brand impact—
  2007: Passed out of        out sufficient cash in your war chest.     thought leaders in the mapping and          our customers associate these products
Standford                    Rohan Verma: At Stanford, I took a         navigation solutions space in India.        for us.
                             course on entrepreneurship. We had         That was tough, we enjoy the advan-         Rakesh Verma: After the GPS device
                             some great guest faculty, including        tages of being first movers and have        in 2007, we’ve launched products like
                             people from iconic venture capital         been able to sustain our market share       mobile maps, navigation systems and
                             firms like Kleiner Perkins Caufield and    even when the market was growing.           tracking devices. We’ve grown over
                             Byers, and David Filo, the co-founder of   Yet, not everybody agreed with all our      600 per cent over the past three years.
                             Yahoo. I’d hang around after classes to    decisions. When we brought out our          Today, 75 per cent of our revenue
                             talk to them, and MapmyIndia would         GPS device Navigator in 2007, it was        comes from consumer business.
                             come up in our conversations. Those        new for India. People wondered why          Rohan Verma: By the time I was fin-
                             discussions led us to think that our       we were doing this. Some of our inves-      ishing up at Stanford in 2007, the com-
                             company had potential to attract multi-    tors felt we should not have entered this   pany had achieved a lot. Our people
                             million dollar investments. My father      space on our own. Our investors felt we     had done a great job, yet we had done
                             and I worked together on a business        should just supply maps to manufac-         only half of what we could do with the
                             plan—he would work on it from India,       turers. But, we knew we were going the      portal. Going forward, we don’t want
                             and I would work in the US. I then pre-    right way. After its launch, the brand      to “complexify” our maps but we cer-
                             sented the business plan to Kleiner Per-   really started building on its own. In      tainly want to personalise it. Our maps
                             kins Caufield Byers and Ram Shriram        2004, we’d entered the internet space.      should know you.

                                                                                                                                     WORLD             27
                   SIDDHARTHA VAIDYANATHAN | Sports Columnist

   Cricket in India doesn’t
      operate in a vacuum
                  It is part of a society that
                discourages women from
               excelling in ‘male bastions’

SIFT THROUGH THE reports from the             cricket was in danger of dying if the                       malaise when issues as serious as
recent Women’s World Cup held in              current situation persists.                                 those raised by Edulji come to the fore
India—which Australia won—and              3. Police outnumbered spectators in        ABOUT THE           only before a major event.
words like ‘sexism’, ‘apathy’, ‘dis-          many of the World Cup matches.            WRITER               The average Indian fan approaches
criminatory’ and ‘insult’ pop out.            An estimated 300 watched the                                women’s cricket in the same way he
The two-week long tournament, with            Australia-Pakistan match at the                             approaches the Asian Games or the
matches in Mumbai and Cuttack,                Barabati Stadium in Cuttack. This                           Olympics: make some noise every four
hardly created a ripple and was the           despite entry into the stadiums         is a writer who
                                                                                                          years and then forget about it in the
latest illustration of why the women’s        being free.                             divides his time    intervening period. There are no rag-
game is languishing in the margins.        4. When asked about the poor crowd         between India and   ing TV debates about women’s cricket,
A few points:                                 response, tournament director,          the US. He blogs    no online wars over team selection.
                                                                                      at sidveeblogs.
1. A week before the start of the tour-       Suru Nayak, said the International                          The BCCI has plenty to answer for.
   nament, whose schedules were               Cricket Council (ICC) were respon-                          Women’s cricket came under the aegis
   announced three years ago, all             sible for promoting the event. “The                         of the board in 2006. Yes, state associa-
   matches were moved from Mum-               BCCI has no say in the tourna-                              tions have allowed women players to
   bai’s Wankhede Stadium to accom-           ment, it’s the ICC who are organis-                         use training facilities. Yes, there has
   modate a Ranji Trophy final and            ing it,” he told the Times of India.                        been a burgeoning of the back-room
   an Irani Trophy match. The games        5. India were eliminated from the                              staff of the women teams. But none of
   were held in three other stadiums          tournament within the first week.                           this can make up for the fact that the
   in Mumbai and two venues in Cut-           And along with them went the little                         BCCI has done little to integrate the
   tack, which is in the opposite end of      bit of interest that remained. Not                          women’s game into the mainstream.
   the country.                               that the grounds were full even for                            “If there is more support from the
2. Two days before the start of the           India games. Reports suggest vast                           BCCI, then standards will rise,” said
   tournament Diana Edulji, a for-            empty spaces even for matches                               Clare Connor, the ICC women’s com-
   mer Indian captain and one of the          involving the hosts.                                        mittee chairman. “The passion is
   pioneers of the women’s game,              These are big issues for a global                           there for the game, people just need
   slammed the Board of Control for        tournament. There is something                                 to know more about women’s cricket
   Cricket in India (BCCI) for their       wrong when organisers allow domes-                             probably, and hopefully that support
   disinterest. In an interview to         tic matches to take precedence over a                          will grow.”
   ESPNCricinfo, she said women’s          World Cup. And one senses a deeper                                The organisers did little to advertise

28              DEMOCRATIC
                                                                                                           SIDDHARTHA VIDYANATHAN //

                                                     Corporates have to cop some
                                                     blame too. Advertising and mar-
                                                     keting priorities seem so lopsid-
                                            ed that even pre-eminent women crick-
                                            eters like Mithali Raj and Jhulan
                                            Goswami don’t find themselves on
                                            hoardings and TV advertisements”

the tournament. No signboards and           schedule women’s T20 games dur-            effort in vitalising the grassroots. Par-
hoardings that screamed at you. No          ing the IPL and international T20s.        ents need to encourage girls to play
serious promotion of the event. Even        This can be a great way to introduce       with the boys in the neighborhood
women cricket fans in Mumbai—who            women’s cricket stars to the average       maidans. They need to push them to
would have flocked to the grounds for       fan. This can also serve as a chance to    attend summer training camps. And
an international match or IPL—didn’t        allow more interaction between the         they need to be willing to send teen-
show much interest. A review of the         men and women cricketers. It would         age girls to countries like England
tournament in ESPNCricinfo was              give young, aspiring women cricket-        to play in clubs and leagues, to hone
critical of the lack of atmosphere in the   ers a chance to learn from some of         their skills. Schools and colleges need
grounds. There was no music to pep          the leading lights in the men’s game.      to have cricket tournaments for girls.
up the games, no regular announce-          And vice-versa. Corporates have to cop     Clubs must start women’s-only teams
ments. The participating country’s          some blame too. Advertising and mar-       and actively seek out talented players
national anthems were played only           keting priorities seem so lopsided that    from their respective cities. Women’s
in the final. There were no cheerlead-      even pre-eminent women cricketers          cricket in India doesn’t operate in a
ers, no mid-innings entertainment.          like Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami        vacuum. It is part of a larger society
Back in February 2008, I watched            don’t find themselves on hoardings         that discourages women from excel-
India play Australia in a T20 match in      and TV ads. Companies need to rec-         ling in fields that have traditionally
Melbourne. As an opening act before         ognise that these women would serve        been male bastions. It operates in a
the game, England and Australia             as an inspiration for others aspiring to   culture where large number of women
played a women’s T20. This was a fine       take up the game. Popular culture is       cricketers give up the game once they
initiative on the part of the Australian    yet to embrace women’s cricket. There      are married.
board. Not only did it allow the women      has been no Bend It Like Beckham or           For every Mithali or Jhulan, there
a chance to compete in front of a big       Dare to Dream (the story of US wom-        are thousands of girls whose par-
crowd but also gave the fans an incen-      en’s soccer) that has seeped into public   ents frown upon them for picking
tive to come and watch them. There          consciousness. Movies, documenta-          up a bat and ball. Until that equa-
was entertainment through the game.         ries and magazines can play their part     tion changes, the blatant disparity
And the women later spoke of how            in spreading the message. The blame        between the men’s and women’s
much of a difference it makes to have       game, though, can only go so far. To       game will sadly continue.
a big crowd watching them.                  see a real change in the profile of the    (The views expressed in this column are
   The BCCI must follow this lead and       women’s game, we need a collective         of the author alone)

                                                                                                                               WORLD     29
                             Issue | A closer look at smaller states

                             Is Small,
                              In the year 1956 the Centre, under the leadership of the then PM
                              Jawaharlal Nehru, initiated a process of territorial re-demarcation of the
                              country. The State Reorganisation Commission (SRC) was formed to
                              oversee the ‘redrawing’ of the Indian map on linguistic lines. As a result,
                              the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat,
                              etc were formed between the years 1956-1960. The current states of
                              Punjab and Haryana were formed in the 1966, while Uttarakhand and
                              Chattisgarh were formed in the year 2000. BY MANJIRI INDURKAR

                              THE DEMAND for a separate state of Telangana is today        also raises questions on the argument of administra-
TELANGANA                     more than 50 years old. The state of Andhra Pradesh          tive viability. In the past few years, Bihar has seen a
                              was formed against the recommendation of the SRC,            dramatic growth; however Jharkhand has failed to
                              which wanted to keep the region separate. A pact—            do the same. It could be argued that Chhattisgarh
                              Gentleman’s Agreement—was signed in 1956 between             and Uttarakhand got small parts of their mother
ON 2009, Telangana Rash-
                              Telangana and Andhra leaders. The agreement provided         states, but Jharkhand constituted a significant part
triya Samiti President
                              safeguards with the purpose of preventing discrimina-        of undivided Bihar, owing to its under performance.
K. Chandrashekhar Rao
                              tion against Telangana. The alleged violations of this       But it cannot be ignored that the success of Bihar is a
started a fast unto death.
                              agreement are cited as one of the reasons for demands        product of strong governance and political will. Now
He demanded the intro-
                              of a separate statehood for Telangana. In this battle for    there are Vidharbha, Telangana and Bundelkhand—
duction of a Telangana
                              statehood, Telangana’s not the only participant. The past    all demanding political autonomy. That leads us to
Bill in Parliament. On
                              decades have seen an increase in the demand to break         ponder over Nehru’s decision of dividing states on
December 9, 2009, the
                              up existing states—the Hindi Heartland of UP into            linguistic lines. Existing small states do not always
then Home Minister P.
                              Bundelkhand, Purvanchal, Awadh Pradesh and Pas-              lead to success stories—so do / can smaller states
Chidambaram made an
                              chim Pradesh. The Vidarbha region of Maharashtra is          lead to wholesome development? The available data
announcement where
                              also demanding for political autonomy. The premise of        presents a mixed image, thus it will be safe to say
he said the Centre will
                              these demands are being set is ‘administrative viability’.   that division alone is not the answer. Is not better to
start a process of forming
                                The argument is that smaller states are better gov-        invest the available resources in the making the cur-
a separate Telangana,
                              erned, and thus are more likely to develop. While the        rent infrastructure robust? How viable is the idea of
pending the introduction
                              newly-formed Chhattisgarh is performing relatively           smaller states for India? DW spoke to experts Dr Asha
and passage of a separa-
                              better, its mother state Madhya Pradesh has not been         Sarangi, Professor of Political Science at the Jawaha-
tion resolution in the AP
                              able to replicate the success story. The failed state        rlal Nehru University, and Professor Ambuja Kumar
Assembly. This led to
                              of the Northeastern region of the country, after the         Tripathy, Professor of Political Science at the Delhi
mass protests...
                              breakup of Greater Assam into several smaller states,        University, for the Issue of the Month.

30              DEMOCRATIC
                                                                                                                      SMALLER STATES //

    ASHA                                                                                             nated due to their developmental deficit and
                                                                                                     believe that a break-up into smaller entities
                                                                                                     might prove to be advantageous. Break-up
                                                                                                     also demands attention of the Centre and
                                                                                                     extra investment of resources.
                                                                                                     HOWEVER, A division is not simply a
                                                                                                     question of resource and investment, but
                                                                                                     accounts for political stability, and to a large
                                                                                                     extent, warrants administrative efficiency. It
                                                                                                     has to do with the nature of coalition politics
                                                                                                     in a region, and its manipulative tactics on
                                                                                                     the part of the dominant regional party or
                                                                                                     parties and players. If it is too strong then the
                                                                                                     Centre often gives in to the demands.
                                                                                                        Whether or not such divisions bring suc-
                                                                                                     cess cannot be ascertained simply. We can
                                                                                                     not rely only on GDP figures to indicate
                                                                                                     growth, as it does not address the issue of
                                                                                                     regional inequality, structures of poverty and
                                                                                                     backwardness. Cutting the size of states to
                                                                                                     manageable administrative units might be a
                                                                                                     short term answer to manage equitable dis-
                                                                                                     tribution of wealth. But it will be so only in
                                                                                                     those cases where developmental parameters
                                                                                                     are already in place, and a certain degree
                                                                                                     of political maturity exists. In can occur in
                                                                                                     states geared towards de-centralisation of
                                                                                                     power and resources. If there is a need to
               Dr Asha Sarangi is an Associate Professor                                             redraw the map of India, considerations such
               at the Centre for Political Studies, JNU.                                             as equitable distribution of resources, fair
               Recently, she edited a volume (with Sudha                                             share of natural resources for the intra-state
                                                                                                     uses, transparency and accountability of rule,
               Pai) titled ‘Interrogating Reorganisation                                             and inter-state parity should be kept in mind.
               of States: Culture, Identity and Politics in                                          The present-day politicians need to remind
               India’ published by Routledge India, 2011                                             themselves about the democratic agenda of
                                                                                                     change, and the urgent need to take peoples
                                                                                                     wishes into account.
                                                                                                        For instance, in case of Telangana, both
DR ASHA SARANGI//The idea of forming             began to breed the logic of ‘internal colonial-     Congress and the TDP need to come to
new states and dividing larger ones into         ism’ (more prosperous parts asserting their         terms with the demand for separate state-
smaller entities began in the 1920s. It was      economic and cultural hegemony over the             hood for Telangana on some fundamental
only after independence that the idea of         backward ones). A number of protest move-           issues, and not indulge in populist tactics.
states being formed on the lines of linguistic   ments arose due to these internal disequilib-          Partially, I agree with the idea that instead
homogeneity and geographical compact-            rium across regions. In terms of population         of breaking-up states, perhaps strengthen-
ness started especially with the formation       growth, often it is the idea of ‘size’ that leads   ing the current infrastructure and focusing
of States Reorganisation Commission, and         to a demand for partition. Importantly, the         on making the system more robust would
prior to that, with the Dar Commission and       demand can also be seen as a regional asser-        be a better option. However, infrastructural
JVC. But the 14 states formed, were too          tion and can be a result of coalition politics,     growth and development has to be in accor-
large. Amalgamated areas which could have        with regional parties leading the drive. Also,      dance with egalitarian ethos. Simply corpora-
been cut into separate, smaller states. Thus,    partition demand has a lot to do with identity      tising the economy is not an answer for the
regional imbalances and diversities were not     politics, and issues of distributive justice and    growth and development of a plural society
administratively taken care of. And states       equality. Backward states often feel discrimi-      such as India.

                                                                                                                              WORLD              31

AMBUJA KUMAR TRIPATHY // The demand                 Bihar) between 1970                 TRIPATHY
for smaller states is not new, and similar cries    and 2005. The Gini
have been heard from time-to-time, sometime         coefficient of per
on basis of ethnicity, and increasingly on basis    capita consumption
of a demand for better governance and rapid         is found highest
development. The country has witnessed peo-         for Tamil Nadu and
ple’s agitation based on this demand. Accord-       Maharashtra (0.35
ing to estimates, a rational re-organisation        and 0.4 per cent)
of the federal country into smaller states will     showing extreme vari-
give India around 50 states. In mid 1970s,          ations intrastate even
Rasheeduddin Khan had argued for 56 states,         in the richest states.
on the basis of social and cultural factors.        The mixed record is
Post-2000, there has been a spate of demands        the testimony to the
after the formation of three new states; Chhat-     fact that the size of
tisgarh, Uttaranchal and Jharkhand. The             state and degree of
Telangana agitation has raised interesting          development may not
questions about the relationship between state      have the direct causal
size and better development—does size mat-          relationship.
ter? Are smaller states better governed? Those      However, it also must
in favor of smaller states argue that they make     be noted that there is
for better delivery of public services, account-    nothing wrong with
ability, opportunities and access to opportuni-     the core idea of creat-
ties. There are no definitive answers. After all,   ing new states—but
what is the effective size of an administrative     given the plethora of
unit if it wishes to deliver good governance and    demands a serious
citizens’ services? Evidence of performance         case-by-case analysis
of small versus larger states is highly mixed,      is to be made. Federal                               Ambuja Kumar Tripathy
showing clearly that there is little relationship   unity or stability is                                teaches political science
between size and developmental efficacy.            no longer a concern                                  at Lakshmibai College
As W. Arthur Lewis has noted: any under-            like in the 1950s and
standing of “the engine of growth” would be         1960s, so demands
                                                                                                         (DU). He is also a Fellow
a “theory of government, where government           should not be perceived as threats to federal-       at the Developing
would appear to be as much the problem,             ism. Smaller states are being proposed on the        Countries Research
as the solution”. So, it is the quality of gov-     grounds of more pragmatic parameters such            Centre at DU and works
ernment intervention that really matters. It        as economic growth, development, demo-
is debatable whether this is dependent on           graphic size and administrative convenience
                                                                                                         on state, development
the size of state. Let us look at the hard data     rather than merely on the linguistic or cultural     and civil societies. His
concerning the roles that state governments         principle. So the underlying basis of numer-         areas of specialisation
have played in fostering rates and patterns of      ous demands now could be made subject to             are political philosophy
economic development. During the Xth Five           rational analysis.
Year Plan period, Chhattisgarh experienced          Conceptually speaking, in smaller states it is
                                                                                                         and development politics
9.2 per cent of growth (annual) compared to         easier for people to be heard, and their devel-
MP’s 4.3 per cent, Jharkhand saw an 11.1 per        opment needs are taken care of better. Central
cent annual growth compared to Bihar’s 4.7          policies are easier to implement and monitor.
per cent, and Uttaranchal achieved 8.8 per cent     It frees people of the deprivation complex and     need to address the basic issues of better gov-
growth compared to UP’s 4.6 per cent. If we         the feeling of domination by more powerful         ernance, economic viability, administrative
take some more estimates, we can see that the       sections from other regions of the bigger state.   convenience and greater people’s participa-
BPL population is 32 per cent in Chhattisgarh,      Sometimes, such demands have roots in the          tion. The groups making demands are to be
14 per cent in MP, 25per cent in Uttaranchal        continuing underdevelopment and neglect of         convinced that the mere creation of smaller
and 14.4 per cent in UP. Research indicates         sub-regions within large states, for instance      states out of the existing bigger ones does not
that the richest states (like Punjab) grew three    demands for the formation of Vidharbha,            guarantee good governance and faster and
to four times faster than poorer states (say,       Bodoland and Saurashtra. In such cases, we         inclusive economic development.

32               DEMOCRATIC
good karma

                                 Rikin Gandhi is teaching the
                                 farmers of the country the keys to a
                                 better produce BY DEBASHISH DUTTA

34          DEMOCRATIC
                                                                                                                              good karma
                                                                                                                                 DIGITAL GREEN //

                                                          to interpreters. If to someone land repre-         “So, we pondered over the question of who
                                                          sents belonging, air is often where you don’t      should produce the videos—shouldn’t it be
                                                          belong; similarly, air might signify the height    the locals?” The group began training mem-
                                                          of joy, land in that context could mean losing     bers of the partner NGOs and village com-
                                                          a grip. It could be interesting to note which      munities. It worked wonderfully, shooting
                                                          school of thought Gandhi subscribes to. A          the 10 to 15 per cent data upto 70 to 75 per
                                                          postgraduate in aeronautics and astronautics       cent. The high-frequency screening of vid-
                                                          from the MIT (US), and a licensed pilot, Gan-      eos—once in every two weeks with a media-
                                                          dhi decided to give up the lofty heights and       tor available to answer questions—turned
                                                          focused on earth instead. Perhaps, for him,        out to be affective. “The people who were
                                                          land symbolises stability, as he mentions in       being featured knew they would become role
                                                          an interview, “I have been reading autobiogra-     models for communities, and the people
                                                          phies of astronauts who see the earth from above   who watched it could identify with the faces.”
                                                          with new perspective. They become philosophi-      After the initial success, Gandhi pondered
                                                          cal; think about the futility of wars and human    over the viability to implement the project
                                                          greed. Many become farmers, teachers and go all    over a larger area. Thus, Digital Green came
                                                          the way to reconnect...”                           into being.
                                                            Chance brought Gandhi to India, for a               Funded by the Gates and Forbes Founda-
                                                          Maharashtra biodiesel project. After fail-         tions and the Centre, Digital Green works on
                                                          ing that, he got involved with a Microsoft         the same idea, albeit with innovations. With-
                                                          Research Project in Bengaluru. It was around       in a short span, it has touched 2,000 villages
                                                          2007, and the project looked at emerging           in seven states and 150,000 farmers. The aim
                                                          markets and scope of technology in small-          is to further this reach, and by 2015, as part
                                                          scale farming systems. A computer science          of a collaboration with the National Rural
                                                          graduate, Gandhi says, “For six months, we         Livelihood Mission (NRLM), Digital Green
                                                          were going around exploring possibilities,         plans to expand to 10,000 villages.
                                                          visiting farmers. We began a partnership              Of course, there were initial hiccups. In
                                                          with an NGO situated on the outskirts of           Jharkhand there were villages surviving with-
                                                          Bengaluru, Green Foundation, focusing on           out power supply, so from rented TV sets
                                                          sustainable agricultural process and bio-          they had to shift to pico projectors. The works
                                                          diversity. Like most NGOs, they were, too,         of the Digital Green are open to all, easily
                         NAME:                            bound by human capacity, finances and were         available on Youtube. Perhaps their most
                      Rikin Gandhi (Founder and CEO)      interested to see if technology could add effi-    innovative endeavour—the idea of a social
                                                          ciency.” The idea was to start conversations       network for farmers, Farmbook, their version
                         ORGANISATION NAME:
                                                          with villagers and educate them about new          of Facebook. Farmbook lists complete details
                      Digital Green
                                                          techniques. Instead of the usual man-to-man        of actual farmers registered with them. Then,
                         STARTED IN: 2008                 demonstrations, the group thought that             there is Wondervillage, on the lines of Farm-
                                                          videos would help. “Initially, we had 20 TV        ville, the notoriously popular, game. Wonder-
                         WEBSITE :                        sets, one each for a village, an investment of     village has been worked upon in such a way
                                                          $20,” Gandhi remembers. The videos were            that it has not only adopted but meliorated
                                                          then screened by the research group, in the        the concept of its precursor, changing the
                                                          evenings in schools, panchayat buildings and       virtual world of crops and colonies into a

          s part of the Mahindra Rise Project,            residences. The idea was not revolutionary         palpably real experience. “You are faced with
          set out to pick 20 innovators from              nor were the results. “Krishi Darshan had          problems of rural development, that’s where
          different fields, the July issue of             been doing similar stuff for decades and only      village gurus (actual farmers and members
Tehelka featured Rikin Gandhi, a 30-year-                 10 to 15 per cent of our viewers implemented       of Farmbook) come to your rescue.” Similar
old. The article contains a shot of the geeky,            the techniques,” recalls Gandhi. There was         to those astronauts, in whose journals he
Indian lad, who looks in his teens, while                 a need to innovate on the existing idea. They      sought inspiration, Gandhi wishes to con-
the article begins with a profound thought:               experimented by making the process more            tinue his voyage by using the same platform
“Oddly enough for someone who seems so com-               inclusive. “We realised that localisation was      and deal with institution building, health and
mitted to his task, land held little interest... it was   important. People were getting information         nutrition next. On cards is a plan to tie-up
the skies and astronomy that captivated him.”             from different sources, but they did not know      with Vodafone which would enable audio dis-
Despite what the writer wished to convey,                 who to trust. From there came the idea of          tribution of programme through the mobile
land and air often hold different meanings                democratising the process,” says Gandhi,           network. Truly digital, and green.

                                                                                                                                     WORLD             35
                                                                                            “I was raised by strong
                                                                                         women, especially on my
                                                                                       mother’s side. I have to write

READING ROOM                                                                                            about them”
                                                                                                            — Manil Suri      Author

                                           The City of Devi
                               Emotional and surprising, quite a
                                 page-turner this BY JAISHREE SRINIVASAN

(CONTAINS SPOILERS) Manil     Suri’s The    denizens are trying to carry on with                             between them, a fact that pushes
City of Devi is the final installment in    some modicum of normalcy.                                        Karun towards marrying Sarita.
a trilogy which began with The Death          Central to the story is Sarita, a              THE               The first half of the novel is rather
of Vishnu in 2001. The second book          devoted and yet modern Hindu wife              AUTHOR            slow and builds up the story of the
in the series was The Age of Shiva,         in search of her missing husband.                                relationship between the three pro-
which although not as acclaimed as          Her undying hope and relentless                                  tagonists through elaborate descrip-
the first novel, received good reviews      quest leads her through markets in          Manil Suri           tions of love-making, both queer and
                                                                                        was born in
all around. Suri cleverly links the         search of the last elusive pomegran-        Mumbai and is        straight, exposing the fundamental
three novels not through narrative          ate which she believes will rescue          a professor of       reason for Karun’s reluctance to sub-
but through the theme of the holy           her marriage, hospitals, even discos        mathematics          mit himself completely to Sarita. The
trinity in Hinduism. The surprise           using various means of transport.           and affiliate        underlying complexity of Karun’s
                                                                                        professor of
being that the final novel deals with       Her husband Karun, a physicist              Asian studies at     psyche is not explored fully but the
Devi and not Bramha as being a part         has gone missing and although his           the University       story ambles along to a fairly thrill-
of the holy triumvirate. This also          whereabouts are unknown, Sarita             of Maryland,         ing second half dominated by the
seems to be an intelligent contem-          believes that her willpower, cour-          Baltimore            narrative of rival factions playing out
                                                                                        County. He is
porary twist given to an old ideology.      age and a helping hand from the             the author of the    their hostilities through destruction
In marrying the topics of mythology         mother of the universe, Devi would          novels The Death     of the city of their livelihood. Pas-
with modern day power scenario              help her succeed in finding him, a          of Vishnu, The       sions are roused through evoking
in an increasingly insecure world           mission shared by the second main           Age of Shiva, and    devotion towards the city’s patron
threatened by terrorism and warfare,        character in the novel, Ijaz. Jazter, as                         Goddess, Mumba Devi resulting in
Suri has come up a complex layered          Ijaz likes to call himself in the third     Publisher:           the city being ravaged by the Hindu
novel that also manages to present          person, is a Muslim with only one           India
                                                                                                             chief, Bhim’s men as well as the rival
an interesting human tale of emo-           religion as he claims himself- hav-                              muslim gangs. As the story reaches
tions centered on love for an individ-      ing sex with other men. Right at the        ISBN:                a final crescendo, emotions are laid
ual. The story begins in Mumbai that        very beginning, it becomes clear that       9781408833919        bare and many surprises come to the
has been nearly annihilated through         there’s more to it than Ijaz’s seem-        Price: `499
                                                                                                             fore. The three characters in keeping
nuclear bombs in the battle ensuing         ingly helpful nature when he offers                              with the theme of the holy trinity
between rival gangs of Hindu and            to assist Sarita in her quest to find       Pages: 400           resolve their complex story of lov-
Muslim fundamentalist factions,             Karun. Ijaz, as it turns out, has been                           ing and losing through a Bollywood
fueled by a CIA supported Pakistan          in a relationship with Karun for sev-                            style climax after a crazy odyssey
army. As the city lies bleeding, the        eral years before things turned sour                             that takes them through the length

36              DEMOCRATIC
“India and Indians have always
meant business”                                                                                                  reading room
                                                                                                                  CRITICS & AUTHORS //
— Kshama V. Kaushik

and breadth of the island sometimes        Goddess, just as it presents itself as     style, living up to Suri’s reputation
on foot, in trains that are being          a modern, heartless haven where            of being one of the most iconoclas-
bombed, and even on elephants.             people often sell their souls to realise   tic storytellers of our time. Despite          AUTHORS
Suri reveals his background of being       their dreams.                              the background of a modern day
an expert Mathematician by balanc-           In summary, despite being graph-         world terrorised by violence with no
                                                                                                                                Kshama V.
ing out the equations of violence and      ic, dramatic and very violent, The         respite, the novel succeeds in con-       Kaushik,
love in a city that equally supports       City of Devi is a story told rather well   veying the triumph of love, hope and      Chartered
traditional beliefs of faith in the        in an uniquely satiric and dramatic        faith, against all odds.                  Accountant,
                                                                                                                                is a freelance
                                                                                                                                consultant. She
                                                                                                                                is the co-author
                                                                                                                                of Corporate
                                                                                                                                Myth to Reality.
                                                                                                                                Kaushik Dutta,
                                                                                                                                Accountant, is a
                                                                                                                                member of CII's

                                        India Means Business
                                                                                                                                National Council
                                                                                                                                on Corporate

                                        A look at the economic history of India
                                                                                                                                A Visiting
                                                                                                                                Professor in IIM

                                        and how it has shaped the way we do
                                                                                                                                Lucknow, he is
                                                                                                                                the co-author

                                        business here BY SANGITA THAKUR VARMA
                                                                                                                                of Corporate

MOST WITH an interest in economics are rather put off            Surat and Hiranand Sahu of Patna who were Sahukars or          Pages:
by the thought of reading economic history. Given the            moneylenders. The Elephant called India was trumpeting         352
15-page bibliography, a casual reader intrigued by the title     high. But the advent of the British traders on its shores
may well feel tempted to put India Means Business How            changed all that. Hundi and arbitrage go back to the 18th      0198072619
the Elephant Earned its Stripes back on the bookshelf. But       century and if it were not were the House of Jagat Seths
ignore the rather text-bookish package, and the 339 pages        founded by Hiranand Sahu the British perhaps would not         Publishers:
in hardback make for an interesting read. Chartered              have succeeded in setting up their empire. The conspiracy
                                                                                                                                University Press
accountant-researchers-authors Kshama V. Kaushik and             of Seths led to the Battle of Plassey and the victory of the
Kaushik Dutta have done an exemplary job as economic             English. It is such interesting tidbits that make the book     Price: $54.75
historians setting the context of Indian business. As India      interesting. India’s multi-format business has its root in
opens up to the world, the book becomes a collector’s            its history as we learn from the book and also that ASSO-
edition for any company wanting to do business here. It          CHAM, FICCI, CII are but modern and evolved versions
takes on a cultural-commercial journey of discovery of           of srenis or nigamas of ancient times. The authors’ insights
India down the ages and in the process unravels the way          into Indian family business and their knack for survival
Indian business ethos was formed. What we learn in               through the rough and tumble of politics is interesting.
the process is that India has always meant business. The         Right from the time of the nationalist movement, busi-
story starts at the beginning of the 18th century when the       ness families in India have avoided confrontational poli-
Indian subcontinent had a flourishing overseas trade.            tics and their “biggest advantage…is their ability to adjust
The painstaking research of the authors is obvious but           to prevalent political dispensation”. The cynics amongst
nowhere does it interfere in the narrative to make it a dull     us may perhaps find this “ability” an euphemism for
piece of history. So we learn about Zaveris of Ahmedabad         some harsher adjectives especially in the current scenario
who still continue in ancestral jewellery trade, Travadis of     where neither are cutting a very ethical picture.

                                                                                                                            WORLD            37
WARE                                    HOUSE
                                                                          Our pick of the boldest, bravest and craziest
                                                                          gadgets. Glance through the Warehouse
                                                                          page and check them out. Happy hunting!

We are including this car not only because we love cars, but because of the previously
unimaginable horizon that this manufacturer has brought close to reality—a car that is eco-
friendly without feeling like one. This piece of art on wheels, the “Moonshot” Tesla Model S
has been painstakingly in development for years, and was finally unleashed late 2012. Priced
around `60 lakh—actually on the lower side considering its impressive stats—this car will           TESLA MODEL S
fit the standard definition of a sports car for people who love sexy cars (basically everyone),
and is powered by batteries to keep the green brigade happy. Not an easy agreement, as most             `60,00,000
luxury car manufacturers will tell you. We salute Elon Musk for his attempts!

                                                                           Tesla Model S

                   SCANADU SCOUT                                                           CHARGECARD
                      Scout can measure a bunch of                                         A neat little Kickstarter project—
                      your vital stats by holding it right                                 ChargeCard—has introduced a small
                      next to your temple. Check out                                       chip that can be carried around
                      www.scanadu.com.                                                     which supports the God of modern
                      Price: `10,000                                                       connector cable–Micro USB.

38           DEMOCRATIC
                                                                                                         GADGE TS & GIZMOS //

Geeks are a predictable bunch—if you ask them about an ‘ideal life’, it would be
a cross of Matrix and James Bond. Geeks' favourite games are probably Quake,
Call of Duty, etc. Good news for them, parts of the above fictional worlds are com-
ing to life, powered by Linux. Please wipe up the drool and concentrate, here is a
                                                                                                          .338 LAPUA
setup that allows an iPad to pair with a gun’s scope to allow a shooter to ‘lock’ on
a target (after taking in weather conditions) and fire a shot so awesome that one                           `11,00,000
absolutely cannot miss. As an added benefit, there is always the good feeling of
living like an open-source soul, even if it costs one `11,00,000. If any of you would
like to own one of these beauties, look at www.tracking-point.com

   SCREWDRIVER                                                       Some people say that Doctor Who is the James
                                                                      Bond of science fiction, though Mr Bond uses
                                                                     quite a lot of Sci-Fi goodies himself. Looking past
           `5,000                                                   that, we would say that the army of fans that the
                                                                    show has garnered, will appreciate that somebody
                                                                    has gone on to prepare the Sonic Screwdriver,
                                                                    which the good Doctor uses for—absolutely
                                                                   anything. Lock-pick kit to tracking a bunch of
                                                                 nasty aliens, the Sonic Screwdriver promises to do
                                                               anything—that the show’s writers can think of. It will
                                                           do none of those things in real life, but it is still a good piece
                                                       of the show memorabilia, and would work for you as a trusted
                                                    universal remote. Yours for some `5000, plus shipping. Check out

                           FIREFOX OS; WEB TO THE CORE                                          BLACKBERRY 10 IS HERE
                             Firefox OS sounds a lot like Google's                                  It's February and after a long wait
                             Chrome OS, down to the fact that                                       Blackberry 10 is finally out there.
                             both operating systems are named                                       It is not as closed as an Apple is.
                             after their respective browsers.                                       Monetarily speaking its cheapest
                                                                                                    to develop for BB.

                                                                                                                    WORLD          39
                 HITCH                                                                                               HIKER

                                                                                                                                                  Other Face: The City of Arts
                                                                                                                                                and Sciences

                     City of the Arts
                     and Sciences
                           A bit of both, with loads of fun,
                           that’s Valencia for you                                 BY MARRYAM RESHII

                                                   y journey from freezing Madrid, where the weather forecast
                                                   kept predicting snow, to warm, sunny Valencia took exactly
                                                   two hours, but it was like going to another country altogether.
                                                   The skies in Valencia resolutely remained fiercely blue,
                                                   orange trees lined every street; one end of the city was bound
                           by a beach, along which ran a line of paella restaurants. The old part of the city was
                           crammed with historic squares, churches and clock towers, while the new part
                           was graced with the cutting edge City of Arts and Sciences designed by architect
                           Santiago Calatrava. Add to it the largest historic covered market in the country, the
                           home of not only paella but also the little known tigernut (yes! You read that right!)
                           and also a super potent drink called Agua de Valencia, so famous that it is now
                           branded and sold in bottles to eager tourists. And no, this is not all that Valencia      was telling me how he and his wife bought an ancient
                           has to offer: it is but a foretaste.                                                      wine cellar in newly fashionable El Cabanyal district
                             I was propping up the bar at Casa Montana. Young Alejandro Garcia Llinares              and turned it into a smart bar where the accent is on

                           40              DEMOCRATIC
                                                                                                        hitchhiker’s guide
                                                                                                                               VALENCIA //

HIKER                                                          There are few who have not heard of Marryam H. Reshii. Reshii is
OF THE                                                      a well-known restaurant critic and gastronomy writer, a relentless
MONTH                                                       traveller, and a woman slightly obsessed with olive oil, Kashmiri
                                                            recipes, Indian heritage foods, French patisserie and fine chocolate...
                                                            well, her list is long. A keen photographer, Reshii lives in Delhi with her
                                                            husband and two children

the tapas: golden fried potatoes with garlic aioli and
fava beans napped in a sauce so addictive I wonder if
it has some illegal substance in it. Washing it down
is a glass or three of Vermouth taken from the enor-
mous casks that line the little bodega. Once you have
                                                                 Catholic Imagery:
spent time in Spain, you will figure out how to ration
                                                              (Above) Local handi-
your intake.                                                  crafts in Mediterranean
   Grazing is the name of the game, and the more time         colours
you take to do it, and the more places you visit, the
better you can be said to have mastered the game. So
after exploring the marina with a desi connection, I
was ready for paella (the desi connection, for those who
care, is because Vijay Mallya found it difficult to dock
his outsize yacht in the expansive marina. Authorities
are now thinking of widening it before Shri Mallya
comes calling again). Paella is a beautiful dish. It con-
tains rice (of the variety known as bomba), and two
or more of the following: garlic, garafon beans, broad
beans, rabbit, chicken, seafood and saffron. It was
traditionally made over a wood fire, but modern living
being what it is, that is a thing of the past.
   The row of paella restaurants that overlook the beach
all specialise in seafood paella. La Marcelina is usually        Plated Paella: (Above) A
acknowledged to be the most popular.                          must have when in
   What is the main difference between biryani and
paella is that a restaurant specialising in the former
would have ready prepared all its biryani before the
restaurant opened and kept it warm. The idea of                                             helps that the rice needs neither soaking nor washing
cooking each order of biryani a la minute is laugh-                                         and the paella pans are wide and shallow so that all
able. In Valencia, each and every restaurant, no mat-                                       liquid evaporates rapidly. Unlike biryani, where every
ter how tiny, cooks their paella to order. I guess it                                       restaurant or household would have a single recipe,

                                                                                                                             WORLD            41
hitchhiker’s guide
      \\ VALENCIA

                                                                                             Birth Place: It is said that paella originated in Valencia

                                                                                         tacle on the other hand, was a self-conscious spectacle,
                                                                                         magnificent nevertheless.
                                                                                            The next day was a whirlwind of visiting the iconic
                                                                                         Central Market, built entirely of metal, like the Eiffel
                                                                                         Tower and eating and drinking my way through a
                                                                                         mountain of food and drink. The narrow streets of the
                                                                                         old part of the city wound through lanes with a fair
                                                                                         proportion of restaurants, bars and cafes. One of the
                                                                                         cafes had another desi connection: Café De Las Horas
                                                                                         right on Conde de Almodovar. Unabashedly over the
                                                                                         top, quirky, colourful and artistic, the pedestrian only
                                                                                         walkway is in the heart of the old town, a stone’s throw
                                                                                         from the plaza with the Cathedral and the Basilica of
                                                                                         the Virgin de los Desamparados, two partners own the
                                                                                         Café (it’s actually a bar), one Indian. When I expressed
                                                                                         my admiration of the interiors of his bar, Marc Insa-
                                                                                         nally went the extra mile to show me the photographs
                                                                                         of ‘before’ and ‘after’ he and his partner did up the
                                                                                         shed and made it drop dead glamorous with the kind
                                                                                         of back-breaking work that no desi entrepreneur
     Goodness Glass: In-house Vermouth with patate bravas and pinto beans at Casa        would ever dream of doing. It’s where I sampled my
                                                                                         first Agua de Valencia—a blow-away-the-top-of-your-
                                                                                         head cocktail made from vodka, gin, champagne or
paella really does come in several choices of meats. It is said that the original com-   cava and fresh orange juice. You would think that any
bination was rabbit and chicken with two types of beans, but lobster, shrimp, mus-       drink at all made and/or drunk in Valencia just had to
sels, fish and any permutation and combination thereof is completely kosher. It          have orange juice or pulp in it, going by the number of
doesn’t even have to be the trademark golden colour: my host, Miguel Angel Perez,        orange trees on every street. But you would not have
Valencian to the core, ordered squid ink paella, so his rice was black.                  taken into account the smooth, refreshing horchata.
  That first day was relaxed, and so Miguel Perez and I drove to the City of Arts and    Made of tiger nuts—don’t be fooled by the name: their
Sciences to walk about in the courtyards of the buildings and admire the curvilinear     appearance is like shrivelled peanuts—horchata is a
silhouettes of the science museum and the aquarium, set amid open gardens where          filling drink that is touted as a lactose-free alternative
the sporty and fitness oriented portion of the population jogged and cycled their way    to milk. Apparently, you go for an evening walk and
through what were the lungs of the city. Speaking for myself, Calatrava’s vision was     visit an horchateria for an ice-cold drink.
so extraordinary that it was like being in a museum. The very next day, amidst build-       There’s too much to tell you about Valencia: I plan
ings that ranged from the 13th to 18th centuries, I felt that I was in an organically    to visit that city again during the unique Fallas celebra-
developing city that was being used by its inhabitants: the Arts and Sciences spec-      tions, so there’ll be more stories yet.

42               DEMOCRATIC

                                                                                                                                                                   Chef's Special: Special
                                                                                                                                                                crab dish in sauce; [below]
                                                                                                                                                                Chinese Spring Rolls

                                            Bite-sized China
                                            in Tandoori India
                                            Chef Liu Zhijun brings a bit of his
                                            homeland here                          BY RADHIKA HASWANI

                                                          ood brings everyone together, and Chinese cuisine is a favourite for       too spicy and oily—something to suit and please the
                                                          many people. From kids to grown ups, everyone is delighted at the          local palate. “What is made here, is not authentic at
                                                          mention of spring rolls, hakka noodles, chilly chicken, Schezwan           all. The Chilly Chicken served in Ludhiana is Punjabi
                                                          chicken, prawn curry, American choupsey or chicken dimsum dipped           Chilly Chicken, not Chinese,” he feels. But otherwise
                                                          in Schezwan sauce. I couldn't stop myself from fantasising about           he is a huge fan of Indian food, among his top favou-
                                            these dishes during my entire conversation with Chef Liu Zhijun—the Master               rites are tandoori chicken, tandoori fish and chicken
                                            Chef at Radisson Blu Hotel MBD Ludhiana. Chef Zhijun had read a lot on India             tikka. And Ludhiana serves him the best of the tan-
                                            and on arriving found it to be exactly like those descriptions that he had in mind.      doori chicken and chicken tikka—rich in taste and
                                            Excited, he started his India journey on January 1, 2013—the perfect day for a           spices and he’s completely loving it.
                                            new plan, a new experience—an amazing opportunity to explore a land of friendly             He enjoys making Indian curries and experiments
                                            people and delicious food.                                                               with rice and vegetables to create innovative dishes
                                              One of his plans for his time in India includes introducing the authentic Chinese      that are only known to him—even tries to make the
                                            flavour to Indians, as he feels the so-called Chinese dishes served in this country is   Indian tandoori dishes that he loves so much. French

                                            44             DEMOCRATIC
                                                                                                                     LIU ZHIJUN //

OF THE                                                      Chef Liu Zhijun, Master Chef at Radisson Blu Hotel MBD
MONTH                                                    Ludhiana, specialises in Cantonese, Szechwan, Huaiyang, Beijing,
                                                         Hunan and Asian cuisines. He loves learning regional dishes all
                                                         around the world and is all set to enjoy a variety of delicious Indian

crab in XO sauce and chicken with Schezwan sauce
are some of his popular dishes at Radisson Blu Hotel
MBD Ludhiana. He not only makes his colleagues in
                                                               The Man: We caught
India eat authentic Chinese cuisine, but also convinc-
                                                           the busy Chef at his
es the vegetarians to eat non-vegetarian dishes once       kitchen
in a while. “You should eat non-veg once or twice a
week, non-veg is good” are his exact words.
  Chef Zhijun has a remarkable and varied 27 years’
experience in the industry and plans to satisfy people
with his food both Oriental and Indian. In 1988, he
graduated from the HEFEI Academy of Cooking
Association and Probation Jinjiang Hotel in Shang-
hai and was immediately taken on as a Sous Chef at
the Sapphire Hotel in China at the age of 18. This
marked the beginning for this fun-loving, accommo-
dating, simple Kitchen King.
  Chef Zhijun has worked in several hotels in China,
Egypt and Saudi Arabia—the Marriott Hotel, The
Grand Hotel, The Great Wall Hotel, TY Lounge
Restaurant, Lemon Cuisine Restaurant and Helnan
Palestine Hotel. In 2004, he also studied Food and
Beverage Management at the American University
of Cairo. Now he finds himself at Radisson Blu Hotel
MBD Ludhiana which replicates the popular restau-
rant concept, R.E.D., present in Radisson Blu MBD                                   and locals to indulge in amazingly delicious food
hotels (the Noida R.E.D. has been awarded the Times                                 and enjoy the tranquility. Chef Zhijun takes time to
Food Guide Awards four times). in Ludhiana, R.E.D.                                  proudly tell me how happy he felt when his food was
serves a rich variety of global cuisine and is situ-                                praised and appreciated by Egyptian ministers. After
ated on the banks of the Sutlej—a choice for guests                                 all, appreciation is something that makes every effort

                                                                                                                     WORLD            45
              // LIU ZHIJUN

and hard work, worth it. It was the encouragement
that he received from his parents at the age of 12 that
motivated him to become a chef. He was so absolutely           Basic Ingredients: (Above) The egg noodle is a must-have in every Chinese kitchen as
thrilled when his parents loved the dinner he had pre-      are green leafy vegetables that make a salad and a stir fry yummy!

pared for them, that he immediately made a commit-
ment to cooking. He also vividly remembers the first
dish he made as a professional chef—prawns with                    KITCHEN
Schezwan sauce—and the praise he was showered                     MUST HAVE
with from the guests and his colleagues.
   When asked to share stories of his childhood and
mischief, Chef Liu insisted that as a hard-working
boy, he had no such experiences. That mild manner
of his has carried through to his adulthood, and Chef
Liu has never had a fight or an argument in his life,
though he warns that he would resort to one if anyone
were to touch his woks.
   According to him, woks play a major role in Chi-
nese cooking. When not using those woks to produce             Obsessed: The Chef,
                                                            usually a gentle man, can
delicious and mouth-watering dishes for others, he          fight for woks
enjoys eating with others as well. Outside the kitchen
he keeps himself busy with reading, swimming, surf-
ing the internet and playing basketball.
   His journey here in India has just begun and he is
enjoying every bit of it. The first thing he was success-
ful at was making a lot of new friends.
   “My colleagues are very friendly, the atmosphere
here is good and the management is amazing. They               Desiness: Chef loves an
                                                            honest Punjabi Chinese...
make me feel comfortable and at home.” One thing            only, don’t call it authentic    in India and the first name he blurts out is the magi-
he really likes about India is the culture and diversi-     Chinese                          cal city of Mumbai—tempted to try the sea food there.
ty—there is so much to see, feel and observe in India.                                          While here in India he will indulge in local diners
It has only been six                                                                         with the authentic Chinese cuisine that he intends
weeks in Ludhiana                                                                            to introduce, and in return he will get something
                                                                Spice Route: He
but he is already in                                                                         unforgettable—the flavour of the Indian culture,
                                                            concentrates on food that
love with the food,                                         is palatable and flavourful      its people, diversity and hospitality. This, combined
people and place. He                                                                         with his passion for cooking and emphasis on eating
is excited just at the                                                                       healthy food, will make his dream of becoming one
thought of travelling                                                                        the greatest chef come to life very soon.

46              DEMOCRATIC
                                   A qui
                                  guide -start

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48            DEMOCRATIC

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