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I rarely find good news in these challenging times, but had to pull this quote out of the Washington Post's piece on the Jaipur blasts:

"Hindus and Muslims have lived in such close quarters in Jaipur," said Narendra Sharma, 52, a government servant who lives next to the Hanuman Hindu temple, where one of the blasts occurred. "We have to remember that it's a terrorist issue. It's not our brothers and sisters."

India exists today because of the wisdom of millions of overlooked Narendra Sharmas... The common Indian, if there is such a thing, is under-rated. We just have to give him back his voice.

Dear Sandeep,

A Desipundit link took me to your argument against the court ruling dismissing a petition against M.F. Husain's art depicting Hindu goddesses in the nude.

After quoting the judge's ruling and weighing Hindu "symbolism" against the judge's "aesthetics", you conclude:

"Hussain's "art" needs to be challenged by a deep scholarship of the Indian tradition of art, and sufficiently made public. In my readings, Hussain's "art" is bought merely as investment. In true free market style, if enough is done to show that these are worthless investments, we would need to stop worrying about Hussain's "art." The learned judge is merely looking at the symptom not the disease."

Sigh...where do I start.

First, why the appeal to the judge?
The courts have no place with why Husain's paintings would be considered aesthetical. Unless you believe that aesthetics and beauty are standards to be left to the judicial system. In which case, please tell me how India became a theocratic state overnight.

I for one, can judge for myself, what I would consider aesthetically pleasing. If you seek to impose your standards of beauty on me through the courts, you patronize me to say the least. Husain's art may offend, please or do nothing for me, but I will defend my right to judge that for myself. I will also defend Husain's right to paint whatever he pleases.

Also, please define "worthless investments". Is there a hurdle IRR (internal rate of return) you demand as a learned investor of the arts? If that's so, let's play an experiment:

You quote a price for the painting and let me tell you if that's acceptable to Husain.
Here's a hint: you have to pay him what he thinks his painting is worth having destroyed. I have a feeling you are not going to hang it up in your living room.

Actually, given that this game could quickly become expensive, let's lower the stakes a little and shift the risk. After all, I should put my money where my mouth is, right? Let's bet $1,000 right here, right now that Husain will not part with his painting to you for any sum of money. You don't have to buy into this bet, it won't cost you a penny to accept or lose. You just have to get incontrovertible evidence that would hold up in any Indian court that Husain would sell his painting to you for some sum of money. But until you can furnish such proof, your words are as "worthless" as the object of your hate.

Lastly, not a day passes by without someone anointing himself or herself spokesperson for the myriad beliefs held by millions of Hindus. I am sorry, Sandeep, but I have to revoke your license to represent me for you stole it while I wasn't looking, let alone without asking me.

The Mid-Day quotes Karnataka's youngest MLA candidate, Hemashree, who also happens to be a TV host:

“My TV appearances made me famous and gave me the confidence to contest,” Hemashree told MiD DAY.In Seeregondu Saval, Hemashree asks women to call in and guess the price of a sari, and hands it over to the caller who gets closest to its marked price. “People in the villages treat me like their daughter. I think women will stand by me,” she said.

I am not surprised. Sarees have become the standard gift in elections. It was only appropriate that they get the host of a TV show selling sarees to buy votes at election time.

How do I know she is not going to be an exception to the rule? Because she said this too:

“Women can’t think of entering politics if they do not have a godfather and money. If you have to contest an election, you need to have money. Spend money and think that you will never get it back. You should have influence too to get a ticket...If not for my father, I would never have been here. Women can enter politics only if their family is into it.”

Supporters of the women's reservation bill may be disappointed, but I am not. Artificial representation has always been a clever distraction from the million mutinies India really needs. Reservations may force political parties to look at new candidates within their ranks and outside, but most likely, as Hemashree unashamedly admits, the nominees are going to be the ones with godfathers and money. At best, there is not going to be any change in the quality of the candidates. At worst, candidates with merit could get sidelined if they happen to be male.

Halfway across the world, Hillary is facing issues with the historic nature of her own candidacy for the White House. Unlike Obama, Hillary has no stirring speech on women's issues. They are non-existent in this election where she faces off two male candidates. In all likelihood, a Hillary withdrawal would not disappoint female voters, because if she were to drop out now, it would have less to do with the idea of a woman in power than her ability to rally voters around the issues of the day. Hemashree will learn just as Hillary has, even in politics, inspiring voters has nothing to do with your sex or sarees.

You know you have arrived at an intellectual when she believes in defeating cliches with...hold your breath, cliches!

"I find India very attractive, enticing and seductive. But we have also moved away from just the exotic imaging of India being beautiful and coulourful and all the cliches the West likes to associate with India, like snake-charmers and tigers, the Taj Mahal, our beautiful women... I think we've quantum-leaped beyond something so quaint. We've proved our mettle in business and technology. We've become an economic powerhouse. So why don't we focus equally on our brainpower?"

So, it is important that we have gotten past cliches...well, Shobhaa De was just answering an equally meaningless question by the equally thoughtless folks at Rediff.:

"How do you want the world to look at India?"

On another note, I've always wondered why there's an extra "a" at the end of her name. Is it "extra" because I accept the more common "Shobha" as conventional? What does that say about me? Or was it a indulgence in numerology by her parents? In any case, it has made me think, which is something new for anything associated with her in writing.

While reading Marrying across Somalia's caste lines over at BBC, I was drawing comparisons between the forbidden love of this couple and inter-caste marriages in India. But the lady at the heart of this story surprised me further with this additional tidbit:

"Finally, he was mine and I was his. Sometimes life is indeed like a Bollywood movie," she said, smiling.

I visited my local Indian grocery store in Philly and unearthed this interesting fact about Bollywood movies. More than a third of the renters are from Africa! Among their favorites, Disco Dancer.

While we berate and moan the lack of attention to detail, histrionic acting and formulaic song and dance routines that form the staple in our film industry, Bollywood movies have a considerable following in parts of Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Not coincidentally, these also happen to be some of the poorest places in the world. In the end, no amount of investment or diplomats have been able to achieve that kind of empathy. Quality aside, there is something to be said for spinning dreams and creating hope for the deprived.

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