Oldest Democracy vs Largest Democracy ; An intro of US Politics for Indians !!!

This Tuesday will be the day when we come to know who would be the most powerful person of this planet for next four years.  Iam not going into the candidates but i hope she wins.
US presidential election is the one of the most complex, elaborate and systematic approach of election i know. The process usually takes around 1 year with some of the best twists happening in the due course that you can only see in a Emmy Award winning Drama series.
Right from people declaring their candidacy to be President Nominee from a party , the primaries and caucuses they go through for Party conventions, debates after being declared the candidates is probably the most scrutinized process for a job.
A good visual representation of the process is here.
Link from USA.Gov
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Technically, the US president is elected by an electoral college of 538 ‘electors’ with each state voters voting for some 438 people to vote for their to represent their candidate . Another 100 people who decide the President are the State Senators , who are a constant 2 for each state. Each state has certain number of delegates  of this 438 it can send to decide the next president. This is based on population,  If a state has high population, that state would have more electors. This is somewhat similar to deciding the Prime Minister of India where members of parliament vote and decide the Prime Minister(Supposedly) . However, the members of Parliament wield some power since India is a parliamentary style of Democracy whereas electors do not have any power or term .
In reality, the presidential voting in US happens this year on Dec 19th and votes are counted on Jan 17th 2017 while people vote for the candidates ‘electors’ who vote in Dec on Nov 8th.
The most interesting thing of the elections for an outsider is that almost all states have Winner take all approach of electors. ie. If one candidate gets majority votes, the entire electors of that state belong to that candidate.  If a candidate is more popular in most populated states of California, Florida, Texas  , then he/she has more chances of winning. Except Maine and Nebraska states, all other states have such elector model and these states have some local “Congressional elector model” . This winner take all approach sometimes cause a grave concern that a candidate is more popular nationally with more people voting for him but looses the crucial states. Al Gore, in 2000, had got more votes than George W Bush but lost due to loosing more states and thus having less electors. And there is nothing stopping from a elector , to vote for the candidate who he/she was selected to vote for during Presidential voting . This gerrymandering is not rampant but is not taken care legally, whereas in India an MP if elected on one party ticket cannot switch parties without loosing his MP status.
In US, Ballot access is restricted to people who fulfill a certain criteria of voters signatures or other criteria which differs from state to state . Ballot access is the privilege to be on ballot paper in election. In India, any person can contest elections if he has sufficient deposit money and he would loose deposit amount if he does not get atleast one sixth of valid votes polled. The voting percentage in US is not that great when compared to India and it is usually less than 60 %.
Winnability of a candidate is usually determined by the money raised and money spent on TV Ads. Transparent process in political donations is the most important thing India has to learn from US politics.  Organisations donate money to candidates so that they can lobby later, but its a bit transparent. Groups called PAC (Political Action Committee) can be formed by people on behalf of candidate and they can pour in as much money as they can into a candidate campaign. Whereas we do have legal limits of campaign expenditure in India which nobody honors and is not actually sufficient for a party.
One interesting thing about US presidential election is tax payers can pay 3 dollars of their taxes to Presidential election fund which is later given to presidential candidates for their election campaigns. However, if a candidate takes that money, there would be cap on his expenditure and cannot take money from others. In a way Govt will sponsor your campaign (the current limit is around 40$ million) if you can stand in an election and can fulfill a certain criteria. Usually the candidates ignore this money and raise on their own and this money is donated to cancer research.
The rules are not same when the prospective candidates go through primaries and caucuses of their parties and thats a whole lot of complex system altogether where electoral engineering plays more role than popular vote . The parties have this some established internal democracy rules and someone who is incapable cannot be on the ballot to be most powerful person of this planet. John oliver, noted TV host, in this video informs what is wrong with this primary and caucuses approach .
 US also has a bicameral legislature, ie. there are two legislature bodies like India.
The upper house in India is called Rajya Sabha where the representatives are elected by states and some are nominated by President . The upper house in US is called Senate and each state gets 2 representatives each who have 6 year terms and some of them do have elections  during the same Presidential election time on this Nov 8.
The lower house in India is called Lok Sabha where representatives are elected by their specific geographical electorate or constituency . The lower house in US is called House of Representatives and each of these are won from their Congressional district. Both these House of Representatives and Senate are called as US Congress , like Indian Parliament.
The TIME cover this week .timesign

All the best Dr JP

It has a bit disappointing start of the last week with a party (i.e Loksatta Party) i followed, volunteered ,spent money and cherished has decided to quit elections .I am privileged to say that iam one of the team working behind the scenes to ensure the party and Dr.JP voice to as many eyes and ears as possible in this digital social media era. ;the team managing DR JP , Loksatta party and other loksatta pages in facebook, twitter and youtube platforms. I have to think like Dr JP and be sure of Loksatta work a lot of times and respond to many hundreds of people who message to these platforms (ofcourse with Admin tag wherever necessary) .I can understand the pain he felt with such a decision. I know this day would be sooner or later with the way things have been going on. I have seen his humility, his anger, his optimism, his despair, his oratory , his knowledge, his wisdom from a man to man distance . I even joke to my wife that iam probably the only person who sat in Dr JP’s chair while he was in the same room ( While setting up his laptop for Google Hangouts🙂 ) . Although, as a follower and student i have always been learning from him and never tried to give my own gyaan to him like many people do it when they meet him.

Did Loksatta and Dr JP fail ? Analysis and statistics might say an YES but the heart would say a loud NO. He has graciously accepted that his ideals or the change he wanted to bring, cannot be possible in this electoral way. There are tons of reasons why he has to take such sensational decision of stepping away from electoral politics, some mistakes being on his side and on the side of people hebelieved in and some on the side of the people who couldnt vote for his platform.

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In India, reforms happen only when we are neckdeep in sh*t.

Green revolution in 1960’s started only when our leaders realised that we cannot sustain an occupation of 50% population with the agri produce we have and processes we follow. There were some deadly famines just before our independence and building dams,canals were not sufficient to sustain the growing population.
Liberalization  in 1991 came only after India was almost bankrupt and couldnt raise more loans from international community. PV Narasimha Rao literally had to airlift tons of Gold from Indian treasury to NewYork in exchange for some loans. Policy reforms like RTI  , Aadhaar happened after decades of advocacy, and ofcourse to the indirect impact to then lawmakers.

There is a movie scene in Telugu movie “Leader” when the hero, the state CM proposes an anti corruption law but it doesnt get passed with lawmakers objecting it .An experienced and old leader suggests to exempt the lawmakers and the bill passes with thunderous applause.Hero would be in disappointment having exempted the biggest sharks of corruption but the old leader consoles him saying you are catching the fishes and without fishes there wont be sharks after sometime. Our elected public representatives are similar to this . This is as true in Indian politics that no elected representative would pass big ticket reforms which they would be a victim of (eg. Women Reservation, strong anti corruption body, police reforms etc) .

Even in such a scenario, DrJP and Loksatta movement had brought some great institutional reforms working non partisan across party lines and across think tank intellectuals.He has worked with ADR on bringing laws for candidates to disclose their financial and criminal details in elections . He has worked with Aruna Roy drafting a strong RTI law . He has worked with Vajpayee govt and got 91st constitutional amendment restricting ministry size to 15 percent of total members in a legislature and political funding reform requiring political parties to be transparent in their funding.He has worked with UPA1 for sometime in NAC and formulating “National Health Mission” to ensure healthcare to last mile of rural India. Loksatta and Dr JP has worked closely with Justice Verma and brought the Nirbhaya act. He has fought against illogical agriculture policies and was successful in removing export of grains and now fighting to sell agriculture produce across states.The Lokayukta bill which advocates strong Lokpal to probe corruption and which was the main agenda of Anna Hazaare movement was the brain child of Dr JP. Dr JP was working in background then to ensure that movement to be fruitful.The biggest achievement is probably Dr JP proposing special status to AP and development ideas to both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana during state bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. There are lots of policy work done by Loksatta movement and more details on Loksatta achievements are at :Loksatta Achievements

If i was Dr JP, i would put up a photo collage of all these at my door,take my monthly IAS pension from government, take vacations every month, give some talks and retire writing books.Yet this man, cannot stop working and bringing some REAL CHANGE. We all donate to some NGOs for girl child education or for some medical operation but Dr JP works to do something to ensure these cases wont need in first place trying to bring universal healthcare and education for all.We call up our MLA when our colony roads gets damaged but cannot spare a thought that we have a local representative in name of corporator or panchayat which is actually responsible for it but cannot execute it due to lack of power,privileges and funds. These small things if reformed properly,can ensure a better life for billions of Indians.Our governments are ready to provide crores of compensation to victims of Rail accidents, or crowd stampades but cannot spend lakhs to ensure better facilties to avoid the disaster. Somebody has to look through the symptoms and fix things before they are taken into operation theatre.
Our murky politics and biased media cannot ensure these things to be taken care via electoral win means. Every new political revolution was accompanied by things which Loksatta cannot associate with and is not part of its DNA. I would discuss below with some personalities entered into political arena to bring a change ie. Arvind Kejriwal,NTR,Chiranjeevi.
AAP has the biggest advantage in choosing the battle ground as Delhi.Delhi is a glorified municipality and Kejriwal has no worries on solving agriculture problems,get more investments into state , take care of law & order which are the top 3 issues a govt perception is based on. Adding to it, media bias against Modi , media publicty, freebies gave AAP the edge , which Loksatta cannot do it.You can definitely reduce traffic and some pollution with odd even rule with hundreds of authorities monitoring vehicles but it is not possible every single day.
NTR came like a storm into AP politics unimaginable at that time of 1980s.However, he had a great support from disgruntled Congress leaders , a strong anti incumbency factor and his knack of choosing people battles . Adding to it socalist measures of freebies.
Chiranjeevi , when he started PrajaRajyam and he projected as the change agent.He lost the plot in couple of months and ultimately merged the party into Congress.I dont need to elaborate on his grand failure.
Loksatta has ensured the commitment and conviction remains in the 10 years of party progress and 12 years of being a civil movement earlier .One cannot run a political party without money or media controversy. Loksatta is not built to attract these and cannot loose its DNA to get some visible progress and credit.You can always achieve lot of things when you dont care who gets the credit.Being apolitial yields more results than getting caught in quagmire and myriad political controversies in current day Indian political scenario.
However, I dont think Loksatta would be silent and this platform laid by Dr JP will continue their fight to solve problems. Our current day politics are worse but people actually got used to it . Many of us dont watch India playing cricket if we think we are loosing even if Kohli or Dhoni is batting , we dont watch movies with exceptional acting prowess but has less entertainment in it. Such is politics , we dont support an entity which doesnt provide entertainment ,vote for those who we think will win, rather than people who we want to win. At such times, we cannot afford a statesman and visionary like DR JP to continue his energy wasting in fighting political electoral games . He has to get back to his work , looking into symptoms, start the cure. Iam glad i will continue to be playing my part.

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Chapter 1 – The Beginning : The Kohinoor of KrishnaDevaraya

PreScript : This is the first chapter of my novel dealing with Sri Krishna Devaraya, one of the greatest South Indian King. It would be a socio fantasy fiction with Love-Revenge, Literature-Religion and a treasure hunt thriller.


Devaaa !!! get up . Arjun is calling you . How many times should i tell you not to sleep in afternoons just after lunch. You wont listen to me . Mukta is almost ready ”  Mrs Lakshmi, a teacher in a private school , just came home from her daily work and snapped at her son just like any Indian mom. They are a middle class family who live on first floor of their house which is not too near nor too far from one of the busy road in a good locality in Hyderabad . Mr. Krishna Prasad, a bank manager and head of the household is yet to come home. Time is half past four on a bright sunny evening and Deva has to leave home in 3 hours to catch a train ; ‘Deva’ is the name his mother calls him whenever she is angry with him and this alerted him more than the phone calls from his friend Arjun . His sister , Aamukta is already freshed up and is watching some videos of her facebook timeline.


Siddharth Deva and Aamukta are fraternal twins , with Sid the elder one. They both have just completed Btech third year examinations and have planned for a trip to Hampi before joining some summer coaching for MTech entrance examinations . Hampi, the capital of once glorious South Indian kingom of Vijayanagara  and a place in present day Karnataka ,  is their dreamy disney land longing to visit since long , influenced by their grandfather swamy’s  bedtime stories of Hampi and of legedary Vijayanagara king, Sri Krishna Devaraya.  Guruswamy , a 70 year frail old man was employed with ASI and has worked in Hampi for majority of his working life. He was fascinated by the place while excavating those ruins that he did not accept any transfers in his job. The stories of Sri krishna Deva raya battles and conquests, Tenali Ram’s witty puzzle conversations, Alasani Peddana’s intelligence were his bedtime lullabies for Sid and Aamukta. He agreed for his son Krishna Prasad’s love marriage with lakshmi only after a promise that he will name their future kids. And in due course , the boy child was named Siddharth Deva , having Deva from Sri Krishna Devaraya and Aamukta , named after the king’s greatest literary work ‘Aamuktamalyada’.


Arjun, best buddy of Sid since school days, was initially reluctant to join the trip but changed his mind as his heart couldnt disagree with Asha tagging along. Asha is the best friend of Aamukta ; they met on Day 1 in Engineering college and these four hangout regularly. Vardhaan is another friend of Sid who is joining the trip. All the five people have planned to go for a trip after their third year examinations and have settled for destination as Hampi as Sid Aamukta wanted to go to Hampi. They also planned to visit the famous Gandikota gorge, the Grand canyon of India .


Arjun called again and confirmed with Sid that Asha is coming. Sid got angry that he lost a sound afternoon sleep due to Arjun but started packing things for the trip. Sid and Aamukta took an Auto and all 5 have reached kacheguda railway station by 8 :30 PM and are waiting for train to arrive on platform. Asha also has positive feeling towards Arjun but is a bit girl-hesitant to express her feelings. Arjun is not sure and had been planning to talk more to Asha in this trip and is waiting for a right time to move further . Aamukta is the class topper and the main reason for Sid’s scoldings at home for his academic achievements. All 5 study engineering in a prestigious engineering college in Hyderabad and sit in same class of Computer science stream . Vardhaan is the silent guy of the group , does better in studies and is a benchmate of Sid. He is a avid book reader , a movie buff and never misses a chance to explore new things. Sid is listening to music on his ipod and trying to call his grandpa from his mobile phone. Mr.Swamy said he would be come to send off them at Railway station but cannot come to Hampi owing to his old age knee problems. But Mr.Swamy had to cancel that plan too. He has planned everything for this college gang from the people he knew there in Hampi.


Kacheguda – Hubli express arrived on platform as per its time and they took their seats . Sid knows that Hampi trip is probably one thing that would definitely make the old man happy. But he or none of the group knew that as soon as they embarked on the train and train started  , they have just started the greatest treasure hunt ever known to modern India, the Pursuit of KOHINOOR OF KRISHNADEVARAYA.
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Image Credits: Sawant Tandle A FrozenSecond

The Death of a revolution.. AK Anna to AK Laloo

Some years me ago, there was an old man who rallied entire nation against the corrupt practices of Government.
An educated young government servant and excellent oratory leader was with him.This young man created history by being part of an historic political gamechanger which shook the strongest political party and changed politics of India.
The young leader was Laloo Prasad Yadav. And with him is Arvind Kejriwal here in this pic.
Old Man: Jayaprakash Narayan JanataParty , Strongest political party then: Congress ,Time: 1970s
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Very rarely is that a vast and diverse country like India witnesses a revolution. After Independence, there were very few changes occured in India on a scale of revolution. We call them notably as White Revolution(Milk) , Green Revolution (Agriculture produce) which changed the food habits of many people. There was a political revolution sometimes called as “Emergency Revolution ” which shook the democracy of India . Then , there was Liberalisation which changed India. Such was a rare moment when Lakhs of people rallied with a frail old man with a Topi to join his fight against CORRUPTION. This “India Against Corruption” produced some good leaders who later went on to pursue their political interests. Arvind kejriwal was the one who was  successful in making his political platform a bit reality.
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There is no wrong in an activist turning into politician.  Jayaprakash Narayan, an ex IAS officer and ran an NGO Loksatta and turned his organisation into a political entity. There are certain limitations for a Non Governmental, Non political entity which cannot be overcome unless there is political power.
When Arvind Kejriwal wanted to start a political party and contested elections, i thought he is intelligent and knew what to do.
When Arvind Kejriwal formed government with the help of Congress , i thought he knew how to do it.
When Arvind Kejriwal left the government in 49 days due to some politically silly reason, i thought he is calculative and risk taker.
When Arvind Kejriwal decided to contest against Narendra Modi and started a war against Ambanis , i thought he is getting adamant , desperate and foolish.
But when Arvind Kejriwal shared the victory cheer with Laloo in Bihar CM Nitish Kumar swearing in ceremony, he has gone mad in power and lost the game.
Yes, Arvind Kejriwal has brought some change and i applaud him for that. Even UPA1 brought some good changes like RTI to curb corruption and initiated MNREGA trying to resolve unemployment issue , the socialist way. AK can publicize that a flyover was constructed in 100 crores less budget but hide the fact that flyover design was modified and he was not the one who modified it. He can publicize that SwacchDelhi will make Delhi Clean but get funds from Central government to do that. He can publicize that Jan Lokpal is ultimate anti corruption tool but just adding a name “Jan” before the existing Lokayukta act that even his fanboys RTI activists dissent due to lack of transparency.He can blame Central Government every small thing that he is incapable of rather than pushing for reforms.He can call hiimself the new progressive politician yet give free sops to people in elections .
He has become the TRP messiah for media which is thirsty ,hungry and angry with Narendra Modi.
He has become the only hope for thousands of NGOs who do dubious work and got their funds curtailed .
He has become the real front end for the grand old congress party which cannot redeem itself and can only be happy seeing its rival BJP going down.
He has become the real hope for some of the parties who were let alone by Modi and BJP in their quest for power.
He will be remembered some one like Morarji Desai or VP Singh who was very capable and lost the game entirely in quest of power . The greatest worry is that this generation will think twice before voting for someone who can bring a political revolution. He pushed political reforms atleast by two decades . The most worrisome is that his AAPTARDs who are with high intelligence and less wisdom and create the most disturbing political discourse on new media platforms.
The good thing is there is still time,he just started his journey and he can redeem himself . He has the entire Delhi Assembly to him and lakhs ov volunteer who can work with him . And be the Good Guy who knew what to do, how to do and DID IT.

Objection your honour !!! NJAC may not be incorrect afterall..

TL;DR This post is regarding the recent squashing of NJAC act by Indian Supreme Court .

There are some South Indian films where there is a village head and passes judgements on issues related to that village. And yes , many times the judgments give justice. But then he becomes old and is replaced by his son or his favorite person. We dont feel any discomfort because its usually the hero who plays the new guy role and if not, its the villain who has a hero and a rebellion . What if this really happens in a real life state system ? and let me remind you , are there any heroes in real life ? Would you be comfortable that a person who decides the most contentious issues in your village, is elected by a non transparent mechanism ?

Well, now replace Village with India , and village head with Supreme court judges . Villages might not have written rules but it is as good as our complex legal proceedings and procedures. There is no transparent mechanism on what basis they are appointed to Supreme court and high courts . Yes, Supreme court is Supreme and has delivered justice on lot of issues which were highlighted in media and became a TRP sensation. But there are many instances when an influential entity got justice in their way within the judicial constraints. Also, no one can criticize a Supreme court judgment as its a contempt of court and even considered as sedition sometimes. Yet, people in the heart know 100% Justice is not delivered 100% of all the times. We know persons who have scams of one lakh crores and even after proven guilty , can now be Leader of Opposition in a state. We know persons who got dethroned from Chief minister due to judicial intervention on corruption , yet back to CM chair in an year with you-know-what loopholes .

A former Indian Supreme Court Justice Examines Corruption in the Judiciary here and called Supreme court workings “the best kept secret in the country”
Prashant Bhushan , noted activist says out of the last 16 to 17 Chief Justices, half have been corrupt;Link is here . Not all Supreme court judges have declared their assets ( Link ) and they only describe personal and spouse assets and not other family members. Currently , Supreme court judges are appointed by Supreme court judges and this system is called Collegium.

Silhouette of scales of Lady Justice holding scales

Now some Civics 101; Legislative branch of government (i.e politicians) have a check every 5 years and are accountable to public and judiciary. Executive branch of Government (i.e IAS and other bureaucracy) are accountable to public and Legislative can control it. But why is the Judiciary exempt from check and accountability completely. There is a process called impeachment but it requires 2/3rd majority of legislatures and usually doesnt happen ; Only 2 judges have been so far . But is it not better to avoid bad than to mitigate them with such extreme process ? So, how do you ensure this close knit people organization which impacts a 1.2 billion nation’s present and future, be as transparent as possible ?

NJAC or National Judicial Appointment Commission was an act, initiated by Loksatta Jayaprakash Narayan , proposed and prepared by three eminent Retired Supreme court jurists , passed by Parliament, signed by President and ratified by 20 states as of now. This ensures that Supreme court judges, Chief justice of India, High court chief justices , High court judges , Judges transfers are recommended by a 6 member panel consisting of Chief Justice of India, Two Senior judges of Supreme court (next in line to Chief justice) , Union Law minister, Two eminent persons for a duration of 3 years recommended by Prime Minster, Leader of Opposition, Chief Justice .

Why are we involving politicians here ?
Arent they corrupt and can influence judiciary ?
Isn’t Judiciary supposed to be Independent as per constitution ?
Only 1 out of 6 is a politician in NJAC and its the Law minister of India. Judiciary still has the majority vote and there is a veto power for 2 of NJAC members . So, a bad judge even if he is favorite of all judges cannot make it as Law minster can object . Vice Versa , a favourite of politicians cannot make it as Judiciary is majority and 5 other people have veto power.
Yes, as per constitution “Judiciary has to be independent ” and is part of basic doctrine which is not allowed to change . But Independence can also be interpreter as Functionality and NJAC does not practically impact Independence of Judiciary.

Now some technicalities; As per Article 368 of Indian Constitution, any constitutional amendment pertaining to the Supreme Court and High Courts require special majority in the Parliament and ratification by half the states. And NJAC successfully passed all stages and got accent by the President of India. That means the whole process of framing NJAC is absolutely constitutional which is now termed ‘unconstitutional’ by the Supreme Court. But, the process of Supreme Court repealing NJAC is also constitutional.

Article 50 talks only about separation between executive and judiciary: “The State shall take steps to separate the judiciary from the executive in the public services of the State”. Article 50 is within part IV of the constitution, i.e. it is one of the articles of the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP). DPSP are non-justiciable in nature and therefore, in my opinion even if NJAC Act violate the article 50, it cannot be a basis for declaring NJAC Act as unconstitutional. DPSP are positive obligation of the state and not the negative obligations.
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Almost all the major democratic countries (Link for some list) have higher judiciary elected as transparent as possible with sufficient checks and balances with involvement of Executive or Legislative branches of Government except INDIA. Judiciary is probably the most confused , enigmatic branch of Governance in India. Unless, there is transparency and proper process , we cannot expect for more reforms to resolve the pending 3 crore cases.

“In retrospect, the events of the 1970s and 1980s (Events preceeding to Emergency) justified the Supreme Court taking unto itself the appointment of judges, in the interest of keeping the judiciary independent. But times have changed. The judiciary’s independence is no longer in doubt. And India is a much more mature democracy, whose citizens deserve better. It is time for the highest court to loosen its grip a little, and let the pendulum, which had gone from one extreme to the other, swing back to the middle. “

THE Bahubali !!!

I am not sure of superlatives to describe the grandeur experience titled as “Bahubali : The beginning “ . Its probably an experience i have never felt on a big screen . There were times when i watched 300 or gladiator or Benhur but this is something special and more importantly natively different. Its probably a perfect match to Hollywood’s grandeur and Indian cinema’s tales and story telling .This film was weaven like childhood chandamama stories and comic books and showcased on a canvas where it was what a normal person can imagine . After the film , there is only one thing which everyone might say “ Bow to Rajamouli for his vision and execution “ .

BahubaliOne cannot miss such extravaganza on an Indian screen. Rajamouli known for his larger than life characters in the movie has taken this to many levels high .One cannot be nothing; but be in awe of Prabhas’s Bahubali intelligent and physical strength, Shrewdness and Ruthlessness  of Rana’s BhallalaDeva , Regalness of Ramyakrishna’s Sivagami, Loyalty of Satyaraj’s Kattappa, Beauty of Tamannah’s Avantika , Irreplaceable Nazar’s Bijjaladeva and  Subdued anger of Anushka’s Devasena characters . Music by MM Keeravani is probably the biggest asset closely followed by VFX . Never before on an Indian screen was such a idea was constructed to such close perfection.

Spoilers below :

1The goosebumps start when Sivagami calls “Parameshwara “  while asking to save the child ;  raises a level when Bahubali lifts SivaLinga and places under falls ;   gets a fast tempo when the avalanches start and Bahubali- Avantika escapes in a James Bond style , moves on to another level of cinematic experience when a living king gets his statue erected with crowd chanting his rival’s name loud & reverberating , makes the heart rush when Katappa takes Bahubali foot on his head , pumps up when Sivudu screams “Nenu evarini ” , gets us stuck to the seat watching the war strategies, war weapons, war commands , takes us to the battlefield with Bahubali and Bhallaladeva , ends only when the stamp of SS Rajamouli appears on the screen.

Ramya Krishna reminded Neelambari of Narasimha and did a one level above performance with “ Ide naa maata, Naa maate Shaashanam “ . Rana cannot be acknowledged in words and we cannot even think of anyone who can does this character so awesomely ferocious . That two glances Anushka gives when katappa calls her mad and when crowd chants Bahubali are enough to make her impact in the film. Tamannah sizzles as the warrior princes and gets us awestruck when she starts pushing the sword into solider’s heart  I dont know how can one portray Bahubali with so intensity and so subtlety as Prabhas can . There cannot be words for this performance .

VFX made sure our fantasies are as fantastic as possible with background music backing the vision so awesomely that we are in a different world and traveling in a universe called “Bahubali “ .

There are some moments in movie where you cannot stop applauding the storytelling craft of the director and gets enthralled in being part of an experience never before. No one else can put an item song in such a film making it so beautifully choreographed, that tight moment you know when Bhallaladeva leaves the rope but that cannot be the end  , that second you know if Bahubali kills Kalakeya , story would be too plain , that subtle humour between Bahubali and Bhallaladeva which can go wrong and many like that

War scenes makes you revere the film with the weapons you can only imagine , strategies you can only envision and action sequences choreographed like you cannot even think of. And he made it to draw inspiration from lots of things we know ; having Devasena captured like Sita and not giving up hope  , Kalakeyas as some kind of Rakshasas (Or as Wildings from Game of Thrones ) , Bhallaladeva as ferociously strengthy as Ravana or Dhuryodhana , Kattappa as ever obedient Bheeshma (or as slave warriors of Game of Thrones ) .

Rajamouli has ensured people be interested and wait with more excitement for next installment by having the unthinkable twist at the end .

Jai Mahishmathi !!! Jai Bahubali !!!

14 things learnt in 2014 – An ode to an awesome year

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair

– from “A Tale of Two cities ” of Charles Dickens.

These are some insights i gained during various scenarios encountered this year .

  1. You can get almost anything done if you don’t care who gets the credit.
  2. Vocabulary can change the direction of a discussion . Use right and higher level words and turn the discussion to your side.
  3. “Money can buy happiness. If it doesn’t make you happy then you are not spending it right”.
  4. If there is a good cause thousands  will work towards it with unlimited passion zeal and one must experience it atleast once in a lifetime. #Jp4Malkajgiri Campaign
  5. 1.01 power of 365 is 37.8 – and 0.99 power of 365 is 0.03. Improve a bit everyday .
  6. Don’t try to postpone a deadline. An Approaching deadline makes you do wonders.
  7. You may be happy if you succeed, But to succeed, first you need to be Happy. Being Happy is probably the most underrated trait of human self.
  8. When planning for a vacation, consider cellular connectivity as a criteria . Lesser the connectivity, better the vacation.🙂stock-photo-goodbye-written-on-the-road-202269124
  9. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
  10.   Eyes tell the real emotions no matter what the person says and does.
  11. “Dream on,  but don’t expect they will all come true.” Be ready to face the consequences of anything you want to do/any decision you take.
  12. . Always have the best support system for you . Life is a bumpy ride at times.
  13. . Always break with both front and back breaks on a bike.😛
  14. . Karaoke is awesome🙂

Thank you 2014 for an amazing crazy fabulous exhilarating enlightening creative year.

Similar to my post of 2013.13 years learnt in 2013

Majestic and Magnificent Hampi – a travelogue

“ With fire and sword, with crow bars and axes, they carried on day after day their work of destruction. Never perhaps in the history of the World has such havoc been wrought, and wrought so suddenly, on so splendid a city, teeming with a wealthy and industrious population in the full plentitude of prosperity one day, and on the next seized, pillaged and reduced to ruins, and scenes of savage massacre and horrors begging description.”

Robert Sewell  in his book "The Forgotten empire"  on the plunder aftermath Battle of Talikota and the downfall of the majestic , magnificent Vijayanagara empire.Folklore says, in the capital city of Vijayanagara , the loot continued for 6 months day in and day out.

Every ruin has a story. Every monument hides more than what it reveals. Every building throws a glimpse of majestical  Vijayanagara times.

10730842_10153357860049829_5958414461527959296_nA view from Matanga Hill of Krishna Temple which was constructed after Vijayanagara empire victory over King of Odisha.

The Vijayanagara Empire  was an empire based in South India, in the Deccan Plateau region. It was established in 1336 by Harihara I and his brother Bukka Raya I of Sangama Dynasty. The empire rose to prominence as a culmination of attempts by the southern powers to ward off Islamic invasions by the end of the 13th century. It lasted until 1646 although its power declined after a major military defeat in 1565 by the Deccan sultanates. The empire is named after its capital city of Vijayanagara, whose ruins surround present day Hampi, now a World Heritage Site in Karnataka, India.

The architecture style has been prominent and inspired later Hindu temple constructions.The empire’s patronage enabled fine arts and literature to reach new heights in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit, while Carnatic music evolved into its current form.

Sri Krishnadevaraya is most prominent ruler of the empire and presided over the empire’s zenith.Known to almost every Telugu household as Rayala vaaru and the man behind “Rayalaseema”  nomenclature , built the magnificient Hampi . Sri Krishnadevaraya and Tenali Ramakrishna are Telugu’s own Akbar-Birbal twosome.

Our trip started with we luckily getting upgraded to AC 3 tier from SL and getting down at Hospet Railway station (Northern Karnataka ) on the next day morning. We booked rooms in Lakshmi Heritage Hotel (which met our expectations ) in Hampi Bazaar , the downtown Hampi. Hampi is 13 km from Hospet and one can stay in Hotels there. Hampi is one of 15 UNESCO heritage site cities in India and frequented by more foreigners than Indians. We have met people from atleast 8-10 countries from  Europe to Russia to Japan. There are decent enough restaurants serving all kinds of cuisines (Continental, Israeli, Chinese, Indian ) to cater to foreign tourists and autowallahs, roadside vendors speak English ,French,Spanish better than Telugu. One can see guides explaining History coupled with Puranas at the ruined temple sites to foreign tourists.

10520824_10153357781644829_8842374072094336653_n (1) Early morning sunrise view of Achyutaraya temple from Matanga Hill

There are numerous points to visit in Hampi if you get yourselves into listening Autowallahs or guides. We , decided to do one day tour with a autowallah (typically charges 800 INR per day ) and covered some places . Next day explored places on our own. One can skip some places as many are temples, if not interested.One can get a map of Hampi ruins online or can buy a small guide for 10-20 Rs once you land there.

Major sites are Main Virupaksha temple near Hampi Bazaar , Vittala temple where Sun chariot and Musical Mantap is located , Monolithic statue temples to showcase the proficiency of artists at that time,  Matanga Hill for a super sunrise hike , Achyutaraya temple for the photography enthusiasts , Tungabhadra river banks for an awesome early morning hike ,  Hazari Rama temple for some sculptural majesty,  Malyavantha temple for another top view of Hampi, Anjandari hillock for a grand Hampi view , Sunset point for a surreal experience, Kings and Queens buildings mixed with Hindu and Muslim Architecture, and Royal Enclosure and surroundings(Lotus Mahal, Elephants stable)  to showcase how a kingdom existed. Every place has a story ,importance and vitality of its own. We havent covered some we thought would be not so great.

The Archaeological Survey of India museum at Kamalapura exhibits some of the relics excavated and throws light on some of the grand efforts of our archaeologists in excavations which brought the ruins out. The grandeur of the empire can be understood in the literary works of various foreign visitors during Vijayanagara time presented there. It is said that Diamonds , Gold and metals were sold on Streets of Vijayanagara Hampi.

 

1399336_10153357794679829_4552896957631235464_oEarly morning view of Achyutaraya temple on hike way to Vittala Temple.

All pics courtesy : Sawant Tandle

 

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Stone Chariot temple at UNESCO World Heritage site Vittala Temple

 

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A Stepwell near Royal Enclosure (You should see the Before excavation and After Excavation pic of these )

 

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Main Virupaksha temple , the central point of present day Hampi

 

1496662_10153357847909829_6354892739794176684_nTungabhadra river and the ruins on its riverbank

 

  • Do explore both sides of Tungabhadra river. Unfortunately, the round ‘teppa’ boats are not in use now.
  • Do take the bicycle or motorbike on rent and have some fun in lush green rural atmosphere . The distance between the sites are sometimes more than 5 km .
  • Do take good sunglasses, a head cap and some water bottles for hike trails.
  • Do explore other cuisines in Hampi restaurants.
  • Do take pride in so many foreigners visiting an Indian Heritage place.

 

  • Do not expect your cell coverage to be present in Hampi .Exception: BSNL.
  • Do not take any winter clothes even during severe winters.Not much use there.
  • Do not expect pictures to do justice to show the majestical nature of Vijayanagara empire.

 

PS : Complete Album of pics : Magnificent Hampi

PPS: I think i now have a plot for an awesome novel/ fantasy film😛

Other travelogue : Lonavla – Matheran

Yet we are a great nation !!!

We are a nation where everyone’s in a hurry, but nobody is on time.

We are a nation where you have to look 2 ways for crossing a 1 way road.

We are a nation of 1635 languages yet united by a foreign language.

We are a nation where babies are killed in womb , but prayers are offered for Durga mata.

We are a nation where women are raped but goddesses are worshipped.

We are a nation where we spend more on girl marriage than on her education.

We are a nation where pizza reaches faster than fire engine or an ambulance.

We are a nation where there are more people going to a religious place than to a school

We are a nation where people fight to be called as backward

We are a nation where we spend 50 rs on a Samosa in the food court of a theater but would never buy a $0.99 app from the App store

We are a nation where the more you study, the less employment opportunities you have.

We are a nation where Vegetables are sold on Footpath and footwear in AC malls.

We are a nation where you get Car Loan @ 6% but Education Loan @ 12%.

We are a nation where Rice is Rs.54 but Sim card is Rs.10 .

We are a nation where we don’t cast our vote, but we vote our caste.

We are a nation where we wear helmets to save their pockets, not life .

We are a nation where revenge is taken by stop playing cricket.

We are a nation  where  we make lemon juices with artificial flavors and dish wash liquids with real lemon.

We are a nation where breaker of the Indian Constitution got Bharat Ratna (Indira Gandhi -1971) before the creator of the Constitution (BR Ambedkar – 1990)

We are a nation where a cricket player becomes God but a 2 time olympic medalist becomes golgappa seller.

We are a nation where Actors are playing cricket, Cricketers are playing politics, Politicians are watching porn and Porn stars are becoming actors.

We are a nation where everyone wants to see the change; none of them wants to change themselves.

We are a nation where we have 34000 laws but lack law and order.

We are a nation where we waste tons of milk on stones and statues but millions go hungry everyday.

We are a nation where we have second largest football stadium but didnt play a football world cup.

We are a nation where we are ranked 6th in number of billionaires but have one third of world poverty.

We are a nation where gals are taught not to speak to strangers but get married to one.

We are a nation where farmers are poor, but liquor corporates are rich.

We are a nation where politicians divide us, but terrorists unite us.

We are a nation where fairness of skin is more important than fairness of thoughts.

We are a nation where we want children to study in private school but wants a government job.

 

Yet we are a great nation,

We invented Zero and number system.

We invented Chess.

We invented Yoga.

We created Martial Arts.

We are the largest English speaking population of the world.

We have 300,000 active mosques in India , more than in any other country, including the Muslim world.

We are in only 3 countries who have developed super computer indigenously.

We are the largest democracy.

We have the largest number of biomass gasifier systems in the world producing over 656 mega watts (MW) of power

India is the world’s second largest producer of small cars. It is the largest newspaper market in the world.

We are the largest producer of milk, cashew nuts, coconuts, tea, ginger, turmeric and black pepper, in the world. , the world’s largest cattle population (281 million). second largest producer of wheat, rice, sugar, groundnut and inland fish.

We have the largest employer in the world, Indian Railways.

We have the second largest army in terms of personnel.

We have second largest network of paved highways, after USA.

And many more..

 

Happy Independence Day..

Travelogue – Lonavla –Matheran

I always wanted to go on a trekking trip or a backpack tour sort of thing and this wish has been completed with Matheran trek.

We , 6 people,  boarded on a train to pune and got down at Pune. Had a delicious pune ka poha as breakfast and took a local train to lonavla from Pune. It took around one hour to reach Lonavla and we went on searching for accomodation . It was such a impromptu trip that we did no reservations and bookings except the tatkal booked pune train tickets🙂

It was all greenery and moist all around us . We got an awesome old bungalow for economical price but it was little far away from railway station ( Place: Shamiana Lodge ). Tip : Say you are students😛

Then, we took the hike to Bushi dam which is around 7 kms from our place. Well, we went there for some trekking and hiking🙂 . It was not much of khaas (special) and was too much crowded owing to the weekend, but the hike was awesome with some awesome views . There was some Lions point nearby which many say is good , but we couldnt get a chance .

10538064_10153052618269829_6373291717630334696_o 10542403_10153044386554829_5182188459906092273_o

Next day, we took a local site seeing Innova and went to Carla caves and Rajamachi point(Also known as Khandala stretch ). Carla caves was good and we got some real good hike on steps on hill top . Rajamachi point provides a magnificient view of Mumbai Pune Expressway with hills and clouds. Tip for prospective goers:  Local sight seeing guys will only consider time for charging . So, you cannot cover all points in 5 hours what we hire them for and overcharging is how they make money for extra time we spent. So, its best to visit only selective points and ignore any temples etc .🙂

Then, we decided to board for our actual plan , Matheran trek. There are some trains that go till karjat and take Mumbai local till Neral and then take sharecab till foot of Matheran hill. We decided to take a direct cab (costed us around 2000 bucks) to Matheran base as train timings were not convenient for us to get there by dusk.

The road to Matheran base (the place till where vehicles are allowed ) from Neral (Dont be confused with NerUl , which is a posh suburb in Mumbai)  was a ghat road completely filled with fog and was too narrow but was a exhilarating experience with small water falls roadside and people doing road trek.

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There is a toytrain from Matheran base till uphill but only runs few times every day . We missed the last one for the day . Then we decided to rail trek on the route and that was an awesome experience. It was all raining and fog and we walked for some 5 kms to reach uphill and then couple of hours to find a place to stay. Due to time constraints, we took a place which was shabby deciding to shift next morning.

Next day morning, we shifted to Hotel Premdeep which was too good and economical considering it was not weekend and embarked on our trek plan. Reached Charlotte dam point and had full plates of Poha and maggie as brunch. Thereafter, we have travelled across some great awesome view points trekking almost 18 kms to and fro . The best one was Malang Point and Alexander point . It was worth it. Every point was good and was such a nice walk.

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And after this, it was like we were on heaven . We were literally living on clouds.

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Final day, we took the toy train downhill which was just 30 mins . Its a different experience. We took the sharecab till Neral and take return train from Karjat.

Best part was that my Idea mobile was not having signal for full two days and i was cutoff from the world with a digital detox. There are no ATMs on Matheran , so please take care . You can use horses for transportation uphill. Dont miss the toytrain.Best season to visit is Monsoons.

 

Some pics taken from my friend Photography page : https://www.facebook.com/Sawant.photography?fref=ts