‘Degree Coffee by the yard’ – a review

‘Degree Coffee by the yard’, a book on Madras, by Nirmala Lakshmanan, great grand daughter of the late Kasturi Ranga Iyengar of The Hindu, is a missed opportunity to portray Chennai. With its rich and varied heritage, Madras aka Chennai presents delectable topics amidst resplendent historical sites.

The book meanders, chugs and pulls along to qualify as a let down and in the process commits injustice to the city of Chennai. The treatment to the history of the city is neither deep nor wide.

The book misses the main aspect of bringing to light the leading lights of the great city. The treasure trove that is Chennai has been given a step-motherly treatment, so to say. The book is available at the Adyar District Library, Chennai.51pmfvlaell._sx354_bo1204203200_

தி ஹிந்து – ஒரு மினி பார்வை

வாஞ்சிநாதன் பற்றிய கீழ்த்தரமான கட்டுரை வெளியிட்டதற்கு தி ஹிந்து வருத்தம் தெரிவித்துள்ளது (அ) தெரிவிப்பது போல் எழுதியுள்ளது.

கட்டுரையை வாசித்தேன். தகவல் பிழைகள் இருப்பதை மூன்றாம் வகுப்புப் பிள்ளை கூட கண்டுகொள்ளும் அளவில் உள்ளது கட்டுரை. எழுத்தில் கிஞ்சித்தும் தரம் என்பது இல்லை. முரசொலியைப் படிக்கிறோமா என்று எண்ணத் தோன்றியது. தி ஹிந்துவில் தரம் இறங்கியுள்ளது பற்றிப் பலமுறை எழுதி இருந்தாலும், இம்மாதிரி அடிப்படைத் தகவல்களைக் கூட சரி பார்க்காமல் எழுதியிருப்பது, அதிர்ச்சியே. முன்னொரு முறை நாலாந்தர நக்கீரனில் ‘ஜெயலலிதா பசு மாமிசம் சாப்பிட்டார்’ என்பதாக வந்த கட்டுரையை ஆங்கில தி ஹிந்து மொழிபெயர்த்து வெளியிட்டது. அந்தப் பாரம்பரியம் தொடர்கிறது போல் தெரிகிறது. தமிழ் ஹிந்து ‘தி நக்கீரன்’ என்று பெயர் மாற்றிக்கொள்ளலாம்.

ஆங்கில தி ஹிந்து சற்று முன்னேற்றம் அடைந்துள்ளது போல் படுகிறது. எடிடோரியல், ஓப்பன் பேஜ், பேட்டி முதலியவற்றை விலக்கி வைத்துப் பார்த்தால், முன்னேற்றம் தெரிகிறது. புதிய எழுத்தாளர்கள் தென்படுகிறார்கள்.ஆனால் ஆங்கிலத்தின் தரம் குறைந்துள்ளது வெளிப்படையாகத் தெரிகிறது. புதிய எழுத்தாளர்கள் , செய்தியாளர்கள் தங்கள் கட்டுரைகளில் ‘ஆராய்ச்சி’ என்பதே இல்லாமல் பார்த்துக் கொள்வது ‘சிறப்பாக’ உள்ளது. வெறும் தகவல்களைச் சொல்வதற்கு மேல் இவர்கள் வேறொன்றையும் செய்வதில்லை. மாத்ருபூதம் என்பார் எழுதும் நகைச்சுவைப் பகுதி அவ்வப்போது கிச்சு கிச்சு மூட்டுகிறது. மற்றபடி பரத்வாஜ் ரங்கன் எழுதும் சினிமா விமர்சனம், வாராந்திர நூல் விமர்சனங்கள் மற்ற நாளிதழ்களை விட நன்றாக உள்ளன. நூல்கள் பெரும்பாலும் தேச துரோக இடது சாரி நூல்கள் என்று நான் சொல்லித் தெரியவேண்டியதில்லை.

இதையெல்லாம் யாராவது ஹிந்துவில் பணிபுரிபவர்கள் மேலிடத்திற்கு எடுத்துச் சொல்லலாம். ஆனால் இடதுசாரிகளின் காதுகள் மார்க்ஸ்-ஈயத்தால் அடைக்கப்பட்டவை என்பதால் பலன் இருக்குமா என்று தெரியவில்லை. சங்கை ஊதிப் பார்க்கலாம். அவ்வளவுதான்.

ஹிந்துவில் ‘பிசினஸ் லைன்’ நல்ல கட்டுரைகளைத் தாங்கி வருகிறது. மீடியாக்ரிட்டி இன்னமும் அண்டவில்லை.

முக்கியமாக ஹிந்துவின் ஐ-பேட் செயலி சிறப்பாக உள்ளது. எடிட்டோரியல், ஓப்பன் பேஜ், பேட்டிகள் முதலியவை நம் கண்ணில் படாமல் இருக்க செயலியில் வழி உள்ளதா என்று தெரியவில்லை. தினமணி, இந்தியன் எக்ஸ்பிரஸ், துக்ளக், வலம் முதலியவை ஹிந்துவின் ஐபேட் செயலி போல் செய்துகொள்வது நல்லது.

ஒரு காலத்தில் ‘ஹிந்து’வில் பணியாற்றவேண்டும் என்று விரும்பியிருந்தேன். இன்னமும் விரும்புகிறேன். ஆனால் கொள்கை ரீதியில் முடியமா என்று தெரியவில்லை.

Reading 'The Hindu' for obituary

My English posts usually get only mediocre response from Tamil readers. But all of a sudden it all changed.

Hits and comments increased exponentially.

I am flabbergasted at the response to my two posts on The Hindu. Many retired professors have written to me, agreeing to all the views and emotions that I had expressed. Many elderly people, who have had more than 40 years of association with the paper, have written.

I see that these readers have visited my blog for the first time. They have got the link from their friends and colleagues who have had this deep sense of hurt at the decline and rot of the paper – especially the rot perpetrated by the communist leaning Ram and his cohorts.

I was pleasantly surprised when two emails were from ex-employees of the paper. They had praised the employee related policies of the paper but, with great similarity, expressed displeasure at the editorial policy and the general attitude of the editorial staff, with N.Ram at the helm.

A reader was so genuine in his comment that I had goosebumps. He said,’I read The Hindu nowadays just for the obituary columns to know if anyone known to me has passed away.’ This is a completely true sentiment as it has been a practice in Tambrahm families to let look out for the obit column first. I had an entire story on this in my ‘Monday is not Tuesday‘ collection.

Thank you readers. I am glad that the posts have touched some hearts across the globe.

Yes, The Hindu needs to be saved and the only way, I think, is to bombard the paper with articles refuting their ‘erudite’ articles from left leaning historians and columnists.

Sample this stupidity in yesterday’s paper: Prof.Iran Habib, a well known left-leaning historian, in a so-called scholarly article, states that ‘The concept of Bharat Mata is an European import.’ How far from truth does hatred carry this ‘intellectual’? Poet Bharati has sung in praise of Bharat Mata. Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and Tagore have praised. Are they European? We give feminine names to rivers since time immemorial. Is that also European? Poet Kamban and Thiruvalluvr have equated land to patient and gentle ladies. Indian culture sees earth as Bhooma Devi, a female consort of Lord Vishnu. So, are Vedas and Puranas European too?

The paper is being molested everyday by these semi-literate, hatred spewing columnists who masquerade as historians.

The time might not be ripe for a crowd funding take over of the paper. But with such increasing write-ups opposing The Hindu’s editorial stand and general opinion articles, The Hindu will have to turn a new leaf. The other option is to suffer reader apathy.

Until then, let us continue our close scrutiny of the paper and its policies. Of course, keep looking out for obituaries in the paper, for there might be nothing else worthwhile.

Earlier articles about The Hindu are here and here.

Can we save The Hindu?

The Hindu’s financial woes, brought out by ‘Thehoot.org’, makes a sad reading. Not only has the paper become editorially stupid and hence blatantly anti-national, but also fiscally imprudent and hence financially unviable. While I would rejoice at the death of its current editorial policy, I wouldn’t be happy at the demise of the paper, for the 130 year old paper has a hoary history that dates back to pre-independence times that many others in India don’t.

It is a given that its owners and editors are virulent CPI(M) card holders by virtue of which they can’t read the market and understand its economics. The more they are blinded by ideology and hatred, the more impossible it becomes for them to understand the mood and the market. Hence the paper is more likely to die a slow death like that of the erstwhile Soviet Union.

But that needs a Ronald Reagan. Who, in the current situation, could be a Reagan? I don’t see anybody in the current Indian media situation. The Indian Express has its own woes to confront and hence does not have the financial wherewithal. The Times of India could be a contender, for it could muster some strength and initiate a take-over. But the TOI is happy to be a Tabloid than a newspaper and it would bring about the decline in standards of The Hindu that has been left un-touched by the CPI-M card holders.

Could the Hindustan Times group vie for it? That looks like a possibility, for HT does not have a base in Tamil Nadu. If another news paper does not take over The Hindu, then it would, sooner or later, pass into the hands of some non-media corporate or a foreign media group. That would, without doubt, bring the paper’s contribution to arts and culture to a quick end.

Could The Hindu not go public and raise funds? That would be a rational course of action. It could do so but its owners would not be willing to part with the legacy of the paper. They would want to kill the paper but not hand it over to the public. All tall talk on communism, joint-ownership et al are for public consumption and does not apply to private profits.

So what could the long time and erstwhile readers ( myself included ) do? Wait and watch? I don’t think so.

However far fetched it might look, I am for creating a crowd-funded private entity to initiate a takeover of the paper. But before that let the financials worsen a bit more, advertisements dry out and government ads stop. That will bring the current owners to their knees and start searching for suitors.

I am not an expert on Mergers and Acquisitions. My views could have stemmed from my long association with the paper as its reader. But doesn’t the crowd-fund approach look promising?

Are there any other options? Experts please advise.

The Hoot news item on The Hindu’s financials.

On losing a childhood friend,'The Hindu'

Having been brought up on a staple diet of ‘The Hindu’ since primary school, I felt like fish out of water when I had to work in Mumbai in those pre-internet times. After 3 years I moved back to Chennai in 1998 and started my second tryst with The Hindu, when, all of a sudden, in 1999, the editor wrote a front page editorial welcoming the fall of the then BJP government due to Jayalalithaa’s treachery (Swamy’s included). I was so taken aback that I couldn’t digest the editorial for many days. Then, much against my family upbringing, I stopped the subscription.

Surprisingly there was an agent from The Hindu, at my gate, inquiring why I had stopped subscription. Probably many more should have stopped, I presumed. I had explained him the reason. He reminded me about the other features of the paper and encouraged me to resume subscription. I took him inside, offered coffee, and explained my family’s association with the paper and how difficult it had been for me to stop my association with the paper. I had also explained about a financial award that ‘The Hindu’ had given me for an earlier academic excellence and how The Hindu, under Narasimhan, had shaped my language and outlook during my school times.

Later I had a love-hate relationship with the paper as N.Ram had taken over as the editor. I had written many ‘Letters to the Editor’, several of them having been published, on various issues mostly criticizing the editorial stance of the paper. I continued following the paper wherever I have been working from across the globe. If there was one issue where The Hindu’s stance was, in my opinion, correct, then it was on the murderous LTTE.

In the distant past, ‘Frontline’ – The Hindu’s sister publication, though a staunch left leaning magazine, had kept me enthralled when it had R.K.Narayan’s articles while ‘The Hindu’ itself had articles by Art Buchwald, Gangadhar and a whole lot of other luminaries who had provided constant and staple fodder for me to quench my linguistic and humor appetite. Its coverage on ‘History’ and ‘Heritage’ had no parallel.

How could one forget the brilliant investigative journalism on Bofor’s Scandal by N.Ram and Chitra Subramaniam? ‘Where have those standards gone?’ has been a question I have not been able to find an answer from The Hindu.

It embarked on a novel and praiseworthy idea of a ‘Reader’s Editor’ modeled on The Guardian of the U.K. Except for the first Reader’s Editor, the other two gentlemen have left much to be desired in terms of standards and policies. Lesser said on this aspect, the better.

In the recent past, the paper has gradually deteriorated and has become a completely anti-national document, with many of its editors being chosen based on their degree of animosity towards right-wing political thought in general and India in particular. With the exit of columnists like P.Sainath and Praveen Swami, the once educative column spaces were increasingly consigned to the dustbins of left thought and rhetoric.

Today, I stand bewildered at the totally unacceptable stance of the paper on the JNU issue and earlier on the Award-Wapasi drama. The Hindu has become more virulent and acerbic than it has even been in the past.

The paper has, in my opinion, reached its nadir in editorial content and standard, the depths of hatred in terms of its views on right-wing political thought and opinion. Towards India, its stance has turned even more pungent and downright seditious.

The Hindu having thus turned despicable in every sense, I hereby consign it to the dustbins of hatred and animosity.

Unless The Hindu’s editors and ownership change, the paper is irredeemable.

I feel sorry for the paper, its nationalist founders and the friends who work there.

I feel I have lost a childhood friend, for I have narrated several instances from my growing-up years pertaining to The Hindu in my book ‘Monday is not Tuesday‘.

Jai Hind.

When The Hindu showered hatred

Please visit this twitter url and know about the completely irresponsible reporting by The Hindu, an Indian News Paper. In their anxiousness to paint the BJP black they have taken to slander of the lowest kind.
What a fall from the papers’ high standards!
There used to me a time when it used to be like: if it is not in The Hindu then it is probably not true.
What a fall !
: https://twitter.com/mediacrooks/status/504836517412368384

Less an editor more a tweeter

Today’s ‘The Hindu’ has this sentence “Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner continue to dog Air India with one returning here midway after its windshield suffered a crack and two grounded as their GE engines belonged to the same series ..”

What kind of a sentence is this ? ‘Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner continue ????’ Is not ‘Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner’, the subject, singular ? So the verb has to be ‘continues’, am I right ? Even BharathRam would spot this.

Is the complexity in the sentence needed ? It could have been simply :” Boeing’s much touted 787 Dreamliner continues to trouble Air India. Recently, there was a crack in a windshield of a Dreamliner series plane. Earlier, two GE engines identified by FAA as troublesome, were fitted in Air India’s planes…”. Is writing in simple sentences so difficult?

Look at another sentence :

“Boeing had earlier advised Air India to avoid flying Dreamliner near high-level thunderstorms because of an increased risk of icing on the engines. This led to Japan Airlines withdrawing the Dreamliner on the Delhi-Tokyo route.”

When Boeing had advised Air India, why did Japan Airlines cancel the route ? What is the connection ? Why does not the transition from one sentence to the other take place seamlessly ?

The Hindu’s ‘Know your English’ and editorials used to be my favourite. They shaped my language. The Hindu’s nosedive in the (mis)use of language is shocking. Has it got to do with the Editor who tweets more than she edits ?

‪#‎thehindu‬ ‪#‎grammartips‬

Less an editor more a tweeter

Today’s ‘The Hindu’ has this sentence “Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner continue to dog Air India with one returning here midway after its windshield suffered a crack and two grounded as their GE engines belonged to the same series ..”

What kind of a sentence is this ? ‘Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner continue ????’ Is not ‘Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner’, the subject, singular ? So the verb has to be ‘continues’, am I right ? Even BharathRam would spot this.

Is the complexity in the sentence needed ? It could have been simply :” Boeing’s much touted 787 Dreamliner continues to trouble Air India. Recently, there was a crack in a windshield of a Dreamliner series plane. Earlier, two GE engines identified by FAA as troublesome, were fitted in Air India’s planes…”. Is writing in simple sentences so difficult?

Look at another sentence :

“Boeing had earlier advised Air India to avoid flying Dreamliner near high-level thunderstorms because of an increased risk of icing on the engines. This led to Japan Airlines withdrawing the Dreamliner on the Delhi-Tokyo route.”

When Boeing had advised Air India, why did Japan Airlines cancel the route ? What is the connection ? Why does not the transition from one sentence to the other take place seamlessly ?

The Hindu’s ‘Know your English’ and editorials used to be my favourite. They shaped my language. The Hindu’s nosedive in the (mis)use of language is shocking. Has it got to do with the Editor who tweets more than she edits ?

‪#‎thehindu‬ ‪#‎grammartips‬

Telling lies, no PM

The Chinese incursion seems to have been ended or what do they say for that ? Un-incursion ? What ever that might be. Oh yeah, the troops have moved to their previous positions. This is what the government wants us to believe.

Well in addition to its many lies, let us believe in this too.

Realistically what can be the plan to contain or at least make China think twice before embarking on such irritating incursions?

Make friends with his enemies, stupid. We have a whole lot like Japan, US, Philippines, Thailand and the lot.and China makes an enemy per day.
String of pearls strategy as proposed earlier by Brajesh Mishra needs to be followed through.

Note: In this whole incursion episode, the CPI and CPI (M) kept mum all through. Imagine if the US would have done this and their reactions. And no editorials on this from The Hindu either. This is in Tamil called “Pagutharivu”.