Being the largest functional democracy, we the Indians are inadvertent stakeholders in the democratic affairs of our two neighbours, Pakistan and China, because an undemocratic dispensation is basically confrontational in nature and the situation worsens when there are contentious boundary and territory issues involved, like we have with Pakistan and China.

And without any hesitation, it can be said these two countries are blots on the spirit of democracy. One is an occasional pseudo-democracy while the other is a preserved sanctuary of autocracy.

Pakistan that was carved out of India in 1947 to appease the proponents of the ‘two nation’ theory has been run by military rulers most of its history. Pakistan’s origin saw one of the worst communal riots the humankind has ever seen.

The proposed motherland that was supposed to bring peace and closure from the alleged ‘big brother’ attitude of India was shattered very soon when the military coup followed the partition riots of 1947.

And peace remains elusive in Pakistan since then.

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The darkness is converging

And the similes are deviating

The horizon is shrinking

And the meanings are agreeing

The wind is in a rush to get intimate

The rain is willing to reciprocate

The communion is to be passionate

Pushed by the nature’s urge to create

The journey in these hours

From vagueness to dark showers

Rewriting the spell that it honours

To retell the tale as it flowers

The sky looks all so clean

Swept by the darkness and its sheen

The similes are singing, look so keen

Spread over the horizon now so green


©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –



A faint breeze is cutting through the woods, making the leaves of the trees around me tremble. That anonymous rustling forms ripples on the folds of my mind. I rest a hand against a tree trunk and close my eyes. Those ripples seem to be a sign, a signal of some sort, but it’s like a foreign language I can’t decipher. I
give up, open my eyes, and gaze out again at this brand-new world before me. Standing there halfway down the slope, staring down at this place with two soldiers, I feel those ripples shifting inside me. These signs reconfigure themselves, the metaphors transform, and I’m drifting away, away from myself. I’m
a butterfly, flitting along the edges of creation. Beyond the edge of the world there’s a space where emptiness and substance neatly overlap, where past and future form a continuous, endless loop. And, hovering about, there are signs no one has ever read, chords no one has ever heard. 
I try to calm my ragged breathing. My heart still isn’t back in one piece, but at least I’m not afraid.”
Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

 Emptiness' Illumination-1-W

The Illuminating Emptiness-W

Emptiness' Illumination-3-W


©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


It was expected but it happened sooner than expected – the Shiv Sena snub to the Narendra Modi led National Democratic alliance government, just a day after the bye-election results were announce, may well be the beginning of the dilution of the perception that ‘this government intends to perform and is here for a long haul’, if left unchecked.

BJP failed to live up to the expectations in the bye-elections held in Bihar (10 assembly seats), Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka (3 seats each) and Punjab (2 seats) after its spectacular performance in the Lok Sabha elections this year.

It was an unacceptable 7 seats for the BJP. Its Punjab ally SAD won 1. Bihar, the biggest theatre this time with 10 seats in the election fray, and the centrestage of the debate on the ‘bye-elections being referendum on Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar-Lalu Yadav-Congress combine exercise’ certainly let down Narendra Modi and Bhartiya Janata Party because the BJP had performed exceeding well in these assembly segments in the Lok Sabha polls and had won 6 out of these 10 in the last assembly polls. And even these 4 wins are not convincing. The BJP could retain the Hajipur seat with a victory margin of just over 6000 votes while the winning vote margin in Banka was miserable 711 votes.

Even in other states, in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, the BJP lost its strongholds, Aagar in Madhya Pradesh and Bellary Rural in Karnataka.

Within three months of the May 16 jubilation, it is a pinching letdown, given a bigger bypoll is slated the next month and four major assembly polls are due in the subsequent months.

The May 16 outcome had given the BJP an overwhelming majority and, theoretically, it didn’t need support from any other ally of the alliance. Practically, it went with the alliance sharing the portfolios with the alliance partners in the council of ministers. Yes, but the ‘overwhelming majority’ reflected when it didn’t allow any bargain and parties like the Shiv Sena had to accept the portfolio allocated after initial protests and sulking.

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Mother Teresa Collage-1Image courtesy: Time and The Telegraph

It is in such a bad taste that the mind desperately urges to run away from the TV sets or think of that impossible situation where they all could be dumped somewhere deep so that their twisted voices cannot surface.

These so called Seers, Gurus, Saints, the modern day Shankaracharyas, the Sadhus, the religious Satraps, and their ugly bickering in the name of sanctifying the religion of the Hindus and their silly and unpardonable crusade against ‘Sai Baba worship’ – who is asking them to represent us – who are they to interfere in our personal matters?

Yes, practicing religion is personal and no one has any right to issue a dictat to follow this or that God or this or that Saint or a dictat on whom to believe in as a God, something that this ill-intended Dharm Sansad (religious congregation) in Chhatisgarh did yesterday.

And ‘they doing so’ tells us they do not follow the religion they boast to represent. In fact no religion allows for such gaudy display of God ownership and faith ownership. Unfortunately, such ‘representatives’ have had a long run.

Every religion, in its true essence, preaches and teaches love and peace. If we don’t talk of the distortions and the distorted leading opinions, no one religion imposes itself on the other.

In essence, every religion is anti-crusade, in its purest, in its spiritual form. In fact, a devout religious soul respects the other religion the same way as his/her.

And who can symbolize it better than the dear Mother – Mother Teresa – who was born on this day 104 years ago in Albania, a European country – and who spent her whole life in India since 1928.

She was a devout catholic and followed the ways and the teachings of Jesus religiously. It is said Jesus came to her asking her to be His messenger, spreading the message of His love and peace by working for those who needed it the most, the poor, the needy, and in-turn, receiving the love and peace Himself, because He exists in every such soul.

And she followed the message, with her beginning in 1948 and she was soon to become the Mother.

It hurt Jesus to love us, it hurt him. And to make sure we remember his great love he made himself the bread of life to satisfy our hunger for his love. Our hunger for God, because we have been created for that love. We have been created in his image. We have been created to love and be loved, and then he has become man to make it possible for us to love as he loved us. He makes himself the hungry one – the naked one – the homeless one – the sick one – the one in prison – the lonely one – the unwanted one – and he says: You did it to me. Hungry for our love, and this is the hunger of our poor people. This is the hunger that you and I must find, it may be in our own home. (From the Nobel Lecture delivered by the Mother on December 11, 1979 on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.)

She remained a devout Catholic throughout her life but devoted her life to the people of a largely Hindu country. She never asked for the religion. Her doors were open for everyone. She found Jesus in every needy soul. She became so Indian that she is known as the ‘Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’. In fact, her religious adherence was her inspiration, the force behind her Motherly love.

People loving her were in every walk of like, in India, around the world, something that these religious satraps of Hinduism can never even dream of. That love, the devotion to her is still there.

What is happening to her Order is debatable but the Mother is beyond any questions.

We can and we need to rightly question Gods but messengers like Mother Teresa go beyond the reach of such questions because we experience the God through them. We can touch and feel the God through them. She remains among the people even after her passing away in 1997 because she remains in the soul of Humanity.

Saints are like her, a modern day Saint as the TIME Mother Teresa at 100: The Life and Works of a Modern Saint rightly says, not like them who were ready to tear into each other yesterday and today, on TV sets, in public.

Thanks for blessing India Mother. Thanks for being there for those who needed peace and who desperately needed help. Thanks for being there Mother.

Mother Teresa Collage 2Image courtesy: Indian Express, The Telegraph and Daily Mail


©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


Sir Richard Attenborough – The Right Honourable – or the Attenborough who gave us, the Indians, and the world the timeless biopic, the movie GANHDI, his dream project, a historical achievement, a creation for the global humankind to serve as one of the primary introductions to the 20th Century great who is to remain the icon of the humanity in the centuries to come – Rest in Peace Sir (August 29, 1923 to August 24, 2014)

I am reproducing here, with some changes, my article on ‘Attenborough’s Gandhi’ written on the birth anniversary of the Mahatma (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi) on October 3, 2012.


Yesterday’s (October 2) the Times of India had a small write up on Sir Richard Attenborough reminiscing about the making of the world cinema milestone ‘Gandhi’ on the birth anniversary of the Mahatma. He focused mainly on his selection as the director of the project as well as the casting of the movie. He said Naseeruddin Shah was the most recommended name for the role of the Mahatma but his search took him to Sir Ben Kingsley.

And Kingsley proved him right.

I am not a film-buff but I love cinema when it comes to the shades of the visual language. My collection is made of good stuff from the world cinema and I enjoy the quality time watching and thinking over the masterpieces. And I can say ‘Gandhi’ is the movie I have watched the maximum number of times. It is one of the prized possessions in my library. The movie is a ‘must have’ for anyone who cares for values and teachings of the Mahatma and prides in having his works as collectibles.

The movie is unique. In spite of the ensemble cast and thousands of extras (with Guinness Book record making 3,00,000 extras in the funeral scene of the Mahatama), the movie delivers extraordinarily well. Very few movies with such a scale of production in the world cinema have done so.

Much has been written on the Mahatma and much is being written. There have been many movies made and being made on him. His teachings and views have been translated into many languages. He reaches to the world fraternity of the day through the words, written and spoken. And for the world audience, the ‘movie’ Gandhi features prominently there, as the gateway to introduce the Mahatma to them who are still not aware of him but want to know about him. It is true of many Indians as well.

The film is an example of the craftsmanship by a master storyteller. Every shot is an inseparable part as if the movie could not have been made about it. Its every frame is a study in point. You can study the use of lighting, of camera angles, of the dress designing, of the sets and locales, of the props used to support characters in every frame, and a brilliant use of the background music. It is a management case study on Epic filmmaking. But two aspects stand out, the aspects that had the most direct bearing on making the movie a masterpiece.

Gandhi The Movie CollageImage courtesy: BBC, Wikipedia, IMDB, Frank Connor

One is the use of specific incidents from almost four decades of Mahatma’s life in India after his return from South Africa. Four decades is a long period and given the fact that India’s freedom struggle had become synonymous with the Mahatma, it was really a task like finding the needles in the haystack of multiple defining moments of the then Indian history. And Sir Attenborough has done it with such a craftsmanship that we never feel jumbled up when a frame transitions to the other. Remember, every frame in this movie had to be a meticulous selection of consistency and relevance of different time-frames spread, sometimes, over the years.

The other important aspect is the way the characters relay the visual language. Everyone is perfect in the role given but Kingsley mesmerises. Not even for a moment we realize the actor playing the role of the Mahatma is a British and not an Indian. Use of silence, sounds and body language enhance a skilfully written script well.

Gandhi standing up, sitting down and standing up again before he addresses the first public gathering in India or the way Nehru’s friends at Champaran convey their acceptance to do what Mahatma asks them to do – simply amazing.

I would say use of silence and the sound of props of the frames are the amplifiers of performances here. Gandhi travels by the train and the film travels on the wheels of the sound generated by the train and the surroundings. Gandhi’s silence speaks through his tears when his life-partner and soulmate Kasturba Gandhi departs.

Symbolism and leitmotifs, we can find many of them in the movie. It’s a multiple time must watch for anyone who believes in the Mahatma and who believes in the transcendentalism of the meaningful cinema.

I watch and enjoy the movie scene by scene every time, sometimes going back to a scene more than once. Here is the YouTube link to the one of my favuorite scenes from the movie where the British Justice, in reverence of the Mahatma’s stature, bows down to him as he enters the courtroom.

Thanks for giving us ‘GANDHI’ Sir. You’ll always remain there as long as the Mahatma remains there to stir the human conscience.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


The Indian voter is getting increasingly demanding.

If it is not a total collapse, it is certainly a wake-up call.

The results of the bye-elections held in four states, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Punjab, have come as an embarrassing development for the Narendra Modi led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

It is an unacceptable 8-18, unacceptable from the point of view of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) strategists who are busy writing off the Congress party and who are still basking in the glory of the overwhelming victory they scored in the Lok Sabha polls in May 2014.

Of the 18 seats, Congress and its allies won 10 while BJP won seven and its Punjab ally SAD one. BJP had performed exceedingly well in many of these assembly segments in the recently concluded General Elections. And BJP had performed exceedingly well in Bihar, bagging 31 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats, with its allies. That was indeed a clear Narendra Modi effect.

Thus, in Bihar, the bypolls were being seen as the referendum on Narendra Modi’s governance and on Nitish Kumar’s governance, his political legacy in Bihar and his political alliance with Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

The BJP may rush to dismiss the results but given the way Modi led the BJP and the NDA in sweeping the nation on the electoral turf with a non-Congress party first time getting so many seats on its own, but any subsequent loss of his party will be seen in the context of his ‘performance on delivery of his promises of bringing the better days’ with questions raised on his governance.

The results declared today have come on a day when Narendra Modi’s government is completing its three months in office with its inaugural on May 26 and these three months have enough of his government’s fumbling blocks to talk about, something that the voter would never have expected to happen when voting for him.

The BJP may rush to dismiss the results as reaction on Modi’s government and may use the line of national Vs local issues, but doing so would be electorally harmful.

The warning signals for the Modi government have started surfacing and the government needs to assess them and work them out because these results also tell the voter is getting increasingly demanding.

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Superimposed Confusions
Photographs reworked with digital painting tools
A Mix Media work 
#©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


It was expected. It has been happening ever since.

We have seen it happening year after year – Irom Sharmila is released and is re-arrested.

And yes, we know, the state has been behind it- complicit, willingly and comfortably. Her annual release is basically technical in nature otherwise the state would not let her go, unless the court rules so, something that happened this time, something that that gave her a freedom of more than a day.

Indian rights activist Irom SharmilaImage courtesy: Reuters

The court order came on August 19 quashing the charge of ‘attempt to commit suicide’ – she was released on August 20 evening – the police approached her on August 21 for the usual round as Sharmila continued with her fast not taking food and water and refusing medical checkup – and on August 22 morning, she was taken by the police again to the same ‘isolation’ ward of the Imphal hospital where she has spent so many years demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act – and where a chief judicial magistrate remanded her to 15 days of judicial custody.

So, the pathetic annual exercise of the state had a differentiator this time – Sharmila had some extended hours of freedom where she expressed about and broke down on her desire for freedom – she spent some time at the site of her protest where she began almost 14 years ago – she spent some time without the tube attached to her nose, something she has been with since November 2000 – she met people – she spoke and she interacted – and the whole world wrote about her freedom this time – because the extended hours gave us the direct access to her – one to one – reaching out,  speaking out.

Irom Sharmila-IEImage courtesy: Indian Express

In previous years, this window was not available, as without a court ruling freeing her of the charges of ‘attempted suicide’, the police would release her as one year would come to an end – only to meet the technical requirement of the law – the Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code that deals with ‘attempted suicide’ and has a jail term of one year – and then re-arrest her immediately.

This year, when the Sessions court of Manipur East ruled that Sharmila never said ‘fast-unto-death’ and freed her of charges under the Section 309 of the IPC, a Section that is set to be decriminalized by the Indian government, many of us thought the sense would prevail and the state would act with sanity.

But – but, the state is notorious by its stubbornness – it is one of the bottlenecks of our functional democracy – a democracy that has been able to survive and grow – we saw it in case of Dr. Binayak Sen – we saw it in case of Himanshu Kumar – we have seen it in many other cases – and there is no end to it in the near future – the re-arrest of Irom Sharmila reaffirms that.

The state’s pathetic ironies continue.


Yes, both, the pro- and anti- AFSPA debates have takers but what negative has happened and is happening due to the AFSPA – with many incidents including the November 2, 2000 Malom Massacre – the massacre that called Irom Sharmila, who was 28 then, to begin her protest fast-until-the AFSPA-repeal on the same day – must be accepted honestly by the state in order to come up with some better and ‘acceptable-to-most’ alternative – like has been the demand always – like has been the need always.

It is true some North-Eastern states like Nagaland, Assam, Meghalaya, and Manipur have deep-rooted insurgencies and terrorists there enjoy local ethnic support and survive by exploiting the anti-mainland India sentiments. The intense ethnic divide among the tribal groups has only exacerbated the crisis. They are fighting with the Union of India and they are fighting among themselves.

Tripura was the similar story until it got a sensible political leadership in Manik Sarkar, one of the few honest politicians the country has. The security apparatus of the Union of India and the local wing of the state’s politics can learn from Tripura’s experience to look for tools to adopt in handling and overcoming the insurgency. But, so far the condition remains volatile in other crisis hotbeds of the North-East India.

Yes, the political mismanagement and apathy has been largely responsible for it. The whole North-Eastern region is still a largely disconnected landmass with poor infrastructure and almost no industries. The agrarian economy that has the potential to evolve into big-ticket industrial units has been neglected while bilateral trade with neighboring countries that has not much scope has been made the focus of the industrial policy on the North-East so far. The whole region doesn’t produce industrial materials except coal, petroleum products and minerals meant for internal consumption and cannot be exported. Also, there is not enough local talent to support if large-scale industrial units are brought in the region. The paradropping of industries exercise was one of the central reasons that led to the proliferation of insurgencies as the economy was centralized in few hands and the locals did not benefit.

And the hostilities still continue, in spite of the Government of India making serious efforts now. There is a separate ministry in existence for the North-East region for over a decade now. The average per-capita central assistance to the North-East is almost four times of the all India average, Rs. 683.94 Vs Rs. 2574.98, as was in the 10th Five Year Plan and the Special Category Status is to continue till 12th Plan.

But, the hostilities continue, as the crisis has been in making for years and will take time and tough measures handling the insurgents and safeguarding the interests of the common people. The anti-mainland sentiment is still very much there to be exploited by the insurgents.

The experience of the people from the mainland has been pretty bad there, especially in Nagaland, Meghalaya and Manipur. Hindi cinema was banned by an insurgent group in Manipur in 2000 and is still in force. Even the biopic on Mary Kom, the Manipuri icon of the contemporary times, starring a Hindi cinema actress and produced by a Mumbai based production house has not been allowed screening. Tens of thousands have been internally displaced and thousands have been killed in the ongoing insurgency.


The security establishment of the country does need special measures to deal with such hostile situations where the terrorists enjoy the ethnic support like is the case in Jammu & Kashmir.

But that never means allowing the security forces to go on rampage. And the AFSPA has seen many such cases – like some other draconian laws, used by the state regularly that put activists like Dr. Binayak Sen behind bars.

All such laws and special acts need to be scrutinized for the changes to be incorporated. The archaic laws need to be made contemporary. The special acts like the AFSPA need to come with enough of the stringent measures to set examples for the officers breaching the code or need to be replaced altogether with better and logical mechanisms that serve the purpose of the people as well as of the security needs of the state.

Yes, it is easier said than done. But nothing is easier in running the governments in an ethnically, religiously and culturally complex country like India that is also a functionally successful democracy. There are still many stakeholders who rightly feel left out of the process of democracy and the insurgents grow parasitic on the state and such stakeholders by exploiting the state’s apathy and the stakeholders’ frustration and such hostilities are there in the mainland India as well.

The state needs to behave when it acts with activists raising voices in democratic ways. They are our own people. They are from among us, speaking for their people, for us, and not for the insurgents.

The state needs to give space to the voices like Dr. Binayak Sen or Irom Sharmila in place of implicating them in silly cases under the draconian sections of the legal code. The wide support to these voices tells they represent for the millions who cannot speak or are not allowed to speak and the state must listen to them.

In place of forcing them in jails or in confined spaces, like has been done again with Irom Sharmila.

See the fallacy of the pathetic ironies – the law the Indian government feels is illogical and is to be done away with as explicitly told to the nation – has been used once again by one of its state governments to arrest Irom Sharmila, now a global icon of the Gandhian way of protest – by a Congress-run state government the chief minister of which invited Irom Sharmila to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha election on Congress ticket as she said after her release this time.

And see the irony holding-up the system – a judge released her quashing the ‘attempt to suicide’ charges as the state could not prove if Irom Sharmila had ever said so (fast-unto-death) – and she certainly didn’t say so since her release on Wednesday evening.

Even then, another judge found her case fit to be filed under the Section 309 of the IPC – under the charge of ‘attempt to commit suicide’ – the same IPC Section that is soon going to be decriminalized by the Government of India.

There was no need to arrest her this time or charge her for ‘attempted suicide’ and remand her to the judicial custody.

Yes, as she refused medical checkup and any nutritional intake, the police was bound to act on concerns of her health, as the Manipur East court ruling ordered, but it could have been done without arresting and charging her.

But, there is no sanity still – it was just the fear of the court order to come clean on acting in time on her health worries the police response told us – the way the police almost dragged her, as the whole nation saw in the news broadcasts, even if acting on the pretext of ‘preventing her health from deteriorating further’ – even if she was screaming – was shameful and utterly disgusting – and is to be condemned.

NDTV video: Irom Sharmila, shouting, forcibly removed from fast venue by cops

Irom Sharmila CollageImage courtesy: NDTV

Yes, the chores of the state’s pathetic ironies continue.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


Even if Rahul Gandhi fumbled again while expressing him out, by our common sense, by the sense of the public, he doesn’t deserve to be hooted.

Yes, the political booing is an altogether different thing in an age when Indian politics has no talking points left on norms of ethics.

It can be safely said that the right intent of Rahul Gandhi, once again, chose the wrong or misplaced words to express what he meant and since his intent was amply clear, he is to be given the clear benefit of unclear doubt.

According to the media reports on his address to the congregation of the women members of the Indian National Congress yesterday, on the occasion of the 70th birth anniversary of the former prime minister and his father Rajiv Gandhi, this is what Rahul Gandhi said – Mr Gandhi, referring occasionally to notes, focused a large part of his speech on urging his party to ensure the safety of women. “In India, we worship goddesses,” he said. “But the same people who go to temples to pray to goddesses molest you in buses. Every woman in India has been oppressed at some point,” Mr Gandhi said. (NDTV here –

Now, that is basically about a good intent only.

One of the basic tenets of the human nature is that we all have good and bad elements within our psyche and which one plays out when and to which scale is circumstantial, shaped over a period of time.

Yes, there are impulsive gaffes as well, but they clearly come in the ‘to be given benefit of doubt’ category.

Now, by nature, most of us in the Indian society are religious and every religious person in this country visits the places of worship and offers prayers – be the person with refined sensibility on universal norms of social behaviour – or the person with no regard to moral values and human life – or the persons in the in-between shades.

Yes, we believe Rahul Gandhi was addressing to this section of the people in our society who become perpetrators of crimes, from molestation to rape, from fights to killings, from thefts to robberies, from bribes to extortion. We cannot say they don’t visit the places of worship, irrespective of why they visit.

Believing in a God must be about refinement of the character – but we are living in times when value-distortions have become so common, so as to become the regulars in lives.

But God never accepts them. God will never accept them. Even if they visit the places of worship daily.

What Rahul Gandhi said was correct in intent, yes, but he wasn’t politically correct in expressing it.

His speech should have been religion-neutral, like ‘places of worship’ in place of ‘temple’, like ‘Goddess’ in place of ‘Devi’ or doing away with it altogether.

Yes, it can be said it was said consciously, given the Congress’ history of Muslim votebank appeasement politics – but, in the changed political circumstances, when the nation saw how the religious appeasement politics of Congress and other parties failed and how it polarised the majority Hindu votes – the senior Congress leaders would not tread that line in the near future, and no Congress strategist would advise Rahul Gandhi to do so openly – so, here, Rahul Gandhi can be safely given the benefit of doubt on ‘wrong selection of words’.

It was reflected even in the media coverage. The speech was delivered yesterday but the controversy erupted only today after the political opponents including the BJP raised the issue. But it died down soon with no prime-time media programming centered on it.

Because what Rahul said was not wrong – because it was said with a right intent – and such rightly-intended ‘gaffes with wrong selection of words’ don’t make for big news stories.

While speaking on women’s rights yesterday, even if Rahul Gandhi was politically incorrect, he was correct socially.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –