Sunday, 27 May 2012

Is Barkha Dutt scared of ministers?

Around a month back, while surfing television channels, I stopped for some time to watch ‘We, the nation,’ a programme on NDTV.

Barkha Dutt moderates the debate programme.

The topic was Sachin Tendulkar’s nomination to Rajya Sabha.

One of the experts in the debate was 75-year-old Ashis Nandy.

According to Wikipedia – ‘Ashis Nandy is an Indian political psychologist, a social theorist, and a contemporary cultural and political critic. A trained sociologist and clinical psychologist, his body of work covers a variety of topics, including public conscience, mass violence, and dialogues of civilizations.’

He was Senior Fellow and Director of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) for several years. Today, he is a Senior Honorary Fellow at the institute and apart from being the Chairperson of the Committee for Cultural Choices and Global Futures, also in New Delhi.’

I was a bit surprised when I saw Barkha Dutt addressing the elderly Nandy by his first name. She would ask, ‘Ashis, do you feel......?’ Before he could complete his answer, Barkha Duut shot another question to another expert; as usual. I thought – Couldn’t Barkha Dutt have addressed Nandy as Mr. Nandy?

Now there are two points. First – nowadays we are no more formal in our conduct. Now it has become a fashion to address a person by his or her first name. We do not address a person by his or her surname after adding Mr., Ms. Or Mrs. to it. Second – Barkha Dutt is one of the greatest contemporary journalists of India and can address Nandy by his first name.

(I was also surprised when I noticed that Barkha Dutt has changed her style of moderating. Instead of pirouetting from expert to expert, asking questions to them and thrusting microphones into their mouths, she was anchored to or remained squatted at one place throughout the debate.)

Earlier this year, Barkha Dutt interviewed Salman Rushdie at length after the writer’s visit to India to participate in Jaipur Literary Festival was cancelled.

Barkha Dutt kept on asking question after question, but Rushdie, sitting in a studio in London, answered all her questions very patiently.

I do not know the reason but I had always thought that Rushdie was a short-tempered man. I was thinking that he would get irritated with the questions and answer petulantly and gruffly.

I was wrong. I found Rushdie gentle. Instead of getting irritated, he spoke at length, in his soft voice. There was no sign of petulance or irritation, either on his face or in his voice.

I had continued watching the interview. I was a bit surprised then also, when I noticed Barkha Dutt addressing Rushdie as Salman again and again in her questions.

Barkha Dutt, for example, in her high-pitched voice had asked, ‘Salman, do you feel threatened?’ Before he could finish the answer, she shot another question, ‘Salman, will you visit India?’ Rushdie was not even able to say yes or no when she again asked, ‘Salman, when will you visit India?’

I was surprised by Barkha Dutt’s conduct because Rushdie is a bona fide Sir. His full name is Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie. He was knighted in 2007.

Couldn’t Barkha have shown some respect to Rushdie? Couldn’t she have called him Mr. Rushdie if not Sir Salman?

I concluded that Barkha is too casual in her behaviour and calls everybody by his or her first name.

Youtube proved me wrong.

Going through the website, I came across some videos of another NDTV programme ‘The buck stops here.’

In the programme Barkha Dutt interviews ministers and politicians. I watched three videos of the programme in which Barkha Dutt has interviewed home minister P Chidambaram, law minister Salman Khurshid and Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh.

I was expecting Barkha Dutt would address them as Chidambaram, Salman and Digvijay. I was wrong. Barkha Dutt addressed them as Mr. Chidambaram, Mr. Khurshid and Mr. Singh.

Why is she not casual with the ministers? Why the double standards? Or is Barkha Dutt scared of the ministers or people who wield power?

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Fart - no more a taboo

The print edition of Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary explains the meaning and usage of fart at length but has marked the word as taboo and slang. The dictionary says – a more polite way of expressing this is ‘to break wind.’(Can there be a polite and a more polite way?)

If you regularly watch Hindi movies and television, you will realise that the Hindi translation of the word is no more a taboo. You will feel that the dictionary has become archaic and the word has become too common and is no more a taboo.

Our enjoyment while watching Dabangg would halved if Chulbul Pandey had not threatened Chhedi Singh by saying – Hum tumme itne chhed karenge ke confuse ho jaoge ki saans kahaan se le aur paade kahaan se. (I will riddle your body in such a way that you will be confused – from where to breathe and from where to fart).

Chulbul Pandey in a way has beaten Gabbar Singh of Sholay. Now contestants of reality shows, when asked to deliver a dialogue, do not say Gabbar Singh’s dialogue – ‘Kitne aadmi they?’ or ‘Tera kya hoga, Kalia?’

Instead, exuding Chulbul Pandey’s confidence, the contestants repeat his dialogue, without inhibition and hesitation.

Chulbul Pandey or Salman Khan is the actor who introduced farting in Hindi movies. Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam was released in 1999. In the movie, he not only uses the word several times but also farts loudly.

Shootout at Lokhandwala is another movie in which word is used a couple of times but nobody is shown farting.

With the word fart being no more a taboo, we now have a movie on fart – Padduram.

The movie is similar to Taare Zameen Pe, which is the story of a boy suffering from dyslexia.

Padduram revolves around a boy who is suffering from too much flatulence and because of his condition he is mocked at in his class and has been nicknamed Padduram. But ultimately he is able to convert his weakness into strength and helps his father in business.

Nobody could have played the role of the protagonist child’s father better than the actor Suresh Menon.

I wish to watch the movie but am unable to get the CD. I have watched the promo ( several times.

Paresh Rawal as Lambodar Chacha also suffered from flatulence in Atithi Kab Jaoge. No other actor could have done justice to the role of Lambodar Chacha, an aged, uncouth man hailing from eastern Uttar Pradesh, frequently breaking wind.

And who can forget Chatur Ramalingam of Three Idiots who ate ‘chooran’ and released silent and warm intestinal gas. He was rightly nicknamed Silencer in the movie.


There are some people who find farting too funny. They burst out laughing the moment you tell them about farting or if they hear somebody breaking wind.

A friend from Bhopal uploads everything related to farts on facebook. I am too happy to read and share them.

And there are some who are not at all amused. They glare at you and say, ‘What’s so funny? It is a normal bodily function. Everybody does that.’


While living in Bhopal, I would spend my afternoons at the Indian Coffee House with journalists.

One afternoon, a senior journalist started telling the group about a bizarre contest held in Rampur in Uttar Pradesh every year. The contestants have to blow out candles or earthen lamps (he had used the word deepak) with their farts. The Nawab of Rampur is the patron of the contest and he invites best farting men from all over India. He pays for the travel expenses of the contestants and arranges for their stay in Rampur. The Nawab sees that the contestants get proper ‘gas generating’ food and give their best performance in the contest.

I was surprised by the knowledge of the journalist about the contest. He is considered an expert of Indian politics and the Congress Party. When important political events take place, news channels beg him to visit their studios and are ready to pay him handsomely. I never knew he was also an expert matters related to the body.

An elderly and much respected journalist, the leader, missed out everything as he was busy lighting his cigar with a troublesome lighter.

Once he had lighted the cigar properly, he took a couple of long drags and leaned across the table.

Blowing out white smoke from his nose and mouth, he asked in his husky voice, ‘What is blown out?’ and cocked his right ear.

Everybody replied in unison, ‘Candles.’

‘With what?’ he asked again.

The group replied, ‘With farts.’

The elderly journalist straightened his back. He was neither amused nor impressed. His facial expression did not change. He swallowed and started sucking his cigar.

The other person in the group who did not laugh hysterically was the only woman journalist sitting with us.

She was in a dilemma.

She was also finding the matter too funny and was bursting with laughter. But being a woman, she could not laugh openly on matters that are considered a taboo.

In order to suppress her laughter, she tightly pressed her hand against her mouth. But her head kept on jerking up and down. I could hear her muffled laughter.


As far as writers are concerned, Khushwant Singh is the only Indian writer who has written much on the subject. He has covered the topic extensively in his books. He keeps on writing about farts in newspaper columns.

According to him, Uttam Padvi is the fart of the highest order. It is too loud but odourless.

Whenever I read about Khushwant’s Singh Uttam Padvi, I think about a photojournalist friend in Raipur. I wanted to see how he developed photographs. One day, in the darkness of the dark room, I was trying to ‘see’ how he developed the films when without any warning he released one of his resounding Uttam Padvis. Dead scared, I nearly fainted. I rushed out of the dark, gasping, my body covered with sweat. It is still a mystery to me why after farting he would recite the words, ‘Hari Om, Hari Om.’

Among American writers, Bill Bryson is the only one who has written much on the subject. In his autobiography ‘The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid’, he writes how as a kid he would eat a chilli burger and start farting.

In another book, he mentions how once he ate loads of roasted chicken and ice cream and a few hours, later starts emitting gas from both ends of his intestine.

Friday, 18 May 2012

What is Sonia Gandhi's permanent address?

In the fourth session of the current Parliament, Lok Sabha member P.K. Biju on April 29, 2010 asked the minority affairs minister the status of the recommendations that Sachar Committee had made for welfare of minorities.

Why Biju had asked a question related to welfare of minorities is obvious. Biju hails from Kerala which has a large Christian and Muslim population.

A CPI (M) leader, Biju represents Alathur constituency of Kerala in the present Lok Sabha.

He had asked the question in the Zero Hour and his question should have been short and precise. Instead, Biju kept on lengthening his question, adding facts and figures to it.

An irritated ‘Madam Speaker’ Meira Kumar, asking Biju to complete the question quickly, said, ‘Please ask your supplementary (question).’

Biju, who wanted to continue with the question, replied, ‘Madam, I am coming from Kerala.’

Meira Kumar said, ‘Come fast,’

Everybody present in the Lok Sabha laughed.

Thanks to, the official website of Parliament, I came to know about the humorous exchange of words between the speaker and an M.P.

I find the website a treasure of information about Parliament, its functioning and its members.

Name any constituency in any corner of India, and at the click of mouse you will know who all have represented it in Parliament ever since the first Lok Sabha elections were held.

You can know the status of all the bills that have been introduced in the current Lok Sabha.

You can know the details of the debates that have taken place in Parliament till date or the questions that have been raised by the members.

I have seen that people try to search the address and telephone numbers of politicians in provides exhaustive information about it members.

For example, now I know that P.K. Biju’s full name is Parayamparanbil Kuttappan Biju and he was born in Kottayam on April 3, 1974. He got married to Viji Vijayan on May 30, 2009. Biju attended School of Chemical Sciences in Kottayam and holds a Master’s Degree in Polymer Science. At present he is doing a research on polymer science.

His permanent address is Parayamparambil, P.O. Manjoor South, District Kottayam - 686603 Kerala. An an M.P, he has been allotted a bungalow in Delhi and its address is 209, V.P. House Rafi Marg, New Delhi – 110001. He is national president of Students’ Federation of India andhe has visited Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Venezuela.

Out of curiosity, I started checking the present and permanent

address of the M.Ps (

I found that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s permanent address is House No. 3989, Nandan Nagar, Ward No. 51, Sarumataria, Dispur, Guwahati, District Kamrup, Assam. His present address,we know is 7 Race Course Road, New Delhi.

Pranab Mukherjee’s permanent address is Flat No. 2 A, 60/2/7, Kavi Bharti Sarani, Lake Road Kolkata. His Delhi address is 13 Talkatora Road, New Delhi.

Maneka Gandhi’s permanent and present address are same – 14, Ashoka Road, New Delhi. Even Rahul Gandhi’s present and permanent address are same – 12 Tuglak Lane, New Delhi.

Going through the list, I found that Akhilesh Singh Yadav, as a Lok Sabha member lived in with Lucknow along with his father at 5, Vikramaditya Marg. But the father-son duo were allotted different bungalows in Delhi.

Curious, I checked the present and permanent address of Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Her present address is 10, Janpath, New Delhi but the column against her name for permanent address was blank. I was intrigued.

I checked the present and permanent addresses of all the Lok Sabha members and found that the present or permanent address of only three Lok Sabha members, including Sonia Gandhi, incomplete.

The other two members, apart from Sonia Gandhi are Jay Prakash Hegde of the Congress who represents Udupi Chikmaglur constituency, ‘Madam Speaker’ Meira Kumar.

Hegde’s present address is missing and there is a possibility that he is yet to be allotted a bungalow in Delhi. But what about Sonia Gandhi and Meira. Can it be possible that they do not have a permanent address? Even if they have, have they tried to hide it?

The official website, has been developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC).

I can accept that failing to give Sonia Gandhi’s permanent address is a blunder of the NIC. But can it be so casual in matters related to Sonia Gandhi?

I inquired two persons who can be considered experts of the subjects but both were unable to satisfy me.

I hope the NIC rectifies its mistake or clears my doubt.