Salute to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose!

Today we remember with reverence one of India’s greatest sons on his 125th birth anniversary. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was born in Cuttack on January 23, 1897. I have no hesitation whatsoever in saying that for me, and millions like me, Netaji was the most charismatic and effective Indian leader in the period from 1935-1945. What makes his story all the more fascinating is not only what he achieved when he was alive but the speculations about his death which exists even till today!

I did a quick search in this blog and I find there are numerous blog posts about Netaji. They are summarized here for the benefit of those, especially among our youth in India, who may not know much about him and would be interested in knowing more:-

  1. In “India’s Biggest Cover Up” by Anuj That, I review this extremely interesting book which talks of what actually happened to Netaji after he was supposedly killed following an air crash in the then Formosa on August 18, 1945.
  2. In “The Indian Spy” , I review a book by Mihir Bose on Bhagat Ram Talwar, who escorted Bose out of India to Kabul in the early years of World War II.
  3. In this post on “Our Super Patriotic Hindi Sir ‘, I write about Mr B L Singh, our Hindi teacher at The Lawrence School, Lovedale, who was the first person who told me and my classmates about Netaji. He instilled in us the keen interest to know more about this hero. This post also contains links to many more books about Netaji.

I guess we will never know for sure what actually happened to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. A recent article by Kingshuk Nag suggests he may have been living or imprisoned in Siberia after he went to Russia towards the end of World War II. Mr Nag is a well-known journalist who wrote a book, “ Netaji: Living Dangerously” in 2016.

Whether he died in Russia or in Formosa or in his motherland India is still uncertain. However what is most certain is that Netaji’s leadership galvanized a section of India’s youth during the crucial years when he chose to fight for freedom.

As the leader of the Indian National Army or Azad Hind Fauj he was the first to hoist the flag of an independent India on December 30, 1943 in the Andaman Islands, which he declared the first place to get freedom from the British.

Many were the memorable quotes attributed to Netaji but perhaps the most famous of his words were, ” It is blood alone that can pay the price of freedom. Give me blood and I will give you freedom.”

Let us today- and indeed everyday- remember with pride the man who was more responsible for the hasty retreat of the British from India in the post- World War II years than any other.

Jai Hind!!

On “Budda” aka “Birtish Bolaram” !

Our friend, Saraswati Narayan, is an excellent raconteur and writer. She provided me with the prompt to write this story. An earlier story from her had inspired me to write on Mr Gupta of “Steady Slap” fame. So this is the second round of thanks to you, Saraswati! I think you should start a blog to enable a wider audience to read your stories!

Recently, she wrote about a gardener called Shukra Mali, they had decades ago – in the 70s- in Ranchi. One could visualize him so clearly that it brought back memories of a cook we had around that time in Jhinkpani in present day Jharkhand.

I worked then in the ACC Cement Works there. Four of us bachelors had a “mess” in which the OC Kitchen was an old Gurkha of indeterminable age called Bolaram. He prided himself – especially when under the sauce, which was pretty often- on having served the British for decades. The rest of the small township simply called him, “Budda” or “Old Man” which he didn’t much care for. He would bristle and say his name was, ” Birtish Bolaram” ! He was slight of built but wiry for his age, though a little bent. Years of practice had perfected his navigation skills. Using his own GPS he found his way home, irrespective of where he went, how much he drank or when he returned.

We don’t know much of his early background, but he certainly served in the old British Indian Army until he was demobilized at the end of World War II. Apparently, some shelling had affected his hearing, possibly during the War. India gained Independence shortly after, but to him the pain of his losing the sheltered life in the Army and his hearing problems, were because of Mahatma Gandhi. This led him to often grumble that Gandhi had not got him ” Azaadi” (freedom) but ” barbaadi'( ruination) !

Since he was hard of hearing the door bell was of no use. The working arrangement made was that he used to sleep next to an open window with a stick alongside. To get him to open the door, the prescribed drill was to use that stick to gently prod him in the ribs! Usually he was alert to approaching footsteps and the stick being whisked away to prod him.

Bolaram was at his best when you told him there was a “party”. He would perk up immensely! After a few shots of rum ( he was at his best when slightly high) he would break out in his own style of English. He would turn out the best possible meal, compete with a spotless white table cloth, cutlery and the works. Decades have gone by but I still remember his cooking on his day! Especially his mutton chops!!

After one of our “parties” a colleague tried to get Bolaram drunk, not knowing that he could quite easily drink him under the table. A few shots made the young man quite excitable but for the seasoned Bolaram this was child’s play . He had served us a great dinner and he was lapping up all the praise everyone lavished on him. The young man thrust one more glass of drink in the old man’s hand. Bolaram looked at him with his hooded eyes, and drank it up in one go ! He then turned, pointing to him with utter contempt, and told us , ” Give it to him the one more peg.!”

Remembering Fr Ed McGrath SJ

Yesterday, January 7, 2021 happened to be the 98th birth anniversary of Father Edward H. McGrath SJ, one of the finest teachers and human beings I have come across. He passed away on August 4, 2017 aged 94 much to the sorrow of thousands who had been taught by him or interacted with him during his time at XLRI, Jamshedpur.

This venerable institution where I had the privilege of studying from 1972 to 1974 was started in 1949 and is now called XLRI: Xavier School of Management. He was one of the Founding Fathers of this institution. Over the decades, he became a legend in XLRI . I think it is fair to say that for many like me, McGrath was XLRI and XLRI was McGrath. More often than not when alumni reached the XLRI campus, the first thing they would do would be to seek out Fr McGrath wherever he was.

Roshan Dastur, who worked closely with Fr McGrath during his time in XLRI ; my classmate, Harriet Silva Vidyasagar, and I decided to have – in these days of Covid- a virtual meeting to remember Fr McGrath yesterday. About 20 people, largely from India and the US, took part in this Zoom meeting which went on for about one and half hours. Each speaker had something nice to say about Fr McGrath. The respect, regard and affection for him was so very evident. He was a great teacher and a perfect role model for being a coach and mentor.

His life and achievements have been chronicled many times. I don’t want to list all that he did during his decades in India. However, this article in his Alma Mater the Regis High School in New York published when he passed away, gives you a quick summary about his life.

I was searching for a picture of the last time I met him, which was long ago. My earlier blog, “People At Work and Play” came to the rescue and I found an old post dated February 5, 2007 titled ” A Pleasant Reunion “. I feel so bad that I couldn’t trace that picture of me holding his glass of beer while he signed Prof Joe Phillip’s book for me !

Decades ago, around 1976 or so, I was working in ACC Chaibasa, in the predominantly tribal belt of Jharkhand. At the office one day, our Peon , Darbari Ram, told me that a ” Gora Saheb” was asking for me. Showing surprise, Darbari whispered that this Saheb spoke Hindi fluently and instead of coming by car had come riding a motorbike! I laughed out aloud knowing it couldn’t be anyone other than Fr McGrath. So typical of him to come to enquire after one of his students as he happened to be in the area!

If you want to master managerial skills or know someone who wishes to do so, I would strongly recommend this classic by Fr McGrath, which has seen many a re-print. His good old : “ Basic Managerial Skills For All” available at Amazon and elsewhere.

I know that Father would have been pleased to see us yesterday at our Zoom meeting , remembering him. I hope he would have given us his approving trade mark, ” Theek Hai”!!

Thank you, Mr Mohanraj!

The Old Lawrencians Association, the alumni outfit of The Lawrence School, Lovedale has initiated an interesting virtual event called the OL Assembly. I have written about this in my blog post of November 20, 2020 mainly because ” Glimpses Of A Glorious Past: An Informal History of The Lawrence School, Lovedale” – which I edited- will feature every month, at least for the next few months.

There were many interesting features in the December event but one that was very important for me was the interaction with Mr V M Mohanraj. He used to be the Librarian at Lovedale when we studied there. VMM served there for 40 years, in the process becoming as permanent a fixture in the Lovedale environment as the thousands of old books in his library. I didn’t know till recently that both of us began our association with Lovedale in the same year – 1959. I joined the Prep School as a young boy in Std 3 and he joined as the Librarian.

We had a fabulous collection of books in the Library. I am sure if many of us Lawrencians are avid readers it was because we were gently encouraged to read more by Mr Mohanraj. He instilled in us a love for books and reading which has stood the test of time. To quote Mr Mohanraj, a Librarian goes beyond being a manager of libraries. He is a guide, mentor, educator and facilitator. This is from his book, ” Mulitifacted Librarian” published in 1988. I was happy to see he has written and translated a number of books as you will see from Amazon India.

I am sure he will be pleased to know that a number of us from Lovedale have over time written and published books on a variety of subjects. Indeed, it is a happy co-incidence that I completed 10 years as a writer in November 2020. My debut novel, a psychological thriller called, ” It Can’t Be You”, was published in 2010. I am glad to see is still available in Amazon. My second thriller, ” Lucky For Some 13″ -published in 2012 -to maintain the balance- is available in Flipkart!

From an early age we were voracious readers, devouring books as fast as we could get them! This influenced us, I have no doubt, to want to write some day! I am happy that – even if it was virtually- we got a chance to interact with Mr Mohanraj, who is now in his 90s.

I think I speak for many Old Lawrencians – across the decades- who caught the reading bug early when I say, ” Thank you, Mr Mohanraj!

Our Super Patriotic Hindi Sir

This story again dates back to my school days at The Lawrence School, Lovedale. On September 13, I had written about Mr Gupta and his “steady slap”. Today’s tale precedes Mr Gupta by quite a few years. We must have been around 10-11 years of age and we were in the Junior School. Mr B L Singh had the difficult task of trying to teach us Hindi. I must say he did his best and a more sincere teacher it would have been hard to find.

However, we were more playful at that age. Many of us were recipients of his slaps, for work not done, for dreadfully wrong answers etc. Almost 60 years have gone by since those days but I can still vividly remember his saying, ” Bewakoof Ladka, ek chaanta maarega tho ghir jayega” or words to that effect. A Google search tells me that it means, “Foolish boy! If I give you one slap you will fall down. ” We may not actually have fallen down but those slaps stung!

If he had a fault, it was that Mr Singh was super patriotic. Now, being patriotic is indeed laudable but perhaps not to the extent he was – in the context of his being a teacher. He was likely to get carried away with his stories, much to our amusement. When he was in the mood, one story would follow the other until it was too late to get much Hindi text book work done in that period.

It was easy to lead him away from the task at hand by asking him about India’s freedom Struggle, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Mahatma Gandhi and the like. Often when he spoke of Netaji and the fight of his Indian National Army, his eyes would become moist. He would say one of his favourite phrases with dramatic pauses, ” Believe it or not , boys……..Ladai Huaa…..” .

On the day a Hindi Test was scheduled, Mr Singh was greeted on entering the class by the sight of two boys arguing loudly, standing chest to chest and on the verge of having a physical brawl. He broke up the fight by employing a technique most schoolmasters of his time used. He pulled them apart by holding one ear of each of the boys! When he asked what the matter was, Boy A said excitedly , ” Sir, he is saying Godse shot Gandhi because of the British”. Boy B hotly denied this . ” No Sir, he says Gandhi shot Godse.” Boy A : ” Sir, he says Netaji ran away to Germany because he was scared! ” Boy B : ” Sir, how can he say ” ran away”? You told us he went by submarine! ”

” Silence! ” roared Mr Singh. After giving them a slap each to cut short their arguments, he settled down on the edge of the table, his usual story telling position. He began with shakes of his head as if telling himself to be calm irrespective of how maddeningly ignorant these boys were.

” Boys, in January 1941………” he started off. Soon he was telling us ( though he had told us this story many times before) how Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose escaped from Calcutta, under the eyes of the British Intelligence. As the minutes went by, we sat , some like me, deeply interested in his story, others listening quite indifferently, some playing “book cricket” the immensely popular pastime of those days. Despite our varying levels of interest we were all privately happy that there would be no Hindi Test that day.

The events that Mr Singh spoke off had taken place just 20 years before that time and must have been fresh in his memory. He went on and on, assisted by some questions from an eager audience ( to keep the flow going) and was about to conclude when the bell rang signalling the end of his period. He mumbled something about the Hindi test being postponed to the next week. He then strode off, not before glaring at the errant boys who fought at the start of the class.

As soon as Mr Singh left, many boys rushed up to congratulate Boy A and Boy B the brave volunteers who had fielded a slap and a tug of their ears by Mr Singh for the greater good of the class!

You would have guessed by now that Mr Singh failed in his attempts to teach me Hindi. However, I thank him so much for instilling in me a great admiration for Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, who I firmly believe was the most admirable public figure in the India of the 1940s. Those interested may like to check out this link on books about Netaji.

26/11. Terror Strikes in Mumbai .

For most of watching television in the evening of November 26, 2008, the first news of gunshots in Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, made us think there was some underworld gang war on. We never imagined that Mumbaikars would undergo a horrendous experience over the next four days following a terror strike by Pakistan-backed terrorists of the Lashkar-e- Taiba.

12 years have gone by but we can’t forget events of those awful few days. There is no doubt whatsoever that the authorities were caught napping. They probably didn’t expect terrorists to approach by sea. Besides, these terrorists were well-trained, well-armed and well- indoctrinated : to create as much havoc as they could and kill as many people as they could before they themselves were killed.

Images of the iconic Taj Mahal hotel on fire, the attack on the Jewish Chabad House, and the main railway station in Mumbai the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus have stayed fresh in our minds. By the time the authorities woke up to what was happening, the terrorists had seized the early advantage and cashed in on their early successes. This resulted in 166 Indians being killed before nine of the 10 terrorists were killed and one – Ajmal Kasab – was captured alive.

Even an attack of this magnitude did not deter our politicians from attempting to further their cause. Some Congress supporters insinuated that it was a plot by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Interestingly, later another Commissioner of Police of Mumbai, Rakesh Maria IPS said that the LeT had planned to portray that Kasab was actually a Hindu from Bangalore in the course of this attack..

There were many stories of heroism. Not every hero/heroine wore uniform. Men and women of the Taj and Oberoi Hotels risked their lives to protect their guests in the turmoil. It is difficult to single out some amazing acts of bravery. However, one must mention Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, just 31, who led the NSG in fighting the terrorists in the Taj Mahal Hotel, who was killed on November 28.

On that same day, one who was probably the bravest of the brave also laid down his life. 54 year old Tukaram Ombale, a former soldier in the Indian Army and now a policeman with the Mumbai Police showed enormous courage in actually holding on to the AK 47 being fired by Ajmal Kasab. He took many bullets in the bargain but his act of stupendous bravery helped the colleagues nab Kasab.

For the record, Kasab was hanged to death in November 2012 but catching one terrorist alive gave credence to India’s claim over decades that it was Pakistan which was behind all the infiltration in Kashmir and elsewhere. Most Indians expected the Government of India to retaliate in some way, later if not immediately after the terror strike. But like after the attack on India’s Parliament in 2001, sadly nothing of the sort happened.

I sincerely hope we have learnt from our mistakes of 2008. As always a High Level Inquiry Committee was set up in December that year to analyze what went wrong and how effectively or otherwise our security forces had acted. They submitted their report to the Government of Maharashtra. I have no idea which recommendations have been implemented and which haven’t but without doubt most of the flak fell on Hassan Gafoor, then Police Commissioner of Mumbai.

From a common sense point of view, I can say though that the media must not be allowed to report moment by moment as they did in 2008. The handlers of the terrorists fed off these reports and were able to guide them to change positions and strategies based on these reports. Yes, we are a democracy and ties, we have freedom of the press but it should not be so used to give undue advantage to our enemies at the cost of our own people.

Mumbai Indians: Worthy Winners of IPL 2020

There’s a sudden void these days for old folk like me! The reason is not far to seek: the Indian Premier League (IPL) which kept us busy for the last two months is over! We have to wait for the next edition which they say may be in 4-5 months time! The Mumbai Indians (MI) were the worthy winners. I think they richly deserved the top honors. You may recall they had 9 wins out of the 14 matches they played in the league stage. In the knock outs, they first beat Delhi Capitals to go directly into the finals and a few days later defeated them once again in the finals!

The Mumbai Indians have the distinction of having won the tournament 5 times in the last 8 years: in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 and now in 2020. Also they are only the second team after the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) to have won two successive editions of the IPL.

To K L Rahul, captain of the Kings XI Punjab goes the credit of scoring the most runs in this tournament: 670, but his team finished 6th missing out on the knock outs. They say that every ball and every run is important in the IPL. Rahul was unlucky in that an umpiring error cost them one match versus Delhi early in the tournament.

If the Orange Cap for the most runs went to K L Rahul, the Purple Cap for the most number of wickets by a bowler in the tournament went to Kagiso Rabada of Delhi Capitals for his 30 wickets in 17 matches.

I was delighted to see the promising Devdutt Padikkal of Royal Challengers Bangalore ( RCB) get the coveted Emerging Player Award amongst tough competition. This young left handed opening batsman scored 473 runs in 15 matches and took some great catches too. Certainly this talented man is one for the future, for RCB if not for India, provided he keeps a steady head on his shoulders.

For the team I support, RCB it was another disappointing year in that we thought, like we do every year, that we may finally win the IPL title. However, the good news was that RCB finished 4th compared to 8, 6 and 8 in the last three years, so that’s progress.

As always the standards of catching and fielding were brilliant. A few catches and fielding efforts stood out, as captured in this article. You can see them again and again, that’s how great they were!

Hat’s off to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for doing what seemed the impossible! While the pandemic raged all over the world, the BCCI brought some cheer to cricket fans by pulling off this spectacular tournament in the UAE.

In the next year, 2021 again there will be changes, swaps, buys and sells in the teams. The managements will reflect on how they can improve. This year’s winners -the Mumbai Indians- will think what they need to do to keep the title for an unprecedented third year!

IPL: The Last 4 Standing!

We are in the last lap of the prestigious Indian Premier League (IPL) arguably the richest sporting league of its type in the world. In past editions, a couple of teams raced ahead and were clear favorites for the title while a few were laggards. This year, the 13th edition being played in the United Arab Emirates, proved to be one of the most interesting and closely contested events.

Here are the four left standing after the league phase of 56 matches in which each of the 8 teams played their 7 opposing teams twice. The Mumbai Indians were the first to qualify with 8 wins. They have won the tournament in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019. No other team has won so many times!

Their supporters say Rohit Sharma’s team will lift the Cup this year as well with their formidable batting and bowling squads. Yet every team can be beaten. Mumbai have lost 5 matches, including one in a thriller super over against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). In any case, their opponents say they win only in alternate years so probably won’t win this year!

The Delhi Capitals, having had one of their best seasons qualified to be No 2 by beating the Bangalore team. Not having won the title so far, their motivation will be very high driven by their Head Coach, the Aussie Ricky Ponting. They will play the Mumbai Indians in the first match of the knock outs on November 5. The winner will go straight into the finals. This is the biggest advantage of finishing first or second in the league phase. This team has never qualified for the finals so far.

The loss to Delhi Capitals pushed Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to the third place but at least they made it to the last four. This is indeed creditable because they finished 8, 6, and 8 in the last three years! They featured in three finals- in 2009, 2011, and 2016 but have never won the IPL trophy so far. Will this year end on a magical note for them?

Until the very last match, we didn’t know who would be the fourth team to qualify for the play offs. However in that match, Mumbai Indians were given a bloody nose by the Sunrisers Hyderabad who not only won but crushed them with a rare 10 wicket victory. It is not as if the openers had to score 50-60 runs to win. David Warner and Wriddhiman Saha scored all the 151 needed for a match-winning opening partnership. With this victory, Sunrisers Hyderabad vaulted to the No 3 position going ahead of Royal Challengers Bangalore by virtue of a better net run rate. They have won the title in 2016 so will be trying for their second title.

Who do we expect to shine in this last lap? While every player is important and matches have been lost by extremely narrow margins because of a small lapse, each team has a few stars they count upon. For Mumbai Indians, I rate Bumrah and Pollard to be the most dangerous players on their day. For Delhi Capitals, their Purple Cap holder with 25 wickets so far this season, Kagiso Rabada and their seasoned opener Shikhar Dhawan will be key. I expect David Warner and Rashid Khan to be the best performers for the Sunrisers just as Virat Kohli and A B De Villiers will, as always, be banked upon by the Royal Challengers.

So, let’s wait and see what happens as the last four matches will decide who will lift the 2020 IPL trophy on November 10.

More IPL Records

Those you interested in cricket might recall my earlier post where I had written about the existing records in the ongoing Indian Premier League 2020 . I had hoped that some of these records might be bettered this year. As far as I know, those current records haven’t been broken yet.

To our delight, two new ones have entered the record books. Playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mohammed Siraj returned the astonishing figures of 3 wickets for 8 runs in his 4 overs in a recent match against Kolkata Knight Riders. In his spell, he became the first man ever in the history of the IPL to bowl two maiden overs in a match. That means, in a game dominated by batsmen’s strike rate – a run a ball being considered pretty mild these days – he actually bowled 12 out of his 24 balls (in two overs) without a run being scored off him. That’s a truly astonishing feat!! Do enjoy watching his bowling brilliance in this video! He showed the others what he was capable of on a responsive lively pitch.

The other record was established by that veteran left-handed opener, Shikhar Dhawan. Playing for Delhi Challengers, he recently scored an unbeaten 106 off 61 balls against Kings XI Punjab. This knock came just after he had scored 101 against the Chennai Super Kings in his previous match. Dhawan had sores of 90 plus in earlier editions of the IPL but had never passed the magical 100 mark. Now he has scored two centuries, one after another- becoming the first man in IPL history to have scored two successive centuries. Indeed, another amazing feat!

The record for the most Sixers in a match was equalled when 33 Sixers were hit in the match between Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings. K L Rahul, the captain of Kings XI Punjab also created a record. When he scored 132 not out against Royal Challengers Bangalore, he became the IPL captain with the highest score in an innings till date. He also became the highest scorer amongst Indian batsmen in the history of the IPL, the previous highest being 128 not out by Rishab Pant.

We still are in the league phase of the IPL, Match 47 will be played today. There are 9 more matches to go before the knock outs start amongst the Top 4. As the fight to make the last four gains ground and the knock out follow, here’s hoping more records are smashed on the way- adding to our entertainment!

Stereotypes & Bollywood

Bollywood- (the general name for the Hindi film industry headquartered in Mumbai, the erstwhile Bombay, hence the name) has been very much in the news for the last few months. It began with the death on June 14, 2020 of the rising super star Sushant Singh Rajput. Whether it was a suicide or whether he was killed remains a mystery. Several months have gone past with a flurry of activity. The Central Bureau of Investigation, (CBI) India’s premier investigative agency is still on the job and when this mystery will be solved, is at present, anybody’s guess.

However as a fallout of investigations into Rajput’s death came the arrest of Rhea Chakraborthy, the late actor’s’ live in girlfriend/partner by the Narcotics Control Board. Recently, she was granted bail by the Bombay High Court which with some strict conditions. Television channels have been talking about very little else other than the Sushant Singh Rajput case. Bollywood stars Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan and Shraddha Kapoor were called by the NCB for questioning in the drugs case. This got a lot of media attention as did reports on national television channels about drug parties in Bollywood.

Defenders of Bollywood were quick to say a few people taking drugs should not result in the entire industry being tarred with the same brush. They accused their critics of being guilty of stereotyping . It seemed that every Bollywood party had its share of drugs, sex and what have you. Indeed the clothes worn by Sara Ali Khan and Shraddha Kapoor when they appeared for the NCB investigation gave rise to a lot of comment. They were dressed the way most people are. Yet the comments came in thick and fast because that day they wore far more clothes than they are usually seen wearing!

What is stereotyping? In Simply Psychology, Cardwell calls it, ” a fixed over generalized belief about a particular class or group of people”. There could be more detailed definitions but this one, for me, is a smart summary. We have both positive as well as negative stereotypes. We have come to believe through this process that fat men are jolly and cheerful, ( have you come across any thin Santa Claus?), judges are cold sober and upright and so on. However for every positive stereotype there are innumerable negative stereotypes. For example, you may have heard that squint eyed people are devious, lawyers are only after money etc etc. Stereotypes are commonly used to characterize races, communities and professions. That’s where the troubles start.

The defenders of Bollywood forget that through their movies and sometimes their own conduct in real life, they has been in the forefront of stereotyping for decades. Perhaps now they are getting a taste of their own medicine! Through the use of social media like Twitter, ordinary people now have an opportunity to share their views. The Indian Express in January 2019 wrote of how people at large in India are calling out the stereotypes in Bollywood.

From the time I was a kid, watching Hindi movies for more than five decades I can recall how the Hindu bania was always the lecherous guy out to get his pound of flesh if the poor man ( usually a farmer) couldn’t pay back his interest on time ( leave alone the capital). The bania was prone to make advances on the womenfolk of the family indebted to him almost as a matter of right. The South Indian ” Madrasi” spoke Hindi with an atrocious accent typified by Mehmood in Padosan. The Police force usually were represented by the bumbling Havildar ( usually called Shinde) or the suave and often corrupt Police Commissioner sahib. The Army officer generally carried a big drink in hand and a bigger moustache. The Christian man was either a smuggler, drunkard, or priest while the women were promiscuous and wore short skirts. The Sardarji was an amiable fool, well meaning but the butt of many jokes. In all this the Muslim was seldom stereotyped – other than being of the Nawabi type who attended “mujras” held in his honor.

So, in India too, like anywhere else in the world, stereotypes created over the decades have taken deep roots. It is for us to realize that while there could be some characteristics we have in common with others, each of us is distinctly different. We have – every single one of us- unique personalities built on what we have inherited (nature) and what we have experienced ( nurture).

As I write this, Bollywood seems determined to make a fight of the recent goings on. Four cine associations and 34 production houses, including well- known Bollywood personalities like Aamir Khan, Karan Johar, and Farhan Akthar, have filed a case against the popular English news channels Times Now and Republic for damaging their reputation, tarnishing the image of the industry etc etc . However, the news channels seem to be ready to fight it out. Navika Kumar of Times Now tweeted ” If fighting for justice invites court cases, bring it on”. That case and how it plays out should be interesting!

In any case, Bollywood would do well to reflect on how stereotyping – used by them for decades – can also be used against them.