Stop building parks, build the nation instead!

Link to my new blog on TOI –


44 Responses to “Stop building parks, build the nation instead!”

  1. There is a rather fixed design that is followed by most town planners everywhere in India. Back in ’86 I called them the ‘Gheto’ plans. One of our town planners in Pune, Mr. Deshmukh, was amused when I said that.

    If you have noticed, cities don’t grow around sources of water or food anymore. Cities are planned and built around government offices.

    This is perfectly constitutional. ‘Property’ was removed from fundamental rights during Indira Gandhi’s regime. The land is seized by the government and people are re-located to new high-rise ghetos that are specially designed for the performing flea – bedrooms, sitting room, kitchen and wash rooms.

    These serfs, living in the mesosphere, are allowed to bring their children down to the park to smell the earth.

    As per the town plans, parks are the only spots that are finally left non-covered by asphalt and concrete.


    Building a nation is another subject altogether.

    • Gheto is Italian… the English stutter is Ghetto… (The word is often used to describe the dorms where Jews were quarantined by the Nazi before the Auschwitz-style cleansing. I thought Steven Spielberg re-created them rather decently in ‘Schindler’s List’)

      • Yep. Gory. Had a chance to visit the Jewish museum in NY a couple of years back, as you rightly say, Schindler’s list was a decent recreation of events.

      • Muraliraja Says:

        Holocaust museum in Israel(Yad Vashem) speaks tons about holocaust during WW2. It is one of the best museum I have ever been to. The museum makes you feel the horrific times. I watched Schindler’s List after visiting this museum were he was honored. I was unable to cover the entire museum due to time constraints. I wanted to go to Israel once again primarily to visit this museum.

      • Wow. This is so interesting Murali. Would be good if you could share some pics you had taken there.

      • Muraliraja Says:

        Photography is prohibited in most part of the Museum. So only few photos are available with me. Check this..

    • Oh yes, building a nation is a different subject indeed. No surprises why the right to property was removed.

  2. Building a nation is a wonderful concept and worth deliberating over as a theme, specially now that the great American dream of globalization is loosing its bearings to resistances from both within and without. (I’ll not write off globalisation yet till I witness the real funeral. The investors and their arms in the World Bank and IMF have been at it for over two decades. The have even risked a recession across Europe, UK and US to defend their idea. I expect they are not going to give up so easily.)

    Nevertheless, building a nation is still a good concept to reconsider in the new settings. It has been done successfully by many in the past during the feudal regimes, and even later by some like Martin Luther King, Marx, Mandela etc . Many have also floundered, partly or totally – like Osama’s nation of Islam, that tried to change the meaning of a nation from a bounded territory to religious hegemony.

    In Europe there are many instances of this that have lasted long. Jean Rousseau’s ‘The Social Contract’ is an evidence of one such exercise.

    In Britain, nation building is a live and perpetually evolving strategy. It never takes a pause, if you have noticed. The style is probably a leftover of the aristocratic empire.

    In India too, this exercise has been done by many and occurs at least once in a century. It takes a breather now and then when the prime mover runs out of fuel.

    Between ’45 and ’47 Nehru did that exercise consciously and lead the mission till ’64. (As Raj Kapoor pointed out in one of his songs, Nehru’s India was a heterogenous mix of strange philosophies. Mera joota hai Japaani, yeh patloon Englishtaani, sar pe laal topi Ruusi, phir bhi dil hai Hindustaani…)

    I have 36 hours of weekend, starting now, to see if I can write a sensible basis for design of a nation…

    Let me try…

    (To be continued…)

  3. Gadhaffi is dead. Wow. A happening year so far.

  4. Quaddafi, Gaddafi, Gadhaffi.. !

    • Extract from a blog on the same subject:

      Take a look at any news source today and you’ll see the name of Libya’s de facto leader, Muammar al-Gaddafi. Look a little closer and you’ll see a multitude of spellings for the notorious politician’s surname such as Gaddafi, Kadafi and Qaddafi. Why does a name that has been making headlines for decades have so many varied spellings?

      Transliteration is the reason – the transcription of a word, or in this case a name, into corresponding letters of another alphabet. The Arabic script is oftentimes unvocalized – in other words the vowels are rarely written out and must be furnished by a reader familiar with the language. As with Chinese and Hindi, the Arabic script contains a copious amount of diacritics – dots and accents added to a letter to change the sound. In addition, there seems to be an absence of any sort of authority for transliterating Arabic names.

      The Arabic language is one of the most widely spoken Semitic languages in the world and the pronunciation of words varies with different across regions. Even among Arabic speakers, Arabic of North Africa is often incomprehensible to an Arabic speaker from the Gulf Region.

      A famous roadblock for any Arabic to English translator is the Arabic “q”.” Depending on the region, pronunciation varies so much that the first letter of “Gaddafi” can be replaced with a “q”, “k” or “gh” sound. This helps to explain the numerous interpretations for “Gaddafi.”

      The variation of spelling may depend on what news source you choose to gather your information from. The Associated Press and CNN favor “Gadhafi”, The New York Times spells it “el-Qaddafi” and the Los Angeles Times uses “Kadafi.” Interestingly, Al Jazeera, which uses “Gaddafi”, does not use the “el” article in the name while the New York Times does.


      I know it’s too damn long for one small name. But the English act very fussy about words. Despite that we know they always get the spellings and pronunciations wrong at the end.

      I can understand Mumba-aai became Bombay, Udhagamandalam became Ooty; but, tell me, how did Chennai become Madras? The fellow must have been stone deaf.

      • Anand Khare Says:

        What is the correct pronunciation? Isn’t it something like quajjafee?

      • It’s difficult to say which meaning is more commonly used. Most words have origins in other languages.

        Libya is among the few places in Africa where ancient Shivalinga are found. Shivalik temples are found everywhere in Africa.

        In Sanskrit, Gaddaffi would break up as Katah+Tas+Affah

        Katah is the end of a range, Tas is to fade out or perish, Affah is barren, fruitless.

        Perhaps referring to the Sahara desert along the southern boundary running below Chhad and Libya.

        For Arabs, it may originate from the sect called Kudd; Ffi in Arabic is a preposition ‘In’ or a verb ‘Is’

        I like the combination of terms.

        In Hindi Gaddha is a big hole.

        So Hindi + Arabic would be – Gaddha + Ffi: In the big hole or Is a big hole! 🙂

      • There is a slight aberration that can change the whole meaning.

        In Hindi gadda is a big hole but Gadha is a donkey.

        In a big hole or is a big ass.

      • Interesting! Agree with a complete off beat approach to way some of the Indian cities have been named, but, they all claim to have a strong Indian influence alone, not British.

  5. Gaddaffi’s death is a bonanza for Europe’s energy needs for the next 50 years. Libya is sitting on the world’s largest reservoirs of Oil & hydrocarbon gas. The Oil companies are ruling the world!

    British Petroleum, British Gas, Petrofac, TOTAL, Shell, Partex and many more superstars are operating fields in Libya. My company was set to enter the market in February this year when we were asked to wait and watch.

    We are going back; first team is now scheduled to move in by December.

    This is a setback to Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan and indirectly to Russia. Europe was hugely dependent on the 36″ pipelines through these regions delivering Oil & Gas to Europe.

    This also reduces the reliance on the 2 major lines across the hindukush mountains in Afghanistan.

    This is the most spectacular coup in modern times. Italy, France, Germany and UK will be the biggest beneficiaries.

    • I agree. What a year this has been. Who ever thought that Gaddafi could be overthrown then shot like a dog. I believe he never slept at the same place every night, nor did he sleep at the same time in the last 42 years. And yesterday, he was holed and shot. What a life.

      • Gaddaffi was born in 1942. He built a nation entirely designed for his own pleasure. He is now superceded by another lot with different ideas.

        The awareness of death as an irreversible event changes people like nothing else can, not even knowledge.

        Some dedicate their lives to researching death.

        Some people get into action, trying to justify their existence.

        Some people mellow with the thought and fall back on faith.

        Some refuse to consider it relevant to life. They live happily.

        Some kill at will for death is a guaranteed termination of life.

        Death can be a slow process of decay, a passive surrender to lack of adequate knowledge.

        Death can be an unplanned accident or a catastrophic failure of life’s support systems.

        Death can be voluntary self-destruction.

        Death can be the heroic result of a battle.

        Whatever it is, death is not life.

        Death is not Time. Death is not a dimension. Death is not the energy that activates life.


        I can write better than this about Life. Death is so boring.


  6. Anand Khare Says:

    It is difficult to understand how the world or few individuals are going to be a happier place after Gaddafi.

    To Muslim world, it is yet another setback. For Indian ex-patriots in Libya and around, it is a welcome news. As business is likely to grow for reconstruction and exploration. For Indian polity, its many million dollars question so they are keeping mum.

    The US would overreact and celebrate as usual. Remembering he was considered a US friend just one year ago. The UK is the happiest but wouldn’t show it. They will try to help Gaddafi’s descendants as much as possible so that they spend their deposits in the UK or Europe. World’s ways don’t change very often.

    Personal opinion – One more visionary leader who had guts to challenge superpowers is dead.


    • Anand,

      Agree in parts. Well said.

      Henry Ford Sr. published an amazing book on the Jewish methods of economically strangling societies and nations. Some of those are similar to the methods of ancient Indian money lenders who suffocated the working classes, a la Mother India.

      Muaamar Gaddaffi (Libya), Fidel Castro (Cuba), Hugo Chavez,(Venezuela), Saddam Hussain (Iraq) and Mahmoud Ahmedinijad (Iran) have been the most vociferous provocateurs of NATO. However, their inherent weakness is either in a radical alignment with communist governments or banking on the fanaticism of religious extremists; Both are as treacherous as their Jewish counterparts who betrayed Germany in the first pan-European world war.

      I feel visions for a nation should consider the risks of internal violence, but not include it as an instrument of administration.

      Justice has to be done at home by the home makers. There is no such thing as a benevolent trader.

  7. What’s happening?

    Aish appears once in a while or not. Sharmila replies as if there is a word limit of 140. Anand drops in once or twice on a page. Murali, like Aish, comments occassionally. The rest are happy with platforms like Twitter or Facebook.

    There are no metaphysical discussions anymore.

    Seems like subjective blogging is past its prime.

    • Aishwarya Says:

      I like the real Reader more than the virtual…mayn kya karoon?

      • Aish,

        My spoken words can never match the quality of my written words. Simply because of the range that written words are able to cover.

        Imagine if I spoke to you on the phone like this:

        Me: I wish the 16th amendment to our constitution is repealed immediately.

        You: What is that?

        Me: It says, “Whereas the act as stated in 127 open bracket i close bracket 26 A of sub section 41 shall be read along with section 132 c open bracket roman 2 close bracket…

        You: Hello?

        Me: Yes?

        You: Are you alright?

        Me: Yes, yes. Let me finish the law. It says…

        You: Hello?

        Me: Yes?

        You: I’ll download the constitution and read it. Okay?

        Me: Oh okay. See you.

        See? When I write it on this page you can’t stop me with a ‘Hello’ in between.

      • I am sorry you didn’t find the phone conversations useful, Reader. Don’t worry, I won’t stop you with a stupid comment or a Hello. Please carry on with the good work. Let me not be a speedbreaker. All the best.

      • You want me to put up a more realistic dialogue? That’s not fair.

        But okay, if you insist.

    • Aishwarya Says:

      Microblogging and social networking, in my view, is oddly exhibitionistic. It’s a place to draw undue attention to oneself, something that may not come easy in real life. I feel most people get up in the morning and do things, just so that they can update their status and upload pics, without really giving themselves a chance to truly enjoy the moment. It’s sad.

      I love this place. I am infrequent because I prefer topics other than politics and I may have views on sensitive issues that could be unsuitable for a public platform. I also like to listen to you chuckle, Reader. That I cannot hear when I write a comment, can I?

      Good Night… 🙂

      • Good Morning,

        I don’t like microblogging at all.

        It’s like walking after midnight on a lonely street with silent lights and getting an eerie feeling that you are being followed.

    • When I am writing a blog of 700 plus words, would it not be boring to have me writing comments in excess of the blog by itself? :).. Nothing like that, no constraint whatsoever, sometimes , I dont have enough to add to your erudite comments or to Aish’s beautiful comments or Anand’s witty ones or Murali’s point blank ones. I read them all, digest them all. It helps me think more and then write more for the next blog.

      • Sharmila,

        You are very cruel. You get your food for thoughtt while I have nothing to chew on.

        You are kinder to your inhuman pets than human bloggers!


        I’ve always felt that you have chosen a very steep learning curve that requires total focus on the process. Keep going. Don’t look around for the scene when you are driving a Formula One. 🙂

    • Muraliraja Says:

      Sometimes I don’t have enough to contribute. But I actively read most of the comments here. Thanks to you, Aish, Sharmila & other regular visitors who keep this comments section vibrant.

      • Murali,

        I was just feeling lonely and thought I’ll call out.

        Saw the flickr link.

        The museum is a permanent reminder of the physical violence of the war. I believe there are no winners or losers in warfare, only survivors.

  8. Anand Khare Says:


    I remember when u compared Marwaris with Jews. That clarified all my doubts on function of jews community.

    One very relevant incident when we r talking about communities.Shahrukh Khan was on KBC yesterday. He boats himself to be a modest and practical muslim. However when he was asked the capital of which country is pious to three religions. He refused to recognise Jerusalam as Israel’s capital in full public view of whole world. His religious opinion was different that India’s official stand..

    I am sorry that I am not able to contribute in time. I am not using mobile for net surfing these days as I want battery to be fully charged to face any kind of emergency.

    Good Night.


    • Anand,

      Nothing to be sorry Anand. I was just calling out to make sure you are all there.

      I know you are busy and I hope his health is improving. Nothing is more important.

      All other topics are pastimes. Please please please do not be distracted at this moment.


      You are right about Jerusalam. Many people don’t consider Judaism as a faith of God as it is largely aethistic.

      But there is something more seriousbuilding up than merely SRK promoting his movie on a TV channel.

      A few days back there was an intellligence leak to the media in Delhi that the ISI in pakistan is once again investing funds to revive the Khalistan separatist movement in the Indian side of Punjab.

      If you remember this movement was bank rolled by a group in Canada. It ended with the blue-star operation killing Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale in the golden temple, and the assassination of Indira Gandhi followed by anti-sikh riots in 1984.

      I could see the first signs of that roadmap when AB was grounded in Australia by a lawsuit.

      The lawsuit is obviously aimed at getting maximum momentum to re-start the whole violent movement on the borders of Punjab.

      With the presence of rapid communications across the world the task is now easier for them than it was in the ’80s. Opinions are quickly polarized once some random symbols of trust and stability are destroyed. AB is a sitting duck for publicity campaigns like these.

      I am sure no harm will come to him personally. He has strong ties with the Labor party in UK and the communists in Europe and Russia. Any attempt to victimize him will be scuttled.

      In India, such cases never see the light of the day unless AB makes some direct or indirect political comments against the congress.

      Personally for AB this may mean less chances of getting the Bharat Ratna, but he need not care for that when he can buy a Nobel prize whenever he wants.

  9. Sharmila,

    How about if I send a post for the Reader’s Digest in between your posts?

    That will keep me focussed.

  10. Okay.

    My first exercise is going to be on devotion – mainly because I am doing this again after some gap.

    No one can be more original about bhakti than the one and only Narada.

    So the first in this new series shall be a few selected readings from Narada’s Bhakti Sutra.

    Coming up in one hour. Don’t go to sleep.

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