Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Tete-a-tete with a Congress Functionary

My patriotism has not really been questioned much till now, but I think this post will erase any doubts anyone (including self) ever had about it. Maybe not.
However, only "patriotism" comes closest to explaining why I engaged in a lengthy (often bordering on irritating) conversation with an acquaintance who happens to be a Congress functionary on most Congress-related crap at a cousin's betrothal instead of -
a. The obvious - scouting for prospective candidates so the next such function would be mine.
b. Scouting for prospective candidates whether such functions are possible or not.
c. Scouting for prospective candidates for friend(s).
d. Scouting for prospective friends for my lady-friends and sisters.
e. Catching up with relatives.*

The said functionary actually happens to be a Golti uncle from Vizag who knows me from childhood and who is a General Secretary for the party in charge of Public Relations. Picturize a fairly well-off, smart-alec businessman-type dude in his 40's. That's him. I knew of his entry into the dark side back in 2008 itself, and we had a very brief interaction then. This discussion was not exactly very lengthy, but it's at least worth a blog post - considering it happened at my cousin's betrothal with a Raja playing Baand Baaja in the background.

Now that you have the background, let me also add (needless to say) that there's obviously a fair amount of bias against anything associated with the Congress. Still, I tried to rope in whatever bit of objectivity I could.

Why Congress
To begin with, I abruptly asked him, unable to conceal my scorn, sarcasm, glee, etc, why he joined the Congress party. He started off by saying that Congress was the oldest party around - there was obviously some amount of ridiculousness in this reply which was what made me unprepared for this kind of response. However, moving on, he recalled the "greatness" of the Congress party (with no particular instance or point) and cited that as inspiration for joining. Ya...blah.

Then I slightly got back to the function at hand and allied "responsibilities".

On Raja
After a brief interlude, we banged into each other with my dad being part of the ensemble this time. I played Narada and provoked my dad into asking him some question. (FYI, Dad's not pro-BJP by any weird stretch of imagination and often revels in screwing all political parties L, R & C. It must also be said that he reveres NaMo and has a notable anti-Congresss bias {which may or may not be thanks to me}. Quite needless to say, given the humongous amount of shit we're facing today, his hatred for Congress has reached hitherto unscaled heights) I must confess that I expected my dad to be a tad simplistic and ask something very crude (ala my "why Congress" question). Dad however asked him a quite-obvious-yet-slightly-intellectual "Why has Manmohan not removed Raja even after so much data has been unearthed?", since I'd thought he'd ask something on the lines of "Why is Cong corrupt", etc. Now began the lengthiest, irritating'est & boring'est part of the whole conversation. The uncle probably thought this was a good chance to impress the dad-son duo (Why - I have not the faintest idea) and immediately set about "demonstrating" his knowledge of the issue. He slowly led us away from the hall to the balcony where, quite typically intellectually, he brandished a cigarette (after a few minutes there, he wanted to go downstairs for a more open session when dad excused himself & returned to the hall). I will totally spare you of all that rigmarole covering the Indian constitution and allied legal parameters effectively implying (don't tell me you haven't guessed it by now) that Manmohan Singh could not, in any way, have stripped Raja of his Ministership. Since I didn't want to give him the impression that I absolutely didn't agree with him, I told him this, much to his dismay (since it was put across in a way which, I assume, wouldn't have given him an impression of me as a dumb, presumptuous, retarded, stubborn simpleton) - "I am willing to concede that maybe it wasn't criminal of MMS to have persisted with Raja, but the thing about you saying that MMS could not have removed Raja at all is ugly crap. I am sure, given another Prime Minister, it is every bit likely we would've seen the back of Raja long ago."

[Socializing break]

Escape from Recession
Uncle'gaaru had, by now, probably realized I hadn't bought any of his hard-peddled "imported from phoreyn" goods and resorted to some tried-and-tested-product. Congress & age-old product? Yes, Nehru it was. He started off with asking me about the effect of recession in the US (he knows I'm a US-return). I knew he was preparing himself to land a KO-punch - that India was not affected by the recession because of Jawaharlal Nehru's "policies". Somewhere, I cut him and said something which made him ask me what I thought of Nehru. In being blunt, I tried to be as decent as I could.
Which is when we came to a rather interesting juncture. When he told me that many years ago, he held the same opinion as me, I refused to believe him. And then he brought the name "Babri" when I almost started J-w-J. However, I could not proceed since I had to redress his misconception about his earlier self being similar to my current self.
When I brought in Sardar Patel's name as well, he pointedly asked me - "I can see that your mind is parallelly working when I'm saying something. Why dont you allow me to finish what I'm saying first?" I was definitely at least slightly impressed by his relatively correct judgement of my mind's parallel processing. When he said one more thing against the Sardar, I simply asked him - "Uncle, I appreciate Nehru chacha's contribution and will definitely not write him off as completely useless to the nation, but just asking, do you know who the 3 members (specifically the third and most under-rated, under-acknowledged, under-appreciated member) of India's famed Triumvirate were. Much to my chagrin, he asked me to tell who they were, with the air of someone who knows his facts. Ha! This you-tell-I-tell game went on for about 4 passes after which he deftly changed the topic. I, of course, did not miss the point - though there is a statistical possibility that he did know, in all likelihood, he simply didn't know.

Now then, when it was getting obvious for both of us who was really making sense, though, I sadly had to leave for an obviously more important duty*. And though I tried to engage/humour him for a bit after dinner, it wasn't to be.

Advice for Congress: This uncle, though not-at-all convincing for a slightly-informed-BJP-supporter, would definitely have appeared convincing (to some extent at least) for a neutral, not-so-informed citizen. Plus, he didn't make an ass of himself. Sincerely I tell you, he will do a better job than Manish Tewari.

And then, for the moment of the day: I went to tell him bye and thank him for a definitely engaging discussion. It was his turn to dine then, and he, with a lot of warmth, patted me on my back and said that he'd always known I'd grow up to be a really "big" man and that he had given me 100/100 when I was in my 7th standard itself to which, I, rather (genuinely) humbly, told him that I did not consider myself big enough to grade him.
Laughing heartily, he further added - "You're one of the smartest young chaps around. You must definitely meet Rahul <...induced pause for dramatic effect...> Rahul Gandhi."
I died.

*I did not sacrifice food. Food happens to be one of the standout components of any TamBrahm function (including death ceremonies).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

PSBB Teachers 29 - Ravishankar Sir

[Start of Series]

(Part 28 here)

Maths - '98-'99

If ever there was a teacher in PSBB who classically epitomized the "Murthi Sirisu, Keerthi Perusu" adage, it has to be Ravishankar sir. I dont know how PSBB managed to get hold of this dynamo, but he was quite possibly one of the best "catches" PSBB ever made, when it comes to getting quality teachers (sadly though, they couldnt hold on to him since he, like Chhaya Mam, is with the American School now). We were fortunate to be the first batch to have a taste of him and initially, there were very few who liked/adored him. A majority of my classmates were highly irritated with him, some even hated him, but nobody could ignore him. That's quite something, especially considering how puny he was. If not for his beard, he could easily pass off as a school-kid. And when it came to the subject, few dared to even think he wasnt awesome. How could anyone, when this M Sc (Physics) bloke taught us 9th graders Mathematics, and that too with such aplomb! I, for one, didnt know for a long time that his major was Physics. He was a student of Prof Ananthan of the Physics Society, to whom he remains devoted to this day.

Some of our most memorable high-school days were, during his classes, for a multitude of reasons. He used to hate it when folks tapped their pens (among the many student-mannerisms he hated :D) on their desks and numerous pens have thus been broken. Sushil, Joel, Naveen and Sanjeev were prominent....umm...."entertainers" during his class. "Stop thattt sttopp thattt" - his already powerful voice used to boom, thanks chiefly to these guys.
Out of the many remarkable things he helped us with, one will definitely be, I think, exposing us to lateral thinking and brain teasers. One such unforgettable incident was when he asked us, during one of the first few days of Class IX, what the angle between the minute and hour hand at 3:15 was. I knew it obviously wasn't zero, but it didn't strike me (as it didnt most of the others) that we could actually derive the answer. Someone first answered zero, then another person said 1° when I joined the chorus. Then someone else said 0.5° to which I then shifted my loyalties. Finally, a new student, Nikhil Neelakantan gave the correct answer - 7.5°.
And how can I not mention his impeccable hand-writing - precise and beautiful.
Sir now teaches at the American School and is also part of the "Trimurthi @ Sathyamurthi".
Someone who left a lasting impression on most of us.
I am no Abbas, but Ravishankar Sir definitely qualifies to be a superstar and so I wont be way off mark if I say "What a man".

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Curious Phenomenon that is Hindu Liberalism

While choosing a title, I was deciding between Liberal Hinduism & Hindu Liberalism. I'm not trying to indulge in bombastic word-play here, but you must understand both terms because both are in relevance today.
Liberal Hinduism, though fast replacing the more orthodox moorings of the "religion" per se (in heavy contrast to Islam which seems to be getting more radical by the day, the most recent case being that of this Kerala girl) is far from being the malaise, which Hindu Liberalism undoubtedly is.

I am not sure about the origins of this current version of Hindu Liberalism. Agreed, one of the main facets of Hinduism has been its liberal & flexible nature which has, in a way, contributed to its continued evolution and relevance even after (the British-historians-dated) 3000 years, but I have a feeling we have slightly gotten confused between "liberal" and "flexible".

The problem with the contemporary liberal (non Internet-) Hindu's understanding of Liberalism is that, to ensure "Live & Let Live", he ends up following "Let live irrespective of whether you are let" - this dire compulsion to acknowledge, accept, appreciate and most importantly, accommodate alien cultures without the realization that such cultures are potentially detrimental to local culture (for starters) and are eventually destructive for all non-adherents. Not surprisingly, all this seems to have clouded the Hindu Liberal's vision of what exactly is happening at ground-level. And this feeling now seems to have created an invisible phobia towards one's native (Hindu) culture. This is especially visible in urban societies wherein Christians & (more often) Muslims do not seem to have any problems in accepting and admitting their religion while Hindus will take that extra effort to avoid that acknowledgement (let alone proclamation). Any Hindu who makes no qualms about his religion culture is, oftentimes, mistaken for an over-orthodox, possibly partially-backward fundamentalist. You see, stereotypes are always in vogue and the stereotype of the Hindu bigot (ala Saffron terror) is the flavour of the season, promoted chiefly by Hindu liberals. Things have reached such a stage that a reasonably religious Hindu risks projecting a stereotype (mostly negative) of himself while depicting (as opposed to flaunting, projecting and hollering) his religious side - this, not in the United States or Europe in front of non-Hindus, but in India, specifically urban India, in front of fellow-Hindus (but "liberal").

There is another pernicious characteristic that is not necessarily a characteristic of the Hindu Liberal, but one that is widely prevalent among the non-stereotypical-Internet-Hindu populace - which is a marked indifference towards Hindu causes. By "Hindu causes", I refer more to the inherent local culture than Hinduism the religion. Hundreds before me have milked the Babri Ayodhya cow by now and I dont want to do any more damage to her, but I hope you understand where I'm getting at.

I have no statistical backing, but I will go ahead and say this - the ratio of the number of indifferent urban Hindus to the number of urban Hindus is way higher than that for Christians & Muslims.

In a similar statistical-but-not-backed-by-data vein, amongst all communities of the world, Hinduism is probably the community with the highest number of self-proclaimed adherents (no prizes for guessing that these "adherents" are liberal ones) who derive pleasure in making fun of (their-community)-related issues, especially issues of contention, often insensitively. There might be non-Muslims/atheists that make fun of Islam-related issues, but you wont find too many theist Muslims taking (often unfair) digs at their own religion. Similar is the case with Christianity. The Hindu Liberal, however, is always drawn towards Hinduism when it comes to ridiculing & mocking.

Hindu-turned-atheists are the cream of the lot. I'd probably have to write a separate piece on them, if I ventured to describe their characteristics. But one stunning aspect is how Hindu liberals/Hindu-turned-atheists often lose their sense of objectivity and tend to focus chiefly on Hindu-related issues, when it comes to taking a dig or pulling a leg (for starters).

Anyway, to each his own, and the liberal Hindu inside me, however small, also reminds me that Hindu liberals have every right to not be objective, and mock/criticize/deride Hindu customs/issues alone. Besides, mockery isn't really a big deal....ok so it is, but the bigger deal is the mindless and often poorly-reasoned support for anti-Hindu elements and vehement opposition to Hindu causes.
Classic examples of Hindu Liberals today are: Sagarika Ghose, Ramachandra Guha, Malini Parthasarathy (assuming she is not an atheist). I would've loved to add one Islamic-attire Dutt to the mix of things, but since she makes me wonder if the next step after "Hindu Liberal" is "Islamic radical", I leave her out.
Liberal Hindus, however, are fewer in number (not surprisingly) - Amitabh Bachchan and Anupam Kher, to name two.

Sometimes, in a slightly Inception'esque display of emotion, I feel a strange sense of pity-filled remorse, when I feel pissed & irritated with them. Men before me who have tried to decode them, have come and gone but they, rather depressingly, endure and it only appears as if they're here to stay.

There is, however, an unexpected, positive fallout of the fact that their voices are getting increasingly shriller. It means that more people can hear their nonsense. And despite the fact that we Indians, though endowed with reasonably exceptional brains, exhibit a serious dearth of logical thinking, especially on emotional issues, the Hindu liberal's logic-lessness is so resounding, it is sometimes what's exactly required to wake up the sleeping rationalist in you.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Umashankar, IAS Officer's Letter to the SC/ST Commission

Disclaimer: This is an Email Forward I got just now. I have no proof that this is true, but since it appears to be, I thought it is essential for us, the general public to know.
The State Government of TN might have reinstated him, but I doubt we've heard the last of this man. Don't be surprised if a couple of months down the line, his family perishes in a "road-accident on their way to a relative's marriage in Tuticorin".

Before the National Commission for SC/ST, New Delhi

C.Umashankar IAS., (1990 batch)
No.33 Balakrishnan Road,
D1, Ashok Swasthi Apts., 3rd  Floor,
Valmiki Nagar, Thiruvanmiyur,
Chennai 41.  Tel: 044-42020423 Mob: 94443-00123

National Commission for Scheduled Castes,
Lok Nayak Bhawan, Khan Market,
New Delhi - 110003
Fax: 91-11-24632298   Email:

Complaint filed by C.Umashankar IAS., against the State of Tamil Nadu

I was selected for appointment as an IAS Officer by the Union Public Service Commission against SC quota and allotted to Tamil Nadu cadre during 1990. I joined the Service on 20th August 1990.

I state that during 1995  I was working as Additional Collector, (Development) and Project officer, District Rural Development Agency (DRDA), Madurai. There was misuse of funds allotted for construction of Cremation Sheds for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled tribes under Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY). I refused to obey the illegal order of the then District Collector, Madurai Mr.P.R.Sampath IAS., to award the contract to a private contractor. A pubic interest litigation came to be filed in the Madras High Court. I filed an affidavit in the said writ petition narrating the true facts. (Annexure A[i]).

A Division Bench of Madras High Court, accepting the affidavit filed by me ordered a CBI enquiry in WP No.15929/1995. (Annexure B[ii]). The real accused in the scam are yet to be punished.

During 1996, the DMK was voted to power. The Government appointed me as Joint Vigilance Commissioner to peruse the files pertaining to high level corruption. I submitted several reports including 1) South India Shipping Corporation Share disinvestment scam (loss of Rs.200 crores) 2) Granite quarry lease scam (loss of about Rs.1000 crores) 3) Allotment of plots and houses of Tamil Nadu housing Board to fictitious persons (loss not estimated) 4) Purchase of 45000 TV antennas and boosters without following tender procedure and without ascertaining the actual need  5) Leasing of 20 acres of Coimbatore Medical College lands to Star hotel, club etc., in the name of women and child development at throwaway lease rent  6) Fraudulent grant of Patta for 7106 acres forest land in Megamalai forest village, Madurai/Theni district to one family etc.

I indicted several senior IAS officers including the ex Chief Secretary Mr.N.Narayanan IAS., Thiru.C.Ramachandran IAS., Dr.S.Narayan IAS., Thiru.Debandranath Sarangi IAS., former Chief Minister, Ministers and others.

To my dismay I found that no worth while action was taken against highly influential officials who were deeply involved in the corruption. I therefore requested the Government to relieve me from the post of Joint Vigilance Commissioner.

During February 1999 I was appointed as District Collector, Tiruvarur. I introduced e-governance in the district administration. This was the first of its kind in the whole of India. Tiruvarur was rated 20 years ahead of rest of India by leading News Paper – Times of India (Annexure C[iii]). The English weekly, THE WEEK, in its millennium  edition chose me as the Bureaucrat from all over India who can make the life of Indians better in the new millennium (Annexure D [iv])

I submit that in the next general election, the DMK was defeated and the AIADMK came to power. I was sidelined and appointed as Commissioner for Disciplinary proceedings, an ex-cadre post.

The DMK was voted to power again in May, 2006. I was appointed as Managing Director of ELCOT, a state owned company. I introduced total transparency in the matter of award of contracts by introducing e-tender and also by introduction of a new method of tender evaluation by the bidding contractors themselves.  I also introduced the use of large scale free and open source software in Government offices during this period.

While I was working in ELCOT, twice I was called by Tmt.Rajathi Ammal,  wife of the Hon'ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu to her office at Alwarpet. I should have refused to meet her. However, by way of courtesy I met her in her office. She attempted to influence me to award contract to her men in the matter of purchase of 45000 fishermen wireless sets. I told her that only through e-tender contracts are finalised and I should not be disturbed.

I state that ELCOT along with another private limited company by name New Era Technologies Limited, controlled by one Thiagaraja Chettiar floated a joint venture company named ELNET Technologies Limited. The share of ELCOT  in the new company is 26%. The share of New Era Technologies Limited is 24% and the remainder shares were subscribed by the public. This Joint venture company ELNET floated a 100% subsidiary company named  ETL Infrastructure Private Limited with intention of floating an Information Technology Park cum Special Economic Zone at Pallikaranai, Chennai. The company owns 26 acres of land which had been given IT Special Economic Zone status by the Government of India. The company built 1.8 million square feet IT building in this IT- Park cum SEZ. The total value of the asset is more than Rs.700 crores. The said company mysteriously disappeared from the control of ELNET and ELCOT obviously with the connivance of former Chairman
of ELCOT and political  heavy weights. In my capacity as Managing Director, I was also the Chairman of ELNET. I wanted to probe the circumstances in which the ELCOT and ELNET lost control of ETL Infrastructure Limited. I circulated a special resolution to be moved in the Annual General Body meeting of the share holders of ELNET for removal of Unnamali Thiagarajan W/o Thigagraja Chettiar from the office of Managing Director of ELNET (Annexure-E[v]). The Annual General Body meeting of the shareholders of ELNET was to be held on 30th July 2008.

I also sent special reports to the Government regarding the scam namely the mysterious disappearance of ETL Infrastructure Limited worth more than Rs.700 crores (Annexure-F[vi]).  I wanted a probe in the role of Mr.Vivek Harinarayanan IAS., and Dr.C.Chandramouli IAS.,

I state while I was physically verifying and searching the records pertaining to the mysterious disappearance of ETL Infrastructure Limited in ELNET's office on 28th July 2008, I received an order of transfer removing me from the post of MD, ELCOT and posting me as Managing Director of Tamil Nadu Industrial Investment Corporation Limited (TIIC) (Annexure G[vii]). I have reason to believe that it was a fraudulent transfer. The order of transfer was passed adverse to public interest and to help the said Thiagaraja Chettiar. It is perceived that Mr.M.K.Alagiri, Union Minister was responsible for my abrupt transfer from ELCOT.

While I was working in the TIIC, there was a feud between Maran brothers who own the Sun TV group of Television network and the family of Dr.Kalaignar Karunanidhi, the Hon'ble Chief Minster of Tamil Nadu. The feud between Maran brothers who have become very powerful and one of the richest in the country and M.K.Alagiri, the elder son of the Chief Minster was well known. The burning of Dinakaran News Paper office at Madurai and hurling of petrol bomb and death of 3 innocent persons in the murderous attack is also well known.

I state that the Hon'ble Chief Minister called me and ordered me to take assignment as Managing Director of Arasu Cable TV Corporation Limited. I told the Hon'ble Chief Minister that I would not be able to work under Dr.Chandramouli IAS., against whom I had submitted a report on the mysterious disappearance of ETL Infrastructure limited and also pledging of ELCOT's Joint Venture company – ELNET to secure Rs.81 crore loan for the mysteriously disappeared company namely ETL Infrastructure Limited. Dr.Chandramouli IAS., was transferred from the post of Information Technology Secretary cum Chairman of Arasu Cable TV Corporation Limited and in his place Mr.P.W.C.Davidar IAS., was appointed. My appointment as MD, Arasu Cable TV corporation was notified simultaneously on 30th October 2008. (Annexure-H[viii])

I assumed office as MD, Arasu Cable TV Corporation Limited, a Government owned company on 3rd November 2008.

I found that Sumangali Cable TV, controlled by Maran brothers was indulging in large scale destruction of Optic fibre cable infrastructure of Arasu Cable TV Corporation. Sumangali Cable Vision was determined to ensure that their monopoly was maintained by all means. I brought to the notice of the Government the criminal acts committed by the Sumangali Cable Vision Limited and the involvement of Pongalur Palanichamy, a Minister in the State Cabinet in helping Sumangali Cable TV who destroyed the property of the Government company. I sent several reports including the proposals for arrest of Maran brothers under the preventive detention laws and for action under the penal laws. (Annexure I  [ix] – 21 pages)

I state that there was a settlement of the dispute between the Maran brothers and the family of Dr.Kalignar Karunanidhi. As an officer of the All India Service I pursued my job in right earnest and wanted the Maran brothers to be punished and Sumangali Cable TV to be nationalised (Annexure J[x])

I state that I was shunted out of Arasu Cable TV Corporation and posted as Commissioner of Small Savings, an ex cadre post. The Arasu Cable TV Corporation Limited is now almost dead.

I state that the Hon'ble Chief Minister and the Maran brothers became vengeful against me and wanted to disturb me.

While I was working in TIIC I sent an intimation to the State Government under Rule 4 (2)(b) of the All India Service (Conduct) Rules 1968 stating that my wife Suryakala M.Com., BL., was employed in Tessolve Inc. Chennai branch as HR Executive. She was working in that company from 1-4-2008 to 31-12-2008. Her gross salary was Rs.25,000 per month.

I state that the State Government which was determined to throttle me at the behest of the Maran brothers issued a charge memo apropos my wife joining service in Tessolve Inc. The Charge Memo was issued to prevent empanelment of my name in the cadre of Joint Secretary to Government of India. Because of this, I have been denied Joint Secretary empanelment during this year. I have been denied even a car loan and allotment of housing plot by the Government of Tamil Nadu.

I filed OA No.79 of 2010 on the file of the Central Administrative Tribunal, Chennai and obtained stay against the Charge Memo on 16th January 2010 (Annexure- K[xi]).

I received a communication from the Chief Secretary to Government  (Annexure- L[xii]) regarding my movable and immovable assets. I sent a reply dated 28-10-2009 (Annexure-M[xiii] ).

On 6-5-2010 a Deputy Superintendent of Police called me over phone and sought an appointment for conducting enquiries regarding my alleged assets disproportionate to my known sources of income. When I asked him under what authority he was asking me to answer his queries, he said he was so authorised by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption. This led to my filing WP No.12274 of 2010  on the file of the High Court. (Annexure-N[xiv] ). The Hon'ble High Court was pleased to admit the writ petition and grant stay.

I also filed WP No.15946 of 2010 (Annexure-O[xv]) questioning the Manual of Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption under which the officers of the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption, namely police officers conduct enquiries against All India Service officers de-hors the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure. It is my case that the State Government is free to institute any disciplinary proceedings against me in accordance with the provisions of the All India Service Act, Public Servants Enquiries Act, the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure and the State Government is not competent to conduct any enquiry against me without registering a case against me by the due process of law. The writ petition is pending adjudication.

I state that the Government of Tamil Nadu have passed G.O Ms No. 670, Public (Special. A) department, dated 21-7-2010, suspending me from the service pending enquiry to scrutinise the genuineness of the Scheduled Caste community certificate produced by me. (Annexure-P [xvi])

I state that the Government have also issued a press note on 23-7-2010 intimating to the press the cause of my suspension. I state that the law relating to caste certificates is settled. It is only the Committee which can go into the question of caste certificate.

I submit that I submitted the community certificate to the Union Public Service Commission. When the results of the All India Services examination was published  by the UPSC, my name was withheld and placed in the provisional category pending verification of the community certificate. The certificate was duly verified and thereafter the result was published.

I submit that the Government have not taken any action against the corrupt bureaucrats. The state Government is targeting me because I have been honest and sincere.

The State Government have caused a publication in the New Indian Express dated 25-7-2010 titled “Umashaknar Did produce false community certificate”, stating that I have produced a false certificate. The news paper report is engineered by the State Government, the Maran brothers and the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption of Tamil Nadu (Annexure-Q[xvii]).

I state that in WP No.15946 of 2010 I have alleged that one Mr.Ram Mohan Rao IAS was found in possession of assets disproportionate to his known sources of income to the extent of several crores of rupees. The amount is said to be about Rs.81 crores. The Government is protecting him. The Government is protecting all corrupt officials and making use of them. The Government does not want officers like me to serve the public.

I state that I am not claiming any special right. I can be charge sheeted under the All India Services Act, Public Servants Enquiries Act , the Prevention of Corruption Act or under the penal laws if the Government have credible information and materials against me. The Government, through the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption have started a smearing campaign against me by planting false stories as if I have produced a false certificate. I have come to know that the Hon'ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu is insisting that an FIR should be filed against me. The State Government headed by the present Chief Minister is intolerant and vindictive against me because I recommended penal action against Maran brothers and made public the scam in ETL Infrastructure where the hands of Mr.M.K.Alagiri, a Central Minster of the DMK party is involved. Thus the State power is being misused against me.

I therefore request the Commission to protect me from illegal harassment by the Tamil Nadu Government, the Chief Minister's family and the powerful Maran brothers  who are closely related to the Chief Minister.

Please ensure that enquiry, if any, regarding my caste certificate is conducted by the Central Vigilance Commission or CBI or any other Central agency not under the control of the State Government.

Appropriate action may be initiated to allow me to work under the Central Government or any of the agency of the Central Government not under the control of the  Government of Tamil Nadu.

I also request you to ensure proper security to me and my family through Central Security forces.

Dated the 26th July 2010 at Chennai.

C.Umashankar IAS., (RR 1990)

[i]    ) Annexure A – Affidavit filed before the Madras High Court in what is known as “Cremation Sheds Scam”
[ii]       Annexure B  - Judgement in Cremation Sheds Scam in WP No. 15929/95 dated 27th February 1996.
[iii]     Annexure C – Web report on Tiruvarur e-governance
[iv]     Annexure D -  THE WEEK, in its millennium  edition 2000, declaring me the
  man of the next  millennium from among the bureaucrats of India.
[v]     Annexure E – Draft Special Resolution for removal of Tmt.Unnamalai Thiagarajan from the post of Managing Director of ELNET.
[vi]  Annexure F – Report to Government and the Board of ELCOT regarding the ETL Infrastructure scam.
[vii]  Annexure G -  Transfer orders to Mr.C.Umashankar IAS from ELCOT to TIIC.
[viii] Annexure-H G.O Rt. No. 4394 Public (Special A) Department, dated 30-10-2008, notifying transfers  and postings of Mr.PWC Davidar IAS., Dr.Chandramouli IAS., C.Umashakar IAS., etc.
[ix]  Annexure I (21 pages) – Letters and reports sent to Government on illegal OFC cable cutting and other related reports.
[x]   Annexure J – Proposal submitted to Government for nationalisation of Sumangali Cable Vision Limited dated 7th January 2010.
[xi]  Annexure K – OA No.79 of 2010 filed before the Central Administrative Tribunal, Madras bench.
[xii]  Annexure L – Letter from the Chief Secretary to Government seeking my asset details. .
[xiii] Annexure-M – Letter to Chief Secretary dated 30th October 2009 in response to the letter from Government seeking my asset details.
[xiv] Annexure-N  Writ application in WP No. 12274 of 2010.
[xv] Annexure- O  Writ application in WP No.15946 of 2010
[xvi] Annexure- P  G.O Ms No. 670, Public (Special. A) department, dated 21-7-2010, suspending me from the service pending enquiry
[xvii] Annexure-Q News clipping titled “Umashankar did produce false community certificate” in the New Indian Express dated 25th July 2010

Sunday, August 1, 2010

When Shit doesn't happen and Paper goes waste

(Writtten in 2007-08 when I was a grad-student living with roomies)

Note: This is a rant Not intended to hurt or insult my roomie, but just to express my hopelessness and environmental dejection.

I unfortunately happen to be one of those oldie/unfashionable environmentally conscious guys. I regularly feel helpless when I see shit happening and I am unable to change it. But this actually rocked, no, stinked...better, stinks.

What can you do when you have a roomie with whom you share a family plan phone and who refuses to make the monthly telephone bills paperless despite your repeated attempts via begging/pleading/threatening/scorning? I see it every month - we can see our bills online and settle it online, but this guy insists on getting the paper statement (the damn paper statement, in case you didn't know, includes a list of ALL the calls both of you have made over the past month, often coming to around 20-25 pages) and the environmental part of my soul bleeds when he sees the statement for a minute and trashes it.

Now the shit got stinkier when he wanted to be clean. (leave alone his humongous appetite for tissue-usage, sample this - he once single-handedly finishing three-quarters of one full roll of toilet paper in one s(h)itting, and with obviously no intention to mock at him, I mean, I obviously haven't seen how he shits, but I've seen him use paper in the kitchen for cleaning/wiping his hands, and I seriously bleed tears seeing that, so I think I can safely assume how he would use toilet paper. {I, incidentally, don't use toilet paper at all, there is a mug in our kakkoos and it suffices quite satisfyingly}). Still, when somebody flushes the toilet 15 times (I counted it, 15 times, yes FIFTEEN) in succession just so that shit is wiped out from the face of the ... not earth, just the cistern, it bothered me. I mean, I know we need to be hygienic and all that, still, 15 continuous flushes for about 7-10 minutes of shit really beat (the shit out of) me. Frankly, I have thought long and hard and even asked him once or twice if he had some kind of health problem or something which might cause or require this indiscriminate flushing (I don't have any idea if there is any such thing which does), but he replied saying he wanted the toilet to be clean.

I've experienced severe water problems – I've been through times when I had to wake up at 5 in the morning and rush out with my mom & dad brandishing buckets and having to face about 30 sleepy, irritated (obviously!) souls all jostling for the same water. But even if this experience did not cause me to turn emotional and feel bad, just seeing the amount of water being wasted for no purpose (the worst shit in the world can be wiped out in a maximum of 3 flushes, don't ask me how) really REALLY gets on to my nerves. (It's another matter that the flush in our house makes a hell of a noise and this maniacal flushing is sometimes done at midnight or early morning). Seriously, I don't mind that, but I DO mind the wastage.

And when the guy doing this shit happens to be doing his PhD(Environmental Engg.) you just can't help but explode somewhere.

PSBB Teachers 28 - Pushpa Mam

[Start of Series]

(Part 27 here)

Hindi - '98-'00

Mrs.Pushpa Joshi - Pushpa Mam taught us Hindi during Classes IX and X. An extremely fair, slightly plumpish appearance who had a sense of wit & humorous which wasn't obvious, she had an extremely meticulous and neat way of teaching Hindi. One crib I had with her was how she always used to say "Shri Gurubhyo Namuh..." instead of "Shri Gurubhyo Namaha".

(Part 29 here)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Life Aaj Kal

6:30 - 7:00 AM - Become conscious to sounds of Shlokas & smell of Oodhubathi. Stir a bit and (possibly, occasionally) chant some of them in a semi-conscious state and slip back into sleep, oftentimes from the floor onto the bed, now that amma-appa aren't on it.

8:00 - 9:00 AM - Wake up finally. Go to kitchen, play with mom a bit, brush and settle down with filter coffee & 2 Britannia Milk Bikis & *shudder* ToI (occasionally The Hindu). Alasify global/national/local politics. Cinemasala. Sports. Chennai Times/Metro Plus. Who put head, who ran away with whom, who got raped in Delhi, who met with accident in Chennai-Trichy highway, how many CRPF got killed, etc.

9:00 - 11:30 AM - Take out lappie. Tweet. Net. Tweet. Check mail. Tweet. Occasional mango milk-shake. Tweet. Phone mokkai. Tweet.

9:35 - 10:15 AM - Drop amma and appa in Pazhavanthangal station.

10:30 - 11:30 AM - Take bath during this interval. Occasional extension to 1 - 2 PM. *ashamed*

12:00 - 2:00 PM - Proper Iyer-aathu saappadu watching K/Star/Sun/Animal Planet channels immediately followed by a probably siesta or more internet. Tweet.

4:15 - 5:00 PM - Appa returns. Scavenge for some snacks. Or TV. Or phone.

5:30 PM - Go to Pazhavanthangal station to pick up amma. Over the last few days, some "interesting" developments (which have a high probability of not going anywhere :P) on the way back (that's the time many of the college buses drop off students, you see).

6:00 - 6:30 PM - More coffee time plus Grand Sweets Manoharam and some khaaram.

6:30 - 7:00 PM - Get ready to freak out, either to downtown Chennai (T.Nagar) or some place else. Back for dinner (usually). And some time explaining to parents the reason for returning late. As much as I don't tire coming back home late, my parents simply don't tire of getting exasperated with me and demanding an explanation.

10:00 PM onwards - Football keeps running on TV while I don't really follow it. If it's Wimbledon, a little more attention. Someone or the other to mokka-pottufy over the phone. Back in the US, it used to be one of 3 close friends, so though the conversations used to cover a wide variety of issues (local Vambu to geo-politics), there used to be a sense of monotony since the people used to be the same, not to forget, all 3 being male B-). But here, it's been the other way around (I refuse to elaborate ;-D).

12 AM - 2 AM - Tweet. Sleep.

And schedule regularly interspersed with Marina/Besi outings, night-outs at friends' place, movies, outstation temple trips (the only outstation trips so far), visits to parents' friends & friends' parents and also a few sojourns to some interesting social-empowerment activities.

I am someone who cannot remain quiet or sit around doing nothing for long. Technically, I've had no "job" this past month, but my hands have been so full (well, pseudo-full maybe :P) with stuff to do and time to enjoy idling away (contradictory, I know, but that's how it has been), I've really had very little to complain apart from rusting professionally & not being financially productive (which is apparently *important*).
Sigh, but all good things have to end. And the good things that have come to an end will hopefully pave the way for something better. :-)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Sama Veda Sandhyavandanam

Over the years, I realized that being a Sama Vedi Iyer was one of the most challenging things from the point of view of online resources for rituals. Ok, Sandhyavandanam is something a guy is supposed to have learnt from his Aacharyaal since the day the Upanayanam was performed, but somehow things didn't work out for me.
Googling "Sama Veda Sandhyavandanam" didn't really help much and I really had to dig deep for a proper link that contained exactly what I was looking for. I'm basically reproducing the content from Shri P.R.Ramachander's page here, since this page isn't available among the first few results, and I'm hoping my blog-post is easier to locate.

PS: This post strictly details the procedure for Sama Vedi Iyers. Non-{Sama Vedi Iyers} have ample resources elsewhere, so do kindly excuse. Also, I'm not keen on this turning out to be a discussion-point for casteism/Brahminism, so if you want to oppose/criticise such rituals, etc, sorry, this is not the place.

Part-I - Argya Pradhanam

1. Aachamanam: आचमनः
Take small quantities of water (just sufficient to soak one grain of black gram) three times in the right hand and take it with the following manthra:
Om Achyuthaya Namah, Om Ananthaya Namah, Om Govindaya Namah

Touch with thumb both cheeks saying Kesava - Narayana
Touch with ring finger both eyes saying Madhava - Govinda
Touch with the first finger both sides of nose saying Vishno - Madhusoodana
Touch with little finger both ears saying Trivikrama - Vamana
Touch with the middle finger both shoulders saying Sreedhara - Hrishikesa
Touch with all fingers the belly button saying Padmanabha
Touch with all fingers the head saying Damodara.

2. Ganapathi Dhyanam:
Recite the following manthra slowly hitting the forehead with both fists together:
Shuklambaradharam Vishnum Sasi Varnam ChathurBhujam,
Prasanna Vadanam Dyayeth Sarva Vigna Upa Santhaye.

3. Pranayamam:
Hold both Nostrils with Thumb and the little and third finger of the hands and recite the following Manthra:
Om Bhoo
Om Bhuva
Ogum Suva
Om Maha
Om Jana
Om Thapa
Ogum Sathyam
Om Tat savithur varenyam Bargo devasya dhimahi dhiyo yona prachodayath
Om Apa
Jyothj rasa
Amrutham brahma
Touch the ears three times saying
Om, Om, Om

ॐ भूः । ॐ भुवः । ओग्ं सुवः । ॐ महः । ॐ जनः । ॐ तपः । ओग्ं स॒त्यम् ।
ॐ तथ्स॑वि॒तुर्वरे॓ण्यं॒ भर्गो॑ दे॒वस्य॑ धीमहि ।

धियो॒ यो नः॑ प्रचोदया॓त् ॥

ओमापो॒ ज्योती॒ रसो॒‌உमृतं॒ ब्रह्म॒ भू-र्भुव॒-स्सुव॒रोम्

The inhaling is called Puraka, the retaining Kumbhaka and the exhaling Rechaka. The proportion of time of these three viz. Puraka, Kumbhaka and Rechaka should be in the ratio 1: 3: 2.
Puraka, Kumbhaka and Rechaka together, make one Pranayama. From Om Bhuh upto Dhiyo yo nab prachodayat would be Puraka. From Omapo Jyoti-rasomritam Brahma Bhurbhuvassuvarom upto Om Bhuh, Om Bhuvah will be one Kumbhaka.The third turn from Om Bhuh upto the end will be Rechaka.

4. Sankalpam:
Keep the right palm inside the left palm and keep the palms on the right thigh and recite the following manthra:
Mamo paatha samastha duritha kshaya dwara, Sri Parameshwara preethyartham,
Pratah Sandhya - pratha sandhyam upasishye
Madhyannikam - madhyaynikam karishye
Sayam Sandhya - sayam sandhyam upasishye

5. Marjanam: मार्जनः
Sri Kesavaya Namah (write OM in water with the ring finger)
Recite the following ten mantras. While reciting the first seven sprinkle water on the head, while reciting the eighth touch the feet, nine again sprinkle on the head and complete by reciting the tenth by taking a little water on your right palm and throwing it around your head in clockwise direction like pradakshinam:
(1) Aapo hishta mayo bhuva
(2) thana oorje dadha thana
(3) Mahe ranaaya chakshase
(4) Yova shiva thamo rasa
(5) Thasya bhajaya thehana
(6) usatheeriva mathara
(7) Thasma aranga mamava 
(8) Yasya kshayaya jinwadha
(9) Aapo janayadha jana 
(10) Om bhorbuvassuva

ॐ आपो॒हिष्ठा म॑यो॒भुवः॑ । ता न॑ ऊ॒र्जे द॑धातन । म॒हेरणा॑य॒ चक्ष॑से । यो वः॑ शि॒वत॑मो॒ रसः॑ । तस्य॑ भाजयते॒ ह नः॒ । उ॒श॒तीरि॑व मा॒तरः॑ । तस्मा॒ अर॑ङ्ग माम वः । यस्य॒ क्षया॑य॒ जिन्व॑थ । आपो॑ ज॒नय॑था च नः ।

6. Praasanam:
Take in the hand small quantity of water in the palm (just sufficient to immerse one grain) recites the following manthra and drink it while telling "swaha".
Pratah Sandhya: Ahascha maa adithyascha punathu swaha
Madhyahnikam: Aapa punanthu prithweem, prithwee pootha punathu maam
                           Punanthu brahmanaspathir brahma pootha punathu maam
                           Yad uchishta mabhojyam yadhwa ducharitham mama
                           Sarvam punanthu mamopa asatham cha prathigraham swaha

 Sayam Sandhya: Rathrischa ma varunascha punathu swaha.  

7. Achamanam:
Use the same manthras and action as given in "1" above

8. Punar Marjanam:
Recite the following 14 mantras. While reciting the first eleven-sprinkle water on the head, while reciting the twelfth touch the feet, thirteen again sprinkle on the head and complete by reciting the fourteenth taking a little water on your right palm and throwing around your head in the clockwise direction like pradakshinam:
(1) Dadhi kravinno akarisham
(2) Jishno raswasya vajina
(3) surabhino mukha karaath
(4) Prana ayugumshi tharishath
द॒धि॒ क्रावण्णो॑ अकारिषम् । जि॒ष्णो रश्व॑स्य वा॒जि॑नः ।
सु॒रभिनो॒ मुखा॑कर॒त्प्रण॒ आयूग्ं॑षि तारिषत् ॥
(5) Aapo hishta mayo bhuva
(6) Thana oorje dadha Thana
(7) Mahe ranaaya chakshase
(8) Yova shiva thamo rasa
(9) Thasya bhajaya thehana
(10) usatheeriva mathara
(11) Thasma aranga mamava 
(12) Yasya kshayaya jinwadha 
(13) Aapo janayadha jana 
(14) Om bhorbuvassuva
ॐ आपो॒ हिष्ठा म॑यो॒भुवः॑ । ता न॑ ऊ॒र्जे द॑धातन । म॒हेरणा॑य॒ चक्ष॑से । यो वः॑ शि॒वत॑मो॒ रसः॑ । तस्य॑ भाजयते॒ ह नः॒ । उ॒श॒तीरि॑व मा॒तरः॑ । तस्मा॒ अर॑ङ्ग माम वः । यस्य॒ क्षया॑य॒ जिन्व॑थ । आपो॑ ज॒नय॑था च नः ॥

9. Argya Pradhanam:
Join both hands together and take hand full of water taking care not to join both thumbs with other fingers. Repeat the following mantra and pour water through your hands.
Om Bhorbuvassuva. Tatsa vithur varenyam bhargo devasya deemahi. Dhiyo yona prachodayath
ॐ भूर्भुव॒स्सुवः॑ ॥ तथ्स॑वि॒तुर्वरे॓ण्यं॒ भर्गो॑ दे॒वस्य॑ धीमहि । धियो॒ यो नः॑ प्रचोदया॓त् ॥

Pratha Sandhya: Face east and repeat thrice.
Madyannikam: Face North and repeat twice.
Sayam Sandhya: Face West and repeat twice.

10. Prayaschitha Argyam:
Do Pranayama (refer S. No. 3 above)
Then offer one more Argyam in a similar fashion as above. This is a Prayaschitha (atonement) for doing the argya pradhanam late. Take small quantity of water in the right hand and rotate it above ones own head saying (this is called Athma parishechanam)

Pratha Sandhya: Om yadathya gacha vruthrahan. Udayaa abhisoorya sarvaan dathindra they vache
: Om uthkedthbhi sruthamagam vrushabham naryabasim Astharameshi soorya
Sayam Sandhya
: Om na thasya maya yachana Ripureeseetha marthya yo agnaye dathacha havyadathaye 

11. Ikyaanusandhanam:
With both hands touch the middle of the chest. close the eyes, meditate and chant
Asaavadhityo brahma. Brahamaivahamasmi
Then do Achamanam.

12. Deva Tharpanam:
Pratha Sandhya: Squat facing east.
Madhyannikam: Squat facing east/north.
Sayam Sandhya: Squat facing north.
Take water in the hand and pour it out through the finger-tips after each manthra.

Aadithyam tharpayami
Somam tharpayami
Angarakam tharpayami
Budham tharpayami
Brahaspathim tharpayami
Shukram tharpayami
Sanaiswaram tharpayami
Rahum tharpayami
Kethum tharpayami
Kesavam tharpayami
Narayanam tharpayami
Madhavam tharpayami
Govindam tharpayami
Vishnum tharpayami
Madhusoodhanam tharpayami
Trivikramam tharpayami
Vamanam tharpayami
Sreedharam tharpayami
Hrishikesam tharpayami
Padmanabham tharpayami
Damodharam tharpayami

Then do aachamanam.

Part-II - Japam

13. Japa Sankalpam:
Recite the following manthra slowly hitting the forehead with both fists together:
Shuklambaradharam Vishunum Sasi Varnam ChathurBhujam,
Prasanna Vadanam Dyayeth Sarva Vigna Upa Santhaye.

Do Pranayamam.

Keep the right palm inside the left palm and keep the palms on the right thigh and recite the following manthra:
Mamo paatha samastha duritha kshaya dwara, Sri Parameshwara preethyartham,
Pratha Sandhya: pratha sandhya gayathri maha manthra japam karishye
Madhyannikam: madhyaynika gayathri maha manthra japam karishye
Sayam Sandhya: sayam sandhya gayathri maha manthra japam karishye

14. Pranava Japam:
Pranavasya Rishi Brahma (touch the forehead with fingers),
Devi gayathri Chanda (touch below the nose),
Paramathma devatha (touch the middle of the chest)
Bhooradhi saptha vyahrudeenam athri - brugu - kuthsa - vasishta - gowthama - kasyapa - aangeerasa rishaya (touch forhead)
Gayathree - ushnig - anushtup - brahathi - pankthi- trushtup- jagathi - chandamsi (touch below the nose)
Agni - vayu - arka - vageesa - varuna - indra - viswe deva - devatha (touch the middle of the chest.)

Do pranayama ten times.

15. Gayathri Avahanam:
(Touching head) Aayaathu Ithi anuvakasya vamadeva rishi,
(Touching below nose) Anushtup chanda,
(Touching the middle of the chest) Gayathri devatha
(Folding hands like Namaste in front of heart)
Aayathu varada devi aksharam brahma samhitham.
Gayathri chandasam mathedam brahma jushaswana.
Oojosi, sahosi,balamasi, brajosi, devaanaam dhama naamaasi. viswamasi,
viswayu sarvamasi, sarvayu abhipoorom, Gayathrim avahayami, Savithrim avahayami, saraswathim avahayami
(while reciting the last three manthras, after avahayami, keep both the palms together with little fingers touching and then slowly take the fingers towards oneself, and bring it back to original position after one rotation)

16. Gayathri Nyasam:
Chant each of the mantras while -
(Touching the forehead) Savithrya rishi brahma
(Touching below the nose) nichrud gayathri chanda
(Touching the middle of the chest) savitha devatha

17. Gayathri Japam:
Repeat 108 times the Gayathri facing east in the morning & afternoon, west in the evening :

Om Bhur Vhuvah Svah
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat

ॐ भूर्भुव॒स्सुवः॑ ॥ तथ्स॑वि॒तुर्वरे॓ण्यं॒ भर्गो॑ दे॒वस्य॑ धीमहि । धियो॒ यो नः॑ प्रचोदया॓त् ॥ 

18. Gayathri Upasthanam:
Do pranayamam and then stand up and chant
Facing the same direction:
Pratha Sandhya: Pratha sandhyam upasthanam karishye
Madhyannikam: Adithyam upasthanam karishye
Sayam Sandhya: Sayam sandhyaupasthanam karishye

Then repeat
Uthame shikare devi, bhoomyam parvatha vardhini,
Brahmanebhyo anugnanam, gacha devi yada sukham.

19. Surya Upasthanam:
Pratha Sandhya:
Yaso aham bhavami brahmananaam yaso ragnam yaso visaam
Yasa sathyasya bhavami
Bhavami yasasaam yasa
Adithya naava maroksham poornamparipadinim
Achithram bharayishnaveem satharithraam swasthye om Namah adithyaya
Udyantham dwa aadithyanu deeyasam

Aadhithya navamaroksham poorna maparipaddhineem
Acchithram bharayishnaveem sadarithraam swasthaye
Om Namah adithyaya, Namah adhithyaya, Namah adhithyaya
Uduthyam jatha vedasam devam vahanthi kethava
Druse viswaya sooryam
Chithram devaanam udaganeekam chakshur mithrasya varunasyagne
Aa pra dyava pruthvi anthareeksha soorya athma jagadas tha dushacha
Thachkshur deva hitham purasthac chukramussarth
Om bhorbuvaswarom
Soorya iva druse bhooyasam agneeriva thejasa, vayuriva pranena, soma iva ganthena, brahaspathher iva budhya, aswina iva roopena, indragni iva balena, brahma bhaga evaham bhooyasam paap mabhaga me dwishantha.

Sayam Sandhya:
Yaso aham bhavami brahmananaam yaso ragnam yaso visaam
Yasa sathyasya bhavami
Bhavami yasasaam yasa
Adithya naava maroksham poornamparipadinim
Achithram bharayishnaveem satharithraam swasthye om Namah adithyaya, Namah adhithyaya, Namah adithyaya
Prathi thishtantham thavar adhithya anu prathi thishtassam.

20. Samashti Abhivadanam:
Starting from the direction facing which the japa was done after each manthra turn 90 degrees to the right. Say the next manthra and so on.
Sandhyayai Namah
Savithryai Namah
Gaythryai Namah
Saraswathyai Namah

सन्ध्या॑यै॒ नमः॑ । सावि॑त्र्यै॒ नमः॑ । गाय॑त्र्यै॒ नमः॑ । सर॑स्वत्यै॒ नमः॑ । 

Then chant with folded hands facing the same direction
Sarvebhyo devathabhyo namo Namah

Kamo karshed manyura karshed namo Namah.
सर्वा॑भ्यो दे॒वता॑भ्यो॒ नमः॑ । कामो‌உकार्षी॓ र्नमो॒ नमः । मन्यु रकार्षी॓ र्नमो॒ नमः ।

Then touch with both hands the ears slightly bow and chant
Abhivadaye <your Rishis> <number of Rishis> Risheya
<your Pravara or blank> pravaranvitha
<your Gothra> gothra
<your Suthra> suthra
<your Veda> adhyay
Sri sarmanama aham asmibho

After this touch your feet with both hands and do Namahskaram.

Some examples of Pravara Rishis
Gothra pravara rishaya 
Athreya Athreya Archanaanasa, syavaaswa traya risheya 
Naidruva kasyapa Kasyapa, Avathsara, Naidruva traya risheya 
Gargeya Aangeerasa, Chainya, Gargya traya risheya, Aangeerasa, Barhaspathya, Baradwaja, Chainya-Gargya pancharisheya 
Koundinya Vasishta, Maithra varuna, Koundinya traya risheya 
Koushika Vaiswamithra, Aagamarshana, Koushika traya risheya 
Gowthama Aangirasa-aayasya-gowthama traya risheya 
Baradwaja Aangeerasa, Barhaspathya, Bharadwaja traya risheya 
Haritha Aangeerasa, Ambareeksha, Younaswa trayarsheya 
Sounaka Garthsamadha Ekarsheya 
Chandilya Kasyapa, Aavathsara, Naidruva, Reba, Saptha risheya 
Raibha, Choundilya, Chandilya

21. Dig Devatha Vandhanam:
With folded hands offer salutations to the different directions facing that direction:
Pracyai dishe Namah (East)
Dakshinayai dishe Namah (South)
Pradeechai dishe Namah (West)
Udichyai dishe Namah (North)

Then again face the direction in which you were doing japa and continue
Oordwaya Namah (above)
Adharaya Namah (below)
Anthareekshaya Namah (straight)
Bhoomyai Namah (earth)
Brahmane Namah
Vishnave Namah
Mrutuyuve Namah

22. Yama Vandanam:
Stand facing South and chant
Yamaya Namah
Yamaya dharma rajaya, mrutyuve cha anthakaya cha
Vaivaswathaya kalaya sarva bhootha kshayaya cha
Oudhumbharaya dhagnaya neelaya parameshtine
Vrukodharaya chithraya chithra gupthaya vai Namah
Chithra gupthaya vai Namah om Namah ithi

23. Harihara Vandhanam:
Stand facing West and chant
Ruthagum sathyam para brahma purusham Krishna pingalam,
Oordhwrethwam viroopaksham Viswa roopaya vai Namah
Viswa roopaya vai Namah om Namah ithi

24. Soorya Narayana Vandhanam:
Stand facing the direction in which Japa was done and chant
Namah savithre jagadeka chakshushe,
Jagat prasoothi sthithi naasa hethave,
Trayin mayaya trigunathma dharine
Virinchi Narayana sankara athmane

Dyeya sada savithru mandala Madhya varthi
Narayana sarasijasana sannivishta
Keyuravan makara kundalavaan
Kiriti haari hiranya vapur drutha sankha chakra

Sanka chakra gatha pane dwaraka nilayachythe
Govinda pundarikaksha raksha maam sarana gatham
Aakasath pathitham thoyam,
Yada gachathi sagaram,
Sarva deva Namahskara
Sri kesavam prathi gachathi,
Sri kesavam prathi gachathi om na ithi

25. Samarpanam:
Take a small quantity of water recite the following manthra and pour it on the ground
Kaye na vacha manase indriyair va
Budhyathma nava prakruthai swabhavat.
Karomi yadyat sakalam parasmai,
Narayana yethi samarpayami

कायेन वाचा मनसेन्द्रियैर्वा । बुद्ध्या‌உ‌உत्मना वा प्रकृते स्स्वभावात् ।
करोमि यद्यत्-सकलं परस्मै श्रीमन्नारायणायेति समर्पयामि ॥

Then do aachamanam

26. Raksha:
Sprinkle some water on the place where japa was [performed reciting the manthra below, then touch the ground with ring finger and place it between the eyelids:
Adhya no deva savitha praja vath saavee soubhagam
Para duswapneeya suva
Viswani deva savitha - durithani paraa suvaa
Yad bhadram thanma asuva


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

For the People who Read

(Written a few days after the final book released)

Note: For those who have not yet read and are planning to read either the Harry Potter series or “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, my sincere advice would be to discontinue reading this article. Reduction in my readership, though it might be, this statutory warning comes from a sincere HP-fan who earnestly does not wish to deny other fellow fans the pleasure of cherishing the climax of the series.

Ultimately, The Boy Who Lived did live, and live did he? Pulling down the curtains on an epic masterpiece with “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, J.K.Rowling does, indeed manage to leave us happy, sad, angry, miserable, confused, satisfied and not-at-all-satisfied…all at the same time. Never for once did I imagine experiencing this heart-wrenching feeling, given that Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, et al continue to live, at the end of the series. I am not a particularly good reader, but I think I can state, with sufficient backing available, that Harry Potter is one epic fantasy that would go down in history as a must-read belonging to the beginning of the 21st century. And now, as I write these words after having just completed reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, there is a seemingly empty feeling in my stomach, as in millions of others. Harry, Ron, Hermione and the others will continue to live peacefully in the Wizarding world (Godric’s Hollow, hopefully). Just that we Muggles will not get to glimpse what The Chosen One would be choosing to do. It does indeed seem frightening to think there will be no more adventures of Harry Potter, well, possibly an encyclopedia, as Rowling hinted, but there is no more Voldemort to conquer, no horcruxes to destroy, no Ginny’s to be won over, no Ron-Hermione’s to indulge in friendship or patch-up with, no Firebolt to fly on, ……..Such has been the effect of the boy wizard’s adventures that kids have grown up idolizing Harry Potter as their hero, more than any other living person. Indeed, why not? After having been a presumptuous vocal critic of Rowling and the Harry Potter books until early 2003, the movie and my best friend were what prompted me to take to reading the book, add to it some curiosity mixed with the chance to scorn more. How wrong I was! I don’t know if the skepticism I had while reading the book helped me like the book more, but somehow, at the end of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on The Chamber of Secrets.

Yes, there are those oh-that’s-fantasy-nonsense sayers about the book, but the way Rowling has so intricately woven fantasy with the deepest and truest of human emotions is what makes the book such a kill. That the Harry Potter books portray as much as or more than (often unimaginable) magic, such human feelings, emotions, virtues – of love, courage, honesty, integrity, betrayal, greed, arrogance and human fallibility, are what endear the book to any reader. No wonder then, that this book, intended to be for children, ended up being read by people of all age-groups, across continents, breaking all sorts of barriers – religious, cultural, linguistic, and what not!

Rowling depicts characters we see everyday, and those that we yearn to see in a lifetime. Another standout aspect of Rowling is the amazing attention she gives to the minutest of details, and she has proved, throughout the entire series, time and again, how essential it is to take in every single word, punctuation and expression that is so sublimely conveyed in the books – be it the casual mention of Hagrid dropping Harry when he was one year old in Sirius’ borrowed bike or Harry’s notion that Snape was able to read his mind or Ron preventing Harry and Hermione from uttering Lord Voldemort’s name when they were camping in the forest. But over and above all, it was the saga of love and friendship that struck me the most, interspersed with actions of sheer daring, bravery, comic timing, not to forget intellectual brilliance (Oh, I love you Hermione!). For me, the most touching love story in the series was the one between Snape and Lily Evans, well, the one-sided love, at least. And the journey through Snape’s memory in the end really moves you to tears. Of course, I never ever professed any love for Snape, but towards the end of book 6, it seemed sort of obvious to me that Snape was on the good side, my hypothesis being bolstered by his murder of Dumbledore. Well, the above statement might seem terrifically nutty in any general context, but having read 6 of her books with avid interest, you would essentially see logic in the above statement, in light of Rowling being the author in question. Of course, it goes unsaid that the Harry-Hermione-Ron camaraderie takes the cake as far as “friendship” is concerned. As for a mentor-protégé relationship, I think there was only one such instance that moved us – that of Albus Dumbledore and Harry. Though the Harry-Ginny relationship was riveting and invigorating at certain moments, for instance, both the impulsive kisses were pretty intense and made you “feel” (not the physical kiss [:P], something more like the love they had), the fact that Ginny had made out with quite a few guys before Harry (Michael Corner and Dean Thomas), and Harry too had had his share of teenage crush on Cho Chang, the essence of the relationship never stuck, unlike the Ron-Hermione one which, despite Ron’s outwardly intense, deliberate and dispassionate fling with Lavender Brown and Hermione’s supposedly so-called affair with Viktor Krum, always had an undercurrent and was persistent, albeit not outwardly, for quite some time; and ended up being really cute and more satisfying than the Harry-Ginny union. Anyways, what everyone had been looking forward to in the Finale (among other things, of course) was the Harry – Voldemort (No You-Know-Who for me ;) showdown, which, some people felt, turned out to be a rather damp squib. I, for one, felt that the final fight and Voldemort’s eventual destruction could not have been better portrayed, because it took place in Hogwarts, their home (as well as Dumbledore’s), and took place in full view of everyone that mattered in the wizarding world. The conversation between Harry and Voldemort was really enthralling, and, as Dumbledore has been saying all this while, Voldemort’s eventual destruction at Harry’s hands would be due to the former’s ignorance and lack of wisdom, as much as the latter’s qualities that made him a Gryffindor – sheer courage, selflessness and concern for his peoples. It would have been absurd to expect a battle of magical prowess and wizarding talent between one of the most supremely magically talented wizards of all time – Voldemort and a seventeen-year-old boy, The Chosen One, though he may be. In view of this, I feel Rowling did indeed pull it off, Harry’s bravery and sense of purpose seeing him through.
Among the various deaths in the book, Dobby’s was most moving in that we went through a heroic rescue act by him terminating in his faithful final words, “Harry ….. Potter.” But of all the characters who died, I think none, not even Sirius or Dumbledore, would be missed as much as Fred Weasley. For some reason, Rowling has always mentioned more of Fred than George; though it is evident both are equally witty and mischievous. But somehow, these two characters are unbeatable, and their wisecracks are an ultimate riot, what with their timing, intonation and moments of light-heartedness during periods of difficulty. Miss you Fred! As for duels and deaths on the Dark Side, nothing was more unexpected, astonishing and satisfying than the one between Bellatrix Lestrange and Molly Weasley. Wow, what a duel! Especially the way Molly entered the fight, swearing at Bellatrix and plunging straight into the fight was awesome! Way to go Molly! Talking about Wizarding duels, one of my friends asked me to rank the wizards in the order of their skill/intelligence/knowledge –

Dumbledore > Voldemort > Grindelwald > {Snape, James, Sirius, Kingsley} > Bellatrix’ is what I came up with. Yes, despite all revelations of Dumbledore’s ‘other’ side, Harry Potter though I may not be, I would still remain Dumbledore’s boy. Accepted that Voldemort ventured to do far more things than Dumbledore ever did, but Dumbledore’s knowledge and wisdom outmatches Voldemort’s skills. Somehow, I liked Gellert Grindelwald towards the end, especially the way he spoke to Voldemort when he was approached about the Elder Wand. In the end, this epic saga revolved around the life of one man, his intense faithful love despite knowing its failure, and how he endured a life of lies and hatred, not to mention persistent mortal danger. Severus Snape showed us how to be a man, and Dumbledore’s persistent reiteration of the importance of “love” can be attributed to two people – ‘Professor’ Snape’s love for Lily (Evans-->Potter) and Harry’s love for his friends & fellow beings. These two reasons stood out, above all, among all the eventual causes leading to Voldemort’s downfall. The tale of Harry Potter has an epic touch too. I was pleasantly reminded of the story of Lord Krishna, wherein King Kamsa, His maternal uncle, set out to kill Him ever since he heard the prophecy that his (Kamsa’s) destruction would be at Lord Krishna’s hands. Also, the adventures of Harry, Hermione and, to some extent, Ron, in the forest, reminded me of the Ramayana, and especially the part where Harry is enticed by the doe was so like the deer enticing Goddess Sita in the epic. (Do pardon me if any of these comparisons seemed absurd.)

As I walk back to the Library to return “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” today, I cannot help feeling sad, despite my attempts at being practical. But then, we have an epic saga in the form of 7 unmistakable jewels among us – fantasy, though it might be, the tale of Harry Potter that Joanne Rowling (Kathleen is not part of her actual name) created has unmistakably found a place in the heart of millions all over the world, for a plethora of reasons, not least for the inherent humaneness incorporated in unreal fantasy.
Harry Potter shall continue to live in the minds of its readers for quite some time to come.
Rowling, we bow down to thee.
Thank you, for Harry Potter.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Raavanan Tweets

I'm not a regular movie critic or anything, but since being opinionated is ingrained in me, there will inevitably be some movies I dissect completely - whether it's being for or against or it's being confused. However strong I may be in having an opinion or voicing it and however controversial the subject might be, I have always been concerned about how offensive/distasteful what I say might sound. Which is why I sometimes feel like an old mama when I shudder at some of the offensive language folks today use, simply to convey an opinion. And irrespective of how it appears, I try my best to have a balanced opinion on issues, with minimal prejudice being instrumental in the opinion-formation process.
Anyway, the point here is, I watched Raavanan yesterday and during the movie and after watching it, I tweeted some opinions, which are, presumably, strong. Yup, I did tweet some PG-13 stuff (but wouldn't be surprised if today's 13's are used to such stuff), but I really don't think they were offensive or distasteful. What surprised me most was when a very good friend told me to stop my Raavanan "rants" else he would stop following me, since my tweets were apparently "distasteful" and showed prejudice. He was obviously not kidding and I was quite intrigued. I am not too worried about a drop in my follower-count (Hey...followers come today go tomorrow yaa... :D), but since I respect this guy's opinions a lot, I wanted to really know if my tweets were that distasteful & biased to warrant such a strong quasi-telling-off from a good friend.

*Warning: May contain a few spoilers*
  • I know why Aish shows a hint of cleavage throughout. It's to distract us from her pathetic lip-sync & below-avg emoting.
  • What's particularly unnerving abt watchin a Maoist-sympathetic movie is watchin it when the nation's in a state of near-anarchy.
  •  What's sad is not the fact that Aish exposes, but that Mani seems to have made her "show" simply because of his inability to include his usually-mandatory item number.
  • And yes. She shouts. A lot. And "shows". Quite somewhat. And acts. Well, at least tries to. A little.
  • For me, the most exciting parts of Raavanan were all the scenes in which Ranjitha appeared. Skewed sense of excitement, I know, still. :P
  • Raavanan may not be a very good movie, but in the context of the Singams & the Suras, it definitely is good cinema.
  • Oh yes, I too choked in that final scene when Raagini says "Buck Buck Buck...". :D
  • Friend on Facebook after watching Raavan(an): "Aishwarya Rai has transformed from a beautiful woman to a sexy aunty". :P
  • While Prithviraj's character was not fully sketched, Priya Mani's choice makes me wonder if it was a practical joke on her.
  • Very curious how Raavan(an) would be rated by folks (incl me) if we ignore that it's a Mani movie or that it released around Suraa/Singam.
  • And to be fair to myself, I did NOT go to Raavanan trying to compare with the actual Ramayana. Mani thrust it on me. Really did.
  • Which explains why I didnt realize then but felt Karthik's initial tree-top antics were dumb, but realized later on the liken-to-Hanuman. :(
  • I think we need to establish two specific standards of measurement of a film's "success" - 1."Feel" during & after the movie and 2.What the director intends to convey/the way he wants his movie to be perceived and how it actually comes out.
  • Raavan, on 1, is fail. On 2, need to know what exactly Mani Ratnam has/had in mind.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Chicago Nagaram...Oru Kadalai Anubavam

[Old post...Written before I started blogging, just managed to get many of those out]

An important aspect of me that I, time and again, try to remind people who insist on calling me studious or “padips” is the fact that I am an erstwhile member of the VVK (Varuthapadaadha Valibar Kazhagam) and also served as Ko-Pa (Kozhgai Parappu) Cheyalaalar for a brief period, by virtue of the arrears that I “kept” in 4th sem AI & 5th sem DSP. (It is another issue that I managed to clear them in reval, backstabbing almost all of my comrades). However, by no means would I consider myself to have failed in either of them. My first proper experience of “failure” was, rather surprisingly, here, in the US of A. Having been a strong skeptic (for want of a better word) of girls, especially these last few years of my life, it was, as it is, difficult, getting good feminine comradeship here (also considering the admirable/noteworthy nature of my good girl friends back home [Note: No sarcasm or satire intended here]).
My prejudice against girls here living away from relatives/husband didn’t make things easier either. Hence, you might call it boredom/frustration or plain old joblessness (so characteristic of me) that made me attempt to roast some peanuts with this girl who studies at the same university as two of my close DAV friends. I had encountered this girl during my 11th standard at the IIT classes, and she was also one of the friends’ classmates during BE in Chennai. And as far as the “kadalai” attempt goes, in my opinion, I think you could say it was definitely a first, considering that it was intended “only” for that purpose – kadalai. Well, and to those disagreeing souls, I would just like to clarify that those instances that you would consider as “kadalai” were merely spontaneously innocent (re)actions that were NOT meant to be “kadalai”, just that they ended up appearing like that. Coming back to this particular (singular) attempt, circumstances also presented opportunities (by no means a justification/reason for ‘the attempt’), partly encouraging the kadalai, in that I had to call up this girl once to talk to one of my friends (don’t wish to comment/elaborate on what was/is going on between them).
I did not consider this girl particularly good-looking, but I think a possible premise could be my close friend’s constant accusation of my “supposed” liking for the fairer specimens of the fairer sex. As an integral part of the kadalai, I ended up calling the girl once after I had spoken to my friend. Well, the reason basically was that, the first time I had called the girl asking to talk to my friend, apparently, she had commented that my tone was rude and unfriendly (Naturally!). So it ended up that I called her summa this time and wondered [:P] if I really had been rude or unfriendly. And then the usual patter about her being padips for a few ten seconds. Then, I told her something that would possibly be one of the top contenders for “the worst pick-up line” (Well, I don’t think ‘pick-up’ line is apt in this case, since I was not even trying to route-uttufy her, but well, I guess, something like impress, well, forget it, some crap!), I told her – “Hey sorry, enakku kadalai pottu pazhakkam illai, so edhavadhu thappa sollitta kandukkadhe.” Whoa – coming to think of it now, that was some royal mess-up! But then, it was in accordance to my usual practice of “open-admittance”, which usually impressed people. But I think, usually what happened was, in “most” cases, people ended up being impressed by my frankness, but here, it was screwed because my intention was impressing, and not being frank, and I wanted to achieve the former by the latter, which is what led to the joke!
Apparently, the girl was bewildered, poor thing, unable to understand what I was trying to say, and quite rightly, I believe, unimpressed. I returned a wiser man after the misadventure, learning the modern management lesson – “Know the rules of the game well before beginning any new business venture.” Or, more simply, don’t venture into unknown territory without elders…

Saturday, June 19, 2010

PSBB Teachers 27 - Sunitha Mam

[Start of Series]

(Part 26 here)

Biology/Class Teacher - '99

Mrs.Sunitha Narsiah - Class IX was when we moved from TP Road to Main School. And we were all understandably slightly scared. And having Sunitha mam as our class teacher only increased it. She was not particularly popular among the students, and my proximity to her (I was Class Leader again) did no help to my reputation/likeability among friends (not that that was the only reason, there were one or two others as well :D). She was pretty authoritarian and unfriendly (though I felt she could be jolly when she wanted to be, but then again, that might be thanks to my supposed proximity to her). She was a pretty good Biology teacher too, though her being our class teacher overshadowed all that. Overall, an interesting experience with some definite positives for me, but would be interested to hear from some of the others as well, assuming it was majorly negative for most of them.

(Part 28 here)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Veetla Puli...Pulli illa, Puli

Basic matter: Iyengar ex-roomie+bro-like-buddy is engaged to ultra-mod-hip-Brahminism-aversion-having-Iyengar girl (not-entirely-necessary-bgm - the dude is from an extremely orthodox family though he has become quite over-liberal ever since he's been in the US, plus he's extremely good-looking, so flamboyant+semma_kadalai-types).

He'd described me as this semma pazham-type guy who'd not leave home without pattai (1/9th true), etc. to her & described her to me as semma_mod_Braahmna-baashai-hating "babe" (in his words) who hates all things associated with Brahminism & who isnt really bothered much about "culture". So much so that on more than one occasion, she had instructed him to speak with someone else after talking to me, before talking to her, since he apparently has a Brahmin-accent hangover after spending time with me. :D

Though I would normally have been interested in meeting a close friend's fiance (guy or girl ;-D) wasnt really planning on meeting her, simply based on his description of both of us to each other. And he also told she wouldnt "initiate"/be interested in a meet with me either, which kind of slightly pissed me off, since I had stuff for her, given by him and it would be height of oorga'ness if I gave the stuff to her to-be-in-laws.

Nevertheless, there was this curiosity abt how such a meet would go abt. esp since he said there were almost no commonalities except vegetarianism/"intellectuality" (in his opinion, we were both quite Intellectual folks though we didnt share opinions on most issues). Indha warning'kaagave was pretty convinced that either I'd make an ass of myself (going by past record with women, in general and esp with such types) or have a not-so-memory-worthy meeting. Which is why my interest was piqued when she herself called me a few days after I landed & suggested we meet up. So was he, and was as curious as me to know how the meet would go. I gave myself 30 minutes before either she got bored or we had some unpleasantness which would make us mutually try to leave.

Meet did happen, in Amethyst. And 'twas a good 2 hours. :D Plus viewings of Gautham Menon & Namitha. Interesting+fun session with her. She was quite surprised by me (me too, by her, though to lesser extent) and my ex-roomie was most amazed to hear of it. Mildly surprised myself, but I guess a dont-care-attitude + totally-being-myself + confidence of home ground wicket greatly helped.

Aah...the advantage of home ground, I tell you.