Sexually Transmitted Political Leadership

namfrel-v2n14-dynastyAbout a month back, I got an opportunity to listen to a talk given by Manish Sabharwal, the Chairman and Co-founder of Teamlease, an Indian Fortune 500 company, that provides human resources services to its clients and employs more than 125,000 people. Manish is a member of the National Skill Mission chaired by the Prime Minister of India and serves on various state and central government committees on education, employment and employability. I also got a chance to speak with him before and after the talk on themes such as employability, governance, and public policy. He spoke about the need for urbanization and creating new cities with a population of more than a million people. He also said that this could be achieved faster with decentralization – 29 chief ministers are more important than one Prime Minister, but the real solution lies in creating 100 real mayors. One of the anecdotes that I found particularly interesting was this – In 1924, Jawaharlal Nehru was the mayor of Allahabad, Rajendra Prasad was the mayor of Patna, C.R. Das was the mayor of Calcutta, and Sardar Patel was the mayor of Ahmedabad. There are letters from Nehru that talk about street lights and Patel about sanitation because mayoral elections were fought on issues like infrastructure. Then he added with a mischievous smile, “Can you imagine Nehru’s great-grandson writing letters about street lights in Delhi? What that says is that sexually transmitted Prime Minister-ship does not work.” Continue reading

Ray: The Master Storyteller

Satyajit Ray

Satyajit Ray was one of the most celebrated movie directors of the 20th century. His films won worldwide recognition and were regularly showcased at International Film Festivals. He even won an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement in the year 1992. Ray not only scripted and directed his films, but also scored them and designed the publicity material for them. An artist, an all-rounder, a genius.

However, this post is not about Satyajit Ray, the movie director; it is about Satyajit Ray the author. I’m not going to put up any pretensions and say that I love Ray’s films. Honestly, I cannot relate much to them. Not for me the arty world cinema; I am the popcorn munching casual moviegoer, who has been brought up on a staple diet of Hollywood extravaganzas and kitschy Hindi movies. However, I am a huge fan of Satyajit Ray, the author. I love his books and I’ve read them over and over again. His stories have fascinated me, tickled me, made me cry, and regularly transported me into a world of imagination.

Writing was probably in Ray’s blood. His grandfather Upendrakishore Roychowdhury and father Sukumar Ray were prominent literary figures in Bengal. His grandfather had set up a printing press in Calcutta and the Ray family published a few Bengali magazines. It was for these magazines that Ray wrote most of his stories. I’ve read several of his short stories and novellas and have loved each one of them. Continue reading