Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Rumble on Ramayana


I grew up on Ramayana and Mahabharatha in my childhood, the illustrated versions though. As I matured into an immature fierce leftist, I devoured the book Ramayana Visha Vruksham (Ramayana- The Poisonous Tree ) by another immature leftist writer, Ranganayakamma. Though I loved the book at that point of time and used to quote profusely from the book to prove Rama did not exist, a decade later ( matured into an immature Capitalist sympathizer) when I re-read the book, I realized it was a complete trash. The adage, “ If you cannot dazzle them with brilliance, confuse them with bull shit” suits best for this book. The point I wanted to make is two or three decades back a writer could trash Ramayana and Rama and still not get beaten up or shot at. We did not have then the saffron brigade demolishing mosques and lynching communities or green berets planting RDX in temples and public places. So it was very amusing to me following the recent high drama on the Rama Sethu ( Adam’s bridge ), where every politician had a ready sound bite.

This piece is just an attempt at humour. Malice to None.

A film buff like me who has dreams of making a film one day but doesn’t have money applies to National Film Development Corporation for finance to produce Ramayana. The NFDC did not want to take a call on its own scared of the controversy that has recently blown across the country. So NFDC formed a committee with all government departments to go through the script and comment. Here are the comments from each of the departments.

The National Commission for Women:- We strongly object to the portion of the script where Dasaratha is shown as bygamous having more than one wife. That portion needs to be deleted.

The Ministry of Child Welfare and Family Planning:- The script shows Dasaratha having four children. This negates all the progress we have made in convincing people to have not more than two children. The script needs to be amended accordingly.

The Ministry of Labour:- War being a hazardous industry, and Viswamithra has used both Rama and Laxmana in war with Demons while both of them are still minors , this depiction will be construed as a case of child labour. Also there is no record of being paid any compensation. This may also be deemed to be violatory of the provisions of The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 and Minimum Wages Act, 1948. Such references in the script may be removed.

The Ministry of Women Welfare:- Sitha appears to be a minor at the time of marriage. This depiction can be construed as violation of Child Marriage Act. Such reference should be removed from the script.

Home Ministry:- The entire episode of Ravana and Maricha plotting and executing the abduction of Sitha is a punishable crime. Maricha should be booked for abetting abduction and Ravana booked for abduction. The script needs to be suitably amended.

The Ministry of Animal Welfare:- The episode of building Rama Sethu by Monkeys and making them participate in the war is depicting Violation of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Hence this needs to be deleted.

The Minitsry of Women Welfare:- The depiction of Sitha being asked to enter the fire pit to prove her purity falls under the purview of IPC 498 A, which is enacted to prevent husbands mistreating the wives. This is a non- bailable offense. This portion should be deleted.

In view of the above recommendations from various ministries, the NFDC finds itself with no script at all. Hence, NFDC informs the applicant, it is not in a position to finance the film.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Genocide in India





It was 1991. I held gingerly the bundle of joy, my little daughter born less than an hour ago. The doctor congratulated me on becoming a father and added I was lucky for having a girl child because by the time she grows up some 25 years later, there will be dearth of women due to the skewed sex ratio and I might even get dowry in reverse. I laughed out aloud.
Just 16 years later, it is no more a laughing matter. The belief that women will attain a better status because of their scarcity has been proved a myth. Far from the shortage of women increasing their worth and standing in society, as people like me and the good doctor have imagined, the result is just the opposite. Women are now being trafficked in increasing numbers to some Indian states like Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh from Southern states.. Some are sold into marriage. Others are forced to engage in polyandry – becoming wife to more than one man, often brothers. Those that fail to produce sons are often abandoned, sometimes killed. This further perpetuates the cycle of prejudice and injustice, ensuring many women themselves prefer to give birth to a son to ensure no child of theirs suffers a similar fate.
Unicef recently concluded that the alarming decline in the childsex-ratio in India is likely to result in more girls being married at a younger age, more girls dropping out of education, increased mortality as a result of early child-bearing and an associated increase in acts of violence against girls and women such as rape,abduction, trafficking and forced polyandry.
Although sex-selection tests have been illegal in India since 1994, unwanted female babies are now being aborted on such a staggering scale that it is estimated India has lost 6 to 10 million girls in the past 20 years.. While abortions have long been legal in India, choosing to terminate pregnancy because of the child’s sex is not. One recent Unicef report estimated that currently 7,000 fewer girls are born in India every day because of sex-selective abortion amounting to more than 2 million “missing girls” a year.”
Female foeticide is the result of the deadly alliance between the traditional preference for sons and the modern medical technology, the increasing greed of doctors, the rising demand for dowry that makes daughters financial burdens and the ineffectiveness of PNDT Act in fighting these problems. Female infanticides in most places have been replaced by female foeticide.
Dr Puneet Bedi, a respected obstetrician specialising in foetal medicine and advisor to the Indian government says,“Just as throughout history euphemisms have been used to mask mass killings, terms like ‘female foeticide’, ‘son preference’ and ‘sex selection’ are now being used to cover up what amount to illegal contract killings on a massive scale, with the contracts being between parents and doctors somehow justified as a form of consumer choice,”
This is Genocide against women and this must be urgently arrested. The government has to focus on this by encouraging birth of girl children. A hundred thousand rupees in fixed deposit for 21 years in the name of every girl child born for the next five years, free school education with high scholarship amounts for college education, shoot the doctor and the father for any violation of Pre-Natal Determination Test Act can to a large extent arrest this disturbing trend.
We are nearing a dangerous phase where testosterone-charged males will be running amok.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Papillon- Book Review



I read some books again and again. Not immediately though. Re-reading is done once every few years. I am always surprised to find some new insight even when I am reading it for the 4th or 5th time. Must be because as you age you mature like wine and things that you would skip with out a thought five or ten years back would hold you by neck and shake you now. Or it could be that I am a slow learner.

So when I read Papillon , ( someone who claims to have known French told me that it is pronounced with both LL s and N silent) may be 5th or 6th time after I bought the book some time after the movie with the same name was released late 70s, the extra-ordinary character of Papillon gets revealed more and more. The strong will to survive at any cost and break free from the inhuman French penal system, the goodness of the person not to succumb to the wild pleasures and passions of convicts in prisons, always standing for his friends and helping them even in life threatening situations, perseverance, endurance and never never even for a moment neglecting his goal- the Break. The character was portrayed brilliantly in the film by Stev Mcqeen as Papillion and Dustin Hoffman as his friend Dega.

This book hits the reader real hard. Right from the opening line ""It was a knock out blow— a punch so overwhelming that I didn't get back on my feet for fourteen years...".Papillon is a real life account of the author Henri Charriere ( in the picture here) who was wrongly sentenced for a crime he didn't commit, when he was 25. The book is an account of the years he has spent in French Guiana and the attempts to escape. In one attempt he sails a small boat along with his two friends more than a 1000 miles and reaches Trinidad and Columbia. As fate would have it, he is handed back to French authorities who puts him back in French Guiana, this time in a solitary confinement . His story describes the nine escape attempts he made from jail, finally securing his freedom in Venezuela. The suffering and anguish that he endures during his 13 years in captivity leaves the reader breathless and in awe of the courage this man possessed. You finish reading Papillon and you put the book down feeling that anything is possible.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dirty Dow

“ Bhopal isn’t only about charred lungs, poisoned kidneys and deformed foetuses. It’s also about Corporate crime, multinational skullduggery, injustice, dirty deals, medical malpractice, corruption, callousness and contempt for the poor. Nothing else explains why the victims’ average compensation was just $500- for a life time of misery…… yet the victims haven’t given up. Their struggle for justice and dignity is one of the most valiant anywhere. They have unbelievable energy and hope ---- the fight has not ended. It won’t, so long as our collective conscience stirs.” Outlook India 7 Oct 2002

On the eve of the silver jubilee anniversary of the horrific tragedy, the mind less, sense less, soul less Government of India has quietly allowed the Dow Chemicals to set up a research center in Maharashtra, through an MoU with the department of industrial policy and promotion. The department is also preparing a note requesting the Union Cabinet to delink Dow from legal liabilities for the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster. Till now the government held back from permitting Dow fearing strong opposition from civil rights groups and the IIT alumni which has successfully called for a boycott of Dow by IITians. In spite of several cases pending against Dow in Bhopal and several PILs in Supreme Court, the government is paving the way for Dow to enter from backdoor. This is an insult to the 20,000 dead and hundreds of thousands still suffering due to Dow Chemicals continuous refusal to share data on toxic affects of the deadly MIC gas and its refusal to own up even cleaning the huge dump of chemicals still lying at the Bhopal factory, the residue of which sinks into the ground monsoon after monsoon. The picture here taken from http://www.bhopal.net/ is an indication of how a new generation is being poisoned. It is a shame that Indian business tycoons are actively lobbying for Dow’s entry.

The Dirty Dow:
Several colleges and universities in the US have passed resolutions condemning Dow and urging their Institutions to sever all ties with the company unless it resolves its responsibilities in Bhopal. Indian IIT alumni association has called for a boycot of Dow by IITians.

Amnesty Indicts

In December 2004, Dow earned the dubious distinction of becoming the first corporation ever indicted by Amnesty International for violations of human rights. In fact, in its report, Amnesty International cites Bhopal as the prime example of the need for binding human rights standards that can be universally applied to multinational corporations .

During the Vietnam War, Dow became the sole supplier of napalm to the United States military. Napalm, an incendiary liquid used as a weapon in Vietnam, led to human casualties that were widely displayed in the news media, which shook the conscience of the world. There were wide spread protests against Dow but Dow's board of directors voted to continue production of napalm.
Another infamous chemical of Vietnam war , Agent Orange, sprayed liberally on the forests of Vietnam by the U.S. to wipe out the forest cover so that helicopter gun ships can fire at Vietcong. The chemical made its way into the food chain and was linked to a major increase in birth defects among Vietnamese people. In 2005, a lawsuit was filed by Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange against Dow and Monsanto, which also supplied Agent Orange to the military.

Dow has settled multiple law suits in the US and elsewhere giving away billions in compensation but steadfastly refuses even to clean up the factory at Bhopal not to mention the compensation liability it has inherited from Union Carbide.

Action:

We have to stop Dow from escaping the legal liabilities through a Government Order. Citizen action and pressure campaigns through e mail may help. Given below is a link which allows you to send e-mail to H.R. Bhardwaj, Minister of Law & Justice, Oscar Fernandes, Minister of Labour & Employment and Kamal Nath, Minister of Commerce & Industry.

http://www.studentsforbhopal.org/EmailAction07/email_action.php
The fight has not ended. It won't, so long as our collective conscience stirs.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Road- A book review

Cormac McCarthy !! Never heard of him, was my first reaction when the book The Road was presented to me by my teen daughter, Monica. I flipped through the pages and was further disappointed as there were one-liner long conversations and more than necessary gaps between paragraphs. I was sure it was a ploy by the publisher to make the book look bulky enough to attract potential buyers while on travel. Monica was anxious that the precious euros she had spent on the book at a Paris airport did not rouse my immediate interest. I could not have been more wrong in my assumptions. What a book it is. And what a writer McCarthy is. I have never come across any writer better than McCarthy who can write prose that sounds like poetry.

The Road is a tale of a boy and his father stumbling across the cold, wretched, wet, corpse-strewn, ashen landscape of a post-apocalyptic world, six or seven years after a horrific disaster, probably a nuclear war, which incinerates most of the humans and the landscape that might once have been America. We follow father and son as they walk , pushing a shopping cart, scavenging through empty houses and gutted cities, hiding and running away from gangs reduced to cannibalism and sub-human madness. Their destination is South. The father has just two bullets in the gun for their protection or for killing themselves.

Neither the man nor the boy is given a name. They are referred as “the man” and “ the boy”. The tenderness between them and constant haunting fear gives an animal urgency to their long march. McCarthy maintains the pace by keeping each scene barely more than a paragraph long. And the gaps between paragraphs can be a gap of a few minutes to few days. This has given the book a raw power and rhythm, as if the book was not composed of sections but stanzas in a poem. Every time father or son moves more than a few feet away from the other, a panic intrudes as we read. It is the tense chord of the lost child suspended in our heart, the worst thing about to happen, and McCarthy does it again and again. Few will be able to read The Road without running to hold their own children close. The mother of the boy is only in the memories of the man. The scene is not described but it is implied that she committed suicide losing her will to go through the horrors of the new world.

As we read, we are constantly reminded of the lost human world. All the lost possessions of the human race litter the pages of this novel as garbage and junk. It is haunted by the constant memory of the world before the apocalypse. The shell of that world is still partially there, empty houses and stores and other structures. Highways, bridges, railroad tracks are all still there and may still be there, as the man explains to the boy, for hundreds of years to come. But the human world, the world that created those objects, is wholly gone.
There are other humans too on the land. They appear as wrecks stumbling along the road, or bands of refugees marching military style with yoked slaves in tow, or a small family group that locks up refugees in the basement and cannibalizes them one by one. These are the “bad men.” The boy often asks his father who the good and the bad men are. He is worried by some of the acts his father has committed. The father kills a man who holds a knife to the boy’s throat, and he refuses to give food to various people they pass. He refuses because he wants to ensure his son’s own survival, and they have nothing to share.
The man has no idea what he and the boy will do when they reach the South. He doesn’t expect to be rescued, to find “good” people who will take him and the boy in. Every human being they run across is a danger, to be avoided. Moreover, the man is ill. He coughs up blood, and over the course of the novel he weakens. He knows he is going to die and the boy knows that too. The man knows the boy will outlive him and at first he thinks about killing the child to save him from the horrors of the new world, but ultimately he knows he cannot kill the boy, even out of love. He loves the boy too much.
Finally they reach the coast and then South. The man dies and the boy is taken in by a family. Despite all the despair and pessimism, The Road ends on a note of muted optimism.
The novel is a warning to the World that our own recklessness may destroy everything, not just in the materialistic sense but also in the Spiritual sense.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Banker To The Poor - A book review





The book Banker To The Poor by Muhammad Yunus, a Professor of Economics in Bangladesh shatters several myths surrounding the principles of banking. Yunus has dedicated his life to make his vision a reality. With unstinted commitment to his vision, he has made the poorest of the poor in Bangladesh improve their economic status through micro-credit. Started in 1983, Grameen Bank established on the principle of credit as a basic human right and the concept of collateral to a loan favours only a few privileged, the bank now disburses 2.5 billion dollars of micro-loans to more than two million families in rural Bangladesh. Ninety-four percent of the clients are women and repayment rates are near 100 percent. Around the world, micro-lending programs inspired by Grameen are blossoming, with more than three hundred programs established in the United States alone.

Muhammad Yunus also exposes the International Donor Institutions way of functioning and how they only feed the International consultants, suppliers and donor agency officials. The book is also Muhammad Yunus's memoir of his life from childhood to adulthood and how he decided to change his life in order to help the poor and the challenges he has faced in establishing Grameen Bank. He practically dispelled the myths associated with giving credit to the poor. The commercial banks always insist on collateral and suspicious that poor will not repay and so do not extend loans. Truth is the reverse. It is the rich who cheat the banks by not repaying loans claiming their industrial units have become sick. This also very well applies to India where 40 billion USD was written off by National banks as bad debts by industrial units. For Muhammad Yunus, it is a crusade in "putting homelessness and destitution in a museum so that one day our children will visit it and ask how we could have allowed such a terrible thing to go on for so long." The definitive history of micro-credit direct from the man that conceived of it, Banker to the Poor is necessary and inspirational reading for anyone interested in economics, public policy, philanthropy, social history, and business. And above all to understand poverty and how the Poor desperately want to come out of it to have Roti, Kapada, Makan ( Food, Clothing and House) all 365 days.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The World Is Flat











Though I had this book presented to me over a year ago at a corporate event, I had put it down after 10 pages. Recently, I had an opportunity to attend a lecture by Friedman and this has kindled my interest in the book. However, in the end his 45 minute address was far more interesting than the 450 page book. The book excites the reader for a moment with insights and the next moment frustrates as the narrative loses the focus.

Friedman basically is a cheerleader for globalization. Friedman writes that the world has now entered the era of "Globalization 3.0. The Globalization 1.0, which ran from 1490 until 1800 and was driven by mostly European countries through colonization by force and Globalization 2.0 starting 1900 was led by US multinational companies driven to look abroad for markets and labor. That has ended around 2000, replaced by the individual of every race and country with the aid of global fiber-optic network that has made us all next-door neighbors -- connecting, competing, collaborating.

In particular, Friedman is obsessed with one of the greatest recent economic phenomena- the outsourcing of services and information-technology work to India. However, Friedman over estimates its novelty. Globalization or level playing field ( flat world ) is not new. Manufacturing outsourcing to China, supply chains from diverse countries has been in vogue for the last 2 decades. Like wise the start of Dell from scratch taking on the mighty IBM, or Apple’s i-pod that has swept away all the personal audio players from market have been possible because of the level playing field only. What must have intrigued Friedman to make this journey to India is to understand how can a Jerry Rao, Azim and the like from a Third World country could have been an international success. Friedman has been Foreign affairs columnist of New York Times for long and we can understand the reason for his dismay at suddenly discovering outsourcing to India and China will affect the western economies.

If one can bare with the emphasis on first person ( the “I” in the key board must have worn out) and at times dragging monologue, the book will be lively and provocative to all those who remained locked up in a cup board for the last decade.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum- Film review


The Bourne Ultimatum is the last of the Bourne trilogy by the author Robert Ludlum. The first book Bourne Identity and the second Bourne Supremacy were also best sellers and adapted as films with the same titles.

But this last film of the trilogy directed by Paul Greengrass is the ultimate in film making. The full affect of the film is felt only after coming out of the theatre as throughout the entire near two hours of the film, one's heart throbs in the throat. Even the comfort of an automatic full reclining sofa seat with a liveried waiter at my elbow in one of the most luxurious cinema halls in Melbourne could not stop me from just sitting at the edge of the seat completely gripped unmindful of the luxury pervasive all around. It is a classic film in the action genre and will certainly be regarded as one of the best action films ever produced.

Matt Damon as Jason Bourne is terrific consumed by his intense desire to find out about those who have turned him into a soul less killer machine. He closes on the Treadstone group with the help of a clue from a journalist. But Bourne encounters hit men who are hell bent on snuffing out any one who comes into contact with him. The action scenes are breath taking and Paul Greengrass uses camera in a very novel way to make the fight sequences chaotic but at the same time giving a feeling to the viewer of being there as a part.

Though the book came out long before the Patriotic Act of the US, the story line jolts us to the stark reality of what happens when a rouge intelligence agency usurps power to order assassinations and sanction torture with no questions asked, all in the garb of protecting its citizens. When the CIA investigator asks the Treadstone director where and when it will end, the director replies, “ when we have won.”
The film ends with the agency being exposed to the Senate.

The film is a masterpiece.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Everyone Loves A Good Drought- Book review


The book Everyone Loves A Good Drought by P Sainath was first published in 1996 and was reprinted several times later. I bought the book only a few weeks back. As I began to read, I was numbed to the point of depression. The book is a compilation of articles Sainath penned during 1992 , when on a Times of India fellowship he has toured some of the poorest districts in the country to know how the poorest of the poor citizens of free India eke out a living in rural areas. While each article focuses on an individual or a small group, it becomes clear to the reader that there are millions and millions of people in villages under similar conditions. Sainath takes head on the myth being spread by the government and the media that poverty is at least receding in India. Sainath dispels the myth in this compelling account of the realities of rural poverty. In a style that avoids sensationalism and sticking to the facts through well-researched accounts of the living conditions of the majority of Indians, Sainath brings out the apathy, idiocy and gross injustice of the government machinery to the open. And the incredible courage with which the poor battle to lead a life with dignity.

Everybody Loves a Good Drought is full of insights into what is wrong with existing development processes in highly inequitable poor societies. The book also has occasional sprinklings of “what went right” experiences. The book is divided into sections and each article is a story. There is a story of a super hi- tech coal mining project in one of the most backward regions- Godda in Bihar, which creates jobs for not more than 1300 people- many of them from outside the region. Meanwhile, the foreign consultant, a Canadian MNC, has been involved in transactions worth Rs. 645 crores, out of the total outlay of Rs. 966 crores. The mine destroys the lives of people living in 12 villages. Another article brings out how in a loan mela cows were given to a tribe not realizing that the tribe does not consume milk products at all but consumes beef. The cows ended up as dinner and the members of the tribe in a life long debt trap.

Then there is the case of the residents of a village called Chikpaar. The village was first acquired in 1968 for the MiG jet fighter project for Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The 500 families were evicted and they moved to another location (on the land they owned themselves) and resettled there, nostalgically naming the new village as Chikpaar. In 1987, the families were evicted again for the Kolab multi- purpose project. The villagers again resettled at another place. However, they received eviction notices for the third time for another development project. Needless to say, the displaced persons were paid a pittance as compensation that too after several years.

Then there is this incredible story of villagers being evicted every time the army conducts a firing exercise and paid one rupee fifty paise a day, that is less than 5 cents a day for the pains. A government official himself demands from the author: “What if residents of Malabar Hill in Bombay have to evacuate each time the navy has an exercise ? And are paid Rs. 1.50 a day for their pains ? This is happening here because the people are tribals. Since this is a backward, cut- off region.”
Sainath also exposes the politics in declaring an area as drought hit and the political-bureaucratic-contractor nexus in cornering the drought relief funds.
There are stories upon stories like these- Sainath has captured an entire landscape of people. Through story after story , the book attempts to correct the `event' approach which the majority of the media, government and society at large take to view India's problems simplistically as singular aberrations, rather than taking a broader `process' approach, which looks less at immediate causes.

Finally the book is a scathing indictment of the educated elite in this country. The Indian elite, specially the middle class, which has climbed the ladder of opportunities and prosperity that come with this very ‘development’, has kicked the ladder. In other words, the middle class has climbed on the heads and shoulders of the poor in India, and has forgotten them.
A must read book.

Palagummi Sainath is the son of India's former President V V Giri’s daughter and has dedicated his time to reporting on rural issues.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

India at Crossroads






India is at crossroads. The country is on the verge of making another " tryst with destiny". Sixty years ago, Nehru said, "At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance."
How sad! Even after 60 years of Independence, this democratic nation’s soul has not found utterance. The soul of this nation has been the middle-class. Largely educated and ambitious, the middle-class in India moulds the public opinion.
But sadly, the middle-class is in a delirium. It is cheering itself for the growth rates, GDPs, Forex reserves, FDI and bull runs. It thumps on its chest reeling out statistics of how many more of its class were added to the millionaire club. The fact that this is a wafer thin portion of the society is blithely ignored. In its delirious state, it has forgotten that increase in wealth and income for a few million people does not lead to well being of the entire population. It has turned a blind eye to the institutionalizing of political-bureaucratic-business nexus, which siphons off public funds and loots the public exchequer. Corruption in India is the direct result of the rich wanting to be super rich. Policy making is increasingly subverted to favour this wafer thin layer of the super rich. Through special laws, thousands of acres of cultivable land is forcibly acquired from small farmers and handed over to super rich ostensibly for the good of the country. Those who protest get a bullet in the head. About 40 billion dollars is the bad debt owed by companies to public sector banks, much of which was written off. The same banks seize property of farmers for default of a few thousand rupees loan. The √©litist orientation of public policy in India has intensified during the recent period of "economic reform." Today, India's international credit rating and the "sentiment" of the stock market receive far more attention in economic policymaking than the lives of its poor. The indifference of the ruling class to the farmers’ suicides, growing malnutrition and the misery of the poor is monumental. The poor do not have means for a proper education with the kind of quality of government schools and colleges. The poor do not have means for a healthy life with the kind of quality of medicare in government hospitals. The political class does not make any attempt to improve the standards of institutions that are exclusively frequented by the poor. Instead, crumbs are thrown through some ‘poverty alleviation’ programmes, an unavoidable necessity and a concession to electoral compulsions.
Even 60 years after Independence, 800 million, close to two-thirds of the population are trapped in poverty. And with poverty comes malnutrition, disease, deprivation, inequality and injustice. The Planning Commission, a government body, in its report states that 28% of the population was living below the poverty line in 2006, down from 51% in 1977, and 36% in 1993. The government proclaims that poverty is drastically reduced basing on these statistics. Look at the numbers from a different perspective. In 1977 India population is 500 million so 51% of it is 255 million. In 1993 the population is 800 million and 36% is 288 million and in 2006 we were at 1.1 billion and 28% is 300 million. And what determines the poverty line. Hold your breath. Monthly per capita consumption expenditure below Rs. 356 for rural areas and Rs. 538 for urban areas. That is ten and twenty rupees a day, in dollar terms 25 and 50 cents a day. So 300 million people live in abysmal poverty. Another 300 million earn close to a dollar a day but are counted as above the poverty line. So 600 million do not have two square meals a day. Another 200 million barely manage to eke out a living earning 2 to 3 dollars a day, about a hundred rupees a day. In this dismal scenario, what would be the fate of children. The third National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) of 2005-06 shows that nationwide 46 per cent of children under three are undernourished. Severe malnutrition leading to high infant and child mortality puts India low (126th in 2006), in the United Nation’s Human Development Index (HDR), a key indicator of the well-being of populations. Statistics indicate that 2.5 million children die in India every year, accounting for one in five deaths of children in the world. The HDR of 2006 points out that despite a steady growth of GDP in the country, the decline in child mortality has remained stagnant.
Time and again, the teeming millions of poor have changed governments through democratic process with the hope that their lot will be improved. But successive governments have failed them miserably. This paradox of having the power to change governments but powerless to change the exploitative and unequal economic order will imperil democracy itself. The signs are already tell tale. The “disturbed areas” declared by the government constitute one-thirds of India where armed extremists run parallel governments. Is inequality a cause for the increase in armed insurgency. The World History tells us that large scale poverty spawns Dictators, tyranny and lawlessness.
Markets must flourish but masses should not be left behind to rot. A booming middle class, corporate profits, bull runs in stock market alone cannot sustain democracy, when over two-thirds of the population struggle to get two meals a day.


India is at cross roads. If it takes the road of compelling the political system to formulate policies that improve the basic facilities like public distribution system, education, healthcare and implement them without funds being siphoned off, democracy will flourish.
India is at cross roads. If it takes the road of continuing subverting all systems to benefit a million super rich and frame policies to please the 200 million middle-class, the day is not distant for anarchy to prevail.
Indifference is a sin. The soul of this nation- the powerful middle class- has to find utterances to make India awake to a quality life and freedom from poverty. That moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Losing is Winning !














The Fruit Therapy I have followed for several weeks has ended. One can see the physical transformation that has taken place in a few weeks- 6 weeks to be precise- from the before and after pics posted here. Now I am in the process of arriving at a diet regimen which will help me to maintain the transformation ( will blog it soon ). I can understand the immense interest the diet regimen has generated amongst all the people known to me and their persistence for more details on the aftermath. Not many cared about detoxification affects though. About 15 kilos of weight and 10 cms of waist loss cannot escape attention, astonishment and admiration in these days of lean and lithe females scorching the TV sets, in tow with the tucked-in tummy-bulging-biceps-bodied male gigolos swaying them off their feet.

Buxom has slowly become an archaic word in English language.

Losing weight has become a winning proposition ! And big business too !!

Lose to Win:
However intelligent, liberal minded, laissez-faire approach we have or think we have, the fact is most of us are not completely free from being influenced by the prejudiced thought process of majority society, that is if we ourselves are not completely clouded by our own prejudices. Being lean is right ( not from the health point of view) is one of those strong prejudices we carry, not only with in ourselves but also into our work culture. Our prejudiced minds perceive a lean person cutting across a corridor in the office with the gait of an athlete as a competent person in motion in comparison to a fat person rolling along huffing and puffing. It matters little even if the lean person is a lotus-eater and the fat one a conscientious worker. Our prejudices outweigh what is right. That is the reason why hordes of those trying to lose weight are professionals-- working men and women because they are privy to the fact that the lean one gets a fat bonus and the fat one a lean bonus. So the scales tip for all those overweight professionals in favour of shedding the flab.
Losing weight & losing waist not synonymous
Weight loss is different from losing the excess circumference of a particular portion of the body, waist for men and hips for women- the apple and pear shape. While attempts to reduce the waist and hips will also reduce the overall weight to an extent, the approach to these two objectives are different though the twain meets midway. If you are a well-rounded personality ( overweight uniformly from top to bottom) the fruit therapy helps you to detoxify as well as reduce weight. After you lose 15 to 20% of your weight, you will notice that the waist or hips still protrude ( more visible now ) and refuse to cave in. It is essential to follow an exercise regimen to reduce the protrusions. Again to our minds, prejudiced by the incessant bombardment of visual media, the word exercise brings in images of an opposite gender twisting and twirling in figure-tight outfit but never someone practicing yoga. However passé yoga has become currently, there is no other quicker , safer and affective way of dealing with waist / hip reductions. It is as good as a cosmetic surgery without the use of knife.
Yoga is Panacea
Like many, I too was initially put off by the illustrations in the yoga books. The postures seemed improbable and beyond reach, literally and figuratively. I have later learnt that the beauty of the Yoga is that none needs to attain the perfect posture as illustrated in the books but even an attempt towards the posture will yield excellent results over a period of time. The book by Dr. Manthena Satyanarayana Raju, Aasanalu- Aarogyaniki Saasanalu ( Yogic postures- laws for health ) gives detailed analysis of the method to do the asanas. However, the book is in Telugu. Fortunately, there are hundreds of books in English too. The two asanas that benefit most for waist and two for hip reduction are given below.
1)Asana for Lower tummy reduction:- Uthdhana Padasana
2) Asana for Upper tummy reduction:- Noukasana.

1) Asanas for hip reduction:- Salabhasanam
2) Asanas for thigh reduction:- Supta Vajrasanam

Both these asanas are to be practiced in that order for a few seconds in the initial days and a minute or two later on.
These are simple asanas which one can practice at home with the aid of a book / or even a printed copy of a write up on those particular asanas with clear illustrations.
Weight is Right but Protrusions are Left

For those who are at right weight but retain the protrusions like concave tummies or hips, the reasons need to be examined. Is it because of those Kingfishers or Budweisers you consume in abundance over the week-end or is it because of your eating habits like fascination for fries or having a sweet tooth. Is a complete change in eating habits necessary, or do you just need to cut back a little on sweets or restrain polishing off an entire plate of cashew along with the beer. If you are closer to the weight which you think is right for you, you may not need to start a full-scale weight-reduction program. You may follow the fruit therapy for a week / once a week / replace one meal with fruits. To make the concave protrusions flat, follow the Yoga Asanans as mentioned above regularly.
Weight Watch:
For permanent weight loss, you also need to learn sound eating habits. Balance has to be maintained in choosing the foods and moderation is the key. While fruit therapy may take the extra weight off and Yoga cuts the protrusions for the time being, a successful life-long weight control depends upon YOU and not upon any particular program. Watch your weight regularly but do not be a slave to the scale.
After a couple of months, I shall post the diet I am taking to maintain the transformed physique and the affects it has. Keep a watch on the blog.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Flags of Our Fathers- A review


I have grown up on Clint Eastwood in adolescence and later when a little bit matured admired Speilberg. So when the two blend their cinematic creative juices, nothing could stop me from viewing the film – Flags of Our Fathers.

Flags of our Fathers follows the lives of three surviving members who raised the American flag in 1945 a second time atop a hill in a tiny island Iowa Jima and how the government used these three individuals and the media to sell war bonds to the American public. The film is very critical on the way war is sold to the public.
The film depicts war scenes to make the viewer understand that there's nothing glorifying about killing or to be killed on the battlefield. The only thing that matters is that you protect your friends in the battlefield and that they protect you. One of the characters, Ira Hayes , the native American ( Indian) says in the film, “ They fight for their country but they die for their friends.”
Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford and Adam Beach played by John "Doc" Bradley, Rene Gagnon and Ira Hayes respectively were partly responsible for the second American flag raising that graced newspapers and magazine covers all over the world.The photograph has become an iconic image of hope and American victory in WWII. But hold your breath- it is literally stage managed. When US marines took over the Island Iowa Jima in the Pacific off Japan in 1945 after a fierce and brutal battle , the American flag was raised on top of the hill. The flag was small and not imposing. So the commander sends a larger flag later and Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal snapped off this shot when the flag was being raised a second time. The photograph was all over the front pages of the US newspapers. The US government quickly sizes up the nations’s mood and parades the surviving members of the flag raisers in a cross-country tour to sell war bonds.
But the applause for heroism showered upon the three men is at odds with their own personal realizations that thousands of real heroes lie dead on Iwo Jima, and that their own contributions to the fight are only symbolic and not deserving of the accolades heaped upon them. Each of the three must come to terms with the honors, exploitation, and grief that they face simply for being in a photograph.
Clint eastwood uses flashback such extensively that one gets sometimes confused. The film is not an anti-war film but comes close to that genre.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Prawn Curry - The Source Code Recipe


Prawn Curry - Recipes Galore

One of my cousins, Jag, living in Australia wanted me to post in my blog recipes for curries in addition to pickles. He has specified the curries he wanted too. He said that both he and his wife have forgotten the recipes of these curries as they were too busy all these years cooking software code. His mother, my mother’s youngest sister, who was also my school mate will certainly be livid, if she comes to know that her beloved son has asked me recipes, while she is considered in our family circle as a very innovative cook.

While I may take small pleasure for such requests coming to me thereby acknowledging me as a cook of repute, if not par excellence, there is a flip side to all this labeling. Now-a-days, my wife gladly gives up her position in the kitchen to me in contrast to her earlier stand of yielding it very reluctantly. She must be bragging to her friends that she has one of those truly amazing creatures in her home ...... an Indian husband who loves to cook!

Cooking comes very naturally to me and I do it with great gusto, whenever I get into the mood. There is a great advantage in cooking when you don’t have to worry about cleaning dishes and the mess afterwards. When I try something new, I prefer not to use a fixed recipe and cook almost entirely according to the whim and taste. Usually it turns out to be tasty and exotic but occasionally a disaster. Then it will take all my ingenuity to repair the dish and make it edible.
Source Code:
So here is the code for a prawn curry. All measurements given here are approximate. As long as one sticks to moderation in adding ingredients, any curry will come out tasty. So consider this recipe as source code. As long as you don't corrupt the source code, you can develop N number of variations.


If you can get only whole prawns, don’t get disheartened. Removing head and shell is easy if the prawns are frozen for some time. Remember that Prawns have to be de-vined at home if de-vined prawns are not available in the market. Vine is nothing but the black thread like intestine of the prawn. At the junction point of the head and torso, one can see the black thread like intestine inside, which needs to be gently pulled out. If you find it difficult to remove, make a small slit at the back of the prawn and pull out the vein.

Ingredients:

1 kg prawns ( after head, shell are removed weight will be approx.600 gms.)
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
2 tsp powdered spices ( masala )
1 tsp salt to taste
1 tsp chilly powder to taste
3 to 4 green chillies- sliced vertically

Process:
Thaw the prawns at room temperature for an hour if they are straight from the fridge. Wash them thoroughly in water 3 to 4 times. Mix the prawns with a couple of tbsp curds and wash. This will remove any unpleasant odours the prawns might be emitting. Toss a big pinch of turmeric powder, mix well with prawns and wash for the last time. Drain the water thoroughly.
Mix salt and chilly powder with the prawns and keep aside.

Heat a saucepan. Add 2 tbsp oil. When oil is heated, toss in the sliced green chillies. After a few seconds, toss in the onions and fry until slightly brownish. Add garlic and ginger paste mix and fry together in a low flame for a minute till the garlic and ginger paste loses the pungent odour. Add the prawns and stir well so that onions and garlic ginger paste gets mixed well with the prawns. As you begin to fry, the prawns ooze water. Keep the lid and let them simmer for 10 minutes.
Water gets evaporated and a thick gravy is formed. If you want the curry to be completely dry, fry for some more time stirring well.

Put off the heat and sprinkle the powdered spices ( ready-made masala ) on the curry and stir once.

Garnish with fresh coriander if desired.

Serves for 4 to 5 persons in steamed rice or roti.
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There are umpteen ways of adding colour and spice to the same curry by adding something that gives a distinct taste. Depending on the added ingredient, adjust salt and chilly powder. Remember that the added ingredient should never be more than half of the prawns volume for best results.


Tomato prawns:
After the garlic and ginger paste is fried along with onions, add 4 medium sized tomatoes cut into pieces and let them simmer in their own juices for a few minutes before prawns are added. Add the juice of a lemon to the curry just before masala is added. Tastes better in a gravy curry.

Cucumber prawns:
Chop a cucumber to fine pieces, add to the saucepan when prawns begin to simmer and let them cook along with prawns. It turns into a fine gravy and tastes excellent. Those who want to retain the taste of cucumber can cut it to ¼ inch pieces and follow the same process. Tastes better in a gravy curry.
Snakegourd prawns:
Scrape off the thin outer filmy layer of the snake gourd with the blunt edge of a knife or a steel spoon. Slit it vertically and remove the seeds with a spoon. Cut into small pieces. Boil the pieces in a little bit of water ( pieces themselves ooze lot of water ) for five minutes. Put the pieces in a thin cloth and squeeze hard once or twice to squish out the juice. If the juice is not squished out, curry might have pungent odour but some like the odour. Add to the curry when prawns begin to simmer. Tastes better in a gravy curry.
Coconut prawns:
Grate half a medium sized coconut. Add when prawns begin to simmer. Fry the thick gravy till it is dry. Grated coconut can also be added after the gravy is fried to near dryness. Fry for a couple of more minutes. Tastes better in a fry curry.
If you want the coconut taste but wants gravy too, then put the grated coconut in a mixie and strain the coconut milk. When prawns begin to simmer, coconut milk can be added. Once the gravy becomes thick, curry is ready.

Chilly prawns:
Add 6 to 8 sliced green chillies after the curry is fried. Continue frying for a couple of minutes till the pungent smell of the chillies reaches you. Tastes better as a dry snack. It will be hot.

You can make a mixed prawn curry with ay vegetable you like.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Drumstick Pickle

















Drumstick tree known as Kalpataruvu ( giver of everything)

The drum stick tree is a very popular tree in villages. It gives the yummy vegetable year long without anyone taking care of the tree and every part of the tree has numerous benefits. Drumstick is a popular vegetable and is widely used in vegetable curries, sambar and rural folk use drumstick leaves for a variety of purposes from making curries to using as a natural antibiotic, anti-fungal to getting rid of leg spasms and ankle sprains. Drumstick leaf curry is a frequent dish for pregnant and lactating women for its high iron and Vitamin A content. A drumstick tree in each and every back yard with scores of drumsticks dangling is a common sight in villages. When I was a kid many drumstick trees in the backyards of my village were said to be more than 20 years old and I am surprised to see many of them still intact and in full productivity. That makes those trees more than 60 years old.

During the caterpillar season, no one goes near the tree. Hundreds of caterpillars swarm the tree and polish off the leaves in a few days time. May be those which eat the drumstick leaves will turn into a beautiful butterfly without fail.

The Pickle:

The recipe given here is unique as raw drumsticks are used to make the pickle. Raw Drumstick pickle, on the face of it, appears unusual and daunting. Though not very common like tomato or lemon, it is not unusual. It is also very tasty. The marinaded juice of the drumstick piece is heavenly and oozes non-stop as you munch and munch not wanting to part with it.

The pickle is also very easy to make.

Ingredients:

One KG drumsticks ( about 25 medium long fully mature drumsticks)
2 tbsp turmeric powder
250 gms tamarind
150 gms Chilly powder
150 gms crystal salt
100 gms garlic

2 tbsp fenugreek seed powder
500 gms oil for seasoning

Process:

Take about 25 drumsticks ( one Kg ). Select those that are not tender and the seed is a bit hardened. This will help the pieces to retain their shape even after pickling. Tender drumstick pieces, some time after pickling, will get soft and even soggy.

Wipe the drumsticks with a damp cloth first and then with a dry cloth. Cut the drumsticks to about 11/2 to 2 inches long pieces. Transfer the pieces to a non-metallic container which has a proper lid. Add a tsp oil to the pieces, 2 tbsp turmeric powder and mix well. Add salt to pieces and mix well. Peel the tamarind lump to smaller pieces and place at the bottom of the container. Place the lid firmly and let the pieces marinade overnight or for a day. Due to salt, the drumstick pieces will ooze water and the tamarind becomes soft.

Next day, take the drumstick pieces out.

Mix chilly powder, fenugreek seed powder and garlic paste with the water that has oozed and the tamarind turned soft in the container. For better mixing, you can put all the ingredients into mixer / grinder for a minute. Add the drumstick pieces and mix well.

Seasoning:

Heat the oil in the pan. Toss in 10 red chillies, 10 garlic flakes, 2 tsp polished green gram, I tbsp mustard seed and a handful of curry leaves.

After oil is cooled, mix well in the pickle. Transfer the pickle to glass jars / plastic bottles.
Wait for a couple of days before you start polishing it off.

The shelf life is one year.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Andhra Aavakaaya ( Mango Pickle )


I have been facing two major challenges during this last few weeks while making pickles. One is determining the quantities of the ingredients relying on senses other than taste ( as I am still on fruit therapy ) and the second is to resist tasting them in the rustic fashion. In villages, when pickle is made and packed into containers, the leftover residue of the pickle in the original container is mixed with rice and fistfuls of this pickle rice is passed on to the household members. It is yummy!

Among all the pickles in Coastal Andhra, two pickles find a special place in the hearts of the village folk. Gongoora pickle (Indian sorrel leaves / sour greens ) is referred by poets as Andhra Matha meaning Mother of Andhra. The second one is Aavakaaya pickle ( mango pickle) . Aavakaaya can be called as the King of the Pickles. There are umpteen varieties in this pickle. Cut mango, full baby mango, jaggery mango, raw pulp mango, dried mango are some of the well known varieties.

The Tradition:
For someone hailing from coastal Andhra, heavenly bliss is eating Aavakaaya ( mango pickle) with cooked toor dal paste ( pigeon pea paste / Kandi Pappu cooked as Mudda Pappu ) in steaming rice with a generous sprinkling of Ghee( clarified butter). The pickle has a special place in the hearts of the people and woven intricately into the social fabric.
In villages, making mango pickle is a social event involving most of the household, domestic helpers and neighbors. Planning starts at least a few weeks in advance with procuring the right variety of chillies and making them into powder, gingelly oil and paying advance amount to reserve fixed number of mangoes from specific trees, the fruits of which have proved over the years to retain the sour taste and hardness till the next season. On the D-day, mangoes are plucked fresh, washed, cloth dried and the muscular male member of the family or strongest of male domestic helpers take the responsibility of cutting the mangoes into uniform sized pieces with a huge cutter. While the womenfolk busy themselves in readying the spices and powders, the children sit around the mango cutter envying him and scrape the wafer thin layer on the stone of the mango with steel spoons. All the ingredients are mixed with the pieces immediately. The shelf life of the pickle, especially the mango pieces retaining the taste and hardness, is a matter of prestige to the women folk and a subject matter of discussion amongst them. The reputation of a housewife as an excellent pickle maker can be made or marred by the way mango pickle turns out to be.

Me living in a city lacks all this excitement where everything is available over the shelf. However, I wanted to re-live at least part of this excitement. Last year, I looked at the recipe and it appeared very simple and easy. I tried making the pickle with the confidence of a pro and bit the dust or rather mustard powder. So this year I have armed myself with the recipe from my mother, learnt the nuances of which ingredient should go in first and the process and set myself to make a big hot splash. I have succeeded fairly well in the Endeavour.

Here are the recipes for Aavakaaya ( cut mango) and Magai ( dried mango) pickles.

Avakaaya ( cut Mango Pickle ) :

Ingredients
12 medium size raw sour mangoes
250 gms mustard powder
250 gms red chili powder ( to be increased if chilly powder is not hot enough to be fiery)
500 gms crystal salt ( powdered)
150 gms fenugreek seeds powder
250 gms garlic ( paste)
250 gms peeled garlic flakes1 kg sesame seed oil ( gingelly oil)

Method
Choose the mangoes carefully. They have to be fully mature, yet raw and green, fibrous and very sour to taste. The mango that is very fibrous will withstand pickling without going soft till the next season.

Leave the raw mangoes in water for 10 minutes and dry them with a clean cloth.
Slice each of the mangoes vertically in half in such a way that the hard stone in the inside of the mango is also cut into two parts, with each part firm on the two halves.
Remove the seed. Scrape the wafer thin layer attached to the stone with a steel spoon.
Cut each half of the sliced mango into 4 to 5 pieces. Each and every piece should contain the stone without which the piece gets softened in no time after pickled.
Clean the cut pieces with dry cloth.
Transfer the cleaned pieces to a basin.
Sprinkle two tea spoons of turmeric powder on the pieces and mix with hand. The hand should be completely dry and the same hand should continue the other processes. Lot of different hands will spoil the pickle.
Pour half of the oil on the pieces and mix well with hand. It is very essential to mix the pieces with oil first before adding any other ingredients. This will help the pieces to retain the hardness for a long time.
Mix the powdered salt with the pieces.
Mix the mustard powder, red chili powder, garlic paste and fenugreek seeds powder together in another container. Add half of the remaining oil to the powders and mix to a consistency that can be held in a fist.
Mix the paste well with the mango pieces.
Add the remaining oil to the pieces and mix well.
Cover the basin firmly with a lid. If the basin used for mixing doesn’t have a proper lid, transfer the contents to a porcelain jar or a clean plastic container with a firm lid. Tie a neat thick cloth over it and store it in a cool dark shelf.
Open the lid after three to four days, mix well and taste it. The quantity of salt and chilly powder needed in the pickle differ depending on several factors. Add salt / chilly powder if necessary but be cautious in the quantity. The added quantities should be small to only tweak the taste and not alter completely. Those who want to add garlic flakes can do so now.
Transfer the contents to galss / plastic porcelain jars. .
Tips
For those who are making this delicacy for the first time, here are a few tips.
1. Keep ready a reasonably big ceramic jar or a plastic container with a proper lid. Clean and dry thoroughly.
2. Mangoes must be cleaned and dried properly before cutting. The pieces too need to be cleaned with a dry cloth but never washed.
3. Let one person do all the mixing. That person should wash and keep the hands dry. No damp object should be allowed to touch the ingredients at any stage.
4. On day one of mixing, oil may not be visible but on the third day one can notice oil floating above the surface of the pickle. If oil has not covered the pickle completely and floating, add a little bit more oil and mix well just before transferring to smaller containers.

Magai Pickle ( Dried Mango pickle)


This pickle is also usually made along with the cut mango pickle.

Ingredients:
12 medium size raw sour mangoes
150 gms mustard powder
250 gms red chili powder
300 gms crystal salt ( powdered)
100 gms fenugreek seeds powder
250 gms garlic ( paste)
2 tbsp turmeric powder
500 gms husked sesame seed ( gingelly) oil for seasoning.

Method:
Place the mangoes in the water for 10 minutes. Dry them thoroughly with a cloth.
Peel the outer layer of the mango.
Cut them into thin flat slices of an inch wide and two inches long. The inner stone of the mango should be left out.
Mix the pieces with half of salt and turmeric powder.
Place the mix in a plastic container with lid / air tight ceramic jar and let it marinade for a day and night. When mixed with salt mango pieces ooze water.
On the second day morning, squeeze with your fist the pieces of the water and spread on a plate / thin cloth. Sun dry the pieces until the dampness disappears. Since the pickle is made in mid-Summer, 5 to 6 hours of drying will do. (don't let the pieces become rock harden).
Once dried add the remaining salt into the watery sap in the container along with red chili powder, fenugreek powder, garlic paste and mustard powder. Now add the dried mango slices to this mix.
Heat sesame seed oil for seasoning.
Add 10 dry red chillies, 2 tsp mustard seed, 2 tsp fenugreek seed, 10 garlic flakes and a fistful of curry leaves. Allow the oil to cool and mix into the pickle.
Store in a ceramic jar / glass / plastic container. Shelf life is more than a year.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Fruit Therapy:- The Why, When & How




I find it quite embarrassing to meet people over lunch or dinner during the period when I am on fruit diet. First I will have to explain why I can’t take any cooked food, not even a single idli and it is a lengthy explanation. Usually there are several questions on the method and the reasons, its efficacy and a host of other stuff. While questions can be easily answered, it becomes difficult not to feel embarrassed when the hosts or the guests want to enjoy the sumptuous meal spread on the table whereas all I consume is a fruit or a glass of fruit juice. And then there are those who want to know why, when and How? This article is for those enthusiasts.

Why:

We all tend to accumulate toxins in our body. Through the polluted air we breathe, the food we eat laced with deadly pesticides, the stressful work, irregular food habits, junk food, smoking and alcohol etc.. Over a period of time the accumulated toxins start affecting us, physically as well as mentally. So there is a need to detoxify the body from time to time. Having fruits as the sole diet helps remove the toxins.

I have been following this method for the last one decade, once in a year at least. I have perfected the system over the years to suit my 8 to 8 office hours. I usually follow the regimen for 40 days though I haven’t been able to stick to the duration for the last 3 years except for this year.

Fruits are cleansers:

Fruits are natural cleansers. Each and every variety of fruit has a beneficial effect in normalizing all the body functions. Raw juices of fruits and vegetables are extremely rich in vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes and natural sugars. They supply needed elements for the body's own healing activity and cell regeneration, thereby speeding the detoxification process. The juices extracted from raw fruits and vegetables do not require lengthy process of digestion and almost all their vital nutrients are assimilated directly in the bloodstream.

When & How:

Once a week method:
Depending on your convenience choose a day in a week. As soon as you wake up, drink at least one liter of water. If you find it difficult to drink at one go, you can space it two to three times but all in a span of a couple of minutes. Water adds to the cleaning process and it is essential that the day begins with lot of water to ensure bowels get cleaned. After drinking water, pace up and down the room leisurely for about ten minutes and then start the morning ablutions. The water will greatly aid in free bowel movement. From then on eat one variety of fruit every two hours. There is no limit on the quantity of fruits you eat at a time. But don’t mix fruits as you will not get signals from the stomach on when to stop. Drink generous quantities of water in between the fruit diet. Continue eating fruits / fruit juices till your bed time. Your body gets detoxified every week.
Do not add salt / sugar to any of the fruits/ juices.
Please consult your doctor before you start the fruit diet if you are suffering from ailment(s).
One week every month / quarter method:
The method is the same as once a week method. The only difference is a couple of days prior to the start of the fruit diet week, ensure your daily diet consists of 50% of fruits so as to acclimatize your system to fruit diet. Similarly don’t stop fruits abruptly and start cooked food right away at the end of the week. On the 8th day have 50% cooked food ( avoid spicy foods and meat ) and on 9th day make the cooked food two-thirds of your diet. If you are an office goer, sprouts in the morning will help you a lot. You will not feel the hunger pangs immediately as you start work in the office. Six to eight tea spoonfuls of green gram, 10 number ground nuts, 10 chena / Rajma soaked in water for 12 hours and in a wet hand kerchief hung in the shade for another 12 hours will make the seeds sprout. That will take care of the protein requirement of the body.
Do not add salt / sugar to any of the sprouts/ fruits/ juices.
Please consult your doctor before you start the fruit diet if you are suffering from ailment(s).
40 days once a year:
The method is same as the above- one week a month regimen. For those who want to lose weight along with detoxification of the body, this 40 day regimen will yield excellent results. The only word of caution is not to amend the diet program given here to suit individual tastes like avoiding sprouts or not taking veg juices such as carror + beetroot mixed juices.
My daily intake:
5 am: One liter of water.
6.00 am: one cup of water mixed with ½ lemon juice and a spoon of honey. Those who want to lose weight should add lemon juice and honey to warm water.
6.30 am: One glass ( 200 ml) of carrot and beetroot mixed juice.
7.00 am: one liter of water
8.00 am: Sprouts
From 11.00 am till bed time, I take fruits / fruit juices once every two hours.
Usually 30 minutes after taking fruits, you will feel hunger pangs. Actually they are not hunger pangs but thirst pangs. The body demands more water for cleansing purpose and people generally mistake these thirst pangs as hunger and eat fruits every 30 minutes. Finally it becomes so inconvenient to have fruits every 30 minutes, most people quickly abandon the regimen. To address these pangs, I drink a big glass of water every 30 minutes.
I prefer locally cultivated seasonal fruits that are not sprayed pesticides like Guava, chikoo, pineapple, papaya, water melon, musk melon, pomegranate, tender coconut water along with the tender coconut cream, etc. I avoid grapes, apples and other exotic imported fruit. Over the years, I have also observed that dark pigmented fruits like Chikoo, papaya, Water melon, musk melon, orange , pomegranate and carrot, beetroot are more beneficial in cleansing than custard apple, apple, banana, cucumber etc.. However, there is no bar in consuming apples , grapes or bananas.
On 41st day, I add a little cooked food to the diet like Idli / light oil-less snack. Salt and chilly powder has to be bare minimum. On the 42nd day, I take bread-jam / idli / upma as breakfast. On 43rd day along with breakfast curd rice for lunch and on 44th day regular meals. I do not take meat immediately after. Usually I wait for a week to add meat to my diet.

Dos:
1. At least two days before you start the regimen, acclimatize your system to fruits by ensuring fruits component in your diet steadily increases.
2. Water plays an equally important part. Drink a minimum of one litre first thing in the morning for free bowel movement and cleaning and lots of water very frequently till bed time.
3. Choose locally grown seasonal fruits over exotic imported fruits.
4. Eat as many fruits as you can and several times a day
5. when you eat, eat large quantities of fruits till you really feel full
6. If you are following the fruit therapy for long duration, sprouts and carrot + beetroot juice is a must to balance protein and vitamin requirements.
7. After the fruit diet duration is completed, add cooked food in small quantities increasing it every day.

Don’ts:
1. smoke or consume alcoholic beverages
2. consume any soft drinks in lieu of water
3. eat whenever you feel hungry without giving 2 hours gap.
4. eat grapes / apples in large quantities which have high pesticide residues
5. add salt / sugar in juices / fruits / vegetables
6. amend the regimen to suit your tastes like avoiding sprouts or eating regular food along with fruits
7. abruptly stop fruits and start eating cooked food.

You can feel the difference in you and others will notice the difference in you.