Saturday, March 21, 2015

Grapes are sour, social media edition

The old story of the fox and the grapes is well known. The fox reached for the grapes and despite several attempts, did not get it. He finally walks away with the famous expression, "Grapes are sour".

Times have changed since that. That was a long time ago.

At that time, the vineyard was close to the jungle. The jungle was filled with animals. Over time, the vineyard owner has extended his land into the jungle. The only animal that has access to the grapevine is the fox. That was because his grandfather befriended the owners dog. Over generations, the owners dogs and the foxes have been friends. With his cunning, he is the one who conveys the news between the corrupt owner and the poor jungle animals. The animals cannot come anywhere near the vineyard for fear of the owner and besides they have to earn a living each day. And the dogs are fierce as well.

The grapevine is the juicy news. The fox is the journalist. The vineyard owner is known to the fox and all the grapes in the vineyard is his for the asking. The vineyard owner allows the fox to come in to various parts to the vineyard and the fox does his bidding. Eats a few grapes and conveys the right news to the animals. Each time the owner extends the vineyard a little, the fox tells the animals that everything is alright. The owner uses more pesticide, more water,  than he should but the fox tells the animals that everything is alright. Ever so often, a few grapes are sent to the animals as well. The owners promises to send a large share of the water and the grapes, but rarely are those promises fulfilled.

The owner sets the narrative and the fox conveys it. The animals live their life. That was some time ago. 

But a few enterprising monkeys built a new platform (they call it the social media platform) from which they are able to see everything the vineyard. They have even built vines through which they can swing into the vineyard at will.

With this sort of a view, they are able to see what the owner does. Within a short time, they have  and are able to both get (news) grapes at will, plus see that the fox is really in cahoots with the owner. And also figure out that the fox only gets the grapes which the owner allows it to. 

Thanks to this platform, every animal can get up and see what is going on in the vineyard. The animals share this with each other and every animal knows what is happening in the vineyard. There are a few animals who still listen to the fox intently, but they do it more out of habit.

The fox does not like being questioned. The fox does not like that his monopoly over the vineyard is being challenged. For now, he has been trying to influence the influencers in the animal world and convince them that the monkeys platform ought to be demolished. The influencers aren't buying that, but the fox is still trying to paint the monkeys and the patrons of the social media platform black.

Grapes are sources, he said, as he walks into the vineyard...

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The oped you won't see

/Begin fake oped.

Parliament sessions are in progress. The government, now nearly a year in experience is experiencing its first major difficulty. That of passing bills in the Rajya Sabha. The government has resorted to the ordnance route to get the bills, but have now come back to Parliament to seek backing for these important legislations. The biggest stumbling block is on the Land Acquisition bill (though other supposedly minor bills have been sent to a select committee - which is essentially nothing more than a delaying tactic).

The Congress (and the rest of the communal gang) which has a majority in the Rajya Sabha, a legacy of its sweeping victory in the 2009 polls, has two choices. Act churlish and stall the bills (as it seems intent on doing) or adopt a bipartisan approach and work with the government as a responsible opposition.

Sure, the Rajya Sabha is the Congress playground at this point - but the numbers will change and the tables will turn. And the BJP knows it well too - having disrupted Parliament during the UPA rule and   now the boot on the other foot. (A minor point here is that BJP disruptions were over real scams - 2G, Coal blocks missing files and misappropriated money and a certain private citizen - apart from Telangana - whereas the current disruptions are all about self preservation.)

Perhaps, just perhaps, this may be a time for the Congress to start working with the government.

Rahul Gandhi, who has just taken a photo opportunity less vacation away from the generally photo opportunity laden vacations that he takes, might do well to come back and announce that he has decided to take this important step in Indias development and strengthen the hands of the government.

It may also be a golden opportunity for Ms. Sonia Gandhi, to come out and show some statesmanship. The famous inner voice can come out of the confines of 10 JP and perhaps make a speech (and virtue) of helping the BJP pass these bills so necessary for development.

The other minor point to remember is that Congress has not exactly done well in the state elections - actually in no state elections post May 2014. It is also at the lowest point of electoral victories at any point in its history. So, while the Congress can make a big show around land acquisition bill and act as it is acting on farmers interests where even it knows that the new bill is a huge improvement over its flawed bill, it is fundamentally on quicksand.

Modi has won the elections on the basis of development - and a successful projection of Congress is both corrupt and anti-development. Indeed Modi has won the election on a pro-development platform which has decimated the communal stands of the other parties (yes, we are 'supposed' to call that secular, but I am bypassing political correctness here).

Remember, this government is indeed taking real steps to help last mile delivery - which is perhaps the best work done in this area in 60 plus years post independence. Well executed projects like the Jan Dhan Yojana, Pahal are just the beginning. Getting targeted subsidies via Aadhar into bank accounts will help reduce leakages and fraud. These are projects where the poor can see a real difference.

It does not take a genius to figure out that Modi will take that question to people, in say, the Bihar elections and all his other communication platforms and use it to paint Congress as opposed to any sort of development for the poor.

Right now, the Congress is playing on expected lines. But it has a golden chance to confuse the NDA strategy, plus earn the rah-raahing of the Lutyens club on statesmanship and bipartisanship.

Will Sonia Gandhi rise to the occasion?

/End fake oped

PS: No media will write something like this. Ever. Ask yourself why.
PPS: Media will go ga-ga over Congress for anything and everything. The emperors new clothes syndrome it is called. They don't need to do anything. And won't. 

Monday, March 09, 2015

Revenge of the media

Dear Narendra Modi,

The media waited for 12, make that 13 years, for this moment.

For 13 years, they tried to drag you down - obviously in cahoots with your greatest friends the Congress. They threw people, false charges, encounters, innuendos. They threw money at people who could bring you down - it included discredited officers, NGOs, media persons and even enlisted foreign agencies for this purpose. They fabricated books, blogs and even tried to create international uproar. But they could never do it. Even today there are anchors who are so drowned in hating you that it is hard to believe that such people can be objective.

And yet, it did not matter - partly because you were in the right and partly because of your own resolve and your ability to take it head on.

They tried their very best to prevent you from becoming Prime Minister. From projecting Rahul Gandhi to supporting Kejriwal in Varanasi to turning a blind eye to every single scam that UPA provided in the name of development. They found out non-existent rifts between you and your party. They tried to bring your party down by going after key people. And there are many other schemes and plots that they launched.

They searched high and low for #blowtomodi so much so that it was comical to see them search for a #blowtomodi day in and day out.

It helped that Gujarat was solidly behind you. And you put your passion into Gujarat. As a Chief Minister of Gujarat, you could not be touched because the people were with you and it was a place far away from them. Plus the fact there was a nincompoopish government at the centre looting money senselessly so they grudgingly had to expose some of the scams of that government however much they tried. But they tried. Till the last minute, they tried.

And they failed. You became Prime Minister. Initially they were distraught, but now they are not.

What they could never do to as Chief Minister of Gujarat, they can do now. And they intend to do so. Because they have a larger canvas to play now. It is no longer Gujarat. It is about India.

Why are they emboldened? For one, you have been soft on them and their masters (political masters). And they are emboldened by it. You have gone soft on many aspects which gives them a fighting chance they way they see it. And second you have landed their lair - because from Gujarat you have landed into the incestuous club of Lutyens Delhi. And this is their world.

This is their playground. Where they know everybody - including some of those who are close to you. And this club is nurtured by the Congress and almost other successive governments -including NDA. But it is the Congress that has been the longest in power and this is an ecosystem, the Congress has nutured and they support the Congress under the guise of neutrality - it is so indistinguishable and embedded. The Congress  (and frankly other governments also, but majority Congress) gave them business, access, a free ticket to the corridors of power apart from a free ticket when the Prime Minister used to travel. They get contracts, juicy interviews and information, leaks. Presumably favors go the other way as well, like hitting the mute button when it is convenient or drumming up the right news and drumming down the wrong. Or just when a big scandal is about to come up, create noise in another direction. This world also has international connections, so dialing up a phoren reporter to do a hit-job is not very difficult. They have tie-ups with universities these days so a study (however dodgy) can easily validate any confirmation bias (of which they have plenty) that they have. You will see all of this happening soon. Books, studies, data - that go beyond routine hit jobs. After all they need to do all this to get their ecosystem back.

Why, it is one of their own that led Advani up the secular garden path in 2009. And quite possibly Vajpayee too - by making him a statesman at the end of 2004 (apart from the Kandahar hijacking and possibly reining in our Kargil stratagem). Both these strategies effectively de-fanged them leading to campaign as toothless tigers.

Yeh Delhi hai mere yaar - bas lobbying our access yaar.

Where everybody is linked to everybody else - the combination of Lutyens from which most media finds its roots, shoots and leaves and lobbyists, bureaucrats old and new, dealers, wheelers and everybody masquerading as somebody else. In this world, journalists accessed the corridors at will, ministers married journalists and vice versa, secrets flowed like contracts, access gave everything, from bedroom to boardroom everything was connected - better than the latest unified theory in physics - from interviews to coal blocks to oil blocks to real estate information to CWC contracts to safe houses to stock markets. There is much dirt under the hood, as you have no doubt discovered and as it was once uncovered with a certain Ms. Radio (yes, the spelling is wrong, but you get it). There are ex-editors who were on Fais payroll. And these are just the known ones.

And what have you done? Instead of co-opting them a la Vajpayee who believed that the Delhi media loved him and took them into their inner circle (and subsequently paid the price of letting the Trojan horse inside), you have blocked their access. You are not giving them interviews. Nor you are giving them 'sources'. Nor are you taking them with you on official trips. What is worse, you have now stopped your ministers (who love studio hopping) from interviewing with them at will.

They see their lives under threat. They are mounting a vicious fightback. Ever since you took over in May, have you seen any news escape from Delhi, but the bad?

They have tried to position you as a statesman (the Vajpayee strategy) and they have tried to position you as communal (a label you are familiar with). The two of these are a lethal combination - it is a classic good cop, bad cop strategy.

The bad cop strategy is the communal positioning. You are used to it, but this is not Gujarat. Anything and everything that happens in any part of the country can be conveniently used to build this and that is not very difficult to do in a country as diverse as ours. As you have seen, a secular rape in AIIMS (by a doctor, no less) has been nicely buried, but the Nagaland incident is slowly being outraged upon. This particular one may well fail, but hey, anything goes for #blowtomodi. So, as part of this design, conversions, church attacks, a stupid suit, various sadhvis and their utterances are all being used.

The statesman strategy is a bit like the good cop. It is like telling you, be a statesman. Be nice. Make nice. Slow down on those cases. Be friends with the opposition. Remember, nobody ever - ever in 10 years asked Soniaji to be a statesman. Perhaps she was born as one or since they are all on one side, they are coated with teflon. You sir, are coated with velcro. Anything and everything will be thrown at you (as they have done for 13 years). And by the way, every Prime Minister wants to be perceived as a statesman and this is a tough trap to get out of. Because once you become 'statesman' the only way to get there is 'Nehruvian' and not 'Narasimhian' or 'Patelian'.

(First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they co-opt you, then you become secular and then you lose - just to twist a Mahatma Gandhi quote.)

It is this that they want to use to bring you down. A random terrorist incident involving foreign intruders on the high seas is blown up so much - so that you will think twice before cracking down on internal terrorists. Why? Because, you are caught between being a communal or a statesman. The ban on beef in Maharashtra  is another one that will be used to paint you as an aggressive Hindutva campaigner and of course there are other suitable sticks. (Every stick is suitable, by the way.)

This is what the media will do relentlessly for the next 5 years. And you need to do what you do best. Be who you are. Be what got you here. Use every tactic at your disposal. These guys don't deserve statesman Modi. And by the way, please go easy on those ads. That is not going to help. Go to the people - they have always been and will continue to be your best advocates.

And they are the proverbial dogs tail - that cannot be straightened because it is held in that shape by their political masters.

You know it because you have been through it for 13 long years. Heres wishing you the best to defeat their nefarious designs. 

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Drag India down

The erstwhile #blowtomodi project has now morphed into a drag India down project. For the Congress supporters - the ones who were the benefeciaries of their deep and massive ecosystem also known as the Congress-Media complex. And not to forget now the Congress had nurtured a deep ecosystem that kept their supporters happy.

From the point the NDA government has started, media has started its own project.

This project has morphed into a drag India down project. Because once you drag India down, down goes Modi with it and with it come up the champions of the downtrodden, mother bountiful and her cohorts come up to save India from poverty by using the mechanism of dole, conversions and make them dependent on the mai-baap sarkaar. Maybe even involve the church, the world bank and perhaps  even other 'friendly' moneybags in this project.

Not for them development of skill or more crop per drop or educating all the girls or beti-bachao, all they are interested in their own self preservation.

And how to drag india down? Paint a sad picture of India every opportunity. Whether it is a rape documentary, whether it is a attack on a random church and whatever else comes their way, they will drag India down.

And what about it? Project India as religiously intolerant though it houses the most tolerant religion of all times - ever. And who is projecting it as intolerant - they who play into the hands of those who represent the most tolerant faiths in the world - tolerant as long as you believe in their one true god. For this purpose, they magnify every random utterance by anybody on the street and play it ad nauseam. Whether it is a ban on cow slaughter or conversions - use it to drag India down. Recently there was a huge rucks about gharwapsi - but they also simultaneously wanted to turn a blind eye towards conversions and the massive fund inflows that these organizations receive. (Follow @sighbaboo on twitter).

And then to project the government as a tyrannical one when in reality it is trying its best to move out of the quagmire of vote banks and exclusions and crony lobbying and enmeshed networks by creating policy driven decisions. Ignore the steps even this 9 month old government has taken to tighten subsidy leakage, open up banks to reach the unbanked and eased many an irrelevant procedure. And it is just 9 months.

And use the decisions of the previous government to paint this government into as dark a corner as possible. See this here, where the decisions of PMO led by Manmohan Singh are mischievously attributed to the present PMO and unless you dig deep, the headlines will just stay as it is.

As a free press, the press is well within its rights to point out the flaws in the governments policies and politics. But to do with an agenda and to only point flaws and not look at the whole story takes it to an absurd level.

And this is the same mainstream media that ignored the 2G scam until they had no choice, the same media that tom-tommed the zero loss theory of coal allocation until it had no choice and the same media that continues to paint Rahul Gandhi as an intellectual and the same media that has not managed to secure a single interview with Sonia Gandhi in 10 years (well, I think there was one interview).

By all means, do your job, but do it fairly. And you do not have to drag India down into the morass  you are in.

And as I wrote this, I see this tweet by the respected Vicky Nanjappa

Thursday, March 05, 2015

A #blowtomodi a day, keeps Modi away

Manmohan led PMO among top rejectors of RTI applications, it screamed

Great headline, except that Manmohan led is what I added.

And then you read the article. It says, data for 2013-2014. That means, a year worth of data - and that means it includes a large part of Manmohan Singhs rule under Soniajis esteemed leadership and Rahuls photo opportunitism?

But no, this is the time to create confusion in your minds about this government. Ever since this government has come to power, we have seen this happen.

This is a game for #blowtomodi.

Every day, in the Indian media every reporter runs to find a new #blowtomodi. The one who succeeds, finds food for the day - the other dies of neglect. Thus it is in that in the Indian media jungle, the reporters run each day to find yet another #blowtomodi.

There are no rules.

Anything is allowed. Anything goes. Discredited people. Anybody who is quitting. People accused of corruption. Everything can be whitewashed if you can come up with something to blame Modi. You have seen the parade of all those. Come, all of you, wash off your communal sins. All you need to do is to find a #blowtomodi and the newskeepers will be at your door.

Only to desert you because they need to find a  new #blowtomodi everyday.

How about some statesmanship Soniaji?

Rajya Sabha is in no mood to pass the BJP governments bills going by what happened so far. And as you saw yesterday, the media is fully in support of this fairly partisan behaviour. At this point, you would think that there would be opeds asking the Congress and others to help the government. But no.
Cut to pre May 2014 when the BJP disrupted Parliament for a variety of reasons - mostly related to corruption - all charges which have been proven true today.

But look at what Shekhar Gupta writes here. It almost reads as if its tit for tat - when the reality is that earlier Parliament was disrupted for corruption charges (real corruption charges) which the government wanted to paper over. I read it thrice, but nowhere does he call for the Congress chief to do the right thing - which is to support the government in its endeavour for developing India.

Meanwhile, once upon a time when Congress was in power, they used the Disproportionate assets case to get the support of one or other politician while claim secular superiority and all they found was to ask statesmanship of the BJP. Or give random order gyan among other things. Disruption is unfortunate, they said. Gridlock, screamed another.

But no, nobody is asking Soniaji to display stateswomanship or bipartisan behavior today - wonder why. Isn't the time to be doing so? Hell, no.

People who lock others in toilets while stealing their posts are not known to be graceful. Old jungle saying.

But do take note of how Modi is navigating this.

Not that Modi will get credit for anything - but Modi too could have arm twisted the other parties - like the Congress did - given that they have much dirty laundry to hide. But he is not doing that. In doing so, he is changing the way Indian politics has worked. He is letting the law take its course - which is not something that the UPA can justifiably lay a claim to. He is not manipulating it. But his assumption of expecting bipartisan behavior may be wrong. Because in exhibiting that behavior the other parties have nothing to gain. However they vote, the law will take its course and that is a good thing.

The second and larger point is that in doing so, again, he is ensuring that he is not siding with the corrupt. He is making a clear break from the past and taking a risk through this mode.

The next few months will be interesting to watch.

But Mr. Modi please do not be a statesman. Your favors won't be returned. The sooner you learn this, the better.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Opposition leaves government red-faced

If you want to know a great article on how to write about the BJP, here it is. In all its glory. For details, just refer to this article.

United opposition leaves Modi government red-faced, it screams. United opposition. United by what? National interest? Or scoring points? Doesn't matter. When you want to paint a picture that shows a #blowtomodi, you use everything. Like in cricket, it doesn't matter where the runs come from as long as they come.

The Narendra Modi government suffered an embarrassment in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday when non-NDA parties joined hands to force an amendment to the motion of thanks on the President's address to amplify their charge that the new regime had failed to curb high-level corruption and bring back black money allegedly stashed abroad.

Cant you see the glee?
Suffered, embarrassment for government.
Joined hands, force, amplify for the opposition.

The amendment, moved by CPM members Sitaram Yechury and P Rajeeve, was accepted with 118 votes in its favour and 57 against it, brutally exposing the government's lack of numbers in Rajya Sabha — a handicap which has kept it from enacting laws that it believes will help accelerate growth.

Brutally exposing, handicap, that it believes (of course, they had no such doubt when the great UPA came up with amazingly regressive laws) for government.

Though the setback is just symbolic, the deficit of numbers is an old story which is not going to change anytime soon. It will, however, rankle the government because is now party to a resolution criticizing itself. In fact, the opposition remorselessly pressed home its huge numerical advantage immediately after the PM had stoutly rejected the charge of failure on the black money issue. Yechury and others in the opposition rebuffed parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naud's repeated pleas not to press for amendments. The opposition said it was not allowed to seek clarifications from the PM.

This was the fourth time when the opposition forced amendments to the motion of thanks on the President's address — all instances reflecting the mismatch in the numbers of the two Houses within two years of Lok Sabha elections. The previous examples were in January 1980 (Congress had swept LS polls but its opponents controlled Rajya Sabha), December 1989 (V P Singh helped by BJP and Left had a majority in LS but RS had a Congress majority), and in March 2001 (BJP along with its allies had a comfortable majority in LS but not in RS).

Note the words again. Setback, government criticizing itself, repeated pleas for Modi.
Remorselessly, numerical advantage, rebuffed for their favorites.

The setback brought out the government's failure to win over friends from non-aligned benches, especially from among those who are hostile to Congress and to each other. Arch rivals CPM and Trinamool Congress as well as SP and BSP voted in favour of the amendment. BJD, which was ambivalent about opposing the government until recently, joined in, ensuring that the amendments, which already had the support of Congress, JD(U), CPI and DMK, went through rather smoothly.

The margin underscored the tough task awaiting the government as it seeks passage of contentious legislations like land acquisition, insurance and others. The opposition frustrated the plan to pass the insurance bill by sitting tight over it, thus denying the government even the opening to call a joint sitting where it, with its superior LS numbers, can overwhelm the opposition. The government had always anticipated the problem and had tried to get around it by promulgating ordinances, and plans to hold joint sittings. But the challenge has proved to be more nettlesome and has already delayed the government's plan to hit the ground running.

Non aligned benches in opposition. Well, when it comes to opposing Modi and BJP, every one of these parties has aligned under the banner of 'secularism'.
Tough task for government, contentious legislations (did you see those words used for the junk like RTE, LAB, FSB?), denying an opening, nettlesome - yes, see where those words are used
Frustrated the plan by sitting tight over it,  challenge...brilliant.

BJP is in a minority and will, even it does well in the elections for major states, remain so until mid-2017. Its "communal" image prevents it from garnering allies. In fact, its resurgence and growth in new areas has been the catalyst for the coming together of rivals like CPM and Trinamool.

The amendment, moved by Yechury and Rajeeve, regretted that "there is no mention in the (President) address about the failure of the government to curb high-level corruption and to bring back black money". Since the House passed the amendment, it will now be added to the President's address.

And there you go, communal BJP. All others, seculars, raise your hands. Remember there was a time when the BJP was asked to be bipartisan. We see no such thing in the editorial pages while when the BJP was in opposition disrupting the parliament for very valid reasons, all the papers screamed bipartisanship (borrowed from Obama). Now, that the shoe is on the other foot, bipartisanship has been erased from our lexicon.

Now see this article from 2012, when BJP disrupted Parliament over Coal Blocks (perfectly legitimate as you might imagine? Especially in the light of the latest round of auctions of coal blocks?)

But see the verbiage - starting with the heading. Monsoon session washout: PM blames BJP for disrupting Parliament?

Catch that? Opposition leaves BJP red-faced, but PM blames BJP. How cool is that?

BJP is accused of 'negating democracy' no less. But the current situation - the words used for the opposition are so encouraging.

BJP was adamant - Congress said a flat no. See the verbiage again.

If the Winter Session of Parliament last December, with the 2G logjam and the war over the Lokpal Bill, is one of the worst that the country had seen, this Monsoon Session gives it a tough fight. In the words of Vice President Hamid Ansari, "This session likely to be remembered for work not done."

How sweet.

If you thought that was NDTV, which is anyway the BJPs best friend reporting, the other newspaper is no better. Indeed, the headline goes, Opposition disrupts Parliament, BJP demands PMs resignation.

Notice that they did not leave the government red-faced on corruption allegations. But today, the opposition has made the government red-faced on a non-existent random allegation.

So, thats your style guide for today. Feel free to use it. 

Monday, March 02, 2015

On high speed trains

Was reading this piece in Swarajya Mag on high speed trains by Bibek Debroy and it is a indeed a fascinating piece. On the feasibility of high speed trains of India. Bibek says,

However, 175 km/hour cannot be high speed.  In response to my question, most people mention a speed of 300-350 km/hour.  That’s what they have seen in France, Japan, China and other places.  That’s an aspirational objective, at least from segments of the population.  Why can’t India have trains like that? [Swarajya]

My question though is a little more fundamental - though Bibek cautions a few reasons as to why a 300kmph plus train may be a long way away. And maybe nomenclature wise, 175 mph is not high speed.

But look at India today - the average speed of any train - for example the Udyan Express - covers the BLR-MUM distance of 1200 kms in 24 hours. Take any train - with the express nomenclature and its average speed is 50kmph. Superfast is probably in the 60kmph average range. Rajdhanis touch perhaps 100 plus on average.

At 50kmph - the speed is the same as what it was 50 years ago when steam engines ruled the roost. Today, with the condition of roads being what it is (really good, but not great) a BLR-MUM bus takes an extremely comfortable 18 odd hours depending on which part of Mumbai you get off at. This with varying traffic conditions, driving through cities in between and even with built in rest stops. That is an average speed of some 66kmph. And it keeps getting better.

Why can't a train - that is not dependent on traffic, blocks get to 100kmph?

And that is all India needs - today. At a 100kmph, most intercity distances can be covered overnight. Anything unto 1200 kms is within an overnight intercity reach. At 120kmph, 1500 kms is an overnight journey.

Longer distances can be covered by airplanes, but upto this distance, the railways may even make good money and offer good competition to airplanes with some good railway stations, faster checkin than airplanes and so on.

People can drive for shorter distances and there there are buses as well.

But if we can cover 1200 to 1500 kms in a night train across the country - including NE, we have got it.

And that is achievable - that is the speed of our Rajdhanis.

Why not look at creating Intercity expresses on the lines of Rajdhani - and have a network of Rajdhanis and mini-Rajdhanis that cover the cities? And this may not be so difficult...especially since the current trains run on the existing network, cover most parts through the night and so on...Why not go for this incremental approach?

Sunday, March 01, 2015

On Adai and Dosai

As part of figuring out a nutritious snack for the little ones, I hit upon the Adai.

Adais are perceived to be a poor cousin of Dosai. Atleast, I thought it was, while I grew up. So, all of childhood, I was a rather reluctant Adai eater - it was thick, tough to eat. The taste was a bit mixed, often spicy and it had to be eaten with jaggery or with honey. The Dosai on the other hand, was easy to eat, thin, had accompaniments like Masal and Sambar and Chutney and of course, was easily available at restaurants and was very very tasty.

And while dosais are available around the globe (and that is no exaggeration) and in a zillion flavours ranging from Masala to Sada to Mysore to Onion, the Adai barely finds itself in any restaurant - even in Tamil Nadu leave alone outside. A pesarattu can be found in Andhra menus. Maybe Adai can be found in a handful of restaurants in TN. Beyond that?

So what gives? The adai is easier to make, has very little standing and preparation time and is nutritious, far more than the dosai. And yet, the adai continues to remain a less glamorous cousin of the adai.

Is it the looks? Is it the taste? Is it the thickness? Is it the color - a deep dark brown as opposed to golden doses? What is it - I don't know.

And the prospects for the adai in restaurants don't look very bright. While the dosai has captured the imagination of many a country.

(The little ones, in the meantime, have started a protest campaign against Adais)