India Uncut

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Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Great Indian Blog Mela

George Orwell once wrote, in an essay titled “Why I Write”, that “there are four great motives for writing”. And what are these? One, sheer egoism. Two, aesthetic enthusiasm. Three, historical impulse. Four, political purpose.

Welcome to The Great Indian Blog Mela.

Let us begin with a question that Primary Red poses: "What influence will India have on 21st century thought and imagination?" He believes: "A great power is marked not just by guns and gold – but principally by exportable ideas that inspire the world." And "contemporary Indian thought," he says, "is increasingly noisy, unoriginal, and (deliberately or otherwise) designed to shock, like a mirror reflecting our broken world."

Well, yes, but as Hurree Babu of Kitabkhana could tell you, if Percival C Wren of Wren and Martin fame could have such an influence on the world, heck, we all have a chance.

The lit bloggers are nice and active this week. Nilanjana Roy tells her readers why she hates the 300-word review, while Sankhya Krishnan bites off more than he can chew, and then goes chomp chomp chomp. And lest you despair that the blogosphere is full of critics but no storytellers, here's some nice micro-fiction from Ammani: "A Quick Tale 2". And a touching love story by Rajesh Advani.

Jai Arjun Singh writes beautifully on books, and on much else besides: check out his post on Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal, in which he explains that despite the film being "[t]oo heavy-handed, too self-consciously full of imagery and metaphors," it nevertheless "takes your breath away". Samanth Subramanian has mixed feelings about Aviator: he enjoyed the film, though he says that it's "[n]ot quite Taxi Driver, but then again, what is?" Samanth and Baradwaj Rangan, a fellow film reviewer, have started a blog called Reel Two in which they discuss films – the format is similar to Slate's Dialogues, and it promises to be a good read.

To end our section on films, J Ramanand discusses how Ketan Mehta's The Rising is likely to lead to "[t]his season's politico-historical-film controversy".

We've done books, we've done films, what about television? This was the week when Indian Idol entered its last lap, so that was inevitably on many bloggers' minds. Yazad Jal was outraged that campaigns are being run for the final two based not on their ability, but on their geographical location. So was Rashmi Bansal. I put in my two paise as well.

Now for some economics. NS Ramnath points out that pro-rich policies aren't necessarily anti-poor. Ashish Hanwadikar argues that socialism cannot be "chosen" by the people, as some people claim. He also explains how the choice of the dollar as "an international currency of choice" depends on the Middle East. Meanwhile, W says no to subsidies.

Moving on, JK of Varnam has a nice historical post on the interactions between Albert Einstein and Jawaharlal Nehru. Patrix writes on "building bridges" by "raising barriers" in the Middle East. Nitin Pai worries that India's "diplomatic tactic" of withdrawing support for Nepal's army may become "sustained policy", thus helping the Maoists gain in strength.

Many Indian bloggers tend to live abroad, and they often blog about their experiences. Surya, who is in Germany, writes about how she has a hard time convincing people that Malayalam is a language and not a dialect. Saurav Sarkar objects to Indian triumphalism. Ajay Bhat tells us how advertisements in the US "seem to make everything so easy".

It's often quite hard to motivate ourselves, isn't it? Pradeep Ravikumar examines how motivation is a need for our species. And Gaurav Sabnis, in a touching tale, watches motivation at work in a panipuriwalla. More than human motivation, though, it's "Animal Cognition" that concerns PhilOsOpher Mom.

Can a blog mela go by without a dig at mainstream media (MSM)? MadMan exposes some sloppy journalism by the Times of India, and Pradyuman Maheshwari writes more on the subject, as does Sriram.

Elsewhere, MSM lashes out at blogs, and Shanti Mangala leaps to the rescue. There have been many fine defences of the blogosphere recently, a couple of which I'd linked to here.

There are weightier worries than MSM, though. Billboards and cricket selection, to name just two. Uma Mahadevan-Dasgupta, who writes like a dream and updates like a demon, is upset with billboards because "they hide the trees". And Anand Vasu feels that Mark Waugh, who had "a solid go" at the Australian selectors recently, is a "Pot calling a kettle a pot".

Do you believe in God? Ravages doesn't, and he writes about an argument he had with a theist friend of his. (Read the post with MadMan's comment for closure on the subject.) And Nilu reports on a conversation between two different types of theists.

Ok, no God. What about Mukesh Ambani? Venky reveals how the elder Ambani brother's claim to have got an MBA from Stanford was exposed by none other than Steve Ballmer. I wonder if Ambani had any trouble with his finance midterm exams, which another MBA-in-the-making, Chandoo, writes about here. Avinash Tadimalla doesn't care much about finance midterms, and more about people who can't spell. He also weighs in on "An Ideavirus for social work". Speaking of social work, aNTi has something to say about the unfair criticism of Preity Zinta for "not helping with the relief efforts" after the tsunami.

You're still here, are you? Well, New York is distant. We end this Blog Mela with Bridal Beer. Thank you for visiting.

Update: Chandoo's hosting the next Blog Mela, click here to enter.
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