Terrorist attacks in Mumbai and rising tension between India and Pakistan dominated the print and electronic media,whose contents and presentation were at times belligerent. Let us face it. Despite Pakistans persistent prevarications and spurious scepticism about the materialdo not call it evidenceprovided by India,war is neither an option nor a solution. Indeed,it is fraught with horrendous consequences to both the countries and the region. Diplomatic and international pressure on Pakistan must be intensified,not forgetting however,that Pakistan is in reality a failed State and the Taliban is ready in the wings to take it over. Pakistan should not be given a pretext for its refusal to take meaningful action against the terrorists operating from its soil. In this context,Union Cabinet Minister Antulays statements regarding the death of ATS Chief Hemant Karkare,and particularly the timing of the statements,are inexcusable. As an intelligent person,Antulay should have known that Pakistan would distort his statements to Indias disadvantage. Antulay has got away lightly. Mrs. Indira Gandhi would have sacked him instantly. Unfortunately,electoral considerations and over-anxiety about ruffling some sections of the Muslim community have prevailed as in other cases. For example,the inexplicable delay in disposing of Afzal Gurus mercy petition against his conviction by the Supreme Court for his role in the terrorist attack on Parliament.
Humour is needed during grim times to buoy us up. We must thank senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh for giving us a large dose of it with his statement that the Mumbai terrorists made monetary demands which were valiantly refused by the UPA,unlike the NDAs pusillanimous act in releasing terrorists at Kandahar. Ironically it needed Home Minister P. Chidambaram to modify and in effect refute this ridiculous statement.
Funny side of life
It helps to look at the funny side of life. Some cancer research experts have recently warned us that a large glass of wine a day increases the risk of liver and bowel cancer by a fifth. Other experts confidently assert that moderate alcohol intake can help combat heart diseases. My family doctor prescribed Halls Wine to improve my appetite. In the forms prescribed under the erstwhile Bombay Prohibition Act,anorexia (loss of appetite) was one of the recognised ailments for the issue of a liquor permit. Forget the experts and instead endorse Omar Khayyams praise for a book of verses underneath the bough and a jug of wine. A recent book on diet has some funny bits. It assures us that eating fats is good and a shot of vodka or whisky is fine,particularly for women because it helps to kick-start lagging libidos and relieve premenstrual tension!
But what takes the cake is the recent fatwa issued by the Darul Uloom Islamic seminary in Deoband that jeans pants and shirts are against shariat and it is a gunnah (sin),especially for women,to wear jeans because the physical structure (curves) of the body is reflected if one puts on jeans. Alas,lust and sin lie in the eyes of the beholder.
Adieu trumpeter Freddie Hubbard
Legendary trumpeter Freddie Hubbard passed away last week aged 70. Freddie performed as a member of the Jazz Messengers led by the veteran drummer Art Blakey,who is widely regarded as the genres premier talent scout. Hubbard played alongside renowned musicians such as John Coltrane,McCoy Tyner and Herbie Hancock. Hubbard performed at the Jazz Yatra in New Delhi in 1986 and was a hit. Incidentally,Hubbard gave the organisers some anxious moments. His set was to start at 9:00 p.m. but there was no sign of him on the stage till 9:20 p.m. and the audience was getting restless. It was after persistent knocking at his hotel door by Subash Lal,one of the organisers,that Freddie emerged dressed in pure white looking like a cowboy with a hat. With Freddies departure the jazz world has lost a musician who was described by Leonard Feather as one of the most skilled,original and forceful trumpeters of the 60s.