Posts Tagged ‘Mahatma Gandhi’

I really wonder if M.F. Hussain can really get the sort of freedom for expression in Qatar, a Muslim country. Why is everybody so worried if he accepts Qatari citizenship? Have people forgotten that he’s the same person who had painted Indian gods in nude? Creative expression is good and no one should forget that no other country has been as liberal as India. It’s true that India is a democratic country and there is freedom for expression. But that freedom should not insult and hurt others. When a person expresses himself through the medium of art, it reflexes his/her mind.

In one of the paintings of Mahatma Gandhi, Karl Marx, Albert Einstein and Hitler, Hussain had painted only Hitler nude and had said his way of humiliating a person is to paint him nude. So according to him, is it his way of humiliating Hindu Goddesses by painting them nude?

Why paint only Hindu Gods and Goddesses in nude? Paint some Islamic heroes also in nude and see the reaction. Why can’t he paint a woman in nude and give her a Islamic name instead of Hindu name and see the reaction of the world?

A mere writing of a book landed Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen in the soup. And what will happen to Hussain if he paints Islamic persons in nude? If he paints someone in nude there, will he be able to retain Qatari citizenship?

There should be freedom of expression, but one should know the limits of his freedom. We can’t paint our mother or sisters in nude, for we respect them. We respect woman and we will never ever want to humiliate her.

Did people keep quiet when Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks published a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed’s head on the body of a dog in a 2007 Swedish newspaper editorial on freedom of expression? As many as seven people, nationals from Algeria, Libya, the Palestinian territories, Croatia and the US, have been arrested so far for trying to kill the cartoonist. Not just that, in 2007, a group linked to al-Qaeda in Iraq offered a $100,000 (£66,000) reward for killing Vilks, and a 50% bonus if he was slaughtered like a lamb by having his throat cut.

When the world saw the anger of Muslims across the world for painting the prophet in the cartoon, why can’t they digest the anger of Hindus over Hussain painting Goddesses in nude? What kind of secularism is this? What kind of justice and freedom of expression is this? Why criticize only Lars Vilks and praise M.F. Hussain?

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In the evening, I, Taraka and her daughter Gayatri left to see a dance programme at her sister’s daughter’s school. Though we couldn’t stay for long, we made sure that we were present for a few minutes to encourage the little kid and left for Birla Mandir.

After parking the car at a nearby place, we headed towards Birla Mandir. By this time I had come to know how chaotic the traffic in Hyderabad is. People had scant respect for the traffic rules and I was feeling like driving in some maddening crowd.

The steps leading to the temple and small shops along the steps were bustling with tourists. Shops were making brisk business and tourists were busy buying articles.

As it was weekend, the crowd was huge. We had to keep our phones and camera in the cloak room. We went to the temple and Taraka was excited to show the place where she and jeeju had solemnized their wedding 🙂

Birla Mandir on the Naubath Pahad is a magnificent Hindu temple of Lord Venkateshwara, built of 2,000 tonnes of pure Rajasthani white marble. The Birla Foundation has constructed several similar temples in India.


The Birla Mandir was built by Raja Baldev Birla. In 1938, the temple was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi. Everyone was not given the permission to enter the premises of temples. Gandhi placed the condition that he would inaugurate the temple only if people belonging to all strata of the society were permitted to offer their prayers in the temple.

The architecture of the temple is a blend of South Indian, Rajasthani and Utkala temple architectures.

The tower over the main shrine reaches a height of 165 ft, whereas the towers over the shrines of Venkateshwara’s consorts, Padmavati and Andal reach a height of 116 ft. The presiding deity is about 11 ft tall and a carved lotus forms the umbrella on the roof. The consorts of Lord Venkateswara, Padmavati and Andal are housed in separate shrines. There is a brass flagstaff in the temple premises which rises to a height of 42 ft.

The temple is built on a 280 feet high hillock called the Naubath Pahad in 13 acres. The construction took 10 years and was consecrated in 1976 by Swami Ranganathananda of Ramakrishna Mission. The temple does not have traditional bells, as Swamiji wished that the temple atmosphere should be conducive for meditation.

Though the chief deity is Lord Venkateshwara, the temple has pan-Hindu character with deities of Shiva, Shakti, Ganesh, Hanuman, Brahma, Saraswati, Lakshmi and Saibaba. Selected teachings of holy men and Gurbani are engraved on temple walls.

There is also a shrine dedicated to Lord Buddha. Beautiful Fresco paintings, throwing light on the life and works of Buddha, adorn the walls of this temple. At the rear end of the temple, there is an artificial landscape with mountains and waterfalls.

The intricate carvings of the temple, the ceiling and the mythological figures are standing testimony to the dexterity and sculptural excellence of the craftsmen. Beautiful scenes from the great epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata are finely sculpted in marble. A number of lofty steps lead the visitor to the sanctum sanctorum. Along the winding path are many marble statues of gods and goddesses of Hindu mythology located in the midst of gardens.

The view from the highest level of the temple offers the viewer a spectacular view of the Hussain Sagar Lake, Andhra Pradesh Secretariat, Assembly and Birla Planetarium, the Public Gardens and Lumbini Park.

The temple is open between 7 am and 12 noon and between 3 pm and 9 pm.

We sat for a while there and discussed several issues before we left the place. By the time we reached the house, I had gone half mad, thanks to the traffic. Driving in Bangalore is not difficult, but elsewhere it is, for we are more disciplined and follow traffic rules at any cost. But in Hyderabad, it is the vice versa. People look at us strangely if we talk about traffic rules and discipline!

I found some strange stories about Nobel laureates.

1. Robert Lucas is winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in economics for his work on the theory of “rational expectations,” split his $1 million prize with his ex-wife.

Robert Lucas

Robert Lucas

If there were a Nobel Prize for Foresight or Timing, she should be nominated, based on a clause in their divorce settlement from seven years earlier: “Wife shall receive 50 per cent of any Nobel Prize.” The clause expired on October 31, 1995. Had Lucas won any year after, he would have kept the whole million.

2. Physicist Lise Meitner, whose work helped lead to the discovery of nuclear fission, was reportedly nominated for the Nobel Prize 13 times without ever winning (though nominations are kept secret, so we don’t know for sure).

Lise Meitner

Lise Meitner

This makes her the Dynasty of the Nobel Prize scene — that show was nominated for 24 Emmy Awards but never won. Other analogies we’d accept: The Color Purple (11 Oscar nominations in 1985, no wins), the Buffalo Bills or Minnesota Vikings (4 Super Bowl losses each without a victory) and William Jennings Bryan (three-time Democratic nominee for President, losing twice to McKinley and once to Taft.)

3. People who refused the Nobel Prize:

(i) Le Duc Tho was awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize with Henry Kissinger for their roles in brokering a Vietnam cease fire at the Paris Peace Accords.

Le Duc Tho

Le Duc Tho

 Le Duc Tho with Henry Kissinger

Le Duc Tho with Henry Kissinger

Citing the absence of actual peace in Vietnam, Tho declined to accept.

(ii) Jean Paul Sartre waved off the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Jean Paul Sartre

Jean Paul Sartre

His explanation: “It is not the same thing if I sign Jean-Paul Sartre or if I sign Jean-Paul Sartre, Nobel Prize winner. A writer must refuse to allow himself to be transformed into an institution, even if it takes place in the most honorable form.”

(iii) Afraid of Soviet retribution if he travelled to Stockholm to claim his prize, Boris Pasternak declined to accept the 1958 Prize in Literature, which he’d earned for Doctor Zhivago.

Boris Pasternak

Boris Pasternak

The Academy refused his refusal. “This refusal, of course, in no way alters the validity of the award. There remains only for the Academy, however, to announce with regret that the presentation of the Prize cannot take place.” Yevgeny Pasternak accepted the prize on behalf of his deceased father in 1989.

(iv) Swedish poet Erik Axel Karlfeldt won Nobel for Literature in 1918.

Erik Axel Karlfeldt

Erik Axel Karlfeldt

He did not accept because he was secretary of the Swedish Academy, which awards the prize. He was given the award posthumously in 1931. This was allowed because the nomination was made before Karlfeldt died — no candidate may be proposed after death.

4. In 2007, 90-year-old professor Leonid Hurwicz became the oldest person to ever win (one-third of the Prize in Economics); at 87,

Leonid Hurwiczwriter Doris Lessing became the oldest woman (Literature).

 Doris Lessing

Doris Lessing

5. DNA expert Kary Mullis — 1993 winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry — was scheduled to be a defense witness in O.J. Simpson’s murder trial.

Kary Mullis

Kary Mullis

However, Simpson’s lawyer Barry Scheck felt the prosecution’s DNA case was already essentially destroyed, and he didn’t want Mullis’ personal life to distract jurors (he’d expressed an affinity for LSD.)

6. Big names who never won:

Dmitri Mendeleev, Leo Tolstoy, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Marcel Proust, Mark Twain, Gertrude Stein, Henrik Ibsen, Joan Robinson, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Jules-Henri Poincaré, Raymond Damadian and Mahatma Gandhi.

Dmitri Mendeleev

Dmitri Mendeleev

Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein

Henrik Ibsen

Henrik Ibsen

James Joyce

James Joyce

Joan Robinson

Joan Robinson

 Jules-Henri Poincaré

Jules-Henri Poincaré

Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi

Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust

Mark Twain

Mark Twain

Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla

Raymond Damadian

Raymond Damadian

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf

7. Winners without the greatest reputations:

(i) Daniel Carleton Gajdusek, who won in 1976 for his research in human slow-virus infections, spent 19 months in jail after pleading guilty in 1997 to charges of child molestation.

Daniel Carleton Gajdusek

Daniel Carleton Gajdusek

(ii) Johannes Fibiger won in 1926 after discovering parasitic worms cause cancer — a breakthrough that turned out to not be true.

Johannes Fibiger

Johannes Fibiger

(iii) Yasser Arafat shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin.

Yasser Arafat

Yasser Arafat

Shimon Peres

Shimon Peres

This decision caused Nobel Committee member Kare Kristiansen to resign.

Yitzhak Rabin

Yitzhak Rabin

“What consequences will result,” he asked at the time, “when a terrorist with such a background is awarded the world’s most prestigious prize?”

(iv) William Shockley won for Physics in 1956 for his role in the invention of the semiconductor, but his support of the eugenics movement alienated the scientific community.

William Shockley

William Shockley

Shockley also donated sperm to the Repository for Germinal Choice, a sperm bank developed to spread humanity’s best genes.

8. As part of his divorce settlement, Einstein’s Nobel Prize money went to his ex-wife, Mileva Maric.

Mileva Maric with einstein

Mileva Maric with einstein

9. The Curie family is a Nobel Prize machine, winning five: Pierre and Marie for Physics in 1901;

Pierre Curie with Marie

Pierre Curie with Marie

Marie solo for Chemistry in 1911; daughter Irene and her husband Frédéric Joliot-Curie for Chemistry in 1935;

Frédéric Joliot with Irene Curie

Frédéric Joliot with Irene Curie

and Henry Labouisse — Irene’s daughter Eve’s second husband — accepted on behalf of UNICEF in 1965. No family has won more.

Henry Labouisse (left)

Henry Labouisse (left)

10. Marie Curie’s second prize was marred by a scandal. Then a widow, Curie had an affair with a married scientist, Paul Langevin — a former pupil of Pierre Curie.

 Paul Langevin

Paul Langevin

Love letters were involved, eventually leading to a duel between Langevin and the editor of the newspaper that had printed them (no shots were actually fired.) According to NobelPrize.org, when it was suggested that Curie not accept the prize, she wrote a shrewd letter, “which pointed out that she had been awarded the Prize for her discovery of radium and polonium, and that she could not accept the principle that appreciation of the value of scientific work should be influenced by slander concerning a researcher’s private life.”

11. Singing support — While there’s no evidence the Nobel judges can be swayed by theme songs, that hasn’t stopped Loriana Lana from composing one for Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

 Loriana Lana

Loriana Lana

“Peace Can” includes the lyrics, “Silvio forever will be / Silvio is reality / Silvio forever! /Silvio gives us trust.”

12. Alfred Nobel — inventor of dynamite — may have been inspired to create the Nobel Prize after a premature obituary in a French newspaper called him a “merchant of death.”

Alfred Nobel

Alfred Nobel

13. Nobel died on December 10, 1896. The formal awards ceremony is held in Stockholm each year on the anniversary of his death. The first awards show took place on December 10, 1901.

Pics courtesy: Google

Bapu would have wept seeing the issue surrounding his memorabilia. A man who struggled for peace is surrounded by auctioneers, not to own him or his principles, but to own his five articles — metal-rimmed glasses, pocket watch, a pair of sandals and a plate and bowl.gandhiGandhi gave us freedom witghout using arms and now, the country is not ready to decrease its spending on military and utilise the same amount on the healthcare, especially of the poor!

Has James Otis, American auctioneer of Mahatma Gandhi’s personal items, has set so‘tough conditions’ for the Indian government to stop the memorabilia from going under the hammer?

His conditions include shifting priorities from military spending to health care, especially for the poor. Otis asked India to substantially increase the proportion of its budget spent on healthcare of the poor.

Personal belongings of Gandhi — metal-rimmed glasses, pocket watch, a pair of sandals and a plate and bowl — are up for auction at Antiquorum Auctioneers in New York. 

Besides, Otis also wants the Indian government to help offices of its embassies support educational events that use the Gandhi items to promote non-violent resistance advocated by him in 78 countries.

Otis said that he was ready to give the precious articles to the Indian government for free if it decides to spend five per cent of its GDP on the poor.

“Although India has made many improvements in its public health in recent years, according to WHO only 25 per cent India’s GDP that is dedicated to health care is paid out for public health initiatives. The other 75 per cent of health care expenditures comes from private funding,” Otis noted.

Otis also said that he has a sample of Gandhi’s ashes and blood collected from the site of the assassination, besides a blood report of Gandhi from Irwin hospital in Delhi and a signed telegram he had sent to students congratulating them on their peaceful struggle.

The auctioneers have fixed the reserve price of the articles between $ 20,000 and 30,000 but it might be raised when the items are auctioned. The ongoing media hype could sent the auction price sky rocketing.

Without decreasing funds on military expenditure, can’t the Indian government increase funds on healthcare? Afterall, it is the duty of the government to look after its citizens’ welfare and if Gandhi was alive he would have also felt the same.