HOME | ABOUT US | Speaker | Americans Together | Videos | www.CenterforPluralism.com | Please note that the blog posts include my own articles plus selected articles critical to India's cohesive functioning. My articles are exclusively published at www.TheGhouseDiary.com You can send an email to: MikeGhouseforIndia@gmail.com

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Oprah's Blunder - Indians eat with hands


She has done a two part series on India, and one of the insensitive remarks she made was that Indians still eat their food with hands. I hope she does a follow up highlighting the cultural value of eating with fingers. She forget, we Americans eat most everything with hands, take a look;

Indeed, fingers are the original forks, and we love eating with our fingers, finger licking is good when the hands are curry dipped.

By the way, this has nothing to do with being rich or poor, educated or not, it is just our culture.

She has mistaken civilization to eating with forks. No, it is not. Eating with fork is fine and works for certain foods but not most of the Indian foods.

You cannot eat Masala Dosa with fork to fully enjoy it,
Dosa is the king of South Indian food.

You cannot eat Naan/Roti, the staple food of India, 
Naan is the king of North Indian food. 

She lost her bloody mind and did not realize that;

President Bill Clinton Eats Burger with his hands,
Nominee Mitt Romney eats Chicken with his hands,President  Barack Obama eats Chicken with his hands,
President George Bush eats Corn on the Cob with his hands,
Legendary John Wayne eats Ribs with his hands...

Oprah, who eats Pizza with fork?
Which is nerdy, eating with hands or fork?
You cannot eat chicken with fork and knife;
you got to pick it up with your fingers and dig it in.

You cannot eat ribs with fork and knife,
you got to bite the meat out of the bones.

That's enough.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on the topics of Pluralism, Coexistence, politics, interfaith, Islam and cohesive societies. He is committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day, his bio is at www.MikeGhouse.net and at www.TheGhousediary.com is his daily blog.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bollywood Star Remakes Himself Into TV Conscience



MUMBAI, India — Aamir Khan spent more than two decades as one of India’s most admired movie stars, appearing in a string of socially conscious but mainstream films. Now he has gained even more fame as the host of a hugely popular weekly television show that is calling attention to some the country’s longstanding social problems.
Prakash Singh/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Aamir Khan, right, is the host of a hugely popular weekly television show that is calling attention to some of India’s longstanding social problems.
Prakash Singh/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Mr. Khan addressed journalists in June after appearing before a parliamentary panel to discuss medical problems plaguing India.

Taped in front of a live audience, Mr. Khan’s show, “Satyamev Jayate,” or “Truth Prevails,” is something more than a talk show but less than “60 Minutes.” Mixing Oprah-style interviews on a couch with short reports from the field, it tries to shine a spotlight on festering issues like dowries, domestic violence and indignities in the caste system.

In just three months the show has become a national phenomenon, distributed in seven languages and drawing a cumulative audience of nearly 500 million, according to Star India, India’s largest private TV network, which is owned by News Corporation and which commissioned and broadcast the show.
One of the early programs, in May, provided a vivid example of the show’s influence. Mr. Khan, 47, highlighted a seven-year-old sting operation by two TV reporters who had broadcast footage of more than 100 doctors offering to illegally abort female fetuses. While the legal cases against them languished in India’s notoriously slow courts, the doctors continued to practice medicine.

But just days after Mr. Khan featured the topic on his show, the top elected leader from the State of Rajasthan, where the journalists did their investigation, met with Mr. Khan and promised to have the cases transferred to special courts that expedite the dispensing of justice.

That kind of swift reaction has made Mr. Khan — variously described as India’s Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney or Bono — increasingly sought after by policy makers, social advocates and others who see him as a savior or champion for their causes. In addition to meeting with the chief minister of Rajasthan, he testified before a committee of Parliament about the country’s health care system after he did a program on medical malpractice. And last week he met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to press for a government ban on the practice of having human waste cleaned and carried away by people born into the lowest rungs of the Indian caste system.

He also has a weekly column in The Hindustan Times, takes calls from viewers on a weekly national radio show and is frequently interviewed on prime-time TV news shows.

“Mr. Khan is doing the nation a service by raising important issues which need greater public debate,” said Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, which is financed by the government and nonprofit organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Shyam Benegal, a respected TV and film director and a former member of the upper house of Parliament, said Mr. Khan has done what many others have failed to do — reach the Indian mainstream by using Bollywood tropes in the service of larger causes. His shows, for instance, always include musical performances, frequently show him crying as he interviews his guests and include jokey banter.

“This is effective because Aamir Khan is a film star,” said Mr. Benegal, who once made shows for the state-owned broadcaster, Doordarshan. “And he is a pretty good P.R. man for himself, as well. And all those things help.”

Mr. Khan’s fame has helped the show attract sponsors like India’s largest cellphone carrier, Airtel and the foundation arm of one of the country’s largest companies, Reliance Industries.

In an interview earlier this month — after spending two hours at the gym to prepare for an coming action film — Mr. Khan likened his approach to the show to his 2007 movie, “Taare Zameen Par” or, literally, “Stars on Earth.” The film, which he directed and starred in, told the story of a family’s and school’s inability to meet the needs of a dyslexic child. 

“If I tell you I am making a film on dyslexia, how many people are going to walk into the theater?” he said in a discussion at the Taj Land’s End, a five-star hotel frequented by Bollywood stars. “No one will walk in: ‘Oh, come let’s watch a movie about dyslexia.’ So, I have to tell you it’s a film about childhood and children.”

In the same way, he said, Satyamev Jayate does not announce in advance the subjects he intends to cover.
There is little in Mr. Khan’s upbringing to suggest he would end up hosting such a show. He dropped out of college to pursue his movie career and his first breakout film, in 1988, was a popular Bollywood musical in which his character elopes with his girlfriend because their families do not approve of their relationship.
Starting about a decade ago, however, Mr. Khan began to go down a different path tinged with social activism. In the 2001 Oscar-nominated movie “Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India,” Mr. Khan played a villager in colonial India who challenges a British regiment to a cricket match to determine whether his village must pay an extortionate land tax, or lagaan.

Some entertainment industry analysts trace the change to his relationship with Kiran Rao, an assistant director on “Lagaan” who became Mr. Khan’s second wife. Ms. Rao is known for eclectic interests and for making films that do not hew to the well-worn Bollywood formula.

Since “Lagaan,” Mr. Khan has starred in and or produced movies that deal with issues like political corruption, indebted farmers and India’s regimented higher education system. Most popular Indian actors like Shah Rukh Khan and Salmaan Khan, who are not related to Mr. Khan but with whom he is often compared, have largely shied away from such subjects.

“It’s hard for people to remember now that in the 1990’s, that he was a huge star — one of the three Khans,” said Rachel Dwyer, a professor of Indian cultures and cinema at the University of London. “It’s in this decade that he has remade himself.”

Mr. Khan said he does not see “Lagaan” as a turning point for his career. But he acknowledges that Ms. Rao, who he described as “full of life,” helped him become less insular.

While his show has won much praise, it has also been criticized for its sometimes simplistic treatment of complicated subjects. The Indian Medical Association has protested its portrayal of doctors, which it says casts doctors as money grubbing and unprofessional on the basis of a few errant examples.

Mr. Khan and the top executive at Star dismiss that criticism as self-interested.

“We are very clear here that we are mass media, you cannot take the masses out from it,” Uday Shankar, the chief executive of Star India, said in an interview. “In order to keep the masses engaged if you have to simplify, so be it, because anything less would be meaningless. Then it would become an academic paper on the health sector.”

Other critics have argued that the show is too meek in identifying culprits. For example, it did not name the doctors accused of offering illegal abortions.

“He needs to catch a few throats,” said Dilip Cherian, a newspaper columnist and founder of Perfect Relations, a public relations firm. “A little bit of name and shame will probably work well for the show.”
Mr. Khan said he never intended to make an investigative show along the lines of “60 Minutes” and argued that he was having a much bigger impact by bringing big issues in front of mainstream audiences in a way that seeks to shame them out of their apathy. “We are not mincing our words,” he said, but added in Hindi: “Our attitude is not to blame this or that person. We are all to blame. First, you have to understand that.”
Both Mr. Khan and Mr. Shankar declined to provide financial details about the show, other than to say that Mr. Khan’s production company is paid 35 million rupees ($630,000) for each of the 13 episodes of the first season, which ends on Sunday. Both say they would like to do another season of “Satyamev Jayate” but will wait a few months to make a decision.

In the meantime, some of Mr. Khan’s supporters have suggested that he run for elected office, which has often served as a sinecure for Indian film celebrities. Mr. Khan denies any interest in politics.
“He could definitely make a good politician,” Mr. Benegal, the filmmaker and former legislator, said. But he added: “I think. ‘why should he?’ He has already been successful in politics now without being in mainline politics.” 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

When Einstein met Tagore

URL: http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2012/07/when-einstein-met-tagore.html

It was a pleasure to the read the following conversation between Einstein and Tagore and I hope you'd enjoy it too.

The last week’s discovery of Higs Boson, the God Particle was a revolutionary thought.  
Science does not contradict religion, but simply seeks to understand the logic behind Creation, thus creator. God wants us to seek knowledge, and declares that the best among us are the ones who know. Knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to appreciation of the creation and the creator.   

More about Higs Boson athttp://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/07/god-in-flash-higgs-boson-particle.html
It is a joy to read these discourses.  Rabinrda Nath Tagore won the Nobel prize for his poetry, Geetanjali, and he is one who bestowed the Title Mahatma to Gandhi and he also has the distinction of only poet who wrote national anthems of two nations, India and Bangladesh.

Enjoy both the articles.
Mike Ghouse


Collision and convergence in Truth and Beauty at the intersection of science and spirituality.
On July 14, 1930, Albert Einstein welcomed into his home on the outskirts of Berlin the Indian philosopher Rabindranath Tagore. The two proceeded to have one the most stimulating, intellectually riveting conversations in history, exploring the age-old frictionbetween science and religionScience and the Indian Tradition: When Einstein Met Tagore recounts the historic encounter, amidst a broader discussion of the intellectual renaissance that swept India in the early twentieth century, germinating a curious osmosis of Indian traditions and secular Western scientific doctrine.

The following excerpt from one of Einstein and Tagore’s conversations dances between previously examined definitions ofsciencebeautyconsciousness, and philosophy in a masterful meditation on the most fundamental questions of human existence.

EINSTEIN: Do you believe in the Divine as isolated from the world?

TAGORE: Not isolated. The infinite personality of Man comprehends the Universe. There cannot be anything that cannot be subsumed by the human personality, and this proves that the Truth of the Universe is human Truth.

I have taken a scientific fact to explain this — Matter is composed of protons and electrons, with gaps between them; but matter may seem to be solid. Similarly humanity is composed of individuals, yet they have their interconnection of human relationship, which gives living unity to man’s world. The entire universe is linked up with us in a similar manner, it is a human universe. I have pursued this thought through art, literature and the religious consciousness of man.

EINSTEIN: There are two different conceptions about the nature of the universe: (1) The world as a unity dependent on humanity. (2) The world as a reality independent of the human factor.

TAGORE: When our universe is in harmony with Man, the eternal, we know it as Truth, we feel it as beauty.

EINSTEIN: This is the purely human conception of the universe.

TAGORE: There can be no other conception. This world is a human world — the scientific view of it is also that of the scientific man. There is some standard of reason and enjoyment which gives it Truth, the standard of the Eternal Man whose experiences are through our experiences.

EINSTEIN: This is a realization of the human entity.

TAGORE: Yes, one eternal entity. We have to realize it through our emotions and activities. We realized the Supreme Man who has no individual limitations through our limitations. Science is concerned with that which is not confined to individuals; it is the impersonal human world of Truths. Religion realizes these Truths and links them up with our deeper needs; our individual consciousness of Truth gains universal significance. Religion applies values to Truth, and we know this Truth as good through our own harmony with it.

EINSTEIN: Truth, then, or Beauty is not independent of Man?


EINSTEIN: If there would be no human beings any more, the Apollo of Belvedere would no longer be beautiful.


EINSTEIN: I agree with regard to this conception of Beauty, but not with regard to Truth.

TAGORE: Why not? Truth is realized through man.

EINSTEIN: I cannot prove that my conception is right, but that is my religion.

TAGORE: Beauty is in the ideal of perfect harmony which is in the Universal Being; Truth the perfect comprehension of the Universal Mind. We individuals approach it through our own mistakes and blunders, through our accumulated experiences, through our illumined consciousness — how, otherwise, can we know Truth?

EINSTEIN: I cannot prove scientifically that Truth must be conceived as a Truth that is valid independent of humanity; but I believe it firmly. I believe, for instance, that the Pythagorean theorem in geometry states something that is approximately true, independent of the existence of man.

Anyway, if there is a reality independent of man, there is also a Truth relative to this reality; and in the same way the negation of the first engenders a negation of the existence of the latter.|

TAGORE: Truth, which is one with the Universal Being, must essentially be human, otherwise whatever we individuals realize as true can never be called truth – at least the Truth which is described as scientific and which only can be reached through the process of logic, in other words, by an organ of thoughts which is human. According to Indian Philosophy there is Brahman, the absolute Truth, which cannot be conceived by the isolation of the individual mind or described by words but can only be realized by completely merging the individual in its infinity. But such a Truth cannot belong to Science. The nature of Truth which we are discussing is an appearance – that is to say, what appears to be true to the human mind and therefore is human, and may be called maya or illusion.

EINSTEIN: So according to your conception, which may be the Indian conception, it is not the illusion of the individual, but of humanity as a whole.

TAGORE: The species also belongs to a unity, to humanity. Therefore the entire human mind realizes Truth; the Indian or the European mind meet in a common realization.

EINSTEIN: The word species is used in German for all human beings, as a matter of fact, even the apes and the frogs would belong to it.

TAGORE: In science we go through the discipline of eliminating the personal limitations of our individual minds and thus reach that comprehension of Truth which is in the mind of the Universal Man.

EINSTEIN: The problem begins whether Truth is independent of our consciousness.

TAGORE: What we call truth lies in the rational harmony between the subjective and objective aspects of reality, both of which belong to the super-personal man.

EINSTEIN: Even in our everyday life we feel compelled to ascribe a reality independent of man to the objects we use. We do this to connect the experiences of our senses in a reasonable way. For instance, if nobody is in this house, yet that table remains where it is.

TAGORE: Yes, it remains outside the individual mind, but not the universal mind. The table which I perceive is perceptible by the same kind of consciousness which I possess.

EINSTEIN: If nobody would be in the house the table would exist all the same — but this is already illegitimate from your point of view — because we cannot explain what it means that the table is there, independently of us.

Our natural point of view in regard to the existence of truth apart from humanity cannot be explained or proved, but it is a belief which nobody can lack — no primitive beings even. We attribute to Truth a super-human objectivity; it is indispensable for us, this reality which is independent of our existence and our experience and our mind — though we cannot say what it means.

TAGORE: Science has proved that the table as a solid object is an appearance and therefore that which the human mind perceives as a table would not exist if that mind were naught. At the same time it must be admitted that the fact, that the ultimate physical reality is nothing but a multitude of separate revolving centres of electric force, also belongs to the human mind.

In the apprehension of Truth there is an eternal conflict between the universal human mind and the same mind confined in the individual. The perpetual process of reconciliation is being carried on in our science, philosophy, in our ethics. In any case, if there be any Truth absolutely unrelated to humanity then for us it is absolutely non-existing.

It is not difficult to imagine a mind to which the sequence of things happens not in space but only in time like the sequence of notes in music. For such a mind such conception of reality is akin to the musical reality in which Pythagorean geometry can have no meaning. There is the reality of paper, infinitely different from the reality of literature. For the kind of mind possessed by the moth which eats that paper literature is absolutely non-existent, yet for Man’s mind literature has a greater value of Truth than the paper itself. In a similar manner if there be some Truth which has no sensuous or rational relation to the human mind, it will ever remain as nothing so long as we remain human beings.

EINSTEIN: Then I am more religious than you are!

TAGORE: My religion is in the reconciliation of the Super-personal Man, the universal human spirit, in my own individual being.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rajesh Khanna no more

HisHis gift to India is Kurta - although every star had worn it before, but it was him who popularized it, especially the shorter version of Kurta. It was a rage in India. I wore Kurtas in college, had them in several colors too!

He was also the first one to bring a change in hair style, partial parting! No one had done that before.

This may come as a surprise to many, he was a good mixer, most movie stars don't have religious barriers. He was a great friend of Veteran comedian Mehmood, whose estate was near my home in Yelahanka, Bangalore... one Ramadan eid, him, Amitabh and others showed up at the Eid grounds, and he was in the front row praying along with Mehmood and others in the celebrations, I was in the third row.... it was sometimes around 1980.

I wrote a tribute on Dev Anand and Shammi Kapoor and I have to write one for Rajesh Khanna. I completely missed out on Raj Kapoor, Rafi and Rajendra Kumar, my other favorites. Thank God all my favorite girls are still around; Waheeda Rahman, Hema Malini, Asha Parekh, Madhuri Dixit and Tanuja.

When Raaz was released, my friends and I had a huge debate about his future. Is he going to be a super star like Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Rajendra Kumar or Dharmendra.... at that time Amitabh Bachchan was no where...

He was indeed recognized for his talent in Anand and I believe won the Filmfare Award, and then came Bawarchi. Dushman gave him a good lift and Aradhana put him on the top while Kati patang beefed up his career along with Haathi mere Saathi... and Aaya Sawan Jhoom ke.. Andaaz, Daag and others

The biggest hits were

  • ·        Yahan wahan sare Jahan pay tera raaj hai
  • ·        Achcha to hum chalte hain
  • ·        chup gaye sare nazare oye kya baat hogayee
  • ·        chal chal chal mere haathi
  • ·        Zindagi kaisi hai paheli
  • ·        baghom may bahaar hai
  • ·        mere sapnon ki raani kab aayegi to
  • ·        zindagi ka safar, hai a kaisa safar
  • ·        A shaam mastani
  • ·        A jo mohabbat hai

This was the song we debated on
Mike Ghouse

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Dilip Kumar and Madhubla; a powerful love story

I was the 65th viewer of the this outstanding 33 minutes love story, it is one of the best real love stories with full range of emotions I have seen. I do regret that it is not in English or English subtitles. It is in Hindustani (Hindi/Urdu) language, the language of Indian Films.

This is a dream come true for guys like me who want to see Indian films in less than an hour (usually three hours)… if I did not have the passion for Pluralism; this is what I would have done; to reduce all Indian films to one hour. Here is the best example of such work.

This is the real love story of two of the greatest movie actors of Bollywood. It is incredible work, a story created from of pieces of different films, reflecting the real love story of Dilip Kumar and Madhubala.

It is one of most beautiful love stories laced with a touch of some of the most beautiful songs and dialogues, its indeed a hog’s heaven for the people of the subcontinent.

I had the luxury of spending over three hours with Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu, when they were in Dalals, and subsequently managing his media schedule. I was also their attendent along with Taj Bhai in checking them into the hotel. We had great philosophical conversations with them, indeed, we talked about Pluralism way back then in the early Nineties. It's been 18-19 years ago.

I thank the narrator lady Nigar Khan for putting this together, however, I really wish she had not acted and talked like villainous Bindu in the old Indian movies. I love that set with dim blue gray lighting.

I dropped everything to watch this film, and if you do, please let me know.

Thank you

Watch and enjoy.
~ ~ ~ ~

Mike Ghouse, watch the trailer of the film I am making on the website www.AmericaTogetherFoundation.com. When complete, it is a love story weaved into American Context, making a patriotic American out of all of us.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The New Hero of Indian Television

The New Hero of Indian Television

A Bollywood superstar has channeled his social conscience into a surprise hit show

On Indian TV, there has never been anything quite like "Truth Alone Prevails." Since its debut in May, the weekly show has reached more than 470 million viewers with its inquiries into issues like pesticides in food, domestic violence and the abortion of female fetuses. Within moments of airing, each episode trends at No. 1 on Twitter in India. Ten million people have sent text messages, emails and comments to the show's website to share their questions, opinions and fears.

Photos: Aamir Khan, On Screen and On The Streets

Associated Press
A selection of moments in Khan's off-screen career.
In two Indian states, the show has prompted governments to bolster the enforcement of existing laws, and a few weeks ago the show's host was called to testify before a parliamentary committee after an episode on medical malpractice. The scale of the response has made "Satyamev Jayate" (as the show is called in Hindi) more like a people's movement than a television show.

More astonishing is the fact that this social and political phenomenon is the work of Aamir Khan, a superstar of India's giant film industry. At 47, Mr. Khan combines something of the glamour and social concern of George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Like many Bollywood actors, he made his name dancing around trees and singing in the rain, but over the years he has turned to more serious things. Three years ago he had a great success with "3 Idiots," a comedy about the mind-numbing state of Indian education. Now, having turned down offers to do the game shows that many actors of his standing have taken up, he has created something startling and altogether new in India.
Hindustan Times Via Getty Images
testifying to a parliamentary panel on June 21.
The format of "Truth Alone Prevails" is simple. (The show airs on the Star network, which, like The Wall Street Journal, is owned by News Corp.) Mr. Khan introduces the issue of the day to a live studio audience; a short video is shown, featuring a real-world case of hardship or injustice; and then, with only a modest amount of television wizardry, the lights come up and the person from the video is on stage, seated opposite Mr. Khan. And they begin to talk. Mr. Khan does not dazzle the audience with his star power; for the most part, he just listens. It is his guests, often heartbreakingly ordinary, who do the talking.

What emerges from their stories is a creeping horror, a vision of modern India that is stark and deeply unsettling: the family whose mother's life is snatched away, they say, in a botched and unauthorized organ transplant; the 12-year-old girl who accuses a 55-year-old family friend of sexual abuse; the call-center worker who tells of the forced abortion of her female fetuses—six times in eight years—at the hands of her husband's family. Mr. Khan's style is wry and laid back, but occasionally the stories are too much for him, and his eyes well with tears.
Though all manner of cruelty and casual violence are on display, the show is essentially uplifting.
India has not always been comfortable looking this hard at itself. Mr. Khan's show indicates a new candor and boldness, and the response has been staggering. As he told me, "We used to sit back, my team and I, and discuss how people would react, what they would feel. And the kind of response we dreamed of, and hoped for, that is exactly what we're getting." He admits to being emotionally drained by the show at times: "There's a lot of trauma, a lot of distress, a lot of injustice" out there, he said, and he has yet to commit to a second season. But he also says that he encountered an "equal number of examples of courage, high levels of integrity and deeply honed values."

Critics have accused Mr. Khan of being far less reliable on scientific issues than he is on social ones. Some also say that the show is preachy, even messianic, and that its research is not always up to scratch. After Mr. Khan's episode on malpractice, the medical community raised a furor, and the doctor accused of the unauthorized organ transplant is now threatening the show with legal action.
But most Indians seem to share the view of Shekhar Gupta, the editor in chief of the Indian Express, who believes that the show's emphasis on social justice compensates for its shortcomings. "The most important thing is that people are now willing to talk about what's wrong with them," he told me. And Mr. Khan "holds a mirror up to the society; that's a remarkable thing."

The success of "Truth Alone Prevails" is very much a function of India's rising prosperity over the past decades. Since the early 1990s, a middle class of several hundred million has emerged, and its members are increasingly willing to voice their outrage over the familiar tragedies of life in India. Among them, "Truth Alone Prevails" has an almost religious appeal. As one blogger wrote, in response to media criticism of the show, "If someone tries to do something good for the society, you guys could not bear it.... People need someone to follow, to show them the right path."

This reaction represents a strange truth about the show (and perhaps about India too): Though all manner of cruelty and casual violence are on display, it is essentially uplifting.

What gives "Truth Alone Prevails" its optimism is the voice of India's new middle class, which is increasingly politically and socially aware, though still unsure of itself and its newfound wealth and security. If the old India of my childhood—which was a far bleaker place—is to be superseded, it will depend on this new class's ability to understand and defend the freedoms that have enriched it. Mr. Khan's achievement has been to use his celebrity to show Indians, with rare clarity and grittiness, how far the country has come, and how far it has yet to go.
—Mr. Taseer's "Stranger to History" will be published this fall by Graywolf. He lives in New Delhi and London.
Corrections & Amplifications
An earlier version of this story said the film '3 Idiots' came out two years ago, but it was released three years ago in 2009.

A version of this article appeared July 7, 2012, on page C3 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The New Hero of Indian Television.

Manmohan Singh and Time Magazine

A file photo of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The Time magazine firestorm
To think that a cover story in Time can influence people’s minds, or build momentum towards a particular opinion reflects, reflects a very poor understanding of the mind of the Indian voter

Salil Tripathi 

It was the best of Time; it was the worst of Time. Within two years, the international newsmagazine has published two features about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which can be characterized as the “best” or the “worst”, depending entirely on your politics. In 2010, when the magazine ranked 100 of the most important people in the world, Singh was among them, and Indra Nooyi, chairwoman and CEO of PepsiCo wrote: “Now, as Prime Minister, he is guiding India into the ranks of the great powers. India today is a critical engine of global growth, a vital partner in global security and a model for democratic development. Perhaps more important, Singh is ensuring this progress is not enjoyed by a chosen few; he realizes that economic development is the best antipoverty program a government can design. Albert Einstein said, “Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.” In endeavoring to lift India’s people to prosperity and stability, Singh has achieved both.”

A file photo of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

That is high praise. Within two years, journalist Krista Mahr’s cover story has been titled “The Underachiever”, with the mocking sub-title: India needs a reboot: Is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh upto the job? The story itself goes on to list familiar failures and charges of corruption that have undermined his government, saying in his rule India has suffered and been made insecure. Predictably, the Bharatiya Janata Party, conveniently forgetting its own outrage over a story critical of its prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee in 2002 in the same magazine, has asked the Congress to introspect over such a poor assessment; the Congress has ridiculed the story altogether.

Time’s journalists of course have the right to hand out the kind of grades they like in report cards they hand out to leaders of India or any other country. The magazine itself has the right to change its mind about a particular leader. And the magazine can, if it wants to, speak in two voices in the same issue about a particular leader. Publications ought to be big tents, and people will view most politicians differently. (Time knows this: in March this year, it placed Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi on its Asian cover, asking if he is ready to lead India; in April, Modi was a candidate in its poll of 100 most influential people in the world. In the end, Modi failed to make the grade when the final list was announced, among the reasons being the highly polarizing vote).

Each time Time takes on an Indian politician, it seems, the Indian chatterati, or at least the twitterati, come to a standstill, praising or fulminating against their chosen politician, as though it required an American weekly magazine to help Indians articulate what they think. That is ridiculous. Indians know what they think of their politicians; they vote on the basis of what they know. The influence of any foreign publication – be it Time, Newsweek, or The Economist – is by definition limited, because of its price, reach, and the barriers posed by language and literacy.

Beyond that, assessment of any politician is a complicated matter – be it Modi or Manmohan Singh. India is shining and declining; it has much to be proud of and a whole lot to be embarrassed about. The leader at the top can influence direction upto a point, but the country follows its own trajectory, at its own pace. Indeed, people make up their own minds about what they think of the leaders. But to think that a cover story in Time can influence people’s minds, or build momentum towards a particular opinion reflects, reflects a very poor understanding of the mind of the Indian voter.

Salil Tripathi is a writer based in London

Aamir Khan is God sent to India

As a person committed to building cohesive societies, I cannot thank God enough for the gift of Aamir Khan to India.
Aamir Khan with the show Satyamev Jayate
He is changing India, and impacting the social attitudes. He is bringing Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Christians, Buddhists, street people, palace people, men, women and children on common grounds. A deep sense of empathy and connection is binding people together. He will eventually strip biases and prejudices in people towards the other and bring mukti to them.

It is good teaching material for the organizations committed to the well being of women and children and prevent potential abuse.

He has become my new hero in the line of my social heroes who have worked all their lives to build cohesive societies. Aamir has turned his fame for common good, a pioneer from the fame industry and I hope; he will inspire the other giants like Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwariya Rai, Shahrukh Khan and others to take time out from making money and doing some good.

You don't need to be a star to do good, you can do it too. Volunteer your time to serve people whom you don't know, it would be better if you serve the one's don't like them. It will do a lot of good for you.

I have seen two people in Dallas die in car accidents – oddly one was an Indian and the other a Pakistani. Both were money making machines and had refused to donate to charity, to do good for others. What did they take with them?

Aamir Khan has inspired me with ideas on the documentary I am making. He has put together topics that bind people, I am now reorienting myself to redo the documentary, Americans together, building a cohesive society, where no American has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. You are welcome to participate in the documentary with ideas, funds, labor and energy.

Please do watch these two videos.
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Satyamev Jayate : Female infanticide in India
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Satyamev Jayate : Child Sexual Abuse - 13th May 2012
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And read the following if you have the time.
Aamir Khan, the new Social Hero of India
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Satyameva Jayate: A Truly Cathartic Experience
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The Idiocy of The Big, Fat Indian Weddings

MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.com is updated daily.