Rajan Zed on a promotional spree

It looks like Rajan Zed, the Hindu leader from Nevada is on a self-promotional spree. Rajan Zed has been in news quite often these days. First It was when he had been invited to read prayers to the US Senate. The news got widespread international attention when the prayers were disrupted with shouting of some fundamentalist Christians in the senate gallery. Since then Mr. Zed has been trying to be in the news consistently and project himself as the leader of Hinduism in America. But this has not been warmly welcomed by other Hindu leaders in the USA.

Leaders of three Seattle-area temples said they knew of Zed from news accounts or not at all.

“I don’t know how he advertises himself or how he gets access to these things,” said Shyam Oberoi, secretary of the board of trustees of the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center in Bothell.

Swami Bhaskarananda of the Vedanta Society of Western Washington in Seattle said Zed sounds like “someone ambitious” whose appearance might be “politically motivated — he wants to be known.” [Via]

Zed again came to news when he demanded that a special screening of The Love Guru (a comedy by Mike Myers) be allowed to the members of Hindu community before it was released in June (the movie had full promotional support of the new-age spiritual guru Deepak Chopra). As a result, the Hindu American Foundation was granted a pre-secreening of the film prior to the release.

It looks like Rajan Zed (or it could be his P.R.O or a fan) is doing a lot of self-promotional work these days. I got two emails, which was sent to an email group that I am part of, that seemingly came from Rajan Zed. He sent two articles which titled “Hindus urge European Union to formally apologize to its Roma population for centuries of abuse” and “Hindu statesman Zed inaugurated & blessed a Christian church in Nevada” and both of them had a “For favour of publication” note in the beginning. Then I got another email which was meant for me (because it is about music), which titled “Famous American band releases groundbreaking album on ancient Vedas and presents to Hindu statesman Zed” and for my convenience he had also attached a photo of the event. All three of these articles had mentioned Rajan Zed’s name in almost every paragraph with decorations such as “Acclaimed Hindu and Indo-American statesman Rajan Zed” or “Zed, who is the president of Universal Society of Hinduism” etc.

From what it looks like, there is a self-proclaimed pope-in-the-making for Hindus in America. Watch out for more publicity stunts from Mr. Rajan Zed in the coming days.

Details of the picture above (As given by Mr. Zed in his email):
Andrea (left) and Sara Forman (right), lead singers of Shanti Shanti rock band, presenting the first copy of their new album “Veda” to acclaimed Hindu leader Rajan Zed (center) in Nevada (USA).
Picture by: Roger Bowen Weld

Categories: News, Religion, Spirituality

India at 8th place of top 10 Super Computers

In the latest top 10 listing (from June 2008) of super computers, India has made it to the 8th place.

For the second time, India placed a system in the top10. The Computational Research Laboratories, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Sons Ltd. in Pune, India, installed a Hewlett-Packard Cluster Platform 3000 BL460c system. They integrated this system with their own innovative routing technology and achieved a performance of 132.8 Tflop/s which was sufficient for No. 8.

[Read more]

(Info via email from Ashik)

Categories: Technology

Osho

OshoI haven’t read much of Osho literature or heard any tapes even though plenty of them were available in the market. It was my late friend Biju who first told me that I should listen to Osho tapes because it had some brilliant ideas. The only other literature that he asked me to read was of Mahatma Gandhi. He used to say “the world thought that Gandhi was a serious person, but he was so funny yet explained every thing in simple and beautiful words“.

From what I had learned bout Osho, he seemed to be as cunning (if not more) as the people whom he accused of. I still think the same about him. However, after watching a couple of You Tube videos, I thought, no matter how eccentric this man might sound, no matter how crazy some of his ideas were, he did leave some brilliant thoughts behind. From one of the videos I watched (“Absolutely Free to be Funny“):

I love disturbing people. Because only by disturbing them, I can make them think. They have stopped thinking for centuries. Nobody has been there to disturb them.

A man who remains consistent through his whole life, must be an idiot. A growing person has to contradict himself many times. Because who knows what tomorrow brings in? Tomorrow may cancel this day completely.

(Image courtesy: biographyonline.net)

Categories: Religion, Spirituality

Copyright Infringement – Times of India again

Our mainstream print media is now making it a habit to steal images from Flickr or blogs and use it for free without leaving any proper credits to the original photographer. I have been tracking such incidents right from the day my picture had been stolen and used by a book publisher.

Here is a summary of copyright infringement in the recent past.

Mridula was on a flight from Delhi to Bangalore and while flipping the pages of airline magazine she had found a photo taken by her used in their featured article. No credits were given.

I was browsing through the book review section of Mathrubhumi weekly and found out that one of my photos were used for a book cover. The person who stole the photo did not leave any credit to me.

The same person, Shanavas M A (of Madhyamam weekly), had stolen a Canadian citizen’s picture to use in the cover for Madhyamam. And this seems to be a regular practice of Mr. Shanavas and Madhymam.

Haree had to face the same situation when Madhyamam (again) used one of his photos for an article of their supplement.

Hindustan Times stole a photo taken by Nita and published it in their newspaper without any due credits.

Twilight Fairy found out that her photo was used by Times of India and when contacted she got an arrogant response.

Seema also had to face the same where Times of India becomes the culprit once again.

The latest victim is Sreenidhi whose photo has been flicked off by Times of India.

This is such a bad situation that the mainstream print media houses are showing such ignorance towards image copyright. They need to be held responsible and dragged to courts. High time that we have stricter copyright laws.

(Image courtesy: Seema K K)

Categories: Justice, Law & Order

Maktub – Mother Jane’s new album

Mother Jane, the Indie rock music band’s new album – Maktub – is going to have a web premiere. Starting from the 18th midnight to 27th, they are posting previews of the 9 songs from this new album. You can download the ringtones & read the inside story of each song in their website.

The live web premiere and album launch details below:

Venue : www.motherjane.in
Date : 27/09/2008
Time : 8pm IST

Click here to check out the podcast interview by M-Pod (the Malayalam podcast) with Suraj Mani, the frontman cum lead vocalist of Mother Jane.

Categories: Entertainment, Music

Awarded!

Vinod Joseph, author of Hitchhiker and my good friend, has honored me with a Brillante Weblog 2008 award. Thank you Vinod! You’ve been encouraging me a lot with your comments on my songs.

Also check out Vinod’s blog to read his short stories, book reviews, travelogues etc.

Now as per the rules, I have to honor 7 people with this award and here goes a list of 6:

Pradip Somasundaran – For he is an excellent singer and music blogger who keeps challenging himself with every new song post.

Slogan Murugan – The copywriter who captures Bangalore everyday with his camera.

Ujjwala – Artblog-ger. An amazingly talented artist.

Madhukar Shukla – Reading his blog has helped me see things from an alternate perspective.

Nita – Her blog posts are always insightful.

Thulasi – The guy who digs extra ordinary shots from ordinary life.

Categories: Recognition

These are our times

Another bomb blast, another terrorist attack rocked India in the last week. As usual, the Government promises to keep terrorism off it’s shore (well, it does so, because it is not the politicians, but people who lose their lives), opposition asks for bringing POTA (the infamous anti-terror law) back, people complaining and blogging and can’t keep their mouse off hands and everything returns to normal. Then happens another blast and the life cycle rolls on.

Any latest terror attack is also the time for society to ask “will the moderate Muslim please stand up?”. The moderate Muslims have stood up and keep standing up, but we don’t get to hear their voices. And that has made many of them angry because they are all labelled as terrorist-sympathizers. They speak up, but we choose to ignore.

On the other hand, another breed of terrorists keep burning Christian churches and institutions in the states of Orissa and now in Karnataka. This could very well be a warning of how things would be in the states ruled by the BJP. During the Gujarat tests of Sangh Parivar, the message given was that Muslims should be sent out to Pakistan and Christians to Italy. The agenda against Christians is now effectively being carried out in the states of Orissa and Karnataka.

Those who benefit from this Hindu-Christian conflict are two parties – The Sangh Parivar and the Evangelist groups. Both of them need manpower to sustain their political/religious motives. And they keep harvesting numbers. But in the course, the communal harmony is a thing of past and the ordinary citiznes have to pay with their lives for this.

Whenever a Muslim man with a thick beard, white religious cap, long Kurta gets into the train, he is seen with suspicion that he might be going to plant a bomb. A clean shaved man with a white shirt, black trouser, and a black handybag is seen with great anger, thinking he came to preach the message of a desert God which is going to destroy the other religion and culture. A thick bearded Sadhu in saffron robe with a tilak on the forehead is seen with much fear that he might be the one who will incite people to stab you in the next riots.

They are the same set of people whom we had welcomed with a smile years back or ignored just like another sight. They are the same people who were living in our neighborhood until we made our own community cocoons. Then we drew borders. First between them and us. Then among ourselves. We stand separated. We like love it that way and religion is just another excuse.

These are our times.

Categories: Fanaticism, Nation, Religion

ViBGYOR 2008

ViBGYOR Film Festival 2008

4th ViBGYOR International Film Festival is to be held at Thrissur on February 4th to 8th, 2009. The venue is Regional Theatre Campus, in Thrissur, Kerala. ViBGRYOR is a non-competitive film festival held every year in Kerala for the past three years. Documentary, Short Films, Music Videos, Animation, Spots and Experimental films are screened in the Festival.

ViBGYOR Theme Packages:

  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Dalit Reality
  • Indigenous People
  • Globalisation
  • Nation State
  • Fundamentalism v/s Diversity
  • Region Focus –Pakistan

Every year there is a theme as Focus of the year on which a National seminar is conducted and a substantial number of films are screened. The focus of this year is Food.

ViBGYOR is an initiative of the ViBGYOR Film Collective, which is an open coalition of various networks and groups, representing indigenous people, dalits, youth, and sexual minorities and addressing issues of war, conflict and peace, human rights, environment and development, culture and media and globalization.

ViBGYOR is organized by Chetana Media Institute, Nottam Traveling Film Festival, Navachitra Film Society, CenSE, GAIA, Moving Republic, Visual Search and others.

For more information, log on www.vibgyorfilm.com
Or contact 9447000830/9446529991/0487-2330830,
Email: vibgyorfilmfest@gmail.com

(Info via email from Santhosh Kumar)

Categories: Festivals, Movies

Onam 2008

So Onam had come and gone. And we all had a good time during the past couple of days. My sisters and their children came home and together we put Pookkalam, made Sadya and had a good time! Here are some pics.

Pookkalam:

We started working on Pookkalam since 6 in the morning, but then came rain and a detailed Pookkalam design had been swept off. So we had to rush and draw a rough design before the rain returned and end up with this 30 minutes Pookkalam.

The team:

Sadya:

Categories: Festivals

Happy Onam!

Onam

Onam, though considered traditionally as a harvest festival, is a celebration of togetherness. Malayalis all over the world come together or join their families to spend Onam time. To my parents’ generation Onam was not a celebration of togetherness because not many left their home for jobs or other needs. So they were all together, but what made their Onam different was the prosperity that Onam (or the Malayalam month Chingam) brought in their lives. A good harvest in the paddy fields, buying new clothes (everybody waits for the Onam time to bring new clothes), a perfect Onam meal (Sadya) etc made their Onams special.

To my generation, Onam is a celebration of consumerism. People just customarily buy new clothes for Onam, even if they have bought a pile of new clothes just a couple of days back. Onam is a time for product offers and discounts, so the market is active. But even in this age, one thing that you can still see is that people want to be with their families during the Onam time. Thus Onam becomes a celebration of togetherness.

Here is wishing everyone a Happy and Prosperous Onam!!

Categories: Festivals