G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Chris Ware: "Being a cartoonist means you don’t consider yourself too fancy."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Monday, January 30, 2012

Joe Sacco's Suvanti is just 1 in 230 million Indians!

Today Jan 30 2012 is 64th death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Another thing that is 64 year old is the baby in following picture:


Artist: Sudhir Tailang, The Asian Age, January 12 2012

A headline in The Times of India, January 16 2012: "Superpower? 230m Indians go hungry daily."

Nourishment and food are always closely associated with Public Distribution System (aka ration) in India.

The dialogue of character of Pran in Hindi film Upkar (उपकार), 1967 became a huge hit. It sounded something like this: "राशन पे भाशन बहुत है लेकिन भाशन पे राशन नहीं." (There are lots of speeches on ration but there is no rationing of speeches.)

We still have grand speeches (bhashan) on the subject.

The Times of India Jan 11 2012:

"The findings of a report on country malnourished children compelled Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to call malnutrition a "national shame" on Tuesday. A report on Hunger and malnutrition (HUNGaMA) released by the PM in New Delhi on Tuesday states: "Over 25% children in the state (UP) are severely and 58.55% are moderately malnourished." The report has covered 40 districts of UP out of total 112 districts across India."

There are more poor people in just eight Indian states than in all the 26 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, with the large state of Madhya Pradesh comparable in intensity of deprivation to war-ravaged Congo. The incidence of underweight children in Gujarat, one of our most economically-advanced states, is substantially worse than the average for sub-Saharan Africa. (from writings of Pankaj Mishra, Pranab Bardhan)

But none of them reached my heart as starkly as Joe Sacco's comic reportage- 'Kushinagar'- for 'The Caravan' January 2012.

Kushinagar is a town in Uttar Pradesh where Gautama Buddha is believed to have attained Parinirvana after his death.

Mr. Sacco tells us about the ground reality there. He tells us about how Dalit Musaharas (rat-eaters) families survive, if at all.

Sample some of the speech bubbles:

Food! The topic to end all topics!

Suvanti: The women go to the fields where the rats are and we collect the grains that [they store] in their holes, and we bring them here. We go there everyday. Who goes? Just the women. All of us. And children. Even men!

Suvanti says that raiding ratholes is steadier work than agricultural labour.

Suvanti's husband: I might not have a job for many days but she goes to collect [the rat's food] for at least eight months a year.

What about their son Rajinder?

Rajinder: I try to find food in the holes of rats.



speech bubbles in the picture just above read as follows:

"For the Musahars of the Gurumiha Mafitola hamlet , the Below the Poverty Line definition , which government committees endlessly recalibrate, is a moot point because the issue is not merely poverty which might be bearable, but hunger."

"That is their only concern: food."