History, India, Politics

Proclamation of Emergency, as published in The Gazette of India 40 years ago

(This is the first in a series of posts on 40 years of Emergency)

40 years ago on June 25, 1975 that the President of India Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed toed the line drawn by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to sign the proclamation of Emergency and heap upon the democracy its darkest 21 months. This one-sentence proclamation signed on June 25, 1975 and published in The Gazette of India on June 26, 1975 (in English and Hindi. Reproduced below) initiated an unprecedented period of suppression of civil liberties in the country.

The one sentence that gave the Indian democracy a 21-month sentence.


In exercise of the powers conferred by clause 1 of Article 352 od the Constitution, I, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, President of India, by this Proclamation declare that a grave emergency exists whereby the security of India is threatened by internal disturbance.

FA Ahmed

New Delhi
The 25th June 1975

Notification in The Gazette of India: Proclamation of Emergency by the President of India (English)

Notification in The Gazette of India: Proclamation of Emergency by the President of India (Hindi)

India, Tips & Tricks

India inflation adjustment calculator (1939-2013) at 2013 prices

A simple online Excel sheet to calculate the value of any amount of rupees from any year from 1939 to 2013 in 2013 prices.


This calculator is based on the Indian Wholesale Price Index data from 1939 to July 2013. While 1939 is used as the base year to calculate the rate of inflation the amount in rupees calculated is equivalent to current prices.

Add any rupee amount in a cell corresponding to your year of choice under the insert value column and its value in today’s money will be displayed to the right.

This calculator tells me that my first salary is now equivalent to almost double of it.

History, India, Newspapers, North East India, Shillong

1962: Newspaper front page from 50 years ago when China attacked India

It’s been 50 years since the ‘Himalayan Blunder’ of 1962 when the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) unexpectedly rampaged into Indian territory and reached the outskirts of Tezpur in Assam before making an unexpected retreat.

The war was fought much before I was born, but being born into North East India, I heard a lot of stories and sometimes as a kid imagined where would I be and what would I be doing if the Chinese had captured the entire North East, including Shillong, my home town. I, who was struggling with my Hindi writing, in my imagination, was dreading the idea of mastering the complex Chinese script.

50 years later, the Chinese have indeed captured India (and much of the world). It is not PLA’s doing, but that of cheap labour and big factories. The laptop I am typing this post on is made in China and so is so much of what is in my home and also at work.

This reminds me of a joke that my brother shared with me, when my son Googool (Advay) was born:

A boy goes to meet his new born sister at the hospital. On seeing the sleeping infant he starts looking for something, lifting her sleeves, closely analysing her feet and when he tries to turn the baby over, his father interrupts and asks, “What are you looking for?” “A tag, to check if the baby is also made in China,” the boy replies.

The front page headlines in The Sunday Standard dated October 21, 1962, announcing the other kind of Chinese invasion that happened half-a-century ago.

Assembly House, Shillong (1948)
History, India, North East India, Outdoor Ads, People, Photos, Politics, Shillong

Vintage photographs of Shillong from 1948 (also Vallabhbhai Patel calling people of Assam lazy)

64 years later, Shillong is virtually unrecognisable. I could only recognise the Governor House on Bivar Road, then known as Government House, the characteristic Ward’s Lake and the Assembly House (destroyed in a fire on January 9, 2001).

These photographs from Government of India’s Photo Division were taken when Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was on a visit to the city in January 1948, as a part of his effort towards the political integration of independent India. Shillong was then the capital of Assam.

Old images of a city and childhood pics. They evoke similar feelings. Along with a longing for a time long gone, there is also the excitement of identification. Often it turns out to be a game for friends to play together.

I invite my fellow Shillongites to join me in this game and help identify all the places in these photos and correct any identification errors on my part. I could at best make some calculated guesses (the church in images 13, 16 and 17 is probably in Mawkhar, but I’m not sure).

Update (October 16, 2012): Ramesh Bawri, an eminent Shillongite, has provided valuable information to accompany the photographs. I’ve added them to the photographs.

Text of the speech that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, made on January 2, 1948 at a public meeting in Shillong.

The straight talking Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of India did not shy away from calling the people from Assam lazy. Assam is also referred to as the Land of Lahe Lahe (‘Lahe lahe’ in Assamese means ‘slowly slowly’).

I desired to see for myself after 22 years the progress which Assam had made during this period. More particularly I wanted to see how Assam had been affected by recent events including the separation of a part of Sylhet. India has had to shoulder a great burden; this has involved suffering and privation. It has also filled all of us with deep sorrow. During the struggle for freedom although we had borne tremendous suffering we had never flinched or grieved because the very struggle contained zest and keenness which conquered haif-heartedness and sorrow.

We thus won Freedom but if we had not suddenly turned mad we would have started reaping its fruit and enhancing our prestige and reputation in the eyes of the world. Instead of appreciating the value of what we had achieved, we behaved worse than animals. It was in no light-hearted manner that we agreed to partition. This price was necessary to gain freedom and to live in freedom.

However, there is no time now for grieving over what has happened. We must now forget what we have suffered. We must remember that we have still our brethren across the frontier whom we have to evacuate and settle in this country. We hope Pakistan will not give us any trouble; instead it will assist us in that task so that we may accomplish it peacefully and successfully in order that each of us may settle down to the vital task of reconstruction which awaits us. Thereafter there would be no bone of contention.

In this connection, I appreciate that Kashmir and Hyderabad are still the two problems which remain outstanding. Though contrary to what Pakistan contends, Junagadh has ceased to be a problem. Of these two problems, Hyderabad, I am certain, would itself realise the path of wisdom and sanity. But if it did not, the problem would not remain confined to Hyderabad alone, but would have wide repercussions.

There are four and a half crores of Muslims in the rest of India who are bound to be affected if Hyderabad releases what will in effect be a cloud of poisoned atmosphere. As regards Kashmir, I am definite that the problem will settle itself sooner then many expected but if it persists, while it may damage India to some extent it will finish Pakistan…

India intends to wish Pakistan well. All the problems incidental to partition have been amicably settled. Surely, that is not like enemies but like mutual well-wishers. If only the problem of evacuation and exchange of population had been settled successfully and satisfactorily, relations between India and Pakistan would have been much better…

Words cannot describe the horror of sufferings which the Punjabis have suffered. The rehabilitation of refugees is a very difficult task and in that task I invite the co-operation of every citizen of every province. There is no room here for provincial parochialism or for inter-provincial jealousies. If such tendencies develop, it would mean the ruin of India. Instead there must be rivalries in advancement and prosperity. I, therefore, thank the people of Shillong for the purse of Rs 10,000 which has been presented for the relief of the refugees. What matters so much is not the contribution but the spirit behind it…

I recall how only six months ago there was a general talk of Rajastan which if it had materialised would have meant that the whole body politic of India would have been covered with ulcers. Instead we have achieved integration and unity which have promised immense potentialities for glory and greatness. It is now, for all of you either to mend or mar your future. If you want to secure your future you could do so only by unity in which lies strength. I am happy that the people of Assam have forgotten and forgiven the efforts which the Muslim population made for the achievement of Pakistan. I hope that this good turn will be taken up and you will achieve unity. This obviously means that if there is a struggle with Pakistan, Muslims in India must stand by their country. They must tell Pakistan, “You have got what you wanted. For heaven’s sake let us now live in peace.”

I have a special word for the young men whom I see around me. I know that many of you wished to sponsor Socialism but you must realise that unity should come first. It is no use merely crying. “We are Socialists”. You cannot comprehend Socialism by reading text-books or listening to learned speeches. You must first understand what it means in practice and how the ground has to be prepared for it. You must realize how long England took to become socialistic, and America does not even talk of it now. They say I am a friend of the rulers and the capitalists; but I am a friend of the Harijans, the poor and the tribes. I am also a friend of the Socialists. Unlike many who indulge in the parrot cry of Socialism, I have no property of my own. Before you talk of Socialism, you must ask yourself how much wealth you have created by your own labour. If you have created nothing the parrot would have flown and the cage would be empty.

By experience, I am convinced that what is necessary is for us to learn how to produce wealth and then to produce and thereafter to think what to do with it. What the province wants most is not this parrot cry of Socialism but unity and strength. Yours is a land for gods to live in. Its air, its natural scenery, its pure atmosphere, its sweet water would attract even gods if our hearts were pure, but the population was lazy and it did not know how to make the best of resources. You must first, therefore, get rid of your enemy which is laziness. There is so much to be done.

If you produce your own cloth, your own food and abstain from drinks you can change the entire rural atmosphere. You have then to harness your rivers. You have established a High Court and a University. You must concentrate on this useful and constructive work and not lose yourselves in theoretical disputes about Socialism. Some people feel that they can settle all problems by wielding the big stick and by reciting ad nauseam the elementary ideas about Socialism. They forget that it is not coercion or hatred but affection and regard which would prove most effective. That is the divine way of doing things. You have also to look after the border of which you are the gate-keepers. It is a big responsibility for it involves dealing with the enemies and welcoming friends.

The natural sceneries are an asset to your province. There may not be the loftincess of the buildings in Calcutta. There may not be the wealth of the cities but they have beauty and naturalness. Although I am going to Calcutta, a bigger place and would stay in a bigger Government House, I would miss the simplicity and natural life that I have come across in Shillong. I am sure I shall not see anything like it.

I ask you to make full use of your Prime Minister, a self-sacrificing man of ability and truly competent; and your Governor who has been specially selected for you, and who is working for you. His experience of men and affairs is unrivalled.

I wish you create in Assam a model for the rest of India. I hope during the coming few years, I can see something of what you accomplish to this end. In your achievements I shall find the noblest gesture that could ever be the luck of any individual to receive.

The Prime Minister is of course Jawaharlal Nehru and the Governor, Patel referred to in his speech was Ronald Francis Lodge, a retired Indian Civil Service officer who was also the Chief Justice of the High Court of Assam. Lodge served as the Governor for only a month and a half from December 30, 1948 to February 15, 1949.

Advertising, Bollywood, Fantastic Females, Movies, Print Ads, Vintage Indian Ads

Zeenat Aman is the classic Indian dark-haired beauty in 1970 Air India ad

“Memories of dark-haired beauties,” is what a traveller to India will bring back, promises a 1970 advertisement for Air India. “Long after you leave India, India will still be with you,” says the tag line. And that dark-haired beauty modelling for the ad is none other than Zeenat Aman (I did an image overlay check to authenticate if it indeed is Zeenat and am 95%100% assured. Let me know if this is someone else. It has happened to me before). Before venturing into movies and hitting it big with the landmark Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971), Babushka also did a little stint as a model, she was a beauty queen after all – Miss Asia-Pacific 1970.

Zeenat Aman in a 1970 Air-India advertisement

Long after you leave India, India will still be with you.

For $793 Air-India will give you a 17-day vacation in India.

We’ll take you to a world where palaces speak of ages past, even while the cities talk of today. We’ll fly you around inside India, giving you room, private bath and meals. And we’ll bring you home with a headful of memories: of dark-haired beauties, exotic shops and even more exotic countryside.

(We can also give you the lowest-priced India ever. Just $600 for two weeks in Delhi, your air-conditioned hotel, most meals, the Taj Mahal and the jet round-trip.)

Off you go to your travel agent.

Air-India has something money can’t buy.

Early ads featuring Zeenat Aman are treasured by Zeenat fans, as so few have been collected and chronicled. Vinayak at At the Egde has a 1972 Babushka ad for Taj Mahal Tea

Cutting the CHai - Default featured image
Cricket, Sports

A Big Dose of India Versus Pakistan Cricket Stats

Everybody and their mother-in-law is writing a blog post on the big cricket match on Wednesday. It does take a superhuman effort or an utter dislike or extreme disinterest in cricket for someone in the sub-continent to avoid expressing their opinion on the second semi-finals of the 2011 Cricket World Cup. I intend to do something different. No opinions, only facts.

Here’s the biggest dope of India versus Pakistan One Day cricket stats that I could conjure. Most of them, you know. Some are revelations.

Matches played: 119
India won: 46
Pakistan won: 69
No result: 4

Matches played in the World Cup: 4
India won: 4
Pakistan won: 0

Matched played in India: 26
India won: 9
Pakistan won: 17

The first India versus Pakistan ODI was played at Quetta on October 1, 1978. India won the 40 over match by 4 runs. India scored 170/7 and Pakistan could only muster 166/8. Mohinder Amarnath with 51 runs and 38/2 was the man of the match.

The last India-Pakistan ODI (prior to the Mohali Word Cup clash) was played at Dambulla, Sri Lanka. India won by 3 wickets. Pakistan scored 267 and India replied with 271/7. Gautam Gambhir got the man of the match for his 81 runs.

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Cutting the CHai - Default featured image
Consumer Awareness, Grumbles, India, Technology

How Arrogant Apple Lost a Potential Fan

That I am not an Apple fan, is because of Apple. Apple is itself responsible for not being able to turn me into an Apple aficionado (actually, they don’t seem to even want to). I don’t own any Apple device, though sometimes I wished I did. No, not even an iPod. And given Apple’s track record, I don’t see myself possessing any in the near future.

As a consumer I expect companies to treat me with respect, I believe I deserve. But Apple chooses to treat me as a third-class consumer, who irrespective of his interest, abilities, desires and purchasing power, figures right at the bottom of its priority list. Why? Because my address says India.

That India is one of the world’s fastest emerging economies and also one of the largest markets consumer electronics is hardly of any consequence to the boys at 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino.

India is not a part of Apple's world

India is not a part of Apple's world

There was no surprise or shock when the Apple celeb-in-chief didn’t make any mention of of the iPad 2’s launch plans for India. India to Apple is only a market where it can hold their clearance sale, just before it is ready with the product’s next generation. It has happened with the iPod, the iPhone and now the iPad.

Apple officially began selling its blockbuster tablet device in India exactly 30 days before it announced the new one. The iPhone 4 was unveiled on June 7, 2010. It’s been eight long months and still no sight of the phone at India’s Apple Stores. We now know that it’ll probably land in India only a month before the iPhone 5 pops up on the big screen at an Apple event.

Airtel still innocently believes that iPhone 3GS is still the “fastest and most powerful iPhone yet.” I cannot blame them.

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Cutting the CHai - Default featured image

The Logic Behind the New Rupee Currency Symbol

Update: The symbol for the Indian Rupee has been officially included in the latest release of the Unicode Standard (ver 6.0.0)

Got this via a tweet from @unnikoroth.

This presentation by D Udaya Kumar, the man who designed the new symbol for the Indian Rupee, gives us a deeper insight into the idea behind the icon.

Udaya Kumar also visualised a symbol for the paise and it is a little different from my photoshopped version. Also noteworthy are the examples of the use of the symbol in daily life.

Cutting the CHai - Default featured image
Downloads, India

Download the New Rupee Symbol Font (and a Symbol for the Paise)

Update: The symbol for the Indian Rupee has been officially included in the latest release of the Unicode Standard (ver 6.0.0)

Though this is the FIRST font to support the new symbol for the Indian Rupee, I suggest that you also take a look at some of the other Rupee fonts available.

Foradian Technologies has also come up with a font that supports the new Rupee symbol.

There was much excitement today over the new Cabinet-sanctioned symbol for the Indian Rupee. Rupee was also a top trending topic on Twitter today and still is (at the time of posting).

Interestingly, the design by D Udaya Kumar didn’t feature amongst the five short-listed symbols circulated in the media last month.

Here are the short-listed symbols printed in the Delhi edition of The Times of India dated June 24:

Shortlisted Symbols for the  Indian Rupee

Shortlisted Symbols for the Indian Rupee - The Times of India June 24

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Cutting the CHai - Default featured image

To control AIDS ‘stop sexual contacts between Indians and foreigners’

I didn’t know of this amusing suggestion on how to control AIDS by Dr Avtar Singh Paintal, the then director general of the Indian Council for Medical Research, in 1988:

This is a totally foreign disease, and the only way to stop its spread is to stop sexual contacts between Indians and foreigners.

If only someone had stopped that human-monkey contact in the first place.

A report dated September 13, 1988 in the Weekly World News:

India has plan to stop AIDS - ban love!

India has plan to stop AIDS - ban love!

Cutting the CHai - Default featured image
Bombay, Grumbles, India, Media, Newspapers, North East India, Politics, Television, Terrorism, Websites

Against Terror. In all Forms

It’s November 26. Said to be the day we commemorate what is often called India’s 9/11. The date-month order may be transposed, but even after that bloody (and live) 72 hours nothing much else seems to be.

I still vividly remember the day and the ones following. Came home late, switched on the TV saw tickers running on news channels about some firing in Mumbai. Thought that the gangsters were back in business and turned it off.

The next day came early to work, at around 7:00 AM to find the floor abuzz. But it still didn’t strike me. Everyone seemed busy, no one told me anything. I stepped down for an early morning pee and in the lobby my eyes fell on the six LCD TVs and they were all showing the same story. I stood, staring. A little later, a single word escaped my lips. Fuck!

Rushed back upstairs, turned on the PC, fired up the browser and ingested all that I had missed through the night. The day went off in a daze. Being more of an entertainment-lifestyle journalist this wasn’t exactly my domain. But on days like these, there’s only one beat.

When I returned home late that night, I didn’t think of writing a blog post. I hadn’t even after the July 11, 2006 train bombings (that was earlier India’s 9/11. Unimaginatively termed 7/11. In India we don’t refer to dates in that order). But later couldn’t help, but let it out.

As on July 11, 2006 “I had nothing to say. Numbed. I didn’t want to react. Couldn’t.

Now a year after the Mumbai terror attacks, I cannot again restrain myself.

On this first anniversary of the 26/11 attacks, more than Kasab & Co. it is the home-bred terror, that people just refer to by other names, that pesters me.

Terrorism isn’t only about firing hundreds of rounds a minute from an Automatic Kalashnikov or triggering RDX to blow up trains. Terrorism is a mind game. The perpetrator tries to instill fear in the minds of the masses. The fear of a violent backlash. And all this isn’t Al-Qaeda, ISI and their ilk’s prerogative.

These are the ‘respectable’ terrorists. The kind that Bollywood stars give obeisance to. This brand of terrorists (or their henchmen) become lawmakers and the upholders of the law stand in attention to give them open-palm salutes.

They threaten, they main, they destroy, they kill and they spread their fear. They terrorise.

And they aren’t restricted to any geographical periphery. In Bombay (Shiv Sena and MNS would like to terrorise me in referring the city as Mumbai), in Maharashtra. They terrorise not for the sake of the language, but for power.

Power, the ultimate goal of terrorists of every kind.

In neighbouring Gujarat, the experiments with state terrorism yielded favourable electoral results. The Communists had almost perfected their cadre-powered terror in West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala. Only that in Bengal they now have to confront Trinamool’s brand of counter-terror terror. In north Kerala, the saffron and the red take turns to terrorise the populace.

Terrorism is almost a cottage industry in the North East. The formula is simple: Give fear, take money. To hell with ‘independence’ and ideology (Most terrorists believe in god). But the real terror in the North East isn’t of the gun-toting renegades, it is the seeming innocuous students’ unions and social organisations.

Their fact that there organisations – more often than not – are built around communal lines, their actions frequently result in violent communal conflagrations. Their writ runs large. Bandhs called by them are total (unlike the ones in Delhi), not because of popular support for the cause but their terror. Some such terrorist leaders have moved on to higher politics to become chief ministers and members of the cabinet.

Then there is the age-old terrorist – caste (and of course, religion and culture).

I have been a victim of such terrorism and continue to be so. And so are you, consciously or with you being unaware of it.

Compared to the AK-47 terrorists, it is the bandh-terrorists (for want of a better term) who are more successful. They get name, fame, money, power and in some cases Z-category security, all in their lifetime.

Kasab might also have a multi-crore security cover, but he’ll have to wait to see if the promise of 72 virgins actually holds true.

The media glare fades our memories. The attacks in Mumbai on November 26-29, 2008 might have been the most impactful terror attack on Indian soil in terms of its duration and the resultant international interest. But if we look at the number of causalities, there have been greater tragedies.

Just in case you’ve forgotten, a little list (deaths in brackets):

– June 23, 1985 Air India Flight 182 (329)
– March 12, 1993 Bombay (257)
– July 11, 2006 Mumbai (209)
– November 26-29, 2008 Mumbai (172)
– May 13, 2008 Jaipur (68)
– Feb 19, 2007 Samjhauta Express (66)
– October 29, 2005 New Delhi (60)
– July 26, 2008 Ahmedabad (57)

While it is easy to compile together a list like the one above, it is difficult to put together something similar for the other kind of terror. They don’t require a body count to show off to their masters sitting beyond the borders, their measures are different and vary according to need and greed.

A unfriendly country doesn’t need to fund the militant outfits to create terror and mayhem. For much more and long lasting impact it just needs to donate the right amounts to certain party (and private) funds and union coffers (Who knows, they might already being doing do).

The fear of the AK-47 terrorists is short lived and gets revived after another attack or on an anniversary. But the other terror is sustained and always palpable. The intensity of the terror might vary, but it stays. Often for ever.