Posted in Welcome to my blog!

When Casteism And Racism Meant Business

Chanced upon this interesting and intriguing argument on casteism and racism prevalent in India and across the world in general, in social media recently. Apparently racism as well as casteism meant economic prosperity to a section of community at the cost of others’ (subjugated). Never thought of it this way until now but then, how come we missed something that was right before our eyes all these years…

Racism in America led to American prosperity with the African blacks brought to the continent as bonded slaves to work their ranches and cotton fields. Cheap labour was also the need of the hour when the great American railway was laid across the country for thousands of miles. It meant, a section of humanity (or was it humanity at all) prospered at the expense of the most vulnerable and gullible.

Same holds true for colonization of most Asian nations and African countries and Latin America by Europeans. Paying bare minimum and extracting maximum became the economic principle for profiteering for which playing the racial card suited best. Substitution of native faiths and belief systems with Abrahamic Christianity and Islam made the colonized develop low self esteem.

India hardly fared better when it came to discrimination among sons of the soil. Whereas the Europeans practised segregation and racism only with the alien they conquered, in India, casteism was thrust upon unsuspecting fellow sons of the soil on basis of birth citing scriptures even as Hindu Dharma remained freewill and not an organized religion. Such a way of life must have only united us more as humans than dividing. I am perplexed that injustice was allowed at all to thrive for millennia. Upper castes hugely benefited by consigning menial and low paying works to the suppressed classes. What are the communities that dwelt in the city center with access to resources such as temple tanks, wells etc., for centuries. There are Agraharas, Vanniya (Baniya) streets, Chetti streets, Mudali streets, etc. typically around any ancient temple (even today). The city/town/village plan was thus devised that the social hierarchy prevailed in the townplanning. Social hierarchy also directly correlated to one’s wealth and landholdings. However the scheduled castes/tribes never were residents of structured city planning in Indian history. Was this not landgrabbing at all, confining the poorest and weakest to the fringes of our civil society. Today we talk of landgrabbing by criminal gangs and vested interestes. Is it really landgrabbing or taking back one’s denied share to prime property. (Here we can find parallels with even reservation in education and government jobs.) Can you find an old mansion that ancestrally belonged to Dalit community in the city center of any of India’s towns or villages or cities. Some hotcake real estate that was in their families for generations like many of us may boast of until today. It has been possible for them to live within city limits only in last 50 years. Bhoodhan movement led by Shri Vinoba Bhave played an effective role in just and equitable redistribution of landholdings to marginal farmers in India’s poorest districts in post-independence era.

Like real estate holdings, education is merely another arena where the privilege of learning was hard fought and won for some communities. Reservation quotas came into force for this reason. But why should that surprise us when even the right to worship had to be legally sanctioned for this lot. The heroes who championed such a noble cause are today character assassinated every single day in our social media, with their good work conveniently brushed under the carpet.

Anyway. Tides are turning. Nature has a way of correcting imbalances with its own checks and readjustments. I am a firm believer in Karma and Dharma. Let not at the same time, asserting and reclaiming one’s rights become justification for vandalization, arson and rowdyism on part of the scheduled communities. Whatever said, one cannot turn back the clock. Frustration and bitterness can well be channelized into beneficial pursuits of development and progress.


My recommendations:

Twelve year a slave (Hollywood)

Pariyerum Perumal (Tamil)

I respect the way the heroes in these two flicks handled discrimination and injustice and at the same time ensured that they did not get consumed by hate in the process of reclaiming their rights. There is a rare dignity in both of the characters.

Posted in Welcome to my blog!

The sweet smell of the rain…

As the North East monsoons are on the last leg of this year’s cycle, I must say India is still fortunate to have had bountiful monsoons both South West and North East. One of few things still blessed about 2020 the awful year we left behind.

The south west spell (may to sep) normally brings minimum to moderate rainfall in Chennai/Tamil Nadu as this mostly benefits rest of India. Last year however, from mid July we’re having wet season in Chennai. But we were still skeptical. Groundwater was draining sucked out by powerful motor pumps bored street to street, as the monsoons were less than normal in last 2 years. The metro houses over 10 crore and that is a huge huge chunk of human population whose water needs have to be met on day-to-day basis. The best about the south west monsoons was that, it kept raining almost every other day right from August as rest of India was sinking. The rainfall was not heavy but it kept the sun off and the soil wet as the parched soil started retaining water after soaking dry for ever an year or two. It is this retained surplus rain water that is beneficial as it goes on to recharge the underwater table.

The north east monsoons took over right where the south west left, by october. Now it has been one long wet spell for almost half an year in Chennai on and off. It used to like this years, years back -may be last we had it was in the ’80s. Then the south west monsoons started bypassing us even if we in east coromandel coast stand to gain only 10% of our annual rainfall with cauvery delta to benefit largely, being the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu. The north east monsoons are also now erratic that seasonal rains are now almost a past memory, and these days only cyclonic depressions in the bay bring us any rainfall. However, 2020 witnessed the seasonal monsoons without cyclonic storms as well after many, many years, like how we used to talk about ‘kaar kaalam’ once upon a time.

Our bathroom fittings all have gathered salt and our tiles have been bleached white in last one year with ground water with high saline content. I was using a water purifier without RO but last year I was forced to switch over to RO as the regular water purifier no more makes it to the market as it has no use these days. With high salinity in ground water, we are left with no other choice than RO.

With good monsoons, the lakes and reservoirs in the state/country are brimming. Non saline water has returned in our taps and finally our bathrooms are returning back to their original shape and colour albeit slooooowly. What a pleasure it is to taste the water here supplied by the water board which is not salty even as you brush your teeth early in the morning. Such a sweet rainwater taste in spite of the chlorine content. I almost forgot this rainwater taste in last many months. Corporation water we call it.

How quick it takes for the corporation water to dissolve and erase the deposited salt from your sinks, baths, pots and pans and vitrified tiles and plumbed fittings. Everyday I am watching my bathroom floor with nonskid tiles lose its salt deposit bit and bit and return to original colour howsoever gradually… There is a hissing sound from water heater that I serviced only a month back. Probably the accumulated salt is dissolving within the heater body as well. Only this season I switched on water heater in Chennai because of sustaining rains/mild chill. Otherwise I switch on water heater only in Doha winters never, never in India. Water heaters in Chennai are only for vanity, never used really. Practically everything at home be it washing machine or whatever has this scaling that needs a good scraping. Descaling is taking time but working with arrival of fresh water from monsoons.

Rinsing my face in the sweet rainwater flowing through the sink tap, I can see that even my skin is showing an improved tone even if by marginal degree. Lathers soooo much like it never did in last one year…. Rings of salt lines in the bucket are already fading… Everything is sparkling… the miracle called Monsoons!

There is not a day I don’t pray to Lord Varuna for good rains for the entire country.

If only we can manage our water resources well….. The current storage, if well managed and skillfully distributed, can last us upto 2 years easily. Or at least 1.5 years. We will be comfortable and ready to receive next year’s quota of monsoons.

Kapali temple tank in Mylapore is still running dry with any rainwater making its way to the tank getting quickly absorbed. There are also a number of deep wells in the tank that drain water. It still saddens me to see the temple tank without a drop of water even after almost 6 months of monsoons on and off. The smaller temple tanks in the city have filled up fast.

For the first time in 2 years, no more water tankers in the city roads. No more motor running sound in my house all 24 hours. Now the sump is full overnight.

Monsoons must be like this. Abundant but distributed over months, never pouring down in entirely in a day or two. The parched soil from the previous year needs to be drenched first from deep within. Rain water must be retained on top. We can have standing water only when there is gentle moderate rain for at least 20 days for entire nights with groundwater table improving bit by bit on slow recharging. By this time of the year, temperature starts falling and evaporation slows down even if by only a degree or two. This helps in water catchment on recharge. I guess finally this happened in 2020 after many years.

Nature’s gift. What a beautiful combination – Margazhi and Monsoons. Magical.

Posted in food as therapy..., Welcome to my blog!

Mixed Millet Idli & Dosa

Mixed Millet Idli & Dosa

Ingredients for batter :

Varagu (Kodo Millet) (Kodra) – 1 cup

Kudiraivali (Barnyard Millet) (Jhangora) – 1 cup

Saamai (Little Millet) (Kutki) – 1 cup

Quinoa (Seemai Thinai) – 1/4 cup

Thinai (Foxtail Millet) (Kangni) – 1/2 cup

Kambu (Pearl Millet) (Bajra) -1/2 cup

Cholam (Sorghum) (Jowar) – 1/4 cup

Urad Dal – 1 and 1/4 cups to be soaked with 1 tsp Fenugreek (Methi) (Vendhayam) seeds.

Salt to taste (Pink Himalayan Rock/Crystal salt used)

Water for grinding

All millets used in this recipe are organic. Only Urad dal is not certified organic. All these listed millets are also native to India except for Quinoa. Before rice and wheat consumption became fashionable this century, our forefathers mostly ate millet three times a day. Even now, villagers in India have millets for main course. Ragi Mudde is popular in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu peasants have Kezhvaragu koozh for breakfast.

I left out Ragi/Kezhvaragu (Finger Millet) (Mandua in Hindi) because, mostly in roti flour I mix Ragi flour 1 tsp and flax seed powder 1/2 tsp. Moreover, Ragi will make Idli appear very darker. Consistency also may not be upto mark on grinding the batter. May be a handful can be added.

How to grind the batter?

Mix all millets together and rinse clean. Leave standing water for soaking overnight. (Eight hour soaking recommended)

Soak urad dal and methi seeds together.

Grind to buttery consistency the urad dal first.

Grind to coarse consistence, the mixed millets. Little millets may remain unground, but it is fine.

Pour the mixed millet batter on top of ground urad dal and stir well. You can salt at this stage.

Keep aside. No need to add baking or cooking soda or yeast.

Batter will ferment and raise well on its own just like regular Idli/dosa batter in a couple of hours (or more).

Refrigerate and make Idli/Dosa like regular Idli/Dosa.

Millets are rich in vitamins and minerals. Totally gluten-free and are slow to digest. Therefore ideal for the diabetic or pre-diabetic. However, Millets may be consumed with caution in case of thyroid malfunction. Perfect weight-loss diet.

Power breakfast to kickstart your day with! Sumptuous, nutritious, filling, lighter at the same time. Soft, fluffy, melting in mouth. Best served with Mint-Coriander (Pudina-Dhaniya) Coconut Chutney and Lentil Sambhar and Urad Dal Vada.