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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

India's inferiority complex

I was thinking of writing on the subject, but veteran journalist Tavleen Singh has already written very incisively about this in her weekly column in The Sunday Express. So, there is no reason for me to try and re-invent the wheel!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My Mother's Tomato Ketchup Recipe

The inspiration for this blog post came, when my mother had a good look at a certain recipe blog. It made her decide to share her famed (at least in the family) recipe for preparing tomato ketchup, which is as follows, with all netizens.

  • 5 kg tomatoes
  • 750 gm sugar
  • 250 gm onions
  • 100 gm ginger
  • 50 gm garlic
  • 1 cup malt vinegar
  • 1 tea-spoon sodium benzoate
  • 25 gm garam masala (cumin, black pepper, cloves, 1/4 inch of a cinnamon stick, all ground together)
  • salt (to taste)
  • red chilly powder (to taste)
  1. Chop the tomatoes, onions, garlic and ginger and steam these in a pressure cooker (Turn the heat down as soon as steam builds up and then, turn it off after another five minutes.).
  2. Let these cool and then liquefy in a food processor.
  3. Pass the mixture through a coarse sieve (with large mesh-size), so that the pulp passes through, leaving only the skins behind.
  4. Add the sugar and heat on a fire, so that the sugar dissolves.
  5. Put a drop of the liquid on a plate, to check the density. If it runs over, then it needs to be thickened more by heating for a slightly longer period. If it does not, then it is done.
  6. After achieving the required density, add salt and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  7. Add the garam masala, sodium benzoate and red chilly powder to the malt vinegar. Mix well and add to the main mixture.
  8. Pour the (still hot) liquid into bottles, but do not close the lids, which is to be done only after the ketchup has cooled to room temperature.

Friday, June 08, 2007

An open letter to Lt. Col. (Retd.) K. S. Bainsla


I am a great admirer of the Indian Army and, therefore, its officers and men. This is not in the least because various members of my family have served or are serving this great institution in different capacities. It is more so on account of the fact that the Army has remained largely unaffected by the tools of divisive politics like communalism, casteism, etc., which have been used to polarise society by those who seek to create 'vote-banks', in order to serve their own vested interests.

It is on account of this that your conduct over the past few days seems, at least to me, to have been unbecoming of a former Army officer and a gentleman, as you have led a series of protests (some of which have been violent and resulted in a number of deaths, besides the damage of national property worth crores of rupees) to demand the Scheduled Tribe status for the Gujjar community, to which you also belong.

Reservation, as, I believe, has been amply demonstrated over the past 60 years or so, implies providing admissions into educational institutions or jobs in the government or public sector, on the basis of various criteria like caste, tribe, etc., to those who are otherwise not competent enough to have secured these on their own.

I would like to know if you, sir, would recommend reservation-based recruitments in the army, as well, and also whether any of your two sons who are serving Colonels in the army would be willing to lead such men (recruited on the basis of the reservation policy and not merit) into battle or into an anti-insurgency operation, if required. If the answer is no, then please do explain why you choose to campaign for reservations at all.

With your third son being employed with a reputed telecommunications company and your only daughter being an officer in the Indian Revenue Service, in addition to the fact that you, yourself, rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, after having joined the army as a sepoy, your family epitomises the spirit of merit and excellence and should be a role model for others in your community.

Therefore, I fail to comprehend the reasons for which you wish to breed and perpetuate incompetence amongst your people.

I believe you could do a lot more of good for your community, if you were to help concentrate the energies of your people on the provision of primary and secondary education and basic healthcare, or, rather, the lack of it. I suggest that you make use of tools like the Right to Information Act to find out about the funds allocated for these purposes and perhaps employ means like peaceful protest to ensure that the money reaches where it is meant to and is utilised properly.

I am sure that a man of your resourcefulness could make things start moving on other fronts like micro-finance too, which could help people, especially the poor living in rural areas, to become self-employed and, thus, lead to progress. Plenty of data on the subject are available online.

The formation of charitable trusts or societies for setting up educational institutions and health-care facilities is another idea that should prove very useful for the purpose that you have stated that you seek to achieve i.e. the welfare of your people.

I am sure that you can think of many more such ideas and sincerely hope that you shall start doing so at the earliest possible.

Yours sincerely,

A concerned citizen of India