DISAPPEARING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Destinations :: Hyderabad & Bangalore (1978)

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Chaar Minar
By January 1978 I was repositioned at Nagpur. My wife and I decided in later 1978 to take a trip to South India availing of leave travel concession touching as many places as we possibly could. As we had to travel by trains we had to have reservations but there was no online booking then and there was no system of stopping-over either at multiple places if one had a long-distance ticket. We overcame the problem by an arrangement with a travel agent who agreed to buy our tickets for onward journeys at every destination to be collected by us on payment of the fare. This proved to be not much of a problem except that it proved trifle costlier. Only constraint was to strictly adhere to the pre-determined itinerary which, mercifully, we could do and we didn’t lose money on that count.

Hyderabad

The first halt was at Hyderabad, the Qutb Shahi town established more than five hundred years ago on the banks of River Musi. It was then the capital of undivided Andhra Pradesh created in 1956 under re-organisation of states but still had the tell-tale signs of its Qutb Shahi past. It was yet to become Cyberabad and was a plain and simple capital of its state generally known for its pearls market and flavoured “biryani”

The very mention of Hyderabad takes one’s mind to the resistance that its Nizam exhibited soon after independence of the country and reminds one of its Razakar militia led by Kasim Razvi. The militia and the Hyderabad Nizam’s forces were no match for India’s own nascent divided force that was ably led by Gen JN Choudhury. The Hyderabad action, code named Operation Polo, resulted in breakdown of the resistance and flight to Pakistan of Kasim Razvi, the brain behind it.

Staying plumb in the midst of Abids, a major shopping area, we could
Abids Circle
get a feel of the place. Named after an Armenian, Albert Abid, a valet of the then reigning Nizam, who had a shop here. The entire area eventually developed taking his name to become a thriving market which it continues to be till today. A trifle crowded, the place witnesses hustle and bustle that builds up by the evening. That used to happen forty years ago; now it should be worse.

Char Minar was close by and we saw it almost every day as we passed by. Built in 1591 by Quli Qutb Shah, it is an iconic monument that is globally recognized as representative of Hyderabad. It has four towers which, unlike Taj Mahal, are part of the structure below which are four grand arches that open on to four streets. It was built like that – as the centre of the city. A mosque is located on the second floor. Theories abound about the reason for which the structure was built but the most plausible one appears to be that Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah had prayed for the end of the plague that was then ravaging the city and had promised to build a mosque if and when it ended – a simple trade-off. After loss of numerous lives when the scourge finally disappeared he built up Char Minar with the mosque and created what now is a globally known monument.

Pearls in Laad Bazar (From internet)
Nearby is the famed market that to a very large extent deals in pearls. Hyderabad has been traditionally a market for pearls even though not a single pearl is harvested from the state’s coastal regions. It is the traditional skill in drilling them of the inmates of a nearby village that has brought laurels for Hyderabad in this unlikely industry.

We did not make it to Golkunda Fort as it was then lying in an uncared for condition. We, instead sought out the Salar Jung Museum which was something special. It is a huge place, reputed to be one of the largest in the world. It contains collections of one man, Mir Yusuf Ali Khan Salar Jung, former prime minister of the Nizam. He spent considerable amount of his wealth to stack up the Museum with sculptures, paintings, carvings, textiles, manuscripts, ceramics, metallic artifacts, carpets, clocks, and furniture sourced from various countries including India. It is
Marble statue  at Salar Jung (from internet)
impossible to cover it during a visit of an hour or two, enormous as it is. But the collection is fascinating. Some of the European and Indian sculptures are marvelous. Then, of course the museum is known for its collection of clocks. The  immense collection defies description. One comes back marveling at human ingenuity.

Bangalore

From Hyderabad we moved on to Bangalore – now Bengaluru. It wasn’t what it is today – Information Technology capital of India. It too was the capital of a state with a new legislative assembly building. It has behind it a complicated history having changed hands several times during the medieval times. Only after the British conquest at the Anglo-Mysore wars that the place attained a semblance of stability.
Vidhan Saudha (from internet)

The city at that time had a spanking new legislative Assembly building known as Vidhan Saudha. Conceived in the early 1950s it was completed by late 1950s. Built in Indo Saracenic and Dravidian styles it is a very imposing structure. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, a hallmark of the Garden City, it is, in fact a sight to be seen.


Happily placed at an elevation of around 3000 feet it has a very pleasant climate all the year round it used to have quite a few water bodies which were then being progressively filled up in the process of urbanisation. With planned gardens, especially Lalbagh and Cubbon Park inside the city it came to be known as “Garden City”, an ideal base for people retired from civil or military services. That attribute,
At Lal Bagh, Bangalore
however, it progressively lost as it gradually emerged as the Silicone Valley of India. Top class educational institutions in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and management facilitated the process. It also had great shopping even then at Brigade Road which, I believe, is not off-colour even today despite having lost out a bit to several malls that dot the city.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Our life, our times :: 5 :: Indomitable Afghan women

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A recent report on the first Afghan women’s orchestra taking Davos (Switzerland) by storm stirred some memories. Lately, it was unthinkable that music would be something which would be allowed in Afghanistan, more so, for women to indulge in it. The reasons are not far to seek. Music is reckoned as un-Islamic by the rigorous practitioners of Islam. Under the Taliban’s ultra-Islamic rule, leave alone women, it was taboo for even men.

  Women in Afghanistan always got the raw end of the stick. No one knows how many women sacrificed their life in wriggling out and away from under the heavy weight of Taliban boots where they were being constantly squashed. They were so effectively subdued that their world was confined only to within their veils. A few stray stories could come out of the veritable prison that they were in by the brave and indomitable ones who were successful in escaping from the clutches of those brutes. And, surprisingly, not too long before that they were so very free.

I recall my two months in Kabul in 1983 – around 35 years ago. A part of the country was under the occupation of the then Soviet Russia. Vast parts were under the control of the Mujahideens and, as UN consultants, we were permitted to move around only within 3 square kilometers of Kabul. Even the hills surrounding the city were held by Mujahids. Every night there would be fire fights and one would hear shrieks, generally emanating from women.

And yet, during the day business would be as usual. Shops would open up and do brisk business. Dhabas and restaurants would be preparing for the custom expected for lunch. An occasional strain over loudspeakers would waft in of a Hindi film song.

Women were largely free. They would be in offices by 8.00 AM well dressed, tastefully made up with stylish hair-dos. They were freely working with men and would be generally in Western dresses, some even wearing denims and tee shirts. No burqas, hijabs or chadors for them. They did not know English but were great admirers of India and, of course, Bollywood films – India’s infallible soft power. A senior lady among them by the name Zermina spoke fluent English. She was connected with the family of the exiled King and, hence, was much travelled. What struck me most was the freedom that educated women enjoyed despite being in an Islamic country. Zermina used to tell me that during King’s rule night-life was great; there would be late night parties, socials and cabarets in restaurants and Kabul was considered as Paris of the East – unbelievable, but that’s precisely what she said.

But those free days came to an end as the Soviets retreated – beaten back by the Mujahideens, the Talibans and Pakistani regulars and irregulars actively encouraged by the US. Dark days descended on Afghanistan as the country came under the ultra conservative Taliban who smothered freedom generally and of women in particular. They were all pushed back from the public spaces and driven back into their veils or within the limited spaces of their houses. Many were killed for raising their heads. Rapes and murders became order of the day.

Though the country has now a democratic government presided over by President Ghani yet the ultra conservatives continue to have their sway in large parts. Let us face it; it is a Muslim country, after all, where most are conservative and where Islamic social values hold primacy. Adhering to their faith as the Afghanis do, it will take a long time for them to become a liberal society. For these Afghani ladies, therefore, to come out from such a hide-bound society and collect together for musical sessions and then to come out on a trip to regale an elitist Western audience speaks hugely of their guts, courage and commitment to the idea of freedom and to their chosen performing art – a medium through which they hope to realize their dreams.


We, from the fringes, can only call out “bravo” to them and wish them Godspeed. 

*Photo from internet

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Environmental take-aways from demonetisation

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Prime Minister Modi’s demonetization has been roundly criticized on various counts by politicians, economists, social organizations and general public. The abrupt ban on the two high value currency denominations of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 caught the people by surprise and many of those who had stashed away sizable hoards of them were naturally the first to raise an outcry in opposition. True, the proverbial common man, the aam aadmi, was put to a lot of inconvenience, having had to stand in queues for hours in front of banks or ATMs for cash, sometimes repeating the same process on succeeding days. They had the best reasons for criticizing Modi’s move; but it was not they who, though suffering its consequences, criticized it as most of them realized it was a good way to catch the corrupt and the unscrupulous black money barons.

That the political opposition criticized the measure was understandable but many intellectuals, especially the economists – well known or not so well known – also found it amiss. The former economist Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh called it a “monumental disaster” and said that the GDP would take a hit of 2 basis points. Others said that the poor, daily wagers and farmers would be hit rendering them jobless as most of their transactions were in cash. And yet it would, they said, hardly make any dent on those who had the dirty money.

All that and much more can be elaborated and dilated upon but not many ever looked at the gains of “note-bandi”, as demonetization has since come to be known as. One finds that a massive take-away from demonetisation was that those who, despite having had opportunities, shunned illegal wealth and found virtue in being ethical and honest.  Even it found resonance with the Finance Minister who said the measure accorded a semblance of dignity to them.

 That was, however, for the people but there was something greater for their physical environment as well. Soon after the measure was announced headlines in newspapers screamed cash crunch “brings auto industry to a screeching halt”, auto industry faces “30% drop in November sales”, “auto sector for a rough phase” and so on.

On the face of it, the harsh impact on the sector may look unfair. After all, in the 1990s it was on the auto sector that the economy took a ride to some spectacular growth in the new century. But then it grew so much that it became something like a Frankenstein, threatening the very people for whom it was to work for. The reforms, in due course, created an upsurge in the middle classes raising their standard of living and aspirations that generally centred around an automobile and a house – both of which everyone coveted.

The banks fed the market with cheap loans and before one realized what was happening there were far too many automobiles choking and clogging urban India, emitting tons of carbon into the atmosphere with all its lethal components threatening the lives of everybody around. The expanded market attracted manufacturers from almost all European countries and the US as also from Japan and Korea.

Before the 1991 reforms the country used to produce passenger vehicles only in thousands, today it produces them in millions (2.8 million by the last count in 2015). This apart 16 million two wheelers were also manufactured. It has been a great jamboree for the middle classes, fed as they were by the saying “have money, buy car”. Families that had space for only one car and, maybe, a two wheeler had half a dozen cars – some of them spilling over to the public spaces, narrow lanes, colony roads. While jams became common even in tier 2 and tier 3 towns, providing parking spaces became a mammoth problem for the civic bodies.

 The urban air went for a toss leading to diseases and deaths. The black economy has had no mean role in boosting up of this sector by fostering demand for the highly polluting diesel-driven SUVs that rule the roads. With a check on this sector, hopefully, Indian urban air will be somewhat cleaner enabling citizens to breathe easy. Thankfully the government is also in the process of framing laws to inhibit reckless purchases of cars – a measure that will be widely welcomed.

Another Sector that has taken a hit because of demonetization is the realty sector. Reports say housing sales dipped 44% after demonetisation. This is one sector which was pump-primed by black money and has, therefore had a swift fall – if not permanently, at least temporarily. This is the sector in which most of the illicit wealth is invested; this is where the action is. Here there are endless opportunities as it, by itself, generates black money. Ministers and bureaucrats are indulgent in handing out building permissions and all, together with the engineers and contractors, partake off the pile. Everyone knows what kind of games the politicians play with wealth so generated.

The urban sprawl has, therefore, been marching out in almost all directions of most of the cities gobbling up farmlands, forests, wetlands and their catchments or whatever comes in its way. While this has been largely responsible for damaging the urban environment, it has also, in many cases, exposed the inmates to nightmarish insanitation and filth. The civic bodies, already stretched to provide necessary services, have abstained themselves from such unplanned rapid urban expansion.

 Most of the expanding fringes of the Indian urbanscape draw underground water in the absence of the piped municipal water. Thus, while levels of underground aquifers dip there is very little scope for their recharge, given the ceaseless drawal and the increasingly truant monsoons. Depletion of sub-soil water threatens water security as well as the over-ground greenery – the trees that sustain the environment and mitigate air pollution as well as harsh impacts of unkind seasons.  

 Fallout of the uncontrolled urban expansion has been creation, like in China, of over-capacity in housing. Noida or for that matter, Bhopal have reportedly recorded over-capacity with thousands of units awaiting buyers. And yet Awaas Melas are held in Bhopal where green hills, farmlands and wetlands have been colonized. It is the illegal money that fed the real estate boom in their unplanned growth leading to civic mayhem and chaos. Stripped of black money the sector should cool for a while and in the meantime the government could move in to restrict urban growth drawing up “Urban Growth Boundaries” like they do in the US. If that were to be done the increasingly degrading environment around cities and towns would be saved.

Demonetisation has given a push to a cashless society where financial transactions will be paperless and carried out electronically. Modi has been promoting, even incentivising cashless transactions even in rural and semi-rural markets. This will surely reduce the need for cash, which in any case, is currently in short supply. With less cash, there will be lesser need of paper for printing currency. A report recently said that as the local sources were not able to provide paper for the need to replenish the diminished cash in the system 16 million tonnes of paper was going to be imported. With the likely proliferation of electronic transactions the demand for this kind of specialized paper will surely fall and that will be a gain for the environment on the one hand, savings for the government on the other.

If “notebandi” is successfully taken to its logical conclusion, with certain administrative measures people are likely to have a more hassle-free life, led in an environmentally cleaner India.

19th January 2017




Friday, January 20, 2017

Rahul Gandhi's puerile gimmicks

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It seems to be time for Rahul Gandhi to shun puerile gimmicks like showing off his torn kurta to the audience in a public meeting. Displaying a hole in his kurta-pocket he mocked the Prime Minister for his smart turn-out and yet talking of the poor in the country. Looks like, he has forgotten that while his great grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru used to bring out his Seville Row suits whenever he visited England during the initial years after independence and yet he never ceased to talk of the poor of the country. Likewise, his grandmother, Mrs. Indira Gandhi was one of the most elegantly dressed prime ministers in the world. The beautifully draped expensive gifted or bought saris around her, well-coiffed hair and her imperious bearing were the stuff which she was associated with. And, yet she coined the slogan of “garibi hatao” (remove poverty) which she never attempted to do. Then why mock Modi? Even Rahul himself never stops talking of how he serves the poor but doesn't he realise that poor cannot fly away on vacations abroad like he does?

Some senior Congress leaders should tell Rahul that he should grow up and shed his obsession with Modi and take him on using some matters of substance. These gimmicks are not going to take him or the Congress anywhere.

*Photo from internet

17th January 2016

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Bhopal Notes :: 46 :: Avoidable deaths in Madhya Pradesh

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A kind of report card for several sectors of administration in the MP government was released the other day by a locally printed national daily. Several headlines as given below were revealing:

11.    “Three farmers committed suicide everyday in 2015”
  2.    “State records most suicides due to mental disorders – 1227 deaths”
  3.     With 625 deaths state fourth in student suicides.    “Bhopal tops in deaths at railway crossings, state ranked fourth”
  4.     “Accidental deaths: MP second in India, Bhopal tops megacities”
  5.    “MP reports second highest deaths during pregnancy”

These headlines do tell us something about the failures of the state administration. What stands out is that life in the state is cheap and easily dispensable. People commit suicide in large numbers and among them are people from the most precious sections like farmers and students. Farmers’ suicides have virtually become a national phenomenon. Whether in MP or Maharashtra or Telangana or some other regions in the north or south, farmers are getting increasingly hit by climate change that has led to crop failures rendering them unable to pay back loans at usurious rates of interest. Though it does need courage and guts to end one’s life yet for the farmers driven to desperation it appears to be a softer option.

 What the state could have done to alleviate farmers’ sufferings was to prepare them for climate change that was being so feverishly talked about for more than a decade. What it has begun now could have been done a few years ago as the threat of climate change was hovering around for quite some years. The climatologists’ prognoses of climate change in India had clearly indicated that central part of the country, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, would be hardest hit by the rise in temperature or floods or droughts, etc. Thankfully the government has now devised strategies to enable the farm-dependent population to meet the threat of climate change. A warming planet needs suitable reorientation of agricultural practices, especially to enable the crops to develop resistance to variable temperatures or rainfall. Efforts at such reorientation have unfortunately been rather tardy.

Suicides among states young people have various reasons. Numerous instances have been reported of young girls committing suicide, mainly for reasons of inability to cope with the pressures of studies, parental pressures for premature marriages or unhappiness with the selected groom or even failure in love.  Reports of giving up life by hanging themselves up from the ceiling fans are quite common. These suicides are largely because of high aspirations on one hand and on the other observance of age-old traditions by parents who have not been able to adapt to the changing times. The state perhaps could think of intervening by way of making efforts to raise educational levels of people who are somehow not touched by the sweep of education and its edifying influences. The parents in such sections are not able to tune in with the rapidly changing attitudes among younger people. A lot is being done both, by the Centre and the state for education and health of girls and yet there are pockets of such misery. A lot more is needed to be done across the several age groups to induce and promote social change –  changes in mindset that are likely to act as prophylactic for forcing young women into mental  distress that pushes them to take the extreme step.

Students’ suicides have consistently been occurring among the boys and girls largely of professional institutions. As the field of Humanities presents to them a dismal future there is great rush to get into engineering/technological or medical or other professional institutions in search of better prospects. After scraping through the entrance tests, generally by hook or by crook, they find the going tough when they are up against the courses they find difficult to tackle. The products of the infamous “Vyapam” scandal are living examples of children in such unfortunate vicissitudes. Unable to deal with the pressures of these courses and facing prospects of failure at the examinations they find their and, in many cases, their parents’ dreams shattering all around them. Suffering from severe depression they find only death as deliverance from their misery. It is a highly aspirational society today and everybody nurses dreams of a good job and a reasonable income to lead a decent life in what they see a rising India. However not everyone is equipped adequately to deal with such academic pressures. Having taken up the courses by means fair or foul they find themselves unable to deal with the crunch situations after entry into institutions. One hears of a lot of counseling of students but one wonders whether there is counseling for them at crucial stages of their educational careers to facilitate selection by them of a stream that suits their intellectual abilities. This appears to be more necessary for those who belong to the economically weaker sections

While for the deaths at railway crossings the responsibility is only of those who get hit by running trains, for accidental deaths on the roads the responsibility is largely of traffic police and the road construction engineers. True, a large number of deaths are caused due to over-speeding during the late hours of the night or early morning hours but many deaths occur because of faulty road engineering or lack of maintenance of roads. Failure of traffic police to control the traffic or check deviation from traffic rules or even possession of a valid driving license are also contributory to the high incidence of casualties on the roads. A report recently said Bhopal is among the four mega cities in so far as deaths in road accidents are concerned. Governance on the roads needs to be strengthened, especially in view of proliferation of two wheelers which are used largely by reckless students and those who belong to the rising neo-middleclasses who never bother to equip themselves with the knowledge of traffic rules.

Madhya Pradesh is also reported to be the state where number of deaths during pregnancies is second highest in the country. This is basically because of institutional failure in the healthcare sector where the performance of the state is marked by sheer poverty of effort. These avoidable deaths are largely because of absence of doctors, medicines or ambulances in the rural and remote areas. Apart from such unconscionable neglect in regard to maternal health the state lags behind even in the infant mortality rate. While in the urban areas the state seems to have abdicated from its responsibilities in healthcare, in the rural areas its services, at best, are patchy. Though it is not a matter of mere statistics, performance of the state is generally dragged down in healthcare by its lack of the needed effort in rural areas.

What emerges from the above is that mere high growth rate in Gross State Product (GSP) cannot take care of the two vital sectors of healthcare and education and it is these two social sectors, along with infrastructure, which extend happiness and wellbeing to citizens. Neither a two digit growth in GSP, as is claimed by the state, nor the establishment of a department of happiness can prevent suicides of farmers and disappointed young people or accidental deaths or deaths due to lack of institutional health facilities. What are needed are focused efforts to tackle the basic issues of governance for all-round improvement in the levels of healthcare, education and infrastructure.


*Photo from internet

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Importance of being Salman Khan

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Recently the newspapers were awash with the news of Salman Khan, the action hero of Bollywood. He celebrated his 51st birthday and it was quite widely reported, much more than of any other star. Though not known for proficiency in his craft he is immensely popular for the limited number of films he features in every year.  He is one of the three Khans of the Hindi movie scene but leaves the other two, Shahruk Khan and Amir Khan, miles behind.

 Though the latter two are actors of substance but somehow they do not click with the masses in the way Salman does. While Shahruk does romantic movies Amir produces and acts in films that have a social message. Salman’s movies, on the other hand, are different; he is not only an action hero, his dance moves are also raved about by the masses, mostly belonging to underclasses. Curiously, the two more Khans in the industry – Irrfan Khan and Saif Ali Khan – are not considered good enough to come anywhere near the Khan triumvirate who seem to be peerless; so much so that unless a new-comer female actress has done at least one movie with each one of them she would not be reckoned to have come of age in Bollywood.

Salman’s appeal among the under-classes, called “tapories” in Mumbai colloquial, is unquestionable and they are the movie-goers in largest numbers keeping the cash registers of the movie halls ringing. His last movie Sultan – a story of a wrestler – is reported to have broken all box-office records. It did business of a phenomenal Rs. 300 crores (approximately fifty million dollars) when the film cost only Rs. 90 crore (around 1.4 million dollars). His pickings per annum are probably highest among professionals. As recently reported, his annual income in 2016 was Rs. 270 crores (around $42 million), way above all his peers, including the other two Khans of the triumvirate and even that old thespian Amitabh Bacchan with perhaps the longest run in Hindi films.
Such is Salman’s popularity among the masses that regardless of the storyline they go to watch his generally ham-handed action or even dance routines with over-exercised stiff muscles. For them he can do no wrong even if he, in a fit of drunken driving, runs over a few labourers sleeping on the Mumbai pavements. The hit-and-run case   against him has run all of 16 years in which he seems to have used all his muscle and money power to prolong prosecution against him for years during which some of the witnesses went hostile and some others disappeared or died and a few vital ones were not even examined. One can espy some hope of its resolution now as the State of Maharashtra has gone in appeal to Supreme Court against his acquittal by the Maharashtra High Court.

 Another case against him is pending at the Supreme Court in which the Rajasthan Government has gone in appeal against his acquittal by Rajasthan High court in a case of hunting black bucks near Jodhpur in 1998 in the famed Bishnoi land where the people are fiercely protective of the animal. It is now close to 20 years that the case is pending due to various legal machinations on his behalf which one can only brand as not quite honourable on the part of a famous public figure like him. And yet, years ago when he came out of the Jodhpur jail after serving a few days of his sentence there was a huge crowd outside to receive him. Likewise, when he reached Mumbai after release the road in front of his house was swamped by people wishing to have a look at him. Such is his charisma.

Salman’s father Salim Khan, a script writer for films, who had runaway success with scripts written in association with Javed Akhtar, a poet, intellectual and a socialite of note during 1970s and 1980s. Along with his Hindu wife Salim has been successful in instilling their secular values in their children. Salman has had that breeding in composite culture. In any case, in the Mumbai film industry one’s religion is of no consequence. The industry is, perfectly secular, even irreligious, working in close co-operation with people belonging to various faiths. Salman got a good liberal education to start with, but later dropped out of Mumbai’s St. Xavier College and has had a long career in films since 1989. Again, academic background of an actor is of no consequence in Bollywood as indeed it is so in Hollywood

Riding on mass popularity and having acted in box office hits his personal life, particularly the sordid and disreputable part, naturally got exposed to the people and the media. His relationships with actresses are legendary. From Somy Ali, Sangeeta Bijlani to Aishwarya Rai, all have had relationships with him, With Aishwarya Rai, of course, it was more passionate one which lasted for three to four years before Salman himself reported to have spoilt it.  But then he moved on and fell for another young beauty Katrina Kaif who probably was helped by Salman in the tricky ways of Boollywood. The relationship, however, did not last; probably the age difference came in the way. Salman is now reported to be courting a Rumanian model. Apparently, he cannot survive without female companionship. Beefy, with a handsome visage and great financial success in films, ambitious women naturally throw themselves at him. At 51 he, after all, is still the most eligible bachelor in the industry.

Regardless of his turbulent love-life he has been a great success in his profession. His films have earned him money and fame worldwide. The Indian Diaspora in all the continents - whether in the US, Canada or the Caribbean or in the UK or Africa or in Australia and New Zealand – lap up his films irrespective of their being good, bad or indifferent. He, reportedly, has now stopped asking for fees for his films. Instead, he takes a cut from the profits – which he believes are assured.

As somebody has said every life “is a pile of good things and bad things”, Salman too has a pretty bright streak of goodness in him. Despite all his maneuvers, sometimes more unethical than ethical, to get out of the inconvenient situations he is considered by many to be a good and compassionate human being. He contributes to charities and runs a non-governmental organization by the name “Being Human” which sells T shirts and other merchandise proceeds of which are given away for welfare of the under-privileged and the dispossessed. He had once offered to pay around Rs. 4 million (about $ 60000) for prisoners who had no money to foot the legal fees for release from several jails in UP. Launching his own film production unit he decided to donate all the proceeds of the films to “Being Human” which, as usual, was supposed to be distributed among the under-privileged and the needy. “Chillar Party”, a children’s film that was highly successful was produced by him and the proceeds went to “Being Human”.


While his films are big successes owing to his popularity among the under-privileged but he does not just take away their money; he also gives them back by way of his charities selflessly. Quite surprisingly his charitable works are not very well known among the people and that is why the stuck up of the upper crust somehow cannot stand him. To that extent, regardless of his flamboyance, he is apparently somewhat shy of publicity. But the media does always latch on to him in circumstances good or indifferent.