The Father of Malayalam Language

Thunchath Ezhutthachan.

The name is a hallowed one. Very few languages have recorded ancestry – and very few people can claim to have created languages. The gentleman mentioned above is widely recognised by us Malayalis (the people of Kerala) as the father of our language, Malayalam.

I had studied about Ezhutthachan (which itself means “Father of Writing”) in school. It is generally agreed that he created the modern Malayalam script; adapted letters from Sanskrit and Tamil to provide for all the spoken sounds in Malayalam, thus removing the discrepancy between the spoken and the written language. He also composed Malayalam versions of the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Bhagavata. His Hari Nama Keerthanam (“Prayers in praise of the Lord’s Name”) is one of the most popular prayer songs even today.

According to popular legend, Ezhutthachan was a man of one of the low castes; a man who drank and ate fish (possibly also tapped toddy from coconut palms). In present day Kerala, the Ezhutthachans are ranked as OBC (Other Backward Caste). However, this caste name was adopted relatively recently (only in 1921). Before that anyone who taught children were known as “Ezhutthachan” (it may also have been “Ezhutthaasaan” – “Master of Letters”).

As it happens with most things in Kerala, the exact caste of Ezhutthachan has led to a caste dispute; both the Nair community (who belong to forward castes) and the Ezhutthachan community claiming him. With the status of historical records of Kerala being what they are, it is not likely that this issue will be resolved anytime soon, if ever. The problem is also compounded by the fact that all castes in Kerala from Nair downwards are officially Sudras according to the ancient system of the four Varnas (castes) of Vedic Brahmanism. The Brahmins who came to Kerala relatively late in history seem to have elevated some of the local ruling families to a higher caste and dumped the rest under the umbrella of Sudras – so Ezhutthachan may have been any non-Brahmin who taught children.

So much for official history. The renowned Malayalam novelist C. Radhakrishnan has a different story to tell – one which he has dug up from family legends.

A Personal Story

As a very young boy, as the author was reading a lesson on Ezhutthachan in his schoolbook, his grandmother astonished him by saying that it is about his ancestor, who preceded him by fourteen generations. That night and the nights afterward, she told Radhakrishnan the family story – how Ezhutthachan was persecuted by the Samoothiri (the Zamorin Raja of Calicut) for belonging to a family who traditionally opposed him: how his school was destroyed, his uncle and elder brother murdered: and how he himself was demoted to the condition of a “Temple Slave”, forbidden to teach and write, forced to manually operate a “Chakku” (a mill used to extract oil from copra and gingelly, usually pulled by bullocks or buffaloes) to earn a living for himself and his family: and finally when even these measures failed to kill the poet and philosopher within him, he was deported never to return on pain of death. The story cleared up the mysteries behind a family ritual, where the karanavar (eldest male member of a matrilineal family) annually buried and later unearthed a bunch of ancient texts – to recreate an event which actually happened when the soldiers of the Zamorin invaded Ezhutthachan’s home. It also gave the background of the family admonishment to naughty children, “I will make you push the chakku!”

Armed with this knowledge, Radhakrishnan went forward to write the story of his long-dead ancestor. The author confesses it was no easy task. He had to expend Herculean efforts to dig up facts from a past mired in myth and legend; running from pillar to post, consulting many authorities and resolving contradictions. He also had to face the ire of people who saw behind this a nefarious plot by the Nair community to “appropriate” the great man of letters. But Radhakrishnan persevered, and the result is the extraordinarily brilliant and poetic novel, Theekkadal Kadanju Thirumadhuram (“Divine Sweetness from the Churning of the Ocean of Fire”).

The Historical Background

The time period in which Ezhutthachan lived was a turbulent one. The Samoothiri, having seized power in the kingdom of Calicut, was in the phase of bringing the smaller kingdoms to heel. In this, he is abetted by certain Brahmin families who had their own agenda to carry out – make learning, which has become democratic in the wake of the Buddhist reforms, once again the monopoly of Brahmins and put all the uppity “lower” castes in their place.

There was a strange custom in place at this time. The Valluvakkonathiri who originally ruled the place called Valluvanad to the south of Calicut, was the patron of a festival called Mamankam at Thirunavaya, conducted on the banks of the Bharathapuzha river once every 12 years. The Samoothiri captured this town and usurped the patronage, which was not accepted by the Valluvakkonathiri. So the families loyal to him used to form a squad of 18 soldiers called a Chaver Pada (“Suicide Squad”), and attempt to kill the Samoothiri as he stood on a stage called the “Nilapadu Thara”. Of course, death was certain, but the custom was enacted without fail on every occasion: such was the depth of hatred.

The Story

Ezhutthachan had the misfortune to be born into double jeopardy in these turbulent times. His mother’s family (and according to matrilineal system of the Nairs, his family) were traditionally teachers, and therefore distrusted and hated by the hidebound Brahmins who feared that they will take away the knowledge of the Vedas and distribute it to all and sundry. His father belonged to a family of traditional Chaver soldiers, who had deep-rooted enmity with the Samoothiri.

Krishnan (as Ezhutthachan is named in the novel) never saw his father – he was treacherously killed days before he was born. However, the family lives on in relative peace at Thanniyur, patronised by the king of Vettathunad, one of the vassal states of Calicut. There is the elderly uncle, blind from cataract; his mother, slowly moving towards madness after the death of her husband; his eldest brother, Kuttan, who is charge of the teaching; and two older sisters – Seetha, mature and motherly and Cheeru, flighty and cheerful.

Seetha marries Unni, her father’s nephew, in time-honoured tradition. However, the tranquillity of the family is shattered when Unni decides to become a Chaver soldier. After his futile battle and death, one of the renegade armies of the Samoothiri destroys the Kalari (school) of the Ezhutthachan family. His uncle gives his life to save the ancient texts by dumping them in the well. The family has to move on: find a new place to put up a Kalari at Thiruvur, in a place called Thunchan Parambu (“Thunchan’s Compound”) which is rumoured to be inhabited by the ghost of an unfortunate toddy tapper and family who were murdered by an employee of one of the local Nampoothiri families.

This Kalari also progresses well. Cheeru marries Unni’s younger brother Gopi and Kuttan marries their sister Ammini. Krishnan Ezhutthachan in the meantime travels to Tamil Nadu, to an “Adheenam” – a centre of learning which makes no caste distinctions in teaching. When he returns after almost a decade as a young man, his nephews and nieces are grown up. Krishnan also marries and has a daughter in due course; but almost as a forerunner of the great tragedies about shadow his life, his wife dies in childbirth. During this time, his literary genius takes wings, however; he composes a devotional poem Hari Nama Keerthanam, and more importantly, modernises the Malayalam alphabet.

Meanwhile things have gone from bad to worse politically. The malice of a local Nampoothiri family, the Munayoor Illam, is unrelenting. The Portuguese have arrived, and having fallen out with the Samoothiri have joined forces with the Raja of Cochin. In the subsequent internecine war, the king of Vettathunad and the Samoothiri have a falling out, as the former refuses treat Cochin as an enemy. Samoothiri’s marauding army attack the Vettathu Palace where the Ezhuttachan family has taken refuge, and kill the young king of Vettath and Kuttan, Krishnan’s elder brother, in treachery. They also condemn Ezhutthachan to death for teaching Vedas to non-Brahmins and for arguing that enlightenment was possible for anybody, regardless of caste, in the Hari Nama Keerthanam (actually a basic tenet of Hindu philosophy).

However, there is a last-minute reprieve: the Mooppil Nair (local leader of the upper-caste Nairs) decrees that the low-caste infidel who blasphemed the Brahmins should be condemned to a fate “worse than death” – namely, making a living for himself and his family from the pittance earned by manually operating a chakku. Actually, the Mooppil Nair is covertly saving Krishnan from certain death, in return for education he received. However, it is indeed a cruel fate – the Ezhutthachan family (including all the widowed women and orphaned children) is transported to Sabara Kottam, designated as slaves of the temple to stay in a hovel in the virtual wilderness and earn their livelihood through the backbreaking labour of one member of the family.

However, you can’t silence the voice of poetry for long. Along with the song of the chakku as it rotates along the axis, the poet also sings – translating the Adhyatma Ramayana into Malayalam, giving the language it first epic poem. He soon does the same for the Mahabharata and Bhagavata. Obviously he cannot teach anybody or write these poems down – but they spread like wildfire, travelling from mouth to mouth, actively assisted by lovers of learning, both Brahmin and non-Brahmin, who care a hoot for caste distinctions.

The conservatives are incensed. They want to enforce the death sentence. However, deliverance comes in the form of Azhvanchery Thamprakkal, the spiritual head of all Nampoothiri families in Kerala, and a patron of literature and arts. He commutes Ezhutthachan’s death sentence to deportation. He is forced to leave his loved ones; and after once again travelling to his old Adheenam and a long stint as teacher there, he comes back and sets up a scholastic centre at Chittur in Palakkad, in the kingdom of Cochin.

The novel ends with Ezhuttachan in his last phase of life, still sorrowing for his estranged family – but looking forward to a peaceful death, and hoping for a peaceful future for mankind.

One feels that his soul is now smiling down from above, seeing his homeland attaining 100 per cent literacy and removing all barriers to learning imposed by caste.

Memorial to Ezhutthachan at his birthplace

 

Churning the Ocean of Fire

“Churning the ocean” is a concept closely related to the Indian psyche. According to Hindu myth, the Devas (celestials) and Asuras (demons or anti-gods), churned the celestial Ocean of Milk using the mount Manthara as the churn and the snake Vasuki as the rope, to get Amrutha, the divine nectar of immortality. This is interpreted psychologically as the refinement of the psyche, using both the positive emotions (symbolised by the Devas) and the negative ones (represented by the Asuras) so that immortality (oneness with God or the Brahman) is ultimately realised. Radhakrishnan uses this concept, as Ezhutthachan goes round and round the chakku. While doing this
backbreaking labour, the mind of the great man is busy composing the Adhyatma Ramanayanam. As he churns the sea of fire his life has become, his poetic psyche gets even more refined, and able to produce the divine sweetness of the song of Lord Rama.

The novel is written in first person; which is usually a limitation, but in this case once you finish reading it, you feel this is the only way it could be. The great man’s viewpoint is presented throughout – which is one of pacifism and peaceful acceptance of life and all that it brings. This is not fatalism, because the flame of optimism is never extinguished. This is the thought at the pinnacle of Indian philosophy – as Joseph Campbell put it, the “joyful acceptance of life’s sorrows”. As we are ground up mercilessly by fate like copra and gingelly seeds by the chakku, we get refined, and the essence of souls pours out like the oil.

Radhakrishnan’s language is poetic and his grasp of Sanskrit literature and Indian philosophy exemplary. Also an enormous amounts of historical research has gone into the book. The author writes with passion – as his ancestor, it is obvious that he feels Ezhutthachan’s pain. However, this is not an easy novel to read. One should take one’s time to understand the history and savour the philosophy.

I am not going into the controversies here: obviously, when one tries to recreate history from so little documentation, there are bound to be many conflicting viewpoints. However, as a work of art, this novel stands alone. Radhakrishnan’s fictionalised history deserves to be the truth, we feel.

Like the fellow said, if it ain’t true, it oughtta be!

 

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A Review of “11.22.63” by Stephen King

Stephen King is not a literary writer. In fact, in literary circles, I am afraid that he may not be considered even a good writer. I am almost certain that he is not going to win the Nobel Prize for literature; even the Booker and Pulitzer also seems unlikely to come to him.

Who cares? Because King is the last of that dying breed: the storyteller. The spirit that moves in him is the same which animated the stone-age shaman as he narrated fascinating, fantastic, bloodcurdling, raunchy and sentimental stories to the group of bug-eyed listeners sitting around the campfire. Thus were myth, art, literature and drama born. This is the root, the fountainhead of everything connected with the human spirit.

“It is the tale, not he who tells it.” – Stephen King

Indeed, the tale is everything…

kennedy

In 11.22.63, King moves away from his usual area of interest, and produces a time travel story which only he can deliver. This is not the first time he has dabbled in the subject: the concept of changing the past and multiple time-streams are found in The Dark Tower series (albeit in a less earth-shaking manner), and the relativity of time is dealt with to devastating effect in the brilliant short story The Jaunt. But this is the first time King has dealt with time travel itself as the subject of a full-length novel.

Jake Epping, a schoolteacher recovering from the trauma of a divorce from his alcoholic wife, is given a strange commission by his friend Al Templeton, the proprietor of Al’s Diner. There is a hole in the fabric of the space-time continuum in Al’s pantry: stepping through it, one can reach the past at September 9, 1958 – 11:58 in the morning. However much time you spend in the past, when you reach back, exactly 2 minutes would have elapsed in the current continuum.

You can change the past, but each time you go back through “the rabbit hole”, it gets reset to whatever sequence of events is present in the current continuum. And the past is stubborn. It does not like changes, and it will resist them: the more momentous the change, the greater the resistance.

Al has realised that he has found a window into an America where President John F. Kennedy is still alive. With the benefit of hindsight, a determined person could stop Lee Harvey Oswald from killing the president. Al is convinced that keeping JFK alive would open up the wondrous vista of a timeline without Vietnam, escalation of cold the war and all the subsequent mess the world has got into. He is so obsessed about it that he takes a trip down the rabbit hole with the sole intention of saving the president. The trouble is, the past doesn’t like to be changed – so in the five years which he has to wait, Al Templeton is struck down with lung cancer, and the awareness sinks in that he may not be able to do the job himself and a deputy would be needed. Which is where Jake Epping steps in.

Initially, the sceptical Jake has his own reasons for going into the past – Harry Dunning, the crippled janitor of his school, whose mother and siblings were killed by his drunken and murderous father. If he can stop this from happening, he can alter Harry’s life forever. His effort proves successful, and once he understands that he can really alter the past, Jake gets caught up in Al’s idea. And Al’s suicide and the realisation that the rabbit hole may disappear at any moment harden his resolution.

However, what Jake didn’t expect was the Sunday punch the past had in store for him.

Love…

***

What I loved most about the book is the way Stephen King avoids the standard time travel clichés and paradoxes, and concentrates on the human aspects – and the nature of evil.

Evil in small-town America is a pet theme of King’s: we have seen it surface again and again, as vampires, rabid dogs, insane murderers and even as clowns. So also are human monsters, sometimes much more frightening than the supernatural ones (Greg Stillson and Frank Dodd of The Dead Zone, Norman Daniels of Rose Madder etc.). Here, Lee Harvey Oswald, wife-abuser and murderer, is such a monster – but King does not concentrate much on him, probably because he has been written about ad nauseum. Instead, the human monsters of this story are Frank Dunning and Johnny Clayton, and they are part of the strangely menacing past which does not want to be changed.

Frank Dunning and his family are residents of Derry, Maine – the same Derry where Pennywise the Clown went on a rampage in It – and as is usual with King’s fictional universe, the stories overlap and Jake makes the acquaintance of two of It’s protagonists, Beverly Marsh and Rich Tozier, in the interlude between the clown’s first visit and the second. Derry is the quintessential creepy town that Stephen King has introduced us to (and taught us to fear) under different names. There is “something wrong, something bad”. Consider the following passage:

Do any of these things bear on the story I am telling? The story of the janitor’s father, and of Lee Harvey Oswald (he of the smirky little I-know-a-secret smile and gray eyes that would never quite meet yours)? I don’t know for sure, but I can tell you one more thing: there was something inside the fallen chimney at the Kitchener Ironworks. I don’t know what and I don’t want to know, but at the mouth of the thing I saw a heap of gnawed bones and a tiny chewed collar with a bell on it. A collar that had surely belonged to some child’s beloved kitten. And from inside the pipe – deep in that oversized bore – something moved and shuffled.

Come in and see, that something seemed to whisper in my head. Never mind all the rest of it, Jake – come in and see. Come in and visit. Time doesn’t matter in here; in here, time just floats away. You know you want to, you know you’re curious. Maybe it’s even another rabbit-hole, another portal.

Maybe it was, but I don’t think so. I think it was Derry in there – everything that was wrong with it, everything that was askew, hiding in that pipe. Hibernating. Letting people believe the bad times were over, waiting for them to relax and forget there ever had been bad times at all.

This fallen chimney is similar the concrete tunnel in the hotel playground in The Shining, where something asks Danny Torrance to come in and play with it “forever forever forever” or the Oatley Tunnel which Jack Sawyer must brave in The Talisman; the frightening yet strangely fascinating maw of a dimension where only timeless evil exists. This is the origin of the Frank Dunnings and the Frank Dodds, from where the canker that affects America seeps out. One almost wonders how many time Steve has gazed at that hole, fighting the temptation to go in, at the same time drawing the stories out.

However, the aim of the author in this novel is not to creep the reader out, even though all the usual elements are there. The aim here is to explore the strands of time, and how the weaving together of the same creates a particular tapestry. If one could change just one strand, the whole picture will change creating an entirely new pattern: totally random and not repeatable, like the patterns created by the glass pieces in a kaleidoscope.

Jake, though he knows in advance what will happen to Harry Dunning and President Kennedy and can theoretically stop it from happening – provided the obstinate past doesn’t stop him first – does not have the same power over other events which he knows nothing about. Every small change he makes has an impact on the past and its inhabitants. This is especially true in the case of Sadie Clayton, whom he has come to love.

The doomed love affair between Jake and Sadie is, in one sense, the central thread of the novel – a love affair that is inseparably entwined with the motif of dancing. A set of moves between partners which is predetermined but created afresh every time on the stage: paralleling a past in which lives keep on intersecting and moving away, creating patterns which are reset every time someone enters the rabbit hole. As the author says on the cover page, “dancing is life”.

It is this celebration of life with a sense of menace in the background – a sense that any time, things can go wrong – that is the highlight of the story: a sense of living in the moment, forgetting the dead past and the unborn future, which is the only protection we puny humans have against the juggernaut of chance. Listen to how Jake describes it:

Here’s home: the smell of the sage and the way the hills flush orange with Indian blanket in the summer. The faint taste of tobacco on Sadie’s tongue and the squeak of the oiled wood floorboards in my homeroom…

…Other things, too. People saying howdy on the street, people giving me a wave from their cars, Al Stevens taking Sadie and me to the table at the back that he had started calling ‘our table’, playing cribbage on Friday afternoons in the teacher’s room with Danny Laverty for a penny a point, arguing with elderly miss Mayer about who gave the better newscast, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, or Walter Cronkite. My street, my shotgun house, getting used to using a typewriter again. Having a best girl and getting S&H Green Stamps with my groceries and real butter on my movie popcorn.

Home is watching the moon rise over the open, sleeping land and having someone you can call to the window, so you can look together. Home is where you dance with others, and dancing is life.

But unfortunately, most human beings cannot live in the moment permanently, least of all Jake, a man with a mission. And the story grows progressively darker as 11.22.63 draws nearer, and the past which does not want to be changed closes in on Jake… and Sadie, because of her association with him. The climax, when it comes, however, is rather tame and predictable: so is the aftermath, as Jake learns that it is better to let time flow its own way and not to try and change its course. We feel that Stephen King has let us down with a thud: until the final part of the novel turns the whole story on its head, tying up all the loose ends (The identity of the Yellow/ Orange/ Green Card Man, the terrifying entity Jimla which terrorises Jake in his dreams) and answering all the questions.

The novel, fittingly, ends with a dance, between lovers who belong to different time streams.

Dancing, indeed, is life.

***

In conclusion, I would like to quote a conversation between Sadie and Jake, after she has understood that he is from the future.

“Jake? Tell me one good thing about the future.”

“I’ll give you two for the price of one. The cold war is over and the president is a black man.”

Her mouth dropped open. “Are you telling me there’s a Negro in the White House?”

Yes, a lot has happened in fifty short years. Maybe King is right – this particular strand of the time stream that we are cruising on currently is the best of all possible worlds.

The Darkest Chapter in the History of Secular India

A word of warning: if you are an adherent of the Hindutva philosophy espoused by the Bharatiya Janata Party in India, the following review will disturb you.

The book: “Gujarat – Irakalkku Vendi Oru Porattam” (“Gujarat – a Fight for the Victims”) should be read by all secular Indians to learn how government machinery and police were ruthlessly used for ethnic cleansing – written by a former Police Chief himself.

On 27 February, 2002, a train carrying Hindu pilgrims returning from the city of Ayodhya was allegedly set alight by Muslim rioters in the Godhra railway station in Gujarat state in western India, resulting in the death of 59 people. Over the next three days, crazed mobs of Hindu right-wing fanatics went on a rampage all over Gujarat, mainly the city of Ahmedabad. The police stood by impotently while Muslims were slaughtered mercilessly. It was the vilest incident of a sectarian attack, after the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi in 1984.

R. B. Sreekumar was Additional Director General of Police in Gujarat at the time. In this book, he comes up with the shocking revelation that the riots were systematically engineered by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the hard-core Hindu component of the BJP, and they were blessed and abetted by the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, who allegedly told the police chiefs that “there would be Hindu backlash, and they were not to interfere”.

The carnage that followed boggles the mind. From Wikipedia:

It is estimated that at least 250 girls and women had been gang raped and then burned to death. Children were killed by being burnt alive and those digging mass graves described the bodies as “burned and butchered beyond recognition”. Children were force fed petrol and then set on fire, pregnant women were gutted and their unborn child’s body then shown to the women. In the Naroda Patiya mass grave of 96 bodies 46 were women. The murderers also flooded homes and electrocuted entire families inside. Violence against women also included their being stripped naked, objects being forced into their bodies and then their being killed. According to Kalpana Kannabiran the rapes were part of a well organized, deliberate and pre-planned strategy, and that this puts the violence in the area of a political pogrom and genocide. Other acts of violence against women were acid attacks, beatings and the killing of women who were pregnant. Children were also killed in front of their parents…

…Children and infants were speared and held aloft before being thrown into fires. Describing the sexual violence perpetrated against Muslim women and girls, Renu Khanna writes that the survivors reported “that sexual violence consisted of forced nudity, mass rapes, gang-rapes, mutilation, insertion of objects into bodies, cutting of breasts, slitting the stomach and reproductive organs, and carving of Hindu religious symbols on women’s body parts…

…Dionne Bunsha, writing on the Gulbarg Society massacre and murder of Ehsan Jafri, has said that Jafri begged the crowd to spare the women, he was dragged into the street and forced to parade naked for refusing to say “Jai Shri Ram”. He was then beheaded and thrown onto a fire, following this the rioters returned and burned Jafri’s family, including two small boys, to death. After the massacre Gulbarg burned for a week.



Sreekumar also had to stand by while the violence went on – he could not intervene without instructions from his superiors – but later on, he decided to go on a one-man mission to see that justice was done. Against the advice of his colleagues and superiors, he began filing honest reports. When the Justice Nanavati commission was set up to probe the riots, Sreekumar submitted an affidavit which proved to be political dynamite. The commission published the report. The Gujarat government tried to pressurise Sreekumar into disowning it. He refused, and submitted a second affidavit.

However, even with all this activism, nothing happened – the UPA government (whose main component was the Indian National Congress) at the centre, even though theoretically in the opposite camp of the BJP, was hesitant to take decisive action. The reaction of the Gujarat government was as expected: Sreekumar was harassed and punished – transferred to a sinecure post and his deserved promotion denied. But he did not stop, and along with the help of human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, succeeded in bringing many of the perpetrators of violence to justice: but due to interference from the state government (controlled by Modi) and lack of will-power of the Central Government, only the lowest level of the criminals – the one who actually carried out the rape, murder and pillage – were brought to justice. Those who gave the orders at the top could use their clout to escape.

The picture Sreekumar paints of Gujarat is less than edifying, to say the least. Government machinery is used regularly to destroy evidence and subvert justice. The cops who side with the government – even convicted and jailed in some cases – are regularly rewarded, while the honest ones are punished mercilessly. Muslims are forced to live in abject terror as second-class citizens. Muslim youth are regularly done away with in “police encounters” which are little more than cold-blooded murders. The government – any government – is powerless as all the key posts in the bureaucracy are filled with Hindu right-wing sympathisers.

The million-dollar question: is it a true memoir, or is the author a paid lackey of the opposition Indian National Congress as the BJP alleges?

As far as I am concerned, the book absolutely exudes honesty. Also, if Sreekumar is a Congress lackey as the BJP portrays him to be, why was he not “blessed” by the powers that be who was in power at the centre from 2004 to 2014? His battles seem to be lone affairs, with help from only a group of mavericks like himself.

I do not know whether Modi is the veritable monster that Sreekumar makes him out to be – we are all human, and there can be prejudices – but there is no doubt that his government stood by and allowed Hindu fanatics to murder Muslims. In my book, this indictment of Narendra Modi is enough.

Well, that person has gone through and image makeover and is currently the Prime Minister of India. Promising good governance, Modi seems to be subdued nowadays on the Hindutva (hard-core Hindu right wing) rhetoric. He has made all the right moves since occupying the highest seat in the Indian polity. But the experience of history teaches us that the tiger does not change his stripes.

I am keeping my fingers crossed.