GDP growth at 4.7%: Is P Chidambaram the new Yo Yo Honey Singh?

Vivek Kaul 
Yo Yo Honey Singh has an amazing sense of rhythm.
And every time he comes up with a new song, it keeps playing in my head over and over again, like an infinite loop. His latest song “
char botal vodka kaam mera roz ka” is no exception to the rule.
Having said that, one has to also state up front that the lyrics of his songs should never be taken seriously and need to be treated with a pinch of salt. As the tagline of the old Hero Honda advertisement used to be “fill it, shut it, forget it”.
Yo Yo Honey Singh is a tad like that.
But what about the finance minister P Chidambaram? How seriously should he be taken on what he says? Or is he the new Yo Yo Honey Singh?
In a recent interview to ET now, after presenting the interim budget, Chidambaram said “There is no doubt that growth is reviving. We clocked 4.4% in Q1 of the current year, 4.8% in Q2, 5.2% at the minimum in Q3 and Q4 taken together. It shows that growth is coming back at the rate of about 0.4% per quarter.”
What Chidambaram was essentially saying is that the economic growth as measured by the growth in gross domestic product(GDP), in the first quarter of the 2013-2014(i.e. the period between April 1 and June 30, 2013) came in at 4.4%. In the second quarter (i.e. the period between July 1 and September 30, 2013) it came in at 4.8%. He further said that the growth during the next two quarters of the year (i.e. the period between October and December 2013 and January and March 2014) would come in at 5.2%, when taken together. And hence, this shows an economic growth rate of 0.4% per quarter, he remarked. So, by that logic it would take around eight quarters or two years more, more for the economic growth to get back to 8%. Now only if things were as simple as that and everything in life moved in an arithmetic progression.
One needs to be rather ‘brave’ to make predictions on the basis of two data points. But that is what Chidambaram did. And now he has been proven wrong with the GDP growth numbers for the third quarter of 2013-2014(i.e. the period between October 1 and December 31, 2013) that were
released on February 28, 2014.
During the period, the economic growth as measured by the GDP growth came in at 4.7%. This is nowhere near the 5.2% growth that Chidambaram had predicted around two weeks back. If one looks at the data in detail there are many worrying signs.
The manufacturing sector shrunk by 1.9% during the period (GDP at factor cost. At 2004-2005 prices). It had grown by 2.5% during September to December 2012. The sector had grown by 1% during July to September 2013. If India has to create jobs and move people from farms, the manufacturing sector needs to do well.
The agriculture sector grew by 3.6% during the period, after growing by 4.6% during July to September 2013. The agriculture sector contributed around 16.9% to the GDP ( GDP at factor cost. At 2004-2005 prices). But it employs around 45% of the Indian working population (
Employment and Unemployment Survey 2011-12(68th round)). Given this, it is fairly straight forward that if India has to progress jobs need to be created, so that more people can moved out of agriculture, which currently suffers from over-employment.
And what for that to happen, the manufacturing sector needs to do well. In fact, the GDP data clearly shows that the manufacturing sector has barely grown over the last two years.
Other than the manufacturing sector, the mining sector has shrunk by 1.6% during the period. The construction sector, another sector which has the potential to generate ‘huge’ jobs, grew by only 0.6%, after growing by 1%, during September to December 2012. Financing, insurance, real estate and business services did reasonably well and grew by 12.5%, and thus pushed up the overall economic growth by 4.7%.
In fact, things are worrying even when looks at the GDP from the expenditure point of view. The personal final consumption expenditure formed 61.5% of the total expenditure during the period. In September to December 2012, the PFCE had formed around 62.7% of the total expenditure. What this clearly tells us is that PFCE is not rising as fast as other expenditure. In fact, during the period, the PFCE rose by just 2.6% to Rs 9,81,463 crore in comparison to September to December 2012.
Interestingly, during the period September to December 2012, the PFCE had grown by 5.1%. What this clearly tells us is that people are going slow on personal expenditure. The reason for that is high inflation which has led to more and more money being spent on meeting daily expenditure. Hence, people are postponing all other expenditure and that has had an impact on economic growth. One man’s expenditure is another man’s income, after all.
This scenario has been playing out pretty much over the last few years. But P Chidambaram has continued to be optimistic.
In November 2013, he remarked “The second quarter GDP growth rate indicates that the economy may be recovering and is on a growth trajectory again.” In December 2013, he remarked “We are going through a period of stress, but there is ground for optimism. We expect things to become better.” In late December 2013, he remarked “I am confident that the greenshoots that are visible here and there will multiply and that the economy will revive, there will be an upturn in the second half of this year.” In January 2014, he remarked “ I am confident that Indian economy will also get back step by step to the high growth path in three years.” And in February 2014, after presenting the interim budget, he said “we will get back to the high growth path.”
At almost every given opportunity Chidambaram has told us that the economy is recovering, there are green shoots and that the second half of the year will be better than the first half. The GDP grew by 4.4% during April to June 2013 and by 4.8% during July to September 2013. And it grew by 4.7% during October to December 2013. So where is the economic recovery that Chidambaram has been talking about? And where are the green shoots? To me, it appears to be more of the same happening.
Chidambaram has also predicted that “India is likely to achieve an economic growth of between 5-5.5 percent in this fiscal year.” But with the GDP growth being less than 5% during the first three quarters of the year, achieving even 5% growth will be difficult. Let’s not even talk about achieving 5.5% growth.
To conclude, Chidambaram’s statements on economic growth, like the lyrics of Yo Yo Honey Singh’s songs should not be taken seriously at all and be taken with a pinch of salt. While one doesn’t expect a minister of the ruling coalition to be totally negative on the economy, but at least some honesty on what is happening on the economic front, would be nice. Now only, if Chidambaram was listening.
Or, is he, like me, and a lot of other people, busy listening to Yo Yo Honey Singh?
Char botal vodka, kaam mera roz ka…
The article originally appeared on on March 1, 2014

(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek)

Dear Kamal Haasan: Here’s how to make a 100% ban-proof film

mashallah-song-ek-tha-tigerAs imagined by Vivek Kaul
I am a closet film script writer.
The one thing I really want to do is a write masala film script which is different. Recently I ran into a film maker friend of mine and since he was in the mood to listen, I told him my story.
Acha hai,” he said, down two drinks of whisky.
“I am glad you liked it so much,” I replied, hoping that he would take it on and choose to direct it.
Par thoda change karna padega!”
I asked.
“We will have to change the religion of the villain.”
“Yes. We will have to make him a Parsi.”
“Oh why?” I asked, not having heard of a bawa villain in Hindi cinema for a very long time.
“Well. One they are too small in number and most of them barely watch Hindi cinema.”
“So?” I asked.
“So, some of there so called leaders won’t bother to protest that we have a shown a Parsi character in negative light.”
“I don’t get it.”
“And even if they do, their protests will fall on deaf ears because there are only around 70,000 of them. So they are not a vote bank.”
“Oh. But when was the last time you heard of a Parsi terrorist?” I asked rather humbly trying to drive home what I thought was an important point.
Arre yaar Vivek! It doesn’t matter. This is Hindi cinema. The absurd will just become absurder,” he said. “Chal, let me order a drink. Tu tamatar soup theek se pee!
Whatever you think is right,”I replied.
“Also, that side character of a cobbler. We will have to change that a little as well.”
“Hmmm!” I replied, wondering if my series of compromises had just started?
“We can’t call him a Raju mochi as you do in the script,” he explained patiently.
“But why?” I asked. “What do you call a mochi if not a mochi?”
Using the word mochi is insulting. You cannot call a cobbler a mochi. He needs to be called a charmakar. Accordingly you should call your character Raju Charmakar.”
But why? He is not a cobbler. He is just a spy pretending to be a cobbler,” I persisted.
Arre, you don’t remember. A few years back a movie called Aaja Nachle had a line in a song which went like this “Bazaar Mein Machi Hai Mara Maar, Bole Mochi Bhi Khud Ko Sunar.””
“So there were protests and they had to remove that word. And I don’t want my film to be stopped because of one word!”
The words “my film” were music to my ears. “As you say boss!” I agreed.
“Also, the side hero seems to be wearing saffron colour throughout the movie.”
“Yes. That’s how his character is na. It is a political thriller after all. I had to build in characters from across the spectrum.”
Wo to theek hai. But I don’t like too much saffron on the screen. You know my movies have a red theme. So lets make him wear red. We will also give him a song with a lot of red in it. I have a nice set in mind. Karjat main set banayenge.
Arre, that will change the entire meaning. How can red replace saffron?” I asked him, totally perplexed.
“Well if Vishal Bhardwaj’s bhains can be a pink gulabo instead of a red laali, I am sure the side hero can wear red instead of saffron. Samjha karo. It can have a big impact in the biggest territory.”
“As you wish,” I replied totally giving in to his demands.
And lets put in a song by Yo Yo Honey Singh,” he further suggested.
And I sunk into my chair.
Thoda daaru shaaru, weed-sheed, kudiyon shudiyon ke baare main gayega. And that will ensure that the movie will go housefull in the Delhi, Western UP and Punjab territory,” he continued.
“But what if it gets banned because of his song? Also the women have been rallying against him,” I asked.
Na na. The protesting women were the few dainted painted types.We will ensure that he doesn’t go to the same extent like he often does. Kuch hulka phulka, you know what I mean.”
“Hmmm,” I just nodded.
Aur yaar. Your heroine is too dry.”
“Yes. She is from a small town. But she is a total deshbhakt. That is why she helps the hero in his mission against the terrorists.”
Wo to theek hai. But lets spice her up!”
“As in?”
Arre thoda item number-wumber daalo!
“But she is a humble small town girl? It doesn’t sound right!” I pleaded.
“Let’s put in a dream sequence yaar.”
Dream sequence?”
“Yes. You know what I have a brilliant idea. We will also shoot the heroine under a waterfall. The same one where Raj ji shot Mandakini in Ram Teri Ganga Maili.”
Yeah. Your script says she is a village girl na.”
Small town girl,” I clarified.
Arre ek hi baat hai. And while she is bathing under the waterfall, the hero will see her for the first time. Wo scene poore single screen theatres ko loot lega!”
But who will do the heroine’s role? Katrina?”
She will be too expensive. Utne main to hero aa jayega. Arre we will take a new girl. She won’t have any inhibitions about shedding clothes if the scene demands so.”
“You think very differently,” I replied.
“Right now it is important to ensure that the film does not get banned. And no film ever gets banned because of its heroine! So heroine koi bhi ho sakti hai!” 
What about the lead role?” I asked. “Let’s take Shah Rukh.”
Na na. Bolta bahut hai wo! Ab to likhne bhi laga hai.
He might say something reasonably intelligent before the film’s release and there will be a huge controversy aur film dabbe main pad jayegi.”
But wouldn’t that be good publicity for the movie? I mean, My Name is Khan got a lot of publicity that way.”
Yes it did. But I don’t want to take that risk.”
So? Lets take Aamir then?”
Na na he is too much of an activist and intellectual type. And if you remember Gujarat had banned his movie Fanaa. Gujarat territory main Aamir risky hai.”
Let’s take Salman,” he replied confidently.
He barely speaks and when he does it sounds like Italian,” he replied. “So Rs 150 crore guaranteed.”
I had nothing to say. Money talks loudest.
The article originally appeared on on January 31, 2013

(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He can be reached at
[email protected]

There are Yo Yo Honey Singhs everywhere

Vivek Kaul
(Warning: The piece contains graphic language)
So Yo Yo Honey Singh is in trouble. And women and men are up in arms against him for writing a song that talks about a certain body part and have accused him of being a misogynist. Anyone who has heard his songs objectively will tell you just that. He is a misogynist.
As the lines from his controversial song go:
Aaja teri ch**t maroon
Tere sir se chu***y ka bhoot utaroon
Cho***ey key baad tujhe jutey maroon
Tere mooh main apna lo** dey key mo** maroon (yeah)
This when loosely translated into English means:
Come let me f**k you,
Let me get lust off your head
Let me beat you up with my shoes after f**king u
Let me come in your mouth

If Yo Yo Honey Singh is not a misogynist I don’t know who is? But then there are Yo Yo Honey Singhs everywhere. It’s just that there language is not as grotesque and direct as Honey Singh’s is, but they have equally obscene things to say about women.
Take this
song sung by Amar Singh Chamkila (one of the biggest Punjabi singers who was killed by terrorists in the late 1980s) and Amarjot. The lyrics of the song go “chakh lo drivero purje nu”. The Hindi word purza normally refers to any sort of tool. In this context though it refers to a woman. When translated the song means “hey driver taste the woman”. And given that Chamkila was killed in 1988, the song must have been written and sung at least 24 years back. Hence there have always been songs in Punjabi of the kind Yo Yo Honey Singh sings now. So he is not the only one to be blamed.
Before I get accused of Punjabi bashing let me move onto Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where most of the audience for Bhojpuri movies and songs lives. As Avijit Ghosh writes in
Cinema BhojpurIn Pyaar Ka Bandhan, singer Rekha Rao croons to the lyrics of Vinay Bihari, ‘Tani lahe lahe dheere dheere dala kamsin ba dukhala raja ji(Put it in slowly, darling, I am very young, it hurts’), while on screen Sambhavna Seth dances to the tune and as she gyrates, a launda (a man dressed as a woman) tries to slip bangles into her arms.” In fact anyone who has heard Bhojpuri music will tell you its loaded with sexual innuendo which goes against women all the time. Sample this song which goes with the lines bahiya main leke dela khacha kach (This is not translatable).
And this has been a tradition in Bhojpuri cinema for sometime now. As Ghosh writes “In the family drama Ganga Se Nata Ba Hamaar (1991) well-known music director Ravindra Jain not only provided the score, but also penned the lyrics for a couple of songs. In one of them he wrote, ‘kahin nimbua to kahin be anaar sajni, nimbua bechari kisi ginti main na aaye, yeh zamana hai anaron ka beemar sajni’(‘There is a lemon at one place and a pomegranate in other. Nobody spares a second thought for the poor lemon, this is the age where everybody is mad about pomegranates’). It is obvious the composer-lyricist is not talking about the different sizes of fruit.”
Tamil film songs also do that and talk about mangoes. Or take this relatively recent song
kattipudi kattipudi da which essentially means hug me hug me. Throughout the song there are background sounds which suggest some lovemaking leading to a female orgasm. While I am really not an expert on Tamil cinema I am sure that there are many such songs which essentially demean the sexuality of a woman and her body. Anybody who has watched Midnight Masala on Sun TV will tell you that.
Now that brings me to songs from Hindi cinema. Sample
this song from Vijaypath sung by Alisha Chinoi in the early 1990s which never made it past the censor board. “Kal saiyyan ne aisi bowling karri, ek over bhi main khel payi nahi. Chauthe gend main out hui paanchva gend main jhel payi nahi. (yesterday my lover bowled so well that I couldn’t even play one over. I got out on the fourth ball, couldn’t last long enough to play the fifth one.)”
A line in this song goes “dheere dheere se bowling karo sajna, main sajni hoon teri lugai nahi. (Please bowl a little slower oh my lover, I am not your wife but your lover.)
Then there was David Dhawan’s Andaz which had songs like main maal gaadi tu dhakka laga dhakka laga bhai dhakka laga and khada hai khada hai khada hai, dar pe tere aashik khada hai khol khol khol, darwaza khol (again I don’t think I can translate this).
The movie Lakshman Rekha based on O Henry’s short story After Twenty Years had this song “Kya number hai, kya gaadi hai, kya bumper hai kya body hai, aage se dekho, peeche se dekho, upar se dekho, neeche se dekho, kahin se dekho ji…hai kya baat hai…uff kya baat hai…” If all that wasn’t enough Mithun Chakraborthy once sang in one of his movies “Mirchi re mirchi kamal kar gayee, dhoti ko phadke rumaal kar gayee.”
And we are all familiar with Madhuri Dixit asking us “Choli ke peeche kya hai?”in Khalnayak. Once that question was answered we had Vasha Usgaonkar asking us “Choli ke andar kya hai?” in Khalnayika.
Lest you start getting the impression dear reader that such songs only happened twenty years back, sample these lines from the latest hit Fevicol from Dabanng 2 which has Kareena Kapoor singing, “Main to tandoori murgi hoon yaar gatak le saiyyan alcohol se. (I am tandoori chicken you can swallow with alcohol).”Or take the recent hit Rowdy Rathore which had the song “pallu ke neeche daba ke rakha hai utha doon to hungama ho”. (Again I can’t translate this)” Both these movies made over a Rs 100 crore.
Let me broaden my argument here and look at a few more things in the Hindi language. One of the more popular forms of blessings was and still isdoodho nahao pooto phalo. Literally this means that may you bathe in milk (i.e. become very wealthy) and may you have many sons (who can then take care of you and your wealth).
Let me go a step further. A lot of mantras recited at the time of a Hindu wedding basically ask the woman to be ready to give up anything and everything for the husband. Isn’t this misogynistic also?
And let me go even further. There is a saying in Hindi which goes “Dhol, ganwar, shudra, pashu aur naari, sab hain taadan ke adhikari (The music instrument dhol, a stupid man, a person belonging to a low caste, an animal and a woman, are all entitled to a good beating).”
In fact there is a similar saying in English. “A woman, a cocker spaniel and a redwood tree, the more you beat them the better they be.”
So if we ban Honey Singh we can’t stop at just banning him. There are a spate of other bans that will have to follow. So where will the bans stop? And who will decide what is to be banned and what is not? The government, which is anyway looking for ways to put curbs on free speech?
Also if listening to Yo Yo Honey Singh leads to men raping women then what is to say that women wearing short skirts doesn’t? ( I find this argument entirely facetious and have debunked it here). 
Yo Yo Honey Singh did not become what he has on his own (unlike lets say Rahul Gandhi). He has a fan following. There are men (and women) out there who like to hear what he sings. His songs are not on the edges where only a small segment of the population follows him. His songs are there everywhere. They can be heard blaring out at celebrations, and on mobile phones, mp3 players and car stereos in Delhi and parts of Northern India. Hence in a way his success is also a reflection of the way we are.
So what is the solution? The solution is that we vote with our wallets. If Yo Yo Honey Singh is so offensive, lets not go to his concerts. Lets not listen to his songs and so on. Lets also not listen to all the double meaning item numbers that films across India churn out and that helps them earn Rs 100 crore or more. Lets not have them as ringtones. Lets also in the years to come treat our sons and daughters equally.
Also if the Hindi film industry and other film industries across India feel strongly about the entire issue as they claim to, they need to start portraying women better, instead of always looking to make a quick buck.

A slightly sanitized version of this article appeared on on January 2, 2012
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He can be reached at [email protected])


A Himesh Reshamiya fan comes out of the closet

Vivek Kaul 
It’s one am in the morning. And I have had the same song playing on loop on my laptop for the last three hours. It’s been written, composed and sung by Himesh Reshamiya.
The song is Tera Pyar Pyar Pyar Hookah Bar from the Akshay Kumar starrer Khiladi 786. There is something very infectious about the song. I can’t really figure out why I am hooked onto it. I guess in this day and age of complex multilayered songs this is a simple tune which one can hum.
With the music of Khiladi 786 Reshamiya is well and truly back. The album has the music director who for a brief period became more famous for his hair weaving, crooning songs in his famous (or should we say infamous) nasal twang.
If you thought Aashiq Banaya Aapne was too much then try listening to Lonely Lonely Tere Bin and you might find yourself shouting O Banwariya by the end of it. The song has Yo Yo Honey Singh rapping along with Reshamiya.
For those who are the old fashioned kind and prefer people singing through their mouth and not through their nose will appreciate Saari Saari Raat Soye Na Hum. Okay, I have to admit that there is a slight nasal twang in Himesh’s voice even in this song. But then the nasal twang is to Himesh what yoddling was to Kishore Kumar.
Himesh Reshamiya burst onto the scene as a singer with the big hit Aashiq Banaya Aapne. The nasal twang in his voice reminded me of the Pakistani singer Hasan Jehangir who sang the hit song Hawa Hawain the late 1980s (The video of the song that I have uploaded is from this movie called Don 2 and try spotting the rather dilapidated Shah Rukh Khan’s Mannat in the background).
Hawa Hawa achieved cult status and rose to as high as the second position on the Cibaca Sangeet Mala (or was it Cibaca Geet Mala, I really don’t remember). Back then it was the only countdown show and used to be on air every Monday at eight o’ clock on Vividh Bharti (It had moved from Radio Ceylon by then). Years later I was devastated to know that the song was not an original had been copied from the song Havar Havarsung by the Iranian singer Kourosh Yaghmaei.
Okay, Okay, I am deviating, but that’s the trouble with writing on movies and music. So we were talking about Reshamiya and I thought his voice had a nasal twang which was similar to that of Hasan Jehangir but the twang was much more pronounced in this case
And I also thought that like Jehangir before him he would be a one song wonder. But I, like a lot of others, was hopelessly wrong on this one. He belted out one hit after another as a singer as well as a music director.  The irony of course was that even though everyone was listening to his songs no one would admit to the same. I realised this on a random day in Ranchi while visiting my parents in 2007 and humming a song called Jummeratfrom Phir Hera Pheri all day long.
But I wasn’t supposed to like Himesh Bhai. Okay, I told myself, this is a temporary phenomenon, I will soon get over it. But the fact of the matter was I liked what I heard.
It was fashionable to listen to non hummable songs of A R Rahman but Himesh’s music was for the auto-rickshaw drivers. As a columnist in the Daily News and Analysis asked in July 2007 “Only autowallahs and taxi-drivers listen to his kind of music,” I was told. “We who sit in the passenger seat don’t.” Oh! This raised more fundamental questions in my mind. So, apparently, when Himess(Himesh Reshamiya i.e.) became the first Indian to perform at the Wembley, all of India’s auto, taxi and truck drivers must have flown to London to attend his concert? Or perhaps it was attended only by London’s taxi-drivers?”
“And what about the savvy lot who run our FM channels? They all know that their target audience is the young, cool, hip, urban, intelligent, upwardly mobile (or Ipod/Iphone),” the column went onto ask.
In between all this Reshamiya decided to become a hero. And at the same time decided to give music only in those movies in which he starred.
His first film as a hero was Aap Ka Suroor. The nasal twang of Reshamiya reached monstrous proportions with the song O Huzoor – Tera Tera Tera Suroor. Other than having ten songs sung by Reshamiya it also had the for the very first time in the history of Hindi cinema the hero wearing a baseball cap throughout the movie.
The next one was Karzzz. But even all the extra zzz’s and Reshamiya without the baseball cap could not save the movie at the box office. Ironically this was a remake of the earlier Karz made by Subhash Ghai. Ghai had ripped off the movie from  The Reincarnation of Peter Proud and still got paid Rs 3 crore for the remake rights. Talk about having your cake and eating it too.
Himesh Reshamiya’s next film as a hero was Radio. The film had some fantastic music and I personally feel its Reshamiya’s best album till date. It includes a personal favourite Daamad Ji Angna Main Padharewhich Reshamiya has sung along with Kailash Kher. His next film Kajraare directed by the former actress Pooja Bhatt saw a fairly limited release.
And Himesh’s acting career was more or less over after this. But Reshamiya was only trying to do what a lot of other famous singers have done in the past i.e. become a hero. Mukesh stopped singing for a while in the early 50s when he wanted to become a hero and decided to sing only for himself. The dashing Talat Mehmood went through the same phase of wanting to become a hero and soon other singers were singing for superstar Dilip Kumar.
In the early 70s Shailendra Singh was Rishi Kapoor’s voice in Bobby. But he had acting aspirations as well and became neither a famous singer nor a famous actor. In the recent years Sonu Nigam has fallen into the same trap and is no longer the top male playback singer.
There are very few singers making it big as actors. One of course is the great Kishore Kumar. But his best songs came after he had more or less quit acting. The only true singing superstar that Hindi cinema has ever had is Kundan Lal Saigal who drunk himself to death at a young age of 43 because he had this thing in his head that he sang better when he was drunk. By the time he realised this mistake it was too late (Dr Rajkumar, the kannada superstar, sang a lot of his own songs. He also sang bhajans).
The moral of the story for Himesh bhai is that he should stick to what he knows best and i.e. giving music and belting out superhit songs with a nasal twang.
In the meanwhile I am waiting for his next nasal song and am also ready for the hate mail. Bring it on, women!
The article originally appeared on on November 20,2012.
Vivek Kaul is a writer. He can be reached at [email protected]