Tuesday, November 15, 2016

It is time for the Left to reflect!


I’m not a proponent of analogies – they always mean different things in different times in the minds of different people – so I would avoid one and come straight to the point. The right-wingers of the world are stuck in a bubble that would be hard to break without bringing a major disruption to their world. The right wing ideology across the world has a few things in common – the middle class with not too much but just about enough provide most of the strength in numbers, it is tightly tied to ideas of religion and an affiliation with the past (often misrepresented and glorified to suit an already formed belief), a sense of nationalism of hate and exclusionism. The holy books followers of white America, India and Middle-East have much in common – a right wing agenda and a pseudo sense of sacrifice for a cause. This sacrifice is more often than not suffered by the mass of people whom the right wing agenda tries to crush in the first place. 
All ideas that resonate with the ideas of right wing agenda – unity by means of common hate for a section of society – automatically find place in its propaganda. Discrimination along time lines of religion, color of the skin, sexuality and any other identity that creates a minority that can be easily exploited automatically becomes a cause that all right-wingers throng towards. It has much to do with the sheep like tendency of the middle-class masses to look for a figure of authority in order to find direction, too scared and unmotivated to find a path of their own, too involved in their petty grazing to be able to look up once in a while into the future. The future then becomes singular for all the followers with a single source and a narrow motivation.
The sad truth is that the world needs these people in the current scheme of things. The sheep that would follow orders believe propaganda and ask lesser questions. They are also quite weak to ever question those in power so the ‘expansion of their rights’ is limited to infringing upon the rights of those who are marginalized.
Most of the education for the right wing is limited to an ability to do their assigned work efficiently and being able to consume the propaganda dished out by those who enslave them. Even those considered the great right wing thinkers have had a very limited sense of the world, a myopic view of issues, non-empathetic policies but most importantly a message that is easily understood by the masses that have limited abilities as consumers of ideas and opinions. In the context of Indian politics it is no surprise then that a fiction writer with an open right wing agenda is one of India’s most popular authors even when his literature is devoid of quality, substance or any amount of literary merit. Donald Trump’s speeches are a good example of the same thing – a 5th grader has access to his message while a Clinton speech requires sensibilities and comprehension capabilities of at least a high school student.
Understanding the leftist argument requires a patient listen to the dialogue combined with a good amount of introspection. It is all about skepticism and a general mistrust of authority. The right wing message almost always comes with broken arguments with a heavy undercurrent of hate messages targeted towards marginalized sections of the society. The most fundamental quality of the right wing dialogue is that it is easy to understand – just like a religious sermon an idea of hell and Satan is created, a common enemy that the followers can unite against. A common sentiment that they could be manipulated by!
This becomes very clear when you look at Trump’s allegations about the power centers of American economy – all the big bad bankers pointed out in his messages are Jews! He kills two birds with a stone with such propaganda – he builds a sense of hate and mistrust for minorities (a vote bank he could do without if alienating them consolidates his white votes) and at the same time he sends out the message that the evils of the banking sector are due to bad influences of these ‘outsiders’ and are not the symptoms of a form of capitalism that has gone rogue! For his supporters, it is a lot easier to grasp a simple idea like this and blame their miseries on people who are ‘different’, than to question a system they are a part of and which is designed with many convoluted elements to escape a simpleton’s scrutiny.
Modi in India does the same – his speeches have a very distinctive ‘saas-bahu’ drama element in them; a strategy that has worked so well in the Indian society – a body of work in India cinema and television revolves around such romantic tragedies with an eventual triumphant hero figure with almost unrealistic abilities making the world better again, restoring the good and destroying the evil. Interestingly, one has to define what is ‘evil’ before one gets to destroy it! In a more realistic left centric ideology the evil is always the power hungry authoritative figures or ideologies with headstrong outlook but in a right propaganda power is good! Power is desired because the herd would be directionless without an authoritarian. The right wing herd does not want to think for itself which makes them more likely to choose an absolute political power than to have many arguments occupy the political space and force them to think for themselves. With such inability to question and comprehend complex arguments, they resort to simple rhetoric of hate and blaming ‘the others’ for their miseries. Such propaganda often resorts to slapstick and derogatory humor in order to make a point. Arguments are lost in memes and slanderous mockery. Since strong religious sentiments have already trained these people to have faith and not ask many questions, they go to any extent to protect their faith in a political idea. The right-wing ideology is the new religion of the world and it is spreading at an alarming rate! Since the right-wing ideology insulates them entirely from any sense of empathy for those that are not exactly like them in color, caste, religion, nationality, and any argument that tries to swing a policy matter in favor of these minorities then becomes a battle they throw their weight around to win at any cost. Their think tanks realize that any concession provided to a marginalized section of the society would attract focus towards empathy, which can defeat the ideas of a common hate so they stay away from it. Strength – both physical and economic – is given supreme importance for reasons that I outlined earlier. A weak section of the society fails to attract the respect that all individuals in a fair society should. A good case in point is how motivational videos of people with disabilities who have achieved big things in life is circulated heavily while denying basic rights to PWD in general in all matters of policy.
The solution to this dichotomy is not in ‘dumb-ing down’ the leftist dialogue but, to introduce new ways of educating the right wing. If humor is what they like then provide them access to quality humor. If their ideology is based on a bumper sticker education then give them clearer arguments. Don’t assume them to fill in the gaps of your argument, provide them the complete picture. Provide them access to unbiased historical accounts of important world events. Most importantly, make them question their belief system and provide them a warm hug when you demolish their arguments instead of offering them a cold, tall glass of ‘I told you so’. Not many people like to be in the wrong and with the current situation of the world where the most powerful and the most populous countries of the world are in the hands of extreme right wing individuals with autocratic tendencies we need to provide a voice of reason that goes beyond sarcasm and fear. There’s nothing in the world right now that might provide one hope but we need to move forward. Take this opportunity to create a better dialogue for the impenetrable right wing agenda.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Bangalore vs The North Indians


Bangalore, we've reached a point of inflection of sorts. More roads are resembling the infamous Silk Board junction and Whitefield's narrow, horror of a road. We are already paying more money for water than any other city in India, with a lot of us not getting enough to live the life of dignity which we did just over a decade ago. Pollution is sickening quite literally and while the number of automobiles infesting the city with smoke are increasing, the cost of transport and everything else is rising quite sharply.
I say 'WE' because I've come to see this city as my own. Perhaps closer to me than Allahabad, a place where I was born and spent my childhood. I've been in Bangalore for over 6 years now, I do not speak Kannada and yes, I am a north Indian. The reason why I don't speak Kannada is not because I'm a north Indian snob who dislikes the south culture and expects the whole world to speak Hindi. On the contrary, I prefer these parts of the country over the parts I lived the first two decades of my life in. I do not speak the language because the people here always spoke to me in English or Hindi. I saw the average Bangalorean take pride in the fact that she could speak the language of a land she had never visited. For years I've fought battles on social media claiming Bangalore to be the best city in India and in each of those battles the one thing that was uncontested always, was how welcoming Bangalore was.
Now, things are changing. As always, humor is leading the way - “boxer shorts is the national dress of BTM layout”, “Koramangala is Amit Pradesh”, “Maruthi Nagar is the mini-Gulf” (jokes that I have indulged in too). But, in this humor things are taking an ugly turn when a friend suggests that we build a mega wall to keep the north Indians outside and have snipers guarding it!
Just a few years ago not speaking the language was a problem only if I got into a street fight with an auto driver but now, to quote a colleague, “it is a touchy subject”. The major reason for the war against South Indians, Gujaratis, Biharis, UP walas in Mumbai was economic – the local workforce was without jobs while the more skilled immigrants were taking a bigger piece of the pie. Sadly, in Bangalore the language subject has become touchy with comparatively lesser evils like traffic congestion and the naivety of the North Indian to demand 'paneer butter masala' at MTR!
The 'true Bangalorean' who complains about North Indians invading the good old Bangalore also tells me how Koramangala was not a part of Bangalore, BTM was a jungle where young women were discouraged from venturing out into at night and Whitefield was a place where one went for a day trip. As a North Indian who eats meat, smokes a cigarette or two once in a while, drinks alcohol and has friends who are women, my chances of 'invading' the good parts of Bangalore – Jayanagar, Baswangudi, Banashankari and the like – are minimal from the start in any case so I don't see much of a point in the complains. The fact that the center of the city (and the center of the city's action) has moved away from old parts of Bangalore is understandable.
I think the disagreement is not between Bangalore and the North Indians, the disagreement is between the old Bangalore and her ways and the new generation of a cosmopolitan city. It is easy to draw inferences from the surface of a situation when a problem crops up. North Indian invasion is not a problem for Bangalore, the poor infrastructure is! Immigration from other parts of the country (and world?) is an inevitability. The real culprits of this situation are the administrators, corporators and politicians who have failed to provide Bangalore with an infrastructure that could match the rate of growth! The question we should be asking is not why a North Indian does not speak the local language, the question is why the airport is 40+ kilometers away from the city when there is enough land between the airport and the city, why is the metro taking so much time to become functional and why is the water tanker mafia being allowed to take the city for a ride.
It is easy to be tolerant when everything is perfect. If an immigrant comes along and gives me business, there is no greatness in 'accepting' the outsider. It's when the presence of an outsider creates inconveniences that racial tolerance comes into picture. When Mumbai drives out thousands of South Indians and when Bangalore starts to expect one to learn the local language, they are both driven by the same racial discriminatory thought. Tolerance then is a mere affectation, and not so covert one either, especially when the 'tolerant' neighbor tells you, "we have allowed everyone to come to Bangalore" in a country where one of the reasons the current government got a landslide victory was opposition of Article 370 that gives special status to the state of J&K.

This could just be dismissed as an empty rant and nothing would make me happier if most of you do that. It would mean that the 'problem' that I'm seeing is in very select circles and most part of Bangalore is just like the group of men and women I met yesterday – in their late 60s-70s, speaking to each other in English who had traveled from South Bangalore to Indira Nagar to eat a Bengali keema roll at Chakum-Chukum with their families.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thank You Sachin!

I was one of the many millions who hung a cricket ball from a sock and practiced my straight drives the way I saw him do it. Was glued to the television set for endless hours and patiently watched that flawless cover drive and once in a while a cheeky lofted shot where the ball sped past the bowler to the boundary, even that slight movement of the back-foot just before the other one fiercely chased the pitch of the ball and thrashed it out of the stadium.
I have put harmlessly stupid statuses on facebook (and orkut?) when he missed out in a big game and questioned if he should have retired long ago, only to come back and cry tears of joy a few matches later when I saw him improvising a paddle sweep and making it look classy!
I have seen my frail frame swell up with pride when who's who of cricket from across the world called him the 'master'. I have seen the fear of anticipated decimation in the eyes of bowlers from Pakistan, Australia, England and seen that glimmer of hope in the eyes of the millions watching the game when India is in a terrible situation and the spectators whisper in each other's ears - "Abhi Sachin hai!"
I'm glad I've seen the days when the younger generation of cricketers have restored the faith of their fans in the Indian cricket team even when we all know all too well that no one is ever filling those shoes! I've shared and liked those youtube videos of Sachin's son displaying some cricketing shots during a net practice in a controlled indoor stadium environment and hoped that he's the chip of the old block.
I've tried to imitate his voice on drunken nights and realized that the falseto of my timber has only the quality of an old, drunk Lata doing an alaap from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.
I've fought with random people on the streets when they questioned his shot selection, people who know nothing about cricket but yet watch it ball by ball only because Sachin is playing! I've dampened my cheeks when I read stories of small school kids imagining a great future for themselves because their hero has inspired them enough to at least have that dream.
I've cursed him for collaborating with lousy brands and for getting into those controversies about the export duty on sports cars only because I've thought of him as an infallible human being.
I've pointed fingers at the likes of Virat Kohli when they've shown absolutely no consideration for their fans and asked them to learn more than just aggressive batting from the seniors like Sachin. 
I've had that old poster of his that came along with 'Sportstar' on my wall (next to that Kapil Dev's poster that has him levitated in air, a shining red ball in his hand held by the seam) when I was a kid and still have cricketers posters.
I've always known that this day would come when he would gracefully carry that heavy bat of his out of the ground and we would see it in action again only in recorded highlights in DVDs stacked on that old shelf by the computer table. But, somehow this does not feel too bright. He's just a cricketer for God's sake as some would say but I don't quite know why my eyes have swelled up, my brains is refusing to think more and my hands fail to punch more letters on this keyboard.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Why Chennai Needs A Hindi Lesson

This blog post is in response to this one (please read it first) - Why Chennai can't and won't speak Hindi

Tamil is a beautiful language. Just like any other language that is old enough to have the privilege of being cured over generations of poets, writers, etc. One should learn Tamil to be able to understand the beautiful poetry that can only be understood in the language in which it was written - I have been read translations of a few by my friends and even those are a joy to listen to. A lot of other languages have beautiful words, poems and writers. Tamil has many more of these because it is that old - compare this to a library, the older the library the more chances of it having more valuable knowledge.
It is absolutely legit for a tamilian to take pride in her own language. It is in fact absolutely necessary to do so. If our future generations are to gain from the knowledge that has been collected over so many centuries, we need to protect the medium in which that knowledge flows forward. However, while pride is welcome and necessary, ego is NOT. And quite a few ignorant tamil folk that I have interacted with seem to be flirting with the pride-ego border quite a lot when it comes to Tamil (the language and the culture), even when they are such humble and modest people in all other respects.
So, why does 'Chennai need a hindi lesson'? There are 2 reasons:

#1. Chennai needs to become more accepting of other cultures in the country. If you have ever been to Chennai, you would know that as a city it is not very accommodating of others' cultures. While I agree with the said blog post that there is no need for Hindi in Tamil Nadu, one must understand that being instantly rude and judgmental of a person because she speaks in Hindi is not something that any city should be proud of. It is NOT OK for an auto driver to cheat a person because she would not be able to speak Tamil. And it is NOT OK for the others observing this to play along (the cops included) because the person being looted is a Hindi speaker. Chennai, my dear friends, is hostile to Hindi speakers and this makes me sad because I love Hindi.
Also, there are quite a few people (like me) who try to pick up Tamil when they come to Tamil Nadu. Trust me, we make a very genuine effort but it is a tough language to learn. We give it a try but it takes time, effort and a good amount of support from the native speakers of the language - the support that Hindi speakers rarely get. I have been lucky to have found friends who could lend me that support and encourage me to learn the tiny bits of Tamil that I know.

#2. Tamil is a lovely language and that is why Tamilians must learn Hindi and other Indian languages. There is so much that Tamil can contribute to literature. Why must we build a cultural wall around something so beautiful? Culture is curated by being assimilative and inclusive. A culture that closes it's doors to outside influences would eventually suffer. I'm not asking the Chennai folk to integrate the rough and rude attitude that Delhi brings into their culture. I'm asking them to integrate the 'attithi devo bhava' of a punjabi home, I'm asking them to add the sweet smell of the gujarati kitchen to their homes, I'm asking them to add the nascent enthusiasm of a Bihari youth into their culture. How can one enrich their own culture with a closed mind and a repulsive attitude towards anyone who would not speak their language?

I compared Tamil to an old, invaluable library earlier. What good is a library if it closes it's doors and only those who are inside can make use of it? A good library let's the curious mind to step inside its doors and let's the enlightened step out to spread the knowledge!
I'm very thankful to my friends who could help me in understanding the Tamil culture (to a certain extent) by letting me explore, by letting me question, by letting me fail so many times with supreme patience. But, I must tell you that most of these were people who understood other cultures themselves. They understood Hindi (as a language) and wanted to learn new things themselves. These were people who were curious to know how my part of the world worked. We both gained tremendous knowledge and this is how things should function. Inclusivity must prevail, even if it comes at the cost of a rotting ego that fuels political ambitions and cultural divides that all of us have come to love so dearly that we would go to any extent to protect it.
Let's open up and be more accepting of each other. Let the ignorant UP wala bhaiya live in Chennai and learn a thing or two about computers and let the lungi clad Chennai anna teach delhi how to make good sambhar. This is the only way we all can progress as a nation!

PS: Comments are welcome. Please do not be hateful. Please be logical.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

What Has Delhi Rape Taught Us About India And Her People!

The news of the delhi rape shook the world. I'm still not sure why this particular incident woke so many of us up and made people think about women security/respect in India when such incidents keep happening by hundreds everyday in India. Sad thing is that the poor girl suffered a lot and died, the good thing is that an issue of primal importance came to light!
Here's what this episode taught us about India and her people:

  1. Indian Politicians: The politicians of India are a true representation of her people. We are insensitive to women and are apathetic towards women rights and our politicians gave many statements that cement that fact. Few politicians cried in the parliament but failed to check their own party members from making statements that show that they view women as objects of carnal use only.
  2. Rahul Gandhi: We learnt that when the going gets tough, he tucks inside his bed under warm blankets woven by his mother and her admirers. There was, yet again, no statement from the Prime Ministerial candidate of Congress party.
  3. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh: Theek hai?
  4. Sadhus of India: We learnt that the Indian sadhus want their fair share of prime time on news channels. When most intellectuals on the telly were condemning the heinous crime committed in the capital city, Shri Aasa Ram Bapuji decided to blame the victim to make sure that his statements are not overlooked. The news channels instead of ignoring such stupid comments took his bait and gave him the prime time slot that he has earned through rigorous tapasya. Which brings us to the next point.
  5. Indian Media: Indian media is probably the second most immature media of the world (no points for guessing the number one!) Day in and day out all the news channels broadcasted news about protests. First, they went after Delhi administration, then they went after the protesters when one policeman was killed on the streets of Delhi. The inevitable "aap kaisa mehsus kar rahe hain?" question was also thrown at the brother of the policeman who died. And for some reason, they could report rape cases and cases of molestation of girls only when the nation started burning. Rapes and women rights infringement is nothing new in this country but till now the media decided to play it mum.
  6. Indian Police: Indian police is just a bunch of illiterate, insensitive, thugs who come into this profession for primarily 2 reasons - failure at every other career, lure of ill obtained money! For more details you can read my previous blog post.
  7. Son Of The President Of India: Nothing new here. It was expected of a son of a typical politician.
  8. Social Media: No matter what people say, social media has come to stay! The amount of information and idea exchange that happened over the Internet over the last few weeks is simply unprecedented. 
  9. People Of Delhi: We kept blaming the people of Delhi for being responsible for rapes but the true story emerged when crime stats of other states were pulled out. Delhi may be leading in number of 'reported' cases but, no other city is far behind!
  10. Indian Law: Indian law is helpless, meek and to an extent impotent when it comes to punishing the real criminals. The only use of law is in putting innocent girls behind bars for what they say about a dead person on Facebook! Lawyers of India are no better breed of people. The kind of statements that the defense lawyer gave to save the rapist were enough to judge the mentality and idea of justice they have.
  11. Average Indian Male: The average Indian male is sex starved.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Who Wants To Be A Policeman?


When I was a kid studying in a regular school in Allahabad, quite a few teachers had a policy of appointing the most troublesome kid as the 'class monitor'. The policy worked well. Give the biggest goon in the class a responsibility to sober the rest of them, give him authority, a boost to his ego and things would go smooth.
This technique worked perfectly well till we all were small kids. As we grew up, the system somehow failed - the experienced teachers knew that well and the goons started going back to where they belonged - which was not in any responsible position whatsoever.
The police, across the world, does a dirty job. They are the ones interacting with the bad guys, they are the ones who are taking bullets while assuming authority of shooting them when needed.
Imagine a civilized society. Now imagine a regular person living in that society. She would never hurt anyone, even if it is required by law to do so. I'm assuming that the readers of my blog are a relatively civilized bunch of people, in that case should I ask one of you to shoot a bullet into the head of an evil person, chances are that you would not be able to do that (God save us if civilized people have the guts to shoot people around!) We need a class of people to do the dirty work for us, for that we must be thankful to each and every member of the police departments of the world.
The Hindu mythology has many examples of Gods assuming powers to kill and punish the evil. I've often asked this question to myself, why do the Gods have to do that themselves? It would be a lot simpler for them to pass on special powers to some human and let him carry out the execution. Why does a God take the pain of taking birth in human form, live the life of a human till it is time to take out the bad guys? There would be many reasons, I'm sure but, one of them has to be the fact that power corrupts. Give a corrigible guy enough power and chances are that he would not be able to live within the code of the civilized world. A great responsibility should come with great power but, that rarely happens in the real world!
So, here's the catch - we need to give enough power to the bad guys to do the dirty task but we want them not to misuse it! Tough call.
In my experience, there are two types of cops in India. Type A are the ones who perform poorly in academics, are invariably college dropouts, get 'farzi' certificates and hook on to a police job by producing large sums of money as bribe that they hope to get back soon after they join their office (the bribe for getting a post of sub-inspector can go up to as high as 50 lakh in some cases!). Type B are the ones who crack tough competitive examinations like the PCS entrance and get the top jobs within the police department and eventually break down to the system of corruption and power misuse.
Indian policing system is archaic, unjust, inefficient and ineffective. The common people are most afraid of the police than any goon. Going to a police station is one of the worst experience in a person's life in India. The regular policeman is a 'danda' wielding, abusive, fat, reluctant frog who is too deep down in the corruption mantle to do any good to the society. To try to justify that we need such an abomination for the smooth functioning of our society is a shame that India has to live with. It is a shame that such people 'run' our society!
A very comprehensive police reform must be introduced at the earliest if India is to have any hope of becoming a civilized society one day! This is perhaps asking too much. How can we expect the ugly beast that wishes to engulf us to self-destruct! Other parts of the world have had similar realizations recently. Places where the problems arising out of a police state were not too pronounced have gathered and shown a resolve to stand up against the evil that hides itself under the pseudo-name of 'governance'. We have much bigger problems because standing up against the police is much harder here. We would need a non-cooperation movement in a scale bigger than the one we had for our independence. And who would want to volunteer for such a cause when things seem 'normal' on most days! We have accepted our tormentor as a master, it is much harder to break the chains of acceptance.
The first step to breaking out of the vicious chains is to realize that we are not free. That thought alone would be powerful enough to lead us to the next logical step - that of organization!
--More soon--

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Open Letter To The Indian Male

Dear Indian Male,
The focus of the nation is on Delhi yet again for all the bad reasons. The Indian capital city is turning out to be something of a control group where all the problems of the rest of the nation are visible magnified multiple folds. If we choose to ignore these issues, we choose to subscribe to a slow death of society as we would like it to be. Rape is the manifestation of a bigger problem that India is plagued by. Rape is a symptom of much deeper worries.
There are no quick fix to stop such crimes. Capital punishment would be like giving pain killers to cure cancer! We need to understand why some of us, who have all sucked on our mother's breasts and embraced our sisters in our arms, suddenly become so hostile towards other women from our society? Why does a man rape? By the way, rape is nothing new! Ask any refugee surviving a war, the soldier who is perhaps the most respected citizen of any Nation turns into a barbaric demon when he enters alien lands - stories of soldiers raping women of the conquered nations are all true. The Christian crusaders raped the captured women in the name of Jesus, the Islamic conquerers raped the women of the nations they raised to the ground, the imperialist French, British all raped to establish authority.
The problem is that we men consider our female counterparts as our property. We wish to control their lives in whichever way we can. When we treat our own women as our property, we establish a similar kind of behavior towards women who we do not directly control.
The solution to bring about a change is not to kill a few rapist and wait for more to come up so that we can kill more. The solution is not to hide 'your' women behind curtains and doors. The solution is not simple and to a few may be counter intuitive.
Give your sister the freedom to go to clubs late at night, the freedom to choose who to date, the freedom to drink and smoke if she wants to (just like you!), the freedom to wear whatever she wants to make her look beautiful in her own eyes. Give her the freedom to question your judgement about the girl/guy you are dating, the freedom to ask your dad to learn to cook because your mother is getting old. Most importantly, try to realize that you are no one to 'give' her freedom, it is hers. She earned it by virtue of her birth just the way you did.
The problem of rape will not get solved by trying to establish a society where talking about sex is prohibited. Sex can be talked about in good health too, it is not always something that the society should mark as a taboo subject. The problem is of inequality!
Every human being, irrespective of his or her gender or sexual identity is equal, treat them with respect. You are not a superior person because you have the capability to impregnate a girl. In all probability, she is a superior being because she can create another human being!
If one is looking for quick fix measures to solve this problem, here are a few things that need to be lawfully imposed with a heavy hand - 
  1. Stop the custom of dowry! Make stronger laws, launch campaigns, do whatever it takes!
  2. Stop female infanticides! Make much stronger laws, punish doctors who facilitate such crimes!
  3. Stop discrimination in the wages, treatment and employment of daily-wage workers based on sex. Make sure that a female laborer gets paid as much as her male counterpart!
  4. Discorage poor and uneducated families to have a huge number of children just to have a male child - A person who believes in "Who will carry the name of my family forward?" ideology is as responsible for rape as the demons walking the streets of our capital city!
  5. Instruct the police and other law enforcement agencies of all the cities to curb petty crimes. A police department that forces a city to shut down at 11:00 PM on the pretext that the city can become unsafe for women at night needs to be questioned about their responsibility and ability to provide security to us.
  6. Eve-teasing and other such 'small' offenses must be dealt with severely. People should know that it is NOT ok to pass sexual remarks in public.
  7. Establishments like "Khaap panchayats" should be declared illegal and people trying to establish such bodies must be put behind bars (a. In one rape case the Khaap panchayat punished the rapist by asking him to marry the girl he raped! b. In another rape case the Khaap instructed the husband of the victim to rape the wife of the culprit!)
  9. Start talking about safe sex to your kids! Let them know that it is natural to have an urge to have sex with the person they like but they must act like responsible human beings.
  10. Even if you go with an arranged marriage take into account the opinion of both the girl and the guy. She is not cattle!
Again, rape is because there is inequality! Whenever there would be inequality there would be a section of society that would suffer. Inequality based on sex/gender is not just stupid, it is down right evil.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Entertainment Is The Reason Why We Exist


Justin Bieber - Making It Big In The World Of Entertainment

Karunanidhi may be a really old man but he knows just what the people of his state want. Color TV is not just about a simple gift it is much more than that. When DMK decided to gift those color TVs to the people of Tamil Nadu they knew that entertainment was the key to success and money in all states of India. People want drama and the means to it (some might argue that this is the primary reason why people decide to get married in the first place!)
Compare the salary of the top CEOs of Indian companies (which tops at around 10-15 crores, including incentives) with the amount of money that our film stars get paid for a single movie or one episode of some lousy show on the TV. The most ingenious invention in the world of beverages might just be the Coka-Cola (my appologies to the Vodka lovers) - fizzled sweetend water! You ask 10 people why the fizz is there and you would get 10 different answers. Whatever the makers of this fizz thought about it, one thing that it promises is entertainment the moment you open that bottle.
It is cricket season and nothing moves India like cricket does. Sachin is God and all this God does is open for India. Cricket is a powerful entertaniner and all people associated with it are millionaires!
Bertard Russel wrote in one of his essays that the force that inspires most actions from humans is not reason or desires but instinct. Entertainment is instinctive. From the days of the collosium to the modern day freak shows of underground places in Thailand, entertainment unites. Facebook has made more billionaires than any other company this year and if you think about it, all it does is provide entertaining solutions to getting connected with people you already know.
The reason why we read, the reason why we play is always entertainment (that is the impulse, you might also relate it with reasons of benifit but the underlying reason is entertainment). Think of this - most couples make love about once in a week and you thought that the 'reason' behind sex was making babies! Animals mate for regenerating, it is our priviledge to do it for entertainment. And if need was the only reason behind it what would you tell the gay and lesbian couples?
Entertainment is the reason why we choose to go to fancy restaurants to eat our food. Entertainment is the reason why we follow that pretty lady till the point she feels obvious (or oblivious) of your presence. Entertainment is the root cause of almost all our daily activities and yet we tend to ignore this force.
All the pursuits of man - music, art, culture, war, peace - are based on one fundamental platform of entertainment.

PS: I selected the picture of Justine Bieber for 2 reasons: 1. No matter how much one denies it, he is the entertainer of the year! 2. JB goes to show that one does not need any other capability to live it big in the world, all you need is the power to entertain people!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Munni And Sheila Are Saviors Of India

Munni and Sheila have done an impossible task to take India to the future. One of the things that India suffers with is the hypocrisy that has become part of our culture and both these ladies of glam are here to shake it away.
I remember the times when I was a kid and the Television got switched off when 'Choli ke peeche' or 'Lotan kabutar' used to get aired (and I'm not even sure what was wrong with the second one). Compare that with today when people are openly discussing and debating on who has more oomph - S vs M. 'Beedi' from Omkara is a song that gets played in 'decent' marriages and small girls love to dance on it.
We, as a Nation, have the reputation of being excessively hypocrite! We talk about 'greenpeace' and always insist on taking a carry bag from the shopkeeper, we talk about the pride that we should take in our own language and culture and happen to get overtly impressed by the girl who manages to roll her tongue around her "R" like the British do (or is it the Americans - nah, we don't quite like the Americans actually!), we can talk endlessly about how corruption is choking India and in the end carry some 'change' with us to give to the traffic police because our insurance has expired last month!
India and sex has a massive connected history. There was a time when 'outsourcing' was not a word known to the west and they identified India with 'Kamsutra' and the 'culture' at Indian homes made sure that the newly married couple mated only when they wanted to have kids and that it was done miles away from home! For such a Nation I think Munni and Sheila are a boon. They are changing how we react to explicit content and are making sure that the average Indian male is more comfortable around women in general. Over the years many more 'item girls' will hit the screen and take the taboo topics into the dining areas of Indian middle classes. What is fantastic about these songs is not just the way explicit content is handled but who does them. It is easy to ignore a regular item girl doing a peppy number but when the woman who's poster dons your teenager's walls does a shake of the hip you cannot just keep things in the closet anymore. You have to acknowledge the fact that the society is moving forward and perhaps it is time for you to do the same.
If the naysayers happen to read this post they would attack it and they would bleed at the idea that I am endorsing 'cheap' content and heralding an era of cultural destruction. If I were a popular man and this blog was famous they would even go to the extent of burning my posters in public and burn the posters of the movies I mentioned for good measures. But, thankfully, I'm not all that famous and the fact is that most of them must have already danced on either of these songs themselves by now in some party.

Friday, October 01, 2010

What Can We Learn From The Day Of The Ayodhya Verdict

A day after the Ayodhya verdict, I'm happy to be in office just like any other normal day. I'm glad that the trouble makers were kept happy (or under control by force) and that all the state governments and the central government made sure that the deplorable Indian media was kept starved. The Ayodhya case will go to the Supreme Court as expected and it would  be another few years before the final, all abiding, verdict is given. I'm hoping that the effect of the verdict of the SC would be even lesser disruptive and there would not be any necessity to shut down school, colleges and offices on the day of the verdict.
The big question is, "Have the people of India moved on after 1992?"
How did such a religious debate create such unfortunate incidents in 1992 and had no visible effect after 18 years? We have moved on (and ahead) in these past years, a statement which is bolstered by hard facts and figures but has religion really lost its hold on people? Does the young generation have no stand on religion and religious matters? Or as a few might want to say, "Have we lost faith?"
I would be more than happy if a loss of faith leads to peace and tangible harmony. To a large extent this is in fact true. The young generation of India wants progress, they are more concerned about the flak that CWG is gathering from the world due to corrupt and inefficient bureaucrats, more concerned about their favorite cricket stars performing when required and worried about their own role in the future of the country's progress in science, technology and social behavior.
There is also another reason for the calm that prevailed across the Nation yesterday (and hopefully will continue to be so). Not many political parties saw it as a big issue that could be leveraged for their personal gains! All the state governments wanted peace above all and they made sure that the law enforcing agencies were doing their duty with full dedication! I don't think the security agencies conjured up a miracle, they just performed their duty! That is all it takes to keep India crime free - a dedicated effort from the police and other institutions of India with a political will to establish peace.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ayodhya Verdict Is Pro-India!

A 60 year old court case can only be settled with a verdict that supports peace and the Allahabad High Court's decision on Ayodhya has done just that!
I have always been proud of the judiciary of India - we are a corrective system of justice and not a punitive one! One of the principles on which Indian judiciary is built says that we should hate 'crime' and not the 'criminal'. In a case like Ayodhya what is a crime? The crime is not encroachment of one religious group or the other on a 'holy' land, it is the idea that religion is bigger than the Nation. And criminals are all those who fume this idea!
For most Hindus, Ayodhya is part of the biggest legend of all times - Sri Ram. An illiterate son of illiterate parents knows the story of Sri Ram and such is the strength of his faith that he would find it hard to believe that Ayodhya, the place of birth of Ram, can actually still exist in this present Nation of his where kids are dying of hunger! If Ayodhya is still here should we not be the best Nation of the world! If Sri Ram's Ayodhya is still on the map of India why are we so poor! If Ayodhya, the land which gave birth to Ram, is still a part of India then why do we rank so high in infant mortality rate!
I am a hindu. And like all Hindus, I believe in Ram. I don't find Ram some imaginary figure, I find him an ordinary human being who became extra-ordinary by his deeds and principles! I don't believe that Ram can do any miracles in the current world but yes I do believe that if a person has faith in his principles he can do miracles! And the most important principle of Sri Ram was to lead by example. Mariyada Purushottam Ram - was the best of men, not just by his birth but by his deeds. Ram's legend does not speak of any miracles - it speaks of a man who had courage to achieve what was right by means of sacrifice and perseverance. If we can learn anything from Ram it is to become the good that we want to see in people around us.
The verdict on Ram janmbhoomi is clearly designed to keep all the 'parties' happy! And I support this judgement for the simple reason that the most important concern for all should be peace and harmony. I'm happy because the trouble makers are (relatively) happy.
It is time for India to build better roads, bigger buildings, lengthier bridges, stronger bonds with the powerful countries of the world and fuller values and morals in her citizens - when there are so many important things to build why should you and I be concerned about building a temple or a mosque? It was time to move on towards a brighter future for India and the verdict is a step towards this direction. I am happy!
Jai Sri Ram.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Unlike CWG, Aadhar Meets Deadlines And Delivers!

Too much of CWG and Ayodhya has clouded more important news like the implementation of the Aadhaar project (Unique Identification Project). I didn't want the readers of CnC to miss out on things that will impact the future of our Nation in a much more comprehensive and positive way like UID project hence this article!
29th September, 2010, the UID or Aadhaar (Aadhaar - आधार - literally translates to 'basis' of things) project will be kicked off in a small village of Maharashtra, Nandubar, with the distribution of these biometric identification cards by PM Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
While several deadlines have been missed by the CWG committees, the UID project has been right on track and it is much more complex and challenging a task than building resources for a games competition and conducting them smoothly. The Union Government may have done many mistakes but the UID command and assignments are one of the major achievements of the Congress government.
An India where each individual is identifiable and no 'fake' citizens exist would be a much more secure India and would become a Nation on the path of success and glory! Kudos to the chairman of the UID project Mr. Nandan Nilkani and we wish him all success in the National roll out of Aadhaar!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Punishment For Corruption Should Be Same As That For Treason Against The State!

In the light of the recent events concerning the Common Wealth Games, Delhi about the misappropriation of public money and rampant mismanagement, the punishment for corruption should be reconsidered. According to the current law of the state (IPC), the only punishment for corruption is dismissal from the services! This is true irrespective of the amount of money involved.
While this leveling of punishment has been adopted to make sure that cases where smaller amount of money is involved are not treated lightly, this law largely overlooks the cases where a lifetime of wealth is created and a dismissal of service is not only a weak punishment but it in fact encourages the crime!
Especially in cases like the CWG, where National pride has paid a price, the punishment should be similar to that given for cases of treason. The punishment for treason can be life imprisonment or more! And if a leveling is necessary then all cases of corruption should be treated the same.
The fact of the matter is that corruption is actually an act against the Nation and her pride. Corruption pushes India backwards and chains down her aspirations of becoming one of the greatest of lands. When the Nation is paying such a huge price for the acts of corruption then it is but natural and sensible to equate it to treason. The fact remains that almost all people in positions of power are corrupt to a certain degree and the framing and imposition of such a law would be a rather tough job. However, India still has a lot of people (mostly those who do not don any such position of power which can be corrupted) who are not corrupt and a mass opinion formation is the first thing towards this noble step.
Personally, I would like to see every corrupt official who brings shame to the Nation stripped down and flogged in full public view so that each and every power wielding citizen of India thinks a million times before taking a single rupee to which they do not have a right! Imagine what a sight it would be to see the house of Kalmadi flooded with common people with lathis and chappals in hand asking for an explanation and showing no mercy for the shame that India has to bear. Imagine the golden sight when the likes of Mayawati, Jayalalitha, Mulayam, Lalu, would be treated with similar dose of Indian anger. If we can get angry with our sport persons for failing in cricket or hockey why do we not close in on these corrupt officials and politicians with the most fierce attack and bring them down?

'Paan' - National Symbol Glorifying CWG!

'Paan' - the National symbol of India - got its real boost last week when the paan tainted wash basins and walls were posted all over the Internet!
Paan has long been ignored by the Indian media and people of the world at large though it is one of the most important elements of Indian framework. When you think of it a little, it is impossible to imagine any thing in India without that glamorous and magical bundle of colors. Right from its place in 'puja' where it is offered to the Gods while asking for their blessings to the offices where it becomes an essential tool to mellow down the ever so unyielding 'babus', paan has an authority to it which is far beyond any other chewable object of the world.
The CWG village's pictures depicting paan in all its glory is the treatment it should have got decades back! The pictures have offended a few 'foreigners' but the fact is that deep down every Indian is thinking that this matter has been blown out of proportions - what is wrong with a few paan stains here and there after all? We have come to live with them in perfect peace and harmony and they may look a little out of shape but they, in fact, are our favorite design patterns on walls and streets! I would be little surprised if most of those paan stains came from some minister or a senior authority inspecting the village for its cleanliness! After all, no official visit happens without the offering of a paan to the authority first! (My sources tell me that leaving a few festive days, Ms. Shila Dixit does not usually eat paan which is the reason why she has been chosen to do the final rounds of readiness checks!)
We have often paid heavy price for our these stains of paan but our love for the magical flavour and the laid back life that it advocates and instills has always won over those minor hiccups. Filthy trains, stations, roads, offices, homes, buildings, an occasional red color shower sprinkling on the road commuters from atop a bus or truck are but a few of the things we have been willing to accept in lieu of giving up paan. If you question the public of India in private (anonymously) they would tell you that they would rather give up CWG than chewing (and most importantly, spitting in most awkward of places) paan!
Long live the Indian culture, long live paan and the colors of joy it brings with it!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mandir Aur Masjid Ki Kahani

What is the best possible solution to the Ayodhya case? While the judges fight it out tomorrow in Allahabad High Court, the solution quite clearly came from an unidentified school boy studying in Std. 7th in an unidentified school of Allahabad. The topic of discussion was not a 'Mandir vs Masjid' but whether the school would be open tomorrow so that the inter-house basketball match could happen for which they had been practicing for a long time!
The solution which everyone agreed to (without an exception) in the class was to construct a lush green park where the children could go for a picnic!
This was a low cost and effective suggestion for the resolution of a conflict which has taken many lives already. The apt thing to do with the land which has brought so many troubles in the name of religion was to make it 'religion-free'.
History is a potent inspiration for the man of action and at the same time can prove to be the mistress of the person incapable of action. Giving a judgement on the basis of history would be lame, what we should be concerned about is the present and the future or our country and her people!
The best possible solution for everyone in the country would be to forget and move on. While one sect needs to forget the 1500s 'history' the other sect needs to forget the 1992 'history'! Religion in modern India is not limited to Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian - it has expanded into a host of glamorous religions like doctors, lawyers, engineers, actors, architects, craftsmen, educators, industrialists, scientists, and so many more vibrant other religions. These religions live in perfect harmony, allow 'inter-religious' marriages, live, eat, sleep, travel together and contribute to the land which gives them an opportunity to excel in life!
The structures that should be of any concern to us right now are the ones that fall for no reason on workers and passers-by in embarrassing situations - the flyovers that collapse, the railway tracks that give way to tragedy, the roads that get filled with potholes within days of being made and above all the bridges and false ceilings that collapse in the games village in Delhi right before the CWG!

Will Jugaad Work For CWG?

Will Jugaad work for CWG?
India is known to run on 'jugaad'. Never has a lack of perfection been glorified more than in the case of this classic Indian way of doing things - come up with an ad-hoc fix and complete the task!
Jugaad has been such a huge force for India that people have nothing against a movie which depicts a baby being delivered by a vacuum cleaner (3 Idiots?). A student who lazies around for the whole semester and happens to pass 'magically' by jugaad is not just never questioned but rather appreciated by friends, family and the teachers! Jugaad is never a word that people frown at, it is a wonder way of fixing almost any problem in the least of resources possible. And with such a huge population and so less resources (less because they have been jugaad'ed up the corrupt asses!) jugaad is often needed to make things run from day to day.
CWG is in a mess. Anyone who has visited the site or seen it on TV or newspapers will tell you that CWG 2010 needs God's blessings more than anything else now! Had it been any other country, the hope would have died long back but not in India. The hope for a successful CWG lives on because we have a massive belief in jugaad. Deep down inside each of us is a feeling that tells us that it would all be fine ("ज़िन्दगी में भी हमारी हिंदी फिल्मों की तरह last में सब ठीक हो जाता है"), CWG 2010 will be an event which will be remembered not for its folly and corruption but for its grandeur and excellent show of our athletes.
For the first time, I do not want things to work for India! I want CWG to be scrapped off!
I want all this to fail so that we start appending our beliefs and theories of jugaad. We know that many people have amassed huge proportions of money, destinies have been made, responsibilities insulted and a whole Nation let down by power and money hungry individuals who have teamed up against their own Nation! And even after this blatant insult of values, if the CWG show runs well, the belief of people in jugaad will forever live and haunt the generations that come after us. I don't want things to run in less than perfect way when the reputation of a Nation is at stake. I want things to fail so that the moles are routed out and taught a lesson which instills a fear in the minds and hearts of the corrupt and hungry!
The foot-bridge collapse, the report of the team from NZ, the terrorist attack, the rains, dengu, all are conspiring against CWG and rightly so. Indians need to understand that there is no substitute for hardwork and honesty. Jugaad can run a machine but it will never be able to run a Nation.
Corruption is an act of treason against the Nation and should be punished accordingly!
As far as the already built infrastructure is concerned, it should undergo a thorough testing and if found safe according to any standards it should be donated to the Nation in all good spirit so that it can become the breeding grounds for Golds and Silvers in International competitions!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What Are 5 Biggest Challenges For India?

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Why India Needs A Non-Crippling Policy On Religion!

People in India have religious freedom. So do people in USA. The ambiguities surrounding the interpretations of 'religion' have seeped into the rights and 'not-so-right' of religious freedom too. The debate over Park51 (the controversial area near ground zero where Muslims have been offering prayers for quite sometime now but a mosque has recently been proposed) is flaring the sentiments of the residents of US, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. But, the debate and the exchange of heated arguments are well in place as they are avoiding conflicts and loss of life and property.
The situation in India is strikingly different though the issues are largely the same. The difference arises out of the intervention of law of the land and the priorities that law and religion have respectively. Park51 is not new to the local Muslims of New York, they have been offering prayers in that place for quite sometime. It is not a Mosque though, but a place where they gather to offer prayers. The furore is created on the proposal of building a mosque there - an official, designated place, approved by the municipal authorities of New York. If nothing else, it does bring out the planned approach that the law follows when it comes even to religion and its practice.
Consider a similar situation in India. Any controversy would revolve around the 'discovery' of such a controversial temple or mosque! The municipal corporation has little control over a temple or a mosque springing up in a locality. In fact, these places of worship are one of the finest ways to gobble up state land and encroach the area, even if it happens to be in the middle of the street! The Indian state machinery has often failed in handling religious outbursts and clashes - a fact that remains true since before independence during 'direct action day' or even much before that during the times of the Mughals, the formation of Khalsa, etc.
The big question is about prioritising these two important issues - religion and state! I have always believed that religion is a personal affair and the moment it clashes with the functioning of the state, a check should be imposed. But, this is not entirely true. There are many states which follow, largely, a common religion and it helps to unite their nation. But, again, the reality of the day is that countries like India, US, Malaysia and parts of Europe are multicultural, multiracial and multi-religion. And it is important that a common thread is found to unite the nation and a dividing theme like that of religion can never be it.
 In such cases, religion has to take a backseat. The state must come before the personal choices - that of religion, faith, caste and creed. Any instance of the state taking a hit due to religion will result in a potboiler created by a selfish few and that is what has been happening in India for quite sometime.
What we may need is a strict policy on religion and its practice. Why should loudspeakers be allowed on top of makeshift temples and mosques? Why should highways be blocked for religious processions? Why should the industry, education and lives be kept at stake due to the outbreak of religious hatred? The answer is simple. In India, religion votes and when every vote counts, religion is simply the most important factor for a win!