Monday, March 7, 2016

An Open Letter to a Closed Mind

"Bombs and pistols do not make a revolution. The sword of revolution is sharpened on the whetting-stone of free ideas".

Dear Nationalistically-inclined, morally-supreme, omnipotent,'liberal-sickular-presstitude' annihilators,

You must already have judged me by the statement in Italics above (*The font was obviously not chosen because Mrs.Gandhi hails from Italy).
A lot of questions, pertinent at that, must be thronging your mind. Your fingers must be frantically dancing on your keypad, your mind- occupied with devising the choicest abuses to throw my way. How dare I talk about free ideas and opinions? How dare I utter the R word ? What gives me the right to insult our soldiers by denouncing the use of armed weapons? Where was I when the emergency was imposed? Why don't I just accept it that the Congress has paid me to write this? This is a statement of anti-national conjectures and I must be immediately packed off to Pakistan.
Well, so be it. But just so you know, you will have to, hereon, quit your stake to Shaheed Bhagat Singh's legacy because these are precisely the words he used to defend his acts of rebellion in the Lahore High Court. Surprised? Don't be. Indian history is an ocean of sheer magnificence. It can not be moulded to either suit the tunes of the first dynasty or fit the bill of Sangh's ideology.

I write this letter as a worried citizen who is being subjected to needless quarrels and bitter arguments about the status of my country, everyday. Flipping between the tags of 'pseudo-intellectual' and 'anti-national', my beliefs need to be aggressively labeled until I subscribe to a specific line of thought. The din of the past few months has ripped the sheen off the proverbial 'Achhe Din' (Pun intended). Though I can cull numerous instances which have now been conveniently shoved under the carpet, let me focus my energies on just one- Kanhaiya- The not-so-glamorous 'Student of the year' who was branded, detained and reprimanded for having spoken his mind in a place which has been legitimately devised to air free ideas. Welcome to the world of a University, Dear 'Viraat' Nationalists- A place many of you might not have witnessed first-hand, quite like the minister with a Yale-certification, who has mastered the art of veiling her apparent flaws under layers of acute histrionics. I will not take the liberty of talking about how student movements are handled in the United States or across most parts of Europe. Evidently, these countries are not the benchmarks we have set for comparison. Our standards revolve around Pakistan and Bangladesh whose levels of tolerance/intolerance we often refer to. I will also not take this opportunity to talk about what transpired in the Jawaharlal Nehru University. It has been shown (both doctored and original versions) and talked about relentlessly. What I am instead going to remonstrate is the law which was used to give shape to this entire incident. At this point, let us quickly steal a glance at the following-

"Section 124 A, under which I am happily charged, is perhaps the prince among the political sections of the Indian Penal Code designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen. Affection cannot be manufactured or regulated by law. If one has no affection for a person or a system, one should be free to give the fullest expression to his disaffection, so long as he does not contemplate, promote, or incite to violence. But this is a section under which mere promotion of disaffection is a crime. I have studied some of the cases tried under it; I know that some of the most loved of India’s patriots have been convicted under it. I consider it a privilege, therefore, to be charged under that section. I am here, therefore, to invite and submit cheerfully to the highest penalty that can be inflicted upon me for what in law is deliberate crime, and what appears to me, to be the highest duty of a citizen".

These words, attributed to the man we revere as the Father of our Nation (Nation being the keyword here), found voice when Gandhi was charged with the sedition behemoth. And he was not alone. Lokmanya Tilak had to bear the brunt of this draconian law as well. It is only intriguing that while the political environ has transformed massively today (democratic ideals notwithstanding) these remarks, still hold water. Of what use is a law which has outlived its utility? Having given to ourselves a pluralistic constitution, why must we retain an anachronism whose singular purpose is to stifle dissent? The Constitution, under Article 19 (1)(a), already provides for a well-founded platform wherein reasonable restrictions have been placed on the freedom of speech and expression, 'maintenance of public order' being one of them. Why should then, Section 124 A be held on to, in its current form, unless it is clandestinely being used to bestow unlimited power to the high and mighty? This point having been made, let us come to the second. On what grounds has sedition been recently invoked? It was lately brought to the fore when a group of students were allegedly found to have raised slogans which threatened the sovereignty and integrity of India. The Supreme Court was said to have been disrespected, hardened terrorists were supposedly idolized and it was forewarned that this country would be shredded to pieces. The content of these slogans remains unjustifiable. No right-minded citizen would be swayed by these words of dastardly incompetence. However, let us accept the fact that these students aren't the only ones who have taken up the cause of the terrorists. Prominent political leaders, including a plethora of formidable regional satraps, have taken up the cudgels for them. Judgments have been fairly criticized, harsh debates have followed and hate speech has been eulogized. And yet, none of it has been classified as sedition. Let's get this straight. The Supreme Court has clearly stated that as long as an utterance does not cause 'incitement to violence', it does not constitute sedition. So much so, that the apex court considered it wise to let go of even those who were caught shouting 'Khalistan Zindabad', a few years ago.
Going strictly by this definition, a Maya Kodnani waving a revolver, asking her companions to go for a kill was sedition; a Babu Bajrangi beseeching his comrades to cut off people's genitals was sedition; a Jagdish Tytler exhorting his partymen to lead a rampage was sedition. Arresting students on flimsy charges and playing a part in politicizing a non-issue is nothing more than an old trick up a dispensation's sleeve, to distract our attention from the 56-inch disillusionment which has begun to steadily creep in. Irony, in fact, will die a silent death if a religiously-propelled party like the BJP is endangered by someone called Kanhaiya.

At the risk of sounding anti-national (which I probably am by now), I'd like to make a mention of another word which has been ruthlessly pushed down our throats in the past few days.'Nationalism'. As if 'Intolerance' was not enough, we now have to prove our love for our country by either endorsing that everything is hunky-dory or being denied a certificate of patriotism. Television anchors who make a living off shouting out their lungs, have grabbed these bits of news like hungry wolves and changed them into shoddy sensationalism.
Let me swiftly take you back to 2011- A year which changed the course of Indian history. A man in his seventies, surrounded by a few good Samaritans, took up the cause which bled the hearts of many common folk- Corruption. The movement sprang many surprises. It catapulted Mr.Kejriwal to the high-bred chair of a Chief Minister, twice in a span of four years. It saw Ms.Bedi, Mr.V.K.Singh and Mr.Anupam Kher (well, almost) going into the folds of the BJP, to seek solace from the ills that plagued the country. And most importantly, it trounced the grand old party from its ivory tower and reduced it to a measly number of 44. Now remember the time when the movement was at its prime. Did anyone cry hoarse? Did someone transform a spontaneous uprising into an engineered assault on the state? Was sedition used for spreading 'disaffection' or 'disloyalty' towards the popular government? Were people in the Ramlila ground arrested for having aired their opinion? Come back to 2016. All it takes for one to be charged is a simple mention of 'Mahishasura'. All it takes for one to be labeled anti-national is to offer a diverse perspective. Where is this coming from? Why have the limits of tolerance suddenly plummeted? Why is the fabric of a heterogeneous country like India being dyed in the winds of European homogeneity? I hope you can recall the last time the concept of a 'Nation' was nurtured so vigorously? Yes, it was the reign of the Third Reich. By the way, Dear Nation-loving-Humanity-hating creed, did you know that Rabindranath Tagore, the man who opened the Indian shores to a Nobel was actually anti-national? Here, have a look-

"What is a nation? It is the aspect of a whole people as an organized power which insists on people becoming strong and efficient. But this strenuous effort to become mechanical, drains man's energy from his higher nature where he is sacrificing and creative. Yet he feels all the sense of moral exultation and thus becomes supremely dangerous to humanity. By this device, people who love freedom, perpetuate slavery with the comfortable feeling of having done one's duty; Men who are honest can blindly rob others of their human rights for self-aggrandizement, all the while abusing the deprived for not deserving better treatment"

At this age and stage, India deserves better. We deserve better than to relegate ourselves to cat-fights over who said what and why. We deserve better than to injure this country's soul by resorting to sheer hypocrisy. We deserve better than to brand everyone who registers dissent as having some hidden motive. We deserve a thriving, striving and lively atmosphere where diverse ideas form the foundation for collective action and a multitude of compassion transcends the narrow inroads of hatred. As I end this letter, I'd only like to remind my fellow citizens of a quote by Martin Niemoller, which (by my own admittance) I have taken the liberty to tweak (and certainly not doctor)-

Yesterday, they took away my secularism and I didn't say anything.
Today, they are taking away my nationalism and I am not saying anything.
Tomorrow they will take away my individualism and I will not be left in a condition to say anything.


Another guy next door

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The India in Intolerance

By the time this message will be read, a lot of dust would have settled over the entire Aamir Khan and 'intolerance' issue. A lot of you would have already formed opinions, not wanting to read anything contradictory. Many others would still be wondering if this 'issue', if we may call it that, really deserved all the attention that it was provided. In either case, I will take this opportunity to speak out loud and give voice to my two cents. You may need patience to go through this post entirely and if you reach the end, feel free to agree or disagree. It is your right- inalienable and indestructible.

1. "This country has made Aamir Khan. He should be thankful to it"- Allow me to crash your icy castle of high hopes, but Aamir Khan became Aamir Khan because he worked his ass off to be where he is. He has had his fair share of struggles and has dealt with them successfully. He may not be a 'common man' now, but there was a time when nobody knew him. There was a time he was like us- another man, lost in the sea of unknown. Fortunately for him, he worked hard, put in his best and earned his fame and money. We did not "make" him. His "talent" made him. We watched his movies because we liked what we saw. We weren't doing him a favour. Just like you don't do your boss a favour. She pays you, you work. That is that.

2. "If he wants, he should leave the country"- For God's sake, did you even listen to the interview? Do you know five Union Ministers were in presence, nodding and smiling when he said what he did? And why exactly should he leave the country? He feels unsafe, so he feels unsafe. Quite like a number of our women do when they want to go and watch a movie after eight in the evening. Just like our mothers do, when they send their children to school, not knowing if the institution harbors teachers or sexual predators. How is his feeling of a lack of safety different from any of these? He merely expressed an apprehension. He candidly put forth what he felt. He boldly stated what he thought was correct. And just like you or me, he has a constitutional right to do that, without being subjected to prejudice or harassment. To add on, people are socially committing that they will never "watch his movies or use the brands he endorses". Do you know what this unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behaviour different from one's own is called? Intolerance.

3. "He is a Congress Stooge and is doing this to defame the nation"- When all of us took to the streets in 2011 to express our solidarity with Anna, were we BJP stooges, out to defame the nation? When we lit candles for justice to Nirbhaya, were we ruining our international image? When we inform the government of broiling problems, are we maligning the nation? We aren't. And you know that pretty well. You also know that in recent times the psychosis of fear has seen an upward trend. This is not the first time it is happening. Major riots, murders, violence and killing has happened under different regimes in the past and there isn't much difference between then and now. Except that this time, our beloved supreme leader who is kind enough to remember and wish the Prime Ministers/Presidents of various countries on their birthdays, has chosen to stay mum. His ministers have undertaken hate campaigns (which, by definition of sedition, classify as one) publicly and yet no action has been taken against them. Dadri was a 'stray incident'. Such incidents happen everyday. Okay. Those returning awards are 'pseudo-intellectuals'. Nobody cares what they do. Okay. After all, we are all dogs and no one can blame the government if a stone is thrown at us, right?

At the end, I would like to make a few things clear- Personally, I am not an Aamir fan. I do not like his acting abilities and I think he was a hit, only because he had a cute face. But if he has an opinion, and it does not bide well with the majority, I will make sure that I respect it. Also, I do not think India is an intolerant nation. We have had communities living together for decades and our cultural diversity has only strengthened. But I do think that by jumping at everyone who disagrees with us, showering them with abuses, aspersions, character assassinations and hidden agendas, we are doing everything we can to show how right Aamir Khan really may have been.

PS- I shall not be replying to any views expressed in the comments section. I have said enough and do not think this matter deserves any more debate. After all, it is better to be discourteous than intolerant. Good day smile emoticon

Friday, August 28, 2015

"They are Pure and Pious"

How many times have you stopped by a traffic signal with its bright red light glaring at you? Ordering you to quit doing whatever it is that you are doing and at the same time, daring you to disobey it. You know you have to follow its instructions, restricting your movements according to its whims and fancies or else the outcome would not be pleasant. You stop when it orders you to stop and you go when it orders you to go. Try violating its command and gear up to face the consequences. If the feeling is familiar, dear friend, you have been 'Radhe-zoned'. Now, this word might appear to be a new one, but it has had a long history which has spanned regions and religions, men and women, times and tides and has yet survived the vagaries of sanity and justice. And contrary to its origin, it does not just include Mother Radha. It carries within its ambit the likes of Father 'I will give you Hope, you will give me sex', Brother Monosodium Glutamate and numerous others who, if you are fortunate, will play only with your minds and if you are unfortunate, will also play with your genitals.
Well, Welcome to Babaland, people.
Taking over geographies and histories, this land has carved a niche for itself amidst the mental space of almost everyone. The poor pay tips to get rich. The rich sway hips to get richer. And those who fall somewhere in between would rather part with their hard-earned money to buy their adopted Maa an extravagant dress, while their biological Maa languishes in pain, for the lack of adequate healthcare. These examples are merely a tip of the iceberg. The impact of this culture of Godly Godlessness is far more severe. It would be wise, at this juncture, to analyze the broad contours of what transpires every time we step into the dominion of an 'Ashram'-

1. The Economy of Losses- You undertake a journey to the earthly abode of the God. Obviously, they do not pay your travelling expenses. You reach the gates of a lavish heaven and are instantly charged a hefty fee to 'register' yourself. Maa would bless only the registered candidates while all other lesser mortals incapable of shelling out money, would have to suffer a lifetime of misery. If you decide to somehow find just the sufficient amount to get in, you are asked to choose from amidst a few 'classes' at offer. The A-class people would get to view the divine Mother up close and may even be called up on the stage to shake a leg with her! What a totally amazing opportunity! The B-class people would get to watch the sacred soul from a little far away and there is a possibility that she might throw a glance your way. Can't be missed either! The C-class people are the relatively poorer ones who would get to sit on the fringes and hear the beautiful voice of their Messiah, lifting their sorrows and leaving them spiritually enriched but materially penniless. To top this, a number of people would come equipped with gifts, both cash and kind, in order to please their holy guru. Economically speaking, the investment of a citizen's savings into the purchase of devotional shares is nothing but a meaningless waste of the nation's resources. The currency which could have been spent to boost growth at the household, if not the national, level is drained down a senseless pit. The result? We end up filling the coffers of a few and happily create an economy of losses.

2. The Great reversal of social change-- If you've ever heard this crop of God-men/women speaking, you'd realize that they've somehow skipped that stage of evolution where man gave up being a monkey. The thoughts, ideas and interpretations imposed on a mass of eager believers, is horrendous to say the least. Consider the example of the man currently behind bars, who rendered a simple solution to the brutal Nirbhaya rape case. He said and I quote, "The victim is as guilty as the rapists. She should have called them brothers and begged them to stop". And this is just one declaration. A plethora of other pearls of wisdom have emerged out of these ancient modernists, ranging from, "Get yourself castrated and you shall meet God" to "Women are domestic animals, meant to be treated like one". Hang their photos, buy their magic drops, bring home their products and provide a well-fooled market of aggressive sympathizers. Technically, we have created our very own East India company. However, it doesn't just stop here. Cases of dowry promotion, forced donation, blackmail, abortion, sexual perversion, malpractice and thuggery have been filed against several of our Baba's. If we extrapolate this data on a larger scale, we'd realize that by turning 'followers', we are extensively cultivating a civilization of absolute dependency. We close our eyes and their word becomes our deed. Instead of sacrificing our potential to action, we surrender our dividends to faith. With the promise of dealing with our liabilities, they brazenly take away our assets. And the ever generous, loving and forgiving race that we are, are more than happy to oblige. Socially, India has been a culture of tolerance and amalgamation. But these subtle trends, pregnant with religiously convenient diktats of morality, seem prepared to spell our doom. Nonetheless, what we have suitably forgotten is this- Independence has no meaning for enslaved minds.

3. The Politics of Religion- A rather unobserved and overlooked effect of this classic buffoonery is that it brings together two territories which were meant to be separated. Politics and Religion were designed to run as parallel lines- complementing and not contradicting each other. Whenever, they have crossed into the zone of another, it has spelled disaster. This distinction, however, is slowly being blurred with each passing day. The bunches of devotees are being treated as a measure to consolidate vote banks. In fact, the 2014 general election, saw the strengthening of this tendency. A bearded man who artistically teaches the art of living, openly espoused the cause of a particular candidate. So did the famed Yoga guru who prefers to walk in a set of saffron robes but run in a pair of salwaar-kameez. The Sikh guru of a certain Dera too did not get left far behind. Those who listened to them, took their word for God's word and voted en masse. It doesn't matter who won. What really matters is that Liberty lost. In a democracy, leaders should be chosen by the virtue of reason, not the vice of divinity. God or his loudspeakers should not influence your voting behavior. Education should. Regrettably, for a country that has more places of worship than temples of learning, this is apparently a tough job.

It began with Radhe. And it shall end in her name. It is not her skirts that bother me. She is a free woman and is in a position to decide what she should or should not wear. For all I care, she could make a public appearance in a bikini. It is also not her excessive use of Red, that is of concern to me. She is permitted to use all the make-up in the world and yet look disastrous. What bothers me, is the empire she is unashamedly running, in the name of theology. What bothers me, is the ruthless instructions she is issuing to hapless families, who have no option but to obey her. Quite similarly, I couldn't care less about Asaram's sex life. But I do care about how he deceives. I do care about how witnesses to his criminal intent are being continuously eliminated and nobody is raising a finger. And I certainly do care about how, despite gruesome blood and violence being involved, his 'gang' of followers are still dubbing it as a conspiracy.
After all, what can we do? Maybe raise our hands and pray for deliverance. Because that is what we do best, don't we? Shift the onus of our losses on others and take the credit for our wins ourselves.

And yes, never question the Baba's intention. Like the lady in her refined English spoken with a Gurumukhi accent, clearly stated, "I am Pure and Pious".
You bet, they are.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Battered, Bittered, Bettered.

At the outset, let me clearly state that this is not a success story. This is a journey. If you are here to look for guidelines, motivational quotes or any sort of encouragement regarding UPSC preparation, I would, in all probability, be disappointing you. And yet I feel the need to narrate my experience. Not because I want others to take lessons from it. But because I want others to avoid what I didn't avoid and pursue what I couldn't pursue. This is merely a story of hope, of patience, of isolation and at the most, of perseverance.

It all began in the summer of 2002. I'd just come back from the boarding school after having finished my matriculation. The days of disciplined life were thankfully over. No more 6'o clock rousers or 9'o clock preps. Home was heaven. Or at least it felt so, until my father dropped the bombshell, "What now?". Frankly, I had no clue. I'd been so engrossed in my everyday routine, board examinations and declamation contests that I'd never really given it much thought. Yet, the crucial time was now upon me. In those days, making a career choice was relatively simple. You took up Medical subjects in Plus one, if you wanted to be a Doctor. You took up Non-Medical if you wanted to be an Engineer. You took up Commerce if you wanted to be a business-person. And you took up Arts, if you wanted to be a loser. I picked Arts, and Medical was thrust upon me. No parent wants an unsuccessful child, right? And thus began my journey to jump from one professional option to another, having absolutely no clue about any but having relatively some idea of them all.

1. When I wanted to be a Doctor- 'A Doctor is the savior of lives. He is only next to God. It is a respectable profession. It does not have a retirement age. You can practice throughout your life, irrespective of your whereabouts.'- This was essentially a gist of the pre-medical advice I was rendered. The foresightedness of my loved ones was obviously the true determiner of my future. My myopic vision could only see laboratories, endless experiments and dissections worth throwing up. I clearly remember my first day in class. Physics disgusted me because it was the sister arm of Maths. I could never bring myself to balance both sides of an equation in Chemistry. And Biology was, well, embarrassing. The teacher's crude explanation of human anatomy, appeared filled to the brim with sexual innuendo. The boys winked at one another while the girls suppressed their smiles by putting up a straight face. Back home, everybody read the 'Reproduction' chapter over and over again, only to be repeatedly shocked and sensationalized by it.(Somehow, I feel this is what today's 'Breaking News' concept primarily relies upon. Shock, Repetition, Sensationalization). The solo class that I truly enjoyed was English. Our teacher was a stern South Indian man with a heavy Tamil accent. This challenged my level of linguistic understanding on very many levels. While on one hand, I had to deal with raising my vocabulary standard, on the other, I had to find a common ground between all that I'd previously learned and all that I was currently learning. I suppose I was one of those few rebels, who read Dickens wrapped in a thick brown paper and stamped, "Physics Notes". This is exactly what brought my percentage down to a meager 55 in the first year. I was rendered a 'Hopeless' case, an 'Average' student. For someone who was used to being featured in the top ten, this came as a shock. I instantly broke up with Dickens and hooked up with Newton, who, in due course of time, turned out to be an excessively dis-interesting partner. Nevertheless, I pretended to fall in love with Science- hiding my misery behind numericals and killing my hope with test tubes. As a result, I passed out with a staggering 78 percent. It would not take a genius to guess that English (where I scored a healthy 91/100) had provided the requisite thrust to my percentage. As is the convention with most medical pass outs, I appeared for the PMT and qualified for BDS. By this time I'd realized that I did not want to poke around with people's bodies, and certainly not with their teeth. I was at a precipice again. What do I do? My father was hell bent on pushing me off the cliff to join the medical fraternity in the valley, while I was insistent upon retracing my steps and beginning anew. And this is when Ratan Tata caught my fancy.

2. When I wanted to be a Business Tycoon- - Isn't it a brilliant word,'Tycoon'? So strong, sturdy and powerful. Almost, Godly. At the age of 16, the best way to turn on a rebellious stance was by defying the wishes of my parents. They asked me to look East, I looked West. They asked me to move South, I moved North. Add to it a dislike for higher studies in the Medical field and you get the sudden desire to do an MBA. I revolted against the 2 years of forced studies and decided I was mature enough to make my own decisions. The parental government finally gave in to popular will and I ventured into the premises of a certain University,(I suppose it will be sensible to keep its name under wraps), in order to do an undergraduate course in Business Administration. I figured this was my best bet. This way, I could pursue my love for Literature and yet earn enough money to keep me afloat. Unfortunately, Business was nothing as I'd hoped it would be. It had no glamour, no riches and no takers- unless you were shrewd enough to extract these out of it. I was not. And I'd realized this soon enough. However,giving up now would mean a loss of face. I felt my parents would never trust me to make a sound decision again and why should they? Wasn't I the one who'd fought my way out of Medical and chosen Business? I'd made my choice and I had no option but to live with its consequences. While I was struggling with the monotony and frustration which'd begun to define my everyday life, a bolt struck out of the blue. The University was de-recognized by an order of the Supreme Court. In an instant, my future hung loose in the gallows of jeopardy. The struggle to get through the trivialities of life had all of a sudden turned into a struggle for survival. The implications soon began to settle in. A lot of time, money and effort had been wasted. I ran from nook to corner, but to no avail- The University was clearly shutting shop. And that is when I realized the gravity of my blunder. A silent pin had pricked the balloon of my bloated ego.

They say when you have nowhere else to run, you run back to the mastership. And that is exactly what I did. One week and my life was completely transformed. From the searing heat of Pathankot where this college was located, I found myself in the soothing lap of Dharamshala, where a new college awaited me. In order to save an year from going down the drain, I was granted late admission with subjects I'd never dream of taking in the normal course of events- Geography and Public Administration. I cursed myself and gave in to my destiny, not realizing that blessings usually came in the form of a disguise. It was during my first year in college that a fleeting thought of IAS, struck me. I dismissed it as another reckless opinion of an infantile mind. However, by the time I appeared for my third year exams, my belief in civil services being a final career choice, had begun to take shape. And this is when I made another brash decision.

3. When I wanted to be on Television- - This time, my decision led me to the heart of India,or as they call it- Delhi. I chose Mass Communication as my subject for Post-Graduation and came to believe that this would be my final calling. Not only did the choice help me vent out my creative energies but it also provided me an opportunity to do everything that I ever wanted to do- Write, Read, Speak. Marvel & Excel. Things went on in an amazing manner until I was allocated to a certain channel in order to pursue my internship. That changed everything. I will not name the TV channel lest they take offense at the kind of treatment I was meted out. Nevertheless, my dreams were shattered on the very first day. It began as a jovial interview after which I was ushered into the Production room so that I could get a hang of how things worked on Ground Zero. As I entered, I felt an unseasonal chill. The room was exceptionally cold and the four people inside were wearing shawls. The artificial cooling, I was told, was undertaken to keep humidity away from production equipment. A heavy set man, probably in his mid-forties was supervising the four interns. He looked at me warily and asked me to stand at a corner and observe how others were working. I could not contain my thrill, as I traced my steps to a far off corner of the room. The way their hands moved on the control panel, The way they consistently spoke on headphones, The noise, The cheer- Watching it all caused a flutter in my belly. I was soon going to be a part of this world! At about 6 PM, the shift ended. A rerun of some poorly crafted astrology show was put up, while the four interns packed up and left.
"Sit on the Panel", the man instructed me, "I"ll teach you how to control it before the next set of interns come in".
I happily made my way to the revolving chair. As I settled, he came up behind me and pointed towards the screen. "Don't take your eyes off it", he said, "And move your hands as I tell you to". With this he placed his hands over mine and brought his face so close that I could feel his breath on my neck.
"You have a beautiful smile", were the next words that he uttered, "How about coming in for the night shift tomorrow?".
The question hung mid-air. It was as if a noose had been tightened around my neck. But, That was the last straw. I got up, turned back and angrily whispered, "Don't you dare", before I picked up my stuff and stormed out of the room. By the time I reached college, the story was already known to them. However, the version they'd been told by the channel related a trivial argument over not being offered a chair. I was beckoned to the Director's office and offered some harsh words. They never asked me my version, I did not bother to explain. I consoled myself simply with the fact that I was not going to let an idiot ruin either my career or my peace of mind. I went on to complete my course, do another internship and isolate myself for an year to prepare for civil services.

Today, when I look back at the last ten years of my life, I realize the importance of whatever happened, whenever it did. Had I not taken up Science then, it would've been very difficult for me to revisit it during my preparation. Had not the Business college been de-recognized, I wouldn't have been pushed towards taking subjects which later served as my optionals. Had I not had that 'experience' during post-graduation, I would've never discovered my zeal to set things right. All my life, I'd tried to break free, not realizing that I didn't really want to do so. All I ever wanted was to pull the chains off and yet stay put to exercise my will and assert my rights- as an individual response and as a collective force.

If you've reached till the very last of this terribly long blog post, let me only state this- As I enter upon a new phase of my life this September, I will try to live up to the standards I have set for myself and the expectations others have tagged unto me. I've had my share of struggles, my chunk of battles- unwise,immature,foolish but as an Officer of the Indian Administrative services, I will yearn to become the voice of the unheard, the light of the unseen and the compassion of the unkind.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Modi Mirage.

The constant clutter surrounding Mr.Modi and his inevitable ascendance to 'The Chair', is only getting louder. The sounds which previously pleased the ears, are gradually turning into a desperate noise. Turn on the Television, Log on to the Internet or Read a Newspaper- everybody seems to be espousing the cause of Mr.Modi's Prime Ministership. Or so it seems. In the hullabaloo, voices of dissent and varying opinion are consistently being overlooked, stifled and suppressed. While India stands on a precipice- choosing its side amongst a Communist Left, a Socialist Center and an Anarchist Right- its citizens are left to deal with massive corruption scandals, the resultant political bickering and frequent parliamentary disruptions. Amidst the chaos, Narendra Modi appears to be the only sane choice! He is a strong man. His oratorical skills are polished. He has made Gujarat prosper. Yes. He can indeed lead us towards a new Revolution, can't he? This line of thinking has assumed such a massive proportion today, that if you don't blindly side by it, you end up becoming an object of disgust and public ridicule. More often than not, you are labelled corrupt, biased, non-patriotic and even non-religious. Despite these connotations, it is important to objectively analyze the successes and failures of Brand Modi. What is it that the man truly stands for? Are we really seeking deliverance through him or do we plan to jump from the corrupt frying pan into a criminal fire? Simply put, Is Narendra Modi actually the magic wand that Dr.Singh doesn't possess? Can he take this nation to greater heights? Is he, as the urban middle class puts it, "the answer"? For this purpose, it is vital to decipher the code of the aura that surrounds him.
They say the deeds of the future can easily be gauged by actions of the past. Let us understand how much of Mr.Modi is authentic, and how much of him is cooked.

1. Myth- The Riots of 2002 hold no relevance in 2013-

Fact- If you are an Indian sitting in North America, Yes, they don't. If you are tweeting from an Indian metropolis, Yes they don't. If you are a Hindu, Maybe, they don't. But if you are a Muslim living in Gujarat or for that matter in any other part of this country, they seem like they just happened yesterday. The horror of 2002 can not be suppressed under trumpets of 'development'. If I begin to write about the gory details of what happened in February that year, you may not want to read any further. Let us just restrict ourselves to the fact that a certain Babu Bajrangi admitted to have ripped the bellies of pregnant women apart, in order to draw the fetuses out and swing them in a pit. He also, on camera, boasted about how his goons had cut off women's breasts and played with them. All this, while the state police acted like the perfect audience- standing & watching in either absolute delight or total disgust. When the man was arrested, he revealed the names of two such individuals, who had ordered him to continue unabated with the massacre- The National President of the 'Vishwa Hindu Parishad' and our beloved Gujarat Chief Minister. As if this was not enough, a woman named Maya Kodnani was arrested in 2012. She was accused of distributing revolvers and provoking the crowds to 'seek revenge' in 2002, which lead to the grievous murders of 96 people. Do you know what she did in this intermediate period of ten years? She served as the 'Women and Child Development' Minister in Mr.Modi's cabinet. Even today, the Gujarat Government does not want them sent to the gallows. Is this Mr.Modi's unflinching belief that his minister is innocent or a back-channel sinister deal which may prevent her from spilling the beans? Let us believe its the former. Let us also believe that the SIT's 'clean chit' (The sanctity and selectivity of which has been time and again questioned in the Media) to Mr.Modi is true. Yet, is it not a fact that Mr.Modi sat like a lame duck while his state was being butchered? Is it not true that our 'Great administrator' was unable to prevent killings, order curfews or ask the police to act? Mr.Vajpayee, being the statesman that he was, called this act 'A Failure of Raj Dharma'. It is surprising that his party today has decided to overlook his observations and promote Mr.Modi as the ultimate savior. His reluctance to apologize or even talk about the riots, speaks volumes about his character- a bloated sense of power and omnipotence. Google these traits and you'd come up with a psychopathic disorder called 'Megalomania'.
A lot of times the riots of '84 are used to justify the riots of '02. The usual Congress Vs BJP pitches are raised. Let me make this very clear- ANY sort of riots are condemnable. ANY attack on humanity is preposterous. ANY genocide needs to be prevented. The Sikhs of '84 have not yet got justice, but they have delivered a Prime Minister. The Muslims of '02 too have not yet got justice, and their bete noire still refuses to wear a skull cap.

2. Myth- The 'Development' of Gujarat is exemplary-

Fact- 'Development' is too wide a phenomenon to be classified in a certain time frame and be limited to a certain class of people. If you believe that in the last 10 years, Mr.Modi has changed the face of Gujarat, you are wrong. If you believe that his 'growth' has been all-pervasive & inclusive, you are wrong again. Let me present you with factual data that is usually put forth in either a distorted or an exaggerated manner. If you think these claims are false, drop in a word in the comments section- I would be more than happy to list down my sources.

a. With about 250 dams on the verge of drying up, the water scarcity in Gujarat is mind-boggling. More than 4000 villages and 100 towns, across 10 districts have been declared 'Scarcity hit'. People either have to travel miles in order to fetch water or they have to wait for the eternally elusive water tanker, which makes its appearance once every week. The government has failed miserably on account of handling drought and water recharge. The lack of this basic amenity speaks volumes about the so-called 'Vibrancy'.

b. The Gujarat Government claims to have signed Memorandums of Understanding with foreign firms, which would entail an FDI flow of $876 Billion in the state. This would mean that Gujarat, despite its geographical and financial limitations has overtaken a country as large as China, which can barely manage an FDI of $600 Billion. Thereby, Gujarat has suddenly become an investor's paradise, a business haven! [In case you misunderstood the last statement, it was sarcastic.] Technically, the possibility of any of this occurring is veritably Zero. There have been no studies undertaken in this regard, no research conducted and certainly no data collected. I wonder where these figures came from, then. And all this brouhaha, irrespective of the fact, that the CM stands in opposition of FDI flows on a national level but invites them vigorously for his fiefdom- Genuine intention or Indiscriminate Desperation?

c. The Hunger and Malnutrition levels in Gujarat are higher than even the poorest states of India. One of the major reasons for this is a towering income disparity between the rich and the poor-the Hindus and the Muslims. The CM attributes this state of affairs to 'figure-conscious adolescent girls who refuse to drink milk'.
The Dairy cooperatives of Gujarat have indeed been a massive success- All thanks to the efforts of Dr.Verghese Kurien- A man who Mr.Modi had sour relations with. Dr.Kurien passed away in 2012 and the Chief Minister did not bother to attend his funeral- Are egos supposed to transcend mortal lives?
While a liberally 'Customized' atmosphere of booming employment opportunities is provided to the urban middle class, the rural areas of Gujarat lag far behind. Talking of rural areas, Gujarat has undoubtedly electrified all its 18,028 villages but strangely 17,940 of them were electrified years before Mr.Modi assumed power. He has merely sent electricity to the 88 remaining hamlets and then claimed the credit for all of it.
The statements above may have been haphazardly put, but there was no way to link them to one another. Such is the comprehensiveness and detail of Gujarat's inconsistencies.

d. While Corruption is a serious issue nationally, the Gujarat Government seems to make very little of it. A Lokayukta, despite constant reminders from the Governor, was not appointed for a good period of 8 years in Mr.Modi's 10 year reign. When the Governor took action and appointed one herself, his appointment was challenged in the court. The court didn't just strike down the CM's appeal but also gave him a rap on the knuckles. My question-If there is nothing to hide, why is an independent Lokayukta's appointment being feared? Secondly, the CAG reports about Gujarat government's involvement in shady land deals and trickery have been woefully underplayed. Is there a nexus that reaches right to the top, of which we know nothing? I am sure the Chief Minister will have a lot of explaining to do when it emerges that Gujarat's debt has tripled in the last 10 years. How the economy is then being managed, is totally beyond my understanding.
If such is the model that we plan to reconstruct for India, I would not give us more than a decade to survive.

3. Myth- Modi is a Lion- The sole beacon of Light in India-

Fact- Skilled Oratory does not make lions, neither does good organization. A debater and an event manager can do just the same. What makes this metaphor really stick is the ability to take well-thought out decisions, stay flexible, respect heterogeneity and be brutally honest. Unfortunately, not many of these characteristics hold good with the Chief Minister. Outside Gujarat, his magic has plummeted. Most election campaigns that he has been an active part of, have ended disastrously for his party- Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Karnataka- being the recent cases in point. He has successfully polarized the social networking sites into Modi-Lovers and Modi-Bashers, each trying to 'Trend' something fancy and in the process generating an excessively abusive environ. His 'Popularity' has been surviving on the sole crutch of 'Technology'. His 'Larger than Life' image, having been created by a PR firm, which in all probability, is being heavily funded by public money. His perseverance it appears, is surpassed only by his narcissism. Some lion, alright.
With Dr.Singh being called a Lamb and Mr.Modi being projected as a Lion, India seems to be a big Zoo that both of them are willing to compete for.

India, with its massive diversity, needs a man who can unite- not a man who is known to divide. Tolerance and Acceptance have been a part and parcel of our culture. By compromising with both, Mr.Modi can only whip up a short-lived dream, not a long-sighted reality. This article is not meant to portray him in a derisive light. Neither is this meant to support the ruling dispensation. This only intends to chalk out an actual picture of what we are being shown and what is really going on. Regardless of all his flaws, if you plan to elect him, he will certainly end up being the Prime Minister. Else, History would remember him as a Prime Dreamer who created an extensive Mirage for himself and then drowned in the ripples of his own falsifications.

P.S.- All abusive comments and angry retorts will be published. They would go a long way in showing your character and in the process, substantiate this article.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The final nail - My UPSC interview

As I begin to write this, I wonder how much and how far would I be able to do justice to what actually happened. There was so much to digest, so much to understand and so much to decipher, that a word-by-word recall becomes improbable. However, I will try to reproduce the interview to the best of my ability so that those, who reach this stage at some point in their lives, can read, derive their own conclusions and thus, benefit.
At the outset, let me do away with the details of how we were directed into the waiting hall and asked to produce our certificates for verification. Let me also not talk about how anxious everyone else looked and how most pretended to either read a newspaper or indulge in light talk. Within, we were all jittery. We just didn't want it to show on our faces. I was 23rd in line to be interviewed. The wait for my turn to come was more ethereal than eternal. Finally, the time came. The clock struck 4 and I was ushered into the board room. Quite unlike my expectations, the room was well-lit and the board members looked amicable and welcoming. They were seated in a semi-circle and each one of them held a paper in their hands, which I presumed was my bio-data.

"Good afternoon Sir", I said with a cheerful nod to the Chairman. His name was Mr.Purushottam Aggarwal.
"Good afternoon, Akil. Sit", he said, motioning towards the chair.
While I took the chair, I wished the other members too who responded cordially.
"So you have done your Post-graduation in Mass Communication", the Chairman began.
" Yes Sir", I said.
" Media is such a thrilling field. Everybody wants to be seen on the camera these days. Why do you want to join a service as boring as the administrative service?", he asked.
Me- "Administrative service has always been a dream, Sir. I have always wanted to be of service to this nation and its people. Working on-camera, does not give me the same level of satisfaction as working off-camera does."
Chairman- "Then why waste 2 years doing Mass communication? You could have appeared for the civil service exams right after your graduation."
Me- "I could have Sir. But I did not. And I had two lines of thinking behind it. One, I come from Himachal Pradesh and I needed some exposure to see and understand the working of the system. Two, despite the prestige associated with civil services, I wanted to have an alternative to rely on".
Chairman- "If that was the case, you could have chosen any field. Why this one in specific?"
Me- " If you cast a look at my hobbies, Sir, you'd see that I am a little inclined towards the creative side. Mass communication was the obvious choice to help me capitalize on my hobbies. Plus, experiencing the field of journalism only strengthened my resolve to get in the services. "
Chairman- "Hmm. I see you have done your graduation from Dharamshala. Can you name a personality who has passed out from the same college as yours?"
Me- "Mr. Dev Anand, Sir"
Chairman- "Waah, Waah!". He said and everyone gave a broad smile. I don't know if it was sarcasm or they were really expecting me to name someone else. But he is the only one that I knew about. With this, the Chairman passed the baton to Member 2.

M2- " So Akil, You say Mass communication strengthened your resolve to be in the services. What made you think about getting into the services, in the first place?"
Me- " With your permission, I'd like to narrate an anecdote to answer this, Sir.
M2- "Go ahead."
Me- "It was somewhere in 2006 Sir, when I was having a discussion with a friend of mine. He blamed all ills of our society on the government and administration. His words left an indelible impression on my mind and I realized that criticizing a system from the warmth of our cosy homes is an easy task. What is difficult is to get in there, and be a part of the change you wish to see. This is when I decided that I wanted to be a part of the administrative service so that I could contribute towards national growth and development."
M2- "So you want to work for the growth of this nation?"
Me- "The nation and its people".
M2- "Okay. Tell me, do you know who Dalai Lama is?"
Me- " Yes Sir. He is the religious head of a certain sect of Tibetan Buddhism".
M2- "You stay near Dharamshala. Have you met him?"
Me- No Sir. I have seen him in public appearances but have ever had the opportunity to personally meet him".
M2- "Is it possible for laymen to personally meet him?" (He genuinely appeared to show interest)
Me- "Yes Sir. You have to write to his Secretary and seek an appointment. Sometimes it takes years! If you are lucky, it might as well take a few weeks only".
M2- "Why did he come to Dharamshala?"
Me- " The immediate reason was the threat of his arrest. A religious function was due and it was rumored, that the Chinese authorities would take him to Beijing. Otherwise, there was a larger picture behind it".
M2- " Tell me what the larger picture was?"
Me- "Sir, essentially the friction began in 1912. The Chinese Qing dynasty was dethroned and Tibet gained independence. It retained that status till 1951 when the PLA took over. A 17 point agreement was signed between Tibet and China which made Tibet an autonomous region within China. However, Tibet claims that this agreement was signed under duress. A revolution brewed for a good period of 9 years and its culmination saw Dalai Lama crossing over to India in 1959".
M2- "1959?", he asked with raised eyebrows, "Are you sure?"
Me- " Yes Sir, I am".
M2- "What was the status of Tibet before 1912?"
Me- "It was under Chinese domination".
M2- "Has it always been under Chinese domination?"
Me- "No Sir. But it has always been a part of some larger empire. There were periods when Tibet was completely autonomous. At other times, it was subjugated. However, they have always maintained a distinct culture and lifestyle". (I don't know how right this answer was, but this was the only neutral wording I could afford to use).
M2- " When did India accept Tibet to be a part of China?"
Me- " In 2003, Sir. During Prime Minister Vajpayee's regime".
M2- "Are you sure about that?"
Me- "That is what I am aware of Sir. Prime Minister Nehru, in his lifetime, had not accepted Chinese suzerainty over Tibet".
Here the Chairman interrupted- "It was in 1956 actually", he said, " That is when India accepted Tibet to be a part of China".
I had been specifically asked not to contradict. Though this went against the common knowledge, I only nodded, smiled and said that I was not aware of this fact.
M2- "What do you think should India do in the Tibet-China dispute?"
Me- "India follows a foreign policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. The dispute between Tibet and China is for them to resolve. India can only provide conditions conducive to such resolution. In fact, we have formally stated that despite the asylum granted to the Tibetan administration, we would not permit any anti-China activities to take place on our soil".
M2- "Okay. What do you think about the current government?" (The change of topic was quite abrupt and random)
Me- "Each government has its flaws, Sir. This one has had its share too. It has created certain policies with lacunae. However, from what I have read and seen around me, it has also taken a number of appreciable steps. While it is not possible to create perfect institutions in the first go, measures have been still taken. I believe if the implementation and supervisory mechanisms are bettered, the government will be in a position to achieve much more" - ( I purposely did not name any schemes or programs as it would have lead to a discussion on that subject. Don't know if that was the right thing to do or if I could have used some names to enrich my answer).
When I finished with this though, I heard a little 'Good' from M2. Or maybe I am imagining it now. Anyway, he pointed me to Member 3 after this.

M3- "So you write stories?"
Me- " I do, Sir",
M3- "What kind of stories?"
Me- "Short stories, Sir. Both realist and non-realist fiction".
M3- "Okay. One of your hobbies is also Oratory".
Me- "Yes Sir"
M3- "I'll give you a topic. Think about it for 2 minutes and then give me an extempore speech. Can you?"
Me- "I'll try my level best Sir"- ( This actually excited me because it was pretty much within my sphere of competence.)
M3- "Your topic is- Should India have a Presidential form of Government? You are free to choose sides- For or against. Take your time to think".
While I gave myself a minute to ponder over my points I realized that while I was conversing with M3, the Chairman had gone to the washroom. He came back just then, saw me sitting without uttering a word and casually asked, "What happened?"
Before I could answer, M3 explained the situation to him and they sat quietly. After about 45 seconds, I began. The following is what I can loosely recollect. It explains the line I towed. I don't recall my exact words. It was extempore, remember?

"The founding fathers of India have blessed this nation with a democratic set-up. This decision was arrived at after thorough consultation and debate. The primary reason why India adopted a parliamentary form of government was to ensure that representation was provided to even the lowest rungs of the society. Considering the diversity, in terms of religion, culture and tradition, of India, transferring the power to the hands of a single person does not seem feasible. Not only would that hinder true empowerment but there would also be a worry of the man turning into a dictator".- I spoke for around a minute and I am not too sure what else I added in there, but yes, by and large, this was it.
M3 responded with an 'Okay', wrote something on a paper and referred me to M4.

M4- "How many deserts are there in India, Akil?"
Me- "There is the Thar Desert in Rajasthan and the Cold deserts of Himalayas" - (I believe this is what he wanted to check. If I knew about the deserts in the upper reaches of my state)
M4- Right.
While he sat looking at the paper in his hand, I added- "Also, the Runn of Kutch in Gujarat, Sir".
M4- "Oh Yes. I'd forgotten that"- And everybody shared a laugh. On what, I have no clue. However, I kept my smile on.
M4- "Do you know what is the minimum temperature in the cold deserts of Spiti?"
Me- "I can't be too sure Sir, but I believe it ranges between -10 to -20 degree Celsius."
M4- " You're right. Its. -15". He paused for a bit and then went again, "What is the minimum temperature in Antarctica?"
Me- " I can't be precise again Sir, but it should be somewhere between -60 to -80".
M4- "It is -129!". The Chairman interrupts, "Really?", he looks at M4. M4 nods.
Me- (With a look of genuine surprise on my face- or at least that is what I hope it was)- "Oh. I didn't know that, Sir".
M4- Smiles and continues with his tirade- " If you are posted as a DC in Lahaul-Spiti, what kind of statistics would you like to collect?"
Me- " Should these be in terms of physical or human statistics, Sir?"
M4- "Any. That's up to you."
Me- "Sir, the first thing I would do is to collect data on soil fertility. Agriculture has been a constant issue with these areas and a lot of land can be reclaimed for other income-generating purposes"
M4- "Like growing orchids and orchards?"
Me- "Yes Sir. Flori-culture and horticulture have a lot of scope in these areas"
M4- "Go on"
Me- "Secondly, I would come to the health and education parameters. If the populace is healthy and well educated, the technological interventions are well received. This would mean that economic and social inclusion would be easy. Finally, I would pay my attention to the infrastructural facilities and collect data about their presence and functioning".
M4- A sudden change of topic again- " If you are posted as a DC in Shimla, how would you handle the 'theft of' electricity?"
Call it a bad stroke of luck or the stupidity of my auditory mechanism, what I heard was "tapped up electricity". Or Maybe it was simply his pronunciation. Nevertheless, I asked- "I am sorry, Sir. Did you say tapped up electricity?"
M4- "Thaaaft", he clarified- It was his pronunciation after all. This may have irked him.
Me- " The first thing I would do is to try and find out the reasons for this theft....."
M4- "Are there reasons for electricity theft?", he cut me short, "What are they?"
Me- "Sir, they may range from unequal distribution to diversion for other purposes. Even over-consumption is a reason"
M4- "People simply put a hook over the wire which runs in front of their house and steal electricity. What reasons do you want to find? Don't you think you'll encourage corruption this way?"- He uttered this sentence in an extremely sarcastic manner, or so I presumed. He looked at other members and they shared a laugh. I felt a little embarrassed here but showing that publicly would have been disastrous. My damage-control mode got activated.
Me- " My apologies if I seemed to convey that message, Sir. I suppose my articulation was incorrect. When I said 'reasons', I meant, the 'how', 'when' and 'where' of the theft taking place. Once that has been determined, I would take a two-pronged action. One, the lapses on the part of the authorities would be accounted for. Those who are responsible for overlooking would be brought to book. Two, I would conduct household checks to ensure that they are not misusing electricity."
M4- "Okay", he simply said and motioned to Member 5. - I somehow feel I messed up with Member 4. My answer was probably not good enough.

M5- "Since you have studied Mass communication, you must have studied advertising?"
Me- "Yes Sir."
M5- "Then tell me, what is the difference between Advertising and Publicity?"
Me- "Advertising focuses its approach on 3 things- There must be a product, There must be a sponsor and the sponsor and the product must share a 'paid' relationship. Publicity, on the other hand is usually not about products. It relates selling an idea or opinion..."
M5- Interrupted me in the middle of the sentence, "Does Publicity have anything to do with being paid in comparison to Advertising?"
Me- "Sir, Advertising must be necessarily paid while Publicity may be either paid or unpaid."
M5- "Okay. Do you know about Oglivy's contribution to advertising?"
Me- "I am sorry Sir. Advertising was not my branch of specialization". - I realized the blunder later. I should have at least mentioned that Oglivy was the father of Advertising.
M5- "No problem. So, you have done your post-graduation from Amritsar."
Before I could say No, the Chairman corrected him, "No. He has done it from Delhi. Their University has a campus in Amritsar".
The he turned to me, "Am I right?"
I smiled politely, "You are, Sir".
M5- "Where in Delhi was your college located?"
Me- "At the Dwarka Institutional area".
With this M5 nodded. The Chairman picked up a paper, smiled and said, "Thank you, Akil".

I uttered the well-rehearsed Thank you's and walked out. Strangely, I neither felt anxious, nor nervous. There was just a subtle exhilaration at the interview being over. Since this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I had to write it down. If you are reading this, please don't judge the conversation. I haven't got my results as yet. When I do, I'll know whether I am still in the frying pan or I have jumped into the fire.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dear Terrorists, You have Succeded.

Disclaimer: This article has been written in the wake of the tragic Hyderabad blasts. It does not intend to hurt the feelings of any person or organization. I do not intentionally mention 'caste' or 'community' because I do not believe in them. This post merely seeks to convey and register a voice of protest against consistent terror strikes, in a manner that functions somewhere between satire and sarcasm.

Dear Terrorists

Many Congratulations!!!

You have once again conducted a brilliant strike against all odds and have successfully executed your designs. As of now, about 15 people have been killed and around a hundred others injured. The number of those who are slowly succumbing to their injuries is gradually rising and despite India's state-of-the-art hospital-care, they are giving up on their cherished, satisfied lives. The time and place of your strike was commendable too- it aided in inflicting the maximum damage by putting in, the minimum effort. However, I wonder why you chose to stay away from a city of larger importance. In case you guessed it wrong, I meant Delhi. Every other city in India is taking care of itself. Mumbai has its own brand of terrorists who help you out by scaring away North Indians, East Indians and couples in love. Kolkata is currently being led by a dispensation which runs on the whims and fancies of its firebrand chief minister. Hyderabad is already in shambles owing to strikes for statehood and a few openly aired venomous opinions. At this point, Delhi would have been the best place to attack- Nothing major has really happened there since the Gang rape, Has it? Moreover, the city is crowded enough for you to get your point across. Yes, the excessive security may have been a problem but it doesn't take a genius to understand that those renowned metal detectors and CCTV cameras, which go off on the slightest hint of a noise, can be easily handled. Additionally, going unnoticed by the superbly managed 'Intelligence' agencies and striking at the 'Heart' of this nation would have been orgasmic, No?

Anyway, India has fallen to its knees but it will live. Our intellectually gifted political class, the extremely efficient bureaucratic system and the quick and responsive judiciary would ensure that. The 3 C's of our existence have been put to work yet again- Condemn, Compensate and Continue- The blasts have been condemned, compensation to the victims will be announced and finally we shall continue with the regularity of our monotony. Nevertheless, Dear Terrorists, you need not feel disappointed. You have registered beautiful victories in your ventures over the years. This war on India was launched many, many years ago and today you have succeeded! Don't believe it? Well, let me give you a brief description of your achievements. Maybe that'd help boost up your sagging spirits.

Success 1- You have created a deep-rooted fear psychosis in the Indian society. When a woman steps out of her house today, she has to guard her body from rapists and her life from terrorists. A child has to make sure that his tiffin box or his teddy bear is not stuffed with something other than sandwiches or cotton. A man has to resist facing those horrendous strokes of luck which lurk around every nook and corner. I would not bore you with those long, forgotten stories of how mothers lost their children and how people lost their livelihood. I would also not bother to narrate the sagas of heroes, who died as martyrs. Rather, I would appreciate you for turning this nation's psyche into an amputee. We have ceased to think and act. All we have become good at doing, is either seeking asylum in our 'Great' culture or praying desperately to our 'Omniscient' God- neither of whom come to our rescue. Whenever we are slapped, we talk of Tolerance. Whenever we are dragged, we speak of Non-Violence. Whenever we are killed, we build a temple and move on. Let's face it, you have successfully killed the conscience of this nation. You have turned sisters against brothers, religion against religion, state against state and people against government. Today, we are a heavily-armed but scared country. The tanks and missiles which we proudly display during our celebrations, fall flat in our faces when it comes to citizen protection. We are afraid to move about freely without the shadow of rape, torture or murder crouching around us. We have become a country, dipped in the fever of death. What else do you need?

Success 2- You have helped display the glaring inefficiencies and discrepancies of the World's largest democracy to the World. In fact, it wouldn't be incorrect to state that you have effectively served as a mirror of our deeds. We knew our intelligence system needs an overhaul, but its failure has acquired such a grave extent, was unknown to us. We were aware that our security agencies were a little slow to respond, but their state of absolute dysfunction was totally hidden from us. While you were busy plotting your next attack, our governments were busy squabbling over encroachment of state rights. A move as strong as NCTC was opposed on flimsy grounds and party-specific salvos were fired. You, dear Terrorists, have succeeded in exposing the massive proportion of our deficiencies. When we try to overcome them, cupboards open and skeletons emerge. Shady deals, nefarious designs and corrupt means are brought into public view. That is when we end up realizing that the terror you spread, is Nothing as compared to the systemic terror that we spread. You can only kill, kidnap or murder - We on the other hand can extract the human soul, slice it into digestible pieces and yet not attempt a burp.

Success 3- You have doused the fire of 'Unity and Integrity' which India always stood for. There was a time when relations were formed on the foundation of mutual respect and trust. Today, the bases have shifted to the 'R' word. Oh! Religion, I mean. Did you not understand? Terror has found association with a name, a skin color and even a certain God. No matter how much we boast of the "Terror has no Religion" superlative, but, a man with a long beard and a woman with a hijab is most certainly a suspect. The distrust does not go unnoticed- It has repercussions. False charges, indictments, and riots result, which are either put down with a heavy foot or they become a food for political patronage, for times to come. A man with a long beard states, "He and his fanatic mates would kill a lot of people if the police is removed". Another man with a bald head and a balder mind responds "We killed you earlier. We will kill more of you". You have emphatically created an environment of hatred and injustice. Religious fanatics are being born everyday. They are being trained to kill for their God who either does not exist or does not interfere. Elections are being won on the grounds of 'who caused the least violence' or 'who appeased the most'. The subtle thread of Unity which bonded this country together is steadily developing knots of majority and minority. In this world of commodified life and commercial death, do you think you need to do anything more?

Now that you have grasped the true reality of our shoddy existence, I suggest you conspire a little more carefully the next time. Strike a larger city. Hit an area of importance. Or simply plan multiple strikes across multiple cities. You have done so before, haven't you? A repeat wouldn't harm. We anyhow, won't identify you, catch you or execute you. To the utmost, you'll be hanged after a decade and that too seems quite improbable. A few political parties will certainly register opposition to your hanging. To top it, human right watchdogs will issue ultimatums. In other words, you will stay safe and will be handled with care.

On that note, I, as a citizen of this successful country but failed nation, greet you again. Congratulations! May your God perform no more Malala-like miracles and help you hand out destruction in large proportions. Kudos!!!