Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Real world of Fake pictures


Internet, with its firebrand of anonymous 'Hindus', is today, a successful mass communication device. It has penetrated the most unusual sections of society and has thus garnered a cult status. So much so, that it has become a tool for both- offense and defense. Support a cause and you risk being labelled. Pass a comment and you risk being branded. Post a tweet and you risk being arrested!
Quite recently, an interesting piece of drama unfolded in the Gujarat assembly election campaign. It was of course the eternal, BJP Vs. Congress dilemma, yet it had a virtual undertone to it. A malnourished child, proposed to be from Gujarat but traced to belong to Srilanka, appeared in an electoral advertisement of the Congress. Understandably, the BJP raised a massive hue and cry about the picture being 'fake'. The media too, lapped up the information quickly and passed its verdict- reinforcing the 'Con' of the Congress. I was left wondering how significant the issue really was. Does posting a wrong picture change the fact that over 40 percent of Gujarat's children are malnourished? Does it alter the reality that the CM attributes this malnourishment to figure-consciousness? Actually, it doesn't matter. The BJP has already got its salvo which would probably be fired at the Congress for a long time now, considering, the party prefers to choose the ideology of 'ruckus' over 'discuss'.
Nevertheless, the incident reminded me of a few pictures circulating on the Internet. I had stumbled upon them on various forums and despite their falseness being a foregone conclusion, I saw them being 'shared', 'commented' and 'liked' extensively. The vigour with which the 'Internet-Hindu' PR cell is working and exploiting the situation, deserves a pat on the back, albeit a sharp one. If they'd channelized the same amount of energy in building up this nation, the situation would've been far different from what we see today. Anyhow, I browsed through the variety of falsehood and picked 15 of my favorite lies. Here is a list of these visual myths, along with the plain truth that debunks them.

1.

Occupying the first spot, this picture is nothing short of a time machine. It mixes two separate and unconnected events held in 2012 and 2008 respectively, in order to literally fool the viewer's patriotism. The 'Mazaa' on the left, is actually a shot taken after the Cabinet reshuffle of October 2012. The 'Sazaa', on the right, presents the heart-rending cry of a mother who lost her son (Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan) in the 26/11 attacks. Had the picture talked about the shoddy handling of the terror attacks, it would have been a different matter altogether. Similarly, had the picture been used to discuss our preparation to meet any external eventuality, it would still be worth sharing. But honestly, I don't see any point in mixing two occasions of different nature to play with popular emotion while spreading anti-Congress propaganda.

2.

Another widely circulated picture, this one in particular presents a jumbo mix of politics and economics- unfortunately, both gross & incorrect. In the first glance,it appears that India harbors the most expensive petrol prices in South Asia. However, a closer look clearly shows the incompetency of the picture-maker. Firstly, he/she includes 'Cuba' as a part of India's neighborhood- Bad Geography. Secondly, he/she clubs oil-producing and oil-importing nations together- Bad World Knowledge. Finally, he/she presents a distorted picture of oil comparisons and oil deductions- Bad Understanding. Under the 'How it comes to this' part, the basic cost, excise duty and state taxes have been shown inappropriately. In reality, these fluctuate in response to international and domestic compulsions. As far as the comparisons are concerned, here is India's position w.r.t. other nations-

www.kshitij.com/research/petrol.shtml

The link clearly shows the relative position of India. We, being a growing economy which requires fuel to spur its economic activities, are in dire need of oil import. Geographically, our reserves are not sufficient to cater to our population and our prices, economically speaking, are pegged to the international costs. Any fluctuation therefore, makes us vulnerable to a price rise. Despite that, the OMC's absorb immediate price shocks and pass over only a limited amount to be extracted from the consumers. I certainly agree that strong steps to capture this rise need to be taken by the government. I also am of the view that the fuel burden on the exchequer and the common citizenry needs to be lightened. Nevertheless, spreading fake knowledge would only lead to a state of furious anarchy.
P.S.- Someone please tell the picture maker that VAT is not a Cess.


3.

Third on my list is this picture, which I greeted with shock and surprise. The maker exhorts the viewers to spit on the Constitution since it permits people to move deftly between Prison and Parliament. Untrue. Had the Constitution been read even slightly, the maker would have known that neither one of the Constitution's 395 articles, deals with this issue. Yes, it does prescribe parliamentary privileges and they are meant to be honoured. If thieves and dacoits grace the Parliament today, it is simply because they were backed by the power of a vote. They contested, they manipulated, they won. More than them, I blame the voters who choose scoundrels to represent them. Vote for someone you think deserves to sit in the temple of democracy. You can not put power in the hands of hoodlums and then complain about it at the same time. Moreover, incorrect interpretation of the Constitution will do this country no good. It is the supreme law of the land- sacrosanct and inviolable. It can be amended with time but it can not be disposed off. We need to draw the line of libel somewhere. THIS is absolutely non-acceptable. Can we let the fundamentals of this country be eaten away by being a part of this doctored information?

4.

Picture four is a careful intermix of S.C. Bose and J.L. Nehru- both freedom fighters of the INC in their own right. History itself speaks volumes about the contributions of both characters. You can debate their methods, you can discuss their decisions- but you certainly can not compare them to denigrate their parent party. The 'Determination for nation' was not an exclusive virtue of S.C. Bose, neither was 'Passion for Women'. The first Prime Minister of India, who has been depicted as a womanizer in this picture, was a ferociously loyal husband. After his marriage to Kamla Nehru in 1916, he took upon himself to educate her. He initiated her in the freedom struggle and stood by her side while she organized women group movements in India. In 1936, when Kamla Nehru was on her deathbed , J.L.Nehru was lodged in prison. He was given the choice to quit all political activities and stay by his wife. He refused. So did she. In her last communication to him, she asked him to stay put and fight for freedom. THIS man- a womanizer! His friendship with Edwina Mountbatten too is often quoted out of context. In fact, a closer look at this specific picture reveals that it was clicked during a ceremony. Look at the mirror behind the lady. You'll see a row of people standing and watching.

5.

Oh! The 'Sanskars' are at work here. Look at Mr.Vajpayee and look at Mr.Gandhi. One bows before women and the other makes women bow before him. Did this picture evoke the same response from you? Sad! Now look at the picture again. The banner behind Mr.Vajpayee candidly displays 'Women empowerment'. During one such function, he gracefully touched the feet of a woman older to him. Kudos! Mr.Gandhi, on the other hand, is surrounded by black-jacketed individuals who form a part of his security. The woman is actually approaching him to get his attention. Despite the breach, he acknowledged her. Kudos again! There have been numerous instances when both leaders have touched the feet of others or others have touched their feet. What is the need to misconstrue a simple mark of respect and turn it against the personal life of an individual? The cultural value of a person arises out of what they do, not what they show.

6.

About picture six, the lesser said the better. The claims are simply out of the ordinary- Mystic and Paranormal to an extent. Before I put down documentation to expose the truthfulness of this picture, I'd just like to ask its maker a few simple questions. The 'data' seems to have been released by the 'International Council of UN'. Sadly, no such body exists or ever existed. Even if it did, it would have measured the performance of a country as a whole. Many nations in the world, do not have 'states' like India does. On what basis, then, can Gujarat government be the 2nd best State government in the world? More so, the picture itself boasts of a discrepancy. While it announces Gujarat to be the 2nd best state on the top, it mentions 1st on the right. The truth about the blatant lies being propagated here, can be found on the following links-

a. Gujarat's debt has actually risen by 46% -www.indiatribune.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8498%3Agujarats-per-capita-debt-set-to-rise-by-46-&catid=125%3Ageneral-news&Itemid=400

b. Gujarat ranks 14th in giving employment- news.outlookindia.com/items.aspx?artid=769875

c. Gujarat ranks 15th in providing education- articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-04-27/ahmedabad/29478529_1_rural-areas-schools-education"

d. Gujarat's World bank deposits- www.indiastudychannel.com/forum/91969-Gujarat-depositing-1lakh-crores-world-bank-just-hype-fake-news.aspx

In the eagerness to promote Mr.Modi as the next Prime Ministerial candidate, the picture maker seems to have totally forgotten that stains of blood can't be washed off by fabricating data. The raped women, the killed men and the orphaned children seek justice- NOT tokenism.
P.S.- Someone teach the poor guy some grammar!

7.

When Dr.Singh went to attend the ASEAN Summit in November 2012, he did not have a single clue that his orange shirt would become the talk of the town. It was later realized that he wore it owing to a dress code. Still, the colour was way too glossy for him to don. Leaving apart the fashion statement, the picture above makes a misrepresentation again. It claims the above to actually be a wax statue of the Prime Minister at Madame Tussaud's. Its quite funny how people believe that since this particular picture was flashed all over the mainstream media during the summit. Also, the maker misspells Dr.Singh's name- Mandmohan- a practical joke or a deliberate mistake? Either way, I was surprised how the current media-savvy generation missed this blunder.

8.

Here is the 'Hidden Truth' of the 2G scam by India's very own conspiracy theorist- Mr.Subramaniam Swamy. Not only has he provided the details of who received bribe money but he has also explained, in intricate details, how this money was distributed. Unfortunately, the court did not hold up his claim. Except A.Raja, Kanimozhi and Shahid Balwa (who in turn were arrested by the CBI, presumably functioning under Government's control) none of the above mentioned individuals were found involved by the court. In fact, his appeal was unanimously turned down by the bench which further asked him to "refrain from wasting the court's time". There is just one question which I'd like to ask him. If he knew so much was going on, why didn't he speak up WHILE it was underway? Why cook up stories when the water has already passed under the bridge? It now appears that he has taken to the Internet for vociferously spreading baseless rumors. Do you remember who was the last national leader to undertake such active propaganda? - Hitler.

9.

This picture does not require any description. It is the handiwork of a sick mind and a sicker conscience. You can oppose a government for its policies. You can oppose a party for its politics. You can even oppose an individual for his/her tactics. But you cannot put words in the mouth of people you know absolutely nothing about. Not only is this picture suggestive, but it subtly tries to imply an explicit scenario. The portrayal of Digvijay Singh and Rahul Gandhi denigrates a community, as a whole. It appears that the picture-maker is obsessed with transgenders, either because he has conducted an extensive research on the community or because he is one himself. In either case, his showcasing of a contaminated mentality is complete. By actively sharing pictures of this nature, not only do we offend the society but also the spiritual self that we may believe in. Reprehensible!

10.

The maker of Picture ten is a classic example of a person who failed Mathematics in school. I was bad at Maths too, but honestly, I was way better than THIS. Here are the calculations- 80 + 2= 82. 82-5= 77. What about the remaining 23% of population? Were they deaf, dumb or selectively mute? Moreover, how can -5% of the sample be calculated? There is no option in research methodology to accomplish the same. Strangely, our maker has done it! Amazing. The bias towards the man in the middle can easily be gauged by the way the names of the leaders on left and right have been spelled. Nitish 'Khan'. Really? Because he prefers secularism over communalism? Ra.Owl? Because you don't like him? I don't know about everyone else, but the India today group and ORG would certainly not be proud of this. Mr. Modi is known far and wide for fabricating data. I didn't know his pupils would learn his skills, without even clearing their matriculation exams.

11.

Do you know how Sonia Gandhi is ruling India? Well, here are the details! Shh! She is secretly working for the Christians and Muslims while ruling a largely Hindu nation. More so, her secret agenda is to have India fall in the hands of Vatican city while she clandestinely works for ISI. I have probably never before seen a theory as stupid, as mindless and as retarded as this one. The picture, in a meticulous manner, explains her connections with different countries. She is proselytizing, terrorizing and exploiting- all at the same time! Belgium, Netherlands and France serve as her intelligence advisers! I am sorry. All I can do is laugh at the idiocy of the maker and the stupidity of those who share. Remember guys, the WORLD has better things to do and graver problems to solve, than to gain power in India.
P.S.- Why do I smell Subramaniam Swamy?

12.

The current UPA regime is hit by scams. Agree. The amounts, largesse and deals involved are mind-boggling. Agree. The courts are investigating the allegations and ultimately the truth will emerge. Agree. But what exactly is this picture trying to portray? 30 scams and a few 'Coming up'? That's got to be something huge for a government to accomplish in eight years. Let's have a look at what the list carries. There are certain scams which never happened. The list appears to be randomly generated. These include- Fake Pilots Scam, Telephone exchange Scam, RAW Scam, Reliance Discount Scam, Videocon Scam, Ashok Gehlot Builder Scam, NREGA scam or Kandla Port scam. Then there are others with which the current dispensation has nothing to do! For example- The Sukna Land scam relates the Army; Madhu Koda corruption and Karnataka Land scam relate to the opposition; The Satyam scam relates to the Private sector. Strangely, look at entry 1 and 25- find any similarity? Additionally, the 'Coming Soon' part contains a few agreements of the government with foreign entities to help boost India's growth. Clearly, I fail to see a 'scam' in a nuclear power project and an arms deal. Its funny how every nasty act to have ever happened is being blamed on certain individuals selectively. If justice is what we are seeking, we need to first ask ourselves, are we doing justice? 'India, being, against Congress' will not help. But 'India, being with development' sure will.

13.

This picture places all principles of economic rationality in a strange position. Facts, once again, have been quoted out of context coupled with an overload of misinformation. India, under Nehru, was principally a protectionist economy. The man was of the belief that we must not allow foreign imports to harm Indian manufacturing. Thereby, heavy investments were made in order to set up a primary industrial base. Slowly and steadily, rupee was devalued to enhance competition and to bring India at par with other developing economies. The 'New economic policy' of 1991, was not a random measure of the government of the day. Had it not been implemented, India would have had to face the embarrassment of going bankrupt! We, at that point, did not have enough reserves to continue for even a period of 14 days! Today, in a liberalized economy, the value of rupee is pegged to the market forces. Depending on international and national, financial cum political circumstances, it depreciates or appreciates. What I fail to understand is, how or why for God's sake is this a 'damage'? Is moving with the times bad? Is trying to attain better quantity of products in order to induce a better quality of life disastrous? I wonder in which era is the picture-maker living. He/She needs to remember that prehistoric times have long been over.

14.

This picture, I feel, is a direct question on popular mandate. In 2009, India spoke. It was for some. It was against some. But, it appears that the losers turned sore. They could not digest the triumph of the victor and thus proposed the formation of a media cell which specializes in name-calling, abuse-hurling, falsification and plain idiocy. What you get as a consequence is what you see above. Why is it being implied over and over again that 'America' has a role in government formation in India? It may have its inclinations, but ultimately it is the common man who chooses- the street vendor, the vegetable seller, the laborer, the shopkeeper. To them, it doesn't matter who conducted a nuclear test or who was negligent enough to let terrorists enter Parliament. To them, the trio of food, house and employment makes all the difference. Let us be decent enough to discuss issues which really matter. Bringing up irrelevant topics is an absolute waste of democracy.
P.S.- Pokharan-1 was conducted in 1974, under Indira Gandhi's command. Did America not want that government too?

15.

Last but not the least, if nothing else holds substance, unleash the dogs on the Gandhi family. Were you aware that Motilal Nehru was the son of a non-existent Mughal called 'Ghiyazuddin Ghazi'? Or that Indira Gandhi's real name was 'Maimuna Begum'? Well, here the picture-maker has presented a beautifully listed family chronicle. Strangely, the chronicle does not mention a word about Menaka Gandhi or Varun Gandhi, who are pretty much a part of this family, but not the party. Selective amnesia? Or Deliberate mud-slinging? Secondly, even if the Nehru-Gandhi roots are traced to a Muslim man in distant past, how does that make a difference? Are they not a part of this nation? Are they lesser individuals? If that is the case, let us chuck out Dr.Singh and Mr.Advani for being born in Pakistan and having Muslim friends. Let us ask the 'Khans' of Bollywood to stop entertaining us. Let us turn this nation into the 'Sanatan Republic of India'. Disgusting!

It is one thing to support a party, but it is quite another to blindly follow and justify all its wrongdoings. I understand the limitations of the overworked PR managers, but ask yourselves- is it truly necessary to denigrate individuals by falsifying information and undertaking consistent character assassination? If your conscience permits you to do it, go ahead. If it doesn't, be graceful enough to weigh both sides on an equal scale.

Do not spread 'Fake' pictures because you are inclined to BJP or Congress. Spread 'Real' knowledge because you are committed to this Nation.















Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hang his Body, Not your Conscience.


Faridkot, a small, nondescript, sleepy village is located near Depalpur. It neither boasts of agriculture, nor industry, as its primary occupation. Being considerably impoverished, most people are either forced to find jobs in faraway towns or are indulged in local vending activities. One such vendor, Amir, has been living in consistent poverty for generations. He begins his day by preparing his cart for selling dahi-puri, travels miles in search of customers and comes back home with whatever meager amount he can manage. Within the bounds of this money, he has to cater to an ailing wife, arrange for the education of a young son and yet save enough to get his daughter married. Food, in this family, is a welcome exception. Whenever the father can get hold of vegetables, he fetches them home. Otherwise, onion or tomato coupled with Roti serve as the sole nourishing meals.
It was the Eid of 2005. Despite the auspiciousness of the occasion, Amir ,this time, could not make both ends meet. His 17-year old son, however, demanded better food and clothes. In a fit of anger, Amir slapped him and asked him to get these luxuries by earning money himself. The son left home and Amir never saw him again. That, until a fateful morning in 2008. A group of press reporters landed outside his mud house and showed him a TV grab of a young man. Amir instantly recognized his son. Three years had not changed him much. He still had the same baby-face, though he had become a little taller and muscular. However, this was not the son Amir remembered. His shy, quiet and gentle son was brandishing a rifle in this picture, carrying grenades in his backpack. The reporters told him that his son, had been responsible for killing over 170 people mercilessly. Amir could not believe his eyes. Yet, the truth poked him. It stared him in the face.

Ajmal Amir Kasab, his son, was now a Terrorist.

Now consider an alternative situation.

Amir, despite his poverty, was able to successfully establish an entrepreneurial enterprise with the state's help. It was a small business, yet, it was sufficient to cater to his everyday needs. His son was admitted to a decent school and was provided a proper education. He grew up to assist his father in his business and with the passage of time became an influential corporate honcho. This could have been a different Ajmal Amir Kasab. A Kasab we didn't know. A Kasab we didn't give an opportunity to be. A Kasab, who was not a Terrorist.

None of what I have said or am about to say is in defense of Kasab. The war he waged was as baseless as merciless. His deeds were totally condemnable and extreme. But were they worthy of the punishment that he finally received? I certainly have my doubts about that. To analyze the issue in its entirety, here are a few questions worth consideration-

Q1. Was he REALLY the culprit?

A1. Yes and No. If a hunter shoots a tiger with a gun, you blame the hunter- not the gun. That's exactly what Kasab was. A weapon. With lucrative offers of everyday food and provisions of money for his family, a poor man would probably have had no option. During his Narco-analysis test, he admitted to have been approached by a 'Chacha' who promised him money and food. He was then enrolled into a terror camp at Muzzafarabad where he underwent psychological, combat and commando training. This is where he was made aware of the 'Indian atrocities' and was asked to embark on a mission to seek revenge. His fault? He got manipulated. He let himself be used. He chose the wrong direction. But honestly, can you blame a 21 year old youth for taking an incorrect step? Sorry. I blame the state. And in my eyes, the culprit is entirely our neighborhood dispensation. Had they provided what 'Chacha' did, Kasab might have turned out to be a completely different character. The reason why Pakistan is a hotbed for terrorism is not clandestine. It escapes me as to how a country can be completely unaware of the terror-mongers it harbors. They strike before the state can, ultimately, taking away millions of innocent lives and nipping many in the bud. Unless the masterminds are caught, booked and brought to justice, the blame can not squarely be laid on the shoulders of Kasab.



Q2. Is Death penalty the answer?

A2. Yes and No. I am not one of those who would rant about how taking life away is in the hands of 'God' and thus capital punishment is unjustified. As provided for by the Supreme Court of India, in 'rarest of rare' cases, death penalty is absolutely justified. What alternative system of deterrence do we have? If tomorrow, we get hold of the instructors of 26/11, can we afford to let them live forever in Indian jails? Can we afford to waste away the taxpayer's money in feeding, clothing and securing them? The answer is a straight no. However, weapons like Kasab could be treated differently. This is where the system of restorative justice comes in. Every criminal harbors an ideology of community disruption. What could be better than having the criminal morally, financially and physically compensate for community healing? Here is what we need to understand about this concept-

http://www.cscsb.org/restorative_justice/retribution_vs_restoration.html

There has to be a gradual shift from retributive to restorative justice while trying to strike an effective balance between the two. Death penalty may not be abolished altogether but its use must be guided by specifically defined principles of 'rarity'. Kasab came to India on a suicide mission. With a 4 year delay, we served it to him on a golden platter.

Q3. Was our response apt?

A3. Yes and No. Apart from the media coverage that quite literally helped the attackers and the shoddy response by the Maharashtra police, the retaliation of the Aam Aadmi has gone from bad to worse. Unfortunately, Indian citizens failed to show maturity. The media objectified Kasab and we pegged all our hopes of ending terror on him. He became a political-cum-moral football, liable to be kicked at every post. Only the public lynching didn't happen (which was vociferously suggested by a self-proclaimed Gandhian). While the agencies were interrogating him about his possible trans-border links, the Indian citizenry was busy cribbing about the food he ate and the clothes he wore. While the law was taking its course, our fellow citizens wanted to hear no defense and hang him ASAP. This call was further flamed by opposition parties who have made popular emotions a game of chess. Light the flame, get the fire going and then blame the Government. When he was finally hanged, appreciation flew in selectively. Questions were raised about when would the next hanging take place! Gosh! What are we? The death penalty capital of the world? Strangely, I understand the feeling. But I don't understand the hurry. I understand the resentment. But I don't understand the hatred.


With Kasab a life has gone. He was not a Mahatama. He was not a Gandhi. He was a killer. A man who murdered in cold blood. Yet, he was human and he ought to have been treated like one. On the contrary, we made a monster out of him, completely forgetting those, within our country, who have been responsible for bigger massacres which have permanently wounded this nation's psyche. I believe Maya Kodnani's crime was way bigger than Kasab's. He killed because he was asked to. She killed because she wanted to. However, we weigh them on different scales. Isn't this hypocrisy in the name of patriotism?

If we are to claim the greatness of religion, spirituality and democracy that India has always stood for, we can NOT hang our conscience along with Kasab's body.

P.S.- I still am a proud patriot and I still feel the horror of 26/11.














Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Conversation

[The ensuing Dialogue consists of five characters, which are-

1. Legislature- L
2. Executive- E
3. Judiciary- J
4. Media-M
5. Constitution-C

Meeting in the evening, over a cup of tea, the following discussion occurred]
-


L: Hello, both of you, How do you do?

J: Very well, thank you. How are you?

L: As good as I always am. Well, my question was even for E. How are you E?

E does not answer and looks down, as if completely intimidated by someone.

J: (in a sarcastic tone), E is not in the habit of answering back to you.

L: Are you trying to say that I have frightened E? I have given him every liberty that I could.

J: Is it so? Well I disagree. Everyday I get lots of cases to deal with that prove your point wrong.

L: (in an annoying manner), You anyhow have lots of cases to deal with J. Just sort out the pending ones, and then talk of what points can you prove wrong.

J: (clearly angry), Don’t speak to me like that. This is absolute contempt. You can be sued for this.

L: And who will sue me? Who has the power to? (Looks at E, who is now staring at L, wide-eyed), This one will? (Points at E), This E- who doesn’t even have the strength to move a muscle before me?

J: (in a mocking voice), And then you say I have given him complete liberty.

L: I have! (Exclaims loudly and bangs a fist on the table, rattling the tea cups), He dosen’t know how to use it.

E, who seemingly has shed his initial inhibitions by now jumps into the conversation.

E: I support Honorable J at that Sir. You control my Liberty in every which way you can.

L: (stares long and hard at E and then replies), I control you because I need to see how efficiently you manage to implement my laws- That’s my right.

J: That isn’t. (He interrupts), I deal with Law and I can see to it very well- E doesn’t need your supervision.

L: Is that so E? (Looks at E arching his eyebrows) Don’t you need my supervision?

E: That is not what I meant Sir (E says, trying to cover up the rude way he had spoken to L earlier), I need your expert guidance at each step. I can’t do without you.

This statement apparently angers J, who interrupts again.

J: Do you mean what I said was wrong? (Stares at E with derision)

E: No Sir, You too were right in your own way.

L: (bangs his fist on the table again), Both of us cannot be right at the same time you understand?

J: (stands up with a look of scorn) I am in full agreement with L. You have to choose. Who is right? L or me?

E knows that he is now in a tight spot. He wonders why even after his careful choice of words did he land up in such a situation. Why at all did he speak?


Just then, M enters the room.

M: (correcting the fall of her sari), I guess I am late Gentlemen.

She smiles.

J immediately sits down, L recedes his hand back to his pocket and E appears relieved-M has almost been his savior.

M: (sits down), seems like there was a heated argument going on here. I could hear the voices outside. Is everything all right?

L: Oh yes it is (L gives a huge smile)

M: Then what about those voices?

J instantly tries to mask the previous occurrences of the room, putting up a beaming face.

J: That! Oh, that was not an argument. We were just discussing a few topics of concern.

L: Exactly, (L joins in), after all, we have to run the country and therefore we must collectively discuss everything that matters. Am I right E?

E looks at L and J in amazement. What a transition!

And now they were trying to garner the support of the same man they had been after, a few moments ago.

E: Sir L and Honorable J are right (he says and looks at M, his words betraying his expressions)

M smiles again.

M: Nice to see that you people are so concerned about the nation. That reduces half my work!

L: Half your work? (L asks curiously).

M: Yeah, No more do I have to conduct sting operations & expose corruption. (She laughs heartily)

L, J & E are instantaneously red-faced. M too senses her wrong choice of words. ‘Corruption’ was probably not the right word to use. She too feels a pang at the bottom of her conscience. An abrupt silence prevails with L, J, E and M reminiscing the days gone by. A few names and a few thoughts begin to haunt their minds.

Thoughts-

L: Kargil Coffins, Food for oil, Urea, 2G, CWG, Mining scam, Adarsh Housing Society

J: Jessica Lal, Naina Sahni, Tandoor, Quattrocchi extradition.

E: Telgi, Amarnath Shrine Board, fake currency, Fake encounter.

M: Uma Khurana, Aarushi murder, Coverage of Mumbai attacks

Suddenly, the door opens, Enters C.

Everybody stands up as a mark of respect to the senior gentleman. 62 years of age, his face is wrinkled; dark hollows have appeared below his eyes, his body trembles. He looks as if he is more than Eighty- decaying with each passing moment.

After the general salutations, all four help him as he occupies his chair.

C: (in a quivering voice), How are you all doing Children?

It seems as if all four have been caught off guard.

‘How are you all doing Children’, what irony this simple enquiry contained. How are they doing? And what are they doing? Their thoughts haunt them again.

C senses their uneasiness. He smiles.

C: Come Children, Sit here. (Points to the chairs around him)

All four quietly obey. They feel safe in his presence, comforted in his vicinity. All heated disputes appear to have vanished from their minds. The blame-game has been put to rest. A sense of embarrassment has encompassed them.

C: (clears his throat & says), You are the four pillars of democracy children. You have to run this nation. Everything lies at your behest and at your disposal. Each one of you has a vital function to perform-

(Points at L)- You are the elected representative-you handle every department that involves the development of this nation-Education, health, economy, law, home & foreign affairs, Finance, defence and so on. You shoulder the greatest responsibility.

(Points at E)- You have a distinct identity- L is incomplete without you. You implement what he decides, by reaching through to the grassroots. All his plans, policies and programmes need your assistance.

(Points at J)- You curtail both of theirs whims and fancies. You, in itself are an institution of justice, of impartiality, righteousness, fair dealing and most importantly, faith. On your hands lies the trust of scores of people who implicitly trust your decisions.

(Points at M)- And you dear, are the Fourth Estate. Your work is as important as theirs. They may legislate, execute and judge, but it is you who takes them to the masses. You are a connection, an inevitable interlink, that may either ‘make it or break it’.

Everyone looks down. The words of the old man seem to be hammering themselves into their entities-their entire being.

C: I won’t trouble you by delivering lectures children. But it is my duty to keep reminding you your duties. I have been doing that since the last 6 decades. You have sought changes in me, you have amended me, you have dishonored me, but you can’t have ignored me. I am the set of standards you have to adhere to, children.

Each and every one feels as if they have been shown the mirror. An extensive reality check has just been done.

C: Function collectively children- respect each other. That is the only way this nation & its people would benefit. That is the only way you can replace the tag of being ‘developing’ to being ‘developed’.

All four stand up, hand in hand, with a harmonious look, visibly prevalent on their faces.
“We will do as you say Sir”, they say in coordination, “We will never let you down.”

C too stands up, wavering, though, with a new found confidence.

“Let not the citizens of this country down children”, he says profoundly, “Let not the Nation down”.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

You, Yes YOU are Corrupt

Corruption is the latest chick in town. Its hot, Its happening and its trendy. Everyone seems to be talking about it. It has caught the imagination of this 'Young' country and the population has begun to display a rat-like behaviour- running after the pied piper, who himself is surrounded by rats of extraordinary quality. In case you didn't get the subtle reference, I meant Lord Anna here. People are out on the streets demanding 'freedom from corruption'. The youth is bombarding the social media to bring about an 'Indian spring'. The country is boiling in a delicate frying pan, despite the fact that the gas beneath it, is visibly turned off.
Just the other day I came across a teenager wearing a white Gandhi cap. He was a part of a group that was protesting against corruption. Here is a transcript of the conversation that I had with him-

" I Love your cap", I said, "You mind telling me where you bought it?"
"They are distributing it for free", he said, pointing towards a stall in the corner where numerous such caps rested one over the other.
"Do you know what its called?" I asked.
"Yeah," he said as a matter of fact, "Anna Topi".
I was a little taken aback. It did have "I am Anna" written in bold, black letters.
"Its actually a Gandhi cap", I tried to correct, "It takes its name after the Father of the Nation".
"Whatever", he remarked," Gandhi was Rahul Gandhi's grandfather. Might be as dumb"
Now this was a serious intermix of relations- personal and political. Yet, I decided to press further.
"What are you protesting against?", I asked.
" Corruption", came the one word reply.
"And how do you think it'll be eliminated?"
"Lokpal", another single word.
"What will a Lokpal do?"
"He will arrest everybody who is corrupt. Even the Prime Minister, the President and everyone else. Our Constitution guarantees a Lokpal"
I was almost about to laugh. Getting a hold over myself, I proceeded, "Do you think this protest will get you a Lokpal?"
"Congress is corrupt. MMS is impotent. We are a democracy. I have the right to speak".


This was nothing short of a slogan. A slogan that has been reverberating across the genus of pseudo-intellectuals today. I really didn't know how to continue the conversation further and thus I walked away. However, it did set me thinking. Are these half-baked truths, persistent character assassinations, dirty blame games and irrelevant knowledge going to lead us anywhere? Why have we suddenly developed this herd mentality? Why this continuous search for a magic wand? If we, as a nation, have to deal with corruption, we are just not looking at the right places. Cleansing corruption needs a conscience, more than it needs a law.

At the outset, let me clearly state that an anti-Anna opinion does not automatically become pro-Congress. Just like "Don't Vote for Congress" does not by default translate into "Vote for BJP". Nevertheless, we as an aware citizenry need to understand a few basic facts. Facts which will determine which course our nation takes in the future; Facts which will give the coming generations a breathing space; Facts which will help us make an informed choice. Let us get to them, one by one.


Fact 1#- Corruption is Omnipresent, Omniscient,Omnipotent. You just cannot deny its existence. It was there in the past, It is here in the present and if things continue the way they are, It will be heightened in the future. Hire a cab, the driver will charge you more than he needs to. That's corruption. Go to a school. The administrator will charge a few hundred bucks to get your child admission. That's corruption. Drive a car. The traffic policeman will charge you some undisclosed amount to help you avoid the 'hassles' of court. That's corruption. And thus the fact remains that we, the people of India, who have been granted immense liberties in the Constitution, happily forget our duties and indulge in massive everyday corruption. After all who wants to go to a court? Who wants to lodge a complaint against a bribe-seeking officer? Who wants to tread the right path? We all are always looking for some 'under-table' deals or some 'Chai-Pani'to spare us the horror of following rules. When there is a procedure to follow, we vouch for a shortcut. Who has the time to stick around an office and claim his/her rights? Don't we then deserve what we get? If A.Raja bungles up a whopping amount out of the taxes we pay, it is us, who have acted criminal from the very start. One by, electing him to power and Two by finding various routes to escape taxation. Always remember, the money we hide from the authorities is as black in colour as the money that is reportedly stashed away in Switzerland.

Fact 2#- Corruption is not a Congress-specific phenomenon. The UPA government just happens to be in power at the wrong time. At numerous platforms, at various junctures, I have seen people uttering nonsensical words and shoving spectacularly idiotic arguments in each other's faces. Twitter, by personal experience, has been a victim. A breed of 'Internet Hindus' has cropped up. I am told these are full-time workers who get paid for lambasting the Congress party. I am not sure if that is true but the way false information and empty rhetoric is dominating the social media today, the prospect seems very likely. Ms. Sonia Gandhi, for them, is an Italian Christian. Mr. Rahul Gandhi is a dumb fool. Dr.Singh is an impotent PM and the entire cabinet is the 'Chambal of dacoits'. How ironical is the fact that the people who uptil a few years ago showered praises on the Gandhi-Singh duo, today leave no stones unturned to malign their character. Let me illustrate this with an example.


Have a look at this picture. This is circulating like wildfire on the Internet and is being touted as a validation of the Congress Party's corruption. Anyone with a decent command over English will be able to spot a minimum of five grammatical mistakes in the text. Have the Swiss authorities forgotten their basic language lessons? The letter gets the logo incorrect, the name of the bank incorrect and not to forget, in its entirety, it violates all agreements of confidentiality ever signed. And I am still wondering, why would the Swiss 'Corporation' choose to address the letter to the 'Indian Government' and then release it on Facebook.
The fact here is, that the NDA government, when it was in power, was as guilty of corruption scandals as the UPA is. The difference lies only in the fact that media coverage and transparency in functioning of both, has grown from then to now. In today's times, you merely need to file an RTI application to expose a Kalmadi. Back then, you had to conduct a sting operation to nab a Bangaaru Laxman. Without getting into the details of which is a better alternative, I'd only reaffirm one statement "ELECT WITH INTELLIGENCE". The power to vote in a democracy is much more significant than any other power. Verify the credentials of the contestants and vote on merit. Its quite another unfortunate matter that those who cry their throats hoarse shouting anti-corruption slogans today, are the same people who accept cash, accept liquor and accept women as a compensation for their vote during elections.

Fact 3#- Anna is not God. Neither is Baba Ramdev. The sooner we understand this, the better. In this nation of traditional ambiguities and growing individuality, we have surprisingly pegged our hopes to men, who we know absolutely nothing about. No one wants to know how Anna Hazare got the scourge of liquor eradicated from his village. We conveniently turn a blind eye to the complaints of people who were mercilessly bound to poles and beaten up, with a stick. Also no one questions the sudden rise of Baba Ramdev to international fame and popularity. From practicing the simplicities of Yoga, to running the complexities of a multimillion conglomerate, his rise has been phenomenal. Yet, when we are shown a mirror, we look away and cry conspiracy. Is this how we plan to run the "Jaago India" campaign? Are certain individuals above all other institutions for which this country fought? Truthfully, this agitation has lead the country into a deep quagmire today. Not only has it slowed down the policy making structures but it has also created uncertainty in the nation's economic climate. Investors have begun to doubt the political stability of the country. And as a domino effect, we are losing out on jobs, employment, income equality and social parity. Still, who do we hold responsible for it? Our Prime Minister! Just to put things in perspective, it was the same guy who opened this country to the globe. In other words, the clothes that we wear today, the phones that we use, the cars that we travel in and the computers we are reading this on, were brought into this country due to the efforts of the man we today have as the head of state.

I am sure this article would invite a lot of ire. And I am prepared. They say, when you don't have an answer, you raise your voice. When that doesn't work, you raise your hand. The sole unfortunate fact is,that we, the hypocrites we are, don't channelize our energies where we should.

You want to get rid of corruption? Well, here is the Mantra- STOP giving bribes. STOP accepting compensations. BE honest to your NATION. ELECT sensibly. VOTE when you must. Raise your VOICE. COMPLAIN against the official. Don't stay QUIET. If you can't do any of these, I am sorry to say but You, Yes YOU are corrupt too.

As a final word, the next time you point a finger at how the politicians are ruining your livelihood, make sure you have black ink on it.



















Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Letter from an Unidentified Molestor.


Disclaimer- The following has been written solely for the purpose of registering an online protest against the outrageous incident that happened in Guwahati. I, of course, am merely a shocked citizen who finds no other way to express his anger than to write about it. Let not this incident serve as a prequel. Let this be the Final Nail on the coffin of those who display their animal instincts in the name of manhood.

Dear, 'Sexy', Women,

Hey! Don't Jump at that remark. 'Sexy' is a compliment. Ask the braggy Chairperson of your toothless commission and she will endorse it. How have you all been doing?
I heard, a few of my brothers molested a girl in Guwahati? Wow! I truly appreciate their zeal. Groping a girl on the main road, in full public view, in the heart of the capital, a few kilometers away from the State Secretariat- Kudos! You guys sure deserve a treat! And what a treat you have got. Your faces are being flashed in the National media! Can you imagine? You are being aired at prime time! Your actions have become the talk of the town. Mothers are happy that you were not born to them. Fathers are glad that you don't feed on their money. Sisters are overjoyed at the prospect of Not having you as brothers. And my boys, We, your fellow brothers, are jealous of the coverage you have gathered. Never before in the history of my Molestation-Rape career could I have imagined that our vocation was so rewarding. Anyway, Now that I have showered enough praises on you, let me get a few facts straight, so that you can embark on a more fruitful journey the next time you are at it. By the way, when I say fruitful, I don't mean mere 'Molestation'. Go ahead and Rape.

Firstly, I am totally unable to understand what the hue and cry is all about. Each media house is emphasizing on 'A seventeen year old', 'A Teenager', 'An Adolescent'. Can't they understand the simple fact that age is absolutely immaterial for us? When it comes to displaying the power of our manhood, we can do it to a child of seven and a woman of seventy, with equal perseverance and pleasure. We can do it to a 'Dalit', a scavenger or just the girl next door- Caste is not a hindrance either. All that matters is the fact that its 'Her'. And She should realize it. She was born to be teased, molested and raped. If she didn't want to, why did you let her come to the world, in the first place? Oh! I get it. She might have one of those foolish, just-made-aware-, socially conscious parents, who have no problems with giving birth to a girl. Well, this incident should serve you as a warning. Consider it a threat, rather. If you don't kill her while she is still inside your womb, be prepared to donate her to my brothers. You can not protect her all your life, Can you? At some point, at some time- whether in the alley, at the bus stand, in the college or right outside your house- WE WILL GRAB HER.

Secondly, Let me clear a misconception. Did you think we'll be caught? Did you REALLY think that the police will get hold of us and put us behind bars? Ha Ha Ha! Sorry, the laugh was just an instant reaction. How naive of you! The laws in India do NOT grant me life imprisonment. If you manage to get an FIR filed, I will arrange for Bail and tease you. If you manage to take the case to a District court, I will plead innocence and molest you. If you manage to further rake up the matter in a higher court, I will file appeals and rape you. As a woman, I will show you your place at each successive stage. I will remind you over and over again that being born in your gender is a Natural crime that you have committed and you shall be granted a Natural Punishment for it. Rape, by the way, is a natural phenomenon. Look at Animals. Does the mare or the cow complain? No! So, learn to live with it.




Thirdly, crying hoarse in the Media or filing petitions with politicians won't help. Quite a number of people in there are fellow brothers. They will take up your matter, make an issue out of it, gain sympathy while they can and finally leave you high and dry. As long as you can serve their interests of creating 'Sensation' and 'Garnering Votes', you will be adequately taken care of. Once you are out of public mind, you will be out of their sight. But trust me, We will continue to have our sights on you. After all, you are the meal that we deliciously enjoy. I do agree that there are some black 'Honest' sheep in Politics and Media. But then, a single bogey can not move a train, No matter how hard it tries!

Now that I have sorted out a number of issues, let me also remind you that the society is with me. Shocked? Well, here are the facts. I went to an 'Anti-corruption' rally a few months ago. Don't hold me in high regard for that. I went there merely to eye some 'Maal'. Eyed quite a few, made comments, teased and tried molesting- Its a democracy right? I have the freedom of speech and expression. Nevertheless, I wasn't stopped. No one cared. I came back and beat up my wife. No one cared. I have been sexually abusing a little boy for the past few years. No one cared. Rather, those who got to know, preferred to keep silent. 'Honour' you see. Our country is actually an 'Honour-istan'. We can kill for 'Honour'. We can rape for 'Honour'. And when we do it, the society stands by us. Come to think of it, even the local Panchayats have started passing 'diktats' to keep their women safe! What a cruel joke. Those who have put on the charade of protecting her, are also the ones to murder her!

The letter has gone quite long I see. And I don't have much patience to continue writing. I am in dire need of some fun right now. Need to go out and find one of you. People will come. They will stand and they will watch. But none, I repeat, NONE of them will be man enough to come forward and argue with us. And why should they? You are not 'Their' Sister, or Mother or Daughter! Leave it to us and we will rape Men too! On that note, let me take your leave. Professional, ah, in your words, Animal instincts are calling me. Let me look for a public point, look for a woman, look for a quiet crowd and make my move.

And this time, I will not just stop at Molestation.

Take care till I find you.

An unidentified Molester.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mom, Your Son Killed Me.


We were both born your sons, Mom
We were both bred in your Womb.
You suffered an equal labor Mom
You faced an equal Wound.

Why then today this difference, Mom,
Why then, today, this Pain?
Why then today I lose it all,
Why does he stand to Gain?

Your Love for us was equal Mom
And so were the times of Pleasure.
I still remember the games we played,
The Hiding, the running, the Treasure.

You gave us both the same to eat
We were both treated the stick.
Whatever you brought for both of us,
We both could have our pick.

We sang, we danced, we slept together
We woke, we laughed, we prayed.
No matter how far apart we were
We Loved, we liked, we stayed.

And then it was our time to go,
You Let us out in the Night.
He choose to take the turn on Left
I chose to walk the Right.




Our Paths may have been different Mom
But we both Lasted the Mile
Issues and Problems tagged along
We faced them with a Smile.

And yet today I lie Dead
And yet today this Pain
Why have I had to Lose it all
Why does he stand to Gain?

I braved the vagaries of weather
The heat, the cold the boulders.
And Yet I did not ever give up
And marched with fellow soldiers.

He Lived the Life he always wanted
The Coolers, the Heaters, The Flat.
He studied hard to pass exams
And became a Bureaucrat.

And then one day it all changed, Mom
The day he signed a File.
And then one day it all changed, Mom
With my Corpse in a Pile.

He cleared the File to buy a Gun
A Gun that could not Shoot.
He was paid a massive price for it,
The price, to keep him mute.

He built a huge house with it,
And settled with his Wife.
He had a Job, And Love and Kids,
What else he wanted in Life!

I stood alert in my Bunker
And saw the Enemy Loot
I ran to them, to kill them all
With the Gun that could not Shoot.

The First hit me on the Head, Mom
And all I thought was You.
The second Pierced my Chest, Mom
And all I thought was You.

As I lay under the scorching sun,
I could feel your gentle Touch.
I wished I'd lived a little Longer, Mom
Had I asked for Much?

My corpse was thrown and buried in ground,
And encircled with a Ring.
Your Son could Never find me Mom,
the Man he was, the King.

Weren't we both born your sons, Mom?
Weren't we both bred in your Womb?
Then why today, He has it all,
While I decay in a Tomb?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

An Indian First, A Prime Minister Later

The massive brouhaha over Sonia Gandhi's citizenship and her prime ministerial ambitions have dotted the Indian political landscape for quite a while now. Since 18th May, 2004, when Ms.Gandhi 'sacrificed' the coveted post, a number of conspiracy theories have been triggered, each one of them, more fascinating than the other. It is quite another matter that none of these explanations hold any more ground than the stories of Uncle Scrooge or Alladin.

The first rooster to have cried hoarse was the BJP led NDA. Each one of its constituents, was shocked when they were informed that the 2004 general elections had mandated Ms. Gandhi to lead the country. It was apparently a direct attack on their 'Right to rule'. How could a woman with foreign roots be placed at the helm of affairs? How could India be foolish enough to disregard the experience of Mr.Advani and push for a dynastic novice? In other words, how could the 6 year stint of BJP in the government have failed and been nullified by the Indian voters in one go? Instead of introspecting and asking themselves whether India was really shining, they set out, lock, stock and barrel, to have Ms. Gandhi barred from holding the Prime Ministerial post. Letters were written, e-mails were sent, petitions were filed and dire threats were issued. Ms. Swaraj, the current Leader of opposition, displayed her histrionics in full bloom and declared that she would have her head shaved if Ms.Gandhi ever donned the mantle of the chief executive. However, there was one thing they failed to realize. Sonia Gandhi never really harbored Prime Ministerial ambitions. Had the BJP sat through the crisis and cast a cursory look at the past fifteen years, the party would surely have realized its follies.

When Ms. Indira Gandhi was brutally shot dead in 1984, Rajiv Gandhi was made the Prime Minister overnight. Some called it the 'Continuance of dynasty' while others referred to it as 'A Gandhian coup'. Never was it realized that there is a tiny little entity which still guided the country. The entity that desired an immediate election of a new head of government by mutual consensus. The entity that we casually call 'Constitution' today. As Indira Gandhi lay dying on the hospital bed, Sonia Gandhi is said to have hugged her husband tight and asked him to not be the Prime Minister. She stated "They'll kill you, Rajiv", to which Mr. Gandhi responded, "They'll kill me anyway". And while Ms.Gandhi was locked up in a washroom, Mr.Gandhi went on to be administered the oath of office and secrecy.

It just took 7 years for Ms.Gandhi's nightmare to come true. Her husband of 23 years was assassinated. His body was ripped to pieces and it almost became impossible to identify which part belonged to Mr.Gandhi in the ocean of human flesh. This incident proved to be the nail on the coffin. The entire Gandhi clan gave up its association with national politics and reclined to the nitty-gritty of life. The situation remained grim for the Congress party till 1998, when Ms.Gandhi was forced out of oblivion and was persuaded to take on the reins of a frail INC. The rest, of course, is history. For a woman who has had her husband and her mother-in-law, eschewed at the altar of Prime Ministership, would donning the same hat be a reasonable solution? Insiders, within and outside the party, concede that even when she entered politics in '98, her mind was very clear about such a situation, if it ever arose- She would NOT accept the post.


A few years passed with UPA I marching ahead in glory but as UPA II came into power, the build up frustration of the opposition began to find other vents. This is not to suggest that the current regime is saintly. It most certainly is not. It has mismanaged, mishandled and misconducted its affairs. Yet, at the same time, it has been misconstrued and misinterpreted. The activities of a few black sheep have tainted the entire administration. To an extent, the hypocrisy is mind boggling. When a few cricketers are caught neck deep in the scourge of match fixing and midnight brawls, do we take away the iconic status of the likes of Tendulkar and brand all cricketers inefficient and corrupt?

Nonetheless, this is where the second rooster began to cry foul. India's very own Julian Assange, with the only difference that Mr. Assange runs Wiki-leaks while Mr.Subraminam Swamy runs Pant-Leaks. The eternal conspiracy theorist claimed that 'Vishkanya' (a reference to Ms.Gandhi) had not 'sacrificed' while giving up the PM's post, she was actually 'barred' by Dr.Kalam to accept it. The reasoning, if it can even be called that, sounds ridiculously funny as it neither rests on facts, nor logic. And this is primarily owing to two major reasons-

First, the Constitution of India in its Part 2, Article 5, candidly declares that any person who has been a resident of the territory of India for at least 5 years, shall be considered to be an Indian citizen. To give effect to this article, Citizenship Act, 1955 was enacted. This act clearly states that a person would be considered to be a citizen of India by means of Birth, descent, registration, Naturalization and incorporation of territory. While Ms.Gandhi is a citizen of India by means of both 'Registration' and 'Naturalization', her children are a citizen of India by virtue of their birth!

Secondly, the Supreme court of India, the highest law-upholding authority of the land, dismissed a petition in 2001 that challenged Ms.Gandhi's nationality. Here are a few details from the court orders-
"It must be held that Sonia Gandhi by virtue of the certificate granted to her under section 5(1)(c) of the Citizenship Act, which has not been cancelled, withdrawn or annulled till date, is 'a citizen of India'"
"Making vague and bald allegations, without giving any material facts, after losing the elections, go to show that even proper care was not taken before filing the petitions by gathering and stating all material facts"
"There is no overt act relating to adherence and allegiance after the grant of citizenship to Sonia Gandhi, even alleged, let alone supported, through any material facts"

If these details are not evidence enough, Dr.Kalam, in his recently released biographical work has himself stated that had Ms.Gandhi staked the claim for Prime Ministership in 2004, he would have had no option but to appoint her as this was the only 'constitutionally tenable' position.

At times, I am surprised at the level of debate that is happening in this country today. We are debating the roots of an Indian woman. We are debating why she did not become the Prime Minister. We are speculating about what could have been the reason. And all of this, while real problems coupled with a murderous past stare us in the face. For example, why has nobody asked the BJP leadership as to why they wanted Mr.Kalam to drop the idea of visiting Gujarat after the Godhara riots? Were they trying to hide something or were they scared that Dr.Kalam would unabashedly speak the truth?

Whatever, may have been the reason, it is time we put to rest the 'Sonia PM' episode (sic, as it trends on Twitter). Let us just remain content with the fact that the Leader of opposition still has her hair.















Monday, June 18, 2012

The Race to Raisina


At this day, At this time, At this point, Almost everybody wants to be the President!


As you step inside the beautiful courtyard, after having gone through numerous security checks, the 'Rashtrapati Bhavan' greets you in full glory. The massive central dome and the nuances of Lutyen's architecture, are too overbearing to take in at one glance. Nevertheless, as your eye quickly scans the outer building, you realize the enormity in its entirety. The red sand in the forecourt casts a deep-orange hue on the walls and quite instantly you are reminded of the true 'red', the blood, which might have flown on these very grounds, in an enslaved India. Quite literally, it did. Not many people are aware but the grounds of Raisina Hill have a murky history. To build this palatial building, hundreds of families, who had been living here for centuries, were made to vacate the area. Those who didn't were forcibly evicted and those who resisted were immediately killed. Ironically, two huge cannons still guard the entrance to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, as if issuing subtle threats to those who try to question its sanctity. Over the death, grief and sorrow of many was carved a remarkable four-floored feat which housed 360 rooms. Another irony at play. Had those who were brutally murdered been given one room each, 360 generations would have benefited. However, who cared? That is how the British functioned! It is quite unfortunate though, that we still function the same manner. For the world, we gained independence in 1947, yet, the 1947 of our mindsets is decades away.





There is no point gloating over the reputable history of the Indian Presidency. There have been momentous occasions and Presidents have risen up to them. At the same time historical wrongs have been committed, and Presidents have been complicit in those too. What is of relevance here is the way the Presidential office has been converted into a 'Tamasha', today. Almost everybody wants to be the President. If they can't get there, they want a President of their choice. Its quite surprising how the Indian political class is treating the constitutionally declared 'august office'- transforming it into a personal shoe store where each party is trying to place a shoe which fits them the best. In fact, the Presidential election 2012, has become a comedy of sorts. How else would you explain the contest between a seasoned politician, a simple scientist, a tribal leader and a controversial lawyer? Sounds right out of a Bollywood film? Well, it might as well turn out to be one!

The ferocity began with M & M conducting a joint press conference and making some self-acclaimed declarations. Both were be-fooling each other and both knew that, yet, both chose to believe they were not. This press conference created history in itself. It was for the very first time, that the names of prospective candidates were revealed even before the ruling coalition had formally announced them. Plus, including the name of the incumbent Prime Minister in the list of probables, was another first. Never before have such cheap gimmicks been played in regard to the Presidential and the Prime Ministerial office. Yet, 2012 saw the beginnings. The conference set in order a chain of events. The very next day, a silent Roshogulla was thrown at the violent Roshogulla. The violent one jumped, looked around for the Lucknawi Biryani it had aligned itself with, but later realized, that the Biryani had already merged with the Pasta. Quite a cuisine, I must say. Nonetheless, this was just one dish, cooking itself in cholesterol. Another side, another cuisine was turning on the gas.

The NDA, has an MBA in opposition. Oh, forgive me, I totally forgot what the acronym BJP stands for. Was it the 'Bickering Janta Party'? I guess they had the word 'Bharatiya' in there somewhere. Anyway, the indecision of the principal opposition on the Presidential Candidate has reached its peak. As per media reports, they are unable to find a suitable candidate to oppose the Bengali Roshogulla and thus are likely to either add more Ras to it, or bring in a Gulaabjamun to compete. Within its ranks, who shall be the Gulaabjamun remains quite uncertain. Would it be the Punjabi 'Cloud' or would it be the Kandhaar express, eh, Forgive me, Jaswant Singh? At the end, whoever it is, it would indeed be difficult for the NDA to gauge the numbers. Congress, on the other hand, has managed the numbers somehow. Now, that was expected. For a party that has been 'managing' Ms. Mamata Banerjee, who has consistently brandished a sword over its head, this was still an easy task. As if this confusion was not enough a few more names were added to the race. Mr. Kalam, a former President is being hailed from Bengal. Mr. Sangma, an NCP strongman(strangely a Congress ally), is being hailed from Meghalaya. And Mr. Jethmalani, the lawyer who defended Afzal Guru and Kanimozhi in court, is being hailed from his bottle of scotch. PS- I do hope he remembers what he said to the media after his hangover from last night has settled.

So, as the situation stands today, provided it doesn't change tomorrow, different runners have tied up their shoe laces to enter the shoe factory. Mr. Mukherjee has begun running from Bengal. He is expected to reach first. Mr. Sangma has begun running from Meghalaya. He would be taking a route via Odisha and Tamil Nadu. Mr. Kalam has yet not decided whether he would like to even start running or not. Mr. Jethmalani has begun running from the pub. And, you never know, maybe a dark horse has begun running from some dark stable too. The big question here is, why is such a hue and cry being raised about a symbolic head? Why are our representatives fighting over a white elephant? An active President can be a boon for the nation, yet, her powers are limited. The Parliament is supreme. So, why is it that those who have more power are consistently whining about a post which has more constraints than discretions? Don't we have better things to worry about? Things like the economy, poverty, hunger or unemployment? Or Maybe Not. Maybe the rot inside our political system has set in to the extent that each motion is considered to be a well calibrated move.

There was a time when being the President was a matter of pride. Today, it is a matter of chance. Campaigning for Kalam, Sangma, Jethmalani or anyone else would not make a difference now. The scale is clearly tilted in favor of Mr. Mukherjee. Let us restore the lost dignity of the office and quit character assassinations and baseless rumors. Let us shun those who wish to make a mockery of democracy, or else, we would end up creating a democratic morgue in this country. Let the best man prevail.

As a last word, I do hope everyone remembers there was a woman called Ms. Pratibha Patil, who may be saddened by the fact that no one thought of repeating her :p


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Hypocrisy Jayate!!


We Indians are such Hypocrites! Big time, Hypocrites.

Our rules, Our traditions, Our regulations and Our sensibilities are all 'Adjustable' according to our convenience. The moment it suits us, Our Indian-ness is tricked into being Western. While at other times, we turn on our veil of superstitions, disbelief, extensive critique and simplicity, merely to hide under the garb of culture and uniqueness. Nonetheless, here are a few instances that I recently witnessed, which singularly emphasize the point I am trying to convey.


1. The BABA- LAND- Our very own 'Nirmal baba' has been quite an eyeball grabber for the past couple of days. What made one News channel, single out One Baba out of hundreds and run a five day story on him, completely escapes my mind. Maybe the 'STAR'(S) of the channel were running low or maybe they needed a 'Totally Reprehensible Project' (Read TRP) to boost their sagging fortunes. Whatever may have been the reason, the Baba ended up gaining full-time, media-generated and massively covered 'Kripa'. This is not to say that he was not in the wrong. In fact, That issue is not even debatable. Sitting on a gold-plated chair, wearing silver-lined shoes, accepting multiples of hundreds, aren't really 'Godly' characters. They are rather 'Gaudy' characters. Nevertheless, despite all the derision and ridicule, people still bowed their heads to the Baba. Despite having detailed and precise evidence of corruption that he entailed in, he was exonerated and let off with no sentence whatsoever. Good! Accepted! But then, why should the scales of balance tilt against Mr. A Raja or Mr. Suresh Kalmadi? Why ask for Chidambaram's resignation at the drop of a hat? Just because they keep all the 'Kripa' to themselves and don't distribute it to the public? In fact, let me frame it this way, who is a bigger criminal? Someone who fools you, cons you and takes your money every single day or someone who fools you, cons you and takes your money once in every five years? Ah! Talk of Hypocrisy.

2. Satyamev Belly-- Now what exactly can be the link between 'Satyamev Jayate'- a highly admired Television show and 'Delhi Belly'- a less admired but much hyped, Bollywood masala film? Just one- Aamir Khan- our very own perfectionist. Its quite another matter that perfectionism gives you a remarkable career but an equally disheveled personal life. And so has been the case with Mr. Khan. His first wife (Of 15 years) has publicly denounced him as a womanizer. On top of that, Jessica Jones, a foreign national had claimed a few years ago that Aamir was the father of her child. I don't really remember where the woman vanished (or was she made to vanish?) thereafter. Nonetheless, what he does in his personal life is of no consequence to us right? Then, why is it that Abhishek Manu Singhvi's personal sex CD or N.D. Tiwari's paternity suit proceedings hold our interest? Only because they are politicians and are supposed to uphold public interest by means of their character? That being the case, Bollywood has a much wider reach in the public. Why shouldn't the rules of the game be the same for everybody? Anyway, that is not the point I wanted to emphasize upon. Do we remember the visuals and dialogues of Delhi Belly? I specifically remember two.
# A fat (eh, I'd rather call him healthy lest Ram Kapoor take offense) man, struggling with diarrhea, fiddles with (presses rather) a woman's bosom as he moves across a balcony.
# When the Lead's girlfriend dumps him, he imagines a situation where he is blasting his ex with words like, "Is ladki ne mera ch***a hai"
Interestingly, I fail to understand, how can a man who is so concerned about female foeticide and female sex abuse, be so ruthless when it comes to sensitive portrayal? Dear Mr. Khan, please preach the values you follow. Else, accept your transgressions and preach with remorse.

3. F**k the Government- Its them! Its them! Its them! Your road is potholed-Its them who is at fault. Someone has thrown a banana peel on your street- Its them who is at fault. Someone has spit on your wall- Its them who is at fault. How long are we going to blame the Government for our problems? Yes, they are the chosen ones. Agreed, they have responsibilities. But what do we expect? The Government can only give us regulations- WE have to live by them. The Government can only give us policies- WE have to make sure they are implemented in the right spirit. If we refuse to give bribe, If we refuse to jump traffic signals, If we begin to honor our courts, If we begin to fight our own battles, maybe not us, but the generations to come will remain indebted to us for having set a trend of self dependency and national progression. Tell the government where they are wrong. Stop sitting on coffee tables and criticizing them. Let the blame game come to a halt. Its been 65 God damn years! Till when are we going to point fingers? Till when are we going to register massive turnouts for auditions to some foolish reality show but give a meek appearance when it comes to democratic voting? The problem is not with THEM. The problem is with US. And the sooner we realize that, the sooner we will be able to improve our lot.

And these are just three varied instances of typical hypocritical India. There are many more. Worship the Goddess, but kill the daughter. Rape someone's sister and protect your own. Malign someone's character but jump at those who malign yours. How long are we going to live with comfortable lies? When do we plan to face the hurtful truth?

I suppose, we'd Never Change. NEVER EVER. And you know why? Because We are Indians! We can pretend to change, but, deep within us, we will continue to remain discriminatory, spineless and self centered egoists . Whoa! Now that's what we call Status Quo.