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 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.