Thursday, November 26, 2015

The India in Intolerance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 28, 2015

"They are Pure and Pious"

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

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

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

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

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

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