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Category: Society

The sky is falling

Blessed are the homes that don’t have TV!

And I personally have been feeling that blessedness in the last one month that we disconnected the DTH connection. All that karate practice not withstanding, everyday ‘sky is falling’ premonitions would have surely given the fast middle-ageing me, at least a minor heart attack.

Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/afzal-guru-film-screening-jnu-student-leader-held-for-sedition/
Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/afzal-guru-film-screening-jnu-student-leader-held-for-sedition/

Way back, when Anna sat in Jantar Mantar and Kajriwal was a chaste, dyed in white activist, TV screeched to show us that anyone asking for accountability from elected government was an anarchist. Anna was jailed, cartoonists were arrested and charged with sedition and the country was saved.

When thousands swarmed to Ram Leela, they scared us that the country will be taken over by self righteous, un-elected mobs.

Thankfully, we survived, Anna went back to Ralegan beating boozards and Kejriwal became a hardboiled poiltician.

Then they told us that if Modi became PM, the sky will fall, all of us will die and intelligent, emancipated people will have to leave the country.

Well, Modi did become PM, and we haven’t died, not at least as yet and not a lot of intelligent people left the country though many keep saying they will. TV meanwhile continues with its sky is falling symphony.

Then came the beef story.  With all that noise, I started having visions of trident wielding, saffron wearing chaddi-men storming in my house looking for left over meat curry of the last night. Thankfully, I survived. Perhaps they missed my house. Perhaps because it is on the nineteenth floor.

Then came the award wapsi season. The country became so intolerant all of a sudden I thought I too would have to return my degree to save my country. In retrospect, it would have been a smarter idea before IIT and IIM themselves disown me from their alumni lists for not having done anything earth shattering as yet.

But the country lived on and some reverse award wapsi too happened.

And now this freedom of speech vs nationalism issue. Like, evil Brahminical mobs are roaming the streets distributing certificates of nationalism (just as every election season, certificates of secularism are handed out and withheld) beating anyone who doesn’t wear a khaki short.

The sky is dark, the outlook grim. The sky is falling and we all are dying. Like yesterday.

They don’t teach this in management schools but fear sells more than sex.

Don’t use Fair and Lovely? You will die an ignored, unemployed virgin.

Don’t use Complan/Farex/Cerelac/(whatever else)? Your child will shrink down to an unintelligent, weak midget.

Don’t buy a flat in Noida/Crossings Republic? You will have to live and die in rented slums in Pilakhuwa.

Don’t use this magic toothpaste? Your buccal cavity will soon resemble the chopped forests of Mala – all stump, no crown.

Fear is everywhere. They use it to make us buy things and TV is their favorite vehicle.

The point is not denial. Akhlaq’s murder was a crime and should be dealt strongly. Attacks on writers – be it Kalburgi or Tasleema – were wrong and should be punished. Sec 124 is archaic – whether charged on Aseem Trivedi or Kanhaiya. Beating people up on the streets is a crime in IPC.

But the sky is not falling. India has survived far more hate filled oppressors and self glorifying incompetents than we have on display right now. We have also survived foreign rule, emergency, forced sterilizations, Sec 66A and still preserved our voice.

In the end, there are only two questions:

a) Is name-calling Supreme Court verdict (‘judicial murder’) legitimate dissent or contempt of court?

b) Is calling for the destruction and division of country (God willing), acceptable free speech or treachery?

 

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Freedom of speech, Charlie Hebdo, PK and Love Charzer

Too uncool to deserve freedom of expression??
Too uncool to deserve freedom of expression??

Most of the good people I know lampooned the Hindu fringe taking offence to PK, vandalizing theaters and calling for a ban. Of course if a film maker wants to say something, he cannot be stopped just because someone’s feelings will be hurt.

A lot of them supported Charlie Hebdo on the cartoons though quite a few of them felt squeamish about the follow up decision to print prophet cartoons on 3 million copies. Why provoke, they said, France doesn’t allow burkas and none of the countries siding with Charlie Hebdo gave unfettered freedom of expression. They also cited criminalization of holocaust denial and several other cases of journalists being imprisoned for seditious expression. Freedom of expression cannot be absolute. You cannot be allowed to hurt, they said.

And now, Pope Francis says freedom of speech cannot be absolute. Two things – a) Anyone who derives his position of privilege from a holy cow would want the holy cow to remain holy (Agreed, an ad hominem attack!), and, b) Saying freedom of speech is not absolute is more of a motherhood statement – true but carrying little meaning.

Of course you cannot incite murder and claim freedom of speech. Of course, nation states cannot allow sedition under freedom of speech. Of course, freedom of speech cannot be absolute. That is the wrong question.

The right question would be whether freedom to criticize a religion can be absolute. Note that the freedom to question a belief is just a less evolved form of freedom to insult a belief because insult lies in the eyes of the insulted and even a surface level questioning of my beliefs can insult me – how will you decide what constitutes legit insult.

If you allow questioning, you have to allow insulting. Once upon a time, people did believe in a flat earth and it insulted their beliefs to suggest otherwise.

Narrowing the focus onto religions, when Jesus can be printed on undergarments or when Shiva can be shown hiding in a toilet or under the chair without apocalypse breaking out, it probably means religions can take some unapologetic even brutal questioning, and by extension, insults.

But what really got my goat was that no body cringed when MSG, the Messenger of God was canned by censors citing potential offence to people’s feelings!

Now, to be sure, I don’t get my love charged at Baba Ram Rahim’s rock concerts (check it out on a bad day at office, good for a couple laughs) and neither do I go to him for spiritual solace or material success. Moreover, the only Baba I ever revered is the long deceased DesiBaba, peace be upon him. But, just about nobody seems to give a rat’s bum about MSG’s freedom of expression.

Is Baba Ram Rahim Insan too infra dig? Does freedom of speech of only cool people matter?

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Women’s day and safe deposit sexuality

Women's day
All hail Girl Power

A small news item made for the perfect start of the day, incidentally, the Women’s Day!

A dude from Delhi reached his baraat pitch drunk. The girl lost it, refused to marry and her dad, instead of imploring her or putting his pagdi in front of his jamai or drinking poison, locked up the baratis and the groom. The cops came and made the pati parmeshwar return the engagement gifts worth 2.5 Lacs.

So, this would be the girl whose marriage broke at the last moment and this would be the guy who was chased out of his wedding party by the bride!

That’s awesome progress, no doubt. The “doli goes, arthi comes out” brand of dedication to one’s husband is not so distant past (possibly, not yet past in several areas even now). Hell, even today, we Indians are such misogynists, the simple technological tool of prenatal sex determination becomes a deadly weapon in our hands. I mean, I can convince the government to let me keep a gun but not to know if my baby is going to be a boy or girl – something trivial in most of the countries of the world. Government of course, is helpless. Generalization yes, but we Indians can’t handle it if we are going to father (or even mother) a girl.

24X7 media and social media has forced everyone to take a more politically correct turn. So, instead of saying, “I have the right to rape a woman when I want”, people say, “Well, why didn’t she dress conservatively?”. And then, the other bullshit, “Rise and shine, but don’t ape men. You are beautiful in your own way. Don’t become a consumption commodity”, which essentially means, “Take your freedom and baby rattle it as much as you want but you’ll forever stay men’s sexual belognings”.

Look closely and you’ll find that every form of discrimination against women can be traced back to the idea of women’s sexuality being owned by men in the family. Dad’s famous shoulders droop the moment daughter becomes adolescent not because he is worried about unwanted pregnancy or STDs but the shame of not having been man enough to protect her future groom’s “secure deposit”. We need sons because they will protect instead of needing protection. Women must get married because what is a secure deposit without a certified owner!

What women need is to reclaim their sexuality from their husbands, fathers, brothers and whoever takes it upon himself to protect the “khuli tijori”. The right to one’s body is the most fundamental right and that should be taken back by women absolutely unambiguously. This means the right to dress as one wants. This also means the right to be sexually promiscuous without being judged (irony, I know, ‘promiscuous’ and “don’t judge” in the same sentence!).

The thesis is that nothing short of a sexual revolution enabling women to own their sexuality will bring about equal status.

(Image courtesy: Global fund for women)

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The mad CM

So who exactly is Kejriwal?kejriwal7_650_012114050706

A CM insane or a phantom warrior for Congress?

CIA agent, Ford foundation protege, Naxalite sans weapons, Muffler wearing anarchist, Bespectacled fascist, Backstabber, Leftist, Vigilante, Anti national, Bull in a china shop, Man in a hurry or a Messiah.

Confusion.

Labels, some of them mutually inconsistent – how can he be an anarchist and a fascist at the same time. As an anarchist, he would want to destroy the system and as a fascist, he would want to expand the system and usurp it for himself. Not possible till he is a shape shifting monster powered by secret CIA technology known only to US Army and Kejriwal. Dig deep enough and you’ll find documentary proof of the secret deal somewhere on Facebook.

Opposing FDI in retail makes him a dangerous leftist out to drag India to the dark days of license raj. Horror of horrors, even BJP opposes FDI in retail and with no less venom. Confusion plus plus. Read more.

Prashant Bhushan talking of referendum on army presence in J&K makes him a traitor. So what about Chacha Nehru who promised referendum on the very accession of Kashmir. And wait, iron man Patel too was a member of that cabinet and collective responsibility ensures that he too can’t shake away the blame. With due respect to the great men, moi confused like a kid Sidhu in a topless bar.

arvind-kejriwal-sleeping-pti-360Publicity hungry, eyeball grabber. Item girl. Well, the Delhi winter is not going anywhere for the next week or so. Rail Bhawan too is free now.  AAPtards have shown the way, time for Moditards and Rahultards too to join the fun. Forget the 500 or 1200 Crores. They are up for grabs. The eyeballs. Anyone game?

Congress agent? Possible. Only Congress needs to have some serious BDSM fetish for that.

Oh, and he is sending one of his best men against Rahul. Will BJP follow suite? Modi? Jaitley? Sushma? Rajnath? Anyone of the big shots? The shortest route to Congress free India. Stop the Gandhis outside parliament and watch Congress disintegrate. They wouldn’t survive 5 years without a single Gandhi to bow to.

An activist not content with intellectual masturbation, a revolutionary not content with a high seat, a politician not content with winning an election and a CM not content with making the right noises.

A new beast is in town and no one knows who or what it is. A bird, a plane or a man?

Confusion is not mine alone, all are equal in this bath.

Congress can’t decide if AAP are gutter snipes or worthy teachers. BJP perplexed if they should tolerate AAP or go all out against them. Copy or criticize? Sanjay Nirupam goes on Anshan for low power tariff in Mumbai while Shinde calls him a crazy CM in Delhi. BJP copies them in “Ek vote, ek note” for Modi while pouring verbal vitriol elsewhere.

Media confused between adulation and condemnation.

Am I happy?

You bet I am.

It’s almost the Lanka Dahan scene from Ramayana.

Watching career politicians confused and scared is funny. Watching intelligent people float fantastic conspiracy theories is funny (check out Zaid Hamid if you have a taste for them). Watching the ivory towers of politics crumble is enthralling. Watching a CM brave brutal Delhi cold through the night on the road is sobering.

He is making politics more difficult and less lucrative. That’s all I need today. Labels may wait.

And the sky would wait too.

Why, if it stayed up during the past 60 years, I am sure it can take some Kejri knocks too without falling on our heads.

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Our fetish for missing the devil and shooting the trees!

Ban short skirts. Ban hand holding in public. Ban V-day. Ban item numbers. Ban chowmien. Ban mobiles. Heck, ban women.

Is porn responsible for rapes?
She is behind all these rapes and the poor men get blamed !!!

The latest in this brilliant anti-rape measures series is to make watching porn a non-bailable offence.

Now, the cops won’t offer Rs 2000 to rape victims. They’ll just say, “Look kid, can’t file rape FIR. Gotta catch that pimpled teenager shagging to Sunny Leone in his engineering college hostel”.

Such is our fetish for missing the rampaging devil and shooting the trees, shrubs, birds, insects anything in the jungle except the dude staring you in the face with blood dripping off his mouth.

We don’t see that the one thing common in all rape incidents is the rapists’ confidence that they will get away. We don’t see that the hostile callousness of the police and a near-dysfunctional criminal justice system makes them so bold.

We wouldn’t talk of educating people and police that women have a right to their bodies, to public places and the girl who doesn’t have a dupatta on is not desperately looking for sex. It’s not as impossible as it may seem – when we can educate people for pulse polio vaccination, we can do so for treating women as more than meat as well.

Heck, when you can think of making porn-watching non-bailable, why can’t you think of making not filing rape FIRs as non-bailable?

Is porn responsible for rape
Arrghh..My eyes are burning. Please ban this image!

And it’s not just rape.

For widespread corruption, we will blame everything from bribe givers to lack of morals to low salary to the latest lunar eclipse.

The blame the bribe giver argument is attractive too – isn’t the guy who bribes to get his license made or bill passed equally responsible? Only, where do these bribe givers go when it comes to IIT/IIM admissions, army recruitment or whatever little that actually works in our system. Why do these immoral ease-shoppers suddenly become honest foot soldiers of morality while dealing with foreign government departments?

Clearly, bribe giving is not the prime mover in the corruption machinery. It is driven by the lacunae in the system which enable people in power to harass you for not paying up. Deprive corruption the life blood of such lacunae and it dies down.

But then we only seem too eager to believe that it is the trees, the birds, the climbers, the creepers, the insects, the grass even the air in the jungle that’s eating up the villagers and how, the devil is a poor victim of circumstances. It works to the sweet advantage of the perpetrators – be it rapists or be it the corrupt babu/neta.

Sometimes, the simplest answer to a question is the real one. We seem to miss this simple truth simply too often.

 

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Can you become rich in India without stealing?

Mommy says no!

Can you become rich in India sans a skeleton in the cupboard?
Can I have all this without a few skeletons peeping out of my cupboard?

Infact, this was one of the arguments she gave to dissuade me from becoming an entrepreneur, way back, when I was within dissuasion. Like any dutiful son hell bent on changing the world, I of course, didn’t listen to her.

But even after all these years, the argument is not yet settled. It keeps coming back. Whenever she gets something that can be used to support her case, she dispatches it in my direction.

The latest example she threw at me was Subrat Roy Sahara being quizzed on Rs 24,000 Crores.

Now, both you and I know the drill. The process of law is on and you can’t jump to conclusions. I told her so.

However, when it takes 15 years to frame charges against Salman Khan and 31 years for an IAS daughter to get a guilty verdict from the Sessions Court against her father’s killers (the High Court and the Supreme Court are still left, link here), the legal process argument loses most of its fizz.

Truth may be anything but a first generation big shot getting accused of serious investor fraud by a statutory body like SEBI only strengthens the idea: This guy became rich, this guy stole too.

I of course, stand my ground, “It IS possible, that’s what I am betting on”, trying hard not to sound like a teenage rebel whose communist hero on the Tshirt has just been caught in bed with capitalist imperialists.

Who drives the Pajeros in Noida, Ghaziabad? The Land Rovers, the Range Rovers, the BMWs, the Endeavors, the Fortuners?

Any of the IIT, IIM type corporate honchos? Any of the IT entrepreneurs? Or white kurta clad politicians, builders, wheeler dealers and their cronies?

Hmmm, something like, if you want to check the nature of the soil, see what plants flourish there? Know the character of the pond by the weeds that bloom in it.

Yes, exactly. What kind of plants flourish in the soil that is India today?

Prosperity is reaching nooks and corners of the country but almost every village seems to have one family which rises way faster than every other. NREGA and village level development schemes have only speeded up the rise of the pradhan families.

Every city, including the really godforsaken ones would have a few families with huge mansions floored with expensive marble tiles housing the snazziest SUVs. The rest of the city would either make do with government jobs or small time trading or petty private jobs. Even if there is no industry or major economic activity in the city, a couple of families seem to have access to a perpetual fountain of financial gangotri! More often than not, you’d find top functionaries of all political parties distributed amongst these families.

It doesn’t technically prove that you can’t become rich in India without stealing. It does indicate most of those who did well in one generation did stuff that middle class morality fed on eighties Amitabh would not allow.

That we have more Ponty Chadhas than Narayanmurthys doesn’t help either.

And damn that Kejriwal dude. Ambanis had never smelt of pure jasmine, he put the stink to the DLF story as well with his Vadra disclosures.

Where are the clean heroes? Where are the straight guy stories?

I am sure they are there. I feel most of the stories in the tech-internet enabled “new age” businesses are clean stories. But they are much less in number than “5 years in politics” or “7 years of wheeling-dealing” stories and they are not visible in Sitapur, Saharsa and Siliguri. That’s where bulk of India’s “high energy youth which China doesn’t have” demographic dividend comes from.

Mommy’s argument was simple enough. Since she hasn’t seen anyone become super rich without stealing so it’s impossible to do so. With uber-capitalistic American dream off the menu, there was only one option for me – be a good boy, write the exam, become an officer and live with the stick of the government in my hands.

I don’t blame her. Mommies have their own agendas. They don’t want their sons to fight too hard, struggle much or change the world.

But what does an ambitious, energetic twenty year old in a mofussil town see today?

Narayanmurthy and Bhikchandani are stars in the sky; Murthy, a friendly uncle in the stories and Bhikchandani, a stud IIMA entrepreneur. Other worldly characters even for those who have heard about them in small towns and villages. That bastard in the white Scorpio who picked petty street-fights only 2 years ago is as real as the cloud of dust his tinted glass car leaves in your face. His prosperity is spilling all over what with gold chains, new cars, scores of hangers-on, road construction contracts and an engineering college to boot.

The guys who steal, flourish. And they are everywhere. In every city, town and village. Purely statistically, becoming one of these is many times easier than becoming a Bhikchandani. And one doesn’t even need to understand the esoteric dynamics of web enabled information handshake business.

Is there a viable path-to-prosperity sans thievery for the bulk of the youth? Or is the rather simplistic notion that to become rich in India, you either don a white kurta or jump in the pockets of those already in white kurtas – the real wala truth?

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Why so much guilt tripping on Afzal Guru hanging?

Many people seem to be appalled at Afzal Guru hanging and that his family was not informed, body not returned. Many are mightily embarrassed of the Indian state and have gone into a full blown self flagellation routine both in media and private.

Martyrs of Parliament attack
They too died and families didn’t know they would!!!

Truth is, many things about Indian state suck but they suck equally for people of all shades and gods, especially if you do not belong to the moneyed or political dynasties.

If not informing his family reeks of utter disregard and disdain for human life and dignity, you don’t have to wait for a one off terrorist hanging to conclude that. Look around and you will find ample evidence of the low value accorded at human life and dignity in India. Kids remain malnutritioned while money gets siphoned off, farmers starve and hang themselves while the grain rots outside godowns, women get raped, killed and then degraded most reprehensibly. People die in train accidents, bridge collapses, stampedes – people of all castes, religions and regions. We do have little regard for dignity of life and its not reserved only for Kashmiri Muslims.

Also, his death penalty passed through successive rounds of judicial scrutiny. The same justice system acquitted SAR Geelani on a technicality. Therefore, allegations that this judgement was not judicially sound based on cherry picking of the judge’s comments doesn’t cut ice.

And then, this guy planned to attack the parliament. His men killed soldiers who came from even poorer families. He was motivated by an ideology based on hate of other religions and goes against our professed values of equal respect to all religions. If you come to kill me with full intention, preparation and training, how am I supposed to react?

The idea that violent retribution is undemocratic or somehow less civilized is also not defensible. First, you do need to be able protect the civilization and democracy and if an armed attack on parliament is not a serious enough threat, well, should we wait for Hafiz Saeed to come riding his camel to Delhi? Second, for violent assaults, the defense too has to be violent. Else we could have disbanded the army and spent all the money on schools and peace monuments.

We are decent people and we feel bad when someone has to be killed especially by the state. However, the guy killed was not an angel and there are others too training, preparing and waiting for their chance to launch deadlier attacks. They need to know we can be violent if attacked violently.

It was insensitive to not inform his family members but then given the deeply vested interests in flaming victim-hood and separatism, it was never really an option.

It was painful but necessary. We can breath easy.

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OMG Bharata! Mom and dad wore sexy clothes

Indians don’t talk about sex. Infact, we don’t really really have it. It’s just the flowers touching. Skirts and short dresses are against Indian culture which crumbles the moment it sees a woman’s uncovered leg, shoulder or midriff.

The most potent feminine form at ease with her feminity
Love or war – we dressed in style!!!

Sex is dirty, tolerable only as a sacred duty to procreate (or wait, didn’t our glorious ancestors figure a sanskari way to procreate that didn’t require genitals?).

Someone’s brilliant brainwave, very popular, and not just with khap nut cases or card burning vigilantes.

And if you look at the history of our ancestors, you find great great granddad and grandmom were really colourful people. And, am talking of the glorious past, India’s Vishwaguru days. And am sure as hell they’d be laughing their asses off from up above – granddad with a stole on his bare chest and grandmom in her teeny weeny shiny bustier.

There is sexism in our epics. There is power politics, there is discrimination, there is the evil side of men and women and there is punishment and redemption. However, there is very little of this squeamishness about sex and the idea of keeping genitals under lock and key which we today propagate.

To start with, the nation itself is named after king Bharat who was the love child of Shakuntala and Dushyant born out of their rendezvous in one of his hunting trips in the forest.

The greatest epic of Mahabharata is written by Vyas who was born of single mother Satyavati and brought up by single dad Rishi Parasher. Yes sir. Premarital sex is not something they dreamt up in the west.

All the Pandavas were  born out of wedlock. Their dad, Pandu too was born out of wedlock. Even Kauravas’ dad Dhritrashtra was born outside marriage and so was the wise Vidur.

We are named after a love child
Follow your elders, yo.

Khajuraho depicts sexual acts which would make pornhub look like kindergarten. Vatsyayan wrote Kamasutra some 2500 years back when humans everywhere else were still concerned with making fire by rubbing stones (dang, even that sounds raunchy).

Apsaras never shied away from using their sexuality for purely material ends which often times didn’t even concern them.

Our goddesses were never ashamed of their bodies – check out sculptures of Goddess Kali in her most potent and destructive form.

Vedic texts are full of sexually liberal narratives. Kama is one of the pillars of the ancient Indian way of life. The sages and wise people had sex, had kids and many times, it was way outside the confines of conservative sexuality.

Our forefathers were comfortable with sex. They treated it maturely and my guess is, they weren’t maniacally obsessed about it. Sexual repression was never our way of life.

Oh yes, we always wore sexy clothes, be it men, women or Gods. Be it love or war.

 

 

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