India

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Or does it? (Also, like the title, the post itself promises to be quite long.)

newtons-cradle-1Newton, while proposing this law of motion, may not have considered the socio-political realities of the world. But the law did. And it decided to apply itself to the world at large. Which, perhaps, is the reason (almost) every nation in the world today wants to spend more monies on defence strategy rather than their own downtrodden. And why there are more terrorist groups forming around the world as the second hand moves on.

And what’s surprising is the tremendous disconnect between people’s beliefs and their actions. There’s a habit of simply pointing fingers and blaming. And very often, playing victim. I’m not saying that ‘terrorists‘ are right. No, sir. I’m only asking that we look at why they are terrorists in the first place. Of course, some would quote Michael Caine from The Dark Knight and say, “Some people just want to watch the world burn.” But he was only talking about a demented man, not regular school children who one day pick up a gun and shoot a bunch of their classmates down. Or even youth who decide to bang an airplane head-on into a tall commercial building.

Or the infamous Maoist situation in India. Just this week, around 200 Maoists set off a landmine and shot freely at a political convoy, killing 17 people. And wounding about 25. This isn’t a first-of-a-kind attack. Many times before, the so called Left Wingers have targeted politicians and even members of the CRPF. Much condemnation has gone around in political circles. And much more, the ‘need to wipe them out’. The government has already attempted to fill these need by constantly escalating military activity in the affected parts of the country.

But is that really the wisest way to go about things? Has using brute force ever solved a dispute? Especially, seen as, the Maoists are and have been victims of a failed societal system themselves? People who have been trying hard to protect their own rights before Adam was born. Sure, the government has tried things with the Forest Rights Act (FRA), Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA), Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. But have any of these been implemented the way they were meant to be? Has the government, in all earnest, tried to truly empower these people? And if it has, has it looked at where the failures lie? Jairam Ramesh, Minister for Rural Development, doesn’t seem to care.

Because the fact of the matter is this. These are people who have been put down for decades. They have been pressured into picking their guns and grenades up. They have been left no choice but to come down to ugly violence. They don’t have the option to go on a hunger strike, because they’re already hungry. It’s already a genocidal situation in so many villages. And if you’re going to take up more guns and shoot people down, the whole thing only spirals right out of control and possibly leads to a civil war situation. If it hasn’t already.

The Centre needs to stop talking about this whole more military business. They need to concentrate on how they’re going to solve the problem, not its symptoms.

Peace. (I wish.)
Kabir.

 

 

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You know what a bannequin is?

It’s a mannequin that’s banned. Yes. You can unburrow your eyebrows now. Because that’s exactly what it is. And I do believe the first of the species will soon be seen in Bombay. Why? Read on.

A large number of people in the government (it’s always people in the government) recently put their heads together and concluded that lingerie-clad mannequins arouse lust in men. And these feelings then lead to sexual crimes against women. So, instead of attempting to educate, sensitize, or otherwise change gender perceptions in society, they have decided to cleanse and purify window displays.

As the article says, the proposed law gives civic officials the power to simply walk into department stores and ask shopkeepers to take off a lust inducing mannequin. I’m almost certain there will be certain fines involved, perhaps even small jail terms for those who choose not to abide.

What’s interesting to me is that the law was proposed by a woman. A BJP Corporator called Ritu Tawde. The fact that she firmly believes in mannequins being powerful and provocative sources of sexual crimes against women is saddening. It’s like saying a child abuse survivor proposes to ban candy because the act of eating / licking it creates excitement in the mind of a perpetrator.

When will we ever try and point a finger in the right direction? When will we admit that we have a real problem at our hands? And when will we really do something concrete about it?

As of now, we stick with mannequins and food being prime culprits in all sexual crimes.

If this excites you, you've got another thing coming.

If this excites you, you’ve got another thing coming.

Peace.
Kabir

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Menstruate at your own risk. Period.

I try very hard not to pun when I’m writing. It’s just such an easy trap to fall into, most of us can barely avoid it. And for that reason, I’m sorry about the title of this post. And now, to the post.

I’ve been doing a little gender-related research lately, and so, stumbling across some of the most profoundly dumb (and insane) beliefs the modern Indian society seems to hold. Almost always against women. One such article that gave me pause was about an Indian actress Jayamala being booked for hurting religious sentiments. And she did this by entering a temple while on her periods.

I don’t believe I want to talk about a ton of politicians actually hurting religious sentiments. But a woman doing that by walking into a temple? How does one not talk about that? And how does one not feel an urgent sense to claw at faces?

And the more I research the subject, the stronger my urge to claw at faces. How is it that we boast a massive GDP every year (which we don’t really have) while not bothering about our own women? How is it that while on the one hand, we bow down and pray to goddesses with multiple hands, and on the other, beat them with our fists at home? How is it that we touch our mothers’ feet and rape other people’s daughters? What is this bigotry towards woman? And where does it come from?

And most importantly, how do we get rid of it?

Just last night, I was telling someone about a most stunning (and lesser known) John Lennon song called Woman is the nigger of the world. And it would appear that I’ve found just the right place to tell a lot more people about it.

Peace.
Kabir

P.S.: This is an article from nearly three years back. But that doesn’t say much about how far we’ve come since. Because we haven’t.

Categories: cops, India, observations, religion, strange people | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

On my return from the darkness, and other news

Hello, world!

I’ve been away far too long for most of you to remember me. But for those of you who do, I got busy with something irrelevant: my life. It involved a move from Bangalore to Bombay. And I believe I’ll be eternally thankful for that. For among other smaller reasons, you can actually live in Bombay without regretting the day of your birth. And that’s exactly what I mean to do. Bangalore did barely anything to help my personal growth. As a matter of fact, it did everything possible to stunt and hamper. But I’m happy to be back in Bombay, and I’m happy to be posting here again.

In other news, a Member of the Indian Parliament (MP) recently walked out of the Lok Sabha while the ‘national song’ was still playing. And as always, this has caused tempers to fling themselves, and blood to boil. Some might consider the reactions valid. Some may go ahead and violently support them.

But what is it aside from a displaced sense of patriotism that irks them so? If you asked me, I’d say pretty much nothing. Aside from, perhaps, a sense of control over all things individual. Why else would one person decide for another when they should behave in a particular fashion and when not? Here again, many would argue that it’s a government that’s deciding things, not an individual. And that only makes things worse. Why then, do we call it a democracy? Isn’t it closer to a group of dictators?

On the one hand, people shout themselves hoarse for their freedom of expression, and on the other, they say you must respect a song by standing at attention whenever it plays. How does this schizophrenic system really work? I don’t suppose there’s really a way to find out.

Do you?

Peace,
K

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Blame it on the victim. Again.

 

 

copcase

Last week, something happened in Bangalore that happens perhaps every other night. A lady driver travelling home from work in her car. Why, you ask, is that reason enough for a blog post? Read on, is what I say to that. It so happened that a man rammed into her car from behind while she was waiting at a red light. There’s still nothing entirely disturbing about this. What happened next is the man started accusing her. He blamed her for the accident. He got abusive. And that’s where this tale of corruption – moral and physical – begins.

One would imagine that a traffic cop present around the scene would have been reason enough to put the erring man in place, comfort the woman and handle the entire situation. But if you’ve lived in India long enough – and I have – you’d know that something of the sort barely happens. I’d go so far as to say that it never happens, but there’s always that one honest cop who will skew the figures.

The woman asked the cop to help her and register a formal complaint against the biker. Of course, this meant that the cop could no longer just pocket a 100-rupee note from the rider and move on with life. (That is what most traffic cops, at least in Bangalore are wont to do.) Was I present at the scene to report so accurately? No. Am I sure that I am indeed reporting accurately? Yes. Because I happen to know the woman personally. She’s a woman who I have had to occasion to work with many times. A woman of strong opinions – as all people should be. A straightforward woman.

And I assume that it is this straightforwardness that became the cause of agony for her. Though, of course, that is a biased man’s point of view. A point of view that instantly begins to at least subside the responsibility of the other men present at the scene. So, I’ll take that back. What caused her agony was a bunch of insecure, stupid men. Men who gathered around her in a circle and heckled her, grabbed at her and abused her verbally. One of them flashed himself.

Oh, and the cop was a man as well. And not very different from the others. He shrugged her, pushed her around, and even punched and slapped her. All this while she was asking him for help. And what did the cop do to the rider? Ignored him and let him sneak away in the commotion. While the other men continued their antics.

The next day, a high official went on air telling the world that the cop was not at fault. And that the onus is on the woman to prove the cop guilty. A classic case of blaming the victim again. A classic case of officials trying to cover up after their erring subordinates. A classic case of a mob victimising the woman and calling it her fault.

There is a petition doing the rounds that I have signed and sent to every person I know. I thought this might be a good place to share it with the others. People who may not even be in my country but feel the need for a protest, a change. People who are better than the cop and the mob. Please sign this petition and pass it around for all to sign. I will be eternally grateful to you.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Legal_action_against_the_traffic_constable_and_bystanders_who_abused_and_assaulted_Swar_Thounaojam_in_Bangalore/

No peace in this one.
Kabir

 

Categories: cops, India, strange people | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

A flag disgraced. By a tainted corpse.

When I first wrote this post on the 16th of November, I wasn’t entirely sure just where this whole farce of Bal Thackeray‘s death and the instant shut-down of Bombay was heading. It turns out, the city was ‘largely peaceful’, as our beloved media reports, ignoring full well the idea of a forced – or at least shit-scared – shut down of the megapolis.

The one thing, of course, which the Shiv Sena could not shut down was the Internet. You just can’t do that kind of a thing, no matter how strong your emotions run. But what you can do – what they did do – is constantly monitor social media posts people put up while sitting at home. And one such post was written by a 21 year old girl called Shaheen Dhada. She was arrested and booked under Sections 295A (outraging religous feelings of any class) of the Indian Penal Cod and the infamous Section 66A (sending offensive messages through communication service, etc.) of the Indian IT Act.

All for a message that said: “With all due respect, every day, thousands of people die, but still the world moves on,” And some more lines of general lament after. This is what she was arrested and put in a 14-day judicial custody for. But it doesn’t stop here. Her friend  Renu Srinivasan was also asked to give her company behind the bars because she had hit the ‘like’ button on this post.

To begin with, it’s fairly easy to see that neither Dhada nor Srinivasan had written or liked something that actually violated either of the laws. Why then, were they arrested? Why were they forced to withdraw their messages? And why were they not allowed to be released on bail instantly?

Because we live in a country with a lot of fascists. Blunt as it may sound, it’s the truth. Because if it weren’t the truth, there would be no reason for Bal Thackeray to live a free man after the hundreds of hate speeches he delivered in the city. There would be no reason for the government not to put him right behind the bars where he and all his followers belong. And there would be no reason for some of our most known faces on News channels to write blasphemously sycophantic memorial obituaries for this man.

And there would be absolutely, indisputably, no reason at all for people to wrap Bal Thackeray’s corpse in the tricolor and give him a 21-rifle salute.

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Move. Play. Dance. In Bangalore!

So I read yesterday’s Hindu today (as is my wont) and saw this lovely little article in it. It was about a ‘dance company’ conducting a workshop based on the principles of Dance Movement Therapy. I found it rather a little interesting that people would be using dance as a means of therapy. So I logged on to the company’s website – www.threeleftfeet.in (what a sweet name for a dance company!) and tried to read up as much as I generally could about them. Got quite a sweet vibe. And I suppose for the first time in my life, I’m even considering going to a do that has something to do with dance. (Or maybe I’m going for some therapy after all.)

If any of you good people are in Bangalore, and would like to know more about the workshop, here are some details:

Facilitated by Natasha of Three Left Feet,
Wednesdays & Fridays: 5:30pm – 6:45pm
Saturdays: 10:30am – 11:45am
8 sessions, starting the week of November 19th 2012
Open to 14yr olds to 90yr youngs.
Maximum 15 participants per session.
The fees for this workshop is Rs. 2000.
Atta Galatta at 3018 1626 / 96325 10126 or Natasha at 97393 22203

I have a feeling I’m going to be considering this dance movement therapy thingamajig a bit seriously. Seems like quite a fun way to sort out life’s issues.

Say, what’s your favourite way of sorting out issues?

Peace.
Kabir

Categories: India, news, observations | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

If you are reading this, you are probably a liar. Maybe even a cheat, and a violent sex crime committer.

That is, based on the assumption, that you are a non-vegetarian. If, however, you prefer the good old green leafies, bother no more. This report shows us how kids in school are being taught to turn vegetarians because ‘non-vegetarians easily cheat, lie, turn to violence and commit sex crimes’. It also informs us that the taste in meat comes form ‘waste products’. It adds, also, that ‘getting married without a bad name is every young girl’s dream’.

Frankly, I don’t even know what else to say about this. Except maybe, that I like my meat. Even if it forces me to lie and cheat every once in a while.

Peace.
Kabir

Categories: India, news, strange people | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Takes a city to light a pyre

A very dear friend of mine was to fly down to Bangalore today and spend a week at home with me. His flight was scheduled to touch down in Bangalore at about 11 in the morning. But at about 9, I got a call from him informing me that he won’t be flying in because there are no autos or taxis to take him to the airport, which in turn has cancelled all outgoing flights for the day. Why? Because prominent politico Bal Thackeray is seriously ill and may pass away soon.

image courtesy business line

The question is, of course, why must a city shut down (read be forced to shut down) for his passing – imminent passing? Sure, if there was an assassination plot, but here’s an 87 year old man whose lungs are failing him. Why is that reason enough to force-shut shops and pelt stones? Is that reason enough for the state’s Chief Minister to review the law-and-order situation? Is that enough cause to cancel every cop’s leave?

Yes, I do understand that some people are getting ready for grief of the highest order. People who have for decades worked with Thackeray and may not be able to bear the sorrow of his passing. But if they must turn this sorrow into a violent protest against something, let it be their own cars and scooters instead of state-run buses and trains. No? Apparently not. After all, didn’t Bangalore itself erupt in all ugliness after Dr. Rajkumardied? I suppose in the country we live in, it does take a city to light a pyre.

Now then, I’ll go and eat that dinner for two alone.

Peace.
Kabir

Categories: India, news, politics, strange people | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Can I have a cappuccino, with a dash of irony, please?

Hello, hello. I’ve noticed that the last few posts on my blog have been, let’s say, a bit sombre. So I thought I might share some irony with you today. And, as they’d say in Hollywood, this post is based on a real life story.

So, I was at a coffee shop last morning, waiting for a hot cuppa before I began reading something mildly interesting. And I happened to notice the wall next to me. And the first thing my eye fell upo was this little piece of engraved pomposity above. A coffee shop that prides itself in the conservation of wildlife and all things natural.

At first, I felt glad. Then, I felt a little sick in the stomach. I would have blamed it on the coffee, only it hadn’t arrived just yet. Then I realised that it was the wall. The whole thing was made of wood.

Now, I don’t quite follow how someone can say they’re proud of themselves for saving natural resources by putting up the message on stuff made by chopping trees.

And the thing is, when I don’t really follow something, I tend to get a little sick in the stomach. Mystery solved. Irony enjoyed.

P.S.: Since this is a public blog, I don’t suppose I should be telling you that the coffee shop was a Cafe Coffee Day in Bangalore. So I won’t tell you that.

Peace.
Kabir

 

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