politics

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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Categories: India, news, politics | 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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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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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

Recipe for rape: Add chow mein to taste.

original image courtesy evanwarfel.blogspot.com

There is a man called Jitender Chatter in India. He is part of the Gram Panchayat (governing body) of about 25 villages in Haryana. He believes that one of the leading causes of rape in India is the consumption of chow mein – among other fast foods. He believes – and propagates – that because we consume such foods these days, our ‘sex hormones’ run wild. And believe you me, I’m nearly paraphrasing him. He has also suggests that the legal marriagable age of girls be brought down to 16. His reasoning is similar; similarly vague. To his credit, he makes one sane suggestion: about training rural Indian women in self defense. Though, he fails to flesh out the plan and offer any hard solutions about who is going to train them, etcetera.

But, of course, he’s not the only one providing logic for rape. Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of the state of West Bengal, insists that cases of rape are on the rise because men and women interact too freely in an open society which is akin to an open market.  She also reckons that the media not ‘glorify’ rape by talking about it much. One imagines that her suggestion is to swipe this issue under the proverbial carpet. If the CM of a state can issue such statements ‘freely’, I don’t quite follow where my country is headed. Perhaps we should step back a hundred years when holding hands in public was considered obscene?

And then there are the regulars who insist that if only women would ‘know their limits’ and dress appropriately, they would not be raped. This coming from people who are probably not aware that rapes happen in ‘hip’ urban areas as much as in villages where women dress anything but conservatively.

We talk about laws. But what about their implementation? We talk about punishments. But what about the lives of the victims? We talk about freedom of speech. But what about the freedom to live?

Categories: observations, politics, strange people | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Gary Larson – The Far Side!

Hello and good evening / morning / afternoon / late night to everyone who’s reading this right now. About an hour ago, I had a meeting with a software company who wanted their website completely overhauled – new design, new content, new everything. (New and improved, if you will.) So I got home and got a drink. That’s generally what I do before I start thinking of what to write. And that’s when the brief, let’s say, is absorbed. So, while Mr. Jack hung around the coffee table, I remembered that they wanted the website to have a very comic strip kind of feel. I still don’t know why they want it that way, but they do. So I did the next thing I do when my system absorbs something from the brief. I poured myself another small one, and sipped gently.

It was this gentle sip that reminded me of my favourite cartoonist in the whole wide world. Mr. Gary Larson. I remember a time when I was much younger when I’d spend most of the time in my then day-job lapping his cartoons up. He was so irreverent. He cartooned everything from religion to politics to people to superheroes. He spared nobody. And I’m glad he did.

This was a wonderful evening – with Mr. jack and Mr. Larson. I thank you both dearly.

Peace.
Kabir

 

Categories: books, politics, religion, strange people, writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Happy birthday, John.

I know, I know. I’ve probably been doing one post too many on John Lennon and The Beatles, but it’s the man’s birthday today, you know. So I had to, nay, really wanted to write this one.

Here was a man who came out of nowhere and formed a band that changed the way the world heard its music. A man who believed in his ideals and ideas. A man who was not afraid to stick his neck out for what he believed in. A man who was at once open as a book and closed as a locked trunk. A man who chose the handshake over the fist. A man who loved peace more than war. A man who was at once vulnerable and witty, loud and introverted, calm and cantankerous. A man who died too early. A man I believe in.

Happy birthday, John.

Peace.
Kabir

Categories: books, music, politics, religion, strange people, writing | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why bearded folks should not eat Dosa

Since this is a fairly new blog without a picture of its author up, let me tell you good people that I sport a beard, scraggly though it may be.

Good. Now that I’ve told you an intimate secret of my life, I feel up to telling you about something that happened no more than 15 minutes back. I was feeling a bit hungry and decided to walk to a nearby Dosa place to grab a quick bite. While I was going at it, fingers dipping in chutney and all, a couple walked up from behind me and asked to be excused. I moved away and continued eating my dosa, unaware that a small-time communal riot was about to begin.

So, they ordered their whatever-it-was-they-ordered and started filling their tummies. And through the course of these three meals, I felt a couple of eyes, well, eyeing me. So I looked in the direction of newly arrived couple and caught them making a very pinched-nose-and-crumpled-eyebrows face at me. Offended, I asked them what the matter was. But they told me nothing. In fact, they positively ignored me. That, need I say, offended me further. So I took a step in their direction and asked them again why they were making that face at me.

Then, something happened that I’ve never, with all my imagination, been able to think up. The man took an aggressive step towards me, nudging his woman behind with his forearm and yelled, “Ae Musalman! Door raho, samjhe.” (Hey, Muslim. Keep your distance, understood?)

It was now my turn to make a face, a confused one. I asked him if he was out of his mind. Not because I was offended at being called a Muslim. But because he was insulting Muslims all over the world by talking to me in that you’re-an-untouchable kind of tone. I asked him to take it easy and was about to dig into my Dosa again when the wife said, “Please rehne dijiye. Yeh log bohot khatarnak hote hain.” (Please, just let it be. These people are a dangerous lot.) At which, I thoroughly lost what little was still left of my temper and I shot my tongue off at them about how ridiculous they were and how they should grow a couple of brains between the two of them.

Needless to say, a crowd had gathered around us to cheer at the impending fight. And I noticed that not one of them had a beard, not even the men. So I decided not to push my luck much, pay up and get out of there before I was beaten to a pulp for being a Muslim which I actually am not.

But it’s amazing that in these times, we still have people like these. People who believe that Muslims are dangerous, and that they should be asked to keep away in a social setting. Where are we headed? Are we still stuck in the debris of the Babri Masjid? Are we still bleeding from the wounds of the Bombay riots of the 90s? What is it? I clearly can’t seem to understand why we behave so.

Can someone out there give me a plausible answer?

Peace.
Kabir

Categories: politics, religion, strange people | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

When the levee breaks

In the south of India is a fairly long river. It runs through four states, after all. Three states and a Union Territory, more like, though that’s only a spec. And when it doesn’t quite rain very well in the country, the states go at it in the ring.

2012 is one of those dry-ish years. Monsoons have been down by nearly 50% in the country. And all states are feeling the heat a touch. But it would appear that most affected is Tamil Nadu – one of the states through which the Kaveri runs. And since they don’t have much water to farm, or drink, they asked their Kannadiga neighbours to help out a little bit and send in some water from their side of the river.

It would turn out, though, that Karnataka believes that the river belongs to them. That they own her. And that they have undisputed rights over it. Hence, they have refused to be the good samaritans. The PM and teh Supreme Court, however, have asked them to stuff it and send out 9,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu every day. This has led to protests on the streets and a statewide bandh being called on Saturday, October 6.

I don’t have a conclusion planned for this post. There is none.

Peace.
Kabir

Categories: politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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