Sunday, May 19, 2013

Saturday, May 18, 2013

MRS. AGNI - THE FIRE THAT FIGHTS THE CANCER

What doesn't stop to amaze me is the shock and disbelief that the media imparts, that which is calculatedly maneuvered to spread itself out like a virus among viewers/readers seeking revenge and truth, with the outbreak of every story of cheating in the country.
Come on, what is so shocking?
Why so much disbelief?
So much drama?!
We could be joking, if we were to accept the unusual in what is happening with IPL, Coalgate and all other scams that never cease to grip media glare as though, if it were not so, how would there be a control of the audiences glued to their TV Sets, IPhones, Smart Phones, whatever?
Sensational news is akin to entertainment.
The background scores of Madhubala and Uttaran, are the same as the background scores telling stories on news channels of rape, murder, cheating or any other crime.
And when it is questioned, those controlling the jolly stick just smile.
You can go suck your thumb, or sit in the darkness of an information embargo for all they care; because India is a growing market, and just like the rest of the world perceives it as to keep on growing for the next 25 years or so, so do the Indian Industries who had already unleashed the nets long before the foreign marketers convinced the Indian Government to release the gates of those dam's holding back the holy waters of the international label meant to trap and fish the imagination of an out of control population, which is upwardly mobile and ready to be made excited, made to lap up and leap with every bang of the synthesizer.
You don't like it, then you don't count, as numbers at the other end keep growing, and the stats can easily be managed sans you.
Are you quality conscious?
Then pull up your socks and make enough money to afford the unaffordable, holidays et al, because you shall remain unheard however loud you may amplify your protest in the existing chaos and din.

Hello, so we are to believe that Sreesanth and Co are the only ones spot fixing for the bookies?
That Pawan Bansal and Ashwani Kumar are the only guys interfering with processes of the system?
That all others are clean as only the frozen waters of the glaciers can be now, as every other drop of melted water gets polluted with the decadent downpour of corruption.
Like there's a common joke going around town for some time now; that when in power, you can do as you please, but only as long as you don't get caught.
And if you choose not to catch the direction of the breeze, then bleed, be left behind with your bruised sail, or smoke some more marijuana to numb your senses. 
Moral of the story: Keep going along with the others, right or wrong, keep your ass covered, go ahead and make money, as much as you can rake in while the sun shines on your head and you are one with the bunch pounding another to pulp.

Water, they say!
The next world war will be for water.
What about food, health services, shelter, education, what about all those indignities that one battered world is terrorizing the other bettered world for?
Is that not World War 111, World War 1V and World War V?
Who are we kidding?
Now step aside well in time and gracefully before the tide turns and make sure that you are not the fall guy, the scapegoat, the one who takes the rap for the wrongdoings of your accomplices, the Raja, the Kanimoze, the Bansal, the Kumar, the Sreesanth etc. etc., the list is endless.

That 'public memory is short', is a misnomer.
That, 'public believes that media will go on despite its loyalty because audiences are ever changing and when gone, it will not count', is the harsh truth.
After having listened to endless debates and discussions about a systemic failure and what a nation needs to do about it, after having supported many protests and movements, the recent public that believed media once upon a time, is exhausted and has retired, like its predecessors had done some time ago.
It has fallen out, been left behind along the way, because bigger numbers caught up with the monster storm, feeding and fueling it to keep it rolling and garnering greater power.
There is a whole new youth, enthusiastic to gather strength, excited to be the change, the harbor for the tired, the docks for the beaten and broken, the shields for the scorching heat that can burn.
They're the ones consuming information now.
The stories are the same, the players have changed.
The young dancing to the beat, singing to the music that's getting edgier by the day, are actually convinced that the power they wield with the media they devour will lift the cloud of doom from not just over their heads, but also from over the heads of those endless powerless previous generations gone grey and wrinkled with at first loosing faith, then with shock, disbelief and anger that finally left them anguished, pained,  disappointed and bitter. 
Dad, you're a cynic, step aside and let me handle this. Let me show you what you should've (could've) done! - is the strain.

And in that menacing truth, there is a beautiful lady, Mrs. Agni, a middle class Maharashtrian like the rest of us middle class Panjabi's, Gujarati's and Tamil's and others, looking after her daughter Pria, who has recently fought cancer and come out victorious.
Mrs. Agni who scolded all of us when we joked about the lack of passes for visitors at the hospital where Pria is recuperating from a personal battle.
Pria is one seriously popular person and there was a cue of visitors waiting to see her, meet her, after the successful but painful surgery she had been through.
She is fun and full of power, and she wanted to be surrounded by all those who love her.
Pria's daughter Pari joked, and suggested that we go to a printer and get a few more passes made, who's to know?... and Mrs. Agni saw red when all of us laughed and told her what a good idea that was.
She told us not to dare do anything like that! She told us not even to joke about it!
She told us how pathetic a thing it would be to do, how shameful and indecent.
I told Mrs. Agni what a breath of fresh air she sounded like in this corrupt and shameless world, where many a people might not have flinched to go ahead and take on the suggestion.
Mrs. Agni turned around and told me, 'Remember, it is because of people like us, you and me and all of us here, who fear doing wrong, whom you call the breath of fresh air in a polluted environment, because of whom that the world still is. If it weren't for us, the world would have been destroyed a long time ago'.
Full power to you Mrs. Agni!
You are the angel, the reminder that we have a job to do, even while we fight cancer and other dreaded disease, and that is to wage war with malaise, with corruption, with apathy and with terror, and we can do it without power, sans ammunition, media or gun.
We can do it by just being who we are, by being plain honest.
We love you Mrs. Agni!







Saturday, May 4, 2013

Of Sarabjit, Gudiya, Nirbhaya, Ram Janm Bhoomi and Babri Masjid!

I have tried not to write, after the hopeless events in December 2012, when along with an enraged India, I last reacted to the brutal rape of an innocent girl in New Delhi, in broad urban limelight.
The hopelessness that grips me after the release of angst that pours itself out on this blog is unbearable, because it is in the same time lines where you watch some leaders of the nation promise action and swear punishment to the culprits while their own kin stumble over their schizophrenic stances, that you can see there are tickers moving at the bottom of screens reporting rapes taking place of helpless children and women across the length and breadth of the country in real time.

This is how our nation, which had achieved its independence from the British in 1947 and which has had 65 years thereafter to get its act together, has gone to seed and to places that our forefathers, who fought for our freedom, wouldn't have ever dreamed that their future generations will be made to visit. 
There is a third generation of the young out here now, comprising of more than 60 percent of India's 1.2 billion population, one half struggling to survive and stay above board despite adversity, apathy and systemic failure at every level of governance, and the other half shouting slogans that only bring back memories of barbaric times, from period theater and movies, mythology and primitive texts, when perhaps massive stadium's were rent with thousands of people shouting, 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth', 'hang him, flog him', 'butcher, butcher, butcher', 'kill the bastard', 'get him', 'flog, flog, flog'.
The feeling, the experience today, is almost Shakespearean.

Only less than a decade ago India used to be in shock when stories like these would emerge from a wrecked Afghanistan, from countries like Iran and Iraq where fundamentalists and anarchists lead the state, more recently Pakistan too, where elected governments have no control on policy, because of extremists.
We would feel we were fortunate, that such primitive times did not prevail in our land.
Today, the same happens in our backyards, and we are in a sort of denial to admit that all of us, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, sail in the same boat.
Turn on Television, and you see it in front of your eyes. Shift to any media and the visuals are the same.
Shouting, accusing, fire, people using words and phrases that no Government in any developing or developed part of the world would ever tolerate from its media.
Tune in, and the pictures from within are as disturbing as those which used to terrorize us when they flashed upon our eyes from far away lands.

Today it is Sarabjit, yesterday it was Gudiya and day before yesterday, it was Nirbhaya.
What is going on here?
Rage is spilling out on to the streets with each story picked up and highlighted by media almost every fortnight with regularity.
Life goes on, nothing changes, statistics rise with temperatures.
Every single man and woman above the age of 40 on every media, goes back in time to remind viewers and readers about what happened in the past, and to tell them that, therefore, the present will remain justified until such time that matters of the past are settled.
And everyone under the age of 40 anguishes over the now.
Understandable, because it is their lives we're tampering with today, their futures, we're destroying.
To bring justice to 2002, we have to first settle 1984, and to settle 1984, we have to go back even further.
Where will the buck ever stop?
We've been back to Babar taking over Ram Janam Bhoomi and building the Babri Masjid there at the start of the Mughal era, barely two decades ago.
We can see the cracks in the idiom of 'unity in diversity' of 1991, even today.

My question is, do we have the right to complain, when we are the ones who have been complacent, the very opportunists so driven by greed that we have brought our country to this ourselves?
When have we ever stopped, taken a pause and analyzed, understood, discussed our problems collectively, to find solutions?
Apathy and corruption are understandably the cause of all our problems, but where is the discussion, the debate on how to deal with it, how to end it?
What did we do to raise consciousness and awareness in those times when our politics went dirty and stained the fabric of our societies with divisive vote bank cultures?
What did we do, as media, as conscious citizens, to stop it from going all wrong?
Why do we always speak only after having taken sides?
Why did we not raise our voices when the doors to parliament were thrown open to criminals and the underworld?
Today when the young are revealing their intolerance, we're quietly backing them, but yet again from two sides, pro state, and anti state, in factions, not from the stance of what is right and ethical, and what is wrong and impractical in modern times.

The story unfolding and fueling the angst of the day now, is Sarabjit.
How much did we care about him, while he languished in a Pakistani jail for 22 years?
What did we do to put pressure on the government of India to bring him and all the scores of Indian prisoners there, back?
Prisoners of War from 1971?
Wives, parents, children of our war heroes await closure, even in 2013.

We are not a state which is ruled by our fundamentalists, by the underworld...
We are not a government held to ransom by religious clerics and armed hoodlums...
We are not a country flitting between military rule and democracy...
We are not a nation with a collapsed justice system...
We are not a....
Or are we?

Have the pictures of the Pakistani prisoner in Jammu, battered in retaliation to Sarabjit been released deliberately by the state, or is it because the state is in no control over what gets released to the media?
Whatever may be true, it's frightening.
Were inmates told by the state to hammer the Pakistani prisoner in the Jammu jail, so those crying foul in India are fulfilled with the revenge and can move on to the next big story?
Is this the only way our government can assure its people that it is capable of talking tough?
All possibilities are scary and every practice, archaic!

I think India needs to look far and deep within itself to realize how much in trouble we are. We may portray ourselves to be ahead of our neighbors and also democratic, but when we turn to see the uprising over Sarabjit's death, and the politics surrounding it, it seems like we are way behind.

We cannot afford to become a people who watch blood, gore, murder and bashing as a substitute for justice. We cannot afford to let our children grow up believing that it is the only way of life.
We are already almost that and we had better watch out.

People want to see criminals hanged, beaten, battered and killed only in such places where there is complete anarchy, lawlessness, zero policing and where there are failed judicial systems.
Today that is how India is seeming to be.
The complete failure of our justice system is turning us into barbarians, and then, what is the difference between us and those failed states like Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the rule of law cannot prevail because elections are only but a symbolic gesture for democracy?
Kashmir....?...

Below is the update I put up on my Facebook page today, and one of the most fierce comments from a guy called Gaurrav Kummar, which is so telling of our reality, of where we are headed if we don't do something about the general sentiments of the people of India, immediately:

The Post:
Pakistani prisoner in Jammu battered by inmates, is being applauded by some of our fellow Indians. If that be the case, then why are the same Indians applauding, crying foul about Sarabjit being battered in a Pakistani Jail? Don't they realize that the very mindset that they belong to prevails in certain elements all over the world, also to some in Pakistan, and that is the very mindset which is contaminating systems and eroding humanitarian cultures? Its the people like them everywhere, that the world is up against. When will they learn? The uneducated can be forgiven, but the educated? The leaders? The so called intellectuals? What is the cure for them?

The Comment:
Shame shame shame on u vinita nanda, go live in Pakistan , u seem to be a true Pakistani at heart, shame on you !!!!!!!! My blood is boiling, our soldiers being mutilated, killed, our people being brutally murdered ! I think u are quite okay with all this, you are no less than a fucking terrorist !! I pledge all true Indians with balls to come forward and take strong action, its time to kill each and every motherfucking Pakistanis in India, kill them brutally torture them, chop of their fucking heads and feed it to the dogs, they should be tortured humiliated killed slowly so that they could feel the fucking pain, every Pakistani motherfucker in India or in Indian jails should be fucking humiliated and killed brutally, smash their fucking skulls n chop the body parts n feed them the fucking pigs !! I am volunteering to become a suicide bomber , if needed iam ready to die for my country which is full of hijraas and chakkas, no guts no balls ! Our government has been acting like a fucking pussy over the years, so now we need people to take action, Send me to Pakistan with a bomb n i will make sure at least 100000 Paki motherfucking heads will be found scattered over the drains n streets, we should bomb the entire motherfucking nation as a whole, we don't need motherfucking Pakistani as our friend, we need to kill each n every motherfucking Pakistanis staying here in India, India should repeat what US did in japan, the Hiroshima Nagasaki massacre should be done to motherfucking Pakistan, demolish the whole motherfucking country, nobody needs them, i volunteer strongly to do so and welcome any true Indian with some balls to join me, all i need is a thread a link and a group of patriotic people who love India, as much as I do !!

Where do we go from here?



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

NO COUNTRY FOR WOMEN?!

The rape and murder of the young 23 year old in New Delhi on the 16th of December, 2012, has unleashed an uprising giving vent to the suppressed angst of millions of men and women in India and has led to endless debates and discussions across all media, confabulations which are not going to finish too soon, but will die down nonetheless, over time.
Meanwhile, rapes, molestations, sexual harassment and abuse continue to happen at the same rate as they did before the 16th of December, 2012, and morning papers carry reports about them on a daily basis, like they always did.
I am a bit foxed because the least that the outrage should have achieved, in the days that the storm continues to sustain itself thanks to the foolish remarks of our demented politicians and their superiors alike, was a reduction in the rate of rapes of women and children which happen by the hour, minute and seconds everyday in our nation, but not so.
So, as usual, those who should be listening and responding to the revolution, are not.
There is something that is missing in this discourse and after seeing Barkha Dutt's show 'We The People' last night, which raised questions about the enemy within, I realized what it is.
Last night the discussion was about what measures we should take to prevent rape, what laws should be amended, which new laws should be established, how the police force should react, what filmmakers should do, and what role television must play.
Here it is that I realized, where we lose the battle every time that the monster raises its head and why issues always remain unresolved after the dust settles.
Every time there is angst and rage on the streets, we begin to accuse everything around us, but talk only to each other, amongst ourselves, even if through segmented media.
This could have happened to us, so lets treat it as a moment to experience catharsis, deal with our fears and then go on with life, and pray that neither we nor our near and dear ones have to ever face it.
We still, after so much crime, bloodshed and so much inequality and pain, have not understood that the enemy within, is us, 'ourselves'.
Not the law, neither films, nor television.
And what is to blame for our apathy, is our politics, which we allow to continue as it is, which we submit to.
A politics which thrives on appeasement, a politics which defines leadership in the most warped idiom, a politics which holds leadership still, as in inaction instead of propelling it towards driving change.
Today the most silent section of our country is the Government, its oppositions and its allies, and we need to understand why, and we need to do something about it?
The polity playing silence is where action really needs to be, where the uproar, the disturbance should be palpable, but the shock can be witnessed everywhere else but in the corridors of power.
Lets not forget, that the outraged maybe in millions, but the votes that count from the 1.2 billion population of this country, do not think that anything wrong has happened.
They cannot understand why such a hue and cry is being made over a woman who should have not been out with a lone man on the streets after it is dark.
The piece of the pie which matters to the Government of India is that piece of the pie which actually believes that the 23 year old was wrong in having defended herself, instead should have either surrendered herself to the rapists or else joined her hands and asked for forgiveness by calling the men who were threatening to brutalize her and treating her like a piece of flesh, 'bhaiyya' (brother), and begged them for their mercy.
They believe that this kind of thing happens in India, not in Bharat.
They think that all those women who are expressing angst are dented and painted, and no more time should be wasted upon the issue.
Why?
Because in the India where numbers are unimportant, women and men express their angst and in Bharat in which numbers count, women suffer in silence and men do as they please.
Is that the real difference between India and Bharat?
Is it that women in India are dented and painted, and men in Bharat take vicarious pleasure to hear the son of the president of India say it to them with such shameless bravado?
How outrageous are Asaram, Mohan Bhagat and Abhijeet Mukherjee?!
However unacceptable what they say may be, we have to realize that their words are the harsh truth about our larger society and let us make no mistake that the people whom these ridiculous men speak to, in the language that they understand, are not us, but certainly the majority, the greater numbers of our populace.
Those people who matter to the Asaram's, the RSS Chief's and politicians like Abhijeet Mukherjee's of our world, are ones who will vote to bring their parties, their chosen leaders to power and are the ones who will elect sick men like them as Members of our Parliament.
Lets get it straight.
These men, Asaram, the RSS Chief and Abhijeet Mukherjee, are appeasing their voters and saying what their voters would like to hear them say.
Because the larger section of our society believes that a woman should stay indoors, should be protected by her father and brothers, and like my friend Divya Radhakrishnan honestly puts it, maybe also get abused by them, and if she goes astray, which means if she asserts her independence, she should be taught a lesson, which means that she should be brutalized and raped, and her protectors i:e: her father and brothers should kill her to save their own honour, which means, that is how women will continue to stay in the place which a horrible section of the majority of the men in our country have allotted to them which also means that therefore women will not dare to ever defy the rules put out for them to follow.
Come on, lets not be naive.
That is the very constituency our Government and its oppositions and allies are addressing in the wake of this horrific crime and that is the people our Government, its oppositions and allies fear losing if they so much as speak against their culture and for us, however perverted, convoluted and however pathetically archaic it may sound in modern times.
So we should know why they remain silent when it comes to us, why they are guarded when they react to our anger and why they are terrified of saying anything in our favour which can threaten to tilt the faith that the majority has entrusted upon them.
How can the men and women whose votes that matter be put off by our leaders?
How can the khaps be told that they are medieval, bordering on insane, and that they should be punished for opening their mouths in present times?

And if the majority of people are this way, let us not forget the role we play in making them that, because they also aspire to be like us, therefore the perception we create of ourselves for commercial reasons, is how they imagine us to be.
I have amidst me and my circles of friends, people who believe that had Nirbhaya not got into the bus, and even if she did, had she submitted to those horrible men instead of fighting them, she would have been alive today.
People who believe that every woman in India goes through this at some time of her life or another, that all of them bear it and remain silent so that neither is anybody in the family or community insulted, nor is she made to suffer more humiliation than she already has.
These are educated, accomplished and evolved Indians.
When I was in my teens, I had gone cycling to Pinjore from Chandigarh one day with one girlfriend and two boyfriends whom we used to play lawn tennis with at the YMCA.
I had no clue that my girlfriend had not told her parents that we were with two of our boyfriends. We got delayed and it got a bit dark by the time we returned. My girlfriends mother called up my mother and told her that she was worried and to that my mother told her to relax because we were accompanied by two very nice guys who would see to it that we got home safe.
My girlfriends mother was aghast to hear that we were with boys and that my mother was aware of it, and a bigger horror than that to her was that my mother was also cool about it. She actually told my mother off and my mother had to shut her up by telling her that she should be aware that YMCA stood for the Young Men Christians Association and by permitting her daughter to play lawn tennis there, she should know that she would be interacting with people of the opposite sex.
When we got home a little later, my girlfriend got it really bad from her folks, was never seen at the courts again and could also never be my friend openly.
To be with me she had to lie to her parents.
To be with boys she had to lie to her parents.
To smoke she had to hide.
To drink alcohol she had to hide.
These were very well educated parents. They had lived in the US for over 15 years before coming and settling down in India. They had seen the world but believed that their daughters could not, should not and must not be seen openly with boys.
Our lies and hypocrisy starts from our homes. We make our children lie to us.
Once when my friends mother caught us together, exchanging notes from school, after she had banned us from meeting each other, she blew me up and told me that I should keep away from her daughter, that I would spoil her. Then she felt sorry for me and turned around and told me that nothing is wrong with me but it is my parents who were at fault for not stopping me from playing tennis with the boys, for not stopping me from interacting with them, for having them over and also for going over to their homes.
I was hurt and threw a tantrum when I got back home. I was angry with my parents for not being conservative like other parents were, for not being strict, for being liberal and allowing me to be independent.
My father smiled and told me that he was very proud to be the way he was and that one thing he never wanted that we should ever do, is to lie, and that by leaving things open to our discretion, he had seen to it that he had delivered four honest kids to this world.
It has bothered me ever since then as things remain the same today.
I know that most such Indian parents, and there are many of them, know everything that their girls are up to. They are fine with their boys going out with others' girls, as a matter of fact proud enough to gloat over it, but not fine with their own girls experiencing the same liberation as their brothers.
I know that in their youth, such parents were the same as their kids are now.
I know that they too lied to their elders who knew everything about them, and now find more comfort in having their children tell them lies, rather than being unafraid and guilt free.
In this they are able to retain their authority and keep fear instilled in their children, but in this they don't realize that they bring up kids and they collectively deliver a generation to the country that justifies the hypocrisy that it maintains as status quo.
When this veil of lies subsists almost in every Indian home, then everything that cannot be talked about openly is forgiven, forgotten and swept beneath the carpet, and the constituency of society that suffers the most in that darkness and silence is women and children.
I don't know why I am saying all this but I do know that our hypocrisy, our consistency in justifying double standards as an acceptable social norm is the root cause of why we are in a confused state like this.
The attitude cuts across all classes and strata's of our society and men get away with murder in every walk of life and the women who dare to break the silence, suffer alone, deserted and ostracized.
Is this what we can call a country for women?


 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

OF Livewire LIVEMINT and Indian Mothers in law!

http://www.livemint.com/Consumer/Lybufe1rqIfUUnqVUPLwcI/Indian-soap-operas-ruled-by-mothersinlaw.html

Reading the article from Livemint above, sends a chill up my spine and is capable of leading a nation into a state of despair.
Accepting the argument provided by those who select content which runs on all television channels in India would spell doom.
Lets not forget that those who believe Indian Television is not ready for progressive programming are taking a growing television market for granted and depending on viewership which they will accumulate irrespective of whether the content they provide is of good quality and forward thinking, or not.

Lets also not forget that if content in Indian Films is becoming more and more ahead of time, it is because writers of depth are acceptable in the industry of films unlike that in the industry of television, not just acceptable but respected as well.

There is a fear of good writers in the television industry.
Good writers are more informed and therefore more assertive. Good writers trust their instincts, draw from the well of their vast experiences and research.
Good writers make the fore tellers of change, redundant, in this case those executives who give precedence to collections above all else, even above the damage they cause to a psyche of a country as a whole.

The pundits who believe they know the viewers' needs because of skewed numbers that arrive at their desks every week are not just pulling wool over eyes of the larger public but also doing harm to a society struggling to understand the complexities of its times.
If the article above is true and all that those who are quoted say is right then what a contradiction it is then that Ballika Vaddhu is the topmost rated program in India, and it is a series that hits hard at the worst social malaise in India, which is child marriage?
It is a series that cuts across all audiences in India, not just appealing to slum dwellers and villagers, because it is a series well made, well written and with top quality performances.

None of the youth is watching storytelling on Indian Television and it comprises of more than 60% of the Indian Population.
None of their problems are addressed through storytelling, none of their real issues resolved.
That is why they are on the streets today, protesting against evil, demanding answers.
That is why the son of the President of India has the audacity to call those women agitating on the streets in the capital city of India, dented and painted, women who go to discotheques in the night, and walk the streets by day!
There is a complete apathetic attitude of the spin doctors who care for the results in cash, more than in behavioral or attitudinal change. Have no clue what to do when the need of the hour is to give impulse to a revolution in the hearts of a whole society.

Whoever talks about content being generated on Indian Television at present is for aspiring viewers, is completely out of sync with the aspirations of an average Indian and if they think it is the archaic sets and costumes of serials that people of India aspire to ape, they are sadly mistaken.
There is nothing worse than dishing out mythology upon mythology to an average Indian viewer who laps it up daily, the viewer who cannot discern between mythology and religion.

I have said time and again, and often made myself unpopular with my trade, that there is a responsibility, we as a creative industry, carry upon our shoulders.
We cannot afford to mete out what we believe that Indian audiences want, from the analysis derived out of a dismal sample, just to prove our point right which we so easily can because of the positions we hold, the chair we occupy, the huge funds we can release.
Like the Government of India, we too collect sycophants around us, yes men, who make us believe that we are right all the time, who revel when we delude ourselves.

We need to go into those places where our television reaches and observe what is missing.
Not just depend on what we think is there.
Because what is missing out there is a lot about what we have and they don't.
Other than uninterrupted water supply and electricity that we have and is missing in those lives, there is a culture standing still out there, which fortunately is evolving in our societies and because of which we can sit out here in privileged domain and pontificate about what we think we know.
Those people who consume our television also desire that their lives should move forward, their cultures should evolve, their futures should blend with ours.

Let's not be shortsighted and imagine that what is too far in the horizon is blurred therefore we can get away with anything that we want.
We have turned our passions into our business and now we cannot afford to exploit it by keeping the business rolling at the cost of a generation of young aspirants lost, mindsets led astray.

We have to blame ourselves for a confused youth today.
It is the result of the last 15 years of programming on our television which has slipped into the lives of young impressionable minds whom we have fooled into believing that what we show is how we are, how we think and how we live, whereas we ourselves look down upon what we create and consume programming from the west which provides us with the impetus to design our own evolving cultures.

The attitude of disdain towards our own audiences is the outcome of our feudal backgrounds which compel us to believe that what we like, should be different from what people we consider to be lesser beings, like.
Let us not make no mistake that programming from the west may be cheaper to run on English Channels, but is not the answer to qualify our substandard output.
There is no alternative to home grown quality work, and it can only emerge from sensitivity of executive functioning in a creative industry, a genuine concern towards its creative resources.
Money will be made either way.
Hierarchy has to shift from the carpetbaggers to the bard.

THEEK NAHIN HAI MR. PRIME MINISTER!!!

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

As I start to write this letter to you, the brave 23 year old who was a victim of the most heinous crime in our capital city is being moved away from Safdarjung Hospital to a hospital in Singapore.

While the whole country prays for her, the Government that you are the head of is doing everything it can to ensure that she gets the best treatment and returns to a healthy life, not because you care, even if you would like to believe you do, but because you are damn afraid of what will happen on the streets of the capital city of India if anything goes wrong with her, and God forbid, if she loses her life.

I choose to write to you because I believe that you as a leader, the chief executive of our country, have failed us.
You may take responsibility for this victim because she is making the top headlines of these times, but where you have let us down, is in your response to the questions that this incident raises.
What about the number of rapes, indignities upon women, ignored by enforcers of law, in all parts of the country as we speak? Upon 2 and 4 years old, on young girls?
What about this unforgivable crime being committed upon innocents every day, hour and minute, in some part of the country or the other?

What we expect from you is ACTION!
But what we have got from you in return is a half hearted speech giving assurances of the same kind which you have been giving to us every time something boils over, be it the molestation of a teenager in Guwahati, Assam, or be it the terrorists attack of 26/11 in Mumbai.

I still clearly remember you and your colleagues using the same words at the time when Mumbai protested and reached the gates of your office to ask for answers.
And I hope you know that as I sit today to write to you, none of those steps were taken, none of those promises kept.

How do we believe you?
How do we accept that you will do anything about the safety of not just women, but all citizens of the country, when you have failed in securing the capital city and the financial capital of the nation?
When we know that all you are waiting for is for this uprising to exhaust and tire itself out, to die down so you can go on with life in the same vein until the next incident takes place?
What must be the plight of other metropolises, cities, towns and villages, if these are the conditions that prevail in the two most so called empowered cities of India?

The blatancy with which your spokespersons defend the indefensible is the biggest giveaway that the party you represent is incapable of handling the system and driving it towards modern times, that it sure knows how to come into power and stay there but is absolutely inept at managing its administration, and above all else, you must know that nobody trusts you anymore.

Mr. Prime Minister, lets cut the crap!
Let's stop playing those games of the past which a generation hurt and wounded post partition forgave you for because it was simply grateful for having survived the worst bloodshed during the most painful separation it was forced to endure.
This generation and the ones following this one are unforgiving.
They are informed and they are aware.
They can see through your devious devices and petty politics and they can understand what you are up to when you make attempts to muzzle their voice and pull a fast one on them by creating a chaos around the systemic problems under which you bury real issues. E:g: Sheila Dixit at loggerheads with Commissioner of Police, New Delhi.

Face it Mr. Prime Minister, the youth today means business and will not settle for anything less.
They are not impressed with any of you in power, and they cannot tolerate you patting each others backs for having caught the culprits behind the rape within 24 hours of the crime.
If you are listening, which I doubt, you will hear that you cannot be in power if you don't do your jobs right, and doing your jobs right is not about nabbing offenders, but ensuring that the offenders dare not commit an offence.

I hope you can see that the future of politics is not going to be about secularism and non secularism.
The next generations do not believe that their religion defines them.
The next generations are searching for their identity in their achievements and they will find it, even if it means that it will be at the cost of losing you.

Please understand that they understand consumerism Mr. Prime Minister, and know that they should get value for the price they pay for a product and since you are a renowned economist, let me speak in your language.
You, your government and your administration, are products which the citizens of this country, the educated, the uneducated, the privileged and those not, your consumers, pay for with their hard earned money and you must know that they are not at all satisfied with the adulterated form of management they get back in return for it.

Mr. Prime Minister, I beg you to see the writing on the wall.
The theater in parliament is unacceptable.
The adjournments and the waste of public money to uphold the drama, your pageant, even more so.
You have been elected and appointed, paid and given privileges, to work for us, not for battling your opposition, and day by day, week after week, session upon session. and every year, you are letting us down and wasting our money.

Now you please listen to us:
Get to work and call for a special session of Parliament.
Make up for all the precious time you have wasted and assure us that you will deliver the goods.
Pass all those laws pending which will secure Indians.
Amend those which are archaic.
There should be 33% representation of women in Parliament and it should be mandatory for every party to have necessary number of women contesting elections in 2014.
You have to depoliticize the police force and set in reforms in its institutions with immediate effect.
Let heads of those who don't perform roll.
We don't want even one candidate of any political party who has a criminal track record in past or present to get a ticket and to be able to contest elections in 2014.
We want you to see to it that each and every candidate who stands for election in 2014 has a minimum qualification, that of being a graduate.

Mr. Prime Minister, the people of this country are much more powerful than what you, the media and your propagandists think, far more reliable and popular.
They are gentle and sensitive.
Don't arouse the worst in them and don't impose your will upon them because if it explodes, there will be an awakening, but one that will blind you and your tribe forever.
Don't push it Mr. Prime Minister.
We beg of you!!!





 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

OF WHORES AND PROSTITUTES?...

Lets face it.
We're a banana republic, a puppet democracy.
We're spineless, we're hopeless.
We want popularity at any cost, even if it means when compromised with murder, brutality, regression and anarchy.
We want power at the price of abdicating responsibility.
We want money if it means we create distressing scenarios' for the rest of those who belong to this world, those other than our community and families.
We want to let the poor remain poor, and we want to grow the middle classes but ensure that along the way their upward trot, they remain muzzled and silent fearing loss of what they have so painstakingly earned in their lifetimes.

Lets get it right, we have lost our morality, our values and we stink.
We stand by Khap Panchayats for vote banks, we support crime for coalesce.
As a polity we are failed and will remain so for many generations to come because we are nepotists and we don't give a damn about how people who think, perceive us because they don't count and their voices will never be heard.
We control the media, we control fiction, we control reality with policy and our money and we have a hand in every pie cooking and will see to it that it be garnished with what works best for us, whether anybody likes it or not.
We stand united when we wish, and oppose each other as and when we need to pull wool over peoples eyes, so that things ignited get doused when we want and things quiet, erupt as and when we believe they should.

Make no mistake that we're the usual suspects you see on television and yes, we have all appointed spokespersons who will speak to you on our behalf because we want to remain nameless and faceless and we know that you can say or do nothing about it.
The Minister of Law will speak to you even if the issue is pertinent to the department of sports and the Home Minister will appear if we so deem fit, when we are talking about the development of women and children.
It is all subject to their availability and therefore it is our prerogative because we really don't care about what you in your cosy little apartments and homes, cuddled on your couches, think about us.

A dialogue from the recent film, written by Reema Katgi and Zoya Akhtar, Produced by Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani and Directed by Reema Katgi, a film called Talaash haunts me, when Kareena Kapoor, playing the part of a prostitute tells Aamir Khan, the cop, that how can we disappear when in reality we don't count, how can those who don't exist, not be ever found.

That is the state of the nation.
We are all whores and prostitutes because we have sold ourselves to this politics for a livelihood, for shelter and for the food that we feed our children.
Only those who appear on television every other day, who are seen regularly in futile arguments and debates in newsrooms every night, count, and that also because they shield the real culprits who hide behind them and make merry while the rest of the country goes to seed.

From traffic to education, health services to shelter, the list is endless and everything has gone to seed.
And therefore law and order.

What the hell is going on?
Why are we allowing ourselves to be treated this way?
How dare they do this to us?

Who are these men who had the audacity to pick up a young girl and boy in a privately run vehicle and commit such a heinous crime, a dastardly act that has left the young girl battling for life and to remain scarred forever if she survives it, and her young escort beaten to pulp?
Why was that bus plying the roads at a time when public transport should have been available to every citizen in the city in full force?
Why is public transport not available in this country to match the size of its population?
Who is responsible for that?
Is policy deliberately tampered with to allow private players into the fray for them to make hay while the sun shines?
Is that why every city in India is infested with auto rickshaws, tempos and two wheelers which follow no rules and which get licensed in the same corrupt manner in which they find existence.
Did the corporates manufacturing those bumblebees not know that they could have supported the Government to push its public transport agenda instead of finding opportunity in there and quietly slipping its own agenda in, to make a fast buck.
There is no social consciousness, no sense of responsibility anyone in position of power in this country has, because all are tied in with each other in one way or another.

Why is the media not going out there and bringing on the real people who are responsible for the crime which was committed two days ago?
Why are the Commissioner of Police, the State Transport Department, the local players who should be made to face the viewers, missing in action on screen?
Why are the spokespersons of the two national parties, the ruling and the opposition doing the needful?
Why are celebrities talking?
Why are all those people doing the talking, in the newsrooms, in the discussions, who should be talking a few days later, if at all?
What is it that the media, politicians are scared of today?
That their complicity will be exposed?
That if the enforcers on the ground, the ones who actually implement the law will reveal the truth that they are unable to do their jobs with authority because they are afraid of being transferred or of being penalized for executing their powers?
Will they be forced to stay silent like the rest of us, because they don't count as much as we don't?

Time has come to end the rhetoric!
We will not, and should not take things lying down anymore!
Let's understand, that if we do not raise our voice now, we will be slut ting it out forever!
If we do not insist, yes absolutely insist that every single candidate, standing for elections in 2014 is qualified to a minimum degree of requirement, if we do not make mandatory, that a man or woman with a criminal track record in present or in past, cannot contest, what kind of a world will we be creating for our children, our next generations?

Let every single candidate be on national television in the lead up to the elections starting now, and face the people of India, answer legitimate questions and present to the country why they think they deserve to be elected.
Let there be follow up after the elections to see if those who promised lived up to their words or not.
Let those who did not live up to their words, be shamed.
That is the role for media to play.

Modi wins or Congress, let that be information provided on tickers at the bottom of television screens. Let cricket belong the sports channels and not become prime time debate just because it is the anchors' passion!
Let cinema belong to its pages and its screen space.
End these painstakingly boring discussions on everything other than the real issues.
Why are children dying of malnutrition, hunger and disease?
Why is there so much filth on our streets?
Why do we have to live with substandard facilities in every walk of life?
Why are women not safe in this country?

Get down to business newsrooms and bring on each and every member of parliament one by one, and let him or her expose themselves, for their good or their peril.
Let not a single television series come on air which erodes values and perpetuates nonsensical dramas in which women remain the worst enemies of women.
Let no film, in humor or in all seriousness, reach the screens which idolizes men who chase women in the most uncouth fashion and objectify them.
Let not those item songs prevail, which titillate the frontbenchers who are neither educated, not socially conditioned to understand what to do with their dicks when they rise.
India cannot afford this for some years to come!
India has to repair itself, heal and recondition itself with inclusive agenda's by forming strong communities which make its people belong.
India has to reconcile with itself!
 

Monday, November 19, 2012

BAL KESHAV THACKERAY 1926 - 2012

Today was a holiday.
No, not because it was a Sunday as usual, but for another reason.
Normally Sunday's are busy days, filled with the personal agenda's, filled with things one couldn't have done on week days.
Sundays are days when you wake up in the morning, maybe slightly later than usual, get ready and go, ending the day sometimes well spent.
However today, it was declared a complete holiday.
You couldn't go shopping, to spa, neither meet friends nor go for a general stroll through a new store at Phoenix or Raghuvanshi Mills or even go check out a restaurant at BKC.
And most of all, you couldn't watch TV, or atleast those channels you would've liked to serf through since you were stranded at home with nothing better to do.
Today was a day of mourning.

Bal Thackeray passed away last evening, and from the time I heard the news from my friend Salim Asgarally, who called to tell me to get home as soon as possible, it was barely 30 more minutes later, that the entire city had shut down.
My first instincts were to stock up on ciggerettes, but my local baniya was closed by the time my maid went running to it and so were all the paan shops in my area which perhaps were the first to shut down.
She managed to pick up a bottle of Vodka for me though, from the local liquor shop which was downing its shutters at the time she reached there, so I was happy that I could replenish my bar with my most preferred drink before the streets went empty and it became dark and lonely.

Now I sat in front of the TV set all of Saturday evening as well as the whole of today, and switched between news channels, since they were all that was running on the box, watching the proceedings of a funeral which was huge, the biggest I have witnessed in all my years.
At first I was kind of disinterested but it didn't take me long to get involved with the funeral as crowds around the cortege swelled and the anchors started stating numbers in as much disbelief as I was in.
There was a surge of 2 million people around the Sena Chiefs body which was being carried from Bandra to Shivaji Park, where the final rites were going to be performed at sundown.
I was intrigued. I was mesmerized. I was stunned to see the devotion, the pain, the anguish and the sheer loyalty at display of lakhs of people towards their leader who had formed the Sena 46 years ago and had been the single head of the political organization throughout his life thereafter.
From Mumbai is orphaned, to Mumbai has lost it's soul, one celebrity after another, industrialist and common man, spoke of the loss, the void their Tiger had left behind.

I have lived in the city for over 25 years now, and been at the receiving end of bandhs, been in complete disagreement with Balasahebs brand of politics.
The fiercely secular me had always been repulsed by the Hindutva agenda adopted by his party in the '90's and had been critical of the encouragement he gave his men to riot and wipe out Muslims from the city then.
I had also read a lot about the man and personally disliked his attitude towards outsiders in Mumbai, counting myself as one, because I am not a Marathi Manoos.

Yet, I have never hated Bal Keshav Thackeray.
I admired his personality, loved his oratory and was impressed with his consistent pride in Maharashtra, which the Sena called Marathi Asmita.
Also, everytime I came to the point of hating the politics of Shiv Sena, I was always reminded of 1987, the 31st of August, when my father had died due to a sudden seizure, and when we used to live in Setalvaad Lane in Napeansea Road.
It was the time of Ganpati and there was a Pandal right opposite our building with music blaring right through the day until late in the night.
That night when my father died, and his body was brought back in an ambulance from Bombay Hospital, the Pandal shut down the loud music.
For the next couple of days, they did not play music at all.
After the chautha ceremony, three days later, my mother went up to the Pandal to thank the Shiv Sainiks for being considerate and asked them to go ahead with their celebrations, to which the head of the Sainiks turned around and told my mother that she was like his mother and her grief was his.
They didn't play music until the last day, and when they took Ganpati for visarjan, it was the first time after my fathers death that they got the band and went with His idol, dancing to the music.
So in the years thereafter, all my angst against the Shiv Sainiks would always get dissipated by the memory of those times which had convinced me that like all other people in the world, the Shiv Sainiks also had a heart.

However, today was another day to go deeper into the relationship, or lack of it, that I, as a Mumbaikar shared with Bal Thackerays Shiv Sena.
The closest I've been to a Thackeray is having met the lovely Smita Thackeray a few times when I was a co jury member with her for the Annual Screen Awards in 2004.
Then one meeting with Raj Thackeray after he had broken away from the Sena and founded MNS.
My friends Shobha and Chaitanya Sant had taken me to meet him after I had expressed my desire to do so because I had wanted to work with him and I thought that a young political party like MNS could do a huge deal for the city if the right kind of people joined it and supported him in his endeavors.
When I met Raj Thackeray he asked me why I wanted to work with him, and I said to him that I want to work with him because I liked him. He asked me how long I had been in Mumbai and I told him that I had been in the city for about 20 years.
Then he asked me if I spoke Marathi, in Marathi. That was the end.
At first I didn't understand what he said, and then I told him that I couldn't speak Marathi.
I am a Panjabi but I can't speak Panjabi either.
I can only speak fluent Hindi and English, but it was not the time to tell him that and therefore it was where the meeting with Raj Thackeray had finished.
I knew that my working with him was not going to happen, although both Shobha and Chaitanya told me that it wasn't over yet.

However, today there were two million people, 20 lakh out there in the city that I loved and lived in, and I wasn't one of them.
Nobody, none of my friends, whom I knew closely, were amongst them either.
And the first big question that arose in my mind was, WHY?!

None of us, all my friends and I, were either in politics or industrialists of the stature of Anil Ambani, Rahul Bajaj and Veenu Kumar Dhoot. Neither were any of us, despite being integral parts of the Industry of Entertainment, stars of the stature of Mr. Bachchan, the Kapoors or the Khans.
None of us had ever needed to go to him to pay our respects to him.
And none of us were, even if Maharashtrians, 'the Marathi Manoos'.
So where did we fit?
The answer was that, we didn't fit!

Yet my eyes were glued on to the ocean of people which followed and led the cortege and merged like a tidal wave with the Arabian Sea in the background as it seemed in a top angle shot which was being shown again and again by the channel which I was watching.
Who are they? Why are they there? Where have they come from to converge and confluence like waves overlapping each other?
Their feelings are genuine, but why is it that I am not feeling what they are feeling?

Their emotions were real and their collective grief was palpable.
I knew the instant that the questions arose in, that it was the identity which Bal Keshav Thackeray had given them that was making them feel the sorrow and share the pain with his immediate family.
The power people feel is because of the connection their leader has with them and Balasaheb was a leader who was one with those multitudes I was watching on TV.
Then where had his politics gone wrong?
Why am I caught in this schizophrenia, impressed with him but in complete disagreement with his politics? Why would I never be one with the crowds that wept at his funeral today?

And then I realized that most of the very impressive men, educated, erudite, humble and smart, most politicians in our country are trapped in the politics of helping people find their identity which when associated with religion becomes divisive and none of our leaders, secural or right wing have found a way out of it yet.
I am a Hindu and proud to be one, I don't hate Muslims, Christians or any other and I don't want to desecrate their places of worship.
I want to be free to practice my own religion while they practice theirs.
I do not believe that to be a true Hindu I must stop my friends from being Muslim, Christian or any other religion than mine.
I am educated, I have shelter, I have a job and in that I have an identity therefore I am secure.

Bal Thackeray's Shiv Sena was formed for the right reasons but has lost its way for the wrong.
To give identity to people, our politics has to free itself from religion.
People have to be empowered with education and employment and the role of politics is to make them secure by providing both.
People must uphold their right to the religion of their choice themselves, and not allow the ideology of one political party or another to confuse their identity with their religion.

Like in the rest of the world, people following different religions coexist and respect each other, Indians must do the same or else we are doomed.
To uphold its glory and to give it permanence in the land of its birth, we can convert Hinduism into a monumental pageantry like the British have done to uphold Christianity in the customs of their monarchy, or the Catholics uphold theirs in the theater of the Vatican.
Or else we can even create a space like the Muslims for whom the house of their Allah is in Mecca.
Such a place where Hindu's from all over the world can come and visit to worship their Gods, but our politics has to be far away from it.
There are Mosques and Temples, Churches, Gurudwara's and Shrines everywhere in the world, so must they all be there in India as well.
We can position Hinduism and give it the place we want, but lets not make it so shallow that to make it stand out we have to destroy the practices and places of worship of other religions.

And lets not confuse our religious beliefs with the basic rights of men, women and children in our country which every political party has to ensure they get through education and by providing them access to quality health care.
The identity of our future generations will come from their individual successes and the identity of our nation will come from their collective joy.
Hinduism will and should only be the religion for those who choose to follow it.
Islam, Christianity etc. for others.