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?