The whole Jan Lokpal agitation brings me to write about politics after a long, long time.
It was partly intentional, this hiatus. There was a point when I was intensely political, but I discovered I was getting my blood pressure up every morning when I read the paper or the zillion rabble-rousing political blogs I was subscribed to, and even more so when I discussed the stuff I read with like-minded friends over lunch. Then more interesting things came along, and I thought I should give those things a fair try, and all I did with politics was to make jokes about current or past events.
But Anna Hazare drags me back.
Not just me, but various others are newly politically conscious. People who didn’t used to watch the news now watch the tamasha. People read newspapers more avidly now. More people talked about Rule 184 than about Rule 34 over the past couple of weeks.
I want to try and make sense of this craziness that has gripped the country.
It’s not a matter of surprise that a Gandhian with a rather universal single-point agenda gathers so much of a mob-like fan following… Gandhian, Fasting, Saying No To Corruption… predictable outcome. Why, even the famed dabbawalas of Mumbai struck work in a show of solidarity with him! It’s also not much of a surprise that the media are all gaga about him…. this is the guy who decided to break his fast in the past because the media couldn’t get to his village, and he has rather astute media advisors now, I’d imagine.
The real wonder here was that people don’t seem to have just a ‘Let’s what the tamasha’ sort of an attitude to this. You can give a movement all the publicity in the world, but the sort of attention it draws can only depend on its content. This is not one of those candlelight march sort of things, nor is it the ‘change your Facebook profile pic to Anna Hazare’ sort of thing. People seem genuinely into this. A friend of my sister’s wanted to go to Freedom Park and fast on her birthday. A seventeen-year-old. Fasting. On her birthday. Freedom Park. That’s some serious shite.
I really wonder why.
Every twenty or so years, some or the other movement seems to come to the forefront, mobilize youth and grown folk alike, throw up a few heroes and induct many more workers, who all go on to be the next generation of politicians. There was the Freedom movement at first, then the Jayaprakash Narayan one, where a lot of people who are at the forefront in politics today cut their teeth – Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Laloo Yadav, George Fernandes, Subramanian Swamy… and various others. Then we had Mandal and Ayodhya. Now, this.
I wonder what’s behind this phenomenon (If it can be judged as one.. I think I’m concluding too much from too little, but given that people conclude so much more from so much less usually, bear with me). I assume it has something to do with there being a whole new generation of youth with no political moorings every twenty years. Now I have my rightist political moorings, I’ve done my share of taking politics seriously and general rabble-mongering, even if it was only on numerous Orkut communities and this blog… if I had been a part of something bigger when I was in that phase, say, in the 2009 elections, there’s a good chance I’d've been interning with a political party… but that didn’t happen. The point is, I know where to direct my greviances now. I know who to vote for. Reading works of politicians and watching people like Subramanian Swamy use the system well has reinforced my faith in the system. It isn’t so for a lot of youth. They don’t know what to do, who to address with their ‘It’s the system, man!’ frustrations. I guess the glut in the number of such youth has peaked around now or something, due to which so many of them seem to identify with India Against Corruption. Right place, right time.
If the glut had occurred two years back, Lok Paritran or some such Youth-y party would have been the beneficiary of this largesse of political feeling. And if the glut was a few years away, Anna Hazare would have just been a joke and everyone would have dismissed Kejriwal as the guy in the last bench who thinks he’s going against the system whenever he back-talks a teacher.
What I’m saying is, the movement doesn’t find the people, the people find the movement. It is inevitable that we have some mass movement every now and then that the country needs to cool off all the latent political emotion.
So what can we do with this? This is just a hunch… more empirical study would be a good thing to have on this. If this hypothesis is indeed found to be true, political parties should watch for signs and then make sure to capitalize on this feeling of ‘revolution’ by recruiting heavily in colleges and urban centers. They can also fan this feeling of insecurity and make the country go to the poll just when this seems to be boiling over, and capitalize on it. A nice tool to have in their arsenal.
And now the more important question. Corruption? Seriously? What’s the deal? Aren’t we all corrupt at some level? Don’t the bribe-takers also come from the same places as we do? Do we really need an ombudsman?
I did used to think that there’s no point of a LokPal. Any ombudsman can be easily compromised, every man has a price. There’s no way this could stop big-ticket corruption. Why then, are people supporting this bill, apart from that they are all Sheeple?
I get reminded of the Jayanagar 4th Block RTO and the Registrar’s office. You couldn’t for the heck of you get anything done in either of those places without paying a bribe. The areas outside of these places used to be overrun with touts. Everyone there was corrupt, head to toe, end to end. I remember telling my mother about a classmate whose father worked at the RTO, following which my mother gave a look of disgust and said “Yeah, plenty of bribe money”.
And then the LokAyukta struck. They suspended a ton of people (or recommended for them to be suspended, and those recommendations were implemented), got in newer people from elsewhere, and those places remained clean for, I’d like to think, atleast a few years.
The allure of an independent entity is that they have few, if any, vested interests in that place, and are immune to influence because they aren’t in the system. It is easier for them to view these instances of corruption as just cases to be solved or people to be apprehended, and go about their job without worrying about interference. This is the side of an Independent Entity that people want to see. And these ‘new officers without vested interest’ have been successful in more than a few places, including movies, that people really want to give it a try.
Of course, not all is hunky-dory with getting a LokPal… those folks are human too, and they too can succumb to cold hard cash offered, and no way can they be very useful to counter big-ticket corruption.
And petty corruption is not something that takes place only with the bureaucrats… a couple of hundred when you’re speeding, a couple more to move files a little bit more faster, a few here and there because you’re lazy to get that document done and you need to get that government office work done today… that’s not new to any of us, is it? Especially since we know as well as the civil servants we bribe that it’s hard to sustain a family on that kind of a salary.
I’m ambivalent on the Lokpal thing, but I do know that automating things can go a long way in checking corruption. Take the human element out of everything, let everything just be a form you need to fill online, let every ration shop be a bunch of vending machines where you swipe your card, enter your PIN and get your dole. If you jump a red light, let the ticket come to your house after finding out your address from your license plate. Let there be emission test gates where you swipe your emission test certificate, failing which you need to pay a fine. Or have these police station kiosks where you have a videoconference sort of a thing with some police officer somewhere in the country who takes down your complaint, to use which you need your biometric ID. If there’s no human who controls what you get, neither can you bribe him, nor can he ask you for a bribe. And if you have any problems, you’ll be interacting with a call center guy somewhere who you have no clue about, and which call will possibly be monitored for quality control purposes.
There’s no way you can pass a couple of hundred under the table there. I’m sure people will find kickass ways to send and receive bribes, but we’ll deal with those when we get there.
What’s more, this will create a new generation of people who have no clue about how to go about bribing officers, and a bunch of officers who have no way to take bribes and are unfamiliar with the practice. It’d take a ton of stepping out of their comfort zone to do either of those things. So there.
And systemic reforms too. There’s CET which makes sure the meritorious get into a good college, but what about the ones with bad luck in the exams, who feel entitled to more because they had a perfect track record, but screwed up their math paper? They’ll obviously book seats in colleges, pay touts a heck load of money… unless you make a KSIT the same level as RVCE, unless there’s no steep gradient in the quality of institutions, this will definitely happen. There will obviously be a bunch of people who feel the system has screwed them over. The point of a well-designed system is to keep the proportion of such people low, because if they gain substantial strength, they will find extra-systemic means to gain what they want.
That apart, Kiran Bedi seems hormonal. I feel sorry for her having come to this point. It was so ironic that she was on the other side of the bars in Tihar. She’s one of those unfortunate people who have been totally screwed over by the system. Stay positive, Ms. Bedi, you still have a lot of spunk left in you.
And yeah, I’m a newly-minted fan of Dr. Subramanian Swamy, after his efforts in the 2G case. He seems totally badass and Machiavellian, an inspiring example of someone who uses the system to achieve his ends instead of simply ranting about it.
And his older daughter Gitanjali Swamy seems super inspiring in her own right… IITK Compsci, Berkeley PhD, Prof at Columbia and Harvard, and a string of startups… what’s not to admire?
Folks who know me from childhood will assert I was not an easy child to feed. My mother and her mother struggled hard to keep me well-nutritioned. In fact, my mother has so much practice that I’m pretty confident if she was on the UPA’s side, by now Anna Hazare would have quit crying about Lokpal or another one of his imaginary pals and go to sleep well-fed.
All that exposure to wholesome food is hard to get over. I’ve always eaten well save second year at NITK… It’s impossible to get unused to filling your craw every few hours with something or the other. Which is why my desk drawer always, always has some assortment of junk food and my fridge is well-stocked. Touchwood. I can’t for the heck of me fast.The system is always being fed at regular intervals. It doesn’t stock up on adipose because there’s no need to; the next source of energy will not be long in coming.
But a couple of weeks back, I’d just gotten done with a killer course and wanted to let myself off a few days, where I could just sleep and eat and watch movies and all that. I did end up watching a lot of chickflicks. Which is why I didn’t sleep much more than usual. But eat….. ahh…. that’s a story.
Living by yourself (or with a roommate whose culinary requirements are way different from yours) means nothing moves unless you move it. And your larder will not be stocked unless you stock it. And food will not magically appear until you make it. But given that I had resigned myself to a vegetative state, I wasn’t too enthusiastic about all the dosas, uthappams, sandwiches, burritos, palyas and other things I usually am enthusiastic about, and that increased how lazy I was to even eat. I think I had only about 33% of what I had everyday. So while I wasn’t technically fasting, for my body, which rings its alarm bells rather loudly at regular intervals, it was a reasonable approximation.
The point is, there was no lasting damage to me or my appetite or anything. I did feel weak after I got bored of the movies, but it wasn’t anything one square meal couldn’t fix. I’m sure if I was outside for a greater part of the day, I would have groaned in hunger and taken refuge in pizza, but given that all I was doing was wasting time on the Internet, watching movies and talking to friends, my calorie intake pretty much sufficed.
So I find it hard to figure out why the government caved in so early to Anna Hazare’s blackmail. I mean, this guy has made a career out of threatening to go hungry. He’s used to days without food. What’s more, he was in the damn Army, and I’m pretty sure their constitutions are sturdier than mine, and they’ll be used to standing in the sun without food for hours on end. So…. his threat doesn’t really strike me as a threat. More so since people of less sturdier constitutions go hungry not by their own will but because they don’t have the resources to procure food, and still continue to survive. Agreed, Anna Hazare is thrice my age, but I’m the desk job person who has to actually try to gain weight and goes to the rec center just so that I don’t forget what it is to run, and he is the one who has built a model village with his own hands.
The trick to starving well is to not remind yourself or your body that you need food. You need to keep yourself distracted, but not too active. You shouldn’t indulge in tasks that require much physical exertion or mental flexing. So solving differential equations is out, as is taking a long walk in the sun. Even more so, you shouldn’t indulge in this for more than maybe a few minutes at a time. Ideally, you would have to breathe correctly from your stomach to keep the circulation to your brain up so that you don’t get a headache from the lack of food, and to not tire your eyes, it would be helpful to go into a vegetative – oops – meditative state.
Now what exactly do these fasters do that violate these things? They sit in a public place, that’s it. They might make speeches, but that just keeps them distracted and not thinking about the food. They pretty much suspend their day-to-day activities. And they aren’t even exposed to the hot sun; their followers make sure of that. People, the sun is the biggest enemy to lack of food. The hotter your head gets, the hungrier you get. If you are not facing the sun, half your troubles are avoided while fasting. And I suppose no one watching the show would even be eating. I dare Anna Hazare to carry on his fast-unt0-death in a crowded restaurant, where the smell of well-cooked food assails his nostrils. Or to do his day-to-day work while not eating a morsel… that makes sense.
When we think of hunger strike, we think of the said person requiring the number of calories we require on a day when we’re going about doing our work. It doesn’t strike us that someone who is just sitting around in a comfortable environment requires far lesser number of calories and hence the not eating doesn’t affect them as much as we think it does.
On a related note, I suppose everyone assumes Gandhi had his simple diet which did not consist of milk or sweets or anything ostentatious. ‘He lived on fruits’ sounds so austere. I used to assume that too, until I came across some magazine where a former assistant of Gandhi’s was talking about his last day. The description of the morning meal baffled me. True, it consisted only of fruits, but heck, how much? Five oranges, three large tomatoes, several apples and a bunch of bananas to finish off, along with some juice as well. And possibly goat’s milk to tide over that technicality of his not having cow’s milk, but I’m not sure that was included. I sometimes have a single banana with milk for breakfast when I’m late for class, and I know several people who go without breakfast.
Till age 14, I could not imagine myself ever observing Ekadashi fasts – no grains in diet, but it turned out, the no grains is a technicality to be tided over – you can as easily have delicacies made of sabudana, as I learnt from a pro-at-ekadashi-fasts sort of person. Apart from the litres of milk and the kilograms of fruits, of course.
So heck, the next time someone says “He’s on a diet of onlyyyy fruits and still is so active!”, I’m going to sock them one. Even though it’ll be a rather weak punch because I only eat cereals, vegetables, lentils and junk…. beat this… my sister and I quit junk food for a while and snacked only on fruits, and it turned out we felt less lethargic, more active and more alert, even without coffee or Red Bull. Or maybe especially without.
The point I make after 1200 words here is, hunger strike is not a big deal until you’re at it for a week or something, if you are not indulging in any activity during it. All that it serves is to publicize your cause.
But even that is pretty suspect…. Irom Sharmila has been hungerstriking and has been force-fed for 10 years now, and the media is pretty tired and is pretty much ignoring her and her cause. And hunger strikes don’t always work…. which is why they are not so common. And read this piece by Manu Joseph, it’s pretty harsh on Anna Hazare, but it points out that he does the hunger thing mainly because he seeks publicity for his causes. I mean, if not the publicity surrounding him, why else will the country bother about yet another person dying of hunger?
I woke up from a seeming stupor at 7:45 am, and the last thing I remembered was closing my eyes during the 9th over of the SL innings for ‘two minutes’. Webcric’s feed was intermittent and I ended up following the match on cricinfo, and somehow wasn’t ‘in the worldcup final mood’, and thought I’d just go running. But then when I’d changed, I thought I’d just check the score before I left…. it was the 40th over by then, and things were looking pretty exciting, and the feed came back on.
I’m still here in my running clothes, hungry as ever because I haven’t yet had breakfast, feeling glad for not missing such a nailbiting few overs.
AND OUR WIN.
I am the sort of person who starts tensing up when I see the number of runs to win greater than or equal to the number of balls to hit it off. And the batsmen weren’t doing much to improve that. I prayed for a four and a six to just ease my tension. And then two magical overs. 11 runs off each of them.
And then we needed four runs to win. Dhoni finished it off with an old-style six. And history was made.
I’d all but quit watching cricket after the final of 2003… I just lost interest. The hype around the last two matches have brought it back on. Now I think I’ll restart OD-ing on cricket. Yes, Mr. Aakar Patel I’m a fickle Indian fan, and I didn’t just ‘clap clap clap’ when India won.
I missed the sound of firecrackers and wild screams and cheering while watching the match and am quite pissed that this had to happen when I’m not in India.
Was sort of glad, though, for the folks I follow on Twitter. You folks made my World Cup, even though I whined to high heavens about my timeline getting messed up every single time there was a match on.
Like Mohan said, “When averaged over the world population, this must be among the most euphoric moments in mankind’s history”.
And, just because I want to… WE WON WE WON WE WON WOOOHOOOO!!! WEEEEE ARE THE CHAAAAAMPIONS.
And Sachin finally got to kiss the World Cup. The world can end now in 2012 and India will go down happy.
Given the historicity of this moment, how did you bring it in? Who were you watching the match with? Were you watching the match? Did you hold your pee for five overs straight? What were you munching? Were you wearing some Bleed Blue merchandise? Did you have Facebook open? Were you livetweeting your every emotion? Tell me in the comments. I want to preserve this moment forever.
So there exists an opportunity now to make election posters into collector’s items or posters to adorn a girl’s room. One of the candidates is a single half-Italian man. With dimples, at that. And no, Dino Morea is not standing for elections. Yet. (Which is actually a relief, given his recent departure from his Musu Musu Haasi-era good looks).
The scion of the dyNasty is who I’m talking about. No, I don’t say Mr. Gandhi is goodlooking. But he has all the right qualifications. Single? Check. Italian blood? Check. Dimples? Check. Fair complexion? Check. Under forty? Check (1970-born). So when I see this torturous poster every morning and evening exhorting me to vote for this man whose face doesn’t compare with that of John Abraham and Shayan Munshi in the neighboring hoardings, I cringe at all this potential going waste.
So… well… some pointers here to the folks who make posters for the Congress:
- Who are we trying to kid? Thirty-nine isn’t Young. Atleast not for first-time female voters in the 18-25 age group. So…. attempt to cast him in the Sanjay Dutt – SRK slot, not the Hrithik slot or John Ab slot. The struggling-to-be-fit-and-succeeding one.
- In a few years, he looks like he’s going to have more chins than the Hong Kong telephone directory. Dude…. or should I call you Uncle… work out, for godsake! SRK tops you with lines like “Yeah, Rahul Gandhi is goodlooking, but I have a six-pack’. And get Outlook or The Week or ToiLeT Paper or CNN-IBN or NDTV to chronicle your morning workout. And get cracking. The media goes gaga about Modi’s (if only figurative) chhappan ki chhatti….this is your chance to score one over him by proving that he is just all talk while you have the real stuff… and by extrapolation this is true for other issues like development, as ToI will write.
- Get a better photographer. Not your current one, or these presswallahs whose cameras add ten pounds to your face. Stretch your neck a bit when they take a picture of your face. That way you avoid the extra chins being added. Maybe you can strike the thinking-man pose – looking skyward in contemplation.
- And smile. Or grin. Widely. That’s what Italian men are expected to do. You don’t have it in you to look like a sleek mafia don – you need a darker skin tone and sharper features to carry that off. So take the pretty-boy route out.
- And sign off with Hasta la Vista, baby. Yeah, it’s Spanish, but who really knows the difference between Spain and Italy? People take Romance languages rather literally.
- An accented English/Hindi is okay. For the same reason as above.
I certainly don’t want the Congress to win this election, however narrowly. My loyalties are well-displayed on the widgets on the right here. But heck, if we are having posters that are going to be plastered everywhere from Malleshwaram to Basavanagudi, from Indiranagar to Rajajinagar, we might as well have posters good enough to be called eye-candy.
And… I guess the best thing for Mr. Gandhi to do would be to adapt a line from Jhankaar Beats to be his guiding light – Jeete toh jeete, haare toh haare, har dil ko apna banaana hai. My tips might or might not help with the former, but the latter, quite surely it will.
I have relatives and friends in Mumbai. Luckily they live on the outskirts, nowhere near Colaba. Though, my uncle had been to the Taj that afternoon. He returned back to base much before anything happened, thankfully. Just like he was planning on going jogging on the beach in Pondicherry the morning of the Tsunami, but changed his mind at 5 am… but that’s beside the point.
Oh, and I was supposed to go to Forum Mall but didn’t the day they found explosives there. And I watched them defuse a bomb outside Military School on July 25 on my way back home.
After all these ‘close-shaves’, what am I supposed to feel? I can’t feel ‘the spirit of India’ or ‘the resilience of the people’. It is a scary feeling when you know you could have been pushing the daisies along with the rest of the victims. You certainly do not want to feel that emotion again. It’s not the same feeling as thanking God for saving you when you narrowly miss falling off a skyscraper or something. Because you know that a terrorist attack means sure death or maiming, and that it can happen to anyone anytime. And a terror attack is NOT an accident.
Everyone says ‘we need to stay calm’. Yes, I know panic makes things worse, but how can I put my mind at rest when I’ll be had next time if not this time? I don’t mind not panicking, but they expect me to behave as if nothing’s wrong. When it so clearly is.
Everyone says ‘Be resilient, if we show we are affected, the terrorists have had their way’. Why should I pretend nothing’s happened? Doesn’t the incident deserve the attention it does? Don’t I need to acknowledge in some way? Some way different from placing flowers and lighting candles, of course.
And I feel helpless, because there is nothing I can do to stop these attacks. My life is not in my own hands. It never was, but there never was this level of uncertainity when it came to “Will I be alive and well in the next fifteen days?”. And there is nothing I can do about it.
Or is there?
There must be some way citizens can assert their right to live.
Voting is one way. But the average Indian considers it a choice between the Devil and the deep blue sea. Anyway, I don’t think there is any point in advising people about who to vote for… that is the job of others.
I suppose we should form Citizens’ Vigilance Groups. Because terror can’t take such a form without the explicit complicity of locals. When people can agitate so much that people stop bursting crackers during Diwali, I’m sure people can go about educating others on the little things they do that create a loophole which terrorists use. You can go about making it compulsory for police verification of prospective tenants, but nothing will happen unless citizens themselves take the initiative.
You have richkid Rahul Bose blabbing that he does not want India to become a Police State. I’m sure he and his ilk will successfully stop any stringent measure to contain terrorists from being implemented. So what’s the solution? Locality watch. Where people of a certain locality make sure they know each other reasonably well that any oddness is spotted immediately. Like the guy claiming to be from Gulbarga, but who speaks English and Urdu and not Kannada or Marathi. Or the guy claiming to be a Malay citizen but who speaks Urdu and doesn’t pepper his sentences with ‘Lah’s and doesn’t know too much about KL and doesn’t know about the existence of Michelle Yeoh. Or the engineer from NITC who has strange friends dropping over. Or the reclusive Yahoo! engineer who stops everyone at the door and says bye.
Sure, it’s not going to stop all attacks, but it makes it a wee bit more harder for them to find a safe house.
And… such a group which shares a common interest will be able to agitate for speedy justice to be administered in case of caught terrorists, and balance out those Human-Rights activists.
We have groups to agitate for water, power and good roads in their localities. Since basic safety is a more pressing concern, why can’t existing groups make it part of their agenda?
Janaagraha, Mr. Ramesh Ramanathan, are you listening?
Update: I guess I exaggerated the vigilantism bit. It probably wouldn’t have that much of an impact in that direction, considering there are always entire neighbourhoods full of brainwashed folks who’ll very nicely collude in hiding terrorists. But where citizens can help is in forming pressure groups. Groups that pressurize the government and media to make sure terror is not let go scot free. Like people can agitate for the immediate execution of Afzal Guru, or pressurize the ATS into investigating all these attacks more efficiently… or something like that.
Another area where citizen groups can help is in creating awareness. Jaago Re and all is great, but groups of citizens just like you telling you to get off your seat and register yourself to vote has a better impact that radio and TV ads. Also, most people have a very cliched idea of politics, and assume it’s all blame-game and siphoning off funds. This perception needs to be changed, because it is not true of all politicians. It’ll be great if these citizen groups actually went about spreading awareness about each political party, each controversy, and told people not just the TRP-generating stuff. Distant dream, lots of technical glitches here – like how do you keep it unbiased , but worth a try all the same.
So Obama’s Presidential Transition Team has an Indian woman now. Sonal Shah. Her appointment has sparked off a controversy. Not coz she’s Indian or anything, but because her father was closely associated with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
Some groups called ‘Coalition Against Genocide’ (who count amongst their achievements getting the US to deny a visa to Modi) have kicked up a controversy about this. And predictably, the lady has denied any links with VHP and RSS and says she is against divisive politics.
I’m sick of the whole ‘Right is wrong’ approach that has been drummed into our heads. In any other country, the VHP would be just another religious group, the RSS one of the foremost volunteer organizations, and folks supporting these groups would just be nationalists… but in ours, we are fascists, neo-Nazis, Hindu versions of Zionists, terrorists, mischief-mongers, communalists, you name it.
The VHP has never outright supported any sort of violence, and never has the RSS hand in communalism, if ever it had one, been proved. Godse assassinated Gandhi of his own volition, and the RSS had nothing to do with it, for all you folks who suggest that line of thought. In fact, that was a mere excuse for Nehru to ban an organization which was against his policies… that man couldn’t stand any differences in opinion now, could he? He blacked out Godse’s defense of himself in court… read it here, and you’ll understand why it was blacked out.
I’m sick of watching people apologize for the religion they follow, even though it’s the one which has shown maximum resilience, maximum tolerance, maximum flexibility to its followers, maximum objectivity and maximum ability to change and adapt as the situation demands, and almost never seem like an anachronism.
It doesn’t do to be in denial anymore about our past and heritage, or to continue to believe myths that make us feel ashamed of our rich history and traditions. It only serves to deplete us, bring down our self-esteem and self-confidence, turn cynical, not have faith in ourselves and our abilities. Lesser cultures have sped ahead of us merely by virtue of their self-confidence.
The past might just be the past, dead and gone, and never to return. But it surely would serve to inspire us, to give us the energy to go on with our duties even when we feel we’ve hit a brick wall.
Like, Koreans work fifteen hours a day, take very short breaks, and in general do things which we folks would consider symptoms of OCD… but they work at whatever they are doing with the feeling that every drop of sweat they shed is helping build their economy, which was shattered by the wars and invasions. And apart from boosting deo sales, it makes their country a rich, prosperous one. I don’t mean to say that’s the path to salvation, but this is just to illustrate what a bit of patriotism and self-confidence can do.
Separation of religion and state is ideal for oppressive, hierarchical religions, but not for pagan heathens for whom religion is a way of life. We worship rain, money, food, tools, animals, you name it. Religion is so ingrained into our lives that to shift-delete it from our lives would be to obliterate our identities and all that we stand for.
Being ‘conservative’ means to ‘conserve’ the ideals our forefathers have left us. For other countries which were left legacies that aren’t organic, and are not sustainable, it might be ideal to have revolution as the midwife of history, but when we already have a nicely-working legacy system, it doesn’t make sense to break it all down just because it’s old, though it might be more robust than any new system you might bring in. Ancient does not necessarily mean outdated.
In the Indian context, it makes more sense to preserve than to destroy what we have.
A Muslim country like Indonesia considers the Ramayana as an integral part of its culture, so much that it finds representation in currency notes, and we question and deny the same thing, which is more a matter of faith than logic. And choose to emboss our currency notes with another sacred cow.
I see no anachronism in chanting the Gayatri Mantra, wearing a sacred thread, going on a pilgrimage to Rameshwaram, believing Setu existed, celebrating a thousand-odd festivals, worshipping thirty-three crore Gods and Goddesses, doing the Surya Namaskar, rendering the Omkara, playing religious music on All India Radio, speaking Sanskritized Hindi, Tamil or whatever Indian language, being vegetarian, being allowed to joke about my religion, being allowed to believe, or not, having enough authority to bring in reform as and when I choose to to my religion.
I see no point in espousing atheism and denigrating Gods and idol worship if the alternative is you are supposed to revere sacred cows like this one and this one and against who it is illegal to commit any blasphemy.
Hare Krishna and Vande Mataram.
I don’t know if I read too much between the lines or what… I felt the beer scene in Rang De Basanti was from Tolstoy’s War and Peace. I also felt Jab We Met was an adaptation of Wodehouse’s Damsel in Distress. Like I’ve said before, I thought Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na was a remake of Niram. Maybe it’s just human nature to understand new things in terms of the old, or maybe I’m like Miss Marple who has a St. Mary’s Mead analogy for every incident and character.
So when I was watching 24X7 last night, the Lok Sabha proceedings seemed hilarious – the Speaker was more like a class monitor, and the noisy MPs reminded me of my classmates at school (we were the most notorious bunch). The Speaker yelling for silence was simply too much to take, and when he said “If you keep talking, I’ll understand you don’t want the Trust Vote… do you want the Trust Vote or not?”, I was reminded of Varalakshmi Miss saying “Chil-raaan, if you make noise, I won’t take you to the AV Room for the movie”. All that was missing was writing bad names on the board.
Oh, and did anyone notice the esteemed Speaker pick his nose on (inter)national television?
And after the results of the Vote were declared, the Speaker hurriedly played Vande Mataram, as if to enforce silence and order in the house, and prevent pandemonium from breaking out immediately.
Anyway, all this behaviour seemed darkly funny, comical even… now that rang a bell… the whole cash-for-votes thing reminded me of an Asterix comic – Asterix At The Olympic Games. As for details:
…the Gauls decide to participate in the Games as well, under the view that – as part of the Roman world – they are legally Romans (only free-born Greek citizens were allowed to compete in the ancient Olympics, but under pressure an exception was made for their Roman occupiers). They later arrive in Greece for the games, and are entered in the list of participants, much to the surprise of the Greeks and the consternation of the Romans.
Eventually the Romans file a protest about the magic potion, which is banned by the Olympic officials; this decision would seem to put an end to the Gauls’ attempts to win a golden palm (the Romans being much fitter and better trained). However, in an ingenious twist, Asterix and the druid Getafix leak the location of the potion to the Romans, who, in their desire to win, all take the banned substance – which is laced with a dye which turns their tongues blue – and are disqualified, leaving Asterix as the winner by default (though the villagers act as if he won by his own efforts). …
Hmm… maybe as Mahesh Bhatt says, there are only seven stories in the world, and so such analogies are the norm rather than the exception.
PS: A year ago, at Landmark, I found a handsomely-bound (in jute), handsomely priced, well-illustrated book (translated to English from the original French) called Nicholas, by René Goscinny, one of the two creators of Asterix. Sadly I already had an armful of books, and thought I’d come back for it. I remembered the book only a couple of months back, and have tried a hazaar bookstores, but no one seems to have it. Anyone come across a copy anywhere? Anyone possess a copy and willing to lend?
Nah… I don’t have a good enough post to merit this title… getting my Voter ID passed off without incident.
Unless of course you count all our addresses being printed wrong, to some location that possibly doesn’t exist.
Or the guy with the ragged shirt and the gold chain, watch, bracelet and ring.
Or the ladies agitating that the ladies line moved slower than the gents’ one. And the policeman saying the ladies’ comp was virus-infected, and hence, slow. I offered to fix the virus with Avast, and the policeman vainly declared that no power on earth could fix the problem, and if it was so easy *mean look at me*, the nation would have developed many years back.
Nothing that really HAPPENED, or is worth blogging about. Just I don’t feel like passing up the title.
Yeah, so reams have been written about how unfair Proctor was, how unfair the entire treatment of the Indian cricket team was, how Symonds deserves to be kicked…
On another blog about this entire thing, one commenter had suggested that we googlebomb Andrew Symonds.
For the uninitiated, Googlebombing is an attempt to influence the ranking of a given page in results returned by Google.
Now as we all know, Google’s PageRank algorithm works such that a page with a larger number of links from other pages leading to it is a higher-ranked search result. And Google also makes use of the words in the link in other pages to determine how/where to index the linked page.
That translates roughly to this: If a sizeable number of us with blogs/webpages link up Symonds’ profile on Cricinfo, with the word Crybaby [the link leads to the profile], in the link, good chances are that googling for crybaby would lead to the page on Cricinfo.
A good example of a precedent would be googling for “failure” or “miserable failure” and finding Bush’s page as the top result, or googling for “more evil than Satan himself” and the top result being the Microsoft homepage.
I’m not giving a jingoistic speech to induce people to do this, but heck, it doesn’t take too much to do, most bloggers have ranted on the unfairness already, and all they’ll have to do is edit a reference to Symonds with the word Crybaby and link that word to the Cricinfo page. And more people will definitely blog about the ongoing series in the near future; all they’ll have to do is have one reference to the page.
It isn’t totally unethical; Google doesn’t condemn googlebombing as such – Marissa Mayer, Google Director of Consumer Web Products says on the official Google blog:
“We don’t condone the practice of googlebombing, or any other action that seeks to affect the integrity of our search results, but we’re also reluctant to alter our results by hand in order to prevent such items from showing up. Pranks like this may be distracting to some, but they don’t affect the overall quality of our search service, whose objectivity, as always, remains the core of our mission.”
I’m not wanting to claim any fame as the principal instigator of all this, and frankly, while I think it’s fun to do, I’m not yet sure of my moral position on this. If in case people take up this idea of their own volition, if enough people think of it as a good-enough idea to combat the biased Australian media, or are convinced that this is the pinnacle of Indian self-expression, and the ultimate Indian attack, the advantage of our long-criticized high population.. <insert any other justification you might find>, it’ll be something that’ll go down the pages of history…. maybe in small print, but still will. It would be something people would take notice of. Definitely more than just an enormous number of blogposts. And in my opinion, this might just unite and bond the Indian blogosphere.
Having said that, if at all enough people say they would take it up, this can be a good place to start for discussing and finalizing a page and a keyword. My suggestion has been Crybaby and a link to the Cricinfo profile of Andrew Symonds: http://content-www.cricinfo.com/australia/content/player/7702.html
If we do decide to do this, we might as well do it well, and to do that we need to be united in our efforts. And we need to work fast; the euphoria about the series will soon flag unless some controversy erupts in the following two Tests, and we soon won’t have the justification that this would boost the morale of our Men In Blue by showing them the Indian blogging community is with them on this.
If you think this is unethical, do comment here with your reasons. If you think this is a great idea, do comment here with your reasons. I simply think of this as an idea, with nothing inherently good or bad about it.
Comment here with your suggestions on keyword. Let it not be anything racist, but just mildly demeaning – a googlebomb merely creates an unsettling flutter, and the last thing we (and our Men in Blue) want is to be labelled a racist nation. The only one I can think of is “crybaby”. I think my suggestion for page to be linked is fine…. if you have any views on that, do comment.
Oh, and if and when it’s finally decided to go ahead with this idea, please make the keyword integrate with your post… like it’s part of a sentence, like it naturally has its place there – for example “The Men in Blue are too cool to be fazed by cheats and a simpering crybaby“. Google gives it more value that way.