Nehru’s Stratagem: IITs and declining student activism


Yeah, I know the title sounds very heavy, but this isn’t a serious or well-thought or well-researched post. It’s just a random thought that occurred to me now when I was arbiting looking for things that will help with this. [Advertisement: NITK proudly presents Engineer 2008. Online events are aplenty, one of which is Virtual Bounty, everyone’s favourite online treasure hunt which requires little apart from your Googling skills. Prize money to the tune of USD 250, and more importantly, bragging rights, at stake. Check it out! Event’s on 10 Feb 2008, Sunday, 3 PM to 6 PM.. or 1500 hrs to 1800 hrs. Teams of Two. Everyone’s eligible, whether you’re a techie or a student or a teacher, or a doc or a lawyer…. all you need is a working Net connection. Tell your friends].

You find students, and in general, youth were at the center of any revolutionary uprising. Universities were cauldrons of simmering new thought and bubbling novel ideas. And student activism. Like it’s portrayed in Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi, or any of those ’80s Bengali movies. Student leaders were big fish who later moved on to mainstream politics. Like Laloo Yadav – I believe he was the Students’ Union leader of Patna University, from where he has a degree in Law.

Now however, all we have is the dregs. There’s Manohar Parikkar, ex-CM of Goa, who was apparently Mess Manager while he was a student at IITB. Oh, and there’s another rival Goan politician who’s also from IITB… I forget his name. And the last remaining vestige of the student activist or student politician would be Michael Vasanth from Aayutha Ezhuthu/Yuva (played excellently by Surya and botched up like manure by Ajay Devgan).

You don’t find such types anymore. Nehru saw to it when he took a critical first step of getting Soviet co-operation to convert the Hijli Detention Camp to IIT-KGP.

Since then, any Priya Venkateshan who would have come under the the influence of right-wing idealogy (or worse, left-wing), taken it upon herself to start and edit a student newspaper which would idealize and provide good press for Swami Vivekananda, Veer Savarkar, Bose, Godse, RSS and VHP (or alternately, China, Marx and Communism, with special attention to denouncing agriculture, hating Jews and pursuing an anti-US stance), spend half her youth in and out of lock-ups, wear khadi kurtas, thick-rimmed glasses and carry a jhola… okay, I’m getting ahead of myself… any such person has instead spent half her teenage in JEE coaching centers, then giving n-hazaar exams, and then wasting away at an undergrad college in the middle of nowhere, and which is certainly not a hub of original political thought, or anywhere close to one, and what she learns at college (if at all), has absolutely nothing to do with politics or running the country.

The brightest young minds in the country are busy swotting for entrance exams, so busy that they don’t glance at the paper unless it screams out about paper leaks or exam postponements. When they get together to discuss, it’s almost always about problems in Irodov or ML Khanna.

Student Union causes are now down to getting enough funds for Engineer, Incident, Saarang, Techfest, Shaasta, Mood I, Cul-Ah!, Down Sterling, Alcheringa, Strawberry Fields and godaloneknowswhatother college fest. Social causes, if any, include collecting money to be sent to earthquake victims at Bhuj, or cleaning the beach for the mandatory extra-curriculars Credit. Other worries include having nightmares about the (extracurricular interest) club website having crashed. Or worse, hacked into.

Instead of perusing political news and getting incensed, people now are forced to mug financial news and arbit stats; they need to be prepared for their IIM GD/PI. And anti-US sentiments ha! Which other place is affordable, Indian-friendly and provides good quality graduate education? The part of India that would probably have been incensed is safely in the US, sufficiently far away from causing havoc by voting. And the incensed ones that remain in India feel that the best way of lodging their protests is by *not* voting!

And we are the generation whose grandparents were members of Indira Gandhi’s Vanar Sena. And whose parents were brought up on the legend of Chacha Nehru, the kid-friendly PM. And who too, have grown on the same idealogy, so much that we would say “Nehru-Chacha? Naah…. how can you believe he sent Subhas Bose to the Gulag (concentration camp in the USSR) with help from Mountbatten and Stalin just because he feared Bose would be the PM? This guy loved kids! Any man who likes children can’t be all that bad…”

Mr. Nehru, you were probably the brightest person in your family (you were the last to get a college degree… only your great-grandson Feroze Varun has attained that distinction since… Antonia Maino failed to complete her spoken-English course… Rajiv dropped out…), your services would have been at great demand at Ogilvy and Mather. The US could very well take a leaf out of your book when it comes to shaping public opinion, perception and social engineering. You’ve basically insured generations of your progeny from public backlash irrespective of how much of their *own* garibi they hataao-fy.

Of course, your KGB Agent granddaughter-in-law tries her best, but being of foreign origin, she only divides and rules the country on sectarian lines by increasing Quota Raj and asking for head-counts of people of various religions in the Armed Forces, apart from pleading clemency for a convicted terrorist; she doesn’t quite understand the importance Indians give to education and social status the way you did.

PS: I don’t think students focussing on things other than politics is wrong. We need to focus on wealth-creation and technological innovation more than anything else now. But heck, just why are the inborn-leader kids not hitting the political scene?

Update: Ah, now that Virtual Bounty is done, I can link folks up to the inspiration behind this post. VBounty, btw was a huuuuuuge hit, record-breaking participation… more than 500 teams took part, and the server acted admirably under the load. If you find this guy anywhere, don’t hesitate to ask for treat ๐Ÿ˜€ . If you took part in this (the event, not the asking for treat), thanks for your assistance in making this event a colossal success, and we at Engineer 2008 look forward to your continued support in making our techfest a grand success.

Anyway.. the inspiration.. was this articleย  about the uprising at Athens Polytechnic University (which I couldn’t link to, as it was an answer to one of the questions in the event) which was the first step towards overthrowing the Junta who were controlling Greece as a dictatorship. Just peruse that link… it was the students who started off the revolution and brought down the dictatorship. NOW, you dissenters, talk.

About wanderlust

just your average books-and-music person who wants to change the world.
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42 Responses to Nehru’s Stratagem: IITs and declining student activism

  1. DiguDon says:

    Good thought on ‘Why able students are not jumping into Politics?’
    Let me try to answer this.
    1.No Parent will ever say. “Magne, Join Politics.. there is a bright future”, because they want to see him in ‘suits’ not in ‘kurta’.
    2.Current Scams, Arrests, disrespect shown to politicians by society is a major issue.
    3.Coming to current scenario… rowdis, narrow-communal attitude youth (they are generated,created by politicians to save their ‘power’ by physical power if needed) dominate that area.(Remember VHP,Bajarangdal activists.. they behave absolutely rude).Where a guy like me and you are having ‘unfit’ qualification in that regard.
    4.Leaders calling qualified youth to join the parties do not assure them a post.(they have a 1:50::post:activists !! you and me ll be in the last)
    5.INBORN leaders mostly are from middle class and below middle class families, at their peak time (20-35 age) its not logical/feasible/acceptable to make public speeches tearing their throats or to sit-down for a protest in middle of the saying “WE WANT JUSTICE” when his/her family needs his support.
    6.Last one is simple…INSECURITY!

    Guess ‘m clear on my ideas.

  2. wanderlust says:

    agreed, politics is dirty and off-putting.
    but my post was also about the youth feeling that they could make a difference in the political climate. that their political opinions mattered. that they would fight for causes that concerned them.
    now if the quota thing had happened in the ’60s, there would be blood on the streets and students boycotting their classes to agitate against the government. This we saw only in case of AIIMS students and that too because they could threaten to stop their internship work. now all that happened was the students in IITs and NITs, (where quota impact would be felt max) chumma ranted on their blogs, some of them spoke on national television, but that was in effect all they did.
    or take for example our own college where there were some politically motivated happenings in our first year. and some occurrences last year. There were mass emails, signature campaigns, but they all ended there.
    we are all more materialistic, less idealistic, and you can even call us prudent and practical… and generally feel politics is not at all our cup of tea. It is not us who are to blame for such an attitude; we are only the product of our enviroment, in this case atleast.
    the saddest part is, people don’t even bother to keep themselves abreast of the political situation, and if they do, they normally don’t have their own opinions about the situation. So the brightest minds of the country don’t much analyze the politics here. And if they do, they normally don’t care enough or are not in a position to make a significant change in the political history of the country.

  3. Ruhi says:

    Wow! You went on quite a rant in this post. First you talked about how today’s youth doesn’t care about politics. And then you went on to criticize Sonia Gandhi and the pathetic political scene. In between all this, you even took a jibe at students who choose to get involved in other inter-college competitions and stuff. ๐Ÿ™‚

    The part of India that would probably have been incensed is safely in the US, sufficiently far away from causing havoc by voting.

    Umm..I’m in the US and believe me, I was never incensed even when I was in India, for good or for bad.

    Is politics really a good career option? I don’t think we can blame ourselves for not even thinking about it. Why should the brightest minds go into it, when even people like Laloo who don’t know anything can become political leaders? It’s best left to ‘politicians’. Don’t take my wrong, but you sound a little unfair when you say “Other worries include having nightmares about the (extracurricular interest) club website having crashed. Or worse, hacked into. Instead of perusing political news and getting incensed, people now are forced to mug financial news and arbit stats; they need to be prepared for their IIM GD/PI. ”

    What’s wrong in doing any of these things? There needs to be a healthy balance of everything. And people who are interested in politics get into it anyway. If everyone were to get into politics, then who would run the corporations and other fields? I’ll tell you why I don’t give a rat’s ass about the political scene in India.- because I find better venues to apply my brain. As simple as that.

    I think you’re talking about less than 1% of the educated population who would even want to get into politics . It’s definitely not a smart move, IMO. Your topic is quite heavy- I wish you wouldn’t have bounced on so many random things and instead, would have concentrated on one sub topic.

  4. wanderlust says:

    @ruhi, digudon and anyone else reading this:
    it’s not only politics i’m talking about here. it’s about student activism. Students taking issues that concern them into their own hands. Students willing to spend time and enthusiasm on (possibly political) issues around them.
    @ruhi:
    >>In between all this, you even took a jibe at students who choose to get involved in other inter-college competitions and stuff
    oh, god, NO! Why would I put that advert at the beginning of the post then?
    you completely miss the point i chose to make by giving that example, and you completely misunderstand me.
    For the record, I love culfests and techfests.
    >>I was never incensed even when I was in India,
    I’m not so sure that’s true of the rest of the NRIs… the outpouring of support for Modi by NRIs on online forums and blogs was way, way too overwhelming as were their tirades on Arjun Singh.

    I’m not talking about politics as a career option. I’m talking about being more involved in major changes that happen around us that merely happen to be political.
    It’s a narrow view to classify ‘politicians’ as a separate species… you find people with such (not necessarily negative) qualities everywhere – in your college, in your friends’ circle, among your relatives…
    I never said there was anything inherently good or bad about the things I mentioned – it was more of a “the situation is such” attitude I took – It’s great that students are involved more than before in their acads. Only toward the end of the post do I get negative when I talk about Sonia Gandhi. I don’t even criticize Nehru.

    You are right. there needs to be an active balance of everything – including political awareness and activism on the side of students – we are the people who will bring the next government into power, so it’s only fair we try to get to know more about the situation so that we make a near-optimal decision. and awareness and activism doesn’t make you a politician… It’s just like every engineering student learns to code, coz it comes useful at some level or the other… just learning C doesn’t make one a student of computer science.
    What gives you the feeling it doesn’t take brains to run the country? or that Premji is more astute than Laloo Yadav? IMO, the Gujarat elections weren’t won or lost on political issues – the winning party was simply more organized and the backroom boys had started the groundwork more than a year in advance that was in stark contrast with the others who hadn’t even a concrete candidate for CM.
    >>I think youโ€™re talking about less than 1% of the educated population who would even want to get into politics . Itโ€™s definitely not a smart move
    The same can be said of bollywood aspirants. but you do get an SRK or a Big B… and a Mughal-E-Azam.
    >>Your topic is quite heavy- I wish you wouldnโ€™t have bounced on so many random things and instead, would have concentrated on one sub topic.
    yeah… it was close to the dead of the night; I’d just read something and this arbit thought occurred, and then this post happened… hence the disclaimer at the beginning of the post. maybe you can develop on the theme in a way more organized that how i approached the subject?

  5. harish says:

    ‘Perusing political news’ – now that ‘uncool’ these days. A few weeks back, when I was reading the newspaper in the bus on my way to work, the gentleman sitting next to me asked, ‘Oh you read the first few pages too?’ in a tone that was quite condescending. It was so because I was reading the political news that’s there in those pages. I said, ‘Yes, I do read them. Newspaper reading is not complete for me without reading the political news’. ‘Oh you don’t read fiction. That’s why you like political news’, was his reply that stunned me. What was the relation between reading fiction and political news, I wondered for a moment. And I do read fiction for that matter. But the point is why is reading political news almost a taboo?
    Agreed that politicians in India are generally corrupt. But why should that stop you from keeping yourself aware of political happenings? And these are the people, as you have rightly said, who take pride in not voting. Had these people kept themselves aware and had taken the trouble of going to the polling booth and voting in 2004, things would have been quite different.
    Let’s hope things change atleast now.

  6. Arjun says:

    Harish’s blatantly right-wing bias shines through in his comment here. I condemn this, as I condemn anything associated with him. He is the kind who will insist that Rama was, in fact, a historical figure despite the Ram Sethu being only a figment of a deranged imagination, a mass hallucination. That an openly communal personality like him has been allowed to even comment on your blog is surprising.

    You’re right, Ajay Devgan screwed up what Surya had wrought.

  7. Arjun says:

    I think all of us feel the need to get into politics and change the system. And we probably could, if it came down to it. But as long as success is measured in terms of your degrees and your job and the locality you buy your first house in, there’s no way we will see a mass exodus of youth into politics. No jubba-wearing, Mrinal Sen-watching, ‘Vote for Jan Sangh!’ screaming, Marx-reading, Emergency protesting, Indira-baiting, arrest courting corps of youth. This isn’t right, saying “I won’t do this for my country because there’s no money in it.” But that’s sadly how it is. When your family and friends don’t support you, I’m not sure many of us would be strong enough to do it. Money probably wasn’t this important in the ’70s.

    I’d love to be like Siddharth in Hazaaron… But sadly, I’m becoming more and more like Vikram. Without the power.

  8. Arjun says:

    Very nice post, I forgot to say.

  9. wanderlust says:

    @harish:
    any talk of politics is taboo. yeah, it doesn’t make for polite conversation, and it frankly can be dangerous at times, but hell, where are the interesting addas that used to spring up on train journeys where there would be heated political debates aided by chai and vada-pav?
    @arjun:
    how do you _prove_ that rama was not a historical figure? or a figment of a deranged imagination?
    what’s communal about being rightwing? now if you ask me, that’s leftwing brainwash we’ve been subjected to, by Macaulay’s worthy successor, Nehru. Every country has a rightwing mediahouse to keep a check on the rest, except india.
    some loser says rama was a drunkard and asks if he studied in an engineering college… all that in the mainstream media… now _that_ is communal.

    and it need not be about money… it’s taking a risk. narayan murthy risked a lot while starting infosys. the IT industry wasn’t seen as some sure bet; and he was putting all his money into it with no guarantees of any returns… and the only thing that went his way at the beginning was that his wife was supportive.

    even if they can’t get into politics, what stops people from being aware of the situation and asserting their views? democracy is harder on the citizens this way, coz it asks for them to _think_.
    and we don’t need to change the system.. that’s again leftwing philosophy that probably applies to some race of people without innovation or enterprise or any sort of capability to deal with legacy systems… we just need to finetune the way it works.

    more than the money thing, the political scene a lot more subtle and complicated now. it takes a lot of chaalaaki to be successful there… it’s not unlike any other high pressure high flying job, except maybe you have a lot more backstabs and less money coming your way.

    IMO siddharth was a goddamn coward stock uppercrust idealist who took himself far too seriously, and had zilch planning, zero idea of how to go about things, wrong priorities, no cares about his girlfriend/wife, no courage… basically nothing except idealism. which is definitely not the way to go about anything… eventually gives up even the idealism and subscribes to the system.
    don’t be sad about turning vikram… he got the girl in the end.

  10. harish says:

    ‘…without innovation or enterprise or any sort of capability to deal with legacy systems…’ – This looked straight out of a corporate presentation. ๐Ÿ˜›

  11. wanderlust says:

    @harish:
    corporate presentation! yikes!

  12. Arjun says:

    Changing the system is not leftwing philosophy. It’s just a philosophy(and a noble one at that). No wings.

    Being aware is good, but doesn’t help much. I’m aware. So is Harish(he seems the kind who would be aware even of some evil gentleman named Shennappa who was elected to one of the local municipal bodies of Bangalore in 1994-95). You’re right, the backstabbing is too much and politics will never have societal/familial backing.

    Having winged mediahouses, if you will, is what is causing so much distress to viewers of news channels and readers of print media. Outlook and NDTV can’t stop leaning in favour of the Karat Komrades, while…ok, admittedly, there’s no one leaning in favour of the Bhajapa Brigadiers(The New Indian Express, sometimes. But never as blatantly as Vinod Mehta or Prannoy Roy). For once, we should have an honest, unbiased news network like The Onion or The Daily Show in the US.

    As for proving Rama’s existence, I will shamelessly plug something I wrote a long time back and say:- here

    Yes, it did look like something out of a corporate presentation, I’m afraid.

  13. harish says:

    New Indian Express has never ‘leaned in favour of the Bhajapa Brigadiers’. They are as much unabashedly in favour of a Congress dispensation under Sonia as is the Times Of India for example. They are only slightly more balanced than the Times Of India.

    If you are aware, you can do many things. One of them is spreading political awareness. With so much of technology around these days, we can easily do this. We need not have to join a political party or form one. Another thing that you can do is go out and vote as a politically aware person. I have lost count of the number of times I have said this.

    In this direction of spreading awareness, the web can be an easy and fairly effective medium, atleast to begin with. This, I believe, is the least we can do as citizens.

  14. wanderlust says:

    changing the system is contrary to rightwing principles. while i’m not arguing that that makes it leftwing philosophy, “changing the system” is a cry that has been adopted widely by leftists worldwide.
    I don’t see anything noble about changing the system. Fine you have a mess on your hands. Your destroying everything and starting all over again just shows your ineptitude and lack of planning. revamping is okay. changing the system for the heck of it isn’t.
    and being aware is your duty in a democracy… and in many places, the congress comes to power coz sonia is apparently mohandas’s granddaughter.
    we have seen that unbiased media reporting is as far from reality as pink flying elephants. so till something like C-SPAN becomes a reality, why not have something to represent the other line of thought, too?
    Radhika Roy is related to Brinda Karat, end of story.
    your post was ambiguous and full of rhetoric.. couldn’t make head or tail out of it and i sort of got around to agreeing with the last line there.
    @harish:
    ToIlet paper runs with the hares and hunts with the hounds. Deccan Herald seems relatively less biased.
    On the Web, the problem is everything is an Op-Ed. We need to move beyond that… because it can easily turn counterproductive at some level as people might mistake the truth for hate speech. we need a news channel or a newspaper. we really do.

  15. Siri says:

    The Devil signs my paycheck. Besides, I’m bored.

    A slight turn-of-phrase is needed. The brightest minds, that aren’t involved with Social activism, in the field of *Science(or to dys-phemise, Engineering ) * are busy mugging for exams, apart from which there still are some bright people, doing things they believe in, albeit in other fields. (Before you seek to slit my throat, I am from a student of engineering too)

    Delhi University apart, where it is still a big deal to get admitted into a course in the Humanities; where Student politics is fought to the death; where prospects for students are as enviable as those of kids from any premier insti of any vocation, Universities all over the country are seeing better enrollment to their Humaities and Liberal arts departments. And these are not just indicators of the Academic Interest in Social Sciences but of a widespread and more general interest in social issues.

    All of us know that in this age of strong media support, reach, penetration and patronage, Indian Media has never been in a better position to change things. With the sorta viewership/readership it currently enjoys, and the connection with the youth, The burgeoning Indian under-25 populace is quite in touch with the political environment.

    Besides, Social Activism is at an all time high, as far as general support and participation is concerned. If just the number of young Corporates that set aside time/money/effort/services for social causes is anything to go by.

    The khadi/specs/jola scenario is a thing of the past, distant past actually…If, again, the number of kids turning up in torn jeans at regular Sunday NGO POA meetings speaks anything.

    As for Political Activism, I believe that there really is a thin line between Political and Social awareness. What I see, is interest in the latter form influencing Junta into the former.

    To get to the actual point(yea, 2000 words later ๐Ÿ™‚ ) A Mobilized and overtly-active youth movement can only spell danger for a society.

    Firstly, all the activists I was harping about knowing, are in their-true-skins just kids elated at having pulled something off. Even if the ‘something’ is as insignificant as an organisation-structure and a ‘Mission Document’, they are more often than not, just faithful Khadder(Because Fabindia’s been done to death) customers and noisy rattlers of all statistics pertaining to India’s poor. I have been a passive part of many such organisations, tried starting one, have heard from people that deserted such organisations after a lot of hard work because they realised it wasn’t what they started out to do. End of the day, the best NGOs are the ones that have been around since before wearing designer Khadi was cool.

    As for the Nehru-sque Socialist youth movement:
    There was this brilliant article about how Putin’s office had managed to get 15-20 year olds form unofficial party-activists or workers in Moscow and about how these were nothing but glorified ganglords exuding Muscle power because of their allegiance to the Premier’s office and party.

    Besides, the above mentioned political activists, being all of 17 or 18,in most cases, were bubblegum chewing, body-art touting teens. Not the least similar to their Indian counterparts, who can at least quote from The Discovery Of India if not understand it. So one kind has no inkling of what Political ideology really is, while the other goofs up, in the process of trying to make a statement.

    Oh and by the way, Yuva was a brilliant movie. It is imperative that we understand that even in Yuva, all the gore and fight that Micheal had to endure, was to get to *be a part of the system*. Not to attack it, but to influence it. The college-students-sitting-on-Hartals picture is asking for *challenging* the system and not influencing it- as is obviously more effective.

    Oh and all the groups of kids uniting to demonstrate are signs of activism in Socialist societies or are in other words, instruments of left-tending people.(Bong strikes, anyone?) Not Right.

    Conservativ-ist tendencies lobby with sentiments and to use a raw word, self-Bias while the Commies resort to mobilizing groupies and suchlike.(In India, at the least)

    Considering that the Reservations fiasco did NOT happen in the ’60s AND considering there was no Blood On The Streets, isn’t it all a good thing. If there were kids dying on the streets, martyring themselves for causes they supposedly believed in so as to make a point, would that be a situation to be proud of?

    More right wingers in this country would spell ultimate catastrophe. Because, besides professing support for the BJP and dissing the Congress like right wingers are wont to, we would have Regional franchises of the mammoth body fighting for a Karnataka for Kannadigas, Mahrashtra for Mahrashtrians(Continuing on the Sena will have me writing 5 more comments. So I abstain.) et al, backed by the notion that An India for the majority, and elevation for the conservatives is a perfectly valid demand.

    Honestly, Right wings enjoy support and are rather benign as also effective in a lot of other countries because Conservative ideologies and the protection of natives’ interests are essential. But! In a country that is more or less full of cultural nomads and cultural conflicts, we’d end up biting each others heads off!
    Go liberto-centrist(Mann i can bullsit!) (Of course, ideally sprinkled with a little Right-Might to balance opinions…)

    Lastly, Why don’t these dumb-fucks stop discussing EPL and get to discussing politics. And, getting the youth to discussing politics can take us a long way are statements/arguments that are very valid and at the same time over-abused by people (like myself). I have rallied around with that sentiment for a long time now, and have only recently come to realise that it did nothing, but give me some sorta security blanket to point fingers at others, who were more or less on the same plane as I. Speech or no speech, Inaction binds us all. Oh and no offence. I absolutttely agree with your opinions on the importance of dialogue. I was just voicing a (moral) dilemma.

    Nice post. Only, I think it comes a little too late. ๐Ÿ™‚

    PS- I love Nehru. He was a bastard, I know. Still…

    PPS- This is a humongous comment I know. But I HAD to say all the things I said. So Apologies. I thought I’d mail you instead, but what the hell! i posted anyway.
    Cheers!

  16. Siri says:

    fuck! That’s a long comment. ๐Ÿ˜

  17. harish says:

    How badly misunderstood people are about Rightist politics is very evident by the comment made above by Siri. I don’t think right-wing politics means ‘Kannada for Kannadigas’ or Maharashtra for Maharastrians’ and so on just because the one party said something of that sort at some point in time. Rightist ideology, in India, is about a strong sense of nationalism. It’s about pride in our culture and our accomplishments as a nation. It’s about recognizing the importance of religion in our society. (Come on, we are a very religious nation. There’s nothing wrong in being so.)
    PS: Nothing personal here. No offences meant.

  18. harish says:

    After reading my above comment, some people might condescendingly dismiss me as a ‘RSS-wallah’ or ‘Bhajpa worker/politician’. I am not. But I am a person who strongly feels that India needs a vibrant party of the right. The BJP has done quite a lot in the past to be such a party, but of late they seem to be confused. Having said that, some recent developments make me hope they will be back to being what they should be.

  19. wanderlust says:

    @siri:
    you too seem to misunderstand what rightwing conservatism is all about, like harish says. i think my reply to that part of your comment merits an entire post by itself.
    as for the rest of your comment:
    for starters, i don’t think i’m shooting myself in the foot when I say the IITs and NITs have the highest concentration of people with potential to make a difference. these people are isolated and insulated from political thought, except maybe when an issue like reservation comes into the picture. my point was, by this, Indian politics is deprived of a whole chunk of people who might have made all the difference to the country by taking direct part in its leadership, had they had exposure to political thought even a fraction of as much as they have had to technical excellence.
    i’m not saying these people should have instead gone into humanities… an engineering education is the best gift original thought can get. engineers are used to objectively analyzing issues, they are able to disregard the rhetoric which others (say for example, Arundhati Roy) use as a substitute for substance. A PhD in Arts, and a prof at Osmania, to boot, like Kancha Ilaiah goes on to say things like “Hindus revere cows and hate buffaloes. Cows are white. Buffaloes are black. Thus Hindus are racist. QED”. Any engineer (or for that matter any rational person) would be able to deconstruct the argument and lambast this loser so badly he wouldn’t think of opening his mouth again and propagate such hatred, but for the fact that the average rational thinker has NO idea who kancha ilaiah is… and that is not to mean kancha ilaiah wields any less of his dangerous influence on the thoughts of thousands of dalits.
    agreed, corporates do social service, and lots of students do, too, in their spare time. that’s not the same as what i mean…. social service as done by NGOs is not sustainable development. a Mother Teresa kissing away the pain of a leper is not the same as writing a firebrand article about the lack of medical facilities that wakes the administration to provide adequate facilities for the entire region.
    my lament was about the thought process of most people of my generation not oriented in any way to the political developments that are shaping the nation. they have no opinion about the policies, forget the policymakers.
    yuva was a sucky movie. Aayutha Ezhuthtu was a brilliant movie. remember the scene where michael vasant is teaching physics to the rest of the jail inmates? Or when he refuses the scholarship to go abroad? we need people like that.
    “blood on the streets”. that would have been the way to make your point and try to influence the policymakers in the ’60s. Now, maybe not as violent or gory, but there should definitely be more effective methods of registering your protests than by signature campaigns, e-signature campaigns, blogs, and occasional interviews with the CNN-IBN reporter.
    media… ah, you awakened my pet peeve. the media simply feeds the youth with its own political biases in the form of biased opinions. the youth don’t have a taste of a different opinion, nor are they so enthused that they sally forth looking for different ones. And in the event they encounter an opinion different from that pandered by mainstream media, they dismiss it with ready terminology given to them by the same MSM – right-conservative, fundamentalist, anti-secular, hindutvawadi, moditva… which are all swearwords in this day.
    the days of firebrand investigative journalism with an aim of public good are long over. all we have now is pandering to the masses and the bosses.
    @siri’s second comment:
    oh, i didnt realize ๐Ÿ˜›
    @harish:
    i think i’ll post next on what right conservatism _really_ means. people wince like i’ve mouthed a racist incestuous swearword everytime i mention the term.

  20. Siri says:

    In spite of all the mistaking and misunderstanding Right-wing politics, I do remember writing something about regional *franchises* taking off at tangents with support from Conservative sentiments. Damn, I really must learn to emphasize on the words I want read.

    @Harish
    Yea, totally.

    Even the bhajapa that pulled a rather well-implemented and well-meaning Hindutva campaign off at the national level is joined at the hip with Bal Mee Mumbaikar Thackeray’s Shiv Sena, whose sometimes weird quirks, even they find impossible to appreciate; and WELL before Modi was turned into some sorta Economic revolution messiah/political tour de force with good PR,he caused much, to put it colloquially, redness of the face to the same bhajapa with comments such as hum paanch, hamare pachis’ . Victory can silence as many naysayers as it can stir passionate chants of support. In such instances, Right-ism is just a toned down reference to what really is an almost collectively radical Conservative bias.

    Rightist ideology is meant to be about Nationalism. But what about its excesses? what of its radical offshoots? Is Cultural Nationalism, which can be a decently effective in microsocieties of sorts, even relevant in a society like ours? Today’s news raises enough questions without me having to try. Nowhere did I claim to critique ideology or theory. All that I spoke about are the moves made by political organisations to garner following. Theory is another issue. If ignoring ugly truths staring at one’s face so as to make a point or to say that the other party is ignorant, is all it’s about, there really is little I have to say.

    @Priya
    What I am concerned about, is what I think are the dangers of Conservative thought, in the form purported by sections of Indian Neta-dom. Which all of us know, if not entirely agree, are packaged simply as pride-for one’s own and spite for others’. It is good to know you understand Rightist sentiments and could possibly even teach me what I seem to have missed understanding. But the horrible truth is that it is what the troops of either wing, that they manufacture so shrewdly, understand it to be. If an entire generation has misunderstood THE political ideology they profess, the REAL problem, I think, is not in identifying the fools in the pack and giving them discourses, but in the way it is being propagated itself. Lets face it. The average youth commie league member or RSS’s young patrons cannot possibly be told about 18th century Nationalist movements of Europe or Commie protest campaigns. What is easier, simply, is to arouse emotions of Glory For Nothing and creating subjective Outsider brands. Every political organisation that claims inclination to either ideology uses these tools to mobilize support. That is the whole truth. Regardless of what Marx’s manifesto says, or does Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s stand on heritage above most else, the machinery that garners support looks for Ends, not methods.

    If it is still convenient to brush opinions off as misunderstood, then be it.

    All the NGOs I dissed, did nothing sustainable, which is why we deserted them in the first place, yes. But Sustainable Development really is the buzzword these days. I still have faith in certain NGOs that really do some good work.
    And by the way, Firebrand articles about inadequate facilities belong to the petition/CNN IBN report league(which I am with you in cussing at). What works, and is working, as I see are NGOs ( that attempt) working along with the administration on issues of common relevance.

    Tell me about the Retail-ifying of the Media! Demand-Supply algorithm is well fed and pampered. Big Promises and sloppy delivery. Each time they say something about Info-tainment or shit, I almost puke. AND considering how much news i’m made to follow, it’s doing wonders to my Bulimia. :O (Ok. Sloppy. You can flame me all you want for this one :P)

    PS- I agree all I can about pseudo intellectuals and supposed academics campaigning for outrageous thoughts. I remember reading about Illiah’s comment somewhere. Sorta like Girija Vyas who talks about how In an adulterous relationship, it is always the man that is at fault or somesuch. We all have plenty such jokers around. That belongs to another conversation.

    As much as I hate Arundati Roy and her passionate nonsense, I realised very recently that there is something to appreciate about her past. She chose to be Politically Conscious of her environment, and went through some shit. Yea, she screwed up. But lets face it, it is at most times, the disadvantaged or the discriminated that end up being outspoken commies. very relevant to your post don’t you think. The youth can be politically active, but the down side to it all is you never know which way they’ll swing!

    Better, engineers in Big Blues, facing the blues than engineers turning Islamist terrorists in Scotland’s backyard. No? ๐Ÿ˜ฆ That is how I’ll convince myself when I screw up with C.

    PPS-Another long comment. Don’t ignore this one, though. ๐Ÿ˜€

  21. wanderlust says:

    siri,
    i’m thinking of writing a post on rightism. i’ll reply to most of your comment there. at the moment, i’m sort of strapped for time, considering this right around the corner (btw, you are engineer, no? do click on that link and register and take part, and tell your friends there’s cool cash of $750 waiting to be grabbed… btw, i generated the content on that page…. okay, that’s enough of my own trumpet). maybe a week later you’ll find that post up.
    i’m not brushing your comment off as misunderstood… i’ll surely reply to you… and i’ve been meaning to write a post on the Right. if i don’t within the next coupla weeks, do take the liberty to remind me of it.

    the firebrand articles also include articles by that padmaAward-winning chap who’s supposed to have done some awesome reporting about farmer suicides. the ‘firebrand article’ reference was just an example, anyway… it could as easily be a humane district collector, or someone like Dr. Sudarshan of the soligas fame.

    ms. roy is an attention junkie. she writes horribly, horribly. she has no one to challenge her at her level now, does she? either she gets accepted or ignored… no one bothers to deconstruct her ill-formed arguments step by step, save a few stray bloggers here and there.

    about “which way the youth will swing”… why should that be a concern when you desire for politically aware youth? the solution to knowledgeable people selling out the nation is not to have no knowledgeable people, or keeping the populace in darkness. you empower people with knowledge, and deem them sentient beings who can make their own choices.
    in fact, ignorant youth are easier to indoctrinate and use for one’s own (possibly anti-national) purposes. you have cult leaders telling their people to procreate like rabbits so that they can rule the country by virtue of their sheer numbers alone. you have people advocating all sorts of separatism. now if commoners are regularly kept informed of national happenings, get unbiased coverage of all incidents, if they are made to feel like they have a say in the running of the country, it’s a different story…. like in a schoolroom, the teacher sometimes asks the naughtiest kid to be the monitor…
    and i wanted to refrain from mentioning rightism here, but then… here is where right-conservatism comes into play in building a strong nationalist character.
    better to retain all our engineers in our country only, instead of sending them to scotland’s backyard where they feel blue and turn to terrorism for some meaning in life….. there’s so much work to be done here! and i don’t mean on behalf of Big Blue or Gahoo-Yoogle or M$.

  22. harish says:

    @Siri:
    [At the beginning, I would like to say I am here just expressing my opinion. Nothing personal here. No offenses meant.]
    Well you still seem to believe that Modi’s image is a myth and all the talks of his development works are just the result of PR exercise. One can do nothing about it. It’s your opinion and I respect it how much ever faulty it is as is the case now.
    Now let us come to his(Modi’s) comment that you have referred to. I would straight away ask you the question, is it not a case of truth being told in a crude way? Does crudeness take away anything from the truth? Haven’t we all seen how bad family planning is in the lower rung Muslim families? Even the latest census shows that population growth rate is highest among Muslims. And what have the politicians with deceptively sweet secular talk from the ‘liberal’ stream done about it? Nothing but aggravate the situation not just by their sweet talk and clergy-pandering but also by keeping those Muslims uneducated and poor. What has Modi done in contrast? He provided water, electricity and school education to a majority of the villages irrespective of their religiosity. And this has been admitted by the very same ‘liberals’ albeit grudgingly. Who’s worse here, Modi or ‘liberals’? You decide.
    You talk about Bhajpa’s association with Shiva Sena. Why don’t you also talk about Congres’s association with Indian Muslim League in states like Kerala and even at the centre. Not many know that a Union Minister today is from the very divisive Indian Muslim league.
    What’s wrong with cultural nationalism even in our society? What do you think cultural nationalism is? It’s about pride in our culture and heritage. It’s about being proud about our glorious past and confident about our future. It’s about pride in our our past and present achievements, be they secular or spiritual. It’s about being aware of ourselves and benefiting from such awareness. I don’t see how the heterogeneous nature of our society poses a problem here. Infact it acts as a thread uniting people amidst such heterogeneity.

    It’s nice to use words like ‘microsocieties’ and such others. But that cannot always portray the reality.

  23. Arjun says:

    He he, Harish bitchslapped Siri.

  24. Siri says:

    Harish, First, ROFL at microsocieties. I do that sometimes ๐Ÿ˜› Still, I don’t think that word was entirely out-of-place in that sentence, but yea! Funny it sure was.

    You know what I think? the only difference between your post and mine is that Both resemble stuff taken out(of context, if you please)of textbooks nobody gives hoots to. Only, written by different people. Or, if I can take the corniness further, released by NCERT while under different governments ๐Ÿ˜›

    Yes, the microsocieties line belongs somewhere in that league. But what I meant, was that Cultural nationalism would work in a simple, small, stable, slightly undulating society without our kinda diversity, which is at best variety, and which can, at worst, turn into differences(before you shout Cliche, the sentence ends.)

    Itโ€™s about pride in our culture and heritage. Itโ€™s about being proud about our glorious past and confident about our future. Itโ€™s about pride in our our past and present achievements, be they secular or spiritual

    This is what I mean by the textbook comment. Sounds good, harmless, and lest I forget to mention, Too Good To Be True. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Pride for our culture did you say?
    Some years ago, there was this article written by a senior editor of a national newspaper about how Patriotism was obsolete and needed to be done away with(I’m sure you know who I’m talking about). Obviously, it was all trash, and a lot of us began to despise the woman. Her argument was that To be proud of one’s country, it would indirectly mean that one had to believe that one’s country was better than other countries and that would give rise to hostility towards other countries and start wars of oneupmanship. Which was undesirable in a Flat world.

    That idea of hers is trash because, Patriotism is a natural love for one’s own country, for what it gives us, for what it taught us, and again, for that inexplicable feeling that everything about HOME gives us. It is human nature, to be patriotic(although there is another theory, which is largely irrelevant to this convo, er bitchfest, er whatever) so it needs no honing, or suppressing.

    Isn’t it the same with Culture and/or heritage and/or Religion? It needs no honing, or suppression. What is ours, we love, quite naturally. Suppression can lead to indifference and the former can simply end up being instigation. Let’s talk Today, now, ’08. How many politicos really profess unconditional support to religious/cultural/linguistic causes and stop right at that? All sentimental campaigning ends up being stimulation.

    Modi isn’t an isolated case. He did what he had to do. He made himself look like the saviour of Gujarat’s economy, which any smart politico would have done. Oh! And if my opinion becomes too pseudo-liberal or anti-poor Mr Modi-ish to believe, you should know that a lot of the country’s credible press had just that to say after he won. He might have been a smart administrator but I refuse to believe that he brought Prosperity TM to Gujarat.

    To look for truth in such statements is inhumane. I wouldn’t say the same about bringing the UCC into practice, but i do not like Narendra Modi just because, a responsible leader does not make such statements and expect people to brush the crudeness aside and look for truth. If he really is the empathetic leader-of-all that he, no, you claim he is, he had no business talking like that about a community belonging to the state he leads. Further, he did not even worry about its ramifications.

    I’m with you on the poor family planning practices of the Muslim community, which can only be solved by spreading awareness and toughening the rules. But I know a lot of muslims, who are fine people and that aren’t polygamous. I wouldn’t say such things to them just because they belong to the same community as the ‘rapidly-multiplying’ families, because it is unfair to them. I’m sure you wouldn’t too. They have campaigned for a Uniform Civil Code for long, and they must continue to do so. Comments like Hum Paanch… only inflames inter-community equations and solves no problems.

    That only reinstates my point. The Hindutva campaign that won the BJP-JD(U) many an election was brilliantly thought out. They did well to steer clear of attacking other communities in the whole pro-hindutva campaign and their numerous Yatras.
    It was only people like Modi that gave the Congress and its allies ammo to deem the entire NDA as a communal force. Guess what Madam Gandhi can effortlessly screech about each time she takes to a mic? Nationalist pride somewhere spilled over into bashing-the-others; dragging it all into a vicious each-diss-the-other cycle. Yea, I support the NDA, but i refuse to lick Mr Modi’s feet. A good campaign lay tainted because of his fireworks, or firebrand or whatever else.

    Isn’t it political dynamics? If one political giant claims openly to support a Majority, then Big player no 2 can only side with The Others. I do not see anything bizarre in it all. The mistake the BJP(The NDA if you will) made was to let other communities feel threatened by their pro-hindutva stand and the mistake the UPA is making is setting minorities up against the Majorities. A little bit of slime in either case.

    Besides, I’m not a spokesperson for the Congress. Just so you know, I’d rather see the NDA in power than otherwise. But that won’t have me pledging my support, or Vote, unconditionally. I demand more.

    Ha! Confront someone with a mistake and they simply point fingers at *others* saying they are a part of the grime too. A perfect companion to It’s the rotten system that needs to change, not me in its league of excuses.

    The BJP’s, who you so passionately support, ills are in no way justified because the Congress takes to similar politicking.

    Considering you said nothing about the Shiv Sena, in spite of my unintended provoking, does it mean that you approve of their contentious ways? For the record, even the Shiv Sena is(was) a somewhat respectable right wing organisation. Bal Thackeray was known to caution Sainiks to not disrupt peace on the streets after meetings where he took a lot of people to task in his speeches. That of course, was then. Now, even Maharashtrian quasi-rapists find sympathy in the Shiv Sena. Plus, they quite set the precedent for this new public war of Navnirman and other packaged sentiment-tugging bullshit.

    ALLL THAT SAID :P, Yes, I mean no offence either. I read my first comment and I realized that I did go a little over the top, but NOWAY did I mean to get aggressive or personal. Apologies for the first one. Priya, I already said, that I agree with you on the need for dialogue, but all that I talk about, really are questions, I think, we must ask ourselves.

    Yea go on and write that post. I will stick around :P. Yea, I tend to make some unsavory noise, but I like your blog, ma’am. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Arundati and her cronies at the once-noble Narmada Bachao Andolan meets and her hypocritical Nandigram statements(The press report about her illegal construction in tribal owned land was worth some brilliant laugh-at-the-irony sessions) are all unreal to the extent of insanity.

    “Which way they will swing” is concerned not with the very people that want Political awareness.
    Figuratively speaking, Having people talk about Modi to Mayawati might have some specimen siding even with Mamta Bannerjee in the process. Aiyayayyooo! I’ll say!

    Do we want awareness, which is by itself unpolarized, at the cost of having stuck-up intellectuals parading wrong judgement(Like me, you might want to say :P)? I can tell that some of the IITian junta that defend Commie ways,in all their cerebral greatness, can get insufferable. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Gets one wondering why they don’t go back to playing Quake instead of hailing Guru Karat and gang. Aarrgh!

    Yes, it is true that a lot of people that could have been great leaders are pursuing other things. But things will only get better from here. Or So I believe.
    —————————-(Drawing lines ๐Ÿ˜› )

    Hey! Incident is also happening right? We badly wanna come. The plans aren’t concrete though. Oh yea, fine publicity, I must say, ma’am ๐Ÿ˜€ Will tell all ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Siri says:

    Eeeeks! Muchly, Editing are required. I meant this:

    โ€œWhich way they will swingโ€ is concerned with the very people that want Political awareness.
    Figuratively speaking, Having people talk Modi-Mayawati might have some specimen siding even with Mamta Bannerjee in the process. Aiyayayyooo! Iโ€™ll say!

  26. harish says:

    Madam Siri, I did not take any line out of any textbook of any regime. It’s my thinking. It’s my opinion. Of course, as with any, opinion, mine too is influenced to a certain extent by what I have read but to a large extent by my thinking and my beliefs.

    I shall now try to explain how cultural nationalism is not just harmless but also very practical.For this I shall take an example. Mind you, it’s just one of the examples you could cite and not the only one and neither do I claim it to be the best one.

    Any country which has epics like the ones we have would have it as very much a part of the education system. And we have two of the finest epics the finest epics the world has seen. Mahabharatha, in particular, is a wholesome epic. It teaches you so many things ranging from science of everyday life to political science to spirituality. It’s a story of stories wherein each one offers us something to ponder over. Such an epic is nowhere to be seen in our educational curriculum even at the higher levels. For example, in schools, instead of having non-detailed texts having only borrowed literature and repetitive Ambedkar stories our curriculum can be enriched by having parts of these epics suitably woven into it. If you are a truly secular nationalist, you would see no problem in seeing them as Indian epics and not just ‘Hindu epics’. Just like we appreciate Taj Mahal as a brilliant work of art and not as ‘Muslim art’. Even in heterogeneous society like ours should have no problem.

    Vande Mataram is again a song that represents our nationalism and our culture. Singing Vande Mataram for instance has been the centre of controversies in recent past. Now here’s a song that’s inspired hundreds of freedom fighters across the religious spectrum. The song has so much of inspiring history written into it. It’s just about the country. The country is described as mother in that song. But for some this is hurting their religious sentiment. This is a classic case of putting religion ahead of country. It’s this attitude that’s so disrespecting of the nation. It’s not about making a song compulsory or not. For the nation’s unity this attitude has to be shunned.

    You say that pointing to other’s mistakes is not a justification. You do the same thing though. You target Shiva Sena without attacking organizations like Indian Muslim League, error-spreading-Madrasas, hate-spreading-missionaries. First, you correct yourself, then preach. Though I condemn the Shiva Sena’s acts of violence, I would have to say they are far less dangerous than the organizations I have mentioned in the second sentence of this paragraph.

    You liberals become caustic in your language the moment someone supports Modi. this was very evident in your response. Anyway, I don’t mind. As I said, if you want to believe the media when they say Modi did nothing but conducted a PR campaign to win election you can do so at the risk of being in denial. It’s as much of wishful thinking as is that of the Congress when they say Modi will not have any effect outside Gujarat.

    Atleast somebody like Modi dared to say the truth. Others lived in denial. Truth has to be confronted as you have yourself said in a previous comment. Considering how bad the situation is among the lower rung Muslims(not every Muslim), hard talk is needed. Though, I agree, it could have been presented in a better way.

    [Again nothing personal here. This is just a political argument. No offenses. ]

  27. Anirudh says:

    Hi, I’m from IIT Kharagpur. Unfortunately, you’re right, student activism is at an all time low. You can hardly blame the students for this. If a person like nehru was there now, the patriotism will still be absent mainly because people turn to radical thinkers in times of crisis. Let’s face it, people hate to sit down and work. They just want themselves, and the things they care about to be getting better.

    As for student activism, you can as much as guess how much students would love to help out the country, in midst of fighting for jobs and two hours of water supply. You’re complaining about fest funds not being donated to charity, imagine fests nearly a crore and a half in worth going on for one week, when you don’t have bare minimum and overcrowded facilities.

    It’s easy to say that people need to join politics, be activists, or creating wealth for the country, but it’s harder than it sounds. It’s hard to love a country that seems to have given so little back(again, it *seems*), and patriotism comes automatically in times of crisis. If someone takes over, and starts a reign of terror, everyone from the rich to the poor are doomed and they band together to try and save themselves.

    Even us, when we had serious problems put aside all our differences and spoke against the administration for change, how crores of funding are poured into research, while infrastructure has much smaller budgets. At the end, it’s safe to say that change will come when change is needed.

  28. wanderlust says:

    wow, nice response,i see… anyway… here go the replies..
    siri:
    ‘too good to be true’? i prefer calling it ‘hope’.
    does patriotism come naturally anymore? does love for one’s culture come to us indians naturally any more? it has been suppressed so well, we don’t even realize it.. textbooks are a very potent weapon.
    >>which any smart politico would have done
    what, project himself, or actually save gujarat’s economy? both take brains to do. the latter, even more so.
    if you mean the former, most politicos wouldn’t even think of such a line of thought to strike a chord in the hearts of people…. they prefer the easier, more immediate route of differences between “good” and “evil” and telling folks they have been victimized…
    but if you meant the latter, i’ll beg to differ. we don’t see anything similar in just about any other state.
    taking on Modi just for his comments strikes me as throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
    And communal passions…. we used to have the “hindu rate of growth” a few decades ago. now we have the “indian rate of growth”.
    about politics being dynamics… if a behemoth has over the years been favoring only the minorities in the name of secularism and being very very unfair to the majority over a long period… forty-five years, all the opposition at no. 2 can do is support the rest, who just happen to be the majority.
    the pot and the kettle are both black… politics really is a dirty business… no one can be above making religion an issue if they want to survive in this scenario. something a professor once said about evaluating grad students comes back to me – don’t bother about what they say. only think of what they do.
    i;ll take unpolarized awareness any day… once you start orienting thinking in one way, there’s no stopping or saying when. and that does not include orienting people to put country before all else… it’s the damned duty of any government to do so.
    folks have every right to support karat, if they think he’s doing the right thing. we want to equip people with the analytical mind and with unbiased reportage so that they can decide for themselves if something is right or wrong.

    ah… Inci… do come!! we’re having a KK concert. Yes, the same KK of yaaron… dosti, Aapki Dua, Pal, Humdum Suniyo Re fame.
    That apart, there are just too many good contests around… Lit stuff, photography, dance, war-of-the-bands, DJ nites.. BEACH EVENTS!!… and do drop me a line if you’re coming… would love to meet you.

    @harish:
    i don’t see the point in replying to your comments if all i’m saying is ‘amen’.

    @anirudh:
    >>They just want themselves, and the things they care about to be getting better.
    So student life is the *only* time you dedicate yourself to altruistic causes where you have nothing to gain personally apart from the joy of a job well done.
    we see students working for CRY, for NSS, for so many organizations. Some even float their own, like a bunch from NITK started ‘genesis’, which is dedicated to social service. they take on big names there, they achieve the near-impossible… if only even a fraction of these folks had opinions about things political, felt they could make a difference there….
    >>in midst of fighting for jobs and two hours of water supply.
    you don’t mind writing a blog on whether Indipop has a future or some nonsensical incident in your hostel (those, btw, are things I blog about), you can’t be bothered to read the newspaper everyday and keep yourself informed about the IISc terrorists being caught or elections in the US… or Israel launching a spy satellite from India…. wtf?
    you crib about water supply, you curse that IT co.s are downsizing because of a rising rupee. have you for once as much as _thought_ about what could possibly be done to counter these things affecting you? Atleast as an idle passing fancy, like when you think of being guitarGod at Mood I?
    >>Youโ€™re complaining about fest funds not being donated to charity
    My, when did I ever ask for fest funds to be donated to charity???!! I did not. i was merely saying that that is the biggest concern a students’ union seems to have these days…. with nothing bigger on the agenda. And just because i said that doesn’t mean i think cul/techfests are any less of a cause than they are. stop searching in dark rooms for black cats that aren’t there.
    yes, patriotism is hard, isn’t it… especially when you’ve grown up for twenty years listening to how horrible a state India is in, how there is absolutely no future in this country, how foreign is a synonym for superior-to-desi.
    patriotism isn’t spontaneously generated in an emergency. it’s something that’s always there in you. you either have it or you don’t. it is not always as easy as a choice between dying an indian or living as an ISI agent.
    reign of terror… ha! dude, the days of Idi Amin are long over. dictators, even of the worst sort do not anymore indulge in that sort of a “reign of terror”. it’s a lot more subtle, a lot more suave.
    AND READING THE NEWSPAPERS REGULARLY AND ANALYZING THE NEWS HELPS IN DETECTING IT.

    “change will come when change is needed”…
    sounds a fatalistic thing to say… haven’t you heard of alternative history? there are so many what-if scenarios that saying such a thing sounds absurd.
    people react to their environment. but they need to be equipped to do so! in a democracy, that translates to knowing more about the environment you live in, the people representing you, the changes going on around you, and seeing how they affect you… involving yourself in the world that you live in.
    how would you know if you had serious problems?? folks in madras and bombay in 1930 did not know that their country was being exploited. so is that to say it wasn’t happening?

    heck, what happened to all the jingoistic RDB-inspired youth who wanted to “be the change”??

  29. Anirudh says:

    I’ll try to keep this simple:

    1. The world is in a sad state, and a lot of people including me read the newspapers, we have our opinions on it, and we say a silent prayer hoping it doesn’t get worse. Yes, there are problems involving the country, and the world. The worst US candidates are getting votes, while the good guys are kept down. FIVE major internet pipelines have been cut in the past few days to completely isolate the middle east, and the world is scared. Religious clashes, terrorism, and all the other man-made evils are prevelant, and we’re all doing our part to cut it down, if not bring it up.

    2. I believe in circles of concern. When your college had a curfew a year or two back and someone was attacked, I daresay you were remotely worried about spy satellites or something of that sort. People move on outwards when their inner circles of concern are safe and secure. So yes, if I don’t have water to drink, I will write a post regarding what an enormous behemoth piece of crap I’m not giving at this point of time about the rising rupee and falling dollar.
    Illustrating my point, If I know about IT downsizing due to the falling dollar, I’ll be first interested about preserving my own posterior before putting on my mask and cape and flying off to prevent it, but yes, if something can be done, me and all intellectually similar individuals in my case will do it.

    At the end I’d like to state that I don’t believe in activism. No amount of reading newspapers, writing posts, bitching about how bad the world has become with the anti-drug laws, tasering, examinations, pop-culture, and whatever will stop it. You can stop one terrorist but most of it you’ll never hear about.

    What I do, however believe in is that only positive change can fight negative ones. Education, environmental conservation, economic stability, treaties, equality, net neutrality, and simply being better people will.

    heck, what happened to all the jingoistic RDB-inspired youth who wanted to โ€œbe the changeโ€??

    well, they went in to politics to be the change, and due to the hierarchy and the difficulty in getting ideas passed, it became far more difficult to do.

    Ultimately, I quote the widget philosophy of Merlin Mann, anyone can speak in loose terms of patriotism, change, society, etc, etc. But if really required? can you provide a *solid* roadmap that someone can follow to make the *country* a better place and help.

    Also Nehru didn’t set up the IIT, he merely cleared the bill. Most of the work was done by B.C. Roy and the first director, and other people.

  30. wanderlust says:

    the world is NOT in a sad state. it’s just about how you look at it.
    >>The worst US candidates are getting votes, while the good guys are kept down
    that, i suppose, is a matter of opinion

    >>When your college had a curfew a year or two back and someone was attacked, I daresay you were remotely worried about spy satellites or something of that sort
    no one was attacked.

    >>People move on outwards when their inner circles of concern are safe and secure.
    yes, so when we are jobless, we talk. about what impact Nano might have on the market. about how good a rising rupee actually is. about where pseudosecularism is taking the country. about what possible strategies can be used on the war on terror. about how microsoft can improve its search algorithms to match google.

    >>So yes, if I donโ€™t have water to drink, I will write a post regarding what an enormous behemoth piece of crap Iโ€™m not giving at this point of time about the rising rupee and falling dollar.
    some people decided to institute a “socially conscious engineering” event in our techfest. that event every year has atleast one team come up with solutions to the water problem at college.

    >>No amount of reading newspapers, writing posts, bitching about how bad the world has become with the anti-drug laws, tasering, examinations, pop-culture, and whatever will stop it.
    What I do, however believe in is that only positive change can fight negative ones. Education, environmental conservation, economic stability, treaties, equality, net neutrality, and simply being better people will.

    two statements that contradict each other. you can’t have one without the other. you can’t have action without analysis. if you do, it’s simply bad news.
    how do you know how to be a better person? how can you be sure your definition of better person is right, unless you know what the world around you needs?

    debate and dialogue, brought about by awareness is the cornerstone of democracy.

    >>well, they went in to politics to be the change, and due to the hierarchy and the difficulty in getting ideas passed, it became far more difficult to do.
    people are simply not trying enough and give up too easily. did brin and page sit down and say ‘heck, no, this will mean we’re ditching our PhD degrees… let’s not quit stanford for a startup’? did kalam say “damn, this rocket didn’t take off… i quit”?
    don’t talk about red tape etc… each profession has its challenges. if you’re not wholeheartedly into politics, you have no chance of success… you can’t be a call center employee and refuse to work night shifts ever.

    >>*solid* roadmap that someone can follow to make the *country* a better place and help.
    dude, this is a book idea.
    whatever it is, it would have to be closely intertwined with openness, spreading education and awareness, encouraging dialogue and debate… as far as you want to deal with democracy. a democracy asks a bare minimum of awareness from a citizen…. eventually people deserve the people they elect.

    pity then, it’s credited to Nehru everywhere. Guess i’ll have to retitle this post “BC Roy’s, the first director’s and other people’s stratagem: IITs and declining student activism”.

    beats me why i’m taking time off to answer your comments, considering you’ll just consider me another critic who wastes time in idle chatter no matter how much i explain to you the importance of idle chatter and critics in shaping the world we live in.

  31. Anirudh says:

    Well, I got to hand it to you, you really know what you’re talking about, while I, as you’ve guessed, don’t, and you’ve enlightened and confused me in one go.

    But I just honestly hope for the day when everyone is aware of their choices and their abilities and can put aside their differences and fix things, and things are as simple as they seem from the bigger perspective.

    I quote Linus Trovalds, “Talk is cheap, show me the code”

    Have a great morning.

  32. Siri says:

    Harish, that was just another one of my thoughtless analogies. Texbook, I said, because much of what you and I have said suddenly seemed very hypothetical to me. To reiterate, What do I have against Nationalism,in principle? Nothing. Some of the people,professors to be exact, I will not forget all my life influenced us majorrrrly with their talks of Nationalism and it’s importance. It’s just now, when things sorta descended into the real and when what should be is displaced by what is.

    Yea, I’m still arguing for that side of the story. Am I saying Right wingers aren’t about Nationalist/Cultural pride? NO. Am I saying I don’t trust political forces with driving a purely Nationalist movement without strings attached? Yes. Now If I don’t add, you might want to quickly ask me if I believe that people should abandon such causes entirely because they fear side-effects? Not exactly. I don’t know how an effective values movement can be pulled off. The best bet, I’ll say, is education.

    Yes, you are right about the epics. To add to the list, people thought Yoga in schools was hurting religious sentiments. What BS! Again, can of worms, no? There will always be people squabbling over what is religious and what is not. Even these are politically driven, you know! How can we ignore those days when there were villages in the South that had all its people crowding over t.v.s with the Muslim folk supposedly translating dialogues from BR Chopra’s Mahabharat for those that couldn’t catch Hindi. Now, there is politicking on both sides of the Majority-Minority divide. And yea, sigh, shrug and lets face it. It sounds more politically correct to point fingers at Majorities.

    Partly in response to Wanderlust’s belief that people needed to be Reminded about their patriotic feelings:
    I am saying that political parties/organisations cannot be trusted with educating people per se. It is perfectly alright to seek mileage from pre-existing notions/biases/values/beliefs of people, while creating biases FOR mileage, is not done(which they find easier to do anyway).

    To illustrate, and To drag the Shiv Sena into this,again, I read a very nice article that spoke about how Raj Thackeray was messing things up by attacking people out of the blue. It says, that Bal Thackeray’s Shiv Sena found support because there really was insecurity amongst Maharashtrians because of Southies and other outsiders. What it did, was represent pre-existent bias, which is valid, fine, okie-dokie.So, SS’s past political triumphs are justified, even legitimate.
    On The Other Hand, in Karnataka, there actually are political organisations that have influenced certain junta to believe that IT is the root of all Bangalorean evil. People go around saying IT has ruined the city(Yea right! never mind all the good it has done to the economy of this country and the number and diversity of jobs it has generated, there are pea brains that cry foul at the noise the golden-egg-laying chicken makes :O ) Digs being generally not very anti-anything, This is simply by political influence. Creating such a bias, so as to campaign for reservation for ‘Digs in IT companies, is what? Regional pride, now?

    The funniest part with it all is this:
    Yoga, Ayurveda, Vande Mataram? They say:It is pro-Hindu.
    Why vote for The Taj Mahal in a sham contest? They say: Vote for Angkor Vat, it is a Vishnu temple, Taj Mahal is an Islamic monument
    Both ridiculous claims! Both made by tiny sections of a BIG country.

    For the nationโ€™s unity this attitude has to be shunned.
    When did I ever disagree? I will in fact, go a step further and say such attitude shouldn’t even be allowed to sprout. And to do the broken-record routine, I repeat, it is radical campaigning on one side that superficially justifies these clowns’ insecurities on the other.

    You say that pointing to otherโ€™s mistakes is not a justification. You do the same thing though. You target Shiva Sena without attacking organizations like Indian Muslim League, error-spreading-Madrasas, hate-spreading-missionaries. First, you correct yourself, then preach.

    Yes I did say that. But when did I do the same thing? I said *Don’t point fingers at others to justify the ills of causes you defend*. I Didn’t point fingers to justify anything. Besides, I was defending nobody. When I spoke of Shiv Sena’s misdoings, I was only attacking *your* argument. It does not automatically mean that I was defending the Indian Muslim League, or Missionaries-of-God’s Very Son or The All India Anti-Hindu league or anybody else whose name I may not know. (yea, this happens to me all the time. People called me Mossie names for a week the last time.)

    Besides, Madrasas find takers more because of insecurity than anything else, anyway. And Missionaries are the sickest of the lot. Just last month, one tried talking to me, In BANGALORE! It was the funniest thing that happened to me. Anyways, that is irrelevant. They target The Hungry and The Disillusioned, sick B******s AND the feed on insecurity too. (I still remain a Hindu, btw. ๐Ÿ˜› )

    Denial? Wow. You’re psycho-analysing me now? Super! I said that, because I know or say believe, to a fair extent, that economic progress is more complex than can be explained by two stints of one government. Yes, i have heard success stories, about Modi’s POAs and so on. But then END OF THE DAY, his victory was backed by a state that was essentially majority, right-wing(in that exact order) and they’d rather vote for the BJP and Modi(as would my family) than anybody else.

    I still know far more people that respect AB Vajpayee than Narendra Modi. And guess who I’d vouch for?

    Priya,
    Hope? When I said it is too good to be true, I was saying that it simply doesn’t work that way. Supporting bashing-sprees, HOPING that it is good enough in securing one’s own cause doesn’t help, does it? Hope can’t replace KNOWING for sure what works. There ain’t scope for

    I meant, he did a smart thing by projecting himself as a hero. AND it doesn’t take an Einstein to do so. Besides, it is one of the oldest tricks of the trade, alva? To blow stolen trumpets, parading those as one’s own? He boasted. They all do. Why wouldn’t others think of such a thing?

    You say others would portray their target audiences as victims? What is Modi’s US and THEM and THEIR ‘multiplication tables’ funda all about anyway? Same thing no?

    As for Economy, You said all of Gujarat’s economic prowess is Modi’s doing because it isn’t the same anywhere else? Neither are people from all states as industrious as the people of Gujarat in terms of the number of traders, industrialist and other enterprises- which are thoroughly represented by facts and figures. To quote a certain editorial, Modi successfully marketed the general industriousness of the people of his state as an achievement of his own.

    AND, who wants a cash cow without morality anyway? How much respect do we all have for the, terrorist pampering, Middle East?

    Although it might weaken my own stance, I still agree that Modi might have been a decent, if not entirely marvellous, administrator(based solely on some corruption-fighting measures of his).

    Modi’s comments reflect his modes of operation. Enough reason to Boo him.
    Yea, you said the exact inverse of what I did, although your equation is historically accurate, mine wasn’t. Still, the Babri Masjid was an unwanted controversy. I have spoken to people that have been there, broken the walls, and destroyed tombs. They even are, what I’d otherwise called respectable people.
    Dirty business? Tell me about it. My dad used to say Who isn’t corrupt? We vote for the BJP only because they represent Hindus. I heard that when I was really really young. He was the reason I even watched the news. And my dad was the last person to get worked up over religious issues. Still…

    Yea, the southie-family-right wing influence is heavy on my being, but I’m not attacking pro-Hindu junta in an act of rebellion. I only loathe the pro-hindu AND anti-others junta.

    True, no one can be above politicizing religion. What do we do then? change public opinion to make it more tolerant, I suggest. By that I mean, Attack ONLY as a Form of defence.

    I would vouch for Unpolarized awareness as well. Problem is nobody gives/gets unpolarized awareness these days. it is ALWAYS polarized. How can one know Omar Abdullah to Jayalalitaa, The Patnaiks to Modi and not side with anybody?

    Yea, that sounds peachy. Analytical minds and unbiased reporting. But, how much chance that it *will* happen, exists? It *must*, yes. But making it so, is the real deal. Here, Hope is all I can do, for now at least. ๐Ÿ™‚

    —————————
    Mann, Beach Events sound awesome. But then, it takes too much effort to get our backsides over to Mangalore! I heard the workshops were awesome last year. And You guys had Raghu Dixit Project and Euphoria over or so I heard. KK! Ah! Nicio. Lets see. I do want to come. Don’t know if I can get it to work.Right from convincing pals, to folks, to…
    We were sortaaa plotting to hit the India quiz. Hmmmm.
    Oh sure, that is very nice of you. You’ll be on home ground and you can pull my hair off, when/if you meet me in person. ๐Ÿ˜›

  33. wanderlust says:

    siri:
    i must admit i’m at a loss for what to reply to that very very very very very long comment of yours. it’s like a huuuuuge set of things all falling on me at one go… give it to me in small doses, girl ๐Ÿ˜€ it feels like three hours worth of interesting conversation material crammed into three minutes.
    and i guess we’ve deviated pretty much from what the post was originally about (not that i mind it) ๐Ÿ˜€ coming back to which, just check the link under the ‘update’ part of the post. that was what got me to write this post. NOW talk to me about activism.
    ***************
    beach events _are_ awesome. india quiz? it’s _very_ gettable… the most gettable among all the events in the Quizfest part of Inci, i’d say. good luck with it.
    we had parikrama in ’05, euphoria in ’06, and last year, we had galeej gurus for semi-pro nite, and raghu dixit opening for indian ocean for the pro-nite. and this year, KK… we keep getting better and better, no? ๐Ÿ˜€
    i suppose you’re from bms/rvce/pesit/some_such_place? there’s always a huge contingent from those places no? and your bands are all aaaawesome.
    KK should be reason enough to convince your pals… last time he performed in mangalore, it was sheer madness ๐Ÿ˜€
    pulling your hair out.. man, do i seem that violent? i’m such a sweet harmless thing!

  34. Siri says:

    Yes true, from arguing vehemently, the convo sorta boiled down into one big(for my part, I mean BIIIIG :D) the way things are lament. I shall see that article and get back here and we’ll duel(or not, if i am convinced :P)

    Hmmmm! We’re still undecided on coming. I mean, amma agreed without the least resistance :O It is the Fraands that are non-committal! But yea, let’s see if I do make it, then we’ll definitely have that 3 hour argument(That is IF I really make it, and IF I can resist swooning at the seasss!)

    Wow! I watched Galeej Gurus perform at Seek ’04 I think. Raghu Dixit, we watched last Feb elsewhere! And Euphoria, I lauu. Now KK. Yea Yea, you guys get better and better.

    India queej is gettable? Better! Yes, RVCE I am from… Good to know about the harmless part but I play it safe :P, esp after this comment-a-thon

    PS-Where is Harish? ๐Ÿ˜›

  35. wanderlust says:

    Seek, uh? kumaranite, by any chance?
    euphoria, i’m sorry to say, aren’t brilliant on stage. they are waayy too rehearsed, not dynamic enough. and too euphoria-like.
    fraands… they’ll come to their senses ๐Ÿ˜›
    the point is, you’re gonna be so shocked-and-awed by the campus, the beach and KK that teri bolti band ho jaayegi ๐Ÿ˜›
    ah! rvce has a really good quizzing culture now, doesn’t it.
    try the debates too..

  36. Siri says:

    No not a Kumaranite. The only Seek I went to was in ’04.
    I had a MAAAAJJJOR crush on one of the guitarists of Euphoria when I was a (ahem) kid. Hitesh I think his name was.
    Fraands didn’t come to their senses. So I guess I’ll have to let this opportunity pass ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Drat!!!
    Tell me about it. I’m still sore about not making it to NITK (Not that I stood a chance in the first place, heck I can think whatever I want!) So i’d be fulll awed if I got to see it!
    Yea, Quizzing here is good. Watch out for folk from RV. They should sweep a few quizzes ๐Ÿ™‚
    I have sorta resolved to not participate in debates as long as I can help it ๐Ÿ˜

  37. wanderlust says:

    hitesh aka rikki? samepinch. but i prefer chintan kalra and dilip ramachandran from parikrama.
    your fraands….. damn… i’m so sorry for you.
    yeah, we’ll watch out for RVCE. you guys were good at the comps events. especially one girl called nethra who was doing pretty well at the debugging event….

  38. Pingback: Young blood in Politics - A follow-up post. « The NITK Numbskulls Page

  39. Siri says:

    Nice nice. You enjoy maadi. My life sucks.

  40. wanderlust says:

    nashi…. genuinely scary.
    to prevent being exploited atleast we should keep ourselves informed, and analyze politics regularly.

  41. You have done it again! Superb read!

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