Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This year's Independence Day

I was at Badrinath on the eve of Independence Day. I was put up in a GMVN rest-house, where the Intelligence had even done a hurried check in all the rooms the night before.

At eight in the morning, I finished my tea and watched the PM address. With the ridiculous mountain-of-a-molehill unrest in Jammu, terror attacks in Bangalore and Ahmedabad, failing monsoons, inflation, slowdown and infrastructural collapses n the backdrops, I expected a hard-edged speech; if not of the proportions of 'Blood, sweat, toil and tears', at least, an honest look-in into why we are increasing becoming a nation of hyperboles, hypocricies and farce. Instead, it turned out to be a rally cry for the elections. A camera sweep over the audience showed rows and rows of VVIPs.

The day before, I had seen a cavalcade of Maruti Omnis being given top priority by the cops in a jam since they carried a A4 sheet printout stuck to the windscreen of 'VIP Person on board'.

India, I despaired, has become the nation of priviliges; the rights of the individual usurped by the overweening rights of the powerful elite; the socialistic principles by the feudal.

A knock at the door and I was informed that there was a minor flag hoisting. Steppping out, this is the scene that greeted me. As the caretaker, genially bungled with the flag, a small spontaneous crowd silently gathered over and stood respectfully in silent attention.

A lot of politicians - Leftists, Sangh Parivar, Thackrey - arrogate on themselves the right of speaking for the nation: how it has been insulted, how it can never accept such and such and, of course, the culture. Similarly, industrialists turn the country's best brains into their slaves and profess that the policies they lobby for are in the nation's best interests, and only incidentally theirs.

But India is much bigger than that: bigger than the sum total of all of us. All of us have our own India. It does not need to be shouted, rallied for and bludgeoned into the masses. It is a private communion and no-one has the right to violate that.

On a similar note, it's heartening to note the steps taken by this school to supend the absentees - I feel it is the part of the fixing of the broken window that is the need of the hour.

If we as people can't show the minimal respect to the collective, the collective that stands for ensuring the sacrosanctity of our private rights, we're never going to go much ahead on the road to dignity, forget success.

India starts within.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sanghavi for Kashmir secession

Vir Sanghavi argues that India should just let go of Kashmir. His argument is partly founded on the definition of democracy that the state ascribes to, and partly on the argument that we have done all we could have for the Kashmiris and yet have only ungratefulness and zillat(" Pakistan, a small, second-rate country that has been left far behind by India, suddenly acts as though it is on par with us, lecturing India in human rights and threatening to further internationalise the present crisis") to show.

He says that already Kashmir is overprivileged in terms of its special rights: 'Under Article 370 of our Constitution, with the exception of defence, foreign policy, and communication, no law enacted by parliament has any legitimacy in Kashmir unless the state government gives its consent. The state is the only one in India to have its own Constitution and the President of India cannot issue directions to the state government in exercise of the executive power of the Union as he can in every other state. Kashmiri are Indian citizens but Indians are not necessarily Kashmiri citizens. We cannot vote for elections to their assembly or own any property in Kashmir. '

Moreover, the state is a big drain in grants and central support, shouldering out needy states like Bihar by a factor of ten.

And of course, the enormous drain on military expenditures, lives, morale and the increasing threats of terrorism.

He argues against the fear that this solution would encourage other secessionist movements. Ultimately, there has to be some out-of-the-box solution to the Kashmr crisis, ans it's far ahead of any other secessionist threat that has ever faced the country.

The reason he ascribes to India's holding on to the truculent and bloodied Valley is machismo.

I liked his arguments. Just some doubts: if we're thinking of letting it go, why not first start with revoking Article 370 and see if it worsens the situation any further, besides the three months long riots. The entire Valley is guilty of ethnic cleansing in the nineties; silence and even tacit support by the populace in the terror campaign against the minority is how the Jews were cleared off too. What stops us from flooding our Bihari migrant workers to the Valley like the Chinese fed their Han population to Tibet? Fear of unrest? How worse can it get than it has been so far? After all, these are the people who scared away the tens of lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits from their own homes?

Bloody protests will follow, but as I said, what's new? The two outcomes to the revocation would be either eventual peace (with the current status accorded a huge bargaining advantage in favor of the nation) or eventual secession. Either way, we would not lose face as a credible democracy in the long run.

Instead of cutting off the hand, why not first take out the iron fist beneath the velvet glove first?

Defining Justice

Definition of Justice from an article in mint

In the common law traditin; justice serves liberty. law is thebody of general principles protecting the lives (criminal law) and property (tort and contract laws) of iindividuals. Justice is derived from the right of the individual to his body and, subsequentially,to expression, belief and property.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Sometimes when you say a goodbye, do you wonder if you'll ever meet again?

I hate the 'idealists': I have a few people in mind. Idealism, without due respect to the context, is foolishness of the owrst kind; it is the foolishness that gets your friends killed.

Not all life is precious. Not everything needs to be preserved. Not everyone needs to be appeased. People who can't make the distinction have deep guilt complexes and are exactly the sort who let Hitler get away with so much for so long.

People are not born stupid; they choose to be one.

A quote from Margaret Atwood

From 'A Blind Assassin' : (Finished it during my Valley of Flowers trip)

Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Why so happy?

I am sick and tired of haiku phiosophies.

The words below are from an actual post I have come across (and a very popular blog at it):

Its ok...Happens...Dont worry...Stay happy...Simple things...Just be...
It's the simple things in life we forget...
Why do you make something so easy so complicated?
Searching for what's right in front of your face
But you can't see it

(Except for the last, all the three colons - '...' -belong to the author)

Well, it is complicated! In case you did not notice. Your loved ones hurt you the most, 80% of child molestations happen from someone very close, the more mediocre you are - the better your chances to succeed, saints are crucified and the devil rules.

What the fuck is right in my face? What the hell is that supposed to mean, in the first place?

Little things indeed. I guess, the author means the flowers, the sandals, the coffee in the morning sort of bullshit. what about the big things? what if you have a low self-esteem and have the biggest bully of a boss - does the morning coffee whiff take away the dread of the pounding you're going to get in the office in a couple of hours?
Does the beauty of the bright neons distract the drained emptiness of a Japanese worker commuting from office to work and back for more than eight hours a day on a sub?
Or a fresh blue poppy relieve the bent back of a hill woman trudging ten miles to her hovel with two LPG cylinders on her back?
What about the loneliness and desparation of a small-town girl sharing a 8by8 feet room with three strangers and being eve-teased on the midnite trudge back?
What about the man running from pillar to post for his pension?

All examples have been taken from people I have met, seen or communicated with.

I don't believe in screaming against the inexorable cruelty of existence all the time (or as Vishesh pointed: the pitliess fact of the survival of the fittest), but reducing it to such simplistic clap-trap reeks of the urban self-contained hollow-bricked wall that we, the privilged, have built around us, cemented with the smug generalization of our miniscule reality to the the broader one beyond, and making-believe that the world is as simple as a Disney flick. It's not.
For many of us, the big things - fending for yourself and your family, keeping the threadbare veil of dignity, rotikapdaamakaan, saving for the future - is an everyday challenge. And I am not being a pink 'a tragedy is a tragedy if it happens only below the poverty line' asshole. Every struggle is a tragedy since struggle means sacrifice; and sacrifice means giving up something. And life is struggle - for most of us. What lies in front of our eyes is despair and all the reasons to give up. We hope despite what we see, and not because.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Preponing a discussion

MS Office flags an error for the word "prepone", with or without the hyphen.

A quick look into this sprung the surprising fact that the word is actually listed in the Oxford as an Indian origin word.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Left of the centre

Going through a forum in India Mike I found Captain Mike who claims to be in-charge of navel affairs.

I hope to god that it was a deliberate pun.