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Arundhati Roy's selective amnesia on Kashmir issue

Posted on Sunday, 23 August 2015 No comments
Ensconced 'trendy liberal' lefitists and political activists like Arundhati Roy suffer from cognitive dissonance, prejudice and selective amnesia when they support the Pro Pakistan jihadi and Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Gilani.


I admire Arundhati Roy for her articulate scholarship and meticulous research exposing the ills of unfettered corporate greed, crony capitalism, US hegemony and millitary - Industrial complex. I wholeheartedly applaud her for her unwavering activism for the cause of peoples democracy and for unflinchingly voicing the injustices meted against the downtrodden and marginalised tribals who are persecuted by feudalism and venal state machinery which is in cahoots with corporate syndicates.

I am on the same page with her when she writes a scathing critique of the Indian state on the issue of Naxalism but I am staunchly against her stance on the historical Kashmir debacle and extending support to islamic nationalists.

She brands India as an aggressor and occupier in Kashmir, compares the alleged Indian occupation of Kashmir to Nazism but condones Pakistani sponsored terrorism, brutal massacres perpetrated by islamic extremists in the valley, the exodus of kashmiri Hindus in 1990 and never mentions anything about the nefarious manoeuvres of ISI.

This pandering to the cause of islamic nationalism and secessionism in the name of human rights and self determination is so unbecoming of someone of the stature of Arundhati Roy and it reeks of panglossian idealism, utter naivete of geo politics or hypocritical self aggrandizement.

Written by Aditya Chaturvedi


History buff, avid reader, iconoclast and just another mortal in this absurd world who believes that reality is not something which is to be accepted as it is, it is to be confronted.

Why Swami Vivekananda is an overhyped spiritual figure

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Swami Vivekananda is indeed one of the most overhyped figures in India in the realm of spirituality and social reform. I am in no way undermining him but the halo and reverence around him today is a result of appropriation by Sanghis who depict him as a consummate religious stalwart, ethno- cultural chauvinist and someone who can instill a feeling of spiritual arrogance and jingoism in the people.

His metaphysical philosophy for eternal transcendentalism was not at all a new concept in Hinduism neither he was a religious reformer or a crusader against social ills of the day. He is often branded to be a religious revivalist for his exhortation that Vedas are the innate nectar of knowledge, ethics and sublime philosophy and all Hindus should go back to the Vedas. I don't find even any relevance or iota of rational thought in these claims, Vedas are the oldest scriptures in the corpus of Hindu religious literature and its not an esoteric secret.

Did Swami Vivekananda did anything substantial for the emancipation of women, for the upliftment of the downtrodden and the marginalised ?

Did he endeavoured to end superstitions and eradicate the abhorrent caste system?

Any substantial measures to alleviate poverty amongst the masses which is the most pressing issue with which we are wrangling till date?

He wandered as a mystic, associated himself with the ruling elites and propagated mysticism and metaphysics in the West which earned him the accolade of ' India's spiritual emissary to the west' and it was more than enough to instill a sense of hyper nationalistic pride and resurgence of faith in the veracity of atavistic dogmas.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy
Genuine social reformers who made a significant difference in the lives of many people and championed the cause of humanism, rationalism, free thought and science deserve more plaudits than someone who cited verses from Vedas, Gita etc and voiced ancient platitudes.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidya Sagar and Mahatma Jyoti Rao phule along with many other unsung heroes deserve more credit than the overhyped mascot of obfuscated spiritualism and hindutava.

Written by Aditya Chaturvedi

History buff, avid reader, iconoclast and just another mortal in this absurd world who believes that reality is not something which is to be accepted as it is, it is to be confronted.

Manjhi Film Review - Impeccable, Earthly and Original

Posted on Friday, 21 August 2015 No comments

The Bollywood movie Manjhi- the mountain man is based on a true story and is worth watching for its innate realistic, sombre and nuanced portrayal of the original storyline . A story that is veritably emblematic of sheer grit, determination, super human resolution, iron will, unflinching faith and confidence to fulfill even the most herculean task despite all odds, encompassing physical feebleness, mental enervation, persistent vilification, bickering and social stigmatisation.

A task that is onerous enough to be a synonym of anything that epitomises superhuman hard work, quintessential toil which is Sisyphean in the the hindi vernacular ( Pahad todna- breaking a mountain). But in the end, after years of indefatigable toil, the impossible is transcended to pave way for the possible owing to the astounding ability and formidable will to move on unperturbed by travails and tribulations of gargantuan magnitude.

Backdrop of the starting of the story is Bihar of 1950s when unabashed casteism and oppression of the downtrodden was a social and cultural norm perpetuated by the system of feudalism which worked in cahoots with the the so called democratic government apparatus which only paid lip service to grave issues like despicable casteism and horrific brutality perpetrated on the most vulnerable section of the society by devilish feudal landlords and their henchmen. A society that was, and is being till today victimised by the powerful ruling elite which devours the poor.

Plunder, killings, arson, horrific rapes and amputations for transgressing the social diktats of these feudal lords is a social reality in the vast swathes of land in the Indian hinterlands which are in the thralldom of these feudals who commit even the most ghastly and abhorrent crimes with full impunity and in the broad daylight, sometimes in connivance with local authorities and mostly under the auspices of casteist self seeking politicians.

The protagonist in this story is a simple and abjectly poor toiler named Dashrath Manjhi whose father like other lower caste villagers is routinely beaten and harassed by the village strongman who enjoys political clout and wields power. They lead a life devoid of any hope and even a slight semblance of dignity.

A wretched hamlet of shanty ramshackle's which is sequestered from rest of the state due to an imposing mountain which surrounds it. Consequently, the village is a personal fiefdom of the venal and savagely atrocious landlord.

The protagonist escapes from impending bonded labour and runs off to a nearby city to work in the coal mines.. He returns to his desolate village after 7 years and is grieved and surprised at the same time to see that palpably nothing has changed even in these years.

He marries a girl with whom he is smitten and it later transpires that she was the same girl who was betrothed with him in childhood. After marriage he works as a labourer and as a toiler, sporadically voicing against the injustice of the debauched village feudal and at times dauntlessly confronting them. Despite leading a wretched existence, his conjugal life is of vivid charm, happiness, love and a optimistic yearning for a better life in a bucolic town.

His life withers and everything falls apart when one day his beloved wife slips from the precipice while trying to cross the mountain and dies.

Realistic David decides to wrestle with the metaphorical Goliath.

Nawazudin Siddiqui plays the role of the protagonist Dashrath Manjhi and his synchronized acting is a feat to watch. His performance is impeccable, earthly and original without a tincture of any embellishing.

Written by Aditya Chaturvedi

History buff, avid reader, iconoclast and just another mortal in this absurd world who believes that reality is not something which is to be accepted as it is, it is to be confronted.

Adopt a Terrorist today and make your Adarsh Liberal Family complete

Posted on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 No comments
Every time a terrorist is caught, there begins the ordeal of liberals from all walks of life standing up collectively for the human rights, justice and general comfort of the caught 'human' It is obviously hard for the less-evolved-blood-thirsty right wingers to understand this concern, and we can't keep fighting forever on these issues. There's only so many debates you can watch on NDTV, right? This issue needs to reach a resolution. India can take lessons from older democracies, like USA which came up with creative solutions like "Adopt A Terrorist Program" specially designed for the liberals.


***

A person wrote a letter to the White House complaining about the treatment of a captive taken during the Afghanistan war. Attached is a copy of a letter they received back:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C., 20016

Dear Concerned Citizen:

Thank you for your recent letter roundly criticizing our treatment of the Taliban and Al Qaeda detainees currently being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Our administration takes these matters seriously, and your opinion was heard loud and clear here in Washington. You'll be pleased to learn that, thanks to the concerns of citizens like you, we are creating a new division of the Terrorist Retraining Program, to be called the "Liberals Accept Responsibility for Killers" program, or LARK for short. In accordance with the guidelines of this new program, we have decided to place one terrorist under your personal care.

Your personal detainee has been selected and scheduled for transportation under heavily armed guard to your residence next Monday. Ali Mohammed Ahmed bin Mahmud (you can just call him Ahmed) is to be cared for pursuant to the standards you personally demanded in your letter of admonishment. It will likely be necessary for you to hire some assistant caretakers. We will conduct weekly inspections to ensure that your standards of care for Ahmed are commensurate with those you so strongly recommended in your letter.

Although Ahmed is sociopathic and extremely violent, we hope that your sensitivity to what you described as his "attitudinal problem" will help him overcome these character flaws.

Perhaps you are correct in describing these problems as mere cultural differences. He will bite you, given the chance. We understand that you plan to offer counseling and home schooling. Your adopted terrorist is extremely proficient in hand-to-hand combat and can extinguish human life with such simple items as a pencil or nail clippers. We do not suggest that you ask him to demonstrate these skills at your next yoga group. He is also expert at making a wide variety of explosive devices from common household products, so you may wish to keep those items locked up, unless (in your opinion) this might offend him.

Ahmed will not wish to interact with your wife or daughters (except sexually) since he views females as a subhuman form of property. This is a particularly sensitive subject for him, and he has been known to show violent tendencies around women who fail to comply with the new dress code that Ahmed will recommend as more appropriate attire. I'm sure they will come to enjoy the anonymity offered by the burka - over time. Just remind them that it is all part of "respecting his culture and his religious beliefs" - wasn't that how you put it?

Thanks again for your letter. We truly appreciate it when folks like you, who know so much, keep us informed of the proper way to do our job. You take good care of Ahmed - and remember...we'll be watching. Good luck!

Cordially...Your Buddy,

Don Rumsfeld

***

If you haven't guessed it yet, we're just blowing some steam.

- Rajarshi R. Samanth

For Delhi Police, forcibly trying to kiss a woman in broad daylight is not molestation

Posted on Monday, 10 August 2015 No comments

His name is Nikhil and he tried to molest my friend - She was walking down M block (near barakhamba red light) Connaught Place, when this gentleman came and tried kissing her in broad daylight.

This happened in one of the most crowded places and no, she was not dressed inappropriately (coz that is what many in our society think when a girl is harassed) - so, she got hold of the guy and started screaming at him, when some passersby came and helped her nab him.

The worst mistake was to call the cops - they came 40 minutes after calling (she held onto him for that long) and the first thing the cops did was to take him inside his van and talk to him ( now I know what they had discussed!).

The cops came out and asked my friend to write an application to the SHO Connaught place police station explaining what really happened to her - She wrote an application and the sub inspector ( Mr. Sanjiv Kumar) rejected right away saying she was not clear. She wrote an application 2nd time - again he said she hasn't explained "in detail" what has happened to him and what this guy did to her.

By this time she was shaking with disgust and anger & tears started flowing. Finally I offered to write an application in very clear words - "this guy Mr. Nikhil tried to molest me by attempting to kiss me" and guess what? It was again rejected by the sub inspector saying that I wrong in thinking that she was molested. According to him just trying to kiss a girl is NOT molestation!!

So he rejected our application for the 3rd time. The sub inspector (Mr. Sanjiv kumar) tried to scare us by saying that we will have to come to the police station, and then come to the court tomorrow in front of the Magistrate and then finally my friend should be calling her parents or relatives.

I asked why aren't his people being called- he said there was no need! It felt as we were the criminals and he is the victim. We realized we live in a place where every girl has to fight for herself - We should have just beaten the pulp out of this guy and let him lie on road rather than take him to the cops because clearly, the police ain't there to protect us- it is there to protect the mentality that women are second class citizens.

My friend felt humiliated and afraid at the same time - humiliated because everyone of the people standing and watching the tamasha felt that we were overreacting - u know he is just a guy... Let him go!And afraid that if We fight more she might end up being followed and harassed....

The police have even forwarded her number to this guys parents (they called her last night) and now she fears the worst... Why am I bringing up my daughters in this godforsaken place?

Also found that though the inspector told us that our application was wrong and rejected it outright.... Later he used the same application to harass the guys' parents also. Why was the application not accepted in front of us then? Why was it used it later without even our knowledge?

Written by Radhika P Singh

Radhika reported this event on her Facebook wall here

Doubting the greatness of Kalam

Posted on Saturday, 1 August 2015 No comments
“I write for the same reason that a cow gives milk.”

That’s what George Bernard Shaw had to say about his creative process. I am neither GB Shaw nor do I have any bovine traits in particular- but then every once in a while, an intellectual comes along, with his out of the box revelations, and coerces me into a fit of lactation. The most recent of them was in order when Mr. N Jayaram came out with his article “Kalam was no great man: Don't let news of death confuse you.” (Link here)

Some are arguing how greatness of APJ Abdul Kalam is being overstated ...
It seems to be a fixation with some, that Dr. Kalam was a Muslim who adhered to some traditionally “Hindu practices” – of all for God’s sake, Vegetarianism and Carnatic music!! While this seems to be a rather noble principle of life in a multi cultural, multi ethnic and pluralist country like India; opinions such as the ones Mr Jayaram holds, tend to place such personal convictions so forcibly into a political set up, that it feels utterly synthetic and phony.

Case in point here is Dr. Kalam’s appointment as president in 2002. It might be very well true that the Political parties might have favoured a Muslim president. But then, what is it that was expected out of Kalam about the 2002 riots? He was a scientist, a workaholic handling his scientific chores of the day – not a politician and in particular, not a very shrewd on at that. What would you have had him do? Say NO to a position that he thought he could execute well and show, as opposed to most of his nominal predecessors that the post can actually be an instrument of influence, inspiration and change...?

By the feeble argument that Kalam accepted a post that in the larger context was essentially a tactical political move, Mr. Jayaram would find it difficult to convince just about anyone to get into public service or politics in general at all.

There is also an attempt to term him and his projects “hawkish” using formidable words such as a proponent of nuclear weaponization. Very few would disagree on the matter of Nuclear disarmament. It is perhaps the quintessential requisite to the survival of the human race or even terrestrial life on planet Earth. But such an issue can never be considered in isolation of its geopolitical implications. India sits in very slippery conditions in this regards. With military hostility from its neighbours being a very palpable reality, tending to a completely pacifist ideology is not just impractical but is also something that borders stupidity.

But that is something the so called intellectuals conveniently ignore in their arguments. There is a reason why India is a non-signatory to the NPT and CTBT. The one truly global, trans-national organization of the present day is the UN. But sadly and by conscious design, it represents the world power structure of the post WW-II era. Until that time when the so called big players allow for a more level playing field, the new boys on the block will just chose to play somewhere else. Kalam’s views and his support on military strength is not a result of him being “hawkish”, but a by product of the a larger picture that the prominent nuclear powers in the world would want to make security decisions on behalf of the smaller ones; thereby compromising their own sovereignty on foreign and to a sizable extent, internal policy matters.

The ethical stand on nuclear power plants, river linking and death penalty is also a matter of considerable constipation. It is quite convenient and a little unconstructive to point out nothing but flaws in the current and prospective projects. When people in India die by the thousands, every season specifically due to climatic conditions, river linking would generally appeal to rationality. As it obviously turns out - not to all. The surprising fact is that while environmentalists worry a great deal about the social impact viz. displacement of people from their ancestral lands and the submergence of villages, they would not bat an eye when the same people die of floods or droughts. Even considering the flora and fauna, I believe sometimes environmentalists underestimate nature in its love for its own proliferation- Thekaddy (Periyaar reserve) in Kerala being a fitting example. Also, Kalam being a constant proponent of a Thorium based nuclear energy program is quite conveniently neglected.

As for death penalty - I can agree that there is no place for it the 21st century. But that is a completely subjective view and no one can claim to take the the moral high ground because human rights are universal and apply just as much to victims as they do to the convicted. The example of Dhananjoy Chaterjee is a handy one because Mr. Jayaram has the multipurpose tool of retrospective analysis – not a luxury readily available to people who need to make decisions based on current evidence.

It is but obvious that issues such as nuclear programs, energy generation and capital punishment are extremely disputed and naturally no one is going to agree completely on even the larger points, let alone the finer ones. To pass judgements on a man’s greatness based on such gray issues is a little rich. Especially given the fact that for the most part, he would be remembered and rightly so, to be a man who inspired a whole generation to dream big and work hard. He was a man who gave the phrase “Presidential Palace” a meaning more profound than the ones that could be found in a dictionary when he opened the imposing gates of the Rashtrapati Bhavan to school children, college students, farmers and a multitude of other social classes. This, especially because, unlike factional politicians and political pundits, he did not believe in social classes. And this is hardly surprising-  how would social classes matter; especially to a Muslim boy who was son to a boat owner, friend to the son of a Rameshwaram temple high priest, who went on to become a technician at Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station which was housed in a donated St. Mary Magdalene Church.

In his closing remark, Mr. Jayaram opines, “...eulogising of Kalam comes across as a tad obscene.” I would want to humbly state that like each one of us, Dr. Kalam was no God. As every human, he had his share of misjudgements, vices and beliefs. What is actually “a tad obscene” is the pathological obsession with nitpicking every single mistake or opinion that is incoherent with your own and painting with a broad brush a picture far less beautiful than the person Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam actually was.

Written by Allen George

Follow him on twitter @Old_Estonial

Books by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam
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