Sunday, October 11, 2015

Ban hate

Ban this, ban that. Our sensibilities are on overdrive. I don’t like something, just ban it. This is India today. The land that is celebrated for its tolerance towards the other and having the ability to assimilate different cultures is increasingly losing its sense of direction. This sense of intolerance stems from ignorance and a lack of confidence in one’s own identity.
Every time we head to an election, communal flare up increases. Politician are blamed, and rightly so. The existing chasms in society allow the shrewd politicians to exploit for immediate electoral gains. Bihar elections have once again brought this to the forefront like never before. Time and again it is the poor and the marginalized that bear this brunt of communal politics.
Muzzafarnagar is still fresh on our minds and we are now confronted with Dadri killing. Protecting lives and respecting others right to their way of life is more precious than the so-called call of religion. What is the purpose of religion if killing and hatred becomes the object? Religion is supposed to spread brotherhood and peace among the masses not hatred and fear. Ironically, as we near the 70th year of independent existence as a nation, there is the question of whether the basis for partition was after all right.

This country is increasingly turning into majoritarianism- in that the will of the majority is increasingly being imposed on the rest. This increasing partition in the society bodes ill for the country. Unless all Indians are treated equally and given opportunities to grow and contribute to nation building, India is far from becoming a superpower. 

Saturday, March 07, 2015

My government

A new government has taken office in Delhi. AAP represents an alternative experiment in politics. Having entered the electoral fray, AAP carried the aspirations and hopes of millions of Indians for a corruption free governance. It also showcased the power of an idea to start a democratic revolution of sorts all across the country. The next five years will be important in evaluating and accepting the idea of AAP as an alternative to the ruling dispensation at the center.
One driving force behind the success of AAP is the ideological/theoretical backbone that is still a work in progress. To curb the expenses associated with maintaining and running a political party, AAP has gone in for volunteers as party workers, who don't expect any payback. Donations from ordinary people funds the election expenses and this keeps the corporates out of the picture. The conventional mode of funding elections for big parties is the corporate donations that come with a condition. Corporate friendly budget is seen as a way of assuaging the industry that opens its purses widely.
We all have to hope that AAP succeeds. For once we have a party that is a true representative of the people. Any failure will push us back to the traditional political parties and their not so different ideologies. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Indian polity

Time and again we are told to be part of the political system and desist from criticizing the same from outside. The last few weeks have been particularly hectic- what with news media having to jump from one scam to another as the corruption can of worms started unfolding before our eyes. CWG, Adarsh, 2G spectrum and land-for-sons were the prominent stories doing the rounds in the media. Now, would anyone still want anything to do with politics in this country?
The Prime Minister is shy of the media. He rarely talks, period. Some of us have a difficult time understanding him when he speaks. With reference to the unraveling of these scams involving his ministers and a congress chief minister, the PM thought wise to remain silent. Maybe being part of the PVN team some of the then PM's wait-and-watch tactics has rubbed off on our honourary PM. It is anybody's guess as to what, if the PM finally is forced to address the nation, he will say. People are totally fed up and excuses and blame game does not have any takers today.
Rahul Gandhi is a frequent flyer. He zips around the country trying to connect with the masses, specially with the urban educated youth. Now, I would be curious to see how he is able to deflect the wrath of the public given the fact that the youth congress leader talks about clean and efficient government. Is he talking about an utopian rule that we can only imagine in our dreams?
The BJP has lost big time. What looked like a chance in a life-time in Karnataka has been wasted. With so many charges against the CM and some of his ministerial colleagues, it is anybody's guess how the people will react the moment they get the first chance. It would be a miracle if the party survives the next election.

Friday, October 22, 2010

London Calling

Usually I keep off commenting on films. But the movie I saw last night triggered these thoughts. Jhootha Hi Sahi is produced and directed by Abbas Tyrewala. It features John Abraham in a new role (no need to show the body) and showcases Abbas' wife Pakhi (aka Punarnava Mehta) in the lead.
The first question that comes to mind is, "why does this film have to be located in London- what is wrong with any city in India?" Every film that is made today, with the exceptions, has to be either shot in New York or London. It used to make sense in the past- novelty factor. But today it is unnecessary and repetitive. The only reason one can think of is: the film was made keeping in mind the Indian diaspora (add to that Pakistani).
The other problem with this film is the forced integration of Indians and Pakistanis. Film makers are falling over backwards to somehow squeeze into their main theme the issue of Indo-Pak relations. The bonhomie between the two countrymen (and women) looks contrived to the point of being obnoxious. And these points are over and above the bad story line and some ham acting.
John Abraham is in a role similar to Shah Rukh Khan's character Surinder in 'Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi'. As expected John has overdone the simple, down to earth role and it does not suit his personality.
The first day, night show, had hardly 30 people watching the movie. Even with John appearing on all possible reality shows, it will require a miracle to rescue this movie which has a weak foundation and very shallow pillars on which it is constructed.
And before I forget, the danger in taking up a serious issue like Suicide Hotline is immense when handled in a frivolous manner. The whole relationship rests on the basis of trust and if that is violated it could worsen the situation. A commercial film is a wrong medium to deal and further knowledge about such a delicate and sensitive issue.
Overall, there was a feeling of being cheated out of Rs. 150/- for a below average fare.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Saffron State

So the BJP government (the first in south India) has survived for the day. The last ten days have been a roller coaster ride for the political representatives in the state. First, the group of dissidents took off to Chennai and from there hopped from one place to another and finally ended up back in Chennai. Reminds one of the Gujarat political scene where Shankar Singh Vaghela took on the BJP Chief Minister Patel by leading a group of dissidents from one resort to another. In that case the government was brought down and Vaghela become the Chief Minister. In our case, HD Kumaraswamy hoped to replicate that model, but has not succeeded, yet.
Politicians have only one Dharma- to hang on to power. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Politicians claim that they want to get into power to better our lives- they end up bettering their own. Power is today the panacea for all problems. Dodging court cases to amassing wealth to fight elections and in the present scenario induce legislators with cash becomes easy with power.
Finally, we the people are witness to high drama (thanks to the electronic media) and things are back to normal (for the politicians), we move on and unfortunately forget the lessons. We keep looking to the courts to solve all our problems. The ballot is the only answer to the political farce that is played out in the name of governance. It is the only fear that politicians will take seriously. Look at where Lalu and Paswan are today after the people taught them a lesson. Can we expect the people of Karnataka to take the bull by the horn?

Friday, October 01, 2010

Hey Ram

the tension and the anxiety that preceded the verdict in the property suit dispute pertaining to the Ayodhya Babri Masjid site has given way to debate and discussion. many views are being expressed on the decision- some hailing it as historical, while others criticizing it for being shoddy. whatever be your view on this much delayed verdict, the issue has not vanished or will in the near future.
the issue is more than the temple or masjid to begin with. on one hand it is an assertion that this land is basically a hindu country and the people belonging to this faith will have to be considered first. on the other hand, the muslim community has been trying to accept India as their country- a sense of belonging will come from the acceptance of the muslims as citizens who have the same rights as others. so the same land stands for two different things- for the hindus, a reiteration that india is their country and for the muslims that india can be their country also. in other words, the judgment was supposed to deliver justice to indians and in that sense has failed the very basic foundation of the constitutional law- law should be administered equally, irrespective of caste, religion and ethnicity.
another opportunity has been lost in the name of national reconciliation. injustice cannot be the basis for forcefully integrating the communities. there will never be justice if it is not seen to be delivered fairly. it is nice to reconcile that there was no other option before the judges- divide the land into two- 2/3rds for the hindus and 1/3 for the muslims. feels so much like our reservation policy based on population division. both cannot camouflage the injustice that is inherent in the policies.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

teaching assistants

one more semester is over. exams are round the corner. valuation will follow and then a much needed break. teaching is a calling as you need to love the job to stick on for a life time. the other day, two of the teacher assistants, merlin and namrata after two sessions on media ethics with final jpeng students wanted feedback about their teaching. the first class was intense with students listening and taking part in the discussion with enthusiasm. but the second class turned out to be a lot more noisy, disorganised and the only concern was to conclude the class quickly.

how can one motivate others to take to teaching. there is very little by way of personal satisfaction. teachers are constantly struggling to control the class, with very few students interested in the subject. every class is a challenge. new methods need to be evolved to keep the interest of the majority in the lecture. after all the effort one rarely finds full satisfaction. teaching in schools and colleges are increasingly becoming difficult. the average attention span of a student is going down drastically. career choices are aplenty. why would anyone want to be a teacher?