Friday, July 08, 2016

Salman Khan felt like a ‘Raped Woman’

Recently, Salman Khan in an interview said he felt like a raped woman.
“While shooting, during those six hours, there’d be so much of lifting and thrusting on the ground involved. That was tough for me because… When I used to walk out of the ring, after the shoot, I used to feel like a raped woman.”

The twitterati went abuzz taking umbrage to this remark: One person asks, ‘how does he know what a raped woman feels’.  Amir Khan thought it was ‘insensitive’. Kangana Ranaut thinks his comments were ‘horrible’.  Anurag Kashyap felt they were ‘very thoughtless’, while Freida Pinto takes ‘offence’.

Such a reaction is quite understandable.  This is definitely an insensitive remark in the modern context.  Now, with so much awareness in gender discrimination, sexual harassment of women, and child abuse, these statements sound very insensitive and callous.

Yes, insensitive and callous, statements of bad taste.  Agreed.
But are these statements illegal?

An FIR was launched against Salman Khan for this remark under the Section IPC 294 (obscene acts or words in public) and IPC 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman).  These sections have provisions for three months and one year of jail term.

National Commission for Women (NCW) has summoned Salman Khan to appear before the Commission, or they ‘may proceed to take such appropriate action as it deems fit’.
They further write:
It is important to drive home the point that just because you are a celebrity you can’t make off-the-cuff remarks. The comment he made is very injurious to the esteem of a woman

A gang-rape victim from Haryana sent a legal notice to Salman Khan seeking 10-Crores in damages for ‘belittling rape victims’.

What is the problem?

What I find problem with the current India is that they don’t know the difference between actions and words of bad taste versus actions and words which are illegal

There is a big difference between morality and legality.   While Legality can be enforced through law of the land, morality cannot be enforced.  And the fact the most Indians do not see the difference between these two seems to be creating lot of problems in this country.   Many statements are considered seditious, anti-national, illegal, and so on, worthy of prosecution, harassment and life-long persecution.

In a petition filed in Lucknow, a social activist, asked for legal action against Salman Khan, for showing “disrespect to rape victim” and which “revived the ugly memories of such heinous crimes”.

Someone may say, ‘Man, the kids from neighbourhood were on a rampage at my home.  It felt like a terrorist-attack on my home’.  This does not necessarily mean ‘disrespect’ to terrorist-attack victims or that it amounts to reviving the ugly memories of such heinous crimes.

Words and phrases have many meanings.  Like how erstwhile HRD Minister reacted, rather sheepishly, to the word ‘Dear’, many of these words don’t have one-track mind like peevish Indians do.    The word rape itself connotes many meanings.

After coming out of a brutal and horrific interview, one may say, ‘I was literally raped in there’, which does not mean he is being insensitive to thousands of rapes happening in the country, or that he is trivializing those rape incidents.  It only means, he is saying, ‘The torture they were inducing onto me was being enjoyed by the interviewers, but I was not enjoying it.  I had to endure it against my will’.  Instead of saying that long winded description, the guy says, ‘I was raped in my interview’. 

This is no different from saying, ‘those parliamentarians murdered our Constitution on that day’.  It does not mean trivializing the sacred concept called murder, or being insensitive to thousands of murders happening in this country. 

In fact, the word Rape is used in many contexts, like Rape of Nanking, Rape of Belgium, Rape of Europa, Rape of United States Constitution, and so on.

The usage of word Rape in that context does not trivialize the word rape.

You may get into a bar, get groped around by other men, and come out say, ‘Man, I was being sexually molested in there’, or ‘I was being child-abused in there’.  This does not necessarily mean you are trivializing Sexual Molestation or Child Abuse.

Freedom of expression includes Freedom from frivolous prosecution.  Slapping every insensitive remark made by someone with legal charges leads to curbing of freedom of expression.  Freedom of expression allows for making insensitive remarks, which can then criticized and lampooned.  But making it a legal matter is altogether a different matter.

Some of these insane laws which allow for frivolous prosecution have to be scrapped.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

All of a sudden everyone is anti-national

I have not seen so many anti-nationals in my lifetime.  It’s like raining traitors this season in India.  All of a sudden, there are traitors and anti-nationals everywhere in this country.  Like how the enemies of the State suddenly came onto the scene from within in various countries of Europe in early 1900s, like in Germany, and in Italy, there are enemies of India everywhere from within India.  These enemies of India come in the form and shape of protesting Dalit students in university campus, they come in the form of ordinary farm worker who ate beef, and they come in the form of journalists and editors. 

Sedition cases, those used by the British Empire to incarcerate the freedom fighters of India, are springing up everywhere like it’s the Spring Revolution of Tunisia.  This country is geared for witch-hunting.  All of a sudden each of us is asked to prove our patriotism.  To do that, we have to chant a devout slogan for a Goddess.  Otherwise we are traitors who will sent to Pakistan. 

And how do these traitors look? They look just like you, the ordinary people, they are your nice neighbors.  Oh! Don’t be fooled! They are all traitors, they are all anti-nationals, as the Hindutva leaders tell you.  They come in the form of liberals, the seculars, the communists, the socialists, the SCs, the STs, the OBCs, the Muslims, and the Christians. They come in the form of students, the teachers, the professors, the journalists, the editors, the book writers, and the movie makers.   They are everywhere.  They are the enemies within.  And amidst all these anti-nationals, there is only one patriot.  He wears a Khakhi uniform or wears a tilak. And he owes his allegiance to Hindutva ideology.

And there is only one prescribed and sanctioned expression of love for your country.  You have to chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.  Anything less, you are traitor.  ‘Jai Hind’ won’t do.  ‘Hindustan Zindabad’ won’t do.

And there is only form of patriotism.  The Hindutva form of patriotism.  Every other form of patriotism is nothing but sedition.   The Brown Shirts did it in Germany, the Blackshirts did it in Italy, and the Bolsheviks did it in Russia.  Now it is the turn of Khakhi Shorts in India.
After World War I, the defeated nation of Germany started to find enemies within the country.  Once the bereaving nationalists, feeding on a desperate need to claim superiority of their race and nation, started looking, they started to find enemies everywhere.  The Jews, the Communists, the Gypsies, the intellectuals, and the liberals.   The innocuous neighbors suddenly became enemies of the State. 

Today, in India, we see the same frenzy.  The great nation, the super power, all of a sudden has become weak.  Because it has enemies within.  The nationalists want everyone to prove their patriotism.  Chanting a certain slogan, eating certain food, wearing certain clothes, have now become a test of patriotism.  The witch hunt is on.  It has started with hunting down the students and the universities.  Next, it is your turn and mine.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Bharat Mata Ki Jai – Does it have religious connotation?

On the controversy surrounding Asaduddin Owaisi’s refusal to chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, Bharka Dutt of NDTV asks Owaisi, ‘Why would you say NO to a slogan which does not have a religious connotation - that simply describes the country to be a motherland?’

When I Google Searched ‘Bharath Mata’ in Images, this is what I get.  These are the first few results.

Why I won’t say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’?

Another controversy is now brewing across the country.  Asaduddin Owaisi, MP from Hyderabad, said that he won’t say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. He insisted that he won’t chant this slogan even if someone puts a sword on his neck.  

Owaisi says he is a patriot, but not a nationalist (the way RSS defines).  Mr. Rakesh Sinha, the other commentator, says that a person who doesn’t say, ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ cannot love his country.  Whereas Owaisi asks, do you have a problem if we say, ‘Hindustan Zindabad'? [He later said, 'Jai Hind' on TV]

This raises fundamental questions about how we view our country.  What is India to each of us?

Monday, March 07, 2016

Should we not protest against Supreme Court Decisions?

During the course of JNU row many have contended in TV debates and online discussions that ordinary people in India do not have a right to protest a Supreme Court Decision.   One anchor even asked a JNU student leader, ‘Do you think you know more than the Supreme Court judges that you could protest their decision?’

Most Indians tend to think that a protest against Supreme Court decision should not be allowed.  However, in most mature democracies, including India, people have protested against Supreme Court decisions.   There are many examples.  But here I describe a notable one.

When Abraham Lincoln was the President, the US Government passed 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to US Constitution to emancipate Black people in that country, giving them equal rights.  For about twenty years they enjoyed this freedom as equal citizens.  However, a Supreme Court Decision (Plessy v. Ferguson 1896) reversed most of these amendments thereby creating Jim Crow laws that implemented ‘separate but equal’ doctrine.  Blacks were segregated, lynched, and denied voting rights.  Basically, the Black man was not treated as equal citizen.

It took major protests of 1950s and 1960s to reverse the Supreme Court decision of 1896.  People came out in thousands to protest these laws.  Martin Luther King is one of the leaders of this Civil Rights Movement.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Is this ‘freedom of speech’?

Smrita Irani, Minister for HRD, in her speech in Lok Sabha, while referring to a pamphlet on Mahishasur Martyrdom Day that described Goddess Durga as ‘sex worker’, asks, ‘Is this freedom of speech?’

She then asks, What is this depraved mentality?’

She believes that a group which celebrates Mahishasur, and describes Goddess Durga as ‘sex worker’ is mentally depraved and she believes such a group should NOT be allowed to express their opinion.  She questions everyone else who is supporting JNU students:  Freedom of speech, ladies and gentleman. Who wants to have this discussion…? I want to know.’

This is where Hindutva gets it wrong.  Not only do they do not understand the concept of India, they fail quite miserably when they try to define Hinduism for all of us.  Each time they try to bring a new section of Hindus into their fold enforcing conformance in their definition of Hinduism, they alienate some other section of Hindus.

Smriti Irani is bang on in reflecting the true prejudices of Hindutva proponents when she accuses the group identities that have distributed the pamphlets, in her own words, “SC, ST and minority” students of JNU.   Isn’t this the same allegation levelled against Hindutva groups? That they are against the interests of SC, ST and minorities in this country?

Today I woke up in the land of Taliban

You know there is something grossly wrong with a nation when it books a man on ‘sedition’ for demanding ‘freedom from casteism’, and books another man for ‘defacement of property’ for offering ‘reward to kill a real person’.

Today I woke up in the land of Taliban – the fear that I expressed many times over the last many years.  ‘Look, I said so!’ just doesn’t cut it anymore.

The fears that I expressed about this nation are slowly turning out to be true. 

Talibanization of this country is now picking up pace.   Nationalism is hijacked by one group, one ideology, who now portray every other group, and every other ideology as ‘anti-national’.

Long ago, I wrote (in 2007):

First they came for the Sikhs, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Sikh.
Then they came for the Muslims, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Muslim.
Then they came for the Christians, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Christian.
Then they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Liberal Hindus, and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a conservative Hindu.
Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left
to speak up for me.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Why I am a traitor?

I eat beef
Therefore, I should be sent to Pakistan, but not any other beef-eating country such as England, USA, or Japan.
I criticized death sentence to Afzal Guru
Therefore, I am a supporter of terrorism.
I supported freedom of speech to the JNU students.
I could be charged with sedition.
I believe that India is not just for Hindus but home to many others.
I could be labelled as anti-nationalist.
I don’t think my country is always right just because I happen to be born in it.
I could be labelled as unpatriotic.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

JNU Student Leader arrested on Sedition

Right now, as I write this, India is under a great threat.  India’s unity as a nation is under attack.  An enemy has made his intentions clear - he wants to break up India into tiny pieces.  He has the wherewithal to take away our freedoms, strip us of our institutions, and then break up this nation.  And we are all reeling under the fear.  What we believed in all these years - that this country shall always stay united - is all of a sudden put at risk. 

The enemy comes in the form of ordinary students of JNU campus in New Delhi.  What they said in their college grounds, their threats to break this nation into tiny little pieces, has made this entire country paranoid, and India has taken the necessary precaution to stop them in their tracks.  It has used the same law that the British used to incarcerate Gandhi and other national leaders during Independence Movement.  On the charges of sedition, the student union leader of JNU is arrested.

Social media is buzz with support for the threatened nation.  They believe that this nation has done the right thing putting this evil incarnate in the jail for his threats.

What is my opinion on this issue?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Why Indian Elite Cannot Solve the Problems of the Poor – Food

The recent ban of eggs in the midday meals to school children by Madhya Pradesh opens up questions on how as a society we solve some of the fundamental problems in India.  Most of the decision making in the legislature, bureaucracy, activist groups, and media, is usually done by the elite of India, who are most often well off.  And the challenges faced by the elite in India closely resemble the challenges experienced by the people living in the developed world.  And in most cases, like in deciding the nature of food and diet for nutritional purposes, those challenges are exactly reversed between developed and underdeveloped countries, thereby putting the elite in India squarely incapable of solving the problems of the poor.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Starving India through Vegetarian Bullying

If you have traveled the world as an Indian, you will notice one thing about the whole world that is so unlike India – you would realize that all other cultures on the planet eat some kind of meat in their regular diet.   You will stumble upon the great discovery that India is the only country on the planet which has highest percentage of vegetarians, where vegetarianism is proudly worn as badge of virtue and value.  Only in India would you see people preferring the vegetarian diet overwhelmingly, wherein even the non-vegetarian communities tend to consume mostly the vegetarian food with paltry consumption of meat one or two meals per week.

Upon this greatest discovery of your lifetime you may go through a debate, if you happen to have some curiosity that your mental faculties have endowed you with.  And if you happen to be one of those Indians who grew up believing India is the greatest country on the planet and it is your mission to tell the whole world how great it is, like for example, if you happen to be Modi bhakt, you would come to the same conclusion which many other have come to – that is – India is indeed the greatest country on the planet to have found the virtue of vegetarianism thousands of years ago, and therefore it makes more sense now to tell the whole world the greatness of vegetarianism, how you are kind to animals, especially the street roaming cows, and how you now hold yourself high morally and ethically.   Like many other Hinduphiles, you will ignore the complicated topics, such as dietary habits of various castes, and instead focus only on the virtues of the vegetarian diet.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Return from a long hiatus

I wrote my first blog post on 02 February 2006 - that’s more than nine years ago.  And in these nine years I wrote 540 articles, averaging nearly 60 per year – or 5 per month.  Of those nine years, the most prolific one was 2007 when I wrote 110 articles.  And in year 2014, I wrote only six.

The last one is from 23 July 2014 – that’s almost a year ago.   

I went through some rough period in life and I guess that’s the reason why I could not make myself write anything.  And in the recent few weeks I just could not muster anything even when I wanted to – call it a writer’s block.

So, I thought I should just go on a freewheeling mode and get started, and hence this post.

Modi is in power.  The unthinkable has happened.  The Congress got decimated – Indians rejected Rahul Baba and UPA III overwhelmingly.  And State of Telangana got formed. 

'Make in India' is the theme, so is the agenda to transform India into Hindustan.