Sunday, November 25, 2007

Left out in Bengal

Indian Left is quite confusing. I don’t think they know where they stand on an issue. When I was going through the streets of Kolkata long ago I saw a statue of Stalin right in the middle of the road. I couldn’t believe it. For a while I didn’t know what to make of it. Why would somebody put up a statue of a person who killed 10 million of his own people? Do we put up statues of Idi Amin or Pol Pot?

When India was invaded by China in 1962 some of the guys from Left even thought it was a welcoming proposition. When the present UPA government under Manmohan Singh wanted to sign Nuclear Deal with USA, the Left opposed it. Its not that they are against the contents of the deal- they are just opposed to signing it with USA. A similar deal with a communist country is quite welcome to them. So, if it is with China, it is OK, but if it is with USA, it is not OK.

The present issue of Nandigram is quite confusing too. I don’t know the details of this issue. Usually I don’t write about an issue if I am NOT confident about it. I don’t know who is fighting whom. Aren’t Leftists supposed to fight against ‘capitalistic giants’ on behalf of ‘poor farmers’? So why is Buddhadeb, who won a landslide victory for Left, now on the other side of the fence here? Is Mamta Banerjee representing the Left here when she is fighting for the farmers? Are the Maoists fighting on the side of CPI workers or against them?

The following comment alone characterizes how Indian Left thinks. One of the leaders of the Left had this to say about Buddhadeb:

“…they would not have been angry if he had allotted land for cycle factories, and not for the automobile industry,”

So, the fight is not about the rights of the poor farmers. It’s not about the proper rehabilitation. It’s all about which industry Buddhadeb is promoting. If it was cycle industry, then it’s OK. If it is car industry, it is not OK.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Indian Media and Adult Content

On Indian Media

I believe that Indians are completely confused about how they need to handle their media. India has been given these new tools by the developed societies of the West. While the West evolved their civilization along with advents in the evolution of their Media, starting from a printing press five hundred years ago, through a maturing newspaper for hundreds of years, to radio and then TV to Internet now, India borrowed them all in much shorter time span. According to me, we got our democracy before we were even prepared for it. We got technology before we were even ready for it. Also, we got the tools of media before we were geared for it. As with any society, we inherited these tools and then indigenized them. We have our own flavor of democracy, though a vibrant one. Our outlook towards technology is quite warped, we seem to use it, but yet do not know its relevance and significance and do not contribute to its further growth either- and we continue to just borrow technology. Media stands out a bit different- we have completely indigenized the tools and made strides in using these tools. Though we still continue to blatantly copy and ape other societies, flagrantly plagiarizing and copying the content, we have also found our position in certain areas, such as Indian Cinema (though heavily plagiarized and completely dominated by sons and daughters of erstwhile actors), Indian News (good journalistic breakthroughs but lacking in accountability), and Indian TV (having our own Indian mythology, soaps and shows, though copied heavily but indigenized). Indian newspaper and magazines have remained almost same and to a certain extent has even deteriorated in the last few decades.

But, how do we handle the adult content in our media?

Adult Content

In this article, I am concerned about Indian Media in its way of handling adult content. I find them most confused on this issue than any other. While we try to promote our ‘Great Indian Culture’ (or Bharat Sanskruti) as a way of differentiating and hence identifying ourselves vis-à-vis other cultures who we think have degenerated, we are also ordinary humans who like to see adult content in regular doses as long as it is packaged subtly under different names. In effect, we are quite hypocritical about this. While we continue to enjoy the ribaldry we just don’t want to admit it.

Here’s my stand on this issue which also touches upon many other aspects, such as pornography, sex education and prostitution.

Privacy and the State

I don’t think what any consenting ‘adults’ do in their private lives is of anybody’s business other than those adults. The state should not have a say in those matters and should not intervene. If those adults want to watch pornography they should be allowed. State should not prohibit them from watching it. If two adults want to participate in different kinds of sex, different kinds of positions, with toys or gadgets, they should not be stopped by the state or the other people. If they want to pay for it, so be it. If they want to watch an adult movie in which consenting adult actors perform, then it should not be a crime. As long as those consenting adults do not infringe on the rights of other individuals or other beings, they are entitled to do anything in their private lives and the state or religion or any institution with authority should have no business in those affairs. .

The problem with India is that it does not even define what an ‘adult’ is. It is a different age for different purposes- for driving, for drinking, for voting, for standing elections, for marrying, for having sex, for watching sex, etc. Recently a SC verdict on the child marriage was ambiguous enough to make it even more confusing on who is an adult.

India does not have a clear say on any of these topics making the whole issue quite confusing. Parents, Media, the Institutions have set their own rules on what is proper and what is not. I think its time we make a clear stand on how we are going to deal with issues of sex, pornography, homosexuality, prostitution, sex-education, etc, as a society.

Indians are quite hypocritical when it comes to issues of adult content. They do not know where they stand. This hypocrisy is coming back to haunt us since Media now touches every Indian with TV, newspapers, Internet coming into our homes every day. And, sex, sleaze, ribaldry, vulgarity, obscenity, and soft pornography have made backroom entry into our daily lives without being labeled as such. Various media people have been using sex as selling object. I don’t mind people using sex to sell their stuff, but at least let’s be clear who your audience is so that we can monitor it to keep our young children away from it during the formative years.

Here are the examples of how Indian media is introducing ribaldry and sex into our daily lives by cleverly dancing on the thin border line between pornography and acceptable-show-of-skin:

Times of India (TOI)

TOI is one flagrant example of how media uses sex to sell itself off. A news item has a beautiful woman in sexy clothes for no apparent reason other than the fact that she is a bystander in an event that is being discussed. The daily sports column features sleaze on regular doses. A lady whose big breasts are about to pop out with nothing left to imagination is displayed in a news item for soccer match between Argentina and Brazil just because she happens to be a fan and she has nothing else to do with the game or its players. A lady with big breasts clearly outlining her nipples wearing extremely small bikini appears on sports section because she has dated a sports star in the recent past. The ‘smart’ people at TOI have realized the requirement of sexually starving Indian masses and they are tapping it. They keep beaming regular doses of soft pornography at every chance. There is no reason why a certain half naked woman appears on a news item. Many a times there is no connection at all. It’s as if they have a collection of millions of semi-nude pictures of women from internet from which they keep posting on regular basis. Even Economic Times while reporting an upsurge in the market uses a woman whose skirt is flying high to indicate the happy times. Discussing a core or central financial issue would make them use the picture of woman with a deep navel. Some ‘smart’ guy at TOI thought that the navel of a woman represented centrality of the issue.

I will be happy to see TOI showing more skin completely getting rid of this hypocrisy, stop calling themselves news reporters, but then they should sell those daily editions in sealed covers intended for mature audiences. But this daily dose of sleaze, ribaldry and nudity to all audiences, kids and adults alike, without any parental control or monitoring system only exposes Indian hypocrisy to the hilt.

Indian TV

Daily, millions of Indian people, including young kids, are glued to Indian TV channels which show love-making scene in all its glory (but with clothes on), gyrating bodies aping love-making (but with clothes on), semi nudity, vulgarity, ribaldry, sleaze on a daily basis right on primetime on regular viewing channels. Pelvic thrusts, suggestive positions, are all regular features nowadays, beamed into every home on a daily basis. India does not recognize what is primetime and what is late-night. India does not have special adult channels separating them from regular prime channels. All can watch sleaze at any point of time, even in the mornings. Indian movies which share the adult content are regularly beamed on Indian TV channels, sometimes even in mornings, without getting edited or formatted for home viewing. We do not have PG-13 or NC-17 rating for our movies. Either a movie is completely censored or it is allowed for all public including a toddler without any parental control.

Once, I was holidaying in India with few friends from France and we were flipping channels on Indian TV one evening and landed ourselves on a show call ‘Item Girl’ where girls were gyrating their bodies in semi-nude clothes in provocative fashion with not much left to imagination. These friends looked at me with an expression of surprise and asked, ‘Is this allowed on Indian TV?’

We have no clue what we are beaming daily to our young minds on a daily basis. There is sleaze, soft pornography, adult content, nudity on all mediums easily accessible to our kids but we keep our kids away from wearing jeans, or t-shirts, away from sex education in schools, and impose all other restrictions under the name of Great Indian Culture.

Indian Cinema

Indian Cinema comes in a different league altogether. I don’t know of any other culture on this planet that has exclusively produced such copious amount of drivel, tripe. crass, nonsense, on such a great level as Indian Cinema. This is one of hallmarks of Indian culture and shows its decadent state. While blatantly copying, plagiarizing, with no holds barred, sanctioned by Indian courts, they are masters at walking thin line between getting almost censored while showing soft pornography, adult love making, showing body parts in lascivious and lusty ways, and downright violence spilling blood. We do not have categorization or ratings for our movies. All movies are watched by all and sundry without exceptions. Movies like Murder which show lovemaking (with clothes on), including all the expression of love making, all the sounds of love making, are attended by families with kids of all ages.

Indian Cinema is like Pornography industry of Hollywood in many ways. They both produce thousands of movies per year. They all have almost similar themes in different settings. They both have the same set of formulae and sequence of events. They are both very predictable on their outcomes. Everyone knows what happens next in both kinds of movies. Similarities don’t end there. No pornography movie accuses the other of plagiarism or copying just like in Indian Cinema. They are intended for audiences who do not want to think for themselves and who want to see everything unfolding on the movie itself. They both have same grunts, voices and expressions of love making, but one of them with clothes on and the other without clothes on.


Indian magazines like INDIA TODAY have pictures of a naked woman’s breast on its front cover. The only thing that made them pass through censors is a tiny technicality- that the breast didn’t have a nipple, and instead a letter from the text took its place. What great art! Isn’t it? Such magazines with show more explicit pictures inside giving opinion polls on bizarre subjects of sex practiced by sexually repressed Indians is sold to all and sundry. There is no special package to indicate it is for mature audiences. According to them, all audience in India are mature.


Role of Internet cannot be missed. While we continue to believe we have stopped pornography at the national borders, the adult content in its full glory arrives on daily doses into homes of middle class families, internet cafes, etc, where young kids keep visiting in hordes relieving themselves off on a content which is unmonitored and unregulated. Internet allows kids to go to all kinds of places on internet and allows them to watch content which is deemed unwatchable even by some adults. There are all kinds of sex sites, involving all kinds of ages, which are completely unsuitable for viewing by young kids.


Our society is duplicitous. We are not an open society to start with like in Europe, where certain nudity is tolerated in public. There they discuss topics like sex and its education, awareness on sex is quite openly with their kids. We do not allow that in India. Our parents and government bodies believe our kids do not need that, making us join ranks with few other Islamic and religious orthodox countries. It is clear we are very conservative in these matters. However, we do allow adult content on prime time which no other conservative country allows.

What India needs is a clear monitoring body which classifies content into various boxes. I would like to see rating such as NC-6, NC-12, NC-18, indicating no children under 6, under 12, and under 18. Movie going parents should know the classification before taking their kids to such movies. Once we classify our magazines and newspapers as such, the content should be sold in special packages for mature audiences. Pornography, Adult Toys, and other stuff should be sold in selected stores targeting mature audiences only. Indian movies can screen adult stuff targeting selected audiences. Indian TV channels can screen adult content late night or on specially designated adult channels.

I believe we need to channel the Indian sexual frustrations caused out of repressions by so called Great Indian Culture. People want to relieve themselves off. They need avenues. If you keep repressing the audiences, it would lead to unnecessary consequences as listed above where ordinary channels and magazines will resort to using sex and sleaze to promote their products which will be viewed by all audiences including the impressionable young minds.

I believe India should allow pornography. It should allow adult movies to be screened in cinema halls. It should allow DVDs, magazines, etc, to be sold in stores. I believe India should legalize homosexuality between consenting adults. India should legalize prostitution. India should allow sex-education to its young kids so that they learn about these topics from a right source at the right age. India should restrict its kids from watching certain content by making sure we have proper classification mechanisms.

Indian cannot keep running away from discussing these topics forever. If the parents and the right authorities do not address these issues for the kids, the kids will learn it anyway from the wrong sources- such as internet.

Guide to Indian Idiocy II

In my previous article, Guide to Indian Idiocy I, I listed three laws of Indian Idiocy. They being primary, I have included in here few secondary laws.

Law of small gains and big losses

Indians look for small gains, momentary gains, and ephemeral pleasures while they lose out on the big stuff. In their eagerness and greediness guided by short-sightedness to gain small things, they tend to lose out on the big picture consistently.

Take for example, Indians in traffic. On an intersection, all the parties keep inching forward gaining extremely small steps of few inches, but in the whole process the whole traffic gets blocked for many minutes – sometimes losing more than thirty minutes. Nobody backs down, nobody wants to think, ‘OK, if I just hold myself back here for few minutes, this traffic will clear up and then I can proceed’.

The same can be said of the present chaos in Bangalore or any Indian city. Every homeowner wants to gain a little ground here and there. There is a whole art of encroachment happening in Indian cities. People are coming with innovative ways to maximize their occupation area, sometimes encroaching upon the roads, or the drainage system or the parking area, etc. This is a small gain, making one person happy, but eventually the whole system gets affected when there is a traffic jam everyday, when rain water completely submerges their parking lot, or when the drainage water keeps seeping into every home. Indians love to make small gains while losing out on the big pictures.

There are many such examples, all you have to do is look for one- either it is a line in a movie theater, traffic, our policy making or governing the country. It’s all about small gains and big losses.

Law of gradual suffocation

Indians like to die a gradual and slow death by suffocating and choking themselves.

Take for example, Indians in traffic. When waiting for a bus, the crowd first comes out of the bus stand to wait on the road itself thus narrowing the road width for traffic. The next person comes along and inches himself further onto the road. Eventually a big wedge shaped human formation is formed on the road thus completely choking the traffic. Every person is popping their head out and standing on the road waiting for the bus thus suffocating the traffic.

The same can be said of Indian construction and road maintenance. Every new construction dumps their construction material onto the road slowly choking it to eventually kill it. Every new project slowly chokes itself to death making it untenable.

Law of Inheritance

In India, all your talents, academic qualifications and successes are passed onto your kid.

For example, all actors’ kids are also actors, without any exceptions. A son of Amitabh Bachchan is definitely an actor. We do not even need to question that. Therefore, we have all kinds of actors thrown at us- like Tushar Kapoor, Esha Deol and what not, who are completely and utterly worthless but are tolerated and sometimes celebrated

For example, all politicians’ kids are also politicians. Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and now Rahul Gandhi have all become presidents of Congress Party- consistently for five generations. Rahul Gandhi is now slated to become Prime Minister of India, no questions asked.

Lessons from Pakistan

Pakistan is a good example of what could go wrong in a nation when it fosters and promotes hatred as state-sponsored campaign. The hatred that Pakistan promoted was against India. They rallied all and sundry in their country to unify everyone (and to make them ignore other inadequacies and shortfalls in the government) and to create 'freedom fighters' (also, called terrorists by others). Now, the homegrown terrorists are striking the very nation which fostered them.

This should be a lesson to our supporters and sympathizers of Hindu fundamentalism who do not necessarily wear a saffron banner but provide ‘silent support’ to Hindutva groups and their ideologies. Most Hindu groups, their sympathizers and silent supporters coming from elite and educated Hindus, rationalize the rise in Hindutva ideology as a ‘reaction’ to extremism coming from Muslim and Christian groups. This is not very different from how Pakistanis told themselves that their hatred was in fact a ‘reaction’ to what India did to them during Partition, how vile Indians were when they resorted to sleight and deceit to capture Kashmir from Pakistan. All wars against India were waged to take revenge as a ‘reaction’ to what Indians did more than fifty years ago to Pakistan.

Pakistan focused the growing hatred in its country to achieve one goal – to get Kashmir from India. This hatred was not supposed to take different incarnations. It was not supposed to affect its own populace. The guns and bullets they prepared by taking donations from various people were supposed to be aimed at the enemy (India), not at their own people. [They did something similar to Afghanistan.]

Pakistan is paying the price for fostering, fomenting and promoting such hatred in their country. They thought they could control, monitor and direct it the way they wanted. They thought it was a tap they could shut it off whenever they wanted. Alas, now that Frankenstein monster is on the loose. The hatred is coming back to hit them hard, usurping their rights and freedoms, targeting every Pakistani for harboring a rational thought. The Islamization that was used to rally its people was only to unite its people under one banner to fight the enemy, it was not supposed to lead to Talibanization of their own country, where their girls have to stay home, where music will be banned, where all their rights will be stripped off. Democratic institutions are crumbling, every institution to protect the interests of all common men is being demolished.

Many Hindus in India contest that their support to Hinutva forces is only to stop or moderate the ‘appeasement’ of minorities. They believe that the present Indian governments and politicians, pseudo-secularists, pseudo-intellectuals and wily Marxists are doling out concessions, sops, and other beneficent generosities to the minority religions only to win their vote banks while ignoring the sentiments of the majorities which are hurt again and again. They contend that this support is only to bring that appeasement to an end, after which this support will be rolled back. They think it is a tap which they can shut off anytime. They think they can foster the hatred for a while only to attain certain goals and once they are attained, they think they can just turn off the hatred.

Experiences from Pakistan clearly illustrate what happens to a nation that fuels such hatred – whatever may be the end goal. Hatred against any enemy or ideology, people or religion is bad. Once fostered, it cannot be rolled back. It is a Frankenstein Monster. It is not a tap that you can shut it off. The hatred that you build is like a dam of mud. It stores lot of energy to be untapped. One day, the dam is going to break, and the ensuing deluge will submerge everyone including those who constructed it.

Indian Hindus believe that their support for Narendra Modi and his kin, Bal Thackeray and his Shiv Sena, BJP and its sister outfits is all in the interest of a greater India where certain minorities who irk them with their fundamentalism and terrorism can be reined, monitored and controlled, where certain minorities are kept in check for the long term interest of this nation. Indian Hindus believe that this hatred can be controlled.

Lessons from Pakistan indicate how foolish these Indian Hindus are. They do not learn histories, they do not learn from mistakes of others, they do not reason nor think. They speciously argue how India is not the same as Pakistan and how it will escape the fate of Pakistan. They stick to their own theories of how India is going to be unique where in they will somehow not pay the price for the hatred they foster in their own ground. How foolish they are!

‘Benevolent Dictator’

Many Indians (not all) are fascinated with a person called ‘Benevolent Dictator’. In many evening discussions, which happen quite frequently in India, many educated and elite Indians (not all) opinionate how India suffers because of it’s ‘too much democracy’. And their antidote to that disease of ‘too much democracy’ is a Benevolent Dictator.

Most Indians eventually get frustrated with the ‘system’ of India. They usually do not realize that they are a part of the problem. They continue to believe that they are somewhat alien to creating that problem. According to them, the onus of creating that problem resides only with the ‘system’ and that includes the government, the institutions of India, such as judiciary, legislature, and a big body of individuals who run India, such as politicians, bureaucrats, etc.

These Indians get frustrated by the slowness of the system, the ineffectiveness of the system, the corruptness of the system. They believe that a democracy under these corrupt individuals fosters all ills of our society. They see how coalition parties bring in tardiness in running the system. They see how the debates and dilly-dallying parliament proceedings slow down the country. And they reason that the parliamentary democracy of India which allows so many regional parties to flourish and which allows for politicians to protest and stall proceedings is somehow the main culprit for the problems of India. Therefore they conclude- a Benevolent Dictator should come to aid of India.

Who is this Benevolent Dictator?

It all depends on who is proposing this definition. A Benevolent Dictator is always that strong and resolute person who seems to promote the ideology of those who define him. A rich Indian businessman would like to do away with the tax system of India- he is affected by the corrupt tax officials who bait him constantly. He has to keep feeding new officials and new politicians each time the government changes. If there was only one leader who he can bribe in one shot, most of his problems would be solved.

Many educated and elite Indians do not identify with the political leaders who pander to the lower classes and minority religions. If given an opportunity they would never like to deal with such people of low rank and such ulterior motives. The only reason these political leaders are in the decision making positions in India is because of stupid concept called democracy. If this concept was done away with, they can restore a bit of aristocracy or may be meritocracy, under a benevolent dictator, under whom, the people would be given a chance to govern and make decisions based on qualifications, one’s degrees in college, one’s stature of high birth.

This notion that even an educated and elite Indian having a PhD from a top institute is equal to an ordinary illiterate ignorant construction worker in a rural India is anathema to these Indians. And democracy somehow brings home this distasteful idea that both of them are equal stakeholders in the fate of India.

A Benevolent Dictator would quite unselfishly rule for the benefit of this country. He would be a nice man, not greedy, not power hungry, and yet be resolute and firm leading India with an iron hand. He will do away with press and media where necessary, he would ignore wishes and mandates of political and vote bank, because he doesn’t need them (he is already a dictator), he would, where necessary, suspend the legal norms, and do things which are considered good for the country. What is good for the country is of course subjective and is usually synonymous with ideologies of those who support such a dictator. He is of course a benevolent man therefore he knows exactly when to exercise his power and when not to. He would only act where necessary.

Different people have different desires from this Benevolent Dictator. Patriotic Indians want this benevolent dictator to completely suppress Kashmiri struggle for independence, kick out Pakistanis out of POK and completely restore the map of India. North Indians would like this benevolent dictator to impose Hindi as national language. The Hindu Chauvinists would like to take back all the sops given to minority religions. Upper caste Hindus would like to do away with reservations given out to backward castes. Most of them genuinely believe that corruption would somehow stop in under such benevolent dictator. That things would proceed fast, like in China.

All great things would be possible under a dictator. But since dictators are usually quite cruel, they coin a word called ‘benevolent’ dictator’ who would put country ahead of himself and lead it with a iron hand, making sure the interests of those who promote him are protected and promoted.

No wonder most Indians seem to have a high opinion of people like Stalin, Hitler, and some would even concede that people like Saddam Hussein are needed for India to become better. They celebrate when Narendra Modi rules with an iron hand, suppressing certain communities to the elation of certain majorities. His suspension of legal process is hailed as small compromises for the greater good.

This notion of Benevolent Dictator is nothing but mere extrapolation of Indian’s greediness. They look for glimpses of benevolence covering up their greediness – to serve their selfish purposes while suppressing other peoples' interests.

Yuppie Indians

In Child CEOs and Child Doctors, I talked about how Indian parents nowadays try to see their accomplishments and successes through their kid’s performances.

Here, I talk of another phenomenon – that of English inducing parents.

When I was in US, I saw many new immigrant parents from India speaking English ONLY with their kids. These parents from India carry with them their homegrown feeling of attributing superiority to those who speak English. There is a joke which goes this way – Lalu Prasad Yadav comes back to India after visiting New York and he remarks that it is well developed because even a beggar in New York speaks English. The sad truth is that for many Indians, speaking English is a sign of opulence, success, wealth and in effect every sign of achievement. So, raising a kid in USA is seen as an accomplishment in itself- it’s like sending your kid to a posh and rich international school here in India.

Here I illustrate another story. One Indian parent, call him X, was completely lost in USA because he went there at an older age. He was not ready to assimilate with the ‘foreigners’. We used to see X mingle only with Indians keeping his interactions with Americans or other international folk to a bare minimum. When one of the friends asked X to go out with us which included non-Indians, he did not relent. When asked how come he does not interact with non-Indians, X defiantly and proudly replied that he talks to one American on a daily basis. When probed further, he said this American was his son. Since his son was born in US he carried an American passport, and hence X was speaking to an American on a daily basis. While this story is a crude example and not a generality, it does reflect something that is pervasive with many Indian immigrants (not all). Many recent immigrant Indians celebrate the fact that their kids do not know any Indian languages. They take pride in the fact that their kids speak English only. It’s as if, admitting you can speak an Indian language is a sure sign of inferiority. These kids end up not able to communicate even with their own grandparents.

However, there are many other families who look at this issue very differently. A cousin of mine living in US then has two kids. We would conscientiously make sure they learnt their mother tongue. To do this, we had to enforce a strict regimen where in we all spoke in our mother tongue while at home. It is clear to some of us that it is important to inculcate your own identity so that it is not lost.

So, when I came back to India four years ago, I was in for a surprise. I saw few IT managers in Bangalore whose kids did not speak any Indian language. The parents would speak to them only in English and the kids would respond back in English. Some kids could understand an Indian language but would respond back in English only. It was rather a peculiar trend I was witnessing. How come an Indian born in India does not know an Indian language? What great efforts one must go through to ensure that? It’s like meeting a Belgian growing up in Belgium not knowing any Belgian language. You would find that odd.

Living in Bangalore, I started to notice lot of parents like that, in shops, malls, restaurants, etc, speaking to their kids in English only. I am not sure if they want to ‘show off’ or if it is indeed a regular practice. But it is clear that many of these parents have made it a consistent habit to speak to the kids in English ensuring the kids do not speak in any other Indian language – at least when they are being watched.

You will see this trend reflected in posh places of India – where speaking in Indian language is considered inferior. If you are sitting in a posh pub, or in a posh restaurant, or attending a big event, you just can’t address the waiter or an assistant in Indian language. Even if you address the person in Indian language, he would respond back in English only. I guess the owners have instructed him not to speak in Indian language, so he keeps it that way. I have seen this in airlines too. I don’t see why the passengers have to communicate in English with the attendants? Just because they are on a flight? I do understand that there is no common Indian language. But that does not mean we should not converse in a common Indian language when we find one.

So, who are these parents? As I described earlier-

Most of these parents are above average, have done well in life, but NOT that well.

They always felt that they should have had a head start, should have had much better education (than what they had), should have much better opportunities (than what they had).

They feel they would have become much more, a Bill Gates, a Sunil Mittal, a Sharapova, if ONLY, if only they had much better access to opportunities, if ONLY they spent more time studying instead of whiling away time in the playground playing silly games, if ONLY they had come home from school and went to evening classes instead of spending time with friends.

For these parents, who feel they have lost out on missed opportunities, their kids shouldn’t be wasting their time. They shouldn’t wait to become adults to prove and perform, they should start right away, right now.

These parents PUSH the kids to perform better and better each time, raising the bar each time, and when these kids win accolades, these parents bask in that glory. These are the parents who want to be behind the stage, on the stands, in the audience, congratulating, encouraging, supporting, video-recording, photo-shooting, while their kids keep winning laurels. They have given up struggle for themselves, and instead focus that struggle on their kids now. They think they have reached the peak of their performance, but believe their kids have the world open for them to conquer.

These parents don’t want to lose time. They want their kids to have a head start. They want to ensure their kids speak English from day one without losing time. Since English has been the key differentiator, according to them, that has ensured success to people around them, English is the way to go. And if that means renouncing every Indian language, let it be so.

And if given chance, they want to push it in your face their kids’ inability to understand or speak any Indian language, proudly saying that they do not understand any of those languages.

I have seen parents parading their kids proudly displaying their kids’ ability to speak English, holding them up like trophies they have recently won. Kids are not individuals with identities anymore, but they come as a compensation for the parent’s failures and lost opportunities.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Dying Bangalore

Bangalore is choking itself to death and there’s no help coming.

Though I live in Bangalore I don’t get to go through its infamous traffic. Since my office is close to my home, I can afford to avoid getting onto the main roads. Recently, I got a chance to go through the 'Bangalore traffic' and it was a nightmare.

The experience was horrible. My head ached so much I just had to stop thinking about it and breathe deep. For the first time I felt there is no hope for this city. It upset me the whole day. I saw what was happening to this city. This city is dying and nothing can save it- nobody can save a city which wants to commit suicide so obstinately.

One would think that it is common sense to at least make sure the new buildings are built a little farther away from the roads to allow for expansion. And you don’t see that. Instead, all new constructions of apartments, shopping complexes are coming right onto the roads making sure there is no better future for this city. The major highways that connect the city to places like ITPL are very narrow. And when you see around you realize there is no way one could expand because major buildings have already come up right next to the road. There is one huge shopping complex coming up right on the intersection of two major roads. That intersection already clogs most of the traffic going to Koramangala from Indiranagar. Now, imagine what would happen when this complex opens up. Even the new roads that are coming up in new layouts are narrow. It’s as if we never learn our lessons. And when the government tries to crack its whip on those people who have encroached strips of lands allocated for roads, the residents protest and ensure no action takes place.

Right now, there is an effort to build flyovers and metros. Most of these constructions in Bangalore, for some reason, take unduly long time and are often ill-planned. The roads are all being ripped open now without making any provision to take care of the existing traffic! Since it is not planned for future traffic, by the time they get built, they would be already clogged with ever-increasing traffic. More than 40,000 cars are being added into this city per year. There is nobody thinking about how fast the traffic is increasing in this city. The people of Bangalore keep on encroaching lands and keep expanding their homes onto the roads further choking them. Cars are parked on the roads during peak hours. People waiting for the bus stand right on the road. A sage told them that the bus arrives early if they wait on the road and keep bending to look for it.

Bangalore is a good example of two things that I can characterize whole of India with – myopia and avarice. The combination of these two elements make a deadly potion (more on that later). Myopia, shortsightedness, and Avarice, greed, are the most common trait of all Indians. After Cricket, these two things bind all Indians. You will see both in action in Bangalore resulting in gradual suffocation of this city.

Yesterday, when I was traveling through these terrible roads, I felt like a red blood corpuscle trying to make my way through an artery to the heart of the city. Bangalore is getting really fat and obese from gluttony, and is collecting lot of cholesterol. The cholesterol deposited around due to deposits of dirt, gravel, stones, and the encroachments by greedy people was constricting me from all sides. The heart beat of Bangalore is getting feebler. One of these days, it’s just going to get a heart attack will choke itself to death.

There is nothing one can do to save a city that wants to willingly commit suicide. No amount of foreign investment or no presence of MNCs is going to save it. No amount of TOI (Times of India) articles are going to save it. Nor will my blogs. Far from being a Garden city, this city will become a Garbage city. Far from being a Silicon Valley, this city will be a Death valley.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

We are going to pay the price

We are going to pay the price for our apathy.

When Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984, more than three thousand Sikhs were butchered in the streets of New Delhi, and there are enough indications to suggest that the members of the ruling party (Congress) took to the streets and actually instigated, helped and supported those killings. Since the members were form the ruling party, that particular episode was never investigated. The culprits were never caught.

The ire of the affected community (Sikh) gave vent to a militant movement (Khalistan Liberation) that led to killings of thousands more in the next few years. It has affected the economy of a state (Punjab), brought it to a standstill, uprooted many youth from their homes, and incarcerated many more young people.

A book detailing those 1984 killings was even banned.

That’s how India looks at its own crimes. It just covers it up, bans the books that detail it, and stop all investigations into it. How do the people react to it? They just accept it out of their apathy. They don’t demand investigation. They don’t demand prosecution of the perpetrators, and instead vote them back into power.

The consequences of apathy on such moral crises are dire. You just cannot maintain neutrality in such situations. You have to take a stand and fight for the right cause. Otherwise you will witness Hell right here, in our midst, and the hottest seats in that Hell will be reserved for you.

In 2002, another such event took place. Thousands of Muslims in Gujarat were targeted and killed by Hindus supported by the ruling party. The administration and the state apparatus aided, supported and sometimes participated in such killings. And how do the people of India react?

They are once again silent, out of apathy.

The recent Tehelka expose was in the news for a day or two and then it became a footnote. [On the other hand, the wedding of Abhishek-Aishwarya held sway of Indians for over a month and it looks like that mania hasn’t receded even now though the couple has come out of their honeymoon]. India is behaving as if this pogrom in Gujarat had never happened. As if this gruesome event has no significance whatsoever. We are actually ready to forget it. We are ready to erase it from our memories. Talking more about it would mean knowing more about ourselves- which is quite distasteful. Discussing more about it would be undermining the image of India, especially when its economy is booming.

We just don’t want to talk about it. We just don’t want to take any actions. We are ready to ignore it and sweep it under the carpet.

But will the people of Muslim community react the same way? Not really. The way the Sikhs felt they were persecuted and targeted in this country and hence sought a new country for themselves and fought for it- a bloody fight indeed, the Muslims of India will not go down dying. They will fight and retaliate, in a way they think is their method. And there will be enough funds coming form outside this country to fuel that hatred and transform it into action- and that action won’t be pleasant. We will see more killings. We will see more blood on our streets. And we will be wondering why it happened, the way we wondered why so many Sikhs created a Hell in this place demanding a separate nation.

Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.

-- George Santayana

We will never learn. We will never bring to book the perpetrators of such heinous crimes. The elite, the educated, the media, the politicians of India just want to forget this chapter. They don’t want to dig into it. They think, by digging into it, we will only uncover the bitter truths. They think, by ignoring it, everyone will ignore it. That’s NOT how it works. The rest of Indians might have ignored the 1984 killings. But Sikhs did not. They remembered it. And they remembered it well and hard. They kept remembering it so much that thousands of its youth were ready to kill and die for protecting their community from this apathetic and cruel India.

The same thing will happen now. Whether we like it or not, the Muslims of India will see those tapes, will read those transcripts, the horrific details, where Hindus targeted Muslims just because they were Muslims and it will not go easy on them. They will know that this country didn’t do much to protect them. They will know that this country which was supposed to protect them actually helped the killers. They will know that the people who perpetrated this are still at large and they are still in power. Nobody gets booked, nobody gets convicted.

And that won’t go down easy on anyone. Would I not be angry if people of my region are targeted just because they belong to that region? Would I not be angry if people of my identity get massacred and this nation rubbishes the evidences as a political game? We have certain expectations from this nation and its people. We want them to do the right thing, especially when so many people have been killed. When the country doesn’t heed, when its people go about their own way nonchalantly as if nothing ever happened, it’s not a good picture.

We are doing an excellent job of marginalizing Muslims out of every sphere of our mainstream society. Barring few elite and privileged Muslims, and some exceptions, Muslims are being marginalized out of every opportunity in this country. Every study indicates that India is on a massive campaign to marginalize and isolate Muslims.

When I went to college in early 1990s, there was one Muslim in a college community of 1300 students. In my previous job there was less than 1% Muslim representation in a company of more than 2500 employees. Muslims are getting rarer in the sphere of new opportunity. A study indicates that our biases are acting in corporate world too to result in discrimination against Muslims. The recent Sachar Committee Report has clearly put the Muslims of India below OBCs and a little above SC/STs. I guess it is the aim of certain Hindus in India to push them even below that notch to put them at the rock bottom.

This country is headed for doom. Its booming economy will not save it. Its rising Sensex will not save it. It’s crumbling within. You just cannot reap the rewards of this economy on sustainable level unless the opportunities and the resulting wealth get distributed in equitable proportions amongst various groups. If there is clear demarcation of spread of opportunities and wealth along the lines of religious lines, it’s going to cause friction. That friction will lead to civil wars- where very city and town of India will witness rioting and killing. And the very innocents who are now silent out of apathy will be the victims. Our liberal views will not save us then. Our economies will not save us then. We will create Hell right here for all of us.

There’s a price one has to pay for one’s apathy. And we are going to pay for it!

Related: Significance of Tehelka, Hindu Fascism, Dawn of Indian Hindu fascism

Friday, November 02, 2007

Significance of Tehelka

People ask, ‘What is so new about Tehelka’s sting operation? Many of us already knew what happened in Gujarat. So, what’s so great about it?’

India is completely missing out on the greatest piece of investigative journalism in its history. They just don’t know what hit them.

We all heard stories of Inquisition of Middle Ages where people were targeted, tortured, maimed, raped, pillaged, and killed just because those victims belonged to a different faith. This program was carried out by the state itself getting its legitimacy and sanction from the ruler and administrator.

But nobody heard the perpetrators speak. Nobody recorded the perpetrators speak. We only hear the accounts of what happened through third-party sources. And that too much later after those events took place, when those rulers who perpetrated and sanctioned such heinous crimes were long gone.

When Stalin was in power in Soviet Russia, people heard about gulags, they knew about killings but evidences were not coming out. Only after the regime fell did we get to hear the stories from the people who witnessed the events. And again, nobody got convicted for those crimes.

Similarly, most of the world woke up to the horrors of the Holocaust after the Nazi Germany fell, when the allied troops entered those places where those crimes took place. Only when the Nazi Germany fell did we hear the actual stories, saw the video footages, and got to know the sordid details. While Nazis were in power, the people only had a hunch; they only heard rumors, as hearsay. Every well-informed person knew what was happening, but there was no proof that it was happening the way they thought it was. Many other people continued to believe that everything was quite OK. Even some Jews didn’t know what would be happening to them when they were caught and segregated. Though they heard many stories and had a strong hunch on what was happening, they didn’t know it for a fact. Only when the rulers were no longer the rulers the world came to know about it. But this time around, when the regime fell, the world had a chance to do something about it.

And how did the world react to this Holocaust?

The world did not ignore it. The world did not shy away from punishing the culprits. The world did not try to forget it. Instead, the world set an example. It said- ‘we will not tolerate this inhumanity. We will convict the culprits and set an example so that this may not be repeated again’. The nations which perpetrated the crime went through a big exercise of atonement teaching its citizens the bare truths so that such crimes will not be repeated. For once, some nations really did not want to repeat the history, so they chose not to forget it.

Tehelka is quite different from many of these exposes. It exposed a regime which is still in power. The culprits are still at large. The perpetrators still seated in power. Tehelka has exposed a regime and its heinous crimes when we can still hold this regime accountable for their actions. We have a chance to convict the perpetrators and set an example. We have a chance to tell ourselves- let's not forget this. We have already many sins on our hands. Are we going to repeat this again and again?

Tehelka is different because it transformed our hunches into truths; it transformed our beliefs into facts, while the perpetrators are still at large. Though some of us always knew what happened in Gujarat in 2002, Tehelka has brought those events to everyone, to the whole world. And it recorded the perpetrators boasting and regaling in their achievements of killing and massacring Muslims, the pregnant, the children and the old.

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them will pick themselves and hurry off as if nothing happened”. -- Winston Churchill

The message of Tehelka should not be lost. We should not miss this opportunity to set an example. We are at the crossroads. What we do now is going to be historic. What we do now will determine the future course of this country. It will be known forever. It will tell the future generations on how India reacted when certain people were targeted for belonging to a different faith.

Related Posts: Narendra Modi and Adolf Hitler III, Narendra Modi and Adolf Hitler II, When majority is not right, First they came for…, Narendra Modi and Adolf Hitler, Sad day for India, We are going to pay the price, Hindu Fascism, We are going to pay the price