Now, more than ever

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Today is no different to any other day. A girl is being raped in some remote corner of the country. It may or may not be represented in ‘rape sheets’. It may not get noticed by mainstream or any media. We may not get the chance to march for her rights. She may not have the fortune to get to a hospital, have even a chance at survival.

The recent publicised, popularised and politicised incident we know is not isolated. Let us make it not appear so. It might’ve been ‘rarest of the rare’, but let us make sure we vindicate also the rare and the not so rare. Let us question, not just the woeful enforcement of law and the insensitive policing, but also the archaic, unwholesome value-system residing within us; a malignant code that cuts across caste, class and culture paradigms. Let us acknowledge it, only then can we even consider contributing to the solution toward the real problem, the problem that is pandemic.

The 23 year-old needs her rest in peace, so does the middle aged woman from Nawanshahr, Punjab, and the 18 year-old woman who committed suicide in Punjab, and the 2 and a half year old child who died in Halol, Vadodra and countless other non-survivors. The survivors need support now more than ever, for our cry for justice is far from over; we need to show them that this is not the end, we need to show them we can change as a people.

#dented painted and proud

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Benefit of doubt

Sachin Tendulkar

I don’t believe he wants this, I don’t think he should go, what I think sadly amounts to nada; he’s not coming back. As Sachin leaves the ODIs for good, I am loath to wonder many amoral, slightly boorish questions: why retire today? Why not play against Pakistan to try and find some semblance of form? Arguably the two best bowling outfits in the world are going to be gunning for your throat in the upcoming months, on hostile foreign wickets no less. You can’t play like you did against England and expect to score against Steyn and the like? Or can you? We’re all suckers for surprise, but the way it’s been going you wouldn’t bet your life on the 101st anytime soon. Sachin’s always had one form of the game to fall back on during his woeful spates of batting form in the other, is he now just going to walk into the field and blaze into a flurry of boundaries on his way to yet another test century against Australia come February, on the back of such a dismal year? We sure do hope so.

Sachin is a creature who can turn the worst cynics to optimists; but even his retirement can’t detract from what smells so foul here. The timing speaks for itself. Our Government imposes Section 144 and seizes our right to congregate for rightful cause, forces us to lament our demigod’s decision, impels us to watch the world bemoan its profound loss. Thankfully, it hasn’t worked. My mind takes me to unhealthy spaces; is the government recruiting? Sachin is already part of the upper house of parliament and any political party in its right mind knows the influence of the little master; ignores it at their peril. They also know the task of re-election in the 2014 general elections is going to be herculean, why not then employ and deploy Hercules himself? If this is true, Sachin can coolly go to South Africa in November and calmly get back to retire from tests in January 2014, just in time for the election campaigns.

I read back what I just wrote; quiver a bit from the chill and the thrill, realise what I just did. These are uncharted waters; never have I doubted Sachin’s decisions before, for I am a believer of his grit, passion and humility. He is a team player, a patriot and his decisions have always reflected that. I am not going let this dubiousness crop up today. I will not let this Government belittle what is important, corrupt my thoughts and malign the ethereal vision I have of the master blaster. Sachin is going, because that is what is best for the Indian Cricket team. The benefit of the doubt will always go to the batsman!

The world we knew ended today, the Mayans were off just by a couple of days.

The place I call home

India used to make me proud, Delhi even prouder; A privileged refuge, exalted status, abundant resourcefulness, luscious greens, burgeoning infrastructure, innumerable opportunities, demographic dividend, economic progress, lively culture, fresh air, vivid thought, humble faces, unfathomable freedom, uninhibited happiness.

Have I been dreaming?

How I see it today: refuge to the privileged, disparaging status, selfish resourcefulness, sporadic greens, choked infrastructure, profligate opportunities, demographic burden, economic instability, rotten elitist culture, air-ha! – loathsome, banal thought, pretentious or worse despondent faces, a charade called freedom. Unmentionable, the level of my happiness!

What in the heck happened? Is there something wrong with me? Did I just grow-ahem wake up?

No wonder I want to run away. Come to think of it, run away where?

#Missing my warm haven

Unconstitutional State

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A leader of a backward class and also a state introduces inapprehensible changes in promotional reservation; the supreme court of the nation which has already rebuked such a policy, decries it unconstitutional, yet again. The government of the day attempts to change the constitution on its head and unsurprisingly the upper house of parliament clears such striking bill with near unanimous political consent.

Reservation is important. Our constitution states its case well. But so is the Supreme Court. There is strong reason for its existence, not allowing politicians to abuse power for one. Astonishing the number of lawyers occupying prestigious positions in the house of parliament these days, ironic how nonchalantly they undermine the decisions of their very own mecca. I don’t believe we indulge in the right usage of ‘merit’ as a society at all, but does quota in ‘promotions’ to high government posts provide credible justification to counter the evident ‘pseudo-merit’ in society; will it promote equality, the kind that is really required? Is our sacred government even attempting to do that with this bill? Does it all sound implausible and absurd, just to me!?

As the State loses support from the awakening middle classes, the politicos rise to the challenge and delve deeper into the rot of vote-bank politics. Afraid to relinquish power, they know exactly how to garner the minimum number of votes and secure their future seats, but what of those who aren’t backed by power, don’t have the influence, don’t belong to a backward class? Our nation it seems is a lab, its people lab-rats, policies are experiments, the constitution a whimsical code, the apex court a flexible enforcement tool, and the experiment conductor we call Government – the only real benefactor. This is the only explanation I’m able to conjure up; such is the level of my confidence in our government’s policies, no less its intentions.

Why are we just bothered about the numbers; enrolment ratios; research papers submitted by Indians; SCs/STs in schools or governments? Are we monitoring / going to monitor the quality of the numerous schools the HRD ministry intends to setup in SC/ST regions? Allocating more funds and public-private partnerships for increasing the number of schools is a start, sure, but it doesn’t guarantee more success or representation to the backward or anyone, nor does quota in promotions; providing quality education however, does. Quantities are important but not if they’re devoid of quality and this I believe applies universally. Whatever happened to better education to the backward; more incentives for top educationists to bring quality education in backward regions, better teacher allocation to eliminate backwardness at the grassroots, greater salaries, dignity and respect in the teaching profession? (India is in dire need of teachers, quality notwithstanding) Shouldn’t we be addressing these challenges? More quality education in a region will automatically translate to greater empowerment and more representation. We do almost nothing to promote quality education where it is most required and we flood the suburbs of our urban centres with grand elite educational institutions to profit from the ‘business’ they generate (the HRD ministry deserves a whole another blog by itself). We then deplore the poor representation of certain classes and shout out for quotas even in promotions. Are we not concerned about the quality of our education and of our polity along with the immensely prized equality? I find puzzling contradictions between the policies enacted by and the rhetoric of our government.

Freed from Imperialism only to fall prey to Statism, despicable is the state of the world’s largest democracy. In need of some inspiration, we truly are.

A dark matter of sorts

I have for long wondered what the future would look like.

While physicists struggle to understand the realms of Dark Matter, the entire scientific community believes it is of profound significance. If comprehended, it may help us advance technologies to greater heights and improve lives further, not unlike the discovery of sub-atomic particles or Matter. Some scientists would argue that Dark Matter poses the most intriguing questions in our entire Universe today, but what does it really mean for us ordinary folk? The process is painstakingly slow but, I have no doubt we will soon be applying Dark Matter to our daily lives in one form or another (maybe in the next century). What is disconcerting is the governance of its future applications. The question of governance and control, not just of Dark Matter applications but also of everything else, is what brings me to another form of ‘dark matter’ lurking in society.

While a multitude of scientists study the Dark Matter engulfing our Universe, there are only a few of us who investigate the applications pertaining to the ‘dark matter’ of the elitist mind. I do not refer to the rich, wealthy and famous when I talk of the ‘elitists’, although that does happen to come with the territory. I talk of those who have for long understood the system; for they built it, and use such system to their utmost advantage, without eliciting suspicion in ordinary minds (we continue to hope this is changing). For me, the idea of society founded on meritocracy is a manifestation of such dark matter, for I do not understand exactly how it functions, only that it extensively exists and ubiquitously affects. As is the case of Dark Matter in the Universe, there is huge mystery and significance surrounding elitist minds, as their chain of thought penetrates the very fabric of society as we know it. There is however a major distinguishing factor, scientists aren’t even a patch on the elitists when it comes to the widespread use of their respective dark matter[s].

Coming back to my perpetual wonder, the way I see it future will depend as much on our understanding of society’s dark matter as on the scientific applications of the Universe’s Dark Matter. Unravelling both is key. Of course I cannot discount what else the scientists now know, for each part of Dark Matter there are three parts of Dark Energy. Dark Energy is set to rip the Universe in the distant future and learning to ‘positively’ use Dark Matter maybe the only way to save the demise of our planet.

I can’t help but marvel at the uncanny resemblance of events that take place in our daily lives with those that may take place billions of years in the future. The ironies of existence! Epic!

A Poignant Proposition

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I like how the Congress is harping on about the hollow solitary claim to fame of Modi’s political campaign – the relentless economic growth in Gujarat. In the words of Swapan Das Gupta, “Congress seems to be…questioning Modi’s credentials as the new messiah of development”. You can read his full article on Modi 2012 here: http://www.swapan55.com/2012/07/plot-of-growth-story-where-narendra.html

I’m not saying I am for Modi, for I’m a humanitarian first and an endorser of progress second, but Congress has some cheek postulating under-performance of Gujarat on healthcare, rural housing and other ‘crucial fronts’ primarily advocating negligence of the common man. Doesn’t the kind of economic growth effected by Congress at the centre have resounding resemblance with that of Modi’s industrialised Gujarat? Of course not in terms of corruption, Congress at the centre is surely the front-runner there when compared to Gujarat. But, emphatically so in the terms of widespread neglect of the aam aadmi. The populist reform movements of Congress are grossly misleading; they do very little for the mango man, reek of crony capitalism and further enable control in the hands of a privileged few, our politicians no less.

Has Modi done well in Gujarat in terms of GSP? – can’t refute that. Considering Gujarat’s track record, do I think Modi is the right choice for Gujarat, let alone India? – most definitely not. What then of the Congress? – no thank you, please. With respect to the result of the forthcoming general elections, Swapan Das Gupta asks an incisive question:

“Will the aam aadmi also choose to overlook corruption as something inherent in the Indian way? Alternatively, will there be an angry vote, perhaps even for a different way of doing politics? In that case, which is the lesser evil?”

If the angry vote doesn’t  amount to Modi’s election but a totally different way of doing politics, unequivocally the latter I’d say.