Isolated worlds

Sadness exists in isolation. Everywhere I look around I only see, hear and read stories of struggle, stories of loss, stories of pain. I read Syria, I read genocide, I read hunger, farmer’s suicide, young men dying at the border leaving an orphan behind. Then I also hear stories of men and women suffering from sadness which they can’t explain, stories of suicide and end of life which looked perfect from all angles, stories of life brought to a halt by illness of the mind. If I tell a depressed man, whose life seems picture perfect, to look around and see the pain of the toddler who is now an orphan, the man’s pain will not magically disappear. Such is the reality of sadness. It exists in isolation. My pain is not bigger or smaller than yours, it’s just different. It’s just isolated. Its like many different planets or worlds which exists without even knowing what its like to live on that different planet. We are all united in our sufferings. All we need is to build that bridge to come closer.

Anna Hazare, Janlok Pal bill and the criticism

A lot has happened over the past few weeks and government has actually issued a notification and formed a lokpal drafting committee with 50% representation from the civil society.  But this has led to a lot of other events too.  This entire crusade started to be called as another freedom struggle; struggle to free the country from corruption.  However, in the midst of all this many raised several doubts and some even questioned Anna’s credibility by calling him a fake or someone with hidden agendas or someone who might be just a token face of an organisation which is behind all this. Wow!!! Sounds like the script of the Hindi political drama Rajneeti Part 2.

But let’s take the concerns one by one.  I have tried to list down all the possible questions and concerns that people raised and have tried to analyse them to the best of my sensibility. If you have any point to make please do feel free to leave a comment.

  • Many people especially media claimed that in the wake of Egypt’s Tahrir square, aam junta started to feel that we can also do an Egypt and that is why this event picked up so much momentum. I want to agree to this to some extent but I will mostly disagree. There could be many people in the crowd who were too agitated and adrenalin driven that they almost thought they would create an Egypt like situation. But when Anna started the crusade he made it very clear that the crusade is not against the government not does he intend to create any instability in the government. In fact politicians were not even entertained to come and express their solidarity.  

This movement gained so much momentum because it touched upon an open sore which effected poor and rich alike; corruption.  It was the first time that middle class and the youth who are generally considered apathetic towards the functioning of the country, participated in large numbers. The reason was, in the wake of so many scams where public money was being looted and no one being punished, there was a latent anger inside everyone and Anna could tap that. For the first time the middle class, who no politician cares for, felt important.

In a state where almost every investigation agency was almost powerless, where every politician became synonym with corruption, there came a man with impeccable integrity. Anna was the man behind forcing Maharashtra government to pass the RTI ordinance. Later, when the government wanted to amend the RTI act, Anna again started fasting to stop it from being amended. People believed in him and put their faith in him.  Agreed, that most of them did not even know or care what exactly was there or going to be there in the lokpal bill. But they were mostly expressing their solidarity. The public just wanted the goal (corruption free India) to be achieved and I don’t think really cared or thought about the means to achieve the goal. Anna looked like the man who could do this for them.

  • The crusade being anti-democratic and a blackmail: – Well, any protest is a blackmail of sorts. You want something in return to stop your protest. That is blackmail. It might be termed anti-democratic because the draft of the lokpal bill has given the lokpal  a lot of powers. It says that every public servant will be under its realm including the Supreme Court judge.  Many people are thinking that lokpal will become so powerful that it will be able to prosecute and punish anyone and thereby shake the very foundation of how India works.  What is the final bill which gets introduced is still needs to be seen.

 I however, do think that we need a powerful lokpal.  Simply because, though we do have anti-corruption bodies like the CVC, which is powerless and the CBI which is not independent, a lokpal will merge all these bodies into its realm making investigation fair and effective.  Whistle-blower and witness protection rights is also something that lokpal will deal with. The cases will move fast and if found guilty, the verdict will be quick. In a country like India, where justice is always delayed, we need a very strong lokpal and the participation of people in the lokpal is very important because, in a democracy the government is for the people, by the people. So if the public servant or the elected member is not doing his duties properly, the master meaning the public who voted them to power will have a role in the form of lokpal to question them. I think in any healthy democracy people’s participation should not be limited to just voting. Their participation should be more active.

 I don’t think lokpal is anti-democracy. I feel it could become one the pillars of democracy. However, the government version of lokpal and the public version of lokpal are very different. The main obstacle now is to reach a consensus to create a powerful lokpal and not a toothless tiger. What is presented in the monsoon session of the parliament is to be seen.  Let’s wait till then.

  • People don’t participate when there is a tribal movement or when there is a person like Irom Sharmilla fasting for almost 10 years against AFSPA:- What we keep forgetting here is, the reason why so many people came together was because we all have a common enemy i.e. corruption. When there is a tribal atrocities agitation or an agitation against human rights violation in Kashmir or the north east, we empathise with them but we generally do not go out of our way to even find out what is happening there. So many of us do not even know the names of the states and their capitals in the north-east. That’s the bitter truth. The reason is simple. Their plight does not affect us directly.

 Irom’s fasting against AFSPA did attract the Manmohan Singh government’s attention and she was told that the act will be reviewed but nothing has been done so far. It is going through the fate of the lokpal bill which was being brushed under the carpet for the last 42 years.  The government needed a jolt like what Anna could do to have them start acting on it. Irom also needs to give a jolt to the government for her issue to be addressed. In fact, AFSPA is a more complex issue because the government claims the need for it is to maintain peace and internal security of the country. Where internal security is an issue (as the government puts it) in that situation Irom has a tougher role to play to convince the aam junta to play by her side.

 Here is (from Wiki) why according to the Indian government AFSPA is important.

In 2004, in the wake of intense agitation that was launched by several civil society groups following the death of Thangjam Manorama, while in the custody of the Assam Rifles and the indefinite fast undertaken by Irom Sharmila, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil visited Manipur and reviewed the situation with the concerned state authorities. In the same year, Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh assured activists that the central government would consider their demand sympathetically.

The central government accordingly set up a five-member committee under the Chairmanship of Justice B P Jeevan Reddy, former judge of the Supreme Court. The panel was given the mandate of “reviewing the provisions of AFSPA and advising the Government of India whether (a) to amend the provisions of the Act to bring them in consonance with the obligations of the government towards protection of human rights; or (b) to replace the Act by a more humane Act.”

The Reddy committee submitted its recommendations on June 6, 2005. However, the government failed to take any concrete action on the recommendations even after almost a year and a half. The then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee had rejected the withdrawal or significant dilution of the Act on the grounds that “it is not possible for the armed forces to function” in “disturbed areas” without such powers.

The 147-page report recommends, “The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, should be repealed.” During the course of its work, the committee members met several individuals, organisations, parties, institutions and NGOs, which resulted in the report stating that “the Act, for whatever reason, has become a symbol of oppression, an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination and high handedness.” The report clearly stated that “It is highly desirable and advisable to repeal the Act altogether, without of course, losing sight of the overwhelming desire of an overwhelming majority of the [North East] region that the Army should remain (though the Act should go).”

But activists say the Reddy panel despite its recommendation for the ‘repeal of the Act’ has nothing substantial for the people. The report recommends the incorporation of AFSPA in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, which will be operable all over India.

 

United Nations view

When India presented its second periodic report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in 1991, members of the UNHRC asked numerous questions about the validity of the AFSPA. They questioned the constitutionality of the AFSPA under Indian law and asked how it could be justified in light of Article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ICCPR. On 23 March 2009, UN Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay asked India to repeal the AFSPA. She termed the law as “dated and colonial-era law that breach contemporary international human rights standards.”

The Attorney General of India responded that the AFSPA is a necessary measure to prevent the secession of the North Eastern states. He said that a response to this agitation for secession in the North East had to be done on a “war footing.” He argued that the Indian Constitution, in Article 355, made it the duty of the Central Government to protect the states from internal disturbance and that there is no duty under international law to allow secession.

 Non-governmental organizations’ analysis

The act has been criticized by Human Rights Watch as a “tool of state abuse, oppression and discrimination”.

The South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre argues that the governments’ call for increased force is part of the problem.

“This reasoning exemplifies the vicious cycle which has been instituted in the North East due to the AFSPA. The use of the AFSPA pushes the demand for more autonomy, giving the people of the North East more reason to want to secede from a state which enacts such powers and the agitation which ensues continues to justify the use of the AFSPA from the point of view of the Indian Government.” – The South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre

A report by the Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis points to multiple occurrences of violence by security forces against civilians in Manipur since the passage of the Act. The report states that residents believe that the provision for immunity of security forces urge them to act more brutally the article, however, goes on to say that repeal or withering away of the act will encourage insurgency.

In addition to this, there have been claims of disappearances by the police or the army in Kashmir by several human rights organizations.

Many human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch (HRW) have condemned human rights abuses in Kashmir by Indians such as “extra-judicial executions”, “disappearances”, and torture; the “Armed Forces Special Powers Act”, which “provides impunity for human rights abuses and fuels cycles of violence. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) grants the military wide powers of arrest, the right to shoot to kill, and to occupy or destroy property in counterinsurgency operations. Indian officials claim that troops need such powers because the army is only deployed when national security is at serious risk from armed combatants. Such circumstances, they say, call for extraordinary measures.” Human rights organizations have also asked Indian government to repeal the Public Safety Act, since “a detainee may be held in administrative detention for a maximum of two years without a court order.”

United States leaked diplomatic cables

The Wikileaks diplomatic cables have recently disclosed that Indian government employees agree to acts of human rights violations on part of the Indian armed forces and various paramilitary forces deployed in the north east parts of India especially Manipur. The violations have been carried out under the cover of this very act. Governor S.S. Sidhu admitted to the American Consul General in Kolkata, Henry Jardine, that the Assam Rifles in particular are perpetrators of violations in Manipur which the very same cables described as a state that appeared more of a colony and less of an Indian state.

Earlier leaks had also stated that International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had reported to the United States diplomats in Delhi about the grave human rights situation in Kashmir which included the use of electrocution, beatings and sexual humiliation against hundreds of detainees. Kashmir is currently administered under this very act.

 

 This above case is a very good example as to why such Anna like protest is required for the government to act. People who feel sad about why Irom’s case is not being heard but Anna’s 4 days fast was more effective sound like as if they are sad not because of the issues but because Anna did not have to set a personal fasting record to win a title. Disgusting!!!

Like I mentioned before, what Anna started was something we all could relate to and are victims of it.

  • There are some bloggers who go about saying we all are corrupt so corruption should stop at its root. Duh!!! Tell me something new. We all agree that most of us are corrupt. We grease palms when we jump signals, whenever we want to get our files noticed, when we want our work done. We also agree that to stop corruption we must not practice it too. I mean for God’ sake, Anna was not sitting there to give us moral education classes. He was there to compel the government to have civil society’s participation in the drafting committee. His job is not to start moral education classes. We all can use our judgments. We bribe people not because we love doing it. I mean c’mon, it’s our hard earned money why would I want to give it away to a corrupt person. We do it because, we want to get our work done and quickly. In India red tapism is rampant; files do not move or go missing for years if money is not paid. Letters are not answered, calls are not returned, no one is really interested in helping the aam junta or justify their salaries by coming to work or doing the job  they are getting paid for. In a situation like this, the aam junta prefers to bribe and gets his work done rather than run pillar to post. This is yet another reason why the lokpal bill is important, because it will also take cases against public servants and departments for not doing their job.

 

  • Lastly, there are many people speculating huge funds have been used, there could be some hidden agendas of the organization who are behind it. The people who are behind the lokpal are much respected people of the society and their credibility is more important for them than any hidden agenda. There could be funds which might have been used to get badges made, NGO’s which must have spent their money to get pamphlets printed and advertisements published etc. but what is wrong in that. If the cause is noble then I don’t see anything wrong. If at all there were funds being used. at least these were not public money being misused. Talking about hidden agendas, well, I suppose the writers are speculating activists or that “certain” organisation’s entry into politics. Even if that happens, I still do not see anything wrong. Where we have so many criminals as politicians if we get someone who is not a criminal and is sincere about his job as a politician then I am happy with so called “hidden agenda”

 

Our role does not end with an agitation. We need to be more active in the country’s politics. We need to be seen at the polling station and not just at agitation venues. We need to exercise our right to vote and not just our right to freedom of speech and expression. We must not vote politicians who are not worthy of it. We must rise above petty politics of caste, creed, community and language.

What we have achieved is a milestone. We need to wait for the draft to be introduced. We need to see what exactly is there in the final version and if it actually gets passed. Till then this noble cause must be supported by each and every Indian and as responsible citizens we must not believe in any bad press without checking the facts because for whatever petty gains there will be people who would be undermining and maligning the whole cause and the people behind it.

Who Anna Hazare? What Jan Lokpal Bill?

Coming to my own blog after a very long time. Must admit have been very busy and when not busy, then lazy.  But today I had to leave all work and laziness aside because the cause I wanted to write about and support by writing about, is very close to me.  It’s about this man called Anna Hazare and Jan Lokpal bill. I must also admit that I am writing this post from the comfort of my home with a stomach full of food. I am not fasting nor am I sitting in the April Sun in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. That way I am an armchair activist (like so many others) but I wanted to write about this and contribute in whatever way possible.

Who is Anna Hazare?

Kisan Bapat Baburao Hazare or Anna Hazare, is a social activist and a social worker. He used to work as a driver in the Indian Army and has been greatly influenced by Swami Vivekanada, Ghandiji and Acharya Vinobha Bhave.  He is especially recognized for his contribution to the development of Ralegan Siddhi, a village in Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra.

After voluntary retirement from the army, Hazare came to Ralegan Siddhi village in 1975. Initially, he led a movement to eradicate alcoholism from the village. Next, he motivated the residents of the village intoshramdan (voluntary labour) to build canals, small-scale check-dams and percolation tanks in the nearby hills for watershed development; efforts that solved the problem of scarcity of water in the village that also made irrigation possible. He helped farmers of more than 70 villages in drought-prone region in the state of Maharashtra since 1975. He also motivated the residents of the village to build a secondary school in the village through voluntary labour.

Below is the Wikipedia based information on the entire anti corruption crusade started by Anna.

Lokpal Bill movement

In 2011, Anna Hazare led a movement for passing a stronger anti-corruption Lokpal (ombudsman) bill in the Indian Parliament. As a part of this movement, N. Santosh Hegde, a former justice of the Supreme Court of India and Lokayukta of Karnataka, Prashant Bhushan, a senior lawyer in the Supreme Court along with the members of the India Against Corruption movement drafted an alternate bill, named as the Jan Lokpal Bill (People’s Ombudsman Bill) with more stringent provisions and wider power to the Lokpal (Ombudsman). Hazare has started a fast up to death from 5 April 2011 at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, to press for the demand to form a joint committee of the representatives of the Government and the civil society to draft a new bill with more stronger penal actions and more independenceto the Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Ombudsmen in the states), after his demand was rejected by the Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh.

The movement attracted attention very quickly through various media. It has been reported that thousands of people joined to support Hazare’s effort. Almost 150 people are reported to join Hazare in his fast. He said that he   would not allow any politician to sit with him in this movement. Many social activists including Medha Patkar,Arvind Kejriwal and former IPS officer Kiran Bedi have lent their support to Hazare’s hunger strike and anti-corruption campaign. This movement has also been joined by many people providing their support in Internet social media such as twitter and facebook. In addition to spiritual leaders Swami Ramdev,Swami Agnivesh and former Indian cricketer Kapil Dev,  many bollywood celebrities like Shekhar Kapur, Siddharth Narayan, Anupam Kher, Madhur Bhandarkar, Pritish Nandy, Priyanka Chopra, Prakash Raj,Aamir Khan, Chetan Bhagat showed their public support through twitter. As an outcome of this movement, on 6 April, 2011 Sharad Pawar resigned from the group of ministers formed for reviewing the draft Lokpal bill 2010.

Anna Hazare started his “Fast until Death” at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, stating “I will fast until Jan Lokpal Bill is passed”

The movement gathered quite a significant amount of support from India’s youth visible through the local support and on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Background of the movement

The movement started due to the resentment because of the serious differences between the draft Lokpal Bill 2010 prepared by the government and the Jan Lokpal Bill prepared by the members of this movement, which has received significant public support:

Draft Lokpal Bill 2010

  1. Lokpal will have no power to initiate suo moto action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public. It can only probe complaints forwarded by LS Speaker or RS Chairman.
  2. Lokpal will only be an Advisory Body. Its part is only limited to forwarding its report to the “Competent Authority”
  3. Lokpal will not have any police powers. It can not register FIRs or proceed with criminal investigations.
  4. CBI and Lokpal will have no connection with each other.
  5. Punishment for corruption will be minimum 6 months and maximum up-to 7 years.
  6. Lokpal will have powers to initiate suo moto action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public.
  7. Lokpal will be much more than an Advisory Body. It should be granted powers to initiate Prosecution against anyone found guilty.
  8. Lokpal will have police powers. To say that it will be able to register FIRs.
  9. Lokpal and anti corruption wing of CBI will be one Independent body.
  10. The punishment should be minimum 5 years and maximum up-to life imprisonment.
  11. Lokpal will not be a monopoly for particular area

Jan Lokpal Bill

  1. Lokpal will have powers to initiate suo moto action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public.
  2. Lokpal will be much more than an Advisory Body. It should be granted powers to initiate Prosecution against anyone found guilty.
  3. Lokpal will have police powers. To say that it will be able to register FIRs.
  4. Lokpal and anti corruption wing of CBI will be one Independent body.
  5. The punishment should be minimum 5 years and maximum up-to life imprisonment.
  6. Lokpal will not be a monopoly for particular area

Now the question arises, why Jan Lokpal bill is so important.

Source: http://indiaagainstcorruption.org/

Jan Lokpal, an independent body  that would investigate corruption cases, complete the investigation within a year and envisages trial in the case getting over in the next one year.

Drafted by Justice Santosh Hegde (former Supreme Court Judge and present Lokayukta of Karnataka), Prashant Bhushan (Supreme Court Lawyer) and Arvind Kejriwal (RTI activist), the draft Bill envisages a system where a corrupt person found guilty would go to jail within two years of the complaint being made and his ill-gotten wealth being confiscated. It also seeks power to the Jan Lokpal to prosecute politicians and bureaucrats without government permission.

Retired IPS officer Kiran Bedi and other known people like Swami Agnivesh, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Anna Hazare and Mallika Sarabhai are also part of the movement, called India Against Corruption. Its website describes the movement as “an expression of collective anger of people of India against corruption. We have all come together to force/request/persuade/pressurize the Government to enact the Jan Lokpal Bill. We feel that if this Bill were enacted it would create an effective deterrence against corruption.
A look at the salient features of Jan Lokpal Bill:

1. An institution called LOKPAL at the centre and LOKAYUKTA in each state will be set up

2. Like Supreme Court and Election Commission, they will be completely independent of the governments. No minister or bureaucrat will be able to influence their investigations.

3. Cases against corrupt people will not linger on for years anymore: Investigations in any case will have to be completed in one year. Trial should be completed in next one year so that the corrupt politician, officer or judge is sent to jail within two years.

4. The loss that a corrupt person caused to the government will be recovered at the time of conviction.

5. How will it help a common citizen: If any work of any citizen is not done in prescribed time in any government office, Lokpal will impose financial penalty on guilty officers, which will be given as compensation to the complainant.

6. So, you could approach Lokpal if your ration card or passport or voter card is not being made or if police is not registering your case or any other work is not being done in prescribed time. Lokpal will have to get it done in a month’s time. You could also report any case of corruption to Lokpal like ration being siphoned off, poor quality roads been constructed or panchayat funds being siphoned off. Lokpal will have to complete its investigations in a year, trial will be over in next one year and the guilty will go to jail within two years.

7. But won’t the government appoint corrupt and weak people as Lokpal members? That won’t be possible because its members will be selected by judges, citizens and constitutional authorities and not by politicians, through a completely transparent and participatory process.

8. What if some officer in Lokpal becomes corrupt? The entire functioning of Lokpal/ Lokayukta will be completely transparent. Any complaint against any officer of Lokpal shall be investigated and the officer dismissed within two months.

9. What will happen to existing anti-corruption agencies? CVC, departmental vigilance and anti-corruption branch of CBI will be merged into Lokpal. Lokpal will have complete powers and machinery to independently investigate and prosecute any officer, judge or politician.

10. It will be the duty of the Lokpal to provide protection to those who are being victimized for raising their voice against corruption.

To summarise, we can say, it will give more power to RTI act, corruption will be tackled and dealt with quickly, whistle blowers will (most likely) also get some protection for raising their voice against corruption.

________________________________________________________________________________________

There are many sections in the society who belive that Anna’s crusade is politically motivated or BJP might be behind all this. To set the record straight, let me add that Anna’s crusade is India’s crusade and is not politically motivated. In fact, Uma Bharti and Chautala were turned away when they wanted to join Anna.  According to Anna, the politicians can come, sit amidst the public, listen to Anna’s speech and go away. Politicians will not be allowed to share the stage as he does not want any political colour to be given to his crusade and thereby maligning this noble cause.  He also went ahead and said that his crusade is completely non-violent like Gandhiji who protested by going on hunger strike against every wrong in the society. Anna being a staunch Gandhian, is following the same path of hunger strike because all other avenues are closed.  His crusade is not against the government nor does he want to create any political instability.  He trusts no political party and wants to have a dialogue with either Sonia Gandhi or Manmohan Singh. It clearly shows that Anna believes no one other than these two people in the entire government or the political setup of the country. Sonia Gandhi or Manmohan Singh should not waste time in addressing this issue which has mobilised the entire nation.

According to Anna, this a 2nd freedom struggle for our country. Struggle to free our country from petty gains and  greed.

My support to Anna.

For more information you can read

indiaagainstcorruption.org

For list of scams you can read this

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_political_scandals

For corruption Index of various countries for 2010 you can read this

http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2010/results

By the way, India ranks very high on corruption.  And like they said in the film, Rang De Basanti, “Koi bhi desh perfect nahi hota, usse perfect banana padta hai.” Anna’s step is a step towards that. Lets support him.



New Media & Democracy

The other day I was watching a reality show on TV where the participants were begging for votes to save themselves from being eliminated.  The same episode also showed  the mind boggling number of votes one of the contestants had won and that led me to thinking…in a country where the government is chosen by us, a country which is the largest democracy in the world, why only less than half of its voting population go out of their homes to cast their vote?  We don’t practice our political right  to choose a leader for our country. We leave the most important decision of finding the country’s leader in the hands of a selected few who are most of the time coaxed into voting a certain party because the so called leader belongs to their village, caste, community or has promised something big for them and I was wondering, when it comes to voting for reality shows then people sms their votes as if they are going to win a prize for voting. Why is that?

I feel the way we choose our leader and our electoral system really need to change because we, as people of this country especially the youth,  have changed dramatically. Our lives have changed and lifestyles have changed too.  Finding few hours to reach a polling booth, stand in a que and cast our votes is something we find difficult to adjust in our lifestyle. We live a very fast world where information travels at a speed of light, where we dream of fast internet,  fast cars and short cuts because at the end of the day,  24 hours also seem very short with all the things that we have to manage, be it at home, at work, in personal or in social life. So much so that we do not even get time to see a friend on his birthday party but  rather prefer wishing him on Facebook. We socialize on social networking sites, we read online rather than sitting in a library and we vote using our cell phones for the reality shows. So why not use the same media for election campaigning and voting? Why can’t the political parties start discussing their manifesto, their goals on social networking sites like  Twitter, Facebook and start blogging.  There are off course  many political parties who are waking up to this revolution which only proves one point that new media is a very powerful tool especially to reach the youth of urban India and the political parties realize that to really create an impression on us they need to be one of us who we can also relate to.

Democracy and the way we choose our leaders need to adapt to the changing times if the parties need urban votes also along with the rural votes.  We may not find time to venture out to vote but that does not mean that we are unwilling, we only need a platform which is more accessible to us for voting. I think just like they have in the reality shows, we should also be give an option where we can Twitter, sms, call in to cast our votes and be equally responsible and committed in choosing the face of new India via new media.

The Missing Humane

Today I twittered, “Humans are the worst parasite on earth. Our track record proves it and all our wars are to prove who the bigger parasite is.”

My mom always says, “It takes a lot of good deed to be born as a human. To be born as a human is the best a wandering soul could get.” And she is not the only one. All Hindu preachers and believers, who believe in the cycle of birth, believe in this statement. But I sometimes wonder what is so great about being a human. We kill, we torture, we are sadists, and we are nothing but parasite. We are feeding on our planet and killing her but we don’t care. We not only kill animals but skin them alive for their skin and fur. We slit their throats and wait for them to bleed to death so that their meat is no longer forbidden by some religious doctrine and is fit for consumption. If you think you should abide by the religious doctrine then let me tell you this, religion is manmade and your conscience is god given. So who should you rather abide by? Will the earth come to an end if the animal is killed in a less torturous way which may be forbidden by some religious doctrine? Will I die of cancer if I don’t get to eat fresh, live fish which is still gasping for air on my plate? Will the human race die of severe cold if I don’t get to wear fur? Do I really need that snake skin boots or that alligator skin bag which has a hefty price tag but is the price enough for that animal’s life? I understand turning a vegetarian won’t help because to make room for agriculture we will have to cut down all the jungles. I feel the approach lies in striking a balance somewhere. We don’t need any leather or fur for our existence; we also don’t need a bull fight or animas in circus. And in situations where the animal must die why can’t we kill it by giving the least painful death.

Who ever made “zero” was a very intelligent person because he or she knew that everything is a vicious circle. We need industrialization so we need land to build industries, we show carrots to people whose land we grab for making those industries, in return the big corporate houses hold the government to ransom because they know how much the money and a global image means to the government, we keep the people unaware, ignorant and poor and also fearful of caste, community and religion so that they never get to see the true picture, so that they never can think outside their own petty issues, so that we can show carrots in the name of reservation and quota and come to power. We wage wars to fight terrorism when we are the proud parents of the monster, we use our army and motivate them in the name of love for country so that they blindly lay their lives to save their nations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and so on when their own orphaned son or daughter has no place to go to have a life of their dreams. We have babies after babies, then we need more houses more land to grow food, so we cut the jungles, we mine the forests, the dry up the lakes, then we feel the heat of global warming, we see animals dyeing and attacking humans, we see water shortage and impact of it on agriculture, we see bad crops, natural disasters due to deforestation, over industrialization and greed, we see farmers in loans and farmer’s body hanging from a tree. We see scarcity of food and price rise. We also see food imports and country plunging in to debts followed by civil wars and the government toppling over. Then comes the rich man with his aid masquerading as a generous country only to rule and loot, terrorism follows, war is declared, country in military coup, weapons are brought, banks become richer, more people are killed, even more babies are born, more land is required, more jobs to be created, more demands to be met…and thus goes the cycle…

I am not religious but I believe in God. I don’t believe that humans are the greatest creation of God rather the biggest mistake by God which is why He lost interest in the world after creating humans. His biggest mistake was to power us with more of intellect and very less of conscience. Had it been the other the round things would have been lot better. Or maybe we are meant to destroy the world the only thing is that we don’t know it and if that is true then we are doing a pretty decent job at it why else then would so many animals and indigenous tribes go extinct.

Because you are not worth it.

Poor people are not worth a beautiful skin or a beautiful body that is why all these beauty products are priced at a premium rate so that only a particular section of the society remains worth it. How else would Mrs. Lal look younger than her maid Lalli? After all not everyone can afford a cream worth Rs.650/- or a monthly facial worth Rs.1500/-

But the scene is not that bad as you might think. The unorganized sector of domestic maids is also seeing the economic boom, at least in metros. That is why, my maid could go to a neighborhood  parlor to get threading done, she could ask the tailor for the making charges of a dress which she saw in Vogue, she could be picky about the Almond drops and Fructis shampoo and the Ponds cream.  Am I jealous? Well a little bit. After all who would feel happy to be clubbed with her maid and being seen at the same parlor sitting next to each other? Snobbish? Yes it is and that is why I believe, Socialism, Marxism are  failed theories because there would always be class divide and we shall ensure that the divide remains. How else would we feel special and a little “hat ke” ?  So what if my maid has dinner with me on the same table and eats the same food, so what if we watch TV together and sometimes I would cook continental for her which she would hate, so what if she once in a while sips port wine with us? I still cannot be seen at the same parlor with her. It’s a social crime.

The maids are trying hard to dress like their madams, in Capri and makeup. They try hard to ape us like we ape the phirangs but can they win? May be not today but after few generations later, they will. As long as we have enough open land where they can go to poo, till that time we will remain their Madams. The day they get a western commode in their homes we will lose whatever little luxury we have. Therefore it is very important for us to buy even bigger and pompous real estate, huge cars and expensive holidays. And then, when they become like us, we would show them our austerity drive, our fight for a social cause and our Botox and our B job.

You see the race will never end, someone will always try to catch up with us and thus it is more important for us to run even faster. The faster we run, the difficult it is for anyone to catch up and be like us. So we have to keep the prices high. Till then they can stick to shampoo sachets and we will stick to our hair extensions.

To Pop or not to Pop

Good NEWS

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Allow-morning-after-pill-ads-Expert-panel/articleshow/5638293.cms

Morning-after pills should be back on air. And not just private companies but even the Union health ministry should advertise them.

This is the view of a four-member expert committee set up by the Drug Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) recently to assess the pros and cons of allowing advertising of emergency pills.

 

I welcome this idea because it will only empower women. Instead of waiting for their male partners to be considerate enough to get a rubber, now women can take a decision on emergency contraception.  The use and side effects of it though, should be clearly stated in the advertisement to prevent its misuse. I also have a feeling that many men would insist women on having the drug rather than them using a condom. Therefore it will be again on the woman to say NO in case she does not want to pop a pill.

What was more interesting than the NEWS was the comments section where people have expressed their concern that advertising emergency contraception for women will be bad for our culture and this will encourage pre-marital sex thereby earning bad name for the respective families. I feel like asking these ignorant concerned people, “Which age and time do they live in?” Pre marital sex is a reality as much as adultery and these pills will only help lessen the number of wanted pregnancies and reduce the abortion related deaths which is far more serious than “earning a bad name for the family”

I also feel that I&B ministry should seriously start censoring and banning TV serials which are regressive in nature.  These TV serials which are mostly watched by people who can relate to these ideas, do nothing but reconfirm their already regressive opinion on how a woman should behave and be treated.

I have ample examples to quote; Do Hanso Ka Joda, where the mother in law is continuously harassing her young, docile daughter in law, in Palko ki Chaon mein, the heroine is always crying and is blamed for everything bad, in Pratigya, the girl is being sexually harassed by a man but the family is simply helpless to be able to do anything. In all these serials the women and her family is a victim waiting for some knight in shining armor or some miracle or may be after some 100 more episodes the director will decide to show how the woman of the serial has been able to win the heart of her mother in law with her enduring patience and love there by reconfirming the idea that “aurat to sahanshilta ki moorat hai.”There is this promo going on about how a childless woman cannot do “god bharai” as if the only job sanctioned to woman is to bear children. The list is endless.

Similarly, the regressive advertisement of fairness creams which shows that a person’s success depends on skin colour is extremely racial in nature thus these should be pulled off air.

In fact, all these “sanskar ke rakhwale” should form another “sena” to fight against these serials which show women in bad light rather than worry about emergency contraceptive pill and leave that decision on the women to pop or not to pop.

Swamiji’s Orgasm

I don’t understand what is the big deal if the swamiji had been having sex? What was the need to catch him redhanded behind closed doors with another consenting adult female?  I mean, he is a human too, with mortal need for pleasure. Though I don’t know if he ever said that he was a celibate. The only objection I have in the whole story is, if swamiji was just an ordinary man like all of us then there was no need for him to pretend to be holier than thou.  He could have found a simple job and could have had peaceful orgasms, one after the other.  But maybe he wanted all the sandalwood, all the donations and an orange robe to bed pretty actresses.

Here’s the TOI Video

Rule of Anarchy

I think I live in a jungle, no I am sure I live in a jungle village. I have run out of cooking gas and its been 25 days Bharat Gas has been efficiently inefficient in not delivering gas but delivering false promises; Gas delivery happening today at 11 a.m. which becomes 2 p.m. after 12 noon and then 6 p.m. by the time its 4 p.m. and after 6 p.m. it becomes delivery happening next day. Apparently Bharat Gas is known for their ever delaying delivery in Bangalore. However their website has all the big talks on customer satisfaction and customer being the king. The days of the monarchy being over; customer being the king backfires everywhere in Bangalore, be it plumber, who will tell you that he will come for sure, and he does come after 15 days of chasing when he realizes that the next day is a dry day and he would need more money to buy alcohol in black. Autowalahs are the shining example of customer service and performing their duties of taking us helpless commuters to our destination when it rains and IT city roads are water logged, when open drains become death traps; They simply look at you top to bottom and do a quick mental calculation which depends on how drenched you are and how far do you stay because that is exactly proportionate to the amount of fleecing that they can do.

 

Karnataka, I think, is the only state where you need a ration card to get a new connection for cooking gas. No election card, no passport (which you used to travel to USA when 9/11  happened), no nothing doing, only ration card. So what do you do if you were stupid enough to think that driver’s license, passport, voters card, pan card are all government authenticated valid documents and missed out on making a ration card? The answer is simple, you buy gas in black and the vendors will happily sell you cooking gas illegally because the state itself promotes dishonesty by tying up your hands since you don’t have a ration card. How does one get a ration card? Well I don’t know, I don’t even want to know because I anyway won’t be going to a ration shop, stand in a queue to buy my share of dust filled, husk filled, stone laden grains.

 

Why do I get a feeling that it is more useful if you are either a poor or a rich kid in this country, or may be a dalit because general category people from middle class families can’t arm twist the government nor do they get anything from the government’s kitty because the government won’t get anything from the educated middle class. They can’t brain wash us by giving us saree or free TV sets, nor can they earn heavy revenue from us because we won’t be starting a infrastructural project in their state. Yes all we do is pay our taxes on time which helps them get their salaries and buy new cars with great shock absorbers after all in Bangalore you need great shock absorbers and huge asses to take all the bumpy rides. I am sure I must have broken a few small bones already in 2 years becuase I don’t have a huge cushy ass, but repetitive torture of bumps, pot holes, open drains, no footpaths, lot of traffic has already numbed my senses to feel any more pain.

 

I have already given an ultimatum to my husband to get out of this village before I lose my mental balance and he finds me in some city mental hospital.

 

Here’s my wish list (which no one is interested in but still):- I want gas delivered on time and not wait for 20-25 days every month, I want good and intelligent customer service from my credit card company especially Citibank which goes berserk every month precisely 10 days before my due date fearing I might runaway to Afghanistan, I want good customer service from Airtel which can not provide a simple service like call conferencing, where agents don’t understand the difference between call details and call charges, I want quick resolution of petty problems like fixing water pipes which took an entire day of pestering, no 1000 bucks grocery bill where the grocery list contains potato, onion, mango, orange, bread and milk, I want better roads where I can walk without a life or accident insurance, I want footpaths and not drain covers in the guise of footpath, I want honest autowallas. Ah! Me and my huge expectations.

 

Note:- Hate comments though not welcome, will anyway get them on my blog because that’s what people do, join on-line fight clubs and not address real issues.

Proud of Priti and Shivakumar

Today is a good day. Good day to feel proud. Came across the success stories of hard work and determination.

The 1st story is of Priti. Twenty-three-year-old Priti Maithil, the daughter of a daily wage labourer in Sehore in Madhya Pradesh has ranked 92nd in the UPSC examinations and it is no surprise that her family is bursting with pride. 

The 2nd story is of Shivakumar, a daily wage labourer to get 92% in SSLC exam.

Here is his entire story.

 

Like in many states, Karnataka’s SSLC examination results are out and the toppers have had their share of limelight locally. But one high-scorer stays unsung in his village, 52 km from Bangalore, uncertain of what the future holds for him.

 

He is the first boy in his entire village and school to score an impressive 92 per cent in the state SSLC exams. But when the results came out, 17-year-old Shivakumar was busy – breaking stones at a construction site. The daily wages of Rs 140 that he receives feeds him and his widowed mother. “I would tell him, I can’t buy any more kerosene for the lamp. My son would then go and study by the light of the temple,” says Narsamma, Shivakumar’s mother.

 

Saroja, a social worker who had rescued him 5 years ago from a hotel where he used to wash dishes sees him as a true motivation. “My mother has struggled all her life for me. I want to look after her well so that she doesn’t have to work again,” says Shivakumar.

 

Shivakumar wants to be a teacher of Mathematics, a subject he says that many village students fail in. This shy bookworm hopes to remove that fear factor. Who would imagine that a boy living in such poverty, in a rented hut with barely anything to eat would clear the boards with such distinction? If more people come forward to support, there.

 

Source:- http://www.ndtv.com/news/india/an_extraordinary_spirit_of_a_stone_breaker.php

http://www.ndtv.com/news/india/labourers_daughter_makes_it_to_ias.php