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August 2019
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my Chirps

Thamizh – India’s National Language

Thamizh (தமிழ்) is now India’s National Language.

Thamizh, not Tamil as it is commonly written, is one of the oldest, longest surviving languages in the world. Ok! There is a little bit of embellishment in that statement, it not one of the oldest, it IS the oldest surviving and continuously spoken language in the world. As per some stats on the interent, Thamizh is native language to about 80 million people in the world. Not just in India, it is also the mother tongue to people in parts of the world. Thamizh is the official language in Singapore, Sri Lanka, and part of the list of recognized languages in Malaysia, Mauritius, and South Africa.

India has 22 languages that are listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. Apart from the languages listed in this schedule, the Constitution clearly calls out the use of English as the language to be used in the Supreme and High Courts in India. The Eighth Schedule lists Thamizh, Hindi and twenty other languages that are spoken and used in the Indian Union.

Since the time of Independence, the written Constitution and the Central Government, have tried their best to promote Hindi as the language to be used across the country. While the Constitution originally listed Hindi as the official language to be used by the Government, it clearly defined the path forward, in the use of languages in the Union. And the Central Government over the many years attempted to impose Hindi on non-hindi speaking states, but have failed miserably, specially in Tamil Nadu. The people of Tamil Nadu, the cradle to the Thamizh language have always resisted these attempts. Thamizh has continued to blossom, thanks to the love of the people here.

Last few days, this thought has been running thru’ my mind. Why is that most Indians dont understand the intricacies of the Constitution and keep claiming that Hindi is our national langauge? And why is that, native thamizh speakers have to constantly defend and fight this surreptitious but very subversive plan to implant hindi everywhere. Even at the cost of a classical and thriving language like Thamizh, amongst many others in India. And so, i thought that it is time to change the narrative a bit.

I am not against Hindi. I dont hate Hindi. I learnt Hindi for ten years in school. I can do a decent job at speaking it, minus the “gender”

தமிழுக்கு ழா அழகு

nuances. I live in Tamil Nadu. I have never formally learnt Thamizh. I can read it, a bit spottily tho’. I can hold an average conversation. I love Thamizh, just as i love my mother tongue Malayalam, and as much as i love Hindi. I love languages, all of them. I best express myself in English. But each and every language has its own allure, and each able to enchant me when i am able to grasp some of its unique intricacies. Like “zha” in Thamizh, how do you even write in English or Hindi. Its tough even to pronounce the sound, that many native speakers find it difficult, and use the “L” sound instead. And such a horrendous crime, that has caused the language itself to be mispronounced as “Tamil”, instead of its beautiful name “Thamizh”.

Back to the topic; given that the people are not able to understand the Consititution, or that people tend to control the moment by making tall claims, i thought that exactly is the right thing to do. And so i decided to stake my claim too. Thamizh is India’s National Language. Starting today, i will use this line in most, if not all of conversations. I will loudly declare this, if it is required or not. I will repeat it over and over, till i fully believe it, and possibly till others too. I am sure to be called a few select names, but i think i will take it in my stride.

Interesting Tattoo i saw, when searching for the thamizh script.

So once again…. India’s National Language is Thamizh!

Vazhga Thamizh. வாழ்க தமிழ் !!

 

Second Chances?

Many years back, my son was playing then the latest version of Zelda on GameCube, and i helping him every once in a while. We would play for an hour or so each day or more depending on the situation and the struggle. Link’s life was always at stake, and there were times when he would be slain by the boss (usually a small villain on the way to the big boss). Lucky for us, which was learned the hard way, we can start again, restore a saved state, and start again. There always was a second chance. Or a third or more, as many times as required to overcome the current boss and move ahead to save Zelda.

Rewind a bit. In the year i was to write the 10th board exams, we had to study and prepare ourselves with portions from the 9th and 10th standard books. All chapters, all pages, all everything from 9th and 10th had to be sucked and stored in your little head, to be able to spit it out when required. Your marks determined your fate. A good mark in 10th exams got you admission to the engineering or medicine stream, and if you didn’t, you got into what was then considered a waste stream. My marks enabled me to choose the commerce group. But if i had wanted something else, i never got a second chance at attempting the 10th board exams to try and better my marks. No second chance here.

Marriage, wife and kids are choices you make. Here again, you are driven by certain impulses and you make a decision. While marriage and wife may present as options to attempt again to some people, to many others they are choices made for life. It easy to enjoy the happiness that life offers and accept it without a doubt or question. But should you be accosted with sadness, grief, or anxiety, you are suddenly wondering if the situation could be reversed.  There is really no opportunity to rewind and attempt the test again.

Now if only someone would or could create a life-game for each one of us, where we can play out our options differently at each juncture. I assume such an appeal should be addressed to God, if such an entity does exist. The game will then allow the player, in this case let it be me, to choose a path and move forward, till i discover the ills from my choices in the past made. I will then start again from a previous “save point” of my life and endeavor again. The awesomeness of this luxury, will allow me to try several paths before i can create a new “save point” and move to the next stage of my life.

Oh bloody hell, i just worked out the time required to revise my life till date. That is if i were to go and attempt to tweak or change choices made in the past to live to the age of today. Assuming a save point during these stages, my 8th grade (to prepare for my 10th), 10th grade (to help choose options ahead), my first job at 22 years, my major life choice at 26, i would then have done the revisit back to the 8th a 100 times, between my the first three “save points”.

I’d be dead by now! And most likely still not as happy as i am today, without the option to go back and change anything.

The good that Modi did

Wait! Did i just say that?

528070Photo17Modi was not the first beacon of light of the Hindutva brigade. But the BJP victory in 2014, with a majority to rule the country, was lead by him and his crony Amit Shah. And to that extent, his fan following – Bhakts as they known today – have held him in that stead.

Beginning with his entry into the Parliament and the executive office, he and his goons have ransacked institutions of this fledgling democracy. What took years of slow buildup, post emergency in 1975, to create autonomous and independent bodies to watch, control and rein in the government, were quickly dismembered. The easiest mechanism was to staff these entities with likeminded lemmings that will carry out their boss’ orders and even wishes. And when that cannot be done, then you look at other ways to subvert the institution. Planning Commission became Niti Aayog, and cooked up numbers as required. CBI always a caged parrot, started singing too. ECI became a coward. And the list goes on.

But in all this destruction, Modi did sow the seeds of revolt. Passive voices, that were otherwise unconcerned, filled with apathy and or didnt want to bother with the mudslinging of politics, decided to wake up. With every free voice that Modi and his team tried to shout down on TV and social media, or squelch with power and brutality, a sane voice emerged. People who accepted the 2014 election as maybe a much-warranted-change, quickly became disenchanted with the beef killings and the demonetization fiasco. People began at first by reacting to horrendous crimes, but then slowly and steadily started to call the bluff. Bluff on development, jobs, economic progress and everything. Because literally everything was looking bad – monetary, economic and social.

Today these voices have reached a crescendo. The election of 2019 seemed to be a catalyst for people to openly come and throw off the yoke of tyranny and retarded ideology.  This, even as there are more bhakts today, than possibly in 2014. Thats because in 2014, many who voted for him were people who were looking for some change. Today while a vast majority of this have switched loyalties, a sizable percentage have hardened their position, evolving into a bhakt – fullfledged devotee. But, there is a but!

There are more “common” people involved in the current election today, than we had ever before. It has come in many forms, from active participation in campaigning against the BJP and Modi to armchair social media buffs. People who shared movies, songs and jokes are now getting in on this bandwagon, to take down the ideology and the Modi image. Movie stars were always roped into add glamour during election, but this time beliefs and ideas seeming to be bring them in. Many more are taking a stand, at home, with friends and everywhere they think they must. Earlier it was polite to keep quiet and let Modi fans ramble on, today they are politely refused that space. Of course new Bhakts can get down dirty and personal pretty soon, but that has not stopped the sane voice from backing down. No more censorship. Ideas will be shared. Ideology will be fought. Win or lose, is tomorrow. But today we speak and act.

Thats a good thing. No one but Modi, could have inspired more to join this brigade to rid India of him and his ideology of divide and hate.

Vande matram! Lets take back our democracy.

Why i hate Modi?

You should too!

6CC5SSHAFI7LRJ5LG7LIYMBWAYModi is the current unchallenged leader of the BJP. He wasn’t one before the run-up to the 2014 elections. His prowess in Gujarat, no i don’t mean his economic or development agenda, i mean his autocratic rule there, and polarizing effect that helped him get elected thrice, propelled him to the central stage.

BJP is a political party that is sculptured out of hatred, by its progenitor, the RSS, the original fountainhead of hatred towards non-Hindus in India. RSS was founded on the basis of divisive politics, with deep rooted hatred for the muslims in India. It may have fostered alternative thought, but its domineering intention has always been a Hindu rashtra, ie Hindu nation. A nation where citizens of other religions are subservient,  and even all Hindus are not considered equal. BJP was born out of this holy matrimony, marriage of religious bigotry and fascist ideology. And the current chief Modi, and his handmaiden, Shah; and between the two of them they rule the party, as much as they rule the country.

Modi is not the first such leader. There was Advani, and also Vajpayee, among others. But the difference was that Vajpayee was head of a government that held power thru; coalition. Advani never really was able capitalize on his hate politics. All the rath yatra, communal violence and the final bludgeoning of the Babri Masjid, didnt deliver him the seat of power, that he so pined for. So Modi was the first leader of this rightwing, and now autocratical party, and also managed to convert the hate into votes, riding on people’s frustration with corruption.

My fears came true, soon after he began his authoritative control of the government. First target was the media; attack it, with a new term, “presstitute” invented even before the invention of “fake news” by Donald Trump. And the media allowed itself to be raped. Many simply gave up and became cheerleaders. Some that tried to stay neutral were again bulldozed by power to tone down the criticism. It was important to silence the voice that had most influence.

They also started the assault on minorities and alternative thinking. The muslims were attacked on the pretext of  cow protection. The dalits were told their position or beaten into submission, to stay in line with the age old caste system. The left leaning thinkers and independent critics were labelled anti-national. All of these were similar tactics, tried and tested during the early stages of the third reich. Yes, by the monster of the early 20th century; Hitler. Modi and his accomplice ran this blasphemy to cure corruption in the country, but actually meant to change the cultural makeup of the nation. It was no longer required to be polite or politically correct in dealing or addressing issues of the minority. The Hindu majority was under threat, the Hindu god in danger everywhere, the age old Hindu traditions and customs  that typically included subjugating the dalits and lower castes were being challenged; all of these need to be protected. Hinduism was given a new modern name, Hindutva!  To me Hindutva meant terror. They even painted Hanuman with an angry face.

Just like in the early periods of Hitler Germany, the society had become more vocal about protection of majoritarian rights. Our culture was under duress for all these many years, because of political correctness, and appeasement of minorities. Fence sitters switched sides. All this new righteousness and need to protect our own, caused many to contemplate and remain mute. A few that opposed verbally were abused at all forums, vocally and sometimes physically. The law that was meant to protect against such tyranny, lost their spine, in the quest for evidence. And evidence if any, conveniently disappeared just before application of justice in the court of law. Institutions granted insular autonomy, and built to guard society against these very swings in thinking, were staffed with likeminded thinkers, and quietly but steadily contained.

Befuddled citizens are fooled by this pursuit of fairy-tale and utopian goals. Politicians earlier too had swayed the masses with the same opium. Country that is free from corruption, upliftment of the downtrodden, development and jobs for all,  patriotism and national pride, and if all these fail, there is always the TINA, ‘there is no alternative’ factor. All of these can be used to make allowances for Modi and his gang. They too are just like other politicians hungry for power, and only attempting to fulfill personal gains. No! They are not just that. They are also a poison that was nurtured and raised in a cradle of hate. They have combined communalism and fascism, along with the other virulent traits of politics, to create a monster so similar to the ones that lead to the rise of the third reich.

History teaches us a lesson. And yet it repeats itself, as the adage goes. Will we learn soon enough to stop it, or learn after it has repeated itself, is left to individual judgement.

 

 

Memories, are a dangerous being

memories-2019-02-16 at 9.11.00 AMTalk about a deja vu.

I am not talking about those recurring dreams, the ones that pops up and cause me to wonder for a few hours, only to drop off the horizon soon after, till it would appear again, the next blue moon night. I am talking about memories, thoughts and feelings, that hit when the consciousness is as awake as it can be. I go thru’ these moments often enough to think that i am a tortured soul. One that cannot learn, or fully move on. I must think the same for most of us. But i have shared this puzzle with no one, or maybe just one, or two.

There are moments when memories strike me and tear my heart. Or one that make me cringe thinking of something i have said or done, and havent fully atoned. Fond memories of fun filled days, and wondering if they can ever be relived. And the wasted time contemplating about the paths never taken, and the resulting whataboutery that shoots out it. Like a dream that animate ones senses, steadily racing the heart into breathlessness, all while in deep sleep; these moments creep into the cortex. Like a dream, they may seem to linger in enternity, yet the disturbance lasts but only a few seconds. I shudder out of it, into the present. The damage though lasts a while.

I remember some very particular and exacting moments in my life. There are few that haunt me from when i was very little. Some memories are so vivid, that i can recall minute and fine details. Like i am seated on the petrol tank of my dad’s bike (rajdoot), and we are just about headed out to a night show, just dad and son. I was probably about 2 or 3 yrs old. Or the time when my friend (pre-kg then), told me I will die, because i bit and drank juice from the climber vine of a plant. I cried non-stop that evening after school, thru’ the night till i fell asleep. My neighbor tried to help amd gave me some ‘kissan orange squash’, saying it was a medicine that can cure death. Or when friends and i spending two days in Kodai, except that it was not enough. Or the time i ditched my friends and ran after a lost cause, that was never there to begin with.

Heart wrenching sorrow, that i thought i would never overcome. Fun and joy, that i thought were never enough. Fear and horrifying flashbacks that still spook me.  Loathing and outrage for something gone wrong or done to me or others. Beauty that couldnt be captured in a camera, but is still lucid and very comprehendable. An act of bravery or foolishness, that i dont know how and why, but am still alive to recollect. Embrassments that still leave distaste, disgust or a smile.

What triggers this reaction? Why is the brain so active otherwise, filling up with moments from the past? And not all moments, just fleeting bits. Yes there are moments when i can recall more than a few seconds of the script that was played out. Why do i have to wander back on paths treaded before? I am happy where i am. I am happy knowing what or who i have become. Yet i think, sometimes, only so rarely tho’… why?

Pariyerum Perumal – A tale of two tumblers!

Rarely do you get to watch a movie, that kindles a flame that almost was dead or dormant inside of you. One of the recent ones that did this to me was ‘Pariyerum Perumal’, a poignant tale of two tumblers.

Discrimination on the basis of caste is a pan-India phenomenon. Each State and region rival each other, in unique ways to shower hatred, and artificially segregate humanity on the basis of family they are born into. While the caste system, talked about so glowingly in our Vedas, simply parcelled people into four piles, the reality of the society allowed these to mutate into a thousand variants. A specific hierarchy and order was tacitly enforced upon them, creating a basis of hate that was permanently etched in our minds. These lines only seemed to get thicker and clearer over the centuries.

Screen Shot 2018-10-31 at 9.22.32 PM.png

Two different tumblers (glasses) used to serve tea; Segregation.

One such system practiced in some parts of Tamil Nadu is the two-tumbler system. Local tea shops served tea in two different tumblers (glass), to the people from higher and lower castes. This allowed people to partake tea from the same place, but didn’t require sharing utensils, and therefore allowed the so-called upper caste folks to maintain their sanctity.

In less than two and half hours, the narative presents the lives of the people who are afflicted by the curse of this division, leaving little to be imagined. Tact is employed very effectively, which i think is an attempt to maintain a sense of propeity and decency. All this while still not trying to diminish the impact, or more importantly the helplessness of the situation. There is no easy resolution to this problem.

The first rule of finding a solution to a problem is the acknowledgment that the problem exists. This it effectively does. At the end of the movie, if anything you will no longer question this basis. And therein probably lies the answer. Maybe, just maybe we will work torwards fixing it.

Screen Shot 2018-10-29 at 7.27.22 AM v1.png

Final Shot of the movie; symbolising hope?

The last few scenes of the movie, provides you rationale to change thinking and begin a journey towards a more integrated and inclusive society. The two-tumbler system is possibly dying a slow death, but differences continue. This is evident from what is in the tumbler (glass).

Tat Tvam Asi – Only for Men?

Sabarimala

An old picture of Sabarimala, showing the entrance to side. There is another entrance to the rear too (can’t find pictures). These entrances were used by “all (men and women)” who didn’t observe the 41day vradham. Women of all ages were allowed entry at one time thru’ these steps.

As i type out these thoughts, we are in the midst of celebrating Navaratri. Nine days, when Durga and her manifestations came down to earth to slay a demon, that no one else could. Among many other things, Navaratri is also reverently proclaimed by many Hindus as the celebration of woman. As a mirror to show how we, since i am also a Hindu, hold women in high esteem. But these things apparently only are words, and not necessarily translated into real emotions or observed.

In Kerala and in a few other parts where there are Malayalees who are supposedly devotees of Ayyappan are holding protests against the Supreme Court ruling to allow women of all ages to visit the Sabarimala temple. Ironic it is to me. But then a quick look at the crowds, show women coming out in large numbers to show that they too oppose this ruling. Women in India, and in general, have never hesitated to let their kind down, when it comes to gender issues. They are quick to follow the instructions belted out by men. And here again is a clear case of how powerful men in the religion control the rituals at the temple.

Sabarimala is not a gender issue. It is not about women and men. Because women are allowed, except those from the ages 10-50. Why? Because women in this age group, menstruate. And apparently since the deity at the temple, Ayyappan is a Brahmachari, these women will be a distraction to him. They will force him to break his penance or prayer. I have tried to rationalize their feelings and their opposition to this. The more i have searched, and tried to, i have only learnt how ridiculous their arguments are. And how they have kept shifting the goalposts, with the singular objective to keep the current abhorring tradition alive.

The Supreme Court has ruled that all, i repeat ALL people, can be allowed to visit and offer prayers at Sabarimala. The temple already allows members of all faith, irrespective of religion to come and offer prayers. The temple opens tomorrow. I wait with a prayer on my lips that the ruling is allowed to be enforced. That anyone and everyone who wishes to visit the temple is allowed to do so. Let the truth be available to everyone.

Women were allowed to visit Sabarimala, till the ruling of the Kerala High Court in 1991. Therefore, we need to welcome the re-entry of women to this temple, instead of attempting to hold on to rituals and traditions that have little bearing in today’s world. Specially since they were invented in the last few decades.

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