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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.

 

 

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.

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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.

Republic Day – 2018

Today is Jan 26th, 2018. It is India’s Republic Day. The day, India effected its new https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/16/Constitution_of_india.jpgconstitution and declared itself a “sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic Republic”.

For many years, Republic Day to me meant, “march past”. During my school days at Asan Memorial, i used to be a member of the Scouts (Digbe Beste Sea Scouts). And when the new year begins, we scouts and whole of lot of others begin our annual marching parade at the Marina, in preparation for the Republic Day. It was a profound honor, at least to me, to march with my battalion on that day, salute to the Governor, who would be stationed at the Gandhi Statue, to receive the guard of honour.

I also used to be enamoured by a similar parade, that is held in Delhi, on the Rajpath. Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 3.16.05 PM.pngAnd to be selected to participate in that parade was the ultimate honour for any scout or cadet. For me, that always has remained but a dream. And so every Republic Day, when i was older, i would wake up and wait to witness the parade telecast live on TV. It was always special if only to rekindle memories, and to bask in the glory of the nation i was born in, and to celebrate freedom we fought so hard.

Over the past few years, irrespective of the government that as ruled the country or the many different states and territories, their respect for the rule of the law has been scant to say the least. And since the emergence of the hindutva party, what little of such law was left, has been dumped on the wayside. Today unless you are rich, belonged to the upper class, or part of the ruling party, you had no rights worth protecting. If you belonged to the ‘other’ religion, which included Hindus, Muslims and some others, and if you raised your voice against this atrocious behaviour, you were treated as an anti-national, and showered with choicest blessings in foul language at best, or beaten up.

My misgiving of today didn’t happen in a day. It took a couple of years of constant eroding, of our constitutional values. A slow but steady, erosion of the value systems that were encoded in the constitution, which was developed after learning from our own past, and the many democracies that were established already. Fundamental rights, Human rights, Civil liberties, and many more were adopted from teachings and philosophies in human social advancement that were already in place. The Indian constitution also went further than most its times, for example making it one of the few, if not the only one that granted Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 3.16.05 PM.png universal franchise from the very first day. And yet today all of these are being questioned, and whittled away. All in the name of hindutva, and taking the country back a few decades or even centuries. The post of contention was effectively moved from the middle, to a point, which would lead one to believe that one half of the country marched to a different band altogether. A religious hate mongering and terrorizing one at that. Where they wished the other half didn’t exist, and were ready to go to any extent to eliminate, remove or simply silence their voices.

I should be celebrating. Yet i contemplate. I worry of what we have made ourselves today. How much we have progressed, and yet how far backward we have regressed? I worry about the legacy we leave behind for our children.

I hold a prayer in my heart, as i close this. It is poem written by Rabindranath Tagore. It was also the very first blog i wrote in my life. We can pray, we can hope and we can fight to make them true.

Where the mind is without fear and the head held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever-widening thought and action;
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake

Then they came for me..

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

– Martin Niemöller

Since 2014, when Narendra Modi and his BJP came to power, they have steadily worked towards eroding the ethos of a democratic society. Freedom of speech and expression, Freedom of religion and Right to equality, all guarnteed as part of the our own Constitution have been challenged, and with its Executive power and support of State machinery, these have been reduced to mere words on an old parchment in a library.

In this age of WWW, ie Whole Wide World, where nothing is a secret anymore, and where citizens are no longer bound by a geography, ideas circle faster than the speed of light, emotions unite classes, thoughts break language barriers, and it in this new brave world people have to expect different. Today basic human and civil rights are considered as important, if not more important than food and water. In this era, it is therefore impossible to accept and live with rules and norms as expounded by regressive governments and or their followers.

Followers? Yes! Through out history, no one has been able to impose restrictions or upsurp rights without support from a section of the populace. These people are common folk like me, lured by an idea, swooned by charisma or spurred by simple hate. If by hate, there is usually a personal bias that allows this emotion to gain an edge over empathy. Some people are influenced by past experiences, and probably justified in their actions, because of the private imprints on them. But many others are simply swayed by emotions, of fear of the unknown, what if the worst that happened to them, happens to me. Collective conscience imparts the most heaviest burden on most average folks. It is easier to succumb to this, and be at peace, rather than try to revolt and rationalise feelings.

But protest we must. Rationalise we must. We are humans only because we possess a sense, a unique sense of intellect that would allow us to discriminate; as in allow us to analyze a situation and take different action, that is required based on all information that is immediately available and those that can be discerned. It is important for sanity to speak, and must not be suppressed in all the din. Narendra Modi and his Bhakts (as they have come to be known on social media), may attempt to hijack prudence, but there is a duty upon those who are not influenced to stand up and speak up.

I am writing this, because many of my friends and family are in this realm of influence. Thankfully in varying degree. And so when i speak up, if it causes even one to stop and reflect, i have probably served humanity. I have felt intimidated by the overwhelming support sometimes, but more often it is the nagging question, of “why do you have to question everything?”. Then there is the narrative to compare and equate wrongs, and thereby silence my voice. People who oppose these thoughts are even branded, tagged and name-called. Subtly by friends, but with blatant abuse on the anonymous social media.

Wake up! Speak up! Let it not be too late!

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel

Everyday, when i see what is happening in India, i am aghast. Since i reside or split my life between two countries, the US and India, i see several parallels. The recent happenings in India, were similar to the reactions in the US, after 9/11. Immediately after 9/11, US citizens  started reacting wildly, ready to give up their privacy and rights, or maybe the Govt simply usurped the rights. People felt that it was important to the larger cause. People who opposed this thought process were considered anti-national. The situation in India, is very similar. The Govt, here in India, clearly doesnt need any special laws like in the US, but has effectively employed quite archaic rules and laws, that were so widely used during the British rule of India. Or even without using any appropriate law, they are able to intimidate people, and divide them into nationalists and anti-nationalists.
The last couple of years in India with the advent of the Narendra Modi government, the RSS and and similar sounding outfits, have come crawling out of holes. They have been empowered and have started to echo similar sounds that hark back to the divide. The idea that if you do not wear the national flag on your chest you are a anti-national simply sounds ridiculous. The constitution or the laws of the nation do not be demand that you to keep raising the national flag, or invoke the soldiers that stand guard at our borders. Yes, these are patriotic duties of a citizen, but please don’t teach me these. I know when, and how, and where to display these patriotic feelings. I don’t need to prove my nationalism and patriotism to anybody.
Since I brought the topic of the soldiers I do wish to bring up another point. Before we talk about the soldiers who guard our borders, it is important to realize that their masters are the government. And by that definition, we mean the politicians that rule the country. This situation begs the question, why did we put them there? As in why do our soldiers stand guard at our borders? Borders on glaciers and mountains, where the cold kills more than an enemy’s bullet or bomb. Did we exhaust all political dialogue before we put our soldiers at risk? I understand the situation that we are in, and I realize the importance of the role, these soldiers play. And therefore you must be careful before we drag their name into every politically street fight. Don’t use their hallowed name to settle your local internal and petty scores.
This government, its agents and the vast fan following available to BJP and RSS, and others that support this rightwing ideology are busy on Twitter, Facebook and the multitude of social media outlets. Narendra Modi, elected to power on a platform of governance seem to have lost the plot. Instead of focusing on governance, passing bills in the assembly, working on the needs of the citizens, he and his government have instead kept the focus on ideology. The same ideology that divides the nation, instead of uniting it. Their so-called rights to the Hindu religion, in the name of hindutva, seems only serve a select few. It reeks off, the dark Middle Ages when the people were divided based on caste, class and other lines. The have single-handedly used this ideology to cast aspersion on anyone who would think different. They link every issue to patriotism, or the lack of it. They question thought, oppress speech that don’t concur to their views, and raise fake questions and doubts on people who don’t support these views. They do effectively use the internet to leave a trail, for anyone and all to pickup; whether it is true or not.
It is important to stay awake, and to question this stance. It is important for the rest of the nation to be aware of the plot and to resist this divide. It is not always a question of nationalism vs against. It is simply a fundamental right guaranteed by our constitution.
If we want to be patriotic, then lets be patriotic to our constitution. We have had the opportunity to create one after reviewing the Magna Carta, the constitution of the British Govt, the American and many others. We have, in all probability adopted the best of these and set a new standard.
The six fundamental rights recognized by the Indian constitution are:
  1. Right to equality: Which includes equality before law, prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, gender or place of birth, and equality of opportunity in matters of employment, abolition of untouchability and abolition of titles.
  2. Right to food; every citizen has right to food, which include right to non-veg food as well
  3. Right to freedom: Which includes freedom of speech and expression, assembly, association or union or cooperatives, movement, residence, and right to practice any profession or occupation (some of these rights are subject to security of the State, friendly relations with foreign countries, public order, decency or morality), right to life and liberty, protection in respect to conviction in offences and protection against arrest and detention in certain cases.
  4. Right against exploitation: Which prohibits all forms of forced labour, child labour and traffic of human beings
  5. Right to freedom of religion: Which includes freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion, freedom to manage religious affairs, freedom from certain taxes and freedom from religious instructions in certain educational institutes.
  6. Cultural and Educational rights: Preserve the right of any section of citizens to conserve their culture, language or script, and right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
  7. Right to constitutional remedies: Which is present for enforcement of Fundamental Rights.
  8. Right to life: Which gives the right to live with human dignity. This includes rights such as right to clean environment, water, education, health, livelihood, shelter and basic amenities that the state shall provide.
  9. Right to education: It is the latest addition to the fundamental rights
Lets start with these.
Jai Hind!

OMG !! PK hai Kya ?

I watched both movies. Oh My God and the latest PK. Both are fantastic discourses, that raise pertinent questions. Unfortunately both received its share of public outcry. While i dont recall the antecedents around earlier movie, the recent commotion about PK is simply preposterous.

First things first! VHP, Bajrang Dal, RSS, Shiv Sena, Ram Sena, or the BJP pk-protest-pti1-525and the myriad number of organizations that promote Hindutva, must first remember that they dont own Hindusim. If there is one truth about Hinduism, it is the fact that it allows freedom of thought and expression. Why else, will there be a hundred thousand gods and goddesses. Or permit a million names for your favorite god. Why would it allow you treat animals, trees, flowers, rivers, mountains, oceans, sky, sun, moon and planets as sacred and holy, and give them positions in the Hindu pantheon. Why would it allow a many different ways to salvation; bhakti, karma, njana, raja etc? Why would it also provide you many different definitions for salvation itself? This ‘hindutva paltoon’ of godly nothings are the very reasons why these kinds of movies have so much relevance in our society.

Who needs whose protection? There is a line in the movie PK, where this character PK (Aamir Khan) reacts to the fake-godman who wants to protect Hindu gods from others. And that is how the current hindutva paltoon comes about given the scenarios. They are trying to protect a religion – actually i would like to say a way of life or – my Dharma. I shudder to think that my gods will need help from these buffons or ignorant morons. I know, i know the double whammy is well worth. Such is the anger welling inside me. We think PK is a greater threat to Hinduism than Aurangazeb. If this Dharma with stood the onslaught over the many thousand years, and survived, it does not need any advice or help from these marauding fools.

Think! Another fervent cry, Why only target Hindus? Because we are soft. No. Because our way of life, allows us to critique our ways. Our forefathers developed and wrote many a thesis on spirituality and God, but that came only from intellectual and critical thinking. We, human beings alone, have the ability to discriminate. As i write this, i am thinking how true in both senses of the term. Discriminate, as in ability to think and differentiate, i what i mean. Not the ability to put one person down and put some other up, which is what tend to more often. And the true thinkers within the Hindu Dharma, has always professed this fact. Vyasa, Adi Sankaracharya, Ramakrishna, Dayanand Saraswati, Vivekananda, Chinmayanand, all of them, created new waves, by challenging old thoughts. I remember, Chinmayananda always in his lectures, used to repeatedly request us to “Think!”. And so it makes Hindu Dharma an easy target for experiment. And if we will not allow this, then the whole concept of this Dharma, becomes baseless.

Envy! If the movie doesnt showcase enough criticism or the evils of the other institutional religions, but focuses more on the Hindu religion, then it only adds credence to that very religion. While the Constitution provides a lot of guarantees on freedom of speech etc. the tenets of the religion we supposedly practice allows more. This would not be the first time someone has raised questions on idol worship and wasting milk by pouring them on stones we use to represent god, and it wont be the last. Remember as humanity progresses it is supposed to question the practices, that were thought to be moral in a bygone era. If someone were to question the caste system, would people protest that also as an affront on Hinduism. So if things are being hurled in one direction, it might not be so bad. It might just be the best thing.

Finally! The Supreme Court finally got it right. Once the censor board has approved the file. No one should have the ability to restricts its exhibition.

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