The fools’ Paradise!

“Where does the sky end?”

My father had asked me the question many years back when we had been to Puri (Orissa) for a summer vacation.  I was being extremely naughty as a kid and the question was the only way to keep me engaged.  I tried hard to find an answer and ran around the hotel’s dining hall asking every visitor that same question. They all found my curiosity cute and smiled.

I thought, it was a silly question to the elders because, obviously, they had an easy answer. Elders knew everything! Everything.

Last week India witnessed two deaths. One, we celebrated and the other, we mourned. However, as ever, I could not join the hysteria. I mourned, the ‘death’ of an Indian conscience!

I remember the recently delivered Hashimpura Judgement which, to me outlined the death of justice in India. It clearly had communicated the Indian majoritarian mindset, where there was no space for minority protection. Most of us, of course, did not even notice the sad verdict! We did not even remember the incident! So easy, isn’t it? Who after all, would bother about the brutal killings carried out by the PAC and Indian Army with direct instruction from the home ministry that believed that ‘lesson should be taught’ to the ‘Muslims’ protesting against the opening of the locks of the Babri Masjid. The then, ruling party was clearly using this as a political momentum to garner a clear majority public support. One could hear comments like ‘crush them’, ‘kill them’ and so much more.

The captured ‘Muslims’ were herded by the Provincial Armed Constabulary to the Muradnagar Ganga Canal, and were killed! Some pretended to be dead to narrate this tragedy by the state.

The case was being dragged for twenty eight years and was transferred to a Delhi Court, from the Supreme Court. Finally, the trial court acquitted all the accused for the killings. However, this verdict evoked no such uproar or public anger as did the Yakub Memon Hanging. We, are indeed, ever ready to celebrate a ruthless state sponsored killing but never willing to question a similar injustice!

What Chivalry, did we after all, show, by hanging a man after he had already served a prison term of more than twenty years. From every angle, to me, it  was a double jeopardy! The Indian state cheated Yakub Memom. And like invertebrates, instead of bringing down the real culprits, we hanged a man who gave us some impetus in cracking the case!

Simultaneously, we were also celebrating the ‘exemplary life’ of a man named Mr APJ Abdul Kalam. But frankly, was he really any good? Keeping aside, his Hindutva affiliations, (no wonder, he accepted the Presidential position soon after the 2002 riots in spite of being a Muslim himself), was he also not a man of double standards? When the world criticized the deprivation of human rights in the Niyamgiri hills and Kundankulam, Mr. Kalam favored industrialization and nuclear power advancement at the cost of people’s rights. To him, economic growth was always of a larger priority than development. His research was about ‘hard power’ and show of strength, not freedom or democracy!

Elders are not always correct. They are humans too and are definitely not beyond criticism. We worshipped, Kalam, because our elders asked us to do so.

Salman Khan, the macho man of India, the ‘Dabbang’ guy retracted his statement and apologized for having an opinion at the age of 49, because his ‘Father scolded him for it’! And we are flooding all the social networking sites with elaborate ‘Free speech’ hash tags? How confused and suppressed are we? And why at all, are we pouring our frustrations on the system and making it as hideous as ourselves? What is the use of jurisprudence and an elaborate legal procedure when we are all so opiniated with the criminality of a person standing before us? Does a ‘terrorist’ too, not have a right to be heard?

Our sadism ends each night with the ultra patriotic jingoism of  the single sided discussions of Arnab Goswami, as the nation gets to know, only what Mr. Goswami, wishes to say! And we carry on with our insensitive ordinary lives! A crony judicial system delivers as per the populist demands. Dissent tantamounts to national contempt and treachery.

Unlike before, I no longer blame the system or the state for such hypocrisy. I blame myself and I am every Indian. Mr. Modi and his party and allies are just a manifestation of our hatred and inability to accept dissent. This frustration has been brewing in our minds since a very long time.

The sky of freedom and rights is expanding. The times have changed, and mankind has evolved. The justice system is not about medieval punishments anymore. Criminal Jurisprudence is globally embracing reformation as a concept to replace the retribution and deterrence theories. The world is moving ahead. We have to accept that criminality breeds amidst us only and we are equally responsibly for every deviant individual as much as the individual himself.

Apparently, the 1993 Mumbai blasts were all revenge against the killing of Muslims in 1992. Now, we avenged that with Yakub’s death. Soon, someone will avenge us again.  But, ultimately, only people will die. Innocent babies or Yakub, every loss of life is a failure of society and law. Perhaps, all the world needs is a little care and some love. Maybe, we should understand people and their stories a bit better. Because, everyone has a story to tell.

My father did not define my sky. He taught me to face the sky without fear. And today, I rejoice the character in me to question everything I see. I refuse to live in the garb of the culture that forces me to honor someone for an apparent relationship hierarchy. I shall not be afraid to question my father as much as I question myself and the world or to defy him when I have faith in my own principles.

Mr Modi! Think Again!

When I was a kid, my grandpa, told me a joke.

There was, once a potato storehouse that had caught fire. When, everyone was trying to put the fire off, there was one man who was dancing in happiness. When, he was asked for the reason behind his joy, he exclaimed,

“I will soon get French fries for free!”

So, as predicted, Modi finally became the Prime Minister of India with a sweeping majority in the 2014 general elections.  I, too, for once, decided to give the new a leader a chance, after all.

Soon, my uncle came home in ecstasy, post the budget, rejoicing a cut of almost three thousand in his income tax.Yet, he conveniently ignored the striking rise in his pharmacy bills. Modi earned a follower from my family even!

But did he help India see some good days yet? Has he been any good?

I see not. When I tried to watch my Prime Minister, in the United Nations, I stopped midway. My expectations, from Modi were much higher. Of all his demerits, he was definitely a good orator. The very choice of his language of the speech defied me of my representation to the world.

I do not speak Hindi; neither does majority of the Indians! In fact, Modi too does not speak Hindi as a mother tongue. Why would he not speak in his own language? Like most Indians, Modi too did not do justice to the Great Indian story!

“Ei desher I chele Ami…Firingir O Bangla desh…” (I’m a boy of this country only; Bengal belongs to the foreigner too)- Jaatishwar

Of all the acclaimed compositions of the film Jaatishwar, this particular lyric touched me the most. It instantly brought back the very spirit of the Indian society to me.

Indeed, this is the same country, where a Portuguese merchant became an acclaimed local singer, loved and married a Bengali woman and assimilated completely into the Bengali society. It is that same country which protected Jews and the only nation to not commit atrocities against them.  India even has Greek settlers who have been a part of us like the Scythians, Parthians, Shakas, Kushanas and every other race of the world.

This diversity of India is not just another random story of The Indian togetherness. Instead, it hides within itself a very strong message of an extremely prosperous and stable market that has varied tastes and an amazing collection of prospective consumers.

India is also one of the fastest growing markets of the world. Therefore, ‘sell in India’, is no less a priority.’

What Modi lacks, is the vision of a statesman. Where is his message to the prospective young entrepreneurs of the country? If he really wants to build the nation, he should get out of his easy publicity stunts and inspire and inculcate fresher ideas. He should create a passage where a child from a working class family can aspire to become an entrepreneur. A leader is expected to instil dreams into us. Why are we still dwelling in the boring thoughts of employment and the sustainability of a mediocre middle class existence somehow!

On an honest note, I personally do not really care about a love Jihad or a Ram Mandir at all. All that matters to me is a substantial betterment of my living and an overall growth and development of my country. A better society would make the markets stable which would fetch investors for my business and I would make more money!

It’s simple, if I become rich, the country makes money too!

The clean India movement seemed to be nothing more than a populist farce to me! If waking up early one morning, and holding fancy brooms in the hand really solved India’s problems, then there would, perhaps be a revolution each weekend!

In India, there are officially, around 1.3 million manual scavengers, out of which, the majority are women. Inspite of being illegal, the Indian Railways is one of the biggest employers of manual scavengers. The Indian railways have repeatedly ignored the numerous laws that were passed against such a primitive custom. Definitely, no one has ever bothered to begin a ‘swatch railways project’. That would, certainly raise a lot of eyebrows and provoke  a debate.

Why has Modi not offended anyone yet? A real leader offends and changes the rules unapologetically. A true visionary can never win a popularity contest.

My frustration with India has always been its preconceived opinions. Even before a child is born, his identity is fixed! Why can’t we begin like a fresh piece of paper without any scribble of tradition, opinion and prejudice in it? When will the Indian youth really come up with their own refreshing ideas? When will the real Jihad against the domination of the obsolete ideas, views and principles of our previous generations happen? When shall we start afresh? When will an Indian youth discover the ‘me’ that has long been buried in the pressures of ‘we’?

The major idea behind the setting up of the IITs in India was to encourage excellence in education. These graduates were supposed to be nurtured as the future leaders of the world, not their employees!

When Modi goes for a bilateral trip, he carries along the entire nation with him. America did not grant a visa to Modi, the visa was granted to the Prime Minister of India.  Therefore, if he fasts for navratri, he should probably fast during Ramzan as well!

Besides, fasting during a diplomatic meeting was definitely a very regressive approach of Modi.  Eating creates a comfortable ambience for discussions and ties. It is a part of International relations and hospitality. It was clear that Obama was much more comfortable in the presence of Dr Singh than Modi.

Why does Modi have to represent India as such an orthodox nation?

Indeed, Obama too was brought up amidst street urchins, yet he climbed his way to the top with education. But, a chaiwala did not become a Harvard Law graduate to become our Prime Minister. That is the difference. Modi is an imposed social mobility upon India.

India has to break free from this slave mentality. It’s time that we break our barriers and ask for more. Let’s research a little more and cram our minds a little less. Let’s try to create something instead of being those same mediocre high salaried men of the most regular daily jobs!

It’s alright to make mistakes, but it is criminal not try. What is the point being afraid of death when we wake up each day doing the same ordinary things? How different would we act lying dead in the graveyard?

Like the mad man, in my grandpa’s joke, Modi is cheering the backwardness of the country. Tradition does not eclipse truth. Tradition is not static. We must move ahead of the times. The youth has to be relied upon. The nation must believe in their decisions. They need the honor and dignity of adult human beings. Let’s have some faith in their maturity. Let’s believe in them. For once, give them a chance, to move ahead, to decide their path. Let’s bring in some freshness into the world. Let us, break the walls of narrow minded thinking and dream big.

Have faith in the young, they shall not disappoint you! Give them a chance to dream for this country. If a dream is big enough, no tiny fragment can ever ruin it!

If India cannot foresee the endless prospects of the future, we can never make it big. And, if it’s not big, it is of no significance!

The Hero Hunt!!

I never sang the national anthem of my country when the state compelled me to stand up for it. Unlike my peers, I did not feel that rush of a patriotic wave within my veins and neither did I turn all misty eyed! I’m not proud of modern India.

Last week, I was flooded with text messages about how ‘good’ the Friday was. The reason, for a change was not a religious fervor. Instead, this time, it was social hysteria.

The first and the most celebrated moment of joy was the ‘order to kill’ the four convicted of the infamous Delhi Gang rape. A very close second spot was bagged by the latest Indian icon Modi and finally a rather insignificant Sreeshant also grabbed a few headlines.

None of these three bits of news was inter related. Yet, to me, they resonated the story of modern India today.

The death of the rapists was an obvious outcome and certainly, I would not deny the rule of law. They were a bunch of social beasts that had to be eliminated. However, I could still not comprehend or affirm to this overwhelming sadism of the society. I could still not celebrate the death of four lives! And I still believe that it was an entirely defective social upbringing that drove these men to such an extent. Society, which now pretends to triumph over the evils within these men, is actually the one to have created them. We now remain as a hopeless bunch of confused race that does not know how to redeem itself.

Perhaps, this is where the iconic presence of Modi comes in. Rather, the entire mass of India is now trying to hide behind the Modi disguise. We are all trying to hold Modi as our hero as we wander blindfolded into a clueless future.

Modi is that manifestation of India’s desperate need for a Godfather. India is in search of a so called magician who can rescue the race and provide it with a dimension. But still, a leader too, has to be created by the society.

The education system of a society forms the backbone of its intentions. The learning that is imparted into our children obviously holds the key to our future. It is dismal to even look at our haphazard education system today. It somehow continues to exist upon the bleak the chain of mechanical rote learning!

The text books dictate certain ideologies and forcefully feed them into our children. Nobody ever asks the children to opiniate. And hence continues the breeding of generations of programmed Indians. Our children are never allowed to form their own understanding of the world. Instead, they are caged into the narrow circuits of pre decided ‘good’ and ‘bad’!

A leader does not land overnight from the moon. A leader is created amongst us just like criminals are. It is shocking that our children are never given any formal training in speech and elocution. They are rarely pushed to the stage and made to speak their minds. The basic quality of a leader is that he addresses the mass and forms a very distinct opinion. Unlike Modi, a leader is not expected to be a demagogue. A leader follows no doctrine. He creates them.

Even Modi like most Indians lacks that refinement to think beyond the obvious. He is still juggling with the trash ideas of Hindutva and Ram Mandir. His populist image has again taken over the deep rooted issues of this country. He is so pre occupied in his popular politics, that he cannot ever apprehend the real needs of the country.

And that is where a Sreeshant appears. He represents, not just Modi, but every Indian around us. We want instant magic, and our solutions are immediate. We do not think before we act. No Indian ever dares to think beyond the next minute. We are completely taken over by the glamour of commercialism and we have practically lost ourselves.

Modi reminds me of my cooking experiments. I would sprinkle almost every spice in the kitchen on my meat and it would always look so delicious.

Modi is the amalgamation of all the spices India wants to see. He has shown us blood and he promises fireworks and mindless action. He characterizes that rapist in every Indian that loves to dominate over the weak. India loves sadism.

He would not educate the Indians to be proud of their nation. He would just torture them harder and define Indianhood for them!

I was after all, never given an opportunity to know my heritage of deep intellectual legacy. None of my textbooks ever brought alive debates that were once an integral part of my Indian society. I was never taught or made to realize the value and meaning of my national anthem. I was only made to memorize it! No textbook, ever told me about the free thought of Tagore that transcends all boundaries. It is ironic that the nation that initiated the world to philosophy and creativity  has now completely forgotten to think.

History was the most half hearted and neglected topic at school. Revolution was just another term that we by hearted. Classroom debates were unheard of. The only need was to ‘complete the syllabus’ and to finish the ‘notes’. I only learnt about the policies, never discussed them. There was never any element of romanticism about history and the endless stories that it narrates.

Humanities was seen as a substandard topic and there wasn’t any infrastructure for science beyond a point. And it all led me to the Indian fascination for mediocrity. My education system had space for everything except excellence. My country does not value excellence.

During the national Anthem, I felt angry. They applied all the fancy spices upon us and tried to make India look so delicious. However, like my meat, even this dish of nationalism remained uncooked and tasted awful!

 

The social robotics

My chauffer recently suffered a tragedy. It brought him a scar that he would be compelled to bear for the rest of his life. No surgery would ever relieve him of the ill fate that he would have to now carry forever!

The tragedy was the birth of his second baby- a girl. A girl who would, most certainly grow up illiterate. Soon, she would be married off with a heavy dowry. Later, a victim of domestic violence, she would end up as a maid…perhaps in my home. So, there was another addition in the miserable group of hopeless maids of my gigantic condominium!

An year ago, I did not know the meaning of the term ‘Gujjar’. Today, at Delhi, it defines a particular group of people for me. Almost every second car is labeled with a ‘Gujjar’ tag behind it. To those, belonging to this community, it defines their macho selves. And for me, they bear a signal of potential danger. However, I would never know or realize the individuality of any of these men!

That is exactly how we perceive ourselves today! Our community tags our personality; social perceptions dictate our affections and convention eclipse our own ideas.  And our own selves, our beliefs and thoughts are never given a chance even.

We are shackled under the clutches of a social order that we dare not break. Now, I’m not a feminist. Neither am I a male chauvinist. In fact, I do not feel the need to even align myself to any particular label of thought process. I’m just an ordinary individual with ambitions and desires to fulfill. I have my own way of seeing the world.

Yet, the society wants me to even look at myself the way they want to! My mirror is not my own conscience. My reflection comes through what the society perceives me as.

I’m a student of law. I had stepped into an excellent law school with an idea to interact with the emerging and dynamic opinion leaders of the future. My hopes had disappeared too soon as I met another bunch of social robots. They were all struggling to fit themselves into their pre ordained conventions. My world hates new ideas!

Clad in their perfect spaghetti straps and flaunting their cleavage, women today, feel free of all oppression. No one realizes the disguised social brand that still prevails to view women as their objects of possession.

There is now, this increasing need for a woman to step into every sphere of life and explore the unconventional paths. Yet, she still must confirm to her conventional identity. She is still expected to overtly exude her sexuality. A woman, even as she takes over the world, feels this urge to position herself as conventionally capable too.

Thus, it is not adequate for a woman to be just a good lawyer or an economist. She also has to position herself as a fantastic cook, a great homemaker, the perfect wife and of course, a prospective model. She continues to live with this increasing pressure to live up to the expectations of the society. Today, feminity is all about being a complete package that satisfies social fantasy. In fact, she is like a smart phone, the more number of ‘apps’ that she nurtures, the smarter she gets.

On the other hand, a boy gets raised with a similar oppression though coated with a brighter paint. He knows that as soon as he graduates, he must find a ‘job’ and be the ‘bread earner’. He must then be ready to ‘raise his family’. Needless to say, society will definitely define his every private relation until he rests in the grave (which shall also be another social decision). He can never dare or choose to break this chain that he falls a victim to. In the loudness of the world and its opinions, all our thoughts get lost somewhere. They get buried so deep in the heart that we are afraid to whisper them to even our own selves. And we continue to flow with the whims and fancies of those who control us. Our life begins with orders of the family and ends with the doctors’. We have forgotten to love…yet, ‘marriage is a necessary institution’!

But tell me, who are we faking to? Don’t we all know that the smile you give every morning is artificial? You are not grumbling at the world and it’s miseries, you are struggling in your own monotonous mediocrity. You do not hate rebel ideas, you envy them! You lost yourself in the stereotypes of man, woman, gujjar, Jat and now you try to hide behind these shields.

And all you feminists there! Why blame the men, when you present your own selves as ‘dishes’ to them? Why blame your husbands when you try to turn out as the ‘goddesses’ of society. Isn’t it obvious that anything short of a goddess would project you as a ‘bitch’?  You are most confused about who you are, not the men! We can perhaps, talk feminism later! Can we discover our individuality first?