Because frankly, with all the self conceited astronomical splurging of the taxpayer’s money by our very own behen Maya ‘Douchebag’ Vati up north, and with Mamata BANnerjee’s refusal to co-operate with anything living, dead dying or in a vegetative state (aka the ‘Manmohan Singh syndrome’) due east, the women politics’ scene badly needed another angle. With Jayalalitha back in the scene, the situation has surely got the much needed edge. I’m pretty sure there is an edge. Just might have to dig through kilometer deep layers of fat to get to it though.
REASON NO. 2
Because unlike others, Jayalalithaa’s government is the most efficient, most corruption free, most achieving and most important of all, most concerned with people’s interest. Or so Miss J. wants us to believe through her full frontal scenes. *Pun strongly intended*
REASON NO. 3
Because no available technology/software could fit J.Jayalalithaa into a smaller space.
REASON NO. 4
Because in the long, incessant war between the North and the South over who is the more ASSorted part of India, this is a battle won for the Dravidians. What better a smack than wiping out pages of a leading northern daily with your southie government’s anniversary celebrations. Hurray! Go Amma!
REASON NO. 5
Because it is TOI- The Trash of India. The advertisements somehow always make more sense than the news in that newspaper.
REASON NO. 6
Because Mr. A Raja finally needed to be told to stop hogging the limelight like a week old hungry pig suddenly released in the cellar of a 5-star hotel. Somebody needed to stand up and tell him that he cannot just expect to make it to the front page every-fucking-time. DAAAYYYM bro, that ain’t happening no more ! AIADMK 1. DMK-0.
REASON NO. 7
Because NEVER is the number of times that the Indian print media would get enough of revenue from advertisements. Newspapers are the only example of human-controlled black holes, devouring any ad space-buyer that chances upon their way. I’m sure the day is not far when the hawkers delivering the newspapers would also be tattooed with advertisements.
REASON NO. 8
Because when Silk Smitha got to walk away with all the tinsel town attention, Miss. J must have felt ignored like hell. And that’s how the Big Mommy replies!
REASON NO. 9
Because this is India. The national goal of 21st century India is to be remembered in the future as the diarrhoeal asshole of the world. Both literally and figuratively. How else could you explain our population rate and shit-piling of the finest order like this one?
REASON NO. 10
Because when you are Jayalalitha, size is the only thing that matters.
Of all the things I hate (and there are many!), having to go to a sweet shop in festive season surely features in the Top 20. Being born in a country obsessed with food, sweets in particular, comes with its own set of problems. Festivals don’t really get their culture and traditional factor pumped up unless there has been a royal exchange of sweet boxes for every single one of the nC2 combinations, ‘n’ here being the number of relatives and friends one has. And ‘n’ being a very generous number for all of us, it is imperative that nC2 gives us hell and makes sure that one third of our time is wasted in purchasing sweets, another one-third in distributing them (and getting stuck in traffic jams), and the leftover in wondering what to do with the Giga tons of sweets that have taken over our living rooms and kitchens.
Anyway, coming back to the point, it was Diwali time and I was at Bikanerwala. Apparently, this guy is like the Jim Morrison of the sweets business, and everyone wants a piece of his stuff (no pun intended)! The scene was frightening, to say the least- Baffled uncles running around with lists, aunties yelling at the staff for cheating them of their pieces of Kaju Barfi and kids squealing and jumping around. I mentally replaced all the sweets with fire and Jimmy’s staff with devil’s imps and I could very well visualize what hell would look like!
Amidst this entire hullabaloo, in one corner of the shop, there were two neatly formed queues for billing- One for ladies and one for gents! I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw this. Apparently, India has a huge obsession with the 2 queue system. From the long ‘l’ shaped ones at railway stations and government offices to the wavering horizontals at Gol Gappe/Tikki joints, queues in India always exist in pairs. Like the poles of a magnet. Many theories have been propounded to explain this phenomenon. The most prominent ones include the Theory of Equality of Women, Theory of Convenience to the Fairer (by which they mean weaker) Sex, Theory of Hypocritical Display of Gender Parity and the Theory of Touchy Feely. And so it had come to this? Purchasing sweets had also become another variable in setting the male-female equation right? Pardon me for my naivety if I am unable to figure out the relation between gender parity and (purchase of) Gulab Jamuns! But, in a country obsessed with proving it has the largest number of morons, this seemed to be another feather in the cap of the supposed guardians of female rights. Really?
Sisters, mothers and others, if you really believe that most men of this country will not ogle at you if you stand in a separate queue, that you won’t be mentally undressed by most of them if you stand 5 feet farther, and that this virtual sexual assault is not as bad as actual physical advances, please do form a separate queue.
Feminists, women’s rights activists and promoters of equality of women, if you think that a separate queue is a possible cure for all the ills associated with gender disparity, think again. Whenever any uncle tags along an aunty with him to a railway reservation counter, hands her the money and the form and places her in the ladies’ queue, he not only makes her look like a puppet but he also makes all of you look like a fool. I feel the purpose is defeated every time that happens. And isn’t the provision of separate queues based on the fact that some people here actually believe that women aren’t strong enough to bear the inconvenience of long queues? That they are weaklings who deserve some leverage? So, doesn’t that make this whole thing self-contradictory? And if this whole system exists to provide some extra convenience to women, aren’t you tilting the balance against the Martians? Trust me, it sucks to be a man when you are standing in a kilometer long queue for hours and suddenly some girl walks right up to the counter, utters the magic words ‘Ladies line hai’ and voila, her work’s done. It hurts. A lot.
Lawmakers and public administrators, you are assholes. Instead of putting up ‘Ladies queue’ boards at every public office, try getting your law and order in order. Prevent crimes against women; give them equal education and employment opportunities; make legal inclusions for them in bureaucracy and government.
Men of this country, don’t think that giving women some space at counters is all that you’ve got to do on your part. Give them space elsewhere too. You know what I’m trying to say. So, let’s just all try to be decent enough and broaden our perspectives. If your thoughts promote equality and respect, your actions will reflect them.
Meanwhile, back at the sweet shop, an uncle tried the old trick of making a puppet out of his wife. Some others followed suit. An elderly fellow raised questioned the morality of this act. A verbal argument ensued and finally it was mayhem at Desi Jim’s Diwali concert!
Enough has been said, heard, written and read on the now ubiquitous Jan Lokpal Bill and Anna Hazare. For the past year or so, the nation has witnessed and participated in the moment that has been slated as ‘the end of corruption in India’. I have often wondered why all this time I never wrote anything on the issue. Going by the amount of related data currently circulating on the internet, especially social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, anything I would have written would have had an ephemeral lifetime and then it would be lost in all the brouhaha.
Why now? Because now I am starting to see an equilibrium being initiated in an otherwise unilateral agitation (movement, if one wants to call it that). The haughtiness of the campaign leader(s), which had been carried over to an extent in the followers, is now finally giving way to the much needed reasoning and a reasonable dialogue between the people and the government. Now is the right time for showing the other side of the coin.
I will begin by asking one simple question- What is corruption? We have all heard this word over a zillion times in the last few months, and every time we do, we instantly declare how much we hate it, how eager we are to get rid of it and that there need to be stricter laws to deal with it. I would like to know, is corruption an individual? Or a group of individuals? An institution or perhaps an organization? No, it isn’t. Corruption, like all other social evils, does not have a physical entity. Corruption, like dowry, domestic violence, honour killing, gender discrimination and female foeticide, cannot be tried in a court of law and punished. The accused- the corrupted- can be punished, but saying that it will lead to eradication of corruption is akin to believing that a sinking ship can be saved not by repairing the hole but by drying up the ocean. We all know it can’t be done.
And I have examples from both distant and recent past to demonstrate this fact. Fully competent laws exist against dowry and domestic violence. I take them into consideration because these are the two most widespread, deeply rooted social ills, which also happen to be the most under reported crimes. Thus, these two resemble corruption the most in occurrence and treatment. In the recent years, there has been an increase in the number of cases pertaining to domestic violence and/or dowry being bought to light all over the country. However, two things worth mentioning are- The number of reported cases constitute a fraction of the actual number of happenings and that the urban-rural divide can very well be seen here too. The former can be attributed to the fact that no matter how much developed India claims to be, women are still supposed to play second fiddle in a largely male dominated society. It is expected from them to be forever obedient to their halves and it is imperative that any nay-saying or straying from the usual course would be meted out with punishment, even physical abuse. As far as dowry is concerned, in many parts of India it is still seen as an integral part of the ‘culture’. And so is ‘Sati’, against which people have been working since the time of Raja Ram Mohan Roy. All these maladies are more prevalent in rural areas, where education levels are low and people are still chained in dogmas. Today, Gram Panchayats, which were supposed to be the epitome of grass-roots governance, have their integrity in question because of a plethora of cases of the panchayats in Northern India supporting and even participating in honour-killing.
The fight against these evils has tilted against us. Why? Certainly not because there aren’t laws to deal with them. The crude, and cruel, fact is that the guilty here is the mindset of a majority of Indian population. And the errors in mindset cannot be corrected in a court of law. The questions of morality cannot be answered by looking up the tomes of IPC. No doubt, laws need to be there against every possible form of violation of the ethical and moral code of conduct expected from an intellectually and morally developed society. But what if the morals are flawed, or worse, what if the necessary morals are missing?
I don’t see any reason why the fight against corruption will not meet with the same fate as the fight against domestic violence or dowry or Sati. My pessimism (if you want to call it that) arises from some very simple observations. Most of us treat the traffic and safety rules as a choice instead of following them sincerely. We simply don’t care about helmets, seat belts or signals. And when caught, 5 out of 10 times we will bribe a traffic police cop to evade penalty (I’m being very modest here because actually it should be at least 8/10). And then we blame the ‘system’ for the accidents and the traffic jams. Many of us will get railway reservations through agents and will be more than happy to pay ‘commission’ in exchange for a few minutes of hassle saved and a confirmed ticket. And whenever we are at the receiving end of this malpractice, we would either simply blame the ‘system’ or worse, try to bribe the T.T.E. Wherever it is possible to get the work done by showing some greens, we will happily take the detour.
And then we have the guts to blame the ‘system’ while sipping coffee and munching biscuits on a Sunday morning. The system needs reforms, agreed. And we are a part of it too. Hell, we are the system! A Tata Tea ‘Jaago Re’ ad campaign or a video of a chocolate-boy-turned-rebel-without-a-cause and claiming his ‘Haq’ raises only ephemeral social activists and brings only insignificant changes. The fight against corruption requires all of us to change the way we think. Permanently. This change won’t come in a day. You can initiate the process with the formulation of necessary laws. But it will still be the case of a paper tiger that will get its teeth only when the aam aadmi, in metros as well as in villages, realizes that a billion dollar scam is as bad as a 100 bucks bribe and that illegal mining of coal does as much damage to the country as the illegal consumption of electricity in a locality.
I was surprised when comparisons were drawn between Anna Hazare and Mahatma Gandhi. Both because of the similarities and the contrasts between the men in question. Anna tends to overshadow the entire campaign, much the same way as Bapu overshadowed the Freedom movement. I do not question his contribution, I simply want to point out how other people’s contributions was diluted because of the undue focus on one man. History is repeating itself here again. Somewhere in the chants for the leader, the cause is getting lost. People are awestruck by Anna’s ironclad image, forgetting he is but the face of a team that has worked for years without rest to formulate the JLP. He is not the answer to corruption. He is just one of the many of us who are seeking an answer to corruption. In a movement of this proportion, someone will naturally emerge at the forefront. And with the timeline, he might be replaced by someone else.
The contrast I mentioned is in the situation. Bapu fought against a monarchy. Anna seems to have confused a faltering democracy with an autocracy. His methods are not suitable in a parliamentary democracy. No matter how dysfunctional the government is or has become, democracy demands that the people and their chosen representatives solve problems through a sustained and sustainable dialogue . Anna’s haughtiness and lack of willingness to listen to others is frightening. I cannot even imagine what will happen if every one of the billion Indians sat on an indefinite hunger strike to bring the government on its knees and get their demands approved. I am not ready to believe that all the people sitting in the Parliament and all the bureaucracy are corrupt. And unfortunately if I’m wrong, I have every reason to believe that 9 or 10 ombudsmen that come into force with the Lokpal will also be corrupt. In which case, the present situation would only worsen, maybe beyond repair. When recently Anna’s integrity was questioned in a TV interview, a member of Team Anna( why not Team Jan Lokpal?) said nobody’s perfect. That’s my point too. Nobody is perfect. So when the ombudsmen will falter, who will ensure they are checked?
I am in no way averse to the entire Jan Lokpal Bill campaign. What bugs me is that people tend to believe that the fight against corruption will end with the successful introduction of a Bill. Ironically, the fight will only start after that. I would love to see people’s faces when they will be required to report a relative involved in a corruption case. I would love to see the choices they will make. I would love to see morality and rationality beating dogmas and injustice, for once. But until that happens, I would be contended with correcting my own flaws and making sure I do not mock the very system I am fighting for.
In a recent survey conducted by the Economic Intelligence Unit-titled Global Liveability Survey– aamchi Mumbai was ranked 116. Out of 140 countries!
The result probably didn’t come as a shocker. That is because it merely documents what most of us already know. The fact that we don’t acknowledge the facts, is however another trait that has been exclusively bestowed upon this great nation. But the EIU was simply not going to buy the idea that just because a city houses Bollywood, it becomes a dream city.
The criteria for ranking included political and social stability, culture and environment, healthcare, education, infrastructure. This makes it all the more clear why Mumbai is where it is. In the last couple of decades we have seen Mumbai transforming into a terrorists’ backyard, where tourists from our neighbouring country barbecue innocent Mumbaikars on weekends and then enjoy paid vacations in our jails. Other times, it’s the Shiv Sena or MNS(pronounced ‘M AN ASS’) that takes up the charge of keeping Mumbai in headlines for all the wrong reasons. Their CV’s include accomplishments like beating up fellow countrymen for earning an honest living outside their native states, frequently disrupting cinema halls just for the kick of it and most importantly,taking religious fanaticism to new heights.
Mumbai’s polluted,like any other major Indian city. It’s Ganesh Chaturthi today and it’s time to witness the worst religious/ethnic crime in human history since Holocaust! What makes people think they can please God by polluting his waters is beyond my senses.
Mumbai’s roads can put to shame the paths that lead to hell. It holds the notorious distinction of becoming the world’s largest swimming sewage pool during the annual monsoons. Mumbai has Dharavi. And probably within a decade, 50% of Mumbai will be Dharavi. The remaining 50% would be Bollywood. The economic disparity in Mumbai keeps increasing with each passing day. So does the crowd.
The cities that scored high on the list are Melbourne, Vancouver, Vienna, Sydney, Perth, Calgary, Helsinki, Auckland. Yes, these otherwise unheard of cities are the most livable places on the planet. Most of these are in fact only recognized as popular tourist destinations. I did some research and found that almost all of them had a few things in common- low population density, religious and cultural tolerance, high literacy rates and almost equal levels of income of their inhabitants. Not many cities in India, leave alone Mumbai, can boast of the co-existence of all these factors.
To add insult to injury, the national capital was ranked below the financial capital last year. And the trend would probably continue this year too, although Delhi’s rank has not yet been declared. I guess large scale corruption,road rage and frequent incidents of rape don’t help much when you are vying for the most livable city spot.
On the bright side, Mumbai gained 1 spot in the list from 117 last year. So the optimists can still argue that it will only take another 116 years before Mumbai gets to the top!
Here’s to the chronic attacks of enlightenment suffered by the biggest democratic demography in the world.An excerpt of what we Indians believe the world is like:
1.Gandhi was reincarnated. And in his second avatar he has just finished off every last bit of corruption in the country.Because corruption is a person and not a flaw in a person,and hence can be prosecuted in a Lokpal. If I had a dime for every time a committee was formed in India!
2.There was only one girl ever who was shot dead in public for refusing a drink to a rich SOB. No girl, or for that matter no person has had to pay with her life for stupid reasons since then,just because we candle marched all the way to India Gate-the symbol of martyrdom- which by the way happens to be a great picnic/dating/chilling out spot on too!
3.Indians are the most patriotic people in the world. Don’t believe it? Look at the way we squeeze in national anthem between a trailer and a movie in cinema halls. But we don’t(can’t) wave/wear the tricolour because that’s of course a disrespect to the nation.
4.Bollywood movies and songs are the best form of stimulating sentiments of the masses towards social, political and national issues. Exceptions to this rule are movies based on homosexual relationships, caste based reservation and gender disparity.
5.People like me are good-for-nothing whiners and traitors; a threat to national sovereignty, security and integrity because we tend to expose the inherent hypocritical ideologies of our fellow citizens.
The entire coverage of this troublesome phenomenon of ‘deep,ignorant slumber followed by non directional awakening’ cycle is beyond the scope of this post.The severity of the condition lies in the fact that how easily we submit ourselves to anything that tends to touch our emotional nerves rather than hit our logical anvils. By being so susceptible to persuasion and manipulation, we are doing nothing but inviting abuse.
Following is a letter from a girl.A girl who is studying at one of the country’s premier engineering colleges. A girl who believes that she belongs to a college,a community and a country wherein girls are treated at par with boys. A girl who is unable to understand why her freedom is being restricted for no fault of her.The person being addressed is the Dean Students Welfare.
I write this letter to you, not to question or challenge the recent restrictions (if I may call them so,with your ‘prior permission’) that have been put on me and the other girl students, with your due consent. I am writing this letter, hoping to be provided with a rational explanation for the action, as I believe you are a very broad minded, progressive, anti-chauvinistic person who knows what he is doing.
First of all Sir, I failed to understand, even after hours of intensive thinking, that how could the actions of one(or a few) girls lead to the generalization that the behaviour of all the girl students is ‘obscene,immoral and indecent’. But, then again, as I previously said, you must have yourself observed the behaviour of each of us closely and for a long time. Only then you took this step, didn’t you?
Taking this thought into consideration, I duly agreed to be in my hostel latest by 9 every day except once a month. But Sir, if I am ‘immoral,indecent’ and my public behaviour is ‘obscene’, why did you allow me to be out till 10 pm EVEN once a month?It might be harmful,don’t you think? And if in the unlikeliest case that you are wrong, and I am honest and decent, then why did you allow me to be out till 10 pm ONLY once a month?
Another thing I couldn’t understand was how by walking alone in the evening,inside the campus-with so many security personnel and guards around, I was being wrong and ‘indecent,obscene and immoral’. I trust my male batch mates, my seniors and my juniors- most if not all of them respect a woman’s dignity.I know you are concerned about my security Sir, but after all it’s a college campus, not a prison campus,right?But then again Sir, you know better than us,don’t you?
Also Sir, you mentioned that I should not wear ‘indecent dresses’ in the class or afterwards. But Sir, you didn’t define what constituted ‘indecent dressing’.If you could please tell me what kind of clothes pass your ‘high test of morality’, I could set up our wardrobes accordingly.
And Sir, I believe there must be a very strong reason for you to not mention a similar rule for boys,isn’t it? After all, how could a boy look indecent,no matter what he wears?
And Sir,you also ordered me to be seen with my male friends only in canteen. Well no problem in that Sir, except that the canteen can hold barely a 100 people. And what with all the male population there-both students and outsiders -it would be kind of tough….umm, nevermind Sir, I’ll adjust.
And Sir, did I mention that the ‘outsiders’ and the ‘general public’ who complained to you about my ‘indecent,obscene and immoral’ behaviour? Well, on most evenings, a bunch of outsiders move around in the campus on high speed bikes,especially near my hostel. But I think, that would be just because they are so concerned about my ‘safety and security’,right Sir?