Posted in Politics - General

Tihar Live

Renuka Chowdary (or Chaudhary or..) Congress party’s official media spokesperson asked a panel last night on a TV show if anyone had seen the movie “Peepli Live”..And that was in response to a pointed question about how the government has handled this whole Anna Hazare issue so far. For the next few minutes, she demonstrated how a politician can speak for 10 minutes and yet not answer a simple question directed at them. She also demonstrated how a clever panel member participating in a debate can create a new issue on the spot, which is totally irrelevant to the main topic of debate and find a way to accuse other panelists and the moderator of making assumptions & being biased on that particular issue, thus putting them all on the defensive.

For the next 30 minutes of the debate, in spite of multiple attempts by the moderator, she never elaborated on the Peepli Live reference. It was almost as if she left it for the listener’s imagination. May be that clearly was her intention.

Anyways, What’s going on in India is a culmination of pent up frustration over corruption for the past few decades. Those who are on the streets protesting are mostly middle class people and youngsters who deal with corruption on a daily basis in every walk of their lives..So their frustration is totally justified.
As it normally happens, Indians tend to follow their emotions more than common sense.

What people need to understand is the fact that actions more than laws & bills that will eventually minimize corruption in a society like India’s.

Some Actions I suggest:

  1. Stop paying bribes under all circumstances ( and death situation could be made an exception for now)
  2. Stop paying bribes under all circumstances (don’t give any excuses..If you do, then you don’t have a right to point fingers at a politician. Rs.100 or Rs.100 crores – It is still corruption)
  3. Stop paying bribes under all circumstances (yes, some of what you want may not get done when you want them to be done. But this will change when every person who is used to receiving bribes suddenly realize people have stopped giving bribes)
  4. Stop paying bribes under all circumstances. Yes. Exactly.
  5. Repeat 1-4 forever.
  6. Remember Corruption is not just about exchange of money or material gifts in order to receive a service or a product which you otherwise duly deserve & paid for. A person is corrupt when he/she is not being honest even for the the smallest of things. Let those who are fighting on the streets monitor themselves for 24 hours while they go about performing their normal day to day activities…They will realize how dishonest they are on a daily basis through their actions and words (not talking about bribes at all). Be Honest 100% of the time for 1 full year.
Lokpal Janlokpal and Feblokpal bills won’t do any more than give someone in power credit for successfully passing the bill and a shining pathway to get reelected. There have been enough bills passed already which are in effect as law in the current constitution and they should have been enough to prevent all the scandals that recently rocked the country. But they had no effect. People who are corrupt found ways to be corrupt and probably will continue being corrupt unless the above actions are taken by everyday citizens.
On a different note, I personally find Fasting unto death or Fasting  indefinitely – being used as a technique to protest, absolutely unacceptable. This really amounts to threatening to commit suicide unless what you want is given to you right away without any negotiation. It is Blackmailing. By doing this you are not giving a choice to the other person and hence your action becomes a crime. But I am not going to talk about this anymore because this method has been popularized during India’s Independence struggle spearheaded by Gandhi himself. Who am I to poke my finger at the hornet’s nest and get swathed by angry retorts for deriding the Father? So..

Although Hazare has taken up a good cause, his means have been populist (including the Janlokpal Bill) and in the process he and Team Anna seem to have lost sight of the real end goal. Given that the UPA government is hellbent on digging its own grave through a series of errors in terms of how it handles the whole issue, Team Anna is now playing a very intelligent game where every move of the govt. is being checkmated and thus making this emotional drama stir up more passion and faux patriotism amongst Indians – than ever before.

Of course Indian media is relishing the feast served out to them in an all-you-can-eat format..:)

Peepli Live? No. This is Tihar Live.

Posted in Miscellaneous

Happy Indian Independence Day!

A day that could remind some of London Museum, some of Ben Kingsley,
some of a bullet proof cage in front of Red Fort, some of candies distributed at 
schools, some of the words to the national anthem......
but probably many of it being a dry day....

Doesn't matter. 

As long as patriotism inducing days like this can be triggers for a healthy 
conversation on how the future should be instead of how the past was, 
then it certainly is inspiring.
Satyameva Jayathe!
Posted in Cricket, Miscellaneous

A week that was a riot

An imminent whitewash is lingering and if the first 3 tests were any indication, the average Indian cricket fan must be really waiting for the Oval test match to be over with as soon as possible. Not that a win or a loss is going to change anything in Indian cricket in near future but the wounded souls can at least relax knowing the fact that the worst is over. Many pundits have painted all forms of  media red with their valuable thoughts on what they think is really wrong with this Indian team. So I am not even going there. For even if I try, I won’t be able to get it to a shade remotely close to red.

At the end of this series, I will just accumulate what I think are all the positive aspects that came out of it and publish it as a blog post so that the millions of readers who flock my blog can look at the ‘glass is half full’ side of the story and not just the ‘glass is half empty’ side of the story.

This blog post, though is triggered by what is happening in England, has got nothing to do with the India-England cricket series, (which too can be termed as a riot of sorts from a certain perspective), but has got to do with the recent riots that plagued the streets of England for 4-5 nights. Yes, it even made Cameron cut short his vacation. I am no expert on the socio economic issues that plague England, nor do many of you who simply went out of your way to condone the rioters or banish the rioters as soon as the news spread out through twitter and facebook like a smoldering blackberry fire. And I am no expert either to offer a short term or a longterm solution. My observations and reactions I feel are not knee-jerk ones but more pragmatic, considering the context and also considering all strata of the society affected. Before I offer my views and reactions, please do read this wonderful post on the riots by Russell Brand, who of late has been surprising me with his extremely passionate and brilliant penmanship (Amy Winehouse tribute was a class post as well).

For a far left leaning individual like me who takes a very liberal stance on both economic and social issues, I have been tortured with this constant debate of socialism vs. capitalism. So I do very well understand the larger issues of this downtrodden part of this English society to the extent that I am mature enough to admit that it is mostly (not entirely) the system that continues to widen the divide between the rich and the poor  and that it needs a trim. This is the longterm solution that experts have to stress upon the leaders of the state and more importantly the politicians of the state to start working on ‘from yesterday’. So, without going into the details of what I think could be done to fix the system or help these sections of the society through the system, I am simply going to express my views on all concerned parties specifically in the context of what happened in the past week.

  • This is not a racial issue as some riot sympathizers have made it out to be. Read more about Mark Duggan and how it happened whatever happened. I am not going to explain it here..If anyone is thinks it is, then needless to say, they are making an assumption and they are naturally biased.
  • The police officers involved with Mark Duggan’s death know the truth and no one else does. This is neither to defend the police officers nor to point fingers at them. But if I had to be commanding that team that day when they had to deal with Duggan, there were several scenarios that I would have possibly thought of before taking on Duggan, even if it was a self-defense situation and my or my team’s life was in danger.  For all those who want to find fault with everything police does, I have nothing to say to you as you just don’t believe in authority of any kind or law enforcement of any kind. If you don’t believe law enforcement is one of the basic necessities of a democratic society, then we can’t even have a discussion.
  • Unfortunately, the riot itself as it turned out, had nothing to with Duggan, whose family met with the police team in a much more peaceful manner and a less violent manner. So my main grudge on the rioters starts here.
  • Even for a moment, if I assume that these directionless youth (I don’t want to generally call everyone a yob although everyone of them who damaged other’s property or looted other’s property fit the bill perfectly according to me) were waiting for a reason to raise against the system, then I am sort of lost as to whatever happened to that real cause. If any of you listened to or talked to any of these looters or rioters, majority of them (not a single one of them I read about or heard talked about the real cause) really had no idea what they were doing except they thought it would be nice to wear an expensive pair of shoes or have a big screen television or a Blu-Ray DVD player. They were basically opportunistic hooligans – No other way to describe their deplorable acts.  Some of the elders from these neighborhoods, who were either parents of these young looters or family members, who although fell short of condoning the riots and looting, tried to express the real cause. But their voice had no meaning in the larger context of general hooliganism that was bringing everyday lives of many thousands to a halt.
  • To everyone, including members of the very same downtrodden part of the society, what happened caused (and will continue to do so as a consequence) innumerable problems. Again, as a liberal, I would be the first one to raise my voice for prejudices and such. But this looting was plain wrong..Here is a black woman who very clearly belongs to this strata of the society sharing my reasoning in the below video clip.
  • The looting more than the actual riots that I was disgusted with. Majority of those who were affected (and will continue to be affected as the state cleans up the mess and starts paying people who lost properties) belongs to hardworking middle class society. They are the ones who keep the cycle of the system well oiled. They are the ones who pay bulk of the taxes and they are the ones who can bring a country’s economy up or down. When they are affected, you know what the consequences are.
  • Violence is simply not a way to protest. If you believe it is, then there is no difference between the rioters and looters and certain other sections of the global society who resort to killing others in the name of religion. A society becomes dysfunctional and it invites authoritarian style governing when such things happen, which really will make the already oppressed strata of the society suffer more.
  • The police on night 1 were caught in their own doing. They clearly didn’t expect this kind of violence..and looting of this scale. They were trying to soft pedal this issue possibly because of a fear of a racial outbreak of violence and partly because of their messy involvement with the Duggan case. They were trying to play a self-defensive role of a person who feels guilty.. Unfortunately, that backfired on them.
  • Anti-rioters – Pretty amazed at how a section of the society got together to start protecting their neighborhoods (in one case it even cost 3 lives). This was also a case of people power. If people can get together to loot and kill others’ properties and others respectively, then this just proved that people can get together to counter the same.
  • Finally, the politicians who showed up in the last minute after most damage was done and sparked a debate only with only one thing in mind. The next election. Less said about them, the better.
  • The media outlets, by and large (at least the ones I follow) were pretty neutral about the coverage. They covered both sides..Barring a few idiotic and senseless questions (like the video below), I have to say they are giving a fair share of attention to the real problem and the real cause. I am confident that if at all it means anything, this is a healthy thing to have come out of the situation and I hope more experts will join in the debate and push the leaders & politicians alike to start working on a longterm solution.
As Russell Brand rightly concludes, let us not make the mistake of sweeping away or cleaning up the real problem as we sweep away or clean up the mess caused by these riots and looting. And let us also not make the mistake of condoning the rioters and looters because this will only breed a highly disrespectful society leading to an authoritarian political system or  totalitarianism, neither of which will lead to a healthy development of mankind, if history is any indication.
Posted in My Music

Afro Neram

Hit a stagnant period of sorts – musically speaking. Several half-hearted attempts and several rounds of disappointment later, I decided I would spend an early morning in the studio. I think that helped – at least as far as completing this piece goes.

This Sunday morning – In about 90 minutes I had this African experimental piece done. And spent another 30 minutes mastering it.

I am calling it “Afro Neram”.

Feedback/comments welcome as usual. Enjoy!″