Friday, April 25, 2008

Buns between runs vulgar? What about Venkaiah Naidu?

India’s Culture Taliban are up in arms again. Their shrill had been drowned in the cacophony of a fast-moving India that chose to ignore the boos of these buffoons.
The ancient culture-keeper Pramod Navalkar died. Pratibha Naithani could not beat Rakhi Sawant in live TV debates and got busy with her household chores. Life was beautiful, with no debates raging around Sherlyn Chopra’s redoubtable derriere.

But then a lightning struck, a storm whistled through this peaceful-yet-boring life heralding the arrival of the baap of Mano and Ranjan, two innocent looking boys suffering insufferable tongue-wagging and tongue-lashing targeted at their mother. The premier league of cricket is here and has brought with it the band of cheerleaders, who wear hot pants and tomtom pompoms.

These pompoms have given the breath of life to the idling culture Taliban of India. From the ultra-right Shiv Sena to ultra-left Marxists, the white buns of Washington Redskins have raised eyebrows all around. Politicians cutting across party lines have demanded a ban on the shaking buns between runs in cricket stadiums. Filmstar Shatrughan Sinha, whose stint in politics has been ludicrous and in government ridiculous, has already declared cheerleading to be against ancient Indian culture. CPM’s Subhas Chakraborty has announced that nothing of that sort would dance at the Eden.

Indian politicians — probably the world’s most obscene creatures — jumping up and down demanding a ban on cheerleaders is one of the most obscene things to happen to our culture. They have no idea about what vulgarity is.

On Transparency International’s bribery index, the world’s largest democracy is always bundled with countries ruled by greedy despots. One of our former Prime Ministers said that 85 per cent of the central funds meant for the poor is palmed off by political-bureaucratic middlemen. That ministers in central and state governments amass crores in no time is obscene. That the same politicians who ban bar dancers from earning a livelihood hire them for their political rallies and private soirees is obscene. That politicians who cry hoarse about naked legs in cricket stadia hobnob with gangsters in their naked game of greed is obscene. What happened in Subhash Chakravarty’s Nandigram or BJP’s Godhra and its aftermath was obscene. How Shiv Sena and Congress play with religious and regional sentiments of Marathis is obscene. Extreme poverty in the backyard of extreme luxury is obscene. Rape is obscene. Torture is obscene. Standing around doing nothing to stop these obscenities for over 60 years and then calling a press conference to ban cheerleaders is obscene.

IPL will be as exciting without the cheerleaders and fanfare. But the nakedness that runs deep in our system presided over by these culture Taliban will never let obscenity go out of Indian culture. We will never see the beauty of the game till vultures feed on the dead conscience of a nation once proud of its eternal principles.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Welcome to Our Democracy of Tokenism. You ma nigga?

It’s been just four days since the Supreme Court’s affirmative order on quota in educational institutions and the dust has already settled. The anti-reservation students considered it a fait accompli and moved on. They understand, or so one hopes, that in a democracy, the will of the people must be respected. A bill passed by parliament reflects the will of the people. Forget about self-immolation or angry demonstrations, not even a whimper was audible this time. The only surviving debate is the one on TV and newspaper columns.

This debate in public forums becomes all the more important because our Parliament has not really debated a decision of such consequence. Debate is the soul of democracy but one wonders that not one of the 550 MPs thought of opposing the amendment to the constitution, even for the sake of a debate. They do not betray such unanimity in matters such as reservation for women in parliament, a bill hanging for so long it’s all but dead. Even the bill to increase their own perks had a couple of dissenting voices from the Communist parties. Ah the communists, who, in principle, claim to shun caste in their class war but have decided to shun their principles for votes.

Fig-leaf for the naked bum
No politician, however, will admit that it is about votes and that it has nothing to do with uplift of the socially backward. That successive governments have failed in helping the downtrodden. That reservation is a constitutional fig-leaf to cover their practically naked behinds. That they would not care a damn about affirmative action if it did not get them votes. That they are still clueless about providing good quality basic education to the same children they are promising seats for higher education. That some parties have been actively involved in ensuring the underdeveloped remain so lest they should lose their vote bank.

There is an obvious merit in affirmative action and by virtue in reservation. That is why our founding fathers made provisions for it. They however did not intend it to be a political tool to score votes. They did not know the government would refuse to identify the backward or measure their progress. Kurmis in Bihar or Jats in UP are backward only on paper. In reality, socially or economically, they are land-owners often accused of atrocities on dalits. Take Mahendra Singh Tikait for instance. We will come back to him later.

Mandal and Kamandal: Same indifference
Let us first examine the extreme unanimity of the Mandal and Kamandal (saffron) brigades. Both, perceived to be sitting on opposite poles, happen to be on the same side when it comes to win votes by hook or crook. There was no debate in the BJP when it came to demolishing Babri Masjid. Atal Behari Vajpayee, the self-proclaimed conscience-keeper of the nation, called it unfortunate. Over and out. Same for the self-proclaimed Prime Minister-in-waiting Advani, who presided over the obscene display of medieval might as louts climbed on the dome of the disputed mosque in Ayodhya.

Today, all politicians proclaim quotas as the state’s attempt to right the wrongs of the past. This newspaper had called the latest reservations Thakur Arjun Singh’s War on Error-ism. It’s out there now. Mayawati passes a rabidly casteist remark on Rahul Gandhi and gets away with it. Mahendra Singh Tikait calls her chamar and is arrested. It’s apparently unlawful and immoral diatribe by someone who is, at best, a nasty, obscene relic of feudal hinterland. But caste is a reality and a reality the State wants to perpetuate. Till people benefit from their caste status, be it Brahmins or Yadavs, Indians shall live with this ugly reality. So should Mayawati. If the forward caste children have to pay for the advantage of caste, Mayawati too must accept that her perceived disadvantage of caste also accrues her apparent advantages.

Can you justify Babri demolition?
But can the centuries of oppression be corrected in the 21st Century? Late in the 20th, self-styled warriors of Hinduism corrected what they called a four-century old injustice in Ayodhya. I wonder what the correction warriors would say about 6 December 1992! That RSS-declared correction did not bridge the gap between two communities, it only widened the rift. An attempt to correct historical oppression is no substitute for reconciliation.

The BJP has promised to build a temple in Ayodhya (also in Kashi and Mathura) if it ever gets an absolute majority in Parliament. Last time it was in power, BJP leaders took shelter under the common minimum programme of the NDA, which did not have the temple on its agenda. It was only in the BJP manifesto. And the BJP did not have majority, otherwise it could afford to impose the will of its majority.

Rule of the majority is not democracy. Majoritarianism would be a better word. Politicians know OBCs are greater in number and they want to include even more castes in this lot. They also know it will be impossible for a politician to speak against it and sacrifice his or her political career. The so called forward castes, some of whom are extremely poor, are the new minority and should be able to feel the pain that Muslims have experienced for decades. It’s not a nice place to be. The so-called appeasement is not enough to fill your stomach, forget protecting your rights.

But Muslims have lived with the pain. Their forefathers ruled the country so they will never qualify for reservation. They were the oppressors like the new Hindu minority for a thousand years. Yes, there is always the chance of a token five percent quota, as there is a chance for the poor among the forward castes. The pioneers of social justice like Lalu and Mayawati have already spoken about it. But it will always remain a token. This is the democracy of tokenism, take it or leave it.

In any developing society, there is a popular clamour to be counted among the progressive. In here, there is a rush to be among the downtrodden. Rajputs want to be included in the OBC list. In Gujarat, they are already an OBC. Gujjars are not satisfied with the backward label and want to be listed as tribals. However, if you call a Gujjar an adivasi, do not expect a friendly reaction. Mayawati wants scheduled castes (the caste chamar is just one of them) to vote only for her party, but does not take pride in being addressed so. One can't help comparing it with the White-Black equation in the US. A black person can call another black person nigger, a white person cannot call a black person a nigger. A white person however call another white person a nigger, provided there is no black person around. Check out the black rap anthems. "Yo ma nigga" is a term of endearment but strictly between blacks. It sometimes substitutes "You understand what I am sayin?". "Lets get 'em booty shakin', Am in da hood now, you ma nigga?"

And finally a bitter pill for the anti-reservation brigade, who have been crying hoarse about the injustice of social justice. Where were you when Muslims were, overtly and covertly, discriminated against? Would you demand for reservation for poor Muslims as you demand for the poor among you? Till we have Us and Them, it will manifest in all forms, and not all will be pleasant. You ma nigga?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Our foreign policy is torched: Can we stand up and be counted?

The world is running with the Olympic Torch. Running for it, gunning for it or running it down. The torch, which is supposed to stay lit till the end of the Games, was put out at least five times in Paris. At its previous stopover in London, the police had to put down fiery protests to make sure the flame didn’t die. San Francisco is trying very hard to not let Paris repeat on the Golden Gate.

Delhi is wetting its pants with fear of disruption as the torch comes here for a curtailed 2-km Rajpath run. We are not as combative as Sarkozy’s France, which even talks about boycotting the Olympics. We want cordial relations with Beijing. We also have more Tibetans settled here than Paris. This thought is giving mandarins in South Block sleepless nights. Our diplomacy has suddenly started believing in the comical wisdom: All is well that bends well. We have bent so much for Beijing that the People’s Liberation Army makes incursions in our territory at will, demands Arunachal Pradesh as its own, orders our ambassador to receive a rebuke at 2 in the morning. We in turn betray only slight irritability and a total lack of spine.

Good or bad, India, since its inception, followed a foreign policy of pride. We may differ on the pragmatism part. Today, all we do is lay supine for practical reasons.

We have more reasons to stand up today. We have always been world’s largest democracy, now we are also one of the world’s fastest growing economies. We in fact are the world economy’s silver lining as dark clouds of recession hover over the developed world. Along with China, yes, but we ARE counted. Only, we don’t stand up.

Friday, April 04, 2008


There is a big brouhaha born out of extreme disappointment about the way the Indian cricket team played on Day of the second Test match at Motera. I can only pity the average Indian cricket fan for his lack of knowledge and sensory perception. I know cricket is an emotional game and millions cry when Sachin gets out at any point in the match. I also know that people want Mahendra Singh Dhoni to score at least four a ball and that a Pathan ball must both inswing and outswing and hit the middle wicket every time. That a foreign player abusing us is a monkey but our players can refer to be in bed with the other player’s mother and it’s a simple and innocent teri maa ki.
But come on, dear Indian fan, control your loose emotions. Your players played the best at Motera. You have to understand that these are not Testing times for them. A lot has happened between Chennai and Motera. Virender Sehwag has gone from a triple-centurion to Daredevils captain. The same is true for every Indian player. They have a massive tournament ahead. They are already in that mode. Since that tournament has showed them what they are truly worth, they know the true worth of Test matches.
Our players are in the 20-20 mode. So made sure they play only 20 overs or less than that. In 20 overs they managed 76 runs, which is bad, but then everybody has a bad day. It is largely because they got confused because of lack of scantily-clad cheerleaders and a proper DJ playing Chak De India. They also got confused because they were wearing white shirts and trousers after being exposed to those funky designer sportswear being promoted on TV.
You can’t expect a team in 20-20 state of mind to score more than 20. And one of them, Irfan Pathan made the mistake of scoring 21, which is a minor slip or misunderstanding if you will.
Now you may argue they could have scored at least a 100 because 76 is not a phenomenal score even by 20-20 standards. But then it’s all a game. Be a sport, cut our boys some slack.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April gets rid of 1

The United Nations has decided to derecognise April 1 as a valid day and has absolved the month of any responsibility of this date now on wards. The decision comes after increased demands from April to remove the date from its month.
“The world community has accepted April’s demand for removing this date from its account. From 2008 onwards, April will have only 29 days,” United Nations Ministry of Months Principal Secretary Gregory Emit told reporters in a packed news conference in New York.
April expressed happiness at the decision and said, “I am happy with this decision. This one day was bringing a bad name to other really great days I have.”
Contrary to what people expected, February has not opposed the decision saying it doesn’t harm its reputation. “My status as a unique month stays. I have no problem with another month having 29 days, because I have 29 only in leap years. I remain the only month that has 28 days. If April has 29, I wish the best for April.”
There is still a lot of confusion about April 1’s status. March has denied it can accommodate another day and said it will resist any move to impose another day, especially such a scandalous day. “It will be foolish to add another day to a month already packed to the brim with 31 days,” it said.
April 1 however declined to comment saying it was studying the order. It was however caustic at April’s attitude towards the first day of the month: “It’s the start of the financial year and I have been the auspicious day for the world for so many years. If April wants to lose me, it’s April’s loss. Imagine a month starting on 2nd. It’s ridiculous. It’s a joke.”
When asked that it was fool’s day April 1 laughed and said, “Come on human beings make fool of each other almost every day. On April 1, they at least a get a good laugh out of it. Look at what George Bush has been doing since he came to power. What’s April 1 got to do with fools. Man is foolish all 365 days.”

Ramadoss to ban use of mobile phone in movies

April 1: Shah Rukh has finally hit back at health minister Anbumani Ramadoss’ appeal to movie stars not to use mobile phones on screen. Shah Rukh said that there is huge amount of creative freedom in the field of cinema and the actors should be allowed have that. The actor added that cinema reflects the society and should not be restrained by censorships.

The health minister had requested all the movie stars especially Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan to give up using cellphones on screen as as it encourages the youth to pick up this cancerous habit. Ramdoss argued that he is also against cellphone scenes in movies as this too has bad influence on the audience especially on teenagers.

“There shouldn’t be any mobile phone scenes in movies because we have statistics showing that 52 per cent of children make their first mobile call due to movie celebrities,” he said.

The minister had cited Rajnikant as a role model to Bachchan and Shah Rukh, saying the Sivaji The Boss star did not use mobile phones “on screen as a matter of principle”.

But the parallel did not go down well in Mumbai. “There was no need for him to cite Rajnikant’s example. There are scenes where Rajnikant is holding a mobile phone, though he might not be talking,” said Shah Rukh’s associate at Red Chillies, the actor’s production house.

The minister also revealed that his ministry would bring in legislation to ban using cellular phones on television and big screen.

As you must have read in this and other newspapers, an Australian doctor of Indian origin has said that mobile phones are as harmful to human health as cigarettes, because they cause brain tumour which leads to cancer.

The handsome health minister also urged Finance Minister P. Chidambaram to increase taxes on mobile phones and accessories.

“We have requested the finance minister to increase the taxes on (mobile) products so that the alarming figures of its usage as compared to other countries can come down,” Ramadoss told reporters on the sidelines of a conference on microbicides he inaugurated.

He said that in India more than 100 million people are addicted to mobile phones and hinted at curtailing mobile phone manufacturing in the near future.
The minister took pot shots at cine stars Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan for their criticism of his stance against on-screen mobile usage. “Creativity should be used to save lives and not to take lives,” he said.