Satyamev_Jayate_India

India is being gang raped every day

Usually, I cite numbers and data while putting my point across. However, that’s not how I want to say things here. In a country like India, where most of the cases of rape or for that matter, any other crime go unreported as well as under-reported (media), numbers won’t help us reach anywhere. We, the people of different religions, castes, states, and political affiliations, might be able to congratulate ourselves over lower rates of crimes when compared to the other competing groups. So far, it seems that data has been used only to impress upon others that things are worse elsewhere and hence, we have nothing to worry at present. Yes, we are waiting for our hell to be as terrible as that of the second person on the street. Once we provide equitable distribution of hell to everyone, we will perhaps start thinking of the ways out of it.

 

In any case, a lot of data has been cited over the last few days by sections in the media to bring home the point that Hindustan is Rapistan in disguise. Should I contest such claims? You don’t have to go very far. That some people who never used the name Hindustan for India, find a sudden spike in their love for it, is not a coincidence. That most of these part time activists continue to spawn wealth showing misogyny, glorifying eve-teasing, and encouraging the pursuit of unrequited love on screen, makes it all the more ironical. The question ends there. They are not to be trusted. You can’t look up to them. You should not look up to them.

If you are sound of memory, you should remember how the protesters were subjected to lathicharge during the Nirbhaya Case protests at Raisina Hills. Bengaluru mass molestation evoked a response to the effect of blaming the molestation on western culture by the then Home Minister of Karnataka. In case the media didn’t tell you, he is currently the President of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee. What did you expect, that he would be suspended from the party? Politics doesn’t work that way. So, it is beyond any doubt that we can’t look up to the politicians of the opposition party at the centre.

The apologists for the party in power at the centre have only one agenda at every unfortunate incident in the country – “Where were you when this happened to a Hindu?” So, they are fighting the leftist liberals from the media establishments and the party in opposition tooth and nail over their hypocrisy when the fight should have been about something else. Not that it’s a bad thing but our Prime Minister who remembers the birthdays of all the leaders of the world and wishes them religiously on twitter, talks to the country so passionately when he has to count the achievements of his government but doesn’t consider speaking to the people of his country directly in such times, particularly when members from his own party are in the dock, paints a grim picture for us. When a government stops talking to its people and engages only the opposition, the country should be worried. We have nothing to look up to here either.

There were sections from the media who didn’t have their dinner after the conviction of Salman Khan in the Blackbuck poaching case. In a parallel world, I would have imagined them to have demanded swift action on such cases in contrast to about 20 years our judiciary has taken, however, that cannot be the case in India. Do remember, this is the same media that zoomed in on the father-son feud of Akhilesh Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav for weeks. Nothing strikes strange about it? Well, Mulayam Singh Yadav is the same person who once said – ‘Ladke hain, galtiyaan ho jaati hain (after all they are boys, mistakes do happen)’. In a parallel world, I would have imagined a complete boycott of this man from our television screens, sound boxes, and printed papers. Well, not in India. We can go to the extent of feeling sorry for one Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav, the single most important factor for the miseries of the state of Bihar. In all likelihood, the media of this country stands confused about its role. Is media just a messenger? In that case, the stakeholders won’t be able to peddle their personal agenda and bias in the name of news. Can media also do activism? Yeah, but please let me do my activism from my dinner table watching twitter live feed. Also, let me do my activism when I am tired talking about Virushka wedding and Saifeena wedding. Also, let me do my activism after I have told the world how Taimur missed his poop today. Also, let me do my activism when the accused or the victim falls into my self-concocted definitions of Hindu, Muslim or Dalit. Also, let me do my activism when the establishment stops distributing me sops or declines my invaluable services on offer. In all other times, my activism will be holidaying in the Bahamas.

 

I have been reading all kinds of reports in the last few days, from blind narratives to depraved decoction of toxic minds. One of the reports mentioned that Indians are looking for the video of the kathua rape on porn sites. There exist other videos with hashtags on the victim’s name. If the report is correct, who are these people – Politicians? Media? Bureaucrats? Hindus? Muslims? Part-time activists? Dalits? We know these categories are born from us. We know the ones deriving voyeuristic pleasures from rape are walking amongst us. Where is the blame to be fixed then? On us! The truth is we have taken sides, right from our personal lives to social, we tolerate and encourage gender discrimination and gender crimes. Not that this is a foolproof example, but it may act as a cursory indication of how deep the rot is within us, here is what I am talking about – पिलपिलाते-हुए-आम-लोग. The truth is India is being gang raped every day, after administering the sedatives of politics, religion, fake journalism, lazy intellectualism, and a deep support for personal and social nepotism in all these spheres. The truth is the ones who are changing the world the good old way of changing themselves have been silenced by design. The truth is that all the potential agents of change have disappointed our country once again and on top of that list sits the sorry figure of the most crucial agent of change – the Individual – dejected and degenerated.

I hope something comes out of this chaos. I hope we understand that unless we choose to join politics en masse, our politics will remain rotten. I hope that someday we will create more movies like Pink or Parched instead of maintaining a consistent irony between our speech and action. I hope that as journalists, we will report the everyday hearing of a rape case for 20 years if it comes to that and not wait for the survivors’ father to die to spring into action. I hope that we get the basics of our religions right which have love and peace as their fundamental tenets. I hope India learns that the narrative of its religions is being hijacked by mercenaries across the spectrum who force us to keep looking outside for validation.

 

I hope Indians stop helping the TRPs of news channels that have brought one entire community in the dock for the crime of few. I hope that Indians stop becoming the business pastures of the actors from the film industry who get deaf and mute when one of their own stands as the accused but obsess over shaming Hindustan over ‘Devi’sthan. I hope India learns that the online narrative is fast eating up the real space of this country. I hope we realize that we have started believing that our responsibility ends with a post, a placard, a tweet, a blog, a day’s heartache, or a month’s shock. I hope Indians learn to look away from the light-hoggers and give a chance to the voices of thousands of activists who are working every day of their lives to prevent rape and help the survivors. I hope that when I reflect upon my action or inaction every day, I don’t find myself to have encouraged crimes of any nature, sexual or non-sexual in any way. I hope that someday as a human being, I will be able to look inside my being before pointing accusatory fingers at others – people or institutions. I hope this country sees through this and sees this through.

 

 

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Stigmatizing Capitalism is a problem in India

In the preface to the Economic Survey of India, 2017-2018, Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India, Arvind Subramanian writes, “The Survey strives to combine rigour with readability, a challenge that increases in the same proportion as attention spans shrink (from absorbing op-eds to scrolling down tweets). The Survey’s aim is always to build a portfolio of contributions, combining description, new data creation, deep-dive research, and provocative policy ideation.”

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जो पुल बनाएंगे | Agyeya

कवि होते हैं। उनकी कृतियाँ होतीं हैं। कई कवियों की कृतियाँ कालजयी होती हैं। पर क्या ऐसा होता है कि किसी कवि की सभी कृतियाँ कालजयी होतीं होंं? नहीं। कई गणमान्य, सर्वसम्मानित कवियों ने भी बहुत सारी साधारण कृतियाँ रची हैं। कालजयी कृति की छाया में उनकी साधारण कृतियाँ भी अनमोल लगने लगतीं हैं।

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In conversation with Jasmin Waldmann | Part 2

Is Natalie Kofman your own reflection?

Yes.

What brought you to India? Also, you’ve got a lot of Indian things right in your book. How did you manage to do that?

Sportsfit by M.S. Dhoni asked me for my services in early 2012, to come and work with them in India. Developing and training the trainers, bringing up a new system, educating personal trainers and bringing up my own product Pilardio® here.

I agreed and after press release and the opening of Sportsfit, I relocated to India.

I am here since mid 2012 in India. I learned all about the north Indian culture, including the food, music and the typical habits.

I also give cross cultural difference programs for foreigners coming to India or Indians relocating abroad soon. When it comes to writing I have in my team a few Indian writers who support me. When I started writing on Change Me in 2014 I had a lot of interaction about Indian families and cultures with one of my writers. That gave me again a different add-on to know about the culture even deeper.

You’re now equally an ambassador of India to Germany as you are of Germany to India. German writers and philosophers have been taking keen interest in India since long. What do you think is the reason behind that?

That is true. Well, Germany is the land of thinkers, as we know. No wonder that they are interested in the spirituality from the east. And the home of spirituality was/ is India.

Speaking of the book Change Me, what made you do the self help through story when the norm is formulaic instructional approach?

I wanted to create an easy time to read and get guidance from my book. That means if my book would have been non-fiction, it would have been very factual. That would be for some people boring or soon tiring. Specially for people who don’t read frequently.

But everybody loves stories and through stories one learn and make almost automatically use of what was read. So I wrote this book for everybody who wants to change. My readers can enjoy reading and learning out of it, become self-motivate and to take action.

According to the book, it is possible to go inside our mind palace and heal old wounds. However, it may happen that we, in the process, inflict more wounds upon ourselves. Would you suggest a way to avoid that?

If you look inside and touch your wounds it can be healing. Of course it depends on how deep you feel hurt, sad, even numb because of this happening in your past. But if the first (big) step is taken- identify and allow that memory to come up into your consciousness – it is a sign that you can digest it mentally now.

Going then inside, you need to know what to do. Worse case is that you feel again the pain from that time without solving it. Means you simply live (experience) it again.

Going inside does not inflict more wounds. Here I can give you some inside. A way is to see happenings from the past dissociated, means from the point of view as an observer. In that way you see yourself in the past, doing, talking, listening, whatsoever was the painful scenario. And as an observer you look without feeling what you felt at that time. You learn out of this situation. In therapy the therapist would guide you far more in this.

Best is to get some support to make it as less painful as possible and as fast as possible. No need to invent the wheel yourself. It costs unnecessary some energy and power. You can get specialists.

Where do you draw your inspiration from? Do you like any particular self help coach or writer? What are you reading at present?

A lot of my inspiration comes from sheer observations. I sit with a coffee and observe people. Also I get inspired when I interact with a colleague of mine. He is a Life Coach in Germany. My inspiration comes also when I read philosophy and talk with some Coaches from my team.

I am inspired from biographies (last one I watched about Coco Chanel);

When it comes to writers, other coaches, therapists, and inspirational speakers, I have a few great people who I listen to. Like Les Brown, Swami Rama, John Bradshaw.

I usually read 3 – 4 books at the same time. As I am writing on my second book, I read a lot of literature related to nonviolence communication, about family therapy by Virginia Satir and John Bradshaw’s book “Homecoming”. I read some special books again and again. Right now I read Meditation, by Marcus Aurelius and a book from Gretchen Rubins.

The business makes us speak only of success stories. Failure is seldom spoken about. Have you had clients who you couldn’t help in spite of your best efforts? Did they have something in common?

I love that you point this out. The world is full of success, which lead not to the desired outcome. We call it failure. I don’t believe in this word. It demotivates and is simply wrongly used in most of the cases. I call it learning.

I had a client when I was a pretty inexperienced Coach, many years ago. She was a lawyer and wanted to reduce weight. I realized after two months that she wasn’t able to reduce weight as her problem was pathological. So I told her that she needed some other specialist and suggested her psychotherapy.

I learned a lot out of this experience. Mainly that we need to check carefully if we can really help this person or somebody else could help far better. From that day onward, I choose my clients very carefully and tell them to do the same.

‎Amit Malhotra Recognizes and Realizes through a couple of incidents in his life. Let me call them triggers. Did you have such triggers in your life where-from you started to change things for yourself?

I had many triggers/ happenings in my life. My grandmother who mainly raised me, as my mother was hard working, died when I was 12 years old. My father never lived with my mother, grandmother, and elder sister.

Then my mother died when I was 13 years old. I was alone from one day to the other. No proper guidance, no talks, no therapy. I struggled for very long – unnecessarily. To overcome those happenings I needed to find my way out. I started reading books, had behaviour therapy, turned then to a Life Coach and Gestalt and Family Therapist. The latter was the most helpful one. And I learned how amazing those work is for people – sometimes life saving. That was also the reason for me to become then a Life Coach myself.

Amit Malhotra is rich and successful in a conventional world. Was it an intentional device used in the story or was it a compulsion? A lower middle class or a poor Amit Malhotra perhaps couldn’t have afforded a personal coach. Is quality personal coaching the privilege of the rich and mighty?

The character Amit is an accumulation of my clients from the past 10 years. Usually my clients have a specific income and can afford Coaching and Training sessions.

My intention with the book is very simple. If you know you want to change, you need some guidance. And if the barrier is very high (distance and money) it would be a no-go for some people. A book can reach almost everywhere in India and is very much affordable.

Not only rich people need and want to change – actually almost everybody can utilize the services of professional Life Coaching as well as Personal Training.

Easy with a book. At least to start with!

Jasmin Waldmann is an International Life Coach, a Happiness Guru and a Mind and Body & Transformation Expert. She lives and works in Gurugram, India since July 2012. She recently published her first book Change Me through Jaico Publishing House. Bookstalkist spoke with her after reading her book.

Click here to read Bookstalkist’s review of the book Change Me.

Click here to listen to the first part of this interview.

Jasmin-Waldmann-Change_Me

Jasmin Waldmann’s Change Me

One of the protagonists says that the idea of life coach is relatively new in India. It’s a point to ponder upon. A lot of formulations have been known in our country from the longest period of time man can remember through culture and literature.
However, through years of self deprecation and looking for joy in west-imitation, we have let those formulations rust away in the dingy corner of our forgetful mind. Should we seek support from outside in times of need? Can an external force drive us to help ourselves to become a better version of what we are? Or is the external force just a misnomer for someone who reminds us of our internal energy which in turn drives us to change ourselves? In the Mahabharata, Krishna himself didn’t fight. However, he did become that external force for Arjuna to remind him of his duty, responsibility, skills, and power. Krishna who himself is known as the Yogiraj (King of Yogins) taught Arjun lessons in JnanYoga, KarmaYoga, and BhaktiYoga. Arjun channelized his own energy and went on to win the war of both the external and the internal world. Bhagwad Gita was perhaps the first book written for the ‘Self-Help’ shelf.

As with the Bhagwad Gita, we tend to forget our own worth and dreams in the rat race of the world. Change Me enters a chaotic world with an objective to impart a sense of purpose to all the rats. Calmly but assertively, this book tells the rats to stop, breathe, enter their mind palaces, and observe their ratness. It maybe that they are not rats after all and are running a race of someone else. Natalie Kofman is arguably the Krishna of the book and Amit Malhotra is her Arjun.

The author Jasmin Waldmann, life coach and fitness expert, speaks to the readers through the character of Natalie. Amit Malhotra represents the set of readers who are willing to change themselves. Published by Jaico Publishing House, Change Me is life coaching made palatable through storytelling.
I have read quite a few books on self help. Most of the times, I have put them down after reading a few pages or even half of the book because of the monotonous preaching of the author in the books. So, the bait of storytelling in Change Me worked for me. The author lays out the focus areas of her chapters through the titles and goes phase by phase into Amit’s transformation. The journey from Recognize to Resurrect is a story many of us would relate to. On the way, Jasmin has packed up quite a few practical lessons on physical exercise, breathing techniques, and meditation which makes sure that the book is more than just a marketing material for the author and her coaching programs.
However, you must bear in mind that this is a self-help book and hence, you must not look for an epic story in these pages. The characters and their conversations are sometimes clichéd, the plot is often predictable, and the text is at times ordinary. It doesn’t help that there are a few typos as well. However, what the book loses in such shortcomings, it gains in the pace of storytelling and the practicality of lessons imparted through conversations between its protagonists.

My favourite part of the book would be the dialogue between Amit and other characters when Natalie takes Amit to his childhood to heal some wounds from the past. I would have liked a few more practical points or To Do things in the book but I believe that there is only one test for any self-help book. Did the book inspire enough to invest more time into my self-improvement? The answer for me is Yes. This is a good, earnestly written book and ends at a sweet length for you to read less and do more.

Modi’s Pakoda Politics for 2019 and Chidambaram’s Joblessness

“Mitron, humne pakode khaane chaie ki nahi khane chaie?”
“Modi! Modi!”

“Mitron, pakodon ke saath chai peeni chaie ki nahi peeni chahie?”
“Har Har Modi! Ghar Ghar Modi!”

“Mitron, wo chai mmain aapko pilaauunga kyunki mmujhe chai pilaane ka experience hai! Platform pe chai bechne ka dard kya hota hai, ye mmujhe maloom hai!”

 

Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi in one of his recent interviews asked if a pakoda-seller earning 200 rupees a day could be considered unemployed. Mr. P. Chidambaram who held the finance ministry in the UPA rule has suggested that by Mr. Modi’s logic, beggars should also be considered employed. The twitter town is abuzz with exchanges between sides.

Mr. Modi on his part is frying his pakodas like he always does – well in advance. Like for everything else he does, he also becomes the first Indian Prime Minister to bring pakoda-sellers into the national discourse. However, one may ask, why pakodas singularly? There are other things sold by the street-side entrepreneurs, say, pav-bhaji, vada-pav, 99 types of dosas, etc. Shiv Sena has already laid its claim on vada-pav politics by offering free vada-pavs to Shobha De earlier. Let’s leave pav-bhaji for Uddhav’s cousin in the name of Marathi-Asmita. Dosas would have obviously offended the Dravidian parties for it would have meant Gujarati appropriation. Modi had already used up the khakhra card by waiving off the GST before Gujarat elections. Here, I summon the spirit of Shekhar Gupta of the Walk the Talk, The Print, the NDTV, and the Lutyen’s Dhaba to answer this. Pakodas are eaten across the country in varying forms and with different names. The country is 80% Hindus, so naturally, most of the pakodas prepared are consumed by the Hindus of this country. Mr. Modi being the Hindutva icon that he is, used the case of pakodas to polarise the electorate and gain Hindu votes in 2019 elections. 

 

To be honest, this is the closest thing to confession that voters of this country can get from both the leading parties. Confession 1 – the present Government is selling pakodas in the name of job creation. Confession 2 – the opposition sits unemployed in the sixth row waiting for pakodas. The stage for 2019 elections is set. After spilling chai all over the kurtas and suits of the opposition leaders in 2014, Mr. Modi is all set to play with some pakode ka tel in 2019. P. Chidambaram is making things difficult for Rahul Gandhi by protesting against pakodas. At a time when Rahul Gandhi is looking to increase his pakoda tally from 44 to 545, P. Chidambaram should just fall in line and start begging for more pakodas right away. He will at least have a job that way. All the watering attempts at pakodas are going to cost the Congress party a lot of oil in face with no pakoda in hands.

 

 

Image Source – Karnataka for Employment (KFE)

Disha’s Corporate Avatars by Jaico

What was the need for such a book?
The book Corporate Avatars was needed because yet another of the bright alumni of IIMs wanted to become a writer and dump all her management-experience borne gyan on us hapless chaps who have nothing better to do than to listen to the rant of a person who is frustrated with everything going around her in the corporate world. In short, this book was not needed.

 

Or wait a minute, am I just being a whining kid here? All the bosses had a fight at my workplace about a couple of days back. It was loud, it was public, and it was ugly. I am not speaking of the Supreme Court Chief Justice controversy here, though that sticks for an example as well. Somehow a fight between seniors or the elders is always uglier when compared to that between the relatively younger ones. A tussle between younger people can always be swept under the rug with a nonchalant – ‘Don’t fight like kids. Grow up!’ But what do you tell these senior-most people in the team who can’t keep their volumes in check while having an altercation or a difference of opinions. They have all the right in the world to fight and I do not in any way mean to take away the child inside them but there are children outside too and that they are taking keen interest in their behaviour is something they should give a thought about. Disha has a name for at least one of these members of the corporate fight club – Mr. Matchstick.

In her book, Disha has a long list of people you will encounter in a corporate world. She explains the symptoms, gives a name to the disease, and also provides antidotes. Whether the antidotes work is for you to try them out and decide. The book is an easy and short read. It will keep your funny bones tickling every once in a while.

I would have liked the book to be a tad more humorous than it is and also a tad more serious than it is. Also, the usage of Hindi words and phrases in Roman for characters may confuse the non-Hindi readers, thereby limiting its humour quotient for somebody who doesn’t understand a phrase like Mr. Gadha Prasad and its connotations. Maybe a footnote with meanings would have helped. Also, the book needs a sharper editing as I could find multiple occurrences of spelling error and word repetition.

In the initial days of my corporate journey, I had a colleague who used to get extra touchy while working. There were times I would find her feet almost tapping my toes while having an intense discussion about some product requirement. I couldn’t understand this behaviour. Initially, I presumed it to be an act she was not aware of and ignored it. However, things didn’t stop. I didn’t want to escalate this to the HR department and tried to take control of the situation. I decided to always keep a distance of about four feet from her during any discussion thereafter and things got better. Ms. Stand Closer & Closer finds a place in this book and I could easily relate it to my personal experience. For anyone out there preparing to enter the corporate world, reading Corporate Avatars can help you transition better in a world of ironies and hypocrisies.

While a lot of issues that have been spoken of in the book remain a challenge for researchers in the field of human psychology and behaviour, and while their answers are rarely simple, Disha has managed to pack easy-to-implement solutions to the anthropocentric problems that we face everyday at our workplace. The book manages to preserve its wacky tone throughout.

Whether we are a new entrant to the industry or have spent long years working inside it, we walk into or are put into situations with people where we hit a deadlock. Either we fail to reach a solution or act in haste to damage our working relationships at workplace. In such times, this book can provide some cursory, plug and play if not foolproof solutions. The objective of the book is to prevent you from coming in harm’s way and it keeps its promise.

I would have loved a note on the avatars the author is seen in by her colleagues. It could have added some self-deprecating humour to the book and would have made an interesting read; to Jaico and Disha, if you are reading this, in the next impression perhaps?

To the Survivors – From the Survivors

Do you know somebody who has been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives? Most likely you do! In India, a child under 16 is raped every 155 minutes and a child under 10 every 13 hours. Over 53% of children who participated in a Government study reported some form of sexual abuse and about 50% of abusers are known to the victims. In 95.5% of cases, the attacker was known to the rape victim in 2015. In the US, one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives. One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.

If those numbers clutch you by your spine, know that rape also remains the most under-reported of all the crimes. In the US, about 63% of cases are not reported to the Police.

Robert Uttaro hasn’t written a book about numbers and figures because numbers are perhaps irrelevant to a survivor. Going by the percentage of unreported cases, they are also misleading at their best precision. Robert prefers the word ‘Survivor’ for a rape victim. The word victim is defeating and gives more power to the perpetrator whereas survivor gives the control back to the ones who are trying to overcome a tragedy. To many people who have suffered some form of sexual violence, identifying as a survivor is empowering. These numbers may move you, trouble you, or inspire you to do something about the problem. However, you would have started on the wrong foot because numbers don’t present to our mind and consciousness the real stories of these survivors. A victim has no use of such statistics. To understand an affected, we must listen to them when they choose to speak and that’s what Robert has managed to do successfully throughout this book.

A poem to start the book - by Jenee
A poem to start the book – by Jenee

The book starts with Robert’s own story of how he volunteered for THP (The Healing Place), understood that he didn’t understand a lot of things about rape survivors, and went about learning from his seniors and colleagues at THP. Robert works in the Outreach and Education wing of the center and the nature of his work has allowed him to ‘interact with, learn from, teach, and help a lot of people from different walks of life’. A major part of the book entails the stories of survivors who chose to volunteer for survivor speaker engagements. The author has recorded their stories as told by them voluntarily in conversation with him. While the survivors have spoken about how they were violated and what they did to heal themselves, the author has deftly steered the conversation to stress on different aspects of sexual violence through these narrations. While one conversation discusses the inadequacies of the legal system, another one talks about the role of one’s faith and spirituality in the healing process, done tangentially to the story being told so as to not dilute them. Robert Uttaro comes across as a great listener and a master conversationalist. It is a matter of fact that most of us don’t understand this crime well enough and such an arrangement of conversations fills the knowledge holes in our head.

The stories as told by the survivors take us into the deepest and most difficult chambers of their being. They speak about the assault, the assaulter, response from the family members, the realization to get healed, and the healing process. No two stories in the book are same and yet they are similar in more than one way. Stories differ because they are the stories of different individuals who have lived through the horrid experience. Their approach to life in the aftermath of an assault and the healing process is unique to them. However, the reader might feel similar pangs of pain in their gut and heart because all these survivors had to undergo something that shouldn’t befall anyone in the world. The stories are also similar because they all exude hope and help. These stories have been shared by victims who have chosen to become warriors against this crime.

Most of the people who saw me reading this book and had a look at the cover came up with one common response – “This is too heavy for me, I can’t read this book.” I’m not sure how Robert would react to this. Robert has tried to change this very approach to the subject of rape and sexual violence through this book. Our society must acknowledge that our legal system is inadequate in handling this problem. Instead of the perpetrator having a difficult time in the courts, the survivors have to live their assault repeatedly in the course of investigation and litigation. It is for us to understand that when a mere male voice can trigger a survivor who was raped by a male and send her into regression (read the book for the complete story), what does the reliving of the assault in open public do to them. The second point that our society must accept is that we as individuals and communities are miserable in our response to such incidents. We don’t teach this at school, we don’t teach this at university. The field is largely left to researchers and activists to explore and work in. When the crime is so common as to occur in every 6th individual’s lifetime, why are the most common people in our society not trained to respond with care, trust, and empathy if some survivor gathers courage to talk about the assault? With all our advancements, this unwillingness to talk about sexual violence in family, friend groups, schools, universities, or workplace is an unfortunate fact. Not only this creates a hostile atmosphere for anyone to speak out but also gives rise to a conducive environment for such assaults to take place and remain unnoticed. Mankind was perhaps born with a disability from the beginning. That we are not capable of empathising with the victim of a crime until we face it ourselves is a great bane and whenever there is somebody like Robert Uttaro who conquers this disability, it comes off as an exception rather than a norm.

The book could have used another iteration at the editor’s desk. However, that doesn’t take away from it the fact that it is one of most important books to have been published in our world and must be in our hands for us to understand this problem better. The most special part of the book for me is Jenee’s story and her thoughts on forgiveness. The book would have remained incomplete without it. If you’re trying to decide about getting your copy of the book, my suggestion would be to buy it and read it in silence with yourself, though Robert has another take on this.

I stepped into 2018 reading not only about one of the most heinous acts human race knows and indulges in but also about that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. If you’re a survivor reading this, know that help exists, inside and outside and it is possible to encounter light well before you reach the end of the tunnel. Robert Uttaro has penned down a book titled To The Survivors and the most remarkable thing about this book is his sincerity. I wish that human race presses the reset button and eliminates this act for as long as it inhabits this beautiful planet that is today dotted with the physical, psychological, spiritual scars of rape survivors. That they can’t be seen from within our tinted glasses by no means warrants that they do not exist. We are a bleeding race and the book tries to soothe and heal some of the deepest wounds we have inflicted upon ourselves.

 

 

 

References

crowdvoice.org
nsvrc.org
https://www.robertuttaro.com/

Nationalism, Intellectualism, and Us – Makarand Paranjape

Makarand R. Paranjape, has been the Director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla since August 2018.  Prior to that, he was a Professor of English at JNU, New Delhi. Mr. Paranjape is a scholar, critic, poet, novelist, and columnist. He read English at St. Stephen’s College before getting an MA & PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA). He has published over 45 books, 170 academic papers, and 500 newspaper/periodical articles. His recent books include Cultural Politics in Modern India (Routledge, 2016), The Death and Afterlife of Mahatma Gandhi (Penguin Random House, 2015), and Transit Passenger/Passageiro em Transito (University of Sao Paolo, 2016), an Indo-Brazilian book of poems. Makarand is currently a columnist for Swarajya, DNA, and Mail Today. The Seer (formerly Bookstalkist) spoke with him on sidelines of the Bangalore Literature Festival, 2017. 

Tagore’s essays on nationalism are really about the dangers of ideologies and the people who get blinded and brainwashed.

 

 

Going through the works of Swami Vivekananda and then the literature of Tagore, do you think there is a conflict between them when it comes to the idea of nationalism?

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There is no conflict and that is because Swami Vivekananda did not write about nationalism. People aren’t aware of this but he hardly said anything directly on nationalism. He passed away in 1902 and by that time, the national movement had not yet really arrived at a tipping point. Bengal partition took place in 1905 and he passed away before that. He did see himself as a great awakener of the Indian conscience as well as the dormant force of the nation but he never made a lot of remarks about nationalism whereas Tagore really engaged with nationalism. However, even Tagore had a context, the context was the first world war. What people often do not understand is that Tagore’s comments on nationalism were actually a critique of imperialism and he had a different idea of Indian nationalism which he set forth in Swadeshi Samaj, an essay he wrote long before. There, he talks about, like Gandhi did a bit, about self sustaining communities which are able to look after their own needs  without the intervention of the state. One reason that he became a bit cautious about this ideology of nationalism is that during the Swadeshi Movement when Bengal was partitioned, some people think that it was the source of partition of India and that’s where the idea has come from. British wanted to partition India and Bengal was the first experiment. This experiment was done in Bengal and luckily it was also undone because there was a huge uprising  in Bengal. However, during that time, Tagore was disillusioned with the kind of nationalist ideologues or leaders he saw. He found that they were dividing the community’s unity and causing a lot of havoc. He wrote about this in a book called ‘Ghare Baire’  where the whole family gets destroyed because of the intervention of a demagogue. Tagore’s essays on nationalism are really about the dangers of ideologies and the people who get blinded and brainwashed. Then, they lose their humanity, they lose their sensitivity, and they lose their capacity to be human. For Tagore, as a poet, that was a disaster.
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In his lecture on nationalism, Tagore mentions the conflict of nations. There is a reckless competition between nations for making profits and it works like a machine and has been successful in robbing humanity from people. So, when it comes to the subject of this whole capitalist idea of making profits for countries and organisations, is he on the same page or closer to Marxism?

I don’t think that he had anything to do with Marxism. Marxism is about collective ownership of land, goods, and of means of production.  It’s against individually owned property. It’s about the proletariat owning all the resources. So, I think it’s an entirely different ideology. If you want to create some kind of connection, you will have to say that in Tagore, we find some sympathy for the poor, for the underdogs, or for the oppressed. But again our Bengali friends don’t like it but Tagore is a very bourgeois writer and this is what exactly a leading Marxist critic whose name is György Lukács who was a Hungarian and at his time, the leading Marxist literary critic, denounced Tagore as being a charlatan, a minor and a sentimental writer. This is because in Tagore’s writing, the revolutionary impulse is viewed with great suspicion. Tagore was quite obedient to authority. Though he was critical of authority, he was not a revolutionary, he was not a Rebel. He didn’t have rebel characters in his novels in good light. They always came out looking really bad and Lukacs catches this. He says, “you know this Tagore, he is a petty bourgeois. He is not at all a progressive writer.” Our Bengali friends often don’t like this because they have deified Tagore. But there’s one thing, speaking about Bengal, Bengalis, and Bengal Renaissance, there is a major difference between the trajectory of Tagore on one hand and that of Vivekananda on the other. That distinction is clear and the reason for that is that while Vivekananda was definitely for pluralism and respecting diversity, he also wanted to make India strong and his idea of virtue was that ‘weakness is sin and strength is life’. So, this emphasis on  empowerment in Vivekananda’s literature is then picked up by people who are also looking for role models for a more muscular nationalism whereas Tagore is meeker and accommodative. The way that Vivekananda then gets picked up by different factions is essentially in the service of this sort of more militant Hindu self-assertion of identity. But what is interesting about Vivekananda is that love him or hate him, as it were, everybody wants to appropriate Vivekananda. Whichever political ideology you represent they all say that we considered Swami Vivekananda a Hero. So, there is something universally acceptable about him which is not true even of Gandhi because a lot of people don’t like Gandhi But go around asking who doesn’t like Vivekananda, you will find hardly anybody, even the Marxist and the communist have tried to appropriate him.

I would like to go to fundamentals here.  We see that currently most of the writers that we read on social media or otherwise, have boxed themselves inside the Right or the Left.  So, according to you, what is Left and what is the Right?

These are misnomers, specially in the Indian context because according to the more classical definition, if you look at the European context, the right authoritarians were the fascists and the left totalitarians were communists and in a way, both are highly avoidable. The experience of Europe has shown us that. So, you have Stalinist totalitarian regime.  In the east, you have Maoist and North Korea and other varieties of these. These  regimes don’t respect freedom, individual rights, liberties, and due process. Freedom is not very important for them. That is one extreme. In the other extreme are so called fascists, the Mussolinis and others who enjoyed power for sometime. Then, Nazis  were actually  nationalist socialists, that’s what the Nazi party called itself.  So, these are varieties of, you might say, the bad guys but after that the rest of the spectrum is broadly democratic in at least western democracies. In the Soviet sphere of influence again, individual rights and liberties were curtailed, there was no economic freedom or competition. That was the left. The right was capitalist. Now, most of the greater Indian intellectuals or thinkers have been telling us that none of this is suitable for us. They are saying that we should find another path and hence, for some time we tried a mixed economy model, then we tried for sometime other more dharmic economic model which may be they are still trying.  Long and short of this is the same thing –  we can’t be out and out capitalists, when making money becomes be all and end all. Capitalism without humanity or on the other hand, command and control of economy completely under the state can’t be our way. That’s why I am saying left and right in that sense have hardly any meaning. But the political configuration has become this – you are  pro current ruling regime or you are not, that is a very big divide. I think, not just social media but India I feel and I would say Hindu society is going through a huge civil war and some of the other communities are watering from the sidelines but they’re going through their own civil war and so the problem in India is not left and right at all. The problem is something different. It’s about two competing narratives. Which one is to capture the national imagination and through that capture and enjoy power, enjoy dominance, enjoy economic benefits is the question today. And that is why the battle is so vicious because so much is at stake and a particular elite which enjoyed  earned and as well as unearned privileges and benefits is now being pushed aside and when you get pushed aside you will fight, you will fight for your turf.

…I were a Muslim, would be a completely idiotic appeal. I would look what are you doing for education.

 

 

In your poem, Tipu’s Fall, have you referred to Tipu Sultan as the first Indian nationalist?

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I didn’t say that. That’s not actually what I have said. Tipu Sultan has a divided legacy and his own historical record is deeply divided. He fought against the British and that makes him from a modern standpoint,  anti imperialism but he did not see himself necessarily as an anti imperialism person. He wanted to protect his kingdom, a kingdom which his father had  usurped. So, the thing that we don’t want to understand about Islamic conquerors is that they are basically people who go and invade  areas and through the power, through the weapons, and the armies, they control and then  they rule. Then, they also use Islam as a  legitimating device. They present an ideological justification and the ulema is harnessed to  support them. This is the template and this is followed, we are talking 1790s and this is still followed, look at Bhopal, look at some of the recent examples, a few hundred thousand horsemen come in and invade and then they establish the Darul Islam, whether the population is 100 percent Hindu or 80 percent Hindu or 70 percent Hindu. And certain things are followed. Certain temples will be taken over, Khutpa will be read from there and all such things happen. So, this has happened for hundred times and hence, you can’t deny this either.  So, when the Indian nationalists were looking for some role models against the British, they went back to 1857. It was Savarkar whom the leftists don’t like who called it the first war of Indian independence. It was called the sepoy mutiny otherwise. He said that the British were the enemy, let’s make a common cause against them. This is something very interesting that we don’t know about Savarkar which is that he did not start off as an advocate of Hindutva. His book on 1857 was published in the same year as Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj in 1909. Hindutva comes much later  in the twenties because his thinking had changed and he found that the composite nationalism was not going to work.Finally Gandhi realized this same thing in 1947.  He is conceding that we tried and tried and tried.  So, what I wanted to say is that certain narratives were created to make a common cause against the British and in that process Tipu becomes an anti-imperialist force, that’s how he is taught  in history and elsewhere. The Sword of Tipu came, all this is done because of the state sponsored media. They are funded by the state and they don’t tell you that how many  people were converted, how many temples did he destroy, or what his policies were. Also, like all rulers, he also had to make compromises. He had to make a compromise with the Sringeri Mutt. That is also a fact.  So, there was some arrangements there but at the same time, little south of Sringeri in the Malabar, north of Kerala,  he was  totally vicious because those people went against him. In other words, we have to see these figures in the context of their own times and their own compulsions. We can’t superimpose upon them or project upon them or own problems. Right here in Karnataka, the problem is partly because they want to use Tipu to get the minority votes. So, every year they want to celebrate some Tipu Jayanti which is actually a way of dividing  the  voters into vote banks,  saying look we are doing Tipu Jayanti so the muslims who are at 10% , 12%, or 20% of the constituency, they should vote for us. Why? Because we will do a Tipu Jayanti which to me if I were a muslim, would be a completely idiotic appeal. I would look what are you doing for education. There’s no Muslim  road and Hindu road, no Hindu electricity and Muslim electricity, but yes they will say Hindu schools and Muslim schools. What I am trying to say is that to divert  from the real issues they do this.  So, the moment you have a celebration, the other guys will say but he was a tyrant, he was a murderer, they are also using the same figure divide and not just divide but to appeal to another bunch of people. This is what’s going on.

Should there be no resistance?

My point is these fights are not at all about Tipu. Similarly, left and right is not at all about left and right. These are power struggles between competing claimants to both national and regional power. So, when we think it’s about Tipu we are so misled. And I think this is true of much of the debate that is happening in India today because we are not able to read them symptomatically. They are symptoms of something else. But we get fixated on these issues and then we started debating them.

If I  add to the same vein, a major portion of the history that is probably inconvenient to some people, has not been taught to students or scholars. What I see is that the entire Mughal tyranny has been whitewashed.  I also see that the partition pain has been whitewashed. It’s not there in history textbooks. All they mention is that India and Pakistan were divided in 1947. Do you think such sections of history should make an entry into the text?

Absolutely. We should have many many histories but I’ll tell you what I worry about and why this is again a problem which we don’t properly understand. The debate is not just over with what happened. I wish it was. The debate is what is the official history to be taught. So, again, it’s about mind control. They want to substitute one narrative by another but I am interested in finding the truth. Now why are they doing it once again? Seeing the potential to indoctrinate young people, from school you will be raised on a particular ideology, like they have already done in Pakistan, or like they did in India, everyone was raised on some kind of secular diet. Though I am in favour of corrective history, I am more interested in seeing that the power of indoctrination in schools and colleges is reduced through the plurality of sources. This requires deep thought which is that there are no simple truths in such subjects. However, these subjects are being taught in such a way that only one answer can be right. Because of this, you are going to force people. In other words,  what I am really so concerned about is the attempt by our political establishment to use the coercive powers of the state to influence our populace. Here, they are doing it now by making Kannada compulsory. I don’t think states should make things compulsory or not compulsory, it’s not their business.  And it has become their business because they are taking your money and my money, and deciding how to spend it. And because they are controlling the budgets, they are enforcing their own political ideology on the passive populace.

Imagine what would happen if governments let people decide, let communities decide, and this again this whole issue of one certification, SSLC,  so you’re controlling thousands of people. Why do we do this? Everyone knows this that SSLC doesn’t work, everyone knows this, but well CBSE is marginally better, but if you work for Infosys they will train you because they don’t trust your degree. So, the kind of reform that we need in India and the kind of transformation I am interested in Abhishek is not at this level, at the superficial level at which many of our debates are conducted. I am interested in deep change and for that you need a lot of smart people who really want to go into this and examine. You see the US, there is no central board of certification. Every High School gives its own high school leaving certificate and its own grades, there’s no one centralised system but people figure it out eventually, centralization comes during SAT,  that means if you score, that’s it. So, we should do that and forget these boards what are these boards anyway? That’s one way but they have at least got out of forcing everybody across US to study one textbook. Why not let every school decide?  So, I am all for decentralisation. You can’t  indoctrinate, but here both sides again, both sides want to use the power of state to control others. So, for us, unfortunately power is seen in how you can inconvenience somebody, how you can force your will on someone, not on how you can enable things. Even though so called assertion of the Hindu Right is often seen in terms of bullying or enforcing some notion of theirs on others, in not making many different narratives possible, I don’t blame them entirely  because because they have also been forced into this binary and I think it’s the purpose of intellectuals to  not succumb. I always tell people to resist, you may be drawn into either camp, it’s so much easier to be a camp follower  but at least intellectual shouldn’t function like that. We are not the sheep. I don’t know about the Dharma of the troll because I am not a troll or dharma of a party worker because I am not a party worker but I know a little bit about the dharma  of an intellectual, of an academic, of a writer, and of a citizen. All these dharmas require you to be critically aware, be well informed, be responsible, and to make decisions based on good evidence and not just on the basis of either populist measures or misinformation. Speaking of populism, it’s completely wrong to think that only one side is populist. All sides  are populists. Whenever you appeal to the sentiments of the people, often making them do things that are not there in their self interest including possibly Brexit, that is populism. So, how can you say only right is populist?  No, left is totally populist. Quotas, sops for women, all that is populism. It’s a way to hand out favours from the state. What I have been saying to people is , let’s create a system where you don’t need a quota because there are so many opportunities, hundreds of colleges; anybody can be a doctor. That is something the polity doesn’t want. They want to have a small set of goodies which they will control. You take 5, you take 3, I will take 10. Then, they distribute it. So, they just want to hoard and control the resources. But if you really want to see the potential of a country, let every society decide they need so many doctors and that’s the number they will support and the rest will fall by the wayside. Right now, it is the opposite and in the places you need doctors, you won’t find them. Where are the barefoot doctors? They are all in Bengaluru. Why? Because you make money here.  We have created the worst kind of combination of feudalism and heartless ultra capitalism. No person can get good medical treatment, no poor person can get their rights  and here we are, always speaking in the name of the poor. ‘Oh you are deprived, we are going to give you this!  O you’re underprivileged, take this!’  This is hogwash. So, what I am trying to say is for India to be, forget about India being a great country, I hope we are and we will be, but even to just live up to our potential, there is so much that needs to be done. One of the major changes needed is to get governments to stop interfering in all kinds of stuff.  You look after law and order. You are not here to tell people what to wear, what to eat, how to live their lives, or how to worship! That’s not your business. Your business is to make systems work,  maintain law and order, and develop infrastructure. You and I can’t build roads because they are big projects, but even that we should be able to build. In an ideal society, suppose we are a neighborhood, 20 neighborhoods can come together and make a road going through them. You don’t need some agency. These are deep changes and they can’t be sorted out immediately but here I think, the good news is we are in the process of a  huge churn and in this  churn, the creative energies of our people will be unleashed.

Coming to the question of intellectuals taking sides, intellectual’s being on the payroll of the king, it is a system that was there even in ancient periods of our country but I’ve also heard about examples where such advisors guided kings in the right direction in spite of the the payroll factor. Coming to later years during emergency, Advani made a statement, “..when the journalists were told to bend, they crawled”.  do you think anything has changed in the last few decades?

Things have changed in last 1000 years. You see, these things that we talk about belong to another era. Many of them are only in story books, legends and myths.  We don’t have very good historical records but yes, even if you in more contemporary times, we have seen the role advisor (Madhava Rao) to Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad played. Even in those times, there were a benign set of advisors who were very competent. Sir Visvesvaraya is an example from Karnataka. Sir Mirza Ismail is another example. So, the point is that obviously throughout the ages, the priests and the Kings were always the collaborators. That’s how power was maintained but the domains were well demarcated. However, that should not really worry us. The real point is this – every person needs to understand what their job is,  like today, we had a lovely session here on the Governor of The Reserve Bank. It’s an office which is obviously subordinate to the finance ministry. It’s a government office but it has its dignity. That is the point. How is democracy destroyed? It is destroyed when all these institutions are destroyed and that’s exactly what has happened in the last 60 years. Emergency is the classic case, but the gradual erosion of these institutions was already in place. Now when we come to the intellectuals, intellectuals traditionally and even today in the western world, they are not statists, they should not be statists. They should be independent. Statist intellectuals should be directly hired by the state and they should work on Niti Ayog or other government think-tanks but otherwise, intellectual should be independent. Sad thing is, in post-independence India, intellectual as a class was so degraded that they became either aligned to some foreign mission or foreign network of patronage or they got aligned to the state. They were patronized by the ruling party and very seldom were truly independent. That is true for regional ones as well.

Now, we have to recreate an ecosystem where intellectual competence is recognised, is rewarded, and independence of intellectuals, writers, journalists, thinkers is safeguarded and encouraged. We don’t want an ecosystem where everything is politicised and everybody has to fall in some political camp or the other. This is what happened even in Bangalore Literature Festival. It went through a huge churn because people said it was hijacked and used as a forum for Award Wapasi. So, what I’m trying to say there should be space for not just debate but to some extent dissent and the plurality of views that is supposed to emerge from these spaces.  We have seen that there is a systematic attempt to capture, control, and  infiltrate these spaces through well networked ideologically committed groups. And they work together because in solidarity there is strength. Everything is like match fixing,  everything is like an echo chamber and this we have to change and that is why we are coming back to to the Civil War. It’s very important to participate in this ‘uncivil’ war in a very civil way and take issue based positions and instead of blanket positions. This is for good intellectuals, there will be party intellectuals also, it’s important to maintain that autonomy because it is the autonomy of certain group of people who are sincere that is really Satyagraha. Satyagraha is the insistence on truth. It is not the ‘belonging to a particular political ideology’ at all.

You spoke about the Civil War in the Hindu community itself.

Just to clarify, it’s an uncivil war. In a civil war, people kill each other, so I’m just playing on the word here.

 

hindu-2628776_1920I see three kinds of Hindus right now. One is all for the strengthening and flaunting of muscles, there is another set which says no this is not my Hinduism, my Hinduism is more spiritual,  it is about my soul and introspection,  reflecting and knowing myself,  and then there is one more which is unaffected by this entire debate, they are immersed in their own lives carrying on their daily worship and rituals. Where do you see harmony between these?

This is very interesting. There have been different ways to try and define this. Some people say that there are secret Hindus, for them Hinduism is a private affair. In public sphere, they may be completely secular or non religious but they may also be marxists or scientists, nothing to do with their faith, that’s living like schizophrenics. You live in two worlds. That’s one Hindu. There is another kind of Hindu which is Hindu inside but is afraid to be Hindu outside. They say, ‘No, I am not a Hindu. I am secular’ or ‘I am just spiritual but not Hindu’. Then, there is a third kind of Hindu that says I am Hindu inside and from outside too, I want to be recognised as a Hindu. The third kind of Hindu has become a huge threat to certain other kinds of Hindus. Why? Because this third kind of Hindu, by flagging his identity in the public sphere, has also created the possibility of capture of power which is very threatening. So, this political Hindu is the biggest threat. All the other kinds of Hindus are not an issue. It’s only the political Hindu which everybody is criticising from left, right, and centre for the fear that this this political Hinduism will capture power, will displace all other people. That fear is expressed in the terms of fear of one religion, one language, one god, or one deity. This is what I would call a ‘spoiler’s mentality’. It’s not like look we ruled, let’s give them a chance, they have won. It’s like this, these are different from us. These are like the Nazis, once they takeover, that’s the end of democracy.  This is the kind of argument that was made even for Trump. The losing side never accepted him as the President. Here it’s not as bad. In a sense, Narendra Modi enjoys a widespread support . It’s only the intellectuals who don’t like him. That is partly because nobody cares for them anymore. So, it’s much more complicated than it seems and you’re right, I don’t know how this civil war will be sorted out but I suspect that it may be sorted out if this political party can continue to rule for a certain number of years. Then they are going to, I would like to think, bring in some lasting changes. But it will not end the basic issues which are endemic to Indian democracy – issues of pluralism and  freedom. I think they will just find out another way of saying yes we accept your views but don’t denigrate Hindus or we accept everything but Hindus will be a little bit superior because we are the majority.  So, they will come up with some kind of package which some people may not like. You ask many muslims, under the Congress as well, they did already feel as if they were second class citizens. To be the first class citizens, you had to be secular or you had to go to right colleges, speak good English but then they say they are not muslims at all. So, the problem that we’re going to face is definitely the dominance of certain classes or communities over others. In other words, if you consider a state to be something you want to enjoy, then certain sections seem to have a prior claim on the state and the other communities are already marginalised, and they are used only as vote banks. So, now you’re going to say well there is huge difference between official marginalisation and not so official marginalization, then you can make those arguments, if you like. But you know in any democracy the Demos which means the mob or the numbers will matter. How can you just evaporate the numbers? You evaporate them by saying no no, they are hindus only in name, but they are Lingayats, they are somebody else. That worked for a while, okay, but after a while for the sake of voting they will also come together. Now, they are caught with the same twist that they were trying to catch the other guys with. You create a Sikh vote bank, you create a Dalit vote bank, now, by the same logic, you have got a Hindu vote bank which is majoritarian and if you don’t like it, too bad for you. You’ve got to suffer the consequences, because it’s a logical corollary of exactly what you did for so long.

 

 

makarand-paranjape

After the Kanhaiya Kumar episode, and even before that, people have a certain kind of perception of JNU. Are you a minority at JNU?

Yes, of course I am a minority at JNU.

The book that came out from the JNU, ‘What the nation needs to know’, you look at all the talks there. You will see that I am certainly an exception. There may be two or three talks that are saying slightly different things but mine is in a way most different. So, definitely in that sense, I am in minority there. But JNU is also changing. The administration is now more aligned to the present government and the student unions, of course the left unions have won, but the right students are gradually gaining and who knows, things at JNU may change drastically, and then, the narrative that’s going around about JNU might also change once that conversion takes place. But I think the demonisation is also a little excessive because it’s based on a misrepresentation. Only those things are highlighted which are bad. The good is not highlighted and when the change happens, I do hope that all the good things are not lost.

Rahul Gandhi and the Politics of Defeat

Almost every time Rahul Gandhi starts campaigning before the elections, he seems to be aspiring for a loss. His speeches sound like appealing for a thumping defeat. Every time I hear him appeal for votes, his sentences get autocorrected in my head to sound something like this – “Hamein vote na dekar bhaari maton se haraayen!” (By not voting for us, inflict a massive defeat on us). After all, when you get rewarded after every loss, why would you want to win?

Thanks to our enslaved mindset, there was a time when ‘Gandhi’ fetched votes. That is no longer the case with the majority of the country. On the contrary, in our time, Gandhi ensures failure. The love affair between the Nehru-Gandhi family and the Congress party could be defended till Rajiv Gandhi on the basis of our love for nepotism. This love for dynasties and surnames converted into votes for the party and though the culture could be termed as immoral and undemocratic, they had a reason to stick with Gandhi. Although in a feebler tone, even for Sonia Gandhi, such an orchestra of populism could be explained. Today, I doubt if there is a sane mind on the planet to explain the current love story between the Congress party and Mr. Rahul Gandhi.

Dynasties taking control of a political party in India that should otherwise be a democratic entity with equal opportunity for everyone, is a matter that should shame our nation whose constitution wishes to provide equal opportunity and equal right to every citizen. Rahul Gandhi’s control over the congress party defies all logic. He hasn’t been able to win elections, he is popular only as a meme subject, he doesn’t exude confidence in public, and he doesn’t have a plan for the country or himself. What makes congress stick to him then? Dynasty politics is a phenomenon that banks upon the popularity of the existing/deceased member and family’s name to fetch votes for the new entrant. It is perhaps impossible to understand how the party and the soon to be anointed don’t see that the family’s name has lived its shelf life. I might be wrong and Rahul may manage a turnaround for the party after becoming the President but that won’t be necessarily a good thing for the country. The child of undeserved favoritism cannot promise equality or equity to the nation.

It is important to understand the position Rahul Gandhi is going to assume. It is the same position that has been in the past occupied by Dadabhai Naoroji, SN Banerjee, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Madan Mohan Malviya, Annie Besant, Lala Lajpat Rai, Sarojini Naidu, Mahatma Gandhi, and Subhas Chandra Bose. A leader of the stature of Subhas Chandra Bose had to fight an election against Gandhi-backed Pattabhi Sitaramayya to become the President of this party. Today, a group of sycophants have almost managed to unanimously elect Rahul Gandhi as the President. It is a tragic scene that the party which accuses Mr. Modi of running a dictatorship has not one contender for the position of the President opposite Rahul Gandhi. Sonia Gandhi is passing the mantle of autocracy to her son. One of the two major national parties of a country that claims to be the world’s largest democracy is either one of the longest running dictatorship empire of the world or a group of sycophants who clearly do not possess any spine and serve the Gandhis to insure the political future of their own dynasties.

Politics of dynasties has been a long-living tradition in India, Congress of the present has mastered the politics of inheriting and procreating incompetence and failure.

Crime Vs. Politics

अपराध बनाम राजनीति।

अपराध क्या है? राजनीति क्या है? क्या दोनों एक दूसरे के पर्याय हैं, या फिर पूरक हैं? अपराध के बिना राजनीति के क्या मायने हैं और राजनीति की अनुपस्थिति में अपराध के क्या मायने हैं? इन बातों पर सोच रहा हूँ। सुबह का समय है। बेंगलूर का मौसम अभी बेतुका सा है। वो जो बच्चा होता है घर में, जिसे किसी ने बताया नहीं कि मेहमान के आने पर क्या करना होता है, मौसम का हाल अभी कुछ वैसा ही है। बारिश हो रही है और नहीं भी। हैइसेंबर्ग साहब को यह मौसम ज़रूर भाता।

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Jingoism Vs. Patriotism

Weekend mornings of an octoberish Bangalore can carry you into an inertia that is extremely difficult to overcome. However, this is a time loved and awaited by writers, poets, and patrons of literature for reasons transcending into the creative streak of such people. As such, this is perhaps the best time for a celebration like Bangalore Literature Festival to happen. When you have a Historian and Author as eminent as Ramachandra Guha to speak with you right in the morning, you can’t really ask for more. ‘Jingoism Vs. Patriotism’ has been a lingering debate for a long time in our society and has gained refreshed vitality in the recent times. Guha spoke on this subject. Continue reading “Jingoism Vs. Patriotism”