Category Archives: Politics

The Making of an Outrage

As someone who writes articles and cracks jokes for a living, I am fascinated by the cycles of rage and outrage that appear on the Internet on a daily basis.

I wish I could say I am detached – but my livelihood depends on keeping track and opinionating on these outrages. Writing an article on a trending topic has brought me thousands of readers. Cracking a joke on a relevant person has won me applause and cheers. Suffice to say my livelihood depends on me being in tune with what’s the rage and outrage on the Internet.

But I managed to get into the eye of an outrage storm last month, and the entire experience – while tiring – has been fascinating for someone who studied culture and trends.

The article

I wrote a blog on Hardik Pandya’s controversy on Koffee With Karan, and how it was unnecessarily being drummed up to be an issue.

If you are familiar with my blogs, you’ll know that they are peppered with abuses, sarcasms and jabs. I write for a newspaper, news websites, for TV channels, the Internet, for my stand-up bits – amidst all this, writing for my blog seems like a release – I can write what I want and move on without thinking about it too much.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case here.

The article gained some traction and I got a request from the site – ThePrint. They asked me permission to repost the article after making minor changes to it. I agreed, because that is how I begin writing for most sites.

But not only was I NOT offered any money, ThePrint did not have the courtesy to reply to my repeated mails about the article. The worst bit though, was they edited the headline of the article. From The Lynching of Hard-Dick Pandya, it was changed to If Hardik Pandya was a woman, she would be hailed as a sexual revolutionary.

This was one line in the post, but making it the headline changed the slant of the article from political correctness to gender equality – which the article wasn’t about. They also added their own tagline to the article – Rich Liberals attacking Hardik Pandya same as Right-wing trolling of Naseeruddin Shah.

They also sanitised the article of all the puns and jokes. From a funny rant, it now read like the rabid outpouring of a deranged man.

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Perhaps I could have gone about it in a smarter way. I later found out that the site was run by Shekhar Gupta. That it was accused by right-wingers as being leftist, and by liberals as being jingoistic. And I had uniquely brought myself into a situation where I was hated by both the sides!

The article began to get traction because the headline toed three trending topics that week – Hardik Pandya, Feminism, Political Correctness. I began to get comments on the post by readers who were ‘disappointed’ in me. I don’t understand this ‘disappointment’.

They all said that they’d been reading me for years, and were ashamed of being a subscriber after reading the article. I don’t get it – I write what I want, you don’t pay me a penny for it. On days that you smile, laugh or take your mind off work – do you send me a message saying ‘Thanks’? Better still, do you ask for my Google Pay number and transfer me some money? Where does this ‘disappointment’ stem from, then?

I generally reply to every comment or mail, and I was trying to do the same.

I tried explaining that misogyny or gender is hardly my point here. It was about being overly politically correct.

*

The one line that angered a lot of women in the article was this – If Hardik Pandya was a woman, she would be hailed as a sexual revolutionary. I still stand by the line. I think Indians don’t speak too often about sex. We need to address it, get comfortable with it, discuss it

The next question was – how do you know she would be hailed? Who would hail her? How can you speak on behalf of women when you’re a man? Accusation of ‘mansplaining’.

I have never understood that line of bullying. That being a man gives me no right to speak about women. Being a woman however, gives someone the right to comment on men’s behaviour. This is bigoted logic, but one cannot oppose it without being called a misogynist or sexist.

I do not claim to speak on behalf of women; I can only speak on behalf of myself. I would certainly have hailed her for speaking about sex on national television. Unfortunately, it was a case of a man presuming how society would have reacted to an imaginary comment by a woman, and the red flag began to flutter on Twitter.

 

THINGS STARTED GETTING SCARY

In the meanwhile, two important things happened – Baradwaj Rangan and Anurag Kashyap shared the article. These are two men whose craft and opinions I respect, and it felt wonderful to see that they echo my sentiments. But the warm feelings quickly began to subside.

Them sharing the article led to even more shares. From a few hundred shares on my blog, it spread far and wide – getting shared more than 10,000 times.

If you’ve read my blog, you’d know that I always reply to comments. If there’s a contrarian opinion, I always engage in a discussion. On the blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook – both on my blog page as well as The Print’s FB post.

By then, it was too late. I was already branded as a misogynist.

 

THE HATRED

Unfortunately, it is impossible to debate with someone who has a preconceived notion of you.

The comments began about the article, slowly got personal, and then became about promoting rape culture. I was baffled how the interview, my article, or anything in the issue pertained to ‘rape culture’ in the first place.

One comment said, ‘Then you must also support the Nirbhaya rapists who gangrape women’. That one comment really shook my insides. For all their contributions to a great cause, most Indian feminists are rude, condescending, and bigoted in their views. Talking to a feminist is no different from talking to a BJP fanboy in many ways.

Also, I am sick of people bringing up Nirbhaya just to buffer their arguments. It is an insult to Nirbhaya herself, the trauma her family goes through, and every woman who has faced sexual assault. But unfortunately, there is no spectrum of moderation in Indian debates. You are either a bra-burning feminist or a Nirbahaya-rapist supporter. There is no middle ground, no scope for negotiation, no moderation of any sort.

A WORD ON INDIAN LIBERALS

Indian liberals are not very different from the hardcore right-wing.

Both these sections are constantly looking for ways to slot you into a category. Spoke against Congress? You are a Modi supporter! Spoke for Hardik Pandya? You support rape culture!

This narrative is so lazy, so uninspired, so dull – that you quietly back off into the background to avoid a splitting headache. What was most surprising was the reaction of my juniors. I studied in the University of Hyderabad – one of those Indian universities where the professors subtly plug moronic leftist agenda into their students.

The indoctrination in universities is astounding – you take an impressionable 20-year-old kid and feed him/her with your own ideology. You could walk into any Indian social-sciences university today, and you’ll find you need to fit into a ‘category’.

These are all kids with no real-world knowledge, haven’t worked a single job all their lives, their world is a limited, urban coterie of echo chambers, but now they are equipped with a rigid, myopic view of the world.

I generally laugh off my University juniors and their opinions but sadly, it didn’t just end with trolling.

I perform stand-up comedy shows all through the year and people started commenting on the events. One dude with an anonymous profile (but of course!) posted messages like ‘Do you also promote rape culture? ‘Cos Hriday Ranjan certainly does!’. Every single link or event I shared was met with the same response – some 20-year-old dumbfuck pissing his half-baked opinions on my wall.

I logged into Facebook the next day and the scenario was the same. The article had been shared over 30,000 times. I was being called a misogynist, a promoter of rape-culture. Friends of mine pinged me to say that their boss shared the article, and they are misogynists, and my article was enabling them, giving them a voice.

Memes began to be circulated of Hardik Pandya’s interview being compared to Rahul Dravid’s MTV Bakra clip from the 90s. Shit had hit the fan, but it wasn’t the first time something like this was happening. I was used to being trolled by fans of actors but being labelled as a supporter of rape because of an article really perplexed me.

THE EBBING

In a few days, it was all gone, People found new things to outrage over, and I was glad the thing was beyond me. I had thought of putting up a post about what I meant, but it would seem like I was justifying my opinion – something I didn’t find necessary.

But then, something amazing happened. Rahul Dravid the man that Indian liberals were comparing Hardik Pandya to, himself commented on the issue. His take? That they were boys who made a mistake, the issue was being blown out of proportion, and that it was necessary to educate youngsters rather than chastising them.

So, I guess Rahul Dravid is a promoter of rape-culture too then, huh? And Anurag Kashyap, and Baradwaj Rangan, and all the men and women who shared the article – they must all be promoters of rape culture?

*

I have found that discussions and debates in the country are slowly descending into mud-slinging and name-calling. It certainly wasn’t the case a few years ago.

I have been writing for more than a decade now, and till a few years ago, someone who disagreed with my opinion would leave a long comment on the post. I would chill through the day and check the comment in the night and reply to it. Some of these debates would go on for days, and one got to learn of different opinions, facts, and viewpoints.

Around 2014, the rise of the right-wing in both India’s political spectrum and social media brought about a new phenomenon. Ardent devotees of the Supreme Leader who would bash your opinion to the ground, bury it in soil and piss all over it. But the liberals could at least be reasoned with.

In the last few years, the liberals have risen to challenge the right-wing in their own currency. What we have now is two cardboard boxes on either side of a debate. One must come running and quickly jump into one of the boxes. If you’re not a feminist, you are a misogynist. If you are an atheist, you must be a left-winger. If you criticise the BJP, you must be a ‘presstitute’ (whatever the fuck that term means). This type of categorisation is sickening and stifling.

To stay neutral, or to be able to pick pros and cons from different side – is called out as ‘hypocrisy’. Which is funny because in India, there is no real left-wing or right-wing.

These were concepts created for economic reasons, and in India, every party is a left-wing party. If you assume that the BJP is truly right-wing according to global standards, have a look at sops, subsidies, and demands for reservations among the ruling party this year. In India, right and left wing is determined primarily on religious grounds.

It is a laughable dichotomy to begin with, but turns out to be silly when you see passionately calling themselves either ‘left-wing’ or ‘right-wing’.

*

In a few days, the news became stale.

Ranveer Singh wore an outrageous costume, or Jahnvi Kapoor picked her nose on the way to her gym, and all was good with the world again.

That, unfortunately, is the way we feel, discuss, and debate issues in our country.

*****

Hardik Pandya

The Lynching of Hard-dick Pandya

I am amused by the kind of shit that angers us Indians.

Our issues are such a beautiful, fluffy assortment of the most random shit, it’s almost cute. The latest being Hardik Pandya getting ‘called out’ for his statements on Coffee with Karan.

Yup, that’s the zenith of our intellectual journey, folks. It’s all downhill from here. Journalists and intellectuals were dissecting the terribly important talk that Hardik Pandya delivered on the show. Which was then picked up by news sites, who lurk around cyberspace like out-of-work dementors, sniffing for outrage.

They then splashed their ugly, ad-whore sites with articles and editorials on what he should and shouldn’t have said. Let me repeat that – what Hardik Pandya shouldn’t have said on Koffee with Karan! Kan you believe that shit? 

As a journalist, it makes me feel ashamed.

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Coffee with Karan (I hate spelling it out in its retarded original spelling) is a sleazy, silly show where the host gets his friends to reveal how many times they bang whom on which days of the week. Running through the show’s invitees will give you an idea into the depth of the show – Fardeen Khan, Zayed Khan, Rakhi Sawant and Himesh bhai. The tagline of the show is Stop Making Sense, not Aman Ki Asha. 

Are we really going to intellectualise that show? That bane on television shows in particular and intelligence in general? What next? A psychoanalytic conference on Sasuraal Simar Ka? The Freudian slant in Bhabiji Ghar Pe Hain? What the fuck is going on?

I am sick of the Political Correct nature of Indian media. They play this stern, moralistic hostel warden, running around and telling people what to think. He likes women and brags about his exploits – so what? If a woman did it, she would be hailed as a sexual revolutionary. And why do we expect every cricketer to behave like Bharat Ratna Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar?

And what gives these journalists the right to judge these people? Are they all perfect in thought, word, and action? Or assuming they become massively-followed millionaire celebrities tomorrow, will they all become perfect role models?

Role model.

That’s always the word thrown around, isn’t it? Cricketers are role models.

In fact, every fucking body is a role model in our country. Actors must be role models. Parents, teachers, elders, writers, their neighbours, the milkman – every goddamn person in this country needs to be a role model. I don’t get it.

Role model for kids, apparently.

Who are these kids learning life-lessons from Coffee with Karan, pray?

If that’s where you’re looking, I’m sorry but you’re a dumb fucking kid whose life is screwed, anyway. You might as well befriend your neighbourhood chemist and start taking Valium.  How long are we going to throw this dumb, carcass of a logic that people are affected by TV, films, and books?

It is this retarded logic that has led to our films coming with cuts and disclaimers. It’s the reason why television shows in India cater to the intelligence levels of orangutans.

People can be influenced by anything. Dayanand Saraswati saw a rat eat a laddoo and decided to eradicate the caste system from the country. Sanjay Gandhi traveled to Europe and got inspired to dump half a million people on the other side of the Yamuna overnight. How the fuck does it matter who gets influenced by what??

This politically correct nature of Indian media is (like most things) a rip-off the sickening PC culture in the West. Appallingly, we in India have way more important issue, that flipping out over what an actor said.

And why the fuck should Pandya apologise for his statements?

What is this culture of bullying someone for what they said? This is not very different from what right-wing online trolls do to people like Naseeruddin Shah. It was something he said, to a pointed question, on a talk show that is meant to be sleazy. He was not in the Lok Sabha, for fuck’s sake!

Till a decade ago, our popular culture had normalised stalking and following women. A lot of us English speaking urban people have moved beyond and called that out because we had access to education, exposure and there’s no other way to say it – privilege.

That’s the thing about PC culture. It consists of enlightened people who realised something about the world, and WHAM! They want everybody to fall in line, irrespective of their upbringing and roots.

Hardik Pandya studied till Class 9. In Surat.

He then moved to Baroda as a kid, playing cricket for schools and leagues till he and his brother earned money and fame for their family through their skill. He did this till he ranked among the 11 best cricketers in the country by the age of 22.

And now you expect him to become an exemplary citizen, a role model? Why the fuck, pray? Thanks to the outrage, BCCI has sent a showcause notice to him, and might ban cricketers from non-cricketing talk shows. Does that make you enlightened people happy? Does it give you dil chandan sa thandak? 

Hardik Pandya is 25 years old. He is paid to play cricket, that is what is expected from him. If we all were good enough to be in Top 11 in India in what we did, we wouldn’t have the time to outrage over such dumb shit.

Hardik Pandya isn’t paid enough to live up to your high moral standards. Nor is he morally obligated to be a role model for kids.

*

Go ahead, Hardik Pandya. Win matches, party, date women, have fun. If only just to piss off these dumb, perennially angry people on Twitter!!

***

The Witch Hunt of Kevin Hart

Last week, Kevin Hart was chosen as the host for the Oscars.

In a few hours, he was dropped because people lost their shit on social media. Over tweets from 10 years ago. Yup, you read that right – a decade ago!

In case you’re unaware, hosting the Oscars is considered the biggest gig for a comedian. Kevin Hart had to step down as (in his own words), he did not want to be a distraction on this glorious night where blah blah blah…

Kevin Hart Tweets

Sometimes, I think of myself as a visitor from Neptune and wonder how I’d feel flipping through a newspaper. We live in strange times – parts of the world are facing dictatorial leaders who behead and shoot people on a whim. Then there’s the other side of the world where people get angry for a joke from ten years ago – and violently demand that the person be denied work!

Of course, this wasn’t the first time something like this was happening. A few months ago, James Gunn was fired from tweets that were published a decade ago. It has happened in India too – Tanmay Bhat’s tweets from years ago re-surface everytime there’s any criticism of the fragile, sensitive, constantly PMS-ing government and its leaders.

James Gunn tweets

If we were all booked for saying things like this, we would all be working from jail.

I have often wondered what the point of these witch-hunts is.

Are these actions supposed to be punitive? If yes, what really is the extent of these punishments? Who determines that an entire person’s body of work is made irrelevant overnight? It boggles my mind!

And what happens when a star is ‘brought down’? Do people celebrate? Do they set out on marches and light candles and Hail Jesus? And what about reform? Is there any consideration to what the person feels about the issue today?

In our everyday lives, we are allowed to grow and evolve. Remember dancing to that Falguni Pathak’s song? Yeah, I know you did it. Come on, we all did it. But we grew out, we matured. We learnt that one can dance to Falguni Pathak’s songs only during Navratri, didn’t we?

Then why are celebrities not given a chance to reform for their statements? Are we to be held to our statements forever? Are public statements permanent albatrosses around our neck – to be pointed out and mocked and cursed for all of eternity?

It’s sickening how people seem to enjoy this virtual mob-lynching. It is almost as if there’s a sense of victory, like a revolution has begun? Like the times will be a’changing. The most common argument for such social media witch-hunts is that celebrities enjoy fame, success and money – and hence, they are supposed to be moral examples for the rest of the world.

It is almost as if the fame they enjoy is a privilege that common men bestow on celebrities. And that they are permanently obliged to toe the line of what the followers want! That is such a retarded line of thought, it keeps me up at night.

True, celebrities earn their money when people go to watch their films and shows. But most of them are hard-working professionals who have come up the ladder for decades. And their entire worth is lost due to an angry teenager on the Internet with a Twitter account and onion rings for brains. To troll someone is one thing, but to cause them to lose their work, money and reputation is a hideous trend.

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If one were to zoom out and look at the larger picture – what really is the intent of a social media movement?

Is it to penalise people for having an opinion that is not tangential to your opinion? We are not talking about people who harassed or harmed someone – these were jokes that were assumed to be funny, in a time when people got on Twitter and spat out whatever came to their minds.

Twitter wasn’t a politically correct space ten years ago. It was this gigantic cloud-wall that people took a spraycan to and went crazy. Some of it was moving, some insightful, some stupid.

Or is the point of a social media movement to talk, discuss, embrace and be open to new ideas? What did the witch-hunt of Kevin Hart really achieve when he clearly said he doesn’t relate to those tweets anymore? How is this any different from the Ayatollah of Iran whose fatwa on Salman Rushdie still stands valid because of a book written thirty years ago?

And how many Kevin Hart fans do you think heard the news and sympathised with the LGBTQ cause? How many of them carried candles and vowed never to utter a homophobic slur again?

If anything, these trends widen the rifts, cause more hatred and stereotyping from both ends. For Kevin Hart fans, the LGBTQ community will be viewed as humourless spoilsports. For the LGBTQ community, anybody who enjoys Kevin Hart’s work will be seen as a homophobe.

Unfortunately, we all lie well in the middle of those extremes.

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Humans-of-Hindutva-Facebook-Image-for-InUth-2

Thank you and Goodbye, Humans of Hindutva

While you were browsing through adorable pictures of Taimur breaking the Internet, one bit of news slipped past the bullshit that we call news in our country.

‘Humans of Hindutva’- a spectacularly funny parody page – has been shut down after the owner received death threats from saffron dicks. It was a sad day for Indian Internet, as Humans of Hindutva was among the few genuinely funny pages on the web.

India achieved tremendous Internet penetration in the last two years, but good humour is hard to find. The most popular humour pages in India copy stuff from other pages (some, without even giving credit). In fact, one of the greatest bonuses of quitting Facebook is not having to deal with those fuck-all pages. All those pages that borrow each other’s content at low interest rates.

In India, nobody wishes to attempt political humour. It is either considered not mainstream enough, or runs the risk of inviting vitriol and anger from trolls on Twitter. AIB is probably the only organisation that indulges in political humour and satire, but it’s only a segment of what they do online.

Which is why it was a relief to find Humans of Hindutva.

As you might have guessed, it was a parody of the mind-bogglingly popular Humans of New York. HONY was a good page when I began following it, but I’ve found that all the goodness on the page makes me throw up a little. Just picture after picture of earnest, wise, honest people made me feel a little claustrophobic.

Like the Scary Movie series, I actually enjoyed the parodies of HONY more than the actual page. There’s Goats of Bangladesh – an absolute favourite – and Cows of Benares. And then, there was Humans of Hindutva.

Idiotic MPs, MLAs, and ministers, statements by journos and Twitter trolls, Narendra Modi to Rahul Gandhi – nobody was spared from the incendiary radar of the page.

humans of hindutva

Humans-of-Hindutva-Facebook-Image-for-InUth-2

The page addressed our new-found lunacy as a nation – where the life of a cow is more precious than a human being’s. The page took on right-wing morons with access to Internet, and showed a beautiful mirror to India, our quirks and many convoluted compulsions. And yet, there wasn’t anything visceral about his posts (I only assume it was a guy who ran the page, but I could be completely wrong, of course!).

The posts were smartly worded and humourous; not the work of a troll. The page wasn’t run to spread hatred, but to mirror the frustration of the daily life of an Indian, sane, youngster. It wasn’t hate that the page propagated, but a wry, dry variant of sarcasm.

Humans of Hindutva shut down its operations after receiving death threats from right-wing extremists. This was the message that he left, while announcing that he was shutting down the page:

I’m quitting out of my own accord. I’ve not been banned or mass reported. I have recently received some threats to my life which I can’t take lightly. I am outnumbered, live in a BJP state and come from a middle-class family with no political or police connections. I have no desire to end up like Gauri Lankesh or Afrazul Khan. Actually, more than myself, I worry for the safety of my family. I hope those who threatened me consider this as a victory and leave us alone. I have deleted the HOH page and will delete this website soon. Congratulations to Hindutva on winning this David vs Goliath fight. As for those who were kind enough to lend me their ears for the last eight months, I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year. Cheers and alvida. Thanks for giving me some of your time.

 

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This is deeply saddening on two levels.

One, my age-old grudge against a government that associates itself with a religion. It has never worked – in the USA, or Mid-west, or in Pakistan. Religion and governance are two ideas that cannot work together, no matter how special you think your nation is.

Secondly, it dispels the myth of Hindus being tolerant. In the last few years, we have become a clone of the very Islamists that the Hindutva brigade hates. To take down a parody page reflects the weak insecurities in the minds of the people.

As a nation, we do not understand the concepts of humour and sarcasm. For us, humour is the same as mazaak udaana – to humiliate, to insult, to show someone their place. This is probably why there’s no word for sarcasm in Indian languages. May be it is a Western import too, like the Beretta M 1934 Semi-automatic that killed Gandhi.

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Dear admin of Humans of Hindutva, I hope you’re reading this.

It’s easy to preach about integrity and standing up for one’s beliefs. But who would want to go through the kind of fate that Gauri Lankesh went through? But there is a silver lining.

The Internet is a vast, open minefield. And I’m sure you’ll find other spaces to shine, and take on the powers that be.

Thank you for what you had chosen to do. It was a lot of fun following your page!

*****

Diwali pollution

A cracker of a decision

Sometimes, I wonder if there’s any issue we can discuss in India without giving it communal undertones.

And then, I remember that this is India and if I want to have fancy dreams, I might as well think of Aditi Rao Hydari on a bright summer beach. We might be the oldest existing civilisation in the world, but we discuss and argue with the intellectual maturity of adolescent grasshoppers.

Unlike what Twitter will tell you, the directive to ban the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and NCR does not stem from the Supreme Court being a ‘liberal gandu’. It was actually a petition signed by three kids from Delhi who believed that firecrackers were polluting the air.

And before you dismiss it as some childish dream by three naadaan bachhe, here’s some facts that will stir up the patriotism in you – India has a problem of pollution. 13 of our cities rank among the 30 most polluted cities in the world. We have the most number of polluted cities, and share this unique distinction with China, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Which means that we live in the most polluted region in the world, and if we don’t start acting up, shit gonna hit da fan, bruh!

According to other reports, 50 lakh kilograms of firecrackers are set to be sold in the NCR region, and 1 lakh kilos in Delhi alone. Which of course, has some benefits. For example, we learn new words every year. Like SMOKE + FOG = SMOG. After all, Indian culture is the best. Even if you pollute the fuck out of the environment, Indian culture will give you something back in return.

Most critics of the ban have a singular, solid point of defence. Why single out only Hindu festivals? Are you fucking kidding me? You’re going to be bursting 2 crore kilograms of firecrackers in one night, and you want a fucking pat on the back??

Funnily enough, most patriots nurture a strange notion that crackers are an integral part of Diwali celebrations. They actually believe that our ancestors from the Vedic age burst crackers on Diwali. What fertile minds! What vivid imaginations!!

So they must be thinking that the day Rama returned from Lanka after defeating Ravana, Vishwamitra and Vashishta went and bought some bijli bombs and started lighting up ladis along the road. That Narada went and brought some rockets and Shatrughana (since he didn’t have much to do throughout) made sure the crackers were dried in the sun the previous day!

And leading this pack of morons is the largest selling author of our country – Chetan Bhagat. It’s been five years since I’ve bitched about the guy, and I’m thrilled to announce that the dude has just got more and more stupid as the years have gone by. Mr. Bhagat has tweeted about how firecrackers are being targeted, and slaughtering goats is not touched upon. Bhagat is a funny man. All through the UPA regime, he fussed and cribbed about the government being a sellout by making policies appeasing Muslims. One would assume he would shut the fuck up now that his wet dreams have come true with a majority BJP government. But one must never underestimate the power of stupidity!

And that is the sad part about having any discussion in India today. You cannot broach any topic without some intellectually challenged dude like Chetan Bhagat questioning your secular credentials. I fail to understand how pollution has any religion. What is the religion of a child’s lungs? And which God rescues older people and children when they get asthma attacks after every Diwali?

I understand the skepticism in the minds of people. But it is not impossible. Smaller cities like Ranchi and Bhubaneswar have set up specific locations in the city where crackers can be sold. Some cities in China have completely banned the use of firecrackers – no exceptions, no by-laws. Even Mumbai has laws (at least on paper) that you cannot burst crackers on the roads.

Laws are the beginning of change. And when you fight the forming of laws, what change do you expect to see in the country?

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Unfortunately, Hinduism began as a religion that worshipped nature. Rig Veda, the oldest of the Vedas, is a collection of hymns that praise nature as gods. In India, we worship the wind, water, oceans, trees, and hills.

And yet, come any festival, and we pollute like today’s the last day on earth. Like tomorrow morning Kalki Avatar is going to arrive on his white horse and wipe out everybody on the face of this planet.

Diwali? We celebrate Rama’s victory by dirtying our roads, scaring patients in hospitals, and inducing thousands of injuries from fire wounds. Holi? We throw toxic chemicals on each other, and decide to also colour dogs, cows and buffaloes. Ganesh Puja? We hail the God of Knowledge by doing the dumbest fucking thing on earth – dumping him in water bodies. Durga Puja? We worship The Mother by laying her to rest in filthy rivers and lakes.

THIS is our culture. We are a nation that loves to pollute. That loves to spread filth and celebrate it as our ‘rich’ culture. Ironically, all the fools who support firecrackers will shut their mouths and follow the laws of the land when they’re in a different country. But when in India…

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I find it sad when I see teenagers and youngsters talk about our rich heritage. When I see them reason that we have been bursting crackers for hundreds of years – why should we stop now? 

Well, times change. And we would be idiots not to change with it. Do you still wear dhotis, write letters in post cards, and travel in horse-drawn taangaas? Then what’s the problem in acknowledging a problem that is real, and getting worse by the year?

What is the reluctance in accepting change, in understanding that we cannot as a nation keep on polluting our air and rivers? What sort of a intellectually warped nation have we become that we cannot even see beyond our flaws as a nation?

What IS this culture that we keep celebrating??

***

(Featured Image courtesy Flicker)

BHU protest

Why are Indian educational institutions such Concentration Camps?

The recent protests by girls in Benares Hindu University, and the police crackdown on them, speaks volumes of the horrific tradition that Indian universities follow – that of locking women up ‘for their own safety’.

I once dated a girl from BHU for a while, and the stories of restrictions she narrated were horrific. Girl students must report back to their hostels by 6.30, walking with a man is frowned upon, wardens have to be informed for something as frivolous as collecting a parcel – it’s fucking ridiculous.

And this is true of campuses across the country. The one unifying factor of Indian higher education is the blanket of regressive rules and laws imposed on girls on campuses. These rules are set under flimsy pretences such as ‘avoiding indecency’, providing a ‘conducive atmosphere for studying’, and ‘avoiding distractions’. But if you scratch a little deeper, you’ll find all these reasons are a bunch of bullshit.

The restrictions are manifold.

In some universities, there are rules about dressing. If there are no uniforms prescribed, there are unwritten rules about students wearing jeans. Most colleges have separate seating for girls and boys, some even have restrictions on hanging out in the canteen together. Benares Hindu University, one of the oldest universities in the country, frowns upon a boy and a girl even walking together. As does Aligarh Muslim University. IIT Madras has rules regarding male-female interaction after certain hours of the day. In the IIT-churning coaching institutes in Andhra Pradesh, if you are caught speaking to a girl, a call is made to your parents!

In every university I visited in Gujarat, girls are locked up inside their hostels (sometimes as early as 7 PM). Boys are given an extension up to 9.30, after which a security guard takes over. The security guard is often the least qualified, yet wields the most power in such campuses.

I myself studied in a Boys’ Boarding school where even the attendants and cooks were male.  Interaction with the other gender was considered a primal sin. It is only when I left the school did I realise how much of a misfit I was. I couldn’t speak to girls, developing cold feet, fumbling around for words, something that took me years to undo.

I have often wondered why we need such restrictions on our educational institutions. I have spoken to the wardens, guards, and students; and most of them have reconciled to the fact that this is how things should be. This is how things were 50 years ago, and there is no point changing such stuff.

It’s all deeply regressive.

Firstly, the most common excuse given is that such rules are enforced to avoid distractions for the students. Scratch a little deeper, and what they’re actually saying is that if they keep the two genders away from each other, they will probably concentrate on their studies better.

It’s sad that even after 70 years of independence, we still behave as if education happens only inside classes. But ask any great, any topper, and they’ll tell you that the real education that an institution offers, is what you gain from the atmosphere. From talking, interacting, discussing, and debating. But like most things in India, we have 60 year olds deciding what is right for 20 year olds, and then shoving their crap down their throats.

Also, look a little deeper, and you will find that interactions with the other gender are frowned upon because primarily, the Indian society sees two people of opposite genders capable of just one act – sex. I have seen guards on campuses walk up to couples and question them about their motive. For all you know, they might have been friends just talking about a movie. Or even youngsters who want to fuck each other – what is the big deal?

For all our evolved thinking and Vasudaiva Kutumbakam (Universe is One Family) logic, we haven’t evolved enough to assume that a boy and a girl could do anything else but fuck. That is how we think. And that is why we impose such rules.

Thirdly, segregation never works. It is a stupid, short-cut of an approach, enforced by idiots who have no clue how the real world in 21st century works. Look at the state of women in our country today. Strangely, as we continue to raise our voice against rapes and molestations, we refuse to look beyond the reason for such incidents.

It is not as if Indian men suddenly starting raping women on the streets. This is a culmination of decades of upbringing that told Indian men that women were different, were weaker.

*

Which is where education plays such a vital role. Education makes you look at the other person with respect. An education brings out qualities in people that go beyond their looks or gender. It brings in mutual respect, equality and trust. The more you segregate students on the basis of gender, you are simply enforcing existing ideas – that every guy is a threat, every girl is vulnerable.

It is sad that even after all these years, our elders haven’t woken up to the reality of the world. That their idea of education is still one dimensional – get a degree, get a job. Everything else is a distraction.

Even though we all know that it is regressive, nobody raises their voice. We go about our lives, hiding in dark places, scrambling for cover when the guard appears, a whistle in mouth, a stick in hand.

We continue to let ourselves be shepherded around. Like cattle that need to be driven to our homes. Ironically, we are a nation that celebrates Devi the goddess. We celebrate with friends and family, with relatives and children. And yet, in real life, we want our women to be locked up, protected, their wings clipped.

Even more ironically, the protests at BHU were against the molestations that took place on campus. In Modi’s constituency (Bhakts triggered! :D), students are lathi-charged when they protest sexual violence. It’s hilariously tragic. Dudes drive up to your campus and molest a few girls. The girls protest against this and get lathi-charged by the police in the night. Achhe din, achhe raat.

But don’t worry about that. We are getting Bullet trains, Demonetisation was a success, keep your women indoors, and link your Aadhar to PAN.

***

(Featured Image courtesy: NDTV)

Sarathi-Baba-wallpaper

The Rise and Fall of Sarathi Baba

I’ll be honest with you.

I have always wanted to be a Baba. I have the long hair, and the ability to talk for hours. I also possess the innate ability to sound profound while discussing the difference between urad daal and masoor daal.

On a deeper level, growing up in an ashram exposed me to the works of a number of spiritual gurus such as Jiddu Krishnamurthy, Osho and UG. I have giggled at some of their teachings, read through some over and over again, and gaped in wonder at the simplicity of some of their preachings.

So the desire to be a Baba was always there.

*

The last few years haven’t been great for Babas. There was Nityananda, who raised a symbolic leg in a private chamber with his devotee. There was Asaram Bapu, who has been convicted of raping two teenage girls. There is of course, Sant Ram Rahim Singh Insaan who has decided to inflict cinematic torture on the world through his films. And finally, that dude in Haryana whose guards started shooting at the police when he was wanted on murder charges.

But these might seem like minor hiccups, as the Baba industry is the second oldest profession in the world. It is only a matter of time before Indians latch on to another Baba.

Sarathi Baba knew all of this.

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Sarathi Baba was the first big mover in the Baba market in Odisha. The market had been fragmented by Satya Sai Baba, Asaram Bapu, the new-age secularism of Shirdi Sai Baba, and the Silent Sect of Sisters – the Brahmakumaris.

However, it was a case of local connect. These were all Babas preaching in Hindi/English. There was a need for local flavour, to activate local language settings. The suave, English speaking Babas like Sadhguru or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar do not attract too many people in Odisha.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

And that’s how Sarathi Baba shot into the limelight.

*

Sarathi Baba spoke in Odiya, dressed up in yellow clothes, and bellowed from the television set every morning. While Babas are supposed to stay away from worldly pleasures and generally adopt an ascetic waistline, Sarathi Baba looked like he ate four katoris of gajar halwa a day.

When people dug into his past, it was found that Sarathi Baba used to sell paan in his village and gradually transformed into a yogic guiding light of the state. This gave me a lot of hope for a number of reasons.

Sarathi Baba cooler

You may achieve enlightenment later, but right now, you need Symphony Air Cooler.

Apart from spiritual reasons, one of the reasons was that I kinda look like the dude on the left after a chicken biriyani

The picture on the left is me after a Sunday afternoon chicken biriyani.

In a few years, his devotees began to increase. He released MP3 albums in his Phata Mangeshkar voice, his devotees wore lockets and bracelets with his pudgy face on it. Sarathi Baba opened new branches of his ashram in nearly every city in Odisha, with his main attraction being a cement cow that could give milk!

Please watch the video at your own discretion. It shows honey flowing out of Baba’s feet. Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted about its authenticity. 

 

While most Babas like to stay away from familial bonds, Sarathi Baba proclaimed to have a son. This young man (quite literally) threw his weight around, and was partially responsible for the earth slipping from its orbital axis.

Life was sailing smoothly for Sarathi Baba, when like most Babas, he decided to take a break.

The plan was simple, he would come to Hyderabad for a few days with a lady friend, chill out in an unknown land, monetise the benefits of being a Baba with all those tax cuts, and return to his holy land. Except for one crucial point.

ALL WAITERS AND BARTENDERS IN HYDERABAD ARE ODIYA.

*

It happened before you could say the word ‘motey’. A curious waiter with a smartphone clicked a few pictures of a portly man who bore a striking resemblance to Odisha’s most famous Baba. In the picture, Baba was seen watching TV in the hotel lobby, ordering beer, and biting off chicken with aplomb.

Sarathi Baba Hyderabad hotel photos

It didn’t take long for the pictures to spread like wildfire. The hotel records were thrown open, and it was found that Sarathi Baba had ordered three Kingfisher Strong beers, and chilly chicken. That Baba was not only spreading his wisdom, but also his sperm. The 22 year old girl who had travelled with Baba immediately told the world (from behind a red handkerchief) that she had been harassed and forced to travel with Sarathi Baba.

When Baba travelled back to Bhubaneswar, he was arrested at the airport. It was a sad end to a colourful yellow career that held a lot of promise. Baba’s son was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate, and as can be seen from this Pulitzer-winning news byte, often engaged in vices like eating mutton pakoda and looking like Ramesh Powar.

 

Sarathi Baba’s ashrams were seized. Odiya people went back to the much safer Baba Ramdev and his Anulom-Vilom. Sarathi Baba got trolled by Odiya people in strange, weird ways.

Sarathi Baba Audio CD

 

 

 

 

 

 

sarathi-baba-cartoon

Caption says: ‘Whatever people say….DHHO!’

Sarathi Baba protest Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi wondering what he did this time!

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While it might seem comic, the story of Sarathi Baba taught me a few important life lessons. 1. If you become a famous Baba, always go to 5 Star hotels. Or to houses of rich devotees. Not Hotel Sunshine in Gachibowli, Hyderabad. 2. Never order three Kingfisher beers. Nothing good can come off that.

Meanwhile, the Baba market in Odisha sees a Sarathi Baba sized hole, waiting for me to fill it.

JAI SARATHI BABA!

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Manohar-Parrikar1

Culture ke Vulture

In an age when tragic and depressing news hits you everyday, there are some that give you sleepless nights. That make you toss and turn in your bed and curse the stupidity that drives this nation in a mass hysteria.

The CM of Goa Mr. Manohar Partykar announced that in two weeks, Goa will have no more late-night parties. Reasons thrown up were the welfare of old people, and that age-old excuse that works with Fevi-Kwik like efficiency – Indian culture.

As for elderly people getting affected by the loud noise, I don’t even know what to say. It’s Goa, for fuck’s sake, not Sabarimalai. If you’ve spent 60-70 years surviving in India, why would you choose to live near shacks and clubs in Goa? It’s like buying a house near a masjid and complaining about insomnia. But it’s elders we are talking about, and even Pakistan knows that in India, elders are always right. By virtue of passing their sperms to meet eggs, they have automatically risen over logic and questioning.

About the second excuse – Indian Culture – I have lots to say.

Firstly, what the fuck is Indian culture?

India today is the oldest surviving civilisation, with a history dating back to over 5000 years. At which point in history did you decide Indian culture is against partying? What the fuck is Holi, then? When the entire nation descends onto the streets and partakes of a giant orgy of a rave party? And what is Diwali, if not for a nation-wide acid trip – a whole cuntry tripping on sights and sounds?

Who is your point of reference? Do you know for a fact if the Bhils fought off invading forces because of their Techno-house-EDM-BPL music? Or did Aurangzeb have people beheaded for head-banging? Do you know if Ashoka went to sleep at 10 PM every night? How the fuck can someone throw in ‘Indian culture’ for every single argument?

I am wary of political leaders who have been deified by mainstream media. Manohar Partykar is an IIT-ian who leads the simple life. He has no criminal cases against him (Wah!Taj) and travels using economy class and public transport. Which is great! Shabaash! Fifty points to Slytherin.

But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t get called out for his bullshit.

A great person doesn’t make a great politician. Look at Kapil Dev’s stint as coach of the Indian cricket team. When Sachin Tendulkar entered the field everyday feeling like the gladiator in the film The Gladiator. Or even Govinda, who danced into people’s hearts in his movies, but moonwalked the fuck out of his constitutional responsibilities.

As it is, Goa is the only proper party place in the entire country. Doesn’t it strike you as absurd? The 7th largest country in the world, with the 2nd largest number of people has ONE party place!

It’s not like DJs are setting up rave parties at Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam. It’s not like the Dalai Lama got caught with cocaine, pills and stamps. Then what pray, is the logic behind this ban on late night parties?

If you’ve been to Goa in the last few years and spoken to locals there, you’ll know that Goa has been witnessing a steady decline in foreign tourists. With rising disposable income and the benefits of capitalism, young Indians in Goa far outnumber foreigners. It’s their only place to party, but Uttam IIT Purush has other ideas!

That is my problem with the BJP. Their idea of development and growth comes with a caveat – the development will be on our terms. We decide what you eat, what you wear, who you make love to – else fuck off! Go vote for Congress.

The multitude of BJP fans across social media will NEVER call out their party for their bullshit, but will share links of how Modi swatted away flies with his balls on his Vietnam tour. If you cannot grow a spine to criticise your party and leaders when they goof up, you’re not a fan. You’re fucking sheep.

But who will bell the tiger? Who will call out the CM for his myopic, Islamic view of the world? Nobody. Why? Because he is an IIT-ian who travels by economy class! Every single debate follows a single trajectory-

Me: That is bullshit. How can you decide what’s right for the people?
BJP Sheep: Andhera Kaayam Rahe…
Me: Don’t you realise that mixing religion with politics is disastrous? It has never worked out, for any country, in the history of human civilisation…
BJP Sheep: Shakti shakti shaktimaan…shakti shakti shaktimaan…Adbhut adhamya saahas ki…
Me: …?
BJP Sheep: Fucking go vote for Congress, then!

Even after 70 years as a democracy, after surviving demonic dictators and dynastic politics, all our political acumen has boiled down to whataboutery. How does one explain to them that electoral politics is not like going to a paan dabba to buy smokes. It’s not like Gold Flake nahi hai toh main beedi pee lunga.

*

Or may be in his own twisted way, the CM of Goa is following Indian culture in its truest form. A 61 year old deciding what’s right for 20 year-olds, is well and truly Indian culture.

So kiss your Goa plans goodbye, guys! And book those tickets to Thailand. Spend all that glorious demonetised money in another country, because clubs and shacks in Goa are run by evil ISI agents and beef-eating aliens.

Because if you party after 10 PM,

Uncle police bulaa lenge,
Uncle police bulaa lenge,
Uncle police bulaa lenge,
Par development yun hi chalegi.

Party all night till 10 PM 
Party all night till 10 PM 
Party all night  till 10 PM 
We do party all night  till 10 PM

 

***

(Featured Image courtesy: www.askIITiansblog.com)

Irom Sharmila NDTV

Will Irom Sharmila purchase her groceries?

When Irom Sharmila won a meager 90 votes in the recent Assembly elections in Manipur, she elicited two distinct reactions.

One, was liberals guilt-tripping the people of Manipur for not voting Irom Sharmila to power. The second reaction, mostly from right-wingers, was to mock her guts, to call her a media-created goddess. Irom Sharmila, who had spoken of her desire to get married, have children and lead a normal life after the elections, vowed never to contest elections ever again.

 

THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS

Irom Sharmila (not ‘Iron’ Sharmila as a lot of people confuse her as) began her fast in the year 2000. Hrithik Roshan had made his debut and his film was still playing in some theatres. Govinda was a popular actor, and the Internet and mobile phones had just made inroads into India’s cities.

Her fast began on Nov. 3, 2000 and was triggered by the gunning down of 10 civilians while waiting for a bus. She demanded the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, that has been in force since 1958. Ironically, AFSPA owes its roots to the Armed Forces Special Powers Ordinance of 1942, enforced by the British to quell the ‘Quit India’ movement.

The AFSPA gives the state extraordinary powers in order to retain the peace and harmony of the land. Currently enforced in five of the seven North-eastern states and Kashmir (and temporarily in Punjab), the nitty-gritties of AFSPA have been debated for decades now. 

Under AFSPA, congregations are illegal, the forces have the right to search, frisk, raid, arrest, interrogate and shoot at sight suspects without citing any reason or warrant. The Act also provides protection to the armed forces, as the steps taken are purported to be to in good faith. The Central Government’s intervention is needed for any prosecution of the armed forces/officers.

Times Of India

Times Of India

Since it was enforced in 1958, there have been a number of humanitarian mishaps attributed to the armed forces. There have been reviews, promises to repeal AFSPA in parts, commissions set up by Central governments to analyse the impact of the Act, and a number of extra-judiciary killings have been reported, in a country with a recurring judicial killings problem. It must be remembered that AFSPA can be repealed by the state governments, as seen in Punjab and Tripura, which successfully lifted AFSPA from their states.

IROM SHARMILA’S FAST

Irom Sharmila’s protest, where she vowed not to eat, drink or cut her hair till AFSPA was repealed in Manipur completely, made her the world’s longest hunger striker. Support and awards flowed in, editorials and interviews continued to be published in her name.

Irom Sharmila’s name featured in quizzes, GK Refresher booklets, posters in universities, and articles by foreign correspondents in India. For 16 years, Irom Sharmila presented herself in court every two weeks. For 16 years, Irom Sharmila protested against AFSPA and demanded its removal. It was a unique protest, one woman taking on the system through nonviolent means for 16 years.

Somewhere along the 16 years, her family turned its back on her. Somewhere along the 16 years, she fell in love with a man and got engaged to him. Somewhere along the line, support for her within Manipur reduced, with even death threats sent out for her choice in partner. For 16 years, Irom Sharmila was confined to a hospital ward, tubes running through her body as she was force-fed by the state since it is illegal to take one’s life.

And then, on August 9, 2016, Irom Sharmila decided to end her fast, and contest electoral politics.

DIFFERENT BALLGAME

In spite of offers from a few political parties, Irom Sharmila decided to fight it out alone.

She vowed to repeal AFSPA in Manipur if elected as the CM, and took on Okram Ibobi Singh, three time Chief Minister who was nicknamed ‘Mr. Ten Percent’ for every deal signed in the state, according to a leak by Wikileaks.

While it might have been a courageous move, it reeked of political immaturity. Politics, unlike people’s movements, is a different ballgame. No amount of visibility, experience or public life can guarantee political victory. It’s like Sachin Tendulkar competing in Table Tennis – he has to start from the basics all over again!

A protest is based on foundations of ideals, beliefs and devotion to an idea. Politics is based on nothing at all. No ideals, no principles, just numbers. Cold statistics. Going with the Congress was out of question, as the INC was in power for 10 of Irom Sharmila’s protest years. Partnering with BJP was impossible as it is the ruling party at the Centre.

Irom Sharmila formed her own party – People’s Resurgence and Justice Alliance and took on the Chief Minister in his own den. On paper, it was a victory for the movement – the face of a movement who entered the political arena to take the battle to the domain of electoral politics. JP Narayan did it in 1977, as the nation bent under the Emergency enforced by Indira Gandhi. More recently, Arvind Kejriwal stormed to power, winning nearly every single seat in the Delhi Assembly elections. So it certainly wasn’t the first time.

But it had had happened too suddenly, and seven months in politics is equal to the blink of an eye. JP’s campaign was built from the grassroots through hundreds of rallies and arrests. Kejriwal’s routing at the Delhi elections came on the back of a nation-wide anti-corruption campaign that hogged headlines for weeks at stretch. Irom Sharmila got the support of intelligentsia, Kejriwal (who also gave her Rs. 50,000) and supporters in social media, magazines and journals.

Unfortunately though, India does not vote in the boardrooms of newspaper offices, or in university campuses. India votes in its zillas and gram panchayats. In government schools and lanes of roads wide and narrow. In government ration shops and dispensaries, in farms and factories, in huts and houses.

Irom Sharmila won only 90 votes. There were more NOTA (None of the above) votes than the votes she won. After 16 years, Irom Sharmila jumped on to a different domain and lost a heartbreaking election. Articles, memes and editorials guilted the people of Manipur for not choosing Irom Sharmila.

16 years of protests, brought to an end by one false move.

Irom Sharmila swore never to contest elections again. She fought the system for 16 years, but the world has changed in these 16 years.

Perhaps Irom Sharmila will get to lead a regular life now. Perhaps she will get married and have kids like she professed a few years ago. May be Irom Sharmila will get to enjoy the joys of regular life, of marital bliss, the reassuring banalities of everyday married life. Or will she?

Will Irom Sharmila lead a regular life? Is it possible to dive right back into a life that one gave up nearly two decades ago? Will Irom Sharmila be able to cook for herself and take an afternoon siesta?

Will Irom Sharmila buy her groceries?

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Featured Image Courtesy: NDTV

Recommended Reading:

Armed Forces Special Powers Act – The Debate. By Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses

AFSPA – A Soldier’s Perspective

arunabhkumar-kSQE--621x414@LiveMint

TVF Snitchers

Ever since YouTube became a household necessity in India, if there’s one group that has revolutionised content consumption across the nation, it is TVF. The Viral Fever began in 2010, and in a couple of years, was churning out videos that were surging through YouTube Top 10 lists.

They were fresh, brazen, and irreverent. And unlike their biggest competitors – AIB – they were not a bunch of elite South Bombay dudes telling the nation how to behave. TVF’s videos, sketches, and webseries have now become a part of pop-culture folklore. Look at the comments on YouTube and you find content-thirsty youngsters baying for the next episode.

While India’s Startup story is much feted and celebrated, the sad truth is that the biggest Indian startups are simply clones of Western organisations. Ola, Flipkart, Oyo Rooms simply brought to the Indian population an idea that already existed in the West. TVF, however, was the unique Indian startup story. A bunch of IITians venturing into the archaic, nepotistic Indian entertainment industry to shake it up.

As a subscriber, you could be assured there was a fresh video in your list every week. In a nation with the largest youth population in the world, TVF revolutionised content creation in three major ways. 1. They recognised the apathy that youngsters harboured towards mainstream TV and films. 2. TVF placed their bets on a huge Indian population with YouTube on their phones and time on their hands. 3. They foresaw the entry of content platforms like Netflix, Amazon and Hotstar, and successfully created their own platform for content.

TVF’s primary target audience is the youth of the country – embarrassed by soap operas, and a little jaded by Netflix and Torrents. A population starving for local content, for there’s only so much pasta one can eat! TVF’s web series – Pitchers, Tripling, and (my favourite) The Making Of…have achieved cult status online. In a country where the most popular TV show features three men dressed as women, TVF provided humour that didn’t make youngsters cringe, or change the channel in disgust. Slowly but surely, TVF was elevated from just a YouTube channel, to a youth icon.

Which is why the allegations against Arunabh Kumar are so shocking. What began as an anonymous blog has grown to more than 50 allegations from different women. 50 allegations is no joke, and puts one in the company of Amrish Puri in Vishwatma. However, there is one sad truth in the entire case.

The court of law does not recognise blogs, Twitter threads or Facebook debates. For any action to be taken, an FIR will have to be lodged. Without that, there might be some loss of reputation, a few people might uninstall the TVF app, but it will be business as usual.

I do not agree with the call to ban TVF in totality. TVF is more than just Arunabh – TVF is Nidhi Bisht and Biswapati Sarkar, and Jeetu and Naveen, and all those wonderful people who run the channel – a bunch of 20 somethings who dared to shatter the nepotism and bureaucracy that passes off in the name of the Indian entertainment industry.

How TVF reacts to this case will go a long way in crystallising the perception of workplace sexual harassment in India for a long, long time. If action is taken on the basis of evidence and facts, it will be seen as hope in the minds of millions of young women of the country. If Kumar walks free, it will be seen as a victory of clout over doubt.

Trial by social media is a dangerous trend, and the last year witnessed two such massive cases. The case of the biker who abused an AAP volunteer, and the Delhi Metro policeman who was suspended for being drunk, whereas he had a heart attack – these are disturbing trends. I would like to reserve my judgement till the time there’s an actual FIR lodged.

It is difficult, and the lady who does it has to put a lot on the line. But like most of life’s tough decisions, there’s simply no other choice. It remains to be seen if TVF remains The Viral Fever. Or it comes to mean The Vulture’s Free.

Like Shah Rukh Khan says in his movies, FIR milenge, chalte chalte!

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(Featured image courtesy: LiveMint)