Category Archives: Politics

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.

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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

 

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(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)

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Why do we allow Shiv Sena – MNS to bully us?

When Bal Thackeray passed away, I remember being thoroughly amused by the huge amounts of sympathy being poured out on social media. Not by Maharashtrians, or those who enjoyed any real benefits from living under his regime. But by people who grew up elsewhere, and were in no way affected by his policies, principles, or tenures.

I still don’t understand the Shiv Sena’s contribution to nation-building. I remember being enraged that a teenage girl was arrested on the basis of a Facebook post condemning the blocking of roads. I mean, if your greatness is shaken by a teenager’s Facebook post…

But one of the points raised by the fanboys was that Bal Thackeray was a strong leader who ‘stood up to Pakistan’. An interesting choice of words, because in India, when people say Pakistan, they surreptitiously mean ‘Muslims’. But even ignoring that, how really did Bal Thackeray stand up to Pakistan?

Did he personally pick, train, and send a specialist team of commandos to Pakistan? Did he bring into place groundbreaking policy and advocacy that changed people’s lives? Did he alter the fabric of the nation through his thoughts, ideas and laws?

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What the Shiv Sena did essentially, was throw a fit of tantrum. Remember that fat kid in school who would throw his geometry box around? Shiv Sena was that kid. Throughout their inception, they have run hate campaigns against communities, ethnicities, regions and languages. They have instituted a culture of beating people up, threatening them with dire consequences, and holding up law and order because Democracy is merely a cow from their father’s village.

Shiv Sena celebrates 50 years in 2016, and their history is studded with a range of ‘outsider villains’ – Communists in the 60s, ‘Madrasis’ in the 70s, UP-Biharis in this decade, and Pakistanis since their inception. Bal Thackeray has been indicted in criminal activities, provoking violence and riots, and yet, the man went to jail just once. A party that was created to uphold the interests of the local Marathis of Bombay, has become a backstreet bully without a sense of humour. How ironic that their founder started his career as a political cartoonist!

And when their voice isn’t heard, they go about behaving like a 4 year old girl on cocaine – break shops, smash hotels, vandalise media outlets – just do whatever the fuck they want till people listen to you. And if they don’t give in to your tantrums, just dig up the cricket pitch where the Test match is to be played. I mean, who benefited from that act?

Rashid Latif.

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This went on for decades, and has slowly seeped into other states and organisations too. The idea of violent protests has become a part of our mainstream. Take for instance the recent protests by Gujjars for reservations, or Kannadigas for Cauvery water. Or the true heir of Bal Thackeray – the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena – the only political party in the world with its foundations built on the principles of Sunny Deol in Ghayal. The modus operandi is one that is patented by the Shiv Sena – smash public property like it is your own advance dowry supply.

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These dudes have spent their entire political journey smashing things up. When was the last time you heard an MNS politician make a sensible statement? Or bring about any change in any real way? All these guys do is fret and burn, fuss and smash – just a bunch of pusillanimous dickheads.

It is shocking that no party ever takes any action against them. The Congress party didn’t do it because their entire bunch of leaders were doing Lingaabhishekam to Rahul Gandhi. And the ruling BJP won’t do it because it won’t get them 1700 gazillion dollars investment from Germany.

Why do we tolerate political parties like the Shiv Sena and MNS? Why do we give them the freedom to do what they please with the country? May be because we as a race are passive, we let things be. Which is why they know they can get away with it. What else could be the reason?

We have a fully functional police force, judiciary, law and order system, and yet nobody stands up to these bullies. It’s a democracy, motherfuckers! Not Raj Thackeray’s Bachelor Party. Who is he to decide that every film producer should pay 5 crores to the Army fund? I mean, what the fuck is going on?

MNS is a fringe party in Maharashtra, has no fucking role in our nation as such – why do we accord them so much importance? The Shiv Sena has 18 MPs in the Lok Sabha and 3 in the Rajya Sabha. Guess how many seats the MNS won in the 2014 Assembly Elections?

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Bobby Deol has double the number of hits in his career. Why are these parties taken so seriously? In spite of laws against vandalism, against disrupting the peace of the land, no party ever takes any action against them. Arnab Goswami never calls an MNS leader to his show because that would require actual balls – living, pumping sockets of scrotum that are not needed when you bring people to your show and shout at them.

The legacy of Bal Thackeray, for all his achievements, will essentially remain the firm entrenchment of chaos politics in India. Of letting loose goons on the road to silence and scare people – the lowliest form of realpolitik that one can adopt in the 21st century.

For all their hatred of Pakistan and Muslim countries, the Shiv Sena and MNS are the closest resemblance to Islamic fundamentalism in India. Their ideology is driven from the same racial superiority that makes Pakistan the failed state that it is today. It’s high time someone spoke up against these bullies. Showed them their negligible position in the nation’s scheme of things.

You might sit silent today. You might be too far removed from their politics in everyday life. But the poison of mob frenzy spreads quickly. And before you know it, a dumbass is smashing your car because Bipasha Basu’s cat ate fish on Karva Chauth.

You can choose to remain silent. But I’m going to say it.

Dear Shiv Sena and MNS,

You guys are high school bullies who refuse to grow up. You pick on the weakest, the outsiders, the fragile, simply because nobody wants to bother commenting on your brainless antics. You guys are fucking pussies. 

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Odiya guys, you need to calm the fuck down!!

If you haven’t been following Markandeya Katju on social media, you aren’t missing much.

The former Chief Justice of India is a man with lively ideas, and doesn’t believe in mincing words. He strikes me as a 70 year old man who loves to talk, and has finally discovered a platform to communicate. Some of his opinions are progressive, some loony, and some amusing.

As part of Mr. Katju’s social media discourses, somebody nudged him for an opinion on Odiya people, and the man had this to say:

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What followed was…

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Well, surprise surprise, assholes!! If there’s one thing we love as Indians, it is taking offence. There is something about offence that draws us all towards it, like bees to a flower, like ants to sugar, like Fardeen Khan to a line of coke. 

Indian man taking offence. Www.heartranjan.com

When a journalist asked for my opinion, I was actually taken aback. Are you kidding me? An old man ranting on Facebook is now to be discussed and debated over? Some people burnt his effigy, slapped his photograph with many pairs of Khadim chappals and sandals, and dared him to enter the state.

I didn’t know if I should laugh, or bury my sorrows in a quarter of Director’s Special Premium XXX Whiskey. IT WAS A JOKE, GUYS. It clearly says so in the post. The man was having some fun – just let him be!

Which brings me to my second point. We attach too much importance to Facebook. Facebook has been fairly popular in India for about 8 years now, and one’d expect we’d take it for what it is – a glorified Orkut. But – nope! We take Facebook too fucking seriously.

In case you got outraged, here’s a subtle hint.

A Facebook post doesn’t mean jack shit. Stop taking it seriously.

A Facebook post means nothing. It has no constitutional weight, nor is it valid in a court of law. It isn’t even an informed opinion – it’s just a rant. Like your grandpa’s opinion on the deteriorating standards of cinema, or your uncle’s unhealthy fascination for Falguni Pathak. It’s the same thing. Earlier, your family members would merely shake their heads and walk away. Today, a million guys receive a notification on their smartphones during their lunch break. But it’s still just a rant.

You’d burn someone’s effigies, and threaten to beat up an old man on the basis of that? Really? Come on, man. I thought we were cool. I thought we might not have a thriving stock exchange, or SpaceX’s next capsule, but we always had a sense of humour.  

I tried reasoning with some people on Facebook about this, when I was met with a very learned question.

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Arey, what did he even say, man? That the poor chaps got dejected after getting a thrashing from Ashoka. And then proceeded to perform a rather lame wordplay pun on the words Patra and Mahapatra. Who gives a shit? Did that offend you guys?? Seriously? In Twenty Fucking Sixteen??

Have you looked around you? We live in troubled times. There are children beheading people in front of a camera in the name of God. Planes are being burst, crowds being run over. People are being called infidels, faithless bastards, traitors and animals. People wake up to suffering and beheadings and explosions, nations are exploding on the basis of tweets. And this Facebook post enraged you? Are you fucking kidding me??

Haven’t we all cracked Sardar jokes? Imagine if every time a Sardar joke was cracked, they took up arms and burnt effigies. That’s never going to happen because…1984. Or how about the whole ‘Marwari kanjoos hai’ jokes? Or the vast repository of ‘Madrasi sambhar peeyega’ jokes? Or those splendid ‘Bihari ganwaar’ range?

We have grown up making fun of people, being made fun of. As someone who has been performing stand up, and writing humour for about ten years now, I always took great pride in my sense of humour. That I belong to a community of people that can take a joke with grace. And then slam you down with a joke so vitriolic, you’d want to run back into your mother’s womb, asshole!

One of the first times my mind was blown was when I heard an explicit version of Ramayan in a hamlet near Berhampore. It wasn’t a YouTube video, or an MP3 track. Just oral renditions of the entire gist of Ramayana, involving foul language, delicious sarcasm, and unholy punchlines. I remember gaping in wonder, that such a healthy practice was still alive, and practiced by ‘palla’ dancers – traditional travelling stand up comedians (who didn’t get paid too much).

We were a cool state. Let’s worry about the real issues, my friend. Of which we know there are many. Let the old man rant. We need to calm the fuck down.

Like these brothers who couldn't spell 'Israel' because their struggle is rael. They're also not particularly fond of the card game Uno. 

Pic: Dawn.com

The origins of ‘Fuck off to Pakistan!’

‘Fuck off’ has been the nation’s war cry for a long time now.

It is not due to the Surgical Strike in Kashmir or the ‘Sir jee, kal strike’ in Kolkata. For a while now, we have been obsessed with kicking people out. 

The sentiment is not restricted to nationality and jingoism. We do it among ourselves too. Pioneers of this school of thought are the two Senas in Maharashtra – Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. Right from the attacks against ‘Madrasis’ 30 years ago, to the present day, they have been playing the ‘Fuck off’ game to stellar effect.

Those who cannot speak Marathi fuck off to your own states. Biharis fuck off from Mumbai. Pakistani cricketers fuck off to your country, or we’ll dig up the pitch – which if you think about it, doesn’t do much good for anybody. If the Shiv Sena really wanted to win the nation’s approval, they should have dug up the pitch just a little. Just enough for Anil Kumble to razzmatazz the fuck out of Pakistani batsmen, dismissing them for 73 runs. That would have been smart, but alas! – Shiv Sena.

But it is not just them. Other ‘Fuck off’ situations are those between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Two seemingly developed, mature states that produced stately statesmen like Javagal Srinath and S. Venkataraghavan. The two states have been asking people to fuck off to their own states with the recent Cauvery imbroglio. Telangana people wanted Andhra people to fuck off, Kannada people wanted North-easterns to fuck off. Kashmiri separatists committed an entire genocide to ask Pundits to fuck off. Our primeval response to conflict is ‘Bhai, bahut ho gaya. Ab tum nikal lo’.

Then there is the case of social media and popular opinion. A comment that doesn’t fit the mould of a patriotism is met with – Fuck off to Pakistan. Criticism of The Leader elicits the cry to fuck off. An alternate opinion, and you’re asked to fuck off. Criticise a God, and you’re asked to fuck off.

I do not insinuate that we are the only country with such reactions. Our neighbours across the border have fancy protest too.

Like these brothers who couldn't spell 'Israel' because their struggle is rael. They're also not particularly fond of the card game Uno. Pic: Dawn.com

Like these brothers who couldn’t spell ‘Israel’ because their struggle is rael. They’re also not particularly fond of the card game Uno.
Pic: Dawn.com

Or these dudes, whose slogan 'Go India, Go back' makes you wonder if they're egging us on, or egging us out. Pic: www.latimes.com

Or these dudes, whose slogan ‘Go India, Go back’ makes you wonder if they’re egging us on, or egging us out.
Pic: www.latimes.com

But what really is this obsession with ‘Leave our land’?

Is this an inherently Indian phenomenon? Has it somehow been ingrained into our consciousness?

I think it has to do with the way our families and societies are constructed. We as a culture live with our parents and the cruelest punishment is to banish the child from the house.

Our greatest stories, our oldest epics – from Ramayan to Devdas, involve a son being asked to leave the house. Our films and our novels further propagate this idea.

And perhaps that has seeped into the way we think. Perhaps that is why we as a nation are obsessed with kicking people out of our country, our states, and our screens. The reasons may vary, the conflicts may be diverse, but the response is standard – Nikal lo.

But when there’s a war, or a question raised on our nation, we all stand together. The Bihari banished from Mumbai and the Kannada banished from Chennai. We get together and ask the new enemy to leave the nation. May be ‘ghar se nikal jao’ is a big deal for us. Perhaps it has become our first response.

As the K3G soundtrack plays in the distance, I notice that we had a traitor living amongst us all these days. Time for me to do what I must. 

Tanushree Dutta endorsing Multani mitti. Fuck off to Pakistan, Tanushree Dutta! #PeopleWhoShouldFuckOffToPakistan

A post shared by Hriday Ranjan (@heartranjan) on

The only film title to have TWO grammatical errors in it.

Word of the Month (March’16) : Anti-National

The word has often given me a lot of trouble.

But before I go on to dissect it, I would like to clarify a few points so that we are on the same page (I love that phrase – Hey, are we on the same page? Yes, but it’s a different book. Oh, shit!)

What does the term ‘Nationalist’ really mean?

The dictionary defines it as an unwavering, unfaltering devotion to the nation’s cause, a firm belief in the fortunes of the nation. But here, I’d like to raise a question. Does believing that ‘India is the best country’ constitute nationalism?

Also, how does one go about this loyalty? Are we all by default expected to believe that the nation we were born in is the best nation in the world? By that logic, people in Syria must also believe that theirs is the best nation in the world. As must people in Burundi, Niger, and Malawi.

My second question is this – how is a nationalist supposed to view the nation’s faults? In the event of a nationalist being displeased with an aspect of the nation, how does he/she express it? Is a nationalist allowed to criticise the nation? Or does one’s nationalism blind one to the faults of the nation?

Is a Nationalist expected to only speak of the nation’s positives? If at all a negative aspect was mentioned, does one cease to be a Nationalist? For eg, two people who have lived all their lives in Dubai, are asked about their opinion on the place.

The first person, a man, says that he loves Dubai as it has the best hotels, swanky cars, and the glitziest malls in the entire world. The second person, a woman, says it’s all good, but she hates the fact that she isn’t allowed to drive a car or go for a walk by herself.

Is the man the Nationalist? Or the woman Anti-nationalist?

Why is it that when a doctor points out a problem with our bodies, we pay the person respect and money. But if someone points out a problem with the nation, he/she is automatically anti-national? Is the doctor considered anti-human??

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If I ask myself the above questions in a completely objective manner, I don’t think I qualify as a Nationalist.

For one, it was a matter of chance that I was born in India.

I mean, I didn’t choose to be born here. It wasn’t destiny or any of the bullshit that films and songs make us believe. The fact is, I was born in India without my choice. Does that mean I am forced to believe that my nation is the greatest? So people in Bangladesh must believe that there’s is the greatest nation in the world as well, right?

So is this Nationalism a ritualistic phenomenon? Is it religious in nature?

Do I feel proud of being born in India? I am not very sure.

I am proud of things I did, I achieved, I created. How can I be proud of something I had NO role to play in? I was born on a Friday, and I’m not really proud of it; it just happened.

I feel a sense of silent pride that we as a nation haven’t descended into chaos. Look at all our neighbours, and you get the sense of chaos that we could have descended into. I am proud of the fact that India managed to uphold its basic constitutional principles for so long. It gives me great satisfaction that we have (in most ways) managed to live with each other in spite of our differences and diversity, that we have kept refueling the engine of democracy that keeps our nation chugging along.

But I’m not proud of EVERYTHING about our nation – that would be lying. I hate the fact that we as a nation still believe in the caste system. In spite of all our Ekta and Shobha, behind the curt smiles and folded hands, our parents still shamelessly subscribe to the system.

I hate the fact that in most parts of the nation, women can’t walk around freely. That as an average citizen of India, you’re given shitty government amenities, and your entire life is a race to earn enough to bypass the need for government services like education, food, water, housing, and healthcare.

I like a few things about my country, and a few things make my blood boil. So where does that place me?

Am I a nationalist? Am I an anti-national? Or semi-national?

The only film title to have TWO grammatical errors in it.

                The only film title to have TWO grammatical errors in it.

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Which brings me to the issue of Kanhaiya Kumar in recent times. When he was branded an anti-national and asked to leave the nation. It’s been a trend of sorts. Chipmunks with access to internet and a keyboard, asking people to leave the nation – whether it is Kanhaiya Kumar, or Aamir Khan, or Javed Akhtar.

Firstly, WHO THE FUCK are you to ask someone to leave the nation?

Did you do a tapasya for a thousand years to gain the rare privilege of being in India? Nope!

Your parents had sex, some random sperms traveled from Point A to Point B, and you were born here. So shut the fuck up! You can’t ask everybody with a different opinion to leave!

This is a nation we are talking about, not fucking Bansal’s Chemistry Coaching Classes!!

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I don’t believe India is the greatest nation in the world. If you believe it is, you’re either supremely dumb, or you blindly consume the stuff that fat politicians and psychotic journalists peddle on television everyday. A few things about our nation are awesome, and a few things suck donkey balls. That’s just the way it is, and my loyalty to my nation doesn’t change those basic facts.

If I look at where I stand in terms of the above questions, I realise I am certainly no nationalist.

And neither are you, dear orangutan with a keyboard and an internet connection. You have absolutely no right to ask someone else to leave the nation, because you’ve done ZILCH to earn the right in the first place. A few thousand kilometres this way or that, and you could’ve been born in Pakistan or Bangladesh. So shut the fuck up about your patriotism already!

You didn’t choose to be born in India. Neither did Mahatma Gandhi, or Narendra Damodardas Modi. It just happened that they were born here, that’s all.

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I’m sorry, but blindly believing that your country is the greatest in the world doesn’t amount to nationalism.

There’s a term for it – Jingoism.

North Korea tells its citizens that they live in the greatest nation in the world, and they all firmly believe it. At one point, a certain someone worked on the same principle – that Germany is the greatest country in the entire world.

The fact is, every great movement in the world was at some point anti-nationalist. The fight for civil liberties in the USA, the fight to end slavery, the fight for equal rights, they were all concepts seen as being ‘against the nation’s interest’ at some point.

Every single political hero in the world – be it Gandhi, or Mandela, or Che, or Malcolm X, or Ambedkar – they were all hawking ideas that were seen as ‘dangerous’ to the nation’s ‘fabric’ at some point of time. But shutting them off because they dared to question the status quo would have been foolish, wouldn’t it?

Should we follow Nationalism as a religion, then? Should it be sacrosanct, unquestionable, unshakable, like Isl  the world’s favourite religion?

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I have mixed feelings about being an Indian.

I have some hope, and some despair. And frankly, active citizenry is not about chest-thumping and sharing shady links on Facebook. It is about raising uncomfortable questions, and trying to find solutions for them. To blindly believe ki hum best hai, no matter what – is not nationalism. It is a flavour of religious fanaticism.

If you ask me to shut up and leave the country for criticizing India, you need to go enroll yourself in Bansal’s Chemistry Coaching classes.

They need people like you there!

PK controversial Shiva scene

How the Right Wing is inadvertently converting Hinduism to Islam

I was watching PK on television in a hotel today.

Watching a film for the second time is a wonderful experience. You notice things you didn’t in the first place, read subtexts, and can revel in the experience of the film without the pressure of analysing it as a newly released film. (Read my review here).

But the one thing that saddened me about the film was all the controversy that the film created for insulting Hindu Gods.

It is an argument that was whipped up with great frenzy across social media. In many ways, it was the beginning of the nation’s hatred against Aamir Khan. Before PK, Aamir Khan was ambassador for Indian hospitality, tourism, culture, and behaviour.

From a person who tearfully informed the nation about its shortcomings, public perception of him transformed into a monster who uses Hindu gods and themes to make his point. Which is an absurd point to make because PK was essentially a humour film. Just a few years ago, Akshay Kumar starred in a film which brutally questioned idol worship and Baba cults. The film was well received, people raved about it, no questions were raised about Akshay Kumar’s loyalties.

Was Aamir Khan targeted because he is Muslim? I suspect, yes.

But this is India, and Aamir Khan just needs another film and the entire nation will laugh and cry with him.

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But what irked me more was why the film should run into controversy.

The infamous scene of Shiva running about to save himself from a mad stalker (PK) was what got the nation infuriated. But what is so offensive about the scene?

India in general and Hinduism in particular has a long history of debate, discussion and provoking of the gods. There are countless stories where rishis curse gods, rebuke and ridicule them. In my opinion, it is beautiful that Hinduism allows us the freedom to worship gods, and live with them. We have idols of gods in our houses, images on note books, calendars on walls. Travel to villages, and you’ll find plays and folk-songs where performers mimic and use gods in their songs. Some of the songs target gods, make fun of their habits, their appearance, their vaahans – what is the big fucking deal?

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron is still considered a cult masterpiece today, and its most famous scene is the one where a botched up Draupadi Vastraharan results in absolute chaos.

Can you imagine such a scene being shot today, without morons taking to their Facebook walls and crying about ‘sentiments being hurt’?

Or, check out this scene from RK Narayan’s legendary Malgudi Days, where a Christian teacher tries talking to the class about how they must all follow Christ, and not ‘bekaar Hindu bhagwaan’. (Watch from 2.03)

Can you imagine a scene like this on national television today?

Highly improbable. Sadly, as time passes and one expects a nation to march forward towards a society that is open to questioning beliefs, we have degenerated into a nation that loses its cool at the drop of a hat.

The saddest part of it all is that the Hindu Rightwing claims to be working for Hinduism. In their speeches and Facebook posts, they criticise and rebuke Islam and its regressive practices. However, without noticing the classic irony staring back at them, they are converting Hinduism – a multicultural way of living – into what they consider their biggest enemy – Islam.

Look at each and every argument that has been made in the last few years, and you’ll assume you’re talking about mullahs in Iran rather than a secular democratic country. They have a problem with a stupid Deepika Padukone video where she says it’s her choice who she wants to sleep with.

They have a problem with the representation of God in daily life, exactly what you’d expect a regressive, conservative Muslim to believe.

They have a problem with young women wearing modern clothes, visiting pubs, or walking in parks holding their boyfriend’s hand. I’m sorry but these are classic signs of a regressive Islamic cult, and not of Hinduism.

And slowly, I am afraid we are slipping into the skin of a nation that cries at the drop of a hat.

The Rightwing is slowly transforming into their biggest fears – Islam and Pakistan – a nation that has no tolerance for an opinion that isn’t part of the mainstream.

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What is wrong with a person dressed as Shiva running around, if it is written as a gag in a film? If you believe in Lord Shiva, you should know that he is the lord of the universe. You seriously think that he would take offence to a film by Rajkumar Hirani? He doesn’t care, it’s idiots like us who get pissed off. Shiva is probably smiling right now, wondering when he should open his eyes and do the Taandav and destroy this dumb fucking race that he created.

Are we a nation with the IQ of drunk mules, that we cannot take an image in its context? And when does this end?

Do we also adopt a censorship on the use of god’s name and image? Will we also reach a day when some Hindus enter a building and shoot journalists for a harmless cartoon? Sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it? That only happens in Islam, right?

But where did it all begin? It began exactly like this. With a bunch of dudes who decided to decide for everybody else what is offensive. With protests, and effigies burnt, and slogans, and people with no real work in life protesting on the roads.

That’s how it all begins.  Always.

caste_system

Why don’t we talk about Caste?

 

Why don’t we talk about caste?

As a nation, as we get together to discuss issues that perturb us, how do we manage to skip out this system that has existed in our civilisation forever?

A system that imprints itself on your name, your title, your identity, your family. A tag that you carry down the tunnels of time, generation to generation, never able to break free from?

Why doesn’t news of a Dalit’s hands being cut off, or being stripped and paraded naked, or beaten up for reaching out to their basic rights, anger us? Why don’t we speak about a system that has crept into our mainstream – into our marriages and proposals, into our websites and matrimonials?

Why don’t we talk about Caste when we mock Islamic countries for their rigid rules? Why doesn’t Caste seem as appalling to us as a 10 year old boy in Syria forced to behead another man? Why doesn’t it shock us that our parents still adhere and abide by a tradition that existed even before the idea of India was born?

But hey, there are cool parents, yours and mine. We dare not think about such things. Let’s discuss the weather, may be?

 

Why don’t we talk about caste with the same anger and furore as we discuss a Gangrape?

I mean, look at the word – GANGRAPE.

Look at all that it carries with it – a bunch of lecherous men feasting upon a crying girl, tearing her flesh. Look at the word – strutting around and demanding our attention like a tramp.

And then look at this word – CASTE.

It signifies nothing. An old, dusted discussion, fleeting memories of that Amar Chitra Katha comic of BR Ambedkar, and how ‘millions’ of Indians were relieved from thousands of years of misery. The word is an old cow, loitering about in the wild till it dies an insignificant, lonely death.

 

Why don’t we talk about caste when it blatantly stares at us in every sphere of life? On our birthdays, and festivals, and weddings, and funerals. Why don’t we talk about caste in our places of worship, our temples of love and compassion?

Why are our Gods biased? 33,000 crore Gods in our nation, why do they watch stone-faced and silent, as this inhumane discrimination is openly propagated in their places of worship?

Why doesn’t it disgust us that a cruel system, whose earliest remains date back to the first script ever written in Hinduism, still exists today? A system that cruelly discriminated upon people for no fault of theirs. A system that relegated you to be a cobbler or barber or sewage-cleaner, year after year, generation after generation?

Why don’t we talk about Caste?

 

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We don’t talk about caste because it’s not cool, yo!

It embarrasses us. Like a stain of menstrual blood on a pure white, silk saree, Caste is a blot on our glorious past as the beacon of the world.

We don’t talk about caste because it doesn’t exist in the world we grow up in. It never did.

Raj and Simran never discussed their caste. Neither did Prem, or Amar, Akbar, Anthony before him. Caste doesn’t go with our idea of modern India.

The one we see in PPTs and news briefs. How do you place that dark elephant of an issue on sparkling flyovers? It doesn’t look good on spotless roads or among fair, shiny kids in blazers smiling in front of their colleges. It doesn’t fit in, bro.

We don’t talk about Caste because it’s not really a serious problem. Nope. Serious problems are Illiteracy, Unemployment, and Gender Sensitivity. Yup, we’re talking about Gender Sensitivity now, but it doesn’t shock us that 80% of the country is divided into four imaginary divisions that began thousands of years ago.

 

We don’t talk about Caste because we don’t believe in the ‘Ugly, cruel caste system’ that we learnt about in Social Studies. We follow a cleaner version of the Caste System.

We don’t beat up Dalits. But we’ll eat and breed among our own kind. We will look for matches within our incestuous little group and find a ‘match’ for our children. We follow the ‘good caste system’. The harmless butterfly version of the ugly black snake that exists out there, in the wilderness somewhere.

 

We don’t talk about Caste because our parents never questioned it. And on never questions one’s parents’ beliefs in anything. Cos bro, Matru Devo Bhava, Pitru Devo Bhava, yo!

Also, look at India today. We have left all that shit behind, brother. We are marching forward towards progress and growth and glossy cars and shiny roads. Why bring up something from so far back? Do you know that Mark Zuckerberg wears the same kind of T-shirts every day? Ha, thought so!

 

We don’t talk about Caste because we have never questioned our beliefs.

We will invest our money in hedge-funds and manage our accounts on our smartphones, and yet, we will invite a Pundit and Pujari to do our poojas. Because you see, God is Almighty and All-knowing and All-powerful, but he has a little soft corner for people who were born in a certain caste only.

We know all the prayers, they’re a click away on our glitzy smartphones. But we will pay this man to sit shirtless in front of us and chant them out, because God likes them prayers when they come off his lips. Of course, he’s God. But we all have our weaknesses, and Brahmins are God’s weakness. God is trying to wean off the habit, but it’ll take some time.

 

We don’t talk about Caste because it embarrasses us.

Like the uncle who touches a 12 year old girl between her thighs one summer afternoon, and then meets her ten years later at a family function, we are filled with dread and guilt. We don’t want to talk about it.

I’m not going to talk about it.

And I know you aren’t, either.

10848780_10152674143846977_3578961904789828491_o

This Messenger of God apparently can’t take a fucking joke!

Unless you live under Hard Rock, you’d have seen comedian Kiku Sharda in a number of roles. He is the guy cross-dressing as Palak on Comedy Nights with Kapil, doing dim stuff like dancing to item numbers and trying to kiss male guests on the show.

It’s all unfunny and weird and fucked up, but that’s what makes the nation laugh, I guess.

I have been following Kiku Sharda since his stint at the Great Indian Comedy Show, where he teamed up with other funny men Ranvir Shorey, Vinay Pathak and Suresh Menon to great effect. I don’t personally like his drag act on Comedy Nights, but I’m nobody to comment on other’s work.

 

However, it was shocking to find out he has been arrested for offending the sensibilities of the devotees of Saint Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan Ji. Apart from a few comedians who raised their voice, there was barely any coverage of the news.

Our galaxy of Bollywood stars – entitled coke-zombies with IQs of table spoons – who regularly jump to the defence of their pagan gods Salman Khan and Sanjay Dutt, have nothing to say about the issue. Not a word. Isn’t that shocking?

Not really.

For you see, a comedian gets as much respect as a nose-picking, crack-snorting, child murderer in our country. And when we need to shut someone down, we turn to a gift that the Britishers left for us, archaic laws that they left for our lawmakers to fuck with us centuries later.

Of course no BJP leaders are going to protest in any way. Half of them – from the PM to your friendly neighbourhood Barang Dal activist who resurrects every Valentine’s Day – spend a good part of a year kissing the ass of these asshole gurus and religious leaders. Name any tainted guru, and you’ll find our beloved PM has taken a few pics, and touched their feet, and sought their blessings.

When our political leaders are ready to go down on their knees and gag themselves on these gurujis, how can you expect any serious action? Obviously archaic laws will be used whenever it seems necessary.

This is a trend that I like to refer to as the ‘Talibanisation’ of Hinduism.

These assholes who foolishly assume they are protecting our religion and culture, have taken it upon themselves to reduce 5000 years of debate and discussion in Hinduism into a murky, rigid Taliban-like interpretation.

For if they actually had the fucking brains to read any Hindu scriptures, they’d know there has existed a long culture of dissent and debate in Hinduism long before any of these assholes’ ancestors got their first hard-on.

There exist slokas and stotras where the author rebukes God for his actions, bemoans his lack of access to devotees. If you travel to the interiors of India, you’ll find indigenous interpretations of the epics, where everybody from Lord Rama to Hanuman are mocked, mimicked, and brought down to a human level. People laugh, have a good time, but they go back to their houses without getting offended.

Something that seems unimaginable in urban India today.

And who triggers this kind of shit? Politicians and their followers, mostly. Remember when Bal Thackeray passed away and a school girl was arrested for a Facebook update? Remember when Jayalalitha pressed sedition charges against a folk singer who sang songs against Her Hugeness’ antics?

It is a trend that is disturbing as hell. And as a writer-comedian who plans to earn his livelihood by making fun of people, it is extremely worrying. We have clear lines on who we can mock, and whom we can’t.

Rahul Gandhi is OK, but not Narendra Modi. It is OK to crack jokes on Gandhi, but not Shivaji. It is alright to crack jokes on Lord Shiva, but not Allah You Know Who. We draw these lines for ourselves and happily frolic about inside them, thinking of ourselves as cool, liberated, open-minded people.

 

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And honestly, who are we talking about here?

Baba Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan has been embroiled in controversy for decades now. The man has not one, but three charges of rape and sexual exploitation in his name. He has been accused of forcibly castrating about 400 men in his town of Sirsa, and also for the torture of devotees who dared to speak up against His Assholiness Sri Sri Gurmeet Singh Sahib Insan Ji.

And seriously, the guy was born so that comedians could write jokes. Have you seen the guy?

10848780_10152674143846977_3578961904789828491_o

He is walking-talking material for comedians. If humorists suffer from Joke Menopause, you can show them Babaji’s videos, they’ll walk out of the room with a complete 1 hour set.

The most common argument in support of these asshole Babas is – ‘Have you seen the number of social movements he is running? He has X number of schools and Y number of hospitals?’

So what, you dimwits?

Don’t you get it? That’s the modus operandi. Unless you build hospitals and schools, people aren’t going to flock to you. How else are you going to dress up like Santa Claus on Cocaine and sing asinine songs like ‘You Are My Love Charger’?

Engaging in social activities gives you no right to trample over people’s rights and expressions. Even the ISIS runs social movements in the areas they have captured. And we all know how benevolent those guys are. They put the ISIS in CRISIS.

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At the end of the day, it is just going to be another episode in our nation’s bejeweled history.

We will quickly move on to other matters of national importance. Like how many nipples Katrina Kaif’s new dog has. After having traumatized the daylights out of an honest man who was earning his living, we’ll move on with our dream of being a developed, progressive nation when our Prime Minster takes another selfie with tribals in Honolulu. Because, that is the route to true development.

If this joke of a Guruji is the Messenger of God, God must be using a shitty app on a shitty phone. But then, I wonder if God has a sense of humour. Look around at the world, and you’ll know God really has issues he needs to solve.

Does God have a sense of humour?

I doubt it. From where I’m standing, he seems like an insecure dude to me.

It’s time I had a word with God. I’ll probably ping him on Messenger…of God.

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