Category Archives: Politics

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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. 

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.

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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?

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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.

*

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.

***

Chennai Floods

Spirit of Chennai and other such bullshit

The Chennai floods managed to weave their way into mainstream news for about a week, and then got washed away by Bhai and his judgment.

In a way, I feel bad for Chennai Floods. I mean, look at what they were competing against – Donald Trump (a Subramaniam Swamy of US levels), ISIS (who upload blockbuster beheading videos every Wednesday, a bloody Chitrahaar of sorts), and Bhai himself.

Honestly, with the screwed up priorities of our news organizations, did you honestly think the Chennai Floods stood a chance?

 

The gruesome facts related to the Chennai Floods are truly soul-boggling.

Over 400 dead, some 300 missing, 1.8 million displaced from their homes and livelihood, loss to property and business worth 10,000 crores – and barely four days on the headlines. While the coverage of the news was depressing enough, the ruling AIADMK party did its bit by adding ‘Amma’ posters to relief material, firmly proving that there is no bigger nik-Amma than our political parties, when it comes to handling a natural calamity.

Experts have pointed out over and over again that much of the damage could have been averted. That a failure in urban planning is what made the damage snowball into a complete catastrophe. And yet, we spent much of our times retweeting actors donating paltry amounts like 10 lakhs towards the cause.

I have a problem with rich men dumping money towards causes, because honestly, a person announcing to donate ten lakhs is no guarantee of anything. I mean, if it’s a cheque, it is going to take two days to encash (and if it’s SBI, it’ll come through next Christmas). Also, sending ‘money’ means nothing, if you have no idea where the money is going, and how it is being implemented.

We celebrated these initiatives, and efforts by humanitarian groups. Which is all good.

But not once did we question the role of urban planners and the administration about their preparedness for a calamity of this scale. Instead, we chose to hail voluntary efforts, giving it the name ‘Spirit of Chennai’.

 

It is something we have done over and over again.

When there are floods in Mumbai, we pay no attention to the crumbling public systems, choosing instead to hail human effort and initiative with vague shit like ‘The Spirit of Mumbai/Kolkata/Delhi’.

What the fuck is this ‘spirit’ we keep harping on about?

Most major calamities in recent years were serious lapses in security, planning and preparedness. 26/11 was sheer incompetence. The Mumbai local trains blasts were another example. Our response to floods, cyclones, and earthquakes is more political posturing, and less actual relief.

 

I am sorry, but there is no fucking ‘Spirit of Chennai’.

It is human nature to struggle, adapt, and survive. Human beings will adapt to their surroundings, and help each other out (except the ISIS – those guys are bastards!). It is high time we start questioning India’s poor urban planning, our lack of preparedness to deal with calamities, and our fuck-all ‘Chalta Hai’ attitude in times of distress.

It is easy to pat each other’s back and say vague shit like ‘Spirit of Chennai and Mumbai’. But if people are going to attempt to solve problems on this scale, why the fuck do we have elected representatives?

If we are going to be using Ola boats from one flooded colony to another, delivering ‘Amma’ packets to homeless people, why do we have Mother Hen chilling at Ooty for the rest of the year?

And if we are going to be putting up shit like ‘Spirit of Chennai’ on our walls, what would idiotic sites like ScoopWhoop and BuzzFeed come up with?

***

(Featured Image Source)

mumbai police

Such a ‘Policey’ thing to do

mumbai police

Indian Police doing what they do best. Humiliate law-abiding citizens.

In a nation where women get raped, men get killed, and Bollywood stars gift puppies to their girlfriends, it is difficult for news to sustain any sort of shelf life.

Which is why the news of Mumbai Police picking up 40 couples from hotels, and parading them on the road like petty pickpockets, will hardly make the news. A few hashtags here, Arnab Goswami beheading someone there, and that’s it.

And yet, the incident angered me no end.

It has long been the job of Indian Police’s duty to fuck the happiness of the people of the country. In our country, you cannot hold your partner’s hand. Forget kissing, you cannot even hug your partner, without incurring the wrath of uncles, aunties, shopkeepers, beggars, stray dogs, bacteria, plasmodium, the five elements – and cops. Most importantly, cops.

For you see, there is no greater threat for you on the road, than khaki-wearing morons who have the license to weild sticks, pull up anybody for interrogation, and deal with them as they like.

When I am out with a girl, it is not really a sex offender I am afraid of. You can deal with a sex-offender. Raise your voice, be assertive, draw attention – a sex offender is afraid of the law. I am more scared of cops – because cops fear no one. The law is but an old underwear that they can remove and discard as they please.

Having been stopped by cops on numerous occasions, this is usually the drill that ensues. The cop will first stop me, and call out to me to come towards him, like I’m a petty criminal.

I am a Research scholar, and the cop is a Tenth pass, unfit moron who can’t speak three lines in any language, and yet I have to address him as ‘Sir’.

‘What are you doing here?’

‘Nothing, sir. We are just sitting, sir’.

‘Is this the time to sit? (Turns to the girl) What’s your name?’

The girl by now is scared, or embarassed.

‘Do your parents know you are here? Should I call them? Huh? Tell me? What’s your name? Are you from a good family? Do girls from good families do such stuff? Should I call your parents – yes or no, tell me’.

What follows is half an hour of nagging, coaxing and cajoling. Which usually ends when I take out some hard earned money and grease his filthy palms. It is ironic that the Police was instituted to make citizens feel safe and secure. And yet, the first thing people want to do in India, is avoid the cops. We fear them, these lawless creatures of the night, who prowl on everybody they see. These khaki-colored creatures who can only be satiated with some money, like you’d feed a hungry stray dog.

Think I am going overboard? Well, when was the last time you met a polite, informed, fit policeman? When was the last time you dealt with the cops and came out of the room feeling good about things? If you did, well, good for you. I have never met one of such kind.

The couples, who had paid their own money, booked a hotel to spend time together, were rounded up, slapped, and had to walk around with their faces covered. The entire operation was led by visionary DCP Vikram Deshpande, who pesonally supervised the operations. This is how the meeting must have gone:

‘Sir, what do we do today? Kuchh mazaa nahi aa raha hai’.
‘Hmmm…I know what you mean…’
‘Sir, there have been chain-snatching incidents all over the city. Also, Mumbai is perenially vulnerable to terrorist attacks – ‘
‘Wait, I know what we can do. Let’s raid rooms and haul up young couples who are having sex…cos how can they have sex when we can’t have sex? You know with all our paunches and stuff…’
‘Great idea, sir. Let’s go…abey, gaadi nikaal…’

Maharashtra-Police-Logo

Such an appropriate logo – ‘Zyada baat kiya, toh Ek doonga, kheenchke’. Also, keep your right hand free. Don’t masturbate. It’s not a good habit.

Also, it is not merely the attitude of the police alone. It is an Indian middle-aged problem. Ask anybody middle aged in India, even your own parents, about the incident. The one response you’ll get is ‘Well, they shouldn’t have booked rooms in a hotel. Who does indecent stuff like that?’

We are fine with fucking our brains out and producing babies like rabbits, but someone using protection and doing it for pleasure – Nahi re, baba. Sanskriti bhrasht ho jayegi.

And that is the sad reality of the country. We endure shitty laws, shitty lawmakers, sub-Saharan standards of public utilities, unsafe streets, and terrorists on our way to work. And the force we are supposed to trust – is just this bunch of fat, unfit, uncivilised jokers who chase AK-47 weilding terrorists with sticks.

Who choose to display their masculinity by rounding up innocents, because they know a terrorist isn’t going to pay a bribe. Who have passed an exam, and run 100 meters, and joined an elite force who can stop you anytime, slap you, humiliate you, and laugh in your face as you walk out helplessly.

The Indian Police is a gigantic bunch of jokers. They invoke fear and hatred in you. They carry weapons, and use force when they deem fit. They wear uniforms, and don’t treat you like humans. How are they different from miliants, again?

*****

yakub memon

How We Made a Criminal into a Martyr

The ruckus behind Yakub Memon’s hanging had me baffled.

For someone who updates social media on issues, I was truly clueless about the entire hullabaloo. People had begun calling it an ‘injustice’, some others a travesty and a few others had gone to the extent of calling it a ‘shame to a democracy’.

Somewhere amidst this noise, I had to sit back and scratch my head. What did I really miss??

*

I can understand the call for abolishing death penalty.

That is a debate that has existed for long. Most nations that consider themselves ‘evolved’ or civilized have abolished it. I am not erudite enough to comment on the issue, I can’t claim to know the nuances of the debate.

What I do know, and am fully convinced about, is belief in the law of the land.

In a way, I was proud of the fact that a criminal was even given debate and discussion on a national scale. In most of our neighbouring countries, he would have been chopped to salad, and nobody would even know when it happened.

Of course, I do not endorse it, I’m merely stating the facts. The entire debate and discussion probably reflected our civility as a nation.

 

What disturbed me, however, was how nobody seemed to speak of his crimes anymore.

The only point of discussion was of him ‘helping’ Indian intelligence authorities in their investigation. This, apparently, ought to have gotten him a pardon, made him above the law of the land, which had spent 22 years to run its course. The other argument was that he was being hung for the crimes of his brother.

 
The intelligence in that statement can be gauged by the fact that it was echoed by Salman Khan, that well-read intellectual from Bandra.

 
Also, the last time we showed mercy on criminals and kept them in jails, here is what happened. The Kandahar hijackers demanded the release of Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and Maulana Masood Azhar.

What did these dudes do after they were released?

The World Trade Centre attacks of 9/11, the kidnapping, and beheading of Daniel Pearl. And oh, remember the Mumbai terror attacks? Those too.

 

Strangely, whenever Yakub’s activities were spoken about, it was in an off-handed manner, like an accepted theorem – ‘Yes, he did commit those crimes, BUT – ’

As a media student, I think most of it is to do with public perception of an incident.

Let’s compare this with another incident that provoked the nation’s fury in the last few years. Ram Singh & Co.’s rape of Jyoti Singh Pandey in December 2012.

The same liberals who poured their heart out on my wall last week, had been crying hoarse – ‘Hang the rapist’.

That was because the facts were out there in the public. They had beaten the girl black and blue, broken her bones, inserted a rod into her vagina, kicked her till her intestines came out – the gory details were all out in the public. There was a face to the victim, a name (even though it wasn’t out for long). At the same time, there was a face to the criminals too – they had names, faces, homes.

But the Mumbai blasts of 93 were more or less faceless.

Except Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon, no faces or names floated in the minds of the public. It was just that – Bombay Blasts. A sad incident where people lost their lives. Like they do on trains everyday. Or if there is a stampede at a holy river.

The Mumbai blasts had no face.

 

That, and the fact that decades have passed since the incident, softens our stand. We begin to look at the peripheries, the tangents, and miss the gaping black hole in the middle.

Well, Yakub Memon wasn’t an innocent victim of circumstances.

Duryodhana was the more evil among the brothers. Doesn’t mean Dushasana was a saint!

 

To all you people who cried, spoke your voice, and pasted links to articles on my wall, here’s what Yakub Memon did.

He was a sharp student. After securing his Chartered Accountant’s degree in 1991, he was fudging accounts for his brother Tiger Memon by 1992.

Yakub Memon managed the funds for his brother. He arranged the money to buy bombs and guns. He fudged accounts to ensure they weren’t traced back to him.

He bought the cars and scooters in which the bombs were planted. Flats owned by him were used to plan the whole conspiracy. He supervised and distributed the guns and weapons, saw to it that they were well-hidden.

He bought and arranged air tickets for the accused to escape away to Pakistan, joining them when he thought it was a safer option for his family.

 

Perhaps reading The Times of India everyday has made us dumb.

Yakub Memon lived in Pakistan, enjoyed the luxury of their hospitality along with his family for nearly a year. By then, the investigation in India had picked up pace. All the signs were hinting towards Pakistan’s involvement.

By any shred of common logic, Pakistan wasn’t going to be feeding and keeping him safe. He only returned to India when he was a liability. When his family was in danger.

 

The blasts killed more than 300 people.

Innocents died. Hawkers who would stand under the sun and sell and earn peanuts. Employees who were on their way to earn an honest living. Common people who were neither communal, nor conniving with Bal Thackeray.

Just regular people going about their lives, were blown to bits. And Yakub Memon was at the epicenter of it all.

He was no saint. He was a sneaky, conniving bastard who ran away after engineering the blasts, and returned when he realized it was the safest option.

 

And what did the debate result in?

More than 35,000 people congregated at his funeral. Political parties like AIMIM claimed it was a conspiracy against Muslims.

Yakub Memon had set out to die for the cause of Islam. He failed, but we made sure he succeeded in the end.

We made a criminal a martyr.

Congratulations, India!!

******

 

WELL DONE, ORISSA !!

With most Oriyas, the most common complaint is the lack of representation in media.

The fact that we have such a rich culture/heritage/Chief Minister, and yet none of it is shown to the world outside, while the nation is obsessed with Bengalis/Punjabis, is a common line of complaint that most urban, educated Oriyas hold on to.

In the 70 years of independence, hardly a handful of Oriyas have made any impact outside the state. If featuring in the news is any indicator of such impact, we only have Nandita Das, Debashis Mohanty, and Sudarshan Pattnaik. The only other thing we are in the news for is natural calamities – floods, cyclone, earthquake.

And yet, in the last week, we showed our true colours. Sona Mohapatra sang an Oriya folk song and we filed an FIR against her for committing the grave crime of attempting to re-interpret a folk song. And surprisingly, the outrage is being led by musicians, social workers, artists – people you’d generally expect to have an open mind about such matters. And yet, we cling on to our quaint ideas of ‘culture’ with such insecurity.

Our idea of protecting our culture is making it wear the burkha – it is precious so let us cloak it from head to toe. Let no one touch it, look at it, have anything to do with it. It is ours.

But it isn’t science. It is art.

The very nature of art is to change shape, to adapt, to be embraced by people across generations and still be revered. Sholay, arguably the biggest cinematic product of our nation, has been remade numerous times. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s songs are adapted, Amir Khusrow and Bulle Shah’s songs are sung by rock bands across the world. Adaptations and interpretations are a part and parcel of art.

Shakespeare is the most widely read playwright in the world. Not because the Kingdom protected his writing and made them sacrosanct. But because Shakespeare has been adapted into every culture, every language, every context. And yet, his writings shine through because they touch something deep within us – they show us our dark sides, they throw light on our good.

*

Most of the outrage has been because Sona Mohapatra has ‘polluted’ the song.

Well, if you ask any boy who grew up in Bhubaneswar or Cuttack, you’ll realise there wasn’t much purity to the song when we grew up. For all its rich traditions, Rangabati was sung and performed in baarats – accompanied by sleazy, pedophilic songs about the breasts of 15 year old girls. It was sung on the streets at night, as drunken men shouted out the lyrics, made lewd signs, and generally became a pain in everybody’s asses. I never heard a single of these protectors of culture complain about it.

And to differ in opinion is one thing. To file an FIR? Seriously? Now the artists have to run from pillar to post, deal with court hearings, and get called up like petty criminals – just because they remade a song? Who are we? The Taliban? ISIS??

And who should be the culprit? Well, the youth wing of BJP, who else?

These are the same guys who run around shattering coffee shops and man-handling young girls on Valentine’s Day, these great upholders of the culture of Orissa.

And yet, it is not the first time that we are embarking on such foolishness. A few years ago, a Bill was passed in the Assembly to change the name from Orissa to Odisha. We all celebrated on social networks, and took pride in ‘bringing back our lost glory’. Wait, what the fuck?

How does a name change from Orissa to Odisha change anything? For a state grappling with malnutrition and illiteracy, NOBODY thought it inappropriate to spend crores of rupees on a useless bureacratic process. While we harp on about culture and Oriya pride, nobody speaks about the politics of Orissa. There has been just one Chief Minister for the last fifteen years. While there has been hardly any laudable progress (apart from the usual benefits of modernisation), he is hailed as a ‘clean’ man (*Makes mental note to wear white kurtas when meeting girls*).

Nobody speaks about that. About the fact that politics and the electoral process in Orissa is crumbling. That one man in power for long periods (no matter how good/clean he is) is a disaster for electoral democracy.

We don’t care about such things. What we want, is to cloak our songs with burkhas. Let nobody touch them, for they are ours.

*
Well, well done Orissa!

It was just a song on YouTube. People would have watched it, and forgotten about it. But now we have gone ahead and proved to the entire nation how petty and myopic we are!

And singers, writers and musicians from Orissa, beware!

Like Shah Rukh Khan says in one of his shitty romantic films, ‘FIR milenge, chalte chalte!’

******