10 Apr 2010
Among the many captions that make me observe the changing trends in freedom of personal expression, the following two (spotted last week) stand out.
Front: "I am 9. Will you be 6?"
As regards their right to choose what to wear and what captions to flash, nobody need question. They can go naked if they prefer. None of my business.
If they think it is a simple exercise of freedom and believe in it so firmly, they should be, to my mind, mature enough to grant the same to the rest as well. And it implies not making a fuss when a few brats pass lewd comments. If they think it's a sign of being bold, why not, then, ask it straight of their guys? Why flash it among crowds? Besides attracting avoidable reactions, it proves futile. If they think it's an ostentatious sign of empowerment (a term in vogue, of late), it's an insult to their own intelligence.
When you step in the wild, you don't say "it's my Earth, my home, so I can walk in any which way at any time", although nobody need, technically, question your choice. If you choose to, though, you must have it in you to be a potential prey, however little the probability is, for a tiger.
Freedom is a responsibility by itself, not a license to dump all responsibilities.
9 Apr 2010
stiff and young
huge and august
rising into the sky
adorned the corridor
and, as i walked,
light and swift,
dance in my step
song in my heart
i walked past
as beside walked
she, my world,
in hues stunning
black, red and white
dancing tresses, dark
music in laughter
and joy of heavens
in her eyes, beautiful
hand, tender and loving,
in mine, seeking,
hasty and blithe
dance in my step
song in my heart
did i walk
past the pillars
that, with years,
aged, as i did,
weary and stoic
at the dusk of life, now
jaded and sullen
as i walk past
the pillars grim
i walk alone, musing
of memories unparted
precious as love
and of dreams undone
i walk past
the pillars sombre
and a life done
walking ahead in space
but i wish to
walk back, once,
back in time!
oh! if only!
languid and old
dull and defaced
sinking into the floor
saddle the corridor
and wring my heart
with echoes, unfading,
of times, dear and distant
7 Apr 2010
A company hires a chap, puts him on probation, and assesses his performance at the end of the term. If it is happy with his performance, his services are confirmed. Else, he is fired. If he is offered confirmation, it appraises his performance every year. It holds the right to fire him whenever he fails to make a certain cut. Appraisal decides his incentives and career path.
We elect goons (politicians, I meant) to run the country. We pay for their fake telephone bills, conveyance bills, luxury accommodation and food, and redundant security. When their convoys pass by, we subject ourselves to mindless trouble, risking deadlines, including those even of interviews and hospital appointments. Once we finish with voting, we are as good as non-existent. We issue them a license to plunder the country for five years. Or even more. Responsiveness is mild and accountability is zero.
We need change. It's high time. Why should the goons be exempt from probation and appraisal processes?
I have been hearing about gairbi hatao and other similar campaigns all my life. All the hype and fuss about economic growth notwithstanding, poverty continues to be the most pressing problem. In all these years (we are talking about decades here), poverty has been cut by barely a few percentage points! Some achievement, that! We are an incredibly complacent nation. And complacency is not a virtue when we talk about nations. It's a shame.
Sixty years of experiment has proved to be a massive fiasco. If anything, it has benefited only the rich and the powerful. The number of Indian billionaires has gone up in the global list. But that's that. The country is being run by goons and the future is hopeless. Things must change. This very day.
1.The goons must be put on probation. Their performance must be assessed on the basis of our feedback. If they fail, they must be grilled on live television and fired. These chaps should be barred from contesting again. If they do good, they must be appropriately commended on live television and offered confirmation of service.
2.After confirmation, their performance must be appraised every year. If they fail at any point of time in their term, they must be fired. If they do good or excel, they should be offered appropriate incentives.
3.When they go to office, they must go as one among us. Follow the signals, do away with those booming red lights, and stop if the traffic jams. They already have bullet-proof vehicles, so there's no reason to expect royal privileges on road. Positions in political office come with a risk, so they must take it. If they are shit scared, they must step off the chair and give it to more deserving chaps.
4.Every job has its respective functions and responsibilities. Their job isn't, technically, any more important than our jobs are. They are not going to stop some war. They are just going to work, so they must go as quietly as we do.
5.Theirs are public service profiles, and we are sponsoring them. So they must submit annual expense reports to us. If they go on a foreign visit, they should submit a report of the findings. They better not just talk about transparency and bullshit; they better implement it.
6.Government must outsource a few of its processes. Every constituency should have a PO office. They should collect our feedback regularly, analyse it and report it to the respective representative. The same report should be shared with us and the respective party chief. It should also be copied to the CM and PM.
7.Increase citizen participation; resolve their problems promptly.
8.They better behave decently and argue maturely at the workplace. They are standing for the brand of the country and they better protect it. Besides, we are paying for the infrastructure. Behave as responsible adults and not as mindfucked lunatics.
9.The GPOs (Government Process Outsourcing) must be run by private organisations, please.
10.Let not the government kid that running a GPO is not a joke. Running a BPO is not a joke, either. There are exceptionally smart people out there who can run GPOs. If the goons excel at screwing the country, there are brilliant people out there who are as good at building the country.
11.A GPO for every constituency implies generating huge employment and improving the relations between goons and citizens. Much needed.
If it means a total departure from the extant practices and processes, so be it. If it means challenging the "sanctity" of constitution, so be it. Country is important, not some conventions marketed by a colonial regime.
This may not be the best solution. It may have flaws too. Nonetheless, if a few brilliant chaps come together I'm sure they will come up with better solutions.
It's high time indeed.
6 Apr 2010
If we rank governments as regards compassion, ours should rank first. So that the citizens never get bored, it cracks jokes with amazing frequency. Laughing is good for health, so making people laugh is the best healthcare and compassionate gesture. The latest one came in the form of women's bill. Only, the joke is on women! And on us, the citizens, at large! As it always is, truth be told!
A historical move, they said on the idiot box. A few women anchors seek opinions and reactions from a few pretty young girls at some academic institution. "Women rock!" is the unanimous verdict. They giggle a lot, yell a lot, and think little. And the TV channel passes it as if they are the jury and they have just announced the judgment. It's quite likely that none of these would make it to mainstream politics in their lifetime. Besides, it's quite likely they may settle in a foreign country. And I can bet my money that most of them haven't spent even two minutes to think what the bill is all about. Look at it from whichever way, they are an inappropriate sample (for this issue) to represent the generation. It's the opinions of these that the news channel airs as the "voice of India's young women"! It's tough to decide whom to laugh at - the government? the media? the audience (you and me)?
When there has never been, in the first place, any restriction for women to participate in politics, what's the rationale to press for quota for them? Politics is serious business, and it's ridiculous to seek participation by invitation. That effects a new form of discrimination, doesn't it? - that against men. You may be the best man for the job, but the seat is meant for a woman! Are women incapable of getting elected without a law to push them along? It confounds me that women are thrilled at this move, when the message actually is - they are not as good as men and need the help of law to get political power!
We had Indira Gandhi at the helm for many years. We have Sonia Gandhi, Pratibha Patil, and a bunch of women parliamentarians and legislators. So when the process doesn't have a bias against women, why this need for quota? Besides, the law is flawed for it assumes that if there are more women in parliament they will fight for women's rights more strongly! Assuming that the law is indeed meant to benefit women, which "women" are they exactly referring to? If the government is so very clear as to which women it wants to help and what kind of benefits it wants to provide to them, what is stopping it from doing it right away? If they really care for their upliftment and believe that this can be achieved only by having more women in parliament, why not mandate parties to nominate 30% women as their representatives? What stopped Sonia Gandhi to mandate her party to allocate 30% tickets to women? Why doesn't she push Priyanka into politics? Why Rahul Gandhi? Instead of mandating the parties, why mandate citizens to elect a certain percentage of women? She obviously didn't want to risk the ire of the male party representatives.
And whom do they want to uplift? The spouses and relations of the goons (read politicians) that we have now? After all, it will be them who will contest and win. And loot the country. The downtrodden, the oppressed, the poor women will never be given a chance. So, whom will it exactly benefit? There are, even now, many women who are working for the upliftment of the disadvantaged. But they will never be allowed to enter mainstream politics. If the government really cares, as it would have me believe, why doesn't it invite them right away and provide them with the requisite funds and infrastructure? What has government done to, say, Sunitha Krishnan who has been working for the exploited and marginalised women? Instead, a few of her colleagues have been eliminated! And she continues to receive threats.
The reference group for politicians is always an abstract one. They always talk about change happening "somewhere there". And the gullible buy it too. Change is always in reference to "the others". They always talk in terms of "we will help them". Nobody ever questions who exactly them are.
Doesn't the government know where the poor live? Doesn't it know where prostitutes live? What stopped the government to rehabilitate, educate and employ the thousands of exploited women in, for example, a Sonagachi or a Kamatipura? What stops the government from doing so? Does it need more women parliamentarians to research, analyse and do a thesis in order to take action? Bullshit. The government makes a huge revenue from these spots and slums alike, so it will never touch them. Instead, it would want them to thrive. So the poor and the exploited would remain as they are. Affirmative action is just a political point-making in this country. Nothing more.
If it really cares, why not improve the quality of education for women? Why not penalise parents who don't send their girl child to school? Why not execute those who commit female feoticide and infanticide? Why not encourage more women to become social entrepreneurs? Why not persuade women to think more independently? What is really required is a change in the culture of how men and women relate to each other. The problem is with attitudes and values. You cannot change these by passing laws. It's akin to a large company that razes hundreds of acres of forest for its survival and does a few CSR exercises to flaunt that it cares for the world! It works good for the feminist organisations as well. They need some situation or the other, else the funds will stop. And if there's no situation, they must create one. Nobody gives a damn to the poor, the exploited, and the disadvantaged. The few who do are pushed into the background.
India is a telling proof as to why democracy doesn't work for a large, diverse population. As a scholar noticed, "India's grotesque personality cult built around the Nehru-Gandhi family continues to make its people the laughingstocks of the world. Let's face it, the primitivist politics belying India's democratic facade shows the country's true face. The bill is a farce. It personifies the Congress government's impotent rule. If the government really wanted more Women participation there must have been a reservation for the weaker sections of the society. Now, bigger classes and upper castes will have the last laugh. The one time electable 1/3rd women will plunder the country in 5 years and waltz away overseas".
Arun Shourie sums up perfectly the current state of the country: "Now, mediocrity has become the norm. Intimidation has become argument, and assault has become proof. Because I can assault you therefore I am right".
They talked about liberalisation as if it was the panacea. It has been twenty years. Trade has certainly changed for the better. The rich have become richer, the successful have become more arrogant, and the powerful have become more ruthless. What else has changed? Of course a few crumbs were thrown at the poor, for that helps the PR chaps to project that the campaign has been immensely successful.
A fitting quote: "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy".
The joke is on women. The joke is on us. I wonder when we will wake up!