2016

318a2855d6c708721181899244b82778Whoa, 2016 is ending in just two weeks, and it has given us 2016 reasons to be happy that it’s ending. In retrospect, it was a great year, except if you are black, Muslim, transgender, woman, middle class, lower class, animal or a person in the mannequin challenge. While for some the year ended in a jiffy, but for me, it was one long eventful year, with lots of happenings the world would have been better off without.

Obviously, I am talking about Brangelina break-up.

No, but seriously. BREXIT, followed by Donald Trump being elected as the president of the United States of America definitely top the charts, and will go down in history books sooner than we think. The following few years seem like a legit repenting to these two events.

And how will our very own Modiji lose this race, or any race! Demonitization or demon-ization or who-is-the-demon-realization has made the nation doubt the choice of their leader. Well, a step that looked far more promising as an idea has turned into a complete turmoil, and added to the experience that 2016 anyway was.

Terror attacks have been on an all-time rise. Libya, Turkey, Syria, Bangladesh, France, Pakistan, United States, Belgium, you name the country, and it has been in the news for terrorism. Pathankot to surgical strikes, the India-Pakistan relations back home also haven’t shown any progress. Well, the world that was said to end in 2012, 2016 seemed to have taken charge of it.

In the middle of all these “anti-national” news, our government took a very important step of instilling patriotism in the minds of the people – to play the national anthem before every movie screening. The only thing more patriotic than soldiers standing on the border, people standing in the movie theatre, and Aam Aadmi standing in a never-ending line outside the ATM, is that no-one is taking a stand on anything. *slow claps*

Talking about taking a stand, everyone at Bigg Boss is doing a great job. No, I don’t watch the show, but how is the 10th season going to be any different? 2016 marks 10 years of us allowing the show to run on TV – or the same number as the IQ of the Indian TV audience.

But who needs a Bigg Boss when our Lok Sabha TV is so much more entertaining. Fun fact: This winter session, the parliament was in session for only 19 hours of the allocated 21 days. #adjourned

It did prove a powerful year for the Indian women though. From PV Sindhu, Dipa Karmakar, Sakshi Malik in the Olympics to Shobha De for her opinion about the Olympics, from Sushma Swaraj being as the only one who is digitalized in India to Priyanka Chopra rocking at Hollywood, from all the bahus on TV to Simar having more power than everyone put together in Game of Thrones, we have arrived!

Too hot, too little water, too much rainfall, too many silly internet challenges, too much noise at 9, too less governance, this year was just too much to handle. But hope is the only proverbial light amid the darkness.

Peace Out, Bro.

Do you remember the time when as kids we would shut our ears, stick our tongue out and make weird sounds to signal that we have stopped listening to the other side, when in an argument? Well, blocking people on social media is exactly just that.

I remember the era when internet would take ages to connect with that peculiar voosh-voosh sound, and if and when it did, by the time it would even manage to open my email – which obviously had nothing urgent or important or mail – my time was up. Then with Orkut, it just sort of replaced our slam books and scrap books. With the overwhelming information that Google had to offer, it soon was sought out as more of an educational tool than a recreational one.

Internet had expanded our chance of having discussions, making informed opinions/decisions, but it also has given us the liberty of shutting the screen, switching off/or between tabs, and blocking anything or everything that challenges our views.

Internet was also a potential prospect of meeting with like-minded people. No, I am not talking about Tinder, d’uh! But, we become aware of other people who also are blocking the same things/views/people as us, and suddenly that gives a great power to our thought, ingrains it into us more than ever, and we block other views with renewed zest and enthusiasm. This is sort of leading to a “cult” culture over every opinion that we have.

putting-your-opinion-out-on-the-internet-is-frowned-upon-meme

So today it is very difficult to just say anything you feel like about any issue. Because the moment you open your mouth, you are either a bhakt, or an AAPtard, or just downright stupid. Either you are a feminist or a chauvinist. You become a libtard, right-winger, anti-national, intolerant or Pakistani even before you completely keep your point.  If you are against Trump, you are pro-Hillary. If you are against Hillary, you are pro-Trump. You are racist, body-shammer, islamophobic, or ….and if you aren’t one of these my-way-or-the-highway kind of peeps, then you are just ay!

This is now not only the story of the internet, but also in the outside-social-media life. The recent elections in America or Brexit has proved that we all are living a (judgmental) bubble of our own. But we forget that a bubble doesn’t even need something as sharp as a needle to burst, you know! And well, it has.

This change has been quite drastic, and rather too rapid for my liking. Of course, “change” has various connotations today, and I am not talking about the new prevalent – Do you have a change for 1000? – Kind of change. But, change must be such that it does not eliminate people or their ideas. Because this majoritarian attitude will only reduce our way of life to an idiot mechanism. As Shiv Visvanathan puts it – The change we need is a change in the idea of change itself.

Well, I am going to begin with not thinking that Indians who celebrated Thanksgiving have less IQ than the stuffed turkey on the table. Peace.

Pehle AAP

It is odd that people complain about the living conditions in India, even though they don’t want to really participate in the betterment and growth.

It is odd that half our nation wastes so much food, even though the other half doesn’t have enough of it.

It is odd that kids watch cartoon network, even though it doesn’t play Tom and Jerry anymore!

It is odd that I am trying to use odd and even just to make a point, even though these sentences don’t make any sense! Erm..moving on!

Delhi has been called the most polluted city in the world. So, Mr Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi and snazzy muffler man (when he is not going around coughing or calling the prime minister a psyc(h)opath), is unwilling to sit just fidgeting with his pen. He has introduced a road rationing policy based on odd and even license plate restrictions that went into effect in Delhi from January 1, 2016 – the day when Dilliwalas can hardly remember their name, let alone mathematics!

It has been a week since a trial run of this rule has been in effect, and amidst all the hoo-ha, Kejriwal single-handedly, so easily and quickly has managed to teach an entire city to count! Isn’t it amazing!  So simple, and yet so effective.

“Do you want to drive that second-hand “expensive” car of yours that speaks – Tu jaanta hai mera baap kaun hai? – Just by its mere presence?” Well then, know your numbers! Genius I say!cartoonI asked a lot of people for their opinion about this rule. Well, indistinctly it is a widely laughed at idea, with a common outlook of an assured failure. But a little optimistic sound from within me believes and hopes that this does help in reducing the pollution level of the capital, simply so that the deep-breathing Ramdev baba followers get their share of abundant oxygen!All said and done, it is a very serious issue! Just when man thought, what are the odds that nature will get even with us (see I did that again!), we are constantly hearing of natural disasters in some or other part of the country! It is time that we start understanding these signs, co-operate with our government (even if it is AAP), and together fight to avoid another Chennai floods!

This odd-even experiment has been tested before, and has proved to be successful in many other cities in the world. What falls flat in Delhi is its lack of public transport. This led to an old image of the crowd at Rajiv Gandhi metro station suddenly becoming viral, leading to a series of hilarious tweets about the way Delhites are coping with this new rule! The only thing funnier than these tweets was Mr. Kejriwal tweeting John Lennon’s line. Yes that’s right, John Lennon. #swag

It is critical that we pay close attention to the wise words of Enrique Penalosa, the former Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transport”.

“Bhaiya, Antilia chaloge?”

Culture of Politics or Politics of Culture?

Now that Gandhi Jayanti is over, we can all get back to bribing that traffic hawaldar, lying at the drop of a hat, and spitting on that newly painted wall! Not that yesterday we did not indulge (cheers to all those who managed to have a drink), but at least there was a national sentiment as such!

For all those who were high- of course because of Friday holiday- I will remind you that yesterday marked the 146th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, 111th birth anniversary of Lal bahadur Shastri, and the 1st anniversary of Swachch Bharat Abhiyan. It was basically a day of trending Gandhiji on twitter, leaving for Goa for the long weekend, and using Gandhian messages for political good!

I feel this is one topic on which a lot is written, a lot is filmed, a lot is said and quoted, and a little is acted upon! Actually, in retrospect, I will take my words back. I feel we are doing our best to act on all Gandhian principals! No, seriously! For example, Gandhi’s philosophy was based on principal of Swadeshi, and we firmly believe in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (One World Family). All it takes is to know how and when to put two and two together!

Gandhian thinking is essentially about a sustainable way of life, an economic system based on trusteeship and a society in which everyone gains rather than the few become rich at the expense of the many. It is a complex, inter-related system of thought. We are so on the right path –which is made by our government. Hence, the delay!

These days Gandhiji is in our books, on our roads, on our walls, in our pocket and in the political campaign speeches! But not in our heart or behavior. We as a country suffer from selective learning. We have so much knowledge about every subject at our mercy, but we tend to twist and manipulate it in our stride – and use the knowledge only to save our face! Some people happened to read, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” and thought, bingo! That is exactly we want to do. They are all leading our country at the moment, and just for the record, we are blind!

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I firmly believe that Gandhian philosophy is relevant today, more than ever! This century has seen a tremendous rise in globalization, privatization, violence, inequity, poverty, et al. We direly need a Gandhi to save our face in this highly consumptive world! His ideals hold a moral and social mirror to our society! But sadly, while one of Gandhiji’s most famous quote is “Be the change you want to see”, we tend to boo the change we are seeing.

Although Gandhiji has been made an icon of “Clean India”- I think we are taking it too literally. Of course, cleanliness is very important, but all his teachings give more importance to an India cleaned of corruption, violence, hatred, inequality, injustice and the like.

I dream of a Gandhian Swachch Bharat!