No Brain, No Brawn

Welcome. Welcome to the grave new world, the new graveyard world.
Beyond all territory, they belong! They come from nowhere, for their actions are from the land of the devil, stained with blood of the innocent.
Beyond all language, they communicate. They talk no language, but still shriek louder than any! The social fabric of the world is drowned in the sorrowful yell of loss, of mourning, of distress and suffering. And all of this deafens the- deafens them to the call of humanity, of kindness.
Beyond all mindset, they approach. It is blurred with visions of castles built of gold, on foundation of broken bones.
Beyond all roots, they instigate. For they get their power to survive not from heritages, and ancestries, but from heaps of cruelty and malice. Oh so vindictive that it’s difficult to trust that they exist!
Beyond all categories, they act. They dream of ruling the planet by assassinating every single source of life, based on their lame cowardice.
Beyond all caste, they seemly fit! They only belong to the caste of the devil- the one that believes that the vibrant life can be crumbled by their tiniest provocation.
Beyond all character, they appeal! Character is doing the right thing when nobody is looking. But their deed is a contrast to the even the weakest of the characters.
Beyond all government, they govern. In this political, dogmatic fabric, they seamlessly disappear, and thus dyeing the whole institution in the colour of their greed, their desires, they immorality!
Beyond all temples, mosques, monasteries and churches, they are found at the mortuary of the monster, serving an explicitly inconsequential purpose, with a blindfold over their minds, and thinking with the brain of a pea.
20150107-Charlie-hebdo-FINAL-for-web-1-e1420671132323The world is once again stunned and grieving over a brutal terrorist attack. This time it was in Turkey, where three suicide bombers killed at least 41 people and wounded more than 200 others at the international airport in Istanbul. The timing on Tuesday was especially cruel for a Muslim majority country, coming during the 10 holiest days of the holy month of Ramadan.
Terrorism and mass shootings are intimately connected to the global architecture of wealth extraction. Those who rig economic systems to hoard wealth and power create the conditions for desperation and the breakdown of society.
Hours after the attack, US presidential candidate Donald Trump responded by tweeting “We must do everything possible to keep this horrible terrorism outside the United States,” echoing his earlier calls to ban Muslims from the country. Trump is positively obsessed with the idea not only that America is weak, but also that they will be thought of as weak by others. And perhaps most importantly, that once others decide they are weak, they’ll laugh at us. Ha! Aren’t we already, Mr-nobody-hopes-you-become-the-president?
Those of us with the integrity of heart and soul who understand what is happening must now find the courage to voice that we have had enough. It is finished.
No more failing to connect the dots between exploitative economic policies and human suffering.
We can do better than this. We must do better.
Onward, fellow humans.

Lights, Camera..Cut!

Warning: This column is not yet rated.

A scientific study has proved that about 90% of India’s economy is dependent on important people giving stupid statements! (The rest is powered by subah ki ek cup chai). Only this can explain why day-by-day our newspaper headlines are about politicians turning into pre-primary school teachers, and treating everyone in the country like toddlers. By proposing 80-90 cuts in the movie Udta******, the censor board not only showed the film-makers their place (i.e. 18th century), but also revealed how the certification board is merely a political puppet.

A lot of the concern comes from how films might affect kids. This argument is as tiresome now as it was when I first heard it- as a kid. It is like taking a kid to a pub, and fighting for Junior’s joy box. I’m sorry, but you cannot enforce public policy based on the opinion of your child. What are you – the Congress party?

In this particular movie, the controversy is around showing Punjab in a bad light. I mean, come on! We belong to a country where our favourite pass-time is to make babies, and kill the female ones. A team of 4-5 Aloknath-bred so-called moralists don’t have the right to moral police the entire country- on screen. Because off-screen, we could really do with some censoring of our actions, our mentality, our collective conscience.

The controversy over cuts made in the film Udta Punjab reveals a deeper dilemma about the role of a film certification board in a modern democracy. Does the Board stand as the self-appointed guardian of community and religious sentiments, which are to be interpreted as it likes? CBFC stands for Central Board of Film Certification, yet it is known as the censor board in popular parlance.

censorshipNobody gives you the right to interfere with somebody else’s right to freedom of expression. Five people cannot decide what millions and billions of people should or should not watch. The whole censor board itself is a farce in a democracy. And I think, we’re the ones to blame for this. Of course, when I say ‘we’, I don’t mean myself. I’m talking about people with stupid sentiments.

British essayist George Orwell rightly said that “threats to freedom of speech, writing and action, though often trivial in isolation, are cumulative in their effect and, unless checked, lead to a general disrespect for the rights of the citizen”.

Also, it is perfectly okay to not like a movie. You don’t have to like everything you buy a ticket to, be it a movie, a play, a comedy show or the midget bowling alley. You have the right to come out and tell people what you thought of it. What’s worrying is when you use your personal opinion to stop others from forming their own. Seriously, go away. You’re not a….

…[The censor board did not let me finish my article]

 

PS: Just in. Kudos to Advocate Dharmadhikari (what an apt name) for saving us from taking baby-steps to becoming North Korea. He said – “We want creative people to survive, and an industry to survive. You have to show the reality!”

Comedy Mein Tragedy

The funniest thing that happened last week was that a certain Tanmay became a Bhat of all jokes! Alright, I know it is passé, but what is anybody going to do about it? Send some goons to chop my legs of? Doesn’t that sound bizarre? So it was when a certain righteous party threatened to act in a not-so-righteous way!

Fun fact: The title track of AIB in their videos is – Tragedy mein comedy. But who thought that comedy could end up being so tragic! Oh, not for Tanmay! I am talking about India. Tragic for India. I just realized it this week that the cumulative IQ of our country is far less than what I had imagined!  You know something is really amiss when a country wants to put a comedian behind the bars for an unfunny joke; and nobody cares or dares to talk about a terrorist’s call to a politician!

Cartoon-on-freedom-of-expressionYes the joke wasn’t funny. Yes it was crass. But so is IPL to cricket. Is anyone complaining? People who like it, watch it. People who don’t, switch the channel to watch Sooryavansham. So if you don’t like the video, don’t watch it. Simple. If you can make fun of one person on this planet, you can make fun of anybody! There are so many jokes on Raj Thackerey. I am surprised how he was not offended by them! Oh, maybe they were true! And exactly why this is not true. It’s a stupid joke!

Jokes apart, why do we take ourselves so seriously? Why are we always so offended?

I think our insecurity lies elsewhere. Identities have become our only anchors in a wild river of change. Actually, our social identity to be precise. Whether we are an AAptard, Gandhian, overweight, gay, Bihari, Salman-fan, engineer, Modi follower, or God forbid, Donald Trump – anything – but it cannot be a laughing matter for anyone else! And beyond that identity, please don’t ask who we are. Because, nobody knows!

However, we are offended by everything we are not. You can’t eat the food you like but I don’t, can’t read books that I don’t understand but intensely hate, and lately, can’t joke about Sachin Tendulkar or Lata mangeshkar, because I am a Marathi Manus, and so are they! Well, till now I believed you could only not construct fly-overs near their residence. But apparently, you can’t even joke about them! Touché.

But you know what, we are not offended by a child-marriage story being telecasted at prime time! We are not offended when lots of sexist and misogynist jokes become viral on WhatsApp. We are not offended when the government is drowning all its citizens in a cess-pool, when all they should being doing is create more cesspools! We are not offended when political parties don’t get so worked up about communalism or rape, as they do about a stupid joke on a stupid app that no one even knows about. Bravo.

The joke is on us.

And then they say we are intolerant!

a

Mughals ruled us. British ruled us.  Then, Congress ruled us. And then they say, we are intolerant.

We are a country that despises the killing of holy Cow over a meal of Chicken Tandoori. We are a country that idolizes Gurus who rape women and pardon an actor who kills the homeless. That pours a glass of milk on a rock at a Shiva Temple, and makes our wife sleep hungry. We are a country that encourages to celebrate water-less Holi and cracker-less Diwali, while spending a weekend having a tub-bath after a long non-polluting drive. And then they say, we are intolerant.

cWe are a country who writes about women empowerment, below the headline of a little girl raped. That votes for tall politicians who say boys will be boys. Where Chief Minister of the capital goes on a dharana, and capital from chief transactions go to Swiss. We are country that voted Lalu Prasad Yadav back to power, and then they say, we are intolerant!

India is country that has imported McDonalds’ and Subway from the west, while still litters and defecates in the open to attract pests.  We are a country who would rather learn Yoga from an American instructor. India is a country where people want customer to consume what they make in India, while they wear clothes that aren’t even sold in India. India is a country where a criminal runs an NGO called “Being Human”. And then they say, we are intolerant!

India is a country where tragic Drama on our television are so stupid and hilarious, and where the level of our comedy shows makes us want to cry. India is a country where heroes in the movie are hero-worshiped, while heroes on the battlefield are hardly noticed. India is a country where Bigg Boss comes back with a loser-packed season every year. And then they say, we are intolerant!

India is a country where supply of grass in Kumbh Mela is much more than rave parties. India is a country where a young boy with a glass of beer is immediately labelled a rapist, and where marital rape is not even considered a crime! India is a country where Mallika Sherawat talks about woman being suppressed, in an interview at a place she can’t even pronounce. India is a country that has made Honey Singh popular, and then they say, we are intolerant!

b

India is a country where Sheikh Lights a diya on Diwali, Nancy loves Sheer Kurma, and little Pooja hangs a sock in hope of getting gifts from Santa Clause. India is a country where people actually end up marrying someone they have never seen, only because they trust their parents. India is a country where women think tying a thread around a tree ensures a long-life for their husbands. And then they say, we are intolerant!

The problem is that sometimes India is too tolerant.

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!

BREAKING NEWS- Thank you for raising our TRPs

Media is a business, it is a business of news. The trouble is when media gets to the business of breaking news. It breaks all boundaries of ethics and logic, and the whole drill of “please-watch-our-channel” is way too apparent.

What has happened in the last few weeks is but an expression of this! It has been a great ride for all the media houses with so many incidents and topics, juicier than Frooti. Right from the Hardik Patel taking the government for a ride to Indrayani Mukherjea giving ideas to Ekta Kapoor for her new plot, media has gone berserk. It has overshadowed other important news like Kalburgi murder case or Baba Ramdev launching his own brand of instant noodles!

Superficial coverage has become characteristic of Indian news media because of breaking news syndrome! Research, permissions, analysis has no place in this whole game of sensationalism. This has proved to misleading information in so many cases, and then the apology that is rendered so feeble, if at all. But the damage is done, and an innocent has to live with this public humiliation. 24-hour pressure for the channels soon led to reporters thrusting their mikes on victims of a mishap to single-handedly engaging an entire nation in a family-tree puzzle.

Last week Anurag Kashyap put up a picture with “plaster” on his eyes on an oh-your-phone-picture-is-so-hipster website, indicating it as a result of a brawl with MMA fighter. Immediately, the news spread like wildfire, just to know later that he had trolled the media houses to prove a point. Media fell flat on its face. A few people called this experiment lame.

But it is not. It just is the sorry state of affairs with Indian media today.

Introduction of social media has aided in adding more spice to this. Just last week, one girl’s Facebook post costed an innocent guy his reputation. He was declared as a national pervert in the honorable court of Facebook, and many media houses ran this story even without listening to his other-side! Turns out this girl was closely associated with a national party, taking revenge for he-did-not-listen-to-her-and-hurt-her-ego! But the damage was done, and the guy – though proved innocent- was humiliated across the country in just a matter of few hours.

Media is the fourth pillar of democracy! But it seems to have shaken, since the line between “news” and “views” has diminished! Objective news has become a far-fetched dream! The pressure of proving oneself innocent in “Noise at 9”, and putting your point across Arnab Sardesai’s trial is much-more than remembering your wife’s birthday!

In the past, it has proved to be a successful medium between the government and the people. Media was probably the strongest tool in our freedom movement. If handled wisely and ethically, it can actually aid in solving important and urgent national issues. If only they can stop being the seeming corporate puppets, who knows, we could actually be successful in eradicating poverty, if not cynics!