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.

Call It A Day

There are people who wish to call it a day even before the day breaks. And then there a few people who strive to call anything and everything about our existence a day. We are aware of the number of bizarre International Days that we all celebrate. Most commonly celebrated are the days for different relations. If India had it its way, we would have had to celebrate some relation every day and all of 365 days of the year would still fall short of accommodating all the duur-ke-hai-par-apne-bahut-kareeb-hai rishteys. I was just going through the UN’s list of such days, and I have realized that we have a day for everything that we would rather not celebrate in life. Like Cancer Awareness Day, World Tuberculosis Day, Refugee Day (yes, we have a day for people who do not have a country), Sparrow Day, etc. We probably need to figure out how and why Fathers’, Mothers’, Daughters’, Sons’ Day made it to the list. But erm..

So today is World Toilet Day, or as I like to call it To-Let (out) Day.

On this auspicious day, I would like to put end to one discussion once and for all – Wash It, Not Wipe It! Let’s face it guys, beneath every excited scream – “Yaay, I am going for a Euro Trip!” there is a – “Oh hell, toilet paper again!” Why west, why?

Let’s try and imagine what must have happened. There was an early human, fascinated and astonished at something stinky coming out from his body, while looking at a beautiful sunset view across the lake! And then thinking – Shit, this feels dirty! He looks at all the water and wonders, “I used it for cleaning the house, having a bath, washing, rinsing. Oh my God, that’s too much for something so fluid. How can I use it to wash my poop?” Amidst all this worrisome thinking, he sees a tree, and goes like – Idea! And he cuts the tree, slices it, makes paper, and rolls them, and pats his back while patting dry his…IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE!

Well, anyway. I am getting so carried away, as if I am going to Europe tomorrow! Meh. Let me come to the reason why we need this day. To put things in perspective, there is about one-third of the world’s population that doesn’t have to choose between water and paper, because they do not have a toilet!

Fun Fact: There are more number of mobile phones in the world than there are toilets.

Untitled.pngActually, people are building toilets these days. In my two years of experience in this field, let me take you through the easiest and quickest way to construct a toilet:

Step 1: Find an images of slums and villages, and play them on slides with sad music.

Step 2: Also attach photographs of toilets in disuse, toilets filled up with garbage, field sized areas of sewage and stagnant water, which accompany explanations of why we need to reinvent the toilet.

Step 3: Then add images of women in India walking into fields to relieve themselves with captions about their vulnerability and statistics of their likelihood of being assaulted.

Step 4: FIND pictures of happy people standing in front of their shiny, newly constructed toilets.

Step 5: Add a quote by Bill Gates or Gandhi for the effect.

Easy-peasy, bro!

PS: The world has a shit of a problem. Butt, don’t call it a day yet.

Note Vote Hai Rabba

Amidst the smog-bound Delhi, and poll-bound America, Modi played a trump card that for sure has given a smog-like experience to all, even if not in Delhi – and don’t even ask me about the visibility status in Delhi. Forget visibility status, it has even fogged out the “status” in Delhi from Tu-jaanta-nahi-mera-baap-kaun-hai to Bhaisaab-ek-khoke-ka-chutta-milega. You can judge that from the very beloved and honest CM of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal’s tweet – “BJP will lynch everyone who speaks against their wrong doings.” – As a response to the fate of Rs.500 and Rs.1000 notes. The smog, for one, has definitely blurred Arvind Kejriwal’s vision. When the centre has taken a strong step in the direction of the only thing on their party’s mandate, Arvind Kejriwal is as if running to his mom and saying with welled up eyes – “But he cheaaaaated! That was my thing!!” I am not saying Arvind Kejriwal is dishonest, but every time he fights corruption, Mamata Banerjee’s nose grows an inch.

untitledWith a plethora of memes and messages on social media, the past couple of days have felt like a self-declared holiday! To me, it felt like a mass India’s Got Talent with the number of “hidden” jewels I didn’t even know existed around me. I mean kudos to all the people supporting the India-Against-Corruption movement against themselves! The great thing out of this whole fiasco, I mean of course other than the obvious ones, is that when padoswali Gupta Aunty tells you – “I know how much you had last night”, you can reply with a “So do I!” *wink*

On this note let’s observe one minute silence for all the aunties with huge kitty piggy banks in a constant state of poverty for their husbands. While we are at it, let’s also give a big shout-out to all teenagers, who are hooting for Modi. What do these innocent jackasses, living in their snapchat bubble, know about their fathers sweating over a bag full of money-turned-paper in the next room?  I won’t blame these children actually. I mean if an entire country could live in so much of a social media bubble that their president elect bewilders and shocks them all at the same time, then these tiny pouting creatures still haven’t grown brain-cells.

To my brain, the American election still feels like some kind of a social experiment – and it is just not gotten over! I mean I am still waiting for Cyrus Broacha to pop out from somewhere and say – Bakra!

Because this election has proved that no matter who is on top, the pervert parade is still larger in numbers, if not in IQ points. But I don’t blame the Americans. It’s like you are on a mission to lose weight – and you have to choose between not having fried food and not having sweets. I mean both are harmful, and have different ways of messing your goal up. The bottom line on choosing any one is – you are still heavy and now even a moron!

Well, anyway. I know that post the announcement by our PM, life is a struggle for quite a lot of us, but it is a short-term discomfort for a greater good in a long run. Just like not having that sweet AND that deep-fried potato!

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!”

That was the week that was!

Arnab Desai had news channels,

E-I-E-I-O

On their channel they had some TRPs,

E-I-E-I-O

With a suicide here, and an anti-national there,

Here a scam, there a rally,

Everywhere a perk, perk!

Current_Affairs_IndiaWith so much happening this week, our journalist had a field day! This gave them an opportunity to have a finger in every goddamn pie! Let me just list down all the major happenings of our country this week, just to put things in perspective, regarding our current state of “well-fare”!

  • There was Jesus Christ, and now there is Salman Khan. Jesus turned water to wine. Salman turned it back to water.

Salman: 1; Christ: 0.

(Do I have to apologize to Christ? Will I be called a racist or an anti-national? I hope no sedition charges on me for this one!)

  • The rich 17-year old brat recklessly driving Mercedes need not worry about justice with Hit-and-Run cases in our country! When you have a mentor like Salman Khan, no number Siddhart Sharmas’ dying is going to lead to justice. Relax bro, care for some Martini?

Salman: 2; Integrity: 0.

  • There has not been respite for the jewelers. This one month long protest doesn’t seem to be leading anywhere! This protest-turned-slugfest became fun when the leader of Anti-corruption movement jumped in to back holders of unaccounted wealth. Well, there is an opportunist and then there is Kejriwal.

Corruption: 1; Honesty: 0.

  •  In the last few weeks, for the first time in India, we experienced equality in the true sense- Jewelers and Farmers, both were on protest. Time for self-evaluation, Modiji? While they are sticking to their side of dispute in this scorching heat, a Good Samaritan sent them a stand-up comedian for a little entertainment- our very own favourite, Rahul Gandhi!

Gandhi: 1; Protestors: -10.

  • Talking about scorching heat, the drought situation is real. And IPL being conducted in drought stricken Maharashtra will only talk about our priorities – green paper over green fields. But why is everyone insisting on shifting IPL outside Maharashtra? Rather we must insist on them to import a measly 150 lakh litre of water in Maharashtra! Let’s play their game their way!

On a side note, to overcome the water crisis, contact Salman.

Salman: 3; Society: 0.

  • Thank God Bihar isn’t suffering from a drought situation. Given the liquor ban, even Salman wouldn’t have been able to help.

Nitish: 1; Salman: 0.

  • Close to Bihar is Chandigarh, where people who couldn’t get into roadies are struggling to make a mark in Stand-Up Comedy, under Modi’s “Stand-Up India” scheme. One minute silence for them.

Roadies: 1; Modi: 0.

  • Not so close to Bihar is Panama, from where a few papers were leaked, and now some rather important people are in a fix. Alas, if only it was as easy as papers leaking at University. Sigh.

Indebted India: 1; Incredible India: 0.

  • University paper leaks are least of our concern these days. Universities now serve a larger purpose- they have become prime centers for playing dirty politics. Education – Ha! Who cares?

Wide-eyed kids (studying in Hindu Madrasas) in 2020 – Are you really telling me universities were supposed to impart knowledge and stood on three pillars – Parampara; Pratishtha; Anushasan? (Courtesy- Senior Bachchan; because junior never seemed to have gone to one)

Bharat Mata ki Jai: 1; Mohabbatein: 0.

  • On the other hand, my heart goes out to students preparing to get into IIT, but merely will end up getting into a life-long education loan. Only to be able to use the Stand Up scheme of course!

Banks: 1; Education: 0.

  • Solely good lord can save our country from all this chaos and stupidity! Gee, but then again, owing to the way He created me, I cannot enter the temple to meet Him! With temple’s new found idea of gender equality, I am looking for a transgender to take my message to the almighty. Any references?

Stupidity: 1; Sanity: 0.

  • This bring me to my favourite – Rakhi Sawant vs. Ceiling fan! For someone who has never seen a fan in her entire career, I can probably understand why she wishes to ban them. Though I would request the government to let her use one before they do so!

Rakhi Sawant won; everyone else zero.

All I can say is that at the end of the day, everyone is but just a speck of dust that no one cares about. A tiny speck on a pale blue dot suspended in a vast cosmic arena.

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!

15310

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!