Category Archives: Politics

Opinion or truth?

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Sometimes when I want less clamour, I come to my blog. Which is perhaps not how blogs are projected. But hey, it’s my space.

Recently Twitter and other offline forums have been talking about The Goa Think Fest by Tehelka. So it got me reading.

Here are some links that show you one side of what are presumably many sides.

Link 1

Link 2

Link 3

Link 4

Link 5

Do remember that these are all opinions, not the entire truth. Remember that when it colours your opinion.

Just shapes. Not good or bad.

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Everyone always tells you that the path to true happiness is self-love. On one hand, it sounds like something a guru would say and something you would hear and not really dwell on, and on the other hand, it is something very few truly manage. For it would mean never comparing yourself to anyone else – for the positive or the negative.  Whether it is job, money, men, friendships, and any other form of validation. This can apply to every aspect of your life but one area it hit home acutely recently is beauty.

We all think we know what beauty it is more so because beauty, as school aphorisms have made us mug up, lies in the eye of the beholder. But does beauty also mean that if the beholder thinks you could use some improvements, your beauty lies diminished?  All along people would say things like ..’but you are tall,’ or ‘your nose looks like HER nose’ or many other such lines and I would think, so what? I don’t like what I see in the mirror so these lines mean naught to me.  Just because you like some part of me better, does not change any thing for me.

In the last two odd years how I look at myself has changed. I do not know if it has changed in a good way or bad but my worth is not comparative anymore. I feel so much better now. And all I seem to want to do is want my other girl friends to understand why. In the process of trying to explain to them, I realised that it is perhaps a step they need to journey to on their own. I know I faced a lot of negativity when I changed the way I look. I changed it because I changed the way I thought. It affected people I did not expect because they perhaps weighed themselves against how they thought I was. That truly was my inkling. I have not changed, I would think, why have they?

Sometime ago I remember discussing with another writer how India needed its own Jezebel because there were bound to be women who had a mind of their own and weren’t afraid to own it. But Indian women are too far away from that. I am an urban, educated working woman and it is unbelievable how many conversations that I have been party to are about men, how to get them, what to do to get them, why we weren’t getting them, are we not attractive enough (therefore) and so on and so forth.  This post stood out like a beacon on my feed home page. Another post on why it is important to accept what you are without qualifications.

It does not matter whether you are a feminist or not, a house wife or not, a mother or not or trying to fulfill one of the many roles you are expected to or not, if you believe in your core, nobody can take that away. Otherwise you are constantly a shell, trying to fill it with substance you think others want to see there.

What do you know, truly?

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There are some days when you avoid reading the paper thinking what is there to know? All is not well and that is enough for me to know.  Then some days, you pick up all the issues of Tehelka you have not read and decide it will give you some good fodder till you reach office in the 1.30 hours it takes you to commute.

That is when you realise. There is so much unknown. Are you better for knowing it or not? I still cannot decide. There was this story and then this story. Reading it made me want to weep. Crime, inequality and such blatant horrors that truly being an honest cop cannot be that important. One part of my head tells me, it’s UP it’s to be expected. But that is not true anymore. Mumbai cops are apparently just as cavalier. I know of an Air India pilot, beaten up in his uniform by sons of builders in Vile Parle east. He was not allowed to file an FIR till he brandished some ‘influence’ of his. This happened almost 2 years ago. Today the FIR is missing from the police station it was filed in. He is not following it up because he has old parents and of course, the policemen are encouraging him to drop the complain. This is Mumbai not UP. So truly nothing all that different.

Then you read this. Maybe these were a couple of bumper issues. Maybe this is normal in the course of things. I don’t know any more. Bureaucrats who siphon. Ministers who are corrupt. Private companies who bloat and become large Goliaths and swallow some much of public money that states need to start charging more taxes just to get the job done. You wonder about things like RTI and Lokpall bills, which are constantly trying to equal the unequal status of power and other busybodies who are forever trying to not let that happen. Diluted ambits, changed bills – all of which make a mockery of the attempt at transparency these moves are aiming to achieve.

It’s frustrating. It’s futile. It is not anymore about one bribe you give your traffic pandu for jumping  a light. It needs to be about a complete sea change in every aspect of functioning. Accountability in the system. The lack of ways to extricate yourself without any consequence. Even as I think this I read Vilasrao Deshmukh now heads MCA or Maharashtra Cricket Association and I think to myself, how much money is enough! Has he not bled other organisations dry? Why does he need more?

Then, on the next day, you come across another little piece titled ‘Bride and no prejudice‘ and you wonder if the pace of change will ever be enough for the rampant rape of India. Now wonder Ratan Tata called it a banana republic. He can’t have been that wrong!

That big, brave world

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Reading this interview made me think how sterile a rape can be in reportage. There is talk of doctors, swabs, semen, DNA and many other technical things but none of them ever talk about what it is actually is, a power trip really. You might want to read this too.. it proves, at least, to some degree that women are the worst critics for women.

Though I have to be honest. When the Shiney Ahuja news broke, I remembered thinking he may be guilty of cheating on his wife but having consensual sex with any other woman cannot be construed as rape just because he reneged on promises he made to the woman. That was my initial thought but since the blogs and media have made the issue murkier and now I do not even claim to know what may have happened exactly.

Even the Madhur Bhadarkar case was fashioned from similar circumstances. It usually pisses me off when women claim rape or any form of abuse because some promise has been reneged on and they have already dispensed with the favours, usually sex. To give Preeti credit, she had filed a cheating case on him but it seemed (through the coverage) that she was accusing him of rape. It seems to be a favourite method to claim the slighting of the Indian culture.

There doesn’t seem to be a conclusion to this in my head but  it is upsetting to see how the real issue almost always gets buried in any form of journalism today, for a better headline, it seems…

The unfairness of the advantage

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I know for most of the people in the not northern part of India, the Gujjar agitation means nothing. Just another group fighting for another cause. Especially because it will not really affect you and me, and our living. Or so we think. The current agitation is because the Rajasthan High Court has put a stay on a reservation granted to them about 3-4 years ago, as a part of caste politics. It has asked for quantifiable proof that it is a ‘backward community’. Indeed, if we are getting technical, I want to know what is a backward community and how can I become a part of it.

A few years ago when the Gujjar agitation has started and they were burning down buses in Delhi, it was affecting in my life. And, at that point, someone had taken the pains to explain to me what they were demanding. The community, based in Rajasthan, I understand was demanding a 1% blanket reservation in all jobs, college seats and wherever else reservations were used. This was over and above the already 50% of reservations we already have for all kinds of backward communities in India. That is what the court stayed.

The person explaining the fight to me also found it necessary to explain that Gujjars were a rich community, at least in the cities. A lot of the law enforcement in Delhi and UP consist of the Gujjar community. So money certainly was not a requirement. Being categorised backward was perhaps.

That got me thinking. About really affluent Dalits, who are well educated and make 6 and 7 figure salaries and whose parents have worked in cushy government jobs (maybe due to the reservation, I do not know)… do their children still need reservation? And if they are benefiting from the reservations, why aren’t the deserving Dalits, back in villages benefiting? And if these affluent city folks are successful and educated, why this crutch of a certificate?

The Gujjars you see lying across the tracks protesting the stay- are they the ones to benefit if the reservation is back on track? Or will all the cops of Delhi stand to gain? Making it only a victory in principle for people who perhaps actually need the reservation.

Isn’t that what we hoped education would do? Stop them feeling the need for an edge over the disadvantage? Give the equal platform and bring them to par? But now it seems to succeed you need to be of a backward caste. That’s an advantage the common man won’t give away for the money and success of it while the politician will not want to take away, lest he lose his vote.

And at the end of it all, two-three generations after Independence, there are still huge cities and towns of people who do not get to use the advantage they have had while the so-called meritorious or earlier know as upper caste, today look for ways to fake a ‘backward caste’ certificate.

Yes, of course, I am a Brahmin and wouldn’t be complaining about the advantage if I had it (I think). But my being a brahmin is just because my father was so why should that decide who or what I am and what opportunities I am entitled to? If I can prove my worth, I should be eligible. So what if I am Dalit or a Gujjar? You have the marks/ abilities/ qualities, you get the job, seat etc. But today good marks or skills make me eligible for half the available opportunities, all because of my surname. But I guess that is the argument that was used for reservations in the first place.