Category Archives: Politics

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…

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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.

‘Women’ issues

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I met a potential producer-cum-director recently. Who thought the ultimate manner in which to interest me for his project was to say it is a woman-centric project.

“Really,” I say. “What is the subject?”

“Woman-centric,” he says emphatically.

“But which woman-centric subject are you exactly referring to,” I further prod.

“Please read this madam,” he says and hands me am A-4 size paper.

The woman is bold, and centre of this movie.” It says. “She is mother nature, the mother and all other roles wrapped into one. She is a strong woman and will be lead in this film.” And similar other platitudes.

So I hand the paper back and go back to what I was originally saying. “I am not really a film person and won’t be able to help you.”

” But madam, it is woman-oriented,” he plaintively exclaims.

“But you are not telling which women’s issue..” , I say.

“You may steal my story so I cannot tell you the story,” he says. That I understand, up to a point.

“Well.. it’s about rape, hunger, motherhood and poverty.. it’s a ground-breaking film.. with a strong woman character..” he adds.

“That really says nothing..” I say, trying to end this futile conversation..

He lets it go.. starts talking possible cast. I am suggesting women who I think can play strong characters.. Nandita Das?

“No Madam, she is old now. How will I sell my movie if she is in it?” His reply.

My expression tells him it’s the wrong reply.

“It will be a festival film, no? We won’t be able to afford her plus she already has Bawandar.”, he backtracks.

My eyes have glazed over. I now get what most of film maker friends say when they say that the real film industry has to still catch up with the rest of the world.

Remember when

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I am a Bhopali.

I met someone a few months ago who had just recently joined Dow Chemicals as an employee at the BKC Office in Mumbai. My first reaction was a Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

She actually turned around and said, “You know until I joined this place, I had no idea about this incident. Even now, only when the protests happen, I  realise it’s a big thing.”

So, people, there are other people out there who have forgotten or don’t have a clue about it (how is that even possible merits another discussion)

Remember them. The Victims. The Injustice. Remember that help is still to find it’s way to this place.

Like I read somewhere on Twitter, 1984 was quite the year for events that shaped the course of things in the years to come.

While you are remembering, it’s worth reading this book too.