General ravings, Potshots

Lamps of Thanksgiving

Last night I had a terrible dream.

I dreamed that India was facing a pandemic from the Covid-19 virus—which was bad enough—but instead of the Modi-led NDA government, India was governed by the Congress/Communist-led UPA government.

In my dream I was at a press briefing by Mr Shashi Tharoor, Union Minister for Health, Information & Broadcasting.  Mr Tharoor was replying, in his characteristic cultured and mellifluous tones, to a question on the role of Tabhligi Jamaat in increasing the spread of the virus across India:

“May I, in the simplest possible words, categorically defenestrate the diabolical diatribes of disinformation, the extraordinarily elliptical propositions, indeed the abominable and abhorrent agglomeration of synchronized ad hominem assaults by a regrettably vociferous section of our public who hilariously profess that they alone represent the descendants of those doubtful ancestors who built the great cities of Harappa and Lothal on the Western Plains, that a certain esoteric ecumenical congregation in the Nizamuddin area of the Capital known as Tabhligi Jamaat have, in furtherance of what is after all only their honest and benign desideration to practice and observe their faith, sown and spread far the seed of the pestilence that we know as Covid-19; I say fie on these craven, communal and cavilling critics, these illiberal worthies of inchoate intellect; to them do I murmur: Factum fieri infectum non potest”.

It took a large pot of strong, haldi-laced tea and a filter-load of black coffee to replace the feverish trembling of my limbs with calming, caffeine-induced tremors of my whole body.

I don’t know about you, O most worthy Reader, but tonight I shall respond to Prime Minister Modi’s call and light two lamps on my balcony at precisely 9 p.m. I’m a little flexible on letting them blaze for precisely 9 minutes; because my lamps are LED lamps made in China, so by leaving them on for an hour I’m neither going to cause any problems to the power grid not add any additional environmental impact to that already caused by the manufacture of these lamps.

I bought my Chinese lamps from a kid at a traffic signal; his smile was a blessing that no amount of fervent prayers at any shrine, religious or political, can bring.

I’m lighting these lamps as a Pratinandana or ‘Thanksgiving’.  Like on the evening of March 22nd , when I stood – well, strode up and down – on the balcony beating away at a metal pan and a Turkish drum.

Like on that day, tonight my Pratinandana will be for nurses, doctors, ward boys, municipal sweepers, drain cleaners, garbage collectors, micro vendors of fruit and vegetables, rickshaw-wallahs, thela-wallahs, head-load workers, truck drivers, police constables, watchmen…. for little kids forced to sell Chinese lamps at traffic signals…for all the countless, forgotten millions whom we see but do not recognize, encounter but do not meet, who live their invisible lives and slave at endless, thankless jobs that ensure that you and I are healthy and secure and  well-fed and sheltered and strong enough so that we can all make careers out of criticizing the Politicians, the Government, the System, the Establishment, the Bureaucracy,  and a thousand other ‘Others’ and ‘Thems’ for not making our beloved India a better place to live in for these very countless millions.

But I shall also offer a fervent thanksgiving prayer to all Gods and Prophets  –  secular, communal and communist – for saving us from  what I believe would have been a fate even worse than a Covid-19 pneumonia: namely, if instead of the Modi-led NDA, India had been governed by the Congress/Communist-led UPA government.

Oh, just to clarify:  I’m not making any political statement by lighting made-in-China lamps. Unlike a large section of our populace (unhappily, most of them highly-educated urban illiterates), I neither believe that China has created Covid-19 to murder off most of the world’s people, nor do I believe that Covid-19 and other viruses are created wearing little molecular-sized kufi caps or vibhuti marks on their heads, or for that matter waving tiny nano-sized red flags and yelling revolutionary slogans.

Sure, lighting these lamps is symbolic. I think symbolism is good.

I believe symbolism is one of the things that distinguish the human from the bacteria and the virus.

Jai Hind.

 

 

General ravings, Potshots

Courting Contempt

[Disclaimer: This has been written on the 9th day of the author’s self-isolation due to persistent cough and sore throat, and amid recurring episodes of catatonia, mild hallucination, and hysterical cackling at the sight of TV news anchors and onions. Any disrespect shown or hurt caused to any lawyer, advocate, journalist, politician or any other person connected with or disconnected to the judiciary is entirely intentional.]

Despite the title, this isn’t about the ethics (assuming the existence of any) of ex-Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi accepting the NDA government’s offer of a Rajya Sabha seat. Nor is it about the ethics (assuming they have any) of these myriad lawyers, journalists, politicians and affiliated scoundrels who today are questioning Gogoi’s ethics, when just two years ago –  on January 12, 2018 to be precise – the same bunch had extolled Gogoi as some kind of judicial hero for having been one of the four Supreme Court judges who  held a press conference to publicly accuse then Chief Justice of India Deepak Mishra of improprieties.

Ethics in India is like the radioactive element Polonium-214: it has a rather short half-life.

This is about the 3.3 crore cases that are pending before courts in India.

Now, numbers numb the brain—especially, large numbers. We usually regard anything more than six as a blurry ‘many’.  So, how in the name of Bakasura the Ravenous does one comprehend a number like 3.3 crores?  How can we visualize it, get a feel of what it is?

It’s important that we can do this. Because India is all about very large numbers; especially in the synergistic realms of political swindling, business theft and general loot of the public exchequer by public and private individuals and institutions.  For example, there’s Rana Kapoor, Founder of YES Bank, whose maxim seems to have been “Founders Keepers” as he scammed us of at least Rs 3000 crores (they’re still counting).  Vijay Mallya, that ethylated and spirited Kingfisher entrepreneur, made off to Britain with Rs 9000 crores of public money kindly gifted to him by nine banks.  Nirav Modi the Hira Chor (I just love the way our journalists call him ‘Diamantaire’ ) robbed Rs 28,000 crores from just one bank (Punjab National Bank).

And so, ignoring your howls of protest and with a murmured Guru Stotram  to the great  Isaac Asimov who had a way of making the most complex things simple to understand, we shall try and explain this number of pending court cases—3.3 crores— in a manner that even Rahul Gandhi might comprehend (if he concentrates really hard).

In sallying forth, we shall try our best to retain our footing on the treacherously narrow and slippery path that runs high above the dreadful chasm of Contempt of Court.

Here goes…

Preamble

Any business involving Indian courts generates colossal quantities of paper – in the form of indemnities, oaths, bonds, undertakings, agreements, powers of attorney, declarations, affidavits, deeds, and a plethora of other documents. Each document is invariably photocopied in triplicate at the very least.

Why so many copies? No-one knows.

Maybe it’s prescribed in the Shastras and Puranas.  Maybe it’s just that no one dares ask why.

I personally believe all the kabaadiwallahs, channawallahs, peanut vendors, et al. are running this multiple-photocopies system in cahoots with lawyers and advocates to ensure that they receive a vast, steady and sustainable  supply of waste paper for packaging their wares—a fine example of the Sustainable Circular Economy.

Anyway: to return to the topic from which we were rudely distracted by ourselves…

Bird’s-eye view

Let’s assume, very conservatively, that each court case involves 2000 sheets of A-4 sized paper located in various files. Then, 3.3 crore court cases give us a total of 66 billion A4 sheets (that’s 66000000000). Since we know that an A4 sheet measures 21 cm × 29.7 cm, it’s easy to work out the total area that can be covered by the paper that makes up 3.3. crore case files:

Area of paper  = [66000000000 × 21 × 29.7] square cm =  4116 square kilometres (km2).

To visualize this better:  with the paper from our pending court cases, we could completely paper over  India’s six largest metropolises—National Capital Territory of Delhi  (1484 km2),  Bengaluru (709 km2), Hyderabad (650 km2), Mumbai  (623.7 km2),  Chennai (426 km2) and Kolkata (205 km2)— and still have enough paper left over (i.e. 289 million A4 sheets, with a total area of 18 km2) to cover 2812 football fields.

Not impressed?

Astronomical view

Well…we could instead paste our 66 billion A4 sheets together, lengthwise, and make a paper bridge that’s 19.6 million kilometres long—enough to stretch to the Moon and back 20 times,  still leaving us 4.2 million km of paper with which to wrap Earth around the Equator 105 times.

If that’s not inspiring enough:

Green view

A good working estimate is that one large tree has to be felled to make about 10,000 sheets of A4 paper. This means that our 66 billion pending court cases represent the long-neglected and cruelly fragmented remains of  6.6 million trees!  

One wonders how many of these pending cases pertain to our ecology and environment? To tree felling?

Economic development view

There’s also a bright side to the issue: a silver lining in the judicial cloud. Consider the fact that these 3.3 crore pending cases have for decades provided livelihoods to lakhs of advocates, legal interns, office assistants, stamp vendors, typists, photocopiers, notaries public, stamp and seal makers, oath commissioners, and other hard-working men and women. By ensuring that these court cases have remained pending, these heroes and heroines of our judiciary have in fact contributed significantly to India’s GDP.

May they continue to do so! 

Way forward

The Indian judiciary is doing its best to reduce the number of pending cases. For instance, in 2016, the subordinate courts disposed of a whopping 1.9 crore cases…but the problem is, over 2 crore fresh cases were filed in subordinate courts during that year. [see here for details].

Clearly, like the Red Queen, our judiciary is sprinting to stay in the same place…and steadily falling back. The number of pending cases just grows and grows.

Little wonder that out of the 3.3 crore currently pending cases, 86 lakh cases have been pending for five years and more in subordinate courts and High Courts.

How we can reduce this colossal backlog?

A friend suggests that we periodically line up and shoot all advocates who ask for adjournments. An attractive idea: but we fear it might be a violation of their fundamental rights to procrastinate.

We must instead look for a Constitutional solution.

Let’s focus only on these 86 lakh (8600000) cases pending for five years and more. Let’s suppose the government and judiciary set up 100 brand-new super-efficient Special Courts exclusively to dispose of these 86 lakh old cases, with each Court working 10 hours daily for 300 days a year. Furthermore, let’s suppose each Special Court completes hearing and disposal of a case every hour (i.e. it finishes off 10 cases daily, or 3000 cases a year).

How long will it take for these Special Courts to get through all 86 lakh old cases?

It would take 8600000 ÷ 100 × 3000 = 28.66 years.

 So, if we set up the 100 Special Courts today, they could get the job done by November 2048!

Of course, that’s provided the litigants and their lawyers don’t appeal to higher courts against the verdicts in the Special Courts…

[Adjourned]

 

 

 

 

General ravings, Musings, Potshots

Corona Virus, Evolution and Revolution

However much we dread the Corona Virus, we cannot mask ourselves against the truth that the virus reflects the spirit of true Indian Secularism in the way it infects all people irrespective of their race, religious belief, caste or class.

Covid-19 might not be good for one’s constitution, but in its own humble way it respects the Indian Constitution. It shows us that we are all truly One.

Which, for no apparent reason, brings us to the question: how can one teach Evolution to Indian schoolchildren?

Now, you might think the answer’s simple. You might answer as follows:

“Just write up – or better still and in true Indian tradition, plagiarize—a simple summary of Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’; enrich Darwin’s ideas with Gregor Mendel’s insights into inheritance of characteristics; lead on to Erwin Schrodinger’s insights into the molecules that must make up life, and explain how his ideas and the work of Oswald Avery, Linus Pauling and others inspired the discovery of DNA’s structure by Rosalind Franklin, Francis Crick and James Watson…sparking off a vast amount of research and expansion in our knowledge of how all life on Earth is linked, so that we know today that all humans are descended from the same ancestral mother who lived somewhere in the African continent.”

Of course your answer is correct, O learned reader. Alas, translating your answer into action is not simple, because nothing’s simple in India. It’s especially hard to introduce the flavours of Truth and Rationality, seasoned with Scientific Temper and Honesty and laced with a few dashes of Fun and Adventure, into the horrifying tasteless khichdi that masquerades as our Education Policy.

Consider, gentle reader, two of the simple statements just made up there somewhere:

  1. All life on Earth is linked.
  2. All humans are descended from the same ancestral mother who lived somewhere in the African continent.

Now, imagine that we propose to set out these statements as the Learning Outcomes of the chapter on ‘Evolution’ in the NCERT textbook for, say, Class 10. Assuming further that we are not lynched on the spot by an all-party delegation of MPs and MLAs, these are the kinds of responses we might expect from two of our political parties, the BJP and the CPI(M):

BJP: It is quite correct to state that all life on Earth is linked. But our textbooks must also emphasize that these so-called discoveries of Evolution by these Darwins and Sharwins, Watsons and Whatnots, were actually made 11000 years ago by our Vedic ancestors who summarized their insights into the concept of ‘vasudaiva kutumbakam’ – One Great Family. We must also mention that Indians ruled the entire Earth in ancient times, for which evidence is everywhere to see, in our ancient epics as well as in today’s world. For example, Argentina derives its name from Arjun-Sthaan, clearly evidencing that Arjuna, the great warrior of Mahabharata, had visited this South American region in his search for divine weapons…

CPI(M): In very simple words, we see this attempt to introduce Evolution into our school curriculum as nothing but another manifestation of Brahmanical Hegemony masquerading as pseudo-rationalism to preserve and strengthen the existing class-hierarchical model of social exploitation ; a diabolic and communal attempt by bigoted Hindutva-worshipping self-styled scholars to saffronize our school curriculum and brainwash young and innocent minds into believing the despicable lie that all Indians are equal—thereby denying the hundreds of millions of underprivileged Backward Castes, Minorities, Dalits, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, women and other oppressed communities their just rights for reservation of jobs, educational quotas, subsidies and other forms of affirmative action under the various reservation policies. We will oppose this Hindutva proposal tooth and nail; we shall leave no stone unturned or Molotov cocktail unflung in our peaceful street marches calling for Revolution against Evolution…

General ravings, Potshots, Verse perverse

CAA, Nuclear Physics and Opium for the Masses

I write this at the urging of a dear friend, who believes (bless him!) that I might have something worthwhile to contribute on this whole CAA-NRC issue that’s  destroying so many lives and so much public property and so many millions of youngsters’ academic careers and the nation’s collective equanimity (except, maybe, Amit Shah’s and Pinarayi Vijayan’s equanimity).

But I can’t get started on CAA-NRC and affiliated crap; not right now, at least. I am still too filled with angst at the way our political leaders – BJP, Congress, CPI(M), the whole rabid lot of them and their respective captive media-houses – have yet again exploited the well-known, repeatedly validated tendency of We the Moronic Indian People to allow ourselves to be suckered by netas and kooky religious leaders into taking violently extreme and opposed positions on things we understand little or nothing about.

Right now I only do three things (ignoring your theatrical groans):

1 – I declare my belief that Amit Shah, Union Home Minister and BJP leader, has crafted and timed the passage of CAA in Parliament, supplemented with carefully planned loose talk about NRC and NPR, as a cold-blooded, brilliantly laid trap to ensure that India remains divided along communal Hindu vs. Muslim lines till the next Lok Sabha elections. I believe Amit Shah has done this because the Ayodhya issue, which has been used by all political parties to divide the people for 30 years but benefited BJP the most, has finally and honourably been resolved by the Supreme Court…and therefore the BJP is desperate to find another issue to keep the people polarized on communal lines.  And predictably, tragically, the fools of the Congress, CPI(M) and other Opposition parties have fallen into this BJP trap by taking communal positions on the CAA issue and fighting street battles over CAA instead of fighting CAA on logical grounds, on Constitutional grounds; they are right in opposing the CAA, but they are opposing  it for horrendously wrong reasons and in violent ways…and this is precisely what BJP wants  [More on this later, I promise…if I can conquer my nausea]

2 – I translate the infernal, eternal, and vehemently disavowed words of the great Narakasura the Terrible, ruler of ancient Pragjyotishpura [c. 1191–1124 BCE]

Beware cruel Leaders who light Fires of Radicalism, Fanaticism

In the minds of the ignorant, gullible and young,

To divide them, break them, as white light in a prism

Till they forget the One Source from which we’ve all sprung…

 Thus riven, passions aflame, driven by Sermons of Venom and Hate

The masses butcher one another in the names of Secular Gods and Prophets

Whilst in theirs quiet clubs and boardrooms, on their electronic slates

The Netas and the Priests chuckle, and chalk up their Profits…

 

3 – To complete your agony, I paste below a highly irrelevant article on Secularism and Nuclear Physics written in 2007 by another dear old friend, Ghatotkacha the Late (alas, he disappeared without trace soon after posting this article: unconfirmed reports suggest he was dispatched by a joint assassin squad comprising members of Bajrang Dal,  SIMI and certain unnameable and unmentionable Leftist groups).

Indian Scientists Discover ‘Secularon’

It is a moment that all Indians should be proud of. On Friday 1st June 2007, at precisely 2344 hrs IST, a team of scientists headed by Dr Falturam G Bakthahai of the prestigious IIFS (Indian Institute of Fundamentalist Sciences) announced the discovery of a new fundamentalist particle found only in Indian adult brains: the ‘secularon’.  Social and political scientists believe that this strange and elusive particle holds the key to understanding the various forces that influence political behaviour among Indians.

“Naturally, we are thrilled!” announced a visibly tired Dr Falturam at a hastily convened press conference at the sprawling IIFS campus in New Delhi. “Our team has worked very hard these past four years. We have had to face and overcome immense technological challenges and resource constraints…but now, finally our efforts have been rewarded!”

News of the IIFS breakthrough has generated great excitement not only in India but across the global scientific community. Many feel the secularon’s discovery is as momentous as that of the neutron in 1932 by Sir James Chadwick.

“The IIFS finding is stupendous!” says Prof. Mel O’Drama, well-known philosopher, science writer and Head of Caltech’s Department of High Energy Physics. “The discovery of the secularon confirms Richard Feynman’s famous tenet: that ‘the only thing we know for sure is that we don’t know anything for sure’!”

His views are echoed by scientists across the world. “The secularon’s discovery reveals how little we know about our Universe, and indeed about humankind itself,” observes Nobel laureate Dr Gott Tubi-Jokin, Head of the Psychophysics-Cyberobiology group at the University of Grumingen-Schlauss. “Just as the discovery of the neutron changed our understanding of atomic science, the secularon’s discovery dramatically alters our long-held theories of Indian political science.”

Dr Falturam agreed to answer a few basic questions regarding the nature and significance of the secularon.

 What is the secularon?

The secularon is a tiny, negatively charged fundamentalist particle that is found only in living Indian brain cells. It contains at least 237 extremely complex organic compounds – most appear to be enzymes. These compounds are looped together in a kind of triple-helix form, vaguely reminiscent of DNA’s double-helix shape and also somewhat resembling the trishul shape venerated by Hindus.

Why is the secularon’s discovery so important?

The secularon exists only in Indian adult brains; it is unique to our nation’s population! Our studies reveal that an average adult Indian brain contains an estimated 2.34 billion secularons, and that the nature and level of secularon activity in a brain directly influences the political outlook of the owner of the brain. In simple terms, we can tell whether an Indian is secular or communal simply by studying the secularons in his or her brain!

Can you please elaborate?

Well…to start with it is important to understand that the secularon can exist in two possible energy states: ‘passive’ or ‘active’. We have found that the secularon can switch between these two states several million times a day! At any given instant, if the majority of secularons in a person’s brain are passive, that person exhibits secular behaviour. However, when the majority of secularons are active, the person becomes communal.

How does the secularon switch between active and passive states?

Indeed, this question foxed our team for three years. Now we know that the secularon’s energy state is determined by a factor that is external to the brain itself! To be precise, whether a secularon is active or passive depends entirely on the political climate in which the observation is made.

Do you mean a person is sometimes secular and sometimes communal, depending on both the observer and the external political environment?

Precisely! IIFS has evolved a set of equations – tentatively named ‘Arjun-Advani Transformations’ – to describe this extraordinary behaviour. These equations resemble the Lorentzian transformations of relativity theory. At the macro-level, we have found that the secularity of a person varies in direct proportion to the closeness of that person to the Congress and/or Communist parties. Examples abound, not only of individuals but entire political parties!  For instance, the DMK party members had active secularons in their brains (and were therefore communal) when they opposed Congress in the late 1980s. However, their secularons switched to passive (and they became secular) as soon as they backed the Congress-led UPA government. The Telugu Desam members were purely secular when they backed the United Front, but deeply communal when they backed the BJP-led NDA. Sharad Pawar was a secular Congressman who became communal when he opposed Sonia Gandhi and formed the NCP; but now he has regained secularity by supporting the UPA. Another fine example is Sanjay Nirupam, ex-Shiv Sena MP and rabid communalist who is now the epitome of secularity because he has joined the Congress.

 Truly amazing!   Will the discovery have any impact on future politics in India?

Well, I cannot comment on that. However, our discovery does reveal that Indian secularism is as transient and ephemeral as our development plans are.

What is your team’s next quest?

We are trying to isolate another even more elusive fundamentalist particle – we call it the ‘minoritron’. As its name suggests, the minoritron imparts the feeling of ‘minority-ness’ to a brain. The minoritron is far more stable than the secularon; once a brain feels a sense of minority-ness, it becomes permanent. Unfortunately, the minoritron carries no charge and occupies virtual space; this makes it as difficult to detect as the neutrino. However, we are confident we shall succeed, thanks to a grant of 2200 crore rupees from our beloved HRD Minister Arjun Singh. We shall be collaborating in our work with a team of scientists from ILS (Institute of Lactile Sociodynamics), Kanpur. You may recall that ILS did path-breaking research with milk cookers in the 1980s that finally led to the discovery of the regresson – the Backward-spinning cerebral particle – and formulation of the famous Creamy Layer Postulate that forms the bedrock of today’s affirmative action policy. It is our hope that we may one day unify the secularon and minoritron into a Grand Unified Theory of Backward Integration, thereby showing India the way to retrogressive progress.

 

Jai Hind!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

General ravings, Potshots, Verse perverse

Crowd-source money for Rahul Gandhi’s foreign trips! Restore his SPG cover!

IMG_20191128_100815963

 

URGENT APPEAL TO ALL INDIANS

All Indians must save Rahul Gandhi from Poverty’s claws

All of us should contribute generously to this worthy cause…

Since 2015, our Rahul-ji, beloved Blather of the Nation

Has gone abroad 247 times, as per latest information…

And we fear creditors will soon be howling at his doors!

 

So tirelessly, these four years, has Rahul-ji explored foreign lands for us

That his air-tickets alone must’ve surely drained his entire corpus…

He earns only two lakh rupees as MP’s monthly fees

Hardly enough for flying 247 times overseas…

And we’re quite sure he didn’t go to Hanoi and New York by bus!

Rahul the globetrotter

 

We’re alarmed, too, by this mean BJP government’s direction

To deprive our beloved Rahul-ji of SPG’s protection…

On the flimsy ground that he gave SPG the slip

On the above-mentioned 247 foreign trips

As well as 1892 domestic ones…we just don’t see the connection!

 

Hence, let’s crowd-source money to sustain dear Rahul-ji’s travels!

Let’s throng  international airports, to bid him fond farewells!

Let’s also urge  Home Minister Amit Shah-ji to exercise his power

And not just restore, but triple, Rahulji’s SPG cover…

We might then get to know where Rahul’s gone, to serve us through his revels!

Musings, Potshots, Remembering

Kick them in their Secular Organs

With Congress and NCP bowing and scraping before Shiv Sena for spoils of power; with even the Leftists refusing to condemn this display of political debauchery, the murderers of 1992/93— whether Hindu or Muslim— can now breathe easy…forever

I laughed, swore, ground my teeth, and swore some more, reading today’s Indian Express front-page piece with its hagiography of Uddhav Thackeray, Shiv Sena leader and Chief Minister-designate of Maharashtra.

“Behind mild exterior, a tough negotiator, tech-savvy manager,” gushes the article.

IE
The Secularization of Shiv Sena [full story here]
Not a word about the Shiv Sena’s vicious, parochial vision;  not a journalistic peep about the Shiv Sena’s violent past and present.

O tempora O mores !

Briefly, I try and recollect the ten years I lived in Mumbai, from 1984 onwards; those were busy years, wonderful years, joyous years in this greatest of cities. But now, all I can recall are the unspeakable horrors that I experienced and witnessed in 1992 and 1993, when the people of Mumbai turned upon one another in the name of ‘religion’. Horrors that were largely instigated and inflicted by the glorified goondas of Shiv Sena, BJP et al.

Hazily, I recall that the murderers of Shiv Sena, BJP and affiliated Sangh Parivar groups were clearly exposed in 1998 by the Report of Justice B N Srikrishna Commission of Inquiry. I know no action was ever taken on the Report; now I wonder, does anyone even remember it?

I abandon my cerebral search and embark instead on a quick Google search.  It appears that Great God Google remembers the Srikrishna Commission of Inquiry. Google remembers and recalls the Commission’s Report… though those of us Indians old enough to remember have forgotten, or chosen to forget, it ever existed.

Remembering SS
We may forget, but Google remembers…[click here for story]
Do forgive me, O most tolerant Reader: but after having troubled your mind with these musings, now I  turn away from the screen and put a lid on my terrible memories. I can’t delete the memories: they will endure as long as I live; but I am too weary to dredge them out and revisit the horrors; too weary to rage anymore against the dying of the light.

There’s just no point.

Because now, with Sonia Gandhi’s Congress and Sharad Pawar’s NCP bowing and scraping before Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena for spoils of power; with even the Leftists refusing to condemn this most unholy display of political debauchery, the murderers of 1992/93—whether Hindu or Muslim—can now smirk and breathe easily…forever.

As can all those who have rioted and maimed and slain their fellow Indians since then,  in the name of religion, caste, race, language.

Behold,  the Shiv Sena has been Secularized!

The media is overjoyed. It is a Victory for Secularism against the BJP!

Only the lambs are silent, fearful…for the wolves have now entered the pasture in great numbers, and the wolves are wearing sheep’s garb.

I fling the newspaper aside, open my scrapbook and reflect on the enduring relevance of Martin Niemoller’s words from 1946:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me

And there was no one left to speak for me…

 

 

General ravings, Musings, Potshots

One last “Eff Off!” at the Web Spiders

Are you one of those who despise, detest or otherwise dislike the kind of crap that’s being dished out in the name of ‘news’ by media?  Are you increasingly nervous about discussing politics—especially issues related to Modi and Trump and Brexit and Kashmir and Iran and Triple Talaq and Article 370—because people, even people you know well, fly into a rage at the drop of a secular hat or communal topi?

If so, I’m like you.

I’m scared of the growing intolerance among people. I deeply distrust and often loathe the news that I get via media – meaning all media, including social media.

I see a sinister connection.

That’s why I’m writing this Fèihuà (Chinese: bullshit – click here to know how to say it]

But first, I have a confession to make. Despite my aversion to and distrust of media, I follow media news, daily and avidly, sometimes even with immense amusement.

Each day, I spend between 30 minutes and an hour surfing through a variety of TV news channels, English and Hindi, in no particular order (feel free to gasp in horror): channels like Wion, Times Now, Republic TV, Aaj Tak, Rajya Sabha TV, DD News, BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera come to mind.

Experience has taught me that spending anything more than an hour on these news channels is as pleasant as  swallowing 10 ml of strong ammonia solution; which incidentally I actually did when in school (for details on symptoms, please click here).  It probably explains why I still find a lot of things difficult to swallow; especially in the media.

Oh, and I also glance through the following online papers/magazines at least once each a week: Newslaundry, The Wire, Quint, and Dawn (Pakistan). I also get two daily newspapers—Indian Express and Times of India—on which I spend a maximum of 30 minutes before turning to the Sudoku in the former which takes me anything between 5 minutes and forever. I read select WhatsApp forwards from select friends; I do not exist on Facebook or Twitter or any of the other social media platforms.

Blanch in horror you well might, precious reader; but I inflict this media bombardment on myself for two reasons:

  1. I recognize that I need the media to know what’s going in the world—because the world is too big and there’s too much happening too fast everywhere for me to experience and understand personally. But I simply refuse to take the easy, lazy way out and depend on just one media source for news, or on friends to tell me the news.  I believe no media source is telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth; yet every media house is perforce putting out bits of  truth at the behest of its corporate/political paymasters because it knows that even a semi-literate bakra like me will not swallow pure lies. In this situation, with so many scattered locations of what are at best ‘bits of truth’,  the closest I can get to know the whole truth is to make the effort to sift and scan through every shade of media—from the deceitful extreme Left to the deceitful extreme Right, from pro-CPM through pro-Congress to pro-BJP, from capitalist to communist, pro-Islamic kook to pro-Hindutva kook via pro-Christian kook, from ultra-conservative to neo-liberal—to identify these truth-bits and put them together like pieces of a jigsaw. Without prejudice, without pre-conceived notions, with as much balance as I can summon up in what’s left of my deranged mind. In doing this I have complete faith in my own discerning power to tell truth from lie, right from wrong; yet I remain aware that I can make mistakes, and I try and stay alert for traps.
  2. I enjoy taking potshots at the media for brazenly partisan or false reportage, so it’s important for me to know the various varieties of ng’ombe (Swahili: bullshit) that the media is manufacturing and selling me in the name of news. Only with this knowledge can I develop my own superior varieties of ng’ombe to counter their assault.

It’s not easy absorbing and sifting through so much multimedia garbage daily; it’s not always pleasant.  I know it’s probably futile, and you’re welcome to laugh at me, but still I keep at it— like Sisyphus rolling the rock up the mountain, knowing it’s only going to roll down again. I keep at it because I think this is the only way I can remain – and maybe even crawl along – the top of the slippery, ever-narrowing Wall of Balance that runs between the two great Chasms of Choice that define today’s world.

That’s the thing: everything has become ‘binary’ – have you noticed?

I feel pressurized to choose, all the time, between great extremes, stark opposites. I feel driven to take radical positions on all kinds of issues and ideas and events and things about which I know little and have little or no personal experience on, issues that really have no bearing on my daily life, but that seem to have somehow become incredibly important for me, and every person on the planet, to have and to express very strong views on: political views, religious beliefs, ideologies, causes, calls to war.

And often I feel this pressure too: other people, not just media-folk, are always trying to CONVERT me to their view(s).

And such is the pressure to opine, so immense the flow and intensity of information that batters me, so compelling its power, that there’s no time to think – leave alone reflect. I’m asked to choose at once.  Choose NOW.  At every step, every turn, I am being pressurized to choose between binaries: between extremes of opinion, world-view.

Choose—and be judged. Choose—and be rewarded by group acceptance, or condemned by social isolation.

Choose between binaries like: Love Modi vs.Hate Modi. Love Rahul vs. hate Rahul. Bhakt vs. Tukde Tukde Wallah. Left—Right. Majority—Minority. Brahmin—OBC. Hindi—Tamil. White–Black. Us–Them. Blah–Blah.

Thus far, I’ve managed to gasp “Thloh!” or “Eff Off!” at the Spiders, and those who quote them, without giving in to the pressure of choosing; without becoming a groupie – a bleating Animal Farm sheep, whether of this flock or that.  Thus far, I’ve not alienated friends.

But I’m getting weary, I’m feeling more and more alone.

And I’m writing this because I’m also increasingly alarmed. I notice that people I’ve known for years and decades, wonderful loving people, young and old, are succumbing and becoming sheep; impatient and angry sheep, intolerant and abusive sheep, narrow-minded sheep. They follow cheer-leaders (bleat-leaders?); they echo the crowd; they parrot the safe slogans, the politically correct spiel. It doesn’t take much gentle conversation to reveal that they don’t make the effort to read and research and reflect and work things out on their own.

They don’t have the self-confidence any more. The self-confidence to swim against the tide; to be individual, unique.

I’ve said this before: I believe the information maelstrom on every issue, every subject, every topic, is designed to sap our individuality, our self-confidence; to addle our minds so that we respond like digital switches. ON-OFF. And that’s why, I believe, the whole world is becoming more and more impatient, more radical in opinions, more intolerant of differences.

O noble reader, I do believe every media house everywhere in the world runs on a business strategy that is even more simple, powerful, effective and sustainable than the age-old strategy followed by the shrewd paanwallah who blends a little opium into his qiwam (kimam).

For the paanwallah, I, you, all of us, are loyal clients to be hooked…and to stay hooked on his paan alone for the rest of our paan-eating lives.

Easy way to escape: don’t start eating paan.

But in the Web of Pseudo Reality woven by today’s marketing–advertising–media (MAM) Spiders, using artificial intelligence and Big Data and Allah and Rama and Jesus and Marx knows what other psychometric and information technology tools, we are already hooked, already trapped and secured.

We are a billion little flies in the Web. Flies with brains (sure, go ahead and laugh, I know that leaves me out…I wish). Flies that can make choices.

Our minds are trapped in the Web; the Spiders have painstakingly (lovingly?) wrapped us up in translucent pouches woven from silky-soft strands of psyche that define our personalities, our attitudes and emotions, our responses to stimuli—a thousand and more strands of our own private selves that we have so openly, so eagerly and thoughtlessly placed in public domain over the years. Our Facebook and Instagram profiles, our Likes and Dislikes, our Twitter and Snapchat and WhatsApp groups and follower lists and forwarding patterns, our responses to countless seemingly trivial online tests and surveys, our Google searches, YouTube and Netflix watch-lists,  reading habits, patterns of travelling, shopping, eating-out, entertainment…

Easy way to escape: none. [But for a while you can try screaming “Thoh”! “Eff Off!” and suchlike.]

And the Spiders now feed on our naked minds, for they can better predict and measure our responses to different stimuli, our behaviour in different circumstances. The Spiders use our minds as testing grounds for innovative propaganda ideas and actions on behalf of their transnational political–corporate–religious–criminal–terrorist clients.

That’s why for us, the flies in the Web of MAM, every day is becoming like every other day—a long, blurry, endless  series of frenzied jumps from one stressful decision to another, one crisis to another, one worry to another, with no time to think or rest or reflect. Only the Products of the Day change; only the Products of the Day dominate our conversations when we meet; and each of us must make a YES-NO choice in regard to each Product each day. There is no place for neutrality, moderation, no room for a third way, a middle path…and a pall of dread hangs over the very idea of choosing not to choose. I am made to feel I must choose, one way or the other…or be condemned to the pseudo-death of total social isolation.

And what are these Products of the Day?

You guessed it: Love Modi vs.Hate Modi. Love Rahul vs. hate Rahul. Bhakt vs. Tukde Tukde Wallah. Left—Right. Majority—Minority. Brahmin—OBC. Hindi—Tamil. White–Black. Us–Them…ad nauseum, ads and advertorials nauseum.

So it is that sooner or later, you and I will succumb to making a choice without hesitation. Without thought. To respond instantly and ferociously to just about anything and everything, however trivial, however important.

And as my progressive choices help the Spiders categorize me and adjust their individualized Product presentations accordingly, I easily, almost unconsciously, adopt a certain narrative; a certain ideology; a certain world-view. I won’t even know that my mind is trapped and my vision clouded.  On the contrary, I will continue to think that I’m broad-minded, sober, independent, unbiased; that I am right, WE are right. And I will eagerly try and convert others to my view — because there is comfort in numbers, there is less fear of being socially isolated.

And the sheer beauty, the sheer horror of it all is, my short-term memory becomes shorter and shorter till it dwindles to nothingness. And because this is happening to everybody, I can switch my opinions, my stand on issues, my entire world-view, 180° overnight – or even within an hour —without my feeling in the least bit guilty or ashamed about being hypocritical or deceitful or unprincipled. And without anyone even noticing.

In the Realm of Subliminal Consciousness, Conscience withers… and Memory dies” – Bakasura the Great, 2477 BCE

I know there’s no escape from the Web while I live. The sleepless Spiders watch; they see all, know all.

So long as I have ever used the Net (and I started  20 years ago), so long as I have a mobile phone, so long as I use any social media platform, so long as I use credit cards and debit cards and passports, I am naked before the cold, clinically efficient, half-machine half-human million-eyed monsters that are the Spiders of MAM.

Even if I fling my phone away, shoot my TV set (and cable operator with it), burn my credit cards and de-register from all social media, I will be as free as a butterfly impaled by a sharp pin on wax paper.

You too.

If you don’t believe me, watch this TED talk to learn how and why the entire Brexit farce-turned-horror of June 2016 was orchestrated by a Spider named Cambridge Analytica and Facebook et al … leaving the peoples of Britain, and indeed the EU, still grappling with the aftermath in August 2019. Watch this TED talk to understand why, and how easily, Russia and Cambridge Analytica manipulated the entire American electorate to turn against Hillary Clinton and vote for Trump as President. If you want a detailed account of all this and much more, watch ‘The Great Hack’ (it’s on Netflix; here is a trailer.)

You might think: “Arre boss, this is all about USA and Britain, what’s it all got to do with India that is Bharat, hahn jee?”

Well…check out how the same Spider—Cambridge Analytica—was wooed by our very own Indian National Congress and possibly other political parties to help win Lok Sabha elections: [click here]

Of course, gentle reader, as soon as you visit any or all of these links, the ‘data points that define your existing electronic psycho-profile will instantly be updated and suitably modified by the Spiders on countless databases in unknown locations on the Web of MAM…

And then you will wait, as I do.

You and I  wait, secure and comfortably numb in our own little silken pouches in the great Web …we wait for the next Spider, the next brain-numbing stab of e-heroin that always marks the start of the next Product of the Day campaign…

But don’t worry: we’ll have forgotten the pain, and the very memory of today, by tomorrow.