Musings, Remembering

Shrugging away our Atlas

The other day I was looking at a world map. A ‘Mercator Map’, which is the nice rectangular map all of us are familiar with and which is still used in our school atlases to teach Geography.

Mercator Map
Mercator Map [Source: http://www.thetruesize.com]
Of course, we all know (though I for one rarely remember) that the Mercator map presents a cockeyed picture of the world’s continents and countries, because it shows a 3-dimensional spheroid Earth as a flat surface.  In depicting the world as a flat rectangle with the Equator cutting across its midriff, the Mercator Map utterly deforms the comparative sizes and shapes of all the continents (and therefore, all countries). The further you move away from the Equator, the more the Mercator Map exaggerates the sizes of countries;   that’s why China and India look much smaller than they actually are compared to, say, USA; that’s why Greenland looks bigger than the entire continent of Africa!

There’s a wonderful free-to-access site, www.thetruesize.com,  that lets you shift around countries on the Mercator Map and figure out the actual size of a country compared to other countries/continents. Do visit the site: it’s fun, and also a real eye-opener!  Here are a few screenshots showing  how big India actually is compared to Europe and Greenland, and how big Brazil is compared to India [all images captured from http://www.thetruesize.com]

India - true size

India and Europe

Greenland - true size

Greenland and India

True size - Brazil

Brazil and India

Some say the European colonizers used the Mercator Map to boost the apparent sizes of their own countries and thereby belittle (literally!) their African and Asian colonies.  That’s a matter of perception: but I don’t think we can really fault the man who created the Mercator Map in 1569 – geographer and cartographer Gerardus Mercator of Flanders (Belgium) – because his sole and very honourable aim was to make a map that would help voyagers from Europe navigate the oceans more easily.

Besides, as an Indian I personally believe we Indians are masters at belittling ourselves at the drop of a hat – or more accurately, at the slightest hint of ‘Western’ disapproval –  and that we should cure ourselves of this low self-esteem rather than pretend that it is some kind of genetic disease impregnated in our Bharatiya DNA by Thomas B Macaulay.

Anyway, while playing around with the Map and reflecting on how easy it is for me –  perhaps for all of us – to be misled by warped imagery and memory, by ignorance and illusion, by prejudice and propaganda, I remembered an article I’d written for the Indian Express over 15 years ago – written in deep angst because the media at that time seemed focused on whipping itself, and indeed the entire population of India, into a frenzy of self-flagellation following the hideous Gujarat violence of 2002.

Here’s the article: reading it again, I get the feeling nothing much has changed….good or bad.

What do you think? I’d love to know…

THE GOOD SHIP INDIA

Indian Express: Nov 27, 2003

[http://archive.indianexpress.com/oldStory/36064/]

At times of internal strife one sometimes wonders: will India ever be united? Open the atlas and look at Europe. Start at Ireland, and trace a path eastwards across the Irish Sea to England, and onwards across the Dover Straits through Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Poland. Turn southwards and wander through the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary; wheel west into Austria, and again south to explore Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Albania, Macedonia and Greece. Skim across the Adriatic Sea to travel through Italy, cross the Alps into Switzerland, cut eastwards to sweep across France, and then veer southwards over the Pyrenees into Spain, and finally, Portugal.

A long journey across a vast terrain, to be sure. Yet all those lands we traversed would together fit into the territory of India with room to spare. What’s more, India comprises people who differ from each other in far many more ways than the peoples of Europe: in race, religion, language, culture. To the wonderment of the world, the good ship India hangs together! Battered she is by violent storms of communalism and sectarianism, tossed to and fro by the conflicting pulls of her bewilderingly diverse populace, yet India sails on, her billion passengers united by a Vision.

A Vision, of a land in which all are equal and enjoy equal rights.

The Constitution of India, which we gave ourselves on 26 November 1949, describes this Vision in great detail. It crystallizes the most sublime ideas of millennia. It tells of a just and humane land, where we may dwell and think and speak and follow our chosen beliefs and faiths freely and without fear. The Constitution alone binds us together. It expresses our shared vision, and contains the blueprint for the ship that will help us realize that vision, the ship we have named the Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic of India.

The unity we seek is alive in the Constitution; in times of strife, internal and external, we must reaffirm our faith in this great Book. Amends must be made for past wrongs; walls of prejudice that have hardened over centuries must be dismantled not by force but with understanding. There will be upheavals and unrest; hurdles posed by the corrupt, the jealous and the slothful, by those who interpret freedom as mere licence. But as long as the Constitution and its vision are alive in our minds and our hearts, India shall prevail.

And her 5000 year-old voyage will continue.

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.

 

 

 

 

General ravings, Potshots

C.V. of a 21st Century Kamsa

Media and Politicians’ perspective on Kuldeep Singh Sengar

 

Womans perspective
Womens’ perspective on Kuldeep Singh Sengar

 

CURRICULUM VITAE

Name:  Kuldeep Singh Sengar

Profile:

  • Indian politician, fourth-term MLA from Unnao, Uttar Pradesh.
  • A man of driving ambition (Note: does not drive trucks)
  • A man of conviction
  • A man yet to be convicted

Current position

  • On indefinite sabbatical in a Government Resort, Sitapur (U.P)

Professional career

  • 2002–2006: MLA, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)
  • 2007–2011: MLA, Samajwadi Party (SP)
  • 2012–2017: MLA, Samajwadi Party (SP)
  • 2017–present: MLA, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

Achievements and Awards

  • Charged with burning passion for personal development
  • Charged with committing rape, murder, attempt to murder, criminal conspiracy, and criminal intimidation
  • Charged with perpetrating the Unnao rape case
  • Charged with intimidating and/or eliminating witnesses in Unnao rape case
  • Booked under the POCSO Act.

Prospects

  • 18 years’ continuous track record in hands-on politics
  • Flexibility in ideology and beliefs assures a long and bright political future
  • Specialized skills in managing governments based on coalition, collusion and collision

Contact

Shri Kuldeep Singh Sengar, M.L.A

c/o Jail Superintendent

SITAPUR DISTRICT JAIL

Jail Road, SITAPUR – 261001

(UTTAR PRADESH)

[Note: parcels and packages will not be accepted without prior notice]

Musings, Potshots

Lessons in Economics – from Rahul Gandhi and from Suresh

I must share with you two really profound – and radically contrasting – lessons in Economics I learned today. One, from  Congress President and Prime Minister-aspirant Rahul Gandhi; the other, from my colleague-become-friend of some 24 years, Rickshaw and Thela (wheelbarrow) Operator Suresh.

First, Rahul, who “chose to explain a bit of economics to voters” while addressing a public meeting on April 19th at Bajipura (Gujarat). To quote from today’s Indian Express article [click here to read]: Suresh and Rahul

He (Narendra Modi) has taken money from your pocket, and you have stopped purchasing goods like shirts, pants, watches, and mobile phones.’ Rahul explained. ‘This led to the shutdown of factories in India and many labourers lost their jobs. The unemployment rate is now at its highest in the past 45 years.’

He continued: ‘Under the NYAY scheme, an amount of Rs 72,000 will directly go into the bank account of women. Then you will start shopping, and when you shop, the factory will start functioning, and the unemployment issue will be solved.’

He also said, if voted to power, ‘We will give 22 lakh government jobs in one year, which are currently vacant, and 10 lakh youths will be given jobs in various panchayats.’

Rahul’s insight really made me think, O gracious reader. In a weird and woolly way, it kind of makes sense, no?

Only one thing about Rahul’s economics troubles me: Rahul’s plan to create 22 lakh government jobs (+ 10 lakh quasi-government jobs). Since the 7th Finance Commission, even the lowliest central government employee in India starts with salary of Rs 18,000 per month; that’s Rs 216,000 (2.16 lakhs) annually. Which means that, even assuming that every one of Rahul’s 22 lakh new government employees draw only this minimum salary, the annual salary bill for these worthies will be Rs 47520,00,00,000.

That’s Rs 47,520 crores every year! At minimum government wages…

To me it seems a hell of a lot of money, just for the sake of having 22,00,000 more leech-like sarkari babus making life miserable for you and me and all other honest, tax-paying citizens. Especially so, because that Rs 47,520 crores is going to be forked out every year by honest, long-suffering income tax payers like you and I!

But then, I console myself, Rahul Gandhi has been advised on his NYAY scheme by globally renowned economists like our very own P Chidambaram, Arvind Subramanian, Raghuram Rajan, and also British Nobel Laureate  Angus Deaton and French economist Thomas Piketty. Undoubtedly there’s something  I’m missing, ignoramus that I am…

Enter, Suresh.

At my request, Suresh brought his thela over around 11 a.m and was helping me clear out some old furniture and stuff. As usual, over a break for a banana and chilled glass we discussed the state of the world. “Who will you vote for?” he asked. “I know I will not vote for AAP this time,” I replied.  “I’m more and more inclined to vote for Modi’s BJP-NDA…”

“I too will vote for Modi,” he said firmly. “Of course, I suffered a lot when the note-bandhi [demonetization, 2016] happened. All my earnings are in cash even today;  nobody pays a rickshaw/thela-wallah any other way but cash. And of course with prices always rising, it is a very hard life for a daily labourer like me. Besides, as you know, for much of last year, I could not work…”

In mid-2018, Suresh’s five year-old son was diagnosed with cancer. Thanks to the chemotherapy and the excellent medical care he received and continues to receive at the Delhi Government’s Lok Nayak Hospital, the child is now recovering well…but for Suresh and his wife, it has been a year of indescribable anxiety, physical and mental trauma….with the financial pressures (to raise over Rs 2 lakhs for the treatment, when there was no time to even ply his rickshaw or thela) only adding to their stress.

“But still, I think I will vote for Modi,” he repeated. “I think because of Modi, nowadays the sarkari-log, the babus are more scared to bully and exploit people like me.  The babus and other people are also more scared to do do-numbaree (black marketing). People tell me, arre look at price rise under Modi; but I tell them, I don’t think Modi is to blame for price rise.  I think the real reason for price rise is because people, more and more people, are greedy. People nowadays buy much more than they need, or can use; that’s the reason.”

He then described how, two weeks ago, he was helping a couple in the neighbourhood pack their belongings to move out of the city. “They had two wall-cupboards filled with only chaddars (bed sheets and bed-covers),” he murmured in awe.  “They had more than three hundred chaddars in there, single and double! Most of them were new, untouched.  If one couple buys so many hundred chaddars, why won’t prices of chaddars go up, sir? It’s like that with everything…”

Suresh’s words, too, made me think.

Unlike Rahul, who has a team of illustrious economic advisors, Suresh has none.

But  Suresh has something that I think counts for much more: common sense, that comes from experience of hard ground realities.

I’ll go with Suresh’s insights into economics.

Jai hind.

General ravings, Potshots

Political A-SAT and SAT

ASAT
Stellar vision?

Ever since India successfully conducted its anti-satellite (A-SAT) missile test, our crass netas have given political twists to the event that would make a boa constrictor straighten in envy. Considering the kinds of comments that they and their acolytes are making, and with Lok Sabha polls looming over the horizon, we, the wee people, have good reasons to worry about whether our newly elected MPs will even understand, let alone be capable of handling, critical strategic issues such as space technologies, missile defense, nuclear deterrence and the like.

But there is hope! Unconfirmed and officially disavowed sources reveal that the Lok Sabha Secretariat is alive to the challenge, and is preparing a series of small booklets on science and technology for the enlightenment of our newly-elected MPs.

Here are a few sample definitions leaked from the draft Lok Sabha booklet on ‘Aerospace Science for MPs’:

 Satellite: This is simply another name for party follower or chamcha. Satellites can be of two common kinds:

  • ‘Polar’ or ‘Poll-ar’ satellites are rather unstable, and remain loyal only so long as their leader has a chance of winning in polls.
  • ‘Jio-synchronous’ satellites, also known as ‘Jio-stationary’ satellites, are more stable and loyal, because they are held securely to their leader/party by the attractive gravitational forces of G, 2G or even 4G.

Space Debris: The countless pieces of metal, plastic, composites and affiliated junk that are now orbiting the earth, and that have resulted from the break-up of old satellites launched by different countries during the last 50 years. About 97.9% of all the space debris is ‘clean’ debris, because it comes from NASA satellites sent up by USA. The remaining 2.1% of the debris is ‘dirty’ debris because it comes from Indian and Chinese satellites.

Escape velocity: The very high velocity with which politically connected fraudsters and affiliated crooks escape from India to other countries when a new government takes over in Delhi. ‘Relativistic’ velocity (also known as ‘Maxis’ or maximum velocity) is the highest attainable escape velocity, usually achieved only by crooks who are close relatives of political leaders.

Global positioning system (GPS): A wonderful technology that helps government to keep track of the escaped crooks, and guide them to safe havens when necessary.

Inertia: Describes the tendency of a government to remain forever in a state of supreme inactivity; or if roused into motion (usually by sting operation), to continue moving aimlessly along a fixed path to nowhere until halted by the ‘fictional’ force of Opposition.

Launch window: The auspicious interval of time for a new politician to launch her/his political career by filing nomination papers for Lok Sabha or assembly elections.  Launch window is determined by specialists in astral science called ‘astronauts’. The term astronaut itself is derived from the ancient Sanskrit: astra-nath—‘one who rules over stars’ (Ref: Goru Gauswamy et al., 4300 BCE. Space Explorations. Muttal Press: Takshashila).

Re-entry vehicle: Pathway for political deserters to return to their parent (or grandparent) party. As re-entry usually generates intense heat from party rivals, re-entering politicians require rings of protective coating. Hence, the re-entering politicians are popularly called ‘turncoats’.

Star wars:Spectacular electoral battles waged between stars affiliated to Bollywood, Mollywood, Tollywood and other non-Dawood studios. If firearms such as Shotguns are used by the star-candidates during poll campaigns, we call them ‘shooting stars’. Sometimes, the winning stars are given Cabinet portfolios, in which case we call them ‘acting ministers’ if they turn up for work; or else, ‘deadwood’.

Warhead: An especially strident jingoist, usually seen on TV talking-head shows calling for nuclear attack on neighbouring nations, political opponents, and occasionally, neighbouring panelists.

Jai hind!

 

 

General ravings, Musings

Jai Vijaye Bhava,T M Krishna!

The other evening – 17th of November it was – I went with a couple of friends and heard T M Krishna sing at the Garden of Five Senses, Delhi.

It was great!

Krishna was in fine voice; a voice I’d heard only a couple of times earlier, rendering Thyagaraja krithis as smoothly as folk songs. Oh, and also singing in a short but powerful campaign video against Unilever for dumping toxic chemicals and endangering the people and ecology of Kodaikanal (click here to see it)

That’s all I knew of Krishna till around the 14th of November; that he was a great musician, innovative, that he sang for good causes.

And then this great big thing blew up in our faces, amplified to megaton levels by media: that Airports Authority of India  and Spic-Macay had abruptly cancelled a scheduled concert on 17th November featuring Krishna, among other artistes. AAI gave no reasons for the cancellation; but I understood, from editorials print and online, that Krishna was regarded by BJP sympathizers – and therefore, the Central Government, and by inference, AAI too— as ‘anti-Hindu’ and ‘anti-Indian culture’, all because he, Krishna, conveyed pithy political and social messages through his songs. I also heard and read that Krishna had been cruelly trolled by ‘right-wing Hindutva’ nuts.

All this I found profoundly disheartening, disturbing, disgusting.  I hoped, over those two days that followed, for some strong reaction from the Central Government, from AAI…but there was only stony silence.

And so, when Delhi’s AAP government announced that it would host a performance by Krishna on the 17th, I decided I must attend. Not to convey some glorious ‘secular message’ or make a ‘political statement’ or anything pretentious as that, but to simply hear Krishna, a musician who just wanted to sing from his heart about things he felt strongly about… and had been cruelly treated for wanting to do that.

Given the circumstances, I was a little worried about the event becoming more a political jamboree than a music concert. But credit to AAP leaders Kejriwal and Sisodia, not only did they arrive only about 20 minutes late, which is incredibly early by Delhi standards, but their bhashans were mercifully brief and non-incendiary. Krishna himself was all dignity: he murmured that he was there not to speak but to sing…and so he did: wonderfully, passionately, movingly.

Now, clacking out these words, I wonder: why must we taint everything in our lives that brings joy, with the corrosive acid of divisive politics?

My music or writing or theatre, my art, my rendering of what I think of as art, might not be to your liking, and vice versa; but surely we can each find the art we like and peacefully enjoy it without having to mock, disfigure, destroy others’ likes, others’ art? Without hurting others?

Just as you, gentle reader, might hold the view that I can’t write for nuts (doubtless with great justification). But that shouldn’t drive us – and our fans, our acolytes, assuming we have any – at each others’ throats?

Like:  I never liked M F Hussain’s paintings. M F Hussain, in my view, couldn’t paint for nuts. I have said so to friends who like M F Hussain’s paintings. It hasn’t affected our friendship.

I remember even writing so once (in Indian Express, in a letter): in the late 1990s, a time when, weirdly, it had become the politically correct thing to like M F Hussain, and you risked being branded ‘Hindu communalist’ or ‘fascist’ if you said you didn’t like Hussain. Well, I wrote I didn’t like M F Hussain’s work, not because his work offended my religious or cultural sensibilities but because his work offended my artistic sensibilities. But (I added) that didn’t mean I had the right to burn his paintings or run the man out of the country.

You, I, anyone at all, can take on T M Krishna fair and square, one-on-one, for his political views, such as they are…just as Krishna has the right to take on any of us fair and square for our political views, such as ours are.

But when Krishna the musician is invited to present his music, we must welcome him and respect him as musician.

I have heard Krishna, I love his music, I admire his politics. But that’s my opinion; you can think differently, it’s okay.

But none of us, none of us can allow a government institution like AAI to judge  an artiste, any artiste, by his or her perceived ‘politics’.

It is terrible, the way AAI has capitulated before a gang of nameless, faceless e-thugs whose claim to represent ‘Hinduism’ or ‘Indian culture’  is as well-founded as Lashkar e Toiba’s claim to represent ‘Islam’ or ‘Islamic culture’.

It is good that Delhi’s AAP government gave Krishna a chance to play at the Garden of Five Senses…and us the chance to hear him.

As of today, 19th November 2018, I am a votary of AAP.

But I shall watch AAP’s future activities with considerable interest before taking the call at the next polls. Knowing our politicians, be they from Left, Right or virtually non-existent Centre, chances are high that the AAP will commit some colossal balls-up ere long…

That’s why we need you, T M Krishna! Jai Vijaye Bhava! Jai Hind.