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Showing posts from March, 2017

Women and Splendid Suns

Mariam, the protagonist of Khaled Hosseini’s second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns , is advised by her mother that there is no point in putting her trust in man, even if the man is her own father.  “[L]ike a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman.  Always.”  But Mariam is a little girl and she loves her father until that love leads to the suicide of her mother and Mariam’s subsequent realisation that her father’s love for her has severe limits.  Mariam is an illegitimate child born of a servant.  Her father has three legitimate wives who hail from rich families.  The legitimate wives make sure that the illegitimate one is thrown out of the family.  They accuse Mariam’s mother of having seduced their husband.  Mariam’s father is quite helpless in the manoeuvres carried out by his wives.  Even a man in the Islamic tradition which gives no more importance to a woman than a piece of furniture can be rendered helpless when surrounded by thr

Ayodhya Politics – 2

Read Ayodhya Politics – 1 here . Rajiv Gandhi tried to run with the hare and hunt with the hound, as one of the observers wrote after the Shah Bano and Ayodhya episodes. He had to please both the sections of the population, Hindus and Muslims, in order to tide his party over the revolt from eminent leaders such as V P Singh and Arun Nehru as well as the Bofors scandal.  He addressed a huge gathering in Faizabad (near Ayodhya) and promised Ram Rajya to the people.  Just a few weeks before the general elections in 1989, Rajiv Gandhi sent home minister Buta Singh to participate in the shilanyas ceremony organised by VHP in Ayodhya. The tactics didn’t yield dividends, however. Congress did not win the majority in the elections and a coalition government led by V P Singh came to power. BJP also became a force to reckon with winning 85 seats in the place of the former 2.  BJP leader L K Advani hit upon an idea to further strengthen the party; he organised a rath yatra from Somna

Ayodhya Politics - 1

The Sarayu must have wept quite a lot.  The river which bathed Rama’s childhood and watched the conflicts that the Maryada Purushottam suffered during his adult life went on to witness much more nasty conflicts a whole yug later. When India became independent more than half of the Muslims made arduous journeys across the new national border reducing their population in India to a meagre 10%.  The first Prime Minister of secular India, a visionary who considered dams more sacred than gods, announced that “All of us, to whatever religion we may belong, are equally the children of India with equal rights, privileges and obligations.” Ayodhya was not much affected by the Partition.  The Muslims there chose to stay back placing their trust in Nehru’s secularism.  The Muslims had working relationships with the Hindus in Ayodhya.  Muslim artisans made many of the idols that adorned Hindu temples.  One temple there even had a Muslim manager. Then someone had a dream.  The dream

Blogging and some thoughts

Blogging is just about twenty years old.  Though the word ‘blog’ was coined in 1997, there were just 23 blogs in 1999.  The figure leaped to 50 million by the middle of 2006.  That was a phenomenal growth, no doubt. The most popular ones among the early blogs dealt with politics.  Slowly every subject under the sun made its appearance in blogs. I would become a Yogi Aditynath if I decide what bloggers should write about and what they should not.  I would be the last person to go around burning blogs or anything at all that does not suit my taste.  However, I would certainly expect at least one thing while visiting any blog: it should give me something , something worthwhile. Once blogging became popular, just about anyone became a writer.  Even illustrious poets like Shelley could not find publishers initially. Shelley paid for the publication of his first book. Bernard Shaw who won the Nobel Prize for literature published many of his plays himself.  Many books which became

Yogi Redefined

The new Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, is someone who has given an entirely new dimension to the word ‘yogi.’  People like me belong to a period which saw yogis as ascetics, people who dwelt in a world of spiritual contemplation, who established a profound relationship with the entire universe based on understanding and compassion.  But I realise that the universe has undergone a sea change. We have a lot of yogis, babas, sadhus, and what not, along with their female counterparts who have redefined the nomenclatures . Take our latest hero, Yogi Adityanath.  He has been elevated to the highest post in the state though a traditional yogi would not have touched such a position with a barge pole.  His supporters in the state shouted slogans such as: “If you want to say in India, you have to chant ‘Yogi, Yogi.  Those who refuse to say it will not stay in India.”  So we have an entirely new yogi who is dividing the nation into two clearly disjoint groups: pro-Yog

Baba ban gaya CM

A fairy tale without fairies Once upon a time Babas were confined to hermitage and holy things.   Those were the days of fairies and mermaids, tree nymphs and water sprites. Then one day a disease called sickularism entered the forests and rivers.   Sickularism spread like wildfire or plague or TV ads.   The fairies and mermaids fell prey and died one by one with apparent vengeance.   They became extinct.   So did the nymphs and sprites.   The Babas were starved of nymphs and sprites.   So they migrated in search of the steroid of inspiration.   Political slogans spiced up with the right measures of patriotic herbs and nationalist leaves and cultural roots brought them ecstasy and heavenly bliss. The bliss spread like an exhilarating amrit and the nation became spiritual.   Sickularism was declared the national disease.   Schools were converted into ashrams in order to deal with the national malaise.   Textbooks were rewritten.   The new knowledge intoxicated the

Absurd Equations

Fiction Amit remembered his math teacher speaking about absurd equations as he lay on the street beaten black and blue by the moral police.  (a+b)(a-b) = a 2 -b 2 -1 is an absurd equation, for example, the teacher had said.  It has no valid solution. No valid solution.  Amit mumbled to himself as he sat on the roadside looking at the bruises on his body inflicted by some upper caste men who claimed to be defenders of Bharatiya culture.  The colours of Holi concealed the bruises.  What wrong did he do?  He had just put a pinch of the Holi colours on Shyam, his boyhood friend.  They were classmates in school.  Long ago.  He used to help Shyam with mathematics.  One of those days, years ago, as children, they hugged each other on the occasion of Holi.  Shyam’s father slapped Amit for that. “You filthy untouchable!  How dare you hug my son, the son of a Brahmin?”  Shyam’s father thundered.  His eyes burnt with hatred.  It was just a day after the math teacher had sp

Why Religion?

Religion has always been a tool for oppressing sections of people so that the oppressors can uphold their own interests easily.  In our own country, some clever men ( men , and not women) invented a supernatural creature in order to establish the caste system which was highly oppressive for the vast majority of people.  A small minority became the most powerful people who controlled gods, the scriptures (rubrics and canons as well as truths), politics by subordinating the kings and their warriors, and everybody else.   From the time Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire, it ceased to be a religion of love and compassion.  Thousands of people were eliminated labelled as heretics, witches, pagans, and so on.  Islam has its own jihads of all sorts which oppress and even eliminate whole sections of people. Connected with the oppressor role of religion are the material benefits it brings.  The priestly classes always enjoyed infinite benefits.  The Brahmins

Cruelty and the Right Wing

Professor Mukul Manglik of Ramjas College, Delhi concludes his interview to Frontline with a quote from historian Howard Zinn: “Human history is not only a history of cruelty, but also of compassion, courage and kindness... and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is inhuman and cruel around us, is itself a marvellous victory.” Struggle against Right Wing cruelty Source: India Today The students’ union, ABVP, had unleashed a lot of cruelty on the campus and the Professor was speaking about that.  He mentions in the interview that he as well as many other teachers feels intimidated by ABVP which physically assaulted some teachers during the agitation.  ABVP is a student organisation that is affiliated to RSS and nurtured by BJP both of which take pride in Hindu culture and civilisation.  The teacher is placed on a par with god in the ancient Hindu tradition.  It then becomes extremely ironical and darkly comical that teachers in a

Irom Sharmila’s Disillusionment

Irom Sharmila in Santhi Gramam Sixteen years of youth is the price that Irom Sharmila paid for learning the lesson that politics is not meant for idealists.  She has reasons to feel disillusioned and dejected.  She has reasons to seek shelter in Santhi Gramam in Kerala.  “Politics is dirty by nature,” she learnt the hard way.  There’s no place for idealists in politics.  The age of the Mahatma and his hunger strikes are fairy tales today.  We live in a world of hardcore pragmatism of the kind espoused by none other than Lord Krishna in Kurukshetra.  Politics is war.  Strategies matter, not idealism.  “Dharma is subtle,” the great idealist can only philosophise. And perish for that Dharma.  Ms Sharmila blamed money power and muscle power.  It’s much more than that, dear Ms Sharmila.  It’s brain power.  And there’s divine power too.  There is a whole pantheon of gods involved in this war called politics today in our country.  It’s a war to redeem Bharat from all kinds

Followers

Vast majority of people are ideal followers.  Ask them what they are following and you will get blank looks.  For example, ask a person why he believes in his/her religion or why he/she votes for a particular party.  I’m ready to bet that you won’t get satisfactory answers unless some quotidian blah-blah is enough for you.  People want other people.  Not merely for company.  People want other people in order to get on in life.  From the simple drinking water problem to the complex games that people play, everything becomes much easier to deal with if you have other people to help you.  Other people throw in support if you belong to their religion, political party or some such group.  Religious beliefs and political convictions are not much more profound than that.  If you don’t believe me, probe a believer’s knowledge about his/her religion.  In 9 cases out of 10, you will meet with ignorance.  Politics is likely to fare better. Even if there is awareness, probe a littl

Donkey and I

I share the cynicism of George Orwell’s donkey, Benjamin, in Animal Farm .  When the revolution took place on the farm, Benjamin with his asinine stubbornness refused to be enthused. “Life would go on as it had always gone on,” he said, “that is, badly.”  The animals were so much overjoyed by the revolution that they did not bother to label him antinational.  Eventually, Benjamin was proved right.  The original motto, “All animals are equal”, changed into “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal.” I congratulate Mr Narendra Modi and his Sancho Panza Amit Shah on BJP’s sweeping victory in UP and impressive performance in the other states. Though impulsive actions like demonetisation bring to my mind the images of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, Orwell’s Animal Farm may be a more apt metaphor. Dreams are galore.  Promises abound. In the end, however, some chosen animals remain more equal. I love the dreams, however.  I am a dreamer myself.  I would love to see