The VIP syndrome

It was just as I thought it would be. Amidst all the rage over frisking of our former president, A P J Abdul Kalam himself never registered a protest. From whatever I have known of him through papers, one minor brush with him at the Ahmedabad airport following his visit to Gujarat after the 2002 riots and his books, I felt he would not have objected to going through a security check.

He comes across as a humble and learned man and he reflected the same when the incident happened at New Delhi. Perhaps he understands that the security requirements of the present time are much different from the law that was written in 1934. 9/11 had never happened then and certainly IC 814 had not been hijacked. He knew his responsibility and he acted accordingly.

While it can always be debated whether Kalam was particularly checked for the way his name sounds, we should also hope that other “VVIPs” act in the same dignified manner when asked for security checks. They are no super mortals and they need to realise that. In fact at a time when the agencies across the world use diplomatic channels to carry out espionage activities, it is time we think over a “VVIP” Act, written nearly seven decades ago. Our VVIPs are incensed because they consider themselves demi gods and frisking would dent that image. And therefore this entire song and dance.

We have always been complaining that most of the acts under our law are archaic. Then doesn’t this act be one so as well? Shouldn’t we work toward amending this too? The security needs have changed and so the act must change too.

Coming back to Kalam, he has again come forth as a model citizen and its not only MPs and VVIPs who should learn from him but we too need to realise that security checks help us. Be it at malls, stations or airports, if we complain about them, then we should not complain about terror acts.

And as far as getting even with America comes, we should frisk all VVIPs and could have done it when Hillary Clinton was in India. Remember the old adage? Don’t get mad, get even.

By Shailendra Mohan, Monday July 27, 2009 , New Delhi, India  
Source: NDTV

Racism in Mumbai!

Last week there has been series in HT on how we treat foreigners and those who might be different from us. Our racism is largely, but not exclusively, based on colour. Caste and ethnicity is the biggest factor in India’s racism. As a student and now as a professional, I have also felt sometime that we have some rooted prejudices. Mumbai, the largest city of India and having population of over 1.5 crores is perhaps very proud of its cosmopolitan culture. We have people from all parts of the country. Forget whether we are racist in treating blacks and whites from foreign countries as it has already been covered by this newspaper. Lets’ talk about racism that we have for our own country men on basis of their ethnic origin.
The identity politics of the state has further fueled this racism and is a dent on image of Mumbai worldwide. Politicians are trying to make each of us realize that we belong to  particular community, speak specific language, have different cultures and this is leading us to feel that we are not  ‘Indian’ first.
Some decades back we had a political propaganda against “Lungis” (South Indians), then Muslims and most recent “the Bhaiyyas”(North Indians especially from UP and Bihar). In our daily talks, I have heard many of us using phrases/slangs like  “Kya Marwari hai” for a person whom we consider miser, “typical Gujju mindset” for the one who is more interested in money,  “Chinkis” for any resident belonging to North Eastern part of the country. Maharshtrians are identified by the word “Ghati.” Though it is meant simply for the people living around Western Ghats but now this term is mostly used in derogatory manner.  Anyone south of the Vindhyas is a Madrasi, and never mind if it includes residents of Karnataka and Kerala. They are ridiculed for their accent. Once during my college, a batch mate asked a friend that if he is South Indian then How come he has “fair skin”?  A dark complexioned guy/gal is always jeered. We had a friend in hostel who was very dark skinned and automatically many of the hostelites started calling him “kalia” or “kallan”.
“The Bhaiyyas” is used as abusive slang. Recently I was in a garment store at Dadar. A customer and shopkeeper had heated argument on price of jacket. They were abusing each other and trying the customer was trying to make shopkeeper realize his “aukat”. Then as he was leaving he said “Bhaiyya hai saala.” I smiled because they both didn’t argue in Hindi Language and yet shopkeeper was “labeled bhaiyya”. :)

Similar sort of racism you will come across if you are caught by a traffic police. If you know the tongue of traffic police you are easily let off else you are in trouble. Yesterday I complained to my flat owner that their was problem with the ceiling of flat. He said sarcastically that this problem was all because of “ghati” living on the above floor.
One more thing which i have noticed in Mumbai is so many organizations entertaining only people belonging to particular caste/community. As long as these groups are for cultural purposes it is very fine but the moment they restrict the group to themselves ONLY, it becomes racist. We have several groups of Marathas, Uttar Bhartiyas, Gujratis, Jains, South Indians, etc. Most of these groups are headed by political leaders and are used in creating and mobilizing vote banks. We have various housing societies which allocate or don’t allocate flats to people belonging to particular community.
We become perfect in whatever we practice. And with my experience I can say that in Mumbai Knowingly/unknowingly we have become racist. We all use racist remarks in everyday life and don’t realize that too. Interestingly we are practicing racism against our own countrymen. Mumbai is known for its cosmopolitan culture. Cosmopolitan means free from local, provincial, or national ideas, prejudices, or attachments. But within this beautiful city we are creating local boundaries.
The concept of inclusive society is slowly becoming farce in our Mumbai.

Chai, sutta, politics & the Marathi Manus

Tired of communal politics & mudslinging in Maharashtra?
Tired of debating endlessly on communal tension in Mumbai?
Have you started religiously hating someone because of him being a localite or vice versa?
Why do you think this is happening?

Around a week back, I was chilling in my balcony, sipping delicious masala chai, enjoying the 3 am breeze, before being rudely interrupted from my ‘half awake’ state by one of my roomies.

“I hate all of this communal bullshit in Mumbai” he proclaimed.

I turned to find P, M & Patty engaged in a rather heated conversation involving Mumbai’s political scenario, complete with facts & figures thrown around, with swearing loud enough to make my rather docile gujju neighbors raise an alarm. Having a sizable number of Maharastrian & ‘non-Maharastrian’ friends, I’d been through this situation so many times! A wave of déjà vu hit me as I sat there silently thinking about all the hate & paranoia encompassing us.

As I sat there listening to P joking about declaring Mumbai as an independent country, my mind raced back in time. It brought back innumerable questions put forth to me by my Marathi friends. I’ve listed down a few which actually seemed justified to me.

  • How does a localite, with a family to feed, compete with low cost laborers from other states?
  • Mumbai is bursting at its seams! We’re at each others faces! What do we do?
  • Why don’t we get as many opportunities?

To make it very very simple, locals are unhappy. Why? Now that is `the` issue we need to address!

I see every minute and not-so-minute issue been taken up and blasted way out of proportion everyday by the media.
I see politicians with magnetic personalities give inflammatory speeches which drive people into a violent frenzy!!
Why glorify or hate people who misuse civil unrest?
Instead, why not address the core issue.

Till date, I have only seen hefty accusations & anger-invoking insults being flayed.

I hope this post does not invoke similar responses here. Rather, I would like to open up this forum so that people can talk about what’s bothering the ‘Marathi Manus’ and probably come up with some useable and feasible solutions for the same.

196 Languages Endangered in India

The world’ human languages are disappearing about as quickly as species are going extinct. There are almost 6,900 languages spoken in the world. Accodring to the latest report of United Nations 2,500 are now endangered.
This is remarkable because in the last such census conducted in 2001, number of endangered language was only 900. The top three countries facing the loss of the most languages are: 1. India (with 196 endangered languages); 2. The United States (with 192); and Indonesia (with 147).
These figures were released on the eve of International Mother Language Day on February 21, 2009 in the latest Atlas of World’s Languages in Danger of Disappearing unveiled by the UN’s cultural agency Unesco.
There are 199 languages in the world that have less than a dozen speakers, including Karaim with six speakers in Ukraine, and Wichita, spoken by 10 people in Oklahoma.
The last four speakers of Lengilu talk among themselves in Indonesia. 178 other languages are spoken by less than 150 people.

As our fellow blogger The Map Scroll  says:
The site captures something of this poignancy, and the challenge to the identities of endangered language speakers, with a poem by Alitet Nemtushkin, an Evenki poet:

If I forget my native speech,
And the songs that my people sing
What use are my eyes and ears?
What use is my mouth?

If I forget the smell of the earth
And do not serve it well
What use are my hands?
Why am I living in the world?

How can I believe the foolish idea
That my language is weak and poor
If my mother’s last words
Were in Evenki?

Is Valentine’s Day against our culture?

Valentine’s Day has passed without much trouble from the radical groups in the country. Kudos to police and other government agencies for the same. Though few incidents have been reported in Maharshtra and Madhya Pradesh where Right wing organisations, including Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena created trouble for the lovers expressing love.

There is debate over whether the Valentine’s Day celebration is against our culture and values? This debate has been further escalated by the recent incident that took place in Mangalore where few men belonging to Sri Ram Sene beat women going to a pub. This debate is not about our culture but I feel it is about our mindset and thinking. I personally don’t feel there is no need of a day to symbolise or show affection or express love. But then I have no problems with the people who like celebrating Valentine’s Day.

India is an independent country with a democratic setup and in this country you are free to do whatever you want unless and until you are breaking a law or causing harm to some one. If few people have a problem with the younger generation celebrating the day, then they have all the right to oppose but within the limits of law. These hooligans are not the custodians of our Constitution and nor do they have any right to take law in their own hands. I also feel that this whole fuss about the culture is nothing but the frustration of few individuals who just cannot see women getting equal rights in our country.

Somewhere, it is clearly linked to gender equality. Our Constitution clearly states that there can be no discrimination on the basis of the sex of the people. If they really feel that our cultural values are being degraded then let me tell all of them that culture is one thing that is never stagnant. It changes with the poeple and time. It is this change, which shows that the society is progressive or not. If these concierge of culture are so worried then I have few questions to them:

Wasn’t Sati and forcing widow to wear white also a culture of India few hundred years back? There were violent protest against the social reform movement, which voiced against Sati but then that was abolished.

Which culture says that you have rights to beat a woman. Is this a show of masculinity?

You have problems when women smoke or drink but not men, why?

This bunch of hooligans who beat the people wear pants and shirts. Since when has this attire become the part of our culture.

Lastly, what do they mean when they say the word culture?

As I understand, culture does change with the times. We have changed the way we celebrate our festivals today. We have changed the way we dress.

We have changed the way women were perceived or given rights in our society some 50 years back. We have added few more festivals or days such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. Our social structure has changed. We have also changed the way we pray to God. We have undergone some changes with our thinking and thus have pushed for so many reforms within the society.

There is a saying that change is inevitable. If we want India to prosper then it is very essential that we change our mindset. We cannot live in India of 21st century with the mindset of 18th century. The younger generation of this country thinks differently and thinks positively for the future of this nation. We need to give them wings to fly. It will be great if these people who are out to create futile troubles channelise their energy into constructive works. As far as the debate is concerned, let us leave it to individuals to decide whether it is right or wrong. These jokers have no right to decide what we should do and what we should not!