Apr 152016

I don’t wear my religion on my sleeve.

it is deeply personal, and a source of spiritual solace.

I usually don’t take offence at stuff spoken or said on Hindu Gods, simply because they are Gods, they can take care of themselves and me (and the universe, while they are at it).

But, i saw this emailer with a sense of deep disquiet. It has been bugging me for quite sometime, this entire “Buy more” messaging around festivals. I would hate for it to happen to Hindu  religous days, what has happened to Christmas. IMHO, days like this, are not about a deep display of consumerism. It is not about spending. It is not about this entire call of ‘more, more, more’ …it is not transactional.

This entire thing of targeting customers on every aspect of their lives, every religious ceremony, and having communication for the brand around it. It is not needed. IMHO

They of course, in a free country, have full right to do what they want. This is within the law. It is just that i am not sure i am going to feel fondly towards the brand, or think highly about their sense of judgement.


Apr 082016

Three months after the Pathankot terror attack forced postponement of Foreign Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan, Islamabad’s envoy Abdul Basit Thursday said the comprehensive bilateral dialogue process has been “suspended”. He also said “cooperation” is key to the investigation, and not “reciprocity” — putting in limbo the National Investigation Agency team’s visit to Pakistan. –

Today’s Indian Express.

The last Indian Prime Minister who understood Pakistan, and knew how to deal with their duplicitous Government, was Indira Gandhi. She was also the first Prime Minister who understood those. I am possibly going to get massively trolled for this statement, but her grasp of Pakistan, and its Government, came less from political acumen, and more from gender.

Women, know instinctively, about safety, and have an early warning alarm bell system, that possibly is an outcome of 50,000 years of evolutionary biology. The warning alarm bell screams – don’t trust, don’t let your guard down, get ready for (a) fight or flight. Most of us (women) face issues, when we chose to override our most primitive instincts, feel guilty about distrusting ‘such nice people’. As a professional, at a younger age, i used to over compensate for my warning bells, by being really nice to people, whom my instinct told me to avoid. I learnt my lessons the hard way. I have discussed this with multiple women, across socio economic groupings, and they have said that they have these almost physical responses to ‘danger’. It is a very personal response. And, it works the other way too – it tells you who you can trust.

Men look at war and peace very differently from women. The fight is a different fight. They fight for a greater ‘glory’. women fight so that they never have to fight again.

The problem with Indian foreign policy vis-a-vis Pakistan is not enough women call the shots.

This belief that Pakistan will do the right thing, and expending so much energy that we look like idiots every time, has to stop. How many times will India be stabbed in the back, before decision makers decide that we don’t have to be friends. We don’t even have to be friendly. There is nothing that they have that we need, except a whole bunch of criminals. And, they can keep those.

I used to believe that part of the Indian political system’s problem with Pakistan, was that there were too many people whose ancestors were from, what is today, Pakistan. I believed that having people outside the partitioned regions would make things better. Alas, that is not to be. There is still this romantic notion that our PM has, like PM’s before him, that shared history and culture, shared stories and food, will improve relations. It won’t.

I feel for the Pakistani people. They are stuck with a system that is hocked to the militants and the secret service. And, their only raison d’être seems to be lies, deceit, and making India bleed. And, they do it not just because some people like to see the world burn, but because it makes economic sense. The day there is peace (in the true sense of the word) between the two countries, the massive military  aid that flows into Pakistan from the USA, will dry up. That is a lot of money to lose.

Mr.Modi, has done more than what he should to bring about ‘normalcy’ with Pakistan. It is time he stopped, and focused attention elsewhere. It is less about him trying to trust, and more about them, who are not worthy of trust.

indo pak


Apr 062016

Whenever i feel slightly lost, and tossed about by the stormy winds of life, i listen to this. As much a song as a plea. get my boat back to safety … sort of.

more on the Benaras boatman series here

Somehow i saw fishermen as being more spiritual than, maybe, the rest of us, who were firmly tethered to land. Casting off into the sea, or a rather big river. Navigating into the unknown, based on the stars (pre GPS), encountering storms and waves, and the rest. While you can take the song in it’s literal sense (get my boat home), it is also metaphorical – be my guide.

Mar 282016

As i was reading this piece on Pachauri, i could feel the smoke coming out of my ears. What kind of an idiot commissions such a one sided piece, and shames the victim of sexual harassment ?

Pachauri, who is accused of stalking a woman with poetry, love messages, and physically groping her whenever possible, has a freepass in the Guardian, the alleged bastion of women’s rights, where he accuses her of being paid off by the climate denial lobby. He claims that she ‘hacked’ into his account to send her self mails, over a 15 month period, so that she could implicate him in a sexual harassment charge. He also claims that she was the one who was pursuing him.

“What is disturbing [is] that right from the first day over a period of about 16 months she was creating and assembling an archive of messages, which to anyone would seem very unusual. As far as I know, the emails, text messages etc that she collected were personal, semi-personal and only in a few cases official….. I was, during that period, extremely busy and carrying out email communications on six different email accounts. These included my Yale, IPCC, Teri official, Hotmail as well as Gmail accounts. I generally corresponded with her on my Gmail account, but since I had a huge volume of messages to deal with I did not frequently read my messages, except when I was alerted about a message waiting for me. When I did access this account, I would only read unread messages. Honestly, how many of us check our sent items regularly?”

I am also assuming here, that she took control of his hands, brain, mouth  and eyes —  everytime he got near her.

“On many occasions, Dr Pachauri forcibly grabbed my body, hugged me, held my hands, kissed me and touched my body in an inappropriate manner,” she told police

And, she also waved a magic wand, so that everytime he was in range – his personal mobile phone began spewing out SMS’s and Whatsapp messages to her.

I see the need to counter the powerful anti climate change lobby. But, not at this cost. A woman who has been hounded at work by a man old enough to be her grandfather; out of work by a lobby of powerful friends of Pachauri, is now hung out to dry by a newspaper that should know better.

In India, like elsewhere, women at the workplace are afraid to report sexual harassment, because they will be seen as the troublemaker; the one who wont take it on the chin, like a man, for the good of the organisation. The easiest thing to do in a scenario like this, is to shame the victim so that others don’t speak up. The Guardian has set the cause of equality of women at the workplace back, by giving space to a powerful man to present ludicrous claims as facts.

I have been reading the Guardian for the last 25 odd years. And, yesterday, when I read this piece, I was truly disappointed. Truly.


(source : International Women’s Media Foundation) – almost 48% of those surveyed said they had experienced sexual harassment. The bulk of the rest were either in denial or didn’t want to rock the boat)>


Addition : Do read this entire chain of tweets on how ET reported the Sexual Harassment case, something completely overlooked in this whitewash.

Mar 192016

three very different stories

The first, from the Times of India, is about a couple of cattle traders lynched by “suspected cattle-protection vigilantes

The deceased, Muhammad Majloom, 35, and Azad Khan alias Ibrahim, 15, were cattle traders and related to each other. Their bodies were strung up with their hands tried behind their backs and their mouths stuffed with cloth.
“The manner of their hanging showed that the assailants were led by extreme hatred,” said Latehar SP Anoop Birthary.

and the second is  from the Indian Express – about the Ministry of HRD’s directive

The National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL), which operates under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, has introduced a form which requires authors of books NCPUL acquires annually to declare that the content will not be against the government or the country.

And, just as a bonus, if these two stories don’t depress the hell out of you, read the interview of Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya in the Scroll

Bhattacharya: They asked me, “It’s understandable if Khalid is doing this, but what were you doing there?” Somehow it seemed that an unadulterated Khalid would have suited them better. My presence irked them. They couldn’t build up the story they wanted.

Khalid: I was targeted with a special hatred because of being a “Khalid”. But there was hatred for Anirban too. For simply being there and ruining a ready-made story. Now this didn’t fit their narrative, the narrative of terror they began in the media. If I was a traitor to the nation because of my Muslim identity, Anirban was a traitor to his nation, religion and caste.

A narrative is being built. And, that narrative is that of ‘who is a good indian’. That ‘good’ Indian lives by certain principles that are dear to a small, but vocal minority. And, that narrative is wrong. Because there are more than a billion ways of being a ‘good’ indian. The version put out of this non meat/beef eating, non urdu writing, non Muslim is not one of them. And even if the billion plus Indians, had the same view of what makes a ‘good’ indian, and one person does not abide by that view, it is still fine. that is the point of individual liberty.

We keep talking about majority rights and minority rights. Most of us will have a better life if the government was committed to protect individual rights.  citizenship rights. And the right to be ourselves.


There is a rather ugly genie out of the bottle, a genie built on exclusion, and suspicion. That genie either needs to be banished or put back in the bottle. Look at Pakistan, and see what we should not become. ever. People kept quiet trying to buy peace, there too. But, that does not work. You cannot buy peace from fundamentalists. They want it all, they are not going to let you your little space, where you can run your life without any interference from them.

India is built on diversity, and mutual tolerance. Each strand as vital as the other. I never thought i would quote Narendra Modi as defence for an argument, but he has said it well here

As a nation, we stood against colonialism and in our struggle for freedom At the dawn of independence some chose to go away; and, I believe, that it also had to do with the colonial politics of that time….  Now, India is moving forward on the strength of the struggles, the sacrifices, the bravery, the knowledge, the skill, the art and the pride of every member of every faith in our diverse and yet united nation.

Like the strings of sitar that each produces a note, but come together to create a beautiful melody.

This is the spirit of India. This is the strength of our nation.

All our people, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, the micro-minority of Parsis, believers, non-believers, are an integral part of India.


(image courtesy : here)