Nov 152015

After a long time, i wrote an opinion piece for the DNA. And, it essentially was on why India was not being ruled by the Hindu Taliban.

The Indian electorate makes informed and wise decisions – it may not be as literate or as sophisticated as its western counterpart; it may neither be as wealthy, nor as involved – but, the Indian voters have tended to surprise Indian politicians, political parties, and the world at large with their choices. We vote for a direction. We vote to teach rulers a lesson. We participate in the electoral process with joy and involvement. And, we vote because it is our right to do so. There are those who many not like the outcome, but that does not mean that the voters are wrong or have voted ‘fascists’ or ‘communists’ or whatever. Accepting the Indian voters’ choice is the first step of understanding and participating in Indian democracy. The political parties have to do so, in all humility. It is time supporters of those parties did so too.

Read the full piece here

Nov 072015

so, there was a march today, to prove that India was tolerant.

and, while on the face of it, it was a good idea – who can disagree with the concept of ‘marching for tolerance’, it has gone wrong  in terms of basics – don’t lose your temper, smile, wave, come across as reasonable. This march should have been less about the sense that India is insulted and you have to take up arms against those you think have insulted it; and more about reaffirming the civilisational ethos of tolerance. Somewhere it got muddled.

There are things you don’t do when you are marching for tolerance, you don’t call into question the right of other people to hold views, no matter how offended you feel about it. Nor do you rage at those you oppose. Or call them names. I am not sure of what the takeaway of those who walked for tolerance, as opposed to those who viewed it on their screens – i daresay it would be different. What came across as news feeds, from reporters on the ground, from other media houses – was the same kind of anger that one sees on social media every day. And, that kind of anger is off putting. It may attract those who are already angry or raging, but, it really doesn’t do too much for the rest of the people.

On the other side, it is the same story. The desire to label somone as ‘fascist’, a stormtrooper, bhakt and other things. The screechy pitch of wanting to demonise rather than understand. And, this sense that if you are not in complete agreement you are outside. The feeling that George Bush put rather crudely, but succinctly,  “you’re either with us, or against us”

All there is, is rage in the discourse. That desire to shout someone down, rip out their hand and hit them on the head with it. Sometimes that bothers me the most. where does this rage come from. Has it always been there? And, this rage is not specific to one side. It is almost like everyone is having a monologue in raised voices, with other people having their own monologues.

Tolerance is the absence of anger, a certain understanding & empathy, and the sense that we will live together in relative harmony. It is an active state, and should not be mistaken for apathy. A view that says, that i am benevolent, and you can hold your views because of my benevolence, is not tolerance, it is arrogance.  And, this is a problem with both extremes.

There is polarization and intolerance. And, it isn’t religious or caste. It is between those who controlled the narrative in the past, and those who want to control the narrative now, and going forward.  And, in this battle, the doublespeak is phenomenal, the positions are carved in stone, and the middle-ground is shouted out or down, or just put off by the ugliness and leaves. The tendency to quote out of context and fan flame is great; as is the ability to take offence and flame people. All in all it is ugly, and it is going to get uglier.

Mumbai - fire in the sky2

and why this picture, because in all this screaming and shouting and general purpose ugliness by both sides – i feel kind of adrift in the ocean :(



Oct 242015


My mother went to one. Between her graduation and her marriage. Before she went to study for her masters. She learned how to arrange flowers, make a salad, lay a perfect table and the rest. When they got married, my father knew how to make the dal and rice, the rasam and the rest. “i taught her to cook” he would guffaw. They would have been married 50 years this July 12th.

I think that maybe other topics should be included in a course like this – how to have a conversation, how not to snap at your spouse, how to enjoy life without it becoming bogged down by what to cook, and where to eat. I am assuming that modern day marriages are more than food and sex.

Ten years ago, I would have ranted at this ad – and it’s innate sexism. Today, i realise it is fulfilling a need. But, the need is read wrong – it should be less about cooking and make up (there are delivery places and parlours for that) – and more about trying to build a life together, that doesn’t end in bitterness and recrimination. Nice topics – for both parties – would be cooking together, reading together, viewing together, laughing together — but, unfortunately ‘togetherness’ cannot be taught

(via my brother’s FB status update)

Oct 202015

When you read stuff like this, it makes you wonder, what is it about us – as a species – makes us tend towards such cruelty.

A teenage girl was beaten to death by her own family after being forced to live under a strict regime in which she was made to lick the toilet bowl and eat her own faeces, a court has heard.

Her own family. And, then you read about those child abuse cases. A two year old and a five year old, gang raped in separate cases in Delhi. And a voice in your head whispers – this is just the reported and discovered ones. This is the tip of the tip of the iceberg. How many more go unreported. And, you wonder about people and their innate capacity to cause hurt, and pain – deliberately. Violent physical pain. And, get pleasure out of it.

Were these the types to run concentration camps, a part of me wonders. Were these the types who knitted on when fellow citizens (albeit nobility) were having their heads chopped off in the guillotine; were these the types who manned Gitmo or the Gulag; what kind of sub species of human is this? Or is this innate, and the rest of us curb our inner demons better?

It is comforting to think the former – a sub-species. The great fear is that it may be the latter.


Oct 182015

As i read this, there is only one question that floats into my mind – what kind of indoctrination is this, that allows people to believe that they are doing right by killing someone ?

And, what does it take to stand up to murder ? To say that you are appalled by murder.

If you make excuses for the murder and the murderer – then you tacitly support the taking of a life.

Yeah – for it or against it – it is actually that binary.

Morality tends to be unambiguous.

The shades of grey are in legality.  And, I am not a lawyer.