Thursday, March 11, 2010

“Robbery Devis”

Now that the dust has settled on the bill “that will immediately take women in to the next century, ensure that indian woman is an equal and effective counterpart etc.”, it is time to take an objective look at what is the issue, what has been achieved so far…

The media is on an overdrive to give credit to Matha Sonia for having pushed this bill through. Now, imagine – in the RS where the opposition is in a majority BJP and Communists gang up and pass the bill and Matha gets the credit ? Every time I feel “OK the media has stooped to its lowest point, the turn around and dig a deeper mess to stoop lower”. Everyone conveniently forgets how the congress connived with the Yadav club, to nuke the bill when the NDA government introduced it in the Lok Sabha.

The bill reserves 33% reservation for a section that is 50% of the population and worse, it will rotate the constituencies every election. I.e. a third of the constituencies for one round, the next third for the next round and so on…. Now, really tell me whether this will achieve anything concrete for women…

1. Stooges will come up: We all know the Rabri Devi episode in Bihar. Similarly, if I am a senior leader in my constituency and if it is reserved for women, what will I do? Yes, I will get my wife or daughter to contest and keep the seat warm…
2. Short term attitude: Now, having won this way as the rep, I know that next time around this constituency will go back to my husband/FIL etc. So, what long term planning I will do about this constituency ? zilch. I have perfect motivation to be a “Robbery Devi” during my 5 years.
3. No change in power centres: No reservation for RS. So, the so called leaders will park themselves for one term in the RS -- continue their ministerships, bungalows etc. and nothing else will change really.

The problem is that the political system is blocking women from coming up. Instead of fixing that, this bill just applies lipstick on a pig’s lip and calls it beautiful.

The right and logical thing to do will be ask all recognized political parties to commit to 50% of candidates as women, if you fail to do you will lose recognition and be barred from contesting again. This will ensure that parties are conscious of this need. Similarly mandate Female wing of the party as a necessity with Party politburo etc. required to have 50% membership as women. If there are other constraints like sc/st/obc etc. then a woman candidate from these sections will count towards both the quotas. I.e. dalit woman should count as having met the party’s quoto for both categories…

This alone will throw up real leaders from women. This bill will get only “Robbery Devis”.

Monday, March 8, 2010

An Open letter to N Ram

The below is an open letter written to the biggest hypocrite in Indian Media today (N Ram of THE HINDU) by a former professor of Stella Mary's College, Chennai. Maybe, now he will begin to see the hyprocrisy in his mind as a non-hindu is espousing reason....


Dear Ram,

I have taken time to write this to you Ram - for the simple reason that we have known you for so many years - you and The Hindu bring back happy memories Please take what I am putting down as those that come from an agonized soul. You know that I do not mince words and what I have to say I will - I call a spade a spade - now it is too late for me to learn the tricks of being called a ‘secularist’ if that means a bias for, one, and a bias against, another.

Hussain is now a citizen of Qatar - this has generated enough of heat and less of light. Qatar you know better than me is not a country which respects democracy or freedom of expression. Hussain says he has complete freedom - I challenge him to paint a picture of Mohammed fully clad.

There is no second opinion that artists have the Right of Freedom of expression. Is such a right restricted only to Hussain? Will that right not flow to Dan Brown - why was his film - Da Vinci Code not screened? Why was Satanic Verses banned - does Salman Rushdie not have that freedom of expression? Similarly why is Taslima hunted and hounded and why fatwas have been issued on both these writers? Why has Qatar not offered citizenship to Taslima? In the present rioting in Shimoga in Karnataka against the article Taslima wrote against the tradition of burqua which appeared in the Out Look in Jan 2007.No body protested then either in Delhi or in any other part of the country; now when it reappears in a Karnataka paper there is rioting. Is there a political agenda to create a problem in Karnataka by the intolerant goons? Why has the media not condemned this insensitivity and intolerance of the Muslims against Taslima’s views? When it comes to the Sangh Parivar it is quick to call them goons and intolerant etc. Now who are the goons and where is this tolerance and sensitivity?

Regarding Hussain’s artistic freedom it seems to run unfettered in an expression of sexual perversion only when he envisages the Hindu Gods and Goddesses. There is no quarrel had he painted a nude woman sitting on the tail of a monkey. The point is he captioned it as Sita. Nobody would have protested against the sexual perversion and his orientatation to sexual signs and symbols. But would he dare to caption it as ‘Fatima enjoying in Jannat with animals’?

Next example - is the painting of Saraswati copulating with a lion. Here again his perversion is evident and so is his intent. Even that lets concede cannot be faulted - each one’s sexual orientation is each one’s business I suppose. But he captioned it as Saraswati. This is the problem. It is Hussain’s business to enjoy in painting his sexual perversion. But why use Saraswati and Sita for his perverted expressions? Use Fatima and watch the consequence. Let the media people come to his rescue then. Now that he is in a country that gives him complete freedom let him go ahead and paint Fatima copulating with a lion or any other animal of his choice. And then turn around and prove to India - the Freedom of expression he enjoys in Qatar.

Talking about Freedom of Expression - this is the Hussain who supported Emergency - painted Indira Gandhi as Durga slaying Jayaprakash Narayan. He supported the jailing of artists and writers. Where did this Freedom of Expression go? And you call him secularist? Would you support the jailing of artists and writers Ram – would you support the abeyance of the Constitution and all that we held sacred in democracy and the excessiveness of Indira Gandhi to gag the media - writers - political opponents? Tell me honesty why does Hussain expect this Freedom when he himself did not support others with the same freedom he wants? And the media has rushed to his rescue. Had it been a Ram who painted such obnoxious, .degrading painting - the reactions of the media and the elite ‘secularists’ would have been different; because there is a different perception/and index of secularism when it comes to Ram - and a different perception/and index of secularism when it comes to Rahim/Hussain.

It brings back to my mind an episode that happened to The Hindu some years ago.[1991]. You had a separate weekly page for children with cartoons, quizzes, and with poems and articles of school children. In one such weekly page The Hindu printed a venerable bearded man - fully robed with head dress, mouthing some passages of the Koran - trying to teach children .It was done not only in good faith but as a part of inculcating values to children from the Koran. All hell broke loose. Your office witnessed goons who rushed in - demanded an apology - held out threats. In Ambur, Vaniambadi and Vellore the papers stands were burned - the copies of The Hindu were consigned to the fire. A threat to raise the issue in Parliament through a Private Members Bill was held out - Hectic activities went on - I am not sure of the nature and the machinations behind the scene. But The Hindu next day brought out a public apology in its front page. Where were you Ram? How secular and tolerant were the Muslims?

Well this is of the past - today it is worse because the communal temperature in this country is at an all high - even a small friction can ignite and demolition the country’s peace and harmony. It is against this background that one should view Hussain who is bent on abusing and insulting the Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Respect for religious sentiments, need to maintain peace and harmony should also be part of the agenda of an artist - if he is great. If it is absent then he cannot say that he respects India and express his longing for India.

Let’s face it - he is a fugitive of law. Age and religion are immaterial. What does the media want - that he be absolved by the courts? Even for that he has to appear in the courts - he cannot run away - After all this is the country where he lived and gave expression to his pervert sadist, erotic artistic mind under Freedom of Expression. I simply cannot jump into the bandwagon of the elite ‘secularist’ and uphold what he had done. With his brush he had committed jihad - bloodletting.

The issue is just not nudity - Yes the temples - the frescos in Konarak and Kajhuraho have nude figures - But does it say that they are Sita, Sarswati or any goddesses? We have the Yoni and the Phallus as sacred signs of Life - of Siva and Shakthi - take these icons to the streets, paint them - give it a caption it become vulgar. Times have changed. Even granted that our ancients sculptured and painted naked forms and figures, with a pervert mind to demean religion is no license to repeat that in today’s changed political and social scenario and is not a sign of secularism and tolerance. I repeat there is no quarrel with nudity - painters have time and again found in it the perfection of God’s hand craft.

Let me wish Hussain peace in Qatar - the totalitarian regime with zero tolerance May be he will convince the regime there to permit freedom of expression in word, writing and painting. For this he could start experimenting painting forms and figure of Mohamed the Prophet - and his family And may I fervently wish that the media - especially The Hindu does not discriminate goons - let it not substitute tolerance for intolerance when it comes to Rahim and Antony and another index for Ram.

I hope you will read this in the same spirit that I have written. All the best to you Ram.

Dr Mrs Hilda Raja, Vadodara

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What is the national language of India ?

It is GK time folks.. What is the national language of India? How many of you answered Hindi? From my experience, before central government textbooks were corrected recently to say “India has NO national language”, we all were lied to by successive governments into believing that Hindi is the national language. Now, pause let that sink into your head – yes India does not have a national language. Wake up and smell the coffee folks, ensure that awareness of this is spread amongst your friends and Near-N-Dear.

Why did I decide to post this, though this is mainly a compilation of several responses I wrote in a chat forum to educate people? Two reasons… First, recently the Gujarat HC delivered a judgment legally establishing that Hindi is not our national language -- for that matter there is NO national language altogether either in the official laws or Government of India or in the constitution itself. Second, when I observed a Bihari baggage handler, arrogantly declaring to passengers that “If you don’t know Hindi, what are doing in India?” – That too in of all places in Chennai at the airport, I was incensed. I raised the issue with his manager who quickly apologized on his behalf and settled the issue. The arrogance behind the attitude led me to think about it and reiterate my thoughts on this….

Yes, folks there is no national language in India and rightly so. India is a union of states with every state having the ultimate freedom to adopt any language as its official language. Once a state does that - the language also merits a place as a duly notified official language in the relevant schedule of the constitution…

At the present moment there are the following types of folks who have a firm stance on this.
1. Those that are from the Hindi belt and native speakers of Hindi – Of course their stance is understandable, I would like Tamil to be the national language too. Both of us entitled to this stance, because by rooting for our own language we shift the “cost of integration” totally to those that don’t know the language. Easy… It is best to show sympathy to this lot and ignore them.
2. There is a subservient lot, who usually say for national integration this is paramount that we have one national language. This is fear mongering at best based on the premise that somehow India will disintegrate unless and until everyone speaks Hindi. Again, it is best to ignore this lot as well. There are several successful examples of singular nations Singapore, Belgium, Switzerland and larger societies like European Union etc. were multi-lingualism thrives and actually creates a stronger diverse society.
3. The third kind says, what if I get a job outside my state ? Well, if you have that singular need then learn that language. The onus is on you to cover this bet for yourself, you can’t burden entire society to learn another language so that your risk in getting job outside the state, is covered ? It would be entirely laughable, if this thought weren’t so pathetically selfish. Again the best option is to ignore this lot as well.
4. Finally, there is a lot that says Hindi has the largest number of speakers so it should be the national language. Well, precisely because of this reason the constitution requires Hindi to be an official language along with English to address the practical needs already. If commonality and large numbers where the sole criteria then Hinduism should be our national religion, Rat our national animal and Crow our national bird. Do you get the point ?

So after ignoring these buckets (which should cut down most of the noise) let us look at the issue objectively and firm up stances…

Another frequent tactic of the fear mongers is to ask “Why are you against Hindi ?” The question itself is stupid, as I am not against the language at all, I am as fluent in it as anybody else. I am against anointing it as a national language, which is totally unnecessary in my opinion. Plus, there are dangers of certain rights and powers being arrogated by the government, once it becomes a national language. Just look at how the government arrogated the right to use our national flag to itself for so many years. It took herculean litigation to let the citizens celebrate things by waving the flag!!!

Already due the fact that it is the co-official language of the Union government, the Hindi belt enjoys undue advantages. E.g. IIT/AIEE entrance exams are conducted in Hindi as well. But not in other official languages listed in the constitution. If the situation is like this now, if Hindi were to become a national language, imagine what life would be for a rural student in TN, Andhra etc. who are educated well in Tamil, Telugu etc… That thought alone should stop anyone dead on their tracks and oppose declaration of any language as National. Just answer as to why would anyone applying for Job for BHEL in TN from Tamil Nadu be required to learn Hindi ? That is what you would have to deal with.

Response 1, I had written in another forum

Let us look at a common statement, “you are an Indian, who wouldn’t you learn Hindi ?”. What does this mean ? Are you implying that for Indianness I should know Hindi ? This precisely the arrogance that our founding fathers foresaw and cleverly omitted “National Language” from the constitution totally and even from the list of National Symbols.

Just think as to why those set of individuals who went to great lengths to identify national symbols (Bird, Animal, Flag heck even a Calendar and Game) will leave out national language ? Because, language is as much an emotional issue as religion in many portions of India. All the constitution mandates is that Union Government of India conduct its business in English and Hindi, that is it. Nothing more Nothing less. It also gives the freedom for each state to choose its own language and most importantly it requires the states’ concurrence when there is a common language need for interaction. Please read the constitution, not some web site or some JoeBloke’s interpretation.

Unless and until all the states agree on it, we will not have a national language -- for that the national symbols act or the constitution will have to be modified. Please read the lok-sabha archives for the debates on language, you would be amazed at the depth of issues those folks foresaw and limited Hindi to one of the official languages.

Most of us have been lied to in our civics class that we have a national language so that some states can use that lie to impose a “national language”. We never had one and we never will, as long as state’s consent is required. The most vociferous opposition to Hindi during the debates of the constituent Lok Sabha came from Punjab, Bengal, Kashmir, NE States (then Assam), Maharashtra, Orissa and all the southern states. Even now only 7 states have voted for it (only in the Hindi belt). Even in the Hindi Belt, states routinely have Local dialects or Urdu as Official Languages, why is that ?

India is not USA which is a land of immigrants, that you can require all those who want to be citizens to learn a particular language. The societies that exist in India and most of the languages have a very long history. If we even have an ounce of respect for Diversity, we will realize that there is no need for national language. Rightly, we don’t have one.

Also, the true intent of the constitution is not a monolithic India, it is a federal setup, with states having distinct set of powers as does the centre. Certain subjects are concurrent, including Education. How many of you know that just as religious minorities, linguistic minorities have the right to setup their own educational institutions and be totally outside the purview of regulatory requirements with the same freedom as religious minorities ? Please ponder as to why the constitution is so liberal. It is with a sense of really respecting “Unity in Diversity” and not paying lip-service to it.

I have nothing for or against any language, I simply abhor anyone telling me that to be Indian I have to learn Hindi, that to me would mean two sets of India. One, Punya Bhoomi for those that are born in the Hindi Belt and Two, Karma Bhoomi for those of us outside. This is simply not acceptable.

Response 2:

Someone said that if we had an ounce of concern for the soldiers in the Indian Army, we will immediately accept Hindi as the national language… My response is…

This is a clever attempt at appealing on emotion, when logic/reason are not on your side.

1. Who said that you shouldn’t need a common language for Army. If at all there is a case, this is where we should adopt the language that is known to most of the soldiers. I will happily to adopt Hindi if that is the easiest route in this case.
2. Already JaiJavan programs are there and they are in Hindi, I have no issues with that. Tell me, would that be such a demoralizing effect for Hindi soldiers, if say, a tamil soldier who is fighting on the same front, were to write a request for a Tamil Song. Should JaiJavan program ignore that totally ? It does now....

If Singapore, Belgium, Switzerland all can peacefully exist with several languages, and European Union can be an successful entity and can have seamless borders, why can’t India have the same ?

It is just plain fear mongering to say that we will dis-integrate unless we have a National language.

Most people who have been fed constant crap that India==Xyz language will not get the concerns that people who are not natives of that language.

Everybody wants to be an Indian, just don’t require anyone to prove it by learning a specific language. E.g. Try this simple proposal in the Hindi belt. “In addition to Hindi, every student has to learn one of Tamil/Telugu/Malayalam/Bengali/Kannada..... etc.”, please fine tune winning people over with this strategy, then come and talk to the non-hindi states about adoption of Hindi and National Integration etc.

We have a saying in Tamil “நீ அரிசி கொண்டு வா நான் உமி கொண்டு வருகிறேன் இரண்டையும் கலந்து ஊதி ஊதி சாப்பிடலாம்”, which means “You bring Rice, I will bring Husk, let us mix it up, blow the waste away and share the rest”. It is a good deal for who ? At least, now do you get the point, as to who has to bear the total cost of this so called “integration” ? When even on simple issues like UPSC, IAS, AIEE or IIT, I am not seeing a common sense strategy of “Let us conduct these exams in all Indian languages”, without any such sensitivity being displayed it is a very tough ask to require me learn a language, because they simply will not find any use for it.

Someone else waxed eloquently on how it is Bharat Heavy Electricals, so you have to learn Hindi or, I plan to do a Bharat Darshan so Hindi is a must etc. Do you all even realize the offensive arrogance behind such statements ? To me, it implies Bharat == Hindi, isn’t it ? Is that what this country means to me ?

Everybody wants be an Indian, let them be. If you force any language or religion or culture, perhaps fighting for Independence is the only option then.....

Response 3:

See whether the statement below is acceptable.

“Hinduism will be made the national religion of India. All those who are not followers will be required to learn Hinduism and adopt it, along with their native religion. Over time all people in India will be followers of Hinduism”.

Is it acceptable ? Now, replace Hinduism with Hindi, follower with speaker and religion with language in the statement above and tell me whether it is still acceptable ?

Just as religions transcend languages and regions, languages also transcend regions and religions in India. In my opinion, all the reasons which would rule out a national religion should rule out national language as well…

Finally, don’t you mistake me for some chauvinist, I am not.Some of my best friends are from UP, Bihar, Bengal, Maharashtra and many other regions… I am very proud of my identity as an Indian Tamil, whose history culture and should merit its own pride of place in India. Just don’t require me to prove my Indianness by learning Xyz…

For the record, I am as fluent as anybody else in Hindi. I learnt that language on my own just as I learnt Sanskrit when I was young. It was done without fear or persuasion of any kind whatsoever and that should be the way for everybody else….

So let me now ask again, “What is the national language of India ?”

Friday, March 5, 2010

Living frugal or Living Cheap ?

Every time I have met fellow South Indians, Tamils in particular the common complaint is that big businesses regularly ignore their markets focus on Delhi and consider it done. How media is delhi obsessed where in “cut offs for admission to commerce in St. Stephens in Delhi, trumps fire in kumbakonam which kills tens of children etc.”. There is an element of truth in it, about which I will blog later, but we also need to introspect as to whether this is due to anything that we do as a culture/species?

I for one is of the firm belief, that for us to be respected by businesses, we need to pay equal attention to the way we live, entertain and interact with people. Perhaps, the same level attention that we pay to ensure that our kids get “centum in mathx” (for the less informed it is scoring 100% in mathematics).

Please answer the following Questions, so that it becomes easy to understand the personality
1. Does your idea of living room furniture, comprise only of plastic chairs ?
2. Do you receive your guests (including the manager you invited for Dinner), in a Lungi and torn Banian ?
3. Do you avoid owning bigger house, because “Maintenance is difficult ?”, but don’t shy away from owning several matchbox houses/apartments ?
4. Do you ever ponder, as to since the bathroom is used only for a few minutes everyday can a timeshare concept be adopted and rent it out ?
5. Do you shy away from installing netlon or other mosquito protection, thinking “No matter what I do one or two will invariably come in…” and choose to let in millions..
6. After saving Rs. 1 Crore in your SB account, do you debate as to whether you should paint your bicycle ?
7. In your mind diarrhea drugs are cheaper than buying AquaGuard or mineral water
8. Do you spend almost all your time (for the female of the species) in nighties, the 10 year old check-patterned shorts (for the male of the species) -- which is largely faded…
9. If a nightie were available in silk, would you consider it as a “convenient dress” for attending marriages ?
10. Do you still keep that 20 year old TV around hoping that one day spare part will become available and it can be repaired ?
11. Do you spend two full days buying up necessary stuff for a pooja/event at home, spend Rs. 4990 on it and feel really happy about how you saved over the Rs. 5000 package that was offered to you by the priest/pandit ? Though you spend Rs. 500 more in conveyance not mention the value of your time ….

If you answered Yes to two or more of the questions, though you can definitely afford (or have the means to spend to be able) to say NO… Congratulations you are of the species -- who has mistaken living cheap for living frugal.

Pay attention to the sayings “Charity begins at home” (தனக்கு மிஞ்சித்தான் தர்மம்). Let us live within our means but certainly live well… (அளவோடு வாழ்வோம், ஆனால் வளமோடு வாழ்வோம்)!

Now let us introspect as to whether there is a valid reason why businesses largely ignore the south and focus on Delhi?

Consider this, when a Punjabi guy in Delhi saves Rs. 1.5 lakhs he will immediately take out a loan of Rs. One lakh and buy a car and “live well” (the other extreme of living that focuses on ostentatiousness) but you on the other hand will think about painting your bicycle even when you have several lakhs as savings in our account! Obsess about whether the house you buy has “rent potential”, any enhancements or modifications all get warped as to whether they would fetch higher rent. Now can you blame the companies for ignoring you?

Me thinks NOT… My simple rule of thumb, go for the best you can afford – you will automatically begin to live well…