Blood Terror

Associating religion with terrorism is an act that is generally considered to be politically incorrect and insensitive, but even the most influential politicians tend to bring up direct references to religion when discussing increasing terror concerns. Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram, recently spoke of the rising threat of ‘saffron’ terror in India.

Members of India’s various saffron factions are alleged to be behind at least five terror attacks the country has suffered over the last decade. Saffron terror, which B Raman terms as ‘Hindu reprisal terrorism’, is currently not as big a threat as Islamist terrorism in terms of the count of loss of lives. But that does not mean there should be no check on it’s rise in India. Or that the threat should be dismissed.

Through out the last few decades, organizations like the RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal have been involved in training extremist Hindus and giving provocative hate speeches in various parts of the country. The political wing of thes RSS is the BJP, which alongwith Shiv Sena responded disappointingly to Chidambaram’s remarks on saffron terror with negative behaviour that led to the Rajya Sabha being adjourned not once, but twice.

Any threatening phenomenon that causes innocent lives to be lost, according to me, is terrorism. It does not help if we calculate how threatening one form is in comparison to other forms. This may eventually impact our actions on the threats, which are of utmost importance.

Defenders and apologists of any form of terrorism turn a blind eye to the fact that innocent lives are lost, and that is never an acceptable thing. Not in the worst of cases. So the question is – if the spills of terrorism come out in the form of blood of innocent Indians, then why take sides? Let’s deal with all forms of terror, let’s eliminate all forms of terror.

Only this will ensure all forms of peace. And that, is the need of the hour.


Let’s Just Do Our Job

Approximately 1,600 people are reported to be dead in the depressing floods that have ravaged Pakistan in the last couple of months [NYT – Flood disaster may require largest aid effort in modern history]. This speaks of a disaster of enormous magnitude and deserves sympathy and (more importantly) aid in all forms from national governments across the world.

Including India.

And India has rightly obliged. The Government of India had announced a $5mn aid package that Pakistan, shockingly, took a while to decide whether to accept or not. They have finally accepted the offer [Times of India – Pak accepts India flood aid offer], but are unlikely to issue visas to around 400 Indian medics to travel to the country and play a role in treating the millions affected and displaced by the floods. [Economic Times – Pak unlikely to issue visas to Indian doctors]

Now, we have several issues that directly damage us and that directly involve Pakistan. But this is not the time to talk about those issues, and instead offer as much help as possible to the Pakistani people. This is believed to earn India some goodwill and one would expect that it would blow the lid on the image of India that the ISI-Taliban-Army nexus tries to create every now and then, and make it persist in public discourse.

However, it would be wise of us to not get carried away. Public memory is usually short and it is unlikely that Pakistan’s civil society will ever have a ‘clean’ opinion on India. This is largely because the textbooks in their schools are agenda-based, an agenda that is directly anti-India.

There is also the possibility that since hardliner elements in Pakistan are always likely to blame India, even for natural disasters, opinion is always likely to end up divided [Times of India – Pak hardliners blame India, US for floods]. The fact that Pakistan failed to accept our offer of aid for so long, speaks of enough scepticism about India that exists in the neighbour.

My point is that we must just do what the human being in us calls for (offer maximum possible aid, doctors) and then resume normal service, once things stabilize. Expecting any drastic change in public opinion or even return-goodwill on the part of Pakistan in strongly dealing with various terrorist elements is unnecessary.

And unlikely.

Why NRIs Shouldn’t Vote

A Bill that allows non-resident Indians to vote in India’s general elections has been given clearance by the Union Cabinet and will be introduced in Parliament soon for approval. [Link]

My views on voting rights to non-resident Indians are simple and to put it straight up front – I think NRIs should not be allowed to vote. Voting, for starters, decides the course that ‘mainland’ India takes every 5 years. This also means that the lives of a billion-plus people depend directly on this foremost activity (and duty, actually).

So what is actually supposed to be an activity of deep significance, can end up as nothing but a symbolic expression of ‘love’ or ‘patriotism’ when NRIs get to vote. NRIs, it can be safely said, are ‘another country’. Yes, they are Indians.

But voting and deciding the governing leaders of a place they do not live in (or don’t intend to, in many cases, for the rest of their lives) is offering too much power, minus any responsibility or accountability. No matter how much NRIs argue in favour of voting in India, they will find it difficult to justify not being accountable in all aspects, be it benefitting or suffering from the peoples’ choice of leaders.

The basic point I attempt to make in this argument is that if you do not live in the place, then it is unwise of you to play a role in hugely significant activities like general elections. NRIs contribute to the growth and rise of India in several ways, and it would be of continual benefit to India if they continued to impact the mainland in their own noble ways, ways that directly contribute to the Indian economy.

Voting, like Bollywood movies or cricket matches, isn’t an area where the quintessential NRI can chest-thump his/her ‘love’ for India (feelings usually linked with traditions, culture and the usual Bollywood/cricket). Again, it can be said that this love is a mere impulse, a basic feeling. It may last for long, but it does not mean much.

If emotions were to decide national policy, then India will be known as a ‘goodwill-God’ (of course, complemented by the usual widespread poverty, unemployment, poor state of public health, corruption etc). But the job, fortunately, of the Government is to ensure the well-being and prosperity of all her people.

NRIs can make several differences, no matter how small. Remittances and investments are strong areas of contribution, as is tourism. Something as simple as talking positively about India to their foreign friends and encouraging them to visit the country can also go a long way. Fortunately, NRIs already do all this. And much more.

Voting, however, may not be a wise idea.

There’s Always Something You Can Do

First of all, a very happy Independence Day to you.

It’s a dry day, I know. And that’s all that matters. Really. And a dry Sunday, at that. If you have cheekily stocked up on your booze, then more power to you. But all the expletives in the world can’t express your, otherwise, general frustration, can they?

Don’t worry. There’s always something you can do. To keep you busy on a boring Sunday without booze, da. Or on all such days.

1) Stone Kicking

The naughty folks (read ‘separatists’) in Kashmir believe in throwing stones at the Indian Army to keep them away from the streets of Srinagar and other cities and towns in the state. You, on the other hand, can kick stones. Yes, kick.

Areyyy, the ones that lie ‘harmlessly’ on public roads, the ones waiting to come into contact with the wheel of a vehicle and spring themselves at an innocent passer-by to hit him/her on the head. You can kick them away into the side, if you are crossing the road, or the road is empty.

2) Google Doodle!

Got a whole lot of free time to spare? Well, keep all your free time. Google wants just a few seconds of your time. The Google India website, every year, comes up with wonderful doodles that lead to mind-boggling admiration from Indians. And this year too, they are true to their promise.

Nothing wrong. Google’s doodles are something I’ve enjoyed all along. And you should too. Oh, once you are done taking a look at the doodle, you can obviously proceed to search for ‘Shakeela hot bath kiss’ or ‘Sherlyn nude’. Shakti Kapoor takes Google Doodles very seriously, you know. [Picture: Shakti Kapoor’s seriousness] [Picture courtesy: Greatbong]

3) View Independence Day-themed advertisements

One thing I enjoy doing on Independence Day is to take a look at how corporates have brilliantly placed the Indian tricolour very strategically in their ads.

Most ads would go like – ‘Proud to be an Indian. Wear Rupa Underwear & Banyan’ – making the viewer feel apologetic of not attaching with the cause. And the country. Even though you may be very (and rightly) attached with your currently used brand of innerwear.

For example, you could view The Times Of India’s website for starters. The wonderfully astute designers and editors at TOI are usually quick to vomit the three colours on their website as if to make you feel you are jumping into a swimming pool of Indianness. And drowning, of course.

4) Clean up the flags

It’s Independence Day. Time to flaunt the Indianness. I promise to buy an India flag, an India pin, an India cap, an India T-shirt and Uday Chopra jeans. Hey, there are no India jeans. Spare me, please. Except, I won’t really be buying all this.

But I promise I will clean the street. All these purchased flags that have slipped away from their owners, will of course lie on the streets of the same country they are a symbol of. So much for not keeping our cities clean, we tend to dirty our cities with our own flags.

Thank you for the love and patriotism you displayed when purchasing the damn thing, but I’d certainly not like seeing the tricolour on the road. In all seriousness.

Anyway, Independence Day be good to you and your family. Happy, also.

And please do remember – there’s always something you can do.

[Picture courtesy: Real Bollywood]

How We Can Save The Commonwealth Games

The 2010 Commonwealth Games. The pride of New Delhi. The pride of India.

Except, it doesn’t seem to have turned out quite like that. Now, I’m not interested in doing a critique of the scandals and shame surrounding the Commonwealth Games to be held in October in our capital. That is best left to institutions like the Anti-Corruption Bureau.

But I have sincerely pondered over what we, the common people of India (also throw in some celebrities for good measure), can do in assisting dear old Suresh Kalmadi arrange the Commonwealth Games and ensure our nose doesn’t get cut (or bitten, if you like). Nah, only the Hindi version makes sense. Hamara naak na kat jaaye. Kat, FYI, is not Katrina Kaif.

And there really is a lot we can do.

For starters, I was dumbstruck to learn that India forked out Rs. 3,757 per roll of toilet paper to be consumed, err, used by athletes [Link]. To this overspending, I offer a simple solution – donate your newspapers. I’m sure you’ve stockpiled enough editions of the Times of India, Hindustan Times, Indian Express, The Hindu, Mirror, Mid-Day etc (add to the list, if you like, via comments. Tabloids preferred) that you could willingly donate to the Commonwealth Games Committee. No other place will they be better used than in the toilets.

Yes, you can cut out that bikini-clad picture of a Sherlyn Chopra (okay not the Sherlyn of 1999, back then she was genuinely beautiful and sexy) or a Kashmera Shah and stick it on your hostel cupboard or behind your attached toilet’s door (if you live with your parents) and then proceed to donate the papers. You can always apply for tax returns, and fill the reason in the form as ‘serving the country with toilet paper substitutes’. Oh, that doesn’t refer just to the Times of India.

I assure you Kalmadi will be thrilled. And wait, we can please him further.

The country has planned to rent treadmills at Rs. 9,75,000 a piece for 45 days. I believe this is another area where we can pitch in. Okay, not us. But the ‘special men’ of India can. This is a golden opportunity for the likes of Uday Chopra, Shahid Kapoor, Tusharr Kapoor and Viiveik Obeiiroiiii (excuse the number of ‘i’s in Oberoi’s name, I’m not sure how many there are since his latest name change) can serve the country by lending us some treadmills from their fancy, in-house gymnasiums (funded by their fathers?).

In return, I’m sure Kalmadi and the Government of India can offer them national film awards (for example, Uday Chopra is an awesome candidate to win the award for his upcoming blockbuster ‘Being Uday’) or Padma Shri awards to ensure their rise in the country. Or just Padmas, if they like.

One more area.

The CWG organisers are considering installing a Rs. 50 crore-worth balloon outside the Nehru Stadium in Delhi [Link]. Now, where will we get such a massive one? This is one dilemma. I suggest we save costs by approaching Shri Lalit Kumar Modi and asking him to offer the services of the MRF Blimp (much seen during the IPL, or not seen at all). Of course, the MRF can be replaced by the Hand of the Indian National Congress. Because without their blessings, this great event wouldn’t have been possible.

I’m sure Modi will ask amounts as audacious as his proclamation that Formula One should aspire to get a fan following as huge as the Indian Premier League. But we can distract him by offering him extra cheerleaders for next year’s IPL. And you know where we can get these cheerleaders – South Indian B-grade film industry for starters. Just imagine how brilliant a Shakeela or a Reshma will do on the grand stage of the IPL. Massive inspiration on the cards. Massive. Oh, here’s an old post on the IPL [Link] for your entertainment.

So, these are some of the ideas that would make Kalmadi proud of you.

Yes, we can.

Undo it.

The Importance of Nationalism

In a country like India, low self-respect is rather prevalent. It doesn’t matter whether you are one of the privileged upper-classes or come from the struggling middle or lower classes. There is the lack of a distinct national identity that should make one proud of their country. And India, with history being proof, is not a nation-state. And this is exactly why nationalism becomes more important in the Indian context.

Remember, it is easier for the people of one culture-one identity to unite out of nature’s rule. India has been presented with the challenge of uniting several such ‘One Cultures’. Now by advocating nationalism as something people must ‘learn’ about, I’m definitely not suggesting chauvinism or jingoism. They are extremes that I reject in entirety and it is better to not be nationalistic if you were to end up slipping down the valley of jingoism (which can be very dangerous).

Now, you must be wondering what is the purpose of this post. The intention of this post is to make clear that nationalism is a given in most countries that India deals with. Ordinary folk of certain countries are way more nationalistic than Indians. Our emotional commitments have ended up ensuring that Indians are more ‘nationalist’ towards their families or religions, with the country always taking a back seat.

Nationalism should be encouraged (as a system of belief) because of the general lack of self-respect in Indians. We, being a democracy, are self-critical and that may be a tribute to the Indian state’s greatness but it does not call for lesser (or no) nationalism. The Chinese are united. The Pakistanis, despite their well-documented failures, take a few seconds to unite (for example, at the instant mention of ‘India’).

And like everything else in India, the choice of being a nationalist is just that. A choice.