Thursday, September 27, 2007

Lesson 24: Justice... is blind?

or, Where the courts are beyond the law...

The Judges Inquiry Bill (2007) should be introduced in the Parliament next week. The bill is all about holding the Judiciary accountable for what they do -- if and when one feels that either justice has not been meted out or if a judge has been 'corrupt'. Remember the movies where we have seen judges taking bribes? Now think... So you have been harassed by the police, your neighbour, your in-laws, whoever and decide to move the court to help you out. You move the highest court of law for a case and perhaps the person sitting on that esteemed chair is not honest. Will you be sure that you will get justice? When studying, one of the chapters in my civics book said that when a citizen does not have anywhere to go, the Supreme Court will listen. It will give you justice, it will do right or at least try. Now... the SC is perhaps becoming a body that becomes all-powerful; but that power perhaps will not be used for the people. Judges will perhaps become prosecution, defence, jury and executioner; all rolled into one. And if perhaps there is money involved, the verdict might not make any sense to you and me. WHAT will we do? WHO will we go to?

Here, is You Don't Know Who (YDKW1) makes a reappearance now to give us the juice on what the entire Judges' Inquiry Bill is all about; why we need it and what the court has to say about it. Read on, it's important for all of us.

Contributed by You Don't Know Who 1

There is a saying along the lines of, "It doesn't matter to the grass if the elephants make love or if they make war, it gets crushed either way."

At times, when huge institutions are in conflict, it can feel like that for ordinary citizens. Frankly, all you want to do is get the hell out of the way, but that may not be the best way to deal with things.

Most people in India will not really know about this, but the Parliament is currently looking at a Judges (Inquiry) Bill. Knowing this may not make much difference to your day as an Indian citizen, but it should, because it is quite likely to affect your life. And just because the judiciary and the Parliament are calling each other names, shouldn't make you forget that the primary purpose of these huge institutions, these elephants, is to serve you.

The Judges (Inquiry) Bill, 2007, is supposed to replace the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968. The original Act was brought into force to investigate complaints against judges. It has been used. Once. Unsuccessfully.

This was in the case against the Supreme Court judge, Justice Ramaswamy. Despite the fact that the Inquiry Committee found the judge guilty of 11 out the 14 charges including those of financial fraud in which his actions were "were such as to bring dishonour and disrepute to the judiciary so as to shake the faith and confidence which the public repose in the institution," Ramaswamy was not removed from office. In fact the impeachment motion against him failed, and he happily went back to his job. No other Inquiry into a judge's behaviour has taken place, ever.

For the last 15 or so years MPs have been trying to figure out a way to make sure that something like this does not recur, and during that time we have all heard many stories of judicial misbehaviour. A few of them are listed here
but the thing is that the Supreme Court has ruled that the judiciary is off-limits.

It has served contempt of court orders against journalists investigating or even the CBI conducting a raid without the Chief Justice of India's permission. Even the Right to Information Act has been declared not applicable to the judiciary.
Now this might not be all that bad. The impeachment process against a judge of the High Court or Supreme Court has been made tough for a reason.

Judges should be independent and not be open to coercion. But it is also common sense to understand that if somebody has power, and no oversight whatsoever, they might be tempted to abuse it. If they cannot be investigated, cannot be questioned and cannot be removed, there might be a bit of an issue. In fact the Supreme Court has interpreted the Constitution to mean that even appointments are done on the advice of the serving judiciary. So appointments of the judge, any oversight or punishment (and we would never know) is all in a few people's hands.

Previous governments have tabled a number of bills until we had a draft version of the bill in 2005. It was sent to the Law Commission, headed by Justice Jagganadha Rao, came back with a report that judicial oversight should be exclusively by the judiciary, and the judiciary alone. The Law Commission argued that this is the case in (most of) the rest of the world. The funny thing is that the National Advisory Council had come out with a report saying the exact opposite, that in most parts of the world judicial oversight is by a wider body. For some reason the Law Commission in its 400+ page report somehow forgot to even mention the judicial reforms undertaken by the UK, and the Act passed in 2005 appointing a committee to appoint judges (none of whom are of the judiciary) and an ombudsman to investigate judges (who is not a judge). So we have the current Bill, about which one of the Members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee has said, "we talk about accountability, instead of Judges appointing Judges, which is bad enough in itself; Judges judging judges, even when there are complaints against them, I think, is worse".

And in the midst of all this when Mid Day magazine raises the issue that the sons of the former Chief Justice of India, Justice Sabharwal, were members of a mall and building development agency that made crores when the Supreme Court forced the implementation of the sealing drive, the Supreme Court cries, 'Contempt!" and sends the editor and reporters to jail. It really makes you suspicious.

Do you really want such judges passing judgments over your cases? With no oversight, no transparency, nothing? Think about it. Inform yourself. It is your country, these are your institutions. Hold them to account.

PS: HOW??? WHO do we go to? Even 'truth' is not seen as enough -- even with proof -- to bring a judge under the scanner. Andha kanoon? And again I ask, how long will you keep quiet?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lesson 24: You bloody Baingan aka Brinjal!

Contributed by Citizen Sahasra Shatru, Hyderabad

People have peculiar attitudes shaped by the cities they live in, so much so that we come to see stereotypes – that are almost, always strangely true – of people with regards to certain attributes. A beautiful old-world charm used to pervade the city of Hyderabad, which was and is famed for its laidback attitude.

That attitude is celebrated to date, notwithstanding the advances in technology, businesses, pub culture and life in the fast lane. Yet, what deeply supports the laidback attitude -- that is so proudly worn on sleeves by Hyderabadis -- is the "Brinjal" Attitude. Now, let me elucidate.

Look at a few everyday encounters that an average commuter or bystander is witness to:

At signals, when someone is obviously jumping one
Person 1: “Arre Bewakoof, signal nahin dikhtha kya?.
Person 2: “Baingan kee meri Signal”……….vroooom….
(Yo, idiot, can’t you see the red light?
My bloody baingan to the signal!)

On the roads, where someone is liberally pee-ing on walls

Person 1: “Arre yaar, thodee hee dhoor mein public toilet hain naa?”
Person 2: “Baingan kee meri public toilet”
(Yo, there’s a public toilet at a short distance you know…)
(My baingan to the public toilet…)

Any given place when women are being letched at

Person 1: “Maal ke tamaatar dekha hai kya?
Person 1½: “Rapchik hai chichchaa…khaali thodee sadelee hain”
Person 2: “Abbe there ghar mein maa behan nahin hai?”
Person 1: “Voh tho hai, par theree behan ko kab bhijaaraa rey, baingan ke baal”
(Yo, haven’t you ever seen a tomato? Don’t you have your mother/sisters at home?)
(Of course I have a mom/sis; but when are you sending your sister over, you bloody brinjal)

In a Government office, obviously stuck at the red tape
Person 1: “saab, yeh kaam thodaa urgent hai, aaj sham thak ho sakthaa hai kya?”
Person 2: “Baingan hota”
(Sir, this work is important, can it be done by evening?)
(By evening? Right. My brinjal…)

In a queue, when someone’s obviously breaking the line
Person 1: “oye theree tho, kathaar nahin dikhraa kya?
Person 2: “thereko dikhthaa hai naa, thoo khade rah”
(Oi, can’t you see the queue?)
(Well, you can see right? So keep standing.)

At a market (with vendors) where stuff is obviously over-priced
Person 1: “uthnaa bhaav kyoon bhai, main ithnaa eech dethoon”
Person 2: “mere mooh pe baingan likhaa hua hai kya, chalo, giraak kaa time hua”
(Why is it so expensive? I usually pay a lower price)
(Er, do you see ‘brinjal’ written on my face? )

With auto driver, who is obviously refusing to budge
Person 1: “Punjagutta chaloge?”
Person 2: “ .....“ (the ‘baingan’ gesture)
Person 1: looks at his watch, the sky, and to the next autowallah
(Will you go to such-such place?)
(Makes the brinjal-finger-sign. No response)

It is that stoicism that I am in awe of that is so homogenously present with the display of this Brinjal attitude that kills any prospect of conciliation with the people that one has to interact with everyday.

The city lives on and grows organically as people move to other cities and exchange their ‘gifts’, the best export from Hyderabad being the Brinjal attitude, thanks to their strong rudimentary principles in the art of living. It is there deep in skin, bones, blood, and sputum, and some times only a dandaa will set them right, albeit temporarily. I keep fighting with the ‘Brinjals’, some times with upper hand, some times vanquished. What do you do with yours?

J Bo says: An eye for an eye, a brinjal for a brinjal?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Lesson 23: Have you been to a Rae-Bareilly?

This was contributed by Citizen Mohit.

“Have you ever been to Rae Bareilly?” I was stumped by this question coming from my neighbor’s 7-year-old kid. How and why is this little kid interested in the Gandhi family’s constituency? Well, my fears were unfounded. After some rounds of Q&A, I understood that he wanted to know if I had been to a library (lai-ba-rairy in a kid’s voice became Rae Bareilly!).

Hmmm, I told him that I had been to libraries in my schools and college. But this little chap wanted to go to a library near his home. So I took him to my stack of Champaks, Bhokaal, Chacha Chaudhary and Archies comic books; the 7-year old was satisfied with that but not me.

I have never seen a library in my town Ghaziabad. I have only heard of the British Council Library in Delhi and one probably in Bangalore. But apart from these ‘exclusive’ libraries, don’t we need more libraries across the country? Our politicians call bandhs for providing so many commodities either cheap or free to the common man but they never hold the parliament down for providing free/easy access to books and other reading materials. Is this part of their evil scheme to keep the man on the streets forever on the streets?

Here are, what I believe, the benefits of having a library in all towns of our country:

1. Access to books for people who cannot afford to buy them; access to books will not only enhance their knowledge, but also widen their horizon about issues facing their own towns, districts, states all the way up to the country and even world.

2. The self-appointed darogas (policemen) of Indian culture will also get an opportunity to spread word among the people about the value based sanskriti (culture) by showcasing Indian literature especially in the regional languages to the youth of today who are blamed for embracing Western influences while ignoring the rich cultural heritage of their motherland. What else can they embrace when the only public face of Indian Cultural heritage that they see is some hooligans burning down public property or breaking window panes in a card shop on Valentine’s Day or turning a blind eye to any constructive suggestion by terming it as an insult to their religious sentiments?

It just dawned on me, while writing this piece, that this library effort is especially critical from a regional language literature because a failure to do this (in the way I am suggesting or any other) could very well mean pulling the curtains on those precious gems forever from the general landscape. Sounds exaggerated?
Consider this: you and I still have heard in bits and pieces about Prem Chand (frankly, he is the only Hindi author I can quote, I know, shame on me) because our parents came up from villages and were in touch with these but keeping in mind the amount of Indian literature we know, how much do you think can this generation pass on to its children?

Just putting books in a building is not my idea of a library; the library complex should allow place for small gatherings as well where learned scholars from local universities, colleges and other affiliations can hold short discussions or discourses on some key topics including the importance of the Vedas in these days, the lessons of Bhagvad Gita, the teachings of the Quran, even controversial topics like whether the Babri Masjid was actually a temple with both sides being allowed to put their points across.

These debates, discussions and the resultant awareness and knowledge in the common man should allow for greater understanding of the complexity of issues and hopefully should result in a society that is more civilized and aware of the real cause of problems (also understand if there is a problem at all).

If we follow this, I am sure the next time some mischief mongers deface an Ambedkar statue in Kanpur, people in Mumbai will understand that no amount of kaalikh on Ambedkar’s statues all over the country will lessen even an iota worth of his contribution to the Constitution of this country and beyond. This is the respect and tolerance that is the hallmark of any civilized society.

If we cannot work together as a society for the upliftment of the man at the bottom of the society, we do not have any option but to cry foul when he converts to a religion which did help him get some education, however minimum it was, and raises his quality of life.

Like I said earlier, I do not know of any local libraries in our towns and cities. If you know of some public libraries, do share those with us here so that other towns and cities of this country can hopefully learn from them.

I will try and share my books (at least the ones I don't mind if they don't come back). It will hurt, parting with the darlings, but will try share good books and brilliant authors with people. That will be my contribution today. Yours?

PS: Recommended for science fiction/fantasy readers or simply those interested in DAMN good reading, Samit Basu's Gameworld series -- The Simoqin Prophecies and The Manticore's Secret. The third and final part of the series, Unwaba, hits bookstores this December. Yea!!!!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Lesson 22: Claim your dead for Rs 3000/- only

Originally titled: Nanamma
Contributed by: Citizen Mads

Greetings people. Lots of angry tales, na? Too much heat and all. You want chilling? Here.

Husband and self, having brought in the New Year, were fast asleep. Suddenly, a phone call wakes me up. My brother.
‘Nanamma’s been stabbed.’
This is no time to tell you what nanamma means, but still. Grandmother. Father’s mother.
‘You’ve downed a few, right?’
‘I’m dead sober.’
Next thing I know, I’m at dad’s place taking charge of the situation.
‘Nobody touch anything.’
My grandma’s dead. Murdered.
This is supposed to happen in films.
Blood on the walls, the sheets, all over my dead grandmother. I huddle the family in one corner of the house and call the police.

They come and start examining the place. There’s a knife in the loo. Dog squad arrives. Neighbours are enjoying the show. After all the investigation’s over, the cops leave. The relatives are here. The drama begins.

Curtain opens:
Twilight. Cremation ground. Funeral scene.
Nanamma has been brought here in a van straight from Cooper hospital after an autopsy, and a bribe of Rs. 3000. For those who don’t know, Cooper is the municipality hospital in Bombay where all cases of unnatural death that side of town are taken for post-mortem. The police and doctors do some paperwork and lock the body of your loved one till you pay up.

Scene 2:
Back home after the cremation. The media is waiting at the door.
Tell me, is the police legally allowed to drag the media into people’s personal lives?1 (NO, every citizen HAS a right to privacy. The police and the media play on the fact that no one will push them away or sue them. PLEASE sue the media.)
Cameras, mikes, reporters. “Aapko kaisa lag raha hai?” I roll up my sleeves, “Come, I’ll show you kaisa lag raha hai.”

Sure enough, the next morning’s papers have us splashed all over them. Long lost friends and relatives dig up our numbers and call to find out kya hua. Trying my best not to lash out, I say. “Jo papers mein likha hai wahi hua.”
The Aaj Tak guys even come to the condolence meeting and dig people for information.


For those who don’t know, here goes. She was in her room; my dad was in the next room. The rest were out for the New Year’s eve parties. She’d probably put up a fight. There were signs of struggle. Knowing her, she wouldn’t give up so soon. She was just back from hospital having beaten age and illness black and blue. Coming back to her body. Diamond earrings, and some gold ornaments she wore were missing. She had been stabbed in several places. And a cushion had been use to muffle her screams. (It was blood-soaked). Yes, she always slept with the windows wide open.

Scene 3:
A dull script would have the police solve the case, get the bad guys and thus help the family, right? Not in this one, though.
Apparently, in such cases, the prime suspect is the family. Dad, mom, brother, us, everyone was subjected to days and days of questioning. And still more questioning. The cops went questioning our neighbours, doodhwala, sabziwala, dhobi, maidservant.
Everyone we even met on the roads, shook hands with or spoke to were caught hold of. Plainclothes cops were all over.
Was my dad a good son? Did mom have fights with nanamma? Was there property involved? We lost a lot of friends who, we realised later, were never friends anyway. The true friends were with us rock-solid. They spoke, gave statements, and did everything they could to help us (bless them all).

Grand finale:
The 13th day ceremony at home. Relatives pouring in. When my family was working round-the-clock to serve nanamma while she was in hospital, none of these even cared to ask if we needed any help. And all these relatives are here to watch the show and point fingers. How could you let it happen? You didn’t take good care of her! You got the family involved with police. All this from people who never bothered about her when she was alive! Curtain closes on my dad who loved and served his mother all his life, now in the middle of all this unpleasantness. His own people accusing him. His friends deserting him. His trust broken to shreds. His mother gone in such a terrible way.

Mom was out of town when all this happened. She arrived on the morning after the murder, from Rishikesh with Gangajal. Little did she know how soon we’d have to use it.
The windows we loved keeping open now have strong grills that block the view and breeze. We never ever leave my parents or my old father-in-law alone.
And yes, we don’t celebrate the New Year any more.
What happened to the killers nobody knows.
The police never got back to us.
The media never came to follow up the case.

After ruling the headlines for some two days, my nanamma became part of the statistics on the senior citizens’ murders happening all over the city. Our wounds are yet to heal.

Mads' comments:
I too will grow old some day. I don’t know if my children will live with me. Nanamma died like this in spite of living with a family. I’m scared. I can only pray.
PS. If any of my so-called friends/relatives manages to read this, I advice you to stay away from my family. If any of you bothers my people with more questions in the wake of this blog, I swear, I’ll come after you with a hatchet.

PS: And pass on the addresses if you need to Mads, you got another hatchet here. REQUEST to people: BAN the media in times of personal tragedy. Please understand, Indian media SUCKS at follow-ups. Half the time they suck at getting the basics right. Yes, I am from the media and YET I request, DON'T talk in times of tragedy. It's like giving a carnivore a taste of blood. And next time a media person asks, "How are you feeling?", just slap them hard and repeat the question to them. Period.

Beginning 2007, or late 2006 there was a double murder in R block, Greater Kailash 1; one of THE shopping and moneyed hubs in Delhi. An old couple was hammered and clubbed to death, no stabs or quick demise... A blunt object was used and NOTHING was missing. The next door neighbours to the deceased couple happen to be a lead singer (and wife) of a much-loved band. We were all in shock. The murders were committed in the afternoon. There are full-time, stay-at-home househelps in both the houses. No one heard a thing. What were the chances that the murderers should have chosen that house and not the house next door? My friends' house? The case is STILL unresolved.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lesson 21: The Plastic Suicide

The post is contributed by Citizen Mads, one of our 'Mumbai shakha', as she calls herself

Me, average middle class Mumbaikar. It means I travel by train, eat vada pav and call onions, kanda. I’m proud of my city. Come flood, riot or blast, Mumbai gets up, dusts the seat of its trousers and moves on. But I have a problem. I hate the anti-Mumbaikar. No, no. Not the one who’re against Mumbai and all. That one I don’t care about. I mean the jis thaali mein khaate hain, usi mein… type.

Let me introduce you to Her. (It’s going to be Her because I travel in the ladies’ compartment, go veggie-shopping, use the women’s loo, etc.). She’s this nice, god-fearing woman who does her puja everyday, handles all the household chores, balances home and work. Nothing wrong with that, eh? Now this goddamn woman travels by train every morning. I meet Her everyday in some or the other avatar.

The first time I saw one I couldn’t believe my eyes. Just as the train moved from Bandra towards Mahim, she braved the crowds and slithered through to come to the entrance of the compartment. She stood on the edge with folded hands and a resolute look on her face. “Is she going to jump?” the mind questioned.

And behold! Come Bandra creek and she throws a huge plastic bag right into the water. And before the dropped jaw could come back in place, she disappeared into the crowd.
The puja ke phool, apparently, have to go in the water. Else, you go to hell. Fair enough.

I make it a point to stand at the entrance and meet the anti-Mumbaikar everyday. I request her to throw just the flowers without the plastic. “Try using newspaper,” I suggest. “Tu (not even tum) apna kaam kar na!” she retorts, “shaani banti hai.” (Why don't you mind your business and not try and be a smartass?)

She also frequents the veggie market. I meet her on most weekends. You could recognise Her by her conversation. “Bhaiyya, thaili do na.” There she goes again! My blood’s turning to steam now. She takes plastic bags, one for each sabzi. “Bhindi alag thaili mein daalna.” I’ve lost it completely. “People are dying every year because this city’s clogged with plastic bags.” With a sneer she looks me top to bottom, looks at my shopping bag teeming with newspaper-covered vegetables and says, “Toh mai kya karoon?”

Whaddya mean main kya karoon? You’re the one who’s strangling my city with bare hands. Strewing plastic left, right and centre. You’re the one who’s drowning all our people. You killer! I want to shoot her at sight. But she’s got so many avatars. What to do? (….)

PS: (… and 'where to start?') That’s another Yamuna story happening in Mumbai. A common myth is it’s the slum-type and slightly better-than-slum-type colonies that contribute to ‘dirtying’ a city. Those mentioned in Mads’ post are not even slum dwellers. Research by The Hazards Centre, New Delhi, headed by Anuvrata ‘Dunu’ Roy shows clearly that at least in Delhi, the slums on the Yamuna flood plains contribute to ONLY 0.08 per cent of sewage to the river. The rest of it is the imported-car driving as well as the DDA housing-society-living type. You and me. Please look at the picture of the day again. The blue plastic bag has WESTSIDE written on it. Westside is one of the big garment store chains in the city. So are Lifestyle, Shopper’s Stop and a whole lot of international brands that have entered the market. Most of these stores give out plastic carry bags in various sizes. Point to be noted here, there ARE stores that give out handmade-paper bags as well as bags made of linen. Om Book Store for one, The Shop (Connaught Place) for another; and there are more. If these guys can do it WHY cannot big stores, which obviously have the money not invest in biodegradable packaging as well? Hmm. I am going to find out, will perhaps try and rope in the Centre for Science and Environment as well. Let’s see.

Meanwhile, for those who drink beer:
If you break the bottles on the sideways and throw them behind bushes, it really does not help anyone. One, you are dirtying places around you and two, you are preventing those cans and bottles from being reused. What I don’t understand: WHEN you can carry 12 full bottles of beer in your car, why cant you carry 12 EMPTY bottles back? Now you can even stack them roughly as there’s no fear of spilling or breakage. Just bring the empty bottles back next time, instead of aiming to see who throws it the farthest or who can break his bottle into the bittiest pieces.

I will use newspaper, disposable bags and linen shopping bags instead of plastic. That will be my contribution today. Yours?

Lesson 20: Water IS my birthright...

The capital of India, New Delhi, is one of the few capital cities that BEGS for its water from neighbouring states. Just before the Yamuna enters the capital, it's broken into two and the flowing waters of the river are blocked and released as channels. Six different drain pipes release untreated sewage directly into the Yamuna. Once the water is treated and 'cleaned', people are seen bathing, washing clothes and cleaning vegetables in the so-called treated and clean water. THIS so-called treated water is what comes into your houses. PLEASE go and check inside your overhead tanks and SEE if you find any living creatures in it. Frequently, my taps are blocked -- in 3 days -- because there are larvae and other insects STUCK inside. The water smells as well.

Yesterday, as part of yet another festival, 'Gods' were being immersed into the river. The concept being that once invoked for the festival -- apparently to come and bless the people -- the gods are then sent back home by way of a river/ ocean/ sea. It's actually carnage. What was shocking was that people were actually BATHING in all that shit, were going UNDER, check that picture with the boy's head merely sticking out. A few minutes after that picture was taken, the boy spat out something from his mouth. I did not have it in me to inspect exactly what.

Two women, who were paying one of the boys to take their 'idol' into the water were standing at the end and ewwwing. "Oh my god, this is so dirty", so I stopped and asked as to why they were contributing to it. I will give it to the lady, she looked confused and said, "Yes, I know what you are saying, I had not realised it is this dirty. But... religion says... Is there another option?"

Is there another option? Hmmm. Visarjan (immersion) has been a part of (Hindu) religious proceedings for ages and perhaps demanding that it not be done is... religiously impractical. Common sense though DEMANDS that we stop so immediately. However, common sense and common man -- even the Skoda/Lamborghini driving class -- do not sit well together. So I suggested that she immerse her idol in a bucket of water and perhaps keep him under a tree somewhere. Her response, "No, no, that would be such disrespect to Ganesha."

Well, and Ganesha likes to be dumped into YOUR excreta? Does he know that? Delhi is living like PIGS; we drink and eat our own shit.

PS: Is ANY environmental body watching? When celebrities can petition the government (under PETA) to become 'ele-friends', to save elephants... Can we expect SOME celebrity to petition in FAVOUR of the PEOPLE? I mean, how are we SO moved by every other living creature but our own goddarned species?
Can we ask a Pandit if there is perhaps another option than DUMPING everything into rivers? Will Religion stand by it's people or is Faith always destructive?

You got ideas of HOW we can help; mail me =

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Lesson 19: Anger is the manifestation of Fear…?

And are you afraid yet? For till you don't feel the fear, you won't feel the anger.

Suresh* (name changed to protect identity) has old parents at home, he’s their only support. Like any other young guy, he also likes this girl. She stays in his colony. They don’t speak much, except he ensures he takes a round of her house when she is outside, drying clothes or sweeping the porch. He is an autorickshaw driver. Suresh and his family faced a severe money crunch for three years so that Suresh could buy his own auto. Usually, autorickshaw drivers work under contractors and pay anything between Rs 300-350 as daily rental charges. Whatever they earn in a day – or not – they have to pay that amount for using someone else’s auto. Once he got his own auto, the family saw happier times. You and I perhaps would still find their living conditions pecuniary, but they were happy.

Last week, another autorickshaw driver – a local goon of sorts – murdered another auto guy, with a sickle (darati, in Hindi). The police came to their colony and picked up Suresh. He had not even raised a finger. There is proof, there were eye witnesses that he did NOT do anything. Currently Suresh is in jail. His bail has been refused. The murderer is roaming free; he has local-level politicians for friends. Suresh’s parents don’t know what to do. They are scared. Suresh’s friends are angry. Because they are afraid. That despite their friend being innocent, he will probably be booked in a false case.

I am scared because despite knowing Suresh – I know him through Umakant, my favourite auto-wallah – and yet, I cannot do anything… As a professional. They called me, the auto-drivers. I know them, they have my card. I had said, “Bhaiyya, kabhi zaroorat ho to batana,” (if you ever need me, call me). They called. I am media. People are supposed to be scared of me. I am angry. I am scared. Can I do anything? Will my channel/editor take up the story? Will METRO NOW take it up? But then, Suresh is an auto driver and such things only happen to little people. Not news, nah. Not TRP.

On the colony gate of Green Park Extension – one of Delhi’s relatively posh areas – there is a notice. A missing person’s notice. The girl in the picture is pretty… and has been missing since August 8, 2007. The notice is in font size 8, hardly visible; and has other posters sticking on it. I wonder if the girl is alive. Or gang-raped. Or maimed. Or perhaps sitting in a minister’s bedroom somewhere, to be used and then sold off. But you see, that missing girl is not any Adobe officer’s child. So no one in the media will bother about mobilizing forces and cameras to find her. Can I help her? You? Ha ha.

There was a comment on my employee-website… We had broken a story on Ministers being part of a racket where MINOR GIRLS are brought as house-helps, raped and made to have babies. The comment read, “Can you please help us find my brother’s daughter? She has been missing.” It was written by a Doctor… not an anonymous Rupa sticking on a busy colony gate. And yet; is their family angry, because they are scared? And what if tomorrow someone from your family is kidnapped? Will you trust the police or will you hold a press conference?

As a macabre joke, interestingly, my favourite autowallah Umakant, was the man who brought Adobe Anant back home in his auto: It was out in the newspapers, please check. And today, his best friend Suresh languishes in jail.

I had mentioned a DJ-event sometime back (on the sprawling Garden of Five Sense, under the aegis of Delhi Tourism) in one of my earlier posts. The organizers had paid all taxes and taken all permissions to hold an event. Yet, the police interrupted the event much before the sanctioned-time. No one could do anything but go home. Meanwhile, this Italian restaurant flouts rules every Saturday. Why? Because they pay the cops. Tomorrow, when the same cops come and declare they are going to bulldoze the place, I wonder how much money the restaurant would shell out.

Does Delhi remember Turquoise Cottage? THE Media hub on Wednesdays? Quite interesting that despite frequenting that place and joining communities in its praise, I really did not see ANY media support IN the papers on or TV for “our beloved TC”. That restaurant too used to be open till 2 am. Any guesses how? And yet. Shrug.

Do you have a friend in the Air Force or the Army? What will you do tomorrow if you learn your friend was shot dead in Drass; trying to protect a post, the location of which was compromised BY another corrupt official or perhaps some buffalo-loving politician? Or because some extremely intelligent politico – usually with a criminal record and no education – decided that that particular post did not need many soldiers? Or what if your pilot friend crashes, flying the decrepit helicopter the Air Force has? Will you do a Rang De Basanti? It IS a real situation, the b******s really don’t care. And how many times, the Rang De Basanti... for each soldier? Each missing person? Each religious riot?

Ditto for those who might have seen ‘Crash’. It could be your girlfriend and a policeman’s hand under her skirt while you are held at gunpoint. Gurgaon Police nearly did it to me in 2004. We were waiting at a Gurgaon colony-crossing, waiting for another couple to come in their car and lead us to their house. It was 9.30 pm. So these drunk cops come and while they are talking to my male friend, are checking me out. I will never forget. This burly cop, spat, then cleaning his teeth with this little finger, was pointedly staring at my breasts. I could FEEL his look. Then pointedly looking at my crotch – jeans – he asked my friend, “It’s not safe for medam to be traveling with you. Leave her here. Go find your friend.” I took out my press card then, like an ass. It was a lame gesture. The cops started laughing and said, “Arre medam, biyaabaan main camera nahi hote.” (There are no cameras in the jungle.) I swear, IF a policeman EVER touches me…

Yes. I am angry BECAUSE I am scared. And I am thinking. I really did not like the ending for Rang De Basanti. Does it have to be that? What happens when josh (adrenaline) and hosh (intelligence) come together? If a handful FEW can find ways to tweak the law for their benefit… WHAT happens when an ENTIRE nation puts its head together? Joins hands? Or even a handful? Do we always HAVE to be the victims?

And for how long? And for HOW long will you live in fear… Turn it to anger. Yes, Anger is a manifestation of fear. Feel the fear. But GIVE me your anger.

I will be afraid; and yet I will transform that fear into potent anger. Anger that DOES something. But, I will use my brains. Josh aur hosh. That will be my contribution today. Yours?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Lesson 18: Angry kya?

When standing for what is right, I will not be daunted by those who laugh at me or desert my side. I will stick to the truth and bravely face the music. That will be my contribution today. Yours?

About a decade ago, my mother was contacted by this lady who wanted Ma to get involved in a direct-to-home marketing project; she wanted my mother to become a distributor for Amway. As the lady explained to my mother how Ma's joining would ensure untold riches to the family, the lady said, "Remember Mrs Bose, you have to learn to dream big. When you dream big, remember there will always be many Dream Stealers around you; those who will discourage you from following your dream. Don't listen to them, listen to your dream." Well, Ma was not convinced enough and happily continued teaching kindergarten kids; but what the lady said about dream stealers stuck in my head.

Remember that the next time you REALLY believe in something and are told it cannot be done or is not feasible. If you are standing up for a cause and believe it to be right; KEEP THE FAITH. Once you stop believing, your dream is lost. It might take time for your dream to become a reality, but as long as you believe in it... There's always a great possibility of it coming true.

Shitizens' welcomes new contributor, Sahasra Shatru (Hyderabad). As an introduction, let it suffice to say that SS is someone who has been working actively - though alone - in standing up for causes that perhaps most would ignore. Thank-you SS, for having the spine to speak up for what is right. And yes, thank-you, for your anger.

Here's what Sahasra Shatru has to say --->

That I am writing this piece, I thought the reader only deserves to know why - At other times, because I would have thought this is the best weapon I had, or the only one. Now, because I am reduced to exercising this as compensation, having lost a battle again in life – on the roads, with the system, with myself.

No, I am not going to tell you a sob story as to the narrative of the events that led me into dejection. I am, in fact, if anything, angrier than before.

Angry, because the advocates think it is in the nature of law to procrastinate procedures to a point of bringing the plaintiff to resignation.

Angry because the police thinks it is a waste of time to handle “petty” cases of argument or altercations over illegally cut-down trees for erecting Ganesh pandals, even as I watch the nice Gulmohar tree I had a fetish for being dismembered to allow the lofty idol exact its due… A procession grander than any wedding- unhindered by swaying branches that dance with every rain with a promise of fighting the miasma, a promise which it delivers every day, the only promise that was ever delivered.

Angry, because the municipal commissioner does not find time to take up “frivolous” cases of concrete slabs being constructed between the road and individual houses in a township, causing water stagnation and mosquito menace, “Tumhaare ghar ke saamne banaya kya?” (Is it made in front of your house?) “Tumhaare ghar ke saamne thode hai kya?” (It’s not in front of your house is it?) “Tum ne ped lagaya kya?” (Did you plant that tree?)
Tum ko kaam-dhandha nahin hai kya?” (Don’t you have any work?)

Angry, because the 24-hour petrol bunk refused to fill petrol at an odd hour into an empty tank, and beat up the man because he insisted on leaving the bunk only with filled petrol and was later forced to compromise in the police station, for want of evidence and pressure of counter-cases.

Angry because the school students of a “Concept” school, upon completion of their last final exam would tear up their papers and books and throw them on the road, in a cinema theatre style in aplomb, and the man standing in the way of the bus, demanding that every piece of paper be picked up from the road would be pushed aside by the lecturers. And the people who have just won a ticket into the utopia that they are going to carve for themselves, were jubilantly hooting and mouthing filth, and even as he watched helplessly, another bus, this time, a public bus, passes by, and a commuter spits crimson and burnt sienna beautifully splashed on a particularly fluttering piece of paper. He picks up the paper to find a part of some question, a word, printed in nice ink on a 75 GSM paper – which read something like - “India”.

A melancholic strain from a movie made exactly 50 years before, starts repeating itself like the voice in a schizophrenic mind, “Jinhe Naaz Hai Hind par voh Kahan Hai?, Kahan Hai, Kahan Hai, Kahan Hai? (Those who are proud of this country, where are they, oh, where are they?)

Angry, because, we as Indians are fundamentally not angry enough. We are not angry at personal injustice and find it a personal liability to get so much as a prompt service in a Nationalized bank.

Angry, because we feel guilty getting good service from businesses.
Angry because ethics are a commodity to barter for convenience.
Angry because my idea of civil rights and personal justice is outrageously perceived as Idealism.

I am no champion and I do not intend to be. I just want to get things done properly and am willing to pay the price.

Are you angry enough? Are you willing to pay the price? Can we ever be an Angry nation and channel it to fruition? Do we have the spine? Do we have the balls?

PS: “We are not the heroes. We are the anti-heroes.” Sahasra Shatru, will NOT be alone. I got a call from my mother. This is how it went: “I heard what you are up to now. WHY do you have to do it? WHY cannot you simply write and be happy? And are you not supposed to write on fashion and music and parties?” My mother has categorically said she does NOT want to know what I am up to. Shrug. She never did know, you know. My father called: “So are you writing all this on the blog?” Yes, Papa. “Do you have proof?” Yes, Papa. “Don’t get into trouble, ok? Rest, your papa is here.” Yes, Papa. Sigh. He still thinks he is superman. But THIS is as much for the people as for my parents… the father who spent a lifetime dedicated to the Indian Army and when he retired, was not even offered a ride back home. The Ordinance officer who never took a penny and since he questioned seniors in his younger days, was told that he would never make it to a Major General. He retied a colonel in the Ordinance corp, also known as one of the “chor corps” (chor = thief) of the Indian army, allegedly for stealing everything from snow jackets made for soldiers in Siachen to taking bribes and giving tenders to arms companies. My mother often said, “Only if you were not Gandhiji's avatar, we would also have an air-conditioner like other families.” My parents still do not have an air-conditioner. The LEAST I can do, is ensure they have their dignity in their old-age. It saddens me that perhaps what I am doing is giving them sleepless nights. But I have to. I have to feel the anger they perhaps didn’t feel. And I hope you feel the anger too.

When reading Sahasra Shatru's line about, "can you sacrifice?"; was reminded of another old slogan: "Tum mujhe khoon do, main tumhe aazadi doonga." (You give me your blood, I will give you your freedom). We don't even want blood. Just give me your anger, and we'll give you what you want.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Lesson 17: India and the Gods of clay...

The Ganapati festival is the harbinger of much happiness. He is also the Lord of Knowledge and Prosperity. Unfortunately, Ganesha too would cringe if he realised his "idols" and devotees are intent on destroying the Universe he perhaps helped create and nurture. Idol-immersion, or visarjan, is a part of most important festivals; particularly the Ganesha festival and the Durga puja that follows about 20-odd days later. In Kolkata, there are competitions on the best idol and best pandal made. From Osama bin Laden to Jurassic Park, the creations are marvellous. On one hand, toxic paints et al are submerged in the Arabian Sea and on the other, into the Bay of Bengal. I COMPLETLEY endorse what our new contrinutor, Citizen Shilpa Nagavara, Bangalore, has to say. Praying to a clay god, does NOT make him/her a lesser god.

The Durga puja is around the corner too, and perhaps it's too late to try and convince Resident Welfare Associations and/or Puja committees to consider safer options -- clay -- while ordering/creating their Durga idols. However, I will try and convince... and will hope that those reading this or involved with the same, will spare a thought.

I will speak for the right cause, but I will find out the details first. That's my contribution today. Yours?

I have the documents needed to prove that the so-called development on the Yamuna river bed is a land-grab scam. However, I would like to clear here that perhaps many companies and agencies are perhaps honestly trying to work towards the development of the river. HOWEVER, creating concrete structures is NOT development. That is eating land, killing the remaining water table sustenance area and ENDANGERING people. I have the proof in hand and so do a number of media houses. Those who don't have, will be provided. PDF files will be prepared and posted. Give me time. IF anyone of you reading this, belong to said companies/agencies that feel you are working towards development and do not understand the "bad press" -- Speak to me. Perhaps certain OTHER bodies (read DDA, government) have lied to you. You are welcome to come see the proof.

The said proof was obtained/received between the period of 17 - 31 August, 2007, under the Right To Information act. It includes commission reports completely refuting ANY construction on the Yamuna, High Court orders prohibiting the same, reports from the seismology departments, flood control and water table recharge departments and a LETTER from the Usha Mehra Committe TO the VC, DDA (31.08.2007) clearly stating "disgust" and requesting the DDA "NOT TO FLOUT High Court" (and that IS a direct quote) orders. The same would be reproduced here.

If those involved in development projects et al can disprove the same, please come and speak up. I will NOT support what is wrong, but when I have proof, I will NOT keep quiet. As I have already replied to an email, come and explain your point, give me the proof, show me the approval documents, and I will be the FIRST to do a positive article. A professional's word. ALL those with information are requested/invited to mail me: Anonymity guaranteed and You Don't Know Who status too. This is important.


Happy Ganesha Festival to one and all. May the lord of knowledge and luck bring peace to the world and prosperity to all. I hope this blog isn't a little too late.

As I was walking home last evening after alighting the bus, the environment was superb. The smell of flowers took me to another world. The colours hadtransformed the drab, dusty road to a garden of sorts. There were plantains of all sizes being bargained. The smell of fresh mango leaves was very inviting. All sorts of fruits had made their way to the markets as well. So, had the garlands made of real and artificial flowers, the vastras made of cloth, paper and plastic. In an under-construction building, there were many Ganesha idols being sold. Each one of them in a different avatar, each one very colourful, each one better than the other. Everyone was busy buying the best to make their celebration memorable.

Ganesha Festival is celebrated with great fervor. The lord, made of soil (gold and silver for the wealthier ones) in all sizes and vibrant hues is brought home, worshipped and sent back. Sent back to where he came from. He is immersed with the garlands and other ornamental wear in the lakes, ponds or wells. There is a huge fan-fare with truck loads of people being part of
the procession, bursting crackers, celebrating. If that wasn't enough there is blaring music enough to deafen any one. The inconvenience caused to the people on the days following the festival is best left unsaid. That is a different story altogether. The point I am trying to make is different....

Not sure how many houses have wells in these days in the cities. So, he (Ganapati) makes his way to the city lakes. Some also immerse him in balti-bhar-pani (bucket full of water) and later drop that water to the lakes or use it to water plants. This happens year after year.

And the so called devotees care zilch about the environment in the process.

Imagine the amount of paint on the idol and the toxic chemicals it might contain. Most of the them are not solvable. They remain as suspended particles.
Imagine the amount of plastic that goes with him into the water in the form of ornamental wear for the lord.
Imagine what happens to the life that survives on this lake water (humans and animals alike).
Imagine what happens to the soil when this water is used to water plants.
Imagine what the fruits would contain. And imagine what happens to you when you consume the fruit/fish.

I have always believed that the saying "Common Sense is commonly missing in common people" is so true, especially in this scenario. What does it take for a man to realise the consequences of his action? Does someone really have to die? And if that happens too, if the victim is not related to me, what do I care? I sympathise. I mean, haven't we caused enough damage already in terms of population, pollution, depleting natural resources, etc? Aren't we seeing the effects in the form of natural calamities? But no, why give up on grandeur?

No, I am not preaching against idol worship. All I am trying to ask is, is it blasphemous to worship the idol of the lord made of just clay/soil? Why does the lord have to be straight out of Karan Johar's movie whose costumes are designed by Manish Malhotra? No offence to anyone but just trying to draw a parallel here. Does Ganapati give lesser blessings if he were ONLY made of clay?

My prayer to the lord of knowledge:
Give us some sense, the ability to judge right, apply thought, be
considerate to others and foresee the results of our actions.
Ganapathi Bappa Moriya!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Lesson 16: Get. Up. Stand. Up. Rise for they are coming for Your child. Soon.

I have never voted in my life. I lost 10 years of that power. I WILL vote, I WILL find out about the right candidates and vote for them. THAT will be my contribution. Yours?

Goodmorning Readers and Fellow Citizens,

How did you sleep last night? Nice dreams, sweet thoughts, good sex? And where were your children? Do they sleep with you or do they have a nice little room for themselves?

For, while you were sleeping a 2 and a half-year-old was raped and her throat was slit. It was a very neat slitting, should be, a 2 and a half-year old child’s skin is very soft. She died. But before she died, can you IMAGINE how much she would have CRIED when she was raped? Have you ever pulled a child’s ears, they cry a lot. And here, the child was ENTERED into. How much it would have hurt her? But of course, sorry, so you HAVE a 3-year-old son and you are the big-time editor of some big-time newspaper. It cannot happen to YOUR son, na? Are you so sure? Do you trust your child’s school bus driver? Or the nurse in the swanky toilet of the swanky air-conditioned school your baby goes to…? Are you SURE that the ayah is NOT feeling up your child INSIDE that Rs 6 lakh per annum school? And the Ministry of Mayhem will NOT do anything.

Somewhere else, a man first strangled his two daughters, they were 12 and 16 I think. So he put his fingers around their necks and squeezed and squeezed till their eyes rolled in their sockets. The mother watched helplessly. She was helpless much before. NO, he was not raping his daughters, he was ensuring no one else did once he was gone. This father LOVED his daughters; but he knew that if he left them behind, they would be raped and perhaps sold to some brothel. So, once he killed his daughters…. He killed his wife. Then, he hung himself. Because since fathers are supposed to look after a family and he could not, how could he leave them for the hyenas? THINK… What was going on his mind as he spent all that time killing the Family he had created? But then, the Powers that be ensured that it was IMPOSSIBLE for him to provide his family with a simple meal. And you know what was said? The Ministry of Mayhem said that it was His mistake and the mistake of all those like him – poor farmers who give you and me the cereal we eat in our houses and the posh bloody restaurants – that he could not look after his family. The Ministry of Mayhem will NOT do anything.

Also, while you ordered your bottles of Evian, the Delhi Development Authority, the Indian Railways and the Ministry of Mayhem in Delhi are all set to RAPE the Yamuna. By the way for those who did NOT know, the Yamuna is the DIRTIEST river in the WORLD. And you and I are drinking that water. Swimming in that water. Once that Commonwealth Games Village is up and running and it forever FINISHES the little water we have in Delhi, you will STILL have water to drink and to shower and to have bubble baths and swim? NO. No matter how many restaurants you own, you WILL suffer. The water source is the same.

And ah, the Indian Railways is going to spend Rs 125 CRORES on sound-proofing the area. WHY cannot that money be used in launching new trains? Or even improving the horrible seats in existing trains? NO, no, the Indian Railways is concerned about the 5,000 athletes who might be DISTURBED by the noise. DUDE, WHAT ABOUT THE GENERATOR NOISE AROUND MALLS THAT RESIDENTS SUFFER EVERYDAY? You, dear Ministry of Mayhem, are FOOLING us, taking OUR money, making an IDIOT out us. Rs 125 crore for TEMPORARY sound proofing. You mean we HAVE that kind of money and are NOT using it? And using it for 5000 athletes?! Delhi has 2000 times MORE people than that who will NOT get water. ALREADY in Vasant Kunj, Katwaria Sarai, Chittaranjan Park there is water shortage. And those are just three areas I have mentioned.

AND THEY WILL NOT STOP AT DELHI. They will encroach on your farm house. They will encroach on schools. They will encroach on ANYTHING that is not theirs. And if you stand up against them, they will rape your wife, have an encounter and kill you. Simple. FOR HOW LONG? And WHY are you quiet?

So Delhi has this BIG time DJ festival called BAARISH. It means Rain. Ha ha. Really? There will be NO rain once that Games Village comes up. HOW ABOUT FLATTENING THE GARDEN OF FIVE SENSES AND USING THAT LAND FOR THE VILLAGE? Would cost much less and that landscaping can be recreated after the games are over. AND please, there is NO OTHER land around Delhi for that village? ONLY the Yamuna with it's sound proofing?

I am going for a meeting today. WILL get you details, and THEN, you tell me WHY you are silent. Ok? Many of you cry hoarse about NO ONE doing anything… HOW about YOU showing some balls? Shy, are you? So fine, SHOW me spine.

For your 3 year old son. For your wife. For your mother. For YOU. This is NOT talking country, THIS is talking YOUR interest. WATCH THIS SPACE.

And remember, if you vote for an ass, you will GET an ass. Gadhe ko baap banaoge, to gadha hi baap banega. The gadha does NOT become a horse if you give it power. Look at George Bush. Hah. And remember, the East India Company FIRST got the Princes AGAINST their own people and THEN they took the states AWAY from them. WAIT and watch as it happens to You.


My contribution today: I pledge to vote and vote sensibly, in the next general elections. However trivial one out of a BILLION may sound (read tagline above to DRILL this in your head), I realise that MY VOTE COUNTS.

I will carry out my homework by finding out the truth about each candidate and spread the information among my peers. Thus I will make sure that the next government is chosen by majority agreement and NOT by majority indifference.

I completely believe that the quality of leaders reflects the quality of the nation. WHERE are we?

Like we conduct our personal financial planning and tax research – and even ask 16 people, from a fighter pilot to a rickshaw puller about what car to buy – let us start researching into a politicians’ caliber and credentials. The MEDIA can behave like a dependable tax consultant (and if not, you WILL read it here).

Let us make it hard for a politician to fool us. Let us gather information on these guys, from confirmed sources and spread THAT among fellow citizens and finally VOTE when there is an election. Let’s not choose our Government through majority INDIFFERENCE, but through majority agreement.

Those who cannot lead, should NOT be allowed to lead. But that will not happen till you and I VOTE for the people who CAN lead. OR find those people who can lead. Or BECOME the people who can lead. Don’t stay silent, the Ministry of Mayhem does not spare anyone.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Lesson 15: Ram ji ki jai ho… (nahin to?)

aka Holier Than Thou, contributed by Citizen Ikaros

Question: How many Indians does it take to stop a bull-dozer from going over the Yamuna river bed and making the games village?
Answer: ONE. The rest can stand and cheer.
But who will be that one? And a different one every day?

J Bo's Note: This post is AS MUCH to the media as to the so-called upholders of Faith. Why is it that Everything in our country becomes a matter of religion? Take the nation-wide chakka-jam/strike alled by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). On the face of it, it is a stand-off between developers and conservers. The developers are those who want to build the canal that would reduce sea-time for ships plying between India and Sri Lanka. The conservers say the bridge (setu) would dislodge many fishermen from those areas in both countries and will also cause severe, irreparable damage to the environment. However, now comes chakka jamkahani main twist. What are scientifically said to be shoals formed due to sedimentation (the gradual settling of soil) are also supposed to be the remains of the bridge the vanar-sena made for Bhagwan Ram to go to Lanka. So basically, and of course the saffron brigade is up protesting, “save the setu”. What I personally find exceedingly funny in the situation is that the Government, which should know that there are some who WILL be emotional about anything to do with Ram… CHOSE to have ‘setu’ in their project name. Very sensitive to the country, must say. And what’s with people? At the time when everyone is busy worrying about tax returns, mediclaims, vacations during Diwali-Dussehra, movie releases etc – there are people who are burning cars and creating mayhem for Ram. Definitely only a vanar sena. But not a loyalist to Ram, he never preached mob violence. And definitely not on the property and possessions of those who had not done anything. He represented a right cause, good versus evil. You are being neither, just ridiculous. If you have to fight: Use LOGIC…in the name of Ram! I mean c’mon VHP, oppose the setu, but do it FOR the fishermen there, BE Ram’s true followers: Ram helped Shabri, he helped his followers. He didn’t go around burning things to prove his point. If you are such Ram-bhakts (devotees), how is it that ALL your actions are only towards vague ideas but NEVER about real people, the people of Ram? This is not Dharm, this is dhong.

Citizen Ikaros’ take on things: Holier Than Thou?

People blame A particular section of society for an act of terror and the dissent has and will run deep for years to come.

In India, there was a certain haplessly opportunist of a President back in 1947 whose ugly move we still have to bear through. People are divided upon religion because of the relics or so called 'beholders of faith' like the Maulanas from SIMI (a Muslim students’ body) and Sudarshan who heads RSS (a totally tyrannical Hindu outfit with regressive and outdated principles).

Islam and Vedanta are two profound studies, which preach of God and the ways to attain godliness. Still how can it be that they engage people towards fanaticism?

Christianity has the vaguest and yet simplest of all doctrines. Buddhism is mistakenly thought as the religion of peace and compassion. Ask the Neo-Buddhist and you will know. The very lunacy of religion lies in the fact that one man's god is another's devil.

It is not hard to follow a religion of convenience. And if you are a clergyman, it is not hard to turn a well-found religion into a religion of convenience as well. So all the lawlessness, acts of terror, brutality against animals, are accounted for people who are godless. But not following any religion, according to many would be blasphemous and makes one an outlaw.

But does everyone go about terrorizing and rampaging daily peace? On the contrary, most acts of ghastly deeds have been performed by believers of religion. The Spanish Inquisition and witch hunts by the Christians, the forceful conversions by Muslims through the centuries, and recent fanatical acts by the Hindu Right wing.

With the advent of a flurry of spiritual channels featuring 'godmen' and clergymen giving away religious discourses with divine confidence, it makes me sit, watch and wonder. How necessary it is to have FAITH! It is the only Hope and Shelter. It's the provider of Solace. Take away FAITH from your life and everything is lost. We have been programmed in such a way.

And I try to believe.

PS: At the mention of ‘channel: from the videos I had seen on TV, the situation seemed really bad. However, there was no evidence on anything, anywhere. Are we needlessly creating mountains out of molehills? What happens if the Press were to boycott an event and NOT give it publicity?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lesson 14: The Theory of 49 %

Contributed by: Citizen Ikaros

49 % ministers in India are vote hungry megalomaniacs.
Rest of them have their votes assured. (Am being too sympathetic here?)

49% of operations and medical treatment in India are surgical mishaps.

Or else we would not have heard regular reports of cotton gauges and scissors found in the guts of unsuspecting patients. Call it bloke-headedness or sheer ignorance. When despite the brilliance of many doctors you have wrong diagnoses (more suffering, financial waste borne by the patient and family); think of what your 49 % not-so-brilliant-so-called-under-privileged, branded denim clad, reserved candidates – most of them can be safely called Dr Quacks – will end up doing. Perhaps they will next forget an entire tool kit inside someone.

49 % of quality time should be dedicated to protests by students.
They should be shown snippets and documentaries of Netaji Subhash Bose, Tinnamen Square Tragedy, Che Guevara, WWII, etc. Student ‘revolutions’ and ‘uprisings’ should be more of a regular feature all over the world, especially in India. Also special screenings of neo-idealistic films like Yuva, Rang De Basanti, The Motorcycle Diaries, Michael Collins etc should be encouraged in college auditoriums.

49% of the democracy in India is fascist.
I have been a quota victim years back. I feel the pangs of rejection due to caste bias. And I've felt the anger towards the OBCs, SCs, STs, NTs who smiled into glory with the assurance of engineering and medical seats in premier colleges. The whole idea of caste bias is put to full use by pathological egoists we call ministers. They still DIVIDE AND RULE.

PS: 1. Citizen Ikaros is our new contributor who joins us from Mumbai, India. Citizen Mads is already there. He is also part of the dirty business called media and has some RJ friends who he frequently threatens with an, "I will pull a Rang De Basanti in your studio."

2. Those who have views ANTI what he has to say about ministers, reservations, quacks, the works.... use the comments, WITHOUT insulting, or mail me what you have to say. A post on a different note is welcome. Again, what each one of says here might not often agree with everyone. Feel free to Debate.

3. Also, as suggested by one of our commentator's -- First Shitizen of India -- who missed some posts and developments; have put up the 'On Ground, Off-Blog' (top of the page, right) section that will keep readers posted on what we are up to. After a bit, am gonna shift that section down somewhere. Also, I think I goofed up the html-tagging bit, will re-do tomorrow morning. Yawning here, it's a nice change from insomnia.

4. Have I mentioned that so far, I do not know ANY of the contributors personally? Never even met them? Didn't even know they existed? And YET, we all think the same... Almost!
Sahi hai! ('Tis cool!')
isssshleepy now... Nighty-nite!
J Bo

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Lesson 13: Who's afraid of George Bernard Shaw?

...And keeping the Faith.

No matter what happens and who says what or calls me what names, I will stick to my resolution, hold on to my Faith, not get scared. That will be my contribution today (every other day). Yours?

And the Faith, goes for ALL or whatever You choose to do... Even if it means being a rock star who works and parties like crazy and yet MAKES time to spend with his parents on most weekends. It's funny; that people who stay with parents don't have the time. Or sometimes, parents don't have time. Let's all do our thing and those who want to pitch in, do so, okay? (Simple things, real people, real inspiration, thank you rock star)

“Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it”: George Bernard Shaw.That quote is the beginning of a forwarded, well-worded post declaring, ‘Patriotism is outdated’. The mail said the post was "partially inspired by your blog, but perhaps you won't like the contents". Loved the writing! As for the patrtiotism=jingoism part, shrug.

Patriotism, nationalism and jingoism have unfortunately become three sides to the same coin; and as anyone will tell you, no coin has three sides. The point being? Some choose to care for the nation and forget that a nation IS made of people, aka the Human Race. Others choose to work for the Human Race and since it’s kind of practically not possible to reach out to the whole lot, choose to start from their country. And since, India IS the second largest populated nation in the world, one can safely say, hell, this patriotism sure is targeting a large number of that human race. And yes, I believe I am patriotic. You can call me jingoistic. :) I love adjectives. Citizen J Bo, Jingoist. Got a nice ring to it, no? And as was the response to that post – very graciously accepted by the poster, goes to show we ARE a thinking people – will reiterate, we come in love, peace and Faith.
You never know when you need the Faith. It's eerie... when I had written those words in someone's scrapbook earlier in the morning, I had no inkling of 'who' I would meet later in the day... someone, with Faith.

LIVE ACTION UPDATE: What up with Shitizen non-blog, on-ground work?

Spreading the word; and getting word back

Tulir – Centre for Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse*, Chennai, responded to the Children of An Abused Nation post on another platform. “It may sound morbid but I am really pleased to read the issue for your latest blog. It makes us at Tulir - Centre for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse feel less like a voice in the wilderness.” Currently we are awaiting further correspondence from Tulir. They have a case for us; once provided with details, WILL follow it through. Watch this space.
CALLING CHENNAI: Anyone have room to put me up?

Lonely Socks Project: Who will wear the socks and tee shirts?

Very slowly, we are spreading the word that we are looking for lonely socks (if you have lost one, mismatched pairs) and old tee shirts in all sizes. While the tee shirts can be old, we don’t want torn/unwearable ones.
Someone said, “Hey, old tee shirts are the most comfortable to wear. People won’t give those.”
Well am sure the DK-DnG type will have ONE non-branded, bought-at-Sarojini Nagar market tee to spare? If not, no issues… Delhi is big enough, and if there is one person taking home Rs 27,000 and still able to spare ONE old tee shirt; am sure there will be others. (smiles)

Anyone hate an old tee so much, you wouldn’t mind giving it to us? No torn or unwearable ones. We want tee shirts not pochcha kapda (floor swabs).

Good Deeds @ Re 1/- Only

I don’t like giving money to beggars. For one, I am never sure if that money is not going into some corrupt beat constable’s pocket and two, if it won’t fund someone’s crack/smack habits. So instead I give toffees and sometimes food. I realized that urchins enjoy chewing gums more than candies... They last longer. Also, charity does not need a lot of money. Delhi alone has 1.37 crore, even if you remove MOST and JUST 5 lakh people contribute Re 1...

Today, we tried something; let's call it Experiment 1.
We were sitting in Bacchus (dinghy restaurant in Vasant Vihar) meeting Citizen Crimson – yes, first Shitizen meet of sorts – when, on a whim, decided to talk Shitizenship with those in the restaurant and see if it made sense to non-bloggers as well... But before that, a little about what led to Experiment 1:

Just before entering the restaurant, we bumped into people from The Faith Foundation* (pic courtesy: The Hindu) . What is The Faith Foundation? A lawyer, a PR lady, some other people… who teach rag pickers and slum kids near posh PVR Priya on Sundays. No, they don’t charge. No, no one is sponsoring them. No, they have not received any awards. No, they are not mad. They are Humans, who feel. Who don’t think that contributing money would reduce their EMIs. It was funny. Most children wished us “goodmorning”, we folded our hands, they folded their hands… Kids, heh heh, would do what you ask them to (and what makes them vulnerable too). So we are hoping we would be able to find MORE volunteers for Faith. They have agreed to take the socks and tee shirts we collect. So we know who we will give our first collection to.

And what did we do?

We made a little poster
(have it with me, will keep it and see it survives to scanning stage!) – very poor, very falling apart, on bad quality tissue and walked around the restaurant, spoke to people, asked them if they would give us Re 1/- only to buy toffees for the “students” who were sitting outside and studying. We invited all those who were contributing to come and SEE us giving the kids the sweets. Took an empty ashtray and walked around… and collected Rs 14. (Smiles) The kids from Faith had long left for their respective “jobs”. The money is with me. With the names of those who have contributed. Am going to collect more and make that a Rs 100… and go back with sweets... the first time. Faith Foundation needs crayons, copies, pencils, erasers… much more. Click on their link, see what you can do.

And those too lazy = Do you have Re 1 to spare?
I will give you a bill AND you will SEE proof on this site of WHERE the money is being used. Write to me. I DON’T want more than Re 1 from ANYONE. Even if you are The, Vijay Mallya.

So I walked up to, perhaps-21-years-old Rahul Singh and he took out a Rs 5 coin and as I left to get him change, he said, “No, no, we are five people in my family, that’s Re 1 from each.” He wore an ear ring, spiked hair and some branded tee. Have I mentioned lately, I LOVE this generation! Yippee yay!

The Re 1/- belongs to:
1. Rahul Singh (who contributed on behalf of his family)
2. Jeet Singh
3. Manil Singh
4. Pearl Singh
5. Priyanka Chaturvedi
6. Mr Pandey, cashier, Bacchus, Vasant Vihar, ND
7. Nipun Sharma, head bar tender, Bacchus
8. Amit Tushir, steward, Bacchus
9. Neeraj
10. Sonu
11. Sharmistha
12. Ivy
13. Chetna
14. Lady sitting alone on table, forgot to take name, so sorry! :(

PS: Name calling update

1. You are a shitizen, therefore you couldn't think of another name.
Yes, sorry, I have been a shitizen, forgot my duties. Give me time, let me mend my ways. Then, I come after you. Okay, deal?
2. You are a jingoistic monkey.

Aiyah, no issues with the jingoistic-bit, I severely protest to monkey. No tail! Try orang utan? But no orang(e)!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Lesson 12: A dozen reasons to love India!

Goodmorning (sniff, sniff). Today was supposed to be another post by another contributor. But since most posts that we have right now are all angry, kick-up-your-tata posts, decided to write a happy one instead. Or well, tried! To keep everyone in the loop – especially those who have contributed – the following are in the pipeline:
1. Post by Citizen Saurabh, Dehradun, India
2. Post by Citizen Mads, Mumbai.
3. Post by Citizen Sree and me
4. Post ON the Adharshila Training Centre, a school for tribals: They mailed us; our first non-government group to want to associate. So will be doing that soon. Am putting up their logo though, EVERYONE, please click and see how you can help out. ALSO, those in the know how of other schools for the poor, experimental schools, whatever, mail back with links and numbers.
5. We got a NASTY one from a senior person in the UK on wordpress. He reacted to being called a ‘shitizen’; oh in fact he was quite rude in saying, “You guys write shit” etc. My response to THAT will come. I emailed the gentleman and apologized for barging into his inbox – I don’t like emailing people I don’t know – so he replied that he was OK with me mailing IF I could not speak out in the open. HA. HA. HA. I do NOT hide, sir. And an open response was not given out of respect, not any kind of shame.

VERY important: ARE we insulting Indians by calling ourselves Shitizens?
NO. But each time a Citizen FORGETS his/her duties, he/she IS a Shitizen. Period.

Now for the post: I was thinking, so fine we know a whole lot of things we want to change about her, but what are the things that make us love her? India…?

I will find one good thing to appreciate about my country. That will be my contribution today. Yours?

1. A full stomach, for every pocket: So the government might be intent on banning street food; but it’s a bit strange. Because what the five-star going calls street food, is also STAPLE food for a LOT of Indians. We had a full plate of aloo-thukpa (thick, rice noodles) in Kalimpong for Rs 2. A bhelpuri, quite filling outside college cost Rs 7, jhaal mudi (spicy, puffed rice) cost Rs 10. Lemon-soda, also called banta costs Rs 5. Now in big restaurants, you get 12 pieces of button mushroom on this fancy wooden platter – it's called Mediterranean cuisine sampling or something -- that is Rs 200-plus. Very tasty; but you’d be hungry the moment you are down with it. Oh, you are also supposed to eat the shrooms with chopsticks; I guess to make it seem that it does not get over a little too quickly. Anyway. India needs everything for everybody; so while we build malls and restaurants in every colony – two in some – do we have to kill ‘street food’? And yes, about Indians NOT falling ill from street food. Dudes, as a race, we have better STOCK than most and are hardier. Therefore. Not because we are fed a spoonful of dirt when we are born.

2. Ability (and allowed) to sleep anywhere: Yes, imagine, if the destitute were to be removed off the parks, the temples, the pavements, where would they go? Of course some would say it would clean up the country; but really? Or would we also become like a whole lot of other nations where you cannot step outside your house after 8 pm because someone will MUG you... and perhaps kill your for Rs 20? I like the freedom in my country much better, thank you. In fact, once upon a time when I didn’t have a house for four months, I slept under my office table; with sleeping bag, a bag of clothes and office bag. And we are talking a BIG media house here; everyone was accommodating. And no, NOT T-O-Eye.

3. Taxi wallahs who react to being called “bhaiya”: And give you respect. I use a lot of cabs and so far, they have been protective. I like that. I was stranded near Connaught Place once and a taxi guy – this silver-haired Sardarji – was passing by. He saw me standing and waiting for an auto and looking a bit scared; he stopped. Offered me a lift and left me near an auto stand; I had told him that I could not afford his taxi. He did not take a penny from me. Happens in other countries?

4. Autowallahs who protect from eve teasers: Yes, I call them my Hero Hira Lal (remember the Naseeruddin Shah movie?) Many a times, when men on bikes or cars start following the auto or coming onto the sides and looking inside as if the girl sitting inside is blind, deaf and mute or perhaps a zoo animal… MANY a times, it has been the auto driver who has reacted. One started driving fast and we had a race with the men on bikes. Another swerved and parked his auto right before the car that was harassing and wanted to give the boys a thrashing. Ha ha. Another decided he wanted to bump the men-on-bikes OFF the road and stopped the auto, let the boys get ahead and then started chasing them. Hahaha, the dudes fled with a mad autodriver and a crazily laughing woman inside. So thank-you Auto wallahs. We have heard rape stories, but the number of auto drivers who have helped me... I owe you.

5. Bus conductors who give you their seat: Oh yes, if they see you are being bumped into by men on all sides, many a times, and not just with me, I have seen Delhi bus conductors offer their seats to women passengers or old people. And we say this is an insensitive city. Shrug.

6. Churan wallahs who can barely eke a living and yet give free churan golis: Churan for those who don’t know, is a mixture of digestive powders – very tasty! – often rolled into little balls or had as is. I have had a thing for churan since childhood. In my nana-naani’s (maternal grand parents) small town, now in Chhattisgarh, this little village called Manendragarh; churan golis were called Gatagat and the churan-bhaiyya would give every kid two golis free. No matter how many we bought, it was always the ones that bhaiyya gave, saying, "aise hi bachche hain" were the ones we enjoyed most. I love the name gatagat. :)

7. Share my seat: I love the way women in buses – strangers and when there are already two of them on a seat – will offer you a little corner to park two per cent of your left ass-cheek. But they do offer.

8. Or how, despite no advertisements, people DO help the blind cross roads. The other day I saw this ear-ringed dude helping an old woman, haha, she looked ZAPPED. She certainly was not expecting a bigda bachcha to help her. I love this generation, we DO surprise people, hai na?

9. How we worship celebrities and make gods out of our actors: It’s really funny. There was a time when ‘movies and theatre’ were more for nautch girls and nautankis. Not for respectable families. Shrug. Does that make us dumb? No. Just shows that to a large extent we are a simple people who like to believe that a Hero who is portraying good on the screen, is REALLY that. Sigh. Such wishful thinking… Almost makes us, erm, cute!

10. How you can STILL shame people: These days I don’t argue with my autowallahs when they ask for more than meter price or don’t want to turn the meter on. I simply stand there with a sorry face and start talking, “Bhaiiya, even I am working hard. Please don’t charge so much. I know you are working hard and have to give rental. But please don’t do this. I don’t want to send bad wishes your way. I would like to help,” and I sound very sad. To my extreme surprise, it WORKS! They get all grumpy and grouchy and HATE it… but mostly, they do turn the meter and take me wherever. :)

11. Sabzi mandis, local haats: I looooove vegetable markets, the freshest of stuff and the vendors have all the time in the world to laugh with you. The other day, when I was refusing to buy kathal (jack fruit) and was joking with the vendors that I didn’t know how to cook it, heh heh, they were ready to share recipes. I love that. Indians mostly love a good laugh.

12. How we call everyone bhaiyya, didi, uncle ji etc. Yes, certain stats are disturbing, but even while growing up, I had bhaiyya-didis in school buses and other places who kept an eye out for me. I was one of the kids who ALWAYS got into trouble with school bullies, bus bullies, playground bullies. Till about 12-years-old, I was frequently beaten up in school. Always boys! NOT teachers, the worst they did was make me stand outside class for, er, talking in class. But yes, the Bullies often tried to make me cry by pinching, punching, pulling my hair. Ha ha, must have been a sight – a four-feet tall, little, round girl, standing and taking beating but REFUSING to cry. But that was only when the bhaiyya-didis were not around. Remember this didi in class 12 – I was in four, 9 years – Pamela or something, who REALLY gave it to this horrible boy who had stretched my right arm and was giving me ‘karate chops’ to see how much I could take. Man! Did that didi or did that didi TAKE his class. Hahaha, she tied him to his bag and made him run around the school playground…and made me and my friends clap. Good fun. So in a land of many abusers, THANK YOU to all bhaiyya-didis I met on the way who stood up for this little girl once. I will too, I promise.

And well, 12 HAPPY points from me should make some of you shut up who insist that I cannot write happy things. Well let’s say if Dumas were writing this, I would be called Pathos. So those who CAN write inspirational, happy things… please come. :) And as always, you don't HAVE to write, you can click pics, make videos, write lyrics, draw something, write a slogan AND most importantly, pass on our link and talk about Shitizens. Let's get together people. And kick butt.