Showing posts with label Gandhi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gandhi. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Happy Birthday Bapu! [276/365]

More than a year ago, when we celebrated Anna's vision of an India without corruption, we cheered him along and our rulers trembled. The strength of our cheering only grew. The ground shook under our feet and we all thought we were witnessing history in the making. We hung onto every word that he spoke. We paid his rejuvenation bills and hospital stays. It was a small gesture for a short man in khadi who'd captured our imagination, again.

Circa October 2nd, 2012, the magic has long gone. In a sad turn of events that lacks any inspiration or direction, the Team is now fighting amongst each other. The man has become a mere shadow of his former self. I won't say why the team broke up but I can say how they could have stayed together.

Decades ago, when Gandhi fought for our independence he faced a lot of setbacks too. The Empire didn't take him seriously and when they did, they either punished him severely to make him an example, or didn't punish him at all so that he does not become a martyr. They paraded him as the small man who dared to take on the might of the Empire. And when the Empire wasn't trying to break our morals, we fought amongst ourselves and behaved in a manner completely unfitting and kept straying from our path of nonviolence and noncooperation. We showed how violent we were. Gandhi came dangerously close to abandoning his movement several times during the struggle and eventually we killed him. 


Predictably I watched the movie 'Gandhi' again today. One of the most endearing quotes that he makes is 'An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind'. As I let that quote sink in, I thought of the many leaders and beauty pageant winners who quote Gandhi as their role model. While I won't deny how Gandhi is a wonderful person and probably one of the finest human beings to have walked this earth, I question how despotic politicians and tyrants can claim to follow a man who propagated nonviolence and won.
Case in point- Obama. He is a eloquent orator and a charming leader. However, as a man who proudly presided over the execution of another man he does not deserve to quote Gandhi.
Anna does not deserve to claim Gandhi to be his role model either for the way he has given up his movement only because he didn't get the footfall he expected. Gandhi fasted unto death to mourn the fact that he fought for the independence of a country where her people were killing each-other in vengeance. Anna fasted to arm-twist the government to agree to his terms. Gandhi could have fasted to arm-twist Jinnah and the Empire into not dividing India, but he didn't. He could have fasted to get justice for the killers of innocent civilians in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. He could have fasted for vengeance but didn't.

Gandhi could have been the small man but he wasn't the simple fool that the British thought him to be.
Our mistake was that we put Anna into Gandhi's sandals and expected him to run a marathon. Anna is a simpleton. Surely, his intentions are good but he is no Gandhi.

Advice to Anna: Watch the movie 'Gandhi' pronto.

And oh yeah. Happy Birthday, Bapu


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Magnum Opus

'He was a man who made humility and simple truth more powerful than empires'

Today as India celebrates how the parliament passed the Jan Lokpal bill as demanded by Anna Hazare and his team.
The month long campaign has proved that complete freedom against corruption is a long way away but the freedom of speech by the people and the media sure found its expression among billions of Indians. Many supporting the cause, many supporting the man and thousands against the man.

One of my favorite biographical movie is 'Gandhi' by Sir Richard Attenborough. This timeless movie still answers the many questions that plagues our society.

Watching it for the millionth time, I'll attempt to dissect the essence of what we need to learn..

Disgraced after being thrown out of a train only because he was traveling on a first class ticket, this sparked the first flames of freedom against discrimination.
Even as a staunch follower of Hinduism, Gandhi respected and followed the essence of Christianity. He often called himself and everyone 'Children of God'.
Even when faced with an seemingly impossible task of bringing equality to Indians in South Africa, he never once was disrespectful. Just polite and stern.
From being called 'Citizens of the Empire' to overthrowing the Empire, Gandhi showed us how we need to 'Fight against their anger. Not provoke it.'

Where there is injustice, I always believe fight. But the question is 'Do you fight to change things or to fight to punish?'
The problem with our supposed fight against corruption is that a majority of us are very comfortable with our every day lives (and I've already discussed why here)

When we spoke about Anna's stubborn refusal to budge, I remembered how Gandhi, referred to himself as a 'stubborn man'.
On my maiden visit to the Golden Temple many many years ago, I visited the Jallianwala Bagh. Now converted to a national monument it is one of those monuments that have been restored and preserved well. I could still see bullet holes and dried blood splatter. And the well, now sealed off is a grim reminder of the many dozens who lost their lives. A monument to mindless cruelty and unapologetic ruthlessness.
The way the empire and her majesty (note the lower case) refused to leave India despite the atrocity it committed, reminds me of how corrupt politicians refuse to step down.

When I read about how college students in Bangalore turned violent, I remembered how misguided protesters killed policemen during Gandhi's freedom struggle. But then violence has always been a much easier option for cowards.

Modern times call for contemporary measures. While most of Gandhi's principles is still proven to work in a world filled with turmoil. Prohibition is a farce in Gujarat where you'll always get the booze for the right price. It's not about looking or talking the part. It's about the being the part.

'Nearly all revolution starts as an idea in the mind of one man'. We won our freedom from the British with one such idea which became the most inspirational civil resistance in all history. In 2011, Anna has helped us win another.
Like Gandhi, he led from the front. Boldly, fearlessly and non violently.

Freedom. While we continue to fight among ourselves over who is more right, our politicians have always followed the colonial rule of 'Divide and Rule'. They have done it then and they continue to do it now.

'In our own sweet time.. In our own sweet way, we'll get there'

Britain, an tyrant Empire that once ruled most of the world and once was called Great Britain now reduced to a shell of its former self wrecked by terrorists from both outside and within. An island nation where an overwhelming majority of its citizens live on welfare and government doles. A nation that is still grappling with itself. What an awful turn of fortune. 
The only devils in the world are those running around in our own hearts. And that is where all our battles ought to be fought - Gandhiji
Now, lets drink to that!

This is an ode to Gandhi: The 'half naked Indian fakir' who became the icon who Albert Einstein remarked is a man who 'generations will come which will scarce believe that such of one of this ever of flesh and blood walked upon this earth'

When I despair I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time, they can seem invincible but in the end, they always fall.

Hey Ram!

Read more:
The government against satyagrahas, then and now


Friday, July 29, 2011

And you have the right to remain silent..

At high school, I've had to write hindi essays on 'Corruption'. Of course, learned by rote, I hardly knew what it was and didn't really understand a word of what I learned or wrote later. Living abroad you hardly experience corruption as blatantly as you do in India.

A decade and a half later, having to experience corruption in close quarters, I have just one question reverberating in my mind : How would you beat Corruption?

The time worn question here is, when did our nation go into a tailspin into destruction?
Like all things nostalgic, I'd like to believe that politicians were noble back then.

Like a child who started with small white lies and petty crimes, our politicians have graduated to trillion dollar grand theft and nepotism on a scale that is beyond belief.
And to make matters uncomfortable, they seem to have woken up the warden. Us.

While we can all make a lot of noise, the buck stops when we are expected to act.
I've had unfortunate friends who tire of all the noise online.
While most of us are indeed keyboard activists and nothing more, we remember to forget that the greatest changes in human history happened when people started revolting. It could have been graffiti on the wall, a march or even a bold move. It was always the power of One.

While many of us rue about being just a drop in the ocean, we forget that many drops make the ocean.

Question of the Day:
Should we be ranting against the corrupt on social networks? I think we must. That is the least we can do. Definitely not enough, because unless you talk, you won't act. So as long as people are going to be complacent and silent about corruption, we are doomed to be silent spectators in the world's largest debacle.

We are looking at a really bleak future where their children (that's right, the corrupt are breeding like much yeast too) rules this country. A nation where we've allowed corruption to breed, into a generation that will be even more awesomely wicked than ones that we have now.

Anna will definitely win. He may not live to see the fruits of his selfless crusade, but we will win because of him. Like the fruits of freedom that we enjoy because our soldiers died for us, we will live with our heads held high. It will take time. Many will pick up the cause. Few will remain.

More than 60 years ago, when Gandhiji announced the Quit India movement, not many even thought we would last. But last we did. We emerged victorious as battle worn veterans, our history continues to inspire.
Are you doing your bit today, tomorrow and the day after? It could be noise to someone else but unless you make it, we are forever doomed to remain silent.

And my response to all those who think this is noise...
'I'm sorry that you were dropped on your head when you were born. Quit India. Go live in Somalia'


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chopping Block


India, 'Mera Bharat Mahaan'
Incredible !ndia, sold off to unsuspecting tourists and the unnerving backpackers alike.
India, the birth place of one of the most charismatic and powerful non violent movements ever in human history.

India, Seventy Eight Women are raped every hour.
Gandhi must be rolling in his grave.

If this was not enough to shock you, get a load of this; Only 1 in 70 cases are ever reported.
This means, of all the bastards out there that will rape a lady, only 20% ever get to see the insides of a court. And only 3 in 1000 offenders are ever punished!

So that means there are 997 of the monsters walking free, trumping their noses at the long arm of the law. I wonder if we ever realise that by freeing the 997, we've just raped the lady with the scales.
Sure, we have a lot of rules and severe punishment for those who rape/molest a woman, but the gory statistics reveal the truth.


In a society that prefers to brush topics like sex under the rug and alternate lifestyles are taboo, what would you expect?
Its a Man's world unfortunately and the MCP's win the battle nearly all the time.

So whats really plaguing our society? Why has the land which gave birth to such concepts as Kamasutra and Non violence suddenly become the 'Rape Capital of the World'?
Why are we so lethargic about laws that concern the welfare of our Women?

Crucial Questions that need serious answers.
People who blame young women who dress or behave in a certain way for getting raped offend my sensibilities. It is akin to blaming a victim for being murdered.
Should we crucify the woman for being at the wrong place at the wrong time?

Women are brought up to believe that male sexuality is an uncontrollable urge and unpredictable phenomena. They are taught by mothers that modesty and caution is your only defence against ending up a statistic.

To view all men as a rapist is a cruel punishment but we fail to punish the guilty when the act has been committed. Our society's patriarchal view of woman as pawns in our life, only distracts the real issue here.
Feminists rue about unequal career opportunities and representation. We celebrate if we get more quota reserved for women. We want our women to be modest but this is exactly what is plaguing our country. We need to sit up and stop ourselves from propagating a culture of tolerance towards crimes against women and being silent about them.

Its not like all our women are portrayed with modesty. We let our movie actresses titillate us with item numbers and clothes that show more than they conceal. Ludicrous stereotyping allow men to relegate women to the shelf, only to be taken for the sake of reproduction and housekeeping.

Sexual Assault is such a violently degrading crime that it repels me to think how the rapist could be aroused by the sight of a victim fearing for her life. It is more about the power trip and the sense of dominance that the act fulfills.

We let our rapists get away with a well greased system that protects and refuses to punish the guilty. Men know this, women use it to 'get back at' men.
Public ignominy for the victim, insensitive police and puzzling laws that allow the guilty get away free and refuses to stop future offenses are not helping our Women.

We need to have a revolutionary change in the way we think. We need to reform the system.
I cheered when I read a recent article citing a need to widen the scope of the law to include gender neutral sexual assault and molestation.
Statistics show that a large portion of the rapes happen at home. By people who the victim is familiar with. Then there are a portion of assaults that happen at dates.
And don't even get me started on marital rapes. I personally know a lady who was raped not only by her husband but by his brothers and cousins repeatedly for an entire year until she mustered enough courage to report this to her parents.

The fear of being ostracized by family and the society stops a lady from reporting the crime.
The braver ones face a lifetime of healing.

Laws that muzzle a woman's right to report crimes against her and the subsequent trauma and humiliation that she goes through while the law takes it's course deters future victims from reporting the crime.
Ironically, laws that are supposed to support and strengthen the poor and the weak who are victimized and exploited end up punishing them.

It's almost like the system is mocking at the victim who had the courage to report the crime, and laughing at the audacity to bring the guilty to book. How dare you?!
We need tougher laws that will warn future perpetrators and greater resolve to enforce our laws.

But as long as we have leaders that fear loss of control, we won't see changes.
As long as we have men who are paranoid about women who will control them, things won't change.
As long as we have gender insensitive laws that treat women as second rate citizens, our courts will be filled with rapists who (may) get tried and acquitted.
And in the time that it took me to write this post, 4 rapes were reported but given the statistics, none will get justice.
But if you ask me, then I would say, Castrate the Bastards.


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