Sunday, November 30, 2008

Why nothing will change in India even after Mumbai terrorist attack?

Post November 26: Will there be any change in India or a major shift in the manner we tackle terrorism?

I have serious doubts. The intense public anger has forced Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Maharashtra's Deputy Chief Minister RR Patil to submit their resignations and Vilas Rao Deshmukh may also resign, but this is not enough.

In a few days from now, it will be back to square one. There are reasons for this pessimism and why I believe nothing is going to change:

1. As long as there are two laws in India, one for the VIP and the other for the common man, nothing will change. The concept of treating people differently on the basis of their clout, connections and class shouldn't have any place in democracy but unfortunately it is the biggest roadblock towards equality in this country.

2. There are different sets of rules for a VIP, an English-speaking citizen and a poor ordinary man. The person in the first category can pass through any security check without the risk of getting touched. The second guy also has a fair chance of escaping any frisking. The person in the last category receives contempt but he can also make his way past, by greasing the palm of the cops. How many politicians or even journalists like to be frisked?

3. The Indian police are still governed by the outdated Indian Police Act of 1861 that treats the citizens as natives and expects the force to protect and serve the 'masters', who were Whites in the past and the class of politicians (and top bureaucrats) now. If your vehicle has a beacon light, which constable can dare stop it? When Mayawati goes out on the streets of Lucknow, there are over a 100 policemen with her and the entire area is cordoned off.

4. The system of policing is such that most of the force is involved in security of the VIPs and taking care of their families and kin. The policeman with a graduate or post-graduate degree loses all self-esteem when he understands that he has to get the grocery and vegetables for his superior's household, serve water to guests at police station and he doesn't care if a kid goes missing but would go to any lengths to find out an officer or bureaucrat's dog that has disappeared.

5. Intelligence agencies and units in states are mostly busy in working for the government to get information about opposition party leaders and finding the latter's weaknesses or election related surveys. Cops are made to do duties which they ought not do.

This leaves them disinterested in their regular work. They are made to stand up for political rallies, demonstrations and other silly things. This is a pan-Indian problem. How and when can they investigate or get intelligence input. Whatever little interest remains in the job is due to the lure of money from criminals, those dealing in illegal trades and the 'hafta'.

6. Supreme Court stepped in when the politicians refused to implement police reforms. But despite all its efforts, no state government in India, either the Congress or the BJP, is interested in it. Politicians want the power of transferring any cop to anywhere in the state, in their hands.

7. The irony is that during the entire debate over the failure of police, intelligence and government, it was not the issue that was raised properly at the debates on televisions. There will be chargers, counter-charges and a few resignations but what about the real issue?

8. Abusing politicians is easy. But politicians are misled by bureaucrats. Why there is no accountability on them? The bureaucrat--the IAS and the IPS, work for their entire lives and are supposed to know much more about security aspects than the politicians. We are yet to see any resignations from security agencies or sacking of any top officer.

8. At least, IPS officers get the blame. They also fight on the ground and lose their lives. But what about the IAS officers, those who really run the nation. Politician is the face but the IAS officer is the guy who remains in charge.

He briefs the minister about issues, tells him about contents of voluminous files and runs the entire show. He has to be accountable but he never figures anywhere when there is a failure or disaster.

9. Somehow, the IAS officers in the last 60 years, have managed to increase their clout and power but also got rid of all responsibility though it is effectively the district magistrate who is in-charge of any district or City.

10. Ever heard any clamour of his resignation due to non-performance? Though it is a fact that a corrupt IAS officer earns much more money than a normal politician can ever dream of in his lifetime. Why there was no counter-terrorism system in place in other metros until now. Isn't it a policy failure? What for the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Home Affairs taking their salaries if they didn't think of posting NSGs in four metropolitan cities.

In a few weeks there will again be political rhetoric. BJP will raise the issue of Afzal's hanging and POTA while Congress will take up the issue of Kandahar hijack and Parliament attack. People will be watching soap operas on TV. The parliamentary elections aren't far.

Who is interested in tackling serious issues like police reforms? Announcements like a fresh anti-terror federal agency may sound good momentarily but when the entire system is wrecked, which government has the time, energe, interest and resolve to do it?

Once again nothing might change. Though I wish I am proved wrong.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Saluting the martyrs: Mumbai policemen who laid their lives battling terrorists

Every Indian's heart goes out to the families who lost their close ones in the terror attacks in Mumbai. It is an hour of gloom as over a hundred innocent Indians have died and the nation is battling the most ugly form of terrorism.

This catastrophe of extraordinary dimensions has left everybody shocked. But for most of us who watched the war-like-situation on TV sets in our homes, the harsh reality is that so many of the brave police officers lost their lives.

We salute all these men including NSG's Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, ATS' topmost officers like Hemant Karkare, Vijay Salaskar and Ashok Kamte & the junior personnel like Inspector Shinde, who sacrificed their lives to rescue the innocents trapped in the Mumbai hotels. Shinde had dreamt that his daughter would become a doctor one day.

The government announced compensation but can we as a society ensure that the families of these policemen and their children get the due respect from us? Though over 125 persons were killed, it is equally true that hundreds of other persons were saved and rescued in this gargantuan operation. One hopes that the families will not have to run from pillar to post to get the compensation. We owe a lot to these police officers.

Still, what is immensely disturbing is the nature of terrorist strike, which was nothing less than a movie script. That it happened in reality, makes it more alarming. The terrorists reportedly came from the sea side via boats, armed with huge cache of arms and explosives and used all possible tactics to scare us--hijacking police van, ensconcing themselves in hotels, spraying bullets and throwing grenades--puts question mark on our security issues. No guarding of shores or lack of preparedness on part of those expected to keep vigil at the sea.

Earlier, also in case of Mumbai blasts, the underworld had used sea route to bring explosives. A news report mentions that this time the fishermen had noticed these people carrying bags and moving suspiciously but even after informing police there was no action for two hours, that gave time to terrorists to hide all over the City.

Latest reports say that after 25 hrs, the Army and the commandos have killed all terrorists in Taj Hotel, Oberoi Hotel and also rescued hostages from Nariman House. As the dust settles down, lot of things will be discussed and the investigation will hopefully pinpoint the persons responsible for the attack (foreign hand has been proved, according to reports). But right now, we need our politicians to stop blaming each other.

Terror must not be politicised. If BJP says that Congress is soft on terror, it is an absurd thing to say. Say that it is inept but not that it is soft (which is a dirty way to say 'sympathetic'). After all, Congress has also lost its leaders to terrorism. The government can be termed ineffective or unprepared but not 'soft'. It's not an occasion to score political victories. All parties should speak in one voice rather than speaking with eyes set on election.

Update: After 60 hrs the operation has finally ended. Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan of National Security Guard, Gajendra Singh and NSG commando Gajendra Singh also laid their lives. The family of ATS chief Hemant Karkare has reportedly refused to take the Rs 1 crore compensation offered by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. D

uring the recent election campaign in Rajasthan and MP, the BJP leaders had made personal attacks on Karkare, used foul language against him and put question mark on the integrity of ATS officers.

The Maharashtra police personnel who lost their lives battling the terrorists include:

Prakash More

Bapusahab Darugude

Tukaram Omble

Balasahem Bhosale

Arun Chitte

Jaywant Patil

Yogesh Patil

Ambadas Pawar

M Chowdhury

Rahul Shinde

Mukesh Jadhav

& Gajendra Singh [National Security Gaurd]

Hanif Sheikh, the hero of the NSGs

The role of an ice-cream shop owner Hanif Sheikh needs to be mentioned in the operation at Nariman House. When others were vying to get photographed along with commandos, the NSG men got themselves photographed with Sheikh.

They said that but for him the operation wouldn't have succeeded. The Nariman House is located in a narrow lane amids many houses and Sheikh not only helped rescue several insiders including a kid but also assisted in taking away families from neighbouring houses. He drew the map and kept on informing the commandos about the entire building and the area, reports Sushil Kumar Jha, for BBC.

Times of India also terms him a hero and said that he guided the commandos through the layout of the building. Throughout the operation he remained with them without fearing for his life and remained modest when he was asked about it after the operation ended.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Delhi Assembly elections: Will BJP pip Congress?

Less than a week remains before Delhi goes to vote. Veteran BJP leader Vijay Kumar Malhotra is leading the BJP campaign against Sheila Dixit who has been Chief Minister twice.

But the question is whether the anti-incumbency factor will work in favour of BJP or Dixit's image is strong enough to brave this sentiment? Malhotra is expected to get overwhelming support of the पंजाबी community.

But Dixit has managed to strike a chord with the citizens. She scores over other leader as far as image is concerned. Though there are all sorts of speculations, predicting an outcome is risky. Opinion polls have failed in the past because of the unique Indian voter who often doesn't confide his choice to anybody and can even lie if somebody asks him to which party he voted for.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is contesting on all the 70 seats and the influence of the party on the voters with roots in UP can't be ignored. The BJP will gain, if the Dalit-Backward vote splits and goes to BSP while section of minorities vote for SP or the other third alternative. In constituencies with large Muslim populace, there was anger against UPA government until recently.

In constituencies that have large Muslim concentration like Babarpur, Matia Mahal and Balli Maran, the community has a strength from 40-50%. In Seelampur it is more than 60%. Though Okhlay that witnessed the Batla House encounter, may vote for the Samajwadi Party candidate, the situation may not be the same elsewhere.

In constituencies like Chandni Chowk, Simapuri, Vikaspuri, Babapur, Mustafabad and Sangampuri the Muslims form a chunk of electorate (20-30%). But the anger appears subsiding now. Except one or two constituencies, the Muslims appear all set to vote for better candidate on the basis of his work rather than getting misled over emotive issues.

If one goes by conventional political wisdom it has to be Sheila Dixit who faces a daunting task after two consecutive terms. But if the party manages to return to power, it will be to her credit and she will make history in the National Capital.

States like Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Madhya Pradesh are also voting almost the same time. On November 29, people of Delhi will vote. Next month we will see whether lotus blooms in Delhi or the Congress hand tighets its fist on the metro. dekhiye oont kis karvat baithtaa hai....

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Guru Nanak Jayanti and Muslims: Communal Harmony Project-8

On the left is the photograph of an elderly Muslim offering sherbet to a Sikh devotee who is part of a religious procession.

This is a recent photo. On the occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti, the Sikhs take out huge processions in most Cities in India and abroad.

This is just one of the photos that tells us stories that don't find any place in the mainstream media. Though one gets to see lot of photographs of Hindus and Muslims celebrating Id and Diwali together, pictures like the one here aren't seen much as Sikhs are comparatively a smaller minority.

Millions of ordinary Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and those belonging to other faiths live in such harmony across the country. They participate in each other's festivals wholeheartedly without a shred of bigotry. But it is not this India which we see more often on television and in the papers.

Any writer or blogger can also get more worked up on listening to politicians of different hues raising battle cries than such aspects of life. Like I was getting tempted to write on BJP president LK Advani's defence of Sadhvi Pragya and the party's disinterest in the case of innocent Muslim youths framed and tortured in Hyderabad by the police.

This is the same party that wanted tough law on terror but when it came to its own people linked to Malegaon blast case, it wants ATS to stop grilling them. Most of us get charged up on these issues depending on our religious, political and social affiliations. No wonder, everywhere we find riots, terrorism, communalism and casteism.

Probably it is because of the concept that what makes a news. It is not news when a dog bites a man, but it definitely make when a man bites a dog. So inter-religious harmony, composite culture and friendship doesn't make a great story.

[Harmony exists all around us but is often ignored. Instead, stories of hate, discord and communalism get spread easily.

There are a million examples in our daily lives across India but they don't get promoted, hence, news of hate and discord gets heard more. Let's change it, now. This is a small attempt to change it through Communal Harmony Project]

For reading similar reports on this blog, Click the link HERE and also find out more about Communal Harmony Project

#communalharmony #communalharmonyproject #india

Friday, November 14, 2008

Malegaon Blast: Liar Leaders more harmful than Sadhvi Pragya

It's the irresponsible and liar 'leaders' who will end up hurting this nation in the long run more than any of the blast accused--either a Hindu suspect like Sadhvi Pragya or a Muslim terror accused.

Let me first put a few things in perspective and then come back to it and explain why I feel our politicians are doing great harm to the country.

1. The current trail of investigation after the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur that has spread across the heartland is disturbing because of the role of some armymen, the latest being an ex airforce personnel who had become a fake Shankaracharya*.

Though the Hindutva brigade initially got stunned, it soon came out in the support of Sadhvi, despite understanding that there are substantial evidences and it was only after the ATS did homework that they dared to arrest a Sadhvi. [The officers must have thought about the consequences of an acquittal in case the force fails to produce enough evidences]

2. The fact that the Armymen's name were brought in the open, shows that there was enough evidence, else in the name of national interest several scandals are buried under the carpet when it is felt that disclosues can be potentially damaging.

Some sections claim that she is innocent. Yes, nobody is guilty until court proves it. Many hard-core elements openly said that 'even if Pragya Thakur and her group' was involved in the blasts [Malegaon, Modasa, Samjhauta Express], it could be justified.

But when national parties come to her defence and say she is falsely implicated, it is serious. As we have a judicial system or should the courts be abolished or all VIPs exempted from trial?

3. The lawyers and bar associations who don't let any Muslim suspect get legal assistance, are now ready to fight cases. The battery of lawyers reached Nasik court and many parties are ready to bear legal expenses for fighting the case.

Though it is surprising, it is not as worrying as the BJP's stance. The party leaders lied. Where in the world this happens? A national party has no problem in openly lying. When the case started unfolding, the Party president Rajnath Singh said that he didn't know Sadhwi Pragya Singh Thakur and that she was never linked to the BJP or the Parivar. The ABVP flatly denied that she was its member.

Soon the photographs of Pragya appeared in papers. Her links with top BJP leaders was established. Ultra-right parties like Uma Bharati's group who are fighting against the BJP, were now standing up for Pragya, claiming her innocence.

Now the BJP was aggressively claiming her back, fearing that RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal workers may get upset as the party doesn't defend its own people when they are in trouble and this could hurt the prospects of the party in the elections.

All for the sake of votes. So whither ideology? What intrigues me is that nobody is shocked at BJP's overnight change. Why they were shunning her earlier? At least, if they had their heart beating for new postergirl of Hindutva, they could have sided with her or at least said that, 'Yes we know her, she was with the Parivar but is misguided'.

But no. They lied to the nation. Isn't it shameful. And nobody on national TV or in debates question them that why they lie? How can responsible national parties and politicians publicly do it. This keeps happening in India. Criminals and terrorists can be arrested and jailed but such downfall in character of leaders and parties is immensely damaging for our democracy.

Now everybody including bloggers and those posting comments on sites, appear divided on communal lines, accusing the 'other terrorist' and defending the 'terrorist of his side'. But why leave these leaders who lie and cheat, go unquestioned?

We just saw the US elections. We talk about a health democracy in India. But unfortunately there is neither truth nor honesty. Human lives count even less unless you are a VIP. [Does the BJP care for the poor Hindu, who may be implicated for Gujarat riots? No it doesn't.]

The most profitable business in this country seems the sale of spirituality. Godmen fool the society. Dayanand Pandey alias Sudhakar Dwivedi, who claimed himself to be a Shankaracharya, was known as Swami Amritananda Maharaj, who lived in Jammu]

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Indian Muslims, Ulema lead in terror condemnation

It was an extraordinary event. Thousands of Ulema decided to reach Hyderabad and endorse the fatwa against terrorism, which was earlier issued at the Deoband seminary this year.

Without any political support or any pressing need to say it, the Ulema went ahead and decided to hold the event. Though earlier in Delhi, Deoband, Kanpur, Kolkata and Bhopal, similar anti-terrorism conferences had been held in the last few months, the grand congregation was called again.

They planned, spent their own money and organised the mega conference. Called spiritual leaders of other communities from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to Swami Agnivesh, and spoke in one clear voice. And said it loudly, 'Terrorism is un-Islamic' and cleared the myths about Jehad. Still, this is not the last such event.

Such strong voice of clergy has emerged from India. It again establishes Indian Ulama as one of the most progressive Muslim clergy in the Islamic world. It is the same clergy led by the Jamiat-e-Ulema that had fought against the British imperialist forces before independence--a struggle in which thousands of Muslim clergymen had laid their lives.

Once again the religious leadership has come forward to say it clearly that no religion should be linked with terrorism. In context of the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and other Hindu militants including an Army official for Malegaon bomb blasts, the Ulama said that linking it to religion is absolutely wrong.

A special train named Sheikhul Hind Express had taken thousands of clerics from Deoband to Hyderabad for this national convention. Those who keep on repeating the charges that Muslims don't condemn terrorism enough, should now shut up. Of course, those who can't stand the sight of Muslims on this land will never be convinced.

Suggested reading: Chhamman Miyan's protest

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Teenaged love on Tree trunks: A Thing of Past

Defacing monuments with love messages is a bad habit but wherever you go in India, you will find such scribblings on the walls of ancient structures.

It's a sort of habit for many. Some write their name just for fun. Others do it to see if the name survives for long even if the next visit is several years later. Others do it out of an itch to scribble.

In most parks, you will see names of couples written on the trunks of trees. Rahul-Ragini, written in circle or Salim-Saima in the midst of a heart made out of a tree branch or any other pointed metal object.

I have seen couples writing their names. Teenagers avoiding the gaze of the guards to etch their names. Youth often write the name of their beloved along with their name even if there is no hope of union.

Perhaps they get satisfaction with such a declaration at a public place. Telling the nature and the world. There is probably a feeling that the lovers may not get united in real life but at least, on the tree trunk or the monument the names will remain together for long and for others to see.

Unrequited love is a unique thing in Indian sub-continent. Either it is the concept of a youth wasting his life just for the sake of a girl though he may never have even proposed to her. Or those who manage to get promises of marriage but the girl later goes by her parents' wishes and when she comes back with her husband and kids, she introduces the heart-broken guy to her children saying, 'Meet mama ji'. And the mamu remains a joke for the locality for ever.

With changing times and the advent of cell phone, this form of love is also changing. Earlier, whenever I went to the parks I could see freshly written names. Lately I have noticed that the trunks of Deodar and Asoka trees no longer had any fresh etchings.

The old names were fading away and there was no fresh attempt to write the names. It was a weekly off and I decided to go to a couple of parks where I used to spent time when I was unemployed more than a decade back.

There were all sorts of couples in the park. But not a single tree had a freshly written name. No recent scratch. In a way it is good to see that the trees are no longer assaulted. In went to the other park and noticed the same thing. In a park in Hyderabad early this year, I had noticed it.

It's not that easy to write names though. It takes an effort and time to write the name apart from the fact that one has to be watchful of the security guys. Though the dirty scribblings in the train toilets and similar other graffiti haven't disappeared, but it seems the trees are no longer the targets of lovelorns.

Is it that the present generation has no interest in immortalising their love or that they feel it's a waste. After all, why affix your name to someone or devote yourself to a single person's love? In the times of SMS and cell phones, it's easy to leave one and latch on to the next, rather that remaining lost in romance for your entire life.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Now say 'US President Barack Obama': Black Man in White House

Democrat Barack Hussein Obama is now the President of United States. He succeeds George Bush, one of the most unpopular of US presidents, after defeating Republican John McCain.

This black boy in the photograph on the right is now holding the most powerful post in the world. It was unthinkable until recently but it has happened.

Riding over a wave of disenchantment with the Republicans due to the ongoing recession, Obama had a landslide victory in the elections.

The win is extraordinary. Not just because he is a black. But because his Muslim-sounding name was made an issue. There were attempts from right-wing forces to term him as a secret Muslim. Issues like his studies in a madarsa in his childhood in Indonesia were also raised. Still, Obama managed to dispel all the fears and symbolised change.

Outside America, we also hope the same. The world wants to see a less arrogant and more inclusive America. George Bush is history. Bush made USA, a country disliked across the world. Iraq hadn't gone to fight in USA. Rather it was the opposite. During his reign, the unprovoked invasion of Iraq, and killing of millions of innocents had made America a hated nation. Obama has won the Presidential election [2008] and will now occupy the white house.

Obama is the son of a Kenyan Muslim. The spelling of Barack is just a variant of Barakah (Arabic) or Barakat (Urdu) that means blessed. This is the reason Urdu papers and some Muslims were delighted to have US president: Sadr-i-Amrika Barkat Husain. The Urdu dictionary says the meaning is 'auspiciousness', that bring abundance, of good fortune.

Barack Hussein Obama Senior died in 1982. However, his son Barack Hussein Obama is a Christian. Obama's mother was a white woman. The 1961-born Obama was born in Honalulu (Hawaii). The senator from Illinois has been opposing the policies of previous regime, especially the Iraq war.

In Asia, there is celebration all across Asia. On TV channels, there was no other news and ecstatic anchors spoke in near-hysteria as Obama inched closer to victory. By early morning millions were up and awake, waiting for the election results. For African Americans it is a historic, almost unimaginable event that one of them has been elected to the highest post in the country where they were once brought as slaves and mistreated for generations. And so it is for the rest of the world.

The inscrutable Americans have delivered a googly again. They went to Iraq killing a Hussein (Saddam) and back home a little later, they elected a Hussein as their President.
One hopes, that the 'change' will not be a mere rhetoric but there will also be a change in American policies.

What's wrong with Indian society: Innocent get killed, Vandals get respect

Innocents are shot dead without a thought while goons under the garb of politicians can slaughter the soul of the nation but are spared. This is a sad reality in today's India.

The Indian police that never takes any action against a person who is remotely a 'VIP', kills a 22-year-old Kuldeep Kumar without any provocation. The incident occurred in Bhiwani in Haryana. They later said that it was an accident. The trigger got accidentally pushed. Kyaa saadgi hai!

This is the problem with this nation. The Indian Police are still governed by the same Police Act which the British had formulated in 1861 to rule over the natives. The act that treated Indians as subjects and where police were not for the security of the colonial natives but the 'White Masters'

Today the White Master is replaced by the VIP. This VIP is a strange term in a democratic nation. In India, a VIP is one, who is either a politician, a filthy rich businessman, a filmstar, a crackpot or anybody from comedian Raju Srivastava to Rakhi Sawant.

This list includes everyone who has either got a few billions or is visible on TV. He has the right to mibehave with the rest of 'mere mortals'. He can be a Govinda, he can be a Bihar minister who slaps a airline manager and he can be a 'politician' like Raj Thackeray who can let loose his cadre on tens of thousands of people.

But never, the cane of police will never even touch Raj or his goons. Of course, the Bhiwani boy whose marriage was scheduled a month from now, probably deserved a bullet because he was not a VIP or VVIP. He was brutally shot dead and the shameless cops said that they mistook him for a criminal. They never make a mistake in case of any VIP even with a cane. Do they?

We have to blame ourselves for this situation. Haven't we given the police and politicians this right? We fight over religion, caste and all such things that eventually end up ceding our rights and getting civil liberties curbed. We, of course, never speak up for justice and liberty.

Rahul Raj was killed just a few days back for 'hijacking' a bus. Bihar feels he was murdered, Maharashtra feels a terrorist was done to death. Rest are also divided on the basis of their 'other affiliations'. [Any affiliationf or law!] Society supports the encounters just like they happen in movies and feels that's the ideal way without realising its danger for the civic society.

Of course, when unrestrained police gets corrupted and politicised to such levels that a common man gets thrown in lockup for a brawl for weeks while a VIP is allowed to go scot-free even after getting people killed and goes out on 'bail' and we still don't speak up, can there still be hope?

Aren't we a selfish and hypocritical to the core. Kuldeep's death is just one example. It happened close to Delhi and it became a news. Hundreds of such stories unfold in rural India everyday. But for most of us, there is no sense of outrage, as perhaps, the person is always 'the other'.

There are Muslims speaking for Muslim suspects and there are Hindutva organisations speaking for the ones like terror suspect Sadhvi Pragya. But innocent and ordinary citizens have none speaking for them. Who will speak for them, who are nothing, just ordinary Indians?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

SP MLA offers Rs 10 million for Raj Thackeray's head

A Samajwadi Party MLA has publicly announced that he would give Rs 1 crore (10 million) to any one who kills Raj Thackeray, the rogue MNS leader.

In the era of theatrics, it is hardly a surprise. The SP MLA Kishor Samrite did cross the line. As he is an elected public representative, the announcement acquires more serious dimension. But, it is equally true, that Raj has been given a long rope and he has been flirting with law.

In Maharashtra, law doesn't apply to Raj Thackeray and democracy has given way to mobocracy. (Where is the state government in Maharashtra?) It is the era of theatrics and antics. The round the clock TV news channels also need something interesting all the time and these dramatic statements suit them the most.

No wonder that within an hour of issuing this statement of 'supari' (contract killing), the MLA was on the lead news of almost all channels. He may have spoken irresponsibly but he did make a news. Anybody who would have thrown an open challenge or issued a similar provocative statement, would have got the same coverage but none did. Samrite issued the statement and will be on frontpage in newspapers tomorrow. You need fame, do something ridiculous and outrageous and you won't regret it in this country.

The MLA from Lanji (Balaghat) in Madhya Pradesh, knows that it's the age when you need to create news or rather, be a news. He has earlier attempted suicide, slaughtered 265 goats at Kamakhya temple in Assam and done similar other acts, to stay in news. He did it. Those who didn't, aren't recognised outside their constituencies or states.

Law is applied to people, selectively and state seems to have become a joke.

The lesson is that if you can regularly come out with weird ideas and peform crazy things, you can make a career in this country and emerge as a public figure--either in politics or in any other field.

Verse for Humanity in the Times of Terrorism

Lately I have been posting less poetry on this blog. Going through a collection of verses, I had recently stopped at this Nazm. The language is simple and the poem has barely six lines.

In English, these lines may at first glance seem too ordinary. But for a poet like Fazal Tabish, who is known for his complex poetry, it is an unusual verse. Specially for a writer who considered humanism as supreme ideology, there must have been some reason that he chose to write these six lines, which is neither in the traditional format of ghazal nor the rhyming Nazm, which he was immensely capable of.

nahi chuni maiNne ye zamin jo vatan Thahri
nahi chunaa maniNne voh ghar jo khaandaan banaa
nahi chunaa maiNne voh mazhab jo mujhe bakhsha gayaa
nahi chuni maiNne vo zabaaN jismeN maaN ne bolnaa sikhaaya
aur ab maiN in sab ke liye tayyar huN
maarne, marne par

Fazal Tabish

I didn’t choose the country where I was born
I didn’t select my family, my clan
I was given no option to decide upon my religion
And I didn’t choose my mother tongue either
But for all of them I am ready
To kill...

Read this Nazm in Urdu and Hindi scripts.
Why did he write it in the first place. He could express the feeling in umpteen ways. Yet the divan ends with this prose-poem. He passed away long back. Though communalism, regionalism and casteism had begun gripping the nation, those were still the times when everything was not lost.

Fazal uses no flowery language here. May be it is because he had seen that the so-called educated, the learned, the ones who can play with the words and decipher complex poetry, are capable of greater damage by twisting words.

Perhaps, he felt that there will be times when even the simplest of questions will become the hardest to answer. In his divan, 'Roshni kis jagah se kaali hai', it is the last Nazm that has no title.
Read more of his ghazals.