Counter Strike
My take on the things and events in the world.

Moral Contradictions Of Anna's Approach

Friday, August 19, 2011
Minus "kahan hai asali aajaadi..." rhetoric, this is what Anna and his team is saying:
  1. Corruption is omnipresent in India at all levels of judiciary, bureaucracy and politics. Therefore, politicians have a vested interest in not acting decisively against corruption.
  2. Democratic institutions have become ineffective and do not truly represent people. So it is not possible for a clean individual to fight elections and bring a real change through constitutional means.
  3. A strong lokpal bill, and only the version proposed by his team is the only effective way to deal with corruption. This version according to him, enjoys a widespread support of the civil society and would eliminate corruption to large extent.
  4. If the government and parliament does not agree to his version he would go on a fast unto death with the intention of inviting people to come out against the government on streets so that the normal civil order is disturbed. This he thinks would put "moral pressure" on the government to accept his version of the lokpal bill.

I have many disagreements with Anna's version of lokpal. But the point that I am making is not about the constitutional balance or even the practicality of Anna's lokpal. For an enlightening discussion on these issue, you can read the official minutes of meetings of the Joint Drafting Committee that took place between Anna's team and the group of ministers ( I am not even going to raise questions about the political color or potential political beneficiaries of his movement. Instead I just want to point out a few moral contradictions in his approach as I see it.

  1. It is the moral bankruptcy and utter hypocrisy of the society to blame a select few for corruption and not look within. Corruption has become our national character and no one is absolved of the responsibility. An average middle class urban indian not only give bribes but is the primary beneficiary of bribes. Anna is doing a disservice to the people by not telling them that. Gandhi said "be the change that you want to see in the world". Satyagrah and fasting for Gandhi were the tool more for self-purification rather than for political struggle.
  2. I can't put it better than George F. Kennan, a well known scholar-diplomat "When you attempt to alter the workings of the system by means of violence or civil disobedience, this, it seems to me, can have only one of two implications; either you do not believe in democracy at all and consider that society ought to be governed by enlightened minorities such as the one to which you, of course, belong; or you consider that the present system is so imperfect that it is not truly representative, that it no longer serves adequately as a vehicle for the will of the majority, and that this leaves to the unsatisfied no adequate means of self-expression other than the primitive one of calling attention to themselves and their emotions by mass demonstrations and mass defiance of established authority." I don't know what to make of it when Anna says that he believes in Indian democracy and the constitutional right of the parliament to make laws except when it comes to lokpal.
  3. Abetment of suicide is a criminal offense under IPC 306. Anna openly declares to break this and the other laws. He also complaints about the government not following the law by not allowing him to protest peacefully. I am sorry, but if you intend break the law, you loose the moral right to say that Government should follow the law that you are going to break. A citizen cannot demand that the state obey the constitution and the laws and at the same time assert a right to disobey the law.

If the support of a few thousand protesters and a self-proclaimed just cause is going to be the criteria, then Anna is setting a dangerous precedence. We can soon expect to see Chandrashekhar Rao fasting for Telangana again, Kashmiris demanding aazadi, Rajnikath fan club demanding Bharat Ratna for their god and countless more.

Disclaimer: The view expressed by the author are of the 10 Janpath and not his own. The author has just "Manmohan Singh"ed the article. Therefore, the author would be responsible for all the spank, but the praise, if any, should be directed towards Sonia ji and Rahul baba. This is also clarified that the author believes in the divine right of the Gandhi family to rule India and has already received an undisclosed amount from KGB/ISI in his swiss bank account. So that the enlightened readers could directly move on to the logical arguments, if any, in their comments.

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Mumbai Ka King Kaun…

Monday, February 22, 2010

After getting picked for yet another “random” search at one of the busiest airports in America, it seems so ironic that I watched “My Name Is Khan” a few hours ago with an American friend. I would have become a billionaire till now, if they had the same criteria of random selection for lucky draws and lotteries here.

Anyhow, as the dust settled on the Shiv Sena – SRK battlefield, there no question about who bite the dust and who prevailed. But we are still left with some questions that are important and worth pondering over. First, why did we have this controversy at the first place, and second, who was justified and who was not?

First things first, many of us think that the cause of this yet another useless controversy was Shahrukh’s statement supporting Pakistani players for IPL. Some of us might consider Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in India as the real cause. In my view, the real reason was this question of who actually controls Mumbai. As Bheekhu Mathre yells in Satya, “Mumbai ka king kaun…?” this was a self-gratifying war cry from toothless cub of an ailing tiger.

This wasn’t a war between Shahrukh Khan and Shiv Sena as it appear on the surface. Interestingly, this started as a war between Shiv Sena and MNS and ended as a battle between Shiv Sena and Congress. Since MNS surfaced on the political map of Maharashtra, both Uddhav and Raj Thakrey are competing in a dangerous rat race. Race to pick up issues “concerning” marathi manus. MNS scored some points by beating up north Indian taxi drivers, by forcing Karan Johar to apologize for using the name Bombay instead of Mumbai his last movie and many more. As a result, MNS was rewarded in the last Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. On the other hand, Shiv Sena was wiped off from Mumbai-Thane region, one of their traditional strongholds. This was Shiv Sena’s desperate attempt to reclaim their territory and influence over the marathi vote bank. Both these parties who claim to champion the cause of Maharashtra and marathis have no vision or constructive plan for the state’s development. All they have is Taliban-style destructive agenda and goonda forces on the ground to implement it. Burn the valentines day cards, beat couples at Chaupati, don’t let this movie release, boycott Australian players, dig the cricket pitch at Kotla, issue derogatory and inflammatory speeches is all they know.

Congress, later on had to jump in as Rahul baba was dragged into the whole issue and Shiv Sena threatened to not let the Congress yuvraj visit Mumbai. How can the Maharahtra congress government tolerate any attack on its first family. Their crack down on Shiv Sena would also mean stronger MNS and as marathi votes split further, benefit to the Congress in long run. So the underlying reasons were purely political.

Lets come to our second question of who was right. I don’t think we need a Karan Johar movie to remind us that there is no difference between a Hindu and a Muslim. The only difference that counts, is that is between a good person and a bad person. Even if some of us disagree with Karan on this or some of us agree with the government of India’s discrete suggestion to IPL franchises not to recruit Pakistani players to keep up the pressure on Pakistan Government; there should be no compromise on an individual’s freedom of expression in a democratic country. Who is Shiv Sena to decide who should say what, who is patriotic and who is not, who should watch a particular movie and who should not. Look at this statement from Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut calling all the people who went watch My name Is Khan despite Shiv Sena is diktats as Kasab-lovers:

“These are Kasab-lovers and Pakistan-lovers. They will definitely go, but the country is with us. The Congress has created a mini-Pakistan in India and will shower flowers on a ‘Khan.’ The andolan is 100 per cent successful. The film was only released under Chief Minister Ashok Chavan’s pressure. At least 150 men were guarding the theatres with AK-47s. If so many stood guard at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus during 26/11, we could have prevented the attack. If a terror strike were to take place now, who would be responsible?”

And guess what, a terror strike did take place, in Pune just days later. According to recent media reports, police is suspecting the hand of a ultra Hindu nationalist group Abhinav Bharat. The organisation is led by Himani Savarkar daughter of Gopal Godse, brother of Mahatma Gandhi's assassin Nathuram.

In the end, people of Mumbai did decide who is indeed King of Mumbai. It is the aam janta of Mumbai. Aam janta or mango people as Saif puts it in Love Aajkal, that has very little to do with politic, that wants to ride the local train without fearing a bomb blast, that wants to enjoy a good game of cricket and yes, wants Pakistan to loose, that wants to watch a good movie on a weekend with the family, that do not want the inconvenience of additional search each time on the airport because their last name is Khan or they have a brown skin. This aam junta is same everywhere. Be it Mumbai, Delhi, Karachi or New York.

I thought, I would end this post with this sher from Nida Fazli:
Insaan mein haivaan yahaan bhi hai vahaan bhi
Allah nigah-baan yahaan bhi hai vahaan bhi

But sometimes, quoting a couple of lines from a poem is a crime. Sometimes you cant pick a part that represent the intent and beauty of the whole. Here is the rest of the Ghazal:

Khunkhaar darindon ke faqat naam alag hain
Shahron mein bayaabaa'n yahaan bhi hain vahaan bhi

Rahmaan ki qudarat ho ya bhagvaan ki moorat
Har khel ka maidaan yahaan bhi hai vahaan bhi

Hindu bhi maze mein hain muslmaan bhi maze mein
Insaan pareshaan yahaan bhi hai vahaan bhi

Uthataa hai dil-o-jaan se dhuaan dono taraf hi
Ye ''meer'' ka divaan yahaan bhi hai vahaan bhi

Bayaabaa'n = Wilderness

PS: Found Nida Fazli Sahab reciting the Ghazal himself on Youtube.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009
I was quite busy for the time that I recently spent in India. The training in Bangalore was really time-intensive. It has been two weeks since I have come back. I feel kind of "settled down" in Chicago as I have unpacked most of my stuff and setup my room :) I am raring to go on a project, but (un)fortunately I am on beach. I am not talking about sea shores, not even lake Michigan, "beach" is just a euphemism here at ThoughtWorks for "bench". So, I have a lot of free time and as a result I am indulging in many things that I used to dislike such as Facebooking, going to bars etc. But hey... I also did something that I used to like and was missing when I was busy. Just finished my new Ghazal. Mulahiza farmaiye:

Woh khwaabon ke jahaan mere nahi they
Zameen-o-aasmaan mere nahi they

Woh meri anjuman meri nahi thi
Woh mere aashiyaan mere nahi they

Main unke saath chalta ja raha tha
Magar woh kaarwaan mere nahi they

Main unke paas jaane kaise pahooncha
Woh kadamon ke nishaan mere nahi they

Woh mere hum-nafas they hum-zubaan they
Magar woh hum-nawaan mere nahi they

Jo mere gaal se tumne they ponchhey
Woh ashkon ke nishaan mere nahi they

Woh khwaabon ke jahaan mere nahi they
Zameen-o-aasmaan mere nahi they

Anjuman = Mehfil/Consortium
Aashiyaan = Home/Nest
Kaarwaan = Caravan
Hum-nafas = Companion, Of the same breath
Hum-nawaan = One raising the same voice
Ashkon - Of tears
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Woh Afsaana...

Sunday, August 09, 2009
Sahir Ludhiyanvi wrote this couplet in one of his best nazms for movie Gumrah:
Ta'arruf rog ho jaye toh usko bhoolna behtar,
Ta'aluk bojh ban jaye toh usko todna achha.

Woh afsaana jise anjaam tak lana na ho mumkin,
Usey ek khoobsoorat mod de kar chhodna achha.
Ta'arruf - Acquaintance
Ta'aluk - Relationship

Listen to this timeless master piece here.

Some relationships don't pass the test of the time. We feel the need to end these rotten relationships and move on. When that moment comes, how easy it is to take that decision. And how difficult to be firm on the decision. Chalo ek baar phir se ajnabi ban jayein hum dono. It is not as simple as that. As the relationships that cause so much pain are the relationships that are very near and dear to us.

Can we turn our rotten relationships into new relationships with no baggage as the poet proposes! Can we really end something really painful on a positive note! Sometimes yes. I always like to end relationships with a smile on my face. But at other times it is just not possible. It also depends on the other person and on the circumstances. But we should always try. My gray hair tell me that the emotional baggage of ending something with pain and anger keeps tormenting us for a long time. My litmus test for such relationship is this beautiful sher by Nida Fazli:
Dushmani jam ke karo, lekin yeh gunjaaish rahe,
Ki jab kabhi dost ban jayein, toh sharminda na hon.
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Day 5 - The End of the Innocence

Sunday, August 09, 2009
Good, bad, bright, dull, interesting, boring, are all relative terms. None of these could be defined in isolation. However, most of us don't realise this fact when we use these adjectives. I think it makes our job easy. Our daily exercise of passing judgments, scrutinizing people, criticizing others actions, feeling superior and declaring ourselves unique becomes much easier. The exercise of self-glorification is very important for our positive self confidence. It is a reason for our existence, defining our identity; although flawed most of the times.

Another interesting thing about relativity of adjectives is that the scale against which we compare keeps changing. More often faster than we think or estimate. Although, we might not always do the comparisons explicitly, but at the back of our minds we unknowingly measure things against a scale. And our mind, depending on many things, keeps updating the scale.

The culmination of first week at ThoughtWorks University's six weeks program in Banglore is the time for updating this scale. First week was surprisingly exciting. Interactive sessions, positive energy all around, perfect weather, spicy food, new friends and a new beginning. All of these defined by relative adjective terms. All of this is beginning to change. Remember, change is inevitable! For good or bad, it is going to change. No one can stop it and its never coming back. The end of the beginning, of the honeymoon period, of novelty, of novice positivity. The end of innocence! Now we know the truth, or are beginning to know the truth. At least we think, we are.

Putting things in context, we all have experienced the first week. And it has been good in terms of most things. However, now the good in the second week would be defined by a new scale. The scale that has been set in the first week. Every session has been interactive so far. Breaking in teams to do activities is no longer as exciting as it used to be. That is now expected. Interactive might become new boring. The positivity in the team has also beginning to fade somewhat. A correction was due in this regard. Optimism, followed by pessimism normally gives birth to pragmatism. The end of the innocence, usually makes us mature, wiser and more responsible.

No one knows what lies beyond the horizon, but lets keep working hard. Hard enough to be ready for anything. At the same time let's not forget to enjoy this time. Future would reveal itself when it becomes the present. Sooner than later. As one of my new friend here noticed, let me finish this post with a couplet as I always do:
Sarakti jaye hai rukh se naqaab ahista ahista,
Nikalta aa raha hai aftaab ahista ahista.
                                                -- Ameer Minai
Aftaab - The sun
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Day 1 - Don't Worry Be Crappy!

Monday, August 03, 2009
I always knew ThoughtWorks as the company where Martin Fowler works. I had some idea about the cool stuff they were doing around Agile. Aaaah, those were the good old days of 2003-04. That was the time when I was exploring Agile and playing with it. But I really got to know TW closely, when I had an opportunity to engage with them as part of CETI research group during my graduate studies at Ohio State. I was impressed with the kind of work they were doing. Practically everyone that I talked to at TW was really good. When I use that word in describing technology people, I mean it. So, things worked out well and I joined ThoughtWorks after a going through a recruitment process that I would rate very high.

ThoughtWorks has presence in 8 countries now. All the fresh graduates that they hire all over the world have to attend a program called ThoughtWorks University (TWU) in Bangalore. It is 6 weeks training program for introducing TW, Agile and consulting practices to the new recruits. Although I have some work experience under my belt, techinically I am a fresh graduate. I like that tag. It relieves me of so much of baggage and expectations. And with all these young people around me, I am feeling quite young and fresh.

First day was good. There is so much of energy in the room. Even sessions like TW values and TW history were so lively and interactive. In one of the sessions, it was quite interesting to listen all these young folks talking about issues like "revolutionizing" the IT industry.

The very first thing that the trainers tried to convey today was TW's attitude in dealing with mistakes. "Play it safe" is the motto of most people working in the IT industry. I think, one of the major issues crippling the industry is this fear of failure. People don't want to try out new things because of that fear. Jaisa chal raha hai, chalne do. And companies want you to be just perfect. Make a mistake, you would be penalized. Don't make a mistake, you are in good shape. At least you didn't screw up. This attitude needs to be changed if we want to bring innovation and quality back to IT. I am glad that TW recognizes this need. The message was loud and clear. "Don't worry, be crappy!". This is the thing that I liked most today. You would make mistakes if you are trying something worthwhile. Everyone makes mistakes. It should not be a crime to fail as long as you have the ability to get up, learn your lesson, keep your chin up and move on. But the bigger challenge, for both organizations and individuals, is to balance this appetite for mistakes with performance evaluations. I am sure TW wont disappoint me in this regard even in real pressure situations.
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New End and an Old Beginning

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Life creates chapters. It forces us to move on to the next chapter once we have spent enough time on the previous one. It is up to us then to do a little exercise at the end of a chapter to see how much have we learnt. These exercises are different than the exercises that we used to do in school but a lot more important. The difference comes from the fact that there are no preset questions, you yourself are the examiner, you are the student and you are the evaluator. So questions can be as tough or simple as you like. I often do these exercises to figure out what would I be taking away and what have I lost in the last leg of my journey. And I don't believe in falsely pretending that everything that happened was good or we should forget about negative things and emphasize more on the positive lessons. To me, my failures are as important and dear to me as are my successes if not more. I like to "feel" the pain of my failures.

My last chapter was called "Grad School" and it was a wonderful learning experience. Unlike many other chapters, I chose it myself. But like many other chapters, results were mixed. Academically, I achieved well over my own expectations and targets. But even then it only left me wanting for more, especially in the last few months when I lost my motivation for various reasons. Personally, I met a lot of interesting people and my sense of the world seems much more complete now. On the positive side, I met two persons that I became very close to. On the negative side, none of these relationships could survive. One of them just fell apart towards the end and the other can't be taken forward to the next chapter. Aaaaah… such is life!

Anyways, I am moving on. Joined ThoughtWorks in Chicago today as Application Developer. Frankly, it was not my first choice but is definitely among the companies that I would love to work with. I am really looking forward to it.

If you think about it, all the beginnings are alike. You don't know what lies ahead. You have same kind of anxiety, fear and excitement every time you make a new beginning or should I call it the old beginning. Ends, on the other hand are always new. At the end of every endeavor, you will learn something new; end result is always something different. I find this idea of "New End and an Old Beginning" philosophically interesting. In the words of TS Eliot:

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from. We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

It also reminds of a beautiful song sung by legendry Noor Jahan that goes like this:

Le aayi phir kahan par kismat humein kahan se,

Yeh toh wahi jagah hai guzre the hum jaha se.

Listen to it. It is worth it.

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Monday, October 20, 2008
The actual meaning of Dua is prayer. But I tend to think of it as just a wish. Being a non-believer that's the only way I can explain this poem of mine. I haven't prayed to God for years now and neither do I have any intentions to do so in the foreseeable future. But as they say, there is a God-shaped hole in all of us and sometime or the other we try to fill this God-shaped hole with something similar to it. This was probably my time to do it. To add to the rarity of the situation I wrote it to wish someone happy birthday. I normally don't remember anniversaries let alone making sure to wish even my near and dear ones. I even don't like to celebrate my own birthday and find it a little embarrassing when people wish me or make me blow the candles or cut the cake. Anyhow, I wrote it. So this long preface is a kind of confession made to those who would find this poem very unlike-me. Also, I wanted to write a congratulatory poem but that's all I could write:

Kya dua doon tumhe main aaj yahi sochta hoon
Har dua lagta hai ki khud ko hi de raha hoon main

Gar kahoon khush raho, muskuraao, sadaa abaad raho
Muskurate ho tum, tabhi to has raha hoon main

Jo kahoon umr-e-daraaz pao tum hazaar baras
Dekh kar tumko hi toh duniya mein jee raha hoon main

Kya dua doon tumhe main aaj yahi sochta hoon
Har dua lagta hai ki khud ko hi de raha hoon main...
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If You Could Read My Mind...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008
It has been quite some time now since I last updated my blog. It isn't that I have been too busy to write or didn't find any topic worth a post. In fact there are a lots of issues that wanted to write about. A lot has been happening on the political front and in my personal life. I hate to admit this but I just couldn't get my act together. It was pure laziness in most cases. Also, somehow I am unable to complete any artistic work in last 3-4 months. Even if I leave alone my unfinished portrait, the only poem I could finish in this time was about someone very close to me. And even that person didn't like it. Hooo... So here I am, writing about a song that deeply touched my heart. It was written by Gordon Lightfoot at a time when he was going though a divorce with his first wife. I was listening to it almost daily. And guess what, I just got inspired and decided to wave a poem around the thoughts that this amazing work invoked. But now, I don't think I would be able to finish it either. But I can obviously share something that someone else was able to finish:

If you could read my mind, love,
What a tale my thoughts could tell.
Just like an old time movie,
'Bout a ghost from a wishing well.
In a castle dark or a fortress strong,
With chains upon my feet.
You know that ghost is me.
And I will never be set free
As long as I'm a ghost that you can't see.

If I could read your mind, love,
What a tale your thoughts could tell.
Just like a paperback novel,
The kind the drugstores sell.
Then you reached the part where the heartaches come,
The hero would be me.
But heroes often fail,
And you won't read that book again
Because the ending's just too hard to take!

I'd walk away like a movie star
Who gets burned in a three way script.
Enter number two:
A movie queen to play the scene
Of bringing all the good things out in me.
But for now, love, let's be real;
I never thought I could feel this way
And I've got to say that I just don't get it.
I don't know where we went wrong,
But the feeling's gone
And I just can't get it back.

If you could read my mind, love,
What a tale my thoughts could tell.
Just like an old time movie,
'Bout a ghost from a wishing well.
In a castle dark or a fortress strong.
With chains upon my feet.
But stories always end,
And if you read between the lines,
You'd know that I'm just tryin' to understand
The feelin's that you lack.
I never thought I could feel this way
And I've got to say that I just don't get it.
I don't know where we went wrong,
But the feelin's gone
And I just can't get it back!


Here is the man himself singing it live.

And a more recent adaptation.

Its amazing! Isn't it? The lines that bowled me over:

Then you reached the part where the heartaches come,
The hero would be me.
But heroes often fail,
And you won't read that book again
Because the ending's just too hard to take!

And if you read between the lines,
You'd know that I'm just tryin' to understand
The feelin's that you lack.
I never thought I could feel this way
And I've got to say that I just don't get it.
I don't know where we went wrong,
But the feelin's gone
And I just can't get it back!

I have made a fresh start now. Lets hope I am able to get it back. I would really like to keep publishing my thoughts regularly.
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Being God’s Neighbor

Tuesday, August 05, 2008
I have recently moved to a new apartment which is a bit closer to campus. The interesting thing about my new habitat is that it has three churches in 100 m radius. One of them is right in front of the apartment. So how would it be to live in the vicinity of god? I know that in India if you have a home near to a temple or dargah, life becomes hell (hell is also part of god’s kingdom). You would have that religious cacophony with C-grade lyrics and music copied from popular bollywood songs torturing you day and night. And you can’t do a damn thing about it. You can get away with anything in India except taking on anything that is remotely religious. I am not expecting that here in States. The issues are a bit different here. One of my American friends told me that the church that is right in front my apartment primarily targets homosexual people. Their services and events are designed to cater to the needs of these children of god who are not liked by most of the churches in mid-west. Although I don’t believe in god and am not in favor of organized religion, I like to visit Churches, Mosques and temples now and then. I would have to be careful with this one though. Whether in India or US, being god’s neighbor is not a joke after all.

Also, I am a bit humbled to have Him as my next door neighbor. Ghalib wrote this when he shifted his residence to the vicinity of a mosque:
Masjid kay zere saya ik ghar bana liya hai
Yeh banda-e-kameena humsaya-e-khuda hai.
And I truly share his sentiment.
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Lotus Blooms Across Vindhyas

Sunday, May 25, 2008
Bhartiya Janata Party scored a historic win on Sunday in Karnataka and is all set to form its first govt. south of Vindhyachal. This victory has made it clear that that BJP is no longer just a north Indian cow-belt party but has a pan-India appeal. BJP has been the only party that has been able to challenge congress in a real sense in the last 60 years. It is good for democracy and for people of India to have a real choice.

Karnataka has been a traditional congress bastion that stood by it even after emergency. Congress took it for granted and people of Karnataka have chosen to reject to be taken for granted any more. It is a positive mandate for Mr. Yeddyurappa and for the party that talks about development and a mandate against petty politics played by parties like JDS and Congress. My best wishes for Mr Yeddyurappa. I, like many other people hope that he would be able to provide a good administration and would put Karnataka back on the development track.

Congress once again blamed the defeat on the division of the secular vote. Come on Sonia ji! There was nothing like communal vs. secular in Karnataka. BJP in fact, did very well in Muslim majority seats like last time and simply walked over congress in reserved (SC/ST) seats. This should be an eye opener for Congress. People are sick of your secular talk. It is time to deliver something on the issues that actually concern people. It was a divided house in congress with no clear leadership. Mr. SM Krishna was forced in at the last moment and did not receive much cooperation from other conrgress leaders like Veerappa Moily, Dharam Singh, Mallikarjuna Karge and Siddharamiah. Isnt it wiered that congress blames local leaders for defeats and praise leadership of Sonia ji and mass appeal of Rahul baba for victories.

But it was not really that bad for congress as it was able to maintain its vote share and number of seats. But it was a real defeat for the Gowda’s. JDS has been routed badly even in their traditional strongholds like south Karnataka. Their lingayat vote also seems to be slipping away. The ‘great betrayal’ cost them very dearly and helped BJP in the form of sympathy vote. But it would be naive to write off Mr Gowda as he is a mass based leader and a seasoned politician.

Congress has lost yet another election and BJP seems to be on a winning spree. If it would continue till general elections in 2009 is any body's guess. It’s too early to call, but anti-incumbency coupled with issues of price-rise and internal security would haunt Congress and UPA in the coming elections. Another thing to keep in mind is that the up coming state elections are in Rajasthan, MP and Chhatisgarh, the states ruled by BJP. So it would be hard for them to maintain the winning streak as anti-incumbency is very hard to tackle in India now-a-days. “Dilli abhi door hai” as they say. And as Iqbaal puts it
Sitaaron se aage jahaan aur bhi hain
Abhi ishq ke imtihaan aur bhi hain
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Moditva - The Rise and Rise of Hindu Terrorism

Thursday, May 15, 2008
Hindutva or fanatic Hindu nationalism is not a new phenomenon in India. It was always present in some form or the other during the freedom struggle and even before that. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the primary organization that promotes this ideology, has been quite active for a long time. Lately, Hindu extremism saw rejuvenation in the late 80’s and came to the center stage of Indian political landscape in the 90’s. And from there on, we have seen it reaching new proportions.

This re-emergence of Hindtuva started primarily after the demolition of Babri mosque in Ayodhya in Dec’ 92. After subsequent events, we have seen dramatic rise of communal tension and as a result of that more and more riots. Hindu-Muslim riots have always happened in India and unfortunately the “secular” police and state have most of the times helped Hindus to kill Muslims. Also, using religion as a tool to win election has never been a taboo for any community. So what is new in Moditva?
Moditva – Hindutva practiced with the help of organized terrorism and supported by large scale manipulation of democratic process.

What happened in Gujarat in 2002 was blatant state terrorism being inflicted upon its own innocent civilians. There can be no excuse to justify it in any way. It’s much worse than Muslim terrorism as organizations such as Lashkar-e-Toiba or SIMI are banned and no longer part of the society or political process. They are criminals and terrorists by definition. But Hindu extremist organizations such as RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena, BJP are very much part of the society and are intact using society and political process to unleash terrorism. And we as civil society are watching the show helplessly. All our constitutional safe-guards have largely failed. Hindu extremism is growing and sadly getting more and more acceptability in the society.

It really frightens me to the core when I think about Muslim youth in India hearing venomous speeches by people like Praveen Togadiya and Narendra Modi. How much anger they would have felt, while watching the news about Gujarat massacre! How disillusioned they must be feeling, when India as a country failed to bring those responsible, to justice and people of Gujarat reelected the man who we all know, was the main culprit for massacring thousands of fellow Muslims.

I am amused by the amount of restrain shown by the Muslim community in India. At the same time, the thought troubles me a lot, when I think of the day when all this rage would spill over. And, it would be more unfortunate if that doesn’t happen. The legitimate grievances of an oppressed community should be expressed in some form or the other. In the end, I would like to say that India has to be an egalitarian society and a secular country not only because we want to be but because we would crease to exist if we don’t.
What an irony that the proponents of “Akhand Bharat” are working so hard to validate two-nation theory and make Jinnah’s doubts a reality!

There is no real irony here as the two-nation theory was first proposed by Sangh Parivar's ideologue Savarkar in a session of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1937 - three years before the Muslim League's Pakistan resolution in Lahore. Thanks to a friend for pointing this out.
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Confessions of an Atheist - Part I (The Big Question)

Sunday, May 04, 2008
"What is your aim in life?" asked one of my best friends while we were enjoying 'free lunch' at work.

"Umm..., I don’t have any aim..." was my frank reply.

"What do you mean you don’t have any aim? You gotta have some purpose to your life..." he shot back as if I was the only guy in the world who didn’t have any defined aim. This was one of those rare occasions, when he probably saw an opportunity to win an argument with me.

I started eating my sweet dish before finishing the meal just to get some time to think. "I take my life one stride at a time and don’t think beyond 5 years. I set new objectives when I have achieved what I earlier aimed for" was my reply.

"I am asking about your overall objective" he was relentless.

"I don’t have any overall objective and I don’t think that it is necessary" I replied as if I knew that I was right and found the discussion completely useless.

"What is _your_ overall aim?" this was my turn now and I expected to catch him on wrong foot.

But he was well prepared for the question and probably was expecting it. "I wanna go into space." he said looking at me with eyes filled with strong determination and face lit up with confidence.

We went on to argue until we finished eating and as usual didn’t reach any conclusion. As a last ditch effort to convince him that I have a valid point, I later sent him this sher written by Allama Iqbal on chat:

Har makaam se aage makaam hai tera
Hayat zauq-e-safar ke siwa kuchh aur nahi

Frankly, I myself wasn’t sure of what I was arguing for and I now realize that I had no idea of what we were talking about.

(To be continued...)
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Monday, April 28, 2008
Watched Shayam Benegal's Mammo yesterday. Although I regard all his movies very highly except may be Zubeida, this one according to me is one of his best works. Farida Jalaal as Mammo is brilliant and gives her most memorable performance. The way Shayam Benegal tells the narrative of human relations torn apart by political boundaries touches your heart and makes you wonder if national/regional identities matter at all. Kudos to Mr. Benegal for creating such a beautiful piece of art and making my Sunday evening such a treat! To add to my pleasure, movie had a beautiful Nazm sung by Jagjit Singh and written by Gulzar Sahab. It liked the lyrics (specially the last sher) so much that I just cant stop listening to it. Here is the text:

Ye faasale teri galiyon ke hamase taiy na hue
Hazaar baar ruke ham hazaar baar chale

Na jaane kaun si matti watan ki matti thi
Nazar mein dhool jigar mein liye ghubaar chale

Ye kaisi sarhadein ulajhi hui hain pairon mein
Ham apane ghar ki taraf uth ke baar baar chale

Na raasta kahin thehra na manzilen thehrin
Ye umr udati hui gard mein guzaar chale


The Nazm can be downloaded here:
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Mohammed Rafi Tu Bahut Yaad Aaya

Tuesday, April 08, 2008
My roommate today reminded me of this absolutely awesome song, sung brilliantly by one and only Mohammed Rafi. Very few singers know this art of blending feelings and emotions into their voice. Rafi was master of that art.

Watch it here if embedded video isnt working: or

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