Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Circus after the Hanging

For some time yesterday early morning after I switched on the TV, I began to wonder if Covid-19 vanished from the country overnight. There was not a word of the contagion, all that burst out on TV channels was the hanging of the four rapists in the wee hours in Tihar.
It seemed like a carnival at the gates of Tihar. Newfound trust in the judiciary as placards displayed “we trust Judiciary”. Then all kinds of bizarre slogans which I now fail to recollect. Men were jubilant, so were women. It all seemed like some medieval circus where public executions had taken place and the crowd braying for more blood. The 7 years of wait had finally come to close and the Indian judicial system that moves as fast as a tortoise has ground its way and brought to close a sordid chapter of gang rape, brutality, and murder that may pale the wildest of barbarians even the Vikings.
7 years ago on a wintry night, the unfortunate Delhi girl was stalked by six savage men and after thrashing her companion to an almost invalid state the brutes set upon her gang-raped her in the most flagitious and dreadful way only human beings can think of. That night India as a country and we as social beings failed the young girl miserably. We failed because we let six depraved societal beings physically violate her – she was mauled and torn apart. The brutality that even wild beasts would not do was heaped on her. We again failed when we most outrageously rechristened her “Nirbhaya”, or the fearless. How dare we? How dare we presume that the girl was not plowed down by mortal fear when six hellish, debauched men pounced on her and ignoring her pleas, cries, and entreaties ripped her apart like hungry savage wild dogs? How dare we call her fantastic names ostensibly to elevate her on a high pedestal of courage and bravery and thereby mollify our collective guilt? She, a frail teenager, I’m sure could do nothing to resist when six cannibals had her pinned her down and set upon her in the most gruesome fashion words fail to tell. And we try to believe she was “fearless”! It makes me sick and retch when I hear the girl being referred to as “nirbhaya”, it must put down our heads in shame. She ought to be known by her given maiden name, her memory must not live under a pseudonym the hypocrite society granted her. That is the least justice we can do for her.
One can empathise with her parents who were pleading for the execution of her daughter's rapists. Their anguish minds could not have seen beyond that and the moral, ethical side of jurisprudence. When the mother said with relief that at last, her late daughter got justice, we could hold out our feelings for her. What else can a mother feel? But it makes me wonder when the general public says that “Justice served for ‘Nirbhaya”. What justice could a dead person possibly get? One said her soul was writhing would now be at peace. Semantics and fantastic phrases apart, the soul is itself a mirage that we human beings invented to appease our longing for immortality. A satisfaction we get when we think a part of us live even after we are dead.
What justice is it that we could give the girl now she is dead that we as a society collectively failed to provide her while she was alive? What justice are we waiting to render to the teenaged Unnao girl who was brutally raped and later murdered? What justice can we now give Asifa the seven-year-old girl who was repeatedly raped for days and murdered in a temple in Kathau, Kashmir? How many more individual justice are we to ensure for rape and murder of women and little girls that happen every day in this country? It is offensive that we even think of finding satisfaction and expect to clear our conscience by invoking the end word in such cases- “justice served”. My foot!
We saw tribal instincts come alive in front of Tihar yesterday morning and the kill TV channels found in the news of the hanging of the quartet, baring a few channels like the Asianet News and NDTV who simultaneously dealt with the very foundation of the premises on which capital punishment continues to be on the statute in countries like India that we call civilised. The benchmark for “rarest of rare case”, is a flawed premise. A protest against capital punishment will in today’s India be as seditious and anti-national as criticising Hindutva. The old and humane avatar of Kiran Bedi the fiery cop, when she took charge as the first female Inspector General of the prison, carried prison reforms that were in tune with a society that claimed to be civilised. She was upbraided for trying to reform the incorrigible and calling for human rights in prisons. It is an old primitive tribal notion that believes prisoners do not have their rights as human beings. One can even ask the hackneyed cliché well if something that happened to the Delhi girl fell upon your kin you might then think differently.
There is a sine qua non for calling ourselves a civilised lot. That must first ensure the patriarchal mindset and misogyny are erased from the society; children from a young age are taught to respect women; if an accused when guilty of a crime is punished as per law and that very law must either address his or her transformation in incarceration or accept the fact that retributive justice is no justice but only vendetta as offensive as the crime itself. Look at people braying for blood of the accused or the guilty. We see that in primitive tribal societies. It doesn’t take much thought to understand that the men who were vociferous in front of Tihar, yesterday would perhaps readily stalk and violate a woman, molest, grope and harass if a given situation makes them believe that they can escape being apprehended or punished. That is the duality of people. You hunt the victim and later cry for her.
A few months ago much of the country applauded when the Hyderabad police stage-managed an encounter and bumped off three rapist murderers. We, like daft, were more than eager to accept their alibi that the men tried to attack the police posse before attempting to bolt. We even were content to think that extrajudicial killings were providing speedy ‘justice’. What we forgot to understand was we are going back into primitivity. Did we have a convincing trail that diligently tested the accusation those men were guilty of the crime? Or were they decoy planted by the real rapists – murderers? Did we realize the anarchy such extrajudicial, instant retribution can cause to the fabric of the society and its law and jurisprudence? Not a word thereafter, we moved on – in fact we have moved backward.
Now, when we stand up and be passionate about what we call retributive justice for the Delhi girl and thinking she finally got justice, we are lying unto ourselves and let me put it, mocking her soul if you may. There is no proof that retributive justice or capital punishment, and in primitive semantics an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth holds good as a deterrent. Only in uncivilised barbaric societies that still fall for that, quoting antediluvian practices and bizarre books can think of chopping one's hand for theft, stoning for adultery and decapitation for murder. When the world over societies has done away with capital punishment, I do not see why that medieval retributive punishment should not be removed from the statute of a country like India which claims to be civilised. Lifelong incarceration with or without a chance of parole is what would torment the criminal either leading to his or her reform or pathological decay.

To quote Henry Ford, “Capital punishment is as fundamentally wrong as a cure for crime as charity is wrong as a cure for poverty”.

Friday, November 8, 2019

The Little Whore House

The little whore house stood next to a well-known and respected family home on Ambujavilasom road in the heart or Thiruvanathapuram. About 5 minutes by foot from the main thoroughfare and the State Secretariat. It was an unassuming place with tiled roof and a lone door opening right on to the street. Much of the drama and little melee we used to witness as we passed by each morning and evening was all that we were privy too. Nothing beyond that!

It was about 200 meters or so from where I lived and, I and my friend used to walk past the little whore house each morning to school and on our way back in the evening. I was in the 5th standard when I was told about this strange, and to me then, a fascinating place in our neighbourhood. It was my friend two years senior to me who introduced me to the intrigues of the place. Being about 8 or 9 years and fresh from the protected environment of a convent education, many things were inexplicable though curious and amusing. Amusing especially when on our way to school or back we witnessed the police raid at the whorehouse. A ramshackle police van parked by the door of the whorehouse and potbellied fearsome-looking policemen and a few scrawny ones with only handle mustache to evoke trepidation bundle few women inmates and their plebeian clientele into the police van. Looking back, the policemen would now evoke clownish feel, attired in their odd short trousers with ample ventilation around their hairy thighs for fresh air to blow up their groins. I recall the day after when we passed by, the old woman who ran the place (a hag perhaps in her early 70s) , always with sandalwood paste and a few shreds of flowers on her grey hair sitting at the door forlorn and sad, having lost her clientele, women and business to the police outrage.

She lived there with her daughter (a single woman) and her teenage son. I did not notice any disenchantment in the daughter nor her son who apparently let the old woman run her cottage industry.

There were occasional arguments at the door between petulant patrons and the inmates. I saw one day one man forced out of the place by a few women inmates. He was very agitated, quite inebriated too and was shouting expletives. An unhappy and a dissatisfied customer, perhaps! “Caveat emptor”, I now would suggest to him.

Looking back there was no clear discomfort, annoyance and moralistic angst from the people who lived around. An impossibility in today’s phoney, voyeuristic Mallu society. The place seemed to have survived all by itself and ignored by the elite folks who lived in the neighbourhood. Whether the clan men in the region frequented the whorehouse talking refuge in shadows of the night, I can only guess with some amusement nevertheless!

The story ended one day abruptly with the death of the old woman. It abounded rumour that someone poisoned her, but no one could tell. However, the passing of the old woman ended perhaps the saga of “the little whore house”. The daughter and son vanished soon after and now a multistoried office building stands on the 5 cents of land where perhaps much of Vatsyana’s exhortations were religiously indulged in, but all at a value. 

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Shooting Star

I haven’t met her, have not spoken to her and communications were only through text messaging. She was reticent, perhaps timid and unassuming and I felt she preferred to stay away from being noticed. She spent her moments away from the tawdriness and melee of contemporary life, not even in the periphery of it. Even if one were a trained  danseuse (in Mohiniyattom), she humbled her ability even after being conditioned in the art form since she was 6 and after having done quite a few performances in temples and other venues. Her gregarious peers seem to have had not much effect on her decision to be different. In the age of social media and wannabes are everywhere jostling, elbowing for space and visibility a pretty eyed maiden  whatever was the reason , she chose to be confined and less conspicuous , if I may say so?

In fact she was literally faceless on social media, but yet she had her own little space; you scour through her pages you may not see a picture of hers, but if you have the clever knack of sieving through, you may chance to pick her from the many faces in the few photographs of groups that you would see on her social media pages. But yet again, that can only be a conjecture. However I was certain. The vivacious, spellbinding pretty eyes and the élan of a danseuse was obvious in one among others in the few pictures she posted. The pulchritude of the eyes was arresting. Yet, until you can be sure guesses how so ever definite may stay just as they are - guesses.

When asked why she chose to be so, she said she loved it so. Was she a troglodyte of sorts? Oh no, definitely not. She must have been 23-24. Her eyes captivatingly beckon you from her pages. But what also was conspicuous was her outlook towards life and life around her. 23 or 24 may not necessarily be an age when one thinks deep about life and living, about wanting to give meaning to one’s life which in fact has no real sense – “we are just born without purpose, but we can provide one. Can’t we?” She once suggested in a chat. Now, that was some time ago and today there is no shred of line that can tell you about her whereabouts, she simply melted away. Perhaps she consciously left no foot prints.

Yet, what she said in the last communication we exchanged haunts, gives one an eerie discomfort, though she may have gone away as shooting stars do. She fancied them and their wanderlust.
She communicated with me the first time after reading my blog post which I reposted on my social media page. “My Gods of Small Things”, was the title of the post taking the cue from Arundati Roy’s novel of the almost similar name “God of Small Things”. The matter was entirely different in its content and I was seized with the few images of people from my life, who have all now passed, but the little things they did has been more than Godly.

I understood in course of our quite some discussion which touched on religion, love, morality, humanity, apparent frivolity of life, doing nothing, and even film songs of the old from Malayalam and Hindi, that she was a keen listener, reader and at the same time possessed a keen sense of reasoning in on almost anything we discussed about.   But why was she being trained as a Chartered Accountant? Most of them in that profession are insipid aren’t they? The answer was simple, her father willed so.

It was her mother who cultivated in her the love for Mohiniyattam, she being a dancer in her own right. But had to compromise her passion in face of her spouse’s imperiousness, but not without the rider that her daughter will not be restrained. Occasionally she used to mention about her little sister who was about 10 years her junior and often hung around with her with the faithfulness of a satellite.
“Sir, (she always addressed me so), what do you make of this clichéd phrase of ‘settling down’?  Why must settling down be confirming to what society and someone else, even be it what the family decides for you? Perhaps you can tell?”

“Yes, why can’t settling down be what you think would lend meaning to the frivolity of life?”
”Yes exactly what I meant. You see this is why I believe being sexy is not of a masculine body, an arrogant swagger, Ret Butler whiskers, broad jaw or high cheek bones.”(She followed up with smiley in her text messages). “It is how one thinks… it is the mind and it shows in one’s face. You cannot fake with sassiness and swagger. Men are terribly wrong, mistaken. Don’t you think so?”
“Haa, well, well. Indeed!”

” Thanks for agreeing, now think of that girl , you once spoke about, the one who cast away a wonderful  job in the far east , heaved a back pack and took to travel the world. How old was she when she did that, my age?”


“Here Sir, I quote, I read from her book her own words, ‘4 years ago, I gave up my home, sold most of my possessions and embraced a nomadic life. This journey has taken me as far within as with my feet.’ ” I could see the text pause on the screen, then, “I hate him, the bastard!”

“What?” I asked not knowing what she meant. I myself had suggested the book to her and I knew those few words were not from the passage she read from the book. Certainly those words were not related to the texting she was doing quoting the young author of that book she loved reading over and over. If they were spoken words I could shrug off thinking I heard them wrong. But these were words she typed out and sent in text message.

She continued and not giving importance to my question. “…. how travelling changed my perspective on getting married, not wanting kids. ‘Sir, I felt sick after that.’  I finally decided to write this post for fellow dreamers, adventurers and rebels, who feel stifled by a lack of choice too.”

“What?” I asked again. There was a pause, a little long one from her and when I asked again, what she meant in between by something unrelated, she narrated.

“I wanted this out of me. It is he.”
“What? And Who?”

“My father.”

“Yes what about him?”

“He hugged and kissed me today.”

“Well what about a father kissing his daughter hugging her. I do. Haven’t he kissed you, hugged you before?”

“No, no, it is not that. Yes he has sometimes. But this was not of those kind. It was different. I felt it when he touched me. It was nauseating and terrifying.”

“Oh, what are you trying to say….?”

“Yes exactly that, but I feel like retching and am scared now. He kissed me biting my cheeks, almost my lips and I could feel it… that thing of his pressing on to my body, and through the lungie he was wearing… it was deliberate. It was all in matter of seconds.”

I was wordless and then asked her, “Are you sure?”

Please, understand me Sir, I’m no child. This had never happened before, but I could feel it, see it in his eyes that moment. I was numb that I could not shrug away from him. These days I sometimes felt strange when he was around, a kind of discomfort….but now…!”

“Did you tell your mother?

No, I can’t. That will make matters worse. You see they are not hitting off well and anything I say might jeopardise my sister too.”

“Is he your step father?”
“No, no.”

Okay, what do you want me to do?

“Nothing, I just wanted this heaved off my chest.”

“Now anything untoward any sign of it, let others outside know. Call me, if you may.”

“Hmm, yes. Instead of wondering when one’s next vacation is, maybe one should set up a life you don't need to escape from.”

Was that a quote? I do not know. But that was what she texted the last before the line went dead. Months have passed and she just vanished without a trace. Perhaps her foot prints can be traced in the sands of time - in the deserts, the mountains, the wild basins of South American rivers and the forests she dreamt of. She may have gathered the courage to run away so that she has not to escape from places and people. Pray she did not relent and be captive.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Narendra Modi & Alladin's Magic Lantern

One Sanghi bloke is flaunting what he claims is an excerpt from Modi's scripted interview with another less accomplished actor Akshay Kumar. He asserts Modi's reply flabbergasted and lined up all in awe.

My bloke claims that the lesser of the two actors, the interviewer Akshaykumar asked the thespian, Modi what he would do if he were to get the Alladin’s famed magic lamp.

We are told Modi replied, that if he were to get hold of the lamp, he'd ask academicians in the country to not take note of the fable or to narrate it to kids. For it promotes a culture of lotus eating and lassitude. Besides these stories are alien and not fit for India’s ethos. Then he is said to have went on to critique Indian education that belittles the country’s past and inculcate in children foreign values. Does the thespian know that 1001 nights is a compilation of Middle Eastern fables?

Well, even with a cursory reading of the matter one can only laugh at this man’s   outlandish and damaged mind, even though it seemed to be in all probability, a scripted answer. We saw what happens when his answer or speech is not scripted. He would fantasise about out of proportion elephant head fixed to a human kid’s torso, and call it plastic surgery!”😁😂

But what is startling here is Mister Modi seems to have had no idea of Arabian Nights and the thousand fables from it that enlivened many of our childhood. Can someone tell how many of our contemporaries became lotus eaters and walk about in dreamy indolence, waiting for lady luck to shine? He has no idea that we had the good part of our formative education through fables, both from Indian myths, legends of yore and from foreign lands. That shaped us, fortunately unlike this man Modi .  We imbibed values from Aladdin’s fortunes and wary of the evil uncle who tried to finesse him, from Sindbad the sailor which gave us ideas about alien lands, people and culture told through his voyages, from Alibaba’s and  40  thieves, the canny and clever “ Fisherman and the Jinni”, “Tale of the Vizier and the Sage Duban”, “The Fox and the Crow” ….! Well it is endless what 1001 Arabian nights gave. Does this man know that many stories had Indian and Persian flair too?
Now going farther westward, less said about Little Red Riding Hood, Jack & the Bean Stalk, Cinderella or the Piper of Hamelin all of which certainly according to Narendra Modi are corrosive to little minds in India!

If one were to agree to Modi’s convoluted (to mean devious) thinking we could not have tasted the flavours of Anton Chekov and who could forget the “Bet”? Leo Tolstoy’s, “God see’s the Truth but Waits”, for that I’m sure would be a prescient on Modi and his era! Mister Modi , you may not have heard of O.Henry’s , “The Trembling Leaf” and it is American- more alien conveniently! He may not have even heard a word of “Aythihiya Mala” from this Somalian land Kerala, (which in itself is an oeuvre that can be seen as Kerala’s Arabian fables). Besides he may not even appreciate those tales for they are alien to him and are uniquely Kerala. There lies the contradiction and the bizarre understanding he has about culture, fables inspired by civilisations and literature however quotidian they may be.

Does he know that Somerset Maugham’s “Appointment in Samara”, was inspired by Katho Upanishad stories and also the old Mesopotamian fable?

What sets apart a Sanghi and ordinary mortals like many of us are our exposure to such amazing and inspiring tales from a kaleidoscope of cultures? It is that what enables us to imbibe ideas and values that enriches our life. It’s a pity we have a prime minister who negates inclusion, values that behold moral courage, ethics and goodness be it from any part of this planet.  
Well, I guess, perhaps Narendra Modi seldom had time to read or even listen to such fables, for most of his childhood was spent meditating in deep jungles and on the freezing snowy peaks of Himalayas. Some sacrifice that he bore and now we bear that brunt! Poor us!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

tête-à-tête - but we were 4

Yesterday after dusk, I had three visitors! One of the gentlemen was the local ward representative and two other respectable looking men, I have not seen before. One was introduced as some scientist or somebody with that label. Since they told me before the intro that they were the BJPs representatives and had come to solicit my views and vote, I did not give much credence to the science tag. I recalled, didn't we see Indian scientists sit like jackasses when the big moron went on to narrate about plastic surgery in ancient India and fixing of an elephant head on a human torso?

Well, incidentally I had a couple of sundowners, was relaxed and in no mood to talk politics especially with strangers. But I feared provocation might melt my resolve. It did and that though after I repeatedly told them there was nothing to discuss and I respected them asking my vote. However they were persistent and then I told them politely that I have no political leanings but a vote for BJP is impossible. They would not let go and said they’d be keen to know why. I told them their ideology was antithesis to what I cherish. Besides bigotry, divisiveness, hate and falsehood will seldom build a country.
I was keen to not be insensitive and was restrained, though the Old Monk was playing a little truant within.

“Oh look at the things like STARTUP INDIA, GST etc and how things are changing!”
I reminded them Startup India was still born and as for GST that was not the BJP idea, in fact they finessed the MMS government when it wanted to roll out. Later with 5 or 6 slabs of tax, the haste and the havoc, utter chaos its botched implementation created, well that can be the credited to Modi!

“But it takes time to change the system!”

“What system are you going to change or put in place? In fact the BJP is up to destroying systems. Do you have any credible statistics on GDP, jobs, agriculture output, farmer suicide etc? No! Everything is concocted. Is it not?”

“No look at Nirav Modi and other folks who made money with Congress help.”

“I do not know if they made money with someone in cahoots. But they all bolted while Modi government looked the other way. What did the Government do on Raghuram Rajan’s report on NPAS and defaulters?”

“Oh see we are trying to save Hinduism & Sabarimal!.The census says Hindus are coming down in numbers.”

“What is there to save? As for Hinduism it has survived for more than 3000 years and if the termites from within let it untouched it will survive another millennium and more. Also, and the census report tells a different story, in fact Muslim population is coming down and you folks are creating fear psychosis. What is it about Sabarimal ? The BJP just wanted to make an Ayodhya out of Sabarimala.”

“No, we are for the sanctity and holiness of the place.”

“Well that was eroded and destroyed by the Sangh. What were you folks doing for 5 months in the name of a shrine? You have a nitwit, wild ass as the State party President. What chaos did he create, didn’t we all see? Then his pliable lose tongue wagged incessantly uttering idiocy. You guys even made a martyr out of an alcoholic who doused himself with kerosene and lit himself up. It reminded me of an old Malayalam movie where political parties vie to usurp a cadaver. How can we forget the infamy of abusing women in the name of Sabarimala. Didn’t we see a Sanghi fellow poised to smash coconut on a woman’s head?”

“Oh well that was a Marxist man.” came a feeble rejoinder.
“You see there is a sinister plot going on between Christian evangelists and people like Amartya Sen.” I scoffed at that. Could not help and even fresh from bed in the morning I’d have reacted the same.

“Gentlemen tell me one important thing that your BJP have highlighted in the past 6 months. Nothing but Sabarimala! Did you not know the farmer suicide in Wayand? The havoc created by the flood and the rebuilding of the State? Did you not know the alleged lapses in providing assistance post flood? Did you not know the environmental degradation? Did you mention one existential issue the State face? Sabarimala will bring no one a square-meal a day. There are issues that beg for serious introspection and action. You guys just saw a wonderful axe to grind in Sabarimala like Ayodhya you want it to fester.”

“No the State government was against devotees.”

“The State government was against trouble makers and Sanghis creating bedlam. The police was unusually restrained. How could you blame the State for heeding the constitutional court’s ruling? Why could not the BJP bring in legislation if that could have solved the issue? Besides who supported the SC ruling? The Sangh and the BJP , then when you smelt opportunity you somersaulted. Weren’t the petitioners favouring women entering the shrine BJP and Sangh functionaries? Come on gentlemen you folks may get votes in the name of Sabarimal , but not mine nor one from my family and each of us have our strong opinion and outlook towards the life we cherish.”

In afterthought, I told them I did not wish to have this discussion at all and hope to have no rancour.. To which they condescended, it was their privilege and wish to discuss.

“If you vote for our candidate, you will not regret; he is a good candidate you will realize when he is the MP”.

I smiled! Taking the cue one gentleman said, “But also one must look at the moral side of the candidate too”.

“Who are we to comment or asperse on another man’s morality? Well what is your morality? You soliciting votes from me, do you know my morality?” I forgot to ask them what morality and ethics recommends kicking out your wife and let her languish?

They must have felt enough was enough, they stood up to leave and I politely saw them off at the gate.

By then my daughter sneakily photographed us chatting and sent out whatsap messages that I may be kidnapped!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

I was introduced to The Hindu when I was about 8. Old man was insistent that I read the editorial of the daily, regardless of what I understood. Such was his despotism! But of all that he had in plenty this particular fad I developed was of help to me in due course of time. I must admit those days the reading or scouring the daily began from the ‘sports page’. As time passed , I could agree with my old fella that indeed the Hindu Editorial was an uniquely well written piece for its language ( content as well) and like  the ubiquitous voice of Melville de Mellow the Indian broadcaster  whose English news in the AIR was more English than the English could ever read English.

“Melville de Mellow's affecting commentary that day in 1948 ( nonstop for 7 hours ),articulating the nation's grief and homage as the cortege of Mahatma Gandhi  moved towards Raj Ghat, is remembered as one of the best instances of radio broadcasting in India and world over. His élan of the language, articulation and above all sensibility to the situation is something the shrieking wild reporters we saw on India TV news channels over the past week lack and miserably so. For these bunch of screeching primates, a tragedy, a poignant moment a solemn occasion is seldom a plank that decides how the reportage must be. How dreadfully insensitive and vexing, they can be over a dead mutilated corpse!

As for the media and in question The Hindu (which continued to be among the few sober print daily), the events following the Pulwama – Modi’s  electoral adventure into Pakistan using the IAF was so miserably reported that not one International news agency deemed it even conditionally  quotable. To proclaim that 300 terrorist or JEM militants holed up in training camps in Balakot (POK) were killed in the IAF air raid, while in fact, not one dead donkey was retrieved from the area IAF pounded, tells how pathetic Indian media have become and how equally and shamelessly competent they are in toeing the flagitious falsehood and malarkey the Government want them to carry.

Surely N.Ram you do owe an explanation, not because you are what you are, but because The Hindu is an icon to many, an Institution, a symbol and an example of conscientious journalism.  
The trumped up jingoistic fever since yesterday morning on various Indian new channels was pure rodomontade and creating revulsion.  Now those folks may vie and put Wing Commander Abhinandan under the ‘hammer’ ,quote and under cut each other to accomplish an exclusive of the pilot. This isn’t journalism, it is like voyeurism. When you give undue credence to a snooty snollygoster, revoltingly grand standing Prime minister who thrives on falsehood, misrepresentation and cunning you have rivaled Faust to be Faustians.

Wing commander Abhinandan deserves bouquets for his resolute conduct in alien captivity. His return is a grand relief for every Indian. Certainly we have many such Abhinandans in our Military. But do remember, so do Pakistan! Our enemy is another country’s hero and vice versa, valour has no confined boundaries. Human beings my friends - all in flesh and blood, pain and contentment there is nothing that jingoism, nationalism and unethical journalism can scoop out as grandiloquent specially about Indians or for that matter a Pakistani.

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Urban Naxal called Vivek Agnihotri

Vivek Agnihotri has a few credits to his name. Foremost he is a staunch defender of Hindutva and a conscience keeper for the BJP. He spares no critic of the ruling saffron party. Secondly he is the copy right holder for the term ‘urban naxal’!

Here in his Article “Why the SC verdict on Sabarimala is flawed”, he mocks at the majority judgment (4 to 1) of the Constitution bench of the Supreme Court in the Sabarimala women’s right to entry case. While conceding his right to opinion, one cannot help not terming his stand idiotic, myopic, misogynic and lacking in commonsense, let alone wisdom. Noodle-headed and those who cannot see beyond saffron hue jump on to his bandwagon and endorsed his article on social media.

He begins by saying that Sabarimala has nothing to do with gender equality and it is about tradition and rituals. He tells us at the beginning itself, he cannot see beyond his damn nose. He has no idea about the changes that came across in both traditions and rituals in Sabarimala. Did he know that the flag mast at the temple is a recent installation; the ‘Chithira attam’ ritual opening, a very recent innovation; coconuts used to be thrown on the footsteps (18 steps) by devotees while they climbed the holy stairway until some years ago, convenience and matters of necessity put stop to that practice; the ritual of rolling around, (prostrate) the main shrine- a vow of penance by devotees has been done away with; the holy furnace at the footsteps of the temple into which coconuts filled with ghee was poured and kept live through the pilgrimage season is now out; the ‘padipooja’  is a recent addition; devotees used to go by foot all the way from their homes, bare foot and with meager provisions but now journey is by air-conditioned luxury coach and cars; the customary 41 days of penance is a selective matter now? Very soon a cable car would be added purportedly to aid and facilitate pilgrims! What has become of the traditional rights of the hill-tribes who conducted their rituals at the temple? Brahmanism which Agnihotri zealously absolves of all wrong doings evicted the tribesmen and usurped the temple. This will soon be another interesting saga of litigation in the Supreme Court. The fraud called ‘Makar Jyoythi’ , or the holy beacon during Makarsankranthi that used to flare up in the forest yonder , which the temple authorities sold the gullible pilgrims  as  celestial beacon from the heavens  has now been acknowledged as man-made. Worst Agnihotri may not be aware that the presiding deity has been rechristened as ‘Ayyappa’ from the earlier avatar called “Dharma Shastha” (ostensibly a Buddhist name).

Vivek Agnihotri, you must check how traditions and rituals evolve, how one custom is superseded by newer rituals and customs. Wonder if any Sanghi has elementary knowledge of those facts. Then his amusing but dangerous take that as long as traditions and rituals do not hurt others they must continue. Well mister it does hurt, it does hurt women because many silently bear the brunt of patriarchal overbearingness which morons throw on them in the name of traditions and customs – whether they are family members, colleagues or subordinates. The ban Hindutva is trying to enforce on fecund, menstrual age women going to that shrine is nothing but a branding iron used to defile womanhood, mark her as servile to men. You may now say, “Oh women who go there are hussies flocking to the shrine to honey-trap the celibate God”! What a cruel joke Vivek Agnihotri!  Your spouse and kids, they must hang their head in shame!

You simply have no idea about the past, the history of Sabarimal when you use the borrowed word “Naisthika  Bramachari” and invoke a fable.  Can you quote one Thantric tome that can tell the so called celibate nature of Ayappa or the deity there? This was also looked into threadbare by the Supreme Court. I’m curious who told you that puberty arrives and menstrual age ends with clockwork precision at 10 years of age and then at 5o? Mister are you aware that women were going to that shrine until the Kerala High Court took cognizance of a writ and banned them from the shrine in 1991? Are you aware that women of all ages were going to Sabarimal until recently, a fact as vivid as day light? Are you aware that since 2006 the Supreme Court had sieved through every shred of evidence put forth by all the parties concerned? Which should also remind you that the God there has not been celibate, now for very long! For goodness don’t be unjust to the God of Sabarimala and insist he be consigned to eternal celibacy when many of you - the offended  faithful l(sic)  indulge and revel in epicurean life, orgy and fornication. Oh come on! We all know what kind of vow are borne by these men who go there. Not even 1 percent abides by the dictates of custom and tradition.

You claim our Justice System and Constitution is based on Western binary system. Goodness what the heck is that? The binary? Mister Agnihotri, one doesn’t have to be erudite, an academician or a scholar to know some basic facts. The worst self-infliction - the label of a buffoon is asserting something of which your knowledge is thin, nil or incorrect. Indian Constitution and Jurisprudence do have influence of the English, the French, the Roman and the US Constitution and laws. Above all our Constitution was not framed overnight, copy pasting from the West, but also imbibing various objective lessons of life down the centuries and the unique ideas thrown up by various reform movements.
Article 14 which dwells on the Right to Equality was influenced by the ideals thrown up by the French Revolution – ‘Liberty’! Liberty, was freedom from oppression; equality also underpinned the French Revolution, not to forget fraternity. Article 14 of the Indian Constitution which you trivalised as the copycat of the Western binary, states, “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within The Territory of India.” Article 15 (1) & (2) prohibits the State from discriminating any citizen on ground of any religion, race, Caste, sex, or place of birth or any of them. Now you and the saffron brigade would invoke Article 25 which guarantees religious rights and  freedom, but what you men do not realise is, if the rights  mentioned in the Article 25 violates the ones in Article 14 and 15, the later would prevail. This is the corner stone of Indian democracy and this tome   you rubbish as Western and unfit for the complexity that is India, is what dictates all men are born equal and the right to equality is paramount and inviolable. In fact the power that you derive to criticise and speak your mind is derived from this basic structure of the constitution.  Hence your stand is asinine, idiotic and nonsensical. The Supreme Court clearly defines the spirit of Indian Constitution, that when the beliefs of a group, of a collective threatens the right of an individual the right of an individual will and must prevail. The purloining notion folks like you proclaim, in this era of neo-liberalism, “collective common good” is dumped in the ocean here.

You seem to allude and I guess it is more a form of subtle and intelligent innuendo that the Supreme Court is insisting on women going there. You even asperse that the bench was dominated by men in a matter concerning women. Well what you ignore is the matter is more than women rights it concerns male hegemony and patriarchal hideousness. To put matters in the right perspective four of the five women petitioners went to the SC and filed the petition to allow women of all ages to enter Sabarimala were all with the RSS affiliation. It is no secret that the RSS was foremost in supporting women entering the shrine and said unfair traditions should be jettisoned. Why the volte face now is quite a simple matter known even to a child. The Supreme Court verdict clearly states that it is violation of Article 14 to prohibit women from the shrine and ruled that those who wish to go to the shrine must be free to go. You emphasise much ado on “devotion” and “devotees”. Pray do you have a yard stick to determine devotion and who is a devotee? 

You say triple talaq is a bad custom but calling women impure because of their physiological characteristics is not, amusing man! In the same tone one can also ask why dalits must be allowed into Hindu temples. Banning them is harmless. Untouchability is harmless, because if you have such marginalised people all menial works in the society can be entrusted to them! How would you differentiate between a harmless custom and the ones that hurt and offend? The Bombay High Court verdict on women entering Shani temple Sighnapur did not offend your tradition and customs?

Laws reflect the spirit of times. The Courts may have in their wisdom held a different view 70 years ago. The anachronistic colonial - Victorian puritanical hangover law, Article 377 which criminalised homosexuality and which the Supreme Court refused to strike down a few years ago stands shred away and thrown out today. Consenting adults having physical relationship is no more adultery. LGBT citizens are not anymore seen as pariahs, they get to lead a dignified life like any of us. Well your traditionalists must be peeved.
Your acumen makes one roll about laughing incessantly. You say that the Courts should only pronounce verdicts that are ‘implementable’! Well why then should we have Courts?  Each one to himself and let us revel in anarchy, the powerful wins over the meek and the marginalised. Worst still is your comment on the Court verdict deciding the 500 meter distance of liquor vending shops from State and National highways. Do you know that , the Court could have refused to make suitable amendments to the verdict on alcohol vending shops, because right to consume alcohol is not a fundamental right but as the merit dictated when a verdict has to be reviewed it was done. As for loud speakers blaring from mosques and other religious places, is it not a collective contempt and dishonor of the Court ruling by one and all? If someone goes back with a petition contempt of Court will befall on quite a few. Well mister this disregard of a Court verdict is by no means an achievement to be proud of for a society that calls itself civilised.

 “In case of Sabarimala, I believe, the interpretation of the Supreme Court is flawed and against the grain of Hindu faith and the religious freedom as defined by Dr. Amabaedkar the founder of the Indian Constitution.” Oh goodness Mister Vivek Agnihotri, you are blundering nonsense, idiocy and ignorance at every turn. In the first place there was no founder for the Indian Constitution. Mr.Ambaedkar was the Chairman of the Constitution drafting committee and independent India’s first law minister, not the founder. There were 7 prominent members in the committee and they were not nitwits or Hindumahasbha/RSS bigots.  Now, the Courts decide matters on merit and at the touch stone of Constitutional provisions and there the fundamental rights predominate. Hence you saying that the Courts are to honour the grain of Hindu faith or for that matter any faith is outright rubbish and a vacuous statement. India is not a theocratic State!

Have you heard of the Vaikom Satygraham (1924-25) which was against the Brahmin custom that banned low caste, dalits and untouchables from thoroughfares around the Vaikom Siva temple? Have you heard about the Guruvayoor Temple Satygraham (1931-32) which was for the rights of untouchables to enter the temple? Have you heard about the “Villuvandi’ agitation spearheaded by the great social reformer Ayankali which was to assert rights of untouchables to walk the thoroughfare? Do you know that the Temple Entry proclamation by the erstwhile Travancore Maharaja offended the traditionalist Brahmins and the custodians of customs? Have you heard about the consecration of the deity of Siva at Aruvipuram , Kerala by the social reformer Sree Narayan Guru a low caste? That was grossly offensive and against all tradition and custom. Well one can lay out to you scores of such iconoclasm and rejection of age long customs & traditions. Kerala society evolved through rejections and imbibing, all societies do and longevity of customs is only as long as the spirit of time.

I think Mister Agnihotri, you need to also read a bit of Kerala history and the role reformation played in the social life. I encourage you to do that than sit in your damn ivory elitist tower and regurgitate utter nonsense and ill will.

You state, “Judiciary’s foremost duty is the protection of that faith….” Again you blare loud your ignorance and naiveté if not gross stupidity. Go back get the copy of the Indian Constitution and read it, carefully and see if you can soak up the core values enshrined in it. If it does, you too would, I promise become an ‘Urban Naxal’!