Monday, November 18, 2013

Arundati Roy, & The Corporate Hindu India


This is rubbish, outlandish innuendo and utter nonsense. I want to scream so, that people may take note. My Blog readers are only a few so this post will not reach out and only the few who read this may take note. The only way to reach this bizarre observation of Ms. Arundati Roy to the notice of many is to highlight this in Twitter and Facebook so the spiraling information gets moving afar. Also I’m further convinced that one should always be skeptical before being judgmental, be it even the commandments from the good Lord himself.

Arundati Roy, is a person whose views, analytic opinions and articulation that has impressed me. Her book, “The Shape of the Beast” and her many writings , foremost being the essays, “Walking with the Comrades”, and the well balanced piece on the Parliament attack and sentencing of Afzal Guru. Her acumen in distancing from the Anna Hazare fanfare was well justified, to me in hindsight. But she foresaw and that is one of her special ability. Her novelette though not a great creation ringed bell for me as it was moored in the times I grew up and many scenes she poetically wrote in prose brought back instances from my childhood days. I could empathize with a person who was my age and grew up in the same social times.

Now after listening to a video lecture she gave in the USA, I feel angered and revolted by her callous, ill-informed and untruthful comments on certain incidences in India’s early post independent days. Her erudition and the information that percolates to her repository have either deserted her or she chose to go into an India bashing offensive -playing to the gallery. In the bargain it may have done much harm to the country and how India is perceived in the West. (The video link is given here and I would suggest that people listen to the portion in question, which is in the very beginning of the video).Check this link-     http://youtu.be/jDqlqSIPgjU

Ms.Arundati Roy alleges that India is a Corporate Hindu State that has been perpetually at war with its own people, starting from the moment she gained independence- the Muslims in Hyderabad and Kashmir, the Christians in Goa, the natives of the North-East and recently with the Sikhs in Punjab. She claims that the Indian Army has been perpetually waging war against her own people.

This is utter nonsense and at total variance to history and facts. Yes in the central heartlands of India, now there is an ugly bourgeois war against the indigenous people – the tribes, and blessed by big businesses who want to eliminate or dispossess the tribal once and for all so that the rich and untapped natural resources can be exploited. But what has the Indian action against the Portuguese in Goa, against the belligerent Nizam in Hyderabad and against the terrorism of the renegades in Punjab got to do with corporate manipulations and Hindu agenda?

Elsewhere Ms.Roy has opined that Kashmir was never a part of India. Can she tell what is India and when did the concept of India come about? She must be aware that the political India is an idea of the nationalist movement and a post-colonial metamorphosis, a fact. Nowhere on the planet has a country been demarcated and fenced soon after creation of the planet by the Lord as believers would like to believe? Nations evolve. Social, natural, political and historical factors play much part in the evolution of a country. Is Ms. Roy endorsing the British cunning in leaving what was called India to fend for herself by drafting a very crafty instrument of partition and exit where in the six hundred odd princely states where given the choice to join the two nations or stay independent? Yes indeed the country was partitioned on communal lines and the rulers of the tiny kingdoms were free to join the Indian Union or the country formed on communal and theocratic ideology-Pakistan. Going by that yard stick there was nothing irregular in the ruler of Kashmir opting for the Indian union. If Ms.Roy argues that the Muslim majority states must go to Pakistan based on the communal partition agenda then what right did the Nizam have in staying aloof with Hyderabad – a Hindu majority State? And again no sane man or a practitioner of State craft would want a recalcitrant and belligerent little kingdom in its midst, which Hyderabad could have potently become? Is she not aware of the atrocities of Nizam –post independence and the large-scale forced conversion of Hindus to Islam?
As for Goa where she claims that India fought its own Christian population, one can only laugh at her silliness. Post World War -2 the colonial structures all over the world disintegrated. And what right did the obstinate Portuguese have to stay in Goa with their anachronistic colonial dispensation? Moreover, is Ms.Roy not aware of the nationalist movement in Goa that was in sync with the freedom movement all across the sub-continent? Her argument may even serve to smear the nationalist movements against the East India Co and the British rule in India!

The then US President John.F.Kennedy said denouncing the Indian action in Goa, “the preacher has been caught coming out of the brothel”. Their representative to the UN branded India the colonial aggressor. Ironically, Ms. Roy seems to be echoing those sentiments fifty years after.  

Yes the criminals and thugs sponsored by the Congress were unleashed in Delhi after Indira Gandhi’s killing. They wrecked the most dastardly communal frenzy upon the hapless Sikhs. But what went about in Punjab in the early 1980s and the Frankenstein that Sikh religious frenzy created (apparently aided by self-serving politicians themselves) was Kafkaesque that could have snowballed into a greater disaster. Tactically the Indian government erred when they sent the army into the Golden temple when they could have smoked the terrorists out. But that was no war against the Sikhs.

The matter of the north eastern states is far more critical when it comes to the process of nation building. With diverse regional and tribal loyalties it was a herculean task to integrate the minds than the land into the Union. Ms.Roy must be also aware of the long years that it took for the integration of the fifty states into the Union and federation of America. There was in the years since independence resistance from tribes and regional outfits in the north east which snow balled into insurgency and conflict with the Indian State and the army was deployed. There has been covert and not so secret logistical and material support to the insurgents from across the border too. The historical separation of the north east during the colonial period created problems for the national formation and integration post-independence. In the north east a sense of incompatibility grew into resentment and being made a part of the union especially when the Indian government cold shouldered local aspirations.

 Ms. Roy should understand that it is not the Hindu corporate agenda that brought about as she alleges military action in Goa, Hyderabad, Kashmir, Punjab and the North East, but matters that are diverse. The shortsighted vision of successive governments in New Delhi has contributed to the alienation of Kashmiris, but that is a different story. Pray what is wrong in Punjab now? While in North East the internecine animosities among tribes and their regional loyalties may have to be grappled with for more years while nation building.

What does Ms. Roy subscribe- a perpetually unstable cauldron of tribal, ethnic and regional loyalties at logger heads like in Afghanistan or an evolutionary process of nation building. Or is she still voicing the colonial mindset that should bring back the Portuguese to Goa, the Dutch to the Coromandel, the Danes to Tranquebar, the British East India Co  back to Calcutta and we still will have to find some space for the Spaniards.


Erudition, knowledge and the courage to articulate it earnestly and candidly is indeed a splendid gift. But using those special qualities to spread innuendo, corner pats in the back, some acclaim and applause in elitist arenas is tawdry.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Vox Populi

He was a man who was born (as some may say) with a little more than normal craving for alcohol. His brother, who was a year younger to him (but they grew up like twins) would in later life recall how one day while they were in the early teen, were sent by their father to supervise the felling and collection of coconuts in the  grove  the family owned. Seeing the master’s young boys the adiyanmar (workers) took extra care in gratification. They served them pure toddy that was tapped at dawn. To the amazement of all the “little big brother” gulped a few pots of the highly stimulating drink and moved about unassuming.. This was astonishing for all because even veteran and seasoned drinkers seldom accomplish that feat in even time and move about without being tiddley.

Later in life, some of the folks who knew him would exclaim that his story was one that of a man who was driven into alcoholism by an impossibly termagant spouse and a marriage that rocked sans peace and quiet. Others would argue that his was the case of excuses to do something he could never resist and his body chemistry was such. Yet some others who knew him and his wife would sigh that she could make a wreck out of a passive and sober man.

Having known him, it will be nigh impossible for one to disagree with the last opinion.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mother Tongue Monolgues


The pity part of us, Indians by far is the unwillingness to acknowledge that mother tongue is not inferior to a foreign language, English (sic).I see this queer disposition more in Mallus. The shameful matter is the vain belief that knowing and or flaunting even a limited skill in English where mother tongue would adequately suffice conveys a superior status.

Writing these feelings in English may be construed as one such vain vanity. But honestly it is not so. I acknowledge my education in the English language medium may have helped in acquiring a comparatively better skill in the language and consequently the comfort zone when using the language. However, how could I explain away the less proficiency in Malayalam, my mother tongue? The fact is I must confess and I regret is the matter and it peeves me to infinite extend.

When I opted for Malayalam as my supplementary language in college, it was a choice borne out of my not so great knowledge of Hindi, the language spoken by most Indians. Hindi was deftly confined to watching unfailingly the Hindi flicks of those days. It was not the love for the mother tongue perse that brought about the decision to choose Malayalam as the supplementary language. In fact I was also dissuaded by the folks at home and friends from opting for Malayalam and they warned me that it would be a handicap as the grammar is tough and marks are not easily provided by the examiners. Nevertheless I went ahead and it only makes me laugh and wonder how I could manage a first class in that language in my graduation. And there were just two first class holders in the language that year in the whole college. It even now makes me often believe that miracles do come about.

Do I deserve accolade? I would say a flat ‘NO’, because it is a crude reality that my command over written Malayalam and its grammar, the range of vocabulary in my repository is insignificant and average. I wonder if I could pen an essay in Malayalam without stumbling from spell errors. The simple reason is that I have read far less in Malayalam than I have managed in English. It is a sort of disgraceful feeling when a friend often chooses my blog posts to publish in the “Assisi” Magazine. Only because, I feel naked that I could not translate effectively what I blogged into Malayalam the language in which the publication publishes. So he selects the post and translates it with his aides.
It is a pity!

The knowledge of one’s mother tongue helps in the awareness of one’s roots, culture and tradition that are subsumed, though here mercifully I have not lagged. This vital aspect was compromised to a considerable extent in both our children. Their education outside Kerala and in a school and curriculum that gave little heed to languages (Indian) must be squarely blamed. Nevertheless as parents I wonder if I and C can absolve ourselves from the slip, however unintended it was.

Exasperating and glaring is the vanity that people show off and trivalise their mother tongue and try to be someone else that they are not and can never be. They go about their conduct as if they were born in the English country side and would prefer to sing “God save the Queen”, if only others would notice what they believe is their uniqueness. I’m not expressing any jingoistic thoughts and or outlook here. I have not seen any Europeans, (who also hail from much diversity- of language and culture like we Indians do), who be it a Dutch, French or a German, Italian or Nordic and who prefer to speak in English than their language when among people from their own country. But Indians prefer to cloak in a false vanity and flaunt English ways even when it is not necessary and even  to a fellow country man.

 Recently, I recommended a guy for a placement and I was also present at the time of the preliminary discussion with the prospective employer as the later was known to me. The fellow began to reply to the queries of the employer in his (tamilised) English while the later was careful to understand the boy’s Tamil background and was conducting the interview in Tamil. I was feeling a bit awkward as it was glaringly rude and seemed annoyingly insistent use of English. The employer did not keep his irritation in check for long and asked the fellow why he was answering in English when he was spoken to in Tamil. Why is this so? Are we equating nobility and finesse with knowledge and exhibition of our prowess in English? The colonial mindset refuses to go away. Indeed there is a lot of cultural impact upon a colonised society than when while being the usurper. But we prefer to be more English than the Brits.

There are kinder- gartens and preparatory schools where spoken language is forcibly English and kids (read parents) are penalised and fined if the wards speak in a vernacular tongue; the maid who earns livelihood doing domestic chores would want her child to call her “mummy”. I was once travelling in a taxi, incidentally the taxi driver’s little son aged about five or six was with him. The taxi man was pointedly speaking with the little fellow in English as broken and raped even by lay standards. The boy was sure to pick up the half-baked and distorted spoken language as real time English. Why? Why so? I cannot understand. I feel awkward and irked by the social usage of -grandma, brother, sister, aunty, daddy, mummy and so on. And believe me many believe these usages are help to showcase their supposed superbia and their belief that their status is enhanced and noticed. Sometimes I wonder if my thoughts are “Rip van Winkle” like!

I feel that the fascinating aspect of the English language is that it assimilates and blends unto itself languages as diverse as it can get. That brings to it richness. It is certainly a language which is a hybrid language and that does not make it less in wealth than the languages from which it liberally borrowed. Each language has its flair and uniqueness. To deride ones mother tongue is unenlightened. And to believe the mother tongue is piddling shows pathetic ignorance, vainness and is certainly naiveté.

I guess the true identity is in understanding and knowing ones roots and that, the mother tongue alone can help. Folks from Kerala would be familiar with the spectacle of Mr. Prakash Karat the Communist Party ( CPM) General Secretary  orating  on stage in English and sometimes aided by an interpreter . Ironically the gentleman cannot speak to his flock – the Malayalee proletariat in their (his) mother tongue and has to seek the help of English. His roots with the place of his birth and that of his fore fathers were severed early in his childhood.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

ZEN


Vailopalli Sreedhara Menon  the renowned poet of Kerala sang, “Bandhura kanchana kootilanengilum, bandhanam bandhanam thanne paaril”!!!  It loosely means that a life of (plenty) even if incarcerated in a gilded cage is yet a life of incarceration. I now, over the past few weeks have begun to realize that there can be exceptions to the adage the poet wrote. Because I’m in the past three weeks relishing a life though not interned by any means but grounded by my own volition; not a life indulgent and sumptuous. I joked to C that it is a refugee status. She was a shade offended, I presume.

So it will be until a while (I guess) I will be with my mother and indulging rather gauchely in gastronomic plenty. The plentifulness of taste - those dishes that leave a lingering aroma, smack and atmosphere that it stays in you even long after many moons and all have faded. I do not think that one should believe in niceties and hold back when enwrapped by food that can entice you to live another day only that so you could have more of it. Food, that is simple and unpretentious, but makes you lean sideways to guess if it was made in heaven. So I devour them and ravenously.
An unexpected twist of events!

“Gastronomic plenty” may be a phrase that may be quite misleading. Because often it is like we miss the wood for the trees. Not that I have been through famine all these days leading up to now, nor is it now vulgar indulgence in regal and princely food. It is simple and bare food made at home and which is in the menu of any ordinary people. But the gilded difference is it is being prepared by someone special, someone who has the uncanny knack of adding drops of ambrosia into each little dish prepared and that makes the food exceptional at that.

So here I’m virtually flying thrice each day to paradise after passionately eating food cooked by her. And after every meal I’m content and at peace, Zen like, that would not mind even falling dead.
And, I stay embattled in the battle of the bulge.




Sunday, September 22, 2013

Narendra Modi and I

I intend to vote this time around; perhaps it will be if I manage to do, the third or fourth time, I have ever exercised what is considered as a right of sorts. And I must by all means do my little part to stop this man – the poster boy of intolerance, xenophobia and the corporate India Inc.

There is nothing unashamed in asserting that he, Narendra Modi is not the representative of the Hindus or a Hindu way of life. On the contrary he, when hoisted on the shoulders as the saviour of Hinduism  and Indian culture bedevils the way of life and what is spectacular of Indianness (sic) and culture.
Why do I despise this man and do not want him to be the deciding on my life, be entrusted with the future of an already strained and simmering society and country?
The reasons –
1-He is certainly , though acquitted by an investigating buffoonery called SIT responsible for the carnage and systematic massacre of innocent civilians in the communal riots of 2002 in Gujarat that was then also under his dispensation.

2- He is the architect of a perverted and obnoxious philosophy that equates and showcases  Indianness (sic) as Hinduism and vice versa.

3- The philosophy of hate that he and his organization profess is akin to the perverted mindset and thought, professed about the uniqueness of Aryan race by Adolf Hitler or by the far right pro white mongers of the segregation era in the USA  and South Africa. India cannot survive as nation on the premise of hate, intolerance, pseudo secularism and falsehood. This is a rainbow culture we have and that is what will see this country as a nation and far from disintegration and communal turmoil.

4- The agenda of the socio-political group that this man represents is appalling if the uttering and the psyche of he and his cahoots in the party are taken and analysed ,it is not only mere saffronisation or equating saffron with Hinduism and even a theocratic state in the Hindu mould that they would probably want, but  total subjugation and elimination of dissent, diverse faith and culture. One will fail to trace Indian history even into the medieval times and fetch a society or a ruler who professed the philosophy of intolerance and elimination of difference.

In any case Hindu and ancient Indian philosophy and tradition as well as the then practiced state craft were not based on conversion, proselytism by the sword or lure. To allege that it was the submissiveness of Hinduism and ancient Indians that were responsible for alien culture and hordes from beyond the Hindu Kush invading the land is preposterous.It was  the evils that harbours within Hinduism that aids in conversion away from the faith. And to believe that one must or can undo the egregiousness of the past by a wrongful act in the present is anserine. Demolishing mosques, churches or synagogues and rewriting history text books with untruth, malarkey and saffron version of the past is not only ridiculous, myopic but grievously harmful to posterity and the generation that is growing.

If this is endorsed there shall be no difference between Hinduism and certain faith that originated in tribal lands of the Arabian peninsula  and continues to be horribly didactic and intolerant even now.

5- The corporate world and India Inc. as affectionately labelled has identified this man Narendra Modi as the messiah and the icon of resurgent corporate India. And in the corporate commercial cauldron that they perceive the  vast multitude of Indians who struggle at the door of subsistence even for one square meal a day is not accounted or noted .They are sixty five percent of the 1.2 billion Indians- a legion who do not matter in Narendra Modi’s scheme of things. They are mere puppies’ who can be run over and forgotten.
The vibrant and fast growing Gujarat that Modi has brought into the forefront and is widely showcased by his PR team is a Gujarat that is urbanized, express motorways criss-crossing urban centres, shopping malls, and huge industries that entrench displacing vast majority of the so called puppies, huge dams that channel water to the elite urban towns and industries, while hundreds of thousands displaced by the surging waters of the mammoth dams are jettisoned to fend for themselves.

A careful observation of some of the premier national newspapers in the print media and TV channels will tell that many have already been bought over by the Modi lobby. The development agenda of Modi is not inclusive and statistics that are on the websites run by NGOs and authentic portals will adequately tell. But then as they claim and so do the present corrupt dispensation of Manmohan Singh, it is all for “the greater common good”.

Imagine a development agenda that is lopsided, a social outlook that is hatefully communal and an Orwellian State that is premised on intolerance, where citizens are snooped upon and dissent brutally silenced. Yes, snooped upon, because a man with Modi’s philosophy cannot survive in an atmosphere of tolerance or dissent. He cannot and the saffron robe cannot build a tolerant and secular society. If Congress is secularly pro Muslim the Modi bandwagon is despicably anti-Muslim and anti-other faiths.

As for corruption the less expected the better. He may be above corruption, but we saw what the BJP ministers and legislators are capable of when it comes to thieving and corruption. As for their proclaimed intent of the revival of Hinduism and its elevation over Islam or Christianity it is malarkey and misleading. The hundreds of ancient and medieval Hindu temples that were submerged by the rising waters of the Narmada or consigned to nondescript oblivion all over the country, even in the BJP ruled States stand as ghostly harbinger and premonition.



Monday, August 26, 2013

Innuendo


She said, “I bear no malice to none. I speak forthright and from my heart as a parent who wishes well for children be it mine or another’s”.
Her voice, tone as well as content of the carefully chosen words were laced with apparent honesty and felt candid, sincere.  So it seemed and so it sounded! There was no reason to suspect something amiss and an innuendo.

“I could not bear her boldness, her audacity no more. She, I feel and am convinced has changed much and she is not the same little one I saw, I knew before. And I decided that I must seek you out to tell you that unless you pull her back she will be lost to you, forever”.

I brooded .Such message would be disturbing to anybody who has a child and who is committed to bringing up children. When an observation as disconcerting as it is in such words come from a parent- and that from a single mother who certainly may have felt the lonely agony of bringing up a child, one must take notice. It cannot be malarkey and false. Can it be?

Could it be? Could it not be? Truth and falsehood where distant mirages but I wished the woman was viciously inclined to malign. But yet why must a mother utter such vicious stories of foreboding about another child? A child who was or has been inseparable companion of her own?

Perhaps there were infringements-minor infractions at that, the impetuosity of teens? We have all been through the crisis of teen.

When what later, mercifully not very late turned out to wipe out the foul air and the gathering tempest , the fear- I sighed an immense sigh of relief and wondered why people should be so petty and uncharitable. Good intentions laced with innuendo and exaggeration! An adult, gown up, a mother seeking cheap satisfaction was quite an oddity. To opine on someone who you have not seen for months? It was preposterous. And an uncivil way of evening out the differences children have sometime in their midst.

Who was it who said “It is a wise father that knows his own child”? It was William Shakespeare and here it was the C, who from the moment the unpleasant silly story emanated was an icon of confidence that all was malice and rubbish. Such is the trust she has in her children.

For me, I still believe in the infractions of youth. How can one pass over youthful times without a wee bit of mischief? Well then the borderline, the threshold has to be known and heeded. That is something a parent has to inject in children, not to be heedless.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

God of Small Things



Sometimes, sometimes often certain individuals come into ones thoughts. They come in like gentle whiff of fresh soothing air, and tickle ones hair pits, one’s heart and soul. As the native Indians, the Sioux say, “The heart soars like an eagle”! Perhaps I may be too enkindled about the feeling the thoughts bring forth? Nevertheless they bring sweet memories in an otherwise cantankerous, perfidious world and people.

In this world nothing comes free and everything has a price more than any value and altruism is a premium trait, if not a dying or a dead aberration perhaps noticeable in a few. In such a society this man who I must call as P, for the shortened version of his name and his relationship to me (he was my father’s first cousin and elder to he ). I called him “Perappan”. He was an exception,insofar as I knew in his relationship to me and my sister at least!

Memories of him dates back to my very young age of about six or seven and he lived with us , which was then a joint family of sorts .He was unmarried and died a bachelor boy well into his eighties. He was an early riser and used to engage in serious manual labour. The vegetable garden which was then a prideful thing was his creation. He used to gather about fifty odd buckets of water from the perennial well to water his fave garden. Spinach, Egg plants, cucumber, gourds, red chilies’, bananas, and yam the list was endless! Then the cows- the baths he used to give them (I in tow as an assistant of sorts) by the well.

I remember walking about with him questioning and inquisitive about his work here and the one he did there. Sometimes he would relent and let me do the little job when I was petulant about his refusing to let me do something along with him.

He was a craftsman .That doesn't mean he sculptured femme fatales, charming princes and abstract forms raved by the vain. He was a simple tailor. A maker of men’s formal wear, the tuxedos and suits and he was quite well known in a small elite circle for his exceptional skills in tailoring. The patterns that dissolved into ones symmetry, that coalesced as a second skin!

If I had had tasted the little things in early life that a child holds close to his heart they were from him. He was in a way my God of small things.

The first Chandamamam ( Ambiliammavan) monthly  children’s book till they ceased publication , the occasional matinée movies, the circus , the fairs  , the visits to the zoo and the beach, the overwhelming journeys in the admired double decker bus that were grand relics in Thiruvananthapuram, the refreshments and short eats out in  restaurant, the Parry’s chocolates and toffees, the peanut chikkis, the regular supply of shirts and trousers, the unfailing supply of firecrackers for Deepavali , the little doles ( Vishu kaineetam) for Vishu, my first  shuttle badminton racket…...! Thank God! If there is one, he was the one, the God of small things, things that now I feel made my life as a little child. They now tower large. Seem to be huge, very big, priceless and of incalculable value. Things that all the bullion may not suffice to square off. Things that are priceless but are invaluable the most.

I remember him desolate when I strayed a while in my early teens and in shady grouping of supposed friends. .Shiver me timbers!

Years later when he was living with his nephew (his sister’s son), I used to go to him often when I was in Thpuram, sit with him for a while. He was always pleasantly thrilled to see me and perhaps he also may have sighed that I did not disappoint him as he once feared I would. When I bade bye to him at the end of each visit, I used to leave in his palm one hundred Rupee bill. I often noticed a glint in his eyes, a shimmer. Gradually when he was ploughed under by dementia, he used to just sit in the chair and smile when I held his hands. The familiarness, recognition and the glint in his eyes ebbed not too gradually. They became washy from age and I saw he was surely going down, the smile too. The last time I saw him, he was not smiling, but sat with a void look into the distant, or was it into the blank vapidness of the white wall in front. The eyes were of living dead – no glint, no shimmer, and was foggy.