Tryst With Democracy – Happy Valentine’s Day

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Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.

These were the famous first words spoken by Jawaharlal Nehru on Aug 14, 1947… The first ever speech by a Prime Minister of Independent India. A speech that would later find its place among the best speeches of the 20th Century, and rightly so. It was inspiring. Each word was so carefully chosen, relevant and had a hard-hitting purpose to it. Every time I read it, I get small goosebumps.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘tryst’ as an agreement (as between lovers) to meet at an appointed time or meeting place… In essence, a planned date. I truly believe that Nehru made a conscious decision with that word. The romanticization of destiny and freedom could not have been more poetic than on the occasion of India’s freedom after decades of struggle.

He then sat down to write The Constitution of India, which after several amendments, provides us the Freedom of Speech with reasonable restrictions.

And therein lies the rub. Our false sense of freedom gives us a right to speak, do or express our views and feelings as long as we’re sure we don’t offend a broad spectrum of people. A country of a billion with a billion opinions. We think we are left at the mercy of the powerful (and mostly uneducated) people in administrative positions of responsibility to exercise their version of reasonable to make decisions. Or are we?

It’s been an interesting few months for India.

All India Bakchod, possibly the most successful group of comedians in India came together with some of the biggest stars of Bollywood to participate in India’s very first Roast (#AIBRoast). They uploaded a highly edited version of it (believe me when I say that. I was there for the live show) on YouTube. While a majority of the viewers were thoroughly entertained, a fraction of them weren’t. This is India… So as usual, we had people getting offended and making a fuss about it, calling for bans and legal action since it really wasn’t akin to their taste in humor… and also, Would you take your mother and sister to watch this?

So much that Indian Censor Board member, Ashoke Pandit, tweeted this about Karan Johar for an ‘Anal Sex’ joke he cracked on himself during the show. Karan of course, classy as ever in his response.

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Of course it’s alright when women and sex are objectified for humor and entertainment in Music and Cinema. We have movies like Grand Masti and Delhi Belly and songs like Baby Doll, Chikni Chameli (and every Yo Yo Honey Singh song ever) that can pass all censorships and what not, but when consenting comedians and film-stars do it to each other for the sake of comedy and charity, it’s public obscenity and ruining the clean image of the Indian culture & women.

The video was soon taken down under pressure and as of this date, FIRs have been filed against AIB, Karan Johar and some other actors who were a part of it…

Reasonable restriction on Freedom of Expression.

Arvind Kejriwal became possibly the most hated man in India early last year. His party swept aside in the National elections after he lost the faith of the country to his resignation and the Modi wave. Today, he will be (or has been) sworn in again as the Chief Minister of Delhi after a mandate that puts words like ‘landslide’ and ‘unprecedented’ to shame… 67/70 seats.

Why BJP lost is not for us to decide… Was it their lack of a clear manifesto, Kiran Bedi, perceived inaction from Modi at the Center or maybe all of it combined? Fact remains, BJPs complacent efforts in Delhi had been directed towards setting all the big guns out to attack Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party instead of showing Delhi why they should be elected.

New Delhi wanted a government to be run by a man who had a clear plan of action for almost all of their real problems. Of The People. By The People. For The People.

Even in the times of Modi waves and sensationally biased media, Democracy wins.

Valentine’s Day is here! A few years ago, couples in India used to think of excuses and lies to tell their parents about V-day dates (Mine was: no, Mom. I’m in college). Nowadays we have a new problem… Some Hindu groups, primarly The Hindu Mahasabha  have threatened to marry off couples if they see them on the streets doing PDA, holding hands, or even roses and teddy bears. Curiously, most of them seem to have the support of staunch Hindu babas, pundits and thousands of their disciples who have nothing better to do in life.

What’s more worrisome is that the cops will not bother intervening coz it’s an issue with a religious group. The government obviously won’t hurt anyone remotely trying to defend Hindu sentiments and culture and all that sort of thing coz that’s where their vote bank lies. They’ll just be busy defending rapists as little boys who made a mistake or watching porn in the assembly while innocent couples spend their day worrying about getting caught, bullied by religious extremists and married off instead of spending time with their loved ones.

From the President’s son calling Delhi rape victim, Nirbhaya’s protestors Dainted-Painted women to current PM Narendra Modi calling Sunanda Pushkar a 50-crore girlfriend and his former stooge and God Man, Baba Ramdev guaranteeing that he has a cure for homosexuality, here’s a list of things these powerful men of India have said about social issues merely by exercising their right to freedom of speech and expression with reasonable restriction (or lack, thereof): Credits to The Times of India and DNA.

You see, the point here is the subjective interpretation of reason coupled with an imbalance in power. A group of comedians cannot participate in a form of comedy that is meant to consensually insult and tear people’s reputation apart coz a guy in the censor board thought that’s only meant for A rated movies, not for comedy. A man can ogle and lech at women all over the country without any fear but a couple can’t spend a peaceful day in the city without being threatened. But the people with power and political connections can say all sorts of things about other religions, customs, countries and women.

Double standards, anyone?

If only they found the countless rapes, moral policing and corruption as offensive as they find Valentine’s Day, the movie PK and the AIB Roast, India would be a better place.

It all comes down to education and a will to open minds to the true freedom of expression and freedom from imposed opinions due to fear of powerful barbarians… and also to respect that everyone has a right to express themselves and their opinions, even if a majority of the population may disagree. The people of Delhi just proved that democracy is still alive… that even though we have to fight hard for it, these powers are ultimately at our mercy, and not the other way round. We have made our tryst with democracy… The time is now close for us to redeem our pledge.

To close, I leave you with the last few lines of the very speech with which I started this piece.

We are citizens of a great country, on the verge of bold advance, and we have to live up to that high standard. All of us, to whatever religion we may belong, are equally the children of India with equal rights, privileges and obligations. We cannot encourage communalism or narrow-mindedness, for no nation can be great whose people are narrow in thought or in action.

To the nations and people of the world we send greetings and pledge ourselves to cooperate with them in furthering peace, freedom and democracy.

And to India, our much-loved motherland, the ancient, the eternal and the ever-new, we pay our reverent homage and we bind ourselves afresh to her service.

Jai Hind.

Come India, Let’s All Hate Arvind Kejriwal

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Funny country, ours is. We love to hate. We are so fed up of our own miserable problems and pathetic administration that we just need a media-created effigy to direct our hatred and burn. Beyond logic. Beyond rationale. Beyond the levels of tolerance and sophistication that one can expect from a country that boasts itself as the world’s largest democracy.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal humbled in the recent national elections. Just four members from his party got into parliament and Kejriwal himself lost by a mammoth 337,000 votes at Varanasi to the next PM of India, Narendra Modi. Honestly speaking, it was a stupid move by AK to challenge Modi at Varanasi. He could’ve contested from his home constituency, won his seat in parliament and actually made a difference from inside over the next 5 years. Isn’t that why he split from Anna Hazare in the first place??

The hate for AK started earlier this year when he resigned as CM of Delhi within 49 days of being voted the majority government. Yes, he betrayed the trusArvind-Kejriwal-2014-Picturest of Delhi, and the whole country, the eyes of which were constantly upon him. The disappointment turned to hate and we coined terms like Farjiwal, Fekriwal, Bhagoda and some of our trademarked Hindi swear words which never cease to evolve every-time they’re mentioned. In more ways than not, justified.

All he asked for this week was forgiveness and another chance. He apologized to the people of Delhi, and India. He conceded his mistake and inexperience. Gave his reasoning, and came out pleading for a chance to make things right.

And what do we do?? We lambaste him on social media, accusing him of dramatics, calling him all sorts of things, talking about flogging him publicly and what not! Not to mention his supporters being called AAP-tards and baboons (which, thankfully, is not racist in India).

Nobody wanted to touch AK before the elections. He came out and blasted the most influential people in India for corruption and money laundering, and nobody had the balls to do anything more than denying and reverse accusing him on the news. But now that BJP has swept off the elections, Nitin Gadkari comes along and files a defamation suit. Amazing things power does to people. [Correction: The case was filed a few months ago. Yet, of all the crimes people can commit, we see sense in filing a case for calling someone ‘corrupt’.]

Kejriwal, sent to judicial custody, refused to pay the bail/bond amount of Rs. 10,000 and said that he’d defend himself in court. Why do we accuse him of being above the law? Any defendant has the right to not pay the bail money. It’s an option, not a law. And he said he’d defend his stand in his court hearing. He’s not answerable to the pedestrian unappreciative masses on social media. Wake up and see sense, people. Hating him won’t get you anything.

Back in 2011, he went to jail for similar charges. Back then, he was just an activist, not a political leader. It was easy to pick on him. He didn’t pay the bail even then. He was seen as a hero back then. Why wasn’t that perceived as above the law? Our very own national hero, Mahatma Gandhi, was sent to jail by the British. He was offered bail for as little as 1 Rupee, but, he still declined.

We reelect criminals to parliament. People with blatant corruption charges, people who have more black money than most people earn legitimately their whole life, rapists, uneducated, worthless ministers. Everyone is forgiven and voted back to parliament.

Why not Arvind Kejriwal? A clean record, a degree from India’s premiere technology institute and so many more qualifications that could bring the more than half of the current parliament to shame… and most of all, clean intentions a good heart.

I don’t expect this article to be received well by most of you. I’m probably just another AAP-tard baboon on your timelines. Your hate for Congress and AAP has blinded you too much to read or hear anything against anyone remotely related to BJP, let alone trying to look at it objectively.

But, to those who see sense like me, I hope you’re in Delhi. Give him another chance. He’s a good man.

India Has Spoken. Your Move, Modi!

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Yes, yes, we’ve all heard the news. A mandate nothing short of a landslide which sees the NDA Alliance sweep across the world’s largest democracy in the elections of 2014, with BJP themselves getting more than half the seats in the Indian House of Commons (Lok Sabha). Narendra Modi well on his way to becoming the next Prime Minister of India on the 21st of May.

So Mr. Narendra Modi…

Firstly, Congratulations to you and the BJP. Not a single exit poll analysis across the Indian Media could predict such a clean sweep. The Congress destroyed and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) brushed aside like a speck of dust.

Secondly, let me introduce myself. I’m not your biggest fan. I admire your leadership. But I am against the idea of a BJP majority government. As always, I made my opinion clear in public forums resulting in your national bandwagon of supporters calling me a variety of names. You make have heard some of them… like AAP-tard and a few chosen Hindi/English swear words. Some of them you may not have… Like desh-drohi (as if not supporting you and the BJP amounted to betraying the nation), Pakistani (coz, apparently, being Pakistani makes one the enemy of India)… and a few more cuss words.

As much as I like to think of myself as a neutral observer, I will admit that I am an AAP admirer. Kejriwal was a normal guy like me. Living the common man’s life, when he decided to drop everything and take on the most powerful, corrupt, unethical and immoral factions that ruled and ran our country. His message was simple: Honest, clean, people-centric governance. ImageHis inexperience cost him, but, I still believe that over the next few governments, he will save India, not you.

Although, as an Indian, I do hope that you do. You’ve been given 5 years and 340 seats of a House of 543.

Mr. Modi, you have been chosen to pull India back from its economic, social and democratic downturn in the last 5-10 years. The absence of a coalition doubles the responsibility and expectations that 800 million voters (not including me) have put in you. You have become a demigod… The Savior. Having said that, you also know that most of your Modi-bandwagon voters are just anti-Congress people who were introduced to the Modi wave at the right time. Remember… we are fickle.

This brings me to the reason I’m writing this post: You talked the talk in your obviously successful election campaign. It’s time for you to walk the walk.

Winning the elections is not your objective. Saving India is. Watch the news. Listen to what the people expect of you in the next 5 years. Development, education, progress, clean and good governance, political transparency, cap in inflation, healthcare, growth… the list goes on. You have made people believe in the ‘India Shining’ dream again. Its time for you to deliver.

Personally, I have never been appealed by the idea of you and your party ruling India. Here’s why:

  • I fear that your party’s medieval Hinduist ideologies will take the country backward with its divisive politics
  • I do not believe that the so-called Gujarat Model will work for India. Gujarat is a unified state of like-minded people. It’s easy to ban beef and alcohol in Gujarat. You can’t do that in Mumbai, or many other parts. We’re a secular country, not a Hindu country
  • Hell, I even believe that the Gujarat development hoopla, on which you have based your entire campaign, is a farce. Some Gujratis tell me that the development you’ve done is only in some pockets and not pan-state. That essentially puts you on level  playing field with any other party ruling any other state.
  • Your government will have the same crucial flaw that Dr. Manmohan Singh’s had in this last decade: a Corrupt Cabinet. You may be a dedicated and honest man, but so was MMS. The primary difference being that you’re more vocal than he is. His party and cabinet failed him. Cabinet ministers can still siphon off thousands of crores of Rupees right under your nose. That’s where your true test is.

Having said all this there’s no denying that you have the faith of the people. Not Hindus or Muslims. Not the rich or poor. No castes, no religion, no gender… The whole country has unequivocally put its faith in you. I only ask that you repay it, multiple fold. I’m may be an AAP-tard, but I’m an Indian before anything. I will be happy to concede that I judged you too soon if you can deliver even half of your promises. You will have proven me wrong about you; and India will grow and shine. We will truly rise from a 70-year old potential superpower to an actual global superpower in rightful standing.

Go on Modi. The country is in your hands, now. Set it right. Jai Hind!