Category Archives: Society

No Mr. Amartya Sen, the space for public reasoning hasn’t shrunk in India

Here is another link from Live Mint about an interview with the Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen. In the interview he talks about his latest book, Collective Choice and Social Welfare, in which he argues that a democracy isn’t just about casting votes.  It’s also about people arguing with each other.

There is nothing wrong in this argument. Of course people should be able to argue with each other and have open debates without being threatened and accused of communalism and this phobia and that phobia.

But then he says that the space for public reasoning  has shrunk in India whereas, it’s totally the opposite that is happening. More people are able to express themselves. The Internet, especially social media, has democratised public discourse. No longer a particular clique can peddle its lies unchallenged. Every motivated propaganda is challenged. Every news that is suppressed is brought to the notice of the public. Every information that is being misrepresented, gets represented properly.

Noted lyricist Javed Akhtar condescendingly talked about “less literate” sportspersons talking about national issues and immediately had to face a backlash not just from the sports persons but also from general public. This couldn’t have happened in the “Golden Times” Amartya Sen talks of when they would have been no means for the sports persons to respond to Akhtar’s stupid retort.

This is what Javed Akhtar tweeted:

His  tweet was in response to a few tweets published by Indian players in the wake of the Gurmehar controversy. Below, I have pasted some of the tweets by these players:

It’s not that the space for arguing with each other is shrinking, it is expanding, and this is the real problem for people like Amartya Sen. Just imagine, a couple of decades ago, me publishing a newsletter that is sent to more than 500 people (at the time of writing this)  and among them on an average 20% opening it and reading it, every day.

These intellectuals first fabricate a world and then they start  creating stories and hypothesis around that world to such an extent that everybody starts believing that it is an actual world and the threats posed by this world are also actual.

Fortunately, contrary to what Amartya Sen says, the space for public reasoning is much expanded now and everybody can participate.

The problem with the leftist intelligentsia is, they haven’t yet learned how to deal with this new level playing field.

A feminist take on the Rani Padmavati-Bhansali controversy

By now you must be already aware of the attack on film-maker Sanjay Leela Bhansali on the sets of Rani Padmavati, the movie that he is making on the legendary Rajput queen.

The controversy broke when the prospect of some romantic scene between Allauddin Khilji and Rani Padmavati began to surface in various newspapers.

If you know the tragic story of Rani Padmavati you also know that she had to commit Jauhar because of Allauddin Khilji. Jauhar means jumping into a burning pyre to save yourself from a marauding army of rapists and plunderers. Although there are different opinions on whether she should have committed Jauhar or not – the confusion is mostly in the liberal circles – she is respected for her valor, and the legend is an integral part of the Rajput culture.

So obviously people were incensed that their beloved queen who died due to a barbarous villain, was being shown as having a soft spot for the villain. Whether Bhansali actually intended to do that isn’t clear because since then he has been denying it, the general perception was like that.

Since Rani Padmavati was a woman and she died, willingly, to save her honor, feminists are debating whether it is right to hero worship a woman who died to save her honor. What can be more worth saving than life itself, they say? Feminists are specially disturbed that honor-killing or honor-self-killing is again being extolled in the name of history and pride.

Keeping this issue in mind Neha Srivastava has published an article in DailyO titled “Allauddin Khilji harassed a woman. Romanticising his story is an insult to women“. In the article she recalls when she visited the historic Chittorgarh when she was 15 the story of the brave queen deeply affected her.

From a feminist angle she points out that the poet, Malik Muhammad Jayasi, who originally wrote “Padmavat”, totally objectifies Rani Padmavati by turning her into a mere object of desire. She writes:

Jayasi’s entire poem is a travesty in its own right, for all the male characters dominate the narrative and the main character Padmavati is reduced to nothing but an object to be desired and possessed. Her thoughts, her fears, her wishes, her hopes reduced to sidelines as a madman’s lust overcomes him so much so to preside over wanton murder. Why? Because a woman cannot say “NO”. Even if she does, it is of as little consequence then, as it is now.

It is a work of female objectification which I, as a woman, do not find romantic in any shape or form. Even when faced with the prospect of attack on her home and her people, the Rani says a vehement “NO”. But since a woman’s “No means Yes” since time immemorial, that doesn’t dissuade “lover boy” Khilji, who wanted another “possession” for his harem, where he could rape her whenever he wanted, use her to entertain guests and perhaps even trade her like a material possession.

Many commentators have remarked that the reason why Rani Padmavati doesn’t feature in official records even when Allauddin Khilji and her husband Ratan Singh do, is because it embarrasses the patriarchal mindset of both the sides. Historic chroniclers like Amir Khusro on Khilji’s side mention her just in the passing because it was embarrassing for Khilji to have lost her in front of his eyes even after having won the battle to capture her. On Ratan Singh’s side, it must had been humiliating to agree to show her reflection in the mirror to a lecherous emperor to avoid imminent bloodbath. This is what liberal feminists should object to, not whether, since her records are not there, it’s fine to twist her story according to one’s convenience or not, but, she not getting her rightful place in the recorded history of the country.

Image source

 

 

Do you really understand what words like insaad jarayam and deeda danishta mean?

Delhi police still using Persian and Urdu phrases

These are the “common” words the Delhi police thinks, are very easy to understand by the common folks. Yes, maybe in the 17th century, but not now.

According to a PIL filed by advocate Amit Sahni the archaic and difficult Persian and Urdu words and phrases used by the Delhi police during its day-to-day functions should be replaced by common Hindi and English words that are easily understandable. According to the text of the PIL,

It is not only cumbersome for Delhi Police officers, who have to learn these archaic Urdu/Persian words but also for accused/counsels and even judicial officers to learn these words in order to understand the proceedings of police. It would be reasonable and convenient for everyone concerned if such archaic words are replaced with simple words of Hindi/English.

This is what the Delhi police has to say in response:

The words used are neither archaic nor difficult but on other hand replacement of these words in ‘Hindi’ as suggested in the petition would create a lot of difficulties, both for litigants and the lawyers.

No difficulty has ever been experienced by anybody including lawyers in understanding the words and phrases, being used by the police. Further no extra time, money infrastructure and manpower is being used to teach these words to the personnel training.

Here is an example of a few “neither archaic nor difficult” words the Delhi police uses when you go to file an FIR or simply deal with some paperwork:

  • Insaad jarayam – Prevention of crime
  • Majroob – Injured
  • Imroz – Today
  • Inkashaf – Disclosure
  • Musammi – Mr/Ms
  • Mustaba – Suspect
  • Adam pata – Untraceable
  • Muddayi – Complainant
  • Muddala – Accused
  • Tameel – Execution
  • Aala-a-qatal – Murder weapon
  • Taftish – Investigation
  • Daryaft – Plea
  • Hasab jabta – As per law
  • Missal – File
  • Tarmeem – Amendment
  • Ishtagassa – Petition

These and around 350 such words are used by the policemen and lawyers in the northern regions of the country. These words became a part of the vocabulary during the pre-Independence and pre-partition days and they never got changed.

The police response is quite silly. How are these words “neither archaic nor difficult”? From what angle? The semiliterate policemen and women are not even aware of the common vocabulary and how come they are expected to not only learn these words, understand them, but also use them in proper context while documenting legal cases? Remember that your entire case rests on the sort of language used in the FIR.

Another stupid argument given by the police against changing these obsolete words that it may be against the ideals of inclusiveness and national integration. How do these cryptic words help the police sustain the ideals of inclusiveness and national integration one fails to understand. It is just another tactic to keep law and order as inaccessible as possible and as intimidating as possible to the common person.

What being liberal truly means

Many often claim, with profuse clarity, “I’m a liberal!”

What does being a liberal mean? It means being open to new, different and sometimes even opposing ideas. It doesn’t matter if those ideas belong to a time 3000 years ago or 3000 years into the future. If those ideas are good, if they are good for the humanity, if they are good for the planet, if they are good for our culture and society, if they’re going to bring a brighter future for our children and future generations, they are to be supported, they are to be propagated and they are to be defended against bigotry, close-mindedness, greed, extreme religious beliefs and cultural backwardness.

Whether you are a liberal or not, if you are a right-thinking person, you can never disagree with a truly liberal person.

So why are liberals suspected and derided these days, all over the civilized world (I’m talking about the regions where you can be limited without being flogged or decapitated)?

The problem is that there are very few individuals who actually understand what being liberal is. Just because you espouse a cause, you begin to think that you are a liberal (I’m not saying you as you the reader, but people who do that). Going against convention is not being liberal. Doing the right thing is. But then again, you may think that you are being right by going against convention. This is totally fine. We all have our own notions of being write and being wrong. This is not the point. Being liberal means being open to the idea that yes, you might be wrong and you need to do some more reading, some more introspection. You need to expose yourself to alternative thoughts. You don’t. In fact, the so-called liberals are the most close-minded and intellectually and ideologically stuck-up people one can come across.

This is one problem with liberalism.

The other problem is that in the name of being liberal, a cultural, intellectual and political racket is being run by a closely connected network of journalists, writers and politicians. In different regions of the world they have different objectives, but their goal is to constantly misinform people and keep them in a state of insecurity, fear and suspicion. For example, the so-called liberals in India are constantly trying to pitch one religious community against the other, one caste against the other and one region against the other. All this is done in the name of supporting causes and particular communities. Do the communities and causes being supported benefit from such support? Who cares? The issue is not about bringing benefits to the “supported” causes and communities. The issue is taking one’s agenda forward.

The largest number of NGOs working for the “downtrodden” in the world are in India and going by the definition of being liberal, we can safely assume that a big majority of people associated with these NGOs are one way or another “liberal”. For more than 50 years a government specifically working for the poor and for religious communities has been in power. This government, despite gargantuan corruption cases, overwhelming incompetence and administrative apathy that can break all world records, has been so far the cynosure of the liberal fraternity. Still, poverty pervades every region of the country. The religious communities, according to the apprehensions raised by the very same liberal fraternity, are in great peril due to the rise of majority-community fundamentalism. All these 50 years of being ruled by a liberal and minority-community-friendly government have yielded no liberal-utopian results. Why so?

Because in the true sense, liberalism has never been there. Opportunism, yes. Intellectual sycophancy, yes. Nepotism, yes. Scavenging on the poverty and backwardness of the country, yes. Communal and casteist politics, yes. Actual pluralism, no. Actual secularism, no. Actual liberalism, no.

I’m not saying there are no true liberals. Of course they are. They have existed since the time immemorial and this is how we have reached from living in the caves to building a structure as tall as Burj Khaleefa. But they have always been in a tiny minority just like they are now. Just because you Tweet in favour of LGBT persons, intellectually try to legitimise extremist tendencies among particular religious groups and ridicule particular religious traditions you don’t become a liberal; you become a nuisance.

A true liberal is interested in change, not in the state of affairs. A true liberal doesn’t just rant, he or she aspires to make a positive change. A true liberal is not interested in “my thinking is better than your thinking”, he or she is interested in what is right.

The problem is not with the Hindu-Muslim culture but the secularism racket

Hindu Muslim unity

Every multi-cultural amalgamation gives rise to at least some sort of beauty. I have often written on my blog that the most beautiful and perhaps the most famous Bollywood bhajan Man tarpat hari darshan ko aaj was written by Shakeel Badayuni, composed by Naushad Ali and sung by Mohammed Rafi. Nobody doubts that the coming together of Hindu-Muslim cultures has given rise to breathtakingly beautiful architecture, poetry to cherish for ever and instances of love and friendship legends are made of. Very few people doubt that.

So when noted Muslim writer Murad Ali Baig says

The fusion of Hindu and Muslim culture during Mughal times is a tradition all Indians could cherish.

Link

nobody should have a problem with that. So what’s the problem?

The problem is the phony secularism that has been thrust down the throats of unsuspecting people of the country in the name of vote bank politics. Minorities in India – mostly Muslims and Christians – are always portrayed as victims and the majority – Hindus – are perpetually portrayed as aggressive perpetrators and majoritarian bigots. They are constantly put on the back foot. This is where the problem arises and this is why the majority population feels cheated and enraged. When different religious communities are treated according to the sort of political benefits that they bring, secularism simply becomes a sham.