Who am I?

My photo
I am not religious, but I don't mind calling myself spiritual. Religion, I believe, has, over the millennia, been used as a prop to perpetrate a lot of human suffering. Faith is what matters. I don't believe in the definition of God as a creator. According to me, my God resides within me. Some call it conscience, some call it the sub-conscious, some call it the soul. I don't mind calling it God. So by definition I am not an atheist or an agnostic, but by essence, I may as well be. My God does not reside in a temple, church, mosque or gurudwara. It is right here, within me.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Rob you, Rape you, Kill you!

Why do we find it so difficult to break stereotypes? It’s a question I have asked myself many times. We, as a nation of believers, like to have our own opinion of the world around us. Sadly, most of that opinion is shaped by a need for conformity, a desire for acceptability, manifested contemporarily as an itch for “likes” on a picture, a habit of appearing politically acceptable, of “networking” and “creating contacts” in today’s hyper-connected world of super-globalisation. If we think about it, it’s easy to see what we left behind. There are no moral underpinnings to our behaviour, no value strings attached that can hold our actions upright. In such a constraining and compromising environment, it is no surprise that it becomes all the more difficult to come out of the stereotypes we as a society have bathed in, since centuries together.

Staring at a black African more stingingly than deserved, with that enquiring, revelatory look which we give to a giant panda we see for the first time in a zoo, is a common sight in our great country.  Little do we realise that if it’s fascination for us, it’s humiliation and degradation for the other person. Walking the streets of Mumbai, or exploring the mohallas of Delhi, or strolling through the alleys of Kolkata, he is badly discriminated against, again and again, so much that he turns inwards. He is frightened to talk to people, as anyone he tries to approach is already staring at him with panic, or mildly disguised disgust. In a nation of brown skins all around, although not much different from them, the guy with the black skin becomes a loner. People say, yeah, see I told you, those niggers are not to be trusted. They keep to themselves, always devising a devious plan to rob you, rape you or kill you. Beware! And the stereotype continues.

The same can be said about the transgender community. There are fears propagated, since millennia, in the Indian society and a strict direction to stay away from them. We look at them in disgust, always wondering why they don’t have anything better to do than pestering us when we're going to the office, or persecuting us when we are travelling on the train (Gosh! There’s nowhere to escape! It’s dreadful!), or pushing their hand towards our face when the auto-rickshaw we are in has stopped at a signal. We do not want to realise that they do not have a single profession to look towards, as for all of those professions, organised or unorganised, transgenders do not exist at all! They get no employee benefits and are forced to look at “immoral” vocations like prostitution, beggary or whatever we call the confronting-and-asking-money-on-the-train. This very act of theirs further cements our stereotype. See I told you. They are not human beings. Stay away from them or they will rob you, rape you or kill you!

There’s another group of people among us who are not visually any different from the “privileged normal” ones among us. But precisely for that very reason, when revealed who they actually are, they are reviled, threatened, pressurised and bullied in the most horrendous ways. They cannot be easily avoided, as they are allowed the same jobs that the “privileged normal” amongst us enjoy (since they look exactly like the “privileged normal” – unlike the blacks and the hijras, in common parlance). They are the ones who have lived in a psychological cage, where they grow up with the trauma of the realisation that they are quite different from everyone else, especially from how everyone expects them to be. He realises he is attracted to his guy friends, a tendency which, around him, is already cruelly joked about. She grows up confused and one day accepts herself for her same-gender sexual preference. Still, he and she are expected to behave normal, be normal, accept the institutions of marriage (with a person from the opposite sex ofcourse, you silly!); while those among them who have behavioural characteristics of the opposite sex, are made a pariah early on in their lives, and being stigmatized, lambasted and attacked has been a norm for them. We destroy a person’s will to live. 

For the others, some dare to come out of the closet. The others are forced live a life of conformity, looking for means to “vent” their natural instincts (see, we told you they are perverts!) and die a death every single day of their lives. While we don’t even know about their existence till we grow old enough. Our teachers don’t talk about gays, while our parents pretend they do not even know who these people are (yeah it’s true, they are actually aliens!), and we grow up in ignorance when one day we hear a joke about “them”. That is how we first hear about their existence among us. We live our lives assuming no one around us might be suffering from that lifelong “sickness”, and it is no wonder the “afflicted” among us never open up to us, and live a life of mental agony like no other, being around everyone, yet always alone. Oh yeah, don’t you know, they all have AIDS! Stay away from them. Don’t you know that if given a chance, they will rob you, rape you or kill you!

The link to the pic above:

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Cusp of a Change

It has been historically proven that whenever an economic system, backed by a political system of the same ilk, fails to deliver, it leads to despondency, dejection, even depression in the economy. After the nation suffers in this state of nadir for a while, there arrives an agent of change, a hope for a better tomorrow, the betterment conditioned on a major overhaul in the economic-political system being practised at that particular time. This new age of change, despite the opposition of a few who see the dark underbelly of the new system, thrives and grows big to lead the entire nation towards a completely different direction which could not have been predicted by any historian 10 years earlier. It reaches its acme, causes, atleast in the short run, irreversible disruptions in the economic structure of the country, before the degeneration sets in once more as the dark underbelly which was earlier difficult to spot, turns upwards for all to see. People lose faith in the existing system, anti-incumbency sets in and the demand for an alternative political-economic system leads to an emergence of a new leader exemplifying change, guiding by hand the hope of the citizens of the nation towards a new dawn. The cycle goes on.

Today India finds itself at the cusp of such a change. The existing system of attempts at betterment of society bottom-up has been vitiated, giving birth to corruption in all walks of life. People are looking for alternatives and this lacuna in the Indian political system has given birth to two leaders who have come to occupy this very mindshare of the Indian citizen. These two leaders may represent two different political orientations, but both offer substantially different ideologies from what the present dispensation debauched in.

As indicated by the already pent-up expectations of the corporate class in India, reflected in the unprecedented rally in the country’s share markets, they have already chosen a new leader, a messiah who will lead India out of the muck it finds itself in. There is not a doubt that if these expectations come to fruition, which seems likely today with the biggest exercise in universal adult suffrage in the world just a couple of days away, our political-economic landscape is going to see changes in policymaking that are unprecedented. The focus of the economic thrust is going to shift towards a more top-down orientation with the corporate class expected to drive the growth engines of our nations. The expectation is also there that economic growth will serve to smoothen the bumps of class and caste deviations to provide a more level playing field to people from all walks of life, irrespective of religion, race, caste or community. There are sceptics too who, on the other hand, believe this growth will be at the cost of tearing away the carefully woven fabric of this nation, which till a couple of centuries ago, exemplified a way of life rather than differentiating one from another on the basis of religion. There are other concerns too whether if India is developed enough at the lower strata of society to shift gears to a more outward-oriented market-governed economic system to deliver the goods. We just have to wait and see. But one thing is certain. The India of the next 10 years is going to be very different from the India of the last decade. Which bad points from the previous decade are discarded and which good ones are maintained, and vice versa, remains to be seen.