Category Archives: Bad ideas

Counting Lights

This is a simple exercise in basic arithmetic that will help us reach some rather basic results, the results might be a little unexpected but simple arithmetic is known to have indulged in such pastimes on other occasions as well.

There are around 3000 Blue line buses that ply on the streets of Delhi, and aside from terrorising the general populace off the streets, sending around 150 citizens of Delhi to meet their respective makers they are also known to occasionally ferry passengers.

It is now public knowledge that most, if not all, these buses are owned, benami, by local politicians and, as the expression goes, their near and dear ones. The fact that these killers are allowed to hold an entire city of close to 14,000,000 to ransom is not entirely due to their being politically correctly related, though that helps, it is mostly because of a well organised system of preventing diligent government servants from the discharge of their duty.

The government servants being thus prevented are gentlemen who have promised to be “with us for us always” [the motto of Delhi Police, for the information of non-Delhi people] (I am personally extremely happy that they are being prevented from discharging their duties towards me). The fellows want so dearly to serve us but are systematically prevented by the drivers and owners (Ds & Os) of the aforementioned vehicles. What can the poor fellows do, every time they want to rise to our defence the Ds & Os or their representatives show them some magical papers and the potential do gooders freeze in mid stride!

Continue reading Counting Lights

Judging Women

The honourable judges of the honourable judiciary are on an honourable roll…

Anuradha Roy of Permanent Black sent out the following:

On the 9th of February 2008, remarks by two eminent judiciary members the Chief Justice of Karnataka, Cyriac Joseph and State Human Rights Commission Chairperson Justice S.R.Nayak, stating that immodest dressing was the cause of increasing crimes against women were reported in the press.

The Hon’ble Chief Justice further elaborated his statement by mentioning that “Nowadays, women wear such kind of dresses even in temples and churches that when we go to places of worship, instead of meditating on God, we end up meditating on the person before us” and that the “provocative dresses that women wear in buses” put the “men travelling in the buses” in awkward situations and hence “women must dress modestly.”

The Chairperson, State Human Rights Commission, speaking on ‘Human Rights and the Lawyers Role’, gave his opinion on the Mumbai New Year molestation issue, when two women had their dresses torn off by a mob
of men outside a nightclub: “Yes, men are bad… But who asked them (the women) to venture out in the night…Women should not have gone out in the night and when they do, there is no point in complaining that men touched them and hit them. Youth are destroying our culture for momentary satisfaction.”

Anuradha sent this out without comments. I understand her mood. I’m done too. No witty commentary, no smart asides. I’m just plain exhausted.

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Taslima Nasreen and the Spirit of Islam

It is said that after he announced his Prophethood Hazrat Mohammed suffered severe persecution in Mecca. The vitriol and calumny extended from the verbal to the physical. There was one woman who would always throw filth on him whenever he passed by her house. He would unfailingly take the same route everyday and she would equally invariably throw filth on him. He never protested. One day as he passed her house, she was missing. He inquired after her and learning that she was sick he went up to her room, and finding her bed-ridden, tended to her. I grew up listening to a lot of stories from my grandmother about the Prophet Mohammed. Told in an anecdotal form, the stories largely avoided his image as a conqueror and concentrated instead on his personality, specially his grace under hardship. I narrate this story especially to remind my compatriots about what they might do when faced with hostility, or criticism.

I write this particularly in the context of Taslima Nasrin, whose vise expires this week and she still does not know whether it will be extended or not. Taslima Nasrin must be given an opportunity to stay on in India, and must be provided that opportunity not as a grace or favor but because she is, as a South Asian, as a fellow human, fully entitled to it. My appeal rests not merely on a liberal idea of freedom of expression, or on making this a litmus test for India’s pluralism. India’s pluralism, where it exists in practice, is not dependent on appeals or testimonials from intellectuals. Our pluralism does not, and has not, precluded violent confrontations between different social groups. However, we also have countervailing traditions of coming to a working adjustment with each other, which, as an aside, partly explains why the word ‘adjust’ is so popular in all Indian languages.

Continue reading Taslima Nasreen and the Spirit of Islam

Climaterror, boredom and media

The pressing, in fact the overpowering need to keep people perpetually agog with false excitement, generated by the fear of impending doom, played out in all its gory details over the last three days across the gossip channels that go in the name of News Channels and Glamour sheets that try to pass of as Newspapers.

26th January had come and gone, Sarkozy had come and gone without giving us the nuclear fuel that would have overnight made the greatest democracy into the second or third or fourth or the nth most happening country in the world.

Continue reading Climaterror, boredom and media

But Prabhat Patnaik is an Honourable Man

[This is my response to the article by Prabhat Patnaik circulating over on the Net. His original article can be read at the end of this response. We have reproduced it in full. – AN]

This piece could be read as a letter addressed to one of my former, esteemed, ideologue-theoreticians. As young students in the 1970s and 1980s, we often went to listen, starry-eyed, to this soft-spoken theorist expound on what we thought were complex issues of our times and come back mesmerized. Yes, Prof Prabhat Patnaik (PP) was one of our idols. Today he fell and smashed himself. And then something strange happened: the broken pieces rearranged themselves to reveal a frightful other face – the face of comrade stalin.

Since Patnaik has referred to all critics of the CPM as “anti-Left intellectuals”, and has also specifically referred to the letter signed by some of us (including me), I think it would not be wrong to assume that the entire article is also addressed, among thousands of others, to me (though I may be pardoned for assuming that a nacheez like me should even exist on his radar!). Since all those who had signed the statement may have their own responses to PP – and some might not legitimately wish to stoop to the level this once-saintly figure has – I must speak for myself here.

Sometime ago, former West Bengal finance minister and marxist economist Ashok Mitra had written a piece on the happenings in Nandigram. It appeared in Ananda Bazar Patrika and was subsequently translated into English and widely circulated. In that piece, Mitra had suggested “prominent economist and party comrade of the stature of Prabhat Patnaik is hounded” by the party leadership in Alimuddin Street. In a way, we sort of knew it; rather, we hoped it would be true. An intellectual like Prof Patnaik cannot possibly be a cog in the stalinist machine, even though he may have stepped in to sign dubious statements not so long ago. We had assumed that given the political history of stalinist Marxism with intellectuals who were maligned, denigrated, humiliated and finally put before the firing squad, Patnaik had made his ‘existential choice’ a la Georg Lukacs. Lukacs, one of the most brilliant philosophical minds, decided to remain in the ranks (the ‘camp of the people’, in Patnaik’s words) and become the voice of stalinism for decades thereafter. Need we recall the whole list of such people – intellectuals – who were thus repeatedly destroyed? And do we need to tell you that so far only fascism or Nazism has been able to compete with the communist record.

Continue reading But Prabhat Patnaik is an Honourable Man

The Sword and the Monk’ s Cowl: Curfew in Kolkata

“Instead of society having conquered a new content for itself, it seems that the state has only returned to its oldest form, to a shamelessly simple rule by the sword and the monk’s cowl. “

-Karl Marx, The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon

We live in strange times. Really strange times. Just as the news from Kolkata was getting better, it got worse again.The sudden spectre of ‘communal rioting’ has reared its head, as if from nowhere in West Bengal. The All India Minorities Forum, a little known entity led by a busy body called Idris Ali materialized yersterday on the streets of Kolkata demanding the deportation of the exiled Bangladeshi writer, on the grounds that she had once injured the sensitivities of Muslims. Crowds attacked police, pitched street battles continued, the Army was called in. Curfew was declared, and on television, Biman Bose, a CPI(M) and ‘Left’ Front hatchet man, declared – “… if her stay creates a problem for peace, she (Nasrin) should leave the state” (see NDTV report at the end of this posting)

Continue reading The Sword and the Monk’ s Cowl: Curfew in Kolkata

A little Biology, A little Arithmetic, A lot of Politics: Sudhanva Deshpande on Nandigram, again

Dear Sudhanva,

*A Biology Lesson*
The discussion on Nandigram is heading in interesting directions across lists and blogs, (even as the Army walks the talk in Kolkata tonight) and I find this situation of accumulating discursive intensity actually very productive. Let a hundred rejoinders blossom, and a few good schools of thought contend. So I welcome your rejoinder and criticism of my text. And I for one, stand chastised by your incisive criticism of my posts (responding to your earlier writing) on the reader-list, and on Kafila.

Continue reading A little Biology, A little Arithmetic, A lot of Politics: Sudhanva Deshpande on Nandigram, again