04 June 2014

Be Careful What You Vote For

I was advised not to write this. Why? Because India has turned into a moral police state.

In India, Sections 153A and 295A enshrined in the Constitution disallow the expression of any words, written or spoken, that incite disharmony and deliberately hurt religious sentiments. Fair enough. Secular is also a word in the Constitution that allows freedom to practise your own religion without harming anyone else's right to do so. Admirable.

But I'm still looking for an article in the Constitution that seeks to tell women what they can and cannot wear (save being nude in public), an article that says expressing a political (please note, I said political, not religious) opinion will get you beaten, harassed, thrown in jail and otherwise deprive you of something every democracy guarantees - the right to criticise your government. 

So I was advised not to write this. But I wonder if I can help the new government. Since the old one did scant to nothing about the looming problems, I thought it would be helpful to draw up a list of demands. (Nota bene. Demands. The time for requests is long past).

Dear New Government, 
This list is a representation of the demands of India's hopeful and hopeless population.

1) Be Honest. I don't mean be honest about the fact that you're cheating on your new diet but be honest about what you're doing with our money. If you spend it well, we'll give you more. If you steal it, you'll hear the verdict in five years. 

2) Be Effective. Don't allow our young women to be raped in broad daylight or in silent darkness, forced to drink acid, hung from trees after being gang-raped by 38 men, and stripped and beaten in public. Ensure that the severest punishment meets the crime. Changing the psyche of society will never happen on a mass scale in India; let's face it. So do your part. Deter. Prevent. Punish. Put to death if you must. 

3) Be Secular. Don't frighten those who don't share your religious beliefs and sentiments. Don't be troublemakers simply because you're a majority. Don't be mean bullies. Don't underestimate the common man. You're one of them. Common. 

4) Be Well-Behaved. If you don't know how to be well-behaved, look for information on the Internet. Be social media savvy and give yourself a belated education. After all, you claim to have won on the basis of a social media blitz. So learn good manners from there. Don't embarrass the largest population in the world. We don't appreciate it. 

5) Be Intelligent. Don't mistake that for degrees. Don't mistake that for a smart mouth. Don't mistake that for absurd Tweets. Understand that intelligence and logic must be balanced with human emotion. In short, be a good mother. That's the only way to serve your motherland. And if you didn't have a good mother, find the next best alternative. Don't presume you can work for the nation without intelligence. We've got poor tolerance for criminals and idiots. 

6) And finally, learn this. Commit it to memory. Understand that if you do not at ALL TIMES honour the following words, you'll find yourself hung out to dry. 

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;

You do not want to go up against 1.27 billion really pissed off people. You've seen, I suspect, the result of that. Don't presume that result won't apply to you after five years. Good luck.

Common Man, Woman and Child. 
(on behalf of 1.27 billion people and their pets) 

13 February 2014

Of Cowards and Bastards

Every time I attempt to find a morsel, a mere crumb of a reason to feel some pride in the nation of my birth, bam! Someone pulls the trigger and releases the deadly gunpowder of violence, hatred, prejudice and my special pet hate- cowardice. 

Congratulations Penguin India on having done the unthinkable. On compromising your artistic integrity for a bunch of worthless, spineless, illiterate fanatics. Also commonly known as Shiksha Bachao Andolan (hilariously, ironically translated to Save Education Movement) who are nothing but a bunch of hooligans and philistines who wouldn't know an alphabet if it kicked them in their testicles. Oh wait. Such people have no balls. I'll have to satisfy myself by calling them a waste of space, like my young nieces and nephews do. 

Wendy Doniger, whose book The Hindus: An Alternative History has been banned, must be wondering what on earth Penguin India was doing. She must have wondered how being one of the foremost scholars of Hinduism in the world would lead to to that very religious community shoving her off their shelves. She must have wondered how Penguin India would look its authors in the eye. 

I was first acquainted with Miss Doniger when an ex was her student at the University of Chicago. He introduced me to her most wonderful work. Apparently this bunch of non-humans thinks it is perfectly all right to question her expertise with none of their own. Their only weapon was this dangerous idiot called Dinanath Batra who gave this ridiculous interview to Time magazine. Reading it will give you an ulcer, I warn you.


So what's to become of writers? What's to become of readers? Are we going to live in a climate of fear where our hopes, dreams, words, books, works of art and our very fundamental sense of freedom of opinion is to be signed away in an 'out of court settlement' by the guardians of knowledge and art? 

Penguin India has written its own obituary. Oh they won't go bankrupt just yet. They will survive because money and ugliness go hand in hand and the world will continue to feed such vultures with the scavenging remains of their dignity and courage. 

I'm about to start looking for a publisher. Everyone advised me not to write against Penguin India at this delicate juncture. But if I don't, then I am not a writer, I have nothing to say and I'm a coward. So Penguin India....I hope you burn in hell.