21 January, 2014

AAP - it does have an image. Does it have a concrete plan ?

(Pic courtesy : english.manoramaonline.com via Google)
The Aam Aadmi Party astounded everybody last December, by winning 28 seats in the New Delhi polls.  They virtually made the ruling Congress party eat dust with the Congress being reduced to a paltry 8 seats in the elections.  People were ecstatic, for there was actually a hope that there was indeed a viable alternative to the existing Congress / UPA (who have proved themselves to be exceedingly inept at governance) and the BJP (who, represented by an authoritarian fascist, religious zealot, is sure to send the country spiralling downwards with his caste based fanaticism).  AAP loomed large, their larger than life picture giving hope to millions as a possible alternative to the two existing political parties.
Right now, to state that India has a functioning government, would be a joke of the highest order.  Simply put, right now, there is no governance in the country, there has been none for quite some time now.  Politicians and their close relatives are busy making money and filling their pockets with the various cock eyed schemes that have been in the offing without any benefits whatsoever to the common man.  Corruption reigns supreme in virtually any government body, so much so that it has almost become an accepted form of getting things to work.  Ministers and their relatives are breaking laws with impunity, safe in the knowledge that they will not be held accountable or even questioned over their dubious actions.  The country continues to be unsafe for women, with things not having changed in the least bit, even after the large number of protests and the hue and cry that the women raised in public.  The scariest aspect of this whole thing is that despite all these major problems and shortcomings, no one seems to be bothered in the least.  Common man suffers, the poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer.  The crevasse is wider and deeper than ever.
Arvind Kejriwal did strike the proper chords with the Indian public which is totally and thoroughly sick and disgusted with the country being mired and stuck with a government that turns a blind eye towards virtually everything, with the country being sucked into this bottomless pit of corruption.   In the light of all this, AAP barged on to the political scene, pretty much like the proverbial breath of fresh air.  About a month later, the question that is now being asked is “Where is the AAP headed, does it have any or atleast some sense of direction ?”.
His attempt at holding a Janta Darbar ended up in absolutely chaos and confusion.  But then again, why a Janta Darbar ?  This whole drama reminded me of one of those Akbar Birbal comic books – where the praja go to the king to air their grievances and seek a solution.  In the 21st century, does India or more importantly, does the common man in the country really need to be taken back to this centuries old custom ?  The ruler and the ruled ?  Is that the image AAP really wishes to portray.  This whole Janta Darbar thing sounds like something that would suit the likes of Narendra Modi – who consider themselves a God given gift to humanity in general and India in particular. Modi has deluded himself into believing that he is a god like entity and that he has his praja or “his people” under him.  Coming from the AAP, especially given the fact that Kejriwal is an educated IIT graduate with a number of educated people supporting him, this whole Janta Darbar thing simply reeked of populism.
The question foremost on the minds of the people now is whether AAP has any long term plan of action for the country.  A month into power, the AAP still looks at the “agitation mode” towards sorting out issues and problems plaguing the country.  Yesterday, they almost brought Delhi to a state of chaos whilst protesting “AAP style”, demanding the dismissal of five policemen who refused to follow orders to bust a drug and prostitution racket.  While the sentiment towards bringing corrupt officials to book is right, the mode of implementation leaves a lot to be desired.  Four of Delhi’s metro stations had to be shut down yesterday, traffic spilled over onto the streets and who ended up paying and suffering – the Aam Aadmi – the common man. 
One is pretty much sure that most of their actions stem from the fact that the LS elections are but a few months away.  Arvind Kejriwal and the AAP built their premise on the basis of an image – that of a corruption free country but that image is fast fading from the minds of the people, the common man while they battle with the hardships of life on a daily basis.  While providing an image as a platform is good, what is also essential is to back up that image with a well-planned, well laid out system with visions which aim at the long term picture.   
Unfortunately, given the pace at which news travels in today’s world, thanks to the manifold social media websites that are the lifeline of communication today,  Mr.Kejriwal does not have the luxury of time or of a honeymoon period in which to prove his ability to streamline the political and governmental structures in the country, towards a corruption free India. 
I am sure his intentions are good but whether Mr.Kejriwal and the AAP will be able to follow through in terms of actually putting plans into action, with an efficient working system in place, without letting power get to their heads and corrupt their minds, remains to be seen. 

20 January, 2014

Nirbheek - Is a gun the solution to rape avoidance ?

(Pic courtesy : scmp.com via Google)
I read this article in The Times of India the other day, with a growing sense of dismay.  No – am not talking of accidents, murders or rapes.  Those seem to be happening as routinely as clockwork, even now.  I’m talking of Nirbheek (I believe that’s what it is called).  Nirbheek is said to be India’s first gun for women, a lightweight .32 bore pistol and is being touted as something that could produce “the element of surprise that is sure to scare the life out of most of the persons who attempt rape”.
Is that the solution ?  Really ?
To be honest, the thought scares me rather than infusing a sense of confidence that it might help the situation. 
In a country like ours, the problem lies not with the women but with the men who consider it their birth right to molest or rape women at will.  In a country like ours, the problem lies not with the rape survivors but with society on a whole, for, it still remains a patriarchal society that discounts the actions of men and wrongfully transfers the accountability onto the women.  In a country like ours, the problem lies with the fact that women are still, for all practical purposes and sundry, secondary citizens and not for a second of their lives are they allowed to forget that.  In a country like ours, the problem, simply put, lies in the fact that people, men and women alike, in more ways than one, still help feed the rape culture.
For women in India, rape is not the only thing they need to worry about.  There are countless other things.  Will having a gun help a woman who is being forced to undergo an abortion because she carries a female foetus within herself ?  Will having a gun help a woman who gets nudged, felt up or pinched in any of the public transport systems in the country ?  Will having a gun help a woman who is leered at on the roads or will it help one who has her bottom slapped or her breasts fondled by pathetic examples of men who scoot past on motorbikes or bicycles ?  Will having a gun help a woman who has songs sung to her by groups of men (songs like “chalti hai kya nau se bara” and others are notoriously infamous) in any given corner of a road or the bus stops or the train stations  ?  It is not just rape that the womenfolk in India are at a risk from.  It is all of the above too.  All of these too, leave women feeling violated.  Unfortunately, these things are pretty much “sanctioned” by our society as “unavoidable” or “better than what could otherwise have happened”.  Therein, lies the main problem. 
Societal attitudes is where it all needs to begin.  Menfolk and womenfolk need to realize and more importantly, accept, that they are equally to blame in fostering this culture.  People need to realize that actions have to bring with them, accountability.  Women need to start respecting feminity and drawing strength from it, rather than looking upon it as a curse and turning upon womenfolk themselves.  People need to take a long, good look at the so-called, self-proclaimed godmen in our country, who vilify women in the name of religion or even better, as a form of medicine or a cure.  What is needed is an approach aimed at the grassroots, not a 500 gram titanium alloy gun in a velvet box.
Take a good look at the USA.  People are allowed to own firearms, they are allowed to carry firearms for their own protection.  How much safer has it made things there ?  Has it helped prevent crimes in general or against women in specific ?  One look at the statistics and the answer is more than clear. 
Another very scary prospect, if India goes ahead with Nirbheek, is the accessibility that common man would have, to a firearm.  Thefts, pickpocketing being so very common an occurrence in the country, the possibility of guns being stolen and misused, is mind numbing, truth be told.  How about guns falling into the hands of children ?  The USA still remains a prime example of the number of things that can go wrong with the common man being allowed to carry arms.  Yet, this is seen touted as a solution to rape in a country as populous as ours. 
Even in this 21st century, so-called “developed” world of today, where fingers are bizarrely pointed at rape survivors instead of the perpetrators, the focus, unfortunately almost always, completely shifts from the committer of the crime to the survivor.  People and media alike, have made it a habit to feed on tidbits of information which are increasingly being viewed as “tasty morsels”, thus shifting accountability from the wrongdoer to the offended.    
Over the past, women have been given countless number of inane “solutions” to avoid rape - don’t drink, don’t go out late at night, don’t have boyfriends, don’t dress provocatively are some examples.  Let’s not add to that list, shall we ?  Let’s not set out one more piece of advice for 
“rape avoidance” towards the women in the country saying “carry guns in your handbags”.  

04 January, 2014

The Precipice - A 300 word micro fiction

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“Just one step, just one step” echoed the voices inside his head.  He could taste the fear at the back of his throat, his head buzzed. 

“There is no way out” said the same voices, inside his head.  “Just one more step and you shall know peace like you never have before” said the same voices, sounding taunting and mollifying at the same time.  He knew too, that there was no other way out of the situation he had gotten himself into.  What was supposed to have been one round at the casino had gone on and before he knew, he was neck deep in debt.  He needed money and he needed it quick. 

I will be done and over with this, once and for all, he thought.  He had no choice.  He could feel the pressure building behind his head.  His temples would soon start pounding and the aches would begin.  I will put an end to this once and for all.  Just get it over with and thats that he thought to himself.

Steeling himself for what he had to do, he stood at the edge of the precipice, trying not to look at the ground below.

“Do it” commanded the voice inside his head.  “Do it, for you do have no other choice” resonated the voice. The pounding increased, drowning out all vestiges of reasoning left in him.

 “Do it” commanded the voice, stronger and more authoritative, this time.   Unable to go against its wishes and command, his face red, his lips quivering, his head pounding, tasting the bitter rush of adrenaline at the back of his throat, he jumped off the precipice.

“Cut. That's a wrap. You sure make one hell of a stuntman“ yelled the director, as he hit the huge airbag on the ground.