Of Cabbages and Kings

May 23, 2009

Giving thanks

Filed under: Random musing — Tags: , — Chinmayi @ 11:22 pm

Sometimes,  some beautiful times, one gives cynicism a rest and enjoys the beauty of democracy and the resilience of people, however deprived. I am in awe of the Indian masses. I know that this election was not won over facebook campaigns or fancy speeches in English. I also know that a lot of it had to do with which party was more cohesive. But I have learned that elections are not always won through hate speech (even if it seems to work in Gujarat, Karnataka and certain parts of U.P.). I have also learned that the joy of an financial package that helps the people is that regardless of how many politicians refer to it as vote-bank politics and how many money-grubbing capitalists call it populism, the people respond and vote for more. And hey, if vote bank politics means better lives for the poorest of the poor, I am all for it. 

This year, we have a promising party in charge. Not a perfect party but a secular party, and a party that acknowledges and talks of the large and invisible group below the poverty line. This time, they are in charge and out of reach of the highwaymen coalition partners that each try to force them in a different direction. This time, a man worthy of the title is still prime minister. And if not entirely pleased to return to a fundamentalist party run state, I will be delighted to return to an intelligently run country and I hope that reading the newspapers will stop being depressing for a little while.

May 15, 2009

Election run-up

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Chinmayi @ 12:58 am

Two days to go and I wonder who it will be. Most people say that it doesn’t make a difference and that one politician is worse than the other. I disagree. To my mind there is a vast difference between a party that functions on an acknowledgedly Nazi-style strategy and one that doesn’t.

Yes, the Congress has been accused of burying gigantic scams, but the BJP has been accused of burying genocide. The Congress has , decades ago, fanned the anti-Sikh riots, declared the infamous long stretch of Emergency rule and gone on terrifying forced sterilisation binges. But the momentum of those events does not drive the party anymore, and the particular fears and ideology that drove them is long gone.

The Sangh Parivar on the other hand, has created the infamous Mangalore Pub incident, and the related attacks on women in Bangalore, in its first stint running Karnataka. Members of the BJP are key suspects in terrorist bomb plots (calculated to instigate communal violence). Nuns are still raped and murdered in the North-East, and the party continues firmly in its Hindu fundamentalist ways

So do I think I want a Prime Minister who “led the Ayodhya movement, the biggest mass movement in India since Independence, and initiated a powerful debate on cultural nationalism and the true meaning of secularism” *,  without any regard for the fact that this ‘mass movement’ consisted of an enormous mob of hooligans that stormed a place which had little to do with them and broke the Babri Masjid, sacred both for its religious and historical significance?  Do I think that a party that, in the name of security, announces that it will re-instate repressive laws which will take away most of our constitutional rights, and comes up with the utterly ludicrous idea of requiring everybody to have a ‘national identity card’ in a country where most people don’t have access to food, birth certificates, permanent addresses, bank balances or ration cards, is the same as a party that suppresses scams? I am afraid not.

Sadly, I am not in the country and was not able to vote this year. Other NRIs seem to be making a great big fuss about it. I won’t pretend to be pleased about not being able to vote, but I do think that it is a little self-absorbed to throw tantrums about fancy postal ballots when we know perfectly well that there are many more people within the country deprive of their right to vote than there are outside. Honestly, if one of us really really wanted to vote, there nothing stopping us from hopping on a plane back home to do it, as we do without a thought when our friends get married or our grand parents fall ill. If a migrant labourer wants to vote, odds are that she’s going to find it literally impossible. And perhaps it is just speculation but I imagine that the entire community of migrant labourers might need political power more than the hordes of NRIs scattered around the earth.

*from the BJP manifesto

May 2, 2009

Stephen Fry: Letter to himself

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Chinmayi @ 11:40 am

“I know the index-card waltz of (auto)biographies, poems and novels you are dancing: those same names are still so close to the surface of my mind nearly four decades later. Novels, poetry and the worlds of art and ideas are opening up in front of you almost incidentally. You spend all your time in the library yearning to be told that you are not alone, and an unlooked for side-effect of this just happens to be a real education achieved in a private school designed for philistine bumpkins. Being born queer has given you, by mistake, a fantastic advantage over the rugger-playing ordinaries who surround you.”

A lovely, funny, even heartbreaking letter to his younger self. I like this man more than ever. Read the whole letter here.

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