Of Cabbages and Kings

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.

September 18, 2008

Media: the elitist watchdog?

Filed under: Across the Universe, Random musing — Tags: , , , , — Chinmayi @ 8:29 pm

24 hour news channels are the next big thing in India. They might have been a little more interesting if they attempted to report all that there was to report in a day (surely in a country where several rapes and several murders are committed in a day, not to mention all the bribing there is plenty of material to fill a day’s programme) instead of running the same ten minutes of commentary on the same issue again and again and again.

When Aarushi Talwar was found murdered in her room at her upmarket urban residence, the media broadcast little other news for about two months. A google search with just the term ‘Aarushi’ results in a long catalogue of newspaper reports about her

Another child, known only as ‘the deaf and dumb girl’ was raped by policemen a little over a month back. We have heard practically nothing about it.

There are over 15,000 (reported) incidents of rape in a year and around six thousand (reported) dowry deaths in this country. But most of these are brushed aside very quickly especially if the victim is a dis-empowered person. Sometimes the powerful lend their voices to the powerless and someone like Mathura becomes a little more visible. But for a large part, most of the victims that should share the media attention devoted to Aarushi are ignored and left to fend for their powerless selves.

August 21, 2008

Binayak Sen

Dr. Binayak Sen, somebody who has done a lot more for the country than most people, is now a victim of the ridiculous charade that passes off as justice in India. He has been in prison for over a year now. Read about him over here. If you are moved, you could sign the petition to free him.

Imprisonment of people that speak out against the government is becoming unsettlingly frequent. There was Professor Geelani a few years back, Binayak Sen last year and Ajay TG this year. And these are merely the high profile cases that find their way into the media.

So many of us, the Indian middle class, feel so complacent and secure sitting on our plush couches watching fluffy shows like Big Boss on our flat screen televisions and driving to expensive restaurants in our glittering cars. Once in a while, we see newsreports of bombs and terrorists which disturb us a little. Like frightened children swallowing a fairy story to rationalise surroundings that we don’t understand, we accept draconian laws trustingly and have touching faith in the police who we believe will use all this power we give it to shoot all the bad guys and make the roads safe for our new cars.

In the meantime, the people who can see what is really going on and who speak out against it are slowly being erased – the mild form of this removal is that they are ignored and the extreme form of their disappearance is that they are arrested – and we have no idea that this is going on.

Ours is a country where each of us has the freedom of speech and expression, and the right to ask questions when we can see that rule of law is not observed. By ignoring our right and allowing ourselves to be lulled into complacence, we are creating a frightening country for ourselves to live in. And by our indifference we are allowing the few heroes who champion our cause to be annihilated.

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