Saturday, August 25, 2012

After all, what's 'wrong', Baba?

Parliamentarians - or call them politicians if you prefer to do so - seem so much a lesser evil when one is left to watch the sadhus, yogis and the like, gatecrash their way into politics! No, not justifying the kind of things some politicians do -- be it Left, Right or Centre -- blinded by power or ignorance, thinking they have the power and authority over other lives or other's lives. God Save those Kings and Queens! 


Corruption-free India has been the buzzword for quite sometime now. Team Anna has had enough on the streets - shooting without a real target or range. Yes, corruption is that widespread in India. Now looking to join the political bandwagon. The RSS and its affiliates have succeeded in turning their war against corruption as much against the Congress-led government at the Center.  As it stands, they could contest elections, or it could be another row in the ballot paper - 'None of the above.' A good choice for the Indian public, but beyond that? 

Questions with greater implications. Time will show. 

But it's [Baba] Ramdev, the Indian yoga guru,  who set me thinking, with the new moral fabric that he is weaving for the new political landscape, which he is aspiring to lead. 

'[Narendra] Modi is not doing anything wrong....Ministers of the Congress-led UPA government have been in jail. Had the Gujarat Chief Minister also done anything wrong, he would be put behind bars," Ramdev, India's latest political aspirant/entrant said recently. He was referring to the allegations of corruption in Narenda Modi-led Gujarat.  

If one forgets what Modi has done in the past, "Modi 'is not' doing anything wrong" is quite an impressive statement- very zen-like. 

But should politics be zen-like or should it have its historic memory intact? Zen, in its holistic sense, is good for the well being of an individual, but should the nation be like a mental asylum with no historic memory, or should it build its cultural and national identity based on historic memory? Well, it is evolving into a long and complex topic- something which i didn't mean to address in this post. 

Okay, let me imagine it to be zen-like given the amnesiac historic memory of the democracy - Now, am I wrong about the memory part? You may decide for yourself. I am just imagining. 

But left to wonder what Baba meant by the word "wrong" -
And if I apply my memory, and if "wrong" is used in the right sense - where should Modi be? where should Ramdev be?   

Is corruption the only moral "wrong" in politics? 

One may ignore the political news, if it's not worthy of your time. 
I do.  Well, if not all, most.  
You too can. India has no rules to send you to jail for that.

But when one has to pass by the Parliament Street daily and is left to watch the drama being staged there - well, can't help but wonder - 

where is this nation headed? What is next?


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Occupy!….A Long Way to Go!?




the jobless and the homeless have always been so,
everywhere. they occupied - simply occupied the walls
and streets of every city, every nook and corner

loitering, eating, sleeping, with no hope or purpose
tendering a vacant look on passers by,

until one fine day awakened by a call
to Occupy Wall Street,
and Occupy all streets

to Occupy, On purpose.

and then, it went beyond them,
who loiter in the streets, the less fortunate
the jobless, the homeless, the helpless, and the hapless
it’s ‘We’ - add the working class
the more fortunate, the sheltered, the helpful
the hopeful, and then ’We’ are 99 %’

a 99%, who don’t see themselves  
stinking rich will possibly drive them,
the 1%, the speculators, out of their foul hubs,
out of their greed and banish them to the suburbs
of the afflicted hearts of men and women,
to show them how humanity differs
from societies and markets

to tell them, the 1%, that ‘We, the 99%’
are not at fault always for what happens
to ‘Us’-

to ask them to correct, correct themselves
their systems, for a fair ground

but Occupants- is it just a riposte
to their greed?-
is our greed under check?
true welfare, social equality, economic justice
a dream? a far-flung possibility -

revolutions on purpose can turn
impossibilities into possibilities

haps a long way to go…a long way to go!


Anna Hazare’s Anti-Corruption campaign, which Occupied the Indian streets in the past months (though the discourse is now mired in the cauldron of protest politics); the Occupy Wall Street campaign, and the Occupy Movement, which started with a call by the Adbusters and sprung up in major cities in the US and elsewhere and such other movements and popular protests against governments and big businesses across the globe – sure, point to the dormant but now rising public strife against the corrupt politico-economic systems that widen the gap between the rich and the poor, globally. About the way governments and some businesses join to dupe the public - bailing the big businesses out with tax payer money and no accountability being just one of the many ways.

The world today looks like a melting pot. A melting pot of discontent and frustrations.

To wish for a tabula rasa of sorts, to sweep clean all systems and start fresh could be Utopian, isn't a possibility. But there ought to be ways, legal and non-violent, to ensure cleaning up of the systems, and of mindsets, a much needed clean-up.

 ‘Hope in the midst of Chaos’ (http://devika-theunheardvoice.blogspot.com/2008/09/hope-in-midst-of-chaos.html)  was in 2008.

From September 2008 when the US markets failed  to Occupy Wall Street – It took three years for ‘We, the people’ to understand and to react. Much proverbial water has flowed under the bridge…..and indeed a long way to go…..to reach any juncture that may be called fruition.

I am not sure, despite being a revolutionary in my heart of hearts, these movements are failing to make the cut with me. Is it because the general notion, the modern ideology that ‘Greed is Good,’ propounded by the Capitalist West has become an accepted norm, and that most people I see today, in my country too, especially the young, are headed that way. And the acquired knowledge that greed is second nature to man; to talk of the latest, else why would a mobile phone company portray a young yogi, though a seemingly fake one at that, to endorse the product with a ‘Greed is Good’ slogan - could be a joke, but not without reason, for sure. And that greed will not cease in man, no matter what. Not very sure…possibly all that and more.

Or may be I have reached an age and stage, where I am not too thrilled about all the hullabaloo of protests, the politics of protests itself, which burns down to nothingness, eventually. Nothingness, because ideologies do not go forward without compromises, and in the name of pragmatism, ideologies are sometimes compromised and watered down to zilch. 

But, what could be significant is the creation of awareness.

As I stick to my ‘Greed isn’t ever Good’ ideology (Paradoxically, such ideologues could also be a meager ‘One Percent,’ or much less, in the present times? The irony of it all?), watching and tracking these movements and the ensuing systemic and governance changes – I mean the likely changes, both in business and government – would be interesting, in no less terms. Especially, when one doesn't know the way it all would go.


Photo courtesy: as per original copyright at:
http://www.dailyfumes.com 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Happy Diwali!

evening songs 
between the breaths
hearts of light


‘Let there be light’ ~ Happy Diwali to you all!



Photo courtesy: as per original copyright at:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Planning Commission, a heron & some thoughts...



The Planning Commission of India has reportedly said in its affidavit to the Supreme Court that people spending more than INR32.00 a day in urban areas and INR26.00 a day in villages are no longer poor and will not be eligible to get the benefits of government schemes meant for those ‘Below Poverty-line' (BPL). That would mean those who spend an average of INR32/INR26 a day have their ‘roti, kapda aur makaan’ (food, clothing and housing) in place – the government is setting new standards for the reality that India is! But, much to ponder considering what India is projecting itself to be, internationally:

while pondering uselessly after reading the online news, a scene from an April evening comes back to my mind:

twilight over wheat fields   
through the space between darkness
and light, 
the last cry of a grey heron
trilling the sky

Seemed, he had not got that day’s catch. Grey herons, much like me, like to have fish. They may eat amphibians, rodents, reptiles, small birds etc, but fish is their main food. The wheat field could just have been ripe for other birds, but herons and wheat? They blink and look the other way, the same way I would do with wheat rotis and vegetable dishes. Of course, for when hunger strikes, I don’t strike with it; anything would go. If one thinks about it, half of what we eat is eaten without real hunger...then we go exercising the bodies,  and exorcising the ghosts!

No, just saying…it is all one’s choice, for those who can afford to have the choice…

But now, the heron makes me think of all the people,with an income of INR32 a day, or say anyone, in the cities who like me would wish to have fish in their daily diet, but cannot afford. In the villages, one just need to go fishing or one can have it for so much less than it costs in cities. Not so in cities, where every darn comes with a price….


To live on less definitely has lessons for joyful living and contentment. Lessen the clutter, on your plate or on your mind, you definitely feel light and joyous. But will the poor, or those that just pushed through the poverty line, ever know that? Amid their toil, each day past is so much better....?

On the other hand, do the super rich in their indulgence find time for realising the joy?  Or always live in the tension of maintaining status-quo? Or is indulgence in itself a joyous thing...I wouldn't know, and I could be wrong when reading how others think and feel...No individual life offers itself for a transparent reading to an outsider...

But, the plight of in-betweens, the class I belong to – Nothing short of the joys of ordinary, simple living and be happy for the way it is...

Not that I have huge ambitions when it comes to material things. Practically not a thing in my list of cravings...And, perhaps much like many of us or may be not, my ambitions have always been limited, very limited, for the simple reason, I like it that way.

But Planning Commission of India must know, Indians, irrespective of class and creed, too need to have a choice when it comes to living…if not now, in the long run. If not for us, for future generations…


Photo courtesy: as per original copyright at:

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Autumn of Authoritarianism


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Well, so much out of season, but the world has been witnessing an autumn in these months- a rather different kind of autumn. The kind of autumn Gabriel García Márquez speaks about in ‘The Autumn of the Patriarchs’. Dictators and authoritarian regimes have come down, or forced to come down, like leaves into the pages of history, amid popular public protests.
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Not what someone expected when the year started, regardless of the news of protests and demonstrations in Tunisia. Not me. Despite being a wild dreamer of sorts, often being in my own Utopia dreaming of world political systems based on Marxist/Leninist ideologies of classless societies, run on true democratic principles by welfare oriented governments, I have not imagined these years would be marking the last of those epochs in the history of authoritarian rule. Not so fast, anyway.
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On the contrary, living in a rather ripe, yet cantankerous democracy with little political principles on either side of spectrum, I had sometimes thought autocracy was better. A rather raw thought*, nevertheless a thought when one is left to watch the dance of the political puppets for power, in comparison to the kind of rulers I’ve heard of as having ruled my home state –from the mythological Mahabali to the last ruling Maharaja, Shri Chithira Thirunal of the princely state of Travancore. But that is a different story, a different time period.
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And, those were stories of the just rulers. Not the likes of 82-year old Hosni Mubarak, or Ben Ali, who wouldn’t quit until hundreds die on the streets.
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Perhaps our country too would have had our share of dictatorial rulers and kings in the past. But, it has been my wonder how the Arab/Muslim nations and populace have succumbed to dictators for such long tenures in the modern history, with out any major mass protests. It’s hard to imagine how an Arab nation, like Egypt, which was once the cradle of human civilisation taken to Enlightenment values, offering the most advanced form of governance and management since the time of Pharaohs, has given in for 30 years to a dictator, who was in turn dictated by the US and who dutifully responded to American geopolitical interests in the region.
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But people, especially the oppressed ones, will rise in revolt. And it is reassuring that the uprisings across the Arab world have not been prompted by factionalism of any kind, political or religious, but a more secular call for a truly democratic and fair economic order.
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Yet, the question remains whether the rising spirit of democracy, human rights and corruption-free governance will soon be glossed over by the pseudo democratisation of the political system with the intervention of the West, especially its biggest political and military ally, the US.
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The pace with which the rebellion, helped by the modern social media, spread across the region like an explosive chain reaction has been phenomenal. Again, question remains whether the Twitter/Facebook revolutionaries influenced by the American democratic rhetoric, will remain united and go further with their socio-political agenda, or give up on them as time marches on.
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Only time will tell.
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Will they look beyond the dictators to see the systems that need to be set in place for free and fair democratic order? It is worth a thought that people in established democracies such as India are more than happy with our individual right to vote, with no idea as to what the collective outcome would mean, and watch the ensuing political drama over our evening meals, or ignore it altogether and go about ‘our’ business.
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Yet, the recent uprising is a sign.
A sign that no global political leader can probably chose to ignore.
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*That could go in for the making of a full length post, but well, it’s only a personal observation that is not categorical in any manner, and not at all considering the merits of democracy v. autocracy. If only practical politics meant a translation of political ideologies, the thought needs a further consideration.
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Photo courtesy: as per original copyright at:

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Wish you a happy and prosperous 2011

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Photo courtesy: Tim Hamilton as per original copyright at:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bestrated1/341866875/
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Happy Independence Day!






Happy Independence Day to my Indian friends!


Sharing two poems by Ravindranath Tagore – On the freedom he envisioned for our country…

1. Freedom

Freedom from fear is the freedom
I claim for you my motherland!

Freedom from the burden of the ages, bending your head,
breaking your back, blinding your eyes to the beckoning
call of the future;

Freedom from the shackles of slumber wherewith
you fasten yourself in night's stillness,
mistrusting the star that speaks of truth's adventurous paths;

Freedom from the anarchy of destiny
whole sails are weakly yielded to the blind uncertain winds,
and the helm to a hand ever rigid and cold as death.

Freedom from the insult of dwelling in a puppet's world,
where movements are started through brainless wires,
repeated through mindless habits,
where figures wait with patience and obedience

for the master of show,
to be stirred into a mimicry of life.


2. Let My Country Awake


Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into
fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where the words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action –
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Rabindranath Tagore

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PS: My break continues….I’m into some projects requiring more of my time…And I won’t be able to spare much time for blogging and commenting, until at least October. Will be posting only once in a while,

So, Happy Blogging!
As always, will be reading and enjoying your works :)

wishes,
devika
Photo: As per original copyright at:
http://www.studentorg.umd.edu/desi/independence/flyer15aug2.jpg