The Amartya Sen debate-Why am I enraged as a woman?

I have been watching the election circus which will soon be telecast live in our drawing rooms, with as much interest as any other ordinary Indian of my age. To put the record straight, I have a habit of reading up stuff. I read up the newspapers and I am in the loop. But I am simply disinterested! Why? because it is all the same. The mumbo jumbo that goes on every 5 years. Every time there is this towering figure who is the centre of attraction. Our politicians prefer talking about the person more rather than concentrating on issues. Issue based politics and policy decisions are not part of our Parliamentary system and it is high time we accept that.

A few years back the entire Indian polity was utterly confused about what to do with Sonia Gandhi and her origins. The ‘bahu’ brigade justified her lineage with our age old ‘culture’ and what not and the people who proclaim themselves to be the true upholders of ancient Indian culture detested her. This time it is none other than the charismatic Gujarat chief Minister Narendra Modi who is in the limelight. I have heard from my peers that Mr. Modi is an excellent administrator and after hearing a few speeches on youtube about his vision of Bharat and her development, I am a tad convinced. May be because it will be  a decision between who is the lesser evil(?)- the kid who refuses to grow up, who does not show up to take any responsibility anywhere, anytime, whose party has been responsible for some of the biggest scams in the recent times and someone whose credibility for some (high funda?) inclusive growth is under scanner, always.

Yes, we all like development. Economic ones per se. I come from a state which is a living example of how economic decay has led to the complete destruction of the moral fibre of the society. I am from West Bengal, I am from Calcutta and I proudly say so. But the incidents and the facts and figures that I encounter everyday makes it a very difficult decision for me to stay back in the city I love. I had given up a well cushioned job in another city to be here. I took a pay cut. But I was happy. Not that everyone will be. I am talking about the very little opportunities that the place offers nowadays. It’s a hard truth that I have no option other than accepting.

But this post is not about that. I see a point in Modinomics because my state is an example about how your basics in economic growth needs to be in place for you to survive. A world renowned Economist, a Nobel Laureate does not agree with me. Fair enough, Amartya Babu, you are entitled to have your opinion. And so are you Chandan Babu. Everyone can have their opinion. The fundamentals of our Constitutional practice, which is so eloquently depicted in one of the brilliantly written documents of recent history, records and recognises that. A little knowledge of our ancient Indian culture and scriptures will reveal that it has always been that way. ‘Sahanshilata’ is a part of our Indian way of life.

But what enrages me and engulfs with utter disgust is the way how the debate about whether Mr. Modi is an ideal Prime Ministerial Candidate or not is progressing. I for one will choose him over the ‘other’. But the campaign on various social networking sites which personally attacks Mr. Sen by circulating morphed pictures of her daughter, actor Nandana DevSen, is malicious, hurtful and tragic to say the least. The pictures question the right of Mr. Sen about expressing his opinion on the grounds that he failed to impart moral lessons to her daughter.

My question is even if Nandana DevSen participated in those nude photoshoots, how is that even related to the debate? She is an actor. I do not find her to be a good one, but it is her chosen profession. Ms. DevSen is a well read lady and she is capable of making her decisions on her own. It is her right over her own body and how she prefers to use it (photographed or not!) is completely her domain of choice. Her father has no business being ashamed of it. The point about imparting moral lessons to the daughter about how she can pose and act in such films or for such photographs is a disgracefully patriarchal one. And that makes me even more concerned when we are going through the times when women in our country are raped over their choice of clothes, not on the heinous mental indifference of the man. This very attack again brings to fore that even after those promises of changing mentality, nothing actually has changed.

And I am surprised that nobody is questioning that. Reminds of Charles Dickens all over again 🙂

P.S. I am equally enraged about 65 elected representatives seeking a third party referral from a foreign government about grant of visa to one man. Obsession has new limits.

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Forgotten and unsung.

Note: This is another angry citizen post. Those looking for porn and other related stuff, kindly avoid. It’s disgusting when google analytics shows up the list of words people were searching for and landed on my blog which particularly has no connection to it whatsoever.

We are a nation which loves to crib. Yes, I am counting you- the overworked software guy who has made two onsite visits which added to the purse and the waistline. You- the overpaid and overworked hot shot elite institute graduate who sits in the comforts of his/her air conditioned office, works on holidays, makes foreign trips with family for holidays, have event managers planning out his son’s birthday party. You- the normal BPO/KPO guy. You- the supposed academic who could not resist the lucrative foreign offer and crossed the Atlantic leaving the pittance paid out here to fill the coffers of some undeserving brute. And you- the elitist and luckiest of the lot, the babus who have access to all the power and position that this country boasts of.
We all crib about something, sometime or the other. We crib about the extended hours at office, the coffee vending machine not working, the non approval of an extension for a project deadline, the pittance being paid for supposed research, the non availability of holidays, good food, great clothes, shows, bags…blah, blah, blah..the list goes on. Be rest assured I belong to all the categories mentioned above in some way or the other. and I still crib.

I had gone out for some work with a friend of mine last week. While returning to this campus some 30 kilometres away from the city, the bus needs to cross the Secunderabad army cantonment area. We saw a bunch of young men, almost our age or may be younger practising their evening drill in drizzling rain, the one that had become the source of our discontent for past few days. My friend and I generally struck up a conversation about how the army men are one of the most poorly paid people in the country. It was a superficial discussion but somehow the headlines regarding asking out the army for every possible disaster management in the country has caught my attention since then.

The morning TOI print edition carried a piece about the army now being called to salvage the messy CWG preparations by building up a footbridge in record time through their emergency techniques. This will be in place of the grand overbridge that collapsed whose contract must have been doled out by Mr. Suresh Kalmadi and Co. in ‘severe’ respect for taxpayer’s money. Oh! the best part was this would be done in a fraction of the cost the original bridge had cost (and would have cost in case it survived the games), atleast that’s what a proud PWD official says.
I am in no mood to talk about the loofest (borrowed from Bhagat) called the CWG. But there is one thing that needs attention here.. why are we so insensitive to the needs of the people on whom we depend for basic survival issues??? We dpn’t raise their salaries. We put them in BEST buses after they save a horrified city and it’s even more horrified air kissing class after 26/11 and send them away like cattle while the chief minister visits with his convoy and a film  director in tow. Waah!
We can fill in the coffers of these corrupt politicians and officials (gill, dikshit, bhanot and the great kalmadi included) and not raise a voice about where did all our money go- that’s fine, but we can atleast talk and think about people who guard our borders day in and day out so that we can plan our exclusive party well and secured. Does National pride have any bigger carriers than them?? what do we give back to their families apart form that Tiranga and the gun salute?? Do we have any better social security measures in place.
I am not the angry citizen speaking here, it is we who should demand the change, just like we demand their presence and arrival to save us from that national calamity in form of flood, earthquake or communal riots. We don’t even get to know if they crib. even if they do, there is no HR manager to look into their demands and order a pay hike. right?

To tell the truth, you me and everyone enjoy our air conditioned comfort. who doesn’t? Only that we can spare a thought about our folks fighting it out really hard to make us comfortable. You have anything in mind? Do share.

The Babri verdict and me. And us.

Time and age has made us realise that the most complicated kind of relationships (yes! I speak in the facebook lingo, any problem?) exist between man and woman. The coexistence however forced or chosen is bound to give rise to some amount of friction which is unavoidable. But it turns out to be enjoyable in most of the cases. Imagine your smoked hilsa without the adequate share of green chillies. There you go! spice is the way of life. But not always.

This is not about man-woman relationship. In case you thought it to be so, it’s entirely my fault since I keep on writing about that stuff. My friends call me a hopeless romantic and I don’t mind. More so because of the fact that being serious and drab doesn’t come easy to me. But somehow I don’t feel good about September 24. Yes! it’s the day that many in this country have been dreading about and that includes our elected body of representatives who have gone ahead to form the Government. A few days back a regular (those boring government scheme types) advertisement caught my eye. Not because of it’s presentation (they seriously need to work on that) but because of the content. It was an appeal on part of the Government of India, ‘the Government of the people, by the people and for the people India’ to maintain peace after the Babri Masjid judgement is delivered by the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on September 24th. Frankly speaking the romantic in me wasn’t happy. Neither did I see a reason to be so. The gloom of the situation had rubbed off.
As a law student I won’t go into the technicalities of the numerous (to the extent hilarious) affidavits filed in this particular matter on issues which only vote bank politics (with a tint of orange and green both- their is no discrimination there you see!) can justify. My coffee table discussions with colleagues will suffice for that. and to think of it, this is just the beginning of the long drawn litigation process with avenues up to the Supreme Court of India being open. And now with the new found demand of an out of court settlement in form of an arbitration proceeding finding ground with one judge (dissenting on the count that his views were not taken into account before rejection of an affidavit supporting out of court settlement) all I can say is- picture abhi baki hain mere dost! Trust me! the Government supports this view in that public appeal too. I will keep short and simple here. That I am scared. I am very very scared.
I am scared because I fear for my family back home in Calcutta. I am scared because I have relatives living in the Hyderabad city. I am scared because I am here alone with a bunch of friends in Hyderabad. My father is supposed to make an official trip to Bombay in and around the time the verdict comes out and am hellbent on not letting him go. Is this the kind of atmosphere that the citizens of a country with supposedly one of the best economic growth rates in the world supposed to live in?? In fear??
In fear of an 18 year old ghost that comes back to haunt us every 6th December?????? I have my political leanings and be rest assured I don’t prefer passing judgements on the saffron, secular or red brigade anytime soon.  But somewhere they boil down to the same leaning for titillation in politics. the basis of political theory of state (I know very little of that) is fearlessness. Fear leads to a state of anarchy, and aren’t we headed there? I have been advised not to venture out in the city for atleast a week after the verdict. Hyderabad is known for it’s mixed culture across religion and all credits to the people out here, I have never seen turmoil in the parts I have ventured in. But then isn’t applying 144 CrPC the easiest way out during the ganapati visarjan and the eid celebrations every year in the old city?? What is it, if not fear? Tell me if I am reading too much into it.
I have cyber forensics as one of my seminar subjects in my final year of law school. We were supposed to make a trip to one of the forensic laboratories in the city form campus as a part of the course curriculum. But unfortunately we have to wait for some more time before that materialises. The Australian exchange student on campus asked me, why? I didn’t have an answer. It isn’t that she hasn’t seen the ugly side of racial attacks in Australia. But living in fear is not justified anywhere right?
There are two bits of image which I think I will carry with myself forever. 18 years back I was a kid, my memory doesn’t recall everything but yes I knew Curfew was a dreaded word. My mom and dad ran to the market nearby my house along with pishimoni, chotoamma and dadubhai to buy groceries and eggs when the curfew was relaxed for two hours. My pishimoni earlier used to saty ver close to our place, in fact just two houses removed from ours. My amma used to go there everyday and I used to tag along with her. No wonder she decided to visit their place after so long during those two hours. We were late…..suddenly the curfew was back and we couldn’t come back….we might have over reacted, but a generous policeman helped me and amma walk back that distance. Can we always?…The distance between us have grown so much that walking back now is not even an option. The rest of India celebrated Ganesh Chatrurthi and Eid with elan. Nobody had time to think about Kashmir. And t think of those days when my amma’s father’s most trusted aide (he was a government contractor in erstwhile purbobongo) was a muslim man (I don’t recall his name). Am sure many of us have heard stories like that and of those gory days like I did when my amma’s  affluent family had to walk past the border with seven daughters in tow (or may be six since my amma was alreayd married by then). The fright of checkposts never made my amma welcome the birth of a girl child in our family. Too much of friction in a relationship makes for an overkill you see. you need the phases of sweetness in between, but unfortunately for us it always turns into an issue of us and them. Man and woman relationships have a hint of counselling attached- not in this case. Faith takes the centre stage.

So what if the Babri judgement says something decisively (that’s plain and stupid) about the site beloging to one particular sect, will I stop being friendly with my muslim classmate who helped me so much with the passport formalities in Hyderabad? or will the family of Sumitra mashi, my domestic help in Calcutta or Sharda or the Needzwali aunty start earning more to fulfill their needs of two square meals a day. To tell you the truth, they will live in fear..more fear, just like I am now.

and the Constitution guarantees freedom of movement, conscience..blah blah blah….

P.S.- The Taliban destroyed the buddha statues in Bamiyan. did that alter history? or did it somehow prove that Buddhism never had reach on the land they claim to be their own? And who does that land belong to? You, me or God? How does that matter? I am scared.
P.P.S- It’s my best friend’s birthday today. Celebrated well. But this nagging fear had been there on back of my mind which forced this 3’o clock in the night blog entry.

Death of the Ideologue- The deceased romance of a generation

Kanu Sanyal, the Naxal ideologue died this week. He committed suicide. He died on a day when news channels across India where hyperventilating to give equal coverage to his death and the fire that raged the century and a half old Stephen Court building in Park Street, Calcutta, the one which houses the iconic Flury’s confectionery store. It might just be a coincidence that in his death also he had to fight for equal footage on national airwaves with the symbolism of something he aspired to bring down with the dreams of a revolution.
Frankly speaking, none of us (and I mean the ‘Bongs’ of our generation) will be able to appreciate the nuances of the Naxalbari movement and the romance that an entire generation of our Babas, Jethus and Kakus attached to it. We are a far cry from that.
I remember a time when my Amma used to tell me stories about those horrific times. The times of the romance of the Naxalbari. I come from a Bengali family who have been supporting the INC (Indian National Congress) through thick and thin. My great grandfather have been a first generation Congressman. Needless to say we have been successful in maintaining that stand even in the times when an alternative to the CPM in West Bengal did seem impossible. But then again we were not unaffected. My father’s days of youth were of those when Bengal was rising to a new dawn and a dream which later turned in to a nightmare. It may be his inclination towards reading up on everything that he being a staunch Chatro Parishad supporter in college days still read up on the  nuances of the Naxalbari Movement. He never supported it, (in fact he once told me that these were the people who have distanced an entire generation of Indian youth from the democratic process) but he was the run of the mill Bengali guy whom the now deceased Kanu Sanyal would have loved to meet.
Yes, I say this because somewhere I feel that there was a dream and it was ruined. And it is a sham of Communism in all the Communist ruled states that we are living in today. Kanu Sanyal, for once, accepted the fact. He preferred staying with the people he had fought for. His Comrades. Not like the ones we see everyday, brokering a deal with the local real estate dealer or may be with a big Industrial house to overnight convert a silent and previously unheard of village in to the Singapore of Bengal without much groundwork and detailing going in to it.
These are myopic dreams that the so called Communists and Maoists have been seeing for long now. albeit from the two different ends of the spectrum. Maoists continue with their penchant for violent struggle where the ultimate losers end up being the onces they claim to fight for. It is high time for them to understand that to fight a machinery as big and organised as “State power” you need to stop fighting first. Since the notions of a welfare state are deep entrenched in our system, in spite of the JNU returned Communists (who are scared of facing the democratic face of the country) plaguing the system- there is hope.Hope in our Political process which churns out the much controversy ridden yet appreciated efforts like the NREGA.
 Violence is never the solution. And hats off to Kanu Sanyal who had realised this and took a stand. It will take time before our Netas and the other self proclaimed ones take note of that. But for one who had started this movement with the precincts of violence, to accept this fact and not being dogmatic could have been a huge step towards blending Communist movement within the mainstream of Indian Politics. Sadly, that never happened and with the state of things at present, it might just be so that the next generation of Bongs would understand the Communist movement in India just as another ‘Historic Blunder’.
Frankly speaking, I know very little of who Kanu Sanyal was and his work or the times he lived in. It is just another third eye perspective. A perspective of the sort whose fathers and uncles believed that Kanu Sanyal was practical and why Charu Mazumdar’s strict hardcore line of violence is bound to meet with utter destruction.
In his death, our generation (the very few who actually bothered to take note) has relived the romance of Naxalbari and its original intent rather than despairing over the fact that the person who started it and later condemned the Maoist movement, died a lonely death. Popular media might be right on the fact that his death sent out the signals of despair over violence but it was also about going back and understanding the bent of mind of a person more Communist than the ones we elect and the alternative model that he accepted and could have propounded in case his dream would have not gone awry or his friends in power not grown richer by the millions.