Monday, February 23, 2009


The Times of India Reports:

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has sent a letter to 13 prominent Muslim organisations in India with a curious request — that they declare, in a fatwa, India to be a "friend" of Islam, or a Dar-ul-Aman, therefore making jihad against India and Indians invalid.
"We are expecting the said organisations to respond to this appeal in a positive manner. We firmly believe that till the time Islamic leaders do not condemn religion inspired violence, terrorism in this country will not come to an end," Singhal said. "If Islam is a religion of peace, as they propagate, then we expect them to issue a fatwa clearing these views," he added.

And I want to be declared Elisha Cuthbert’s boyfriend. Who do I write to for that?

Youth Versus, er… Bloodlust

The Times of India Reports:

In an obvious dig at Rahul Gandhi, the 38-year-old Congress general secretary who is being projected as a youth icon by the party, Modi said: "We are not small fish floating around in the comfort of aquariums, but we weather huge storms to win."
The Congress reacted sharply to Modi's "fish" remarks, with spokesperson Manish Tewari saying in New Delhi: "If Rahul is a fish in the aquarium, then Modi is a piranha who devours human beings."

Politics, in India, is fishy business.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Oh My God

Last week, my sister, who lives in Calcutta, got stuck in a massive traffic jam on the way back from school. The reason she was stuck was that a bunch of people, who unlike my sister, never did go to school, were protesting against an article that The Statesman had reproduced from the UK's Independent. The protesters claimed that the article had insulted the Prophet.

Now, as you chaps would know, this is somewhat of a recurring phenomenon. Every few days Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs or barbers pop up out of nowhere claiming that their religious sensibilities have been hurt. And, more often than not, our government either capitulates or goons beat up everyone up in sight so that there’s a de facto ban on whatever these chaps were protesting against.

Now, there are a number of reasons why this should not happen.

Firstly, we have the London bus argument: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”. However, in all honesty, this is a futile argument not only in India but in almost all parts of the world including most of the western countries. Also, I am a bit sick of the Dawkin fanboys and their I’m-more-rational-than-99%-of-the-world expostulations.

Secondly, we have this: clock:time::religion:God.

A clock helps us to tell the time but a clock does not define time. So, if my clock is two hours slow or has stopped, it doesn’t mean that Time is two hours slow or has stopped. Time is impervious to the clock.

Similarly, at best religion can be way for us to understand God, but nothing that mortal men and women do on this Earth can ever affect God. A fair argument, if you ask me.

Therefore, it’s quite preposterous to think that an octogenarian (or is it nonagenarian?) painter can insult the very embodiment of Shakti or that a newspaper columnist can insult God’s chosen Prophet.

Incidentally, I’ve discussed this point on online forums (yes, I have too much time on my hands) and I’ve been met with one stock response: “Would you not feel hurt if somebody insulted your mother? It’s a similar case when our God is insulted.”

Now, the thing is that, while my mum is somewhat of a remarkable woman (she can teach History to a bunch of unruly girls and make the best chaanp ever) she is hardly a god—in fact she’s, unfortunately, quite mortal. She is neither omniscient nor omnipotent and, in what is cinching proof of her imperfectness, she likes to listen to ABBA.

Hence, it’s not a similar case at all and if you do dis her and I should and would feel a bit pissed.

Last and, well, least we have free speech. This has, unfortunately, taken such a beating in our country that I feel it futile to waste time writing about it.

Having enumerated (some of) the reasons as to why this stuff should not be done, it is instructive to try and understand why these things are done, nonetheless.

In one word, the reason is identity. Religion, in our part of the world, and, in fact, in most parts of the world, is an intrinsic part of our identity. It’s who you are. In effect, insulting symbols of your religion is taken, almost instinctively, as a personal insult.

So, when the chaps in Calcutta were ostensibly protesting against a columnist insulting the Prophet, what they were really protesting was a newspaper columnist insulting them.

In fact, a corollary of this would also explain the Rama Sena’s actions (as opposed to the more commonly held sexuality argument). The Ram Sena (and the other Senas, Sanghs and Parishads) primarily consists of people who would charitably be called lumpen. Here Hindu culture, or their definition of it, gives them a lovely little make-believe world to hide in. A world in which they are actually better than the pub-hoping sahebzaadas zipping around in their fancy cars. That these people are largely Hindus in the first place matters little, because by the new terms of engagement, the Ram Sena chaps are the “better” or “truer” Hindus which makes them leapfrog in social status over the harlots who frequent bars and what not.

So, what do we do to remedy the situation? Well, quite frankly, I don’t know. Yes, we could make people richer; the whole cut-at-the-root-of-the-discontentment rigmarole—admittedly our best bet. But, sometimes, even that doesn’t help—the eagerness of the residents of Punjab to murder their own daughters is proof enough.

However, if you do think of something, scribble it onto a pink chaddi and send it to Muthalik. In the meanwhile, I suggest we follow Mark Twain’s advice:

"When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Not PC

The Sunday Times of of India reports:

MEA computers hacked again

NEW DELHI: The ministry of external affairs on Sunday said that no classified information has been stolen, after over 600 of its computers were hacked.

According to Times Now, the machines were infected by spyware — a bug that gets into a computer taking control of the user's actions.

The infected computers include those in the ministry's sensitive Pakistan section.

Apparently, the hackers were foiled as the Pakistani data was kept on a Partitioned portion of the drive.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Gay Pride takes Violent Turn in Pub

Militant homosexuals attacked a pub in Mangalore last week, thrashing courting heterosexuals in a bid to bring attention to the plight of sexual minorities in India.

Witnesses say that the activists, in a fit of misogynistic rage, primarily vented their ire on the women, thrashing them mercilessly.

The leader of the group, Pramod Muthalik, confirmed that his men had indeed committed the deed. “We did it to protect Indian culture. Throughout our history we have celebrated homosexual love but look at India today. So we decided to give the heteros a taste of their own medicine and to remind India not to ape the west.”

India has several laws, enacted primarily by the British, making homosexuality a crime including the infamous Section 377. This act of violence against heterosexuals is seen by social scientists as a means of protests against the oppression faced by the LGBT community in India. It is even being spoken of in LGBT circles as India’s Stonewall.

Muthalik has vowed to wipe out this “curse of heterosexuality” from the country guaranteeing to remove contact between the two sexes which lead to such “unnatural and unIndian feelings”. He warned of severe consequence for any contact between the sexes, including mixed doubles Tennis matches. “A boy and a girl hitting balls in front of everybody is not good,” said Muthalik sternly.

Fire: LGBT activists burn Valentine's Day cards in Kashmir, which they say are “empty symbols of heterosexual love”. Photo by: AP