Our Growing Shame

Today, my mom has to think twice before sending me across the road at night just to get a packet of bread. I’m sure even she never imagined that it will be one of the biggest fears of her life to have a young daughter in this country.
Crime against women, be it rape, eve teasing, sexual harassment or domestic violence have become so frequent in every corner of our country, that it is routine to see the newspapers reporting such incidents almost daily. With the situation going from bad to worse our government has little to offer other than suggest banning of provocative movies and sexual innuendos ( however a few great MPs and god men like asaram bapu have their lowly and sexist opinions to offer too). Though admittedly I’m not a great fan of Honey Singh and his pathetic lyrics, I believe that it is not the sole reason for this growing shame. After all, such things are very dominant in the west but are not leading to such heinous crimes (not at this rate or of this magnitude at least).
After countless sessions of debates and discussions, people have come up with two conclusions – our Indian Culture and poverty. Since time unknown, boys have been preferred over girls. Maybe now I understand the reason behind this social stigma – a man could loose his lifetime worth of earnings just to get his daughter married owing to the hypocritical concept of dowry that still sadly exists in most modern societies of India.  In a country where the birth of a boy is celebrated, plates are banged (maybe a form of music in old days) and festivities are held whereas the birth of a girl is mourned, a lot of boys grow up in an environment where doting mothers cover their short comings and mistakes (FACT) and young boys of fourteen are encouraged to drive around the place as if they own it. Many psychologists have concluded that this very attitude towards “boys” is one of the main reasons that a lot of young men (especially from influential backgrounds) believe that they can get away with anything. This was aptly shown in the movie “No one killed Jessica” where the typical traditional mother of the murderer just blindly insists on the release of her son at all costs, with not even an ounce of regret or shame, completely oblivious to his deed.
Poverty has been cited as another reason. It obviously leads to lack of education amongst a large portion of India’s youth population. With no other means for survival, many young ones often turn to crimes such as thieving, drug dealings and prostitution, winding themselves deeper and deeper into this dark, tangled, uncivilized world. Psychologists have argued that they have a built in frustration. Frustration of their birth, their miserable lives and un-fulfilled desires which often comes out on innocent, well off women belonging to a world completely different from theirs.

And of course, the court proceedings in our country are far from inducing a sense of fear in people. Any action against the criminals would be concluded long after their natural deaths or the case will simply be buried away with the files.  It’s been months since the horrifying  “Nirbhaya” gang rape case that made news across the world. While the horror of it all must be fresh in the minds of her relatives, people are already forgetting

about her sufferings and moving on with life with fewer and fewer reports about her each day. But I don’t blame them – there is no punishment yet (and unlikely to be in the future too). What is our Indian Law actually waiting for – more evidence that the bastards were actually the ones who tormented her? Even now that they have confessed to it? Oh no, we are too busy allowing them to take examinations while in jail, to suicide or else reducing the term of that barbaric juvenile! Why would anyone ever even think twice before committing such acts when they have such a shining example of the consequences in front of them?

Sometimes, I find myself wondering….is it all worth it? I mean living in this country in the name of patriotism and in the hope of improvement while at the same time fearing for our lives and integrity every single day. Are those who settle abroad traitors who have turned their backs on their country or are they simply in search of a better life?
What happened to us, that today parents send their children out into the world like they used to send young men to war.

– Nidhi Gupta

Why So Serious?

I would like to ask the same to our politicians. This is on my mind since a spark emerged over a cartoon dated back to 1949, a year back. When will our political “leaders” start acting more maturely? Why Indian politicians lack sense of humour?  What difference does it make if that cartoon is included in NCERT political science textbooks? Don’t the children have the right to know what was scenario when the Constitution was penned down? I can’t see any anti- Dalit angle to the cartoon. Now our HRD minister wakes up to find that cartoons in cartoon1_20120511_1 (1)NCERT textbooks are “inappropriate”. I don’t get it, are our ministers sitting in the parliament for discussing cartoons in the parliament when they should be discussing more important bills.

Mr. Ramdas Athalve claimed cartoon “insulted the architect of India’s Constitution” but would anyone remind him that the cartoon is 63 years old! So now because of “vote bank politics”, students would never think. These cartoons are figurative representations of the socio-political conditions. They contain both humour and philosophy.  These cartoons may not be tested in exams, but they actually test how well we have understood chapter. They give us the outlook on things happened in past, things we would never experience. So people now demanding ban cartoons is absurd. It’s like they want our right to think. This shakes the very root of a democracy. So can how can they expect us to be responsible citizens who‘ll carry the nation on our shoulders.

The metaphorical representation of Dr.BR Ambedkar as the driver of the snail which is the constitution and Nehru standing with a stick shows that how restless people of India were, to see the nation’s Constitution back then. What is more shocking are RPI activists vandalizing Prof.Palishkar’s office and our forcing him to resign from his post. What did he do wrong? Was his fault is that he tried to bring life into lifeless political science textbooks which students like me would never have opened   if it was not for those cartoons, or is it because he made us think.

People scream out loud that our education system is not up to the standards and our students don’t perform well globally. Now they must’ve got an answer. This is only because our students are not made to think, to feel the topic; they are just made to learn answers by rot and scribble them on answer sheets.

Actually this not the first time cartoons creating ruckus. Few days back Chief Minister of West Bengal claimed a cartoon to be murder threat, obscene, illegal and what not. As a result the person who just forwarded the mail was beaten, threatened and arrested and then bailed. But it was just plain humour for those who’ve watched Satyajit ray’s Sonaar Kella.  Can’t we expect a chief minister to be more mature!

So now that Ambedkar’s idea of a nation with citizens having radical and free thinking is challenged by his followers, we need to ask ourselves where have we went wrong in interpreting His work(The Constitution).

Suprabho Dhenki (email id:suprabho13@gmail.com)

Delhi’s most haunted!!

The Tree near Dwarka, Sector 9 Metro Station

Many people would have noticed a tree near dwarka sector 9 metro station, the tree is right on the middle of the road. People travelling in call centre cabs at night have experienced an energy slapping them and a woman appearing and disappearing or travelling along with the speed of the car. All this started to happen when a school girl was accidentally killed by a school cab in 2004. Yes, it sounds creepy but according to many, it’s true.

Jamali-Kamali Masjid

At a walking distance from the QUTUB MINAR is a park called Jamali Kamali park, situated inside the park is Jamali Kamali masjid. Jamali and Kamali are not the name of ghosts. They were two noble Sufi saints who were buried in the tomb here. But some jihns do haunt this tranquil masjid. If you visit this haunted spot, you could expect to be slapped by invisible hands and chased by the wind. This haunted place in Delhi is always avoided during the night time.

Dlhi Cantt:

This is the most beautiful and greenest stretch of Delhi. That also makes it the creepiest of places to ride alone. Many people have reported that a lady dressed in white hitchhikes on this road.  It is reported that this place is haunted by a vengeful spirit of the lady clad in white sari asking for lift from the motorists. If people don’t stop their vehicle, she starts running swiftly with the same speed and reaching ahead of them. Some people claim that possibly the lady was a traveller while alive; hence she waves at lonely passersby to stop. There is another true Indian ghost story which says that a woman in white dress roams around the Ashok Vihar flyover between 1am and 4am. Anyone who passes by at that hour, and stops to ask her for directions, will not find their way home that night. Their vehicles break down or they go around in circles.

Sanjay Van:

The lone forest area in Delhi has not been spared by the restless spirits of the city. This forest is famous for its old and winding banyan trees. Many hikers have reported seeing a lady dressed in white walking among the old banyans and disappearing suddenly. If you see the ‘White Lady’, please tell her to get out of that white toga; it is becoming such a cliche for ghosts.

Khooni Darwaza:

The name itself suggests that the place is eerie. The Britishers stripped and shot the 3 surviving sons of Bahadur Shah Zafar here after crushing the Sepoy mutiny. The 3 Mughal princes still haunt this doorway and wait to avenge their public humiliation. So if you are English, keep out of this haunted place in Delhi!

by – Sachin Sengar ( Chief editor – Backroom Defiance)
(Contact : sengarsachin0@gmail.com)

Journey Of Intrigue- Are we really free?

“Cognito ergo sum”- Descartes.
Descartes is probably rolling in his grave for uttering these words. For it is all that people today remember about him. It means, “I think, therefore I am.” These words are constantly misinterpreted to mean that Descartes believed thinking, is an essential characteristic of being human. Rather what he actually meant was the fact that doubting one’s existence, in and of itself, proves that an “l” exists to do the thinking. This is the very basis of all knowledge. Therefore, I chose to start by his words, by doubting the parameters of Freedom as we know it. Is Freedom only and necessarily the absence of constraints? Legal, political, economic and social? Some would like to argue that if one is allowed to do as one happens to currently desire then one is truly free. So, if I desire to smoke and no constraints exist to prevent me from doing to so, then I am free. I happen to disagree with this. Freedom not only means the absence of constraints but also what one does once freed from these constraints. On this view, if information that cigarettes are gravely injurious to health is available to me and yet, I continue to both desire smoking and fulfill this desire, then I am not really free. I am not free because I have succumbed to a habit or an addiction, completely bypassing, ignoring or evading what reason tells me is good for me. To fall prey to one’s current unevaluated desires, in this view, is to be in the state of unfreedom. Freedom is a condition of leading a life and of doing things that are evaluated to be good for us to fulfill desires that have been judged by us to be worth having in the first place. Therefore, Freedom lies in self-realization. Wherein one is free to evaluate these desires and is not compelled to go against one’s views of what one holds to be right in any circumstance. So, are you really free?
What fuels my imagination and adds to my intrigue these days is the “Cave Theory” by Plato, as mentioned in his book “The Republic.” In Plato’s fictional dialogue, Socrates begins by describing a scenario in which what people take to be real would in fact be an illusion. He talks about a cave wherein there are prisoners who are bound my chains since childhood and thus made immobile. Not only their hands but their necks are chained too so they are forced to gaze at a wall in front of them. Behind the prisoners is an enormous fire, and between the fire and the prisoners is a raised walkway, along which people walk carrying things on their heads “including figures of men and animals made of wood, stone and other materials”. The prisoners cannot see the raised walkway or the people walking, but they watch the shadows cast by the men, not knowing they are shadows. There are also echoes off the wall from the noise produced from the walkway. Now, Socrates says that the prisoners will take these shadows to be real things and echoes to be real sounds created by the shadows and not just reflections of reality because these are the only things that they are able to see and hear. The whole of their society would depend on the shadows on the wall. What proof do we have that what we think is reality, is not just a shadow on the wall? This combined with Foucault’s theory of Governmentality, frankly, freaks the bejesus out of me. Foucault talks about a new definition of power. He talks about social control through disciplinary institutions like schools, psychiatric institutions and hospitals. A student in school is recognized by his roll number. A human is termed to be in need of “psychiatric” help based on socially accrued values of being “abnormal”. Voter’s identity card or more recently Aadhaar card seem to be integral parts of defining one’s identity in our country. Then “citizens” are controlled and subjugated by these lists that are created. Scary, isn’t it? Fret not. Foucault does not only talk about Governmentality in terms of controlling people but does so, in terms of power and knowledge. According to Foucault, knowledge by itself is created and constructed with an inbuilt notion of power. Knowledge is about localized influence. For example, the doctor has power over the patient, teacher over student, mother over child, etc.
So, finally it all boils down to the question of the ownership of the human body. Philosophy has a lot of answers to this question. The two classical streams namely, Greek and Christian say that God is the “owner” of the body, inviolable and inalienable; the Liberal view suggests that the owner is the specific individual who holds ownership to his body and therefore is alienable and violable to him. Kantian principles establish that persons are the real owners of their bodies but this ownership does not make them free to violate and alienate the body. Finally the Socialist approach is that the principal owner is the society, for whom the human body is considered violable.

Recently, I stumbled across another theory by Foucault (Yes, I sort of have a thing for him), as to how the Capitalist system is making the human body, mere instruments of production. At first, this idea appalled me. Later, a friend of mine with obvious Marxist inclinations introduced me to the process of Alienation. In the Capitalist system, the distance between the product and the worker is being increased manifold. In simple terms, the process by which a worker is made to feel foreign to the products of his/her own labor. Therefore, in a Capitalist system, in order to obtain the very means of life, a worker has to sell his labor to the Capitalist for a wage, as though his labor were a property that could be bought and sold. So, basically we are working for someone who gets almost all the profit and with it, we are being made to feel like mere machines. Food for thought?

So, from smokers not being free in the real sense of the term, to “citizens” being toys in the hands of the Government to the shocking facts of our Capitalist system, we humans are doomed to be meaningless until we truly ‘ask’, until we follow the path of intrigue. And going back to what I started with, as Descartes would put it, to doubt is to be human. Hence, doubt away!
Alas! This particular journey of intrigue has to end. So, I shall leave, but with the words of another Philosopher; Jean- Paul Sartre. “Existence precedes essence.” Sartre meant to say that we, Humans, do not have a predetermined “essence”. We are always free to reinvent ourselves.

– By Naomi Hazarika ( naomiprachihazarika@gmail.com )

Impatience, Supremacy, Nonchalance and India

Allahabad Stampede and the consequence of India being impatient.
Allahabad Stampede and the consequence of India being impatient.

Today, I was one of those people who survived the five hour long ordeal of submitting the medical entrance application for the Delhi university. During my time there i got a very interesting insight into the Indian mentality. Is it very hard for people to understand the simple word – “queue”? What is it that makes everyone so impatient to have their work done first that they cannot even show some basic civic sense? Everything was as ill organised as ever with clueless people barging into others and breaking into lines. I would be too much to even expect the government officials to bring about order, control the situation or guide the people correctly. With thousands of sweat drenched bodies pressing in at once, it is all one can do to breathe in and out evenly. Even a gust of hot summer wind felt like air conditioning there. Someone was threatening about influential links while others were bickering and shouting. A few grown men were climbing on tables to get the view atop while others were busy pushing the women ( the so called weaker sex) out of the way. As i stared around at these screwed up faces i thought – THIS is my incredible india ( sarcasm intended) and this is the educated class of our country – the creamy layer. In foreign countries, Indian tourists do not stand out because of their looks or colour but because of their mannerisms. They are the ones who arrive well after the dining timings and still expect to be served ( because they have paid for it man!) , those who shovel food from buffets into their bags even though it is clearly stated “ not for takeaway” , those who can jump into a seven feet deep pool without even knowing how to swim.  And of course, how can i miss those loud, boisterous talks which clearly state that the man has knowledge of everything better than the guide himself. THIS is the image we put up of our country in front of others and we wonder – why are we not taken seriously? Or why are we often laughed at?
All we Indians ever do is bleat around feebly about our rich social and traditional values. Oh, our culture does seem very rich in talks, but it is outright disgusting when seen on the streets, on the road, at metro stations and in buses. They say that India will be transformed in the next twenty years. I don’t doubt that in terms of infrastructure – sure , every inch will be covered with towering buildings, flyovers and those mega structures. But this social backwardness and the “ chalta hai” attitude will only worsen over the years ( a person who believes that it will get better must be a serious optimist). A country’s progress is based on its people’s progress and until and unless we get rid of our impatience, supremacy and nonchalance, we are doomed!

– Nidhi Gupta  (contact : metallista.nidhi@yahoo.co.in)

INDIANS AND THEIR ADDICTION WITH NUMBERS

gradesWe Indians are very proud of our Mathematicians and often boast our gifts to modern world in form of decimals and zero. But modern day Indian’s have found whole new form of love for numbers. Indians live for them and can die for them. They are just so addicted to them. But, this addiction of numbers is not helping us anywhere.
We Indians are capable of using numbers successfully as a marker of each other’s success. In the process we successfully overlook other markers which are important for character. Now you must be thinking which numbers I am referring to. By numbers here I mean Grades/marks of college and school, Ranks we get everywhere and our Bank balance. Our lives revolve around these numbers and we sweat are ass off to maintain them.
While in school we our intellect and diligence is measured in terms of our marks. But most of the parrots are tagged smart, intelligent and intellectual. The previous generation of Indians still believe that the marks we get in 12th standard decides our future and it’s quite difficult to make them understand they don’t.
Most parents boast their offspring’s rank in entrances to establish their superiority in the society. And they expect their children to live up to their great expectations. But how should we make them realize that there can only be 100 people in top 100; and that everyone is not equally capable.
Then comes the college where there we’ve fight for Grade Points. More the grade point , more is the probability of getting a good job, having an extravagant bank balance and getting a good suitor for life partner. The moment you realize that our whole future depends on our grades in college and pressure definitely mounts by factors on tens.
Skip to jobs, and your bank balance, and price and area of your property and your family spending become your marker of success. And hardwork, honesty and talent doesn’t count much. Then we wonder why there is much corruption in the country.
Even success of movies is measured in terms of their net grossing. But Paan Singh Tomar, Gangs of Wasseypur and Sanghai will remain far better movies Than Jab Tak hai Jaan, Dabangg and yeh jawani hai deewani and other movies in so called “100 crore club”.
Even after you die they measure the worth of your life in terms of value of property you left.
So u see, Numbers are sooooo important for Indians.
-SuprabhoD (email- Suprabho13@gmail.com)

CHRONICLES OF MAMTA BANERJEE AND CO.

It has been exactly 2 years and 17 days since Mamta Banerjee sworn in as the Chief Minister of West Bengal and formed the State government along with bunch Tollywood superstars, sport-persons, artists and Derek O’Brien . And since then she’d been in and out of news frequently. She rose to fame when she successfully forced Ratan Tata out of Singur. Most importantly, she came in power after 31 years long rule by the Left Front. She was there because she claimed that she was the “poriborton” or change the people wanted. I too believe that in a democracy 31 straight years in power is enough for the ruling party to become complacent. And thus, change is 9798.mamata-humour3necessary!!
But no one needs this sort of change. The change proved to be expensive for many. This is West Bengal Government for and by the pseudo neo-liberal upper middle class and the capitalists. This government has drafted no new policy to prove that they’re here to change things. But the situation has only worsened in the state leading unreasonable bloodshed of opposition party workers and leaders.
But there are many incidences to prove utter lawlessness in the state and that “Didi” has no control over her party workers. Starting from giving out hate speeches, shooting cops to be a part of scam, everything has happened in these 2 years. I guess the State was more democratic under the rule of a Communist Government.
But for now let’s talk about “Didi”. She’s the most fickle minded leader I’ve ever seen. She sees “Kaunspeeraasi” in everything from a rape, to fire in market place she even thinks a simple forwarded cartoon is a murder threat; and anyone to questions her is a “maoisht”. Can you believe this without even doing a thing; she made into Times 100 most influential people and 50 most influential people in the world of finance. The condition was not good because of negligence of the Central Government and lack of MNCs due to presence of communist government. Over that Didi further reduced the chances of development with her baseless protests against the SEZ in Nandigram and Tata Motor’s Nano Plant in Singur. Though she plummeted in eyes of public, but truth lies elsewhere. True picture of Nandigram and Singur completely different to what the TMC and the media presented to the world. Even years after the Singur incidence, the “fertile agricultural land” lies barren. Most of the people, who were going to get jobs in the factory, are rendered jobless; some had to migrate to Sananda in Gujarat. While campaigning Didi claimed that she’s against bandhs. It is quite funny because she had called many of them when she was in opposition. Then during the 2012 Presidential election after failing to muster required support and afraid of landing on the losing side she gave her party support to382123_10151540600614437_1688315418_n Pranab Mukherjee for the post of President of India after a long drama over the issue, She also said” she was personally a “great fan” of Mukherjee and wished he grows from strength to strength”. She attributed the increasing incidence of rape in the country to “more free interaction between men and women”. She said, “Earlier if men and women would hold hands, they would get caught by parents and reprimanded but now everything is so open. It’s like an open market with open options.” In Her opinion of the rapes reported in Kolkata remain political tools by her opposition, and that their news are exaggerated. However, Mamata is ignorant of the condition in which girls and women live in villages in West Bengal as well as nationwide. As a woman in power, something more was expected from her. The media which helped her in propaganda against the Left front was also accused of Exaggerating matters. She’s the one who says they have no state funds to give incentives to farmers and spend other Millions on organizing fests and give it away to IPL team after they win the trophy. She’s the one to after increasing taxes on tobacco asks publi to smoke to compensate those who lost their money in Chit Fund Scams……Sadly these chronicles are expected to continue for 1-2 terms more at least due to lack of strong opposition.

God save people of West Bengal and give them strength!

– Suprabho Dhenki (email:Suprabho13@gmail.com)