Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A good bit of blackmail

Blackmail is all about fear and shame. It means that someone can make you do something you don’t want to do because you are ashamed of the consequences. When Gandhi-ji fasted, he persuaded colonial rulers and Indian mill owners to overturn decisions that hurt millions of people.Why didn’t they just let him die?... Mass murder was already happening — directly, like in Jallianwala Bagh, or indirectly, like the Bengal famine. If the government wasn’t ashamed of starving millions, why was it afraid of one old gent starving to death?

I think it’s because when somebody goes on hunger strike, his life is at the mercy of the collective. It is like saying — “I think my life is not worth living under these circumstances. You can choose to do something about it. Will you?”

You can argue. But you cannot deny that a problem exists and must be fixed urgently...

Which brings me to the question of why some fasts are ignored. Hazare’s fast lasted five days and the state blinked. But for 22 days in 2008, Bhopal gas tragedy victims and activists like Sathyu Sarangi were fasting at Jantar Mantar. When they were close to critical, they stopped and another bunch of activists took over. No blink.

Read the whole article here.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mother India sequel?

Nearly all male actors have joyfully gotten into drag at some point in their careers, while all female actors long to play something meaty and ‘real’. Something like Mother India.Now Mother India is hard to do again. But a Daughter India can still be made. In fact, it could be an international production because the role reprised by Nargis is a global figure. Data suggests that one in five farms is headed by a woman and women farmers produce 50% of the world’s food. They will identify with this kind of film.
I think the script would go something like this. As in the original film, Mother India is abandoned by her husband, and must bring up two boys alone. She scrapes a living off her tiny farm. She also has a baby daughter.
When the two boys grow up, they take over the farm. If Mother didn’t have to shoot Birju for his bad behaviour, and he didn’t want a split of their land, they work together.
Daughter India grows up and has to be married off. The land has to be mortgaged. The interest rates are high. The brothers’ backs are almost broken with the effort of trying to pay off the debt. Their own marriages must be delayed.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Not just a nightmare

It took me a while to realise that I wasn’t really dreaming; I was just remembering sketchy details my mind had collected from the newspaper. I hadn’t paid much attention to the report since it was a brief item on the inside pages. Either some girl was killed or her boyfriend was killed by her brother.
There had been another report weeks before that. A 19-year-old went to Kurla (LTT) Terminus to meet her boyfriend. Her brother-in-law took off in hot pursuit and, along with a neighbor, managed to haul her back. On the train ride home, something happened. Either she jumped off or she was pushed. Or else, she fell out accidentally.

One detail from that story continues to haunts me. Her brother-in-law was yelling at her. Perhaps he was shaming her for being so hungry for love, or being ungrateful. Then he began to criticise her slippers.

Read on.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Insane certainties

Kirekegaard has said somewhere that often people treat difficult life questions like naughty schoolboys — they copy the answers from a book instead of working out the solution to the problem. I suspect that most political activists or party ‘workers’ do the same. They don’t want to think. They just want to follow someone’s lead. Then it becomes easy to let go, for example during a bandh.
... This is what happened when pro-Telangana protestors went on the rampage during a bandh in Hyderabad last month. They set fire to the office of SSAAT, an organisation working with the government to ensure proper implementation of the NREGS. 

Read more here.
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