Wednesday, January 23, 2008


The next time you find a VHP guy wielding a sword and a saffron flag, throw a molotov cocktail at him, if you can. If you have the cover of a wall, or if you are behind a burnt car, just do it, wilya? Otherwise, you can get that guy home and ask him what a Hindu is. Who are Hindus after all? What is Hindutva all about? What are they being so sensitive about when a couple hold hands and roam around in the relative privacy of a park? What in that act is anti Hindu?

If you don't know what Hindu means, you can't answer these questions. It is such a difficult question, people have to study hard for years and come up with explanations. They have to write fat books on what Hinduism is all about. Simply put, this religion itself is a big farce. It is just some thousands of different customs and rituals masquerading together as a religion. A Marathi hindu and an Assamese hindu are so different from each other in their culture and practices, they can't be of the same religion. A Tamil hindu landlord will not allow a Malayalam hindu tenant to cook fish in his kitchen. While the Bengali gods are made to look like beautiful humans, the Gods down south are carved out of black granite and don't resemble humans. The names are different, the practices are different, the languages are different, the offerings are different. Can you offer a whole fish to any god in UP? There's Kali, who accepts only human sacrifice as prayer, while some gods have eaten just sweets all through their lives and are about to die of diabetes.

So, is there anything common between all these various races and cultures that form the Hindu corpus? If there is anything common, it is Brahminism, and not Hinduism. A person who lives on this side of the Indus is a Hindu, no matter what faith he or she practices. Why do we confuse it to be a religion? If you are a Hindu, you don't have a religion yet. You can either adopt one from the various on offer, or stay like you are, an Indian living on this side of the Indus. The Brahmins were the educated class (not caste), who could offer prayers to a god, anywhere in India. If you aren't a Brahmin, why do you care if you are a Hindu or not? You might as well be an Indian from Kerala or Maharastra or Himachal or Bengal, practising your own set of prayer rituals and being tolerant of other Indian rituals practiced elsewhere.

Did the Hindu religion come up for a nationalistic cause? Some common chord to bind the people and raise the fervor of nationalism in their minds and make them stand up against the British?

We will talk about the perils of narrow-minded nationalism in a later article, but in that I will directly lift from Tagore's fierce criticism of nationalism as a curse of the world. It is the biggest singular reason for all the wars and political divisions of this world, which was perhaps better off as Gondwanaland.

However, keep the molotov cocktail ready for the next VHP activist you see on the road. They have to be purged off our land as soon as possible.


Rajendra Prasad, the first prez of India put Nehru in a spot once. He had a political background and wouldn't take shit lying down. During his term, Nehru knew he had to get a stooge up there next time on, somebody who would suck up to him. And none better than Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, who was a sycophant of the first order. He had a case against him for having directly plagiarised from S.N. Dasgupta's book. How to make this guy, my personal valet, the next prez? thought wily Nehru. So he sent him to the USSR as the Indian ambassador to get him some credibility as a prez. Radhakrishnan came back and became the vice prez and then was made the next president of India.

A guy who is known to be a scholar and was the vice-chancellor of my alma mater Banaras Hindu University, was nothing but a clever thief, lifting from books by scholars who weren't bothered about making a name for themselves.

Such are we Indians. We forget the truth and start celebrating teachers' day on his birthday...while the real teachers go unnoticed and unsung.

We love thieves of any kind. People who blatantly borrow and steal stories and ideas from the west and make movies here, for example, are hailed as gods in Bollywood. The other day I was watching a pathetic Hindi movie called Dus Kahaniyan, and the first story by one Sanjay Gupta is a direct lift from Mrs Bixby and the Colonel's Coat by Roald Dahl. And tomorrow Sanjay Gupta will be hailed as one of the stalwarts of Indian cinema, am sure. What is his background, I wonder? My close pal, an ad guy, is awestruck with Sanjay Gupta's charisma, so that probably means he has made some brilliant ad films. If you delve deep, am sure you will find them not so original after all.

But I leave that delving deep to you, the reader, the worshipper of the wrong Indian gods.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

disclaimer for earlier post

sorry guys for ignoring the greater menaces of ethnic and religious intolerance, of absolute lack of primary and vocational education, of the country being ruled by criminals, of utter lack of sanitation and medical facilities, of the most pathetic government hospitals that even Africa will dread . . .

there's more than just that plaguing us. it wasn't oversight. i would attribute not mentioning these to lethargy.

my hundredth post

It is not special and there's nothing much to write about either. Over the last few days there's been this cricketing controversy in Australia that has brought the entire nation together. And that made me wonder why the nation doesn't come together at other times. In a dream, this collective outcry for justice is not misplaced jingoism. But in reality it is nothing more than just that.

But, for the sake of the hundredth post, we will skirt reality and the real issues plaguing us and indulge like a birthday boy. We will assume there is this conglomerate of all the Indian business houses, not unlike Capone's syndicate, but for a better cause. We would assume today that the Tatas, Birlas, Ruias, Ambanis, Murthys, Premjis, Majumdars, Mahindras, Godrejes, Mittals, and Mallyas have formed a circle, holding hands. To make it even more dramatic, take a low angle shot and make the sun set from between the legs of the tallest among them. That should be Ratan Tata, I think. They are holding hands and have formed a huddle like our Indian cricket team, with their heads lowered and chanting something unintelligible. In unison. They are in a pledge. Are they talking about how to help India overcome the shame of being number 127 in the world (the poorest of the poor are here too, so don't run to Bangladesh or Somalia when you want to adopt a child) and also close the gap between the poor India and the other image of India which makes it the eighth richest country too? "I mean, hellowww?" they must be saying right now.

I look to my right (and by some strange cliched imagery embedded in my mind all this was happening in front of the Gateway of India, Mumbai...even the sun setting between Ratan Tata's legs was setting into the Arabian Sea...) and see a young IIM graduate talking about her dream to a bunch of her frnds. She is worried about the migrant laborers and their children. Her dream is to make sure these children get free education wherever their parents go. For now she wants to start in Bangalore, a city that has seen an unprecendented amount of concrete structures come up in no time. She has already started by getting a few people in her area to teach the kids. And as she was talking, someone in the group suggested getting medical insurance for these people. How will she convince these guys to part with Rs 1000 every year for the sake of medical insurance, I wondered, and moved along the promenade. There were more interesting things to see.

At the next congregation, there was a hot debate on about why India doesn't get a medal from the Olympics. Dola Banerjee is the world number 1 in archery, Vishy Anand is the chess world champion, we are the twenty-twenty world champions, Narain won the A1 GP in China, but we don't have athletes or swimmers. One guy suggested we should get enough money channelized into athletics to pump up the sagging spirits of parents who put their children in tennis and cricket classes. Like hockey has seen a revival, let us get the sponsors too. Who will give this fool his money? A cricketer can make more off the field just by posing for a brand . . . why will parents listen to this dreamer? I walked on . . . soon we will have 5 million software engineers and 2 million cricket stars . . . I wonder who will build the bridges over the Godavari and the Ganges!

Dreams tend to end when you are at the most interesting part. Mine, however, faded. I walked down the beach and there was a lot more to hear, emerging voices of the youth who have idolized Che thirty years after he died, of Indians who have come back from their cushy jobs abroad to do their bit for the country . . . and by the time the sun finally set that night, I knew India had changed. There's hope of a few Indians who love their country to emerge from the shadows of petty personal goals and to stand up for one cause or another. By the time the sun rises again, these men and women will replace the Pappu Yadavs and Deve Gowdas and stand beside the Jyotiradityas, Rahuls, and Omar Abdullahs.

Am awake now. But something makes me want to believe the dream.

(My belief in "someday" is strong. It is baseless, but strong nonetheless. You gottu give me that much for being an emotional, oversensitive Indian. One such someday reads like this: "Someday, we will either quit spitting on the roads, or will reach such a height that there will be special schools in Denmark teaching kids how to spit on the roads.")

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

joke of the year

a journalist questioned Ricky Ponting's "integrity."