Archive for May 29, 2006

QUOTA – UNQUOTA

‘Azad maidan’, the name instantly brings to mind furious protests, conflagarating political rhetoric and the omnipresent equalizer “mumbai police lathi” which finds it’s destination infalliably surpassing all barriers of religion, caste or creed. This Sunday wasn’t any different, only the lathi was curiously silent and much of the talking was done by the anti-reservation protestors who had gathered here to vociferously decry their stand against the proposed and now implemented reservation policy of the UPA government. The student body at the forefront of this agitation is the ‘Youth For Equality’ (YFE), which with it’s relentless efforts of encouraging students and anyone else who felt strongly about this issue to make their presence felt at the grand rally held on Sunday, 28th of May.

The atmosphere was electric probably due to the thousand-odd student crowd that was not too shy to exercise their freedom of expression at the highest possible decibel. Placards, arm-bands and protest pamphlets firmly in hand, the enthusiasm and energy was infectious. I had come here with the sole intent of understanding the strong sentiment behind this whole issue for which students felt compelled to leave their exams and doctors abandon their practice.
I decided to indulge in some corroborative investigative journalism. My aspirations of acquiring juicy reality–bites went capote due to the teeming mass in front near the podium. As the evening progressed the rationale behind the anti-reservation rhetoric became more than evident and the overwhelming support with which the students stood by it was impressive considering the indifferent passive response social issues manage to garner from a similar demographic. But there was something amiss and considering the situation I was afraid that the answer would be very disturbing.

Here’s a conversation I had with a PYT, protesting young thing, in this case, on why she was against reservations:

Me: So why are you opposed to reservations for the socially-backward? Don’t you think it is necessary for their growth in society?

PYT: Reservations are bad for our country’s progress, they must be removed. These OBC’s want it easy, why can’t they study like everybody else and get admissions. It’s so difficult for general category students to get in IIT’s, IIM’s. We don’t have enough seats left for us! That Arjun Singh is an idiot, he doesn’t understand anything!

Me: Then what about other reservations like NRI and management quota, women’s reservation?

PYT: That’s different. Women need the help to be uplifted; they have limited opportunities, so it is justified. The other quotas can go but isn’t it the prerogative of the institute to decide that?

Me: So you don’t completely oppose reservations, just are selectively against it?

PYT: No nothing like that. You know reservations also compromise merit. How can we build a progressive India based on dubious talent, with people not being able to even score the required marks in their exams?

Me: Is a three hour exam held on a single day enough to judge merit, to ascertain the capabilities of an individual completely?

PYT: No, but that is how it is and they should also be judged on an equal basis.

Me: So you don’t necessarily believe that the results of an entrance exam are corresponding to a person’s merit?

PYT: Not always, maybe. What’s you point? Why are you against a good thing that is happening? We all here are opposed to it. Don’t you think it will harm your own interests in the long run?

Me: I am not for reservations as such, but am just trying to understand the reason behind these protests.

PYT: What’s there to understand? It is pretty obvious.

At this point I managed a wry smile. Later on I thought about the intensity with which the students at the protest rally felt about reservations. The hurt, anger and frustration was conspicuous, the general disillusion with the elected representatives was consistent with the lack of even an iota of faith in the system, and rightly so, as the system had failed to include them in a decision which would affect their lives drastically. The indifference of the government towards the opinion of a major section of the society, as indicated by the umpteenth opinion-poll on news channels, its failure to form a general consensus on the issue and the politically motivated haste with which the proposition was passed is insulting to the longstanding tradition of democracy in our country.

What is disturbing is that most of these protestors don’t seem to be willing to take time to reflect, discuss or even understand the universal ramifications of their actions. I do not base my observations on my conversation with a single person nor do I undermine the intellectual capacity of doctors, engineers and esteemed, highly respected individuals associated with this movement. I only wish to question the volition behind these passionate pleas and vociferous agitations. Conviction, they say, can cause more harm to the truth than lies itself. Have we as students lost our foresight to the demons of frustration and angst? The latent hatred in the eyes of the protestors was alarming.

Yes, reservations are regressive; they have no standing in today’s competitive world of globalization and it is not a competent solution to bring about social justice and equality. In practicality, a zero reservation policy is difficult to adopt as we ascribe to ‘neutrality in secularism’ and not ‘prohibitive secularism’ as seen in France where this has been implemented. Besides the fact that there is no political party which is staunchly opposed to this law, which can be voted in power to implement this policy (as it was seen post emergency 1977 elections, due to the presence of a political alternative) that is detrimental to this argument. Economy-based affirmative action would fare as a better and accepted alternative. It is absolutely essential to voice our opinions strongly, be heard and bring about a change in a stagnated idea that hasn’t brought about significant improvement. But I would ask the one’s who are opposed to spare a minute of their time, to ponder on this issue, to contemplate in entirety before they commit themselves to the cause. It is, after all, not that obvious.

p.s. also see previous post.

INDIAN HISTORY X

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passions may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memories, streching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land , will yet swell the chorus of the union , when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
Abraham Lincoln.


I had decided to refrain on commenting on the currently most talked about, emotionally charged issue, apart from the impending American Idol finale, of reservations for OBC’s in institutes of higher education and the corporate sector. Not by any means do I undermine the necessity of debating the validity of the announced 27 percent reservation for the students hailing from OBC
category, it is absolutely essential to do so, especially as this seems to be a decision against merit, competence, equality and universal common sense.

I am a big Ed Norton fan. Primal fear, Fight club are all class acts wherein this actor of immense calibre becomes the character that he potrays, breathing life into words and notions emanating from the annals of morbid fiction. It was but natural that I would choose a little known but much discussed, critically celebrated and highly controvercial 1998 release American history X, for my traditional “weekend movie madness”. As a student I was always intrigued by the Nazi regime and Hitler’s rhetoric of a pure Aryan race, mind you, I do not condone or even minutely agree with his hippocritical philosophies or revolting acts of violence against humanity, but was only fascinated, as a child of impressionable age could be. So this movie which touches on sensitive issues such as neo-nazi american hate groups, racism, immigrant rights, inter-racial violence and all such intellectually stimulating, grossly entertaining assortment of ideas was an obvious choice.

I must confess, I did not expect to be moved, much less be compelled to question my own beliefs. The movie is about Derek (Norton) a charismatic, intelligent suburban white boy who is seduced by Campbell into a Neo- Nazi fold called Disciples of Christ after his father is killed by two black hoodlums. The story follows the events of a night juxtaposed with Danny’s (Furlong) memories of his elder brother’s life, exquisitely potrayed in black and white sequences. The events that follow compel Derek to question his own notions and inherent hatred as he sees Danny follow him into the misleading white power hate group.

The content of this film is universal and applicable to the current situation of anti-reservation anti-quota protests that are being carried out all throughout the country. I don’t mean to compare educated doctors, students and academics to the coloured-immigrant hating disillusioned neo-nazi’s potrayed in the movie, nor do I suggest that the situation has become equally violent and anarchist. But the similarities between the two situation are frighteningly true. The overwhleming majority is disgruntled, vindicated and feels let down by the current administration. This decision of imposing reservations will eventually alienate the teeming educated masses who are strongly contesting this decision. This will lead to brewing resentment justified in the minds of those protesting, a feeling of vengeance and retaliation which will surface at an opportune moment, violating all boundaries of fairness or equality per se. The violent intesity with which this law is being opposed, most certainly, can create a conspicuous social rift, that will create even comprehensive barriers between an already fractionated social order.

The scene in the movie where Derek’s father, a fire fighter, harangue’s about how he has to depend on two black men included into the service due to affirmative action, because of which “deserving, competent white men who scored more in the tests” lost their job opporutnity. The importance of it in molding his perception is obvious. Also when Derek talks about how ‘even 160 years aren’t enough for the black man to get his act together’ is equally relevant in today’s context. I can identify these very sublime seeds of hatred being planted in the minds of the young. Ofcourse, these obsevations made by them are by no means fully incorrect, but the capacity they withold within them to make an entire generation explosive and intolerant is petrifying but also very real. Also the rising sentiment against immigrants can be and infact is being channelised to create a general sense of disillusionment making an otherwise understanding populace intolerant towards other’s needs.

I donot suggest that the discontent among the students is not valid nor do I dismiss the intellectual abilities of protesting doctors to understand the prevalent social situation. I only ask for a minimum amount of perpective, to not let the current happenings poison their thoughts, colour the vision of future generations and breed malice against their own.

“Hate is a baggage. Life is too short to be pissed of all the time. It’s just not worth it”
Danny in American history X


p.s. for more information on the movie American history X see link or sidebar.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING MISERABLE


Why is it so difficult to write when eveything is fine? After mindlessly surfing through this mitigated scum called the internet I have come to the point of ultimate frustration where the vein in my head is just a throb away from splaterring the last left illusion of sanity that I hold in my grey area. It is quite unnerving not to be able to put forth my thoughts and expess gratitude, maybe, for having a perfectly pleasant f**king day…..ahhh…now I feel a bit better.

It is not so absurd, this notion, that being miserable may actually be an absolute necessity for me, at the least, to write. I have noticed this morose phenomenon reccur with the alarming alarcity of Dubya’s claim of WMD in “I-rack”. Although all my efforts to aggravate my ever irritated self, or anyone else around me, are all in vain, it is becoming increasingly difficult not to accept my ephemeral moment of peace.

If everything is at equilibrium, content within it’s state of self, it becomes ardous to extract a sense of life from the situation, which is infinitely paradoxial when juxtaposed with one’s purpose in life, as there is a finality to it’s function. This misery that we try to ellude, results from our efforts towards the same. Then how do we find that everlasting, all elusive peace or to be more pragmatic why should we continue to do so?

It would be impossible to identify the scantily spread moments of joy without knowing and expereincing the opposite state of contention. As is true to the nature of existance of life itself where the trueness of it only becomes apparent when it is viewed as a reflection of death. Most would find this to be an extreme observation but it is an inherent postulate of mortality. Misery, despite it’s strong negative connotation, has made it possible for us to think differently and evolve beyond the conventional, routine and the mundane. It’s realisation acts as a stimulus to change which would otherwise be a non-entity in an environment of perpetual stagnation. It not only promotes rationality of thought which is seldom seen in delirious elation.

It is relatively easier to identify and acknowledge sadness than joy, but it is as much difficult to express or part with it. Happiness needs no validation while misery seeks one. To be miserable is more of a perception than a pre-requisite to the prevailing circumstances. It is more than obvious that this is indistinguishable, which is condoned by the abundant presence of it in our daily lives. It has become such an intrinsic part of our existance that the absence of unhappiness is unsettling, unnatural. In this overtly goal-oriented environment misery has become a sign of progession and genuine effort. It has become essential to be miserable to be respected and heard. To be miserable is to be succesful.

Why then does it cause so much discomfort and sadness in one’s life? If misery is so wonderful why has it become so important to strive for happiness? Probably the answer lies in undestanding the trancendence of this equally veritable state of mind. All aspects of our existance are transient, impermanant. It may seem in a moment that it is irrevertible, which is true for only that moment as it has moved on. A culmination of this fugacious entities is what comprises life in it’s entirety.

So I wait, with bated breathe and longing heart full of hope, for the promised moment of persistant unadulterated misery. Till then I make do with less prolific but exuberent sense of peace and calm. And I have an inkling that it is just around the corner.

p.s. The title idea is borrowed from one of my favourite songs by Oasis, one of the great contemporary alternative bands, listen on, I bet u will love it.


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THIS LOVE…

It is interesting to note how cynical we have become, not only as individuals but also as a cumulation of disenfranchised beings with askewed notions and an infinitesimal tolerence threshold that we refer to as a society. Constantly in doubt, evaluating and enumerating others level of integrity and feeling triumphant when or if those perceptions that we had initially ever hold true. Some may argue that it is the practical thing to do, rolling their eyes with unbridled contempt if you happen to even mention the “t” word. ‘As if there can be such a thing as “too careful”, certainly not in this post 9/11 jehadi world where everyone is out to get you’.
In these times I wonder how can we ever truly fall in love? Wouldn’t that too be a categorical calculation made to soothe our inherent paranoia? It isn’t surprising at all when when we find it difficult, almost impossible to acknowledge love in our lives. I have known many people of varying dimensions, attitudes, plains of thinking, emotional mettle, etc,. all faring miserably when it comes to professing their love to the person of their dreams. It doesn’t seem so difficult, infact it shouldn’t be as it is the most natural and the most beautiful feeling one can have in a lifetime. But as 90% of the people all across the globe would agree that it isn’t!

Why does it become so difficult to accept and acknowledge, even to our own selves, that we like somebody? This would seem like the eternal rambling of an adolsent heart, but most people above 22 years of age still find it difficult to make that all to important first move. I thought this might have been so here in India because the way our society is structured here. A conservative outlook ingrained is in our daily conciousness by our parents, religion, media, fanatic politicians alike and a coy demeanour is considered some kind of a sign of piousness and “culture”. Liking someone is considered as ‘bad’ in a place obsessed with protecting their women and arranged marraige. But this is also true in “free America”, although not as rampant and obvious as it is here.
An individual as he lives and has expereinces at varying levels carries all those little ‘lessons’ as a baggage, a seemigly endless storage system that we refer to in the moment of anxiety and vulnerability. All those negative emotions of past hurt and derision, when someone had wronged us or broken our hearts come back as they are closely related to this feeling of liking or loving. These naysayers essentially cripple our spirit, the pure heart that longs to love with the innocence of a child, without any inhibitions, is shackled in these chains of mirrored perceptions which make us inept, incapable of accepting our true selves.
Sometimes it is the image that we build of ourselves that doesnot allow us to accept love in our lives. Women, not all though, believe that they will be perceived as being of lesser character if they happen to profess their love for someone or they may be taken for granted as such, it may sound absurd but is not totally irrelevant either. This I feel is a direct result of the conditioning of living in an male-dominated egalitarian environment. Ego, some may call it, prevents us from confessing the one true heart-felt emotion, too proud to let ourselves be vunerable or happy.
The most obvious is the ‘fear of rejection’ which paralyses us completely as we lose any possibility of others ever realising the wonderful being that resides within this cloak of insecurities. Also self persecution and extreme self-depreciation leads us to believe that we are not good enough for the person we like. Instead of taking a chance, letting the person decide for themselves, it is so much easier to pass a judgement by ourselves so that we never have to face the ’emotional trail’ or ascribe to a change even though it may be a good one.
The truth is you can find true love, we all are destined to, but it is imperative to let it happen to you. Let life happen to you. If you like someone, are hopelessly smitten or just plain curious, please express yourself. We live in a self-absorbed, narssacistic world where everyone is too busy to notice unles you speak up. It may sound very simplistic and the most obvious thing, but it’s true. Take that chance and set yourself free, stop being too afraid or scared of the most beautiful expereince one can ever have. Love itself is infinite, inexplicable which dilutes all that is preconcieved, the facades and calms frayed insecurities before it eventually leads to enchanting, mesmerising bliss. The moment will set you free.

CRAZY THOUGHTS

I have always been intrigued by these notions, wierd ideas and thoughts that we have but are too afraid to voice for the fear of being ridiculed or branded “immature”. As I was mindlessly surfing the colossal multitude of degenerate material that the internet has to offer, I found this site which is full of such zany questions which are silly but manages to tickle the funny bone. Although the content is american and some of these quotes have obvious conotations refering to their culture, it manages to be funny, hilarious at times, in an universal premise. Check out the link at the bottom of the page to visit ‘www.crazythoughts.com’.
Some of the gems I found on this site:

  • Do they put underwear on corpses?
  • Why do numbers on phones go down while the numbers on calculators go up?
  • How come you play at a recital and recite at a play?
  • If electricity comes from electrons does mortality come from morons?
  • Why do you ‘put your two cents in’ but only a ‘penny for your thoughts’, where does the extra penny go?
  • Why do they call it ‘head over heels’ when your head is already over your heels?
  • Why do we carry the weight of the world ‘on our shoulders’ but have to ‘get it off our chests’?
  • If you had x-ray vision but closed your eyes could you still see?
  • If you take a deaf person to court is it still called a ‘hearing’?
  • What is a male ladybug called?
  • Why is it called a ‘pair of panties’, a plural, and a ‘bra’ is singular?
  • Why is the name of the phobia for long words hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia?
  • Did Adam and Eve have navels?
  • How can something be “new and improved”? If it is new what was it improving on?
  • How come you can hear yourself think?
  • Why do we have ‘hot’ water heaters?
  • Why do people squint their eyes when they can’t see? Wouldn’t that lessen the space they can see out of?
  • Why is it that when we plug our nose while humming it stops? Do we hum from our mouth or nose?
  • Do suicide hotlines have hold?