21 April, 2009

Owning up to your spine

Every once in a while, a young man or woman shoots out of obscurity with an act or a statement that, while it shocks the guts out of the conformists for its sheer veracity, helps reaffirm the faith of us puritans in the existence of the demarcation between right and wrong.

Miss California Carrie Prejean was the frontrunner for the Miss America title last weekend, till she was asked what definitely was a loaded question by Gay celebrity blogger Perez Hilton. “Vermont recently became the 4th state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit. Why or why not?”

Now, gay-rights is an issue which even the presidential candidate is expected to have an opinion on in the US. Why, even Carrie later confessed that “of all the topics I had studied on, I dreaded this one. Any other question and….” But neither the fears, which eventually proved founded, nor the inclination to doctor her prepared answer to sound politically correct like even Barack Obama did, stopped her from giving an answer that politely but clearly stated her convictions.

“Well I think its great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offence to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised and that’s how I think it should be between a man and a woman. Thank you very much”

Ms Prejean predictably (though it is fair to suspect that she could have lost for other reasons too) lost the winners sash. But clearly she was the winner that night. Touted as a potential winner, and having anticipated this very topic, she probably knew how badly such an answer could affect her chances at the pageant. Even when she foresaw the depth of the trap that she was being lured into, even when she could have escaped with a politically agreeable answer that wouldn’t commit her opinion anywhere, even when she could have found a thousand excuses to even betray her convictions for the larger picture, like all of us are so prone to do, the 21 year old girl chose to be candidly forthright.

We live in a society that, we’d better admit, is abounding in covert morality, covert ethics, and covert spirituality - ‘Keep your inclinations to yourself, please. It isn’t socially acceptable’ So, that a celebrity, from that very class of society that we hold responsible for the downward plunge of our moral values, can stand up and say “it's not about being politically correct, for me it was being biblically correct”, is not just refreshing for its frankness, but also a slap in the face of a generation that shies away from owning up to anything that isn’t the in-thing, a generation that is terrified at the thought of not conforming.

But the furore that resulted points out something else too. The question technically asked for the contestants views on the subject. There was no way she should have been booed for stating what she thought was right. If anything she should have been lauded for the gumption. Instead, Perez Hilton derides her, calling her a bitch Have we become so obsessed with socially accepted stance’s, or the need for self justification in Hiltons case, that we cant even accept a differing view without snickering.

Something in the bottom of my heart applauds the way Miss California could be so vocal about her religion even in front of a partisan crowd, something we rarely have the guts to do. She later described the encounter as “by having to answer that question in front of a national audience, God was testing my character and faith. I'm glad I stayed true to myself”. She might have lost the pageant, and maybe a potential international title, but she was clearly the winner of the night!

PS: All this said, something still bothers me. Same sex marriages might not be Christian, but is sashaying in a bikini, a costume that classifies as semi-pornography in half the world, Christian? But yeah, for now, lets give it to the girl!

19 April, 2009

The Happy Post

Its election time again, and predictably, everyone’s talking elections. So could I refrain? Atleast that’s my lame excuse for loading a whole post with boring political talk and analysis last time. But then again, I really wanted to say that, and anyway, you rely on my commentaries on the stock market. Then why not some politics? So hears the deal – You read politics, but I promise to keep it interesting as I can, not to mention insightful! Okay?


Politicians are known to talk big. Or rather, have a loose tongue. Someone once characterized all politicians as liars. Others just settle for calling them opportunists. Nevertheless, they speak of seemingly implausible things with so much of conviction that you begin to suspect that they actually believe whatever it is they say to be true.

Take for instance the number of leaders claiming that they will win the elections convincingly. Now, these leaders who are known as the best political strategists would surely have us believing that they knew the electorate as nobody else can. Only thing, even their opponents make the same wild claim of victory that leaves you quizzed.

Mayawati (oh btw, does she have a first name or something?) thinks that this is her year of reckoning. LK Advani thinks she doesn’t even stand a chance and is only dreaming. Both of them are Z category names that have had their share of wins so far. Could they be bad at feeling the pulse? One would think not. So why would they engage in such ramble? You would guess, so as to disillusion the voter into believing that the victory is already sealed and all he needed to do was be a part of it by voting for them.

Hmmm, that’s a point, but take this. Pinarayi Vijayan the secretary of the CPM in Kerala thinks his party will do one better than last time and win all 20 seats from the state. He claims a ‘Leftern wind is sweeping across the state’. And you read my last post.

So that leads me to conclude that maybe the leaders are not always telling you what they want you to hear. Rather, at the heights of desperation, they tell you what they would have someone telling them. Heights of disillusionment, wouldn’t you say? And they expect us to vote for them!

***

Talking of political rhetoric, it is sad, no pathetic, to hear the Congress keep on accusing the NDA of laying out a banquet for 3 terrorists some ten years ago, and then accompanying them all the way to Kandahar (Just to tickle your memory, that was when DD transformed itself into a 24 hour news channel – with hourly bulletins. Those were still the days when Prannoy Roy was only the Chairman of a news agency known as New Delhi Television). Now, that was a long way ago, but I remember clearly what happened then. No politician had come up with a solution then. So why make a deal of it now, when the intricacies have conveniently faded from public memory. That is where Indian politics needs to mature. We need to grow above the culture of saying anything and everything that suits our disposition at any given time. Home Minister Chidambaram’s statement early this year that the govt. of that day could not have done much better with the lives of so many hostages at stake was a solitary example of political honesty that transcends rhetoric. That’s why I respect that man. He has the guts to call a spade a spade.

But that said, even Advani’s allegation that 26/11 would not have happened under his rule is again crap. The thing is, no Indian government could have stopped it. The attacks were not a , but even in its simplicity, the only way those attacks could have gone wrong was if the terrorists themselves messed up. I think as a country we have to own up to that. That it is the system that failed us. And while the system ought to be improved, it isn’t something that features high on the agenda of any political party. And moreover, both Kandahar and Mumbai were one of a kind attacks. There was no way really that we could have seen it coming. Or atleast there was no way any govt. could have prevented it, given that we are talking about India.

L K Advani says the laws (POTA) during the previous govt. were much stronger and could have helped counter terrorism. But tell me, which terrorist has he stopped with that law? Ultimately, the law was only used by some regional satraps, trying to settle old scores with political rivals. And in any case, you have to give it to the Manmohan Singh govt. that terrorists started unleashing their venom only during his tenure.

***

Talking of POTA enforcement, one of the most significant instances of its misuse was Jayalalitha’s arrest of Vaiko. Today, Vaiko and Jayalalitha share a platform asking for a joint mandate. If there is an insult to a poor voter wielding his solitary vote that is to keep his mouth shut for five years or so, it is the presumption that he doesn’t even remember!

***

But this is nothing. Today, Advani stands up to the election commission for his partyman, Varun Gandhi. Now lets put that in perspective. Advani standing up for the son of Sanjay Gandhi, the very man who he ought to be accusing for the atrocities commited during the emergency, especially his own jailing which he still keeps crying hoarse about. Of course, he was just being fair and putting justice above his personal anguish. But tell me, by what stretch of logic can he still taunt the sister in law and the niece of the perpetrator, while he enlists the support of the son?

***

Congress without the dynasty, BJP without the RSS backing, or a progressive left. That’s what Ram Guha recently claimed would see the revival of mature politics in India. Ram Guha is a discerning man for sure. But has he forgotten the mess that the Congress party became during the only time that the dynasty wasn’t around to dictate things? 1996 was when the Congress actually threatened to become a political non entity till the videshi-bahu (thankfully the BJP has realized that that argument doesn’t really sell with us folks) rescued it, I must say, with her hard work.

Now the Gandhi family is not without its flaws. But these flaws are not the fallout of being the first family of India. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And that works just as much for Ms G. Im not justifying her. But whatever she did was in a way a reflection of what the BJP did for the previous six years, and in some cases, a taste of what they are going to do should they be bestowed power yet again.

But on the dynasty, the Congress is better of with it. Otherwise, it is just a party of unruly power hungry men who don’t realize their pettiness. Sonia Gandhi helped put them all in place.

The BJP without RSS support? Now before you say why not, let me ask you where would BJP get its cadres from if not from the RSS? The ideology is far imbibed into the party that it is but a hope that the two can be divorced. But of course, if that happens, it will be the best thing that happened to the country.

And a progressive left, you gotta be kidding me! No no, I was just joking. Like Buddhadev has shown in Bengal, the left can be progressive. What they cannot be is accommodating. The communist parties might have a really democratic party structure, and they might not be communal, but their apathy towards a new idea is disheartening. For some reason, they still cant accept anything unless it was clearly permitted in the communist manifesto, and still look up to China and Russia (two non communist countries) for ideological support.

***

“Lalu, who had hit out at L K Advani as well for his role in the mosque's demolition has been slammed by an upset BJP as well. The BJP in turn attacked the Prime Minister and said it will complain to the Election Commission”. Of course, it should have been an oversight by the editors at IBNpolitics, but that sentence made me laugh out loud.

Indeed that’s what it has come to. For just about anything this summer, the BJP has taken to blaming the PM, calling him weak. Im not sure anyone is impressed. Im not in any case.



There’s more, but this is enough food for thought for the moment, methinks. Ill be back with more shortly. And Monika, you think this wasn’t a happy me writing?

04 April, 2009

Another Tag, Another Trail



So they think they can take our idea, use it, pass it of as creatively innovative, and claim to enjoy it?

And they think they can pretend to be baring their minds or souls or whatever else, even while looking down with disdain at bloggers?

And they think they can sell us the idea of facebook blogging!

Hmm… but then, sometimes when im like this starved for ideas, I couldnt help taking a facebook idea, twist it to suit myself, and then employ it like we would have anyways…

So this one is 15 things (er, well, actually 25, but Im not sure Ill last that long – so we’ll take it as it comes) I would tell the myself who was around a year ago by way of advice, based on a years experience. Or atleast something like that! So, here goes…. And trust me, if I had heard even one of these last March, I would have ROFL’d for want of more absurd things to laugh at!


    Hmmm well, for starts, maybe you can think of splurging a little on yourself while you have the cash. You’ll be hopelessly broke by this time next year!
    Don’t make plans too elaborate, even for the immediate future. Not one single one of them is going to Actually work out remotely like you planned!
    Stop advising all and sundry. Over the next year, the biggest revelation will be that even you are incapable of living your own advice. And that’ll be a humiliation by itself.
    You will know what it means to flunk exams. That too, multiple times! And how it feels each time!
    You will, okay, now hold your breath… you will be called a ‘ladies man’ by the majority in a group of 20-something’s. And that too, not without more than a hint of jealousy.
    You will start getting bizarre ideas like ‘write a book’, or even ‘start writing your memoirs’. But be warned, don’t attempt it. It’s just another attempt by Life to humiliate you. By proving you aren’t capable of even that!
    Why, you will actually go out and make attempts to pursue all your dreams. Not that any one of them will actually materialize. You’ll just have your options curtailed.
    You will lose pretty much all your friends. But surprise surprise… you wont actually miss them like you feared you would!
    You will swear that Indian authors are the best in the world. Right From Vikram Seth down to Shobhaa De. Jhumpa Lahiri will attain a status in your book collection that was reserved for Paulo Coehlo this far.
    You will actually see every movie you’ve wanted to in your life (thanks to file sharing, free internet time, and irrepressible joblessness. You, of all people!
    You will discover that your soul-mate does exist. Or atleast someone who satisfies your idea of a soul-mate. You’ll miss her!
    Hmmm well, you’ll happen to sleep with a female stranger on a train! Oh yeah, I know that’s corny, and so just in case you start getting Emraan Hashmi- flavoured reveries, Ill break the news that she’ll be around 7 years old!
    You will discover that you can survive without knowing sensex levels, without blogging (or wanting to), without wanting to win arguments, or even without singing! For months, not days…..
    You will be jobless for months on end. You’ll reeeeealllly realize the implications of cribbing about work!
    Oh no, I forgot… You will be damn right about the recession/Bear Market! Not that the fact will save you from becoming its casualty.

So guys, that’s it. I guess you’ve got a fair idea of my current state of affairs, and perhaps an explanation of why you haven’t even heard from me in months! Its new, and I must say, I didn’t see it coming!