Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Detroit Red

Malcolm X in March 1964
"There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance next time."Malcolm X

While anger is something we are taught to contain, it certainly is one of the purest emotion. An angry person is a spontaneous person, the best he can be. What an angry person says is not fabricated, it is simply the truth from his perspective. But, historically very few have been able to articulate their anger creatively. Most have simply gone destructive.

To this end Malcolm X, the personification of anger, is a figure to look up to. One prime figure of American Black Rights Movement, he embodied a personality that was magnetic as well as could inspire fear. He was rightfully angry for the basics he was denied as a citizen of a nation, but more so as a human. His chamionship for rights of people, he considered brothers has been  fierce and unabashed and essentially not concealed by garb of nonviolence.

He provides antithesis to his contemporary Martin Luther King in his demand for Civil Rights for Black Americans. He is very just in expressing the idea "Concerning nonviolence, it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks." In a way fear of his natural retaliation is what make peaceful agitation of Martin Luther King more of a better option. America would not be prepared for a civil war based on racist lines.

I was born a generation after his death and could not find his mention in any textbook till another generation was taking shape, because his was not a 'nonviolent' approach. But, when I read about him now I find him far more just, righteous and humane. He doesn't thrive on ideals like peace, nonviolence in an unequal world. He aspires for them and he knows that the pre-requisite for those notions to be possible is equality, a claim in the shared resource called nation.

Like any human he falters, but his shortcomings are more of personal nature than of any larger consequence to collective society. His faults don't create long standing fault-lines and divides or in more harsher terms scars. He is very concerned with nature of justice, since he himself remains a victim of crimes of the injustice perpetuated by a civilized society. And on realizing his errors he is not ashamed of accepting them, undoing the possible harm done by them and emerge to continue the task he was set out to do. He perseveres and in the process glamorizes everything that associates with him. 

His success is in being part of the situation and being part of the solution. His story is inspiring and he effectively tells us, "If you want something, be loud about it". His experiences tell us that civil laws are secondary to natural laws and thus right to self-defence shall be granted paramount status. You can talk about nonviolence only when peace is granted and not with a gun pointed at your head.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Throne Is Vacant

Full bloom in Delhi, mid-March.

The object of my worship lies beyond perception's reach; For men who see, the Kaába is a compass, nothing more. - Mirza Ghalib
He was already 74 when I was born. His most famous book was in its 50s when I read it. And while am still exploring him, he is a dead man at 99. He lived far more than life expectancy in his homeland, India.

The grand old man of Indian literature possessed a writing style which is ageless and timeless. The blunt, upfront and somewhat crude signature of Khushwant Singh was magnetic to people like me, who look for detail but need it to be simple and lucid. Besides his association with legends of bygone era and the experience he accumulated over an illustrious career can't be compensated.

The way he unravels the plots of Train To Pakistan and Delhi : A Novel indicate his skill of observation and ability to describe in an unabashed and unrestrained way. A career which would be envy of anyone interested in literature and people, Khushwant Singh made the best of it.

Born to contractor of Delhi Sardar Sobha Singh, Khushwant had every condition necessary for making of a brat. But he also possessed talent and wit to use his prizes, alongside the formidable challenge of outshining his father, who according to the legend commanded half the land of the city while British were creating New Delhi.

Half decade as resident of New Delhi, he epitomises the most fantastic aspirations one can imagine as well as the complex character of this refugee city. Reaching the upper echelons while maintaining an integrity of absolute order. Earning the luxuries and then consuming them to eloquence are some of the ways to summarise the grand and regal personality that thrived amongst the elite of all types in a central Delhi citadel.

Glad that the newly independent nation had such open minds to document its young years while it saw tremendous turmoils and tasks of building legacies that the future can look up to and care to uphold. While he proved to be a capable heir of legends like Mirza's Ghalib, the standards to meet and uphold have been defined for generations to come. The throne at Delhi is vacant and up for contest...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Saffron Perspective of Green Terrorism

An Indian National Congress rally in Mumbai.
Courtesy: Al Jazeera English  on Flickr | License: CC BY-SA 2.0

Since, in India, the right wing political activism has been painted the colour Saffron, often without giving much thought and insight to its ideologue, I would like to term my views of ex-environment minister, Jayanthi Natrajan's criminal adventurism in office for as long as 3 years - Saffron Perspective of Green Terrorism.

This when Natrajan had no more than ludicrous reasons like "can't recall why final approval was delayed" in view of a project having clearances regarding Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) or "I wanted a holistic (probably doing a Manish Tewari) study of river basin" in case of a project cleared by Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) and hundreds of such projects.

Last month whenmuch dreaded Gujarat CM went ballistic over her policies by terming them a "Jayanthi Tax", little did populace know that his state alone suffered more than 1/3 of Rs. 3 lakh crore investment menace attributed to this one woman, who was at the helm of affairs in Pariyavaran Bhawan in New Delhi.

Her unilateral environmental vigilantism proved death-blow in an economic scenario where maverick troika of Manmohan Singh, P. Chidamabaram and Montek Singh Ahluwalia toyed with policies to bring about an annual inflation of over 7 percent (in industrial parlance), resulting in candid slaps to the tune of Rs 2,100 crores under not-so-savvy tag of 'cost escalation' in major infrastructure projects entailing investments similar to Rs 30,000 crore. The gravity of these economic crimes is more evident and further manifests itself a social trouble when these resulted in holding back of power generation projects in a country which suffered a peak electricity shortage  of 4881 MW in September 2013 (it is another thing that Indian government is very active in pursuing electricity sales to neighbouring countries like Pakistan, failing in delivery at domestic front).

In her own admission, Jayanthi told Parliament that 330 projects were stuck in her ministry's office in August 2013. The whole disaster no longer surprises a disillusioned electorate which has suffered the, arguably, most corrupt government in independent India's history. This is no wonder under puppet leadership of a Sardar mired in  Coal Block allocation scam, while his 'high-command' goes on a bizarre dole drive with national treasury at her disposal.

Much to a self-respecting citizen's chagrin, it yet again took a rap, a thumb-up and probably tearing up of some 'confidential' under table deals by dynasty's scion, most probably in an image-building PR drive, to figure out Natrajan's maladies and force her resignation on the eve of prince/heir's FICCI adventure in late December 2013.

Reference: India Today - Jan 27'2014 edition, Special Report.

Friday, January 17, 2014


A bus travelling through vast fields.
Courtesy: World Bank Photo Collection on Flickr | License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Late winter , air was still cold and dry. One would shiver given the harsh environment. They had begun gathering and load luggage in the bus. Meeting and greeting every new-comer. There are smiles and chatter all around but his is an anxious soul. He has made some plans for the trip but he could hardly include his fancies. As the night grows deeper, people start boarding the bus and taking up seats.

He is early to board and blocks two seats. As she enters the bus, he can do little to stop himself from wishing her to sit beside him. But as she takes a seat two rows away from him, not even recognizing his presence, he becomes a bit more sullen and decides to go to a lonely corner window seat in the back of the bus. He unconsciously wishes no one to be aside him and spontaneously, in his brain, decides to keep everyone away.

As the front seats in bus are no longer available, this damsel thin and clad quite candidly takes the seat beside him. Without being asked he tells her, "I am not closing the window, even when the bus is at full speed." She simply nodes and shrugs her shoulders and leans back in the seat while talking to a figure in bus's corridor. He keeps silence. Bus jostles and makes slow movement on city streets. The wind is hurting him, but he is adamant. He can still bear it as the city is still warm and his jacket is thick.

He is deep in thought. By now the bus is on city outskirts and moving swiftly as traffic has now dwindled down. The winds are coarse and blunt. He braves them in the face, keeping his pride intact. His back towards his co-passenger, he is not aware of the discomfort being caused to her. Suddenly, he feels a hand on his shoulder. He is suddenly mild and no more rigid, she whispers, "Please, close the window". Making no arguement, he just closes the window silently trying to plug the gaps that might leak wind to her. He is careful, yet aware not to let it be evident. Through the night he gazes at her, making just mild talk. His brittle surface giving into a warm interior.

By the day break, bus has reached its destination. The party is supposed to move to the train for their journey onwards. The hustle-bustle is back again. The night's silence lost. And the companions having moved as swiftly as they had come together just for a journey amongst hundreds of days. Train honks as the orange-red sun begins to warm the Earth on South-Eastern horizon...