Sunday, 21 August 2011

BROKEN REPUBLIC: The Review



                                   A STRIKING INSIGHT
                                  8.5/10


What would a reader expect when the first topic in this book is straight against the Home Minister of India, 
MR. P. Chidambaram. Titled ‘Mr. Chidambaram’s War’ Arundhati Roy makes each one of us pour into the book with that of a curiosity of a cat. The book is basically a collection of three essays: Mr Chidambaram’s War, Walking with the Comrades and Trickledown Revolution.

The way she has handled sensitive issues in such a fearless way is appealing. I perhaps waited for a long time for the release of this book. After reading I realized that it was worth the wait and worth the pre-order.

If drawn into comparisons her ‘The Algebra of Infinite Justice’ had more gripping stories.

Arundhati Roy has proved a point by openly criticizing the Minister and also the higher delegates of the UPA. The book is also a collection of the various speeches she has made in India and around the world as well. The gruesome activities of the Vedanta Inc. has been remarkably shown which makes each one of us ‘Indians’ worry about the so-called multinational companies investing in India.

The part which I was waiting for the most was her trip to Dantewada. The daily chores of the Maoists and a sniff of the daily lives of them makes it all the more interesting. The photographs also strike your mind. The smiles are captured in a brilliant way that no toothpaste ad could ever match up to it. To go into the forests, live with the Maoists, needs courage and she has that.

Revolution when done by the poor goes unnoticed. She runs us through the times when the poor from Orissa, Andhra Pradesh had put up a revolt against the government and the mining corporations but all their hardwork turned futile. The government as usual turned a deaf ear to the misery of the poor.

After reading the book, there might be possibilities of a rebel growing in you and that only if your heart beats for the poor, if it doesn’t it’s high time you visit a cardiologist. Arundathi Roy as always makes the road a lot more better and easier for female writers or even for the male fraternity to voice out their thoughts aloud so that it reaches the infected part of the society. Broken Republic is a must read for all those people who blindly blame the Maoists for their violence, who blame the poor for stalling development and lastly for those who vote for the UPA falling in for their fake promises. 

Not only does a cricket match make you feel that you are an Indian, such books infact tell you what you can do being an Indian. One Arundathi Roy cannot make a difference but atleast a thousand voices in support of can certainly make a difference.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Not For Sale


One thing I always wanted to write on was the age old industry called Prostitution or probably, in a not so harsh note, story of the commercial sex workers.

They have so many names, places, taboos attached to their profession. A whore, a red light area and a lot of other words in the local language. I have always heard about the red light area in Pune which falls in Budhwar Peth. The surprising thing about this area is that it’s adjacent to the Mecca of second hand book sellers-the Appa Balwant Chowk. No one has read about the brothels in Pune. All of us know about Kamathipura in Mumbai or Sonagachi in Kolkata. The red light area belt in Pune is probably the third largest in India.

This makes me recall an instance I heard from a friend. He stayed somewhere near Budhwar Peth. He had a habit of waking up and going straight into his balcony, stretching himself and looking out, enjoying the gentle breeze. He noticed a shopkeeper, before unlocking his shop, he looked straight and joined his hands in a praying position. He couldn’t see to whom the shopkeeper was greeting as a tree blocked his view. Furthermore the shopkeeper also closed his eyes as if he was in a temple and concluded by touching the tip of his fingers to his chest. He ignored it for a week, he again saw it.
He ran down, waited for that person to open the shop, and asked, “Where is a temple here?” looking around. The shopkeeper replied, “There is brothel right next to your apartment. The women there earn a living by selling their self-respect. If they hadn’t been in Pune, we would have seen our daughters, sisters all getting raped on the roads, and they are nothing less than God to me.”

My friend mentioned the whole episode to me. I really felt that comparing sex workers to God is an unwanted hyperbole but I did respect the thinking of the shopkeeper. It also makes me realise that a rape is hardly ever heard in Pune.

In India we do not have dignity of labour. We need to understand the fact that these women take up this profession not by choice but its sheer poverty or probably a known person forcing them or selling them off.  We also have instances where girls/boys indulge in such activities to support their education.

The other part which goes ignored is the children of these sex workers. These children are denied education by the people who run these rackets. They suffer from nutritional deficiencies and are mostly sold to child traffickers and that money is never given to the biological mother. We as individuals cannot make a difference but we can stop calling them prostitutes and the likes and start mentioning them as commercial sex workers. 

After all let’s remember what the shopkeeper said. 

Mafia Queens of Mumbai:The Review


                   A COMPELLING READ
                                            7/10

I was always intrigued by female authors or books on gutsy females. The cover page of ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai-stories of women from ganglands by S. Hussein Zaidi with Jane Borges made my mind rest in a juggling situation.

I kept thinking as to what the lady was looking out for. Was it the police? Her accomplices? To check if her gangster son would come home safe or not? With so many questions in my mind just from the cover page compelled me to read the book.

The book starts off with the story of a smuggler turned bootlegger Jenabai Chaawalwali turned Jenabai Daaruwali. Zaidi gets all the information from Jenabai’s  proud  daughter who is rather excited to tell everyting about her mother. The book has an amazing flow and compels us to read without taking a break. All being anecdotes from newspapers, case files, relatives or the general public are well knit.
One thing you realize is that all the ladies in the book turn to this profession just because of their family situations. The similarities they have are poor financial background, a drunk husband or too many children to raise.

One other story which made me stand in awe was that of Ashraf Khan who vows to kill Dawood Ibrahim, the man behind her husband’s death. Zaidi has made it rather dramatic with throwing in a romantic deviation to her story. The assignments she undertakes makes me realize that she would have been in our history books had she born in the pre-independence era and shown her escapades in freedom fighting.

The book then unfolds with the sad yet surprising story of Gangubai from Kamathipura who was sold by the man who promised would marry her. Her affiliation towards the dons has also been highlighted. This is one book where you get an anthology of anecdotes, fairly long, and you get rather bored when you read the surprisingly short stories towards the end. The bollywood angle has been showcased through the story of Monica Bedi and the southern twist has also been shown. Moreover the titles given to each of the anecdotes is totally apt.

It’s one compelling read and keeps you wondering about the Bombay it was. Not just fiction, non-fictions like these also leave you in an imagination and you may probably think for a while-If I would have been her? Meanwhile you imagine that, I’ll try finding out as to what the lady on the cover page is looking out for.

The Godhra Haadsa

 It was brutal, pre-planned and above all cold-blooded. The Godhra train burning incident shocked the Indian psyche and led to one of the worst communal riots India has seen unfold in Gujarat. After the accused were convicted by a special court, 11 out of the 31 people were awarded a death sentence and 69 others acquitted. But its the thought process of the demented minds that intrigues the average Indian and the extreme hostility certain communities harbour against each other.

The burning of the coach that led to the death of 59 people, mostly Kar Sevaks from the Vishwa Hindu Parishath was “pre-planned” according to the judgment passed by the court. The Additional sessions judge P.R. Patel who pronounced the landmark judgment said, “it would not have been possible to gather Muslim persons with deadly weapons within five to six minutes and reach near “A” cabin on the railway track” after the train pulled to a stop after the chain was pulled two times.
The judge was in agreement with the prosecutions argument that petrol was acquired in carboys the previous night following a meeting at the Aman Guest House. The judge noted the point and added, “it would not have been possible to reach with carboys containing petrol in a huge quantity immediately, that is within 5 to 10 minutes, near coach S-6.”

The judge also ruled that it was not a random attack but was one that specifically aimed the kar sevaks which is evident in the fact that the perpetrators targeted the S-6 coach and not any other. The announcement from the nearby Ali Masjid mosque also acted as a war cry for the already charged-up Muslims.

The defence lawyers had argued that the incident was a reactive behaviour of the mob that gathered near the Sabarmati Express. “That the quarrel took place on the platform or misbehaviour with Muslim girls by kar sevaks was the only the cause for spontaneous reactions can never be accepted because as per the evidence on record, such quarrel had also taken place earlier.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

....and that's how I died!



It was just a normal day for me. Woke up on the terrace.  Came down.  I never liked working for food. I had regular supply of the same from the person who took care of me. It was raining. I ventured out. I came onto the highway and was taken aback by the vehicle movement. I knew it would take some time to cross the road.

Laziness being my best friend I sat on the footpath.
I kept wondering about the person who cares about me. Cunningness being my second best friend I was never faithful to him. I just needed my food on time. That’s about it. I have no idea as to how I met him but he has been an integral part of my life. I looked past the road, it was a good distance from the place I was sitting. I seriously had no idea as to how I would reach the other side. I didn’t even feel like seeking help from someone by just following them whilst they cross the road.  I could just see people desperately trying to get cover from the showers. It wasn’t even raining heavily. I loved getting drenched in the rain.

I just thought of crossing the road blindly and jumped. I was hit by a three wheeled thing called the rickshaw. It hit my head. I was thrown two feet ahead. I lay on the ground and could clearly see the rickshaw approaching me. Now wasn’t the time to think about my best friend. The rickshaw hit me so hard that I couldn’t move my limbs. The rickshaw brushed across the upper part of my head. I just cried aloud. Lay helplessly with my head stuck on the road. Blood oozing out. I was just writhing in pain. The people passing by were just looking. I totally understand that it a goddamn highway but someone could have just stopped and kept me on the side of the road. Animals are never loved in this country. Moreover me being just a tiny cat, I cannot even welcome sympathy. With the sudden increase in the rain, I could just see huge vehicles approaching and just running over my body. Vehicles running over my stomach, my limbs. I died in the company of my two friends-laziness and the rains.

..and that’s how I died.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Naxalism & Arundhati Roy

Naxalism is something which didnt erupt in a day, it came up in 1967. All the people tagged maoists are tribals who have taken up arms just to safeguard their lands, their only livelihood. the condition is appalling. As pointedout in her book, if i remember the stats correctly,16000 tribals were branded maoists and thrown into jails jus cos theydid not give up their lands for a mining concern in which the govt had vested interests. 


Dantewada is one such place.
The Vedanta inc has intersts in the land and the home minister is
their legal and financial adviser. Vedanta is a mining corp. the govt
has signed MoU's worth more than billions of dollars. All these are
hazardous to the environment. 

Arundhati Roy and other activists have constantly
been telling this. To wipe off the maoists a congress MLA formed the
salwa judum 2 yrs back. But today the number of maoists have increased
3 times. Who is to blame? The govt's negligence towards the tribals.
India has the highest population of tribals  in the world and yet the
govt cant do anything for them. What a shame????? None of the media
houses went to Dantewada, 
Arundhati Roy as the 1st person to go there. Its the
job of a journalist to visit such places and not of a writer. After
the massacre every journo goes there  and run exclusive shows on TV.
The sad story is that the rich become richer and the poor even more
poor. When the nagarjuna sagar dam was commissioned in 1960(i
believe), the people who lost lost their land to the dam were not
given any kind of compensation. They cudnt support their livelihood. U
wont believe, parents were forced to sell their kids for
subsistence. The aam janta say so what we are getting water, what abt
the houses these poor ppl gave up with the hope of receiving sum
compensation and end up getting nothing. Just like Arundhati Roy says, at this
point when ppl call us anti-indian its the end of imagination of those
ppl. This woman thru her books has lambasted all such gruesome
activities of the govt. I still believ the narmada dam was  a mistake.
10 rs as compensation!!!!!!!!!!!! Ridiculous!!!!!!!

Synopsis of an Arundhati Roy Interview

Well it was firstly a very calm and composed interview. Karan Thaparwas the interviewer. Arundhati Roy and Prashant Bhushan were the panelists. Prashant Bhushan was an active member of the NBA (Narmada Bachao Andolan). Arundhati Roy started her talk by condemning the violence which happened on the 6th of April.The questions were asked respectfully with the principle of 'respect the speaker' in mind. Arundhati Roy did say that the govt was pretty sure that the lives of the jawans wud be lost. It was something like the govt deciding the last day of the jawans.

She said that the support she recd for her 31 page essay in Outlook[29mar 2010] was overwhelming. It reminded her of the support she received during her 'The God of Small Things' days. She knew she wud be abused for the same.





THE TWEETS
Barkha Dutt: We do not need more 36 page essay on the good folk of Dantewada.

Nidhi Razdan: I'm sick of this romanticism. Where is this Arundhati Roy know?

The Maoist Problem 2

So now the Indian government is planning to launch an all security force attack against the Maoists. Why? Either India can't control the rising pressure from China over the ownership of Arunachal Pradesh and the very old Kashmir issue. To hide all this from not being the important ones our Home Minister is concentrating on the Maoists. Because they are fighting because the Govt. is going to grab the land from them. india have seen very few fightbacks over evacuation for the construction of dams, the Narmada Bachao Andolan being the prominent.
God knows if the Goverment has as promised rehabilitated them,if not,our Govt. would have the stupid excuse that the people were living illegally. When it comes to the evacuation and oppression of the poor all parties are one. The Govt. is sure to win the so called war against the Maoists who are fighting the ownership of their land so that a new billionaire doesn't come and invest. Not a single national political party has come in support if the Maoists because they are poor. Here all's right.

The Telangana Issue

 Atlast the Indian Government succumbed to K.Chandrashekhar Rao's calls for a separate Telengana state. Did the government succumb to his calls just because he is a politician? What about Irom Sharmila, the Iron Lady from Manipur, who is into the 10th year of her hunger strike demanding withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. 
The government never paid any attention to her just because she is a civilian or rather a social activist without any corporate support.Now when a politician goes on a hunger strike, with the sole intenton of dividing the country, the central government almost readily agrees to his demands when his hunger strike enters the 11th day. 
It would not take much long for the politicians of Gorkhaland, Bodoland or Vidarbha to come forward and demand statehood for those regions. If the government accepts KCR's demands it would be like knowingly opening a can of worms and inviting trouble. Hope the Government would spare some time to listen to Irom Sharmila' demands.

The Maoist Problem

 By voicing her concerns against the Government over the
alleged war over the Maoists, Arundhati Roy again proved her courage. As mentioned earlier by her in her book that about 32000 tribals were branded Maoists and thrown behind bars just because they refused to move from their lands to make way for a mining corporation. She also didn't support the wrongdoings of the maoists. Surprisingly the tribals believe in them than the system. It would be good if the Maoists lay down their arms and get into talks with the government because we as citizens do not want to see our government waging a war against its own people.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Endosulfan


Just as the name suggests, Endosulfan is an insecticide. After being banned in a  number of countries, India finally approved its usage. Where else do we test it other than Kerala?
Even after a lot of studies informed that usage of Endosulfan would lead to cancer and stop human development, the Central Government gave a go ahead. There have also been rumours that these patients aint victims of the insecticide instead suffering from Handigodu disease.
The Kerala government kept requesting the Central Government that this is infact a harmful chemical. The public protests were also on a high. One of the worst affected was the Kasargod district where entire families started showing signs of mental imbalance.
The central Government turned a blind eye to the entire episode and also blaming the then Communist led government in Kerala for its anti-development crusade. The central government went a step further, they filed a case against the kerala government’s request in the supreme court to ban Endosulfan. The Central Govt. mentioned that it’s a tried and tested chemical and doesn’t have any adverse effects on human beings.
The way things are going for the centre-POOR AINT HUMANS for them.
On May 13, the supreme court banned the usage of endosulfan but on August 2, 2011, the Centre filed a counter petition saying that the victims in Kerala are suffering from a totally different disease and it should instead promote the usage of endosulfan.
The contradictory part of this is that when A.K. Anthony, (the current Defence Minister) the then Chief Minister of Kerala had banned the product and as of today he is mute. No one has heard from him.
The Centre has given compensation to all the victims but why add the count.
The centre anyway doesn’t listen to the poor, let’s not further trouble them atleast.