Friday, 23 July 2010

Wake up and smell the Shit!

64 years after independence we have scavengers who manually dispose of  human faeces for a living. If that is not enough (and shameful), these very same people, are being  intimidated, isolated and evicted because of their caste. Wake up and  smell the shit!

Savanur, in Haveri District of Karnataka, was  the site of a protest that should act as wake-up call for every citizen  and the government. Unfortunately, like every other warning signal that we  have seen about the issue of disparity, this too was either ignored or treated like  some shit on the road that we need to walk around.

While the citizens of the town need them for scavenging, they are not  willing to let them live in their home of 40 years. They are not willing  to let them access water - and if they do so - they are accused of  theft - or have to pay a fine of 2000 Rs - something that is beyond  their means. You clean the town's drains manually ...but are denied water to clean  yourself? A 'commercial complex' gets priority over their lives? 

Kannada papers did cover it, and one even dedicated an editorial. Vernacular news channels too touched upon it - but it got the treatment of something that came of the ticker. To Deccan Herald's credit, it did cover the story.

What about the national media? Why the hell did they not editorialize it? Why did studios not discuss it?

Did somebody say the caste system is dead? Is India anywhere close to shining? Not when people have to cover themselves in human excrement as a mark of protest against being denied access to water and being displaced from their homes.

If India has to rise and shine, we need to wake up and smell the shit.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Guerrilla marketing and TATA (trying to manufacture an image?)

Wikipedia on Guerilla Marketing:
Typically, guerrilla marketing campaigns are unexpected and unconventional; potentially interactive; and consumers are targeted in unexpected places.
The Google Advertisement on a page that hosts a Petition against POSCO

My problem with this
  • The Internet remains relatively free from "manufactured consent" when you compare it with the rest of the mainstream media. 
  • We have many studio anchors posing as experts on TV who know so little about so much. A good example is how little they know about the tragedy of Kalinganagar.  
  • Mining is tearing into the lives of Indian citizens in many parts of the country. Getting news and information about the violations by mining corporates has been an uphill battle.
  • It is not strange that the mining lobby and the main-stream media  including the Tatas are bed-fellows.
  • NOW, we have PR spin doctoring creeping rapidly into the Internet and on forums where one could get some independent and factual information. It's being hijacked by "advertising".
  • Doesn't matter where you pitch a tent - the spin doctors seem to creep up right behind you - and start screaming louder than you!
  • We need to start reclaiming some spaces. We will be foolish if we let every single space that we have be hijacked by people who have a horrendous track record like TATA
  • They may have the financial muscle to buy up google ad-space and bury the truth in Page 5 of a Google search and they are not afraid of using it. 
  • I would be naive to say that I did not see it coming. I was surprised to see it on the petition and the PR site that they have put-up.
Another example - search for "Kalinganagar" on Google

For folks who are interested in the other side of the story - and don't need to be fed information from a PR spoon coated in unadulterated cow dung - I strongly suggest that you visit -

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Aiyoo Rama!

Aiyoo Rama! Stumped Again!

The “liberal dharma” brigade is back with the Hindu Rasthra theme and this time it’s called “Ram Rajya”. I disagree with almost every one of their positions and this one in particular – that ‘Ram Rajya’ is an ideal to strive for.
The rare exceptions where I agree with them are in the area of universal themes (e.g. dynasty politics is bad for a democracy).

Circus tents pitched at different foras on the internet use the concept of “Hindutva” to ridicule the left. People in these circus tents drop conservative phrases like “liberal dharma” (which I have written about in the past) and “Hindu Rashtra”. The latter never fails to send a chill down my spine.

To borrow a phrase from their own lexicon, most of these circus tents are populated by “handmaidens” of the BJP. They chose to begin their critique of the Bandh call by first declaring the BJP guilty by associating itself with the left. This is not surprising as their definition of liberal makes them extreme conservatives – intolerant of anything/anybody that seeks to protect public wealth and resources from being exploited by private interests.

Now they are claiming that self-interest is in national interest and that we need to move towards a “Ram-Rajya”. They quote heavily from some scripture or the other on the rules that Lord Ram had for the his kingdom. Their argument for economic liberalization comes not from contemporary analogy but from mythology that did not consider both genders equal and all people equal.

They are welcome to quote from these scriptures and texts. These texts are not allowed to be disputed in discourse because of their religious status. This makes the quoting of these texts a dogmatic exercise.

We are on the brink of another Hindutva wave and the left (very worryingly) seems to be oblivious. The left response is weak because it suffers from a similar problem. Leftist political parties in India are also dogmatic. They discuss Marx and Trotsky but react to every critique of the two with an ad hominem response. Marx had a set of economic recommendations for a nation state– but to treat them as indisputable and as the only approach is dogmatic. A typical debate tends to slip into polemics and rhetoric faster than the blink of an eye. The Hindu Rashtra brigade says that the left uses dogma and they explain this by being dogmatic themselves. This is a game that the Hindutva brigade will win based not on content but on decibel levels.

My take on the bandh
  • Everybody has a right to dissent and protest. That said, one cannot be coerced or forced into participating in dissent. 
  • I refused to participate in the Bandh because Sanitary workers in Bangalore could not participate – they needed their daily wage. They have been fighting for fair wages for months now and I believe that it is India’s national interests for its citizens to align with their cause. When they go on strike – I will be striking with them.
  • Inflation is a problem across every state in India including states ruled by the BJP and the Left. We need to look at how we can manipulate fuel subsidies to reduce the burden on the poor. Inflation is about big business interests and BJP is aligned with those interests as much as the Congress is. 
  • The congress will not give a dam about the Bandh. Fuel prices WILL be de-regulated. MMS is from the Brentton-Woods school which means his polices are neo-liberal.
Allow me to leave you with a small take on "Ram Rajya" -
Disclosure - I have used this poem in another post as well.

जो पुल बनायेंगे,
वे अनिवार्यतः
पीछे रह जाएंगे
सेनाएँ होंगी पार
मारे जायेंगे रावण
जयी होंगे राम
जो निर्माता रहे
इतिहास में
बंदर कहलाएंगे।

'अज्ञेय'  |