The big joke – Indian Democracy

“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it” – George Orwell

Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, MM Kalburgi, Gauri Lankesh; they all spoke the truth and paid the price for it with their lives. Their only crime was to show the mirror to a society used to living in a system poisoned by caste divides, hate crimes and communal violence.

Gauri was a Kannada journalist known for fiercely voicing out her opinions against the increasing violence by the extremist Hindutva groups and overall majoritarianism practiced by the Hindu organisations in the country. Like Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi, Lankesh also never backed out of speaking up for the exploited and underprivileged sections of the society.

And then, this voice was silenced on September 5 when unknown assailants murdered the bold and courageous journalist in cold blood. Sadly, the list doesn’t end with Lankesh. At present, the Indian democracy is going through a crisis. The sole right to express dissent with the policies and ideologies of our political leaders is being snatched away from the common man.

Not only does criticism invite shaming and hatred from online bullies, things have gone as far as people simply being killed as if equality and freedom are just words meant to mock the largest democracy in the world.

But, it seems that the ones living in their high rise offices and travelling in their luxurious flights seem to have forgotten the power that lies with the Indian public. The massive outrage after Gauri’s death makes one believe that all is not lost yet; in-deed times have become dangerous for any voice that dares to disagree but these threats are only going to strengthen our resolve in protecting our country.

As long our people don’t let these threats silence our freedom and expression, they can’t take away the soul of our nation for which Gauri and many others laid their lives. Long Live Indian Democracy.

Source – The Guardian

Image Source – PTI

 

70 Years. 70 Fears

It has been 70 years of Independence. 70 years of painting the nation in tricolors. 70 years of hoisting the National Flag. 70 years of singing “Maa Tujhe Salaam”. Each and every Indian is pumped up with a sense of pride for our leaders broke the chains of colonization and liberated the future generations from the British rule. As the spirit of Patriotism flows in our blood, it changes its color to saffron-white –green. But soon everything fades- the song, the colors, and the patriotism as we indulge to free ourselves from the 70 struggles. The patriotic blood again turns violent as we fight against the wrongs. Still, fear confined in our heart strangles our freedom. This brings out a question -‘Are we really free?’

We have come a long way but still there are 70 fears, 70 struggles, we fight daily!

1) Unemployment– With Startup India, Skill India and Make in India, our country undoubtedly made a lot of headlines, but joblessness still becomes a major question as 30% of the youth stand nowhere.

2) Poverty- President Ramnath Kovind strongly said “No place for poverty in new India”, but can this speech change the lives of those 270 million who are below poverty line.

3) Illiteracy- India will be free of illiteracy in 5 years, says HRD Minister Prakash Javedkar. Does knowing how to do your signature make you literate?

4) Corruption– From 2G to Commonwealth, India is the country of scams and scandals. Chai-paani being the moto of all Indians, the country stands first in Asia for corruption.

5) Riots– we call ourselves patriot, when for every disagreement, all we do is riot.

6) Terrorism- India is the 3rd largest terror target after Iraq and Afghanistan. From 1993 Mumbai blasts to 26/11 attack, from Parliament hijack, Mumbai local bombing, Akshardham attack to the long list, a terror fear has occupied the brains of all Indians.

7) Rapes– From 3 yr to 60-yr-old being raped, this brutal crime has made its way in the daily newspapers. Nirbhaya case, Shakti Mills case, Uber case and the list goes on proving that India isn’t safe for women.

8) Patriarchy- The society that runs after Ladka still calls him the head. From Fathers, to brothers, to husband and then son, a girl is born to obey them and adjust and this practice is ongoing.

9) Dowry– The Indian system of ‘lenn-denn‘, the demanded gifts during marriage, and the suffocated wife who isn’t free.

10) Sexism– Indian girl’s image change according to her clothes. Frome prudish, old-fashioned, bore, flirt, cheeky, provocative, asking for it, slut, whore.

11) Domestic violence- Are the wives free of torture, physical abuse, mental harassment, scars, bruises, pain?

12) Marital rapes– “I can do it with you, whenever I want!” She never knew marriages too haunt.

13) Period taboo– It’s that time of the month- Don’t enter temple, don’t touch pickle, don’t sleep on bed, don’t live!

14) Virginity- Not talking about freedom from virginity, that’s your choice. Here we want the freedom from the mindset of being pure before marriage.

15) Body shaming- “She is too curvy, she should lose weight. She is too thin, she has no curves.” We are too judgmental, we should stop free advice.

16) Female infanticide– The “Khandaan ka Chirag” ideology of Indian families for a male child gave birth to the crime of death of girl child.

17) Farmer’s suicide– Over 12000 farmers free themselves from the cycle of drought and debt every year by committing suicide. Is that freedom?

18) Suicide- In India, suicide and self-harm are presently the leading cause of death among young people. It’s not just Blue Whale that’s causing suicides. Depression has settled deep in the Indian brains.

19) Child labour– Life of little one is destroyed when a child is employed. No reason no excuse, child labour is child abuse.

20) Child abuse– Children aren’t toys for adults. Don’t play with them.

21) Trafficking– Indians put up sale on everything. Even on Women and children. Every 8 minute a girl or child goes missing in India.

22) Bonded labour– Many are still chained, many are still bonded, many are still slaves! Labours in debt are left unfree.

23) Casteism– The childhood game of “Oonch Neech Ka Papada, Oonch maangi ki neech” is what portrays the Indian society. But people don’t get to choose their caste, it gifted to them since their birth. But a sad fact in India is- Jaati Kabhi Na Jaati.

24) Communalism- Hindus have tore apart the saffron and Green has been taken by the Muslims from the Indian Flag. That’s how our religions have been divided.

25) Languagism– Not just religion or caste, but language is a major weapon in India. Marathi Vs English, Telugu vs Hindi, Bengali vs Kannad, and the fight goes on.

26) Saffronisation– Since last three years, Indians have developed a taste for Kesar and that’s why we are cooking up all dishes and issues with the flavor of saffron. It’s time to use the inexpensive ingredient of rationality.

27) Doping– From Honey Singh songs to Uday Punjab, dope is the reality of new India. The youth is too much dependent on drugs that we should remove the ‘In’ from Independence Day.

28) Tobacco- Though Mukesh warns everyone time and again before a movie about this addiction, but Indians are ready to quit their lives, but not tobacco.

29) Hunger- Some don’t get, others waste. That’s the condition of food in India. Is India hunger free?

30) Food- Fight for our plate- that’s the recent struggle Indians face with beef ban. But the attack on food got deeper with the recent momo ban!

31) Films- In India, movies with social message can never be free and out without scissoring and chopping. On the other hand, adult comedy get easy license!

32) Speech- Free speech is under threat since Modi government came to power. We can debate but not against the government.

33) LGBTQ existence– Putting up multiple colour DP does not help the LGBTQ community, acceptance should be in the society and not just on social media.

34) Gay marriage– Love is not crime so why is Article 377 even there? It’s not common but it is by consent.

35) Medical disability– Indian Medical system is in itself diseased. With the recent Gorakhpur deaths, not just disease but also the hospital strangles you to death.

36) Superstition- The braid chopping hysteria, the kala bandar frenzy, the Manglik belief, the unlucky 13 and Indians follow them blindly as they are bound in this superstitious world.

37) Neighbor enmity– Pre Independence, During Independence and Post Independence, still not free of this less love more war relationship.

38) Violence- The lessons of Mahatma Gandhi’s Ahimsa have faded in the history. India’s streets are well aware of violence today.

39) Naxalism- Naxalism killed 12000 people in 20 years. Is the freedom lost amidst Red corridor?

40) Population– Not just theatres, but houses, streets, buses, metro, everywhere in India, it’s Housefull! And still there is room for more.

41) Pollution- Not just society, but even the air in India suffocates. Not just the mind of the society, but also the water is impure. Not just the heart, but also the land is packed.

42) Traffic- Family of two, vehicles will be four plus no traffic sense, no traffic police on the narrow road of India. A complete chaos!

43) Racism- The black and white war is still not over in India in terms of Africans and North Easterns. They are not aliens. They are Indians.

44) Begging- Crossings in India have more beggars than traffic lights. With every 60 sec stoppage, the task for the women and children begins. Is begging-free India possible?

45) Robbery- Earlier the Britishers looted this golden bird, now the robbers plunder the leftovers.

46) Child marriage– Anandi from Balika Vadhu is not the only victim of child Marriage. From Maharashtra to Rajasthan, girls are treated more as brides.

47) Press curfew- Since Emergency, threat on press has been raised by Media houses. There have been raids on media houses, attack on journalists, cutting of journalistic writings. Is the pen really free?

48) Cyber crime- Till date, people in India just knew about crime around but technology isn’t far behind. Crime has gone online now!

49) Piracy– Not just gas or exam paper, but even films or shows are leaked here before they are out. Even DVD’s here aren’t safe.

50) Plagiarism– CTRL C then CTRL V, that’s the easiest research and way to work in India. Someone’s effort, your name, all for free.

51) HIV aids- Indians score really less when it comes to sex education and that can be seen with the increasing no of HIV+ patients.

52) Abortion- From pregnancies of rape victims to the pregnancies where the baby in the womb is diagnosed to have some mental or physical deformities, the freedom to abort is not with the mother. The court decides the life of the baby in the womb!

53) Honor killing– There is no honor in killing!

54) Juvenile delinquency– At 13, they know what is rape but they don’t know what punishment is.

55) Moral policing– police might not be aware of wrong doers, but some vigilante groups are. For them, all Indians are brothers and sisters in true sense.

56) Animals- They don’t have a voice doesn’t mean they don’t want freedom. Freedom from being caged, from being forced to work, from being eaten!

57) Animal testing– Imagine someone trying their experiment on us. Seems cruel right?

58) Freedom of net- ERROR 404- Freedom not found. Looks like the freedom you’re looking for was moved or never existed.

59) Privacy– From our identity to conversation to our decision, there is some intrusion! Do we have some privacy?

60) Open defecation- Here we have the perfect freedom to shit around.

61) Black money– Demonetization was the Pinking of the black money. So why color black at the first stage?

62) Inflation– Price of Roti, Kapda, Makaan on a rise. Up, Up, Up…..

63) Fake currency– 3.53 lakh fake notes counterfeited. Imagine those not counterfeited!

64) Water wastage– The wars of the future will be over water!

65) Euthanasia– If not the freedom to live happily, let one have the freedom to die peacefully.

66) Unequal pay- After respect, status, voice, money isn’t far behind to discriminate men and women.

67) Organ stealing– From kidney, to liver, to skin, even organs aren’t safe.

68) Power cuts– India is in darkness! Literally.

69) Poor infrastructure– Constructions happening, constructions falling, government is still sprawling.

70) Money laundering- India doesn’t need washing machines, laundering easily happens here.

We have been so happy with the freedom we have, but why do we forget that we still are chained in the evils of our own deeds. Earlier British enslaved us, now we have enslaved ourselves in our own sins. Let’s come out of these bars and make India free again. Happy Independence Day!

The Tightening Noose of Bans: Slaughtering freedom?

Image Source: thehindu.com
Image Source: thehindu.com

On the grounds that, to thrust a decision which is a matter of personal choice, due to one class’ sentiments on another is not right, The Supreme Court last week dismissed a plea against a Bombay high court order staying the decision to ban sale of meat in Mumbai during a four- day long Jain festival.

This came following a circular by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) imposing a ban on slaughter and sale of meat, sparking off outrage and debates. Concerns by mutton traders of Mumbai, citing a massive loss of earnings and by meat- consumers, made the issue debatable again, after the much criticized Beef Ban by the BJP last year.

“There has to be the spirit of tolerance and anything should not be thrust on a particular class,” was the Apex court’s response, adding that compassion for animals need not be observed only on festivals. The court called the step a “regressive step” in “progressive” Mumbai.

Politics was obviously at play, as the BJP insisted that it was in fact “not a ban” but merely tolerance to support the spirit of secularism. Shiv Sena (BJP’s ally) did not support and rather publically condemned the move, stating that it was BJP’s strategy to “to appease” some sections of the society.

From the Congress’ view of seeing it an imposition of RSS ideology and attributing it to the BJP’s ‘fascist’ behavior, the Shiv Sena and MNS went a step ahead, by setting up stalls in various parts of Mumbai, selling meat and defying the ban. The four-day meat ban in Mumbai was later reduced to one day by the city’s civic body, finally stayed amid protests by political parties- Shiv Sena, MNS and online debates and outrage.

The ban originally came into place in 1994 (imposed by the then Congress government). In 2004, the two-day ban was extended to four days but it had never really been implemented, until a recent o0rder was passed.

Other BJP-ruled states like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana and Chhattisgarh also followed suit and banned the sale of meat for the Jain fasting period. Haryana later clarified that the ban was not “binding”.

A one-day meat ban followed in the state of Bengaluru to mark the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. According to the Officials, the ban had been around for five years, and each year, meat is not sold on five or six days including Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary on October 2.

Interestingly, the ban in Bengaluru – a Congress-ruled state, drew attention and flak similar to the Mumbai meat ban, but was continued.

The question then arises, does tolerance toward one community’s sentiments, mean slaughtering of another’s personal choices? How far will one go in the garb of “secularism” till all freedom is choked out of an individual to fulfill personal or political motivations?

India Spying on Indians

Image courtesy - i.huffpost.com
Image courtesy – i.huffpost.com

With debates about Internet confidentiality raging miles away in the U.S., India is developing its own system which permits its various intelligence agencies and even income tax officers swifter access to information on citizens held by telecoms and internet service providers. At a time when claims of colossal US digital probing beyond American coasts has sparked a worldwide outcry, this expanded surveillance in the world’s largest democracy – which, according to the government, will assure national security — has left privacy activists distressed and skeptical.

The Central Monitoring System (CMS) was announced in 2011, but since then, there has been no public deliberation and the government has been tight-lipped about its functioning or how it can safeguard the abuse of the system. Since April this year, the government started to silently roll out the system state-wise and eventually, it will be able to focus on any of the country’s 900 million land-line and mobile phone subscribers as well as 120 million internet users.

Officers have said that making details of the project public would curb its value as a covert intelligence-gathering tool. A senior telecommunications ministry official, who is directly involved in developing the project, told Reuters, “Security of the country is very important. All countries have these surveillance programmes.” He further advocated the need for an all-encompassing system like CMS by saying, “You can see terrorists getting caught, you see crimes being stopped. You need surveillance. This is to protect you and your country.”

This means that through this scheme, the government will be able to not only listen to, but also tape phone conversations, intercept e-mails and text messages, screen posts on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and even trace search results on Google. In 2012 itself, India sent over 4,500 requests to Google Inc. for specific user data – the highest in the world after the U.S.

government_spying1
The CMS will eventually be able to focus on any of the country’s 900 million landline and mobile phone subscribers as well as 120 million internet users.

Now, security agencies need not seek court orders for inspection or depend solely on internet or mobile service providers to provide them with data. In the past, the government has detained people for critical social media posts, though there haven’t been any prosecutions.

So how far can an agency venture into an individual’s private life without breaching the individual’s right to privacy? Right to privacy, in some cases, is indirectly related to Freedom of Expression and modern invasion of privacy laws essentially protect people in four different ways: intrusion of solitude, public disclosure of private facts, false light, and appropriation. In 1948, the United Nations made the Universal Declaration of Human Rights laying down certain freedoms for the mankind.  Article 19 of the Declaration enunciates the most basic of these freedoms, thus: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression’, the right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek and receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

The topic of free speech is one of the most contentious issues in liberal societies. If the liberty to express oneself is not highly valued, as has often been the case, there is no problem: freedom of expression is simply curtailed in favour of other values. Free speech becomes a volatile issue when it is highly valued because only then do the limitations placed upon it become controversial.

Minister of State for Information Technology, Milind Deora, asserted that the new data collection system would in fact, develop citizens’ privacy since telecommunications companies would no longer be directly involved in the observation – only certified government officials would.