Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tamil short story - உப்புக் காங்கிரஸ் – தோற்றமும் முடிவும்

My Tamil short story - உப்புக் காங்கிரஸ் – தோற்றமும் முடிவும் was published in today. Please read and comment. Excerpt below:

தண்டியில் உப்பு எடுக்க மகாத்மா யாத்திரை செய்த சமயம், 1930-ம் வருடம், கல்லிடைக்குறிச்சி ஜூனியர் கிரிக்கெட் கிளப்பைச் சேர்ந்த நாங்கள், கல்லிடைக்குறிச்சி உப்புக் காங்கிரஸை உருவாக்கினோம். நாடெங்கும் சுதந்திரக் காற்று வீசுகையில், எங்கள் பங்குக்கு வெள்ளைக்காரனை உயிரை வாங்க முடிவு செய்தோம். காங்கிரஸின் முதல் கூட்டத்தில், எங்கள் முதல் நடவடிக்கையாக குண்டு போட வேண்டும் என்று ஆறுமுகம் விருப்பம் தெரிவித்தான். எங்கே, எப்படி என்ற கேள்விகள் ஆறுமுகத்தின் கோபத்தைக் கிளறி விட்டது. எங்களை மிதவாதிகள் என்று குற்றம் சாட்டினான். “வைஸ்ராய் மேல குண்டு போடலாம்,” என்றான். வைஸ்ராய் கல்லிடைக்குறிச்சி வரும் வரை பொறுக்க வைத்திக்கு இஷ்டமில்லை. “போலீஸ் ஸ்டேஷன் மேல குண்டு போடுவோம்,” என்றான். 

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Six Rules on Public Protests for Facebook Commentariat

1. DO judge a popular protest by the merits of its demands - not by political alignment. The attempt to impose a political "party alignment" on a popular protest (such as anti-corruption, sri lankan issue or rape protests) makes no sense because the protesters are public, and they may have different affiliations. What matters is their public demands.
2. Do NOT insult any substantial protest by saying "media created it". Media has no capability in manufacturing news with such a massive conspiracy in which thousands of people participate. You are stupid if you think NDTV is filling buses with protesters to get TRP ratings. That is not how media works.
3. Do NOT ask protesters why they are not protesting something else. For example, asking the Delhi rape protesters why they are not protesting rapes in Kashmir is absurd for many reasons. a) That they did not protest something does not mean they agree with it. b) Protests about one issue may actually help other issues and c) Protesters are individuals who feel excited about something. It is not some collective conspiracy.
4. Do NOT ask, after the protests die down why they died down. They died down because all public protests die down at some point. This should be common sense, public has jobs and cannot be out in the streets fighting 24 hours.
5. Do NOT ask, AFTER the protests what they accomplished. That they came out and fought means something. That is the case for anti-corruption or Delhi rape protests.
6. Do NOT look at one individual who shows up in some stage and try to make the entire protest about that person. This is what Arundhathi Roy and Gail Omvedt tried to do for the Anti-corruption struggle; and the Manmohan Singh government did for the Koodankulam protesters. As writer Jeyamohan said, popular protests are usually big tents - they cannot turn away people we don't like, sitting in our couch at home. Do not fall into smear tactics.

If a movement has demands, and the demands are reasonable, then support it. If not, do not support it. All else are distractions.

IPL scandal benefits Indian politicians

Whenever a scandal happens - coalgate, 2G, IPL - a section of media and commenters talk about how this is horrible because people may lose their trust in government or BCCI etc.
It occurs to me that the Indian politician BENEFITS a lot from the public's loss of trust, whatever be the institution. The Indian politician survives on two popular myths:
1) That corruption is "inherent" in India - for cultural, religious or social reasons, and
2) That the situation is impossible to change
It is these myths that the anti-corruption protests challenged. It was not Jan Lokpal that scared these guys; it was the blowing of these two myths. 
A scandal such an IPL, even though it does not have anything directly to do with politics, still BENEFITS the Indian politician, because the public's lack of trust in ANY elite institution makes it easy to force them to give up and sink into apathy. A population that mistrusts any institution also mistrusts each other.
Social mistrust is the single best investment that the Indian political class has. They will try everything to perpetuate it, and have no interest in solving it.
In fact, I predict that they will BUILD entire institutions, and then show that they are corrupt, JUST to reinforce mistrust and perpetuate the myths above. The IPL may just be one such.