In a revealing, though not entirely surprising, exposé of the Hindu organization, the Rashtra Swayam Sevak (RSS), Sanjana from Tehelka reports on her experience with Saffron Techies. This is fundamentalism, madrassa style, for the India shining IT sector.
To make themselves more appealing to this "educated", tech-savvy class, the RSS has forgone its strict requirements that all its cadets wear ankle length shorts. I don't know if you've seen any RSS cadets. I have, and they frequently assemble outside temples in Bombay, especially during festivals.
Even though it is so depressing to see what has happened to India, at some level of complete cynicism one can't help but laugh at the stupid khaki shorts these grown up men wear as they walk like toddlers marching towards the glorious Hindu Rashtra. Its a perfect image for Incredible India. Completely brain-washed robots ready to die or kill for their God and Nation.
Well, the Hamas of India, has upgraded its level and now holds meetings where mukhyashikshaks (headmasters) teach Hindu pride to IT professionals. This is going on, in the "all over the world-famous" Bengaluru.
The chameleonic changes happening in India are capable of reviving surrealist non-sequiturs. How can Information Technology (IT) be pitted against bread (Roti)? Such improbable opponents can only emerge from either the laboratories of Victor Frankenstein or economic scientists at the World Trade Organization.
Incessant repetitions have convinced the world, including the dying polar bears and penguins at the poles, that there is an IT revolution going on in India. Believe me, walking the streets of India outside of Bangalore or Gurgaon, it feels like a facetious rumor.
There are a lot of back-office, low-end jobs percolating down to India essentially because of the low wages our accent-trained English speaking young are willing to accept. The real human beings behind the pseudonyms of Mary Janes and Joe Smiths are not unaware of their exploitation. Living in a shortsighted culture that promotes the present, in the moment, instant gratification as the highest value, it is their only option for individual independence. In the pursuit of their individualism they are unwilling to question the greed of their employers. When their Government prostrates to the power of Corporations and legal due process is a farce (remember Bhopal) they are smart enough to shut up and show up for work at the stroke of the midnight hour.
The Times Group is India's largest media conglomerate with a turnover of over USD $700 million. It has eleven publishing centers, fifteen printing centers, fifty five sales offices and over seven thousand employees. It owns five dailies, thirty one magazines, thirty two radio stations and reaches you, your children and your dog in two thousand four hundred and sixty eight cities and towns. Through its subsidiary companies it has interests in major radio, television, film and online businesses.
It is fair to say that the trap of this media composite is inescapable if you are in anyway connected to India. With ownership of such mass media, The Times Group exemplifies how modern corporatism has turned the meaning of language upside down. Mass Media is no longer mass if it is held by a couple of entities. The 'mass' in mass media was meant to be us, the masses. Mass media means people's media, not corporate media injected into people's veins. It means the media is of the people not a media which steals from the people.
This son of a rich Karachi businessman, Asif Ali Zardari, was never meant to be the President of Pakistan. He was the guy you'd write about only if discussing corrupt husbands living in the shadows of 10% commission. The moniker Mr. Ten Percent, though appropriate, seems incomplete to describe him. He's also a man known for his frills, a philandering playboy and a lecherous womanizer.
Every time he opens his mouth, he begins by raising the specter of his late wife "Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto" as a copyrighted trademark. Once the formalities of announcing his claim to fame have been dispensed with, he'll break into the most gratuitous display of teeth, which he thinks passes off for a welcoming smile. One can almost see that behind the grinning eyes lies a conniving idiot-savant figuring out the rules of this new game he's playing. With this non graduate at the helm of power in Pakistan, I think the subcontinent has found its local version of President Bush. Just like Bush's Bushims, we can begin compiling Zardari's Zardarisms.
I'll start by pointing out this one:
On 23rd September, 1932, Pritilata Waddedar led a bomb attack with 10 men on the Pahartali European Club in Chittagong, Bengal. The raid was successful but she was unable to escape and was trapped by the police. She consumed potassium cyanide as her next best option. The target, the European Pahartali Club, was chosen because it bore this offensive sign at its entrance:
"Dogs and Indians not allowed"
Seventy six years later, I was in Pune for some work this week and I came across this sign outside a posh residential complex:
PATNA, India, Aug 18 (Reuters) - A state government in eastern India is encouraging people to eat rats in an effort to battle soaring food prices and save grain stocks.
Authorities in Bihar, one of India's poorest states, are asking rich and poor alike to switch to eating rats in a bid to reduce the dependence on rice. They even plan to offer rats on restaurant menus.
"Eating of rats will serve twin purposes -- it will save grains from being eaten away by rats and will simultaneously increase our grain stock," Vijay Prakash, an official from the state's welfare department, told Reuters.
Officials say almost 50 percent of India's food grains stocks are eaten away by rodents in fields or warehouses.
Jitan Ram Manjhi, Bihar's caste and tribe welfare minister, said rat meat was a healthy alternative to expensive rice or grains, and should be eaten by one and all.
"We are very serious to implement this project since the food crisis is turning serious day by day," Manjhi, who has eaten rats, told Reuters.
In Bihar, rat meat is already eaten by Mushars, a group of lower caste Hindus, as well as poorer sections of society.
Thanks to Raj Patel for the link.
These riots broke out after the burning of Coach S/6, on the Sabarmati Express, in Godhra, on February 27th, 2002. Fifty eight people (23 men, 15 women and 20 children) were killed, burnt to death by a mob, while returning from a pilgrimage from Ayodhya. Using these killings as an excuse, the Hindutva outfits VHP, RSS and Bajrang Dal (members of the Sangh Parivar) unleashed mass riots in which close to two thousand people were killed and over a hundred and fifty thousand people displaced. Most of them were Muslims.
The Sangh Parivar (family of strong associations) is a group of various political parties. The BJP, which controlled both the state and national government, at the time of the riots, is the largest member of this family. The Prime Minster of India, at that time, Atal Bihari Vajpayee started his political career as a member of the RSS. The BJP chief minister of Gujarat, Narinder Modi has close ties to the VHP and the Bajrang Dal.
When the riots went on unchecked for over two months, till May 2002, allegations started surfacing that these riots were pre-planned, organized and aided by local authorities with carte blanche from the Government. It was a serious charge because if these allegations were true, it meant the government of Gujarat was aiding the massacre of its own people divided on lines of religion.
Just finished watching Chicago 10 and my first reactions are that today's modern world is the servile anti-thesis of the sixties. Free, critical thought encouraged to question authority and power has been annihilated by a materialist education system. Brett Morgen's Chicago 10 is a documentary film about eight antiwar protesters who were put on trial for attempting to disrupt the 1968 Democratic Convention being held in Chicago.
It is told using archival footage mixed with animation and some stellar rock music and takes you back to 1968, the days of Lyndon B. Johnson.
It was a time very much like today. The Vietnam antiwar sentiment, like the Iraq antiwar sentiment was at its peak. At that time it was not the Republicans but the Democrats who were in power. Johnson, when he took office after JFK's assassination, escalated the war from 16,000 American soldiers in Vietnam to 550,000 by the end of his term. John Frankenheimer's A Path to War is an excellent film about the LBJ years.
But coming back to Chicago 10, one the most noticeable differences of today's world and the sixties is how independent and critical the news media was of the government and the authorities. I mean today's media is reduced to a mouthpiece of the government and the corporate world. Just forty years ago, this was not the case and this film documents that so interestingly.
As Indian mainstream media starts looking more and more like a bad Xerox copy of American media, viewers must equip themselves with the knowledge and vocabulary on how the media helps manufacture consent. This should be required viewing for you and your children, especially since they might be learning fascism at school.
India often likes to compare its highly dubious 'democratic' credentials to America. The idea is to somehow make-believe that America and India are natural allies since both are 'democracies'. In some other sections of Indian society, America and all western culture is frequently referred to as the great Satan. While I have no religious moorings, American foreign policy can certainly seem that way to its victims.
But what makes America great? It is not its fluff pop culture, its lame-ass suburban shopping malls or its oligarchic corporate greed. These are the things that India is most voraciously aping. What stands out in America is its freedom of speech which is a guaranteed constitutional right. A right which is often denied them, but their democracy fights back. This is something India has yet to understand. Even though the Indian Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, albeit very differently from the United States, in practice it is a mockery of the constitution.
I was just listening to Glenn Greenwald's podcast at Salon. His podcast debut interview was with Daniel Ellsberg, a prominent political whistleblower whose release of the Pentagon Papers expedited the end of the Vietnam war.
Hearing the podcast, it struck me how Indian whistleblowers fared in comparison. After all, true sister democracies have to have this fundamentally important shared value.