WHY DID WE FAIL TO TRAVEL FROM HYDERABAD TO VILLUPURAM? (I)

Rohith Vemula’s suicide took the nation by storm. A wave of outrage that began on January 17 when the news of his suicide broke along with his intellectually worded suicide note. Since then, the social media and the mainstream media have been all about the issue, giving due exposure any such story deserves.

And then, there were elements in place.

It was a prestigious central university – University of Hyderabad.

A Dalit research scholar had committed suicide in an educational institution where other eight Dalit students, alleging caste discrimination, had committed suicide in the past decade.

Rohith’s letters blamed his university and social institutions.

Then there were letters by a union minister from BJP and from a central government ministry, Human Resources Development, led by Smriti Irani, in the case pressurizing the university administration to take action against Rohith Vemula and some other students for their alleged assault on an Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad leader (ABVP).

So, there was this angle of student politics – touching the chords of national politics – in a metro city that is one of India’s Information-Technology capitals.

And above all, there was this angle of Dalit Vs non-Dalit angle.

So, even if was a horror, that a young student was forced to commit suicide due to administrative apathy, social disparity and political interference, all elements were in place for every stakeholder, including politicians, to squeeze the mileage that would suit them.

Yes, apart from social media and media outrage, and the subsequent social mobilization, it is pure politics.

And why it is pure politics becomes clear from yet another social horror.

Three students of an allied medial college in Villupuram, a Tamil Nadu district, committed suicide by jumping in a well because they had lost all hopes for their future as the college that had promised them a rosy future had duped them of their families’ savings. They alleged in their suicide note that the college administration had imparted no skills in almost first two years of their college and there were no facilities to train them. The college was busy in looting them, and at the same time, was killing the students by denying them their option to earn livelihood.

The students wrote in their suicide note that they were committing suicide hoping that it would draw attention to their plight. Another girt student from the same college committed suicide later.
These students were Dalit as well.

Yes, we cannot and we should not compare but it was another horror after Rohith Vemula’s suicide that should have rightly driven us mad on the sorry state of affairs in the our higher educational institutions.

But it didn’t happen after the initial social media and media fury – and why?

To continue..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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YES, HE WAS THE MAHATMA..

Communal riots date back to the ancient times in the history of India. Hindu-Muslims riots began during the medieval period. And since then the travesty has been unabated – with varying degrees of terror and its aftermath.

And that is a major reason among some defining elements due to which India is still not among the most forward nations in the world – in spite of being the world’s largest democracy.

In fact, India’s independence, its partition and the birth of Pakistan in 1947 saw the worst Hindu-Muslim riots in India – unparalleled so far then – a massacre that remains unparalleled still.

And these riots that preceded and followed India’s independence and Pakistan’s birth tell why Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was revered as the ‘Mahatma’ or ‘Bapu’ – the ascetic, the sage, the father figure.

Yes, there are varying accounts and there are historical records and claims about what happened to the Hindu-Muslim riots, especially the most heinous of them in Noakhali in Bengal where the Mahatma camped for around four months touring villages to calm down tempers.

We know, on the whole, the warring factions, that then included the whole population of an aspiring Pakistan and an equally sizeable chunk in India could never be reconciled and one nation became two and ultimately three in 1971.

But one fact is indisputable clear – that – the Mahatma did calm down the tempers there. Yes, he could not bring the warring factions to the final solution of reconciliation but he stopped something that could easily have become one of the worst human massacres in the history of civilizations.

And we know that is a rare feat – in fact an unparalleled sentiment he commanded. Hindu-Muslim riots have continued even in the independent India – but right from its beginnings in the medieval India – there never was a person like the Mahatma who could stand among those ready to kill and be killed to ask them to stop and in fact convinced them to do so. And there will no else like him in that sense we can say. Yes, he was the Mahatma who did this unthinkable job because history again tells us that the people blinded by faith refuse to listen to anyone. 

These are difficult times. Bapu was questioned even then. But now is the time when history is being worked upon. Ideologies are clashing. And we need our Mahatma – his thoughts, his teachings, his vision, and the spirit that he embodied. India, in fact, always needed it. And now is the time when the need is desperate. Now is the time when we need to reach out to say yes he was the Mahatma who set us on the path to independence and the best tribute to him would be to be make an India where we all would be ‘really free souls’. 

Bapu

October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THE REVENANT: FIRST THOUGHTS THAT COME TO YOUR MIND

Obviously I am writing it in my context – but I am sure many would concur..

‘The Revenant’ is very lonely and sucks its viewers in its spaces – in its oblivions – in its living quarters – in its horizons.

‘The Revenant’ is probably the next most perfect narrative development of a book after ‘The Lord of The Rings’ trilogy.

‘The Revenant’s landscapes are, its cinematography is – I would say gripping – keeping you hooked to the whole frame and not just to the central characters – and this excellence has a beautiful rhythm frame after frame. You not only listen to the characters here but you also try to sense what the spaces around them are trying to say.

‘The Revenant’ is one of those rare movies where the film locales are as important as the script, the acting and the direction.

‘The Revenant’, a straight revenge plot, is taken to higher realms of filmcraft with powerful performance by every character in the movie, especially by Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy.

‘The Revenant’, inspired by true events (as it goes), is an incredible life story of a man – played immaculately well by DiCaprio. He simply looks natural.

‘The Revenant’ is pure auteur – those who have watched other movies of its director Alejandro González Iñárritu – can easily read his style-statement in every scene.

‘The Revenant’ is a director’s movie – its actors are director’s actors – and its narrative is a director’s narrative.

‘The Revenant’ is one of the rare Westerns that try to deal sensitively with the history of Native American tribes – even if the scope is very limited here.

‘The Revenant’ should bag multiples Oscars this year – including the ones for the ‘Best Director’, the ‘Best Actor’ and the ‘Best Picture’.

The Revenant

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

Featured Image Courtesy: Screenshot from The Revenant’s Official Website

SMART ‘SMART CITY’ LIST?

The ‘smart city’ list is out.

And by names (of the cities) it involves, it seems the whole process to select the first 20 has been done meticulously and smartly.

Or that seems so?

Well, to go with the verity of the process that went into making of this report, we can say that two big, electorally important states, going to polls this year and the next, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, have not got any of their cities shortlisted.

Or it can be like, BJP has nothing much to lose or gain in West Bengal, where it is politically non-existent, so it can safely be placed in ‘politically motivated’ category and by the time the UP assembly polls come, in the first half of the next year, the state, where BJP and its allies won 73 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats in 2014, and where it failed to perform in every subsequent poll and bypoll, the party may announce to shortlist all UP cities (from the names sent) in one go next January (in 2016) to score the pre-election mileage.

But that goes with one imperative – how Varanasi is developed further – how the city looks by that time – because, so far, during the first 20 months of the Narendra Modi government and during the first 20 months of Varanasi being the parliamentary constituency of India’s prime minister, the city has failed to move on development parameters.

In fact, those who come from Varanasi can tell you nothing has changed so far – when we compare Varanasi of pre and post Narendra Modi era. The city doesn’t need WiFi at its ghats. It needs cleaner ghats and the Ganga. It needs a cleaner city. It needs uninterrupted 24/7 power supply. It needs a sewage system that is efficient and covers the whole city. It needs a governance system that can coexist with its ancient tradition and cultural flow. It needs modern civic infrastructure based on the real estate development in the city. The city desperately needs a traffic system that could take care of its perennial problem. The city needs dirt free, dust free and garbage free roads. The city needs dedicated superfast trains like Shatabdi or Duronto. The city needs a larger, better airport.

Well, nothing is happening on that front. It is good that Varanasi would be developed as the twin city of Kyoto – the Japanese temple city that is a model the world over.

But given the state of affairs the things are in, the first and the immediate imperative is – Varanasi needs its basic civic amenities first.

Narendra Modi’s candidature did some positives to Varanasi – liking causing a multi-fold jump in its real estate prices – like putting the city again on global heritage map.

But, on the ground, in terms of developments that the city desperately needs, nothing has been done – and people have started raising questions.

Anyway, this write-up is not about Varanasi. I wrote about Varanasi to present logic for one of the arguments here – that BJP didn’t name any UP city now to time it according to the UP assembly polls.

The Ministry of Urban Development says it followed a scientific process to shortlist cities out of 97 entries it got – with answers and responses on a set of questions/parameters.

The states that have got representation are – Odisha, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Assam and Punjab – 12 states.

Three of them, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam are going to polls this year and except Assam, BJP has no great chances.

Waiting for another year to make announcement about UP cities is an unforeseen risk, especially in the context of the facts/logic mentioned above, that the party would not like to take.

BJP may have performed miserably in Bihar polls (Bihar has no city in the list) this year but then it also did so in Delhi. Similar logic can be given for other states like Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and so on.

So, the argument that the list is politically motivated doesn’t hold much ground.

But we must be watchful to see what really happens to these ‘smart cities’ – to see whether the concept is smart enough – let’s see what this US$ 7.5 Billion can do?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

60/7

That is an important combination of digits to remember – a UN resolution in 2005 that established January 27 as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day – the day when the largest of the Nazi concentration camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau, was liberated.

The Holocaust is and will remain the most enduring horror unleashed on humanity because, for a common mind, killing human beings, in the name of ethnic superiority (or prejudice) at this scale is simply beyond thinking realms.

But then, arrival of a Hitler is always a real time possibility.

Human death camps are still alive and kicking in many parts of the world – with the common thread being persecuting those who raise voice against the ruling regimes – in North Korea – in restive countries of Africa – in monarchies and authoritarian nations of Asia and Africa – and elsewhere.

Well, we cannot say with certainty where they exist – but they do exist.

And a day to pay tribute to the worst crime against humanity in the known human history is a day to cement your resolve to be in solidarity with the countless lives that are still compromised every passing day.

Because the day comes to remind us the of devil prowling among us – someone who could be in any of us!

Because the days comes to take us, in this generation who have not seen those images, or from a different geographic territory, on a revisit to the visuals of the concentration camps and a visit through the Holocaust literature – a must for every human life!

Hitler and his Nazi Germany had killed many millions in a span of few years only and Hitler’s success in unleashing his killing machinery tells how such maniacs manipulate even democracy in the name of democracy and national pride – because Hitler was the product of a democratic transition process in Germany. And Germany was in Europe – the birthplace of democracies.

So, the dangers are very real – in a world inundated with democracies, autocracies, monarchies and absurdities – the broken down nations with tribal warlords, civil wars and terror groups – in a world infested with war theatres in almost every continent.

The Holocaust has been a regular in human conscience – right from the day the Second World War ended. But it is imperative for us to be more organized in remembering and revisiting the darkest chapter in our history – to feel that chill down our spines – to become numb – if we have to remain alert to dissuade any Hitler to walk again.

And the UN General Assembly Resolution 60/7 exactly does that – with the Holocaust Remembrance Day – or the Holocaust Memorial Day.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THERE..

Sometimes, I look there
To see if it is still there
Well, there is this canvas
I cannot say
But then I never needed it
Still, there is this feeling
That I could be there
That I had to be there
Filling it with colours
I felt comfortable with
Existing in that space
Where there lies a void now
Trying to speak to me
Through the disconnect
That time could not bring
Sometimes, I look there
To see if I can still go there
Bathing me in colours
My soul always longs for
Sometimes, I look there..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

GOD IS OF EVERYONE. GOD IS FOR EVERYONE.

Yes, that is ideally the ideal position – but something that has been a deep rooted ‘glass ceiling’ phenomenon universally – in almost every religion with different hues – in every society – and in every country – including India.

We worship women. In Hinduism, Goddess Shakti is revered like anything. And it doesn’t end here. And I am sure every religion has its own female deities.

Yet we deny women the basic right – the right to the equality in the places of worship.

And that’s why the Shani Shingnapur protest by a group of women activists demanding their right to worship in the innermost sanctum of the temple, barred for women, is important – away from the debates of being politically motivated or being a mere publicity stunt.

Because they pull our attention to this very important discrimination prevailing in our society that we have so subtly legitimized – again in the name of religion – and have efficiently co-opted women to perpetuate such practices – out of fear psychosis – or emotional bondage – or cultural blackmail.

Well, our scriptures say God is for everyone. They say he knows what is in our conscious and he comes to everyone. They say our faith is as important for God as God is for us.

And when we worship our deities of both genders with equal faith and devotion, why do we discriminate between their devotees based on their genders?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

JLF: THE DESCENT

Today, Facebook, like it does, prompted me to revisit this image from January 2011. Well, normally I don’t follow these advises but today I did it – because it made me revisit what was once among my ‘must visit’ events.

Yes, it was once. Not anymore.

And it has nothing to do with me. I still feel about the same way – the feelings that started taking me away from the event – first some valid questions – then a valid dislike – and then a sense that the event doesn’t figure in my calendar.

‪Jaipur Literature Festival is an event which saw meteoric rise and then a meteoric fall – all in a span of few years only.

What makes this trend remarkable development, a must-study case study, is that it started with marketing itself as a ‘literature’ event – but then rapidly degraded.

Well after 10 odd years, it is now established well beyond doubt that though it is a grand event – it is an event without literature’s soul and the descent has been rapid.

To cater to the marketing forces, the organisers have compromised its literary quotient.

Now it is just another routine marketing event and the kind of media neglect that it is getting is ‘informative/symptomatic’ of that.

JLF-1

JLF: DESCENT HAS BEEN RAPID

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

SHANI SHINGAPUR STANDOFF TOMORROW: SOME RANDOM QUESTIONS

1. Why men fear women presence in innermost religious circles?

2. Is religion not the most primitive tool to maintain male domination in the society?

3. Will tomorrow be a bitter standoff at the Shani temple in Shingnapur village in the Ahmednagar district of Maharastra?

4. Is it just another political spectacle or a sincere part of a the lager fight in gender discrimination?

5. Women activists are planning to storm the Shani Shingnapur temple tomorrow and women of the village and the nearby villages are preparing to stop them. There are reports of multi-layered security around the sanctum sanctorum and if we go by them, the planned break in by the protesting group of women look unlikely. And when the issue is already in the Supreme Court, why this haste?

6. There are many taboos humiliating and restricting women rights in our society and this is one of them – a practice that is socially acceptable that even majority of women endorse it. In fact, here in this case, women are prepared to block women. Is confrontation a logical way to break such a taboo then?

7. It is not restricted to any particular religion. In fact, women have been historically denied their religious rights – and the problem is acute in religions like Islam or Hinduism or in different tribal sects. So what should be the road ahead to work on such massive problems that sweep societies across countries?

8. Or there cannot be any laid-out/defined strategy. The problem will be taken care of by progresses made in civilizations or by evolutionary changes?

9. But then, aren’t we already overdoing it? We have commoditized women for long, making them second class citizens. That was the case even in the advanced societies like the US not so long ago. In fact, the most powerful nation in the world is yet to have a woman president.

10. So, what should be the priority then – while intensifying the fight for the just demand of religious equality – a multi-pronged approach involving legal, social and political measures?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

VILLUPURAM MEDICAL STUDENTS SUICIDE: SHABBY HIGHER EDUCATION KILLS SOME MORE DREAMS

Reports say three students of an Ayurveda medical college in Tamil Nadu committed suicide alleging the college administration of playing with their future. Reports say the students of the college were protesting bad infrastructure, administration’s apathy and principal’s exploitative callousness in the college.

Big promises of a bright future – like after passing out from a medical college – duplicitously selling practices like ‘Naturopathy and Yoga Sciences’ – garnishing them with glamour quotient of terms like ‘medical colleges’..

Apathetic and insensitive college administration, principal and management – exploitative to the core..

Exorbitant fee – Rs. 6,00,000 in two years – here in this case – its goes higher easily in higher education institutions of professional studies – and many sincere students who cannot secure position in good institutions – but still find education as the only alternative for their careers ahead – end up in these exploitative institutions that run like a money-making machines – killings dreams – slaying lives..

They promise skies while giving you admission but after that the sole focus shifts to collecting fees and imposing further types of fees and fines to fill coffers..

Many states in India have engineering colleges with seats running in hundreds of thousands. Their graduates cannot stand even a sound humanities graduate from a good institution. Similar is the case of management colleges. These are the two streams that have killed maximum dreams in India – thus milking the maximum money. Now many colleges are shutting their door because they are not getting students.

Medical education is relatively a safe bet for such money sharks that prowl through educational institutions. Because setting up and running a medical college requires deep investment and regular onslaught of checks and balances. Even then we regularly come across reports of poor quality and threats of affiliation withdrawal. That makes allied fields like ‘naturopathy, yoga, homeopathy, Unani and even fakes like electrohomeopathy’ a safer bet for fraudsters or for people from extended clan of education mafia.

These girls had spent almost Rs. 6 Lakh and they had not completed even the second year. And they had not learnt anything. And their repeated pleas have fallen on deaf ears. And Rs. 6 Lakh is a lot for many families in India to arrange – cut or tighten your budget or borrow – and when you see happening things like this, your impulse can drive you to take any decision in those desperate moments of despair.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/