LazyEye, Telegraph Calcutta

A few rather dangerous folks

There is no cause for worry now. There was. It was such a near thing. But we have it all under control now. Worry you not. You are in good hands. Sturdy hands. Hands that can turn unsparing when need arises, when you and your well-being is put to risk. Raise your hands, you who feel at risk, there must be millions, we know. Such are the times we live in. Raise your hands, let us have a look. Feeling threatened? Good thing. The better thing is we are here. We shall take care of you. The more you feel threatened, the more we shall rise to protect. Now look around you, see for yourself. The threat looms everywhere. Can’t see it? In that case let us help you. With a little assistance you will begin to see the threat and feel scared. And that is when we shall come to protect you. Continue reading “A few rather dangerous folks”

State of Play, Telegraph Calcutta

The government has become a spur to disruption and chaos

A fair lot has happened in the six months since India’s crown was sundered, downgraded and hammered into a prison-house sans parallel. Today is six months since the hobnailed silencing of Jammu and Kashmir. That silence has since flown the imposed suffocations of the Valley and become an uproar ringing across the nation: Aazaadi! Continue reading “The government has become a spur to disruption and chaos”

Politics 2020, Telegraph Calcutta

Modi an Indian colonising India: Aishe

A university student has articulated probably the most stinging critique of Prime Minister Narendra Modi yet, saying a “new internal colonialism” is being unleashed on India under him.

“We are being colonised by our own and are being hurled back to the era when we enjoyed no independence,” Aishe Ghosh, president of the JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU), told The Telegraph. “We are at a critical juncture, India is being colonised by its own leadership.”

Asked how she could be calling Modi, who fashions himself as an ultra-nationalist, a “colonialist”, Aishe argued that the similarities between the strategies and intents of British imperialists and the Modi government are strikingly similar.

“You could perhaps call it a modern sort of colonialism, or an internal colonialism, but Modi is doing exactly what colonial powers did. Divide the people to entrench yourself in power. Discriminate against sets of people to shore up support. Unleash harsh laws and the brute power of the state to demoralise and control people. Impoverish large sections for the benefit of a few. Revise and rewrite history. Encourage loot of public resources. It is all the same thing, except Modi is an Indian doing it to Indians, which is much more alarming.”

Aishe, who became the worst victim of mob violence on the JNU campus on the night of January 5 — she suffered a forehead gash from repeated rod blows and a broken arm — spoke to us shortly after doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) had clipped open the sutures on her temple. She arrived at our rendezvous with a couple of mates looking just how the nation has come to recognise her this past fortnight — a chit of a girl, her crown marked out by a strip of gauze, her left arm in a cast and a sling, hair in dishevelled rebellion against her pony-tail, a shawl she couldn’t be less careless about draping, a wounded waif, you’d think. Until she begins to speak.

Aishe speaks in the same breath of the agitation against the fee hike she has led on the JNU campus and the turmoil spreading across datelines; to her, they are part of the same malaise, triggered by the same overarching motive — “Drastically alter and reduce India and what it means.” She is deeply invested in the JNU agitation, but she sees it as seamlessly linked to larger issues; she can join the dots.

“You might think our fight is only for a few rupees students are having to pay as fees. Yes, it very much is. But it is about much more. It is about the arbitrariness and violence with which decisions are being taken and imposed, it is about an undemocratic unilateralism that is being thrust upon us everywhere, in JNU and across the country, it is all linked. They are openly raising ‘goli maaro’ slogans. Today they have come on the campus with rods and sticks, tomorrow they could come with guns and kill us too. But the fight is not only on the JNU campus, the threat is everywhere, terrible things can happen, we are seeing them happen.”

It seems of little relevance to Aishe to be asked if she’s in pain. “I’m fine, it’s healing. This is not about me, this has to be about why this happened. Everyone should know why this happened. Why this happened in JNU, and why this is happening across the country. That is where the challenge is and the battle is.”

So, why?

“Because our most fundamental values, our most fundamental rights have been brought under grave threat, we are today in danger of

losing our citizenship, our Constitution, actually everything we gained after becoming an independent country. The design of the CAA-NPR-NRC is a design to pit Indian against Indian and imperil India itself.

“Yes, our current battlefield is JNU, but clearly our current battlefield is also this whole nation. The JNU struggle is very important to us, but so is the wider threat. People should be able to see what is being done to them, how they are throttled and undermined. And they are seeing it, that is why there are protests all around. The challenge is to save the nature of JNU and equally to save the nature of India. Their effort is to make JNU a thing of the past, some sort of fairytale, their effort is to make India as we know it a thing of the past too. That battle will have to be fought in every campus, on every street.”

The frail bundle next to me has morphed into Ms Spitfire; her plastered arm is itching to mimic the animation of the arm that survived the assault.

“We have been taking slow blows a long time, but the blows have come harder. Please understand that January 5 (the night of the masked mob mayhem) was not the first blow on us, it was the final hammer, and it was encouraged and ordered by the power at JNU, it happened with the collusion of the vice-chancellor (VC). He is part of the same mindset that is now the Establishment, that is why we are demanding his removal.”

But clearly, what Aishe calls the Establishment is having none of her arguments or demands; VC Jagadesh Kumar has been endorsed by the powers and appears well entrenched.

“Well, of course, he is, but that does not mean we will drop our demand. They all belong to the same project that is ruining JNU and ruining this country. Somebody has to speak up and protest, and we are not alone in this. Why do you think we have received support from campuses across the country, including IITs and such institutions? We have become part of the discourse, and the wider struggle, everywhere. We are not alone, and our battle is valid, it is a battle with good reason.”

LazyEye, Telegraph Calcutta

Knight Kursi and his curled tail

We have tails. Did you not know? Okay. We aren’t meant to know everything. That’s perfectly understandable. The mad or the deranged will never agree they are mad or deranged. Paagal ho kya? Bigots may not know they are bigots. Or illiterates that they are being illiterate. And whenever did a villain see a villain in their own self? Adolf was only enriching the human race, giving it the purest form. What happened as a collateral to that process was, achchha, chhodo kal ki baatein, kal ki baat purani. But naye daur mein, the story that is being scripted is also the same old story but the writers of that story will not agree that they are writing or rewriting that same old story and that it is a horrific one. They never will. They never do.

You may not know, but there are more wisdoms than you would like to admit around you. An old saying goes in some languishing tongue from some forsaken part of this neighbourhood: Appan maath ke tetar kekro sujhaai chhai? Does anyone see the bump on their own forehead? Tough. Unless you put a mirror to yourself. And we know just how forbidding and unwelcome a task we find that one. Take pretenders. Do pretenders realise they are pretending? Everybody can see they are pretending, but they may not know. Or scheming folks who think nobody realises how scheming they are. They have so many schemes there is eventually no place to store them and they have to throw those schemes out. Everybody can see. Those discarded schemes. Or the discarded schemes that may be recalled for use again. All of that is understandable. All of that happens. But people know. And some folks think that others do not know, that they can go on being scheming and nobody will think it is but a scheme.

Everybody, for instance, has a tail as I said right at the beginning, but very few understand that. We came from those that had tails: the baanars, look them up. They preceded us. We came from them. Their essence hasn’t entirely died in us, their essence remains embedded in our bones and our blood and sometimes that makes us behave in the ways of the tailed ones. They had tails. In time, we lost those tails but not entirely. We have tail ends. We have tail bones. We cannot see them, but we do have them. Sometimes when those tail ends hurt we know they are within us, tail ends. Tail bones, they are called. They are what support us when we are ensconced on the throne. They also make the ends of that thing which some have and some do not. That thing is called the spine. The spine is a, well, good thing and a bad thing. When you can keep it upright, you can point to it and say, look, I have a spine and an upright one. When you cannot keep it upright, well, it may turn out to be a more useful thing than you think: a spine that is not a spine but a user-friendly thing. Just look at me, the successful one. I have a spine, and I use it well. I bend it when it suits me and I in fact do not even keep it with myself most of the time. My spine I have embedded at the back of my chair and that is what makes my chair a throne. What the keeping of the throne requires my spine does; it can bend this way, it can bend that way, it can swing backwards, it can stoop forwards, whatever’s required. A tail hangs by it, of course, but it is not a tail I tell. Most folks do not tell their tails. But remember we do have tails; try feeling the end of it someday. Especially if you sit on a throne, because you know everybody can see you and you know the tail’s there and it must be kept from being told.

Those that sit here 

Should know and fear

My spine like a sword 

Embedded in my throne I wear.

LazyEye, Telegraph Calcutta

Bijli Lagi toh main kya karoon

Some things are pre-ordained. Like bad things. Horrible things. Things you wouldn’t expect would happen to you, or around you. Hobei. I mean Cupid was Cupid but was given the shape of a cherub that could engage in no Cupid-like things. You know what I mean? And Godi was meant to have a lap but all that happened in that lap was lapdogs. Can you imagine! Pity the OtherOnes of the canine species. But never mind. Never pity the

OtherOnes. They don’t take kindly to any of that. They seek the pity but provided it, they will snarl and snap. I speak from experience, don’t even try going there. Never mind. And sorry. But to return to where we were before the OtherOnes of the canines distracted us: Things happen. They are meant to be. Hoy. I have said this before. Hoy. Relax. You cannot prevent what is to happen from happening. It’s written. Written in.

In fact most things are. In fact of fact it is tough to think of things that are not pre-ordained. They come written, in the secret language of lines on the palm. Not sure anyone can read them right, but the inability to read them right cannot mean the prophecies do not lie scripted there in all their detail, day, date, time etcetera etcetera. Look at the lines on this palm. Try and read. Such a labyrinth of myriad things, happened, happening and about to happen. Seems like a forbidding circuit almost, touch a line, or a wire so imagined, and the whole thing will short-circuit somewhere and set itself aflame. No wonder what was said was said. As a matter of fact, it was not said, it was commanded: Press the extensions of your palm so hard, it will send out currents. What’s that finger for? That crooked one? Jab it in, make sure you jab it in. And once you’ve jabbed it in, the current will flow, and it will electrocute. That is what the extensions of the palm are for. To kill. Press. Throttle. Kill. That’s what the circuitry of the palm tells you. That is its destiny. That is what is written in. Make a choice, people, kill! You’d have merely made a choice on a button, the killing as a result would merely be collateral consequence. Go ahead.

But why? There are many reasons not to endorse, I have always felt this. The prime reason not to endorse is who does one endorse? This dunce or that dunce? And what does one endorse? What this dunce says? Or what that dunce says? Eventually it all comes down to that, choosing between this dunce and that dunce. So why choose at all? Why make a dunce of yourself, which you are anyhow? Every dunce brays a promise; every dunce seeks a vote. We endorse this dunce, then we endorse another and in the process we go on being dunces. Agree?

Well, I don’t much care. That’s what I have learnt too — don’t care. Do what you have to, say what you have to, the consequences will be what they have to be. Don’t bother what others say.

If you bother what the others say and be guided by that, you will not be yourself. You might as well become the other. Why bother being yourself if you have to bother about the other? Or being the other?

But what is this all about? This public introspection in print? Why? What has triggered this? If this is introspection why is it not silent and private? Why is it being played out in public, distributed about from home to home this Sunday? Why this exhibitionism? Thinking? Do it by yourself, quietly. Don’t pour it out in the open, like raita. But raita is what this is all about, this poison we want to serve out as a delectable dish. Have a taste of it. And while you do so,

Listen ye folks on the park

If you insist on keeping it blocked

Let me not keep you in the dark

You will soon come to be shocked.