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True beauty…

July 8, 2014 Leave a comment
Categories: arriere-pensee, Poetry

The Rape Culture….

December 19, 2012 Leave a comment

The recent Rape of a Delhi Girl and the subsequent outrage in the sections of the society is something that we have got used to. Our general fear and subsequent apathy to the such crime has become so deep rooted into our culture, it seem routine. I have found the below article online and it is one of the best essays on the subject. I hope it will help us be more sensitive and one day we will do something more concrete about it.

 

New Delhi: There has been a slew of responses to the recent rape of a woman in Delhi and the brutal attack on her male friend. Derek O Brien expresses fear for his daughter’s safety, Salman Khan at a press conference to promote his latest film says that he thinks the rapists should be killed, and parliamentarians demand the death penalty for rape. However, these responses and the media coverage on the incident seem to be marked by a refusal to think about the conditions that allow for rape to happen and how we even think of ‘rape’ itself.

It is almost as though the rape legitimates increased control by the family, community and other custodians of women as it brutally enacts the fantasy of a dark and unsafe city where a woman cannot negotiate the streets without being gruesomely violated.

The continuum between the family (the place of safety for women, the home where one is taken care of) and the rape have to be stressed: both are fantasies of control, of doing whatever it takes to keep women in their place, wherever that place is. The elaborate everyday control of women’s lives by families and institutions (both will find increased legitimacy because of the rape) is as systematic, planned and violent as this rape was.

An image of an uncontrolled horde is brought forth by a gang rape – but other groups – families, religious groups, communities that police sexuality are seen as the very essence of civilisation and civility.

The rape of women is seen as aberrant, as outside of the framework of what can be thought, thus the continuous comparison of rapists with animals. However, this very construction of the rape as an event that cannot be understood shows the refusal to see, or act against, brutal everyday forms of control.

We need to stress the continuum between people who rape, people who judge those who get raped, and people who try to protect the women in their lives from getting raped by imposing structures of control. The portrayals of the rape of women allow for those men who want to understand themselves as protectors or avengers to do so, they allow for patriarchal structures of control to strengthen themselves and, crucially, they create women as the ‘legitimate’ subjects of rape.

Why is the rape of women not seen in relation to the rape of men and hijras? Even amongst the rapes of women, it is certain kinds of cases that attract attention: marital rape, date rapes and the sexual violence that takes place within the family are systematically ignored.

Sex workers and domestic workers are at the receiving end of systematic sexual violence but the violence faced by them is normalized in the structure of our society, just like certain continual forms of sexual harassment on metros, public transport, schools and universities are seen to be so routine that it is seen to be in bad form to respond to them. Everyday, routine, ‘normal’ sexual practice hardly involves the discussion of consent or what might constitute a violation.

The fantasies of heterosexual love in our popular cultures are fantasies of dominance and submission, our idea of ‘romance’ sexist to say the least. Our idea of sex is so completely dominated by the vision of a penis penetrating a vagina that other kinds of forced penetration and violation do not even get the kind of limited response that such a rape does get.

The fervent responses to those rapes which even become the subject of public/ political discussion, such as demands for violent retribution to be visited upon the rapists are actually more a sign of unconcern rather than an expression of an angry will to change the structures we live in.

They manifest the desire to witness and enact violence (what better when this enactment of violence is legitimated by public discourse). The slow, difficult thinking through, the rigorous and exhausting work required for changing the psychical, economic and social conditions which create the conditions for rape demand much greater commitment and strength than wishes for public lynchings. The danger of feeling legitimated in performing violence on someone else has to be stressed. The rapists also felt ‘outrage’ at the behaviour of woman and her companions, they felt their positions to be legitimate.

We need to move outside the frenzy around rape in order to be able to think about it. The demand for “speedy justice” that is being made can never be effectively satisfied by a police force, government or court because these entities are not outside of or separate from family and community structures that legitimise rape in the first place.

Cases of rape committed by army and police force members, or the impunity afforded by the AFSPA show how they themselves are involved in perpetrating sexual and other violence. The police and the judiciary cannot be given up as structures we turn to with our demands for justice but they will not be the bringers of the transformation we need.

To change the manner in which people occupy public space we need sustained effort and political will. Rape creates many victims – women whose lives will be policed more, public spaces that will exude more fear and threat. We have to take responsibility for being complicit in this through our refusal to question what we cherish – family, heterosexuality, marriage, romance.

In our desire to blame the violated woman who was out after dark watching a film, we forget the gay man who picked up a fuckbuddy and gets robbed by him, the sex worker simply because she or he is one, the migrant worker, the Dalit being put in her/his place, the adivasi resisting mining corporations, the Muslim. Their violation seems so routinised that we even forget to ask why let alone call for public lynchings. We are all rapists of one kind or another, complicit with the rape culture we have created, legitimised and contained through a convenient condemnation of one manifestation of it.

Source SIFYBy Akshi Singh

 

 

A street Fight gone wary…Mamta Banarjee

August 30, 2012 2 comments

A street Fight gone wary…Mamta Banarjee

For me Bengal always has a special place. Having lived for a small time in a quiet town Balasore, on the eastern cost of Orissa (which has a sizable Bengali population), I was extremely influenced by it and its culture. I was able to pick Bengali, loved their cuisine, stories and movies; thanks to all the wonderful people who lived around and helped me during my formative years. What fascinated me was the abundance of culture and history they had and their fascination to ensure that the legacy continues. It awed me that Bengal produced more leaders of independence movement than the entire India combined. It was a state which was considered the harbinger of new era intellectualism and gateway of India for trade, education, international collaborations. Calcutta was erstwhile capital of British India and was destined to be the cultural capital of the world once India got its independence. I loved it when I was still living in my own ivory tower. Then it all dawn upon me. Today the state is in shambles, with nothing more to be proud of other than their past legacy; Bengal has been relegated to backwardness and darkness that would have shamed even some of the failed states of the world.

It would not take enormous intellect to evaluate what went wrong, three and half decades of misplaced communist ideology and dysfunctional governance. Unruly and pampered labour unions, without a social agenda but a penchant to go on strike for all petty and political reasons; terrorizing the industries to complete nonexistence. If that did not take away what mattered to progress into a new era, the cultural and social fabric of the state was hijacked by the political l nincompoops and their petty goons.

The Porivartan

The average Bengali understood the issue but continued to opt the same ideology and ensured CPI(M) to be in power for almost an entire generation. There have been intellectual debates of what is going wrong in the armchairs of private households and intellectual clubs, but it never transcended beyond the four corners of the brick wall. There was an undying hope that someone will do the needful. Over the years entire state hoped that their beloved Didi with her porivartan agenda would bring the state out of the clutches of desperation. They banked their life and the future of their children in the rhetoric of a street fighter who promised CHANGE. It was a promise to bring porivartan (Change) in everything that has gone wrong in the last few decades. It was a dream to bring the past glory back to the people and set Bengal on the track of its destiny. A powerful populous election manifesto, fueled by the growing desperation of the aam Bengali, ensured rout of what was left of the left in the last election by the Trinamool juggernaut.

But the new porivatan has done little to bring about the salvation of the state. While CPI(M) has a failed ideology, one that is no longer relevant in the present economic scenario, the Didi phenomena has no ideology at all. The entire political career of Mamta Banarjee has been based on whining, with little or completely absent economic intellect. It is based on showing a dream, one that says “I will, I can, I want to…but”. When it is time to realize it, action it, there is nothing but ghastly smoke of nothingness. It is what I call the cry baby phenomena. When a toddler wants a toy and he is refused he wails, cry’s and creates a tantrum. When he finally gets it, he gets bored with it in less than an hour and refuses to play with it.

What  have we seen in the last one year in west Bengal?

We have seen nothing more than whiffs and puffs of development and holding the center at Ransom.

The curious Episode of Dinesh Trivedi:

We have seen the bizarre episode of Railway budget and a poor Dinesh Trivedi, who faced the ire of the national cry baby for suggesting to do what is the need of the time. The rail fare had not been hiked for nearly a decade putting Indian Railways in ICU as far as its financial viability was concerned. The proposed fare hike would have added 4200 crores to railways income, which while paltry compared to its expenses, would still have saved railways from becoming bankrupt. The budget received enthusiastic support from a wide cross section of society including the general public, industry groups and all five Rail Unions. However, the fare hike proposal in the budget was fiercely opposed by Mamata Banarjee. Although Trivedi initially tried to defend the budget by pointing out that it was necessary for making Indian Railways stronger, Mamata Banarjee forced him to resign as Railway Minister on 18 March 2012. The fact that the central government let it happen is another story altogether. There were some sharp reactions to this from the general public and industry stalwarts some of them are below.

Chairman & MD of Biocon, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw tweeted that

“Mamta is a dangerous, populist demagogue: economically illiterate but politically astute – deadly combo!” She added that “Mamta is a sad reflection on just how feudal our society and culture is – talk of human rights!” and “Mamata is behaving like a mad despot. Political leadership is in deficit with such irrational behaviour that can only harm the poor.”
Source : IBN Live , http://tinyurl.com/947mmy8

Industrialist Rahul Bajaj opined that “”It was a very bold budget and he is a brave man to take such a tough call of increasing fares after ten years. I would have wished to see him around as the Railways Minister. However, it is very unfortunate that his own party is now distancing him.”
Source : IBN Live , http://tinyurl.com/947mmy8

Veteran journalist, Vivian Fernandes reported that, “It is getting clearer by the day that Mamata Banerjee’s poribortan is not a change for the better. Like the communists, she can only tear, not build.”
Source : IBN Live, http://tinyurl.com/9z2y8ap

Trinamool MP Kabir Suman came out in open support for Trivedi and expressed his solidarity with him, saying “My respects for the Chief Minister and other party leaders notwithstanding, I must say that it defies parliamentary decorum to get a Railway Minister removed simply because he has acted in the country’s interest.”
Source: “Cong playing un-fare games, cries Mamata”. IBN Live.

Does it not answer the question why Indian railways is losing money in the first place,  Mamta inherited a profit making enterprise from her predecessor? It was an amazing turnaround  that is still being discussed in major business school of the world. Lalu prasad Yadav did manage to make it a profitable venture during his tenure, just to be fizzled away by the whims of an eccentric leader. Under Mamata Banerjee’s watch, the railways saw the worst operating ratio of 98 per cent: only two rupees were left in every hundred earned after operating expenses and appropriations for pensions and asset wear and tear. It was a funny incident which underestimates the basic federal structure of Indian government: A state minister was able to influence the national policy based on her whims and fancies without any national debate.

The king shall be mine

Out of nowhere there was an entire hallabulla about the presidential election. It made a complete mockery of the entire institution. Even for a layman like me it seemed evident that Pranab Da’s presidency was eminent. He had the majority support of the Electoral College and there was no strong opposition other than the wimpy Sangama playing the minority card. Even BJP was in a state of confusion because there was no viable alternate candidate. Mamta played her populist card of nominating APJ as her candidate. The funny part was Dr Kalam had not even confirmed his candidacy. She knew APJ was someone people wanted as president so she played it and came out looking like a political novice in professional ring with stars like Mulayam and Sonia on one side of the court. After holding the UPA to ransom for more than three years since its inception, Mamata Banarjee finally got the jolt from the Congress, and was shown its (Mamta’s) ‘irrelevance’ for the ruling dispensation in the Presidential election. The prize….Bengal lost a lot of clout in the center and the aid that it could have mustered had Didi played her cards rationally.

Porivartan…but no reforms

We oppose, because that is all that we know…. seems to be the philosophy of the Mamta Banarjee and her party. In the current bleak economic scenario, foreign investment which had been driving Indian dream has been progressively drying up. It is a prudent economic decision to ensure that we open new sectors in the economy to rejuvenate the sagging economy. While making a note that Indian entrepreneur should be protected, opening up Retail, Insurance, aviation and Pensions is the next logical step. But like a Saindhav in Mahabharata, Mamta blocked all economic reform at national level. TMC has emerged as a major stumbling block for the government, forcing it to backtrack on several reform proposals. More than 30 legislation proposals are pending in Parliament. The move to raise the FDI limit in the insurance sector to 49% from 26% and open up the pension sector has faced political roadblocks for several years now. Result a complete policy paralysis at the center when it comes to FDI.

“We are not in favor of FDI in retails and all this… insurance and pension. We are not in favor of FDI in aviation also. Always, we are in favor of common people,” Banarjee told reporters after her meeting with Chidambaram.
Times of India, Aug 24, 2012

If you are really in the favor of common people, the state should know economic development is the only way to elevate the life style of the masses. Have a pro industry economic policy, get the industry into the state and generate employment… let people live. Didi, your stand on FDI rings more like CPI(M) than Trinamool ideology. STOP and STAGNATE

Thou shall not question me!

Finally what irked me to write this article? Mamta Banarjee has been a failed administrator, in whichever capacity she has worked. But she is absolutely intolerant to criticism. Her ascent to CM of Bengal made her extremely visible and when you are visible, you have to answer your critics. But like a toddler with a bamboo stick she wants to hit at everyone who points out where she is going wrong and there have been far too many incidents to ignore her fascist behavior

Law and order…that is just fine.

It all started in Feb 2012 with an unfortunate incident of rape in the upmarket Park Street in Calcutta or Kolkata if you prefer. It was an eye opener to the rest of India of the deteriorating law and order situation in the state. But instead of addressing the core issue, Ms Banarjee had reportedly said the rape of an Anglo-Indian woman was a “fabricated story” intended to malign her government and had blamed some TV channels for airing reports on the incident. In a few weeks the police were able to apprehend the perpetrators putting the govt. in an awkward situation. In an Indian Express article on April 4th it was mentioned that the Irked Mamata govt. transferred IPS officer who cracked rape case http://tinyurl.com/9upx7ek

Cartoongate

In another bizarre incident, reminiscent of a dystopian state, a professor of the city’s Jadavpur University was arrested for forwarding e-mails with humorous reference to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banarjee replacing Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi with Mukul Roy. The arrest according to me is not only childish, but is a serious infringement of Freedom of speech. It is a jolt to the basic fabric of democracy. The action is authoritarian and completely undemocratic. The govt. faced a setback when the West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) recommended departmental proceedings against two police officers connection with the arrest of Ambikesh Mahapatra, his neighbor Subrata Sengupta. But how many cartoonists can be arrested. I have curated some of the many cartoons that are doing rounds in the print media and internet below.

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Maoist Farmer

The bouncer attitude continued when a framer was arrested for questioning the government’s policy on farmer. In a public rally he stood up and asked what Banerjee’s government was doing for the farmers as they are dying because they have no money. The CM immediately labelled him as Maoist following which he was detained, quizzed and later arrested by the police. He was remanded to the judicial custody for 14 days.

Maoist Youth

The childish, immature and fascist attitude of Mamta Banarjee continues. In a more public display of erratic behaviour she walked out of a recent televised public interactive session blaming the audience to be moist. Well they were students from local university. In the video below you will witness the anguish of a leader who can whine but not debate. You will also witness a leader who does not have the clarity or the vision to run a political office. It also is a clear case of lack of respect for the people who have elected her to power.

Maoist judiciary

More recently Mamta Banarjee was under attack from political parties and eminent lawyers for alleging there were instances when court judgments have been delivered for money. Speaking at a seminar in the House on the platinum jubilee of West Bengal Assembly Didi said;

“Why will judgments be given only in favour of those who offer money? I am sorry to say this; people can condemn me for this. I can be arrested and put in jail for this, but somewhere I will have to express my opinion,” Ms. Banarjee said. She was speaking at a seminar, ‘Executive Accountability to the Parliament/Legislature,’ on the occasion of the Assembly’s platinum jubilee celebrations.
Source : http://tinyurl.com/8ztkygd

Didi wants to make a strong statement about what is going wrong in the judiciary, she lives in a democratic country and she has absolute right to show discontent, but i wonder why this privilege is only restricted to her, when other did the same they get to face the wrath of the state mechanism…is it not a tiny bit hypocritical…?

Eminent lawyer Soli Sorabji, posed an interesting question reacting to Banerjee’s controversial statement.

“…What about the cases, she has won in court? Who paid the judges? Mamata? This shows the absurdity of the allegations. I mean, one expects a mature reaction…I am very very disturbed,” Sorabji said.

Well the layers did what they are really good at, filed a contempt of court petition on Mamta for her unbridled rhetoric, I guess she not a tiny bit worried, she must be assuming she can buy this judgment too.

This is just the first year and there will many more to come. I do feel sad… Mamta Banarjee was a leader I really liked. She was a street fighter, though an emotional one, fighting for her people trying to break the shackles of a dysfunctional government. Somewhere in midst of the fight things have gone wary. The fighter is fighting the audience while the opponent sits calm waiting for the right time to hit, for that decisive Knockout. Mamta Didi do remember we are a democracy and there will elections in just about four years’ time.

A land of dreams…..

In a land where I live,
to my people I shall give,
a life of bliss,
that none shall miss,
but my hands are tied,
The media has lied,
the judge was bribed,
the Maoist have tried
rains have failed
Trains derailed
Forget not your horrid past
remember my dream, that shall long last

O my fellow Bengali, dream a dream
wake-up not from its sombre scheme
………………………………….sunil varma

I leave you with a very nice rendition of What is happening in Bengal with a viral video by Kabir Suman,a Trinamool MP. It is called SHILADITYO — WITH AN APOLOGY TO RABINDRANATH. It is a good song, do watch it. if someone can do a good translation do put it in comments, I will add it below.

Colors Of The Rain

July 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Life as is…

April 4, 2012 4 comments

Life As is……..

Life so curt, it would seem to pass,
the flowing sand in an hour-glass.
Like the promise of a day-dream,
a bubble in a nimble stream,
I try to hold, but I never can,
my little tyke, oft you ran.

Rope your fiery pace I did try,
you wouldn’t stop, I sorrowed why?
Blooming years but of so short length,

all those years and my fading strength,
As friends and kin leave my sunset bay,
I have but nothing more to say.

With my heart weak wet and ceding
wish me leave, as I lived speeding.

Sunil Varma

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The Pup and Me!

January 23, 2012 4 comments

Yes! You Can

January 10, 2012 4 comments

There are three kinds of stories in the world. The ones that make you laugh, but these last the least. We forget them as quickly as we read them. Then there are those that make you smile. We pass these on to friends and kin, to spread the smile around. But once in a while, you would come across a story that would make even the most stony-eyes brim with tears. These are the stories that would cling on to your soul and remain there, till the time you close your eyes for one last time. The effect of these stories is exemplified when they are stories of people who live around us and lead lives similar to us. Stories from real life.They make you see world in a new light and force you to think. These stories will lend us an experience so profound that it may alter the way you want to lead the rest of your life.

The Story of Hoyt Pair is one such story that I came across by pure accident but it makes me heavy every time I read it. But it is a story of story of hope, courage and to working real hard for what you believe and most importantly love. I want you to read it, to experience emotional euphoria it brings along with it.

Watch the video and then go on to read the story behind it..

Rick was once asked, if he could give his father one thing, what would it be? Rick responded, “The thing I’d most like is for my dad to sit in the chair and I would push him for once.”

.

It was Winchester, Massachusetts, 1962, an unruly umbilical cord wrapped around the neck of an unborn child; chocking him off vital oxygen became the first struggle of life for Rick Hoyt. Against all odds of survival Rick made it to this world. The lack of vital oxygen for those precious moments before birth had left permanent scars on his neonatal brain, rendering him incapable of leading life as we see it.

The doctors told Ricks parents, Dick and Judy Hoyt, that the brain damage is permanent and Rick would be a in a vegetative state for the rest of his life. They recommend that Rick be institutionalized, for there was no hope of recovery and no chance for him to lead a normal life. Dick Hoyt was in no mood to accept the doctor’s prognosis and this started the beginning of Dick and Judy’s quest for Rick’s inclusion in community, sports, education and one day, the workplace.

There was something about Rick’s ability to fight, in the ensuing years he was able to communicate to his parents with his expressive eyes and Dick and Judy did their very best trying to provide him education. Rick was able to learn basic words and alphabets. But with the aim to integrate Rick in to public school system, Dick and Judy had to prove Rick’s intellect and a way for Rick to communicate on his own.

Rick finally received a way to express himself in 1972, thanks to a skilled group of engineers at Tufts University and an interactive computer. This computer consisted of a cursor being used to highlight every letter of the alphabet. Once the letter Rick wanted was highlighted, he was able to select it by just a simple tap with his head against a head piece attached to his wheelchair.

Rick surprised everyone with his first words. Instead of saying, “Hi, Mom,” or “Hi, Dad,” Rick’s first “spoken” words were: “Go, Bruins!” The Boston Bruins were in the Stanley Cup finals that season. It was clear from that moment on, that Rick loved sports and followed the game just like anyone else.

This is not a story of Rick as it sounds until now. It is story of Rick and his dad and it all started In the spring of 1977 about 2 years after Rick started public school one of his classmates was paralyzed in an accident and a five mile benefit run was being organized. That night Rick told his father “Dad, I want to do that”

For Dick, who never ran a mile in length, running with his son in the wheelchair was a challenge. Still, he tried. He agreed to push his son all the five miles; they came next to the last but still managed to finish the race. But what changed Dick’s life forever were a simple set of words that made a whole lot of difference for him

That Night Rick said, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.”

That sentence marked the beginning of a father son phenomenon, and a beginning of what would become over 1,000 races completed, including marathons, duathlons and triathlons (6 of them being Iron-man competitions). Also adding to their list of achievements, Dick and Rick biked and ran across the U.S. in 1992, completing a full 3,735 miles in 45 days. They are now popularly known as Team Hoyt.

After high school, Rick attended Boston University, and he graduated with a degree in Special Education in 1993. Dick retired in 1995 as a Lt. Colonel from the Air National Guard, after serving his country for 37 years and they have been running marathon after all these years. In 2009 Boston Marathon was officially Team Hoyt’s 1000th race and Dick is 70 in 2011 and they are still running. They continue to tour across the country and address a varied audience to deliver one message Yes! You Can.

This is a story of hope, courage and to work hard for what you believe in.

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