Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Conversation That Never Took Place… Or Did It?

PA To Minister, “Sir a revolution in India seems imminent, just like in the Middle-East. People had always known that corruption existed, but now with RTI they finally have proof. CWG, 2G, RadiaJi, and now fueling the nation's unrest are those like Annaji and Ramdevji… We got to do something.”

“There’s a saying: when in the midst of corruption’s cloud, terrorize it out.”


“Means use terrorism to fight corruption.”

“You mean hire terrorists to kill every corrupt in the country.”

“Fool there aren’t enough bullets with all the terrorists in the world to wipe out the nation’s corrupt. What I meant was that when the mind of the masses shifts towards the rampant corruption and injustice around them, divert their attention to bigger problems – their own survival. Use terrorism to remind them that we maybe corrupt, but we are at truce with them and this truce saves their lives… till that is they shout too much.”


“Simple. Explode more than two bombs within a gap of few minutes and everyone will see conspiracy behind it. They will think India has been attacked just because a few bombs blew up simultaneously. They will want war with Pakistan, and in the ensuing melee, forget all about the real problems plaguing them… corruption, the plunder and sale of the nation, the rape of its resources, the mass murder of its poor and oppressed everywhere…”

“But what about those that do manage to see that the true conspiracy behind the blasts.”

“Don’t worry. They will be called ‘conspiracy theorists’ by the same people who cried conspiracy in the first place. You see there can only be one conspiracy. You can either be right or wrong, you can’t be ‘righter’ than the rest… So delay no more Psmith, contact our sources in Pakistan and Afghanistan and tell them that it’s time to open the burqa.”


“May god have mercy on Wodehouse… never mind. Make that call.”

After an hour, the PA returns.
“Sir the Pakistani groups says that they are laying low, after the Obama thing… oops Osama thing. What now?”

“Shit, we have to go for the Indian groups. Those are an unprofessional lot, lazier than our politicians. They don’t even have high intensity bombs.”

“Well sir, how could they- they have not been trained by the US Special Forces unlike the Afghani and Pakistani militants.”

“Yes, that’s the problem. Anyways, contact the Indian groups. Tell them it’s time to apply orange vibuthi.”

The PA arranges for some Hindutva terror group to plan a series of coordinated blasts in Mumbai. The requisite money is paid, dates fixed strategically to coincide with an important date and all the intelligence security clearances given. The new PA however has pangs of self-doubt and anxiety so he seeks help.

“Sir, pardon me. I don’t understand life and politics as you do, but what about the people who’d die in the blasts?”

“Don’t worry, like you said before, these Hindu fundamentalists, trained as they are by ex Indian military and not American, are not as good as their Muslim brothers. So even if they want to, the maximum they can kill in these three blasts, would be 20 or 30 people and injure about 200-300.”

“20-30 people? Isn’t that too much? We are talking about living things here sir… living, breathing, feeling beings sir, beings with families, who feel pain and die…”

“Do you eat meat?”

“Yes sir.”

“Well then, don’t you realize when you eat animals that we are killing and eating living things… living, breathing, feeling beings… beings with families, who feel pain and die…”

“But animals… they don’t have a say sir. That’s why they are called animals.”  

“Bingo. You see, they do have a say - they do cry and protest when they are being taken for slaughter. But you ignore them. Why? Because we humans are more powerful. It is always about power. People who don’t have a say, who don’t have power are as good or bad as animals up for slaughter. How many times have you cried over the death of 30 chicken. It’s the same with the mango-people. Don’t cry over lives that don’t matter, that are already dead just that they don't know it yet. They are more like the living-dead. If not in the blast, they’d fall off trains and die. Do you know that on an average 15 people die and hundreds are maimed for life or injured after falling from the packed, over crowded Mumbai trains EVERY SINGLE DAY? They should be on the street protesting this daily manslaughter, no? But, do they protest even when they are stuffed in sweaty trains like chicken are in their cages? No. Do you know why? Because they know that their living or dying doesn’t really matter. And they need to be reminded of that once in a while, they need to be reminded that they are collateral damage.”

“Collateral damage to what?”  

“To their own protection, from their foolish beliefs that they matter, that they can make a difference. You see that’s the problem with democracy. Those who believe they can make a difference, have to be killed to make them change their minds… literally… ha ha ha.”

“But sir this is too much, this allaying with the Muslim and Hindu fundamentalists at the same time. I mean don't we have a policy against who we ally with?”

“Of course. We always have. Haven't you noticed that we always ally with the strong, the powerful - in true democratic, liberal and progressive spirit. If you are strong it doesn’t matter whether you’re a Hindu or a Muslim, Upper Caste or Dalit. You see there aren’t even any countries anymore today. All we have are the powerful and the powerless, the haves and the havenots. The ones without power are as helpless in a developed nation, as they are in a developing one and they are up for being collateral damage every time they are required to. It’s their greatest sacrifice to the idea of their nation they so cherish, to their ‘freedom’… it’s a price a few have to pay, so that others may live. It’s a price they pay to protect themselves.”

“Protect them from what.”

“Are you kidding me… from themselves.”

The PA is too stunned to say anything… and the conversation ends in a long silence, till three blasts kill close to 30 people and injure hundreds on 13th July, 2011. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Illusion Of Being Normal

Statistics, they say, are like bikinis - they show and titillate, but refuse to reveal the vital. Well, here’s a case where that wisdom is reversed. And the case here is about normality.

Everybody wants to be normal, to blend in, to be like others. Nothing wrong in that after all even monkeys do that and we have the right to deny our evolution and try be like our ancestors. For wanting to be normal is just that, a delusional, paranoid perception of inadequacy that lends itself to behaviour that is self destructive (when you want to be like someone else, you lose what you truly are). Thus in just trying to be normal, you prove that you are abnormal. But we are not talking about that today. We’re talking about those that are ‘not’ normal.

Now let’s see, who’s normal. To do that we need to understand the word. As an adjective, normal is defined as “Conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected” while as a noun it is meant “The usual, average, or typical state or condition.” Thus it is obvious that It is given that the too old, too young, handicapped, poor and starving, the homosexual, the minority, the aborigines are naturally excluded in this ‘normal’ equation.

Keeping this in mind let us then try and find the normal in India using statistics.

These are some known statistics about India, and define people who are, well, not normal:

  • Over 35% people chronically malnutritioned.
  • Over 15% people are handicapped enough, physically and mentally, for their daily activities to be not ‘normal’.  
  • Over 10% people are supposed to be homosexual, either closeted or in the open.
  • Nearly10% people in India are aborigines, tribals.
  • Between 3 to 5% are chronically criminal.
  • Over 20% population are too young, or too old.
  • Over 30% people are minorities, or of lower castes (dalits) and such.
… the list can go on for someone much more statistically inclined that I am.

Now if you look at the above and roughly try to eliminate the subsets that overlap in each of these sets, you’ll realize that the number of truly ‘normal’ people would be in single digit percentages. Someone still more statistically inclined would break that up and say that most of them also have some or the other form of minor abnormality (like many of them could be actors ;)) with many either being emotionally, mentally or psychologically abnormal despite symptoms otherwise.

The question thus emerges: WHO THE HELL IN THIS NATION IS NORMAL? The answer, perhaps is that no one is normal and that normality is nothing more than an illusion, perhaps even an utopia.
Hamza, suffers from cerebral palsy and lives in the rural village of Pelhar, in Vasai area of Mumbai. Don't make him feel abnormal for his disability, when all of us are perhaps as abnormal as him, only in different ways. 
Another simple fact that thus naturally emerges, is that the ABNORMAL IS ACTUALLY NORMAL, and that perhaps it is absolutely abnormal, to be normal. And that perhaps the most abnormal thing in the world is the desire to be normal (all of us stand accused).

So some simple questions to ask is whether amidst the handicapped, the able bodied is abnormal. Among the malnutritioned the one who eats two meals a day is abnormal. Among the Hindus is a Muslim abnormal and amidst Muslims is a Hindu abnormal. Amidst the atheist is a religions man abnormal. Amidst the homosexual, is the heterosexual abnormal? Amidst a corrupt nation is honesty abnormality. And if it be so, why don’t the abnormal try to be normal, since normal is so important for all of us, the non existent ideal we are taught to aspire to be?

So why punish someone for being ‘abnormal’ in the first place. Why punish a Muslim for living in a Hindu India by killing him en-masse every once in a while? Why punish the tribal by killing and raping him and taking away his home and his livelihood? Why punish the homosexual by telling him he is unnatural, abnormal? Why punish the handicapped by ensuring that even if he wants to live a self-reliant life, we refuse him that dignity by making our buildings, our shopping malls, and everything unfriendly and unwelcome to him/her?

The solution thus is perhaps to realize that everyone, despite his abnormality, has the right to live and exist with as much dignity. Even the most honestly deviant ones among us as long as that person does not directly or with direct indirectness cause or cause others to cause physical harm to those around. The rest is just a matter of adjustment for others. And do make the effort to adjust, knowing well that there are many others who adjust to your existence and to your ‘abnormality’.

Remember that no matter what you are going through, you can’t even remotely fantasize what being a mother with a disabled child going through the taunts of society for decades could be, or of a farming father who grows food for others but sees his own kids starving to death, or of a tribal child watching his parents shot by or raped for what he does not know, or of a soldier who fought valiantly in war to defend his nation but got his legs blown off and his life being made hell by society’s indifference for him, or the shame of a person who is attracted to his own sex but cannot discuss it with parents or friends for fear of being called ‘abnormal’ or a ‘freak’ etc.

Don’t merely 'tolerate' those that are different, for even being tolerant is but being violent, but try and understand them. Adjust to everyone. Include everyone possible and continue expanding your horizon of inclusion, for in true honestly, exclusion for any reason, is the greatest abnormality of them all. 
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