Category: Politics & Social Issues Page 2 of 7

The Others

Final moments of a crucial Hockey match and India is behind by 1 goal. It is almost certain they’ll lose unless a magic happens at the last minute. The captain of the team, a striker, gets the ball and crisscrosses the opposition player to reach striking distance. He can now equal the score. But then, a strike on his legs and he tumbles down.
Damn! This could have been an equalizer.
The referee signals for a penalty stroke. The crowd is jubilant. One more chance to equal the scorecard.
The captain decides to take the strike. Everyone’s on the edge of their seats. He looks around the stadium. They all are behind him to score. Pressure to score; as he takes the position. The opposition Goalkeeper is restlessly bobbling across the goal. He does not want to miss this one.
The captain takes the shot. The ball travels; we’re shown the slo-mo as the ball whizzes past the edge of the goalpost. As it goes away, the disappointed look of the captain matches that of the crowd. A collective sigh of disappointment spreads across the stadium and tv screens across the nation.
Sunk into the ground is our captain. He has failed his country.
How could I miss that?
The opposition player walks up to him to shake his hands in solidarity and the so-called sportsmen spirit. After all, it is just a game. Winning and losing is part of it.
A photographer, sitting on the far side of the fence, twitches his eyebrows as if he came across a sensational story. He points his camera and captures the moment. Naturally, it graces the headlines of newspapers with captions that were much more clickbaity before the terminology even became popular with the Internet. Television debates ensue and the entire media circus brings back the entire blame on the captain who missed the shot.
It wouldn’t have, had this been some other country. It was Pakistan.
Sports acts as a pseudo war for people who didn’t take part in the actual one. Beating the opposition’s 11 players on the field to win a game is like winning a ‘war’. In this case, the captain deprived an entire country of that win.
What followed after the entire media frenzy was the captain being kicked out of the side, had to leave his ancestral home while the entire mohalla watched. Few hesitant neighbors, undecided on what to do, keep mum to not be branded as traitors themselves. ‘Gaddar’, the term had crept out of newspaper headlines and TV Studios to their very own lane.
As the captain and his teary-eyed mother lock their home and leave town, a man walks up to write ‘Gaddar’ on their wall.
The mother consoles her son to not look. But the son does. He wants to see him write that down. The country he has played for lived in and considers his home, now brands him as a Gaddar just because he missed a goal.
This isn’t a real story. This is the opening few minutes of Chak-De which I just paused to write this down. Even though the story isn’t real, what happened to Kabir Khan is a symbolic representation of the brewing hate against an entire community. It just keeps finding faucets to come out.
I know, my comment section or messages, are going to have responses that this is pessimism and one shouldn’t base their opinions tangled in such negativity. But what choice does one have?
Two days ago, in an election rally, Modi asks Opposition whether the opposition wants a Mosque or Temple at the Babri Masjid site. This guy is the Prime Minister of our Country and unarguably the most powerful person in the country right now.
Tell me, where should I see the positivity in this? Where should I see the positivity in a 50-year old man being hacked and burnt alive for ‘love jihad’?
We’re all that same, Kabir Khan, looking at the country, as we get branded from one thing to the other. We are the beef eaters, the terrorists, the separatists, the ‘love-jihadis’ and what not. While our friends keep mum and we look on amazed at what we’ve become to them. The demons, the outsiders, descendants of Baburs and the Aurangzebs. The others.
As Kabir Khan says, ‘..jisko mera khoon paseena dil jaan deke bhi yakeen nahi hota.. ki main uski team se khela tha, aur zindagi bhar uski team se khelta rahunga..’
The existential question, common to all the others, Will we ever become a part of the country?
When posters of Ahmed Patel prop up in Gujarat claiming him to be the CM Candidate from Congress, he has to clarify he isn’t! Rahul Gandhi has to clarify that he is, after all, a Hindu and not a Christian. Why are these two things a point of discussion?
Hope is a good thing but with every passing day, it feels I’m exhausted. Of hope and even for an outrage!

When will we get freedom from fears?

Just a little over a day is left when we’ll be celebrating Independence Day. The 70th Independence Day!

If I were in school, the practice for a patriotic group song or a speech in remembrance of our Freedom movement would be what everyone would be looking at. And not to forget sweets at the end of the program. I also remember heading over to the nearby Police Station with dada to get the sweet packet from. No problems in admitting that sweets were the only motivation for the visit to the local thana.

The last time I attended Independence Day celebration, it was in 2013, when I was still a student. Although thanks to the National Anthem being played in theatres, singing the national anthem has become synonymous with movie-watching. Of course, there is no harm in standing up for less than a minute to sing along our National Anthem. And even if there was, we should just shut up. Who knows a hyper-nationalist sitting next to you might kick you out of the theatre, right?

This fear isn’t limited to a closed theatre only. Posting anything against this holier-than-thou government and their actions, might land you a few abuses, a long-never-ending argument and maybe even a trip down to the local police station. Even if I wouldn’t like to believe that, all the relatives and family friends on my timeline, make sure to tell my mother about the possibility of it.

When will we get the freedom from thi fear?

If people of the stature of Hamid Ansari can be targeted for speaking about this ‘fear’ among the minorities, then who the hell am I? I’ll be bulldozed by a mob or my inbox filled with hate! And no, I don’t even need that goddamn Sararara app for it!

Remember that time when Aamir Khan opened his mouth and got branded as an anti-national? (I had written about that here:…/24/intolerance-reactions/) and if we can just change Aamir Khan with Hamid Ansari, I’ll still hold true. The reaction to the statements about Intolerance is actually proof of where we stand. This has become such a routine thing that the irony died a long time back. The backlash multiplies if you happen to have a Muslim name.

After 2 days, I’m certain to find out skull-cap-donning kids with the Indian Flag from across the country to reiterate our patriotism all over my Timeline. Frankly, only when we don’t have to show or share such images, then I’d be truly proud.

The expectation from the majority that we have to ‘show’ our loyalty is the saddest thing to witness on a day when our country got independence. Of course, how optimist I would like myself to be, I know that things are not going to change. Especially with the current narrative being pushed through mainstream media and the thousands of paid trolls.

Anyway, all of this isn’t something new and of course, there’ll be another version of this after a few months. The divide between communities and ideologies will keep on increasing.
Remember that time when we used to say, ‘Sab neta chor hain’ and almost everyone used to agree on that almost unanimously? Now, can you say that? Now, only the Congress Netas are corrupt, regional parties not with BJPee are minority-appeasement parties (as if that’s a bad thing), and only BJPee can do Vikas.

After all, 3 saalon me bas vikas hi hua hai. Hai na ?

Political times: There’s no permanent Bandhan here

I’ll admit it upfront that I liked it when Nitish Kumar broke up his alliance with BJP and decided to go solo in his previous term. I loved how pulled up a Naveen Patnaik in order to become the face of Bihar. Brand Bihar.

Of course, with the ‘2014 wave’ still a phenomenon, it would have been difficult for Nitish to hold onto his seat. The elections, if fought alone by JD(U), would have suffered the consequences of incumbency. People, the world over, are pretty impatient.

Call it the fight to survive or ‘masterstroke’, the mahagatbandhan proved to be necessary. The ‘Grand Alliance’ or the ‘Gatbandhan’ helped seal a victory for him.

Notwithstanding the corruption charges, Lalu Prasad’s RJD commands a sizeable loyal vote bank among Yadavs and Muslims. And even though Congress hasn’t been quite the favorite in many of the Indian States, let alone Bihar, the BJP-fearing population still sides with the grand old party. And the calculations proved right. Nitish as the face of the Gatbandhan, an anti-BJP front, and Voila! Victory. Let’s leave the argument of whether Nitish would have won or not, had it not been for the alliance, for later.

Now, there will be people who loved Nitish when he was with BJP, hated when he went against and have started loving him since he’s back with them. Of course, the section which hated him for being with BJP, started loving him briefly and now would be back to square 1. Do you fall in any of these two categories and are trying to reason as to which side you’re on?

Nitish is a clever politician. Has always been, will always be. They don’t refer him as Chanakya for no reason. I won’t be surprised if he breaks away from BJP once more. And why should we single out Nitish? How is Mayawati, the supposed Dalit leader, any different? She was one of those who advocated for Modi after 2002! But hey, political-alliance-memory is short-lived and almost everyone has backtracked their views. Leave aside their views on policies and reforms, views of politicians about another change as frequently as the next season. There are no permanent Bandhans here.

Now, let me now go back to the vote for Mahagatbhandhan. Was that vote against BJP or not? If yes, then do you think this new combination is like going against people’s original vote?

Oh, don’t look for my views on this. It doesn’t matter. What matters is how you perceive it. My political predictions rely more on what people should be ideally doing rather than they actually do. Hence, mostly wrong.

If a good marketing campaign appears to change the perception of Yogi Adityanath, which even includes his Kurta and his barber, then anything can be done! Our media works over time if propaganda comes with corporate piggy banks like cherries on top.

Regional party-dominance is the only reason that BJP has not been able to crack many of the states. Up until now, at least.

Of course, they’re pretty determined to make that happen. If you want to know which states are their focus, all you need to do is keep an eye on ‘riots’ being covered by mainstream media. Ring a few bells?

(Few) not-spoken Outrages

Consciously, I’ve learned to stay away from political debates on social media. Yet to perfectly follow it to the t, but yeah, sort of there.
I know it won’t last long but let me be happy with the thought of having mastered this.
But I see a lot of people on my Timeline continue to indulge in this pointless exercise of playing the game of who-will-have-the-last-word. Not complaining, I sometimes enjoy watching it from the sidelines.
I do get an inkling to burst all of that piled up outrage once-in-a-while, but a few deep breaths and Phew! Back to sanity.
Remember that episode of Friends where Chandler has to stop himself from making jokes? And then he had to get it all out in one go?
Well, I’m not Chandler. Not that funny too. But I have ended up accumulating a few things that I should get out. So, here it goes:
1. Please stop reacting or getting outraged over morphed pictures of your God, Prophets, Religious places. And if you really are ‘hurt’, file a case and let the law of the land decide. Oh, you don’t have faith in the law? Too bad. Take your hurt and pray to your God. But please stop with getting agitated and spend that time praying instead.
2. Stop confusing Beef with just Cow-meat! Most parts of India where you get Beef mostly is of Buffalo. Except maybe in North-East and Kerala. (Download and check data from Government:
3. Please don’t share WhatsApp forwards as ‘news’ or ‘information’. Most of those come into circulation by IT Teams of different political parties. Unless you’re not completely sure of it being genuine, please wait. No one is giving you a medal for sending them that news first. I mean, educated folks still believe Kanhaiya Kumar said, ‘Bharat tere tukde honge’ and supposedly there is some video proof of that! Because, well, f*** logic! And yes, if you have that video, ‘please share it with me.
4. Just stop with the BS of media being presstitutes and all those, ‘Media won’t show you this’! You’ve made Media to be the way it is now. Stop watching noise-emanating-debates. Don’t give them their TRPs. And if you do, don’t complain.
5. Stop giving advice to celebs on social media on how they or their spouse should dress, what they should eat and what they should say. No one gives a damn whether you like or dislike ‘nail polish’ or not.
6. Uniform Civil Code is not possible to be implemented in India. Even if you exclude the ‘Muslims’ out of it, there’s no possibility of having a Uniformity across regions, customs, etc in India. Marriage customs in North, South, North-east, Tribals itself differ from A-Z. And no, Polygamy is not just limited to one religion or custom.
7. Banning Azaan? Sure, let’s ban the use of loudspeakers for a 3-minute long azaan, 5 times a day. But wait, should that be the only thing to be banned, then?
8. Stop encouraging our Media and those loudmouths to continuously tickling China. They’ll come and kick all our asses. And no, you cannot ‘boycott’ China. If you even wanted to, you’ll have to throw off many of the things you own. Even the phone from which you share those ‘BoyCott China’ messages.
I can continue to add points to this list but let me keep that for another day. Or Maybe just one last one.
9. Not watching Game of Thrones and sharing ‘Am I the only one who hasn’t watched a single episode yet’ does NOT make you look cool. Not that watching makes you any cooler, either. Just saying.
Phew! I can sleep now!

Not in My Name Protests: Thank You!

Just watching the protest telecast from across the country is so selfishly reassuring. I know that a lot of people, entirely unrelated to each other, felt the pain of a 16-year old being lynched to death. But I feared that it’ll subside and dissolve in the loud noise of a series of debates and social media hashtags. This being translated into a protest by people across cities speaks. Speaks louder than the TRP-driven television debates.

Thank You!

To all those who went out there to protest on #NotinMyName, a very heartfelt Thank you. This means a lot to me and many other Muslims who feel scared of what’s been happening for a while. And no, I have no shame in admitting that I did felt scared. The usual joy that Eid brings with itself was missing and was replaced with the uncomfortable silence and fear.

To those who did not go out (for various reason) but wanted to, I’m thankful to you as well. Your sense of solidarity and mere acknowledgment that whatever is happening in the name of mob lynchings isn’t right, gives us hope. Hence, thank you.

It would mean a lot if this movement brings at least a little dent to the non-sporadic cycle of violence, but this isn’t easy and I’d be a fool to wish for a quick-fix to the divide among communities. This division is not new and has exploded from time to time. However, the institutional support and legitimacy to the violence were not so visibly lent by the administration in such a large scale (and for such elongated length of time) as is evident now.

I’ve constantly asked myself as to where this hate comes from? How different would be the teaching in someone else’s home than mine? Distinctions at my home stopped at ‘how we should greet people’. A namaste to a hello to a salam. We’d happily mix it up to say ‘Salam’ to a  very dear Sitamma Nani at my Ammi’s hometown and say Namaste to an Anglo-Indian Fernandes Dada when he’d come over to meet his friend (my dada). And each of them would happily reply back with a big smile on their face.

I’m afraid every time my little brother goes out of Jamshedpur or when my father wanted to visit Surat in Gujarat sometime back. Both of them sport a beard and place a skull cap; along with the traditional kurta pyjama. I don’t want to fear this. I want everyone to travel as much as I do, but I cannot get over the fear that it entails. This fear only manifolds itself even more with every lynching incident. There have been 18 so far in the last 22 months!

Understandably, many protests like this #NotInMyName or the Black band protest on Eid might seem like the liberal show-off, but to a Scared Muslims like me, this gives us hope that we are not alone.

Thank you again to all those who went out and to those who supported them.

Celebrating Eid in the times of lynchings

Zahid. Iqhlaq. Mazlum. Imteyaz. Mustain. Pehlu. Junaid.
I do hope that these names ring a few bells. Although I won’t be surprised if they don’t. Going by the outrage meter allotted by Media houses to any attempted subjugation that Muslims face, you might not remember any of these names.
But I’ll help you out.
These are some of the people killed by the so called ‘Gau Rakshaks’.
I’m still trying to understand as to what they are trying to protect. They clearly are terrorists. Of course, many would only associate the word, ‘terrorism’ with Muslims. Only a suicide bomber shouting ‘Allah-hu-Akbar’ is a terrorist. Bharat Mata ki Jay is yet to be accorded that status.
As I sit in the vicinity of my home while the world around me gets busy in preparation for Eid-ul-Fitr, images of Junaid’s mother refuse to leave my thoughts.
What are the odds of a ‘mob’ barging into my house and raiding the refrigerator to take out Beef?
Is there a possibility of a ‘mob’ getting into an argument for a seat on a train/bus which might lead to something ugly?
Is there a chance that a name on which you can put a familiar face on; might become a part of that list above?
Irrespective of whether your answer is a yes or a no; the thought scares me as well as almost every Muslim I meet these days.
If you’ve always wondered why the 14% Muslims (Yes, we are just 14% and won’t be overtaking Hindus) stay in ghettos, then this is it. Countless riots over the years have literally forced us to confine ourselves into not venturing out.
Chaand raat (the night before Eid) is supposed to be one of the most joyous times for Muslims but this year it just doesn’t feel right. The possibility of being a 15-year old Junaid traveling on a train and being killed by grown up men scares me. The possibility of even roaming around the northern part of my own country scares me.
And let me assure you, I’m not the only one feeling scared.
A part of me wants to outrage over the killings and ‘do something’; while a part of me looks at the rest of you and feels ashamed and helpless.
I do know there’s a lot of good out there but the more you ignore the reality, the more we get pushed back to the dark ages.
Many Muslims around the country will be sporting a black armband to the Eid-Gahs when they pray in the morning in solidarity with the families of those innocents killed by the Cow terrorists. 
If you think we should feel scared, then just keep your voices down and let incidents like lynching be the new normal. Let this be the ‘Acche Din’ promised to the country.
And if you do care, then say something. Say something to your Muslim friend other than asking them for Biriyani or Sewaiyan.  
Eid Mubarak!

FOMO and Fake News: It’s a Match!

I’m pretty sure that our generation, and the plus minus one, will be referred in history books for two things FOMO and Fake News. Of course, books also have to be there, in the far future.
Not surprisingly, both contribute and encourage each other.
For the uninitiated, FOMO refers to ‘Fear of Missing Out’. Yes, an abbreviation. The fear that we might not get to do what others are doing or it might be too late. Perhaps it was prevalent since ages, but we got time to nomenclate even this syndrome.
Fake news, of course, is the favorite brainchild of propaganda machinery. And thanks to the mighty Internet, is everywhere.
Reports by NASA suggest that in every 100-meter radius, 3 out of 5 people read a fake news!
Can you believe that ?!
Well, if you did. Then you read another fake news. You see, how EASY it is?
Coming back to, how FOMO and Fake News go together about their business of making us restless. And Fools. Yes.
Fake news is exciting, controversial and prone to sound urgent. It lights up bulbs in your heads, adds or pushes you to share it as well. I mean, don’t you want to be that ‘helpful’ ‘cool’ and ‘smart’ person who shares it?
And you have to be the first one. At least in your circle. Right ?
There’s your FOMO.
And wow, ‘jab mil baithe do yaar, FOMO, fake news aur ek idiot behind a smartphone‘. Just as real as Bagpiper Club Sodas and Music cassettes. Come on, we all beloved they were just that ?!
The lack of a filter in our brain and no sense of journalistic standards in publishing stories in an age where every WhatsApp group and Facebook page with a few likes can become the ‘Source of the news’ and when opinions become facts, yes, we live in that age.
So now when we think of people who believed in the earth is flat as stupid. We should remember that generations later, our ‘documented’ history will reveal a lot more insight about us.

Freedom to Be

How do you feel when you hear the news of someone being killed in a terrorist attack ? Or an attack by Cow-Vigilates ? Or restrictions imposed by one religion on others ?

If your reaction is not a uniform outrage, then you need to reason yourself why it isn’t so. Reason hard, my friend.

And if you do get outraged over the​ acts of these lunatics, then hey! Welcome to the club!

The common connection that binds these attacks is the mindset. The mindset which thinks that they are ‘doing the right thing’.

Be it the terrorists who kill innocent people or the lynch mob that kills people for eating beef, transporting cows and in future maybe even looking at cows, are the same. If you still cannot see the distinction then, I’ll again advice you to reason with yourself as to why they are different.

There is no sense of guilt when people commit these crimes. In their head, they are doing ‘what is right or that they’re carrying out God’s work.

And this thought process is not about ‘religion’. The people who actually carry out these activities don’t know much about their own religion. All they do is follow someone. It wouldn’t be wrong to add ‘blindly’ as the appropriate adjective for that.

Even when their conscience pulls them away from doing something inhumane, it is by following their supposed ‘leaders’ that they embark on the ‘right’ path.

I had talked about the ‘credibility’ of people whom we follow and how that can harm us in an earlier post. It is quite critical to allow ourselves to be exposed to new information. To make ourselves open to experiences beyond what we’ve always known to be right.

I’ve shared numerous restaurant tables with people where someone’s having a beer, or bacon, while I’m eating beef. Sure, I don’t like the idea of alcohol and I won’t drink it myself. But should I beat someone up for drinking ? Or should someone do the same because I eat beef ?

It all comes down to just one thing. Freedom to choose. Choosing to eat, wear, speak whatever one wants.

Sure, if there’s something that offends anyone, there has to be respect provided for it too. Forcing others to accept your choice is wrong and there’s no two-ways about it.

We all have to learn to accommodate others in our lives. It can mean certain compromises too but that’s how a civil society functions and thrives.

Concept of one-rule-applies-to-all doesn’t work in a multi-cultural democracy like ours.

The country does not belong to one community. The country does not speak any one language. The country does not eat just one type of food.

You don’t have to agree with others’ choices but learn to accept it.

The New Normal

I wrote 2 years back on ‘Why I’m not sorry that I eat beef’ Looking back at it now, it seems to be a post filled with anger and something that I used as a medium to vent out the frustration.

And yet, we are again back in the beef-talk!

Of course, it just doesn’t stop there. Meerut’s mayor says, singing ‘Vande Mataram’ is compulsory to stay in India.

There’s an actual ’Anti- Romeo-squad’ working in Uttar Pradesh, ensuring ‘safety’ of women.

If you thought 2014 was ‘shocking’ then perhaps there was more to come. Someone who is okay with ‘Muslim women should be taken out from graves and raped’, believes inter-religious marriages are ‘love jihad’ and has a series of hate speeches to his credit, is now the Chief Minister of the most populated state of our country. But then were the standards any high?

At least, Yogi Ji has a degree that he can actually show to people.

Believe me, with the kind of PR already being done, from breakfast menu to hair-cut, a hashtag campaign with #AdityanathFor2024 isn’t far away. I mean the mere thought of Muslims taking over the population of 65% population of Hindus while the Christian Missionaries support them in converting, is enough for people to Vote!

Of course, this isn’t Vote Bank Politics. Nor is it Majority-appeasement.

Some of you must be thinking, all of this to be minor incidents blown out of proportion and all of this is just my paranoia. You know what, I’d be really happy if this is so. I would actually be happy to be proven wrong.

But the fact is, even if things go wrong, it’ll become ‘normal’. Just as Vajpayee became ‘less communal’ because of ‘Advani’ and then ‘Advani’ became secular because of ‘Modi’, over time, Adityanath with his ‘development’ and ‘progress’ in UP will become the new Normal.

For good reasons, I hope that all my fears are proven wrong. But then!

Understanding Right to Education Act

“…to accept it (this truth) is to recognize that every culture contains itself its own doom unless it pays as much attention to the education of the mass of mankind as to the education of the exceptionally gifted people”

Professor Hogden in Mathematics for the million, London, 1942

I read this excerpt in Nehru’ Discovery of India and it still echoes strongly. Education has to be the priority for the masses. 
The Right to Education (RTE) bill was passed in 2009 (came into force on 1 April 2010) and since then only 8% schools have come under the provision of RTE.
Now, what exactly is the Right to education anyways?
RTE makes education as a fundamental right of every child between the ages of 6 and 14. All private schools have to reserve 25% of seats for kids admitted on the basis of economic status or caste based reservations. The Central and State government (70-30 partnership, approx) will reimburse the schools for this.
I’m pretty sure many of you have forgotten that such an act even exists. Well, blame it on the poor PR skills of the previous government. And of course our amazing bureaucracy.
But we cannot solely blame the bureaucracy. If you look at the budget allocation over the years, India’s % allocation on education when compared to other countries’ is dismal. Going by data from 2012, we rank 143rd in the list of countries based on education spending as a percentage of our GDP.
On paper, RTE is revolutionary and could have helped in bringing more number of kid into primary education. Implementation has always been a key problem in our country and this is no different.
There has been a fair share of critique to this act because it’s a reform for the past. Focus on quality education and changing the outcome of what we currently dish out as the ‘final product’. If you consider numerous reports of humongous numbers like 50% of engineers are unemployable, it fits the critique too. What kind of education are we giving?
However, with a sizeable population, which doesn’t even have access to primary education screams louder, the priority has to be about fixing that. Everything, of course, needs to be done parallel but primary education needs to be fixed!
Access to primary education helps open doors to a new life for many families.
Sure, RTE has a lot of structural issues and that may be one of the reasons for its implementation as well. But this has to be part of ‘News’ and ‘debates’ instead of whether we’ll get to see a temple/Mosque in Ayodhya.
This is just a start to understanding RTE and reforms around education. I’d love if you have any valuable inputs to add to this. This might not be much but we can do our bit. Right?

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