Category: Politics & Social Issues Page 3 of 7

In your Opinion ?

I’m currently watching a TV-show called, “The Good Wife” and about to finish the 2nd season. So, no spoilers, please.
The show has the backdrop of a law firm and a lot of legal jargons, courtroom dramas, etc. One of the recurring judges has the habit of asking the attorneys to add, ‘in my opinion’ at the end of each statement. For e.g, if the defense claims that the accused is not guilty of the charges, the lawyer arguing his case will have to say, ‘Your honor, my client is innocent, in my opinion’.
As much as it appears funnily annoying and makes the judge appear to be a jerk. It makes so much sense.
If you can re-imagine all the conversations you’ve had with ‘in my opinion’ you would never be taken for a ride.
Everything one says is an opinion. Even this piece you’re reading now, is an opinion.
I’ll let you in on a Trade secret. Not such a big one, though.
From the time I started writing Movie reviews (, I’ve made sure to not read its review before I watch the movie. Even though I write and want people to read my reviews, I strongly believe (again, in my opinion) that it’s so easy to form an opinion on the movie based on what I’d read prior to watching it. It isn’t like I don’t read reviews but I read them after I’ve written mine.
Sure, we believe someone’s opinion based on their credibility. It does take time for people to build that credibility.
And that’s why all the propaganda starts with making you agree on few aspects of the message to help build their credibility. The brainwash requires a long chain of knots, tied slowly, to chain you up.
People have to realize that a large section of the society, once they’ve build a sizable credibility, will try to reap a few fruits out of it too.
It is critical to have the filter of ‘in their opinion’ to every news, every speech and every action. In the age of cheap social-media driven PR, anyone can become a hero or a villain. The only thing that matters is, whose opinion people give-in easily.
P.S. In my opinion.

There’s a lot in a name

This story popped up on my Timeline a while back.

It describes the ordeals of a 25-year old who faced difficulties in getting a job because of his name.

Saddam Hussain.

It reminded me of how we, as kids who were to appear for our Matriculation exam in the following year, were surprised. Surprised to learn that our friend, whose name was Saddam, has decided to change his name.

If I recall correctly, most of us were of the opinion that its just paranoia. We were kids without the knowledge of how the real world functions. I’m glad he changed his name and avoided unwanted troubles.

I also happened to know a really nice guy with the name Osama. He never changed his name and its been years’ since i met him and he will definitely have a long list of interesting stories to tell.

I do wonder what do people with my namesake are doing ? Will I be responsible for actions they commit or are even blamed for ?

Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor had to face a lot of trouble for naming their baby, Taimur. Although, I’m glad they did not change it!

Choosing a name is no more limited to auspicious time or letters. A quick Google search of all the infamous personalities is now part of the checklist as well.

Shakespeare wasn’t far-sighted enough, I guess. There’s a lot in a name. Not everything is Rosy after all.

Why we should wait before reacting to ‘News’

Remember that time when we used to wait for that sound of the newspaper being thrown at our doors by the newspaper guy? It used to be me or Dada anxiously waiting.

24×7 news channels weren’t there back then and newspapers were the thing. The timeline of reporting was longer and whatever reached us in the morning was quite certainly a clearer picture.

With the advent of News Channels, things changed and news could reach us instantly in the form of ‘Breaking news’. In this hurry to make it reach faster and claim, ‘We were the first ones to report it’, fact-checks stopped being a priority.

And then Twitter happened and news needed to be even faster.

I don’t know how many of you have watched, “The Newsroom” but there’s an interesting episode which talks exactly about this issue. To give you some context, the tv-series is a take on issues regarding news production, news and conflicts and of course journalistic ethics. This particular episode, which I mentioned, is how a news channel decides to wait before declaring the result of an election. Even when all other news channels have already reported it, they decide to wait and it turns out all others were wrong. And they were right.

How many news-channels would do that?Running a story without fact checking seems to be the norm these days. Everyone wants a headline. The Junta too needs just a headline to react and the wait-it-out and see approach seldom works.

A few days earlier, there was a ‘controversy’ where a reality show singer has been issued a ‘fatwa’ for not singing. Everyone was reacting to it, articles were written, facebook statuses were unleashed and what was the result? That there was no fatwa! Don’t even get me started on stupid Fatwas becoming prime time news.

Few days before, when the Gurmeher Kaur issue was the talk of the town, Minister Kiren Rijju reacted to questions from journalists. Later, he himself said that he hasn’t watched the video on which the entire controversy was based!

The Issue with dangal actress Zaira Waseem to Kanhaiya Kumar, who is the face of anti-nationals, to a long-list of ‘controversies’ which could very well be a side-column of a newspaper is the front page news. Probably because everyone needs a ‘front-page’ news item every hour!

Our FOMO instincts make us share the fake news stories circulated by Political IT Teams based on our confirmation bias.

When news channels start competing with Entertainment channels, this is bound to happen.
A lot of blame also has to fall on us, who are actively living on social media. Before writing something as a reaction straightaway, let’s try to wait for a while for the story to develop and then express our ‘valuable’ view-point. Our high-degree of FOMO needs to be controlled!

Why Irom Sharmila losing is not a surprise

Irom Sharmila losing is no surprise. That’s how politics works!
There’s a general outcry on the Internet for Irom Sharmila. People expressing their outrage because Irom Sharmila got just 90 Votes in Manipur.
Just stop, right there.
Have a look at the candidates in your own constituency who were contesting in the last elections. How many of those candidates have criminal records against them? How many of those have been powerful industrialists-turned-politicians or reformed-criminal-turned-politicians?
Going by an article published in the guardian, before 2014 General Elections, 1/5th of the candidates had criminal charges. Even the recently concluded Uttar Pradesh elections saw 322 out of 403 ‘Crorepati’ MLAs winning. Out of these 143 have criminal charges against them.
The idea of a politician, in the general population’s head, is a powerful figure. Someone who isn’t easily scared by others. A figure which people respect and fear. Fear and respect go hand-in-hand, in our democracy. Sadly. 
To be fair, in every election, we do have a few candidates who are honest, have spent years in social work, and now hope to serve a constituency. Right ? But if their image doesn’t echo a sense of power with their target vote-bank, irrespective of how good they are, it’s difficult for them to gather votes.
Elections in India aren’t about policies. People hardly scan through the manifesto of the party they are voting for. Did you read BJP’s 2014 election manifesto? Or INC’s?
[BJP Election manifesto: Click Here]
[Congress Election Manifesto: Clik Here]
People want leaders who can ‘speak to them’ and ‘speak for them’. If their answers address insecurities, hits the nail on the actual needs of the masses and simplifies the problems to deliver a quick-solution, then that’s the kind of leader they believe in.
When Donald Trump says, he’ll build a wall to keep immigrants out, people who actually know how big the border is, might find it ridiculous. But not all of them. When someone like Modi says, demonetization affected the ‘corrupt’ more than the poor, people will believe him. Be it Trump or Modi, or any other politician, it is about finding those simple solutions that can make people believe them.
Coming back to Irom Sharmila and being blunt, her sacrifice doesn’t mean anything to the people in that constituency. She was on a hunger-strike for years to get her demands accepted. People might assume that she won’t be able to get the work done.
Look at what happened with Kejriwal. His image, even when it is clean, is associated with Dharna and cribbing. Occasionally, he raises some valid points in his criticism but his image has already been made.
Same goes with Rahul Gandhi. His image is that of a fool and is popular as Pappu. How will people take him seriously? Even supporters of Congress cannot defend him with the same zeal like a Bhakt or Aaaptard does, because of this. No one wants an association with anyone who makes them appear to be another fool.
Of course, it doesn’t take more than a good investment in PR to change your image. Maybe an Adani/Ambani on their side might help ?

How did BJP Win UP? (Or other states)

Even without being a BJP supporter, I can clearly count their poll promises on my fingers. Promises which they declared before elections with hopes of making it good when they get power. They have been successful in getting their message across. Specific message of “15 lacks”, “Jailing Scam-tainted ministers and even Robert Vadra”,“Making sure Pakistan gets a strong message” and a long list of other promises.

From an election-stand-point, it clearly does not matter, whether those promises will ever be fulfilled or will be termed as another Jumla. BJP, mostly thanks to Amit Shah, has figured out the template for election victories. He has busted the myth of the “Muslim Vote”. At the same time, he’s been successful in orchestrating a consolidation of Hindu-vote by giving Developments as well as the “fear of the growing minority” as primary motivators.

Vote-bank politics isn’t restricted to India and is done worldwide. Every party happens to do it and blames the other for it. When Congress, SP, or BSP was trying to hold on to its loyal caste base, BJP went one up, and consolidated them on religious lines, instead of caste.

And no, it isn’t a one-election strategy but a concerted effort that they’ve driven for years. RSS, Bajrang Dal or VHP, are all separate and non-political entities, which have been on the ground working tirelessly to join all the castes together.

Inherently human beings have programmed themselves to be part of a homogeneous group. Groups, separated by National boundaries, regions, linguistically, faith, caste, color, etc. Over time, we all learn/realize, we are essentially the same. Humans. But this journey of realization, overcoming the varied differences, is long. On the back of our minds, we see ourselves as separate and occasionally superior (as well). There’s a constant tussle between what we’ve been made to believe and what we should, based on our experiences and education.

You must be thinking, why am I telling you all this? Just bear with me as I paraphrase.

We are a divided lot. A large section is even racist! But everyone’s evolving to not appear as that racist bigot. But, when an ideology touches upon our fear or makes us envision scary future, for example, Muslim population growth or influence of ISIS, we’re taken aback, and this reason sticks. Irrespective of how far away from reality it might be.

When a reference to Shamshan vs Qabrastan or Electricity in Diwali vs Ramzaan is being made, it isn’t something that hasn’t been said or thought before. This only confirms the existent thought of favoritism to one community. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not. The confirmation bias is strong enough to make it believable.

And that has essentially worked well for the BJP in getting its message across. Of course, good PR and media management, and a very vast Social media network has contributed to that as well. The proper messaging directed towards their target audiences worked.

Our anxiety and FOMO, along with the Fake news machinery, no doubt, contributes to this as well.

The opposition to BJP, couldn’t even make use of Demonetization which affected everyone across the country. BJP was successful in making people believe “it was for the good”.

The regional players need to come out of the bubble of remaining limited to their supposed “stronghold”. No one is going to watch a Ranji Match when a t20 is on, bro!

We don’t live in times when “this should be ideally done” works. Figuring out “what would work” is key. Do you think a deodorant would sell if they were to advertise it as “controlling body odor” or when it makes “women want men”, it’d sell more?

After effects of Demonetization

How long has it been since Demonetization ? 4 months!

Apart from the politics of Demonitization, taking credit or transferring blame or disowning it, we’ve seen quite a lot. In the years since this government came to power with a whopping majority, this has been the biggest move by them, before GST ‘kick’ed in.

So, what were the immediate effects of Demonitization?

No Discrimination: There wasn’t any discrimination in how people suffered. Sure, it varied, if one had jugaad or the lack of it.

Increased Awareness: More than anything demonetization gave us a lot of awareness. I had hardly bothered about knowing how much a card swipe actually cost! The hidden charges were finally out in the open and when I finally added it all up. Woah!

Savings Opportunity: I realized why people say that paying with cash helps in keeping track of your money. I guess we aren’t as ‘digitally sound’ as we’d like to be. Stopped spending

Increased Patriotism: What numerous JP Dutta movies couldn’t do, Demonitization and their fans surely have. Standing in line like how the Jawans at the border, gives me a similar feeling. I mean, if they are not complaining, why should we? Can we not do just this?

Becoming Responsible: Before “D” happened, I hardly used to carry cash. No, not because of “making India a cashless economy” but just out of laziness.  I mean, who’ll go to ATMs, unless there’s an urgent need! Over the months, I’ve become responsible. I now keep extra cash with me, just in case I run out of it, and the ATM sign says, “No Cash”!

Knowing your neighborhood: And now, I know the locations of innumerable ATMs spread across Kormangala that I can give you directions to it sitting at home. I should thank my landlord for accepting only cash payments for gaining this much knowledge.

Still, old habits die hard, right? Today, when the POS machine failed while paying at a restaurant, I had to shell out the entire cash out of my wallet. Probably I’ll have to visit the ATM soon, as the guy down the street selling groceries who was advertising, “PAYTM accepted” a few weeks back, says, “Bhaiya, Cash dena hota”. 

Why Urdu is not a “Muslim language” ?

Few days before, I was with Abbu , to get his ECG report. The doctor asked me something in Kannada, which I half-understood, and replied back in English, to which she said, “Parwa nai, Urdu maalum merku”. (No worries, I know Urdu).

Since I was with Abbu, who sports a beard and a skull cap, she made the assumption that we would know Urdu. Of course, what she meant by Urdu was Dakkhanithe Hindustani dialect spoken mostly in the southern part of the country, centered around the kingdom of Nizams’ at one point in time.

Everyone assumes a Muslim HAS to know Urdu! And that too, irrespective of which part of the country they come from.

Even the Muslims themselves think the same. Many from the North side who visits a mosque in the southern part of the country is like, “Why are they not speaking in Urdu?!”

Over centuries, Urdu has somehow acquired the status of the “Muslim language” and for the sake of differentiation, it has been accepted by even the Muslim community.

The fact that the widely spoken Khadi Boli or Hindustaniwhich we all speak in our day-to-day life, is the culmination of Hindi and Urdu, which were at an earlier time in history were practically the same language!

From what I know, just as Sanskrit was the language of the elite and educated, back in the day, post the Mughal rule, a version of Persian (which varied greatly from how it was spoken in Iran, and Iranians even made fun of the language), started slowly amalgamating, giving rise to a common tongue, the Hindi-Urdu.

The Hindi-Urdu (not called as such, waise), still didn’t have any religious connotations to it. But then, the British, which thought it be a necessity to differentiate between the two, and the subsequent Sanskrit-movements, helped shape the languages. Over time, they were Urdu (which had origins from Persian and Arabic) and Hindi (which had origins from Sanskrit and Pali).

But then again, these two again culminated in becoming the Khadi Boli. 

I’ve just simplified the whole thing and if you dive deep into details about it, you’ll find that there are multiple facets to it!

Coming back to my point, on why Urdu isn’t the language of Muslims! The biggest problem with this is, limiting or association with a particular religion tends to limit Urdu to select few. When ideally it shouldn’t be.

Not only this, it can become dangerous too. Check this picture from a college in DU! It reads, “DU me Urdu Banner lekar naara lagane walon se azaadi” (Freedom from those shouting slogans with banners written in Urdu). Now, who will tell them that the words they’ve used are in Urdu!!

Urdu is not a Muslim language

It goes like this: Urdu: Muslims. Muslim: Pakistan! Yes, I’m generalizing and a lot of educated folks might not think this way, but a lot of the do.

A colleague in Office sported a beard for a while. He has been mistaken for a Muslim (when he isn’t) and jokes like, “You look like a Terrorist” can be heard with a cry of laughter!

Same has happened with Urdu.

The beautiful language has become one of the many identity symbols of Muslims in India and even Pakistan, where a vast majority speak one or the other form of Punjabi! Just like Indians are assumed to speak Hindi where around 60% speak some other language! And yet, India is associated with Hindi! Thank you, Bollywood.

The beauty of any language doesn’t stay if confided in a few (communities) it has to be democratized. No one community should claim it’s right over Urdu! It is an Indian language, which is as Indian as Hindi.

And the next time you ask a Muslim for the meaning of an Urdu word, do check if he’s googling the answer or not!

Gurmeher Kaur: What really created the Controversy?

Controversy, Controversy, and more controversies. Every day there is something new that, defines and segregates our countrymen, into categories of Anti-national/Patriots. As if our regional identities, our religion, caste, gender, race; were falling short of being our Identity.

The most recent to join the list is a girl from DU’s Ramjas College, Virender Sehwag, Randeep Hooda, BJPs Kiran Riju, Javed Akhtar, and as I write this, probably a hundred more famous names. And no, not all of these are on any ONE side. Same as the people who are reading this. If you’ve been reading any of my political commentaries over the years, you’ve already placed me on one of these two sides. Correct?

Anyway, my point is, how do we deal with controversy?

How do we understand what’s going on? Does flipping a few “News Channels” or scanning through news articles work? Or just the trending Hashtags give us, the super intelligent and opinionated folks, the complete picture?

Or our FOMO-self pushes us to believe any kind of Fake news that comes our way?

Going back to the controversy. What did the lady in question, Ms. Kaur, actually said?

I don’t know about you, but I understood what she said. Did you? If not, what was it, that you did not agree with?

If I go by what actually escalated the issue, the line, “Pakistan did not kill my father, War did” is what made Virender Sehwag tweet a response to it. Whether Sehwag saw this whole Video or just arrived at his joke by just one of the many placards this lady put up, is something we’ll never know. But going by how others also made a joke out of “______ did not ______ this, _____ did” format, I assume (apologies for my non-data driven assumptions), others followed suit.

Take the case of Kiren Rijju, for instance, without even watching the video in question he issued a statement! That’s the state of our country’s ministers.

Another factor to consider is, Gurmeher Kaur, has been campaigning against ABVP (the student wing of BJP) against their violent protests at their campus, with the hashtags #StudentAgainstABVP and #DUfightsBack!

Is the outrage from Right Wing more because of this reason? Someone digging up an old video to actually manufacture this controversy?

The fact that this is an old video, which created the controversy, speaks volume!

Gurmeher Kaur ABVP Protests

And no, I’m not putting Virender Sehwag as part of Right Wing. I’ve loved him as a cricketer and will always do. 

So, what exactly did Sehwag Tweet?

Now, Sehwag on Twitter is funny. Not funny enough to get an entire click-bait article every time he tweets, but funny!

Now, I don’t agree with his stance on what Gurmeher shared in the video. But that’s my Point-of-view. Just as him not agreeing with her, is his. Just as Gurmeher is free to have her opinion, Virender Sehwag is also free to have his own opinion. Just like you and I should be. Should is the operative word here.

What followed with Sehwag’s tweet, or maybe emboldened by it perhaps, was how Gurmeher was abused and rape threats were made to her. One shouldn’t say that Sehwag was responsible for it, but when someone of his stature makes a statement, it lends a certain legitimacy to the hate campaign. Just as his brand endorsements would do.

The metrics on whether sales of Boost (which he used to endorse) varied due to his presence or not, is the answer to whether he had any effect on the abusive trolling that ensued.

Even Randeep Hooda joined in by sharing one such tweet (along with an Emoji) which celebrated Sehwag’s earlier tweet.

I’m not saying that celebrities should not share their opinions. I’d be a hypocrite if I say, Aamir Khan was okay to share his opinion on Intolerance, but a Virender Sehwag or Randeep Hooda is not. The use of “Freedom of speech” shouldn’t vary based on which side you’re on. Sure, I’d like to reiterate, this speech, when used to incite violence or racism, needs to be stopped.

The biggest problem with all of this is, the original message (the one in the video) where GurMehr Kaur talks about growing up without a father and how she managed to give up hate. She now considers herself a soldier just like her father was. She urges the leaders of both the nation to “Do their Job” and resolve the conflict and stop the War.

What a nice message!

But how many people, including the celebs, took the time to go through the message in the video, before reacting to it?

Why do we only get fixated on “what we don’t agree with” and not come together for what we do? None of you want peace with Pakistan? None of you want kids like Gurmeher to have their soldier fathers with them?

Don’t stick to the narrative which the party you support shares. At least understand what the issues are, what was the entire message.

If Sehwag, Randeep, or others, react without watching/understanding the entire message, they are at fault. If not, then they probably understood something, which I did not!

What did YOU think of the video?

An old video becomes fodder for controversy when the girl in question is campaigning against ABVP?

Why Indians don’t see the Irony in laughing at Trump?

I’m sure most of you reading this have enjoyed a good laugh watching John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, Bill Maher and countless others in one of the talk shows making fun of their President. Correct ?

It’s okay if you haven’t. You can skip reading this post and head over to watch these.

Here’s a video of John Oliver talking about Trump:

Coming back to the Indian context, it is so cute when Indians have a good laugh at those jokes and don’t see the Irony. I mean, there would be a tiny voice in your head asking you to make a correlation and you’ll be telling it in your cute little voice, “Ohh Come on, it’s so different!”! 

I mean, thoda to bheja me light jalta hoga na ? 

And it’s okay, if the bulb doesn’t light up. Maybe it glows only when you hear a speech or listen to the much-awaited baat from unke mann ? Hai na ?

Election rally videos with those orgasmic speeches rule your late-night search history? Or even day-time? Hey, I’m not judging!

The fact that even when we’re able to watch this scenario play out on the global stage from an outside perspective, it is difficult to see through. One can assume that media or influencers have a freedom of speech which they can exercise without the fear of a mob out there to beat them.

I know what you’re thinking. “He’s again going there”. The voice in my head says the same. “Stop! Stop, else you’ll waste more time being a Keyboard activist, then writing stupid things like these”.

Kiski sunun ? Speeches to achhe lagte nahi! 

Why Superiority complex is the root of all problems

I logged onto Airbnb ( to check for accommodations and the first message I get is a non-discriminatory message that I have to “Agree” to.

“We believe that no matter who you are, where you are from, or where you travel, you should be able to belong in the Airbnb community. By joining this community, you commit to treat all fellow members of this community, regardless of race, religion, national origin, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age, with respect, and without judgment or bias.”

It’s been a while since I used Airbnb after a not-so good experience in Goa last year. But i was pleasantly surprised by this and felt good.

But as you know, there’ always a reason behind messages like these. For some reason, this news had skipped through my social circle.

So, here’s what had happened, when a certain Gregory Selden’s request to book a room for his travel to Philadelphia was denied. However, when he created two fake profiles that purported to be white men after he realized the room was still available. Both of these profiles, upon sending a booking request, were accepted. [Source:]


I’ve always wondered how and what makes certain people feel “superior” to others based on any factor. Especially the ones for which they didn’t have to move a brick. Any other form of discrimination arising out of this “superiority complex” is a big threat. There’s a very thin line between being proud and this trait. This is the root of everything.

We tend to think we are not like this. But on introspection, we come to know how deep-rooted these thoughts are in the society. The problem is, we don’t see this as “wrong”.


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