Saturday, October 30, 2010

Arundhati Roy is the creation of the system

It is futile to denude metaphors to their bare meanings, but in this case it might be useful to try. We know very little about conscience but what we do know is that there is an unattainable moral superiority about it, and that it usually transmits unsolicited advice, which is the opposite of what the mind really wants to do. But at the same time, it is fundamentally a creation of the mind, a creation that is meant to come in conflict with its maker. That is Roy. She is the creation of the very system that she aspires to bring down.

A weak economy and an immature democracy would systematically empower a particular class of people, first by giving them a social headstart through the early landed wealth of their ancestors, then by letting them cash their social gains for even greater affluence and influence. Some of them would then begin to challenge the injustices of the very system that made their righteous ire possible. A reason why Open receives so many story pitches from foreign-returned journalism students who want to do only bleeding-heart stories—the trauma of child labour, the plight of village women and the agony of stray dogs. And Kashmir. It seems every loaded intern wants to do an anti-Indian Government Kashmir story (and on the way, liberate Tibetans).

Roy is more talented, genuine and courageous than most people who would get along with her. But the fact remains that she is, more than anything, an anomaly that completes the system, a system that not only made her but also needs her for its own balance and survival. If this part is somewhat familiar, it is because it is derived from The Matrix trilogy.

There is a scene in The Matrix Reloaded where I usually imagine Arundhati Roy as Neo, the hero of the tale. It is the scene where Neo meets The Architect, the creator of the Matrix, the computer programme that has replaced the real world and its real life. In this scene, Neo wants to know, “Why am I here?” The Architect, who looks like Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the internet, gives a tangential answer, “You are the eventuality of an anomaly, which despite my sincerest efforts I have been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise a harmony of mathematical precision. While it remains a burden assiduously avoided, it is not unexpected, and thus not beyond a measure of control, which has led you, inexorably, here.”

That Roy is here as the inevitable consequence of the very system she wants to dismantle, that she is an expected anomaly, becomes more evident in her other battle—against globalisation and a potent version of capitalism. The huge advance for her debut novel that brought the first tremors of critical and commercial interest in her work, the rise of the reading middle class, the liberal movement, the many forms of media that conveyed her thoughts to millions, the international interest in Indian writers, and her own favourite Mac on which she writes her essays against capitalism, are all consequences of capitalism’s ways. But then capitalism also needs the imagination of soul, self-loathing, the delusion of introspection, so that people are not completely repulsed by their own greed. As The Architect would have said, “Ergo, Arundhati Roy.”

From Manu Joseph's view in Tehelka. More Here.

Urdu, India, Pakistan and Jews!

I am not much of a talker — never been one. 
And my wife never lets an opportunity pass to rub it in. While I read or endlessly flip television channels, her reproving glances drill holes in my whole being, for both not talking and not paying attention to whatever she’s saying. Lately, her focus has shifted to the kids. She thinks even they have locked her out of their universe, babble as they all the time do in that “stupid, firangi language.”

She keeps “shush”ing them, imploring them to speak in Urdu, their mother tongue. They reluctantly start off in the Deccani flavored Urdu but trail off soon, unconsciously switching to Queen’s English once again. It seems to come naturally to them. She keeps lamenting the fact that our children cannot read, write or even speak in the language that we are so proud of.  I couldn’t agree with her more although we seldom find ourselves on the same page on most of life’s absurdities.

In fact, it’s an issue that has had me worried for years now. As a student of literature and linguistics, I know that a language is not just a language. Like one’s beliefs, it defines one’s culture, identity and consciousness. It defines how we think, communicate and express ourselves.

Considering Urdu’s blood ties to the Arabic and Persian and the fact that most South Asian Muslims have come to know Islam by way of Urdu, the kids’ alienation from the language that connects them to the heritage of their parents and grandparents is disturbing. My children’s disconnect with Urdu is all the more painful because my own love for the language has been inherited from my father, an accomplished poet and author of numerous collections of short stories. I grew up attending “mushairas” (poetry sessions) with my father and singing gazals with my uncles and cousins.

Defying the prevailing social trend, my father didn’t send me to a convent but a seedy government “Urdu medium” school in the neighborhood. There were few teachers available to “manage” a class of over a hundred students. Prolific in both Urdu and English and a translator of Shelley’s poetry, my dad believed that you’ve got to know your mother tongue well if you are to master any other language. By the same logic, when you approach a subject in the language you grew up speaking at home, you learn it well.

Even though my “experiment” with Urdu education had to be abandoned midway thanks to the appalling condition of my school and I somehow ended up doing masters in English literature, my heart still beats for the language that is easily one of the finest and richest on the planet. For all my pretence to master an alien language and make a living out of it, I am still hopelessly besotted with Urdu. Yes, I love the language of Shakespeare, Keats and Dickens and I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t studied literature at university and taken to journalism. There are times though when I feel as if I’ve betrayed my first love, the language of Ghalib, Iqbal and Faiz.

This sense of betrayal only deepens when one sees the condition of Urdu in the subcontinent and around the world. Abandoned by its own and denied its rightful place by successive governments, the language is dying in the land of its birth. One of the many unintended consequences of the partition has been the total marginalization of Urdu in India. The language that was born in South Asia as a result of the extraordinary encounter between Islam and Indian civilization has few takers today in the land that was/is its home. Once the universal appeal of Urdu stemmed from the fact that it was an ethereal and earthy blend of Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Turkic — all rich, ancient languages — and the Prakrit or khadi boli, the folksy dialect spoken and understood across much of the undivided subcontinent.

Evolving as a spontaneous mode of communication between the Muslim armies and native population (“Urdu” is derived from Turkish word “Ordu” meaning army), it soon became the lingua franca of the empire. As against more elitist Persian and archaic Sanskrit, Urdu became the democratic choice of the people from Afghanistan to Burma. Since the partition though it has come to be associated with, rightly or wrongly, and condemned as the language of Muslims even though vast majorities of all faiths spoke and wrote it until the British left India. It’s nobody’s baby today. People quickly dumped it for the more rewarding English and Hindi, actively patronized by independent India’s rulers, over the years.

Even Muslims are turning their back on Urdu. You can’t blame them considering the fact it gets them no jobs or social standing. Even if some parents, weighed down by a sense of guilt, want their offspring to learn it for identity’s sake, there are few opportunities available. If there are schools that offer Urdu as a second language, there are no teachers. Where teachers are available, there are no students. As a result, the language that had been the language of power and a symbol of prestige across the vastness of South Asia, today finds itself limited to madrassas, mosques and the Bollywood. (Even the Bollywood insists on calling it Hindi!)

Today, Urdu has been confined to pockets and cities like old Delhi, Lucknow and Hyderabad etc. I am not trying to take undue advantage of my position but if Urdu still remains a source of pride for both Hindus and Muslims anywhere in India today, it’s in Hyderabad. Home to three of nation’s largest circulated Urdu dailies and first Urdu university, the city remains faithful to the memory of its founder, Quli Qutub Shah, who was also Urdu’s first poet with an anthology to his credit. In the north, it finds itself increasingly unwelcome in cities that had once been the citadels of Urdu and culture that gave birth to it. It’s sobering to see north Indian Muslims trying hard to erase all signs of their association with the language that was once their identity. They’re more at home with the heavily Sanskritized Hindi than the language that gave the subcontinent the heart-warming “Sare Jahan Se Achcha” and slogans like “Inquilab Zindabad” (long live, revolution!) that shook the British Empire.

So what does the future has in store for this magical language? Well, I am no clairvoyant.
But if it has a future, it lies in our hands. Maybe we could learn a lesson or two in this respect from the Jews. They wandered all over the world for nearly 3,000 years but never allowed their ancient language to die, power or no power. They passed down the language, generation after generation, regardless of their circumstances, teaching their children to imbibe it still in their cradle. Not an easy act to follow, I know. But there’s no other way to keep Urdu alive.
From Aijaz Zaka Syed's column in Arab News. More Here

— Aijaz Zaka Syed is a Dubai-based commentator. Write to him at

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

...while communal killers, mass murderers and rapists roam free!

"I write this from Srinagar, Kashmir. This morning's papers say that I may be arrested on charges of sedition for what I have said at recent public meetings on Kashmir. I said what millions of people here say every day. I said what I, as well as other commentators have written and said for years. Anybody who cares to read the transcripts of my speeches will see that they were fundamentally a call for justice. 
I spoke about justice for the people of Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world; for Kashmiri Pandits who live out the tragedy of having been driven out of their homeland; for Dalit soldiers killed in Kashmir whose graves I visited on garbage heaps in their villages in Cuddalore; for the Indian poor who pay the price of this occupation in material ways and who are now learning to live in the terror of what is becoming a police state.
Yesterday I traveled to Shopian, the apple-town in South Kashmir which had remained closed for 47 days last year in protest against the brutal rape and murder of Asiya and Nilofer, the young women whose bodies were found in a shallow stream near their homes and whose murderers have still not been brought to justice. I met Shakeel, who is Nilofer's husband and Asiya's brother. We sat in a circle of people crazed with grief and anger who had lost hope that they would ever get 'insaf'—justice—from India, and now believed that Azadi—freedom— was their only hope. I met young stone pelters who had been shot through their eyes. I traveled with a young man who told me how three of his friends, teenagers in Anantnag district, had been taken into custody and had their finger-nails pulled out as punishment for throwing stones.

In the papers some have accused me of giving 'hate-speeches', of wanting India to break up. On the contrary, what I say comes from love and pride. It comes from not wanting people to be killed, raped, imprisoned or have their finger-nails pulled out in order to force them to say they are Indians. It comes from wanting to live in a society that is striving to be a just one. 
Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds. Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice, while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters, rapists, and those who prey on the poorest of the poor, roam free."
Arundhati Roy's statement in Times of India. More Here

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tony Blair's sister-in-law embraces Islam!

Do you remember Tony Blair?
Who could forget him? Tony Blair is the notorious war criminal, close friend and guide of George W Bush. He is the co-author of mass murders in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was famously described by the western media as the poodle of George W Bush. As for those who are not familiar with the western slang "Poodle" means small dog - குட்டி நாய் !!
Now comes a good news.
Lauren Booth, sister-in-law of Tony Blair has embraced Islam. Alhumdulillah All praise be to Allah.
More Here,  here. Watch Mrs Lauren Booth here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Notes from a beautiful city

If we had enough money why would we live in this alien city?

Barack Hussain Obama, Golden Temple and Islam

When Barack Hussain Obama made history, a considerable number of Muslims were overwhelmed with joy. They felt that there would be "Muslimness" in Obama. They had all kinds of fancy hopes because of that "Hussain" in his name. Atlast, we could have a US President who is TRUE, HONEST, JUST and full of COMPASSION, they hoped fervently. As these are the noble traits ingrained in MUSLIMS, Obama too would nourish and cherish such traits they hoped. 

But, Obama proved to be a damb squib. Now here comes the news that he is facing compulsion from all quarters to downplay his "Hussain" card! 

The following is the report in Indian Express:

Indian officials were informally told that Obama wearing a headscarf to visit the Golden Temple may convey an image of him appearing to be a Muslim. This is one misinterpretation Obama’s advisors did not want at any cost, given the political sensitivities over this issue in the US.
As a result, a final decision on whether Obama would visit the Golden Temple was always kept pending. An American official is said to have explained at one of the pre-visit meetings that each day Obama has to remind the US that he should not be mistaken for a Muslim just because his middle name is Hussain. For this reason, considerable thought was being given to what Obama could wear without offending Sikh sentiments.

From a report in Indian Express. More Here

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Babri Masjid, B R Ambedkar, Hindutva Terror and Injustice!

The Ayodhya Verdict was a judicial demolition and justification of the destruction of the Babri Masjid. The verdict stands in utter contempt of the Indian constitution, as was the demolition. The verdict is an affront to the very vision of an India that is rooted in its secular and plural values.

The judgment has set an unprecedented precedent by giving precedence to belief or aastha over law. A civil title suit was reduced to a theological verdict.
This is the process whereby the Brahmanic Manusmriti increasingly gains precedence over the Ambedkarite Constitution.
The verdict, far from ensuring a respectful closure, has opened up a Pandoras box, whereby every place of religious worship will be under threat from the RSS and its myriad militant affiliates, who have proved their prowess at conducting pogroms and destruction of mosques in Gujarat.

Thus this verdict has actually created new grave problems, instead of solving the old.
Clearly the verdict is less of a legal pronouncement and more of a political settlement sought by the Congress, RSS and the BJP. This has in turn only compounded the imbroglio.
What is also missing from the entire discourse is the fact that the mobilization and demolition of the Babri Masjid on the 6th of December, was the Brahmanical counter to the Punyatithi or death anniversary celebration of Dr. Ambedkar, wherein lakhs of Dalits, OBC's and other oppressed masses go to the Chaitya Bhoomi to pay their respects.

This was the revenge of the RSS, as Dr. Ambedkar had converted to Buddhism with lakhs of his followers on the last day of Dussehra in 1956.

Also the fact is that Advani's Rath Yatra was a counter to the announcement of the Mandal commission by VP Singh. Thus the focal point of the entire Ram Mandir movement has been to target the Muslim community and the co-option of the Dalit, OBC masses into the Brahmanic fold.
Thus at the core lies the ideological struggle between the emancipatory, egalitarian and humanitarian principles as enunciated by Mahata Phule, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and Brahmanism on the other.
Thus the design is to build a grand or Bhavya Ram Temple as a counter to the Chaitya Bhoomi.
It is also a religio-cultural counter-revolution against the fast spreading Buddhism across all of North India, especially amongst certain sections of the empowered Dalits.

The most dangerous and offensive part of this judgment is the fact that it has justified the ravings and rantings of L. K. Advani, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar, Kalyan Singh and their entire ilk.

For the judgment to mention that Bhagwan Ram was born under the central dome of the Babri Masjid, is an incredible leap of aastha. Even the findings of the ASI report that could not be determined even by the best of historians and archeologists, was used as conclusive evidence.

Most incredible of this all is that one of the parties to the dispute is Ram Lalla Virajman himself. This is again unprecedented. A deity is a participant in a legal dispute, who is then granted a judicial status with a birth certificate.

Do we need the courts to go into this terrain of beliefs, where tomorrow the very status of God or Eshwar or Allah or Ahura Mazda will be decided?? Ridiculous and preposterous!!

ven though the Court agrees that the idols were placed there in 1949, itstill does not find it a criminal act, even though an FIR had been lodged.

So the entire criminal act, leading to the very demolition is then justified and the precedent thus set, that can be replicated with little cause for worry for the RSS and it’s fanatic hordes.

Though the Congress is shouting from the rooftops, that the Civil suite will have no bearings on the criminal case, the glaring delays over the Liberhan Commission (extended 49 times!!) report is proof of the collusion between the Congress and the RSS-BJP.

LK Advani has taken all precautions to differentiate between the leadership that stood at the frontline directing the crazed mobs and those of the thousands who were indulging in the violence and destruction.

Actually the matter could have been resolved in a different and far more sensible manner that would have given a respectful closure to all of Indian society.

We are amongst the world's most ancient civilizations and if we start digging up, every little plot of land will throw up a religious dispute.

And even though there is no evidence that a Temple was destroyed to build a mosque, yet judge Sharma behaved like he was writing a pamphlet for the RSS.

The very Ramcharitramanas of Tulsidas never mentioned even the possibility of this dispute, even though he was around 30 years old when the Babri mosque was built in 1528 and was functioning till 1949.

The Nirmohi Akhada were staking their claim to the property, but never raised the issue of Bhagwan Ram's birthplace.

The ASI report also mentions Buddhist and Jain remains, but very little public debate on this aspect, as clearly Ayodhya was and is an important centre for these two religions as well.

Thus a number of legal luminaries have been astonished at the judgment & have debunked it as a mere panchayati faisla.

This judgment actually proves that the judges had no aastha or faith in the Indian constitution and thus the Brahmanical sham.

From an article by Feroze Mithiborwala in Two Circles. More Here


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