Why Do Schmucks Succeed As Politicians?

Half the politicians we elect in India are not fit to be seen or heard in public…Take a look at the video below:

http://www.ndtv.com/video/player/the-buck-stops-here/watch-shiv-sena-mps-hungry-for-food-or-drunk-on-power/331222?video-top-shows

This is just one incident…There are numerous examples of how badly our elected representatives behave both in and out of parliament…The question is why do we elect such people?

Rudeness…Most of us deplore it but time and again we elect people who are rude…Is it because we see it as a sign of power? Does it mean that the ruder one acts, the more we are convinced that he or she is powerful, and therefore does not have to respect the same societal rules we have to? Or do politicians become rude after being elected?

The Demons In Me

Every evening I sit by the pool of my condo and watch the world go by – I watch toddlers playing, babies taking their first steps, teenage boys bullying younger boys, and couples walking hand in hand…On one such evening, all of a sudden a hundred ton anxiety bomb whistled out of nowhere and leveled me emotionally…I was truly gutted…Couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t function normally for a while…Midlife crisis? Maybe…

After a few days of wading through the debris left by this bomb, I decided to clean up some of the mess by exorcising (at least trying to instead of avoiding them completely) the demons that have been wrecking my insides for years…There’s one I want to exorcise particularly, one that has been bothering me for eons – romance, or rather the lack of it…So, how do I go about doing this? By writing a blog post about it, of course…

A heart to heart with a friend yesterday over what she desired in a relationship woke up the old demon inside me…I want romance in my marriage, have always wanted it but the spine-chilling truth is that my husband and I have never had even a second of Mills & Boon type of romance in our relationship…You see, we aren’t exactly the candle-lit dinner types although I would like to try it…My head started spinning…Shoot! Was our marriage dead in the water? Are we happy? OK, so we are a bit boring by conventional standards but does that mean we are unhappy?

A brief discussion with my husband followed…Suddenly, a ray of sunlight started breaking through the dark clouds in my mind…It turns out that we do have romance, truck loads of it, it’s just not the popular version peddled by Aditya Chopra or Karan Johar…Sitting together watching reruns of ‘Law & Order’ for the hundredth time because it’s my favorite show or watching IPL because he wants to, discussing books, reminiscing about our childhood or exchanging smiles over the antics of our daughter are all things which make us happy…What’s romance after all, if it isn’t being who you are in front of each other or doing things for each other?

Cathartic rant over but my position as the No. 1 over-thinker and senseless-worrier remains secure…

Guys! There’s A Lady Present…

You are with a group of people (could be friends, co-workers, anybody) enjoying a lazy meal and suddenly the conversation stops…You look around wondering what happened…All the faces around you have an uncomfortable look, even a guilty one…Some are staring at you…Gravy dribbling down my chin? No…Something I said? No…Who was just speaking? R…What was he saying? Hmm…Oh, yeah, he just cracked a rape joke…Everybody laughed except me…Then enlightened A said, “Guys! There’s a lady present.”…Suddenly you realize you are the only woman there…

I’m sure you ladies have been in a similar situation at least once…Over time I’ve come to realize that the less unenlightened ones who do speak up do so not to tell the chauvinists to change their opinions, but to keep quiet when someone who wasn’t a member of the club was present…All these men are fine people just a bit sexist and insensitive…The ones who think of themselves as enlightened see themselves as allies in the stuggle for equality…But, the problem is that most only speak up when they are in mixed company…I’ve asked a few of them if they stop their friends from passing sexist comments when they are amongst men and most of them have given me this weird look and said, “No, why?” So, if these men don’t want to change the status quo, why do they even speak up? They speak up because they are uncomfortable being seen enjoying a sexist joke or comment when there’s a woman present…Talk to guys…A lot of them think women need to lighten up – a joke is a joke, they say…It’s not as if they are raping or abusing women…

Aren’t you tired fighting the battle against the trivilization of rape? I know I am…I’m tired of telling people that rape jokes aren’t funny when the butt of the joke is the person who gets raped…A joke can be funny if the rapist or the rape culture is the target…For example, this joke by Borat “In Kazakhstan the favorite hobbies are disco dancing, archery, rape, and table tennis” works because the butt of the joke is the cariacature of Kazakhstan and not the victims…For every one person you get through to, a hundred more insensitive worms crawl out of the woodwork and tell you to stop being so sensitive… These people probably haven’t been raped…They probably don’t know anybody who has…It is very difficult to educate someone whose only exposure to something as heinous rape has been in a trivilized form…Guys, rape is not a feminist issue – it’s a human one…Men get raped too, but unfortunately because of the patriarchal nature of our society, more women get raped than men…

I’ve never been raped but I’ve been groped, ‘eve teased’, brushed against, whatever…Yes, I’m one of the ‘lucky ones’ who doesn’t have a direct story of rape, but I’m well aware that it is not the case with many, many women and men…Find something else to laugh at…

Peeling Back The Male Psyche. Just A Teeny Bit.

For the last couple of days, some  friends and I have been going back and forth on Facebook about how India is now known as the rape capital of the world and how instead of highlighting crimes against women and children frequently, the media (including social media) should be publicizing the positive aspects of our country…True, newspapers and TV channels do report these horror stories to gain TRPs/readership, but they do us a service as well – they ‘force’ us to read/watch these reports and in turn ‘force’ us to think about these issues, and any kind of thinking can never be bad, can it? Positive things should be the norm, not the exception…

Rapid economic uplift and increased women’s liberation hides an ancient and pervasive culture of patriarchy and male dominance in large portions of society…As world-wide outrage emphasizes the need for change (yes, much of this outrage is due to sensationalized reportage but there wouldn’t be any sensationalism without the crimes, would there?)…Indians are rallying…Women from all demographics are starting to act and react (Gulaab Gang) but the good news is that MEN are also stepping up…Farhan Akhtar’s MARD campaign didn’t cause tsunamis but at least he used his celebrity to try to change things, which is a darn sight better than a 1000 Facebook conversations people like us (elites?), far removed from any action, might have… The ‘Bell Bajao’ campaign too is for and by men – modeling the right way to be a man, to break with tradition while staying in society and maintaining social propriety…

All this is well and good, but how do we change the mindsets of rural men? You can’t just go up and tell a macho Jat farmer “Sirji, stop beating the sh*t out of your wife…Respect her instead”…Now, I am no great thinker and I may be thinking out of my backside but wouldn’t it be more effective to remind the farmer that Indian dharma involves revering women? Many of these atrocious biases are inherited cultural stances which have never been inspected – my grandfather did it, my father does it, I will do it…We have to tell him WHY he needs to respect his wife, not just that he has to…We have to show him how the Gods in the Hindu pantheon did so…We have to remind him of cultural constructs like the Mother-figure…We have to give examples that have currency if we want his perspective to change otherwise he’ll remain as intolerant as ever and will continue beating the crap out of his wife…He will never look at her as a human being…

What I am trying to say is that we need to convince people with ideas that will resonate with them, not just tell them that they need to do X or Y…Instead of gunning for sea-change, we should look to start ripples that will add up to change…Religion is just one idea – do you have any other?

P.S. As regards caste based violence, I have no idea how to tackle this…Ignoring caste would mean defying centuries of heritage and since it’s working for the upper castes (the powerful), why strip society off it? No will, no change…
 

 

Tap, Tap, Tap

Why am I here? Tap, tap, tap…No, no, you don’t have to answer that…It’s not an existentialist question…Tap, tap, tap…Where the hell did my idea go? A few moments ago I had a light bulb moment but now that light bulb seems to have vanished…Totally gone…Woosh!!!

Hmm?? What was it? Oh, yes! it’s come back…I knew it would!!! I’m not that old as yet…I wanted to tell you about my obsession with ‘Law & Order’ reruns…You know that American police and legal drama on NBC that went on for years and years?

I think I am (at least, I hope I am) a relatively intelligent woman with a full life but for some godforsaken reason I can watch reruns of this show a million times without getting bored and best of all, I can even watch the same episode twice in one day…I think I must have watched a few espisodes 20 times if not more and the funny part is, I can watch them again…How did Dick Wolf succeed when others have failed? What is your secret, Mr.Wolf? Please tell me!!! I don’t know why I do what I do but you know why you do what you do…Makes sense?

I don’t care who the actors are (although I must admit Sam Waterston is my favourite) or the characters are, I just love the show – the reruns though – never was truly into watching new episodes…Weird, uh?

Years ago, my husband had forwarded me an article on Slate which talked about exactly this – women’s obsession with reruns of Law & Order…Not the spin-offs mind you but the original one…So, you see, I’m not the only weird one – there are millions like me…Dick Wolf is making a hell of a lot of money from obsessed women like me…No matter which part of the world I am in, there will be at least one channel if not more showing reruns of Law & Order…

God, sociologists, whomever…Please, please study this mysterious phenomenon and let me know why I do what I do…Please put my husband out of his misery and help him get back to cricket…

 

“We Middle Class Indians Are Too Hung Up On Democracy…

What we need is a benevolent dictator…I’m glad that Modi has been elected as the PM – his autocratic style of governing is what the country needs now…He can set India straight… Anyway, who gives a s**t about democracy and individual freedoms when the country is going down the toilet? Do you think the poor care about whether they can elect the government or not? They are too busy trying earn enough to provide for their families…If you think I’m wrong then look at China – that country is something! It has sprinted way ahead of us…We need a government like that.”

“What???!!! ARE YOU CRAZY!!!”, I blurted out…Was my normally sane and intelligent friend out of her mind? I mean, yes, the poor are focussed on earning a living wage but how can a dictaorship – benevolent or not –  be better for them?

Like most Indians, I wanted change, but didn’t know whom or which party to support… Truthfully, I am not a big fan of Modi’s (now that he has the mandate, I wish him the best) as I think (like my friend) he is a bit autocratic and also am not too fond of his links to Hindu groups…

Nobody can argue with the fact that the way our country is run needs to change, and soon…But, India’s flirtation with autocratic rule in the 1970s was a disaster…As Indira Gandhi declared a state of Emergency, her political opponents were arrested, the press was censored and elections were postponed…Her goonda son Sanjay Gandhi ordered demolition of slums and forced sterilizations…Guess who the real victims of this regime were? The poorest classes, the ones who need the protection of democracy the most…No matter how chaotic our parliamentary system was at the time, it still provided them a buffer from the absolute power of the state – a state which could at any moment forcefully seize them from their homes or fields and drag them off to sterilization camps to have their you know what’s cut off..

The rest of the country (who apparently were the only ones concerned with democracy and freedoms) carried on with their lives as usual albeit with blander newspapers as long as they didn’t resist or shout out their opinions…In fact, these sections of society actually benefited because their work in government offices got done and buses and trains started running on time…

So, am I, a middle class Indian, too hung up on democracy? You bet I am…No matter how inefficient and corrupt our parliamentary system is, I prefer it a whole lot more than the one in China…