The Curious Case of the missing Rahul Gandhi

rahul-gandhi

Rahul Gandhi has done it again, and I don’t mean just the massive self-destruction of the Congress party in the Delhi elections. On February 10th 2015, when the crocodile jaws engulfing the skull of Congress party’s fortunes finally snapped and reduced the party to dead pulp in Delhi, Rahul Gandhi did the vanishing act yet again and disappeared like a thief in the night. The news media went into a tizzy looking for a comment from him, but nobody in the entire Congress party was ready to reveal his whereabouts. Their silence was so astounding that it was scary.

Who exactly is Rahul Gandhi? Is he really as dynamic a leader as the staunch members of Congress keep projecting him to be while they shamelessly swallow their pride doing so? Is he really the great leader that India’s previous prime minister Manmohan Singh was dreaming to work under the leadership of? And was there anyone who thought it a disgrace that the former PM, while he was still the PM, virtually resigned himself into the hands of a mere nobody?

Oh, but dare you call Rahul Gandhi a nobody. He may not be as bright as Inspector Clouseau, but he definitely is the only lifeline that Congress thinks they have. The partymen sing praises of RaGa as if he were a manna from heaven, like a Lord coming back for resurrection. Just try to say anything negative for him and you see the entire Congress brass forming this huge wall of defence in front of him, protecting him from every critic and criticism, even to the extent of ridiculing their own selves and muddying their own names in the process. They will take all the blame on themselves and not a spot of mud will be allowed to touch the dear leader (Oh, do I sense a bit of North-Korean-ness in the matter?)

So, Rahul is like a specially challenged kid who hasn’t grown up. He is the kid that you hide in a backroom whenever strangers come asking questions.

There can be many reasons for Rahul Gandhi’s disappearance and his silence. Maybe, he is in hiding because everyone remembers how he was caught grinning when he stood alongside mother Gandhi who was addressing the media right after Congress’s drumming in the Lok Sabha elections last year. Maybe, he is in hiding because the speech writers in Congress have finally run out of script to prove that it was Rahul Gandhi’s victory even in defeat. I guess they knew it wouldn’t work so they decided not to damage the party anymore by even trying.

Not only are Congressmen silent on Rahul’s whereabouts, they are even silent on being silent. When questioned about Rahul, even in the most docile of manners, they appear to be deeply hurt. Not even a smile on their faces to at least lighten the moods. To a question such as “Is Rahul Gandhi in India or abroad,” there is still absolutely no attempt to answer at all. Just a sorry, troublesome, disgraceful and deeply worrying silence. It is obvious now, as if it weren’t earlier, that Rahul Gandhi is nothing but just a name. There is nothing behind the mask of the face that stupidly smiles at just the wrong time or a mouth that runs off to the detriment of the own party when left unregulated. A body that screams its own language, when exposed to the public, and betrays what the rest of the organization struggles to hide every moment – gross incompetence.

There is no doubt that the stalwarts of the Congress party – people who have dedicated their lives to the party’s work and achieved so much for it – must be silently feeling an increasing sense of anger and disappointment at having been forced to accept a political and intellectual nobody as their leader, to whom they must attribute the credit for all their achievements and who they must also dissociate from every failure of the party. In short, in the curious case of the Congress Party and Rahul Gandhi, failure has many fathers but success only one – Rahul Gandhi. And this will soon be proven again when Rahul is promoted to the top of the party from his current no. 2 position, while the rest of their cadre stand by the curb, preparing to act as human shields to protect the leader from the mocking and laughing jibes by all the other political parties across the nation.

Sadly, while the country has been independent since over half a century, its Grand Old Party is still disintegrating within the clutches of the Gandhis. And it doesn’t look like it will break free anytime soon.

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A response to Rajnath Singh’s unscientific remarks

Rajnath_Singh“Rajnath Singh” is what happens when there is a disconnect between dogma and common sense. That the minister does not know science is a sorry fact, it is also indicative of the ignorance that has crept deep into the core of an organization that wishes to keep its eyes closed to reality. This post is a response to his unscientific comments made in front of news media, which can be read here. What he is basically trying to do here is merge Science with mythology by referring to pundits instead of scientists. Is it really necessary to go on ranting about stuff that you don’t really know and label Astronomy as coming from a ‘US Observatory’? I mean, where is the man really coming from? Clearly, it is an attempt to glorify his mythological beliefs, which no doubt are BJP’s main driving factor.

What Mr. Singh really doesn’t know, perhaps due to his lack of scientific education, is that it is not a ‘US observatory’ that observes and tells us when an eclipse is going to happen, it is the science of Astronomy, completely consistent across the world as well as in (surprise) India itself that ‘calculates’ (perhaps too difficult a word for him to contemplate) the occurrence of an eclipse. Concepts such as tilt of the axis of the earth, revolution of celestial bodies around the sun due to gravity and the position of the point of observer on the surface of the earth that, when put together give you the end result. But why should the minister worry about those factors when he has the neighborhood pundit by his side?

Nevermind the scientific calculations, Mr. Singh must now answer some more basic questions about the knowledge he seems to  have derived from scriptures using the high intellect of his pundits (if that is what he meant).

First: Hindu mythology also says that the earth is sitting on the back of a giant turtle (or was it a tortoise). What I want to know is, does the minister really believe that that is the case? Does he really have the courage to go so far as to appear a complete fool by accepting this joke also as a truth? Is he angry or upset that science doesn’t care about his point of view and is doing well enough to steer clear of such an embarrassing claim?

Second: Does the minister really believe that the Earth was formed 196 crore years ago? 196 crores = 1,960,000,000, i.e., 1.96 billion years old. Scientists have a unanimous agreement that the Earth is at least more than 4.5 billion years old, so his pundits, whoever they are, have got this fact wrong by at least 2.5 billion years and ended up embarrassing the minister in front of the whole nation. Too bad! And by the way, that is just the age of the Earth and we haven’t even mentioned the age of the universe, which scientists agree is more than 14.5 billion years, and which the mythology somehow totally missed. How did this disaster befall the great Hindu mythology? The minister should have opened a science textbook instead of listening to his idiot pundits.

Third: What does the minister mean when he says “Earlier, science did not accept this..”? What the hell is he talking about? Another stupid thing his pundits told him? Who in the scientific community has accepted anything of this sort from the Hindu mythology? Science is a system of making observations, developing theories and then testing these theories rigorously to find out the truth and it is science that has discovered the actual age and not his pundits. There have been many ancient cultures in the world that have put their own guesses on the age of the earth and all of them have the missed the mark. It is purely a coincidence that Hindu mythology has come up with the longest time of them all, but it is still nowhere near the correct scientific calculation.

Fourth: According to Hindu mythology, when a man dies, his wife should throw herself into the fire of his funeral and become a Sati, whereas a man has no such obligation, and we can probably guess why that is. So, does the minister think this “traditional value” should also be followed by the country? Will he suggest such a step to his loved ones? Is this a tradition that he is proud of? As a citizen, I demand an answer.

“No other country could match our knowledge” Well, it might not be true of our country today, but it certainly appears to be true that nobody in the world can match the knowledge that Mr. Singh has procured through his detailed scientific assessments of his uneducated pundits. The world is light years ahead of India in terms of science and technology, perhaps because we still want to suck up to any myth, however uninformed and unscientific, as long as it makes some of us proud of it. What he doesn’t understand is that we do not want a false sense of pride, but real measurable achievements.

For instance, Algebra is now from India? When the hell did that happen? Did he derive this also from his foolish pundits? The word algebra comes from the Arabic language (“restoration”) from the title of the book Ilm al-jabr wa’l-muḳābala by al-Khwarizmi. The roots of algebra can be traced to the ancient Babylonians. The word entered the English language during Late Middle English from either Spanish, Italian, or Medieval Latin. Algebra originally referred to a surgical procedure, and still is used in that sense in Spanish, while the mathematical meaning was a later development. If you need to read more about it, go to wikipedia. So, not only does he want to inflate his sense of mythological pride, he even wants to steal from scientific achievements of other cultures.

At this stage, rather than going on attacking the minister, I would pardon him a break and make one point very clear. Progress on scientific fronts has happened throughout the course of history. It is in accordance with that that various theories and concepts came about in different ages. So, yes, there will always be some concepts that you can attribute as having originated in one country or developed and refined in another. But, it doesn’t by any means imply that people in India discovered everything scientific and that was the end of progress of all areas of knowledge across the world.

The theory of relativity was not discovered in India. Neither did the theory of gravitation, electricity, nuclear physics, the periodic table of elements, evolution. Countries such as Japan have mastered fantastic technologies such as magnetically levitated trains, while we still are unable to figure out why our trains keep running off tracks every now and then.

What the minister has forgotten, or perhaps failed to understand, is that even the scientific achievements of India from centuries in the past did not come from pundits and that was not even mythology being practiced. That was science itself. And any person, whichever age they lived in, who developed any scientific theory was a scientist and not a pundit. And there is a huge difference between the two. Of course, a believer in mythology can still be a scientist if they follow the scientific method to draw conclusions, but the results of their method are by no means mythological in nature. Yes, it was someone living in India who invented the concept of Zero, but did he say it was thanks to mythology that he found out about Zero or was it because he used his intelligence just like many others have done all across the world to come up with their own discoveries in mathematics and the various branches of science.

The minister also fails to realize that our country was for long a source of inspiration to many other upcoming nations and do you know what for? We were the first nation in the world that had in its constitution the duty of each citizen to “build scientific temper”. But, perhaps the unscientific minister merely confused temper with temple, which is why he is part of an organization that has its origins in mythology and seems to be more concerned with where the next temple could be built.

“When knowledge is cut-off from traditional values, it becomes disastrous.” Does this sentence make any sense at all? Does he mean to say that what is wrong with the world is lack of touching of feet? Really? He thinks science tells one to stop touching our parents’ feet? Which scientific book is he referring to? Traditional values have nothing to do with knowledge.

“Civilizations which get cut-off from their traditions and values do not survive for long.” Again, what is he talking about? Which civilizations is he getting his knowledge from?

“..highly-educated youth involved in terror activities..” Oh? Now now, isn’t he talking about the ill effects of religion itself?

Now, why criticize the man so ruthlessly when there are many more like him in the country? Because he is the Home Minister. He is in charge of the country in a very special way and I, as a citizen, am obviously quite concerned with what he thinks about science and technology. I really want to know if the Home Minister of India really believes the Earth is sitting on the back of a giant turtle. I really need to know which direction this man and his party are planning to take the country towards: a progressive development of science and technology or a systematic rusting of the scientific capability and regression of the nation?

We have a right to know.

 

Edit 1: Added link to TOI report on what Rajnath Singh exactly said and expanded the intro paragraph a bit.

Indi-Ban-ization

Only 4 days back, I wrote a post on the growing religious intolerance in our country. I mentioned how we are banning books, writers (because, you know, Pen is mightier than sword and so the writer might hurt some sensitive people.. sob sob), art and movies, etc.

In just 4 days, so much more has happened that it is with great reluctance that I am writing this post. After all, you need a break from one single topic but India is undergoing its own version of Talibanization at such a rapid pace that would put Schumacher and Usain Bolt to shame. Before we know it, the Talibani leaders might start applying for Indian citizenships.

Pardon me if I miss some more incidents, but fresh in my memory are the following from the last 4 days:

— The Grand Mufti (head of Muslim clergy) in Kashmir has declared a “Fatwa” against singing (Yes, SINGING!) saying it is un-islamic and a shameful act. Yes, you heard (or rather read) me right. Following this Fatwa and a series of online abuses by its supporters against them, Kashmir’s first and only All-Girl-Rock-Band, Pragaash, has called it quits and given up on singing and performing out of fear for their lives. But, the ruling national political party has promptly, after a delay of 3 days, acted by – wait for it – CRITICISING the Fatwa. See? We support our women. Nevertheless, the Band is still banned (no pun intended).

pragaash

— Well, how could the Hindus be left behind? In yet another shocking (the magnitude of shocks now coming down with each case) incident, members of a regional (and religious) political outfit, desperate to maintain their fading (if not already extinct) relevance in Indian politics, have started protesting “democratically” in front of an art gallery in the capital warning of consequences (how democratic) if the exhibition is not shut down and some paintings not removed. Their problem? They think that depiction of bare human forms in art is derogatory to “our cultural values” and portrays women in an obscene manner. (Must be those devillish Westerners affecting our Art, I worry). How stupendous – political party, religious faction, art critics, all-in-one? I wonder where their concern for women vanishes when they and their affiliates beat up women for wearing jeans and going to parties.

— Further, BJP, a national political party, has also revealed their well known fascist and religious nature by invoking the Ram temple issue yet again just a year ahead of the upcoming national elections in 2014. To the unknowing, a piece of land in a town (or village?) called Ayodhaya has been the source of extremely dangerous tensions between the Hindu and Muslim communities since decades over a conflict regarding whether a temple or a mosque should be built at that place. The BJP has, as expected, again raised the pitch in favour of temple instead of the mosque.

As I was about to sign off on this post, I have just seen in the national news channels that the same outfit that is protesting against art (above) has contributed to the Ram temple issue by saying they will agitate in favour of building of the temple and, if required, are even ready to display the Hindu might. Okay, so now they won’t even wait for me to finish my blog?

In our country, a huge section of our population is living below poverty line, are uneducated and illiterate and therefore find solace in anything religious. We don’t have enough food, clean drinking water, schools, hospitals, electricity, and jobs and our economy is in tatters, but we worry more about where a temple is being built, which art can be exhibited and which not, which book should be read and which not, whether muslim girls should sing or not, and to top it all, we are even willing to slaughter people for such trivial issues. And this is not going to fade away. The talibanization of our country is afoot.

Why? Because we are a nation of fools and those who are negligent of this rising foolery. We will curtail every form of freedom of expression, speech, etc. etc… Oh, did you say freedom? We will ban the word itself one day.No use invoking the constitution – it does not forbid us from being fools and idiots.

And, did I mention we are also secular? Ya, but our definition of secularism is not the same as that of the “morally deprived west” in that we do not consider secularism to be freedom of and from religion. We think it is the freedom of forcing a religion’s outdated and illogical decrees on to everybody else, and we welcome with open arms, the venomous and regressive ideals that the fundamentalists bring with them.

I wonder why atheists and secularists and scientists do not make similar speeches to say that we will “unleash science education upon those who dare to act stupid,” or “the Earth is suspended in the Solar System due to gravity and we will slaughter any artist that depicts it being otherwise,” or “if you show a ghost in a movie, we will get it banned because as per science, ghosts do not exist.”

I think that would be quite funny. What do you think?

The Hurt-Feelings Group

censor

In my previous blog, Books can be Dangerous, I tried to ridicule a certain kind of people who hate books and are scared of reading them and even intimidate others who read them or talk about them. The reason they give? “Our feelings are hurt. Sob! Sob!”

It turns out, I spoke too soon. And too little.

The fact is, it is not just about books – though books are the easiest targets – it is as much about any other medium of information such as Television, Cinema, Newspapers, Magazines, and other Social Media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. And if you thought you’ve seen everything, you would be surprised to know that even the toy maker LEGO has been accused of racism. (Read this wonderful blog for more or this news link). And why? Because LEGO made a model of the domed palace for a star-wars character called “Jabba the Hutt” and this infuriated a Turkish community in Austria who complained that it was intentionally made to look like a Turkish mosque. And what was the resemblance? The mosque has a dome, Jabba’s palace has a dome, the mosque has 4 towers around it, Jabba’s palace also has a tower. Hence, the resemblance. Conclusion? Racism. See this:

Jabba

Even though some of these disturbances might be dismissed as politically motivated or uninformed and uneducated reactions of “some” people, it is important to analyze these situations with utmost diligence because what look like isolated incidents might turn out to be indications of long term problems.

What gets attacked? Anything.

Protests against Rushdie and his "The Satanic Verses"

Protests against Rushdie and his “The Satanic Verses”

Books they have never read and will never read and which were, in some cases, published decades back but went unnoticed by “them” because of the same reason: they have never read and won’t ever read (and can’t, maybe?). Prime examples of mindless attacks are a) 1980s: Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses, b) 2012: Some authors reading from this book, c) 2013: Organizers of previous year’s event even though there isn’t even any talk of the book this year at all. What does the State say? Nothing.

vishwaroopamCinema: Films that have not been released yet are the easiest targets. The most recent example is the Kamal Hassan starrer, multilingual thriller called “Vishwaroopam”. I am not certain what caused this movie to be opposed so vehemently that its release in a few cities in India has been deferred by 15 days. This is going to be a disaster for the project and a complete insult to the hard work of a man who has been a jewel in the crown of Indian Cinema for decades. Instead of saluting Mr. Hassan for his contribution to Indian cinema, some people have chosen to destroy his movie. And, I think the reason given for their opposition to the movie is that the terrorists in the movie are shown to be of a certain religion. And you thought such a detail would be trivial, huh? What does the State say? “Ban the damned movie.”

Social Media: Like a facebook comment or cartoon and the Police might show up and arrest you, even slapping you with the charge of sedition against the state, like what keeps happening now.

mfhussainArt: Take, for example, what happened in India a few years ago when legendary painter MF Hussain, another jewel in India’s crown, was driven out of his own country and into exile by fundamentalist organizations who threatened to kill him for creating a painting which depicted a Goddess naked (at least that is how I percieved the issue). Even the state did not make any attempt protect the legend. And why? Because the hurt-feelings-card was played.

Let’s accept it, art is not for everyone. A piece of art by a popular artist can be worth millions to those who understand it, while to the layman who is uninterested, unappreciative and uneducated (in arts) like most of us (yes, me included sometimes), it might not hold much value. Despite that, I understand that proclamation of the “hidden” meaning of a piece art should be left to those who appreciate and understand it and so, if you ask me, I would completely refrain from passing a judgement on a painting or sculpture. Simply because I don’t understand it, my opinion would be of no relevance whatsoever to the world and therefore the meaning of any such piece of art should not be my business to interpret and attack.

But that is exactly what some people forget. They go around their tiny little world putting their sensitive and underdeveloped intellects in the path of others, ready to flare up and burn the world at the tiniest of provocation (or no provocation).

Today, they are attacking things in public domain, tomorrow they will intrude into our homes and even tell us what we can and cannot do as individuals.

The only solution is for States to crush such misadventures of opposition to anything, even if the issues raised seem isolated. Otherwise, tomorrow, these will become precedents for bigger and bigger problems.

A Nation of Rapes

women

On December 16th, 2012, a 23-year-old girl from Delhi was gang raped by five men in a moving bus in South Delhi. Even the male friend accompanying her was brutally beaten, gagged and knocked unconscious. After the rape, they were both stripped and thrown out of the bus. They were found lying on the roads at about 11 PM at night.

What made this episode even more horrific was the fact that the rapists not only raped her but even inserted an iron rod into her which ended up completely damaging her genitalia and intestines.

The girl was admitted into a hospital where she was placed on ventilator and was extremely critical for a few days. The doctors had to remove her intestines because they were completely damaged by the attack and they feared she might be affected by gangrene. The result of this was that even if the victim survived this incident, she would never be able to eat again.

The incident sent shock waves throughout the country and in a surprising development, thousands of citizens across Delhi came together to protest the rising incidents of crime against women (esp. rapes) in Delhi and the prevailing indifference displayed by the political class towards the common people. they demanded that the rapists in this case be hanged for the brutality of their crime. Thousands more across the country jumped into protests in their own cities and for almost 2 weeks now, the movement has taken the entire country by storm. The girl, christened ‘Nirbhaya’ (meaning ‘fearless’) by the media to preserve her anonymity, and her sufferings have become the sole point of discussion in all homes across the country. She has become the daughter of the country and every family is now joined with her in sentiments.

As the citizens Delhi were protesting peacefully near the parliament, the police started using force on them through the use of water cannons, teargas shells and even lathi charge with increasing frequency and without any provocation. Many people were badly beaten up by the police and this only increased the sense of outraged that Delhi’ites felt. People were protesting to demand better policing, stronger laws and their better enforcement and everyone was hoping the political class would finally wake up and take stern measures to ensure safety for women. But they didn’t.

All political leaders in India watched silently as the country protested and displayed their outrage. The only comments that came out of political circles were to suggest that it is the fault of the people themselves that such incidents were taking place. Loose, rhetorical arguments such as “society needs to change itself” etc. were also being thrown in which only went to show that there is a huge disconnect between the political class and the citizenry.

The country burned.

Horribly enough, some politicians even had the audacity to attack women even more. In one case, the son of the President of India even went on to say that the women participating in the protests were “dented-painted” and also attacked the character of the women protesters further by saying that they were all coming to the protests after visiting discos and night clubs. This statement clearly displays how the politicians, who are supposed to represent the people, have such anti-people attitude.

This morning (29th Dec, 2012), the 23-year-old victim has finally breathed her last breath and succumbed to the injuries after battling bravely for 13 long and agonizing days.

There were times in between when media reports exposed that the police themselves were putting pressure on the victim to give a statement that was prepared by them, instead of giving the true account. This caused tremendous uproar among the people.

To just take you a step further towards showing how indecent the political class has become, let me state a few isolated incidents that happened around the same time as this brutal gang rape. A girl was raped in Kolkata, West Bengal, but the police refused to admit her complaint for 2 weeks. Not only that, a few days later, the Chief Minister of the state of West Bengal (a woman herself) shockingly claimed that there was no rape and that the entire “controversy” was “staged”. The victim kept repeating her statement but nothing would change the mind of the CM who went even further to say that the victim was in fact a sex-worker and the incident was only a deal gone wrong and thus there was no need to look into anything. The people of the country can only wonder how the CM obtained such insights into the case.

In another incident, it was reported that another girl in the state of Punjab was gang raped and when she went to report this to the local police, not only did they not register her complaint (as usual) of the vicitim, they started humiliating her by saying that she must have invited them to rape her and that she should “compromise” with the rapists instead of filing a complaint. They used to call her to the police stations “late at nights” to listen to her story but their only purpose was to ask her shameful questions about the rape “procedure” and they kept on humiliating her to such an extent that she was finally forced to commit suicide. In her suicide note, she has clearly mentioned what caused her to kill herself, but even now the policemen are defiant.

The 3 incidents that I have described are only less than 1% of what women in our country are suffering on a daily basis.  These things and the insensitivity of the police are part of the news everyday and we do not find it shocking anymore that such an incident has occurred. It is occurring, not only daily, but hourly in our country and most of those are not even reported because the families of the victims fear humiliation and retribution from the same people who are supposed to protect them, the cops.

The people of the country are angry and outraged while the politicians are hoping that all the noise will die down in a few days, after which people will forget the incident. Till then, just remain evasive. Theek hai?

DETECTIVE HIRED TO FIND GOVERNMENT

A really nice and hilarious blog…

INDIA UPDATE

Concerned citizens are in the process of hiring a detective to find the government, which has been absconding since August, 2011.

“We looked all around for clues, but we couldn’t find any,” said one of them. “That’s why we decided to hire a professional.”

Early favourite Sherlock Holmes has dropped out of the race, as he is busy locating missing cast members from the Olympic Opening Ceremony, one of whom was apprehended yesterday in Croydon. NDTV sleuth Arnab Goswami has also declined, citing prior commitment to yelling. Home-maker Purnima Patel’s offer of her mother-in-law has been rejected, despite assurances that ‘she can poke her nose anywhere.’

“We are currently considering Professor Higgs, of Higgs-Boson fame, provided his rate is reasonable,” said a concerned citizen. “If he can find something that small, he can find anything.”

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