Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Death Penalty

Capital punishment. An issue I wouldn’t normally touch with a barge pole. But all on a sudden, it is constantly in the news. At home it’s Afsal and Santosh Kumar Singh. In the international scene, it is Saddam. Then there is that bungled up case of capital punishment by lethal injection in the US.

Death penalty, I guess, has been there ever since man evolved the concept of civilized coexistence! Guess it’ll be there till the crack of doom – in some country or other. Its raison d’etre is, allegedly, its utility as exemplary punishment, therefore as a deterrent. To what extent that objective is achieved, I do not know. But I guess I am not wrong in stating that there are many who keep themselves on the right side of the law for fear of having their heads chopped off.

Through history, capital punishment has caught the imagination of man. It has created Gods, saints, martyrs and heroes, religions, cults and revolutions. Pages of history and literature abound with anecdotes of how convicted men and women kept their rendezvous with death. One such anecdote that has never ceased to fascinate me is that one about Sir Thomas Moore who kept his beard away from the block, away from the executioner’s axe saying that the beard grew after his conviction, and therefore was innocent of any crime! Conquering the bitterness of death in such a manner defeats death but Thomas Moores are the rarest of phenomena. A story which has given me sleepless nights is that one about Bhutto’s resistance when officials came to the cell to take him for his execution.

My concern here is not whether capital punishment should be done away with or not. It’s too complex an issue for me to debate about. But there are certain issues related to it that have bothered me.

One such issue is the modus operandi of the procedure of state execution. I think the best way to administer the capital punishment is to shoot the person behind his back, without his knowledge, thereby sparing him the torture of the elaborate preparations like medical check up, soul protecting rituals and all that dead man walking type of elaborate practice. That cold blooded, efficient, business like observance of every laid down rule, the meticulous adherence to routine execution procedures where every official does his part to perfection in order to keep himself above blame, while the poor condemned man waits for the dreaded hour – I think that’s callous, cruel, heartless. If all these are signs of civilization, I would rather we remain uncivilized enough to place more value on sparing the victim the unbearable, brutal trauma than on the propriety of the details of the execution of the death sentence.

But what beats me even more is the revolting provision in the US system which permits the victim’s relatives to witness the execution of the death penalty! Absolutely barbaric, I would think. But we read about the cathartic effect this experience has on the victim’s close relatives! Does the sight of a human being vibrating in the electric chair, or that of a terrified man having his faced hooded before the lever is pulled to transport him to the nether world, or of terror stricken eyes of a person awaiting the lethal injection afford a sense of beatific satisfaction that justice is done? Or is it a sense of obligation to the deceased victim of the crime that makes them willing witnesses of these gruesome sights, as though they are participants in a ritual of divine retribution?

Does the term “JUSTICE’, then, mean facilitating gratification of that thirst for revenge? Would the memory of the security men killed by terrorists be better honoured if Afsal is hanged? Is baying for Saddam’s blood an indication of a high level of civilization achieved by human community? Does the belief that justice is done because Santosh Kumar Singh is sentenced to death reflect a proper understanding of the concept of justice? Don’t all these equate justice with vengeance? Does Justice mean an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth? I thought civilization had advanced far beyond that primitive concept of justice.

Isn’t it written ‘Vengeance is mine, I (God) will repay?’ In no uncertain terms, don’t these words state that no man made system has the right to appropriate the right to take away life in order to wreak vengeance?

It is all about officialising and legitimizing vengeance; let us not glorify it by resorting to the euphemism ‘Justice’.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Mallu English

I dislike the word mallu – especially when Malayalees concede to that diminutive nickname. But pardesi Malayalee youth tell me I am being oversensitive. So be it and mallu shall it be, at least in this piece, ‘cos it’s all about another term that I dislike even more – Mallu English.

Browse through mallu blogs and you’ll find end number of them on mallu English. We don’t find Tamilians or Kannadigas or Bongs ridiculing their own use of English. Why is the mallu different? Why is he so apologetic about his accent, intonation, vocabulary?

Here’s my take on this issue.

The first issue here is why mallu English has become such a national joke that it should figure in Hindi movies and serials, and also become a source of embarrassment to pardesi mallus? It is not as though people from the other states speak Queens English. All non- native speakers of English (or any language) carry over the linguistic habits from their mother tongue. Then why is mallu English alone targeted? The obvious reason is Kerala has greater literacy than other states and exports more personnel to other parts of India than other states. Only a negligible percentage of this number has received education in elite schools and colleges. The bulk comes from government schools and vernacular medium. Unlike other states where English medium public and convent schools have a large presence in the metros, Kerala has less than a handful of such institutions. It is to our credit that this underexposure to spoken English has not deterred the Malayalee from seeking his fortune outside the state. Their ubiquitous presence in areas usually dominated by the products of elite schools from other states, makes mallu English constantly heard. It’s the snobbery of the products of such institutions like Doon school and Hill Station schools that makes them ridicule the mallu English, but let us Malayalees not echo that stupidity.

The next issue is: Why are the mallus tongue-tied when it comes to speaking in English?

The answer is, he suffers from a terrible Anglophobia rooted in an attitudinal problem. Unfortunately, the mallu labours and groans under the misconception that being able to speak English like a ‘sayip’ is the ultimate achievement in life. This ridiculous notion is the undoing of the otherwise well accomplished mallu. While in Kerala some time back, I overheard several discussions on the Inzamam – Hare confrontation. There was not a single conversation on that topic where undue weightage was not given to Inzamam’s poor English, and believe it or not, there was this repeated comment that competence in English is an essential requirement to play international cricket!!!!! Well well well! I thought one played cricket with the bat and the ball and not with the tongue! On and off, you hear this wishful thinking that P.T. Usha spoke better English - almost as though, better English would have made it possible for her to run faster so as to enable her to make up that th of a second which cost her a medal in the Olympics! Surely one doesn’t run in English, Malayalam or, for that matter, in any language. Then again there is this equation (in Kerala)of smartness with ‘adipoli English’. A good-for-nothing wastrel is pardoned if his English is good.

As a teacher of English language in the state of Kerala, I have been unsettled by the attitudinal problem of students who come from Malayalam medium schools. They look up at the teacher in terror when she begins the lecture in English and nearly faint when the question session arrives requiring individuals to answer in English . Of course there are several reasons for the fall in the standard of English in Kerala but that’s not the issue here. My concern is the unholy reverence with which this foreign language is treated in the state. Had I not been an English teacher paid to teach the language, I’d have spoken thus to my students:

“Dear students, it is our birth right to make mistakes in English. We have no business to speak impeccable English. English is just another language like our own. Let us not forget that long before this Anglo-Saxon language took shape (post 6th century) we had highly evolved languages in India, and literature and sophisticated aesthetics in Tamil and Sanskrit. So why are drooling over this language which is but a reminder of our shameful history of subjugation? Agreed. English has its uses. Bur let us give it only the respect it deserves – that of a utility object, instead of allowing ourselves to be overawed by it. Even in UK, the concept of Standard English and RP is pooh poohed. Then why on earth are we striving to sustain those outmoded concepts? Do you think Tony Blair would be able to speak Malayalam like you and me even if he had learnt it as his second language?”

Only such a devil-may-care attitude can loosen the tongue of the Mallu.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Save Kerala From Her Own Frankenstein!

God so loved this little strip of land which lies between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea that he endowed it with perennial water supply, equable climate and a stunning landscape.

He loved it so much that he gave her good kings to rule over it – rulers who cared so much for the subjects that they invited all types of educationists to the state to start educational institutions all over the state.

God, then, realized that much leveling had to be done on the socially uneven terrain of his own country. So he saw to it that literacy spread, and with it Communism. The first ever elected communist government carried out his wishes and the land reforms ensured that every citizen had land to call his own. So far so good.

And then the almighty decided to call it a day. And decided to take rest. A mistake – a serious one. While he took his nap, the ad hoc idea he had permitted to enter Kerala, transformed itself into the proverbial Frankenstein. And the monster grew out of control.

And God woke up to find the monster on the rampage. With horror he watched it run amok through Kuttanaad and, in a jiffy, turn the granary of Kerala into a graveyard, burying forever the dreams of the agricultural community. The monster then stormed into the industrial sector, terrorizing entrepreneurs who fled in terror.

And Kerala economy lay in shambles.

But God did not forsake his country. Without wasting time, He initiated a brilliant plan to yank his country out of the economic crisis. He turned to the obedient and loyal children in the state and told them ‘Go, go to the ends of the earth. Get rich and fill the coffers of your state that I love.’ And so the exodus, the Malayalee Diaspora began. Government employees were given incentives to take five, ten, fifteen and even twenty years leave to go to the four corners of the world on a Save Kerala mission. And Oh! they went, leaving behind their beautiful land and loved ones. They went up the hill and down the dale, over the mountains to the desert lands, across the seven seas - and worked their hearts and lives out and sent money to sustain their land over which the prodigal monster continued to let loose a reign of terror.

Thus it is that Kerala survived all this while. But her children overseas are beginning to get tired of wasting their hard earned money to keep alive a parasitical monster that is fattening itself shamelessly on their blood, sweat and tears.

And then IT happened.

This seemed to be the answer to Kerala’s woes. The IT sector welcomed with open arms the victims of the monster’s devastation - the unemployed youth. Hope flickered, flickers.

Things are beginning to look up for Kerala.

But beware! It’s too soon to celebrate, for the monster has begun to rumble again.

The depletion of the number of unemployed will sap the monster’s strength. It is in the interest of the monster’s survival that the high rate of unemployment be maintained at any cost. The jobless youth is its muscle, bread and butter, its life blood, its raison d’etre.

And so, it has turned its malevolent eyes on the IT sector now. The moves for unionizing IT employees are on the anvil.

The time has come for the righteous to act, to resist the monster before it goes berserk.

IT is the ideal industry for Kerala. No environmental destruction. Can provide employment to huge numbers. For once, Kerala stands a chance of providing a suitable and rewarding livelihood on its own soil for her own educated daughters and sons. The prospects of generating wealth on her own soil appears realistic and bright.

And, IT sector employees have no grouse. They want no unions. But the monster wants them.

So let us put our weight behind them and resist the monster.

Or the monster will destroy us, once and for all.

The Almighty is unlikely to have any more tricks up his sleeves. He has given us a long rope. Now it is our turn to decide whether to save or hang ourselves with it.

The ball is in our court.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


My idle browsing this time took me to S. Gurumurthy’s articles. I used to read his columns in the IE and had always found his venom quite shocking. But my just completed exercise of reading article after article at one sitting as is possible on the net, compels me to react. Even though, I am fully aware, that it could possibly be a knee jerk reaction. If I put it off for another day, this blog might not happen. My diffidence, which has temporarily taken a backseat in the after math of what I read just now, might assert itself. So big a name is Sri Gurumurthy’s. So, braving the risk of being ridiculed for my presumptuous effort to react to so established and versatile a person, I am going to use this space to deconstruct (as the term is loosely used) Sri S. Gurumurthy or Gurumurthyism (my coinage).

What do I mean by Gurumurthyism? From what I understand, it comprises

  • an intense resentment towards non Hindu communities in India for their locus standi as Indian citizens.
  • equating patriotism with hatred for non majority communities.
  • denouncing secularism as unpatriotic.
  • intolerance of any remark against India, Indian culture, Hinduism
  • a violent urge to justify anything Indian, be it good, bad or ugly

The long and short of it is: Gurumurthyism is an ideology of national exclusivism informed by a philosophy of hate.

But Gurumurthyism is a far cry from the celebrated, traditional Indian Weltanschauung. The Indian world view is an expansive, genial, generous, inclusive, tolerant, humanistic and spiritual one. Is it this worldview that Sri Gurumurthy is trying to resurrect and reinstate? No way! Gurumurthyism is the indigenous version of divide and rule. No. Exclude and rule.

I am a proud inheritor of what was the greatest of known civilizations – a civilization that produced a Buddha more than five hundred years before Christ, a Shankara who brought about a massive religious reform without shedding a drop of blood, for which more than half the credit goes to the practitioners of Hindu religion, and a Gandhi who , for a brief moment, could make Indians become intensely conscious of their identity as human beings by enabling them to go beyond their cultural identities. Ours is a civilization which made space for every persecuted race who turned to the subcontinent for refuge.

These are but some highlights of the great Indian civilization. I will not use past tense to refer to this civilization, for it still lives on in the hearts and minds of the ordinary Indian - in spite of Gurumurthyism, which I would describe as an aberration, a hiccup in the process of the evolution of a great people – an aberration the great people must confront, deal with and then overcome.

To the Gurumurthys of India, I would like to say this. While it is true there is no future without past, there is no future for a people trapped in the past too. One cannot put the clock back. If one must do it, who is to decide how far back it must be set? No one can appropriate proprietorship over history.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Calcutta, Take Care of your Rickshaw Pullers!

Mumbai Mirror of Dec 11 reported the Calcutta hackney carriage amendment bill which has ushered in the end of the hand – pulled rickshaw. The news set me thinking. As a school going child in cochin, I had used this mode of transport before it gave way to the cycle rickshaw. The rickshaw wallah’s name was Augustine, and he took my brother and me to the primary school, and brought us back home. Sometimes he used to run with us in the rickshaw to see us laugh and clap our hands in delight. As I write this piece, I am trying hard to rewind in order to capture our feelings for Augustine chetan, as we called him. I don’t remember feeling guilty about being handpulled by him( he was not young) or feeling sorry for him. We took that occupation for granted, just as he did, and I don’t think I am mistaken in saying that he enjoyed it.

A couple of months back, my husband and I went to the Red Fort, Delhi. The minute we entered the old city, we were literally chased by a battery of cycle rickshaw wallahs vying with each other to take us around Chandini Chowk. I shuddered at the thought of using this inhuman mode of transport but my husband pointed out that our refusal to avail ourselves of that service on grounds of inhumanity was not an act of kindness. It was their livelihood. I saw the logic in what he said and climbed into the rickshaw. I did not enjoy the ride one bit – guilt was gnawing at me and I hardly saw where he was taking us.

A couple of weeks back, we went to the Ajanta caves. Seeing me struggle at the first steep climb, the men who carried the dolly'(palanquin) appeared. The dolly is a chair carried on poles on the shoulders of four men and is used to transport people uphill. I was horrified at the thought of making use of that cruel innovation and vehemently refused it. The men noticed that I was puffing and panting and saw a potential client in me. They followed me some distance. After the first steep climb, it was easier. Seeing my determination not to engage the dolly, they gave an ultimatum and the last discounted rate. My husband told them that our issue was with making them do this inhuman task. Pat came the reply – if all tourist felt that way, how would we live?

Now to get back to West Bengal, the CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharya is quoted as saying that ‘When I go to Delhi, Mumbai or abroad, I am asked how long Calcutta will have hand-pulled rickshaws. This is an inhuman practice…it is a shame on our city and the state as well’. Strange that it took the Marxist CM several trips to Delhi and elsewhere to get his eyes opened to the inhumanity of the practice. And his concern appears to be the image of the state he governs rather than the welfare of the pullers; all the more reason why one should be skeptical about the promises of rehabilitation made to these pullers. It is easy to impose a ban on or abolish a practice that provides a means of livelihood to people. It just takes a stroke of the pen. Ideally, with another stroke of the same pen, an alternative source of living must be provided. No time should be lost. Whether our government machinery, mired in inefficiency and red tapism, will implement a rehabilitation scheme waits to be seen. Depriving people of an occupation that afforded them a dignified existence in order to save the image of the state is many times more inhuman than the practice itself.

It is time India stopped trying to blindly accept the standards of developed countries with less than half our population. While the occupation of a rickshaw puller or a domestic help or a bar dancer is not the most envied of occupations, can the government arbitrarily abolish these without having in place a system to rehabilitate them immediately? Does the government have the right to deprive the citizens of a livelihood? Disturb these people who live their lives as best as they can only if the government is capable of taking care of every person thrown out of employment when it gets these occasional seizures of conscience. With our huge population, the country has found its own way of survival, however precarious it may be. Precisely on account of its precarious nature, the government should take care not to mindlessly tip the balance.

Tourists who come to Calcutta may now heave a sigh of relief to see the hand pulled rickshaws off the road. Dominic Lapierre, who authored the City of Joy can triumphantly give himself a pat the back for triggering off a debate which after many years culminated in the abolition of Calcutta's hackney carriage. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya may now hold up his head in pride at having abolished a practice that brought shame to Calcutta. But, pray, tell me, who is the state answerable to other than its own people?

Do I sound like a champion of inhuman occupations? While it is true that I’d rather be a hammer than a nail, believe me, it’s no fun being a hammer. Honest.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Confessions of an Alienated Malayalee

yes. that’s me. I call myself that ’cos of my indifferent competence in my mother tongue. I think in Malayalam, but have no confidence to write in that language. I sometimes think if I could write in the language I think and feel in, I’d become the Shakespeare of Malayalam literature. Don’t laugh. this is how I console myself when I fall into one of those fits of depression at my inability express myself comprehensively – thoughts, feeling s and their nuances. The English language does not have corresponding terms to express malayalee feeling. Or, I am not competent enough in this angrezi tongue. So there is a huge gap between my sensibilities and the only language I can write in. Frustrating, isn’t it?

How did this happen? it’s a long story. I was born less than ten years after Independence. So guess I can call myself post independence generation. Those were days when people believed that future belonged to people who received education in English. I was a victim of that false notion. But, I did have Malayalam as a subject till 4th standard. But the Malayalam teacher took a dislike to me for a reason I don’t want to go into here(I have written a poem on that – so intense was my resentment towards that teacher who alienated me from myself). Unfortunately, along with me, that teacher was also promoted to the middle school. As soon as this news was confirmed, I went home and wept and wept till my mother agreed to switch my second language to French! With that, my connections with Malayalam text books, therefore literary Malayalam, were severed forever and ever.

Thus it is that my imagination was shaped completely by the angrezi language. They say if you learn a language, you tend to identify yourself wiith the culture of native speakers of that language. So my childhood imagination was filled with Jack and Jill, Polly putting the kettle on (I used to go around our kitchen looking for the kettle I saw in illustrated nursery rhyme books- found none), sixpence and pocket full of rye (thought that rye was the higher denomination of sixpence). Must say I used to be fascinated that the English could bake blackbirds in a pie and still keep them alive. Fortunately for me, I had a lot of neighbours, cousins from whom I picked up kakey, kaket, koodevidey?, Omana kuttan, govindan, ayyappandey amma, neyyappam chuttu. I sang these with full throated ease and felt I belonged. But when I sang the English rhymes, my imagination got activated and made me yearn for things I knew nothing of. Like they say, unheard melodies are sweeter. As I reached primary school, Enid Blyton was my staple food. and also all those comics – Three Stooges, Totem, Tin Tin, Classics, Richie Rich, Little Lotta - - - - . my horizons widened and without my quite knowing it, I moved away from my roots into a world I had never experienced. Along with it, an attitudinal change crept into me – a feeling of superiority over those who didn’t know the Famous Five and Captain Haddock!!

Soon, I started reading romances. Mills and Boons told me how the westerners fell in love, how hostility was an imperative prelude to love! How men had to be dark and tall ( I didn’t know then that, that dark was not our dark), that when men fell in love, they snapped at their lady loves for no reason. But i didn't know how people in love behaved in my culture! I soon got tired of Mills and Boons but Georgette Heyer remained my favourite for a long time. How she fired my imagination! her novels transported to a still more remote world - the Regency period, Victorian age - - -and I moved with wide eyed wonder among powder and patch, frills and gloves, lords and ladies and fops - --- Humour so pervaded her narration that I fell in love with the English language! My alienation from my own language was complete.

My estrangement from the imaginative world represented by Malayalam literature is the saddest thing that has happened to me. As I grew older, I moved into the world of English classics and poems. The breathtakingly beautiful paddy fields of Kerala skirted by beckoning coconut trees made me search for Wordsworthian terms to describe them. No muse works that way and the poet in me died. So did whatever creativity I had. Now I realize that one can create only in the language one thinks in, feels in - in the language that shapes one’s day to day life. I was trapped between two worlds – and was not resourceful enough to find a way out of this trap.

Today, I feel like a half baked creature. I fully realized what I lost when I got my first employment in a college in mid Travancore. my colleagues seemed to be at home with such a rich literature and culture. Jokes had to be explained to me and I didn’t find them funny. The humour was lost in the translation. Philosophical ruminations in Malayalam seemed part of the daily diet of my English department. And my colleagues felt guilty when they saw me trying to pretend I understood. Fortunately for me, my spoken Malayalam was extremely good. so I belonged as long as the conversation did not move into higher planes. But it did. too often. That is when I wrote that vitriolic poem about my Malayalam teacher who was instrumental in uprooting me even as I remained physically rooted.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Wth Sanjay Dutt’s judgement in the offing, the film industry is organizing a massive show of support. The RMM party is planning a rally in protest against the life sentence awarded to Shibu Soren. But what is most alarming is the Sidhu issue. He bashed a man to death in an incident of road rage eighteen years back but continued to play cricket; then became a commentator, an anchor, a very visible face on TV and therefore, finally a politician. Yesterday, on the fourth of December, he was convicted and sentenced to three years RI but given time till Jan 13 to appeal. Sidhu will appeal and keep himself out of prison for sometime.

True, it was not a premeditated, prepalanned murder but culpable homicide not amounting to murder. That said, let’s take another look at the whole issue, and a few worrisome facts will emerge.

· Had it been someone else in sidhu’s shoes, would he have been able to go on as he did with his high profile, highly visible existence, as if nothing had happened?

· Agreed. Sidhu was a national asset when the road rage happened. Does that mean that the democratic system that is ours should sideline the right to life of the Indian citizen Gurnam singh simply because he fell victim to celebrity rage?

· The most disgusting aspect of this issue is the callousness and smug confidence of Sidhu himself. For once, Sidhuism was terribly out of place – no. not just out of place. It was indecent, brash, insensitive and disgusting. ‘I have lit a lamp in many a storm’ said Navjot Sidhu after he was sentenced. With the top lawyer – cum - BJP spokesman Arun Jaitley by his side and the huge fan gathering expressing solidarity with lit candles, he knew he would get away with it. Never a word of apology, or any hint of regret at having taken a life. He behaves like a man who is fighting for the right to kill in a fit of anger, and get away with it! A man fighting for his right to be more equal than others!

· Equally disturbing is the resolve of the BJP to make him its ‘star campaigner’ in Punjab’!!!!!!. What’s the message the party wishes to convey? Violate every law of the land. Commit any serious crime you wish. We have a berthe for you if you can get us votes. How safe are our fundamental rights in the hands of such a party if it comes to power?

· Finally, the massive public support for a man who battered a human being to death. The reports say that it mattered nothing to the youngsters who were interviewed, that Siddhu was guilty of a extremely serious crime of assaulting a man to death FOR NO REASON. It was not in sef defence. It was not a drunken bout. It was a sheer display of arrogance from a person whose celebrity status had gone to his head to the extend of making him ruthless. Do we need such leaders? Does Punjab need such a chief minister, as he might well become? Is there such a poverty of law abiding citizens in that state?

There is something seriously wrong with our country. The rich, the powerful and the famous are gaining more and more confidence to commit grievous crimes, and the citizens are showing more and more willingness, not only to condone their criminal acts and forget their criminal past but also warmly embrace them into their fold. A dangerous trend reflective of erosion of a sense of right and wrong.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


This is my response to a blog by Mr. Joshi, the journalist. Quite sometime since I wrote it. Thought I’ll post it, being Babri Masjid demolition day

As you mentioned in passing, terror lurks not across the border alone. Dealing with indigenous terror network ought to be given top priority. I feel this area is not addressed in a committed, well organised and systematic manner.I am not thinking of draconian measures but of addressing the whole issue of the discontentment of the minority group in question, which, without doubt, is the Achilles heel that Pakistan is targeting. It is time the government put in place acts to tone down the anti-minority rhetoric, and expedited the judicial procedure to bring to book people guilty of acts of violence against the minorities.The government should enlist the help of revered and progressive personalities among the minority group to dialogue with the community which is being increasingly isolated in India. Also, secularism (which has become a dirty term!! in Indian politics) should be made reoccupy the central position it once did in Indian thinking. There is no denying that the extreme right wing elements are responsible for the minority youth's alienation from the motherland.The government has to work very hard to bring the post Babri Masjid generation back into mainstream national life. As a first step, we should correct out double vision when it comes to the definition of the term 'anti national'. The serial bombings are anti national, but Barbri Masjid is not; Bombay riots is not; Godhra train blast is anti-national, but the carnage that followed is not. Fear and force cannot contain terrorism. Even- handed justice alone can win the confidence of the confused Muslim youth.The confidence building measures should to start at home.


Today’s Bombay Times has an article by Pritish Nandy titled LUCKY SANJAY! BUT WHAT ABOUT THE OTHERS? It begins like this: Let me first start with a confession. Sanjay Dutt is a friend. Like the TADA court judge, I too believe he is no terrorist and that is why I repeatedly argued in his defence both in the media and before Bala saheb whose government released him from jail even as the congress wallahs were celebrating Sunil Dutt’s acute embarrassment. Like everyone else, I too am relieved that the TADA court has acquitted him of all charges under TADA. He will only be prosecuted now under the Arms Act for being in possession of illegal arms.
But let us now look at the judgements meted out to his friends and associates by the same court . . . . . .
. Nandy then goes on to list the people who supplied arms to Sanjay Dutt, subsequently removed them from his house . and the person in whose house they were stored till they were destroyed at his behest. Two of these were found guilty on the same score as Sanjay Dutt; others, under TADA, and so may get lifers.

And then, Nandy writes:
Frankly, I am no legal expert but I believe justice overrides all legal issues . . . . . . , (and) most people – particularly muslims who are currently feeling targeted, and with good reason – may see this as a grave injustice, that a man who ordered weapons, paid for them, kept them, and ordered them to be destroyed – got away free under TADA while those who only followed his instructions . . . . . . . .should be punished for aiding and abetting terrorism.

I find this a very muddle headed piece. Nandy starts by saying that he is so positive about Sanjay Dutt not being a terrorist that he turned no stone unturned to get him out of the can. Then, where is the miscarriage of justice if the TADA judge too found him innocent of terrorism charges? had he been found guilty by the TADA court for aiding and abetting terrorism, THAT would have been a miscarriage of justice.

As Nandy himself points out, like Sanjay Dutt , two others were also absolved of TADA charges where as four were found guilty under TADA. So Dutt was not the only one who was absolved of TADA charges. So it is not a case of soft-peddling of justice in Sanjay Dutt’s case alone, as insinuated by Nandy.

The situation appears very clear to me. Among the people who helped Dutt to acquire arms, some were part of the terrorist network while others were those who indulged in the illegal act of transporting weapons to make a quick buck. Both are crimes, but of varying gravity.

Don’t anyone mistake me for an ardent fan of Sanjay Dutt. I am not. But, it made me and many like me happy at seeing the judge exercising his discretion when he absolved Dutt and two others of TADA charges on being convinced, like nandy, that Sanjay Dutt was no terrorist. Most certainly, it is better than a judge throwing up his hands helplessly and saying that ‘I know this man is guilty, but the case was not presented well enough for me to convict him!’

If justice is , to quote nandy, about fairplay and even handedness, I think this is one case where the judiciary braved being labeled partisan and went ahead to pass a rational judgement.

The ides of March have come – but not yet gone. The sentences have not been passed yet. Is Nandy hoping to have some impact on that? Then what was all that song and dance about being Sanjay’s friend and being dead sure that he is not a terrorist?

Very disappointing to see a person like Mr. Nandy playing safe – trying to appease everybody – Sanjay, Balasaheb, and the muslim community! True, he took a pot shot at the congress – perhaps he was sure it wont boomerang –at least not hard enough to hurt.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Kerala - The Site for Modern Day Armageddon

What makes a place God’s own country? If it’s the resources and natural beauty that the Almighty has generously bestowed on it, then I guess, Kerala qualifies to be called that. But how long it’ll remain God’s own country is anybody’s guess. The Almighty’s arch rival has taken the battle right into the enemy camp. It appears as if in this oldest of all battles, Lucifer is gaining substantial victories in this coastal state and the Almighty will , before long, have to surrender his country to the prince of evil – unless of course He has some new rabbit in the hat like the lethal one he pulled out millenniums ago to devastate the army of fallen angels.

A laboured metaphor, I know. But it has its uses. the strain of laboriously yoking together the various images of the figure of speech, checks the spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions. and when the emotion is helpless rage, the language might cross the line of decency - - -. rather a bad metaphor than allowing words to run away with you!

Just got back from kerala after a brief stay. The dominant emotion during the four day stay was anger with frustration as the constant companion.

Day 1. I was going down a one way pocket road in an auto. Half way thru, we got stuck in a traffic jam. Craning my neck, I looked out to see what caused the trouble. A hand cart, coming against the traffic flowing in the one way direction, blocked the narrow space between a parked lorry minus the driver and the open drainage gutter. A blue shirted worker stood there leaning against the cart, smoking a beedi nonchalantly. There were no vehicles behind him. The road was clear. Just a few steps back with his cart and the traffic would have passed smoothly. But, of course, he wouldn’t take those steps which distiguish a human from a beast!. The driver of the car whose path was blocked by this cart knew better than to plead or fight with the blue shirt wallah. He knew fully well the political and muscle clout of that shirt. Instead he came out, pleaded with the last of the long row of motorists behind his car. The other motorists cooperated. They had no choice. They knew it. And the long line of cars and autos reversed, adjusted and made way for the blue shirt to royally push the empty cart up the road. The whole exercise took more than twenty minutes!!

That road, I believe, is the domain of the likes of that blue shirt. They can get away with murder there. They are outside the jurisdiction of the law of the land, by virtue of their membership in a recognized union. Kerala has many such islands of organized groups who lie outside the law of the land. And this realtiy intrudes brutally into routine existence with an unfailing regularity,

Day 2. I had to - - - - - -- oh. forget it. am always cribbing. what good does it do?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Politicising Mullaperiyar

Chief Minister Karunanidhi's effort to politicise mullaperiyar issue is a classic example of how callous politicians can get for their political survival. If he is dead certain that the dam is safe, can he be made to give a personal guartantee that no catastrophe will follow if kerala complies with his request for increasing the water level? can he, and all those who certify the safety of the dam, give similar guarantees, holding themselves accountable for the catastrophe(god forbid!) that is feared by the kerala government - accountability involves provisions for criminal case being slapped on them, followed by possible nonbailable retention? If people are so sure that the dam will hold, this should be no problem.

of couse, all these guarantees cannot make the govt. of kerala agree to the demand.What is involved is human lives. The other day, one worthy from Tamilnadu was ridiculing CM Achuthanandan's claim about five districts being washed away into the Arabian sea. He feels that at the most only two districts are exposed to the feared danger!

The population of two kerala districts being washed away is a calculated risk that can be taken to provide water to tamilnadu?!!!!!????? how can people talk like this and get away with it? Guess that is the 'beauty' of Indian democracy - an aesthetic gratification that we can afford to do without!

Kerala CM's suggestion seems to be the best- a new dam be built jointly by the two states.

Politicising resouce sharing issues should be made a puinishable crime in India as it can have a divisive impact.