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The censor board in India is a mess. It is routine for the board to give an ‘A’ certificate to a film after recommending cuts. The same happened with Rajneet : One love-making scene and one expletive ridden scene. Interestingly, the board had a problem with the F-word, but was okay with Hindi expletives. Go figure.
It is alleged that Rajneeti is inspired by Sonia Gandhi’s life, so in addition to the censor board, it had to be screened to Congressmen (which includes, of all people, Tom Vadakkan, who in all probability still believes that Tweet is a Very Lonely Man). They suggested further changes, since they are adept at the art of filmmaking.
If you are a director with an impending release, and if the film includes any love-making scene (i.e. a kiss or suggestive nudity, the kind that is rated PG-13 in U.S.), then every interview will contain one question about “the scene”. After all, it’s just 2010. This is too early to be progressive.
It is interesting to see the way BJP and Congress react to objectionable material. The Congress, in most cases, has adopted a top-down approach — The Family or their minions negotiate. The BJP and other right-wingers prefer a bottom-up approach, where loonies damage public and private property.
Given a strict choice between the two, I’d take the first one any day.
In what can only be called irony, Arun Jaitley of the BJP writes a piece for The Indian Express on how Congress is a “national censor”.
Meanwhile, we must be thankful to the board who looks out for us, and makes sure we don’t see any sinful material on screen. Else we would’ve gone straight to hell, where they show reruns of Himesh movies, I hear.
“When the BJP will form a government in UP under the leadership of Surya Pratap Shahi (new BJP state chief), we will remove all statues of Mayawati and install that of Shri Ram,” the Pilibhit [ Images ] MP said at a function to welcome the state president at party headquarters.
The problem in U.P. is not whose statues are installed, but that statues are installed.
As I pointed out in an earlier post, I am not sure if BJP is the better alternative. I can’t generalize, but voices like Varun Gandhi’s are the reason why a few friends did not vote for the BJP. Now Varun Gandhi is a fringe element in the BJP and may not be representative of the entire party (or he might even be). One could also allege the media bias against Varun Gandhi for the disproportionate coverage given to his crazy quotes. But you cannot take away the fact that the guy exists, for real, and makes the statements attributed to him.
For the statues’ sake, I hope they don’t have hands.
Ramachandra Guha has an enviable macro-view of Indian history and politics. Speaking on the Congress and BJP in this interview with Rediff, he nails it in the last para :
Q : Some Congress leaders have mocked Hinduism, sometimes even Hindu civilisation while trying to attract the minorities.
Guha : Lots of people have this view of the Congress. I wish we had a political party to challenge the Congress. That would offer the people of India a wider vision of how this country should be built. But we don’t need polarising issues. Such criticism comes from people who have a polarised vision.
I come from Karnataka. In the last election, the BJP put up 224 candidates but not one Muslim. Almost 15 percent of the population of Karnataka is Muslim. So you are telling 15 percent of Karnataka you don’t count for us. Then how can you blame them for voting for the Congress? The BJP originally, said, ‘appeasement of none, recognition of all.’
But they never followed it. In Karnataka they attacked Christians after the Muslims in Gujarat. They had only one woman in the cabinet and she too has been sacked. So what message are they sending?
Is this the alternative to the Congress? The Congress can be a cynical manipulator. It plays one community against the other, okay, but, what are you offering that is better?
It’s not enough to merely be an alternative to the Congress. Switching loyalties — whether in politics or consumer products — requires a better offering.
Link via Churumuri.
Salil Tripathi has a great piece on Narendra Modi’s summon by the SIT. This particular bit stands out in the summary :
If Modi appears before SIT, he could say: “It was my responsibility to protect all the residents of my state. I failed. I should have defended the vulnerable; my police turned them away. For that I am sorry. I should have prevented violence; I did not. But in the eight years since, I have learnt. I have created jobs, improved social development indicators, and there hasn’t been violence. I want to atone for what happened by making Gujarat peaceful and prosperous.”
Or he could say: “I had nothing to do with the deaths. It is sad that so many people died, but Gujarati Hindus were provoked, and they reacted. I have stood against forces of terror and destabilization. Look at Gujarat today—we represent what India is capable of doing. This is a politically motivated inquiry and the people of Gujarat have re-elected me twice since 2002.”
The same applies to Modi’s fans and haters. (Detractors and defenders are noble titles; fans and haters seem apt.)
There are some basic facts that everyone — haters and fans — can and should agree on : That the Modi government failed miserably in its responsibility. If you consider maintaining law and order as the primary function of government, then it failed in its primary responsibility. Both in the Godhra incident, and the aftermath.
To the fans, two rights and a wrong don’t add up to a right. They shouldn’t, not when law is concerned. People are conditioned to judging deeds by what happens in hypothetical heavens, and they find it easy to pardon a Modi because of his post-Godhra resume and Roman Polanski for his Oscar winning films. It is also arrogant to suggest that Modi did a favour by heeding the SIT summon when he could easily find loopholes to avoid it.
The Congress has been equally immature. Vir Sanghvi nails the Congress well for sidelining Amitabh Bachchan because he agreed to be the brand ambassador of Gujarat. I am hardly a fan of the current Amitabh Bachchan, but I will concede that it is none of my business to question his views and victimize him for disagreeing with me. As much as I dislike him, Amitabh Bachchan deserves respect and he has earned every bit of it. It is sad to see the way he and his family are repeatedly being treated by the Congress administrations in the state and center.
The mention of Modi seems to bring the worst in people. Both the far-right and left-of-center voices are hardly trying to be constructive. Right now, they are only aiding their own rhetoric.
This is the perfect metaphor for the state of Indian politics :
What began as a meeting to hear public opinion on the project ended as a shouting match between the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
A janata darbar held at Shivaji Park to hear citizens’ grievances on the park beautification project on Friday ended abruptly without the public getting a chance to make itself heard.
Quickly make a list of the most addressed issues by political parties, how many of them concern the welfare of *all* citizens. Congress is an exception — they stood for nothing for a long time until the BJP came along. Then they discovered their USP : They weren’t the BJP.
It is almost embarrassing to watch talk shows and debates where they discuss ‘free speech and expression’. I came across a recent episode of Faze the Nation featuring smart-woman Sagarika Ghose and some silly guests. It was regarding Taslima Nasrin’s recent article in a Kannada daily that sparked protests killing two. As put best by Swapan Dasgupta in the show, the only violation in the Karnataka incident was a copyright violation by the Kannada daily that printed Taslima’s article without authorization. The alleged original article was this — printed years ago in an Outlook India edition.
The two jokers who were guests kept throwing words like sacrilegous and blasphemy. It is outrageous how they claimed they were all for free speech and expression except within the barriers of religious tolerance.
For all kinds of fundamentalists and religious watchdogs : Listen up dudes, if your god cannot handle blasphemy or defend himself/herself, maybe you need to move to a better god. There are lots of gods out there; it’s a free market — so choose a good one and get the hell off television.
In the same vein (which is an anger vein, as you can see), I also want to address the issue of M.F. Hussain being offered citizenship of Qatar. Smart-man Vir Sanghvi pointed out that India shamed him by sending him into exile, but he will shame India if he accepts the citizenship offer from Qatar, which is hardly a democracy. One excerpt :
Now that he has chosen to live in Qatar, the Hindutva-wallahs will ask the obvious questions: How much freedom will he have there? Of course the Arabs will let him paint naked Hindu goddesses. But will they let him paint anything that even remotely offends Muslims? Anything that offends the royal family? Nude portraits of previous rulers of Qatar? Or even, nude portraits of Arab women?
These are crude questions. But sadly, the answers are as crude. Husain will have no artistic freedom in Qatar. He will be no more than a court painter to a medieval monarch. So has he chosen to live in a society that values the artistic freedom that he says he is denied in India? Or has he just taken the soft, very profitable, option and forgotten all about artistic freedom?
He misses the point like a meteor that is headed towards Mercury but hits Pluto instead. What Hussain does of his own volition is none of our concern. He could go to Qatar, Dubai or China — or decide to sit on top of a tree in a garden. The fact that he was driven out by Hindu fundamentalist forces is the only fact that should be up for debate.
So here’s my view: if he wants to stay abroad, fine. That’s reasonable. But he should not turn his back on his own country. He should not surrender his Indian nationality and opt for a passport offered by an undemocratic regime – all in the name of artistic freedom.
As long as we are all using ‘should’ in reference to other people, maybe you should STFU.
The cartoons of the Congress have offered full security should Hussain decide to return back. Will the same cartoons provide security to Salman Rushdie — the Islam offender for The Satanic Verses — who has been roaming around the world since decades now, has married 4 times and has been involved with novelists, supermodels, actresses — Padma Lakshmi, Riya Sen to name a couple — and it has come to a point now where this sentence continues and I have no idea what I was talking about.
Yeah, cartoons. So the old cartoons over at BJP are totally all weak in their knees for Salman Rushdie, but mention M.F. Hussain and they’ll jump like a million ants entered their dhoti.
Truth is, none of them care about freedom of speech or expression. Then again, truth is — if they wanted to — they could safeguard these freedoms quite easily. Anyone who is willing to provide security to M.F. Hussain can bloody well do the same for Salman Rushdie and vice versa. So just say that you care about your voters who are stupid enough to die with their gods and ego instead of living a worthy life, and we’ll all be good. Please don’t appear on television shows and harp about freedom of speech and expression. You have no clue what it means.
As for the two who were killed in the protests in Karnataka : if they were protesting against the article on roads whilst rioting, I’ll find it very hard to sympathize with them.
The BJP recently objected to the use of the phrase ‘Hindu terrorism’ in the Parliament by P.Chidambaram :
While talking about government approach towards any form of terrorism cause by any group irrespective of its religious colour, Chidambram said: “The government maintains zero tolerance for terrorism inspired by religion, may it be Islam or may it be Hindu.”
Chidambaram was immediately pointed out by BJP’s Prakash Javadekar and SS Ahluwalia and other BJP members for his repeated usage of the word of “Hindu terrorists” during his statement on internal security issue.
“When the investigation is on how could you say it would reveal the Hindu terrorists”, Javdekar asked Chidambaram over his Hindu terrorist remark.
Another BJP leader Ahluwalia questioned Chidambaram how could he generalize the entire community over an alleged act of a few individuals.
I am with the BJP on this one; I believe the correct neologism is Saffron terror. But that’s okay. We are going to take a while adjusting to such new words. It would be too obvious an irony to mention the BJP’s use of the ‘Islamic terrorism’, so I’ll skip past that.
One thing we can agree upon : if one form of terrorism is always termed religious, we have a right to call any other form that uses religion as its basis with its associated religion. Else we should agree that terrorism has no religion.
Which brings me to the oft-repeated sentence, ‘Terrorism has no religion’. I disagree. Whenever terrorism is inspired by religious ideas or in defense of a religion, it makes perfect sense to associate it with the corresponding religion. When they call themselves religious terrorists, who are we to disagree ? And let’s face it, every religion today has violent fundamentalists. Period.
The only difference in my association : I’d put together the religion, terrorism and the perpetrators in the association. That would just be fair on the innocent fellow followers.
If that is confusing, the gist is thus : We cannot decouple religion from terrorism, else we’re not looking at the larger problem.
On the anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition, the leaked Liberhan report and when the RSS is looking to increase its stronghold over the B.J.P. once again, I recommend this piece of Vir Sanghvi. This bit, I liked best :
I don’t wish to make too much of Advani’s pious hand-rubbing or his crocodile tears. But the furore about the demolition should serve to remind us that no matter how reasonable BJP leaders may seem on television, at the heart of the parivar, there lurks a nasty fascist core.
A fascist core — that is what is common to so many parties today. Even considering Vir Sanghvi’s Congress leanings, I can’t find much to complain about in what he puts forth.
In a discussion, a friend once claimed that the RSS/BJP kar-sevaks didn’t really demolish the masjid and it was the Central government that completed the task after nightfall. All I say is, I still hold the RSS/BJP responsible for the demolition and every death that occurred consequently.
Advani has done plenty for the country, but speaking for myself, I won’t be disappointed if history remembers L.K. Advani as just the architect of the Babri Masjid demolition.
Link via @amitvarma.
Watch this video of Sarah Palin supporters who turned up in large numbers at her book launch. The money quote is at 5:09, when a supporter justifies her experience with international issues :
I’m sure she’s had boundary issues to deal with [Russia].
It is easy to sit back and mock Palin’s supporters, but they are just as delusional as those who passionately and unconditionally support a political party. These people, I find, often justify the wrongdoings and come up with explanations, at best laughable. Not just the U.S., the same applies to supporters of parties such as Congress, B.J.P., M.N.S., Shiv Sena, etc. I don’t anymore see the sense in supporting a party in every election — each election needs to be studied on a per case basis before deciding who your vote goes to.
For example, in the Indian general elections of 2009 (if I could vote), the B.J.P. would’ve lost my vote the minute Varun Gandhi’s speech became public and reactions from senior leaders followed. Perhaps at the core, I prefer a socially stable society more than anything else.
As for Republicans and Palin supporters, the hypocrisy in their ideology is so obviously visible when they bat for liberty and oppose same-sex marriage in the same sentence. Enough said.