Swathi : Reflections

The brutal killing of Swathi, glaringly reveals several ‘fault lines’ in our society caused by several systemic failures, education being foremost, not to forget ‘make-believe’ notions about appearance and skin color.

Apart from the above, I believe that the incident raises serious questions about

  1. Value of a life
  2. Values needed in life
  3. What we need to value in life

Of course, whatever be the deficiencies in a system or imposed beliefs, nothing can and will ever justify murder. A causal analysis of this incident must never be read otherwise and my purpose is not defending the indefensible.

 

Value of a Life

As the facts emerge, it is clear that Swathi was unattended to for more than 2 hours after she was attacked by the assailant. One does not know for sure if her life could have been saved if she had been hospitalized but it is indeed shocking that onlookers just chose to take the next local train.

For long, Indian legal system has remained stacked against the good Samaritan. It is almost a crime to be a good citizen in India because it creates so much of hassle for anyone who dares to help someone unknown. We have become a society of “curious onlookers” fearing either personal safety or harassment from authorities.

In the process, we have completely demeaned the “value of a life”. Most of us are comfortable passing ‘arm-chair’ judgements (including yours truly!) on what could have been done to save a life rather than doing it ourselves.

A serious introspection from each one of us is needed but before that the government must do away with archaic laws / procedures and whatever other impediments that come in the way of saving the life of an unknown person.

It is certainly not the mark of a civilized society to leave a critically wounded person, dying on a road for want of help.

 

Values needed in life

The alleged killer of Swathi is identified as someone who comes from a mixed parentage. Even before the blood stains in Nungambakkam Railway Station could be washed away, the social media went abuzz with accusations ranging from ‘love jihad’ to ‘brahmanical tyranny’ etc.…

Whoever gave or gives it a spin beyond what it actually is – nipping of a young life – must really reflect upon his / her value systems.

It is immaterial whoever is at fault or should I say ‘more fault’, a life was lost.  If as a society we cannot have a clear perspective on such an incident, without coloring it with our own biases, we cannot lay claims of having morals.

What is with the Indian society that useless demographics of caste, religion, community takes precedence over real facts ? And what makes us defend something as brazen as killing merely because the perpetrator “may” share some useless, common identity marker ?

As is often joked that we discover our ‘Indianess’ only during an India-Pakistan match, I wonder what will make us discover our core humanity, breaking off the various barriers of identity ?

Only when, we as a society, are able to empathize with human suffering, based on a principled stance, can we ever claim to have any values in life.

What we need to value in life

Whoever said that “Hell hath no fury, like a woman scorned” must certainly be turning in his grave. Men, after all, don’t seem to be taking rejection too easily either.

Preliminary interrogations indicate that the killing is an act of vengeance by a jilted lover ; a lover who probably was hoping against hope that his “sincere” attempts to woo the girl, despite significant differences in their socio-economic backgrounds would succeed.

The usual response of a man who has gone through a “love failure” – as the phrase goes-  is to drown himself in liquor. Whether it is to convince himself that he cannot love someone else or too lazy to try once again, one wouldn’t know. From the realm of such self-imposed exile, newer trends started emerging such as causing break-down of marriages, throwing acid, the killing confirms the ghastly turn, rejection has taken.

Apart from turning down his proposal, the girl apparently made not so kind remarks about the assailant’s looks. Possibly a double-whammy.

It is questionable whether the man “really” loved the girl because his declaration to the cops that “she shouldn’t be available for anyone else” clearly puts his self-interest above everything else.

There isn’t a worse oxymoron than “killing for love”, whatever be the provocation. In a moment of madness and uncontrollable rage, the man has possibly lost his opportunity to find a more suitable girl for himself.

We need to be aware as to what we value the most in life – we have got plenty to choose from, let alone, senseless obsession.

We need to value the gift of life over everything else, the opportunity to be something, to do something and live for something. Obsessing about one thing over everything else in life, is the easiest way to throw away the gift.

Losing a girl, isn’t the most unmanly thing for a man. As Vairamuthu said :  “Love has the expanse of a Sea ; Why swim just in a single Tumbler”.

Swathi didn’t deserve to die, and Ramkumar had no business to kill.

My Sporting Legacy

 

The only way my ‘undistinguished’ academic career at school can pass muster,  is by comparing it to my even pathetic ‘sporting’ one.

Not gifted with either physique and sporting talent or parents who could understand the need to excel in sports meant that my sporting career finished even before it started.

Sports class or to be precise the ‘P.T class’ as it was christened was mostly devoted to running aimlessly in the hot sun or practicing ‘march past’.  I suspect that the PT master was never too high in the ‘pecking order’ so the school wasn’t too compelled to rope in someone who could produce champions. All those who excelled in sports at school, I daresay, were naturally talented.

The sporting infrastructure at school, if I remember, was just above minimalistic. Yes, we had a sprawling ground – a portion of it, if I am right was converted into a cycle stand ? – but I do remember playing, ahem ahem, baseball while at school.

The short (?) but stocky ‘PT Master’ walked with the baseball bat, holding it almost like Bheem, in full glory, in front of his awestruck wards. A good 15 minutes on the rules etc., though we exactly weren’t going to challenge the ‘Major League’. I was probably the second striker and a ‘curve ball’ was launched at me by 7H.  I managed to save a certain broken nose or a few missing teeth by jutting the bat in front of my face. The ball hit flush on my fingers and I threw the bat in agony, and as the ball rolled over to some side, I walked to the first base.  I don’t think we completed the game and so, that, was of course my last walk on a baseball field.

I didn’t trouble any ‘baseball scout’ nor was I growing up to be Brad Pitt for Money ball.

Sports Day was a recurring feature at School, a duration of nearly couple of weeks when the entire school was participating in ‘Houses’ , competing in different athletic disciplines.  Kabaddi was the only other sport that I remember was hosted.

One common feature between my academic and sporting (!) career was that I had similar roles :  One of clapping for others.

So on sports day, we dutifully assembled at ‘Rani Thottam’ where the lesser mortals finished the march past and sat on the cement benches. The field was of course open for the sporting heroes – [Happy L, Ok Maths ] a few names that are etched in my memory. Unfortunately I don’t remember any sporting legends among the girls.

There were a few ‘late bloomers’ among the sporting heroes such as Maharishi P and Sugar-aboded  L . It was in Class IX that I witnessed Sugar beat the eternal school favorite, Happy, in a 100 mtr race and I was wonderstruck.  Sugar ran so fast that he ended up on a thorny patch beyond the finish line – he was running barefoot – and limped for rest of the evening.

There was an overall points system for each of the disciplines and someone was crowned the overall champion. As far as I remember every year was won by Happy though Maharishi came perilously close in Class X.

Though I had no sporting credentials, it was fun during those 2 weeks to be away from school – akin to a paid holiday at work – and pretending to compete.

My biggest, rather what could have been the biggest moment in my sporting career was mercilessly taken away from me by something as silly as ‘Rules’. Apparently each sport / discipline has rules.

So it was in class VIII or IX, that ‘Triple Jump’ was introduced. The front runners to win it obviously were Happy and Ok Maths. It was around 2 PM on a hot afternoon that we had some trials going on. Ok Maths was trying to practice his Triple Jumps. He walked several meters away from the ‘pit’ ran in hard and….. jumped.

Suddenly we realized that – even though I didn’t know the name at that time – we had a ‘Bob Beamon’ equivalent moment in Triple Jump. Because when Ok Maths finished his jump, he was outside the pit !!!

As we were furiously backslapping ‘Ok Maths’ , PT Master wanted to know about the commotion. When it was explained that Ok Maths might have created History – though Mrs. Sethubai would have never approved us doing on our own – , PTM asked him to redo his jump.

Ok Maths did it again !

Much to the chagrin of Ok Maths and his faithful followers, PTM pointed out that ‘Triple Jump doesn’t mean 3 continuous long jumps, but it had to have 3 phases of ‘Hop-Step-Jump’. Darn, these rules I say.

In what could have been the Turnbridge wells equivalent in the world of Athletics – Turnbridge wells is the place where Kapil famously scored 175 vs Zim in 1983 world cup, a match that was not covered by BBC – the unrecorded piece of athletic history, sadly will be never known to the world.

Sports day hosted all the finals. It usually meant that the program gets inevitably extended and so when the final event of the day – 1500 meters – is due to start, it is well past 7 pm and hardly any natural light. And 1500 M was ‘open competition’ with no pre-trials.

I can’t remember any year when the winner of the 1500 M was clearly known. With fading light, it usually became a mad rush with a handful of sporting heroes and a huge group of also-rans, starting together.  I suspect that Happy was announced a winner every year whether or not he won it. Except for Class X, it wouldn’t have made a difference to his overall performance at the ‘Games’.

Competing in 1500 M also meant that we all won a ‘right’ for a spoonful of Glucose and at the end of a hot day, it seemed a reasonable incentive for participation. I remember licking my palms almost for the entire duration of my return to home from Rani Thottam.

The only other significant contribution that I made during Sports day was to help fixing the ‘Olympic Torch’.  I don’t know if a formal torch was ever bought but the usual makeshift torch was to nail a coffee ‘dabra’ to a small log. Once fixed to a log, hot coal was put inside and the school champion, usually Happy, made the customary round and lit the flames.

With minutes to go before the games to begin, the ‘dabra’ snapped from the log as it was taken for a ‘trial run’. I remember to being one of the assistants to the PT Master in fixing the ‘torch’. The speed at which we fetched nails, hammer, a fresh log etc.. would have certain put a F1 pit stop team to shame. If only Force India would have known us before.

The crowning glory of my sporting career was of course winning the BBR Nagar Badminton Doubles.  It was perhaps ‘Umbi’s younger brother who was without a partner and I teamed up with him. With only few teams, it didn’t have round robin format ; we had to play directly semi-finals and the finals.

A combination of multiple factors – wind, opponents form or sheer providence – meant that we won both the matches to be crowned champions. Throughout the final match, the lead player of the opposing team was screaming instructions at his partner – ‘This guy (yours truly) is just unable to play backhand, so hit the shuttle to his left side’.  I don’t know if his partner was a ‘closet right-wing’ man or something, he never hit a shot to my left side. Umbi’s brother did the bulk of the scoring, only when some loose floated shuttles came on my right side, I pummeled a few smashes.

It was either a soap dish or a geometry box that we won as a prize and both could never adorn the walls of my hardly painted home.  Again this achievement was sans any recorded proof so, I would have to just file an affidavit if pressed on for a witness.

The genuine problem of our sport system is the absence of infrastructure.  A tiny nation – Netherlands- I believe has over 200 Astro-turf hockey fields while India probably has less than 10.  We are never going to be a force to reckon, with such poor infrastructure.

The humiliating spectacle of us hosting the Delhi CWG should rankle us forever. The unclean rooms, unprepared grounds, a bridge collapsing made to the Top story of several leading international papers shaming the country no end. The unpreparedness was despite that fact that India won the bid to host, almost 8 years before 2010 event.  Mani Shankar Iyer, the congress scumbag, was the Sports Minister and he hardly entertained the idea of India hosting and building infrastructure.

So as we prepare to cheer our sporting icons at Rio in August, let us salute the spirit of the athletes who dare to dream and dare to be the best in the world, not because of the system, but despite the system.

And to Paes, Sania Mirza etc.. who continue to excel not in singles but in the doubles, the template for their success might have been created by someone who lived once in Bhuvaneswari Nagar, Chromepet.

New Paradigms in National Politics

When Siddarth Varadarajan, not BJP’s best friend by any stretch of imagination, grudgingly accepts the party as the ‘only national party’, it better be true.

Naysayers would like to point out that, apart from the stupendous success in Assam, BJP virtually drew a blank in Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. These states were never the traditional bastions of the saffron party, so any incremental gains, however miniscule, is still a step in the right direction.

Apart from the decline and relegation of Congress, the recently concluded State Elections have started a new paradigm for national politics. Though the next general election are a good 3 years away, it is important to understand the shift in the political discourse of the country.

BJP vs All

It is now very clear for all the opponents of BJP that ‘consolidation of anti-BJP votes’ is the key to success. The ‘Bihar model’ showed that parties and personalities have to swallow their ego and pride, to come together, as the only way to defeat BJP at the electoral hustings.

This grand alliance of opposition, may very well be a blessing in disguise for BJP. It will certainly impact the vote arithmetic but it will also expose the opposition’s chinks in their armor. In this age of a well informed electorate, it is impossible to hide the differences within an alliance, especially between parties who have been traditional rivals like SP and BSP.

BJP has to approach 2019 with a clear strategy that it is going to be pitted against most parties in India. It is as is important for the party to hold on to it’s existing vote bank as it is to make new inroads. Especially BJP will do well to focus on South and not just be a UP-centric party.

BJP would like to believe itself as a ‘party with a difference’. In many ways, it is true as there’s virtually very little dynasty in it’s leadership structure. It is far easier for BJP to propel someone like Sarbanda as Chief Minister – a young and almost a ‘leader-next-door’.  For 2019, BJP must ensure that more newer, younger faces are offered the opportunity to take the party forward.

The future of the country is irretrievably linked to the fortunes of BJP.  BJP must lead the country till 2024 with an absolute majority, it is the only way to pull the country from the abyss of poverty and infrastructure gap caused by several decades of Nehruvian policies.

Catch 22 for Regional Satraps

Most powerful regional parties like the TDP, DMK, ADMK, SP came into existence as ‘alternative to congress’.  Only BSP and TMC were in response to non-congress political opposition.

The regional parties have now trained their guns on BJP, the common ‘communal’ enemy.  The bi-polarities of ‘Secularism vs Communalism’ is a much weakened debate in India, however it is still relevant. The recent hype on beef or intolerance showed us that despite being a weakened force, the ‘communal vs secular’ debate still has the potency to occupy the minds of people.

The regional parties are past masters of using such divisions to their advantage especially the likes of SP, TMC and DMK who have self-anointed themselves as ‘Secular’.  But to challenge BJP outside their own State, it is important for the regional satraps to develop a national perspective.

The need for this ‘makeover’ represents a ‘catch 22’ situation for the regional parties – To be sufficiently ‘nationalistic’ in their outlook without losing their ‘regional’ identity.  As a case in point, JD(U) would have to balance it’s ‘bihar victimization’ plank with celebrating growth elsewhere in the country.

The regional parties must realize that ‘arithmetical aggregation’ would catapult one of them to the top post but the challenge is not to reach the top, but to stay there. Without a national perspective, the higher they reach, the harder they will fall.

The last rites

Surgery. This is the latest buzzword in congress circles, though given the party’s predicament, it may not mean much in terms of action. And the nation isn’t complaining one bit.

Congress as a political force has, hopefully, ceased to exist. Apart from BJP scoring a massive self-goal, the chances of Congress returning to power on it’s own seem very remote. Stripped of it’s political power, congress is now down to using it’s only other arsenal – so called secular media – to take on the BJP. The likes of Rajdeep Sardesai and his ‘bitter’ half Sagarika for example have taken the ‘congress supari’ in 2014 to do everything to discredit and destabilize the Modi establishment.

The obstructionist approach of congress in legislative business is also wearing out. The nation isn’t in a mood to wait for key legislative changes and will move forward, with or without them.

For nation’s sake, let’s hope that Congress is in a perpetual decline and is only awaiting it’s epitaph. More than anything, if congress is allowed to revive, it may be the biggest failure of the Modi Government.

Two Letters that will never be written – Part One

Dear Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh ji,

I would have preferred to write this letter in Hindi, however as I suspect your ability to understand Hindi too well and the fact that the pseudo-secular elite has a condescending attitude towards my English, I have chosen to address you in the Queen’s language.

Ever since I “won” the ‘primaries’ in my party to be nominated as the Prime Ministerial candidate for 2014, I have been wanting to thank you for the immense help that you rendered through your tenures, which helped me to design, develop and deliver a ‘development based’ alternative to the voters of India.

Despite being a man of great intellect, Dr Singh, even your best friends would have to admit that your second tenure was all about being drab, dull and disastrous. Except for my candidature though.

As a Prime Minister who didn’t occupy the 7 RCR address by virtue of electoral success but more as a non-threatening alternative to the Madam herself, I fully understand the constant erosion that your authority – moral and legal – was subjected to. Of course, I have no complaints that you allowed it to happen, as it provided me with additional ammunition for my electoral success.

Now after occupying the chair vacated by you, 20 months later, I have come to understand you and your actions, a bit more, something I couldn’t have done as your political alternative.

Dr Singh,

  • I have realized that as a Prime Minister, it is impossible and indeed useless to react to everything that happens in the political spectrum. I have to come to recognize that the front yards of Prime Minister’s office is always full of people wanting to wish dirty political linen, but it will be a huge disservice to the office to either willingly participate or even be a keen bystander. I now understand as to why you didn’t react to every single political byte that ever came to your notice.

 

  • I have realized that in the musical choir of politics, a Prime Minister will always be a ‘Dholak’ – getting thumped on either side. The more illustrious pseudo-secular English media may look down upon this metaphor but I am sure you get my point. There is never ever “sufficient action” or “sufficient inaction” that can come out of a PMO that can please everyone across the political spectrum. Moving fast has it’s own detractors as well as moving slow, so as a PM, one of my significant learnings has been to never look at the speedometer.

 

  • I have realized that once electoral success is achieved, the real politicking is managing the “internal politics”. And it is a continuous process. Even if in a party like ours, we could “hive off” discontent to a ‘Marg Darshak Mandal’, the power wielded by internal adversaries is never diminished. And when the electoral success formula begins to elude, the voices get ever louder and bolder. If this can happen to me, with my Midas-touch electoral success, I can only shudder to think as to how you would have silently suffered a decade inside the political cauldron. And the stiff ‘bandgalas’ don’t help.

 

  • I have realized, – excuse the bad pun that follows – the “lok” ka sabha is easy to win, but for good “rajya”, the sabha is very different and indeed difficult. Even though, I am no stranger to parliamentary democracy, courtesy my tenure as Gujarat CM, I did imagine during my campaign that legislation isn’t something too challenging as baking a ‘dhokla’. Without the numbers in the “Upper House”, I have come to recognize the obstructionist force of the Opposition, however weakened they may be from the point of people’s mandate. So I fully appreciate your difficulties in initiating and carrying through sweeping legislative changes that will alter the course of the economy and policy making.

 

  • I have realized that every party has “Mani Shankar Aiyers” in various shapes, sizes and situations. It was politically convenient for me to be silent when my opponents were asked to be packed off to Pakistan but it is not much fun to see my own MPs becoming principal tourism mascots for ‘destination Pakistan’. When Mani took that swipe at me for being a ‘chaiwalla’, me and my campaign team were quick to ‘milk’ the opportunity (pun intended) fully, and very successfully. Even as you were out of the political race, I am sure that you were extremely apologetic about the lowering of the political discourse but were helpless. A situation that I often find myself in recently and sadly more often.

These are matters that I will never speak about, either directly or indirectly, nor would I cover it as part of my speeches in India or elsewhere. But I do want you to know, that I have begun to understand and indeed appreciate the various pressure points of your tenure as Prime Minister.

I may not be able to openly acknowledge, during my tenure as PM,  your steering of the Indian democracy, with all it’s failings and fantasies, but once it ends, I shall have nothing but admiration for you. Plus of course, I will have my own story to tell.

Yours truly,

Narendra Modi

நன்றி !

இறைவனே
நன்றி
என்னை உயிர்ப்பித்தவனே
நன்றி
அவனை அனுப்பி
என்னை வாழவைத்தாய்
நீ அனுப்பிய​ பரிசு அவன்
அவனுக்கான​
உன் திட்டங்கள்
உன் தீர்மானங்கள்
யாதென​ நானறியேன்
என் வழி அவன் வந்திருப்பினும்
உன் வழி தான் அவன் வழித்தடம்
ஆதலால்
உன் அருள் வேலை முடிந்துவிடவில்லை
வழிநடத்து
என்னையும் அவனையும்
வழிகாட்டு
என்னையும் அவனையும்
மெல்லக் குட்டியே திருத்திடு
என்னையும் அவனையும்
அவன் இன்பத்திற்கு மட்டுமேயன்றி
பிறர் துன்பம்
பிறர் துயரம்
கண்டால்
துவளாமல் உதவும்
பண்பு தா
அநீதியின் அவலம்
கண்டால்
தள்ளி நில்லாத​
துணிவு தா
ஒருவரையாவது
வாழ்வைத்திடும்
ஒரு முறையாவது
சிரிக்கவைத்திடும்
சிந்தனை பூக்க​ வைத்திடு
சிவனே உன் பெயரே
அவனுக்கு
அவனே இனி எல்லாம்
எங்களுக்கு

Quite a debut – This Unquiet Land

 

No sooner than Barkha Dutt, arguably India’s best known English electronic media journalist, announced the launch of her book, I decided to pre-order it.

Barkha along with Vikram Chandra has been one of the constant faces of NDTV anchoring their prime time shows apart from hosting the popular weekend discussions.

I have to admit that Barkha has come down several notches from the pedestal of admiration where I placed her, not just because she continues to over-amplify the “problems” of her megastar friend Shah Rukh khan.

I also have resorted, at times, to mildly trolling her on twitter, of course never abusively or distastefully, but often as a form of protesting over-generalizations about Hindutva or lack of an equally vehement condemnation of bigots of other hues. [In particular, I always cringe at her addressing Owaisi as Owaisi sahib].

But I didn’t hesitate to read her first of many books I guess, and I must say that she doesn’t disappoint.

The title didn’t reveal much about the structure of the book when it was yet to be launched ; While I expected it to be a political commentary, through her view that is, I expected it to be a little more anecdotal. But Barkha manages to keep the narrative direct without clouding it with too many personal experiences.

The staunch feminist that she is, it didn’t surprise me that the first chapter she devotes to the “plight of women” in India. The few cases that she elaborates to buttress her point about the grave injustice to women in India makes for revolting reading – It is very hard indeed to not feel ashamed as a man to think about what one’s own grandmothers and possibly even mothers had to go through. Barkha sums up the feminist argument quite succinctly when she writes that “Feminism is about Freedom”.

The next chapter “The Cost of war” covers what’s possibly the most important phase of her career – coverage of the Kargil war – that catapulted her to the pinnacle of journalistic stardom. She successfully manages to bring out the “human aspect” of Kargil war apart from the intrinsic political maneuvering between India, Pakistan, and the US.  The uncomplaining attitude – be it about their safety, equipment, and conditions – of brave soldiers of Indian army did bring a lump to my throat. I could perfectly understand the emotional response of Barkha to give her strand of beads to the soldiers.

The two chapters that chronicles the introduction, growth and the invincibility of terror in India makes for compelling reading.  Barkha is one of the very few commentators that I have come across, Tavleen Singh being the other, who acknowledges the fact that 1984 riots has been severely under reported due to the times. Contrasted with the minute-by-minute coverage of the 2002 riots, it has become the nature of India’s so called seculars to underplay the 1984 riots as some form of legitimate protest while lambasting the 2002 riots as a “state sponsored pogrom”. However, knowing her position vis-à-vis Narendra Modi, I didn’t expect her to be any less critical of the Godhra riots.

Barkha is quite unsparing in her criticism of violence – In the name of god, she’s aptly named the chapter – driven by religious divide, but I have always suspected her resolve to condemn the jihadi variant of it. As shameful as it is, the bringing down of the Babri Masjid, no commentator till date has to my knowledge condemned the act of serial blasts as a ‘response’. It is yet another quirk of Indian secularism that the “cause” of serial blasts – Babri demolition – is always discussed but not the blasts and in case of Godhra the “riots” are always discussed but never the burning of the train and the related conspiracies. Barkha fails in my view to ‘buck’ this trend.

Barkha brings out clearly her personal equations with the Gandhi family and the apparent dislike that PM Modi has for her. Surprisingly I found that her equation with the “most famous son-in-law” of the country isn’t what I thought it might be. Her descriptors for Modi and Kejriwal – Juggernaut and Maverick – while being quite appropriate also underscore her nuanced understanding of the Indian political spectrum. Full marks to her.

In the last chapter, Barkha deals with the vexed issue of “caste” in Indian society. The inhuman subjugation of Dalits is something to be extremely ashamed of, for a Hindu and an Indian. Her recounting of how a tragedy such as the Tsunami of 2004 did nothing to break the caste barriers is a stark reminder of its dominance in Indian society. Barkha though, in my view, fails to adequately chronicle the shifting sands of the caste equation ; She quotes the supremacist attitude of a Brahmin, but in reality the Dalits suffer most at the hands of the OBCs. Using the ‘Brahmin anecdote’ does capture the mindset that permeates the society but I am afraid it does not bring out the attitudes of the ‘neo-brahmins’ – the castes that have migrated socially upward and perpetrate the same treatment that they may have, once been at the receiving end of.

Barkha had a few times tweeted about the “delay” in completing her work; It actually works out in her favor as she had the opportunity to include the most recent incidents such as Dadri and intolerance in her book.  I suspect if the book had been launched, say six month earlier, the epilogue may either not be there or may have seen a different ending.

I have reserved the “Chronicle of Kashmir” for a later read, as I found it hampering my flow of reading ; the other chapters I felt were connecting to the dot and I didn’t want to change directions.

In the last 12 months or so, I have read Rajdeep Sardesai’s much touted “Elections 2014” – and now much translated too – book and Vir Sanghvi’s “Mandate” ( a book that I finished during my flight from Bangalore to Delhi). If I am forced to rank, I’d rank Barkha’s book a shade better than Vir’s work and certainly much better than Rajdeep’s.

The only mild criticism that I have is that there’s no humor in the book, I am sure she had scope for it in plenty especially in the chapter about the Gandhis, Modi and Kejriwal. The only moment that I noted was her wry comment about how the social media created “2 Kashmiri husbands” for her that she never had.

Barkha’s book has a strong heart and a strong mind and for most portions holds a mirror for all of us, Indians.

She says loud and clear through her book that it is “We the people” that make or break this wonderful country of ours, India.

 

 

வடிந்து விடு வெள்ளமே

இயற்கையை பகைத்த
முட்டாள்கள் நாங்கள்
விளை நிலங்களை விற்று தீர்த்த
வீணர்கள் நாங்கள்
ஆற்று மணல்களை அள்ளிய
திருடர்கள் நாங்கள்
காசுக்காக காவாய்களை கவனிக்காமல் விட்ட
கயவர்கள் நாங்கள்
தங்கமாகிய மரங்களை அழித்த
தரங் கெட்டவர்கள் நாங்கள்

மன்னிப்பு கோர முடியாமல்
தலை கவிழ்ந்து நிற்கிறோம்

உங்களுக்கா கருணை எனும்
உன் எக்காளம் கேட்கிறது

நமுத்து போன விரல்களால்
உன்னை வணங்க கூட இயலவில்லை

நாங்கள் விட்டொழித்த வெட்கம்
மீண்டும் வரப்போவதுமில்லை

ஆயினும்
வடிந்து விடு வெள்ளமே

எங்கள் பிள்ளைகளுக்காக
எஞ்சி இருக்கும் பறவைகளுக்காக
நாங்கள் நல்லவர்கள் என நம்பிகொண்டிருக்கும்
நாய்கள், பூனைகள் , பசுக்களுக்காக

மிச்சமிருக்கும் மனிதநேயத்தை
தக்க வைக்கவாவது
வடிந்து விடு வெள்ளமே

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