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September 19, 2018

Tag: india

May 3, 2017

Pepsodent to Patanjali transition of the society

by viggy — Categories: social, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , Leave a comment

Can you remember the era of toothpastes ad with actors dressed as doctors certifying that they would recommend this or that toothpaste to their patients. Do you remember the claim made by almost every toothpaste that 99% of members of some Dentist’s association has suggested them as the best toothpaste, etc. While the Indian society was changing to be a consumerist society, we accepted any garble from the idiot box and bought the products. From toothpaste to toothbrush, soap to fairness cream, everything was sold based on how much it was marketed and how much it made the buyer have a feel good factor. None of the claims were questioned, it was never verified, just broadcasted on all mediums.
They said the toothpaste had salt, we thought it must be good. They said it had neem, we accepted it. The put logos of all the certifications that product had obtained. What those certifications meant, why it mattered was never asked, never answered. As long as the product had the feel good factor, it was bought. Ask anyone the difference between one or other toothpaste, what mattered was only the offers it had or whether it had some taste or smell which they preferred, nothing to do with how it helped the teeth.
Then comes Patanjali, which also said that their toothpaste also had neem but now with certification of being nationalist, being swadeshi. People accepted it also. They again never questioned anything. While the marketting team of big FMCG companies are trying to understand why people are accepting Patanajali, where as they had themselves trained the society to accept anything with a feel good factor, not with any value in it.
Question still remains as to why do we need a toothpaste, why do we need a soap? What properties should the soap have? While we have never asked this question, we can see how a similar ignorance plagues our politics also.

In 1990s, while we were told to accept globalization as the answer to all our problems, we hailed the ones who were called as the architect of liberalized India, PV Narsimha Rao to Manmohan Singh. Everyone accepted that this was the way forward for the nation to leave the clutches of poverty. A grand vision of development, with roads, flyovers and skyscrapers was shown to everyone. Everyone accepted it, they had known of one or other who had benefitted from it. The cousin abroad, far relative who had a white collared job, industrialists in the town, everyone seemed to be benefiting and there was ‘development’ everywhere. No one was interested in trying to understand the fundamentals of the politics they were propagating. This idea of development made them feel better, brought a hope of a change which was more easy to accept.
Than came the nationalist forces which had been brewing silently in the country side making their base stronger. When they bought forward the same idea of development with nationalist way of implementing it, people have accepted it in the same way they shifted from Pepsodent to Patanjali. After all if the feel good factor is the criteria, all it takes is to show a vision which is more tempting than the current one.

If we accept this analogy, the natural question to ask is what would be the next direction for the society. In case of toothpastes, my guess is that very soon we will have local gurus and babas coming up with their own version of toothpastes. While the nationalist layer peels off from the society, society may well be painted with a layer of regionalism. As the efforts of nationalism fails, it may just be too easy to make the society to blame one region to other as the cause for all its problems. Some of the states already have a very good established regional party which would gladly accept this opportunity. Also the glaring economic divide between the south and the north will also make it possible for people to pass the blame on each other. Close to a decade ago, a friend of mine had suggested that India should get disintegrate into all the different states to solve its problems, I had laughed at him as an absurd idea. I wont be surprised if our political parties use such absurd idea to try their luck to political power.

November 13, 2016

USA with Trump vs India with Modi

by viggy — Categories: social — Tags: , , , Leave a comment

If you believe that Trump and Modi are on the two different sides on their stand on racism or minority rights, then probably reading further may not actually be of any interest to you. However, if you do believe that both Modi and Trump capitalized the racist and anti-minority sentiments, fueled it to strengthen their votes during election, then you would also agree that the future of the respective country is very grave. Not only for the minority but also for the majority. Politics of division doesnt stop at one point. It grows with each point, as it is fueled to take power from one set of minority, and completely remove the minority from any power share that democracy provides. So though it may start with majority race against the minority race, or majority religion against the minority religion, it would continue finding more reasons to further subdivide the society on aspects like language, caste, gender, sexual orientation, etc. ensuring that the power continuously gets concentrated with a smaller and smaller community which represents the majoritarian view.

If we agree with this, then we need to look at what would be future of India or US now that such a power is actually in place in both the countries. We do have a good preview of how the majority’s narrative is being implemented in India with continuous ban on various aspects in the name of religion, culture, tradition, etc. Even in US, it is expected to see such ban being implemented, ban on abortion, ban affecting the LGBTQ community, ban on various minority traditions, etc.

However, the rate of implementation of such enforcement of majority view on the minority would determine the extent to which minority community would be effected. In India, due to its diversity, the major challenge with even implementing any majoritarian view is that there isnt a single version of such a view. So while majority community in Northern Cow belt considers Cow a sacred animal, even the majority community in South India and North East India, dont have such a religious attachment to cow. Even the majority community differs so starkly in their culture and tradition that members of community in different regions may not even feel the same connection with each other. The diversity in language, diversity due to the caste system and diversity amongst regions is so different that imposing a single view is not possible. Sangh Parivar in India has been working tirelessly for decades together to reach out to different sections of the majority to spread a common view of the majority community. With such a large dedicated volunteer force on the ground, they still fail to connect to a large number of people with their narrative of the Indian past. The caste system’s rigidity again does not allow for bringing in different castes together against the minority religion.

Apart from this, Sangh Parivar’s goal of a single united medieval-age India, ‘Akhand Bharat’ is still far from any reality and they continue to strive to achieve such a goal. This ensures that Sangh Parivar cannot unleash a complete violent force on the minority as it would immediately alienate a large of its support base which look at it only a cultural organization spread basic tenants of the ‘peaceful’ hindu religion. Hence for Sangh Parivar, the path to their ‘Hindu rashtra’ is a very slow, divisive path continuously poisoning the people’s mind to accept hate against the minority community. They also understand that for such a path, they need to be in power for a long time and hence they would have to continue their rhetoric around of ‘development’ and improve lifestyle of the common people to have his/her support in the long run.

However, on the contrary, in the US, Trump’s support base barely has any organized force behind it. It is a group of people who are genuinely fed up of existing system which has been depriving them of basic life style. This along with the racist and anti-minority feeling developed over time formed a core support for Trump. Now that he is in power, such a support base would definitely feel more empowered. With no direction or guidance behind such a empowered force, there is nothing to stop them from being violent. Hence such a force is definitely going to be much more disastrous for the country. What is awaited in US seems to be a very unpredictable time-bomb which is set during the election campaign when hate was spewed across the nation against particular communities. What would trigger such bombs is what we need to await and see.

I had never thought I would ever say this, but thanks to Sangh Parivar in India, the disastrous force is more like a cancer spreading slowly until it corrodes the whole body and takes over it. But it still can be checked, depending how quickly it gets detected and then treated.

November 30, 2014

Whats wrong with Government snooping/surveillance?

by viggy — Categories: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , Leave a comment

A member in ILugC had recently asked this question and I spent some time trying to put up these points as an answer.

1) Can we trust the government itself?
“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” which translates to “Who will guard the
guards themselves?”

Government itself is made up of people, even though, we can proudly say
that we democratically elected the government, can we trust the
government completely? The various scams of state governments and
central governments give us a good reason why we cant trust those
running the government. Also, a government in itself is transient, you
never know what kind of future government can come.

2) Security of the data collected

Its a common knowledge that when any riot happens, the organizers easily
target people from specific communities thanks to data such as Voter’s
ID Card list etc available for that region. Hence even we can blindly
trust the government, the fact that such a collated data exists, itself
makes it a honeypot to attract bad elements in society to misuse the data.

3) Mass Surveillance vs targetted Surveillance

Though there may be some strong reasons for government to do
surveillance on specific individuals, there is very little rational to
do mass surveillance. The very notion that everything you do or say is
getting recorded will curtail freedom of expression. Everytime someone
wants to express something little off the beat, he/she might have to
take extreme caution and in many cases, people might not come forward at
all to express.
An analogy is imagine a light tower in central yard in a jail where
prisoners cant see who is watching from the light tower. Since they know
that there is 24 hours watch on it, the notion that someone there is
watching itself creates fear in them to try anything to escape.

Even in case of targetted surveillance, we know how Gujrat government
‘allegedly’ misused the state machinery to snoop on an individual. So
even having means to do targetted surveillance needs to have very
stringent checks and balances.

4) Eternity of the data collected

The idea that the data collected will exist years later is also
something to worry about. A simple example is what happened with Sec
377. When the high court declared it unconstitutional in 2009, many
people came forward expressing their true orientation. However when
Supreme Court overturned the HC decision, it left all the people who had
come forward openly to be sitting ducks for harassment by the authorities.

5) Option to opt-out

Like in case of Aadhar which looks like will stay in India now that the
new government also seem to be comfortable with it, there is little
option for those who value their privacy to opt-out of these schemes.

In India, since government does provide for lot of amenities, Maria
Xynou who is working on the Surveillance in India in CIS-India had
mentioned that there is a attitude amongst us to look at government like
a parent who takes care of us. Hence this attitude makes us put lot of
trust in the government which is dangerous.

You can watch her talk at CCC on Indian Surveillance State here,

September 10, 2012

Idol worshippers

by viggy — Categories: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , 2 Comments

Aseem trivedi, a cartoonist and an active supporter of India Against Corruption group was arrested day before yesterday for sedition for cartoons he put up in his website, The cartoons try to mock various symbols of Indian democracy.
Indians in general are very popular idol worshippers. With such a long history, the values represented in our religions have taken different shapes and symbols. It can be images of piligrimage places or different religious symbols or miniature idols itself, Indians tend to worship everything. However, in due course, we have conveniantely forgotten what those symbols or idols represent.
Arrest of Aseem Trivedi is also an example of how Indians are now worshipping the idols of democracy and not the values of democracy.
The parliament did not function for the whole of monsoon season with ruling and opposition parties not able to reach any consensus on the issue of debate in the parliament regarding various allegation of corruption on the Prime Minister in the allocation of coal blocks. Each passing day of the current government brings light to some new scandal or case of corruption by its ministers and still instead of cleaning the parliament of these corrupt politicians, we are trying to take action against those who are just trying to bring these issues of corruption into limelight.
On Dec 13th 2001, this very insitution and symbol of Indian democracy was attacked by terroriost groups and these politicians are still playing politics in name of religion instead of punishing those responsible. But no one seems to question this mockery.
The previous office bearer of First citizen Of India was alleged to have spent crores on foriegn trips with her family and still no one questioned this mockery of the post of First Citizen Of India.
I hope, we start respecting the values represented by these idols instead of the idols itself.