The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

WHY DID WE FAIL TO TRAVEL FROM HYDERABAD TO VILLUPURAM? (I)

Rohith Vemula's suicide took the nation by storm. A wave of outrage that began on January 17 when the news of his suicide broke along with his intellectually worded suicide note. Since then, the social media and the mainstream media have been all about the issue, giving due exposure any such story deserves.

And then, there were elements in place.

It was a prestigious central university - University of Hyderabad.

A Dalit research scholar had committed suicide in an educational institution where other eight Dalit students, alleging caste discrimination, had committed suicide in the past decade.

Rohith's letters blamed his university and social institutions.

Then there were letters by a union minister from BJP and from a central government ministry, Human Resources Development, led by Smriti Irani, in the case pressurizing the university administration to take action against Rohith Vemula and some other students for their alleged assault on an Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad leader (ABVP).

So, there was this angle of student politics - touching the chords of national politics - in a metro city that is one of India's Information-Technology capitals.

And above all, there was this angle of Dalit Vs non-Dalit angle.

So, even if was a horror, that a young student was forced to commit suicide due to administrative apathy, social disparity and political interference, all elements were in place for every stakeholder, including politicians, to squeeze the mileage that would suit them.

Yes, apart from social media and media outrage, and the subsequent social mobilization, it is pure politics.

And why it is pure politics becomes clear from yet another social horror.

Three students of an allied medial college in Villupuram, a Tamil Nadu district, committed suicide by jumping in a well because they had lost all hopes for their future as the college that had promised them a rosy future had duped them of their families' savings. They alleged in their suicide note that the college administration had imparted no skills in almost first two years of their college and there were no facilities to train them. The college was busy in looting them, and at the same time, was killing the students by denying them their option to earn livelihood.

The students wrote in their suicide note that they were committing suicide hoping that it would draw attention to their plight. Another girt student from the same college committed suicide later.
These students were Dalit as well.

Yes, we cannot and we should not compare but it was another horror after Rohith Vemula's suicide that should have rightly driven us mad on the sorry state of affairs in the our higher educational institutions.

But it didn't happen after the initial social media and media fury - and why?

To continue.. 

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/

Saturday, 30 January 2016

YES, HE WAS THE MAHATMA..

Communal riots date back to the ancient times in the history of India. Hindu-Muslims riots began during the medieval period. And since then the travesty has been unabated – with varying degrees of terror and its aftermath.

And that is a major reason among some defining elements due to which India is still not among the most forward nations in the world – in spite of being the world’s largest democracy.

In fact, India’s independence, its partition and the birth of Pakistan in 1947 saw the worst Hindu-Muslim riots in India – unparalleled so far then – a massacre that remains unparalleled still.

And these riots that preceded and followed India’s independence and Pakistan’s birth tell why Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was revered as the ‘Mahatma’ or ‘Bapu’ – the ascetic, the sage, the father figure.

Yes, there are varying accounts and there are historical records and claims about what happened to the Hindu-Muslim riots, especially the most heinous of them in Noakhali in Bengal where the Mahatma camped for around four months touring villages to calm down tempers.

We know, on the whole, the warring factions, that then included the whole population of an aspiring Pakistan and an equally sizeable chunk in India could never be reconciled and one nation became two and ultimately three in 1971.

But one fact is indisputable clear – that – the Mahatma did calm down the tempers there. Yes, he could not bring the warring factions to the final solution of reconciliation but he stopped something that could easily have become one of the worst human massacres in the history of civilizations.

And we know that is a rare feat – in fact an unparalleled sentiment he commanded. Hindu-Muslim riots have continued even in the independent India – but right from its beginnings in the medieval India – there never was a person like the Mahatma who could stand among those ready to kill and be killed to ask them to stop and in fact convinced them to do so. And there will no else like him in that sense we can say. Yes, he was the Mahatma who did this unthinkable job because history again tells us that the people blinded by faith refuse to listen to anyone. 

These are difficult times. Bapu was questioned even then. But now is the time when history is being worked upon. Ideologies are clashing. And we need our Mahatma – his thoughts, his teachings, his vision, and the spirit that he embodied. India, in fact, always needed it. And now is the time when the need is desperate. Now is the time when we need to reach out to say yes he was the Mahatma who set us on the path to independence and the best tribute to him would be to be make an India where we all would be ‘really free souls’. 



October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com

Friday, 29 January 2016

THE REVENANT: FIRST THOUGHTS THAT COME TO YOUR MIND

Obviously I am writing it in my context – but I am sure many would concur..

‘The Revenant’ is very lonely and sucks its viewers in its spaces – in its oblivions – in its living quarters – in its horizons.

‘The Revenant’ is probably the next most perfect narrative development of a book after ‘The Lord of The Rings’ trilogy.

‘The Revenant’s landscapes are, its cinematography is - I would say gripping – keeping you hooked to the whole frame and not just to the central characters – and this excellence has a beautiful rhythm frame after frame. You not only listen to the characters here but you also try to sense what the spaces around them are trying to say.

‘The Revenant’ is one of those rare movies where the film locales are as important as the script, the acting and the direction.

‘The Revenant’, a straight revenge plot, is taken to higher realms of filmcraft with powerful performance by every character in the movie, especially by Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy.

‘The Revenant’, inspired by true events (as it goes), is an incredible life story of a man – played immaculately well by DiCaprio. He simply looks natural.

‘The Revenant’ is pure auteur – those who have watched other movies of its director Alejandro González Iñárritu – can easily read his style-statement in every scene.

‘The Revenant’ is a director’s movie – its actors are director’s actors – and its narrative is a director’s narrative.

‘The Revenant’ is one of the rare Westerns that try to deal sensitively with the history of Native American tribes – even if the scope is very limited here.

‘The Revenant’ should bag multiples Oscars this year – including the ones for the ‘Best Director’, the ‘Best Actor’ and the ‘Best Picture’. 


©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/ 

Featured Image Courtesy: Screenshot from The Revenant’s Official Website 

Thursday, 28 January 2016

SMART ‘SMART CITY’ LIST?

The ‘smart city’ list is out.

And by names (of the cities) it involves, it seems the whole process to select the first 20 has been done meticulously and smartly.

Or that seems so?

Well, to go with the verity of the process that went into making of this report, we can say that two big, electorally important states, going to polls this year and the next, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, have not got any of their cities shortlisted.

Or it can be like, BJP has nothing much to lose or gain in West Bengal, where it is politically non-existent, so it can safely be placed in ‘politically motivated’ category and by the time the UP assembly polls come, in the first half of the next year, the state, where BJP and its allies won 73 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats in 2014, and where it failed to perform in every subsequent poll and bypoll, the party may announce to shortlist all UP cities (from the names sent) in one go next January (in 2016) to score the pre-election mileage.

But that goes with one imperative – how Varanasi is developed further – how the city looks by that time – because, so far, during the first 20 months of the Narendra Modi government and during the first 20 months of Varanasi being the parliamentary constituency of India’s prime minister, the city has failed to move on development parameters.

In fact, those who come from Varanasi can tell you nothing has changed so far – when we compare Varanasi of pre and post Narendra Modi era. The city doesn’t need WiFi at its ghats. It needs cleaner ghats and the Ganga. It needs a cleaner city. It needs uninterrupted 24/7 power supply. It needs a sewage system that is efficient and covers the whole city. It needs a governance system that can coexist with its ancient tradition and cultural flow. It needs modern civic infrastructure based on the real estate development in the city. The city desperately needs a traffic system that could take care of its perennial problem. The city needs dirt free, dust free and garbage free roads. The city needs dedicated superfast trains like Shatabdi or Duronto. The city needs a larger, better airport.  

Well, nothing is happening on that front. It is good that Varanasi would be developed as the twin city of Kyoto – the Japanese temple city that is a model the world over.

But given the state of affairs the things are in, the first and the immediate imperative is – Varanasi needs its basic civic amenities first.

Narendra Modi’s candidature did some positives to Varanasi – liking causing a multi-fold jump in its real estate prices – like putting the city again on global heritage map.

But, on the ground, in terms of developments that the city desperately needs, nothing has been done – and people have started raising questions.

Anyway, this write-up is not about Varanasi. I wrote about Varanasi to present logic for one of the arguments here – that BJP didn’t name any UP city now to time it according to the UP assembly polls.

The Ministry of Urban Development says it followed a scientific process to shortlist cities out of 97 entries it got – with answers and responses on a set of questions/parameters.

The states that have got representation are – Odisha, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Assam and Punjab – 12 states.

Three of them, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam are going to polls this year and except Assam, BJP has no great chances.

Waiting for another year to make announcement about UP cities is an unforeseen risk, especially in the context of the facts/logic mentioned above, that the party would not like to take.

BJP may have performed miserably in Bihar polls (Bihar has no city in the list) this year but then it also did so in Delhi. Similar logic can be given for other states like Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and so on.

So, the argument that the list is politically motivated doesn’t hold much ground.

But we must be watchful to see what really happens to these ‘smart cities’ – to see whether the concept is smart enough – let’s see what this US$ 7.5 Billion can do?  

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/ 

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

60/7

That is an important combination of digits to remember – a UN resolution in 2005 that established January 27 as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day – the day when the largest of the Nazi concentration camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau, was liberated.

The Holocaust is and will remain the most enduring horror unleashed on humanity because, for a common mind, killing human beings, in the name of ethnic superiority (or prejudice) at this scale is simply beyond thinking realms.

But then, arrival of a Hitler is always a real time possibility.

Human death camps are still alive and kicking in many parts of the world – with the common thread being persecuting those who raise voice against the ruling regimes – in North Korea – in restive countries of Africa – in monarchies and authoritarian nations of Asia and Africa – and elsewhere.

Well, we cannot say with certainty where they exist – but they do exist.

And a day to pay tribute to the worst crime against humanity in the known human history is a day to cement your resolve to be in solidarity with the countless lives that are still compromised every passing day.

Because the day comes to remind us the of devil prowling among us – someone who could be in any of us!

Because the days comes to take us, in this generation who have not seen those images, or from a different geographic territory, on a revisit to the visuals of the concentration camps and a visit through the Holocaust literature – a must for every human life!

Hitler and his Nazi Germany had killed many millions in a span of few years only and Hitler’s success in unleashing his killing machinery tells how such maniacs manipulate even democracy in the name of democracy and national pride – because Hitler was the product of a democratic transition process in Germany. And Germany was in Europe – the birthplace of democracies.

So, the dangers are very real – in a world inundated with democracies, autocracies, monarchies and absurdities – the broken down nations with tribal warlords, civil wars and terror groups – in a world infested with war theatres in almost every continent.

The Holocaust has been a regular in human conscience – right from the day the Second World War ended. But it is imperative for us to be more organized in remembering and revisiting the darkest chapter in our history – to feel that chill down our spines – to become numb – if we have to remain alert to dissuade any Hitler to walk again.

And the UN General Assembly Resolution 60/7 exactly does that – with the Holocaust Remembrance Day – or the Holocaust Memorial Day.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/ 

THERE..

Sometimes, I look there
To see if it is still there
Well, there is this canvas
I cannot say
But then I never needed it
Still, there is this feeling
That I could be there
That I had to be there
Filling it with colours
I felt comfortable with
Existing in that space
Where there lies a void now
Trying to speak to me
Through the disconnect
That time could not bring
Sometimes, I look there
To see if I can still go there
Bathing me in colours
My soul always longs for
Sometimes, I look there..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

GOD IS OF EVERYONE. GOD IS FOR EVERYONE.

Yes, that is ideally the ideal position – but something that has been a deep rooted ‘glass ceiling’ phenomenon universally – in almost every religion with different hues – in every society – and in every country – including India.

We worship women. In Hinduism, Goddess Shakti is revered like anything. And it doesn’t end here. And I am sure every religion has its own female deities.

Yet we deny women the basic right – the right to the equality in the places of worship.

And that’s why the Shani Shingnapur protest by a group of women activists demanding their right to worship in the innermost sanctum of the temple, barred for women, is important – away from the debates of being politically motivated or being a mere publicity stunt.

Because they pull our attention to this very important discrimination prevailing in our society that we have so subtly legitimized – again in the name of religion – and have efficiently co-opted women to perpetuate such practices – out of fear psychosis – or emotional bondage - or cultural blackmail.

Well, our scriptures say God is for everyone. They say he knows what is in our conscious and he comes to everyone. They say our faith is as important for God as God is for us.

And when we worship our deities of both genders with equal faith and devotion, why do we discriminate between their devotees based on their genders?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/

Monday, 25 January 2016

JLF: THE DESCENT

Today, Facebook, like it does, prompted me to revisit this image from January 2011. Well, normally I don't follow these advises but today I did it - because it made me revisit what was once among my 'must visit' events. 

Yes, it was once. Not anymore. 

And it has nothing to do with me. I still feel about the same way - the feelings that started taking me away from the event - first some valid questions - then a valid dislike - and then a sense that the event doesn't figure in my calendar. 

‪Jaipur Literature Festival is an event which saw meteoric rise and then a meteoric fall - all in a span of few years only. 

What makes this trend remarkable development, a must-study case study, is that it started with marketing itself as a 'literature' event - but then rapidly degraded.  

Well after 10 odd years, it is now established well beyond doubt that though it is a grand event - it is an event without literature's soul and the descent has been rapid.

To cater to the marketing forces, the organisers have compromised its literary quotient. 

Now it is just another routine marketing event and the kind of media neglect that it is getting is 'informative/symptomatic' of that.


JLF: DESCENT HAS BEEN RAPID

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/

SHANI SHINGAPUR STANDOFF TOMORROW: SOME RANDOM QUESTIONS

 THE QUESTIONS

1. Why men fear women presence in innermost religious circles?

2. Is religion not the most primitive tool to maintain male domination in the society?

3. Will tomorrow be a bitter standoff at the Shani temple in Shingnapur village in the Ahmednagar district of Maharastra?

4. Is it just another political spectacle or a sincere part of a the lager fight in gender discrimination?

5. Women activists are planning to storm the Shani Shingnapur temple tomorrow and women of the village and the nearby villages are preparing to stop them. There are reports of multi-layered security around the sanctum sanctorum and if we go by them, the planned break in by the protesting group of women look unlikely. And when the issue is already in the Supreme Court, why this haste?

6. There are many taboos humiliating and restricting women rights in our society and this is one of them - a practice that is socially acceptable that even majority of women endorse it. In fact, here in this case, women are prepared to block women. Is confrontation a logical way to break such a taboo then?

7. It is not restricted to any particular religion. In fact, women have been historically denied their religious rights - and the problem is acute in religions like Islam or Hinduism or in different tribal sects. So what should be the road ahead to work on such massive problems that sweep societies across countries?

8. Or there cannot be any laid-out/defined strategy. The problem will be taken care of by progresses made in civilizations or by evolutionary changes?

9. But then, aren't we already overdoing it? We have commoditized women for long, making them second class citizens. That was the case even in the advanced societies like the US not so long ago. In fact, the most powerful nation in the world is yet to have a woman president.

10. So, what should be the priority then - while intensifying the fight for the just demand of religious equality - a multi-pronged approach involving legal, social and political measures? 

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/

Sunday, 24 January 2016

VILLUPURAM MEDICAL STUDENTS SUICIDE: SHABBY HIGHER EDUCATION KILLS SOME MORE DREAMS

Reports say three students of an Ayurveda medical college in Tamil Nadu committed suicide alleging the college administration of playing with their future. Reports say the students of the college were protesting bad infrastructure, administration's apathy and principal's exploitative callousness in the college.  

Big promises of a bright future - like after passing out from a medical college - duplicitously selling practices like 'Naturopathy and Yoga Sciences' - garnishing them with glamour quotient of terms like 'medical colleges'..

Apathetic and insensitive college administration, principal and management - exploitative to the core..

Exorbitant fee - Rs. 6,00,000 in two years - here in this case - its goes higher easily in higher education institutions of professional studies - and many sincere students who cannot secure position in good institutions - but still find education as the only alternative for their careers ahead - end up in these exploitative institutions that run like a money-making machines - killings dreams - slaying lives..

They promise skies while giving you admission but after that the sole focus shifts to collecting fees and imposing further types of fees and fines to fill coffers..

Many states in India have engineering colleges with seats running in hundreds of thousands. Their graduates cannot stand even a sound humanities graduate from a good institution. Similar is the case of management colleges. These are the two streams that have killed maximum dreams in India - thus milking the maximum money. Now many colleges are shutting their door because they are not getting students.

Medical education is relatively a safe bet for such money sharks that prowl through educational institutions. Because setting up and running a medical college requires deep investment and regular onslaught of checks and balances. Even then we regularly come across reports of poor quality and threats of affiliation withdrawal. That makes allied fields like 'naturopathy, yoga, homeopathy, Unani and even fakes like electrohomeopathy' a safer bet for fraudsters or for people from extended clan of education mafia.

These girls had spent almost Rs. 6 Lakh and they had not completed even the second year. And they had not learnt anything. And their repeated pleas have fallen on deaf ears. And Rs. 6 Lakh is a lot for many families in India to arrange - cut or tighten your budget or borrow - and when you see happening things like this, your impulse can drive you to take any decision in those desperate moments of despair. 

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/

GANGA MUSINGS: EVENING BISCOPE (VII)

IN GOD’S OWN CITY (XXV)



GANGA MUSINGS
EVENING BISCOPE

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/

Saturday, 23 January 2016

GANGA MUSINGS: EVENING BISCOPE (VI)

IN GOD’S OWN CITY (XXIV)



GANGA MUSINGS
EVENING BISCOPE

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/

GANGA MUSINGS: EVENING BISCOPE (V)

IN GOD’S OWN CITY (XXIII)


GANGA MUSINGS
EVENING BISCOPE

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/

GANGA MUSINGS: EVENING BISCOPE (IV)

IN GOD’S OWN CITY (XXII)



GANGA MUSINGS
EVENING BISCOPE

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/

Friday, 22 January 2016

CAN ROHITH VEMULA’S FORCED SUICIDE DO THAT TO US?

We have reasons to go by Narendra Modi’s words. If BJP won complete majority on its own, something unthinkable in the prevailing political scenario of the country, it was basically because of Narendra Modi. People showed trust in him, in his words, in his promises of development.

It is true the first 20 months of the BJP government have given us more questions than solving our problems but still, Narendra Modi is the only political alternative India has when we see the equations in the national politics.

So when he reacted on Rohith Vemula’s suicide today, we should accept some serious action would follow now – after a series of blunders so far – yes, within realms of realpolitik of the day.

The biggest and unpardonable blunder is by University of Hyderabad, its administration and its vice-chancellor. Had they acted like what makes for a real educational institution and credible academic careers, Rohith Vemula would be among us, pursuing his studies for a better career and better life for himself, his family and country.

Universities should ideally be first the places in our societies for healthy, intellectual debates on ideas and ethos of anything and everything – social sciences, sciences, arts and aesthetics, culture, religion, traditions, dance, drama, music, and so on and so forth – and the difference of opinion should be a must – because we cannot progress, we cannot evolve – unless we question – even if we have to reaffirm our faith.

That is not the case here in India – in the world’s largest democracy. But I know we would be there someday – our robustly functional democracy would take us there.

But at the moment – it is total chaos. Our educational system is failing us. Apart from few bright spots, the overall scenario is gloomy. We are churning out degrees but not capable human beings. Political interference and political considerations, coupled with deeply rooted corruption, have vitiated the atmosphere of the seats of higher learning to the extent that the discrimination that Rohith Vemula faced has become quite common.

Vice-chancellors, head of institutions, principals – they behave like they are kings of their fiefdoms – beyond any scrutiny.

They all, all responsible in Rohith’s case, should be held accountable and punished – anymore delay would be blasphemous.

Next is the political interference in student politics.

It is now established beyond doubt that associated outfits and fringe elements are involved in brining much dirt to BJP. And in this case also, role of an Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad, BJP’s student wing, is under scanner. The allegations that have been leveled against Bandaru Dattatreya and Smriti Irani, senior BJP leaders and union ministers, in Rohith’s suicide, need clear answers.

It was clearly a case of undue political interference, as proven by letters of Bandaru Dattatreya on behalf of BJP and letters of HRD ministry to UoH on Bandaru’s letter that exacerbated the matter. Then there are controversial statements by Smriti Irani, Bandaru Dattatreya and other BJP leaders. BJP could have simply accepted the fault and could have apologized to the nation. That would, in fact, be positive for the party’s public perception.

Now that Narendra Modi has reacted so emotionally, should we see some fundamental changes coming? True, a mother has lost her son and words cannot suffice for the pain her family is going through. Action must follow. The society would be a much better place with a Rohith Vemula, engaged in his life, pursuing his studies, unknown to you and me and each of us who are now thinking so deeply about the incident.

After all, Delhi gangrape on December 16, 2012 was not first horrible crime to happen against women but then, at times, it takes an incident like this to stir our collective conscience to demand for fundamental changes.

We cannot quantify what the massive public outrage on December 16 gangrape did to our society but it did qualify on parameters like forcing policymakers to act, starting debates in social circles and more reporting on crimes against women. At least, a beginning has been made.

Can Rohith Vemula’s forced suicide do that to us – a beginning to bring fundamental changes in our seats of higher learning – away from destructive debates like ‘Brahminical’ or ‘anti-Brahminical’ or ‘pro-Dalit’ or ‘anti-Dalit’ or ‘higher Vs lower castes’ to constructive issues like ‘how to reform the reformative action system’ – like ‘how to keep student politics away from mainstream politics’ – like ‘the social disparity prevailing in the society’ – like ‘social inclusion and exclusion based on economic parameters’ – like ‘poor quality of our teachers’ – like ‘political appointments polluting the posts of VCs, head of institutions or principals’ – and so on and so forth?

 ©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/

Thursday, 21 January 2016

STUDENT SUICIDE: HOW WE SHOULD SEE SMRITI IRANI’S YESTERDAY’S STATEMENT

Nothing more than another botched up political attempt by BJP to damage control in the issue that has outraged the whole nation after a Dalit Ph.D. scholar of the University of Hyderabad (UoH) was forced to commit suicide due to political interference in a matter of student politics.

Reports say that the Union Human Resources Development ministry wrote five letters to UoH to pressurize the university administration to act against Rohith Vemula and his four other friends, members of Ambedkar Students Association (ASA).

We have all the reasons to disbelieve BJP, Smriti Irani, the ABVP student leader of UoH N Susheel Kumar, UoH administration and its vice-chancellor (VC).

And we have every reason to believe every word of Rohith Vemula’s letter, written or unspoken, versions of his friends and their allegations.

What UoH did today, has in fact lend more credence to these voices demanding justice. Today, UoH revoked suspension of four others who were suspended along with Rohith. Now we can only lament on such a blasphemy that aggravates our collective outrage even more. It is absolutely nothing and is unacceptably late.

An individual’s life is the primary driving force of a democracy. Yes, that is the ideal scenario enshrined in our Constitution and we are far from that as a society with the prevailing socio-political milieu.

But this basic tenet takes the sense of urgency whenever we found ourselves in a state of collective mourning and outrage over loss of a human life – like it has become so in the case of Rohith Vemula – a bright and talented human being – whose life was cut short by some unabashed political masquerading of the system.

And our collective mourning, our outrage and that producing echoes of Rohith’s name – a person unknown till January 17 – are the best possible tribute to this man – who has stirred our sentiments.

Rohith’s letter exonerates anyone and everyone of the guilt behind his act but it, in fact, blames each of us. It is, in fact, his dying declaration that puts us all in the dock. And even our legal judicial system accepts the sanctity of someone’s dying declaration – without any further evidence.

Rohith’s highly intellectual last letter is also a contradictory one. He says he is happy in embracing death but he also regrets about his past life and childhood and writes about his disenchantment from the society.

And when we see some past months in his life, we feel why BJP has been utterly wrong in dealing with the crisis and how misplaced the party’s logics have been.

Smriti Irani first painted a very sincere image of her on the crisis saying she was ready to resign in case she was proven wrong and then she came with her misplaced rhetoric yesterday that said that the politicking over the issue was creating a false impression of ‘Dalit Vs non-Dalit’ struggle. And she used ‘wrong facts’ to bolster her claims which fell flat today when UoH teachers said there was no Dalit teacher in the panel that punished Rohith Vemula.

To continue.. 

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

INDIA PAKISTAN THAW: IT IS IRONIC BUT..

It is ironic but two unfortunate terror strikes have come as the opportunity cost to show verbal restraint in India-Pakistan ties - something that should be identified as a 'real time real' development in India-Pakistan thaws.

First it was Pathankot terror strike in India - on Pathankot air base - near the Pakistan border in Indian state of Punjab. The terror strike that began early in the morning of January 1 when, like the whole world, India, too was welcoming the New Year and went on for quite some time. The attack had clear Pakistani imprints (and footprints, literally). Though the attack did not cause much damage, it dragged on  for hours and caused irreparable loss with seven Indian soldiers martyred.

And first time in the known history, at least in the recent times, Pakistan reacted sincerely to the leads points its hands there - even if it was under pressure to do so - under US pressure - and under the pressure of Narendra Modi's surprise Lahore stopover and diplomacy that ensued.

Pakistan condemned the attack and its prime minister's office released a statement saying Pakistan was seriously working on the leads provided by India and several Jaish-eMuhamman operatives were arrested. The statement also said that a Special Investigation Team was constituted for comprehensive probe. JeM is a Pakistan based terror group that is behind this attack on Pathankot. Its chief Masood Azhar, who was in Indian jail, was swapped in 1999 Kandahar hijacking incident.

It's true that we cannot expect much from Pakistan. That is visible from its flipflops on Masood Azhar's arrest.

But we need to appreciate the restraint shown. Pakistan's ruling establishment and even its military have tried to look sincere this time. Yesterday, a report came that Pakistan had assured the US of no doublespeak in Pathankot terror probe on its soil.

Let's give Pakistan some time to see what it comes with - as it time and again - after the Pathankot air base attack incident - has reiterated that it will reveal something concrete once the probe is finished.

India bashing was regular in Pakistani media - as usual -as expected - as the stories planted on crackdown on JeM and Masood Azhar's arrest.

The second indicator came today - with terror strike at Bacha Khan University in Charsadda district in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (KP). Around 25 people were killed when terrorists attacked the University founded in 2012 in the name of Gandhian Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan or Frontier Gandhi.

Like has been the practice in Pakistan, blaming India blindly for every terror strike, was not the case today.

No one in Pakistan's ruling establishment, including its civilian government and its military, rushed to blame India today -  and that was very sincere.

In fact Nawaz Sharif responded sensitively to Narendra Modi's message in this crisis hour saying “this incident is yet another reminder that terrorism is our common enemy and a cooperative approach is essential to eliminate it from the region.”

Yes, as usual, a section of Pakistani media has been on an overdrive to prove Indian hand in Bacha Khan University attack - blaming Indian Embassy in Kabul and providing some phone numbers that were used - but that looks more like a 'tit for tat' - with India's actionable evident provided to Pakistan in Pathankot attack incident. Hope, Pakistan government it's all powerful army would not go into that rhetoric.

Pakistan's ruling establishment knows that linking India to attacks in Pakistan is nothing but to appease the elements in its domestic politics - and the time is not opportune for that. Promoting unrest in India has been a state policy for Pakistan while India has always been a responsible democracy. 

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY AGAIN TO PLAY THEIR VICTIM CARD!

That was again in the air. What looked on air - looked like a genuine case - a disgruntled person approached Arvind Kejriwal - during one of his trademark self-obsessed events - this time to say thanks to Delhiites for the 'odd-even' scheme - to express her displeasure.

Okay, we may disagree by the way the lady chose to express her displeasure - by throwing ink and some pieces of paper (and a CD) - but we will certainly disagree with what followed - with the lady - and in general - especially with histrionics of the Aam Aadmi Party leaders.

As soon as the news broke, it became 'the' most important news of the 'nation' - as expected - and as expected - the AAP machinery went into overdrive - to squeeze in the maximum political mileage - to play the victim card - to get in the war of words that is getting so ugly with each passing day.

As soon as the news flashed - as soon as its images started getting viral - the AAP propaganda - yes, now we should say them a well oiled propaganda machinery -  took to social media and media in full overdrive (with as much throttle speed as possible) - inhabiting nooks and corners of media and social media spaces - with their victim card - with their 'good samaritan' card.

In their trademark way - that has started making us cringe now - something that AAP totally disregards.

So, as soon as the news broke, everyone in AAP started shooting (and shouting at the top of their voices) that it was a political conspiracy - and plans to kill Arvind Kejriwal and other AAP leaders were in making.

The party took no time in coming directly to its point - in getting direct confrontation with BJP and with the Delhi Police. In fact, the party looked desperate to catch political prospects from this 'windfall development' as the Punjab assembly polls are around the corner where the party is betting big.

And it was ironical!

Making a fuss around this issue by a party that owes its origin to the 'common man' - sending a common woman to jail - is condemnable. A disgruntled auto-rickshaw driver had slapped Arvind Kejriwal. Kejriwal forgave him and reached out to meet him - though he made a big public spectacle of it. But then, Kejriwal is not chief minister then.

He is chief minister now - and with a solid mandate - 67 out of 70 seats in the Delhi assembly. And after taking Delhi's CM office second time in February 2015, he has shed all his inhibitions - including his 'common man' branding. Now, AAP is like any other party.

And like any other leader of any other political party, the Delhi CM did not show largesse this time. No one in AAP is talking about her now. Kejriwal did not go to meet her today.

Instead, its ministers, leaders and spokespersons are busy since yesterday in milking this incident to settle score with the Delhi Police, to target BJP and to show how everyone else is behind life (and times) of Arvind Kejriwal and AAP.

It all looks so gaudy - so funny now. And it will certainly reflect in electoral politics. The party that borrows its name from the 'common man' could have logically chosen to downplay the incident - with a genuine clemency for the lady.

But we all knew what was coming.

To continue..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/

Monday, 18 January 2016

OUR ORIGINALITY VALID THROUGH ARTIFICIAL ART.

Well, these are some words from the first letter written in public domain by Rohith Vemula - that is now also is his last one - because Rohith, a young research scholar from a reputed university, committed suicide yesterday.

And these words, if they tell his suicide may have other reasons than student politics and caste discrimination, they also tell, in fact the whole language of his letter, that this guy cannot be anti-national as Bandaru Dattatreya, senior BJP leader and union minister, and University of Hyderabad administration think.

Like everything has good and bad facets - student politics is no exception. In fact, student politics is a must in any democracy - but certainly not in the form that is prevalent in India - from Delhi University to Jawaharlal Nehru University to Mumbai University to University of Hyderabad to Banaras Hindu University - in fact, in any university in India.

The developments related to student politics leave you in bad mood and in bitter taste. I have seen its polluted form, a form that has become a sort of norm in India, during my days in Banaras Hindu University. Thankfully, the student union, as it prevails in places like DU and JNU, doesn't exist in BHU though it has its flipside - a ruthless university administration that has consistently seen and faced allegations of corruption and impropriety - including its current administration - a clear letdown - a trend that began in early years of the first decade of this Century.

Rohith, the 26 year old, second year Ph.D. student, was expelled from hostel and was barred from other living spaces of the university except his classroom, library and seminars and conference halls - in a way a social boycott.

He writes in his letter he has no complaints and no one should be held responsible for his suicide. He writes 'he is happy being dead than alive'. He writes he is not sad but is feeling empty and that is killing him.

I have no intention to go into inside out of this letter. I am incapable of doing so. In fact, I should not do so.

But there are some relevant questions where we must look for the answers if we have to stand up and grow as a holistic society, and this letter is right there.

What Rohith has written in his letter are questions fuelled from a sense of insecurity that creeps beneath your skin when you start questioning the society around you in terms of your ethos towards life - and we all entitled for that.

His letter flows lyrically. It has a soul - a soul that tells of a conscious mind - a soul that tells us why his detractors including the university administration, politicians including those from student politics and society at large are wrong - a soul that tells why they all are culprits.

Yes, life is as much about positives as it is about negatives - and the journey here is the sum total of maintaining the lead of positives over negatives - but sometimes, negatives become so acidic that anything can happen in those 'impulsive moments that let you down'.

Embracing death - this young fellow looks set to do that - without blaming anyone - wishing for a journey to some other worlds - but his words also tell that how we failed him - that how we exacerbated the feeling of 'disconnect' in those impulsive moments' when Rohith decided to embrace death.

His tragic death deals deeply with the questions of identity crisis - like commoditization of a human life - a research scholar at a university, with a conscience like of the author of this letter, bound to feel low when he faces the insensitivity around him - mixed with social arrogance and social apathy.

Rohith Vemula was active in student politics but his letter tells his was a logical political past - the way it should be in student politics - and not like the obscene display of political muscle and money in places like DU. And we safely can say that Ambedkar Students Association (ASA), Rohith was a member of, is far less controversial than ABVP (Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad), BJP's student politics wing.

The letter says Rohith was not sad but it lets itself bare open before us in letting us know that how depressed he was when he terms his birth as some fatal accident and his grown up days as disconnected from the society he was living in - so much so that he says that we need fakes to look original.

We may rightly debate that it is not the case but Rohith makes his point logically and lyrically - even if leaving us all humiliatingly burdened by the sense of guilt that his death has caused.

The reason for his death goes well beyond caste politics. It is more about the rot in our education system, especially the university education system. Unfortunately, most of the universities in India are like small fiefdoms where vice-chancellors lord over like anything. And with increasing political patronage and interference, people with questionable academic intent are having a green run. It was a political interference that caused Rohith's expulsion from hostel.  

In such institutions, teaching quality is the first casualty. Next in the line are students. Student politics, that is a direct offshoot of senior level politics in our country, further pollutes the system. Large scale scams are regularly alleged in recruitments and admissions. The VCs with feudal mindsets take bizarre decisions though these things are hardly reported. The recent decision by BHU to sack Sandeep Pandey, visiting professor, IIT-BHU, is one such example. The university administration has branded the Magsaysay winner a 'naxalite'. Utter rubbish!

And then there are social equations.

India has made considerable progress in ensuring social affirmative action. It cannot be outrightly dismissed as some are trying to do (as some try to do whenever such incidents happen). Much has been done and we can see its effects.

But then it is also equally true that much is yet to be done, especially in rural belts. And that tells us we urgently need to graduate to the next stage of our affirmative action.

And about the mindset change in urban India - where the problem exists - it is a complex social equation and a straight law and order issue - and must be dealt accordingly. It will take time but we need to appreciate that the change is coming - if we have to succeed - like sternly dealing with culprits in this case - even if Rohith's letter doesn't blame anyone.

We need to graduate to 'Dalit cause' - beyond 'Dalit politics' - and we need to be real with it - beyond those artificial dogmas that still blind us.

I did not know who Rohith Vemula was before yesterday. No one except his immediate life circle knew him before yesterday.

But, now I know who he was, through his words - through this letter. A loss of young life this way leaves unanswered questions for all of us - blaming us collectively - for failing it.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/

Rohith Vemula only letter (addressed to all of us) - and must be for all of us..

Good morning,

I would not be around when you read this letter. Don’t get angry on me. I know some of you truly cared for me, loved me and treated me very well. I have no complaints on anyone. It was always with myself I had problems. I feel a growing gap between my soul and my body. And I have become a monster. I always wanted to be a writer. A writer of science, like Carl Sagan. At last, this is the only letter I am getting to write.

I loved Science, Stars, Nature, but then I loved people without knowing that people have long since divorced from nature. Our feelings are second handed. Our love is constructed. Our beliefs colored. Our originality valid through artificial art. It has become truly difficult to love without getting hurt.

The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of star dust. In every field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living.

I am writing this kind of letter for the first time. My first time of a final letter. Forgive me if I fail to make sense.

May be I was wrong, all the while, in understanding world. In understanding love, pain, life, death. There was no urgency. But I always was rushing. Desperate to start a life. All the while, some people, for them, life itself is curse. My birth is my fatal accident. I can never recover from my childhood loneliness. The unappreciated child from my past.

I am not hurt at this moment. I am not sad. I am just empty. Unconcerned about myself. That’s pathetic. And that’s why I am doing this.

People may dub me as a coward. And selfish, or stupid once I am gone. I am not bothered about what I am called. I don’t believe in after-death stories, ghosts, or spirits. If there is anything at all I believe, I believe that I can travel to the stars. And know about the other worlds.

If you, who is reading this letter can do anything for me, I have to get 7 months of my fellowship, one lakh and seventy five thousand rupees. Please see to it that my family is  paid that. I have to give some 40 thousand to Ramji. He never asked them back. But  please pay that to him from that.

Let my funeral be silent and smooth. Behave like I just appeared and gone. Do not shed tears for me. Know that I am happy dead than being alive.

"From shadows to the stars."

Uma anna, sorry for using your room for this thing.

To ASA family, sorry for disappointing all of you. You loved me very much. I wish all the very best for the future.

For one last time,

Jai Bheem

I forgot to write the formalities. No one is responsible for my this act of killing myself. No one has instigated me, whether by their acts or by their words to this act. This is my decision and I am the only one responsible for this. Do not trouble my friends and enemies on this after I am gone.