On Murthal

The Woman Inc.

by Meha Khanduri

This article nearly never got written because as I start to write on the issue I start seeing red. When India was raptly watching students of a prestigious university go through a long drama of whether slogan shouting students had committed sedition or not…rampaging mobs were burning, looting, and ransacking the cities of Haryana, right next door to the capital Delhi. Nobody was really outraged, no resignations were called for, no charges of sedition were made and after nearly two days of looting and burning worth 34000 crores, the government cordially accepted the demands of the rampaging mobs and the burning and looting came to an end.  An amicable solution all around..except for criminality and couple of thousand crores of national property but …..this is India!

Four days later some ghost stories started floating around. The whispers said that not only Haryana’s cities had been burnt and…

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Letter of solidarity from members of the faculty of IIT Bombay

KAFILA - 10 years of a common journey

[This statement is issued in our individual capacities, and does not represent the institution’s opinion]

We, the undersigned, members of the faculty at IIT Bombay, are deeply concerned with the recent events that have undermined the autonomy of institutions of higher education in this country. We believe that these institutions are spaces of critical thinking and expression. Matters of contention that might arise in the conduct of intellectual and social engagements need to be addressed democratically and rationally. These methods in turn should be within the purview of institutional procedures that are responsible and accountable.

The state cannot dictate on the many meanings of what it is to be ‘Indian’ or mandate the meaning of ‘nationalism’. Rather, the state should be the one that makes sure that multiple ways of imagining one’s relationship with the nation are allowed to flourish especially when it might contradict dominant ways of thinking. In…

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Condemning Caste Discrimination in Higher Education Centres that led to Rohith’s Untimely Death – Students of Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University

KAFILA - 10 years of a common journey

Guest Post by Students of Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University

dschool

( A protest meeting on Rohith Vemula was organised in Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University on 28 th January. Find pasted below a brief report of the meeting followed by the statement which was read and passed in the meeting.)

We, the students of Delhi School of Economics organised a protest meeting in solidarity with the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice, University of Hyderabad. It was joined in by students from other departments of the university as well.

The discussion revolved around the presence of caste based discrimination within university campuses and the deadly silence on the matter. It was recognised that Rohith’s investment in progressive politics was crucial in him and others in Ambedkar Students Association being victimised. And the present gathering affirmed its investment in that politics and striving for the kind of change Rohith also aspired…

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Because Indians love to overreact! New victim – Coldplay

It’s not racist when you show a brown person as a brown person, it’s racist, when the brown person wants to be portrayed as a white person.

 

Let me explain how fake patriots and how big hypocrites people are in this country. They hate everything which they think doesn’t paint the typical Western image of the country, but unfortunately for them, it’s not west and it’s not exotic. Why would a foreign band or a movie director come to India and show Starbucks if that’s what they have in abundance on their streets? If their everyday life is a luxury in India then wouldn’t showing that be more insulting?
I mean, do the people who are reacting turn a blind eye to every beggar they see on street just because it paints a poor image? Isn’t that the reality? Most of the people who are reacting haven’t moved an inch to make this place any better. Most of us contribute towards the hazardous pollution we face and if someone foreign to us talks about it, we cry foul. If a documentary has been made on a heinous rape which resulted in an uprising movement and by some western media and people appreciate the movement as inspiring you cry foul because the rapist’s sexist mentality is revealed even though a lot of people in the country share the same sexist ideology. Isn’t it true? How does proving someone else a hypocrite cover your flaws? And how does BBC, a media house, define the whole Western Europe and US making a collective effort in conspiring against India’s growth out of insecurity?
On the other hand, we make movies where every foreigner is shown as a fool and those scenes are accompanied with whistles and celebrated heavily in forms of jokes and Whatsapp forwards. Similarly, when in the movie 2012, they say that an Indian scientist built it or in Rang De Basanti a British movie director takes inspiration from some Delhi guys we celebrate it with pride. There’s so much wrong with our nationalism. You would take pride in fictional characters, in NRIs of Indian-origins who had nothing to do with India based on achievements but discard every negativity following the suit of individualism and “please don’t stereotype!”
Basically you want your country to be portrayed as UK even though it is way behind and nowhere near in terms of quality of life and you still expect a British band to feel exotic? How is that warranted?
Coming to the important part, Coldplay showed positive feeling, they showed colors and joy in suburbs of Bombay, read it as most of the Bombay. They showed the much celebrated (sarcasm) Indian culture (which is only used to prohibit every fundamental right from being practised). They showed content and satiation and the song had a similar feel. It was a feeling of independence, of joy, of celebration, of colors, of festivity and yet you somehow dragged negativity out of it. India, whose 75% population is rural wants to be portrayed watching movies in multiplexes with popcorns. Let me tell you this, your demand is exotic for most of the Indian population, not the Western Europeans or Americans.

On a lighter note, people are asking why that Sadhu Baba stereotyping footage was used and why Sonam Kapoor’s footage was cut short? Well, in this country, people can’t say a word against Sadhu Babas without landing into trouble and mock Sonam Kapoor everyday. So, stop being a hypocrite. This article puts a lot into perspective – http://www.hindustantimes.com/music/stop-getting-offended-about-everything-coldplay-s-video-is-amazing/story-wzNGzv8MsOqibAj8EbCekM.html?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=fbpost&utm_campaign=music

Incredible India, because I can’t disagree with that!

Since, the last few months there has been an ongoing debate on the growing intolerance in India. Intolerance, as defined by Oxford Dictionary means – Unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behaviour that differ from one’s own. I don’t know what all things have come out of it but I understand that the word has become a joke. People have debated, stats have been thrown, counters slapped back, awards have been returned, comparisons, whichever convenient have been used to prove some point, and people have tried to establish the hypocrisy of people asking questions as the weakest form of defence. Well, as per definition, if there are two sects of people who are fighting over it, then that too is intolerance. There is a difference between agreeing and accepting. If someone says, there is rising intolerance, then your tolerant response can be, “It’s okay if you think so, I just am not in collusion with you, but maybe let’s agree to disagree” and if you want the intolerant responses then just check any social media comments section. There are fringe elements everywhere and I believe in individualism, so I don’t want to comment on the country, a community based on these comments. But the thing is that the debate has continuously, either callously or meticulously been modified from ‘growing intolerance’ to intolerant or tolerant India. Although, there’s a world of difference between these two, but I want to comment on the latter. The former is most probably an attack on the current system and government, whereas the latter is an attack on the Indian society.

Well, people have talked about unity in diversity prevalent in India, cultural variations etc. There are fringe elements who show their intolerance towards that too, there are so many religions, sects castes etc, some people just can’t accept it, let alone agree with it and the govt.’s inaction against them and the statistically rising cases of these are troubling a few or more people but let’s forget about them and talk about majority. We keep on comparing India with Islamic extremist countries to prove a point about tolerance. As far as acceptance of beliefs is concerned, India does not even legally accept LGBT. It’s beyond preposterous, that people can be prosecuted for practicing something they didn’t choose. Isn’t this a clear case of not accepting a belief different from normality? Isn’t that one of the most blatant cases of intolerance? Most of the people in India still can’t marry people of their choice, forget different religion or caste, once again, something which people don’t choose, but is enforced upon them, but even choice in the same caste or religion isn’t a privilege in a lot of cases. Religious laws, be it any religion always oppose women and lower castes and are yet followed as a norm by the society. We, maybe not just as Indians, but a group of humans in majority have always been intolerant towards abnormality or difference. Most of the men, can’t tolerate a woman doing better than them because woman are different from them and men have taken over the world in general by curbing all women rights. You see a commotion on road and you say, ‘there must be a woman driving.’ We have our fake rules of patriotism and respect like Indian flag can’t appear below a person’s waist. ABP News made Mandira Bedi change her saree  as a result of their repeated criticism of Indian flag appearing near her foot and were proud of it. You really want to compare the tolerance level or acceptance level of USA or Europe, then compare these. People in USA, openly deride the churches, the President of the USA, make a TV series deriding the Senate and its elements, stand ups deride Jesus and Evangelists, churches and every other VIP, the people in general and the people mocked tolerate it. India made a movie deriding religion and although the movie earned money, there was enough criticism, theaters were vandalized, and there was a call for the lead actor’s head because he didn’t belong to the religion of the majority in India which was covered mostly in the movie because the movie was based on INDIA. Government decides that a person is good enough to vote and choose who will govern the country, and 3 years later, a person can legally marry but it takes 4 more years to decide if the person wants to drink. And don’t get me started on atheists, I don’t think I will ever see a day when they will be taken seriously, when people, especially their near and dear ones will stop enforcing their faith on them based on the labelled religion by birth. Indian censorship decides, what views or artistic requirements of the artist is good enough for the audience to see, comprehend, accept and appreciate. If there’s always an Indian culture argument to every different, flowing, unconventional thought to prohibit it, then how come Indian culture be accepting of different views. It’s purely ironic. The views of the celebrities, if it matches with your own, idolize them, else put them to a censure where they would be afraid of speaking their minds in public. There is unity in diversity, because a lot of individuals who actually want only their sets of belief to dominate don’t want to get their hands dirty in doing what’s not fair and what they want to. I, being born in India have always appreciated the diversity here, but please don’t tell me that India as a country is the most tolerant and accepting country. Certainly better than a lot of them, but surely worse then a bunch too.

And finally, if speaking against something wrong in a certain country is discouraged for the sake of maintaining a false image of the country, then it’s the highest form of intolerance which the country faces. It’s the most disturbing form of nationalism, the one which leads to wars, both internally and externally. Ravish Kumar covers it brilliantly in his prime time intro – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPrpYBpOrZw&feature=youtu.be

Will you take my kid to school?

More to it

Namit (name changed) was ready for discharge after a 3 month stay at our spinal injuries rehabilitation center. But instead of joy, I sensed restlessness on his face. Responding to my best wishes and “you better study well”, he whispered in a worried tone – “Dad is planning to home school me; I’d be allowed to go to school only for exams, can you please talk to them?”  Working a way out for all his problems was my job as his physio, but this one was a little too difficult to handle.

The shy fourteen year old came to our rehab center after a surgery to correct his extensively bent spine, a condition called scoliosis. He had started to develop this condition at ten years of age which had made running impossible and even walking difficult for him. But following the surgery, which corrected the bending, he developed paralysis down his waist and tightness in his legs.

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Internet.org by Facebook: The vision and Net Neutrality Debate

A tech startup in 2004 which came up with the best photo sharing social networking space has now become one of the most relevant tech giants of the world. Starting from Facebook for social networking to third party app development over which gaming startups thrived to actually providing internet to the population on the wrong side of digital divide, they have come a long way.

It’s needless to say that by acquiring Instagram and Whatsapp and with the amount of activity and active users on these two and Facebook itself it has the best analytics information covering most of the internet users arguably in terms of quantity and without doubt in terms of quality. By launching Facebook APIs in 2012 which is the most common login method in US, they are not only generating information about what their users are doing on the internet but also making those users dependent on Facebook. If I use all my favorite applications using Facebook login, I just can’t remove my Facebook account.

So, after covering all these what’s the next step? To get those people who still don’t have internet and there comes Internet.org by Facebook. It provides free ‘limited’ internet services to people who can’t afford internet. It sounds brilliant except for the word ‘limited’ which sparks the net neutrality debate, one of the hottest internet debates in the world right now.

Why Facebook as a community is doing this? Optimists talk about Corporate Social Responsibility whereas the cynical ones mark it as a step towards covering the untouched market and spreading it there in a monopolistic way by providing those limited services which have some sort of association with them. Well, they are both right to a certain extent.

Now, unlike the telecom operators like Airtel coming up with Airtel Zero just for big corporate giants to pay them for internet, Facebook have classified some important sections for the masses like education, skill and jobs, information and news etc covering the most relevant uses of the internet. But then, two other factors need to be considered which challenge the sanctity of the initiative.

Firstly, Internet.org should not be available to everyone, it should only be available to those who can’t afford internet, if that’s the true aim of providing essential information based services to the people on the wrong side of the digital divide. This sounds far-fetched as far as implementation is concerned but there’s a simple way. You can either choose a data plan provided by your network operator or Internet.org, you can’t have both and these should be on a monthly basis so that people just don’t keep switching to free internet as per their will. A lot of people who can afford internet would never go for limited services provided by Internet.org this way. Everyone who has used internet as it exists today wants it to be unhindered.

Secondly, Internet.org hasn’t included any Google services which is in collusion with their corporate interest of keeping Google out of the new market they are trying to cover. It is quiet natural but as far as a consumer is concerned Google and it’s various tools provide unmatched knowledge and information. Replacing Google with Bing can still be justified as a substitute although it truly isn’t but not having Youtube indicates malicious corporate market covering strategy. Youtube has become the most popular learning and skill development tool and needs to be there if internet as a learning tool is being professed.

But, as far as one of the most significant debates considering the net neutrality is concerned, Facebook is putting in a dedicated effort towards it. The argument is that net neutrality is essential for web startups and curbing it will curb all web startups. Facebook is already providing Parse for a quick and a robust back-end development for tech startups to make their products and have come up with FbStart as an entire tool to build, grow, monetize, analyze and expand the web based tech-organizations and it is free. They have access to the user based analytics information which is provided along with development mentorship and finally development for low bandwidth regions andInternet.org! So, it might violate net neutrality in some ways but is not curbing web based tech organizations to enter the space and the new market.

So, we might argue that Facebook is violating net neutrality but certainly not to the diabolical extent as the telecom companies who have run out of ideas. It is probably doing more good than evil. It is trying to hamper competition from another giant Google but is still encouraging startups to be a part of it and go along with it to get into the new market and provide services to the population who are still not on internet because they can’t afford it. Yes, it is attaching itself to all of them in the process but is providing them unprecedented benefits while trying to become the most significant name in the internet domain.