Mechanical Engineer from Bombay, India. When not drilling high pressure gas wells in one of the most challenging offshore zones in the world, you can find him halfway up a cliff, grappling at a dojo in Tokyo or buying Bonsai trees in a remote Chinese province.
People who have been defending Mahesh Sharma's recent comments as merely “cautionary advice” are missing the point. When a Union Minister suggests that tourists should refrain from wearing skirts for their own safety, it sends a dangerous message -- that the onus of not being sexually assaulted lies on the shoulders of the victim.
This post is a follow-up to my earlier article, “Terror Has No Religion – Debunking The Regressive Left’s Clichés. Here I want to focus on how Regressive Leftists are complicit in perpetuating the victimhood complex that fuels fascist ideologies such as Islamism and Hindutva.
The immense appeal of Zakir Naik's demagoguery, especially among articulate, seemingly educated folks who hail him as an intellectual, is a symptom of an affliction that is not confined to the Muslim community alone. The real problem is that our education system is churning out millions of literate number crunchers, code writers and paper pushers, but lays little emphasis on critical thinking.
Many on the ideological right have been peddling a JP Dutta brand of nationalism that is as original as the next Sunny Deol film about an angry Indian dude in a turban. Here, I will attempt to dissect the most common arguments made in the last two weeks, with much needed nuance and rationality.
Between the regressive leftist hypocrisy of Jeremy Corbyn and the xenophobic exhortations of Donald Trump, ex-Muslim activists provide a lucid perspective on Islamism. They articulate that it is possible to criticise religious ideologies while simultaneously denouncing bigotry against its practitioners; that human life is sacrosanct, but ideas are not. You'd think these secular warriors (non-jihad variants) would be the darlings of Western liberals, but instead, the political left treats them as pariahs, as much as their own native community does.
I finally watched the infamous Aamir Khan clip that has caused this nationwide neurosis over tolerance (or intolerance, depending on which side of the fence you are on). I have to admit it really got my dander up. Not the intolerance bit. As usual, we Indians have been obsessing over a triviality. The part I found cringe-worthy was where he tries to dissociate religious ideology from terrorism.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have been posing like two peas in a pod, with my dewy eyed brethren cheering them on with their tri-coloured display pictures, a sinister act of digital censorship is being played out on Facebook. Interestingly, hate groups don't seem to offend the fragile sensibilities of either Facebook India or the Indian government. Rationalists, freethinkers and critics of pseudo-science are the only casualties.
Parineeti Chopra recently said she supports gender equality and women's empowerment, but she is not a feminist. Her statement left some of us confused. So in order to further elucidate her position, the Chopra camp has issued a list of things Parineeti is not.
'Nonsense!' exclaimed the wife. 'Stop exaggerating. There is no such thing as "Hindu extremism". It's really not even a religion; it's a philosophy-- a way of life. Our PM said so himself,' the wife asserted. 'You Adarsh liberals are always looking for a way to undermine the good work done by our Dear Leader. Painting stray instances of mob violence with a communal brush.'
Having diverse views on contentious issues is normal in a healthy democracy. But the total lack of coherence and logic in the way we articulate our views is appalling. Politicians, journalists and even renowned intellectuals are often guilty of making imbecilic rebuttals on prime-time debates and twitter handles. So here's a crash course on some of the most blatant logical fallacies in recent debates, on issues that have polarized the world's largest democracy these past few months.
Amidst the bloodletting and state apathy, the deafening silence of one woman -- Irom Chanu Sharmila -- is a stark reminder of the courage and conviction of Manipur. Let us support Manipur's Iron Lady at a peaceful gathering outside New Delhi Patiala Court on 11 August 2015 at 08:00 hrs. This will be our last opportunity to show solidarity, after which Irom Sharmila will be confined to trials in Imphal, Manipur.
The list of items that receive state protection from satire in the world's largest democracy is getting longer every day. With 33,000 deities (plus the one "true" god and the prophet who must never be drawn), a variety of cultural paraphernalia and a battalion of saints and shamans, we have now added dead political personalities to the "exempt from satire" roster.
As we enter the sixth month, here is my list of six titles (all fictitious) you are least likely to see on any bookshelf; six books that will never see the light of day. Six instances when the precepts of democracy and free speech took a back-seat in our valiant effort to "save" hurt feelings.
It is not a good time to be a free thinker on the Indian subcontinent. Within a few months, secular voices Avijit Roy, Washiqur Rahman and, most recently, Ananta Bijoy Das were forever silenced in Bangladesh. Then, an outspoken activist Sabeen Mahmud was brazenly assassinated in Pakistan. We Indians are (relatively) fortunate to have the freedom to voice our opinion without getting stabbed for it, or riddled with high calibre rounds. However, recent trends suggest we may be headed down the same totalitarian path as our neighbours.
So vernacular movies and street food are now on the long list of "sentimental items" that have been granted State protection from jest and caricature. The vada pav is now as sacrosanct as our gods and dead shamans. Its fragile flavour must be protected from insults. Thank heavens the draconian 66A was repealed just in time. Or else some overzealous culture warrior would have dragged De to court already.