Word of the day: Russophobia

Ever since I read the novel Poland by James Michener, I’ve been interested in Poland and its neighbors. Thus, I follow a few organizations which often talk about Poland, one of which is the Center for Eastern Studies(OSW) based in Warsaw. They run an online publication which explains what‘s been going on in Eastern Europe in detail. Today, I can across a Point of View article on their site which talks about Russophobia, which is the political and information strategy used by Russia to make its residents believe that the Western world hates/fears/wants to destroy Russia. All well and good. They run a propaganda machine and we understand that.

Reading the paper, I came across this quote, found in footnote 11 on page 16 of the PDF document –

He regrets that the “ungrateful” Ukrainians are dismantling monuments to Lenin, “to whom, after all, they owe the awakening of Ukrainian national consciousness.”

‘He’ is a former head of a Russian intelligence analytic group. The words above echoed in my mind and connected the dots with another topic I’ve read about today. What could I be thinking of while reading those words? Well, here‘s the quote –

“Those involved in this ludicrous case should recognize that the British Crown Jewels is precisely the right place for the Koh-i-Noor diamond to reside, in grateful recognition for over three centuries of British involvement in India, which led to the modernization, development, protection, agrarian advance, linguistic unification and ultimately the democratization of the sub-continent.”

Who said that? Historian Andrew Roberts, in regards to the latest case by an Indian group, asking for the return of the crown jewel, Koh-i-noor, of which they believe India is the rightful owner. Andrew Roberts, of course, disagrees.

Notice the similarity in the statements? The oppressive power, having trampled, abused, stripped of all riches and domineered over the oppressed nation, then assumes a state of victim-hood and faux-chivalry. “We gave you education, liberty, civilization and nationality, and this is how you repay us?”

Frankly, this ugly act is ill-suited to super-powers. They are aware of their transgressions and should accept their role in enslaving the masses of their colonies instead of acting like hurt Starfleet officers thwarted in their attempts to uplift the masses of an alien civilization.

The fact of the matter is that the Prime Directive has only been a myth of science fiction and history has always shown that the greater power will only suppress the lesser, no matter how much their historians wax eloquent about the noble goals with which these super-powers stepped on foreign soil. At the end of the day, this propagandist Russophobia and this false British victim-hood isn’t fooling anyone.

 

Word of the day: bugbear

A bugbear, according to Wikipedia is a legendary creature (not epic, just the stuff of stories) similar to a bogeyman, mostly used to frighten children into obedience. It was used in this article today to describe how India perceives China’s influence (interference?) in regional affairs in South East Asia –

And then there is China, India’s regional bugbear.

The article is titled ‘Why India is concerned about Nepal’s constitution’ and talks about how India is worried that Nepal’s new constitution is not comprehensive enough. This has caused concern among residents of the southern plains of Nepal, known as the Terai. The communities living in Terai, including the Madeshis and the Tharu ethnic minorities, which comprise about 40% of Nepal’s population do not agree with the seven federal provinces delineated in the constitution and this has caused violence in those regions. India is rightfully concerned that this violence will spill over to Bihar, which is something that has happened in the past, during Nepal’s long and bloody battle with Maoism.

I spent some time this year reading the book ‘The Bullet and the Ballot Box’ by Aditya Adhikari, which talks about Nepal’s struggle with the Maoist revolution and how everything in Nepali politics has one looming external factor which plays a heavy role in deciding things – India. No analysis of Nepal’s history is complete without looking at India’s interference in their local politics. The following are some highlights which I made while reading the book. They may seem out of context, but I hope to write these out along with explanations in a later post one day, so please skim through them for now. These are excerpts from the book –

At the heart of the matter was the question of how Nepali communists should view the monarchy, the parliamentary parties and the Indian state.

The monarchy, the parliamentary parties and the Indian government were equally their enemy.

A number of Bhattarai’s colleagues from university had gone on to careers in Indian politics, civil service and academia, and so he was tasked with contacting them. In early 2002, Bhattarai managed to contact the Indian Prime Minister’s Office through his old acquaintance, S. D. Muni, a scholar of Nepali politics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University who had briefly been ambassador to Laos.

Prachanda raised the spectre of an Indian invasion to provide ideological justification for a royalist–Maoist alliance among the party’s rank and file […]

Soon after, India announced a freeze on military aid to Nepal, as did the United Kingdom and the United States.

But India, unplacated, maintained its arms embargo. Gyanendra then resorted to a strategy his father had used in the past: he sought to cultivate China as a counterweight against India. India, ever wary of Chinese influence in Nepal, only grew more hostile towards the Nepali government.

Never before had the Maoists been able to establish contacts at such high levels of the Indian establishment. Antagonized by Gyanendra’s extreme measures and his efforts to cultivate China, the Indian political class, which had hitherto seen the Maoists only as a terrorist group, was growing less reluctant to recognize them as a political force.

Although India was not a signatory to the twelve-point agreement, it did influence its content. Various Nepali leaders had long been requesting mediation from international bodies like the UN to resolve the conflict. India did not want any third-party involvement […]

Hindu groups in both Nepal and India were outraged by the godless regime’s tampering with sacred tradition.

Indian Ambassador Rakesh Sood and Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee had assured the president of their support for revoking the government’s decision.

The Indian state was familiar with such games. They had, after all, been played before, often successfully, in dealing with hostile groups in Kashmir and Northeast India.

The above notes may seem as random lines picked up from the book, but the underlying pattern is clear – While India may always be afraid of China and their growing strength in every country around India, for smaller countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka, the only bugbear to be scared of is India, their giant next door neighbor.

Word of the Day: illiberalism

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, illiberalism, quite simply, is the lack of liberal values. But that begs the question, what is liberalism? Is it the ability of a community to be forward thinking and self-critical? Is it the incessant forward march of a government without caring for the social, political and emotive values of its peoples? Or is it the protection of the freedom of expression of an author writing about a sensitive topic with the backdrop of a community to which he does not belong? Hindustan Times certainly believes in the last definition.

First, it shows that it is not only the sangh parivar or Islamic organisations that are at the forefront of such illiberalism.

Source: Liberal values are being trampled upon in Tamil Nadu

The issue at hand is that the author Puliyur Murugesan wrote a bookBalachandran Enra Peyarum Enakkundu (I am also known as Balachandran), about the life and troubles of a transgender, who is sexually harassed throughout life and faces an upward battle of identity. The protagonist belongs to the Gounder community and by now, you would have guessed where this is going.

The Gounder community decided to take offence to this ‘insult’ to their people and instead of rationally sitting down with the writer and asking for edits to the story or a total redaction, decided that the better course of action would be to abduct the author and brutally beat him up in the middle of nowhere. To add insult to literal injury, the police has filed a case against the author for provoking a riot, writing and circulating obscene content, selling a book containing defamatory matter, intentional provocation of breach of peace and causing fear or alarm to public. Wonderful, isn’t it?

HT, in their laconic article, asked an interesting question – why is it that only current authors face the brunt of such injustice? Why do authors such as Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, the acclaimed author of Devdas, who “had made uncharitable remarks about some non-Bengali Brahmin clans”, not face such public ridicule and outrage? Perhaps, if it were in fashion, political parties and illiberal communities will also start attacking famous people from India’s history books. Oh wait, they already do!

A response to NYTimes’ OpEd on Religion in India

The New York Times has published a Christmas OpEd piece (yesterday online and today in print) that talks about religious intolerance in India and how ‘hindu militants’ are forcing conversions of Muslims and Christians and has blamed our PM, Narendra Modi for not doing enough to stop this and other attacks.

Initially, I wanted to write a long and deeply researched rebuke of this kind of hypocrisy, but I’d rather let a picture say a thousand words –


Continue reading

Word of the Day: metonym

According to Wikipedia, metonym is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is replaced by another that has a similar meaning. That is to say, you don’t want to call a thing by it’s name and you use another name in it’s stead. That is to say, you use it’s synonym instead. Essentially, metonym means instead. Now, where would you find such a convoluted word for such a simple meaning? Why, in The Hindu’s Editorial, of course! Specifically, this is how it is used in an OpEd piece I was reading today – Continue reading

UnAAPologetically Indian

So, Kejriwal is in jail for a defamation case (charged, not convicted) and India’s social janta is going nuts after the fact. Ever since he quit his short-term Chief Minister-ship of Delhi, the people of India have rebuked, ridiculed and made Kejriwal the butt of every political joke not directed towards Rahul baba. Now, people are asking if he’s relevant any more, whether being sent to jail means his political career is at an end and if he should just remain there. Continue reading

The Old India

India

So, I was reading about Xerxes, because I’ve recently watched 300 Part II and it’s very interesting how in a short period of time, in a very small part of the world, entire kingdoms formed and fell, armies moved across oceans and civilizations blossomed and razed to the ground. While reading about Xerxes (and this is Wikipedia, everything is linked and I often go binge-wikiing), I started reading about his father, Darius I. Darius died fighting revolts from the Greeks, Egypt and the Babylonians, amongst others. But before he did that, he went a little East to raid and conquer this wonderful place called Afghanistan. Along with that, he decided to conquer Taxila. Wait, Taxila? Isn’t that supposed to be part of Indian history? I definitely read about it. Interesting, reading on! Continue reading

Stories Untold: How the lack of Character Development affects Indian Cinema

I have often observed that Indian movies have a habit of skipping over various aspects of a character’s development in a rush to tell the entire story in the allotted time. Story telling is a noble pursuit, in that the audience is nowadays impatient and quick to judge. It takes a lot of combined work by everyone involved, from the script writer to the editor, to release a product that is worthy of people’s time and money. Consequently, if the end product is a confused, winding tale, it is a failure of every single person involved in the storytelling process. Continue reading

Sabji Acchi bani hai – Part 1

Setting: A typical IT company office in India. 3 cubicles (cutouts) can be seen, Stage center back. Three men are sitting with backs facing the audience. They appear to be working. They are – Sumit in the Stage Right cubicle, Shanky in the Stage center and Rahul/Ashutosh on Stage Left. Loud sighs can be heard coming from Shanky when the curtain opens.

After about 30 seconds of listening to the loud sighs.
Sumit (turning to Shanky): Abey yaar Shanky, itna udaas kyun hai?
Shanky (turns to Audience and rolls his chair to Stage Center): Ama yaar kya btaun, kimkartavyavimoodh ho rakha hun.
Rahul (turns and rolls his chair to Center Left): Kim Kardashian? Abey tu itna udaas hai ki khud ke words bnane lag gaya hai?
Shanky: Abey ghonchu, hindi ka shabdkosh khol liya kar kabhi, authentic word hai.
(Rahul is still scratching his head)
Sumit (rolling chair to Center Right): Shanky, itne bhaari words mat use kar, usse samajh nahi aate, (turning to Rahul) dude, vo keh raha hai ki vo confused hai ki kya kare! Shanky, tu ye to bta ki tujhe hua kya?
Shanky (showing disappointment with ‘shucks’): Kya btaun yaar, jab se shaadi hui hai, meri pyaari preeto ne Anarkali ko chodd ke Kali ka roop dharan kar liya hai. Life jhand ho gayi hai…
Rahul: Accha, teri bhi yehi halat hai?
Sumit: Yaar sabki yehi halat hoti hai, ismein naya kya hai?
Shanky: Naya hai yaar! Pehle to main preeto ko compliment karta tha, to has ke kehti thi, ki tum to bade romantic ho!
Sumit: Aur ab?
Shanky: Yaar ab agar usse kehta hun ki sabji acchi bani hai, to usse sunta hai ki sabji KACCHI bani hai! Bekar mein har subah jagdha ho jaata hai.
Rahul: Yaar, ye to mere saath bhi bda hota hai, tang ho gaya hun!
Sumit: Yaar same here. Life ne bda hi ajeeb mod liya hai, Socha tha shaadi kar ke life mein shaanti aegi.
Shanky: Dude shaanti to aayi, par sukuun waali nahi, DD ki Mandira Bedi waali Shanti, aur uske rehte kisi ke life mein shaanti nahi ho sakti! Continue reading