Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Please vacate the campus by 3"

As I entered class today, one of my classmates asked, "Will we be let off by 12 today?" I wondered why she was anxious to leave at that time. She went on, "It's been coming in the news since last night. Roads will be blocked after 12 and colleges and offices have been asked to shut down." But why? She continued,"It's because of the Ayodhaya verdict that's going to be out today."

Oh that! Wasn't it 18 years ago that some people thought "Oh, here's a nice way to cash in on the vote bank" and went on to demolish a mosque claimed to be built at a site where a temple had been built in the 11th century? Actually, the dispute dates back to 1528. But are we still on that? I thought we'd moved on.

The day moved on. Not many turned up. It was the apprehension that communal tension may break out in the city because of the verdict. 12 O'clock came. Passed. The roads were still buzzing with traffic. The next class began. It was all routine till someone came in and said, "Please vacate the campus by 3. It's for security reasons."

Oh, so we're still on that.


  1. ira
    i agree 92 demolition was a completely political move , but your hyperlink suggests only the BJP,VHP,RSS at fault.
    This issue is not about a temple being there in 11th century , its also about our distorted notion of secularism propogated rather shamelessly by congress....i strongly suugest to go back to 1986 allahbad high court ruling , the shah bano case , the rath yatra and finally the demolition before making such a callous remark !

  2. I am not pro-UPA. The BJP et al were at fault when they thought it was okay to demolish the mosque in '92, as pointed out by the commission There is a difference between the Ayodhya and the Shah Bano case as the latter was based on interpretation of the Muslim personal law, while the former was only based on court findings and not interpretation. Paroma, I am not concerned with who was at fault (Indian politicians play blame games all the time) as much as the issue that we still let such verdicts affect the security levels in our country, the peace of our country, the safety of its citizens.We're still afraid of a communal riot because of such verdicts. I thought we'd have left behind the issue by now.

  3. Ira m not denying BJP etc. were not at fault , all i'm saing is , that they weren't alone... and of course shah bano case is of importnace here...after BJP's humiliating loss in 84 , it was only bcz congress adopted muslim personal law that BJP got support again from the hindu electorate coz hindu's felt so wronged! , and as a part of this changing political scenario the rath yatra was undertaken....
    and well as far as the verdict goes, in my opinion , the land should've been acquired by the govt as a whole and not a part and probably put to some good use....and well about "getting over it"....its not that simple...this case could've been trated like any other civil case in a court of justice , but it aaj ke papers...the media reported it as victory for hindus , whereas the HC specifically requested not to misinterpret the order...why did the edia not look at it as a settlement between plaintiffs and defendents??

  4. Exactly my point. Why don't the media and us just look at the order as a settlement between plaintiffs and defendants? Though the media should question if the trial was fair. It's not just about "getting over it", it's about being mature enough to not let any verdict transform into disharmony or hatred among Hindus and Muslims. No Indian should be killed, whatever the verdict be, due to communal tensions caused due to it. I am only pro-India.

  5. what are you trying to say Ira in the blog? are you saying because of these precautions itself the rumours get real, or something else? I think the verdict of the case coming at about 3pm could have triggered communal anger, had the verdict was not loaded in favour of the majority religion. But, shutting any educational institute was not called for, as there was no official confirmation for it.

    Whoever said this to close the campus i think would be a real chiken heart ,i guess as, delhi is looking like a fortress at the moment.

  6. Thanks for your views Inder. Firstly, a clarification. The person who asked us to leave the campus is not a chicken-heart. He did what he had to, because parents and others were getting concerned about us. In the blog, I'm wondering why so many Indians felt the need to take such precautions. Only because they felt communal riots may break out because of the verdict. So we haven't become mature enough to not let issues like these become an excuse to kill fellow people, be it Hindus or Muslims. I completely agree with you that the verdict could have triggered communal anger, which is why the precautions. My question is, why? Why can't we behave like more responsible human beings?

  7. i actually got carried away while replying to your post,i apologise for using loose adjectives for the person who came to tell you.

    I am not aware whether schools and colleges have been officially told to remain closed after 12 ,if that was a government's decision based on genuine facts(which i am not sure) then i agree with it.

    anyways now i got your larger point. yes the fact that so many people were waiting for the verdict with bated breath and fear of loosing the case, proves that india hasn't matured enough.
    And the question which you are raising i.e why can't people think like you is pretty complex actually.In secular india especially in north, west and some parts of east, religion does matter..and why it matters more there, for that you should probably ask Karl marx.

  8. I don't think schools and colleges had been officially asked to close down, it was autonomous decisions their managements had taken. Religion may matter more in some places - that's not a bad thing. But killing in the name of religion, anywhere, is.

  9. I agree with Ira when she questions the need for spilling blood in the name of religion. Haven't we seen enough?

    Inder.. religion does matter but not more than humanity. Religion and society exists cuz we exist and not the other way round :) I respect sentiments but there's a thin line that separates hooliganism and devoutness which extremists should understand :)

  10. U might have an answer to ur 'why have we not left that behind already'....
    Did u read mulayam singhs comment? He feels that muslims have been cheated... This statement ws enough to instigate riots hence the precautions...but on the other hand....ppl did not react...i guess we have come a long way...but we still need to safeguard ourselves against zealots!

  11. That's my point, Paroma. How statements made by irresponsible politicians can still instigate riots, hence the precautions. But, I am really glad that everything went off peacefully :) we have come a long way indeed!

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  13. Beautiful point you've raised there, Inder. I would like to believe that no human is inherently bad. And so, it is important to find reasons that trigger people to act in a manner they otherwise wouldn't in. I also believe jokes should be taken the way they are meant to be. We should have the ability to laugh at ourselves. Try some Russell Peters to become more tolerant of jokes about your own race. Lastly, I don't think religion should be banned from the public sphere, it helps to have discourses and discussions over religion for its better understanding. But we must ban religion from the political sphere.

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  15. In between you mentioned Russell peters, even I don't know him let me check (Ira he is an Anglo Indian first of all, born and brought up in Canada and never came to India, what’s Indian about him. some people can say he is making money over his distant (ephemeral roots)Are you prescribing him to me, but why? When did I say I have problems with jokes?
    Why don't you prescribe it to all?

  16. Right on, Inder! That's what I meant when I said religion should be banned from the "political" sphere. You're totally right when you say that in India, the notion of secularism is different and I prefer the other one where the govt doesn't interfere in matters of religion. Now, public sphere is a a very broad term that refers to an area where the public can hold discussions and debates over the social, economic and political aspects of life. It is meant for the public, not for the government. So religion should be questioned in the public sphere.

    Who says nuclear bombs were invented with noble intentions to serve humanity?? Just before the beginning of World War II, Albert Einstein wrote to then US President Franklin D. Roosevelt of efforts in Nazi Germany to build an atomic bomb. It was in response to that threat, that the U.S government undertook the Manhatten project to develop atomic bombs. After the first testing of the bombs, some scientists were themselves horrified at what had been invented. And we all know, how those bombs were finally put to use.

    There is nothing wrong with "typecasting" a community in jokes. Don't we have numerous jokes on women going around? I think it's okay, as long as it's done in the right spirit, and not to hurt sentiments.

    Inder dear, when I recommended Russell Peters, I was referring to his jokes that typecaste races. I am not a particularly huge fan, but sometimes he's really good. I know he's hardly an Indian and he admits so himself. But his parents are very much Indian and his observation of the Indian culture that he's seen around does it for him.

  17. now we agree on most of the points. but two points still remained to be clarified. when i gave the example of nuclear bombs, it meant radio active materials which are used to make these boms.
    when martin klaproth discovered uranium, do you think he would have thought that one day it will kill lakhs of people in 2nd world war(now don't tell me that dropping that stuff saved more than that)
    initially it was used in coloring of pottery and glasses.
    and other points of typecasting and jokes . i never said these things themselves lead to anything sinister but surely they are a barometer to judge the inclusivenes of a society. in america after 9/11 people with muslim surnames were seen with suspicions, which further alienated the people from the mainstream and the result you can see in the form of mainstream muslims becoming wannabe ladens. jokes are a very small example of these related things.
    probably you have not experienced such things ,but i am telling you, as some bomb goes off in the city people start exchanging sms jokes clubbing isi,pakistan with muslims in general. do you know about SIMI(student islamic movement of india)..this is not a pakistani group but a banned indian org, whose members are mostly educated indian muslim youth.

    sure russel peters and others they hardly matter in these things as they don't take controversial topics. can russel peters mock at say the babri verdict or prophet muhammad.i don't think so. but here in typecasting, people don't see any boundaries, they rip every shred of muslim's identity and vice versa.
    you can go to any of the facebook pages you will know, go to kashmir or indian army fans page.

    ira, true comedians are those who laugh at themselves russell peters having seen two cultures is laughing at the one he thinks inferior and worth mocking, raju srivastava i think does a better job when he laughs at his bhaiyyaji roots and accent, he is more acceptable as he is from kanpur himself and lives that in real life too.

  18. Inder, please be clear of what you say. You tend to use wrong terms to explain concepts. "Nuclear bombs" does not equate with radioactive materials used to make the bomb. Public sphere does not equate with political sphere. But moving on.

    Yes, jokes are sort of barometers to measure the inclusiveness of sections of society. Really agree with your point on how people club ISI, Muslims, Paks and so on. They are an ignorant lot, with a black and white view of the world. Many others make community jokes simply for pure fun, when funny things of a certain culture are observed.

    I am aware of SIMI. Are you saying that they were wrongly banned by the government?

    Please don't mix things. Typecasting is bad. Jokes on typecasting are not that bad, when done with a certain maturity.

    I never said Russell Peters "matters" in these topics or even otherwise. Of course he doesn't. He just makes you more tolerant of laughing at your own race (unless it crosses the line) and not necessarily Indian, you could be Chinese or Jamaican. And peters laughs at many more than just one or two cultures. I am a HUGE fan of Raju. He's waaayy better than Peters. I love his rustic humor. I am hardly a fan of Peters. But that doesn't mean I am going to discount on what he's able to do. This has become more of a discussion board on Peters. So hopefully this is going to be the end of him.

  19. Ira I thought it would be obvious to assume that nobody will make nuclear bombs thinking peace in mind, however I accept my slip of tongue or due to the paucity of time if you may say so I used the word nuclear bomb instead of radioactive material and what is the difference between the two is not the point of discussion. I have been taking this discussion to be slightly informal in nature and that could be the reason for such ambiguities. Hopefully this point is cleared now

    However moving on, these are all examples which I am giving you to come to the main issue which you have raised through your blog. Why ayodhya’s verdict still matters? May be you were giving a statement that it shouldn’t matter or not. Whatever lets move on?

    Ideally public sphere doesn’t equate with political sphere but the kind of society in which we live in, is very fluid and ambiguous in nature, to find a concrete and standard definition of any particular phenomenon would be akin to nitpicking or beating around the bush.
    Take the case of Rahul bajaj when he was managing bajaj autos he was considered to be an industrialist with a private job (albeit bajaj being such a big company does influence the public life as well) but until he resigned from his job and became an M.P he didn’t call himself as a public person. Many politicians refrain using the word politician and instead use public personality.
    However in a broad term public sphere also includes writers, actors, journalists and even some doctors. Whoever claims to have a view for the public and is active in some sort of manner in public life can call him a pubic personality.

    My above para is to try to understand the fact that in India public sphere is used in a broad term and I am not pointing towards this broad concept when I say to ban religion from public sphere. It’s not possible or desirable.
    Rather there should be a mean through which we can control the use of religion getting misinterpreted. Political parties have a lot of outfits who pretend to be charity organizations and cultural fronts of their parent party and dabble in religion in the name of education and all.

    I guess it should be clear from above that what I am worried is the use of religion as a tool, whether the political parties do it or their fronts or may be any cultural inst that hardly matters.

    I know it’s very hard to understand what I am saying because it looks so ambiguous from the face value. So just concentrate on the above para. No point of arguing something over and over again.

    SIMI is a banned terrorist org, I used their example to make a point that these very typecasting and making them feel alien have led to the radicalization of these youth. I am not saying they shouldn’t be banned but rather they shouldn’t have been here at the first place, if we call ourselves secular. They are here because of some grievances or

  20. perceived grievances.Having said that, I don’t agree with their means of conveying messages.

    For you jokes on typecasting other community might not be a bad idea, I am okay with that it’s your view.
    After listening to russel peters If you find him funny and it makes you more tolerant than, I guess he can’t just be a stand up comedian and should be incorporated into bigger responsibilities.
    Peace ambassador to Palestine or Kashmir may be LOL(plz take it in the right spirit

  21. Ha ha Inder, you're taking Peters too seriously. I know you hate him. That's fine. But you're letting your personal bias against him come in the way of your analysis of his humor. As I already said, I am not a huge fan, it is only sometimes that I enjoy him. Because all his jokes are on different races, it makes you see how funnily as a race we behave. Period. He's a comedian. Just take him at face value. He's not there to change society with his jokes :P Neither do I plan to do that with his jokes.

    The stated mission of SIMI is the ‘liberation of India’ from Western materialistic cultural influence and to convert its Muslim society to live according to Muslim code of conduct. That's how SIMI began. But since then, the purpose has changed and there are speculations of it being involved in terrorist activities. Now, I am not sure the reason for this change can be attributed to the typecasting of Muslims in India. But that's my opinion. I respect yours too.
    I hope this is the end of it.

  22. no you prescribed him to me i really don't hate him. when i saw his clip on psbt's film week(i dnt know whether you remember)i really liked him. i have no issues with him, you always bring him again and again thats why i couldn't resist taking a dig on him.

    SIMI,JOKES,PUBLIC-POLITICAL these are just mere examples that could be wrong in some factual details but not in the intent.
    if simi wants to live according to their code of conduct thats their problem, we should let them do until they do some illegal thing. if you compare them with any right wing hindu group you won't find much of a difference between the two, but because we tend to typecast the others, we club them with first of all with pro pakistan then with al qauida. your qoutes
    "That's how SIMI began. But since then, the purpose has changed and there are speculations of it being involved in terrorist activities. Now, I am not sure the reason for this change can be attributed to the typecasting of Muslims in India."
    if they are involved in terrorist activities then they should be banned fothrightly, so should other groups allegdly involved in riots and carnage, why this distiction.? because of typecasting.
    because they are muslim people.

    and please give me the honour of finishing this epic finale..


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