Sunday, 30 December 2012

In Memoriam 'Her'

A nation mourns the passing away of a brave heart. Here are my thoughts on the victim of the Gang rape in Delhi whose courageous fight has ended; written in the hope that our fight may begin today, and long last.


We are all rapists and we let you die;
Before your family lost you, we lost you;
We'll loose many more like you. We'll stand by,
While thousands like you die. What can we do?
'You stir our conscience' the swelling crowds cry
Amid the camera's gaze in Delhi's haze;
In studios Self-righteous fists will fly,
And Netas will be bashed. You are today's
'Breaking news' and our slimy platitudes,
Will mock your memory. Once bored we'll switch
The channel but won't switch our attitudes-
A girl out late at night will still be 'Harlot!',
'Her skirt's too short', 'Perhaps she asked for it!',
'She could have lived! If only she'd submit!'


'Women cannot roam freely at midnight!'
'Who was with her, what was she doing with him?'
'European women -loose, their clothes-too tight!'
'Girls are not malnourished, they just stay slim!'
We only see what 'we' want 'us' to see,
Kashmir, Manipur, Dalits, Tribals-we
Had chosen to wait till it was Delhi,
Then, guilt paid tribute to hypocrisy-
"Castrate, behead, rip, hang'- 'those' whom 'we' blame."
You ceased to be a being, became a name-
'Amanat', 'Damini' so we may speak
Of our 'Collective conscience'. Well! we lie,
It's a 'Collective pretence'; We are weak
'Collective rapists' and we let you die.

-Syed Faizan
@syedfaizan87 on Twitter.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

In the quest of a Progressive Mindset...

What happened in Delhi a week ago is horrifying. It’s unnerving. It’s infuriating. The brutality cannot be described in words. It is scary to even think about. It is scary to think about that girl, her pain, mental and physical. So what do I do next? Run away from the problem? Start blaming? Start protesting? Or come u  with constructive methods and ideas to curb this ghastly problem?

 Running away from this is a roadmap for the fools so there’s no point in wasting any more time over it
 It’s important to blame. It’s important to be able to identify those who would share the onus. This is a very IMPORTANT step because if we make a mistake here then we’re losing track of the root of the problem. So we got to be very discerning at this point. Is it the government? Is it the political executive? Is it the administration? But we shouldn’t stop here. We go further into the hierarchies. Is it the prime minister? Is it the president? Is it the Ministry of Home Affairs and/or other ministries? Is it the Chief Minister? Is it the Lieutenant Governor? Is it the Commissioner of Police? Or does the problem actually lies somewhere in the society itself? Now the discerning would understand that the onus cannot be left to hang on one entity by itself. No singleton runs Delhi let alone India. There is nothing singleton about administration, about governance. It’s a group effort. So the onus lies on all these elements. And we, the students, the so called ‘Youth’, are as much as a part of it. So next time you’re holding your placards criticizing the Delhi Police or a Sheila Dixit or a Sonia Gandhi or a Manmohan Singh and such others DO NOT forget that there’s always MORE TO THE STORY!

 Now that you’ve decided whom you’re going to hold responsible it becomes imperative in times of such social calamities that you PROTEST. It’s important to tell the authorities that we’re not an unenlightened race that doesn’t know what’s happening behind closed doors. It’s important to keep them pressurized. And here I know that the SANE would agree that this step HAS TO BE PEACEFUL. Two wrongs do not make a right. What happened at India Gate was only a ‘protest’ till it wasn’t violent. So where you do SEE that violence has been adapted by some amongst you, the least you can do is to KEEP AWAY FROM THEM. It’ll be better enough to identify them and notify the Police authorities but that’s your call.

 Now that we’re done protesting or taking a break from it and if you're literate then how about ‘stretching’ our capabilities a little further. How about if we go back home open our laptops and Research on the meaningful steps that the government can take, is taking or has taken already? See why we are failing time and again with all the initiatives hitherto undertaken. Understand why our police is still working on colonial lines and not moving towards sensitizing themselves for an extensive and better disclosure with the people. See why some politicians are still behaving like animals in the Parliament and worse that some are given a ticket to contest let alone elected with ‘Rape cases’ heretofore running against them. Understand why an IAS officer walks the path of righteousness and gets transferred 21 times in the twenty years of his service. Understand why quid pro quo is a reality in almost every aspect of public life. Understand how at times a Prime Minister is rendered helpless because of a coalition government in existence. Be aware and then Spread awareness. Understand ‘their’ problem because it is actually “our” problem. Talk about it with your friends, parents and relatives because that will be “spreading the word” in the true sense instead of asking people not to attend the Republic Day Parade. Read newspapers, editorials, exchange views at different forums and levels and most importantly ‘agree to disagree’. The fact that those in power are not doing what is ‘right’ does not imply that we should follow suit. The Lok Sabha Speaker, Meira Kumar  very rightly stated that, "No legislation can be made to control the mindsets and the mindsets have to change."

 The ‘Protest’ will only bear fruit i.e. long term fruit when our thoughts and actions are justified and when they are sure to create a change. If we do all this progressively I’m sure each one of us will be able to channelize the anger, frustration and desperation that this incident and many alike have rendered upon us. 

Let’s BE the future of tomorrow that everybody keeps talking about. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “BE THE CHANGE THAT YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD!” I pray for the girl every day. I hope she gets well soon. 

Nitish Bhardwaj

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

When Imagination Invades the Reality

Internet has created a parallel world around us. May be, we are physically present in this real world but our virtual ‘avatars’ in the form of different social networking accounts, live in other worlds and actively maintain our representation there. We are not alone, everyone else we know or we don’t, is present there to mimic a more realistic situation. Our imagination gives existence to a complete ‘pseudo society’ best suited to our emotional requirements and we are too lost in it to identify the reality. 

How we affirm the pseudo society exists? 
Everything is ideal under a typical internet social environment; maybe it is situation, people, character, behaviour, our expectation or the outcome. We exactly get what we want, when we share our thoughts (how  absurd or worthless  it may be), we get 100s of likes, shares and retweets, simple reason being, there exists many more worthless and workless people wasting their time over some idiot boxes elsewhere, like we do! But our mind gives us an impression that, oh! I must have posted something outstanding and that’s why people are appreciating so much. 

Appreciation is like a double edged sword, it’s manipulative, and it may be intensifying, encouraging and constructive but destructive otherwise. Earlier Royal courts use to have advisors whose main task was, praising their kings and appreciate each and every decision they undertook and keep them happy. The overdose of this fake self pride and overconfidence fuelled through such appreciation channels gave rise to the concept “King can do no wrong” and thereby, drove the entire world into state of wars just for boosting some king’s self pride and to prove his superiority.

Earlier the luxury of praising followers was only available to elite, today the existence of internet society has made it accessible and within the reach of everyone’s pocket. What you just need is to get an internet connection, open accounts on facebook, twitter etc. and start off.

Today, we can directly interact with Policy makers, government bodies, top journalists, film stars, and all other class of celebrities. We follow their ideas, appreciate them, criticise them, drool over them and even abuse sometimes, just to boost our self esteem. Compare it to the real world situations, where it is almost impossible to even get their close view unless otherwise election time or some other public event.

In a real life unwanted things and people chase us from all the directions while under the ideal internet society we can block, unfriend or customise our settings to avoid them all. In real life one may starve for a single girlfriend/boyfriend while under internet environment we can do some playboy with five chat windows simultaneously open and we skilfully handling everyone else. People might not be able to touch even a pistol in their whole lives but, can be seen carrying out air-raids and nuking Pak-Chinese territories on Defence (discussion) Forums.  We are generally ashamed to show a poor mark sheet or report card to our parents and friends in real life while posting the scanned copy of the same mark sheet online attracts comments like: “Oh 49 in English!! I have only 39 ”, “Great job buddy you have made us proud :D :D ”, “Party!!!!!!!”, “student of the year :P”, “Future of the nation” etc. 

Doesn’t this world look too perfect? It’s a hundred percent superficial thing, just another creation of our imagination and we are all just trying to use internet for the fulfilment of our suppressed wishes. This Internet life has added another dimension to our lives. This Social networking thing is exactly like a dream we are living in, with both of our conscious and subconscious minds active at the same time. It’s a live example of some kind of “Inception (movie)” thing, where we create an ideal world for us, and merge it with the ideal worlds of others and find an optimized solution for mutual coexistent. As we increase our intensities over social networking we gradually start decreasing our appearances in the real world. Our virtual acts start influencing our real life acts and the vice-versa. 

Some Marketing Gyan

Bill Gates once said “if you can’t make things better, make them attractive” and we all know the results, Windows has been a synonym for the Operating Software for last two and half decades despite minimal time bound change in overall system but a better evolved graphics and the look. Today it’s not product but the presentation which sells and that’s the reason for the existence of this multi billion dollar industry. 

Just like the immunity system of out body which after encountering some diseases/infection, identifies the agents responsible for it and starts developing countermeasures and prepares the body to resist it in case of future attacks (the science of vaccination and immunization), our minds have similar mechanism in place to learn from mistakes and avoid its repeat (one can call it a psychological immune system), one cannot be fooled several times following the same pattern. 

Our psychology has adapted to the conventional marketing warfare i.e., advertisements up to great extent. Today it’s really difficult to woo people through simple advertisements and celebrity endorsements. They are gradually losing their charm and eventually someday, will be completely out of their jobs due to changing social trends. People are becoming smarter and more aware day by day, thanks to the evolving education system, technology and increasing materialism in the society. So, the new marketing world belongs to use of complete set of new and non-conventional tactics like Public Relations and Social Media Marketing. 

PR and Social media marketing asks for a wider scope for information manipulation at the source itself as to evade the psychological audit of human brain. If the basic information we receive is itself manipulated the rationality of our mind will be at stake and will completely lose its grounds and finally surrender. 

Taking people for a ride. 

If you have watched the movie “Inception” (strongly recommended if not), you can recall the theme of the story that the Lead actor Leonardo D iCaprio (Dom Cobb in movie ) is assigned with a task to “put some idea into the mind of a billionaire boy Cillian Murphy(Robert Michael Fischer in movie)” through a process of Lucid dreaming and he successfully plants that idea in Fischer’s Mind after going into the depth of three layers of sub-consciousness, and finally when Fischer awakes he decides to act according to the implanted idea. 

The main concept of the movie was to make somebody subconsciously learn something and when he returns to consciousness he simply follows the teachings, because he can’t identify that particular idea he is following now has been learnt during a period of sub-consciousness. Believe it or not, the same is possible in the present Pseudo internet social world. Even the most brilliant and smart people can be persuaded to follow some ideology or the other through a slow but steady manipulation process and knowingly or unknowingly people are doing so and are changing our perceptions in day to day life.  

Body Metabolism at night:

As most of the social networking and active internet surfing activities starts from evening and lasts late night it is essential to understand our biological metabolism of body during night times. 
Nights are naturally meant for relaxing physically and mentally 
Nights are to reproduce, yes it is (Several species both plants and animals mate and reproduce only during night times)
The subconscious part of brain is more active
Reduction of awareness of environment and situation
Loss of sleep causes reduction of decision making power, poor memory, reduced alertness, poor judgment, shortened attention span and increased likelihood of mentally ‘stalling’ or fixation of one thought. 

“A long period of sleeplessness (24 hr. or more) can even lead to a poor eye to hand coordination and a situation similar to having a blood alcohol content of 0.1”

Therefore night is an ideal time to convey something to someone with maximum probability of success. Nights behave like alcohol, the more you stay awake more the mood raises, and it is not for nothing that we enjoy melody music during night times so much or feel more romantic during this period. Our senses are at lowest levels, decision making power weak, and emotion levels extraordinarily high and most importantly we are ready for a “subconscious learning”. Therefore at this juncture our brain is most venerable towards a psychological attack.  

So, perfect time to hit the virtual social community is night time which comes at a heavy price. The price you pay is spoiling your health completely in the quest to make a midnight rant.


Layering: As we have to hit unanimously and without getting into the knowledge of our target, things have to be hidden deep inside layers of texts, images and multimedia. Changing perception is not an easy task; human mind is generally determined to its self made ideologies and will fight hard if its belief system is targeted. So, things should be properly hidden before taking it into the targets’ brain.
E.g. If there is some communal person, he will be target- specific when he expresses himself.

If we start a paragraph with the line “Communalism is the greatest challenge for our country and secularism is the only solution for different sections of our society to peacefully coexist and prosper”, 
This would be a direct attack over the belief system of the communal person and his mind will be in a combat ready mode for defying the reasoning and purpose of the article to avoid manipulation, he may go violent or abusive while responding to such author. 

While, if we start as “The Bhagavad Gita chapter xyz… and Shloka xyz… or Quran-e- Sharif page no. xyz. And line no... xyz… gives an insight of the teaching of the God, who declares the purpose of life to serve the cause of mankind and to lower the sufferings of people, consider everyone in the world alike as all are the creations of a common father i.e., God” 

The author will subconsciously get access to the target’s mind as he has not hurtled the belief system of the person and his mind is under a state of either acceptance or a confusion i.e., where his ideas are conflicting and can neither accept nor deny. But in latter case his senses will get on high alert and try to interpret the biasness out of further reading, as long as he don’t find one, he will keep on subconsciously learning but as he gets one, his mind will unlearn everything he has read. 


Things like caste or religion are not factors everywhere. The Political and Commercial beliefs can be easily inserted in target’s mind through the use of fun specially Cartoons, jokes and satire writing etc. Loving Fun is a 2nd most common emotional factor among all human beings (first being sex) so, wrapping the biased information in the foil of fun is best way to take it inside the target’s mind. You can’t avoid laughing even on jokes which are directly meant upon you, it’s not your fault but it’s a natural process and you can’t do much in this regard. 

So, undermining cartoonists may prove greatest blunder for some political party or an individual. Cartoons carry terabytes of sugar-coated biased information, which the reader irrespective of his orientation can’t avoid to gasp. A continuous bombardment of jokes, cartoons, and satire write-ups can do both, Glow or blow a person’s image thoroughly. 

The social media is an ideal place for idea-breeding, even a simple attempt starts a chain reaction e.g., the concept of Hash tag (#) trends on twitter, continuous political cartooning on facebook pages with thousands of sharing. Top 10 Google searches, top 10 news trends etc. are some other examples to count. 

Somebody just starts a single small trend with couple of retweets and the whole ‘junta’ follows back. The belief system gets a complete setback, in case of funny trends. Several times, I have noticed that both the hardcore political party supporters are promoting trends which have negative bearings for their respective cadres but the subconscious madness overcomes both, the rationality and the reality. 


Rumours have great impact upon us, if we come to know about some rumour which matches our belief systems, before the public authentication we make our judgements to trust them, e.g., the recent incident in Bangalore, where the North-Eastern people were rumoured to leave the city, the wavelengths of ‘fear’ in the minds of north-eastern people due to Assam violence, matched with the wavelength of ‘rumours’ and therefore the chaos! 

Other emotions and faiths like sympathy, Patriotism, fear, Love, Hate, trust, perceptions etc. can be easily directionally leveraged to alter the thoughts of the people and is capable enough for changing the complete and overall public opinion. 

Social trends 
Public behaviour move in trends and follow patterns, similar facts were established to make money from the stock markets through pattern studies known as “Technical Analysis” where the traders and researchers tried to interpret the present and future market behaviour through price chart studies (demand and supply factors get influenced by overall public perception and alikeness in thinking of majority of traders/investors create price to follow patterns) and several successful pattern readers made millions and billions of dollars. The same is true for the social human behaviour. 

Majority of people think alike and their views and opinions also change together. Reason may be the existence of common factors for setting up the ground or sharing and exchange of ideas and beliefs through talks, discussions etc. We can feel this thing especially during Elections times; there are generally strong incumbency or anti-incumbency waves and quite predictable public opinion. News channels use statistical methods like random sampling and surveys etc. to predict the results through Exit Polls, which most of the time (unless not created artificially to affect public opinion) proves to be correct and in consistence with the election outcomes.  

Role of social media: 

If we review the success and failure story of Anna Hazare or the Kejriwal Movement, we’ll have to acknowledge the power of social media. It was a classical example of manipulation of public psychology by hitting hard the ‘patriotism’ factor. The movement was escalated up to a great height and then had a freefall. The Government was presented as some villain and a prime factor responsible for all the tragedies. Social media marketing was the primary weapon. Some initial trends and waves were created, supporting the movement and then the ‘junta followed’. The movement went viral through the internet media channels. Electronic and print media earlier supported for TRP and afterwards out of allegations of paid news (allegations might be correct or fake). The Lokpal was presented as an institution with mighty supernatural powers, who would heal all the problems and sufferings of the people, if brought into existence. 

This movement failed (because organisers lost unity, credibility and failed to keep the trend alive, for whatever reasons) but was powerful enough to create strong anti-incumbency waves throughout the country. This venerability was then identified and capitalised by some forces (this time a financially sound and professionally managed  one) which didn’t allowed the fire to completely extinguish, added more fuel and tried to change its direction. They tried to fill the vacuum created by the movement with a better and powerful political alternative and are trying hard to project someone as the only hope and future for this country. Again the interests of the people are not on the agenda but the TRP's of news channels and social media ratings are a definite cause for concern for these so called redeemers of politics.

The subconscious learning on internet and all other virtual and imaginative acts may be of any kind or nature but influences our day to day lives. It is upon us, how we use it, for a constructive purpose or in a destructive way. Whatever may be the environment or whosoever the agent of change, we need to learn tactics and ways to defend our true opinions and rationality from adulterations and manipulations, for the best of ourselves and the country as a whole.

The virtual world is at the end of the day a social medium nothing more, nothing less. We must not allow this world of the imaginary to invade our reality because it has the potential to wreck lives after a while. 


@918abhi on Twitter

The Author is an Economics graduate, a Reader/Writer on Economic, Political, Social, strategic, international and other contemporary issues. 


Monday, 24 December 2012

An Open Letter to all Young Protesters

Dear Young Protestor,

Violence can never be muted by violence.

The recent act of brutality against the young woman from Delhi has left me distressed much like you. But what has me surprised is the reactions that have poured in. Clearly this young lady wasn't the first victim but none had taken up this issue before. Suddenly there were protests around the country with young people taking to the streets demanding justice. The social networking sites were ablaze with the seriousness of the crime and how women are so unsafe. Pause. Is this really news? 

Pictures of protestors carrying “Men respect your women not rape them” are still doing the rounds. If you thought holding a placard with the above slogan would stop these savages from devouring their next prey, Utopia would not be far away.

You are standing in various parts of the country, Protesting. Alright.  Against what? Are you protesting against the fact that a woman was raped? Are you protesting against the fact that this country has a disproportional ratio when it comes to police and the people? No. You are supposedly protesting against the Government. Again I ask Why? Do you expect that the government by some miracle with a swish of a magic wand will dissuade these perpetrators of injustice from their acts of savagery?

A clarion call was made by a few “Interested” members of society stating that rape should now entail the death penalty. S. 302 of the Indian Penal Code, has been on the statute books for 152 years now and murders are still happening. The point I am trying to make here is retributive laws may make for extra paper work in the Parliament but as far as acting as a dissuading force, the chances are slim. I have no issues with the Statute being amended but I have my doubts on how effective this will be.

The protests on Raisina Hill were not a display of the courage of the youth to stand up for themselves. And I know this because even here in Pune we had a similar protest. As a young person and as a woman myself let me just introduce you to reality. In a bid to get a few extra sound bytes the media has been effectively stirring up the people against the political class and these protests were anything but peaceful. A friend of mine living in Delhi witnessed young people attack a few cops. When he voiced his opinion on Twitter, he was effectively silenced by people who thought they knew too much and he was lying. And this is the moot problem. People no more want the truth. A few  protesters vehemently stated that the police system is useless and ineffective. Has it struck you that in the process of standing guard at the various protest sites so that unwanted miscreants don’t take advantage of the situation, at that very moment you may have perhaps deprived another victim of a crime of timely help and he/she is helpless because the police are busy trying to keep things under control at these protest sites?

 If the police aren't doing anything what are you doing? Have you forgotten the Jessica Lall case? It is easy to state that the judiciary is slow but how many of you have taken the conscious efforts to find out why. Countless incidents go un-reported, many more cases are registered and then closed for lack of evidence and witnesses. The truth is that as mute spectators to crimes we are also guilty of a crime whose penalty isn't seen in the statute books but whose criminality is worse than that of the offenders.

As I write this I am receiving a message that reads: I request you to boycott the 26th January, 2013 Republic Day Parade as a sign of protest. To the dimwit who started this, I will never insult my country for the pleasure of a few and for those who think that boycotting the Parade will help, here’s to remind those considering this a wise move that you are not wounding the Government or the political class but you are definitely insulting Our country as a whole!

For all those who marched on the streets in different parts of the country, if you are genuinely interested in helping women here are a few things you can do:

1.     Sensitise women to stop bearing the brunt of even the slightest act of immoral conduct. Most women refrain from reporting instances and incidents that have happened with them for fear of social repercussions. Embolden women to stand up for themselves. Even the smallest act of indecency must not be tolerated. Raise your voice immediately.

2.     Sensitise men to understand the importance of women. It takes two hands to clap. The cases of young love- failures killing their lady love is an indication that these young men are viewing women as objects of desire nothing more. This not only a social problem it is a massive psychological problem too. There must be a remedy sought out for this.

3.     Make volunteer groups and talk to schools and colleges to make Self Defence compulsory and part of the curriculum. In Pune a gentleman teaches young girls self- defence each day. Can we not have more such people to help?

4.     Talk to the owners of shops whether it is your local grocery store or chemist. Make pepper sprays available freely. As on today a normal pepper spray costs anywhere between Rs. 150- 500. Can all women really afford this? You could make a difference by talking to the dealers and getting them to lower the prices of these essentials.

5.     Instead of taking to the streets make a special appeal to companies and owners of workplaces which expect their female employees to stay late hours at work to start early and end early.

6.     Encourage the masses to stand up against injustice and not turn away from the crime happening in front of them. The police must be intimated immediately.

7.     Ask for police patrolling in the late hours of the night too.

Apart from this there is one other point I would like to shed light upon. A few women quite vociferously stated, “We have the right to wear what we want, walk the streets as we like, etc, etc.” All very well but given the current circumstances is it practical? Even law enforcements will take time to buck up. Can’t we as sensible thinking women practice a little restraint for now? Cautionary measures are essential and practical. 

The society is neither made up by the 750 members sitting in the hallowed halls of democracy, is not defined by the law enforcements and can by no means be determined by the judiciary. Each system works in sync with the other. But these systems are pointless and spineless without the help and support of the people as a whole. Laws can be amended, Parliament and Police systems changed but what about the mentality of these human beasts, can they be rectified? This is why I will not register my protest by standing in full view of a television camera screaming “Stop Rapes and rapists” and promote my country to be a successful failure. Instead I will use my voice, my liberty and my freedom of expression to appeal to the conscience of the masses. Temporary pressure on the government will not give a permanent solution to heinous acts of violence. A progressive mindset is the only solution. 

The Mayans predicted that 2012 was the end. Yes it should be the end to intolerance, apathy and insensitivity. May the New Year 2013 bring in hope of a new tomorrow and an India that is free from the clutches of intolerant savage brutes.

I hope this letter reaches maximum number of young people. I am one of you and I am appealing to you, Let’s create change, not just talk about it!

Stop bragging about the problem, start finding solutions NOW!

Yours in the cause of justice and peace,

Katherine. Abraham

Monday, 10 December 2012

Diplomatic Pressure Points


Fibromyalgia owe a lot to the application of the idea of Pressure Points while fighting with red fellow entities of the category. Discover it earlier or the front shift may threaten the existence. It can afford to keep a distance with those who constitute fast chemical reactions and visible differential. Still unknown how it was conceived, its nomenclature offered me a ripe ground for analogy. It informed me to attend those terminal clusters of nerves which are eager to talk to me. It can still make a channel to put in place the joules where they are far more needed.

One wonders, how much amount of calories, if not joules, have been consumed in MEA offices to locate Diplomatic Pressure Points.  Though it may not be invidious in tone, but such queries may come up from those who will constitute posterity.  Why a single tool was our roulette? Diplomatic cortisone were put into self contradictory use while pressure points were not located at all. Should there be resurrection of such middling theory? Are we suppose to create a pantheon? The answer is NO.

Pursuance of the idea of Pressure Points was always needed in independent India and is still potent. No place for tenuous actions and those who are habitual of it under the umbrella of romanticism, need to sit on back benches, It can hardly be sustained anymore.

How to figure out such pressure points? Do we need a lexicon of our own or just put ideas directly into actions using the internationally acceptable collections of diplomatic channels? The later is far more feasible and reasonable. Well only then we can have our own version of Realism.

Are we capable of contributing into any kind of "Old-New-Would be" Global order or can we even react to it without looking for a shoulder. History knows very well which kind of collective action survived and which one was not even born.

How shall we compartmentalize those who are our guests. Not all of them wiling to come to our house and discuss "Pressure Points." But lets give a thought to locate them ourself.

The World is an organic entity.T here are organs with in which contains numerous hierarchies. Are there diplomatic pressure points located somewhere? Maybe. But arbitrariness is not going to find that. They say arbitrariness has an all season affair with Idealism. This is a bad affair and it took a while for Indian diplomatic class to find it out.

Hierarchies, which matters to us, are organic in nature too. They attract each other. We know the levels of hierarchy very well and often are aware of those which belong to others. But when we put them on the desk of policy making, we locate the "Pressure Points.''

Lets talk of strings of cardinal nature, which are in our hands. They need to be stretched to every General Compartment with requisite exclusiveness. There exist three such compartments, if seen in broad sense. We need to invest different strengths, lengths and flexibility into each of them. Those strings which gets connected to the North compartment ("The Developed" compartment and the "Multilateral" compartment) will be having fibers of trade imbalances, less bargaining powers, more show offs, never to offend, have a click etc at least till the time we reach there to sit in the same box. The new feature added into it by India is to attain nuclear capacities in both the forms and to stand neutral on certain internationally volatile episodes irrespective of where the developed group moved. This deserves an appreciation as seen recently in the context of Arab Uprising.

The next string is attached to those who are our buddies, close on chronological progression charts. They are the natural friends sometime and bilateral otherwise. They are competitors as well Collective action is chosen idea if willing to remain in reliable existence. We suffers from same ailments ( developing, socio-politically vulnerable, new to globalization etc.) and thus pressure points are easy identifiable. Never stay cross with your neighbors and close friends as they help you first in emergencies is something we have learnt. Its easy to be proximal with those who are like us and no opportunity should be missed to strengthen that. India opened up to it mainly in post-cold war era, but remained hesitant in initial years. I see it as Biggest Failure of Indian Foreign Policy since independence. Shock waves can be felt till now. The instrument which we selected to deal with such, was devoid of any mechanism of peaceful dispute resolution, collective action and any efforts to put forward a new global order. The action now is On, but need to be fuelled regularly and protected from getting fibres of first string.

The third compartment which we should hold close to our heart is the one where pressure points directly talks to us and we need not to locate them. They are present in open for everyone. Leadership if offered, need real world substantiation. Here is the extreme competition. They have wide spectrum to choose from. What exclusive can we offer to them? Aid has least money multiplier essence in such cases. Pressure points here need very careful handling in socio-political arena as they have developed inflammation in few cases. Black Continent is inflamed in parts. Pressure points alone will not serve the purpose. But does that mean the treatment meted out on them need to be same as those of others of our position? No. In fact this can be the playground of our own form of realism. Has anybody worked upon it? Is baccalaureate enough to choose such handlers. The "organic hierarchies" may hold the key.

 After this broad division, the time is to locate the pressure points in organic hierarchies existing within the nations. These will be central while crafting bilateral rapport. The first step required to identify which group of institutions is on top and which one on the bottom. Is it political, social, economical or military? Though all of these need to be attended but thanks to realism we know where we need dense relations and where just a touch. In this process, our domestic hierarchy shouldn't matter. We have done enough of this hogwash in past.  We love songs of democracy, liberalism, egalitarianism, human rights but lets sing them at home, preach them at home. Don't be a teacher to sovereign nations. Though visible in recent past , such tendencies need further materialization.

At the level of political intersection, we need to make it clear that opposition club shouldn't hate us. This pressure point deserve utmost care. The domestic ideology at this level need no exhibition . Let's get them in any way. Don't articulate some exogenous force if we fail to befriend this club. Our efforts should dominate against all odds. If nuts and bolts of this pressure point taken into serious consideration, this will be biggest success.
At the level of Economy, things may seems easy. But there is an unlocked area. How can we enlighten and enliven the left to centre to those who believe in it, and Non-involement to those who want it. The later has got more space and support but earlier is still profound in its existence at home and thus should be put to best use. Aren't we waiting nations to suit us some time in future? This is close to failure, if not exactly.
China knows best to play at this level. Indian representation and officials are slow on this. We need bifurcation in our presentation to bring them home. We don't hate Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro, but shall we invite them? Obamas, Merkels,Cameroons of the world knows why they are our friend, but do we know why our one packet illustration of economy is outdated. Let’s be Nehru with likes of Chavez and Manmohan Singh with likes of First Brazilian Citizen. Can we move forward with this dichotomy and convince them? This is the real confrontation. It can be tackled if those in the front knows how best to package and market it. Aids and Agreements are pain killers, not the Pressure Points. There exist enough of such points which we still need to devise.

At Social and Cultural level, Pressure Points are copious . Instead of showcasing our stratification here, we need to work upon how it can attract stratification of other nations. For this, lets first accept their stratification without prescription. Put to diplomatic use our multiculturalism and diversity. Film Festivals, Cultural Shows, Visits of Parliamentarians is surface anatomy. Pressure Points lies beneath, so more labor is needed. The opportunity is to make their homogeneity love, believe and respond to our heterogeneity. Few reddish black patches exist on both the sides but we need to cover them. Public Diplomacy is still not for us in most of the cases. At home, this poor baby is malnourished. Barring very few cases, amicability rests with political class and not with social classes. Cultural Exchange is not Social Exchange. The medium of exchange in later is far more soulful and comprehensive than first and will find satisfaction with whole than just a segment of social class. How can we deal with this category of  most widespread pressure points, the hope lies with us.

 We let demise of these pressure points into oblivion in the first few decades of our Foreign Policy Operations. The onus lies on personalities. Their personalities were to reality in core, ours not. To put it other way, there should never exist  Pressure points with representatives. If they do exist then we need to not let them proliferate in any form. That's most alarming thing to be kept open. Foreign Policy is not just a domain for few good cozy friends of same social strata, its a space where nations need to be cozy not just their representatives. Those who operationalised the first part of independent India's Foreign policy, knows what this distinction is and  what catastrophe can we have if we fail to acknowledge this distinction. We have received fall outs in the past due to this. Better we read the nations than just individual minds. The theater of conduct and thus chances of higher grades increases in former case. It needs a Statesman to recognize such pressure points, not just outcome of a mechanical electoral process.


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Rahul Gandhi: India’s young political enigma

Leadership is action, not position.

India’s youngest political heir Rahul Gandhi is all set to lead India’s oldest National Party, the Indian national Congress in the forthcoming 2014 Lok Sabha elections. However, instead of focusing on the policies and the paradigm shift from the older Mrs. Gandhi to the vibrant Rahul and the Congress strategy to get the requisite numbers or the policies that may be adopted, the question doing the rounds is whether Rahul Gandhi is the perfect candidate to lead the Congress and is he Prime Ministerial material? This isolationist targeting of one individual speaks volumes about the immaturity of the Indian mentality. I am yet to witness like treatment to other members of the Indian National Congress or any of the members of other parties being questioned and scrutinised to this detail.

Rahul Gandhi, an active participant of the first family in Indian politics is one of the favourite subjects for the Opposition here in India. The youth leader is popular for being a recluse in assuming key positions in the government preferring Party responsibility to direct governance. Many of the Opposition leaders consider the young scion to be a ‘recluse’ shying away from media attention and a man who does not want to assume official responsibility.

Unfortunately the media portrayal of the junior Gandhi has been graphical but never complete. This demure gentleman has a different style of working and an attitude that typically defies conventional Indian Polity. What the common man is aware of is that he is famous for lashing out without reservations against the Mayawati government when the need arose. He has been vociferous in his advocacy of the plight of the farmers in Maharashtra (The famous Kalavati case in Parliament made headlines at that point) The Congress leader has ensured that he has consciously turned down every offer to be a part of the Cabinet. And this is where the conflict in our story occurs. The Indian populace is acclimatised to the notion that if their leaders are not working with a formal position in the centre, or if they aren't a part of the erstwhile Cabinet committee either they are not worthy of it or they aren’t too confident of yourself. In the case of the young Gandhi, people have been quite blatant in assuming the latter, a proposition which is only a sign of hasty judgement for a leader who has spent less than a decade in politics.

Rahul Gandhi has invited media attention not only as a politician; read the New York Times 1989 edition and you will see a prejudice against him even as a young lad. His entry into St. Stephen’s was perhaps the first of many controversies to follow. The Times of India newspaper simultaneously and quite sensibly took the lead stating the controversy over Rahul's entry into St. Stephen's “is indicative of how insensitive our social reactions have progressively become.” Much later when he entered the political fray the hullaballoo was raised as to whether he had completed his degree or not, the irony being that educational qualifications are not a constitutional pre- requisite for any candidate standing for the elections. Much later the issue died a natural death. Some believe it is the price you pay as a celebrity. I think it’s the peril of being a Gandhi.

In 2004, when he was chosen by his mother as the candidate from Amethi, the speculation started as to whose footsteps would he follow. Would he be an aggressive male version of his grandmother Indira or his soft spoken yet firm politician father Rajiv? The second inconsequential question was why he and not his equally charismatic sister Priyanka had been chosen to contest the elections. It was stated in The Guardian that some political commentators  believed that the main effect of Rahul Gandhi's run for office would be to stop the decline of the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh. Rahul won with a thumping majority. Unfortunately, different sections of the Indian diaspora be it the Opposition, the media or the people have always been comparing the heir- apparent to the legacy that he carries with him. What we fail to understand is that each politician has his own USP. By comparing the various generations of politicians and the class of politicians this family has produced, we are only committing a reprehensible error. Where Pandit Nehru lived in the comfort of luxury, Rahul too lived a privileged along with the knowledge that his father and grandmother had been brutally assassinated and the additional awareness that almost half the country did not accept his mother only due to her Italian origin. Hailing from a family that has gifted the country with three Prime Ministers, it is difficult to keep up with the tenor of the Indian polity especially when your vision is a long term goal where the rest of the political class is worried about the immediate benefits.

If one observes at the outset, defying convention for the better is something the Nehru-Gandhi clan embellishes. Motilal Nehru was a moderate who believed that Indians should play a part in politics whilst under the British stronghold on India. He believed in moderate politics and is reported to have even told his son that this was the best solution. Jawaharlal Nehru on the other hand pursued aggressive nationalism and held close the idea of a Free India. Post –independence India had NAM under the aegis of Nehru, a concept which the world had not countered until then. His daughter Indira earned the title, ‘The only man in the Cabinet’ for her grit and determination. The analysts wrote her off after 1975. Her comeback was least expected but nonetheless it happened. Her son Rajiv was a politician forced- in- the making it seemed on the face of it but very soon the Indian mise-en-scène changed and he was the fresh face of the Indian democracy. Bofors marred his tenure and with the tragic death of Rajiv Gandhi India lost another part of this family’s legacy.

The reason behind listing the varying personae of the Gandhi family is to bring to the reader’s notice that each generation is surrounded with a different circumstance, a different outlook and each one pursued a different path towards the same goal. Each made their fair share of blunders and history is witness that each of them emerged as better leaders. In the case of Rahul Gandhi, notice that he prefers to work at the grass- root level, something most politicians should be doing but really aren’t.

Why grassroot politics is essential:

The theory of Bharat versus India may not be accepted but no one can refute the fact that there exists a divide between rural and urban India and urban India itself is further divided into the privileged and unprivileged factions. Amidst all this comes a politician who believes the best way to win the confidence of the people is to be among them, away from the limelight.

To quote the man himself, “If the country is to be changed, it cannot be changed from the top, it can be changed from the ground level. Policies can be from the top, ideas can come from the top, thoughts can come from the top, but their implementation has to be at the level of municipalities, panchayats and wards” Much to the chagrin of some of my readers I find nothing wrong in this ideology. In fact I find it the hallmark of a true leader. The need of the hour is to connect with the proletariat in order to get the system working.

Opposition and criticism especially in Politics is inevitable but revulsion to the name not the policy is unacceptable. The South Asian Mail recently quoted a senior BJP leader’s statement on Rahul Gandhi comparing him to a wedding horse. The statement which received sharp criticism from the Congress reads, “The horse is always stuck at one place. It does not move. Similarly, Rahul Gandhi also does not move. Many efforts are being made to get him to do something, but he doesn't. Some try to push him but he still refuses to move. Till the time he isn't ready, how can Manmohan Singh do anything? This is the crisis today.” The crisis unfortunately is less with Rahul Gandhi’s methods of functioning and more with the Opposition’s expectations from him to function in a stereotypical fashion in a typecast political rut.

What has various leaders disgruntled is not this young leader’s choice to refrain from assuming a post in the Government but their inability to understand why he has chosen this path. A politician may make a Cabinet but the Cabinet is not the only criteria to be a certified excellent politician. Unfortunately, many seem to disagree with this proposition. The wanton hype created by right wing leaders and their loyal party workers has almost ensured that masses have already a pre- conceived notion that this young leader may not their best choice. If one consciously spends some time to read through you will come across these following oft- neglected facts :

  • In 2004, in an interview to George Iype, Rahul Gandhi’s mission statement was, ‘I will create a new brand of Indian politics.’ And he did. According to the DNA newspaper, the number of Youth members grew from a dismal two lakhs to a whopping twenty- five lakhs under this same dark horse. A resurrection of a nearly defunct organisation led to a positive difference in youth participation, a facet of party politics that most others quite regularly neglect. The IYC in Tamil Nadu (a non-Congress – ruled state if I may add) itself saw 12.5 lakh youth joining hands with the young leader.
  • This young leader believes “Truth’ is the most important principle in politics.
  • His method of open membership in the Youth wing of the Congress has ensured that people interested in becoming members are inducted directly into the organisation. The aim is to increase the cadre-base and to empower the youth of the country by helping them enter the political sphere. Those criticising him could possibly take note that with the Parliament home to octogenarians and septuagenarians what India currently needs is maximum young blood in the political fray and that can only happen if there is someone who knows the political arena like the back of his hand. The Congress has left that responsibility to Rahul Gandhi. In fact the other parties should perhaps follow suit in the interest of the nation.  

The reason behind this article is to bring to light that a politician without a Cabinet position is capable of creating a difference. Talk about the Gandhi family and 1975 comes into the picture.  What many have quite clearly forgotten is the family's positive contributions in the pre- Emergency and in the post Emergency era as well. 

This heir apparent has made his fair share of mistakes but how can any politician learn without making a mistake. For now we need to give him some space to bloom independently rather than live in the shadow of his family’s past. He has already proved his mettle with the young people in the Congress, and it is his class of non- media loving people oriented politicians that India needs today if we really need want a progressive state.

For his part Rahul is no political accident. His lifeblood in that sense is politics. What is unacceptable is trying to fit him in the mould of the ancestry he belongs. Unfortunately, politics is not determined by your lineage but your performance and just like the others even Rahul Gandhi should be judged by his performance in the years to come. I find it miserable that each time I tweet about the young leader I am countered with baseless allegations filled with sarcasm and dry humor in bad taste. Rather than speculating on whether he would make a fine Prime Minister for it is time to take cognizance of his vision and his interest in furthering grassroot politics and youth participation. If he prefers to follow his path without receiving the limelight on the National front so be it. Judge him on his methodology not his name.

"Do not be led by others,
awaken your own mind,
amass your own experience,
and decide for yourself your own path."
                                                             -The Atharva Ved

May be its time to let this young leader choose his own path.

To end this piece I rephrase what the 1989 Times of India stated,
'Whatever be any party's disagreement with Mr. Rajiv Gandhi’s (*or any of the previous of the Gandhi) policies, they should not be brought to bear on his offspring.''

Katherine. A

The writer does not bear any affiliations to the Indian National Congress or any other political party. The views expressed are personal.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Socio - Religious (Dis)- Connect

Social Networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have become the beehive of unwanted activity of late buzzing with social, political, and religious abuses. This is obviously due to provocative hate mongers spread all over these sites.  These serial abusers are actually fuelled by different and rather terrifying sources be it political or otherwise. Their intention and goal is to incite negativity in the people by attacking the most sensitive thing i.e. religious beliefs. Some do it for political advantage, others to cause a ruckus, whatever the reason it is simply unacceptable. What is disturbing is the fact that some choose to be unaware of this situation.

From the experience of the last few months on Twitter and Facebook, I have realised the fact that what we were taught in black and white in school days is totally opposite to the real condition of Indian politics, meaning of freedom of expression, and the way of governance in all its practicality. What I have and I am sure you too have read is the opening lines to the Preamble, "We the people of India having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic and to secure to all its citizens . . ." Have we truly accepted secularism? Well I can't really vouch for it because I am not treated as an equal because of my religious beliefs. You may ask, Why? Take the example of my own brother who has been at the receiving end of a lot of public hatred and all because he chose to use his freedom of expression and support the political party of his choice. Which party and why is really not the concern here. The point is he was targeted on the basis of him being a Muslim. My question is, should my religion be my impediment in exercising my freedom of thought expression? I am a teenager who has just stepped in the virtual world relating his bookish knowledge trying to find a connect between the virtual and the real world. There are two different questions in front of me: Were my teachers who spent hours unravelling the definitions of those words to me, wrong? OR has the definition of  Secularism been altered by people over time?

Many of us had come across these types of situations in our journey through social networking sites, which is increasingly getting converted to the means of social disconnecting site. I am not an addictive user of Facebook though, once I did come across the hate mongers, my curiosity was aroused. I wanted to know what they were, but little did I know that my curiosity would pay me so heavily.
The blasphemous film trailer on the Prophet Mohammed was revolting was debated and caused violence in many places. As a believer in Islam I was hurt by the visuals. But amidst all this dishonour that people had brought my religion I was also brought face to face with another positive side of reality. It was heartening to note that amidst all this anti – religious sentiments of a few is the equivocal rebuttal by not only Muslims but by people from other faiths who reacted sharply to this incident. It would take long to mention all so here is just one of the reactions that of a Hindu brother, Nitish Bhardwaj who tweeted: "The Anti- Islamic video is such a disastrous misuse of the right to expression that it SCARES me. Those responsible are the sick pathetic fiends.

This incident was highlighted globally so everyone knows but do you know that there are many more such pages created each day and millions of people are viewing pages that have been created with a view to stir anger and hatred to members of different ethnic and religious groups. More blasphemous materials related to religions are constantly being circulated on many of the Facebook pages by fanatics. Everyone knows that we love our Prophet (PBUH) and our Holy book Qur’an more than our life just like a Christian would hold his faith and a Hindu would guard his. The distasteful targeting of people on the basis of religion is only filling young people with anger and hatred towards people of other faiths and beliefs. Young people are led to believe twisted ideas. These social networking sites are only adding fuel to the fire. I have come across the images of Qur’an in the gutter, and its burning photos on Facebook and what I am waiting to ask these people is, “What have you achieved?”

I don’t know who would want to spread so much negativity, but I hope they are reading this, because I want to tell them that they cannot and will not achieve anything. For you if it seems a rare case but, if you think carefully an ocean is created drop by drop. Where are we as a global community headed? If  you think carefully these miscreants could have been intelligent asset of the country and the world at large, but they have lost their way being paid and misused by wrong peers and wrong company. They represent unnecessary trivia in such a way that the youngsters can easily accept it to be right.

We as a country have accepted secularism on paper, now all we have to do is to inspire our young people to accept this principle and condition them in a way that they are not easily influenced by these miscreants who are waiting to spread hatred and unrest by using religion as a weapon.

Shabab Anwar

The writer is a young Doctor in the making keenly interested in Child Psychology. He believes his ultimate aim is 'To Serve The Society, Giving Voice To Voiceless.'

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Caution: Protect your online identity

We emerge into this world with nothing to hide. But we are born into a complex human society, and it soon forces us to cloak ourselves in secrets. In the 'Real' world we choose to hide many aspects of ourselves from the world: finances or romances, opinions and frustrations, imperfections and bad habits basically any information we believe is sensitive or personal information.The longer our lives, the more private information we accumulate.

Today the internet threatens us to strip us naked. We are broadcasting our most sensitive and important secrets and keeping that information available on the internet which is easily accessible  all. Today internet is collecting picture of our identities and our lives and allows others to aggregate those information. 

Life has changed to a great extent in the 20th century. The internet is filled with the stories of youngsters who “tweet” their lives away, broadcasting their most intimate thoughts, feelings, and circumstances to anyone who will pay attention. The current world of internet is built on the relationships between exhibitionists who will do anything for fame and voyeurs who find their actions fascinating. 

Social media such as “Facebook” “Twitter” rely on their users’ eagerness to share information, both intimate and mundane, in real time. Twitter is a fact-sharing machine, “It is said that you lie to your friends on Facebook and share your secrets to strangers on Twitter.” We must think twice before we share something online to anyone. Current culture is all about flaunting and showing off your gadgets, how many credit cards you carry, how many followers you have on Twitter, how many likes and comments you receive when you post a picture or update your status, how popular you are on social networks, and the Internet is one of its most prominent engines.

We must believe that privacy has value. Privacy protects our families and our peace of mind. Privacy is a strategy for shielding resources from thieves and our children from predators, it is a prudent business tactic for negotiations, and it is an important social tool when meeting new people. 

Our personal information has become a commodity and just who is exposing you online. Social networks like “Facebook” and “Twitter” makes huge profit and their balance sheets are weighed in billions. Have you ever wondered who are their main resources of your income? Their income depend upon how many users are online and how many new users sign up for them daily, weekly, and monthly. It is YOU and your personal information which you share online. Your friends are not the only people examining your Facebook or Twitter page. companies search social networks to screen employment candidates. In fact from estranged friends or relatives to absolute strangers all have a keen eye on your social page. Today even the law has given information a certain evidentiary value. Remember, why your employer warns you on posting your companies private information and even photos of the office events online. It is to prevent any information to leak on-line and avoid any further rumours about companies internal environment. 

Who is exposing you?

You Did It Yourself

The Internet’s function of self-publication has revolutionized the way that humans communicate with each other. If you don’t believe that, spend a day with a teenager and see how she uses Facebook, Twitter, text messaging, instant messaging, to stay in touch with friends both near and far. 

It is time to get dressed now. Identity theft is considered a crime across the world. It could make you bankrupt. Everything is done online now a days. In a fraction of second you can transfer millions across the world via Online Banking transaction. And in other case a fraud can lead you in trouble and your bank balance could be swept away by hackers online. We into banking world asks our customers to be aware of fishing. It is a serious challenge to the cyber world.

Remedies: Follow the billboard rule.


This simple rule, also known as the mom and grand mom rule, requires no software. If you would not want people to drive by your billboard and see something posted there don’t upload it. The minute you feel any hesitation with anything posted remember to pull it down immediately to avoid any further hassle. 

Rest we all are mature enough to differentiate what information to be shared and what shall be kept private. 

Always remember anything in the virtual world is subject to susceptibility.o

Tarique Anwer.