Monday, June 29, 2020

A conversation in heaven about social media trends on earth

June 26, 2020, 4:18 PM IST  in The WriteClick | IndiaLifestyle | TOI

Heaven has not seen such a sudden spike in the number of new entrants as was witnessed in recent months. Tens of thousands ascended every day. The talk about Corona virus dominates heaven so much so, that earlier entrants proclaimed how lucky they are not to have been in this Covid-19 times. While every newcomer has been assumed a Covid-19 victim, some news does reach heaven; courtesy of latest COVID-19  victims who'd share the latest updates of earth. 

News of trends like #Blacklivesmatter #JusticeForSushantsingh #Nepotism and #Banchinesegoods thus has it's way up above. Seated in the corner were; Mr. Floyd, SS Rajput, and 20 Indian Armies. They seem to be displeased with how people, supposedly those who claimed to be their fans, reacted to their deaths. A highly animated discussion was going on as bystanders, composing mostly of  Covid-19 victims were listening to them wondering if anyone remembers them and if at all a hashtag exists in their memorial.

(NYT Photo)

Mr. Floyd was visibly disturbed as to how the whole #BlacklivesMatter movement has unfolded. 'I fully agree with their stance to fight for the cause of the blacks but the vandalising, the lootings and the street fights are just uncalled for. Somewhere I feel they are using me; to advance their political goal, their communal goal, and now their personal goal of owning a Gucci bag. Also, why do they divert the whole attention from me? I don’t have access to Twitter here, obviously, but I don’t think they are trending  #FloydLifeMatters. For, all placards on the road read #BLM."

 SS Rajput put his hand on Floyd to show him that his feelings are understood. 'Just out of curiosity, do you approve this whole movement- of the blacks coming to the street and shouting #Blm?' asked one. 'Well, to be honest, I want no lives in trouble because of me. All I want is that those guilty cops  be given exemplary punishment. Everyone knows that the demonstration thing now has more to do with politics than my issue.'

(Image Source: Times of India)

'I still cannot believe that while I and my 19 men gave our life at the border, to save the integrity of the nation, we don't get the due attention equivalent to the loss of single life in the US. #SaluteIndIndianArmy should have trend for weeks. But instead, the people are so lost in their thoughts to criticize or appreciate the political figures that they have forgotten us. I am told, people are busy hating or praising the PM even to the extent that #ModiIstheWorstPM is trending. These reactions and erroneous point of convergence are not what we died for,’ laments a Colonel of Indian Army.  

‘But what is hurting most is how the supreme sacrifices of the men in uniform have been portrayed. We gave our lives defending the country and not attacking some Xi's land. I know I am not a Colonel here in Heaven, but it hurts to explain to my boys, what is happening down there. It is not the credit, the recognition, or the fame that we want. We have decided to give our life for the country by defending till the last drop of our blood; we have done exactly that. It is painful how ‘that truth’ is being robbed of us by now toeing into our enemy's diktat- mincing their very words. For Heaven's sake Garwan belongs to India,' added the martyred colonel as his men huddled around him as one of the men can be heard saying,' it is all over now. At least here, we will not be fighting for lands.’ 

‘Look at the 40 Chinese soldiers!' 'Namaste Chinese Brothers!' Shouted one jawan and 'Ni hao!' came back a greeting. ‘'Look at them numbering 40 plus- and yet their president said,’ less than 20 people died.’ How did the remaining 20 come to heaven, alive?'’ mocked the colonel, looking at the Chinese soldiers.

(ETimes photo)

'India is yet to move on since you left Sushant. Now, they are registering cases against the Khans, the Bhatts and Karan,' said one of the bystanders, who reached heaven just recently. Sushant, also jokingly referred to as Mr. Nepotism boy smiled and said,' You only know the value of something only when you lose it.' As he was about to walk away, Mr. Floyd asked him to express how he felt regarding the whole nepotism movement. And yes, ‘Did you kill yourself or somebody, you know...?' asked Mr. Floyd.

 'Who am I to take life or create life. And who am I to prolong my life when it is not required. I will not dwell into your question of how I reach here. But, as you have said, I feel the whole issue of Nepotism is a little blown out of proportion. To the level that they cared about me, I was Ok. But I do not want them to fight people with the belief that they are doing it for me,’ added Sushant. 

On being asked what would be his suggestion to resolve #nepotism in the film industry, he said, ‘There exists nepotism as I said, even when I was on earth. But instead of banning some particular production house or actors, the public should start appreciating talent and not name. That is when the real movement will start. Believe me, this whole social media trend of #justiceforSushant which many people who came in recently here informed me of, will soon fade away. The memories they have of me too will wither away as time passed. It is neither a call for justice nor a cry of #nepotism that will bring a solution.’

‘If they must, they should start rewarding people of true talents with super hit viewership at the Box Office. I remember an instance when I was literally begging to my fans to watch my movies. Had all these affections been shown that instance, I could still be, you know. No one knows. There may be many more like me; it is time to let the box office Judge,’ said the actor of soon to be released film #DilBechara.

A deep silence followed. An angel appeared and reminded them, ‘Guys! We are in heaven; stop all those earthly talks. Come on, let us join the Chorus.’ All of them smiled and heeded the voice. 'If only they could hear us and follow what we want instead of delivering what they want for us,' said Mr. Floyd, who is no longer labelled ‘black’ in heaven. 'Well, that exactly is why there is a demarcation of heaven and earth and life and death. We live to die and we die to live, eternally,' said someone whose fans increased by the day on earth as is in heaven- among the stars he loved since he was on earth!

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Elephant lives matter more in India!

June 15, 2020, 9:18 AM IST  in The WriteClick | IndiapoliticsWorld | TOI

PC: India Today
America is presently engulfed in nationwide protests, a few months before the presidential election, over the death of a black American in the hands, under the knees to be precise, of white police officials. The instance was not the first of such kinds, though everyone hopes it is the last. But why is Mr. Floyd’s death spawning a movement which now spreads throughout the world that even groups of people more discriminated than the Blacks are shouting ‘Black lives matter’?    There could be various reasons; the impact of social media, political motive, and the hate for Donald Trump, etc. What certainly is certain though is that the blacks have had it enough. 

Racial discrimination exists mostly everywhere. It is all about the intensity. The US has for centuries been a destination for people worldwide to live ‘the American dream’. So when that country has its state machinery discriminating a section of people in full public glare in today’s world of Social media, what is witnessed is even less than the expected scale. All lives should matter, at least in America. 

While it is colours that dominate racism in the West, it is more to do with regionalism and looks in India. At least here in India, the state forces do not kill in public view. In a country where the death of an elephant catches more attention and discussion than the death of a thousand farmers, it is confusing what to expect from the people of the largest democracy.

When one talks about racism in India, a country with diverse people not just in terms of economy but of looks, languages, and religion, the first thing that comes into people’s mind, at least in the minds of Northeasterners, is the discriminations against North East People. In fact, people have upped the ante by now calling the NE people, ‘Corona’- a new term added to the lists of chowmein, momo, and Chinese. A girl from Manipur had been stabbed to death at Gateway of India 15 years ago and a boy, Nido Tania from Arunachal Pradesh was beaten to death in 2015 at Lajpat Nagar, Delhi after he reportedly raised voice against discriminatory remarks thrown at him by a few shopkeepers. Many incidents of abuses against the Northeasterners-  both verbally and physically have been reported in various cities of the country over the years.

The NE people were the first to battle the virus duo of racism and Covid-19. Instances of people being physically assaulted, denied entries in shopping malls, and abused verbally even when identifying themselves as Indians have left a big hole, amidst  the pandemic, in the hearts of NE people residing in cities outside the NE region. Government, in so far as discrimination on the NE people is concerned has done its part by installing dedicated North East helplines in a few select cities to attend the concerns of Northeasterners specifically. However, most people are yet to appreciate the diversity of the Country by acknowledging the existence of an Indian who looks different. It is sad to admit but the Northeasterners and the religious minorities are the blacks of India. It is said that Cricket, Bollywood, and Religion are the ‘Big Three’ that defines India and its people. Not surprisingly, North East India does not feature in all the three. A thousand Bollywood films have only a couple of movies made, related to  North East India, and the region has no national cricket player. As for religion, NE India has 4 of the 7 states with a population of predominant Christian followers. The feeling of alienation thence felt by the people is not without reason. It is worth being sentient that, a strategically important region like NE-India, if its people feel alienated, poses a graver threat than  nationwide protests.

The news of a 14-year-old Christian boy, Mr. Samaru Madkami from Orissa being hacked to death on the 5th of June 2020,  was reported in various media . The local police reportedly have registered cases under IPC 1860 sections 295-A,367,506,34, FIR NO: 0180, dated 05/06/2020, on a complaint filed by Mr. Unga Madkami, the father of the victim. I was glad to read about it. Why? Hear me out; the fact that media has finally turned its pens, if not lens,  to the minorities has brought me a glimpse of hope that, perhaps our boy from Jharkhand could be the Mr. Floyd of the Christians in India. Of course, the incidents, both in America and India are condemnable at the highest level. But their sacrifices, with no justification whatsoever to the perpetrators, could possibly open the general  conscience and thereby save many more lives. They give their today's for the tomorrows of the coloured and minorities

In America, things will see a sea-change. Everyone will think twice before getting their hands on a black person. As in India, the fact that the state is not directly responsible makes the situation a bit more tricky when setting accountability. Had it been the state actors that have taken the lives of Mr. Samaru Madkami, incrimination thereof could have been directed to the Government with all the stops out. But now, it is the public whose mind-set needs to be changed. It is a tough question to ask whose actions are easier corrected; the state or the public. Theoretically, in a democratic country, power lies with people. In that thought, the fight against discrimination in India is against the more powerful block.

In all likeliness, there will be no candlelight march; no trending hashtags, and no mention of it again in the media about the death of the Christian boy in Orissa. This is why I envy the ‘discriminated blacks’ of the US. At least they have the whole country shaking, if not the world. But it is worth remembering that before Mr. Floyd, the black Americans who were killed too had only faint voices of protests like those witnessed now in the death of the Orissa Christian boy. It is clear that oppressions are well collected in memories and when they burst- it is hard to ignore the flames. Graham Staines’ has seen no country-wide protest. This too will not. But the fact that we all look up to America should send a strong message that there will be a time when people say, “enough is enough.”

While the west is worried about racial discrimination, we have religious discrimination, caste discrimination, and discrimination based on looks to deal with. As the world look west and supply consolations to the Americans, albeit the possibility of some people envying the state of people raising their voices against the state, it will not be a tall tale to tell that we are standing on a sleeping volcano; the earlier we change our stance, the better is our chance of avoiding the flame. Of course, right now we have better things to mind in our minds;  Elephant Lives Matter more in India.

Monday, June 1, 2020

The art of walking with adversity

June 1, 2020, 1:54 PM IST  in The WriteClick | Lifestyle | TOI


Is there ever an inopportune moment to encourage people and take the positive path of wearing out whatever is holding them down? Even if there exists one, with all its unlikeliness, now surely is not the time; not tomorrow or in the near future, for that matter. Should we then start singing and dancing while people are dying around us? The idea of positivity ideally should not be woven around beliefs that include hiding the bitter truths; rather it should ideally involved knowing and accepting the facts even as we mustered all hope to look forward.

Months have passed, millions of people have been affected by the virus and Billions more by the effects of lthe pandemic even as we tried our best to deceive our mind into not thinking too much about the virus by engaging ourselves in different activities, while our frontline workers spend sleepless nights so that we all can have sound sleeps at home and millions do not sleep forever in their hospital beds. It is tempting, at least to us- who are blessed with the comfort of assuming ourselves as the heroes for obliging lockdown norms at home, to finally remove the heavy armours of protection and proclaimed the worst is over.

While there is a high probability that the pandemic could last years or more, lockdown cannot stay forever. Already, Governments around the world have initiated the required arrangements for the process of opening up their country. It does give a psychological comfort of feeling unchained by the hackles of a self-tasked responsibility, which we felt too heavy even for our own good. The eerie silence that has befriended our streets are now back to the business of churning smokes and noises, not to mention the beeps and horns.

‘Are we safer than we were 80 days ago?’ might be a question some of us have. While no one would be able to give an accurate answer to that even if statistics are to be relied upon, another question; will we be safer 80 days from now? Or, how many days will it take for us to be safe from the virus? will have the same answer; God knows. What is it that we have then, that should propel us into taking the decision, to walk in this environment of adversity?

We do not have choices but to make immediate choices; one which will decide our fate. Either way, it will not be an easy ride. We cannot continue to be mute hostages to a virus; we could soon lose more people to the consequences of our inactions than to the viruses. In the same vein, we cannot proclaim everything is alright now when lakhs are still dying; our false beliefs could result in more catastrophic outcomes. It has to be a calculated decision one that caters to the economy of our lives and another to the life of our economy.

We are now at the crossroads, where our decisions will have manifold impacts; history will remember what we do now. Unlike other instances, this journey will require taking different routes necessarily, though with the same goal; there is no one size fits all solution. Now that the onus is put on the State Governments, the Concerned states should have no hesitation in the continuation of lockdown in zones/areas where required as well as the relaxation of the same in areas where deemed fit. May God give our leaders the knowledge and wisdom to know what is best for the people and most importantly the power and conviction to implement them effectively as we endeavour to walk ahead amidst the execrable pandemic that holds the world to ransom.

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