Election season upon us – 2

With UP elections round the corner, almost everything appearing in the mainstream media should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Cow vigilantism is another fancy term coined by the Indian main stream media in the run up to a major state election. Remember ‘intolerance’? Although not as abstract but certainly more potent. If ‘intolerance’ set the stage for a counter attack, this is the actual event.

So whats ‘vigilantism’? According to etymonline.com a vigilante is “member of a vigilance committee,” 1856, American English, from Spanish vigilante, literally “watchman,” from Latin vigilantem (nominative vigilans) “watchful, anxious, careful,” from vigil (see vigil). Vigilant man in same sense is attested from 1824 in a Missouri context. Vigilance committees kept informal rough order on the U.S. frontier or in other places where official authority was imperfect.”

Wikipedia says, “Vigilante justice” is often rationalized by the concept that proper legal forms of criminal punishment are either nonexistent, insufficient, or inefficient. Vigilantes normally see the government as ineffective in enforcing the law; such individuals often claim to justify their actions as a fulfillment of the wishes of the community. 

Various articles like this , this and this with loaded statements have appeared off late in the media. The second last one appeared in NYT whose author was previously associated with several “exposes” for an organisation whose founder worked for Tehelka. And ofcourse, the last being an article by Congress MP Tharoor in an elite publication. Not surprisingly, Tharoor starts off by painting these random, unrelated and sporadic acts of crime as being more generalised, planned and well entrenched. In the process, tries to whip up a heightened sense of fear. Dismissive and condescending references to large parts of North India as “Cow Belt” (strangely even mentions “the refusal to eat beef” as common in these states, as if its the norm elsewhere in India) is also not surprising considering his political identity. After the crushing defeat of the Congress party, it has cranked up its ally machinery viz., business associates (read media houses) whereby abstract concepts are conjured up and thrown around liberally. Unrelated acts of crime are sought to be publicised and a relentless coverage (sometimes even misreporting is resorted to) to create a politically charged atmosphere before elections, only to subside after the elections get over. If it were “Church attacks” before Delhi, “Intolerance” and “Dadri” before Bihar, it is now, on expected lines, “Una” and “Cow vigilantism” before UP. Not to deny the criminal act of assault, they happen everywhere on the planet as much as they happen in India, but a broad generalisation and painting it with a broad brush is uncalled for.

If the target audience of “Intolerance’was the minorities, the target audience this time includes the lower castes. The strategy of maligning the government in front of a global audience had worked back then. A similar ploy is at play now.

Even the recent silver medal winning performance of an India shuttler PV Sindhu wasnt spared the lethal caste angle when little known The News Minute website in its factually erroneus article had implied how “millions” of Indians were searching for her caste rather than couple of thousand (as a % of total population is neglible). A superb rebuttal by Sanu . Not surpringly, it got stupidly picked up ToI and Indian Express. Really guys? A couple thousand random searches means India searching ? Wow!

RCom shutdown of CDMA service

Not surpringly this bit of news hardly received any media coverage because the one on the receiving end was the small guy who is nobodys votebank.

Reliance Communications CDMA service (of which Yours truly and his parents were subscribers but out of some premonition of sorts I had made a switch few months but unfortunately my parents were still using) had been discontinued from May 2016. Subscribers have been “asked” to upgrade to the 4G LTE service on the GSM network. CDMA is technically a superior and a reliable network from my experience. GSM, with the advent of 4G might offer higher speeds but is unreliable as the device constantly goes “off network” and one has to switch off the device and switch it on for it or go and come out of the “airplane mode” to re – register it.

My father had to shell out ~ Rs 200 even for the SIM. CDMA only handsets would have to be junked along with whatever balances (Talktime / data) it might contain. There would certainly be cases of people buying brand new CDMA handsets (expensive ones as there were anyway very few available off the shelf) or recharging their talktime / data balances just before the company discontinued it CDMA service. RCom has even discontinued the data offer of 10GB for Rs93.

I think the way the company has handled the affair was unprofessional. It could have intimated its customers 6 months back regarding the discontinuation, re – imbursed balances of people for talktime /data and offered subsidised handset upgrade.

Election Season upon us

Its become all too familiar now with a set pattern having emerged. With elections around the corner (And yes that too the mother of all polls, UP Polls in early 2017), a spate of “incidents” have started receiving coverage in the national media. Some unrelated incidents (read incidents that would in normal times would have died down in a whimper) are being blown up and linked to create a grand narrative. This (and the more shocking reaction) and This are the concerned incidents.

So this entire episode concerning Mayawati is about a politically incorrect remark allegedly made by one of the BJP party functionary when making a reference to her practice of alloting tickets to contestants with the highest bids. (Hang on here. Isnt the prostitutes who should really take offence to these remarks ?? I mean they are in the profession out of sheer desperation.) Well, some things are left unsaid. But then the BJP (Dont think its intentional because if it is then stupidity) has developed this habit of shooting itself on its foot. Mayawati and her party have sounded the poll bugle

Moving to the next incident. It involves a group of people beating up another group of people. The media wants us to believe its part of a grand design against the lower castes as the group getting beaten up happened to belong a lower castes. Well, isnt it a crime? Plain and simple. Law enforcement would deal with it. Why blow it up? Why should the lense of caste be brought in here? Would it have been looked at through casteist lenses had elections not been around? And after having coloured it with casteist angle why generalise it??

Came across this piece yesterday. The author picks off on the second incident. He really lets his imagination runs wild here.  In the piece, his main argument rests on dropping the last name for protesting the caste system? He goes on to broadly generalise his argument further by listing some unrelated acts of crime (are non – dalits not at the receiving end of criminal acts in India?) and by rattling statistics (one of it being the high proportion of Dalits of religious minorities?? Now whats that? Arent other religions free from this caste evil? He busts his main argument point here and these poor guys too would have to shed their last names) of unmentioned sources. The rest of the article is plain pointless. I have taken time out to comment on the obviously poorly reasoned article above as it appeared in a paper like Mumbai Mirror and i expect them to maintain certain standard. And similar posts are all over the place.

Politicians have vested interest in keeping the caste fire burning in india, despite its effects waning due to urbanisation. If not religion then surely caste will win votes. Scare mongering is the golden rule. Religion based and caste based appeasement politics was thrashed by the average indian voter in 2014 which stunned its patrons. Like the proverbial worms during the monsoon season they have emerged again.

Availability of jobs is the biggest issue and if it is to be addressed the voter has to continue rejecting the above evils which politicians and the media are so trying to bring back in the limelight by spinning a narrative of victimhood and oppression (remember “church attacks” during delhi elections? and “Dadri” before Bihar. Is this the thing before UP polls? Stay calm and enjoy the circus!!


Temples of India – A perspective – Jagannath Temple

Even the lord sometimes needs to sell land to raise finances. Lord Jagannath Puri temple is selling some part of its land holding to raise cash.

More importantly, on the occasion of Jagannath Rath Yatra, an annual celebration of Lord Krishna’s return to Vrindavan, here’s some history of the temple. Here’s some bit of history of the festival.

What struck me was the most important ritual of the festival;

” During the festival, the Gajapati King wears the outfit of a sweeper and sweeps all around the deities and chariots in the Chera Pahara (sweeping with water) ritual. The Gajapati King cleanses the road before the chariots with a gold-handled broom and sprinkles sandalwood water and powder with utmost devotion. As per the custom, although the Gajapati King has been considered the most exalted person in the Kalingan kingdom, he still renders the menial service to Jagannath. This ritual signified that under the lordship of Jagannath, there is no distinction between the powerful sovereign Gajapati King and the most humble devotee.

The above re – inforces the fact that everyone is equal before the Lord.

Hmm. Sometimes I wonder, whats the deal with this caste system? If we can have such rituals then certainly the caste system didnt originate from the scriptures. Need to dig deeper on this.


Financial markets were gripped with “Brexit” talk and it had an almost fever like grip which culminated on 24th Jun 2016. There was a funny whatsapp message doing the rounds on Friday evening in the aftermath of ‘Brexit’. It read, ‘Italeave’, ‘Fruckoff’, ‘Czechout’, ‘Byegium’, ‘Oustria’ 🙂 indicating the imminent break of the monetary union i.e EU, after Britain became the first country to sever ties from the EU.

Here are some “expert” views on it; Vox has this interesting piece of For Brexit view . George Soros has this to say. Ken Rogoff has this. Brookings has this

As always, the biases of these “experts” should be discounted while forming a view based on their analysis. Washington Post even has this on the distrust of the junta on these experts on Brexit.

Well, I dont mean to wish bad luck to the Brits. But this referendum would seemingly open the floodgates for the Scots, Northern Irish to exit the UK as we know it. Well,  as they say Karma has to catch up.