Monday, March 2, 2015


Sitting by the sea shore on a Sunday evening and admiring some photographs stuck to the walls led me to think of an encounter with this amazing American lady who had been staying in India for the past 7 years. In conversation, she revealed that she owned a boutique and a roof-top food joint, in the beach town of Pondicherry. It was she who introduced me to the concept of Cultural Sensitivity.

When I went all out complaining about the existing moral policing in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry (obviously being from North-East India, moral policing with reference to clothing is the first thing that a first time traveler would notice, while traveling to so-called mainland India) and as to how ethnocentric they were. She told me only one thing, “Hey boy! You have come to their place and not them.” At that time I didn’t quite understand the gravity of those words.

With time, though, it all became clear, the idea of ethnocentrism is actually both ways; the fact that I perceived the local culture from my frame or perspective, which is predominantly western , obviously due to the cultural conditioning that I had received, which I now understand is a product of Cultural Imperialism. This Cultural Imperialism tends to instill a sense of superiority among most people from North-East who travel to other parts of India, which in turn makes us look down at people from other places and what we must understand is, they too have the same feelings. This is ethnocentrism, both ways, in practice.

Now, because these feelings have been culturally conditioned into us, they cannot be avoided but definitely restricted. Cultural sensitivity is extremely essential to understand and appreciate other cultures. Every culture has its positives and negatives and in any case Culture is something that is ever evolving, the definition of which is ambiguous.

Understanding other cultures by trying to be like them is an extremely different experience altogether. Anthropological research too lays emphasis on an emic perspective on things or rather cultural traditions.

The experience of conversing with a ‘Bhaiya-ji of UP’ about the political strategy of Mulayam Singh led Samajwadi Party and then discussing about the positive and negative effects of the Polavaram Project with the Telegu folk. You cannot forget the Malayalis here, who do not stop a moment to criticize the widespread corporatization and consumerism that has ushered the ill effects of capitalism and most often than not they obviously quote the Plachimada incident.  Then you have the Tamils who assert how important regional politics is, for them by talking about how unjust the Rajiv Gandhi Government was, when it sent the IPKF to Sri Lanka and being insensitive to the genocide, then happening in Northern Sri Lanka. The Kashmiris talk about the atrocities of the Indian Army and the Government through the implementation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. The Marathi people speak about their proud Maratha Tradition and the never ending tales of Chatrapati Shivaji; and mind you all this happens over a cup of tea and maybe a cigarette. 

We from North-East also have a lot to share but then it is very unfortunate that we prefer sticking to our circles. Yes there are those complaints of discrimination but unless there is also an attempt from our side, we will probably never overcome this problem. It’s high time that we change or we will land up being ‘the frog in the well’ who knows nothing other than what’s in the well.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Tranquebar: A gateway to Danish Legacy

Danish legacy coupled with Indian hospitality that was the Tranquebar experience for me. The first thing I noticed on entering this so called ghost town, were its people. A person in fact said sorry for driving his bike a little close to me. This is something that you seldom notice in a more urban environment.

Yeah for all those history buffs out there, Tranquebar or Tarangambadi as it is known today was in fact a Danish settlement of the early 17th century. It is situated at about 150 kilometres from Pondicherry, in the state of Tamil Nadu.
In terms of the tourist spots that this place offers is not much but yes it definitely is a dream destination for urban folk wanting to escape the crowded and noisy atmosphere of the city. This desolate and rather horribly silent, ghostly town provides respite from the fast and hectic city life.     
Of some of the attractions that the city has to offer is the fort Dansborg, build in 1620 boasts of the only Danish port to have survived the tide of time. Among others was the marvellous Zion Church, which, from the architecture, was very evidently built by the Danes. Also the Governors Bungalow is a noteworthy establishment.
The most unfortunate thing, though was, how the entire establishment is being maintained. The place is a potential heritage site and yet it is not being given enough recognition by the Government and steps are not being initiated to protect this heritage site. The people are also very much responsible in the destruction of this wonderful heritage site.
The graphiti art on the walls of this site are a reminder of who we are and how we disrespect our own past. Stricter norms need to be enforced to protect this heritage site, rest at this rate the entire site will crumble to rubbles in not less than a decade.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Necessary Evil

Given the recent state of politics in the country; revolving around FDI and Capitalist takeover by the corporates which would facilitate the exploitation of our material and human resources it becomes essential for us to investigate the feasibility of capitalism which is essentially a Western proposition and its applicability in the Indian context which is known to be very diverse.

India is a country where 70% of the population directly or indirectly are dependent on agriculture. With the rapid industrialization after the Neo-Liberal reforms were enforced, it cannot be denied that India is going through a phase of Agrarian Transition. But the reality is not so beautiful, which is evident from the widespread farmer suicides especially in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. (The reader is advised to refer to NCRB and other news reports for detailed information)

The subsidies that the developed countries are giving to their farmers are enabling the farmers of those countries to sell their produce at cheaper prices than the Indian counterparts mainly because our govt. is not in a position to afford such subsidies. And because the Neo-Liberal reforms were enforced on India due to the ‘Balance of Payment’ crisis, these developed nations have free access to Indian Markets to sell their products without price regulation, the Indian farmers are suffering.

For general interest it is very essential to discuss the Balance of Payment crisis whereby the Developed nations used the IMF and WTO to put forward an agreement to liberalise the Indian economy. India was forced to sign the agreement because India did not have enough foreign currency to run its trade for even 3 weeks. It was at this time that India had to borrow $600 million by pledging its gold (67 tons in total).  India never wanted capitalism; it was forced to adopt it, to obtain free access to Indian markets. Indian markets still have potential for growth as they are not saturated like the Western markets. Indian market also has very high customer purchase power.

Agriculture is a risky proposition in India, with the risk of the failure of crops, the ever growing migration from rural to urban areas, the ever growing Human Population or resources as could be said, has fuelled the growth of the corporates.Import substitution and closed economy when they were in force in the pre-liberalization era brought about prosperity but the privatization at the present point in time becomes essential to sustain the GDP.

If not for the corporates, the result of the neo-liberal economy, the skilled and unskilled labour which is being generated at the present rate, would find it difficult to find employment. With unemployment rates hovering at around 9% already, it is well poised to increase without the growth of the Private sector.  This may in fact lead to a situation existent in countries like Greece and Spain and that’s Europe we are talking about, given the case in India there will be total civil war. So, closing the economy at the present point in time is not an option. A Communist ideal therefore for the economy of India is also a dangerous proposition.

If India violates the agreement made with the IMF and WTO, which are dominated by the Western powers, there might be sanctions that the nation might have to face which is not an option which may further aggravate the situation.  

The solution to this entire dilemma starts with the problem that Indian industries are more service oriented like Infosys and TCS among others, these companies work for their American counterparts which generate a lot more profit than these Indian companies even though they are bigger organisations and that is definitely Colonialism 2.0 altogether. And because they are service industries the associated risks are much higher due to higher fixed liability in terms of employee management. Indian companies are not engaged in innovation and have very less spending on R&D. If Microsoft and Infosys are compared which were started at a similar time, the failure of the Indian corporates is very much evident. To be able to sustain Indian Corporates need to innovate.  Innovation! Innovation! Innovation! That is the only solution.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

-Some Illustrations have been downloaded from Google
-Idea conceived by Subhajit Paul (Please obtain prior permission for distribution)

-The intention is not to demean anybody but in the wake of the bills that are being passed in the Parliament against the ruling of the Supreme Court is a little mocking to the Judicial system in itself. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

 ‘Just another Battle of the Sexes’

So much of the sexist, that I’m reluctant, to be called, yet I must admit to the fact that I hate the wannabe feminists. With due respect to all the women who would bother reading this post and who are feminists, I thoroughly apologize and before blasting comments at the contents and opinions stated in the post I would like to point out that my vendetta is against ‘wannabe ’ feminists and not feminists, whom I thoroughly respect for their courage to go against convention.

Now, firstly lets discuss as to; who is a feminist? The oxford dictionary states: “Feminist – A person who advocates for women’s rights and sexual equality.” The big words here are SEXUAL EQUALITY.  Of all the self-proclaimed feminists that I have met, most seem to misunderstand feminism.

A lot of women do not understand feminism and are not aware of the core concepts of it. It is the misandry that leads them to be, what they feel, is feminism. The feminists are no more, a group of people who fight for women's rights, it is just a group of silly young girls who hate men (or perhaps had father issues - pun intended) . So, CONTEMPORARY feminism and misandry are mutually inclusive.

I have no idea as to when, the words SEXUAL EQUALITY transformed to SEXUAL SUPERIORITY. With the limited knowledge that many of these women have, it seems to me, that it seems to them that feminism is about sexual superiority and the advocacy of women’s rights by the blatant argument that women are the weaker sex and therefore they need to be given extra rights. I even remember an instance when, while attending a seminar, a young lady, so as to assert herself was in fact answering rhetorical questions. I hope at least someone sees the humour in it.

Why am I writing this post? For all the people wondering, on one of my latest travelling experiences, I met a lady, whom I assume to be around 30 to 35 years of age and I will not deny the fact that, born a decade earlier …er… maybe I would have fallen for her. I hope she’s not reading this. As it was hard to ignore her BLAH! BLAH! In conversation she mentioned of her passion of advocating for women’s rights and that she was a core-feminist at heart.

I summarily asked her of her view on the 33% reservation for women in the parliament. The irony of the situation was she said that 33% was in fact less, women should have at least 50% to 60% reservation. On asking her the reason for the same, she replied “Women are the weaker sex and in order to protect women, there must be more reservation for women and also the tax benefits for women should be higher.” When I replied to that saying that, “But I thought you said, you were a feminist?”. She replied, “so… as a feminist I should advocate for women’s rights.” Not wanting to create further conflict, I acknowledged her passion for the advocating of women’s rights and let it go.

Women à Weaker Sex à therefore need to be given extra rights. Controversial yet intriguing! Many would say that this was just one lady and her opinion but the 33% reservation clearly states otherwise, it definitely is not isolated, it is very much national. By giving extra rights to women in the form of reservations or tax benefits or whatsoever, one is actually degrading the position of women in society. Through the granting of extra benefits, it is already implied upon the women that they are not equal to men and hence need these facilities for sustainability.

So there is an irony when the so called women’s rights activists advocate for women’s rights and also call themselves feminists. It is like they have completely re-defined the term feminist. If women want to earn respect among men, they need to fight their way into this male dominated society or as they call it. Men will always look down upon women and will never see them as equals knowing the fact that, for that particular woman it was relatively easier to be somewhere rather than the amount of effort a man would have to put in.

To add to it, I feel a lot of women are misusing the word feminist. For many of them, it apparently sounds cool to call themselves ‘a feminist’. For these women who often demand to treated like a lady and given the chance, have their luggage carried forth by men they seem to know is simply hilarious. For someone who knows the meaning of feminism, they are just embarrassing themselves. So it is my request to all the wonderful ladies reading this post, not to misuse the term feminist.

So, since I have all the time in the world to write a post and being in India, as I have the freedom of expression, I would like to reply to the lady in my travels that as a feminist she should advocate for women’s rights to equality or simply stop calling herself a feminist. Just to clarify, she was also not carrying her own luggage.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Hideous Dream

 “Hey mate you ain’t wanna stay out in the open for the night. You ain’t gonna survive the cold. We have to find some shelter for the night.” Pat was rather not interested in the discussion. He was just enjoying riding his horse and looked nowhere but forward and went onward. Ryan, being the more concerned, again reminded him by saying, “It ain’t gonna do this way mate. We have to talk over it.” This time Pat seemed to get offended and just replied; “Yeah! Yeah! Don’t worry so much mate we will find some motel on the way and surely I have enough to pay for it.” Ryan was rather not convinced by the answer but reluctantly agreed to what Pat had told him as he already knew that it wouldn’t be worth to tire his vocal cords trying to reason with this obtuse individual. It would rather be better for him to stick around and try to speculate and try to guess the probable problems that they could face. Ridding, ridding, ridding through the marsh lands they did ride meeting all the people who were staying nearby and Ryan being the more descent one even lowered his hat for certain people wishing them good day.

It had now started getting dark, Ryan had started getting tensed thinking about their shelter for the night. Pat was still on his ridding and enjoying every moment of it and singing to the rhythm of the trotting horse “ta rum da dum da um……..the older I get, the more I can see, how he loved my mother and my brother and me……..”. “STOP SINGING! We must find a place for the night,” shouted Ryan. “Calm down mate, can’t you see that mansion with the dim light? Maybe not a motel but of course we can ask the owner to provide us with a place for the night,” replied Pat. “Oh yes! I am much relieved,” sighs Ryan.

As they came closer to the mansion they saw an old lady, not having seen her face and having concluded from the hunched back that she had, covered with a black shroud, her head having been covered, carrying a candle she was headed towards the forest. The men found it really weird to see an old lady at such time of the night. Just that moment, a beautiful young women standing in front of the mansion asked Ryan, “It’s quite some time of the day I think you have come here for shelter. I own this inn but I would want you to pay in advance. ” “My friend here Pat will pay you all that you need”, replied Ryan. Both the men went in to the mansion and were given a common room with two beds. The mansion seemed to be really old and there were spider webs all around the room, being in the nature of men they didn’t care much of the conditions that existed in the room. By now the young woman had already left; asking them to make themselves comfortable for the night.  They had their dinner from what they had already brought with them and then went off to sleep.

Suddenly, “Thak! Thak! Thak!..............Thuk Thak Thuk!”, There was some strange noise from the attic and this had woke up Ryan and he had already taken up the rosary and started praying. He then saw that same old lady whom they had seen outside with the black shroud and the candle but this time she had revealed her face, it being half burned and the part of the face that was not burned had the same features as the young lady who had proclaimed that she owned the inn. By now even Pat was awake not by the sounds in the attic but by all the shakes he received from Ryan. Ryan by now was extremely scared and didn’t know what to do. The old lady, with her blue half burned eye gave an evil smile to both the men. At that moment John screamed and woke up realizing later that it was just a dream that he had just experienced. Panting and sweating reached out for a glass of water, after he felt a little better he went back to sleep again hoping to experience a better dream this time.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Tibet Crisis

The issue of the freedom of Tibet is a far pressing issue in the 21st Century, especially being just after the era of decolonization. Tibet, in this regard, is no different, being under the administrative control of the People’s Republic of China, in other words, a colony of China.

Here, if we are to be rational, we have to evaluate the situation of China and the ideology behind the annexation of Tibet. The Communist regime of China, at the time, we shouldn’t forget, had the ‘Forward Policy’, so whatever the Chinese did was justified, at least in their minds. In other words, they had cause to do, what they did. For someone who has a little sense of knowledge would know that, the concept of right and wrong is a fallacy, so, at the end of the day, it boils down to what one believes and if the Chinese believed that, in doing what they were, they were right, that was just their perspective of things. Besides, probably, the then Chinese Leader envisaged a Unified China with Tibet as an integral part of it, which, again we must note would conform to the “all under one umbrella” ideology of the Qin Dynasty.

Being an Indian citizen, the opinions in the post might be a little biased, although I shall try to be rational. The fact is China, no matter how much Indians deny, poses a threat to India, given its history with India in the recent past, mainly the 1962 war and the Askai-Chin issue. If Tibet were to become an independent nation, it would greatly benefit India because there would actually be a land barrier between the two nations. It would also weaken the great nation of China by starving them of natural resources, specially Gold, Iron Lead and uranium and the vast reserves of forests, which at present China is utilizing or plundering (depending on perspective).

The disintegration of China would also greatly relieve the Western Powers. The concept of a Bi-polar World has never worked and history is witness of that. The rise of China in the various fields and as a nuclear power just makes the Western Powers nervous. , Therefore, the Western Powers will definitely help the cause of Independence for Tibet, not because they care for Tibet but because they fear the rise of China more.

Here, let me make my stance clear, I am for the complete freedom of Tibet, acknowledging the fact that the PRC and Tibetan region of China have totally different cultural backgrounds and although PRC claims Tibet to be an integral part of China, it simply cannot be deemed the gospel truth. That is of course a personal opinion and whether right or wrong is again debatable but for me it’s right and that’s what matters. My stance is not because I am a Tibetan sympathiser, hell, I have nothing to do with Tibet; but as I discussed earlier, the freedom of Tibet is of strategic importance to India and being an Indian citizen I definitely acknowledge that.

Whilst in a conversation with an acquaintance, I remember the person mentioning, since complete freedom from China is not possible, the Tibetans demand for autonomy. The thought of which, for some time at least intrigued me but thinking deeper into it, I think this is just a ploy for the Tibetans to enjoy the privileges that they get at present for being international refugees. They can go to anywhere in the world and settle in any country they want without much hassle for a visa/ green card or other such documents. So, the idea of autonomy doesn’t fit my small little brain.  

The issue of Tibet is not an issue which will be resolved so easily, it is a highly complex issue that the world has to deal today. There is no Black and White, it’s always Grey, in these aspects.