The Forthright Mon, 23 Mar 2015 12:14:44 +0000 en hourly 1 “If India wins World Cup, Hyper Masculine Nationalism will become Intense” Mon, 23 Mar 2015 12:08:38 +0000 If the headline of this post irked you, welcome to many more logical Indians who feel the same and if you did not feel offended by the absurdity of the headline, then this post is for you only! Read On:


As we wait for India to clash with Australia in the semi finals, Outlook magazine runs a poll ‘Should India win the World Cup?’ There are hundreds of such polls on the internet, but what makes this poll disturbing is the Ashis Nandy quote they use. “Winning the World Cup might just make India’s macho and hyper masculine nationalism more intense…the fear is that majoritarian nationalism will become more aggressive” opines the sociologist. When I first read it, I wondered if it was hoax. But Outlook wouldn’t run a hoax. The theory is difficult to believe at all levels.

As a woman I have known no other sport. I was in school, class 10, when the first Sahara Cup was played in Toronto. I would watch matches till 3. AM, wake up at 6.30 AM for school and then after the first couple of periods fake illness and sleep in the infirmary. Cricket never occurred to me as a ‘masculine’ thing. Painting faces, knowing facts and figures right, cheering and grieving has been a part of life almost as long as I remember.

How often have we heard, ‘nothing unifies India, like cricket’? And there sure is some truth to it. People differ on a host of topics, but when it comes to cricket, they stick to each other and cheer for the team. Nandy’s theory not only belittles the spirit of cricket in the country, it also mocks the lives of all those who have loved the game. Fans, cricketers, commentators included. We all know of the great Sachinist Sudhir Gautam and how he has left it all for the game. There are many nameless fans who have sacrificed one thing or the other to just watch the game; fans who have died of heart attacks!

Cricket in India was never about ‘majoritarian’ preferences. Talk about Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi and every true blooded cricket fan will venerate him.  Or Vijay Hazare? Wouldn’t we all stop for a moment and thank him for all he has done for our country? How proud we have been about Mohammad Azharuddin – the wristy magician.  Or when Zaheer Khan (and Gambhir, Yuvraj and Shewag) didn’t find a place in the Indian World Cup squad, the fans were shocked. Did majority/ minority have anything to play? I remember how we had squealed in joy as we watched Irfan Pathan sign autographs in Eden Gardens. Seeing him in such close proximity made the test match just feel better.

I am sorry Mr. Nandy. Your idea has no basis. The coach of the current team, Duncan Fletcher is not limited to a certain vote bank. Or my personal favourite Gary Kirsten is not part of any ‘majoritarian’ conspiracy!  I hope you remember him as India’s coach in 2011!

I have often wondered why India is so obsessed with cricket. Is it because the Indian team is a representation of what we Indians are? We are emotional people and so are our cricketers. The team captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni hasn’t met his baby girl yet. The new father says he is on ‘national duty’.  Cricket didn’t come to Dhoni on a platter, and the man has not only made it big from a small town, but also from a modest background.

Maybe all our cricketers have such stories. A sister supports her 13 year old brother and since the cricket coaching centre is 7 to 8 kms away from home, she escorts him till he knows the route. Today we know that man as Bhuvaneshwar Kumar. His mother, a housewife had little knowledge of the game, and his sub inspector father couldn’t find enough time for his son’s cricket. The struggle wasn’t easy.

Or let us take the case of the toast of Indian cricket, Virat Kohli, who played for his state team Delhi and then went to his father’s funeral. Or Unmesh Yadav. When he had got his first call form the Vidharba Cricket association the man had no bowling shoes or even a mobile phone.

Shouldn’t India’s progress in the 2015 world cup be seen as a celebration of the never dying spirit of the country? Isn’t wishing the team’s loss to Bangladesh (the theory being it would deflate some egos), outright funny? Or a little provocative for the now angry social media! What is the new era of ‘liberals’ playing at?  Indian cricket is so full of stories of winning against odds that one could write an epic on it. Why did Sachin Tendulkar’s brother work so hard for him? Why did Rahul Dravid play with the extremely painful ear surgery? Why did Shewag travel 84 kilometers to train? Why did Irfan and Yusuf Pathan’s father not succumb to taunts? Or why did Sunil Joshi leave his Hubli home at crack of dawn and travel 60 kms? What ‘majoritarian machismo’ could be associated with the history of cricket in India?

And I believe no one told Mr. Nandy about our current hero Mohammad Shami. When the cricket ball is in his hand, we Indians feel safe. We celebrate every wicket he takes and appeal every time he does.  Or Stuart Binny! And we will do the same if Parvez Rasool gets similar kind of success. Cricket for us is not just about the glamour. It is about the daily struggles and human stories associated with the game.

Cricket is a beautiful game. Please stop politicizing and communalizing it. Let us get together and Celebrate India.

P.S   The space constraint forces me to leave out more stories of fans and cricketers. There is a struggle in each capped player’s life. I hope we stop playing filthy games with the sport.


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Ban not okay but BBC Documentary on Nirbhaya made me absolutely uncomfortable Fri, 13 Mar 2015 08:17:57 +0000 16 December gang rape accused Mukesh Singh’s views as shown in the BBC Documentary did not shock me. Someone who had the mindset to be part of a heinous gang rape can also be expected to hold those views. I didn’t expect him to suddenly send out signs of remorse.


I was not particularly interested in watching the Nirbhaya documentary. But with too many advocates of free speech (who preach free speech but will tag and inbox you, until you say yes to their theory), I did take a chanced glance at the documentary. The government ban made sure a not very well made documentary got the maximum eye balls. While I see no reason in banning a documentary (an open forum to discuss the film would score better than a ban); I sincerely hope BBC does a documentary on say a 13 year old Miley Dowler and names it UK’s daughter( or the Rotterdam sex crimes). Or a documentary on the Jewish woman in France and names it France’s daughter. On the 19year old gang rape victim of Saudi Arabia (who also gets whipped as per Sharia law) and names it Saudi’s daughter. Rape is not an Indian phenomenon. Can we please say this loudly and clearly to the world? There is no geographical specification attached to the word rape.

   The Nirbhaya incident brings back bitter memories, but it also reminds us of a courageous woman who fought her attackers and as her light went out, gave a voice to countless other victims. I do not know what rules this documentary flouted or if this was an attempt to malign India’s image. But as a woman (who has faced sexual harassment at workplace, been groped in buses) and as an Indian the furor over this documentary forces me to look for a few answers:

  1. Weren’t we always averse to being called mothers, sisters and daughters? Didn’t we women always seek identity as an individual? Would the name ‘Indians Daughter’ make you so emotional had it been made by a nameless Indian filmmaker? A BBC tag conveniently does away with the ‘patriarchy’ angle? Or does the award work in the favor?
  2. How often have we criticized journalists for interviewing families of blast/rape victims! The general opinion being – how would a family feel in such circumstances? Was it absolutely essential to put the woman’s parents through the pain all over again? Is journalism about pulling up hapless pasts to get some international fame? And please do not forget how visuals of victim’s crying mother were arranged in the video while editing to bring maximum effect.
  3. Why is the nation so outraged with this documentary? Aren’t the countless rapes in India enough to ‘wake you from slumber’? The victim’s friend was on a Television Channel a couple of years back. Where was this outrage or solidarity then? Or do you need someone to suddenly come to this country and rescue you? The views of Nirbhaya’s rapist have ‘disgusted’ all. But what were we expecting the rapist to say? What will a man who took part in the crime (and the gory murder) say? Fall on his knees and ask redemption? Has it ever occurred to any of the viewers that he encourages more and more rapists to kill their victims – “The death penalty will make things even more dangerous for girls. Now when they rape, they won’t leave the girl like we did. They will kill her. Before, they would rape and say, “Leave her, she won’t tell anyone.” Now when they rape, especially the criminal types, they will just kill the girl. Death.”Will BBC or its supporters take responsibility if Mukesh Singh’s statement leads to more loses of life? Giving a convict a platform for hate speech doesn’t help Nirbhaya’s cause or any of the victims of this country. The gory details about pulling out the woman’s intestines will change anything for women and India? It will make the average men on the street look at women with respect? The lawyer’s statements too are nothing new. These echoes are heard from some of our men in power and of course some undisputed saints of the country. Is it necessary to play and replay his dialogs? If so what contribution does it do to our cause of safety?
  4. The rapist’s family had no participation in his crime. Don’t you think interviewing them is also shaming them; making them vulnerable to countless of people? And what about arming the rapist with 40,000 rupees for his statements? How does that help to empower or ensure a safety of any woman in this country?

Does the generalization of Indian men make you comfortable? There is not a potential rapist in every corner of India. There are countless groups who are working for the safety of women in this country; for rights of the victim and for justice. An exploitative narrative does no good to our cause. I fail to understand one thing – the protests and faceless men and women braving lathis couldn’t wake us up? What changed with this documentary?

P.S – Dear government, thanks for the ban, the not very convincing documentary has now become a must watch!


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Sting accuses AAP Convenor Arvind Kejriwal of Horse Trading Congress MLAs Wed, 11 Mar 2015 10:46:33 +0000 A sting has surfaced today that shows AAP leader Rajesh Garg in a conversation with Arvind Kejriwal where he is suggesting him to buy support of 6 Congress MLAs to make government. The sting also suggests involvement of Manish Shishodiya. The sting has led to outrage against the Aam Aadmi Party which is already battling infighting between Yogendra Yadav- Prashant Bhushan and Kejriwal Camp.

arvind kejriwal elections

Arvind Kejriwal had started the party along with other members of the India Against Corruption front to give clean politics to Indians. However, this sting has ended up exposing the hypocrisy of AAP leaders.

AAP Leader Anjali Damania has quit AAP publicly through a tweet in which she has also posted a link to the sting.

Damania tweeted, “I backed Arvind (Kejriwal) for principles not Horse-trading”

Meanwhile, Rajesh Garg, the person who has made the sting public has expressed a threat to life.

Watch the sting:


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Open letter to PM Modi: Please remove the ban from Nirbhayaa Documentary Wed, 11 Mar 2015 07:58:07 +0000 “Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them”
-Rabindranath Tagore

Respected Mr. Prime Minister,

With such an uproar being created over the telecast of Leslie Udwin’s documentary- India’s Daughter, let me tell you that while this may be the first of its kind to create a stir, it will certainly not be the last. The documentary is meant to shock us to the core. What happened with Nirbhayaa was not only brutal but also barbaric!

women are not responsible for rape


It cost an innocent girl her life. And was this her fault? Yes, it was her fault for venturing out of her house at 8 pm in the capital of our country, says the 23-year-old rapist at the time of the event. Were we expecting the accused to be guilty? Were they supposed to be remorseful? Of course not. If the rapists had any kind of conscience, such a heinous act would not have occurred in the first place. However, let’s heave a sigh of relief that they are in jail- and our streets are safe from such predators.

But they aren’t alone. What about others out there? What about the defense lawyers? One of them openly claimed to burning the women of his house for indulging in pre-marital sex. And mind you, these are not the views of the criminal minded. These are educated individuals living in our so-called society. They’re all free to roam the streets in our democratic and secular country. To put things into perspective, every 21 minutes, a woman is raped in our country. This is excludes molestation, burns, domestic violence and acid attacks. Marital rape isn’t even included in the definition of rape in our constitution. What’s more, a grim number of one million female fetuses have been aborted causing unequal sex ratios. Studies by a number of women’s activist groups in the country indicate that poor and conservative attitudes about women have contributed to worsening this situation. It is this mind set, I believe, from where the problem stems in the first place and has led to all sorts of atrocities against women.

Nirbhayaa was called such because she became a voice, a symbol for others to speak up. In her pain she found courage. India’s Daughter is a stark reminder for our country to wake up and face this grim issue. Three years on, India needs to shine its own light, not be afraid of the darkness. Why is it that we attempted to hide the documentary? Are we trying to protect India from the regressive views of the lawyers and the accused, which comes across in statements like, “Women are diamonds, if left on the street they will be feasted on by dogs.” By hiding this mindset we are protecting such people and indirectly paving the way for others to think along the same lines. We are already labelled as a country where women are unsafe, let’s not be the ones who are voiceless and spineless.

Our true battle lies in changing this mind set; not banning the film. Through this documentary, India’s Daughter(s) plight has been showcased not just to India, but to the world. Let the world see it. Let them know and be shocked. Let India be ashamed. Let India awake. Perhaps this knowledge and shame will compel people to change. One can only hope.

I do hope you know that hiding something only makes it more enticing. The stir created by the ban on this documentary has only publicized it more. Those who wouldn’t have watched this documentary otherwise will watch it now. As for the media channels running #NirbhayaInsulted, I’m sure she would be happier if there were laws being created to stop such crimes. Instead of raging over issues such as insensitivity and morality, let us tackle the bigger issues at hand- ensuring that our women- the pillars upon which the future of this nation rests are respected, safe and empowered. It is only then that the wheels of progress will truly turn. Until then, rest assured that many more Nirbhayaas will speak up and will raise their voice.

Yours truly,
Another Nirbhayaa


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Five Myths That Nirbhaya Documentary Shatters Thu, 05 Mar 2015 10:07:02 +0000 #1 Whenever any set of Indian parents decides to buck the trend of saving for a daughter’s marriage and then deciding to spend it on their careers instead, people around them often remark, “you will regret this”. Nirbahaya’s parents did the same. They spent the amount allocated for her marriage on her education instead. They gave her freedom to take her own decisions. I am sure people must have warned them with consequences of such drastic decisions. Unfortunately, the consequences did take place as well. But did the parents regret that freedom? No! The best thing about the whole episode is that it is the rapists’ family who is running for cover and not Nirbhaya’s parents who are so very proud!


#2 All of us were thinking that death penalty will give a much-sought sense of closure to the case. We thought death is the highest form of punishment that will bring remorse to the accused who would regret committing such a ghastly act. Suicide by the main accused strenghtned our belief in the power of death sentence. But as the documentary shows, we were wrong.  Driver of the bus is far from sorry. He calls it an accident. Family of the rapists is also wondering, what exactly is the big deal? What do we learn from the lack of remorse? That violence against women is so pervasive and has been internalized by our society that death sentence evokes a sense of shock as to what’s so special about the case that got the whole country boiling?

#3 We thought our ruling section has matured with time. We thought the powerful have also become sensible to the cause of feminism. We thought introspection is a must as a society. And the lessons learned from the Nirbhaya case will pave for a deeper healing- at the societal level, mental level and not just the legal outcome. We were wrong. Government immidiately banned the movie! We just thought our politicians understand the pulse of the country, we were so wrong. Another myth shattered.

#4 We thought the west has finally stopped judging us. We thought the diad of east-west was a thing of the past. We thought our vibrant civil society is now recognized all over the world but we wrong. The documentary maker has just generalized our Indian society as a sick society . I wonder where else in the world do we see a democratic country as huge as ours erupting in anger over violence against women? It is the same society that has helped her make the documentary a possibility. Can she do that if India was really a sick society? And she got no one to speak from the Indian academia? She had to look at an oxford academic to make sense of the series of events? When is this going to stop? When will we speak for ourselves in our own vocablury?

#5 Finally the biggest myth shattered was that we Indians are an insensible lot. We are couch potatoes, too innocent to be judging the images shown on TV and too lazy to be looking for images that show a wider picture of reality. It was a great sign of relief, when the facebook feed was full of people sharing link of the documentary. The ban did not stop us from knowing what we wanted to know. Now that we know, we also want to know why the ban?


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Dear Suhel Seth, Rahul Gandhi might be a loser but that is none of your Business Fri, 27 Feb 2015 11:52:19 +0000 I have a serious problem with Suhel Seth. I fail to understand why management Gurus from any-god-damn-business schools needs to have an opinion. Well! I have no objections in a human being having an opinion, even the terrorists have one, but one coming from a so-called management guru is dangerous and if I may say, cancerous.
suhel seth
In his recent article for NDTV, Mr. HBS Seth has written and I quote – ‘Rahul Gandhi is Cancerous for Congress’. Then what are you for media? Are you media’s Rakhi Sawant as people are calling you on Quora or worse than this? I personally don’t like making desperate comparisons because this is inhuman but Mr. Seth doesn’t leave a person like me with an option. Bangkok is haven for bachelors. Agreed. Half of the world’s bachelors have been there and the remaining half is dying to be there. So what’s the issue? Your assumption of Mr. Gandhi possibly having a time of his life there holds no ground. There are two reasons for this:
a. It is none of your business
b. Why should you bother about anyone’s vacation plan? Why not invest in having one for yourself? I would suggest Gaya, the place where Buddha received enlightenment. It might help you in breaking you false-intellectual mold.
Let me tell something which has been told a million times before – we all fail. It is okay to fail. When I failed to make through my MBBS entrance exam, I thought it was the end of the world. I thought I was born to become a doctor but I failed to fulfill the dream on which I had my birthright. It was a shattering experience. I come from a humble background and my family didn’t have millions to invest on me (read donation), devastated I had to pick up another career option. The failure turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I am doing pretty good and can sustain myself in this mad, mad world. The point I am trying to make is success is not final and failure is not fatal. Today you are wasting your English vocabulary in writing down a person; why not use your superfluous words in writing something interesting. Or perhaps you’re scared – it won’t sell. It won’t bring you on front page. So let me write something totally demeaning, worthless. Cancerous.
Why should the country bother about Rahul Gandhi’s break? Is he the leader of opposition? His break is his business. Just because he belongs to a political family, you don’t have to criticize him for every decision he makes or he doesn’t make. We are all humans. Prone to mistakes. We need to introspect and no time is good or bad to start. It is a point of view which you are placing, that too forcefully. For you the timing might be wrong but for Gandhi perhaps that was the only timing he could get. Why force your senseless, cancerous thoughts on a person who has no business in your business.
Stop poking nose Mr Seth and do what you can do best. If poking your nose in others affairs are your best attribute then perhaps you must take a break and introspect. I promise we won’t comment on the timing.
Stop writing cancerous articles, Suhel. All is forgiven.


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Here is the story behind the ‘Bad Girl’ poster circulating on Internet Thu, 19 Feb 2015 16:27:24 +0000 This Bad Girl poster that has gone viral was actually drawn by students of a design school.

Bad girl viral

This group of students at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore got an assignment to juxtapose images from popular culture as their homework. One of the group members, Furqan Jawed posted the image to Facebook.

This image drew inspiration from Adarsh Balak (An Ideal Boy), another series of image that is very popular online. This series is also a parody of school posters only.

adarsh balak

The students’ artwork was posted on Twitter by Joylita Saldanha.

She saw it in a friend’s Facebook feed and her tweet just made it viral!


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That Greenpeace activist deserved to be Offloaded Mon, 16 Feb 2015 11:11:34 +0000 Everyone is pitying the Greenpeace activist who was offloaded from the plane. But do you know what was she going to do there? She was going to United Kingdom to brief British Member of Parliaments on the alleged Human Rights violation of tribals in Madhya Pradesh.

Greenpeace Activist Offloaded

It obviously is not a good image that India presented by offloading an activist from the plane at the last moment but than running a country is not about being nice and polite. It is essentially about taking care of the interests of the 1.3 Billion strong Indians. Indians who are struggling to have their basic needs fulfilled. Internationally, we are in the category of a developing country.

That means we not only attract foreign investment due to our potential but we also attract a lot of foreign attention. Greenpeace is one such.  Governments are democratically elected and thus are accountable for their actions to their voters but what about Greenpeace? Who is it accountable to if not to the law of the land that it is operating in? There was a tradeoff between individual freedom of a person to fly to another country and economic security of the country. One might just counter me here by saying how a single visit would have compromised on Indians’ right to economic security. Yes, I hate to admit it that it was indeed within her rights to fly to another country. Reportedly, Greepeace UK sent the ticket for her and even that was legal as it was foreign hospitality which is completly legal in Indian context.

But she was going to Britain to report about the Human Rights violation of Tribals in Madhya Pradesh. Do the British parliamentarians legislate for us Indians? Do they fight our elections? Have we given them power to address our issues? No! What happens as a fallout to such actions of these activists is that a lesser powerful country (United Kingdom is a much fainter shade of its glorious past now) is able to blackmail India by using such information as a foreign policy tool. If Greenpeace indeed wants to do genuine work for tribal welfare, what is stopping it from lobbying with Indian parliamentarians, law-enforces and so on? India as a democratic republic will never refuse it that chance. What is it gaining by reporting against India to a foreign government?

Greenpeace itself has also been found flouting FCRA norms. FCRA makes spending more than 50% of foreign funding on administrative expense illegal but Greenpeace India spends 60% on the same. That in a sense means that when you find Greenpeace volunteers approaching you on metro stations (I found them on Nehru Place metro station, New Delhi) for street fundraising, then your money goes to pay the salaries and office expenses of the vast Greenpeace machinery while at the same time it reports about your country to a foreign government!

Greenpeace has got it hard in other countries as well. It has got its charitable status revoked over the accusation of having a political agenda. It definitely has a political agenda, else what was Ms. Pillai doing by talking to Members of Parliament of a foreign country about domestic Indian policy? Greenpeace originated in Canada, exactly the same country that has remained very critical of its activities. Governments of all hues have criticized Greenpeace for being a “multi-issue extremist”.

There have been evidences found that point towards a possible Greenpeace’s political agenda. 2014 Lok Sabha saw candidature of Pankaj Singh on an Aam Aadmi Party ticket from Sidhi seat in Madhya Pradesh. Pankaj Singh is a former consultant with Greenpeace and also chief of an organization that opposed coal mining in Mahan coal mines (they fall in Sidhi constituency only).


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BJP popular in Assam, wins Assam Civic Polls Thu, 12 Feb 2015 11:37:04 +0000 BJP has won it huge in Assam Civic Polls in what might be a sign of its popularity in the state ahead of 2016 Assembly Polls in Assam. The victory is very important because in Bengal and Assam, civic polls decide which party will perform good in Assembly elections.

bjp assam civic polls


BJP had finished a distant third last time but this time it has won 20 town committees out of 42 and Congress has won just 6. Counting in other town committees is still going on. Out of 32 municipal committees, BJP has won 18. AGP has won none.

This election saw 72% voter turnout which means BJP is increasingly becoming a popular choice in Assam. So much so that even congress leaders are leaving the party to join BJP. Himanta Biswa Sarma, an influential congress leader was speculated to be joining BJP but local BJP brass has cleared that they will tooth and nail oppose any lateral entry.


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Shocking! Flipkart is selling ‘How to do’ Sex-Selection Books Thu, 12 Feb 2015 07:12:52 +0000 In the latest instance of illegal stuff getting sold on E-commerce websites, Flipkart is selling ‘How to do’ Sex Selection books on its website. A simple search on it website for the keyword ‘Sex Selection’ will lead you to a book written by Jeffrey Steinberg, “Gurantee the sex of your baby”.

Flipkart Sex Selection Book

The same product is available on Amazon as well. It took me just a simple search for the keyword ‘sex selection’ and the first result was of the same title but under a different author name. The book is priced at Rs. 717 on Amazon. Amazon has many more books available in its inventory that boast of helping you decide the sex of your new born.

amazon sex selection book

In India, Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PC&PNDT) Act prohibits all forms of advertisements related to sex selection services.. As per the law, no person can issue, publish, distribute, communicate any advertisement, in any form, including in the Internet, regarding facilities of sex selection. By selling such books online, these E-Commerce websites are definitely on the wrong side of law.

This is not the first time that something illegal is getting sold online. Earlier also, as this website reported, Date rape drugs were getting sold online.

A petition has also been filed on the website, where 6000 supporters have so far pledged their support to the cause of getting this material removed from online shopping websites such as Flipkart, Amazon, Junglee etc.


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