Layman’s take on Jaitleys Alternative view to NJAC row

Read here the original article by Arun Jaitley: NJAC Judgement – An alternative view

Learned Sir, for arguments or ideals sake, we can always uphold that the elected body is the strongest pillar of democracy. But isn’t that notion the most belied one independent India has ever witnessed. Besides, isn’t NJAC giving direct & indirect access to parliamentary institutions in matters of paramount judiciary concerns?

As you yourself have pointed out, independence of judiciary is an essential tenet of the Constitution. Why is it then that you believe such a commission would serve better in appointing SC and HC judges (at times when we get to hear news about PMO’s direct involvement in 2G scam). What layer of credibility are you then proposing to introduce by appointing such a commission. CJI, Prime Minister, Law Minister, Leader of Opposition etc. are very much important constitutional institutions but interlinking such institutions can create leverage points and we should have mechanism to tackle resultant complexities.

You say, politician bashing is akin to the 9.00 PM television programmes. Who’s doing most of the bashing? Politicians only. Why then blame anyone else when politicians have set the precedence themselves.

I am of the humble view that judiciary which is another strong pillar of our constitution should stand upright and independent and not lean on any other pillars like legislature or executive for its mainstay. Judiciary has to be insulated from them.

You say, Indian democracy cannot be a tyranny of the unelected. Well Indian democracy cannot be a tyranny of the elected either. In that case, we would rather have conducted general elections to appoint Judges too, democratically speaking!

PS: This is based on my limited understanding of the whole NJAC row. Any flaws in factual representation may please be pointed out.

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Movie Review Review

Movie review review:

This is a review about movie reviews.

The fact that you need to be a specialist only in writing and do not require to be even half the expert in movies themselves reveals the fundamental drawback the movie review industry is facing today. This complemented with the availability of platforms for anyone to contribute to the review industry makes the line drawn between what is good cinema and what is bad cinema blur.

Admit that eloquence adds flavour to the review so much so that it helps a person to reading through the review till the end. But of what good is a tasteless biriyani topped with mouth watering flavouring additives. Let me tell. It simply gives you wrong idea about the dish called biriyani itself. What it does not tell you is how bad a biriyani can be which essentially should have been the case.

What drives and at the same time destroys the value of a contemporary entertainment medium like cinema are hype, formulaic repetition, star value of cast and huge business potential. They directly or indirectly kill the spur among budding film makers and producers to go for creative art piece but instead go with a commercially viable movie making. But the harm they do to the thought process is only limited to those in the film industry. That alone could not be the cork that stops the good old wine of cinema from flowing.

The bigger felony today is in assessing the track our cinema is on and critiquing it to correct their course. Because the only court of law all things popular are subject to is critical review. Sadly the word critical is forgotten and reviewers are trying desperately to increase their page hits or likes (in internet parlance). In the process, reviewers were all out trying to be accommodative of the tastes of all people and write a positive sounding review that does not hurt any one. They, consequently, formalised new niche in film making such as mass entertainers for which it is ok not to have good acting, good script or good direction as long as they have a star studded cast, catchy songs and dance, high end visual graphics etc. They coined new figure of speech like ‘leave your brains at home, go out and enjoy the movie’ which absolutely makes no sense if not for the constant feeding of garbage until you know only to pick better garbage from the entire filth.

Assume there is a cinema coming from a crew who made a sensible commercially success film which sounds as oxymoronic as it can get, given the current state of affairs. A critic should bear absolutely no prejudices in basing their review of the film on their former films. All cinemas are standalone piece of art to be reviewed as such. This is easily the thumb rule which no one seems to follow. I would not say we no longer have reviewers who has the spine to criticise a film for what it is. But the numbers are dwindling and it happens through a slow process of dilution. If yesteryears saw 10 people reviewing a movie with 7 people giving a thumbs down, now we have 100 reviewers with around 10 people voting down a similarly made movie. This effectively overshadows genuine critical reviews.

Judge a movie with at least the same caution and research as buying a high end smartphone. Take a look at Hollywood movies. See the movies that top the charts. Evaluate the content of the movie and you will know there is something in it that makes you think. Something that adds value. Hollywood produces equal no. of bad movies but those movies get the place they deserve which is fair enough. Secondly break the idolisation of actors and objectification of actresses. Let’s not let whoever with money make adult movies casting Sunny Leone which are only aimed at selling you sensuality for your lust. You have her pornographic videos easily available in the internet for that. Let’s not blindly fan follow a Rajnikant or a Salman Khan and make their films blockbusters just because they are the lead actors in them. Review the movie following these basic tenets is all we need to do to get out of this misery.

Beware, the foundation of a good movie is a fresh story, subtle script, creative direction and intense acting. Any review which ignores these aspects are only fuelling the creation of a Frankenstein’s monster.

The Last Manoeuvre

This piece of poetry is my composition with central theme and a couple of lines stolen from Dylan Thomas which I happened to listen to Michael Caine recite in Christopher Nolan’s epic movie Interstellar. When I heard  those lines in the movie, they stood out to me as a tribute to those distinguished people (read space scientists) who dared to venture into the unknown realms beyond the spread of vastness that is laid out in front of our eyes. These lines, strange as it may sound, connects with the simple lives of us ordinary men given the fact that at the end of the day we are all mere mortals destined to stretch our last breath in futility. Drawing inspiration from that thought, I ventured into the unknown realm of poetry to come up with a handful of earnest lines.

My layman poetry..

The Last Manoeuvre:

Do not go gentle into that good night

Rage, Rage against the dying of the light

Though wise men at their end know dark is better

They do not go gentle into that good night

Black encumbers their sight as they end their fight

Their guilt of life penanced by aged plight

Though light couldn’t show them dark isn’t better

They do not go gentle into that good night

Naive were they to search the truth they blight

To live till the day they learnt they weren’t right

Though their cause was to free the dark in fetter

They still do not go gentle into that good night

Rage, Rage against the waning of the light

Before mourning is what remains of your might

Though the end may not make your eyes wetter

Do not walk gentle into that sunset.

Here’s the Original Literary piece:

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Social Networking overkill

I write this blog with the anxious stupor of someone who is witnessing a great social and cultural holocaust; something drastic and devastating like the Indo-Pak partition, Great Depression of US or Jewish Massacre by the Nazis or the Arab Spring only this time it is global in scale.

The Online Social Media Frenzy!

I am sure for an average person like myself, on the face of it, the most popular social networking tools like Facebook would any day look like a place to hang out virtually, know about the people you know, their thoughts, their activities, their lives, their careers and what not, which in an offline world would be next to impossible to be shared in person with such fine details. Besides it gives shape to collective as well as unfettered opinions about earthly affairs, accelerates and pushes a global culture to an extent, make us aware of a great many bits of information, by information i mean facts. If you are a performing artist or a writer or a short film maker or anything that the world does not know of yet, it gives you a platform to launch yourself, market yourself, brand yourself etc. You can share your joys and sorrows. You can make new connections, friends, followers and even find your soul mate via these tools. You can share your thoughts or reviews or interests in particular games and sports, movies, places you visit, food you eat, bus/train/flight you board. In fact, it sounds like the only thing people don’t share is how they defecate and how they fornicate and other itsy bitsies like the smell of your sweat, dirt in your fingernails etc. that are considered ‘gross’.

Some obvious reasons of why this online social networking succeeded are 1. the concept of email communication was very primitive and objective 2. people wanted a platform to stay connected without prompting 3. technology was booming with innovations and catching up with them became a trend than a necessity 4. Lifestyle became ever more comfortable that they could afford the time and effort.  Some less obvious and subjective reasons are 1. People were always tormented by the inner conflict between their shy and boastful self 2. People always love to know more about others and compare with themselves.

For example, I have been surprised at the way people flaunt their material possessions, professional achievements, personal obsessions so blatantly that would make me worry that it is time we take the word ‘modesty’ off the dictionary. Agree that they are indeed happy moments worth sharing. But what started off as that, is now an essential practice. Suppose, you buy a new expensive car and now unless this is published in Facebook, you wouldn’t even be happy with having a car! I hope I made myself clear here. Simple as it may seem, if there were no social media, would you take the car to wherever you see a small crowd and just stop at those places to display your new possession and then take off in style? Would you publicly announce about winning that gold medal in the joint you frequent?

It gives an unreal sense of intimacy and affection where people join you to sympathize, empathize, celebrate, congratulate etc. none of which carry any genuineness certificate. People may actually care, may not care or be worried of your happiness which means there is 66.66% chance that the expressed feeling of unanimity is fake. So essentially you are building your life in an imaginary world where everyone loves each other and no one possibly has differences with one another.

Now in a public forum, the respect we have for each other specifically the decorum to be maintained in a debate is being demolished . When everyone is entitled to express their views freely and justify it by whatever means and extent without any sort of moderation, things are bound to get out of hands. This will invariably destroy the sense of accountability one should have for one’s own word and tolerance towards a different voice. The result is catastrophic. Sites such as Facebook are breeding grounds of hate-mongering violating every aspects of freedom the Constitution grants us.  I was surprised to see the filth people carry in their minds and spit out shamelessly in public in the name of politics, religion, community and other divisive ideologies. Who is not aware of what kind of violence ISIS is perpetrating across the globe in the name of holy war to establish a caliphate and how many people from civic societies are joining mindlessly in this bloodshed. It is not a matter of surprise that ISIS uses online social media to campaign and recruit for this movement.

Human history, as we know it, is full of evidences that suggest that unprecedented acts of seemingly less or vastly different consequences have always produced a ripple effect in the geographical/ethnic/social/political/cultural fabric of a society. Take the case of Boston Tea party when a ship that carried Tea was destroyed by native Americans in protest of the Tea Act 1773. This is widely believed to be foundation stone of American Struggle for independence. Even stranger is the fact that Sarajevo assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand caused a World War. Not different is another example of how Communism sprouted in Kerala as a fall out of Civil Disobedience Movement in India which was an out and out anti colonial movement and how this  became the political dogma that changed the social perspective of a Keralite even today.

On similar lines, these less obvious fallout like the ones I skimmed through are primarily messing up the human psyche and have made way for some ethically wrong and/or fundamentally flawed ideas and philosophies to thrive and flourish.  And they are now being institutionalized as if the very nature of humanity is slowly being redefined. Only one and a half decade into the 21st century, we are already way far from how we were by nature just 15 or 25 years back, a leap that previously took a centuries time to take; at least for us Indians. Come to think of it, these social media tools are changing our lives forever, slowly but steadily and deeply, like cancer. A day will come when the world order will come undone and there will be Apocalypse; us being the Zombies.

Women Empowerment

Speech prepared for my 13 year old nephew to orate at his school

________________________________________________________________

Respected Teachers & other staff and Dear Friends,

 

Here I stand before you to speak a few words about women empowerment. Firstly I would start with a quote from Diane Mariechild who is the author of the book Mother Wit.

“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.”

 

I think it makes more sense to limit the relevance of this speech to the plight of women in our country. Women always have been given high regard throughout the history of our culture. This is apparent in our epics Ramayana and Mahabharata where Sita and Panchali have been the epitome of integrity, endurance and perseverance. If we look closely, it becomes evident that the crux of these 2 saga revolve around these celebrated ladies.

 

Take the case of Modern India, the Constitution of India have clear view on granting equality to women. Article 15, under the fundamental rights and duties, prohibits any discrimination on the basis on gender, caste, race, religion or place of birth. It also clearly states that this article does not however prevent the State from making any special provisions for women and children. Besides let us all not forget we call our country ‘Bharat Matha’ and not Bharat Pitha.

 

However the ground reality in our country is something different, women of India have to fight suppression and sufferings almost every day in every walk of her life. Her struggle for existence starts right from inside her mother’s belly until the final days spent at old age homes with no one to look after. Social stigma like female foeticide, dowry, domestic violence, sexual exploitations etc. specifically target women and are commonplace here nowadays. Why is women faced with such a sad plight in a culture which upholds the sanctity of womanhood as supreme? What can be the way forward to eradicate such vices from our society?

 

Although necessary, it is not enough to just have iron-fisted laws to punish culprits of such crimes.  Because it is not only about a minor section of people committing this but the majority of the people accepting this as grim reality. In my humble opinion, it boils down to a simple solution – an inclusive education to the future citizens of India, i.e. to us. Education should not only be limited to Mathematics or Science or History. Value education should be given as much importance in the curriculum as other subjects. It is the combined responsibility of parents, teachers and us together to build a moral fibre that unites us as Indians and not as male or female or on any other grounds. Because India can progress as a country not only by producing engineers or doctors or lawyers or teachers or artists or accountants, but more importantly by producing good human beings who consider others equal to him or her and treat them with respect and dignity. That should be the moral code every one of us should live by. And let me also assert here that we should not only stop at just that. It is equally our responsibility to question all acts against women in violation of this moral code. Because, by being silent or indifferent to such acts, we are indirectly supporting it.

 

Now you may ask me how such a transformation can happen in a country of 1.2 billion people. My answer to you is this wise saying – “Rome was not built in a day”. Let us pledge that when we grow up and become adults, this dream land, where women can pursue a life of her choice without being confined to the blind orthodoxy of society, will be made a reality.

 

It is time for me to wind up my speech but not without quoting Ayn Rand who is one of the most powerful writers of the 20thcentury and a woman of grit.

 

“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”

 

Thank you for your time.