Monday, June 27, 2016

Walls are inevitable, unless….

Today, UK decided to leave EU. EU itself has now far more ‘far right’ xenophobic parties in the European parliament than ever before in its history. On the back of very virulent xenophobia, Trump, otherwise a sideshow freak in the branding/entertainment industry, is now a presidential contender in USA – His promise of the ‘wall’ between mexico and USA garnering him followers among republican US citizens. India recently elected a right wing government with an unprecedented majority – putting majoritarian fictions in the central consciousness of the nation, instead of actual issues that need public debate. From Netherlands to Australia to Nigeria to Philippines… people everywhere are electing xenophobic parties and leaders. Are we collectively getting dumber? Or is their something beneath our collective psyches that needs recognition?



The fear of loss of control

If the last century was about opening the world with fast rails, concordes & the internet. This century would be about making sense of this uncontrollable openness and ensuing vulnerability that individuals & groups perceive.
If the last century was about the individual removed from his immediate world, this century would be about a new social consciousness of & want of belonging.
The openness of last century does not really benefit the individuals and small groups as much as it does to the big corporates and governments. The new government has already started to purge the internet of dissidents with arrests and threats. Facebook & Google collectively know more about you and you do yourself.
In a wall less world, you can’t even chose your adversary. you are vulnerable to dangers you don’t even know yet from people you would never know personally. wall less world is vulnerable and anarchic.
The only language of 21st century would be the doublespeak. People 20 years from now would only be able to read between the lines and sideways. They would be illiterate to direct words. Sarcasm would be the only humor.
The walls, that people would build to protect themselves would also aid bigger power centres to keep the people from organising. as a matter of fact, strategic walls would always be incentivised.
The walls are inevitable. Unless, we do something about it.

First step: Understand
Globalised economies = alienated people

The global economic system incentivises capital consolidation and human alienation. Money requires no visa to move, and nor does it get racially profiled.
Free movement of people is allowed only so far that a cheap labour replaces a slightly better valued labour. Theoretically, this system of replacing new labour to the detriment of existing labour communities will go on forever, with consistently manufactured chaos ‘elsewhere’.
This is the real bed rock of current global capitalism – expanding margins for the 0.1% at the expense of lower and lower wages for labour everywhere and destruction of valuable ecological resources.
It pits labour in one nation against labour in another; one people against another. It manufactures a vicious competition until all working class people are reduced to serfs – minimum wage, maximum extraction of labour, minimum security.
The vote for brexit is due to economical anxiety of the working class which they incorrectly attribute to migrants. The rise of xenophobia across the world is a fallout of globalised capitalism that is increasingly alienating people. People do not realise that the ‘others’ are not taking away their jobs, machines are. Capitalism will turn the human into a machine cog, until it perfects machine to replace the human entirely.

 

Second step: Imagine
“Left” solution but “Right” reaction

The real reason for the wave of right wing zealots across the globe is the failure of imagination of left wing leaders. In absence of political movement that addresses current reality and works towards building an imaginative utopia, people default to the base values of hatred and selfishness. The world needs conceptions of each of our utopias.
The irony is the political party called ‘labour’ hardly represents labour’s interest. Even Communist party of India is but a mere joke on the national scale. The left cannot think for itself. It does not understand that it need not be a monolith – it need not follow the hairbrained and faulty conceptions of Marx, Stalin or Mao. It needs to devise an utopia and strategy by itself, putting one’s own people’s interest at the heart of political movement. Currently, Left cannot define a new reason, a new perspective on labour in the current world. and that is the modern tragedy.
The right response would be for labour across the world to unite against the 0.1% that is pitting them against one another. This is the make or break decade for sustainable future for global economy – from a sociological, economical and ecological perspective. It might seem somewhat counter-intuitive but, the world requires a left solution to save itself from descending into mindless chaos fueled by blind ignorant hatred.

Lack of constructive imagination leads to blind ignorant hatred.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Everyone is an idiot

Everyone is an idiot.
Everyone.
If you can count on one personality trait that a person will default back to at some point or the other, it would be his/her unique but substantial idiocy.
And if the society were to be built on a single rule, it should be about people agreeing that  compassion towards others' idiocy is essential for a convivial and pleasant world.
What good ever comes from being a cynical, patronizing git, anyways?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Grownups turning into toddlers in Indian high rises

[This is a ridiculous diagnosis]
Beware! A ghastly disease is on rise these days. It turns a perfectly capable adult into a challenged toddler who needs assistance.

Who is at risk?
It is sweeping across glass towers, big cars and countless cabins in city offices across India. Specifically, perfectly capable adults who start earning 7 figure salaries tend to be at high risk of turning into a differently-abled toddler. So the initial observations allude to it being a classist disease.

Recent studies have revealed that, being wealthy is not the only determinant - it affects people who tend to make irrational choices - such as purchase of INR 35,000 for a laptop bag when one can buy another that is just as good for around INR 1,000.
The irrationality alludes to it being a mental disease rather than a physical disability.

Symptoms 
They seem perfectly capable, healthy even, but are unable to do the most basic human action ever - of carrying one's own bags/ dishes/ wipes.

People who tend to own expensive bags are rendered disabled to hold/ lift/ carry these bags themselves. 
People who can (and do) gorge on the contents of the tiered and heavy tiffins/ take-outs can't seem somehow to hold the same weight in their own hands. So essentially the stomach muscle is working fine, but hand and brain muscle is not.
People who can't order at the canteen and wait for their turn like normal human beings. They must be fed like little toddlers in their crib - their cabin. They can't walk to their food like adults, the food must be brought to them.
They are incapable of walking up from their seat to fetch water/ coffee.
They need assistance all the time. So the easiest symptom to spot is the presence of another human being around them. The person is often employed by the disease ridden individual. The person is called a driver sometimes, a peon at other times or a maid at home.
The need for such assistance is economically feasible and socially acceptable largely in third world countries, characterised by overwhelming poverty and a minority of oblivious and privileged narcissists.

Diagnosis
It is too early to decode, but initial guesses of scientists suggest an interesting hypothesis.
Apparently the cause of this behavior is a little smarmy worm that enters the host's ears through empty praise they hear of their coterie. The smarmy worm then makes it's way into the host's head. It then starts singing loud praises with a background score of applause and orgasms 24x7. The brain of the host comes unhinged by this incessant assault on the host's concept of self. It unmoors his identity from that of people around him. The host turns into a faithful of the deity called self. The host now sees only himself/herself as real, everyone else as merely support cast in the film scripted by the smarmy worm projected inside the empty head of the host. As the smarmy worm eat away the brain, the shrinking brain effectively turns the clock back on the brain development, reverting to the default of 3 year old. and hence the toddler like behavior.

The cure
The only know cure for this condition is to send an antidote worm through the other ear of the host. This worm carries with it a much louder speaker system - in stereo and a 3D visual projection system. It drowns out the sounds and visions of the smarmy worm. It instead super imposes ideas of Noam Chomsky, Buddha, Ivan Illich, Mahatma Jyotirao Phule, Ambedkar and many more. It doesn't matter if ideas are conflicting or not, interesting or not, comprehensible or not... what matters is the plurality of thoughts and its people. After all, a thought has imprints of thousands of grimy minds on it. and by accepting plurality of thoughts, you accept the existence of a plurality of people.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Walk about - II


I have been living in Gurgaon for the last 5 years. 5 years! in Gurgaon! I never thought I would end up staying this long here. In my head, it always was just a transit camp - to earn money to fund travel to Himalayas, come back and refill, go back and chill.. repeat until one figures out a way to break out of the cycle.
For the first 2 odd years that reflected in my lifestyle - My house was small and barely functional, a temporary base camp to return to 'home' in the hills. That 'home' was among strangers in the farthest corners and alleys of small villages in the hills. The home was not peopled really. It had no walls. It was the crisp cool air of the hills, the majesty of Himalaya, the clarity of sun's rays, the hot vapours rising from the ginger tea and the never ending walks in the forests, up the hills, down the valleys and through gullies and alleys of small villages and towns. When I was alone, that's what home was for me: A living breathing intimate experience with nature. And that is what is missing in Gurgaon. Completely.

We now have a lovely home in one of the greenest places in the city. It finally feels like 'home', largely due to Amrita's love and her homeprettification.

But I still miss out on the pleasure of walking around. Gurgaon is terribly polluted. My office is barely 3-4 km from my home. Ideally, I would have walked to the office everyday. But that is simply impossible in Gurgaon. If I decide to walk, I will have to fight the oppressively hot and abrasive dust that is as aggressive as the people of Gurgaon. I will have to fight these very people too, who would much rather mow a pedestrian down than slow down. I will have to fight the bikers who take special fancy towards riding on walkways (for the 2% of roads where they do exist) rather than the roads. My lungs will have to fight the exhausts of the diesel pajeros and jugaad-autos and past-their-expiry-date buses. My ears will have to fight the incessant honking and screeching and yelling. My eyes will have to fight the sight of a decaying, decadent Indian dystopia.
I would much rather not fight. I am a peace loving person you see. I do not fight, unless I must fight. And the 'must' fights can't be had everyday.
And hence I end up losing everyday a simple walk.

What is a city if it can't afford its citizen's a decent walk? NCR has bloody turned itself into a dystopian 'mad max'-esque car park.
Every good city is 'walkable': One can walk through it for work or leisure.
Why else do people love European cities? Would they be even half as lovely, if one couldn't walk through them? Berlin is so amazing because of its streets and the public spaces. In the 3 days that I was there, I walked daily for atleast 8-10 hours through its many stra├čes. I witnessed a roadside theatre, a political procession, a cyclist's meet, dancers, historical structures, quirky cafes... It was alive with its people stoking the city's heart with energy. 
Kemijarvi, a small town in Arctic, on the other hand is a very different kind of lovely. It is beautiful with that typical silence and stillness of Finland's open spaces - its lakes, its parks and even its city centers. Finland has a certain beautiful rhythm to it in the summer - with people out walking their nordic walks in the afternoon by the lakes, in the parks and even by the train tracks.
Obviously, smaller towns and villages are more livable and walkable. I would love to return to Tsagkarada in Greece or Rothenburg in Germany for example. The walk in places like these have a deeper charm to them. Rothenburg has the cobbled pathways through history - it makes you feel like a traveler, a voyeur peeping into an alternate time - walking at a junction of past and present. Streets in Vrindavan might be dirty with overflowing garbage, but it still retains a certain sense of awe - homes, people even cows bathed in spiritual rituals. It has it's own rhythm that slows down in small gullies and picks up speed at intersections and markets. 
Dhankar in Spiti is unlike anything you would have ever experienced. The first sight of Dhankar will unhinge your sense of reality. 'Which part of Solar system is this?' 'Am I dreaming?' The first walk around the town might induce vertigo. As you walk by the lake, you would wonder which way is up and which way is down - perhaps a hole in the mountain is betraying a sky of the secret world inside it. Even a simple green pea from the local farm might induce orgasms or hallucinations. (You must taste a fresh green pea from Dhankar once in a lifetime. You must.)

Oh, how wonderful is life and we are wasting it by not walking through it. One must walk to truly taste life. And walk with curiosity. The curious walker has better odds at witnessing reality and the cracks in reality. When you walk you appreciate existence because you may get to witness the frayed edges of existence. When you walk you locate yourself among 'us'. Walking pacifies the frenzied soul, it unbuttons the jacketed human. Walking untangles the complication of everydayness. Walking is what humans are made for, and we end up wasting our lives away seated in chairs 24x7. 

One must walk about to truly live. 

____

Here's an idea - Rate cities by their 'walkability' - how convenient and pleasurable is it to walk in that town? 
From a 0 for Gurgaon to 2 for Mumbai to 4 for Nasik to 7 for Berlin. Which city is your 10?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Don't let peddlers of hate turn you into a tool

JNU students are not stealing money from public banks. The powerful but immoral business men and their cronies in the nation's bureaucracy are.
Beef eaters are not stealing your food; subsidizing for the politicians and driving farmers to kill themselves. The culprit are the flawed policies of the apathetic government shaped in no small measure by lobbying corporate and business-politician nexus.
The 'Muslims'/ 'Hindus'/ 'Flying Spaghetti Monster worshippers' are not attacking your dignity as a human being. It is the capitalist power centers who would not let you organise and rise as equals. It perpetuates inequality and dreams of 'making it big', a lottery rigged from the start.
The 'Anti-nationals' are only really anti-stupor. They are not endangering your survival. Your existence is being endangered by blind corporates and corrupt bureaucrats who subvert moral responsibilities, and who prioritise profit over human life.
Jats/ Dalits/ OBCs are not stealing your livelihood. The culprit is the government which prioritizes vote bank politics over building a decent educational infrastructure and access to skill developmental platforms.

When you see any politician, media personality blaming a people, blaming each other, blaming you, blaming weak scapegoats for state failure, you should know you are being sold hatred. you are being fooled. you are being turned into a tool. an expendable vote giving tool.

Don't be a tool. Be better than that. Recognise the merchants of hate and banish them from your life.  Recognise your interests and fight for them.

The only true struggle is that of the powerless against the unjust powerful. Any other struggle is merely a smokescreen where you are a 'bali ka bakra'. Don't be. Fight with eyes wide open.