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Beware of what you 'need to believe in'.

Consider these three scenarios

1. A distraught wife - catches cheating husband. Husband outshouts her to the point where she begins questioning her own narrative - maybe she was to blame? She is terrified of ending the relationship. She 'needs to believe that she can trust her husband'.

2. An unemployed graduate who had voted for Modi's promises three years ago - Believed that Modi would usher us in a new world of opportunities and social justice - instead he has remained unemployed and has to prove his nationalist credentials to random hooligans again and again. He  'needs to believe in Modi's acche din promise'.  He is the 'andh bhakt' - the mother of karan and arjun (except for the fact that Karan and Arjun never turn up).

3. Consider a dalit farmer. He 'knows' he is being fleeced by the local strongman/ patil/ landlord... but he can't afford to question him. He is not afforded the freedom to ask questions when the procurement weighs hi…
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How many shots of the girl dancing or laughing aimlessly does it take to establish her as a Manic pixie dream girl?

Learning from bad writing: Meri Pyaru bindu These days I am writing my first story that I intend to complete and publish. So as you can imagine, I am in the writer mode most of the time - anxiously looking for writer's intent, choices, character arcs, alternate story lines etc, while watching any movie or reading any novel. With a well written story, these choices are not that apparent. You have to look hard and yet you might miss out on essential choices that the writer made, to make the film/ novel a great piece of art. It feels as if the story flowed out from the author's mind onto paper with zero loss in translation. For that reason, it is difficult to learn much from good writing. It inspires, yes of course. It helps you get in the mood or get into the right frame of mind. But it can't teach as well as a badly written movie/ novel can.
A badly written story makes you aware of your own fallibility. It grounds you. Most importantly, it helps you see the many ways in wh…

The real John Galts of the world

There was a crazy old lady who mesmerised the capitalist folks back in the era of cold war, with her emotional appeal to their selfish egos. She was successful because, she managed to turn cold selfishness into a virtue. She made usurpation morally palatable. She made individuality that destroys social fabric of communities, a morally superior choice.  While I understand her perspective coming as it was from a immigrant fleeing communist excesses, I don't understand today's people still seeking inspirations in the nonsensical steam-letting of an old woman whose grip on reality was heavily coloured and biased by narrow experiences and perspectives.
Her name was Ayn Rand and she legitimised her biases by giving it a name - objectivism.
One of Ayn Rand's most famous character is a certain 'John Galt' - a maverick engineer who  organises a strike among the world's smartest, most creative entrepreneur and artists and thereby - "stops the motor of the world&qu…

Reading India through 'Dictator's handbook'

What's the difference between a democracy and a dictatorship?
The book says, not much. India, agrees. Current political dispensation especially agrees vigorously.

"Soma" of hindutva and past glory + divided impoverished amnesiac masses + legitimised attack on individual rights + tremendous wealth shared among few = brave new world of oligarchical India.


Essentially, democracies/ dictatorships etc., are simply variants of the same power dynamic between the ruler, essentials, influentials and inter-changeables.

Interchangeables are the nominal selectorate - the individual voters who have nominal (or cosmetic) power to choose leader - most of us.
Influentials  are the real selectorate - the guys who really choose the leader. In US recently, the electoral college famously went against the popular vote and elected a clown as their president instead. In India, theoretically, the system is a bit better in terms of a wider base of influentials - it could be religious gurus, party…

Reading China through "Dictator's handbook"

Can China exist as a democracy? Is it even possible? If it can't sustain as a democracy, what makes the single party factory-of-the-world system so special to ensure evolution rather than revolutions? Perhaps the 'dictator's handbook' can answer that question better.

Today I was listening to the podcast "Intelligence squared", as I do with every evening walk from my office to home. The motion was that democracy perhaps is not suited for China. I thought that debate is preposterous - say that to an Uighur peasant or a miner dying of lung cancer or an indentured labourer at any of the big electronic companies. He/she will tell you the answer.
What I was most interested by was the recurring rhetoric about the economic miracle of China, that this kind of economic growth is unprecedented. That it single-handedly brought 70% of world's out-of-poverty transformations.
So on the one hand of the debate, there was this sweeping generalisation - economic prosperity…

Love/ trust OR power

In any relationship, there are only every two possible operating conditions - Trust/ Love Or Power. You need to have either of these two things in a relationship for your own good. If you have neither, its best to walk away if you can. If not, the second best thing is to gather strength to fight for respect.
Any relationship is either based on trust based cooperation or competition for power. If you are lucky, your life will get entangled with a person who respects you and has your best interest in mind. The second possibility is that the  relationships turn into a game of power - where there are daily skirmishes to gain a leverage between the parties.
But both these types of relationships have some sort of balance between the partners. The first is where the presence of love/ trust creates a nurturing atmosphere for both the parties. The second is where there might not be love, but at least there is give and take - some sort of equality in power, some measure of respect.

But sadly, …

About concerns

1500 children have died in Ashram schools in last decade in Maharashtra. 
Out of the countless atrocities, 16 brave women came forward to tell harrowing tales of sexual exploitation by state sponsored terrorists.

These are two of the news stories that appeared in media yesterday. I got to know of them, because I recently put a Google Alert to 'adivasi'. (Because mainstream media simply does not 'cover' their lives) Otherwise, I would have not known about them as well. What if the 1500 children were not adivasis in remote Maharashtra - what if they were from affluent households in south Mumbai. How big the news event would have been then?

We are as primitive in our worldviews, if not more, as our manu time ancestors and their patriarchal power games. We have not evolved one bit. Time in its passing throws up one revolutionary after another - Phule, Ambedkar - but even these giants can't illuminate the apathetic darkness of humanity's soul for long. All that can …