Archive for the ‘chennai concerns’ category

An interview

March 13, 2009

The following is an interview which I gave to Sindhu Madhusudan of RITZ, regarding swamy in court and the aftermath. The questions were sent by the magazine and my responses have been reproduced verbatim,  in their march 2009 issue, released today, for which I heartily commend the editorial team of the magazine.

1.What do you feel about the incident of eggs being pelted at him (subramaniam swamy) and
the assault on the High Court Judge?

Hurling a shoe or a rotten egg is not an assault with a homicidal intent; it is an expression of disgust and impotent anger. I may not throw a rotten egg at a rotten person, but I can understand the emotive state and the angst. The courtroom certainly is a place that has to be treated with respect but these protesters did not have anyother place and chance to do what they did. It is what the journalist did to bush, there was no way he could have gone near enough to do that. But the situation had actually changed when antisocial elements wanted to use the opportunity and create havoc. The incident is odd. There were the lawyers who allegedly insulted (or assaulted) swamy, willing to surrender. Then there were the lawyers who wanted to protest against the arrest. But, there were far too many policemen trying to ‘maintain’ law and order! That a judge was hurt in the rampage just shows how the men in uniform had no clue regarding whom to beat and whom to protect.

2.Would you call that assault a denial of the
Constitutionally-guaranteed fundamental right to freedom of speech?

Freedom of speech does not mean you can talk any rubbish and claim legal protection. In a society your speech has to conform to certain limits. This man has been going about talking quite freely, though his freedom has been also due to the security cover that he has. He dares to talk because he is not going to face public wrath. If freedom of speech were to be given to all seeman (whom I do not endorse) should be free!

Freedom needs to be combined with dignity and truth. If this is not acceptable then throwing eggs is also a freedom of expression! Action is a nonverbal speech!

What happens when a rotten egg is thrown? It hits a hard surface and stinks. That is what has happened in Tamilnadu. The eggs hit a hardened individual. They perhaps aggravated the stink that was naturally present in the system.

3 What is your comment on the incident in which advocates burned Xerox
copies of their voter IDs to show their protest against the Indian
government for not interfering in Srilankan issue and their disgust at
being the citizens of this country?

.The sovereignty of India cannot be compromised or even questioned. If someone does one insulting act in a fit of rage and insults India or its emblems, the person ought to be clearly and sternly warned. After all there are people who in a fit of anger call their mother a bitch with no canine or commercial connotation to the word. But if the offence is repeated it needs severe punishment.

dalit fury?

November 17, 2008

Just a couple of days ago a violent and ugly scene was enacted in the premises of the prestigious Chennai ‘Ambedkar law college’. The problem is alleged to have started after the name of Ambedkar was dropped/deleted/ignored in some posters. Dalit students were shown in the clippings aired repeatedly on Tamil TV channels, as perpetrators of mass violence. True, about three or four of those guys beat another young man to a pulp. Sentiments have been aroused. Tears stand in the rims of viewing eyes. Angry fumes suffocate pained hearts. “how sad” croon soap watchers. Indignant and righteous fingers type letters to editors or blog if they can.

The mass reaction to this incident has now turned into sympathy for the ‘devar’ caste persons who got the beating. Even those secular,eclectic intellectuals who pretend to distance themselves from casteism feel sorry for these `devar’ boys. It is no more a sympathy for the loser in a fight. It is not just a human empathetic concern for a beaten and bruised man. It is a silent anger that ‘those’ guys have found the guts to beat ‘these’ or ‘our’ boys. It is a silent fear that screams in their minds that if these dalits are allowed to get away with this act of retaliation, then slowly they would try to come up and even sit in our temples!

Whether dalit or devar those boys had no right to gang up and beat with murderous rage. They ought to be punished. But just because those devar boys have been beaten up badly they cannot be absolved either. They were the ones who were supposed to have started the fight. There are even some visuals showing one of those devar boys running amok with a knife in hand.

I just wonder what would have been the reaction if that boy had managed to chop off all those who came to attack him? Would all these tears still flow for the dalit boys had they been killed?

The whole episode is shocking the public because the hitherto trampled dalit boys have dared to fight back. We are simply not used to seeing this. It satisfies our intellectual itch to feel sorry that dalits have separate living quarters, separate vessels to drink. We nod in apparent understanding and pseudo-sympathy that dalits have been barricaded away from mainstream by a real brick and mortar wall. We are simply used to these guys being trampled. We have become so insensitive to the casteist curse on the society that the painful screams of dalits just gets lost in the air and never registers even as a whimper in our ears. their men were made to eat shit, their women stripped, their children not allowed to play in some areas, they were not allowed to move freely, at times they werenot even allowed to take their dead to their cemetry via the shortest route. we knew all this, and we were silent. we were feeling ‘bad’! Now a group of those boys have taken sticks in their hand and beaten their opponent who had allegedly cut off one of the dalit boy’s ears. This is shocking.

Pragya and her prohit connections are not so shocking. Manmohan singhs shameless licking of bush is not repulsive. Karunanidhi’s constant political stunts are not worrying. Just the fact that dalit boys have dared to fight is shocking.

I am not like the BJP RSS gang that says godmen/whatever those goons in spiritual garb are called should be protected even if they bomb public places. I want those boys- those dalit boys to be punished. I also want people to feel that though they may have over-reacted, they reacted. It is time to think on ways to end provocations instead of crying over reactions.