Modigiri in Gandhigaon

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

When we feel good about development in Gujarat, media always showcase Mr. Modi's Chauvinistic and religious characters, media links him with RSS, Hindutva and communal elements. Why? we expect the same from media! When people in country side are feeling good about Bijli, Sadak, Paani provided to them, media try to give us the sample statistics about how many Muslims and how many Hindus have got the same benefits. It actually try to give us the divided figure which would fuel the anger and hatred feeling of people and jeopardising the secularism. Showing the Godhra episode again and again, broadcasting the aftermath of killing and terrorist attacks without even bothering to sensor the sensitive pictures, showing the undressed video footage of a woman who was raped on the broad day light [source], analysis of same vote bank politics again and again, etc. are igniting the hatred feeling and making people desperate for change in the leadership which may prove to be unhealthy in any democracy. I really don't believe that this 'media crisis' would affect people's verdict in the elections, just because the media glare is simply an urban affair!

Recent Gujarat election has received an unprecedented media hype in the history of Indian politics. Not All would believe that this "Media Politics" is merely an urban affair! When it comes to ground zero, country side India still rules. Bijli, Sadak, Paani formula still works but not alone any more. Mr. Narendra Modi has shown a perfect balance of Nationalism and Chauvinism which worked at nick of the time. I believe citizen of Gujarat have shown exceptional characteristics of modern democracy. In experienced democracies like one in United States, every president will get a second chance to prove his ability. India has a peculiar mindset. If we cannot see the change within a short period of time, we start digging out the weaknesses of the leader and we, along with the media ensure that the elected leader will spend rest of his tenure in proving that he is innocent. Where does he get time to change the lives around? Exceptional development in media has fueled the political crisis.

Looking at Mr. Modi's winning strategy and Gujarat verdict, its pretty clear that Indian voters are matured, they know whom to vote if they want the real change. They can clearly understand who can change their lives. Mr. Modi's strategy is understandable if we put ourself in his shoes. His strategy of "being in the system to change the system" works! India Today has awarded him the best chief minister twice in three years. Apart from the controversy that he always generated due to his staunch support of Hindutva, he is also regarded as an excellent administrator. Considering Indian context, we don't need chief ministers who are just good statesmen, we need chief ministers who can understand the country side India and provide them required benefits which brings the equality in the society.

Lets not follow the lines of media to project communal characteristics of Mr. Modi, that may be his winning strategy. His association with RSS might have created controversies but that has made him live a disciplined life and given him exceptionally great organizing skills[...]. He was a back-door operator for his party before he became chief minister, now he managed to be front runner only because of his exceptional political skills and charismatic characters. On the top, he may look like a chauvinist, but who cares as long as he does good work? Lets feel good about his good work in Gandhigaon, the Gujarat. He has created his own style of administering the state in a much better way than any other chief minister in the country. I call it Modigiri! Hope this Modigiri in Gandhigaon can change the lives around!

Leading India - Change is good

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I think the recent Lead India campaign by Times of India (TOI) group is reflecting the changed mindset of young in urban India. From "Chalta hain" to "Desperate desire for change". Well, I am convinced that it failed to draw attention in rural India. Its understandable from TOI point of view. Nevertheless, it showcases one common source of inspiration for today's young blood, both in urban and rural India. That is, "Only YOU can do it, if you want to do it." Take a look at this video.

What we somehow need is just a simple thought which ignites the can do attitude. I have met and interacted with some people who believe that the "thought" itself is so powerful, it makes things to fall on place to see that "thought" a reality! In other words, "if you pursue your dreams, the universe will conspire with you to make it happen [Paulo Coelho in Alchemist]". SRK too says the same thing, "Kehte hain agar kisi cheez ko agar dil se chaho to saari kayanath tumhe usse milane ki koshish me lag jaati hai, [Om Shanti Om]". When we think of changing the society or a nation, the first thing which comes in our mind is our own picture which can be portrayed besides the pictures of national heroes. And the next question which comes to our mind is how to be like that? Immediately, the answer follows, 'No, you just can't do such a big thing!'. Why? Our subconscious mind says, "I have seen so many people doing that and still eating the words of same people whom you want to serve!". What I could understand from Lead India campaign and its vision is that, It's not "YOU" who can change, but "your thought" and "initiative", which can inspire the lives around you and motivate them to work for common goal, that is, "to change the lives around". And that thought of yours is the "YOU" in Lead India slogan "Only YOU can do it, if you want to do it."

Lead India, do it!

The British Legacy of Adivasi Militancy

Sunday, December 16, 2007

ASSAM reported its most shameful incident in recent times on November 24 when a teenaged adivasi girl, stripped naked by some youth during mob violence, ran for dear life on a street in Guwahati with her attackers chasing her in full public view. The girl, a Class X student from Biswanth Chariali in Sonitpur district in northern Assam, pleaded with her attackers for mercy, but in vain. A middle-aged man finally came to her rescue and offered her his own clothes to cover herself. Local newspapers even published pictures of an assailant kicking her private parts, which was subsequently shown by television news channels. - Frontline, December 08-21, 2007.
Such an inhuman act can happen only when our society is still inhuman. Struggle for existence and a better life is not new for mankind. Bloodiest battles in the past were fought for the very reason 'to exist and to be able to exist in a better way'. When there is no equality, struggle for existence and a better life becomes obvious and so is the tribal/adivasi movements.

Assam Adivasi rebellion is not new, its roots can be traced to Santal Rebellion in 1855. Tribal groups lost their land to money lenders and traders, outsiders encroached their lands, they lost their forest - greatest source of their livelihood during the process of modernization and development, the construction of railways worsened their misery. The railway contractors used brute force to employ them cheaply on construction work and even kidnapped and raped Santal women. The railways even took away the grains produced by Santals and created food shortage. Silent protest of Santals until 1855 did not help at all. They started attacking Zamindars and money lenders, disrupted rail traffic. They even beheaded Mahesh Lal Dutta, a policeman for harassing one of their men. The Santal declared the end of company rule and proclaimed Santal Raj.

Santals' guerilla war tactics with bows and arrows were no match to the superior British troops. The British army of over thousand troops equipped with modern firearms and war elephants attacked Santals and it is estimated that atleast 15,000 (fifteen thousand) Santals were killed in the army action. Sidhu and Kanhu Murmu the legendary leaders of the revolt were hanged. The day of rebellion is still celebrated among the Santal community with great respect and spirit for the thousands of the Santal martyrs who sacrificed their lives along with their two celebrated leaders in their glorious albeit unsuccessful attempt to win freedom from the rule of the zamindars and the British operatives[wiki].

More over, after the annexation of Assam from Burma (Myanmar), the British colonial administration started tea plantations on a large scale in the region. Very soon India became one of the largest exporter of tea to the western world. Obviously this created a shortage of labours in the tea gardens. The Tea District Labour Association, constituted under the Tea District Emigrant Labour Act of 1932, started recruiting labour from six labour-surplus provinces – Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Central Provinces, United Provinces and Madras. The labourers thus brought into Assam had a trying time. The agents, known as free contractors, enticed them with secure employment, good wages and healthy habitation. But what the labourers got was a raw deal. The mortality rate among them became high. The abuse of the free contractors was so grave that it met with protests from various quarters [frontline].

The exploitation, deprivation and treachery continues to exist even today in the tribal regions of our country. If Adivasis in Assam are demanding for better life (the Scheduled Tribe status), there is nothing new in it. The tribal groups are struggling for better life from over 150 (yes! hundred and fifty) years. Their struggle took a new shape with the vote bank politics. Democracy and education enabled tribal groups to realize their rights. And hence the seeds of hope and the better life were sown in the hearts of tribal and adivasi community. "Their recent struggle to gain Scheduled Tribe (ST) status is bound to give new verve to the adivasi struggle for empowerment and may help it to come out of the deadening groove of vote bank politics, the immeadiate need is to address the social and economic issues which continue to plague [EPW]" the tribal and adivasi communities.

Some of the News channels like NDTV declared on November 25th that, the recent adivasi revolt was a clear case of age-old enmity between the Assamese and the Adivasis whom the former thinks as "coolies". It would be wrong to see the issues as Assamese-Adivasis confrontation. The problem is more of socio-economic rather than ethnic. Both the government and leaders of tribal/adivasi groups should realize this and should come to the negotiation table and solve the problem.

Larger than what you can think of

Monday, December 10, 2007

Few of my friends who have subscribed to my blog asked me if I have stopped blogging altogether! I told them I was on fire (in office). Yes, actually I was. For the first time in my life I could spend 48 hours with just 3+ hrs of sleep. After all the circus, when I got into the bed, I suddenly felt, shit! What did I achieve by doing so much? I took some time to convince myself that, Yeah, some times shit happens! I truly realized what it means to be on fire. I think I have discovered myself a bit more.

It gives an immense pleasure when we just finish what we wanted to. At that point of time we are completely engulfed in oblivion. When I put myself in between that point of oblivion and the point of normalcy, I find an unbelievable agony of the reality. Because, that is the only point where you can ask yourself, “What did I achieve by doing that?” Did it help your loved one feel better? Did it actually change some one’s life? Before doing something, I have a (bad?) habit of thinking about such questions. Probably I am one among those few who believe that the ‘Just Do it!’ thing sux! The moment I feel I know something, it doesn’t take much time to realize that I know nothing about it. The moment I feel, Yes! I actually solved someone's problem; it doesn’t take much time to realize that there are hundreds who are still facing the same problem! The moment I make some one smile, it doesn’t take much time to realize that there are thousand faces without smile. I am finding myself in no man's land. I am confused. The world I perceive is drastically simplified model of the real world. Can some one tell me why are you doing what you are doing?

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This work by Manjunath Singe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License. The views and opinions expressed in this work are strictly those of the author and do not represent his employer's views in anyway.