She’s India

India is Gandhi, Patel, Shashtri and Nehru

India is Sadbhavna, Satya, Swaraj and Ahimsa

India  is Kashi, Kali, Jaganath and Meenakshi

India is Shivaji, Akbar, Ashoka and Babur

India is St. Francis Xavier, Sri Krishna and Sheik Salim Chishti

She is the towering figure of Indira, Vajpayee and Rajiv, India is the snow capped Himalayas, She is the hot sands of the Thar and the Tigress of the Sundarbans

India is the houseboats on Dal Lake, the Saffron fields of Kashmir and the Tea gardens of Assam

India is Xacuti,Khosha,Zhutho and Dhansak

She is Shah Jahan’s Peacock throne, She’s also the Kohinoor.

India is the music coming out from Anglo-Indian houses, She’s the sound of Azaan mixed with the  sound of temple bells.

India is Ruskin Bond’s novels and the passion of Jim Corbett, She is Kalam, Azad, Bose and Tagore.

She’s also Kabir, Babasaheb, Phule and Guru Nanak

She’s the mighty waves of the Indian ocean and the mighty thoughts of Vivekananda, She’s Basavanna, Adi Shankara and Mirabai

She’s Buddha,She’s Mahavira and She’s also Mother Teresa

She’s the Periera’s, the Kapoor’s, Malik’s, Khan’s the Ahoms, the Khasis, the Iranis and the Colaço’s

India is the Gopura of the Virupaksha temple, She’s the Minarets of the Taj Mahal and the white façade of Velankanni, She’s the Tomb of Humayun, the serenity of Kedarnath and the bustle of Bombay.

India is RK Lakshman, Malgudi and Mahabharata

She’s the Brahmaputra ,She’s also the Hooghly.

She is a Bodo, She’s a Karbi, She’s a Mizo,She’s a Garo. She’s also a Sentilesse, and a Santhal.

India is in Birmingham,Brampton, Burma and other far away lands like Malaya, Singapore and Africa.

She’s the Sitar playing in the background of a Beatles song, She’s the Ghazals of Rafi and Chants of Om.

India is  an old structural Temple,  A beautiful Anglican church and a grand Mosque, grander than even the grandest

She’s the Qutub Minar, the Stupa at Sanchi and the Mahals of Jaipur

She’s the loud music of a wedding procession, She’s the serenity of Coorg, She’s also the chirping of the bulbul

India is not Hatred, Bigotry, Violence or Intolerance

She is soothing, peaceful and calm

She’s a champion of Democracy, Justice and Hope

India is Inclusive, Secular and Tolerant towards all

India is home to me and a billion more.

If you like the above post feel free to share this! Do let me know in the comments if you did not  get the meaning of any line, will be happy to explain!

The Election is over.

 

Indian elections are loud, vibrant, colorful, and huge affairs with large amounts of money spent, this year, however, witnessed an election which was marred with hate speech, petty mudslinging and several incidents of political violence, political discourse hit new lows everyday and the country was sharply divided into two groups of people who were super determined to oust the other, to trick each other and to win. Fake news was the norm and almost everyone including the intellectuals and the educated classes fell for fake news at one time or the other. Fierce debates raged on around the country, newsrooms were packed with spokespersons trying to air their views, tea shops were filled with old men trying to decipher the mood, dining rooms too were politically charged and dinner was always served with a pinch of politics.  The problem here is how divisive and polarized this election became towards the end, everyone had picked sides and everyone were not open to hearing out the other side, democracy isn’t about an election, it’s a process of debate and dialogue and without any dialogue happening, elections are completely irrelevant exercises with nothing being achieved. The level of political discourse too was very worrying, people were no longer talking about development or roads or water or education the main point of focus unfortunately was other irrelevant information like the caste of the candidates, the religion of their parents and several other personal topics like these, things which added zero value to our democratic process.

 

Another trend which I noticed was how personal this election became for many of us, friends stopped talking to each other, families were annoyed at  relatives for having a difference in opinion, WhatsApp forwards were the start of fiery online wars between peers, Facebook friends blocked each other simply because they had a difference of opinion and no one really wanted to hear the other side anymore. I too had vigorously supported certain candidates and ideologies, some won and many lost but I recognized the fact that an election isn’t the end of the world, we need to work together and build bridges, regardless of who won and who lost, unity is the only way forward.

The print and digital media didn’t help in any way too, they continued to propagate hatred and divisions simply to gain viewers, after all won’t the curious human mind want to see two people with differing ideologies shout at each other on screen? Social media was altogether a whole new ballpark, trolls from all sides attacked each other, those who held on to their ideologies were insulted, abused and even threatened by the other side.

Now we need to recognize that the election is over.

Yes, many of us are Liberals, many of us are Communists, several of us are Conservatives, many of us love the new Prime Minister, some of us aren’t so fond of him, many of us wanted Congress to come back and some of us wanted regional parties to do well but what unites all of us? ALL of us want what’s best for India and for all Indians, our paths, ideologies, methods and views may differ but we all stand shoulder to shoulder as proud Indians. We need to reconcile and reach out to each other after this election and all the divisiveness we have seen during the campaign

Yes, this election has been one of the most hateful, petty and aggressive ones which we have witnessed but it’s time we realized that an election can’t divide us so much, we can’t be so partisan or polarized as a society, we need to work together and we certainly can’t shy away from putting our hand out to the other side, India is much more than just AAP, Congress or BJP. We cannot let our love for ideology or a political figure blind us from reality. Nation building required a joint effort and it certainly can’t leave out any group or community. We must all be involved in making India a beautiful country, regardless of whether we won or we lost during this election

Above all this we also need to recognize that human relationships, friendships and communities are far too important to be broken by petty ideological fights. Simply because you support a party which I’m highly critical of, doesn’t mean we can’t talk or we can’t stay friends, we need to ensure that we don’t allow politics to dictate our personal lives.

Let us love all Indians and let us build this country together, I’m hoping in the coming days the government will reach out to the opposition and give out an olive branch, we can’t progress as a country if there’s no political decency in our ruling class, there needs to be bipartisanship, unity and more coordination, that’s the only way forward.

To clarify, I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t have any political affiliation or ideologies, I’m only suggesting that we don’t allow our ideologies to become hateful towards those who may not agree with us, we can’t have open markets with closed minds.

Let the way forward be filled with peace, tolerance, mutual respect and inclusion, there’s really no other way to a peaceful society where everyone feels at home. If we start today, future elections in this country would see an improvement in the dialogue and won’t be so divisive or hateful, the wounds that this election has caused will take a long time to heal and the scars may never go away but there’s always hope that the future will see decency, respect and love become the cornerstones of a healthy democracy, until then I urge you all to reach out to those who don’t believe in the same things that you believe in, talk to them and try having an open mind, small things always blossom into bigger ones.

I am Gandhi

Celebrating 150 years of the man who won many wars but killed nobody.

 

I am the barefoot boy, I wear rugged clothes and I’m dirty, I am Gandhi
I am a Harijan, I am an untouchable, I am Gandhi
I am the half-naked fakir, I am Gandhi
I am the mighty Ganges, I am the Himalayas, I am the Brahmaputra, I am Gandhi
I am the victim of patriarchy, I am the sick, I am Gandhi
I am the thousand languages spoken on this land, I’m the native tongue, I am Gandhi
I am the smell of flowers and the sound of  prayer bells, I am Gandhi
I am the girl who refused to pay dowry, I am Gandhi
I am the farmer, I till the soil, I sow the seeds, I am Gandhi
I am the gentle old woman, I am Gandhi
I am the colours of this country, I am Gandhi
I am the tribal man, I’m called a savage man, I am Gandhi
I am the oppressed, I am the suffocated, I am Gandhi
I am the widowed woman, I am a social outcast, I am Gandhi
I am the sacred forests, I am the fertile land, I am Gandhi
I am the truth, I am non-violence, I am the soul of this land, I am Gandhi
I am purity, I am peace, I am serenity, I am only way forward, I am Gandhi
I am the man they shot, my ideas they try to kill, they say all I did was nothing, yet I am the truth
I am India, I am Gandhi

#IamGandhi
#Gandhi150

Screenshot_20180728-160139~2

 

Glossary-

1.Harijan- lower class or caste

2.Fakir- Muslim (or, loosely, a Hindu) religious ascetic who lives solely on alms.

3. Dowry- A payment made by a bride to marry a man

Be fair. (A post in honour of Nelson Mandela on the occasion of #Madiba100)

Is it really fair that we tell a girl she doesn’t have a chance at life simply because she isn’t fair?

For all those confused at the above statement, it’s a simple yet powerful statement against the fair skin industry. Now what exactly is the fair skin industry? It’s pretty much the beauty products you see in your supermarkets which eat off the inferiority complexes which people have.

By constantly telling us that our skin isn’t ‘fair’ or ‘white’ enough, the industry has managed to create a division between the ‘fair skinned’ and the ‘dark skinned’ with many in the latter wanting to join the former.In India for example advertisements run day long promising young girls fairer skin in just 7 days ( and men too!)

This racist narrative has created ripples among Indian society (and many other countries as well) with dark skinned girls being seen as inferiors to their fair skinned counterparts, this trend has caught on with men as well and a wide range of creams and beauty products are now  available for men to change their complexion as well!

In certain cases, dark skinned girls have been shunned by family and even rejected by suitable grooms! Growing up, terms like kaka (crow) and junglee (a derogatory term for those who belonged to tribal communities) and of course many were even called Africans! Many matrimonial advertisements in newspapers  ask only for fair skinned women to apply!

There is a dire need in many countries for products which prey off our insecurities to be completely banned, but as long as society keeps reinforcing the message that dark skinned people aren’t good enough, there will always be a market for these creams.

Now, one could simply argue “why should women even buy these products” or “it’s a choice they make to become fairer” but those who understand the problem will tell you, it’s much more than just simple choice. From the moment you are born with a darker complexion, society starts grumbling about it, women are denied respect and suffer from silly skin colour bases prejudices throughout their lives, the beauty creams act as means to escape this constant glare of society and become more ‘respectable’ or ‘beautiful’ people. This obviously is quite wrong but put in simple terms- many people view these fairness creams a key to get them out of their cages, even if its only temporary.

There however is an historical narrative to this as well, the lines between ‘black’ and ‘white’ were drawn much before.  The slave trade, The Apartheid and the Racial Segregation in many countries (which eventually lead to the civil rights movement in the US) and the general oppression of dark skinned people who were seen as primitive and dirty by imperial powers across the world have laid the base for racism to grow over the years.( in Colonial India for example, the parts of the cities where the Europeans lived was called the ‘White Town’ and the parts inhabited by the Indians was known as the ‘Black town’ )

These historical wounds haven’t been cured yet and racism is quite honestly omnipresent.Those who have darker skins have always not just been socially shunned and oppressed but in many cases have been denied economic and even political opportunities. Interracial couples are awarded with judgemental stares and frowns.

In one instance, I happened to hear a woman tell her son, pointing at woman who had a darker complexion than her husband- “wonder what she (the wife) did to deserve such a fair husband”.With the rise of social media, racist comments against people who have darker skins have adorned the walls of facebook and twitter, it almost feels as if the divide between fair and dark skinned people is only going to increase with social media advancing.

There have been many genuine movements throughout history  (which many of you would be familiar with) both in the West (focusing on removing discrimination against ‘blacks’ and ‘whites’ and in the East (encouraging people to feel comfortable in their own skin colours and removing inferiority complexes largely reaffirmed   through European Imperialism). Modern day movements too have focused on various aspects of this racial divide, including economic and political issues which dark skinned people face across the world, in India for example many campaigns have popped up calling for people to stop using fairness creams but somehow our mindsets haven’t changed.

Let us be honest here, no one is born a racist, people are taught to hate another race or they are made to feel inferior because they aren’t a part of a superior race. It’s going to be a long and hard battle for racism to be removed from our societies completely, we need to socially shun and rehabilitate racists and we need to teach our children to start viewing the world much differently than we viewed it. Of course social media websites need to have stricter controls and there needs to be a mass movement against racism and hate, but all this cannot happen as long as all of us start changing our mindsets. We need to educate ourselves on the many incidents where racism has triumphed and we need to start discussing why hate isn’t a solution.

Some may tell you racism has reduced or it isn’t there anymore, but as long as society still divides itself into ‘white’, ‘brown’ and ‘black’,  there will always be racism and those with darker skins will always find it hard to embrace the way they look.

Lastly always remember, being dark skinned isn’t a crime, but being a racist is one.

My personal appeal to you all-

If you have children, teach them to be loving and compassionate to all people regardless of how they look. In my opinion, teaching them not to be a racist is as important as teaching them to eat by themselves.

If you have a child who isn’t ‘fair’ according to society’s standard, teach them to embrace their skin colour and to be proud of who they are.

If you feel you need to use fairness creams, trust me they do no good, they may lighten your skin color but they’ll never make you happy.

Let us all take a pledge to boycott fairness creams.

If you have a moral conscience, stop being a racist and realise it’s your heart that matters, not your skin colour.

I end this with a small tribute to Nelson Mandela, I’m posting this on 18th July 2018, the 100th birth anniversary of Madiba.

Madiba was always my hero, I have always had a picture of him in my room and I cried quite a bit when I heard he was no more.It was his message and teachings which has inspired me to fight for good always.

His biggest win wasn’t getting freedom for South Africa or removing The Apartheid but was his forgiving spirit once he was freed from prison. He called for love and unity once South Africa was free and called upon all communities to live together, his message has bound South Africa together in harmony, love and tolerance much after he retired.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

mandela