AR speaketh...

The questions, the answers, the thoughts, the ideas and the other crap that make me, well, me.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Blank Noise Project

This is in support of the Blank Noise Project. Despite being the (self-acknowledged) MCP that I am, I completely agree with whatever these guys (girls, mostly, and this is not a stunt to score with them) say.
I lack the time to actually participate, but cheer for them. Great going, people!

Here's a rather well written entry to their event, Blog-a-thon 2006.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Cleaning out my Closet

Foreword: If you haven’t seen it already, don’t bother. You are never going to see it. Its never been plainer, more in-your-face. There is something happening to the collective consciousness (or the lack of it) even as you read this (or don’t). The last couple of weeks have had interesting, and I might add, important developments. Two of these have been “Rang De Basanti” the movie and the second, the slightly better directed, though more clichéd, Jessica Lall murder trial. Here is an attempt to conciliate the two, through the minds of two typical Indians of the age: the Optimist and the Cynic. What follows is a dialogue that often goes through in my mind, I don’t expect anybody to agree or disagree with it, its purely a selfish act of expurgating my mind.

(The scene is set in a typical coffee shop of today, complete with pretty girls, loud, ridiculous music, and of course, software professionals. The Cynic (C) and the Optimist (O) are with a mixed group, talking about the serious matters in life, namely salaries and the “system”. There are contributions to the dialogue from the others as well, but they are in support of one of the protagonists. Hence they have been clubbed together with what our leads have to say.

The current discussion is about the movie, “Rang De Basanti” and O is hopeful about more students emulating the movie’s actors while C can only offer a derisive laugh…)

O: Why do you laugh? Don’t you feel the same?

C: No. In case you haven’t noticed, I am not insane.

(The group guffaws)

O(agitated): On the contrary, you are insane! It is plainer than ever before. I am not saying that the movie will start churning out responsible citizens from our campuses like rabbits breeding in overdrive. Just that I expect some positive change from it. For, the movie is realistic and the events in it relevant. They will certainly strike a chord with people.

C: Listen dude, stop living in a freaking fairy tale. You know as well as I do, that nothing like that is going to happen. What will happen is that people like you and me will debate about the effect the movie will have. We’ll all collect in a bloody coffee shop drink exorbitantly expensive coffee, throw idealism around and go home and sleep, thinking tomorrow we’ll wake up in a bloody paradise.

O: That’s the trouble with you. You don’t want things to change. You’d rather go home and sleep. And no-one expects to wake up in a paradise. All I’m saying is it is possible, provided people have the right attitude. And yours is exactly the kind of attitude we do not need.

C: Yeah, given that an essential ingredient of my attitude involves a certain degree of intelligence. When you step out of those romantic novels you have been living in, you’ll realize that what I’m saying is true. How many people, do you think, would stop chasing their dreams, which incidentally, involve a comfortable life and three squares a day, to start this revolution of yours?

O: I am not talking about a damned revolution! I’m talking about a change that is needed: a gradual attitudinal shift. A shift whereby people take responsibility for their actions. Where they understand that they are being fooled by the politicians, that it is in their interest to protest, to take charge. I don’t want to start an armed revolution to bring the government to its knees and slaughter millions of innocents in the process. That will just set us back a few years. What I am talking about is people beginning to see through the political gimmicks of the so-called servants of the masses.

C: That’s all bullshit. You know for sure that is not going to happen. Why go far, take an example right here. You are going to leave this place and take a wrong turn at the traffic signal down the road and when the traffic policeman stops you, you are going to offer him Rs. 50 to not write you a challan. Don’t bloody talk about politicians and changing the world when you, yourself, are contributing to the corruption.

O: Good that you brought it up. That is another thing that will have to change and I’m sure people will be willing to forego such “privileges”.

C: Right, and Israel and Palestine will take to amiable co-existence and US, Iran, Iraq and Osama will sit together, playing monopoly. Don’t be so damn naïve. This isn’t a fucking beauty pageant. We will always continue to be corrupt if that offers the convenient way out. We will always denounce politicians and government servants but not cease to approach them for getting a wait-listed ticket confirmed or some tender awarded, illegally. And, guess what, this is not going to change, unless satyug loses its way and ends up here. Quite frankly, that’s not bloody likely.

O: I think you are being too fucking pessimistic. Things are changing and they’ll continue to do so. Corruption and related depravity is just an offshoot of poor economic conditions. With the current improvements in the economic indicators, that is going to change. Look at the changes. For instance, take the recent decision for a re-trial of the Jessica Lall case. The people involved are extremely powerful and they nearly succeeded in getting an acquittal. In the end, though, the High Court stepped in and the case is going to be reopened and I’m sure the guilty will be punished.

C: The last time the case took 7 years to be decided. This time it might take 17, who knows? Besides, I am not too sure I would want to testify against a guy who pulls out a gun in a freaking bar and then walks away from the courts, scot free!

O: That’s because all you want to do is criticize from a safe distance. You are too chicken to actually do something to make a difference. Its because of people like you that we are in this mess.

C: The only difference between you and me is that you go around sermonizing in public and I don’t. In all probability, the next time the case comes up for hearing, the judge will be offered an obscene amount of money for ruling in favour of the defendant. In that case, no matter how many witnesses you parade in front of him, I’m sure he’ll be able to think of some “reasonable doubt”.

O: So what you are effectively saying is that there is no way out. We are doomed to this hell for eternity?

C: Precisement, as Poirot would have observed. But wait, there is a way out. Desperate situations, remarked Captain Nemo of the Nautilus, warrant desperate measures. I can only offer one way of cleaning the system, as we call it. And that is to go to the electoral commission, get the results out for the last general elections, and identify the top five candidates in each constituency. Take each of them to a public square in the constituency and execute them. That will certainly put the fear of God in every single person that takes to politics.

O: Forget it! I never should have asked you for a solution. I knew you’d come up with something dumb, but failed to anticipate the colossus of your stupidity. Cant you bloody think of something constructive, for a change?

C: Dude, this is constructive! Think of the people who will then be left in politics. Agreed, by my mechanism, we’ll end up killing a percentage of innocent people, but then, that’s the price you pay for a clean house.

O: And how about the people who go about executing them? Wont they become the tyrants they have helped remove? It just changes the names, doesn’t eliminate the problem.

C: No, it does. Hear me out. This will be done by a group of extremely daring and selfless people, quite like the revolutionaries of our war of independence. Each of these will voluntarily join the “revolution” and a part of their duties towards it would be commit suicide once their job is over, thus eliminating the power centres that might have formed. The entire setup would have to just vanish from the face of the earth. Though they will be the biggest heroes the country has ever seen.

O: These daring people, where do you expect them to come from? Descend from the mountains in white clothing?

C: That’s the beauty: the “system” is already in the process of making them. So far it has been churning out beta-versions, which have not served the intent. But once things are right, such people will come from amongst us and, God willing, within us.

O: “In that heaven of freedom, My father, let my country awake”. And for the intermediate millennia before that happens, we’ll just get by thinking of the heroes that are to come. But till then, what are we going to do? Sit on our haunches, waiting for the avatars to some? I think we need to wake up and start changing ourselves to change the country. If each one of us starts to eschew corruption, however small, I am sure we wont need to wait for your Titans. We’ll have a self-adjusting system pretty soon.

(I got too sleepy after this. I don’t know if those guys reached a solution. My views? I’ll have to meet you in person to discuss those…)


Quite frankly, I have no idea which of the two voices in my mind is right. I even don’t know which one I support. The only thing I know is that if these voices don’t stop soon enough, I am going to stop drinking coffee.

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