Sunday, March 29, 2009


Daughters have a special bond with their dads. Mothers are left seething out of the equation, and later suitors suffer because they can never measure upto the first man in a girl’s life. This was the credo, reaffirmed by all of us who have either glowed or seen their sisters glow in this unabashedly biased relationship. This was until today morning. Glancing at the paper over my morning coffee I chanced to see the gruesome details of a girl from Mira road,Mumbai being raped by her own father for 9 agonisingly long years. The monster of Mira rd had shattered the idyll. It’s difficult to think of a worse betrayal. The blood of every father’s daughter must run cold to read about the 21 year old who had been continually raped for nine years. A father as perpetrator, a mother as accessory, and a so-called godman not only calling the shots, but pumping in his own dirty bullets as well. How many idols were smashed in that burgeoning outpost of Mumbai suburbia? Everything supposedly sacred was defiled. It’s difficult to think of a worse perversion.

Every daughter who has snuggled into her father, charmed him into submission, had him indulge her every whim to her own delight and her mother’s disapproval, must surely have followed this story in disbelief. The Mira rd incest is not an aberration. It happens everywhere, all the time, as routine as water cuts in summer. Too often, ‘family’ is not the benign unit of protective Mama-Papa and loving uncle-ji, but a whitewashed sepulchre of poisoned innocence. To the curios in the showcase add the skeletons in the closet. Alas, not dead, but jumping out to paw, grope and molest. On a regular basis. The difference at Mira rd was only one of degree, motivation, and the fact that the pustule burst open. This happened only because it reached new depths. When her 15 year old sister was also dragged into this pit, the long suffering girl found the tremulous courage to inform her maternal uncle and her grandmother. So, add one more dimension to this perverse roster. We must be thankful for the doubled evil because that’s what finally led to the end of the sordid tale. And for the small mercy that the girl’s appeal did not typically cite ‘family honour’ to slam the lid back on what was its demonic opposite.

Child sexual abuse by a family member; most often the father himself, extends from the pavement to the penthouse, leaving no economic, educational or ethnic group unstained. It sits there masked in normalcy, like a porn covered in innocent brown paper of a school exercise textbook, like a festively wrapped mithai box swarming with maggots inside. The statistics may be conjecture, but they certainly aren’t damning lies. I had read somewhere that an act of domestic sexual abuse takes place every 7 mins. In this depraved milieu, we must be grateful for the 6 mins of security. And we, who as children had considered our unmolested cocoon to be the unremarkable rule, must now fall on our knees for the blessing of exception. When the parental protector turns predator, every other violation pales by comparision, arguably even turns kosher. The father raped his elder daughter for nine years and, inured, felt no shame in pulling the younger daughter into the sex vortex.

The mother emotionally blackmailed them into submitting not only to him, but also to the instigating tantric. To be fair, she threw herself into the hissing cauldron as well. The parents abandoned their most sublime duty for the sake of mere crass reward. The ‘godman’ had convinced them that this was the divinely ordained route to the father’s business success. The silence of the lambs of Mira rd is deafening. But the current empty din of electoral invective is unlikely to pause and listen. I had read about the German father who kept his daughter in the attic for 20 odd years and even bore two children from her. Back then, I never would have believed something like this happening closer home. Don’t we boast of ancient culture and rich heritage? I guess, these “Monster Dads” thrive everywhere irrespective of geographical, cultural or social differences.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Hailing from a metro has its cons! You are expected to be a city slicker who’s sophisticated, socially presentable & with a gift of the gab. Then you meet the other kind – ME!! Of the last 23 years of my stay in the city I’m pretty much an oddball & a social misfit there. I hate the fake accents, the oh-so-glamorous lifestyles & the hustle bustle of the city. Then again, there’s the constant – “Ohh!!...staying in Mumbai and still single?” They just cant comprehend the fact that I’m single. Yes I am, at 23. Is it a crime? Go ahead then, send me to the gallows.

I’ve grown up on a staple diet of movies like – When Harry met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, Gone with the wind & Casablanca(before you brand me the mushy-kind, just for the records, I even watched the usual violence filled sci-fi movies). Believe me, the ‘damsel in distress’ species has ceased to exist and so has the ‘knight in shining armour’. The damsels have been replaced by the mascara covered, eyeliner lined females who bitch, gossip & shop. The knight’s armour has been replaced by the wallet & credit cards. So there are the ‘damsels in mascara’ & ‘Knights with fat wallets’. There’s no place for the third kind.

So, when you end up surrounded by Roadies-loving, alcohol binging 20 something’s(whom you refer to as friends), I feel like a 60 year old grandpa who’s just lost his way from the old age home. And then there’s the flurry of fake accents & flying kisses exchanged to add to my already bag full of worries. Its almost become a habit for me to turn up at a party in a formal shirt & neatly creased trousers(not to mention the inexplicably shiny leather shoes). Then I look around and I’m greeted by the ‘barely hanging of the waist’ jeans, the technicolour shirts & T shirts and a mix & match of what seems like leftover frills from last years Brazil carnival.

Then comes the hair part. I always loved the crew cut ‘coz it left me with less time with the comb. Now I have guy friends who take longer than an hour to get the hair straight – or at odd angles, should I say. I cease to understand the connectivity between a persons hair & his attitude. Does looking like a cross between a human and a porcupine cool? Then, there are the females who are just not content with the hair colour nature endowed them with. I had heard of blondes and brunettes, but streaks of blue, yellow and purple rising from your temples are not something I would be comfortable with.

Another startling revelation hit me hard a couple of months back. A half drunk friend blurted out that his girlfriend thinks I’m gay. Comically I quizzed him for the same. His reply – since I’m still single I ought to be gay! I was stumped! Is it taboo to be single in Mumbai? There is a desperate rush to pick and choose a gf/bf even if that meant ‘Crash & Burn’ a couple of months then on(in some cases a couple of weeks).And God forbid if you are single and a virgin. You risk being labeled gay or impotent. Virginity is no longer the flower that girls & guys alike, preserve for their ‘special someone’. Promiscuity is the ‘in’ thing & losing virginity at the earliest, the craze. Well, I have been sentenced on two charges so far – single and a virgin, and have been found guilty on both accounts. Is this something I should be proud of? Well, my friends think otherwise.

Well I may be running the risk of being labeled a moralistic tightass after this post, but who cares. The phenomena of true love might just exist. After all, hope is what keeps us all alive, isn’t it?

Friday, March 13, 2009


After nearly five years of conspicuous confidence, the UPA govt’s focus on gloom and doom in the year ahead looks debatable. Five years ago, voters rejected the idea of “India Shining”, ushering in a govt that pronmised outcomes as well as a happy balance between high economic growth and social development. Now within kissing distance of yet another general election, it must be asked : has the “dream team” – P Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh really delivered on its promise of equitable development and good governance. I will broadly be covering my views under the following heads –
1. Social & economic sectors.
2. The defence sector.

Social and Economic sectors

India is foing through a most exciting transition. A confluence of good fortune on many fronts has created a range of opportunities for Indians to benefit from. There is a large and constantly increasing section of population of working age combined with low dependency. The monssons haven’t failed for many years running. An ongoing electronic comn and IT revolution is making it possible for individuals, firms & countries to respond rapidly to changing circumstances. Then there is the recognition internationally that India is an important market to invest in, export to and import from. And since the govt had started a process of openness a decade and a half back, many of the markets that were missing in the pre 1991 era are working efficiently enough. Given such conditions, how has this govt been?

Well, quite good on maintenance – and extremely poor on preparing, repairing and creating. As ‘inheritors’ of the “India shining” glory, the UPA govt did a great job of maintaining the sheen. The budget was (atleast initially) kept somewhat in check, macro economic mgmt was decent and minor tinkering continued. Partly because of decent maintenance, India continued to sparkle – tax revenues were looking up like never before, investment spiraled like never before, and it seemed everyone in the world wanted to be in India.

But did the govt build great infrastructure beyond what was already in motion? Did it provide relief for the highly strained environment? Did it do something about meeting the educated manpower shortage – and tackling the poor quality of education in govy schools and other institutions? It did none of this. Instead it set the stage such that all governments will have to give hundreds of thousands of crores in schemes that will not build anything of lasting consequence. Preparing for the future requires building infrastructure. The rural roads scheme was started during the NDA regime – an indubitable fact, for it was not named Rajiv or Indira or Jawaharlal. E-governance remained paper bound. Indian educational institutions cannot hire international faculty – and our doctoral pgmes are in a shambles.

On the environmental front, water levels continued to fall, we continue to discharge tonnes of sewage into our rivers and keepon building coal plants while natural gas lies unused. This govt talked a lot, high minded commissions were set up and provided very well thought out recommendations. But in the end, the govt did zilch. This society and its people need more than just assurances and money consuming programmes. It needs results and the statistics say the story. How is it that such a phenomenally talented group achieve so little? I for one have no answers.


The one million strong Indian Army needs change. And I’m not just referring to the equipment allotted. With the constantly changing war scenario and the fluid geo-political role India plays in the sub continent in particular and Asia in general, the Indian Army is in desperate need of a makeover which involves men, material and mindset. The govt has done little to empower the Defence forces with high quality weapons and equipment. We still continue to buy WW II vintage weapons from our “ally” – Russia. This govt did nothing to improve the situation. Millions of rupees were spent on setting up committee’s and enquiries into the security lapses the country witnessed with bombings in almost all parts of the country. Had that money been utilised to arm the jawans, the casualties could have been reduced.

Another grey area the govt failed miserably to tackle was Naxalism. It continued to breed in the backyards of those very politicians who assured us safety and well being during their political rallies. To add to the woes of the Army, the govt further explored the option of sending in the Army to fight off Naxalism. Already faced with a crunch of officers and few willing to step into the shoes of the aeging veterans, this came as a big setback. Still, it remains to be seen whether this option will be used in sctuals. My heart says, wisdom will prevail.

With volatile neighbours, the Indian Army has been stretched from the length and breadth of the country. The govt tried to lure the young generation by offering the Sixth Pay Commission in general and the MSP in particular. It failed to create a flutter in the college campuses. The serving jawans, NCO’s and JCO’s got a raw deal in the process. The increments did not commensurate to the professional hazard they faced. Discontent amongst the ranks and JCO’s prevails as they go about their job.

The govt yet again showed ‘spineless-ness’ when it failed to retaliate to the terror attacks in Mumbai. The political will was clearly lacking and resignations by the Home minister and Defence minister were dished out. But did it solve the problem? No it didn’t. The ‘economic meltdown’ and ‘international pressure’ were some of the reasons cited by the govt for not pursuing a military action. My question to the ‘wise men’ – Is there ever a perfect time to attack?

Had the same incident occurred in Israel, the outcome would have been more aggressive. Accepted the fact that military action meant bloodshed and economic pressure, but, then aren’t these the situations wherein the ‘sovereignty’ of the state has been attacked? If this isn’t then I’m not sure why we are still stuck up on Kashmir. We might as well gift wrap it and save ourselves some money and lives in the process.

The judiciary was mocked first, then ravaged and ransacked by the pseudo ‘human rights’ activists who defended Afzal Guru. The govt yet again took a backseat and failed to controlthe situation. Result- yet more disappointment for the Indian Army , police and other agencies involved in safe guarding the nation

The moderates(read govt) may view my opinions as illogical, unreasonable and chronic to the overall well being of the nation. My answer to them – If blood has to be shed, then why not let it flow on the battlefield rather than on the streets of Mumbai, Jaipur or Ahmedabad. If difficulties have to be borne then let it be through a war and not because of the constant terror strikes, bandhs and regional divides. But then, this Cong led UPA govt lacked the political will to take such tough decisions lest it affects their vote bank the next time. Isnt it time we realized the folly of our submissive attitude or is another terror strike on Mumbai required to wake the govt from their deep slumber. Food for thought – ‘coz I for one have no answers!