We all seek clarity in our allegiances.Reform is impossible.  Silence = Acceptance
Silence is acceptance, and complicity is criminal. The article above was one of the sanest I found while trawling through the murk online. I include it here, because when they act, they hurt me, tho’ I will always be far away. You need not touch my body to harm me irreparably, and you well know this. If you harm anything I have not cast off, it will be enough. The connection is umbilical, fundamental, and hence the violence aims at a visceral effect. Yet, if, one day, the fear turns to rage, will not the answer to visceral acts be an evisceration? The Partition will testify.


Peddling Indebtedness in the Panopticon

Conversation reported in a comment section on TOI:
Indian to Australian said do you know your national anthem, your national bird, etc.? Australian to Indian said, no. Indian to Aussie said, shame on you. Aussie to Indian hit back, what has your country given you in terms of peace and work? Indian is silenced and shamed. 

I counter: plenty of good, plenty of bad. If I chose to leave a country because it was not giving me anything, I saw automatic citizenship only as an accident of birth and regarded myself as a citizen of the world, free to settle where my work brought me. What has my country given me? What have I invested that I expect returns?

I, peddlar of my self.

There are many reasons people migrate, and migration is good up to a point. Movement of people, skills and remittances keep markets and neighbourhoods alive.  But the last century of migration has been unprecedented, and this century sees too many souls struggling to make a better living where they can. The world is too small for so many to migrate and inegrate well or quickly, for them to forget the old and the new quickly enough , and the consciousness of too many is too accustomed to instant changes/benefits/upgrades to consider waiting and investing for the long term.

Let not some of us make a mistake about why we chose to leave; the grievance was against a country I believed should give me a lot because I was born in it; what did I do to make it a better possibility? Why did I not choose to change it, each of us, some of us, one of us? We didn’t go where we were needed, we went where we wanted. And that has made all the difference.

A lot of us (and here I include individuals of every nationality and allegiance) have allowed an overwhelming allegiance to ourselves to supersede the connection to a place, a place of origin or love, a debt to soil. We forgave ourselves our debts.

Is it because we practiced true cosmopolitanism, citizenship of the world? Did we move from thinking that the nation has the duty to support us because of our nationality to thinking that if the nation fails to do so, we are free to ally ourselves with another?

Did we confuse the nation with the government, nationality with quality of life?

Somehow we allowed everything to become a plastic trail.

Is it because, as we surround ourselves with things not made in our places of origin or residence, things not made of the earth, things ethereal and virtual, our environs dissociate and distance us from the origin and the end?

Are we really so absorbed in the constructed individual self that we cease to think of the generations before and after?

Movement away from a place of war or nepotism is a good thing. But some wars have to be fought. Epidemics are not erased only by fleeing from them; they must be contained, quarantined, fought until it is safe to live again. The medieval plagues used to be controlled this way; Foucault will tell you better how the anarchy of the plague, of everything uncontrollable and pathogenic, was fought with panoptic discipline. Foucault wasn’t praising that analytic intervention, neither am I. I am, however, asserting that if we find ourselves in one of the cells in the outer walls of the panopticon, under constant surveillance and discipline, for that is where terror has put us, and we find that there is no outside to the panopticon, that we are all birds under a potential net, still we must resist.

Humankind cannot bear too much reality., succumbing either to action or to paralysis. That’s why some of us would choose to forget the walls altogether and focus on the cell—house, job, family, food, children, savings, the next electronic iteration. I accept that coping mechanism.

But some of us cannot forget. While we know that there may be no way out of successive mid-cages—there is no outside to the fibrillary relationships of power—it is yet intolerable that our cages be made ever smaller and existence inexorably more precarious. The walls must be made to stay where they are, not move inward like a gothic horror chamber.

It is not life we fight for any more, but sanity for the remaining few.





An Exile Speaks–I Believe / I want/ Enough

Patriotism manifests itself in various ways, and does not only imply the negative aggression most of the media reports on Mumbai are associating with that word. For India and South Asia, patriotism was an available means to freedom from perceived external rule and exploitation (let’s leave aside the fact that it was unable to rid us of internal colonization). The US, actor, interested party and source of major garrulity in the current tripartite blackmail, on the contrary, has never been colonized or occupied; its manifestations of patriotism are necessarily different and located offshore.The space known as ‘India’ is a region where the population was taught to disobey in order to win independence and become a country/nation not very long ago. After ‘winning’ independence, they were never re-taught to obey themselves or a higher authority. As Toni Morrison has it, gaining freedom is one thing, taking possession of it is another . What is needed now is a mobilization of public sentiment and action towards a single arrowing goal—defense of a nation’s essentials and a semblance of pride in what the people must fight for. Plurality has run amok in India to the extent that there are too many opinions, too many choices. Without a strong focal point for emotion and action, the energies of the people and the propulsive force for necessary action are lost.

There are differences between allegiances to different types of communities: religion vs. nations/regions. Yes, those allegiances have been mobilized by those whose modes of operation are the precision and ensuing ambiguous fear of ‘terror.’ And yes, those allegiances must be mobilized in return via what is known as ‘nationalism,’ which tends to cloak all religions and minorities in another stripe, another scale of value. If it is drummed into people’s minds enough, it will begin to become a priority and precondition for living off a nation’s soil.

Nationalism means remembering one’s civic duties, not only one’s civic rights. The mentality that tells an individual that he/she has a right to be cosseted by the state by virtue of citizenship must be ruthlessly stamped out. Nothing comes free; to have rights, one must serve the national community in a constructive fashion.

To that end I advocate two things— (1) a uniform civil code for India (no distinction or special law for any minority or majority, not any more, not unless they prove themselves on merit instead of birth); and (2) compulsory national service for all, for six months in their life every citizen must serve the country in some way, either through military service or social service, and they must be able to prove it.

I believe there is too much minority-pandering politics in India and I believe it is a worse form of casteism than the system we all love to blame Hindusim for. ‘Reservation’ is reverse casteism. One wins and loses by virtue of birth. It is fallacious to condemn a multicoloured religion on this count when its own shards use its perceived faults to exploit the goodie basket. More to the point, where there is too much infighting, the enemy gets a field day.

One must create a sense of belonging and allegiance in the community through active practice before expecting that community to know how to channel the plurality of options available to it in moments of crisis. There is too much misinterpreted freedom in India, and that’s the problem.

Regarding the press coverage (elsewhere) of ‘systemic failure seen in India’s response to attacks’:
What??! It’s a poor country, for god’s sake. My only answer is to turn to the Brits and French and Dutch and Portuguese and say: gimme back my jewels! After being systematically depleted by colonization for 150 years, colonizing nations have the gall to say that a poor country was not prepared? That the world is indeed flat? Can you blame the colonized for still saying ‘Let’s have some of the pie back’!

True, they may be back in Café Leopold sipping tea or coffee. And what are they to do? These invaders have been coming since the fourteenth century. One gets tired of beating back the wave, eh?

Advocacy of restraint is wonderfully reminiscent of the man Gandhi never was. These 200 odd lives are not the only ones lost to macabre religions in India.  All the domestic incidents that never were reported (or Googled) because no one of significance was involved need to be added up. It is just that with 1.1 billion expendable (Third World, subaltern, poor, brown, infidel, pagan, impure, dead-burning, cow-worshipping) souls, no one notices.

In tired tolerance, in fear, in awe, one must survive, and subterraneously if needed.

True, some individuals of every nationality will never do much except to shake their heads and go on, some others will always privilege their own little cocoon (job, house, child’s education, retirement fund, money somewhere). Those are peacetime activities, appropriate to a part of the population some of the time. But this is not peacetime.

No, it is crisis for a place that has lost its best fighters. I do not mean the armed men. The brains and the money have all come to where the carrot of cornucopia dangles, where jobs shackle them into bonded labour, with no time to think and feel about the things that ravage the old places that made them.

As an Indian who has ‘left the shores’ I am guilty of taking all from a poor country and giving it all to a place which gives me more money. I am mercenary, and have forfeited the right to raise a finger against my old nation.

I, too, wish to rise above petty nationalism and devote my life to larger, more universal, humane causes—education, science, technology, trade. But where the ground beneath my feet is cut up by fire, should I retreat to my holy books in isolation?

I believe there are some among those who have departed who will be moved to action. It is for them that I look.

I believe India needs the two things we have taken from her—our minds and our money. Remittances will reach parity with debt when we realize our indebtedness to what we have left behind, each of us pious Dharmarajas on the way to a personal heaven.