Indyeah has resurfaced with another long (no surprises there!), well-meaning post that asks why we seem to be Punjabis, Jats, Malayalis, Yadavs, Dalits and Kannadigas, but not Indians. A post written, I suspect, more in hope, idealism and perhaps frustration than anything else.

So, who is an Indian? Ask me. I really don’t belong anywhere – including the place where my ancestors lived. At any place in India, wherever I go, my identity and acceptance –and therefore my ability to function as a normal human – seem to hinge on my speaking a particular language, or my belonging to a certain caste, a certain religion, a certain ethnicity. The boundaries of identity that we have been drawing around ourselves seem to be getting tighter and tighter, as we discover reason after reason for some new fissure, a fresh fracture. Ironically, the only place within India where I will be labelled and identified (and therefore hated) as Indian is Kashmir.

I don’t see this changing. If anything, I see these fissures getting wider and deeper. Why, you ask? Well, for one, constitutionally-guaranteed-right-to-work-anywhere-in-India or not, migration will always happen. Both from within the country and outside. We might grow from 6 cities that are economic magnets, for instance, to 12 cities that attract the bulk of the migrants. But the flow of migrants is not going to stop – at most, it might ease somewhat. Then there’s this wonderful concept of identity, honed to a fine art in this country called India. The politics of identity feeds on the concept of the ‘other’. My thesis is that migration will not stop. Ergo, the conclusion is that neither will the politics of identity. Not here, not anywhere. But here’s what’s worse – even if I am wrong, and migration does stop, the politics of identity will never go away. If there’s no ‘other’ from ‘outside’, well, a new ‘other’ will be created, from the existing, deceptively homogeneous mass. There will always be new players who will want power and a piece of the pie – and they will slice and dice identities until, quite literally, there might come a day when the politics of identity will reach ridiculous levels. You know, when we have political parties like the Mylapore Dravida Nadar Catholic Kazhagam, or the Nizamuddin East Punjabi Hindu Khatri Janata Vikas Manch.

And don’t think I’m trying to be funny here. (Well, maybe a little…). But isn’t it true that we have moved into an era of even greater fragmentation, where everyone seems to be getting violently agitated about the same things – caste, language, religion, region – but in a more granular way? Witness the rise of the sub-categories: sub-castes, dialects, sects, sub-sects and sub-ethnicities.

Of course, we will have the usual apologists who dole out the same tired clichés about how great India is notwithstanding all this…their arguments (and that’s being charitable) seem to be in the form of ‘only 60 years, so much progress, growing economy, survived global recession, hum honge kaamyab, superpower’ without looking at either our trajectory or the direction in which we are heading.

A bunch of businessmen getting richer and entering the global list of billionaires is great. The emergence of a middle class more prosperous than the previous generation is wonderful. A million or so bloggers having collective orgasms about India’s place in the world is fantastic. But we seem to forget that timelines have been seriously crunched in this age we live in. Each generation demands faster and quicker change. All this optimism – we shall overcome, we are the best and other such infantile fantasies – does not seem to have much basis in reality, unless of course the reality is that these optimists live in a mythical India far, far way from the dust, grime and poverty of the real one. The real India in which – depending on which definition you use – around a third of the population lives in poverty. The real India in which a great part of the country is wracked by a deeply-entrenched and violent Maoist insurgency. The real India where half the children are underweight. The real India where the forgotten millions live, struggling to make ends meet, without access to water or basic health care. Did I mention primary education? This cheery list could go on.

But Indyeah’s article was more an attempt to find solutions. Well, to be proud of being Indians, we first need to be proud of India. And we can be proud of a better India. So there we go. That’s the ultimate question, as far as we are concerned. Do you want Better India? Yes. Can we expect anything good from Our Great Rulers? No. So now it’s down to us.

I believe small things can make a difference. While Indians don’t give back to society and are not philanthropists in any sense of the word, we could – and should – guide the next generation in that direction. We can just start by behaving like good citizens. Let’s be courteous to our fellow citizens – in small ways, in the way that we dispose off our trash, in the way we drive, in the way we stand in queues and generally in the way we behave, especially in public areas. Let’s teach our children these small things. Perhaps they’ll be better people than us. Better People.

Pay for an underprivileged child’s education – fees, books, the works. Any child in your immediate vicinity. Ideally, as far as resources and time permit, do more than that – take an interest in her education. Monitor her progress. Interact with her. Hopefully, that child will learn something other than what is in books, and perhaps the India of 2030 might be a slightly better place than the one of today – and that’s not really a big ask!

I truly believe this is something small enough to easily do, but big enough to matter.

(The Original Cynical QI Will Be Back In The Next Post)


Ritu thinks my blog is brilliant.

No, seriously. She does, and she’s given me an award to prove it. Woo-hoo!

So thank you Ritu! Now, according to the rules (dere’s allus dem damn rulz!), I need to write a post with my own list of 7 brilliant blogs, and notify each of the lucky winners by leaving a comment on their sites …..each of whom has to then contact seven others and so on…..comprends?

Trivia for the mathematically inclined – a little delving into memories of schooldays past tells me that this is an example of a divergent geometric series which, to the best of my knowledge, does not have a finite sum. Specifically, it is of the form ∑xⁿ where x ε I, x>1 and n ε I, n≥0, x being the number of people whose blogs are nominated in each round – 7 in this case – and n the number of rounds, and xⁿ thus giving the number of happy bloggers in round n.

For the rest of us mere mortals, what this means is that if all goes according to plan, round 8 of these awards should mean that a total of 5,764,801 happy bloggers would have been told their blogs are brilliant. If we assume a consistent ‘leakage’ of approximately a third of each person’s 7 respondents never carrying this forward, we still have 2,441,406 bloggers who would have been given the good news at the end of round 9. That’s a seriously large number of happy bloggers! (That must take care of every blogger around – and her aunt!)

So let’s all aim to make Blogosphere a happier place. As my contribution to this quest, here are the 7 blogs (in alphabetical order) that I think are brilliant. I have chosen blogs that are not part of my blogroll, because if you’re part of my blogroll, it already means I think your blog is brilliant!

Abha – hi-octane mum

Anshul – cartoon man

Balu – quiet blogger from Bangalore

Dave and Jenny – two New Yorkers in The Dally!

Liam and Conall – humour from the UK and humor from the USA

Rambodoc – funny medicine that packs a wallop

Vaibhav – tech tips and more

Congratulations, people! Go out and spread the cheer.

I recently came across quite a few articles that talk about the removal and/or dilution of various sex-ed initiatives proposed in India. That’s great news. Why should our young be exposed to these unspeakable, filthy things? Is it a conspiracy by a foreign power? Is this the new weapon in the arsenal of the terrorists – do they want to corrupt our young? Okay, enough facetiousness.

There will be no mention of condom or safe sex in the revised module on life-skill education programme. But we will be focusing on the aspirations of the youngsters and will also talk about being faithful to one’s partner and abstinence. There should be no hypocrisy on the subject,” said Sujatha Rao, Director-General of the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO). She was talking about a new, revised and “acceptable” sex education module devised by NACO for school students. I like the bit where she says there should be no hypocrisy on the subject. That’s rich. Irony is obviously something the good Ms. Rao is completely unfamiliar with. And abstinence – that’s a hoot. So what is the safe-sex module going to say? “Boys and girls – here’s the best way to, ummm, you know, uhhh, ‘be intimate’…….don’t be!” And people say Indians don’t have a sense of humour!

“We want our children to have good character. There is no need to give them sex education. The way it is taught is not good,” said Bashir Patel, Leader, NCP, reacting to a proposal (since put in cold storage) by the government of Maharashtra to introduce sex-ed in schools. Was there something in the module that suggested lab practicals? What’s this guy so het up about?

I suppose Ms. Rao and Mr. Patel would rather have their children learn from porn films (which will forever warp their minds about – among other things – size, endurance and the quorum for a sexual encounter….), or from the wonderfully educative sites on the internet, which, in keeping with modern teaching methods, also rely on pictures and graphics (pun intended!) to get the point across. And there are some kids who learn about sex the old-fashioned way – from books and magazines. Or from equally ignorant friends, whose sources of information are: (i) porn films (ii) the net (iii) the old-fashioned way and (iv) some other friend.

So the young and the confused come away with varied notions of sex, and necessarily see it as a furtive, clandestine exercise that is not to be talked about. An undercover operation. (Bad one, I know!) So they never really get to know what safe sex is. (Locker room conversations are about sex, not safe sex, and has anyone ever seen a porn flick where safe sex was practiced? I mean, all the films teach is that there’s no place or position unlikely enough to have sex in.) They never get to understand contraception, pregnancy and how that happens, periods, ovulation, night-fall, boners, masturbation, sexual-orientation, diseases…nothing. They are never taught that it’s something to be shared, and something to be enjoyed, albeit with responsibility. And if they haven’t heard of contraception in a city like Mumbai – here’s an interesting article on the increased incidence of abortions during the Navratri period – one can only imagine the depths of sexual ignorance in the rest of the country.

Contrast this with what the Brits are doing. They are dealing with another problem. That of a breakdown in domestic communications. According to a report commissioned by the British Department for Children, Schools and Families, the breakdown of conversation in the home had contributed to a surge in teenage pregnancy rates because it left youngsters vulnerable to influences from peers and the media. The recommendation? Parents should watch raunchy scenes from steamy TV soaps to initiate conversations about sex and relationships with their teens. Hmmmmm. Wonder what our politicians would say to that suggestion?

Isn’t it surreal to hear statements like the ones from Ms. Rao and Mr. Patel in a country where 2.5 million people are estimated to be HIV positive and/or have AIDS? Where 15% of all pregnancies are those of teenagers? Where urbanization and the breakdown of traditional family structures have resulted in a freedom that Indian youth didn’t really know earlier, a freedom that unfortunately is still coupled with ignorance?

Why are we so uptight about sex? I mean, as Russell Peters said “We don’t ever want to talk about sex, yet we’re the second largest population in the world… SOMEBODY’S FUCKING!”

Indeed somebody is. And probably without any idea of contraception or safe sex.