india at miss universe

The first Miss Universe was held in 1952 at Long Beach, California, USA and India sent a representative in Indrani Rahman who failed to place.

The next time India sent a representative was 14 years hence in 1964 and since then India has always sent a representative except in the year 1988.

Between 1952 and 2015, there have been 64 Miss Universe contests and India has sent a total of 52 representatives out of which she has 22 placements – a strike rate of 42%.

Out of the 22 placements, India has 7 finalists – in the years 1966, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001. Out of those 7 finalists, India has 2 winners – in the years 1994 and 2000.

Below is a brief of the 7 Indian finalists (including the 2 winners) at Miss Universe.

yasmin daji, miss india universe 1996 finished 4th. The winner was from Sweden.

yasmin daji (extreme left), miss india universe 1966, finished 4th! the winner was from sweden!

madhu sapre, miss india universe 1992, finished 3rd! the winner was from namibia!

madhu sapre, miss india universe 1992, finished 3rd! the winner was from namibia!

namrata shirodkar, miss india universe 1993, finished 5th! the winner was from puerto rico!

namrata shirodkar, miss india universe 1993, finished 5th! the winner was from puerto rico!

sushmita sen, miss india universe 1994, was the winner that year!

sushmita sen, miss india universe 1994, was the winner that year!

manpreet brar, miss india universe 1995, finished 2nd! the winner was from USA!

manpreet brar, miss india universe 1995, finished 2nd! the winner was from USA!

lara dutta, miss india universe 2000, was the winner that year!

lara dutta, miss india universe 2000, was the winner that year!

celina jaitely, miss india universe 2001, finished 5th! miss puerto rico was the winner!

celina jaitely, miss india universe 2001, finished 5th! the winner was from puerto rico!

indrani rahamn, miss universe 1952! she participated in the first ever miss universe contest and was not placed!

indrani rahman, miss india universe 1952! she participated in the first ever miss universe contest and did not place! she is the only miss india universe who was married (in 1945 to habib rahman) at the time of participation and even had a child (sukanya rahman born in 1946)!


rising intolerance

The BJP has been under attack ever since its inception so the present outrage on the bogey of “rising intolerance” and “minorities living in fear” is hardly an aberration; just that since times are a bit difficult for certain people under Narendra Modi as the current PM, the tension is palpable and with a mostly biased media at disposal, pretty visible as well. Last summer, NDA won a decisive mandate during the elections for the Lok Sabha with the leading partner BJP alone collecting a majority – rare in a multi-party democracy like India. The BJP in general and Modi in particular has been the thorn of the eyes for many  – henceforth referred to as the club and mostly consisting of elements from the media, the art and entertainment industry, etc. and who have self-labelled themselves as liberals, seculars, progressive, intellectuals and the conscience keepers of India. Genuine criticism against BJP and Modi is rare and rather amazingly mostly provided by their supporters. What passes off as criticism by most others is unquantified hatred. The reasons put forth are the bogey of 2002 Gujarat riots, Hindu rashtra, rising intolerance, other daily or periodically manufactured outrages, etc. but in reality it’s the fear that with Modi at helm, the patronage they enjoyed otherwise will stop. Modi, unlike most others in the BJP, isn’t the kind of person who will co-opt the club and use them as a shock absorber in times of need. Modi is also a nationalist and unapologetic of the Hindu faith he practices. The club on the contrary has a visceral hatred for Hinduism and are biased towards Abrahamic faiths. It’s this hatred and biases that result in their hypocrisy.

I agree there are some motor mouths and outright stupid people even in the BJP who pay scant respect to the office or position they hold and speak utter garbage. There are others who work against the ideals espoused by the party or the government. There are still others who despite being loathed by the club display a weird sadistic affinity towards them. Nevertheless, overall, I don’t think of the BJP (particular under Modi) being digressive of the ideals I want it to stand for – providing employment opportunities, development sans corruption, ensuring law of the land, effective reach of governance and social equality. Yes, there definitely are things which I want the BJP to put more focus on – like conservation and getting rid of dogmatic laws, but I think if there is any government that will work in the interest of India it’s the one headed by the BJP. I have cultivated my support for the BJP over the past decade and after many changes and churning and I find it extremely nauseating that the club thrusts its opinions as if that’s the only thing which should matter. This attitude of “you minions should listen since it’s coming from me” is outright arrogant and ironically bourgeoisie.

Let’s talk a bit more about the hypocrisy of the club. The recent outrage by a section of writers, filmmakers and other assorted members of the club is against the “rising intolerance” under Modi as the PM. The various cases they mention are the murder of “rationalists” in Maharashtra and Karnataka, the standoff at FTII, the lynching of a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh for allegedly slaughtering a cattle and consuming its meat, the attack on a Dalit family in Haryana, etc. Do such isolated cases – often blown out of proportion and misreported, really translate to “rising intolerance” under Modi? What data has been presented by the club in favour of their argument? Nothing actually but it has to be true since it’s coming from the club. If anything, they are unduly influencing the law of the land. This though is not new. Like I spoke earlier, the club has always come together when their interests are at stake and has tried to influence others under their weight to get rid of a government that isn’t patronizing. Unfortunately, with the advent of Social Media, the weight of their opinions has been much reduced and getting redundant. I know it hurts them hard but it’s a truth they have to accept sooner or later.

Yes, I enjoy the works of many from the club but I am not entitled to be a party to their naked biases. Many from the club are there because of benefaction and consequently a lot of their worth is puerile at best. The club has told us several times that when one from them speaks you ought to listen and feel sorry for your choices. Isn’t it weird? Why am I supposed to listen to them sans questioning? Amazingly, inquiring the blatant biases or the hidden politics of the club is termed as a vicious attack on their freedom of speech. I have always maintained, the only freedom of speech the club members want is for themselves. People questioning them are blocked, called names, sidelined as fringe and their worth questioned. The club wants a monopoly on opinions, narrative and agendas.

In a truly intolerant government, nobody gets to speak about the intolerance via countless media bytes, TV interviews, articles, etc. The only truly intolerant government in independent India was the one headed by Indira Gandhi. She was the one to impose Emergency from June, 1975 to March, 1977. If any intolerance is worth talking about now, it’s the intolerance of those who hate Modi and the government he heads.

I agree, every attack on an individual and the liberties allowed by the law of the land is condemnable and the perpetrators should be found out and punished. Even if a person commits a wrong, the sole authority of awarding punishment rests with the judiciary and not self-appointed guardians of the country. The problem per se is not with protests against tolerance. On the contrary, it’s always a nice thing to do that. The problem is with the reason offered by the club. Where is the “rising intolerance”? What substantiates that minorities are living in fear? What proves the government is against dissent or is curbing creativity? The problem is also with the timing. This act of protesting selectively divides the society even more than it joins. It creates a sense of paranoia. Muslim deaths have happened in the past as well. Dalit deaths have happened in the past as well. The club though rises up in protest only when they have to put the BJP in the dock. If anything, ever since India achieved independence some of the most glaring atrocities have been ignored by the so-called conscience keepers of the nation. Some of these include the murder of Sikhs in the aftermath of the assassination of the then PM Indira Gandhi in 1984 and the murder of Kashmiri Pundits in the early 1990s. Also ignored by the club (both in the past and the present) are the daily murders of Hindus and the persecution of anyone who is critical of the Abrahamic faiths.

When the BJP won the people’s mandate last year by garnering more than 30% of popular vote, some of the club members said that nearly 70% are still against it. The proposition is laughable but that’s how the club narrative works. How many times was the percentage of votes against INC in the Lok Sabha elections of 2004 and 2009 mentioned by the club? By the same argument, why hasn’t the club calculated the percentage of writers, filmmakers, et al who still haven’t returned their awards? They don’t do it because it will give them a rude shock of perspective. Personally, it doesn’t matter to me. I am guided by my own reasoning and logic and not by the “percentage” of awards returned. I leave others to decide for themselves.

the bike, the shoe and tears

Nirved was a young and ambitious man doing engineering from a reputed college. His college had a policy that students who had their homes within a radius of 40 km can opt to not stay at the college hostel and come from their homes instead. This policy was a boon for Nirved’s family because the additional fee of keeping Nirved in a hostel would have been difficult considering Nirved had 3 sisters all of whom were studying in different colleges and Nirved’s father was the only earning member of the family. Nirved nonetheless was a brilliant student and he was sure he would get a decent job during the on-campus recruitment drive. He wanted to spend more time on studies but it took him almost 4 hours daily to commute to college and then back home. He had been telling his father to get him a bike but his father was unable to buy one for him and this made Nirved very angry. Nirved assumed his father didn’t understand his condition and was in no mood to buy what he wanted and was just postponing the idea.

Few months later, Nirved got placed in a multinational company and everyone was very happy. Soon he was out of college and got his offer letter. The place of his work was even further from home and he still didn’t have a bike. He kept on cursing his father for not gifting him a bike. The thought of going to office navigating the traffic snarls of a big city and then back home was something which irked Nirved. He joined office and saw that most of his colleagues either had a bike or a car. He was the only one in his team who used to commute using public transportation.

Months passed and Nirved still didn’t have a bike. One day he decided it was enough. He thought he would stay as a paying guest near office to cut on the commute time. It meant Nirved will have to pay for the new place and since it was in the city the rent was high. His parents convinced him to not shift to a new location but Nirved was adamant.

The day he had to move, he was already late for office and by mistake he wore his dad’s trouser and shoes. He rushed to the bus station but hardly had he walked some distance on the pitched road when his heels began to hurt. He realized it was his father’s shoes he was wearing and a small nail that was nailed to keep the shoe together had come out. Since he was already late he continued walking towards the bus stop. A few steps more and he felt his socks were wet. He lifted his leg and noticed that the shoe soles had almost peeled off. The water on the road had seeped through the holes to wet his socks. He nonetheless continued to the bus station.

When the bus conductor asked for the ticket price Nirved took out the wallet from his back pocket and realized it was not his but his father’s. He opened it up and instead of finding money saw only a few paper slips. Nirved kept some money in his office bag and paid for the ticket but thought of inspecting his father’s wallet. The first slip was of a Dell laptop reading which Nirved realized that Rs 15,000 was still left to be paid for it. He was the one using the laptop since college. He took out the second slip which was a note from the place where his dad worked. On the top of the note was written “Hobby Day” to which his father had replied, “Collecting and wearing new shoes.” Only today morning when Nirved’s mother told Nirved’s father to buy a new shoe for himself he told her this one (which Nirved was wearing now) would last for at least 6 months more. Nirved’s eyes swelled with tears.

He took out the last slip which was a newspaper cutting of a bike exchange scheme. Nirved’s dad had an old motorcycle which along with Rs 50,000 could be exchanged for a new bike. The day of the exchange was today in the afternoon. Tears kept rolling through Nirved’s eyes all this while. He got down the bus at the next stop, took a taxi back home, reached for his father and hugged him tightly. He kept crying profusely and told his dad that he will not move to the city and he doesn’t need a bike either.

This is a short story – a token of appreciation for my father, inspired by a WhatsApp message i received today.

who needs to get a life?

Belur Math – located in Belur, Howrah district, West Bengal, is the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission. There are several shrines inside the math but the main one is dedicated to Ramakrishna Paramhansa. The grand monument was consecrated on 14th January, 1938 and was built with the infusion of Hindu, Islamic, Christian and Buddhist motifs. The mission is the cultural and spiritual center of everything involving Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna Paramhansa. It runs schools and hospitals in many places across India. It is also involved in various charity and social upliftment events. The place holds special significance for Indians, especially those from West Bengal. Since the place is very close to the place I stay in India I have been there on countless occasions and every time it provides me the peace to look for answers that I need. It’s a serene place located on the bank of River Hooghly and is usually full of pilgrims from across the India.

the ramakrishna temple inside belur math (source: google)

On 3rd March, 2015, around evening and some time before the math closes for public, there were a couple of blasts near the second entrance. From what I know it was at the place where devotees assemble to keep their shoes before having a dekho of the entire campus. Sources have claimed the blasts to be because of crude bombs or powerful fire crackers. Some sources also mention the presence of metal pieces. The impact was strong enough to break some window panes. There was obviously some pandemonium and security was beefed up. Thankfully no one was injured but in lieu of the Burdwan incident it’s important that every angle is investigated to assure the public.

I don’t believe in creating unnecessary hysteria to unnerve the public but I believe in factual reporting of incidents. Considering the importance of a place like Belur Math, obviously media should have reported about the incident but most people came to know about it from either Facebook or Twitter. Some media outlets picked up the incident but as a non-issue and the attitude of most celebrity journalists was the same. Most surprisingly, a Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP, Derek O’Brien, whose party runs the government in West Bengal dissed at the “twitter armies” for making “mountains out of mole hills”. I expected him to be a bit more sensitive towards the issue. According to him people discussing the Belur Math blasts didn’t have a life and he even ended the tweet with a happy smilie. I expected him to be a bit sensible too but alas.


Since we don’t know the details of the blasts we can’t say anything and since we can’t say anything we can’t dismiss the blasts altogether. The best thing to do would have been to assure the public that there is nothing to worry and that the government is probing all angles. Derek could have said that the situation is under control and requested the junta to not spread rumors but what did he do instead?

Now coming to the point of making mountains out of mole hills.

In December, 2014, there was a fire in St Sebastian Church, Dilshad Garden, Delhi. It was an unfortunate incident and since the church suspected arson an SIT was established by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Derek O’Brien still went on a frenzy. He has a right to get horrified and angry and sad and join all-faith dharnas but he could also have been composed and responsible and wait until the result of the SIT was out.



Nonetheless, moving on.

In January, 2015, there was a fire in Church of Resurrection, Rohini, Delhi. The police suspected it to be a case of accidental fire by short-circuit but what did Derek O’Brien do? He again raised a frenzy of another church “burnt down”? Really? Had the result of the SIT on the St. Sebastian incident come out and it has been established that it was burnt down by some miscreants? I believe no, so how was Mr O’Brien so sure that even this church was “burnt down” and not a case of accidental fire. For all we know, even the St. Sebastian fire may be accidental.



Nonetheless, moving on.

There were a few more incidents of drunken dare and burglary at some Delhi churches and Christian schools but by now Derek O’Brien had rigidly assumed that all these incidents had a “pattern” and were incidents of “targeted violence”. He obviously did not tell us the source and reasoning of his assumptions. He suspected the timing and wondered if it was to polarise the polls. You must be wondering if the Trinamool Congress was contesting the Delhi Assembly election. Oh, come on. They were concerned about the prospects of fellow secular friend Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party.





So I am wondering who is the one not having a life and creating mountains out of molehills. And if Derek O’Briend thinks that temples across India are not vandalized and priests either killed or terrorized on a frequent basis then he is living a life of ignorant bliss or he has been reading a selected few newspapers and watching a selected few news channels.

the turning point

Year: 2001

Event: Farewell school picnic before ICSE

I was this lonely guy sitting alone in the bus with only my mathematics teacher for company and a diary where I took notes. I had a few friends but nobody wanted to stay with me during the picnic. I was a terribly silent guy with thick glasses, shabby sense of clothing, bad personality and no pocket money. I was bad at humor and girls came to me only for the excellent notes I made. I was the class topper and who wouldn’t want a piece of me but everything ended there. I was the most peculiar person on earth. While every student was in a group, enjoying, eating and taking pictures I stood silently roaming around alone.

Year: 2003

Event: Higher Secondary

I was already on the verge of appearing for my ISC and a potential topper again but had started bunking school and went to far-away places on the pretext of various school competitions. I had made a few friends and stopped talking to the note-hungry girls who nonetheless looked more like buffaloes. I did a bit of talking but only when I considered important. My personality was still bad. Thick and ugly glasses had replaced the Gandhi glasses I wore earlier. I was not confident of myself and feared the world. I stayed confined with my books and newspaper and rarely went out. I read about the world and its people rather than actually exploring it but I could feel a change within. I met a wonderful person (Dinesh) the same year who is now one of the most important parts of my life and about whom I will need to write a book someday. Pages of blogs won’t do justice to the wonderful person that he is.

Year: 2004

Event: Visit to my native place after giving my last competitive exam, AIEEE

This was the first time I was out of home alone and was accompanied by a friend (Prem) from school who took tuitions from my dad and lived nearby. He said he had never imagined in his life that he would be friends with me, the class topper. I was amused and embarrassed. He took me to his home town where from I came back many a miles to my own native place all alone. I was gaining confidence. Prem was full of humor and good at socializing. I was slowly learning the tricks. He was a back-bencher and the teachers hated him and scolded me for being friends with him but now I cared the least.

Year: 2005

Event: Xavotsav, St. Xavier’s annual college fest

I was in the second year of my engineering from a government college where the most unfashionable and plain species resided and which did no good to my already sagging and sedentary lifestyle. I had a friend (Divyansh) from St Xavier’s who was perhaps the worst one can be in studies but a great teacher. He had invited Prem and me for the event and I went wearing an over-sized shirt and a brown pant. I had thick glasses hiding my eyes, an unshaved face, a torn and unpolished shoe and seeing the multitude of smart people around I bet this was the most uncomfortable I had felt in my life so far. I was awestruck looking at the gorgeous girls there. The loud music, the stage show by REMIX, a DJ night and a dinner at a posh restaurant had left me numb. I refused to dance, refused to drink, ate little, behaved unusual, talked to none of Divyansh’s friends, came home and promised myself never to go to such events ever again. A similar lifestyle continued. Years later, I became friends with one of the guys I had met there (Anthony) who talked only in the Queen’s language. I was always good in the language but that guy gave me the power to use it with ease and told me, “Do you even realize you are living a life you shouldn’t be?”

Year: 2006

Event: Durga puja at Maddox Square

I came to this place with a school friend (Vivek) who lived nearby but since he had gotten into a different college we were not in touch for almost three years. I was in my third year of college and he a year senior. I felt peculiar coming to that place as it was so much full of people. Vivek met some friends and a couple of good-looking girls. I behaved eccentric, was dressed as bad as one can be and had the slightest idea of how to bowl over a girl. That night while returning Vivek told me that he knows I was good in studies and wrote good English but the time was ripe I come out of my cocoon and face the world. I stayed quite but listen I did. Those words I remember like it happened only yesterday.

Year: 2007

Event: Navratri, Durga puja at Nicco Superbowl

I was in the final year of college and had gone for a DJ Dandiya night with a gang of friends. I was heavily drunk and danced uncontrollably. We had great fun that night and I stayed over at my friend’s place after reaching his house way past midnight. We had been having unlimited fun over the past few days. It was festival time and I was enjoying. Dressed smartly, with the confidence of the world I was a changed man. I did behave odd sometimes but my friends would spring up and take matters under control.

Year: 2009

Event: Project picnic at Mandarmani Beach

My friends had moved to different parts of the nation and I was working for a multinational for about a year now. Only a couple of years back I had thought that I would never be able to survive in a people’s industry but I did. The picnic was great fun. That night again, it was time for making merry with lots to drink, good music and good food. I danced like mad yet again, shivered in the chilling dark night but didn’t give a damn. I was living life which I didn’t earlier.

Year: 2010

The time is now. I have seen much in life and emerged out stronger and wiser from the person I was back then. My friends (Prem, Dinesh, Vivek, Divyansh, Anthony, and Amaresh) have been the greatest influence of my life besides my own parents. They have taught me just by being with me all this while. There is a different part of me which has struggled a good deal in life and that has made me strong but had it not been for my friends I wouldn’t have been this complete. I now make merry like hell, have opened up to the world, charm girls with ease, crack jokes and the dirtiest of them all, dress smartly, drink and eat almost anything but am still the demure guy who has an aspiration to reach the sky and who will never forget his roots. It was a slow but a sure process. I am a lot confident now and have moments to treasure for a lifetime.

How can I forget the countless adda sessions on the bank of river Hooghly, the umpteen long drives to far-away places, the minutes of differences and disagreements, the DJ nights, the eating out, the Durga puja, the lessons given by them which never looked like lessons at all, the time spent together and what not?

Change is inevitable they say and for me that was brought about by my friends. There are many such small instances and many people yet unreported owing to constraints but am thankful to all who changed my life.

maid and modi

my parents have been away at bangalore for almost a month now but these days i can pretty much take care of myself and even keep the whole home tidied up! though, for the days my younger sister was here she used to take good care of dad and me despite being busy with her training at salt lake! not to mention i idolize all my sisters – their avergae IQ notwithstanding 😛

in absence of mom, consequently i have been interacting with the lady who works at our home quite often (i do night regular so please don’t ask how come i stay at home when the maid comes) and got to know quite a few things from her! the person i am, i keep her updating with some of the happenings in india! and she shares the nityy-gritty of her own life with me!

few days back she told me that because she comes to work all decked up her neighbors taunt her saying, “ban than ke to aise rehti ho jaise office ja rahi ho” (your dress as if you are going to work in an office)! felt bad that we still have people with such dogmatic mentality! no work is to be looked upon as menial – even if it is cleaning the drain or toilet! leave that, i told her not to pay attention to such useless and ugly comments and that she should be always proud of the fact that she is a hard working individual earning her money and contributing towards the education of her only son – another thing that her son is more interested in cricket than studies!

the other day someone from “vatko punja seva samity” came knocking at my door for donation! i can donate to organizations i trust like greenpeace, RSS, RKM etc else i am always doubtful! nonetheless when he mentioned RKM and lal baba ashram (a famous ashram of a bandit turned spiritual guru at belur) i gave him some money! our maid asked me if i had donated and when i told i did she told me that had dad been around he wouldn’t have! i told her that dad is skeptical about people asking for charity much more than me! there are many organizations who on the name of charity are involved in various nefarious activities (religious conversions being primary)! i told her that i donate regularly per my capacity and did so even for the uttarakhand victims! she smiled and told me that couple of years back someone had come to her saying that if she converts to christianity her son would be given admission in don bosco, liluah! she had refused the offer saying she can’t do that! it was her personal decision! i told her when governance is bad such people doing business on the name of religion will definitely crop up to exploit the vulnerable and not everyone can stick to faith when stomachs and school-bags are empty!


then i came to hear of the mid-day meal tragedy at bihar’s mashrakh block, saran district that rocked the nation! i don’t know if it really rocked this indifferent nation united it is as such only by cricket! even the monumental tragedy at uttarakhand had failed to move many! nonetheless, after the serial blasts at bodh gaya this was surely more bad news for nitish kumar! the very next day naxalites killed some half-a-dozen policemen at aurangabad district! nitish kumar is a shrewd political and whether his skullduggery pays off will be seen later but his government was quick to dismiss the tragedy as political tragedy and tongues started wagging out! the reference was obviously to narendra modi! this nation of hypocrites who hide behind masks of intelligentsia, secularism and stature fail every test of sanity when it comes to narendra modi! leave it! papers next reported that the food was perhaps poisoned (accidentally or deliberately is not known) but the principal of the fateful school and her husband are active members of RJD, and incidentally lalu prasad yadav is the MP from saran (formerly chhapra)! the forensic report is awaited but a country where the prime investigating agency is a compromsied CBI i have become much like a doubting thomas! 😐

when i told about the loss of so many innocent and precious lives to our maid she told her own stories of agony! her son is also enrolled in the bharatiya high school (liluah) where they provided mid-day meal till class 4 but the food used to be so bad that she never allowed her son to eat from there! she accused the anganwadi people of appropriating the stock and selling it in the open market and replacing it with the worst quality of grains which even beggars will refuse to take- all this for a few more money! human greed is unparalleled! her son is now in class 8! i asked her if they give books for free! she told me that they are supposed to but the principal charged rs 2000 from her the last and when she went to have a word with him he dismissed her saying he doesn’t want to talk to her! her husband went next but came disappointed! i felt very helpless – being an educated person what am i doing for the society except writing notes here? can’t we form a citizen’s group and help such vulnerable sections of the society! but what can i do? i have office to attend and my own personal work! i am left with very little time at the end of the day! the roads in my area are more of man-holes but what have i been able to do – nothing! the auto-wallahs are operating as criminal gangs and what have i been able to do – nothing! i did tweet about it to derek o’brien but he cried helplessness! i feel alone! i need to do something!

and then we had a congress, their allies and spin masters in media so busy with their demonization of narendra modi! digivijaya singh came up with a blog detailing his pilgrimages, temple visits and all that and challenged if anyone from RSS was more hindu than him! i was like wtf is this man talking! agree that RSS is not an authority on hinduism or nationalism but neither is digvijaya singh! i dont believe in name calling but actions speak more than blogs! the hypocrisy of people like digivijay singh is what defines him not his pilgrimages and prayers! furthermore, people like him reinforce the false notion that hinduism is all about temples and idol-worshipping! not at all! faith is about goodness not anything else! prayers and all that are just one aspect and not the defining one! i have been visiting the RSS sakha for almost 6 months now and i have never known people discussing religion – it’s always nation building! it’s always about community building! but a nation that diets on stale and unchallenged tales of secularism an communalism deserves as much – digvijaya singh and his rants!

then there was a “furore” and “outrage” over modi’s “puppy analogy”, “hindu nationalist” and “burqa of secularism” remark! i failed to decipher where except in congress lobbies, partisan english media and the english newspapers (most if not all)! this has been happening for so long now that all this appears a big joke! i am admittedly a fan of narendra modi and this is for multiple reasons but he has got to be careful with some of the data he cites! despite the criminal demonization and discrimination for over a decade now which invloved the ruling government, NGOs, self-appointed guardians of communal harmony, et al he has the guts to come out and speak and amaze! he invokes optimism amidst such depressing times – he inspires me in more than one ways! the man surely has something (will write about it some day) that he has changed a person like me – from one who used to hate him while in college to one who admires him 5 years hence!

yesterday my cousin brother came and blocked my debit card! today i had to go to the bank for getting the PIN renewed! in the age of netbanking i felt like an alien going there! my parents are coming home in a few days and i am so excited! there is so much to do! adios!

roll up! the jokers have arrived

Few days back, some Grand Mufti named Bashiruddin, issued a fatwa on Kashmir’s first all-girl band Pragaash for a gamut of things, primary of which was music being haraam and what followed was a volley of accusations, counter-accusations, threats, debates, apologies with some even saying the mufti is “highly unpopular” and “fringe”. Ok! Kashmir surely must be a nice place with all those fringe elements, lakes, rivers, mountains, kafirs, military men, moderate, semi-moderate, good and bad separatist-cum-jehadis, terrorists crossing LoC from PoK, azadi wannabes crossing LoC from Indian Kashmir (Arundhati Roy will surely not approve of this name) to PoK, stone pelters, apple and saffron growers, boat riders of the dal lake et al. I have somewhat followed Kashmir’s history and those of the apologists too and I am convinced of things so this is not about me but about an article I read in Tehelka. It was the usual pom-pom of a circus media calling itself circus (that maybe gives them some sympathy but further robs them of credibility). I have been reading Tehelka for over a year now and yes I like it for their tight and uppity articles but they are often mundane and predictable. But I can deal with it.

I am seriously in need of some time. Today morning at a public meeting (where we do communal exercises like Surya Namaskara and stuff) a gentlemen told me to prioritize things (family first they told me clubbed with society and nation followed by ambition and friends with the clichéd cup of tea too) and writing a blog to express my disgust over a Tehelka article comes last but then if one has to fill up (like the proverbial last drop of water in a jar full of sand) one has to write and so here it goes.

Mr Junaid says, “Media cherry pick evidence, real or concocted, that might link Kashmiris to religious fanaticism. Such misrepresentations are then hurled back at Kashmiris to delegitimize their political struggle”. Well, nothing could be more absurd than this. Media definitely cherry picks events and by giving you the space to write an apology for Kashmiris, it further reinforces it, so when you say that “it’s a media circus” I kind of agree but would have more had you instead said, “media is a circus”! Media has been propagating lies on particular people, events and organizations to brand them fanatics so it must not hurt when one gets back the same dirt one throws on others. Again I am reminded of a proverb, “so you sow shall you reap”. And no brother, the mufti’s self-righteous diktats can’t be called misrepresentations but assertions and why would anyone pick that to delegitimize Kashmir’s “political struggle” when at least I for sure know what it stands for and how it takes shape and course. So, if you chose to link the mufti’s blahs with fanaticism of Kashmiris you are again reinforcing the same lies media propagates. What I think of Kashmiris is independent of what the mufti dictates. Or are you freezing my pressed doubts on what the Kashmir struggle is really about? Leave it at that!

a "fringe" law expert

a “fringe” element

You further say, “Most Kashmiris don’t have access to social media. The broad brushes of generalization, however, which work in tandem with stereotypes against Muslim societies, paint all of them as uniformly extremist.” Again, peddling nonsense via a media rag and blaming the media. I am reminded of Rahul’s drab Chintan Shivir speech which blamed the party of many a evils yet the man loves it all the more! I really don’t know why you needed to say most Kashmiris don’t have access to social media. The Kashmiris who abused the members of Pragaash (for being shameless and unislamic amongst other things) definitely had. Many elsewhere in India don’t have access to internet too. So what? Why was this needed to be said unless of course you want to do something for them “as a young man and not just as a citizen of India” (bad humor I am sure). We don’t paint the Muslim society as a homogeneous one, neither the Kashmiris for that matter but we know who does what. Stereotyping suits best for the media and works for them and unsurprisingly in the apology you write this gets repeated. We deal in specifics. And yes, the stereotypes against Muslims are blown best by media – they love Muslim ghettoisation because it helps them put blame on the Chief Minister of a certain state for “malnutrition” (someone must be proud of me) amongst “other” things.

oh! well! fringe!

oh! well! fringe!

And then you throw a bouncer when you write, “The Indian media has rarely taken the issue of free speech in Kashmir seriously!” Oh yes, am sure Tehelka is from Tahiti. Or haven’t you read those mammoth articles by Ms Arundhati Roy or editions of The Hindu the day after Afzal Guru was executed or those poor-terrorists and cruel-Indian-army documentaries? Most of Indian media highly sanitizes news related to Kashmir and repeatedly peddles nonsense to suit agendas which serve mysterious people (wish I were Sherlock Holmes for a while). Hereby I take the pleasure of showing some “issues” (a better and more specific version has apparently been moved from You Tube) which the Indian media definitely didn’t show! I agree, shame on Indian media!

It’s time for lunch and I have already devoted so much time to your writings and yes, what exactly differentiates a pro-freedom guy, a pro-azadi guy and a separatist guy? You advice the media to report the “complexities” of Kashmiri society! Well, media creates complexities, doesn’t report them per se! You further spin the apology to give it some shape by relating the volley of hate and criticism for Pragaash since the event was organized by CRPF! Oh, well, you wanted it organized by JKLF instead? Or whom? You didn’t say that!

peace to the "martyr"! too much for me to say!

peace to the “martyr”! too much for me to say!

Peace be upon Kashmir! Peace be upon India! And no, despite all the persuasion and brain-washing I am still not convinced that Afzal Guru was given an unfair trial and that he is a “martyr” or that the mufti is a “fringe”!