Sartre’s Typhus

March 29, 2020

I have seen many posts on Albert Camus’ The Plague (which I haven’t yet read) but haven’t come across any on Jean-Paul Sartre’s Typhus.

Sartre’s play, actually a screenplay, was also set during an epidemic in Malaysia.

I remember the opening scene when the last bus is about to leave an abandoned village. A Malay woman comes running towards it and people quarrel over whether they should wait for her lest they be infected by her with typhus.

The play also dealt with the selfishness of the rich and the racism of the colonialists during the epidemic, which does arrive in the city and there are many deaths. The protagonist is a discredited French doctor who fled a previous epidemic in Srilanka (I think) in desperation and is now living an unscrupulous life anonymously in the gutter. He reluctantly rises up to the challenge this time.

I don’t remember enough to write about it in further detail but I think it should be on your read list now. However it doesn’t seem to be a very popular book – I can’t find any pdf online and it’s unavailable on Amazon/Flipkart…I had borrowed the book from the government library a few years ago.

A French movie was apparently made based on this script in 1953 – The Proud and the Beautiful.

Unavoidable catastrophe – really?

March 29, 2020

Many seem to think it is an unexpected and unprecedented crisis and the government is doing the best it can and we should not be too hard on it. Without criticism, things would be worse.

It is certainly a catastrophe. But India, unlike many other countries, had more time to anticipate it and plan for it. We had the opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes and successes. Right from February and early March, many who were tracking the worldwide developments were anticipating a lock down of some sort in India. Even I was personally alerting my sister to go cautiously on her company’s aggressive plans for ads and meetings in March/April…I now tell her I told you so. In fact, some who I follow on Twitter were even advising against airlifting people from Wuhan and other places, saying we will not be able to control the spread and that China would handle them better in a closed area…whether it is right or not, the risks were pretty clear.

If individuals with limited visibility and knowledge gained through media reports could anticipate this much, I would expect the central government, with its huge battery of diplomats, bureaucrats, advisors and strategists and information, to have been prepared better. They should have been ready with the plan for economic relief and the modalities for delivering it, long before the lock down. They should have checked our readiness of doctors, equipment for them and our ability to do testing. They should have known that there are 100 million migrant workers and a lock down cannot be announced dramatically without addressing their concerns. Those who wanted to go home should either have been allowed to home after screening/testing, or massive shelters and food and compensation should have been arranged in advance.

Modi should have announced the economic relief and the plan for the homeless workers (whether it is enough or not is another question) along with the announcement of lock down. The government might still be given the leeway to slip and blunder in some aspects as it is impossible to get everything right but here they did not even try to plan. The task force was not formed for a full three or four days after Modi announced it. A lock down without telling people how to face it and equipping them to face it created more panic than it would have done otherwise.

Many state governments have somewhat saved the day for us so far, keeping other things under reasonable control. They have also made mistakes but at least they were seen to be trying. However, in our current structure where much money, power and information lie with the central government, they failed us. This migrant exodus is a disaster that could have been anticipated and averted to a great extent. It is not just the wisdom of hindsight but what many of us feared and warned before the lock down.

We are yet to see the commotion that could be unleashed when the relief measures are implemented. I don’t yet see a proper plan for that too….how will the food materials be delivered, how will people go to the banks, how will the crowd management be done at the banks, how will migrants who haven’t reached home benefit from these measures, and other such logistics.

If our data is correct (which is also suspect given our low levels of testing), it looks like corona has been kinder to us so far than our central government. And I hope it stays that way.

E-Box and the plight of small businesses

March 27, 2020

My sister & brother-in-law’s company. They have built E-box, a software product – an AI based learning platform. Completely bootstrapped and self-sustaining for the last 12 years. No loans, no VC funding so far. Absolutely passionate about reforming engineering education. They have managed to do this by hiring and mentoring students – many of them their own – mostly from the so-called tier 2/3 colleges.

It has taken this long for a small story on them to emerge on a popular media platform.

They had started the E-box Colleges initiative this year by taking over the management of 3 engineering colleges . Now their 200+ employees are at home and their clients locked down. They had planned to take their longest leap this year and now face their most challenging obstacle.

Hope they, and many more small businesses like them, get through this phase.

Sleeping in the open : Corona 2

March 27, 2020

Last night our daughter had some sudden brainwave and wanted to sleep in the open. I thought, staying within the four walls is no big deal – that’s what we are used to; let’s recollect what it means to sleep under the skies. It is almost summer and the weather should be pleasant. So we obliged happily. We took a few pillows, cotton blankets and straw mats to the open roof top of our house owner (since our house has a tiled roof).

It has been a while since I went to sleep before 12 or 1. The 10 o’clock sky had the Leo above our heads. Gemini, Canis Major and Canis Minor were under our noses. Orion was farther down our chins in the west and faint. I didn’t enjoy the sight for long and dozed off soon.

By 1 a.m. the pillows were damp. The mats were also moist. We were worried if our daughter will catch a cold. Woke her up and walked her down reluctantly inside the house, with the promise that we would sleep again for a few hours under the skies today.

Of course, we had a home to go back to.

Notes on Corona – 1

March 27, 2020

March 19, 2020

An important paper from the Imperial College on the impact of various interventions on the spread of corona. It is important for two reasons. One, it has helped change the approach of the British government in handling the crisis, which dallied with the dangerous idea of herd immunity so far. Two, it has shown that governments can be and should be made to change their course, though late, if people stand up to it and present contrary evidence. The paper shows, without any suppression strategy the resultant deaths could be in the order of 510,000 in Britain and 2.2 million in the US (peaking at 15-22 deaths every day for a population of 100,000 in May-June).

/Boris Johnson has urged the British public to take unprecedented peacetime measures, including avoiding all unnecessary contact and travel and staying away from pubs and theatres, following expert modelling which suggests the approach could cut the estimated coronavirus death toll from 260,000 to 20,000./…/pm-tells-britons-to-avoid-non…

This is a research specific to Britain and directly applicable to the US and other rich countries to an extent. It assumes vaccines are not going to be available for at least 18 months. It states that the economic costs have not not been considered. We need more such informed research for India that will help shape public policy and action. We need localized strategies that draw direction from international experiences. The efficacy of various suppression strategies like case isolation at home, voluntary home quarantine, social distancing of older people, social distancing of entire population and closure of schools/universities have been considered alone and in combination.

Should cities and villages practice the same level of social distancing? What will be the impact if we have community quarantines of villages with focus on maximum self-reliance instead of household quarantine of families? What happens if we add the economic and health impact of a full/partial shutdown for a year on the poor to this model? There are many more questions and possibilities which we have not raised or considered yet.

Buried deep in the paper is this idea on surveillance: “Technology –such as mobile phone apps that track an individual’s interactions with other people in society –might allow such a policy to be more effective and scalable if the associated privacy concerns can be overcome.”

This is the undesirable by-product of scientific research. We need to be wary of what we sign up for. It may seem essential during this emergency but might get normalized after we get past it.

20, March, 2020

சுவரில் எந்த ஆணியும் அசைக்கப்படாமல் பத்திரமாக இருப்பது மகிழ்ச்சிக்குரிய செய்திதானே, மித்ர.

March 20, 2020

The critics are those unrealistic people who expected him to put money in the pockets of those who need it to survive the crisis. But people know he is in a league of his own and has set searing standards.

They are praising him because a sense of dreadful anticipation gave way to a sense of double relief: 1) he is only asking you to stay at home and not stand in any queue. 2) he has not taken any money from our pockets. If you are relieved and you know it, clap your hands.

22, March, 2020

We are at the village. Thanks to the rains last night, there was a power-cut and it has not been restored. Unlikely that it will be today. My laptop and phone will soon run out of charge. You’ll be spared of live updates.

The early mornings after rainy nights are always most lovely. The birds and squirrels are at their squeaky best. The sun comes out slowly. We don’t have to be confined within four walls. We just have to step out into the patio and the wall-less farms engulf us. The young pups, Ponnan and Pongo, jump up our legs. But as the day progresses, I foresee a sweaty day. And no power, no fans. We could seek a shadow under the mango tree and do some reading.

The person who works at the farm where we stay has turned up for work. He can’t hear but he too was aware of the ‘curfew’. He just gave an indifferent shrug. The cows and goats had to be taken care of and fed and grazed. The milkman had told him he would come early. So he had come to the farm at 5 and lay down for a while on his rope cot in the cattle shed, awaiting the milkman. He talked of meeting a neighbouring farmer from Pollachi who had come early to collect milk. ‘He gets 30 litres of milk – how can he let all that milk go waste. He’d deliver it to his neighbours at Pollachi before 7.’ Many others in the village were not so lucky…their milkmen had said they wouldn’t be able to collect the milk. Most of them won’t have refrigerators. There are giving away the milk to other houses in the village free.

Our good leaders have forgotten that half of India still lives in villages. And that you need different strategies, different instructions for villages. A hardworking villager probably has less chances of contracting corona while working alone at a farm than being at his cramped house with his drunkard son/father. Ways to achieve physical distancing and isolation at villages may not be the same as in cities.

I am going to rat on my wife now. She has walked down to our farm. She wouldn’t want to miss the day after the rain – some weeding may be possible, she can be away from us and she can be alone with her birds. And you are thinking I am the rebel in the house.

(This is not a call for defying the curfew. We have completely isolated ourselves in our own way. Please stay isolated and safe, not just today but as much as possible in the coming weeks. I’ll never forgive myself if I become a carrier of the virus due to carelessness. That’s the fear that bothers me most when we have to go out shopping for provisions and vegetables.)

23, March, 2020

Can this be real? Shouldn’t we instead be converting all the Rashtrapati Bhavans and Raj Bhavans into quarantine centers now?

23, March, 2020

We were reasonably quick in bringing those stranded in foreign countries to India though we ran the risk of spreading the virus here.

But, with a longer shut down seeming inevitable, we have cared little for the millions of migrant workers in India. With their livelihoods lost, they can’t afford to stay in their cramped quarters in cities. With trains cancelled they can’t head back home. If they go back to the villages, they (and those who already left – link in comments) risk being carriers. If the relatively fewer people who returned from abroad could not quarantine themselves properly, how can we expect these millions to quarantine themselves after they return to their villages. What is better – it is a difficult decision and a catch-22 – to have them in cities or let them go to villages? Anyway, wherever they are, they need help – food and money and healthcare – to survive days of unemployment and potential illness.

Same is the case with daily wage earners and contract workers and anyone with uncertain incomes and no savings. The certainty of incomes in organized sector will also be tested soon. Even during milder business downturns, corporate sector has responded with workforce reduction and pay cuts.

Small businesses are going to be hit unimaginably hard. If their immediate revenues and cash flows are going to be impacted, how are they going to pay their salaries and rents?

We have to provide them all quick financial relief and it has to reach the last person. Unless relief measures and assistance packages are announced immediately, I’m afraid we are going to see bigger trouble than corona. Relief has to precede a shut down.

Some states have announced some measures but will it be enough? The centre has to step in.

Money can be and has to be found, at least for a few months. We can suspend all fancy projects like bullet trains and statues and temples. We can defer all defence procurement. The superhighways can wait. Airlines and big corporates can wait. Hang the recreation centres for Rashtrapathi Bhavan. The entire budget can be reworked by any task force at its own pace to make room for relief measures. But relief must have been announced much earlier and must reach people immediately and the poorest first.

24, March, 2020


24, March, 2020

மறுபடியுமா/மீண்டுமா/அடக் கடவுளே/once again?/not again/OMG போன்ற சொற்களும் உணர்வுகளும் இன்று எத்தனை பேர் மனதில் தோன்றின?

24, March, 2020

We finally have the inevitable lock down. We will survive it. Some of us may even relish it.

Whatever the central government does or doesn’t do, we all hope the state governments would take care of their people to an extent (yesterday’s colossal mismanagement in TN notwithstanding).

I am still thinking of migrant labourers. No mention about them in 30 minutes, unless I have missed anything.

The local people do not care about them much.
The state governments would not look at them as priority.
There are no family support systems for them wherever they are.
There are deep-rooted biases against them, whoever and wherever they are…linguistic, racial, religious, national.

At the moment we don’t know how many of them have a roof over their heads. How many of them are stranded in transit? What will happen if there is an outbreak amongst them? Where will they get food from? How will any financial assistance reach them?

The central government has to do more to ensure they are taken care of. Arrange accommodation and food. So far, they are failing miserably on this front. This could become a huge humanitarian disaster, with or without the spread of corona, if it is not managed properly.

25, March, 2020

On P.Chidambaram’s statement:

It shows all that was right with the Congress rule and all that was wrong.

If MNREGA workers are going to get Rs.3000 and farmers Rs.12000, why should the government pay/refund the corporate employees their inflated salaries? If a CEO earns a few crores p.m. should the govt refund it?

If I am given my monthly salary that I was earning in 2012 when I quit, our family can live comfortably (with internet, laptop and car) for well over an year.

You will not share your riches. But at least when there is a distress, the distress has to be shared. The privileged cannot continue to roll in their luxury, rain or shine.

Surely, businesses, especially small businesses, also need support, but only to keep their businesses running and not to keep their privileges intact.

Th first priority has to be to help the poor daily wagers and migrant workers and small farmers survive.


Response to a comment (No 6 clearly refers to wages. And not salaries. Certainly not for all sections of ‘registered’ sector employees. Only blue collar workers.) :

You are right, he says wages. But I doubt if a technical difference between wages and salary was implied here and if he meant only blue collar workers.

Whatever be the case, the wage reimbursement by the government, if any, has to be a fixed amount for all (or all eligible employees, if there are eligibility criteria) and not dependent on the actual wages paid to individual employees by companies and not more than what is paid to the urban poor.

I too welcome his other suggestions. At least he has quickly tabled a workable plan as against the inaction we have seen so far.

25, March, 2020

It has become increasingly clear (for the states) during this crisis that all we need from the centre is money. Basically our money. A weaker center and stronger, more autonomous states and local bodies should be the top priority for all of us, after this crisis is over.

Not just state autonomy but local autonomy at a panchayat and corporation level.

March 26, 2020

The only reason one can hail a rags to riches story is if that person shows some understanding and concern for the poor.But if he starts behaving as if the poor don’t exist even during a dire crisis, then that story is also void. Now don’t ever brag about your humble beginnings.

A logistical question: If a privileged rich/upper middle class Indian living in a posh apartment complex in a posh locality, wanting to do everything his leader says, decides to feed 9 poor families, how will he reach them now? Digitally? Just donate? At least make that clear.

Dr.Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani : The Indian doctor in China

March 27, 2020

18,March, 2020

I happened to watch the Hindi movie ‘Dr.Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani’ on Mubi (gone now), written by K.A.Abbas, directed by V.Shantaram and released in 1946. It is based on the real-life story of Dr.Kotnis who went to China to help them during the Japanese invasion in 1938.

In the movie, Dr.Kotnis, fresh out of college, goes to China to serve them. He falls in love with a Chinese girl, marries her and fathers a son. He gets captured by the Japanese but escapes from them. There is an outbreak of a contagious blister which takes many lives. The doctor injects himself with the pus from the blisters, and treats himself with many self-made medicines before finally finding a cure for it. But he develops seizures due to the disease/experiments and finally succumbs to it.

The real Dr.Dwarakanath Kotnis is one of the most respected foreign doctors to have worked in China. There is even a statue for him in China. Various Chinese Premiers have met and honoured the family of Dr.Kotnis in India. President K.R.Narayanan had met Dr.Kotnis’ wife, Guo Qinglan, in China.

Dr.Kotnis was part of a 5-member Congress medical mission which was sent to China in 1938. Dr.Kotnis stayed there and toiled strenuosly for 4 years before dying due to epileptic seizures. Mao Zedong had calligraphed a tribute to Dr.Kotnis on his death, “The Chinese Army has lost its arm and the nation its friend.”

The Congress medical mission was sent due to an initiative by Jawaharlal Nehru and the then President Subhas Chandra Bose, heeding to the request of the Chinese Communist leaders.

Ironically, Subhas Bose had written, “She[Japan] is determined to drive out the Western powers from the Far East. But could not all this have been achieved without Imperialism, without dismembering the Chinese Republic, without humiliating another proud, cultured and ancient race? No, with all our admiration for Japan, where such admiration is due, our whole heart goes out to China in her hour of trial.”

However Nehru had observed in his Discovery of India, “In 1938 the Congress sent a medical unit consisting of a number of doctors and necessary equipment and material to China. For several years this unit did good work there. When this was organized, Subhas Bose was president of the Congress. He did not approve of any step being taken by the Congress which was anti-Japanese or anti-German or anti-Italian. And yet such was the feeling in the Congress and the country that he did not oppose this or many other manifestations of Congress sympathy with China and the victims of fascist and nazi aggression. “

Nehru also says in the book, “It is surprising how internationally minded we grew in spite of our intense nationalism.” It is this international minded intense nationalism that pervades the movie.

The movie is actually an interesting one for its times. The scene where Dr.Kotnis tells his father about a speech by a National Leader (Nehru?) which convinced him to commit to going to China is a very innovative one, even by today’s standards. He juxtaposes the audio of the speech with his own narration about it to his father. Shantaram managed to place patriotic songs and dialogues in the movie in the Chinese context. It must have been a clever ploy to beat the British censors. Casting Indian actors as Chinese characters, speaking and singing in Hindi, is quite pardonable given that even a big Hollywood movie like ‘A Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ cast the American actor Mickey Rooney as a Japanese man, 15 years later (which was also pardonable because of Audrey Hepburn).

Later a Chinese movie was also made on Dr.Kotnis in 1982.

On a different note, we had an insufferable movie by A.R.Murugadoss early this decade in which Bodhidharma goes from India to stop a pandemic in China. And he is sort of brought back ‘genetically’ to defeat a biological war waged by the Chinese. Hope he is not thinking of a sequel.

Gandhi’s speech: ‘Sedition is our dharma’

March 27, 2020

12, March, 2020

Dandi March started on this day, 90 years ago, from the Sabarmati Ashram at Ahmedabad. During the march, Gandhi made many significant speeches at the villages on the way. Excerpts from his seditious speech at Borsad (March 18,1930), when he said “Sedition is our Dharma”:

“At one time I was wholly loyal to the Empire and taught others to be loyal. I sang “God Save the King” with zest and taught my friends and relations to do so. Finally, however, the scales fell from my eyes, and the spell broke. I realized that the Empire did not deserve loyalty. I felt that it deserved sedition. Hence I have made sedition my dharma. I try to explain it to others that while sedition is our dharma, to be loyal is a sin. To be loyal to this Government, that is to say to wish it well, is as good as wishing ill of the crores of people of India. We get nothing in return for the crores of rupees that are squeezed out of the country; if we get anything, it is the rags from Lancashire. To approve the policy of this Government is to commit treason against the poor. You should free yourselves from this latter offence. I believe I have done so. Hence I have become ready to wage a peaceful war against this Government. I am commencing it by violating the salt law. It is for this purpose that I am undertaking this march. At every place, thousands of men and women have conferred their blessings upon it. These blessings are not showered on me but on the struggle.

Our patience has been severely tried. We must free ourselves from the yoke of this Government and we are prepared to undergo any hardships that we may have to suffer in order to secure swaraj. It is our duty as well as our right to secure swaraj.

I regard this as a religious movement since sedition is our dharma.

Every moment I desire the end of the policies of this Government. I have no desire to touch even a single hair of our rulers. But we certainly shall not bow down to them. Kindly, therefore, become conscious of your responsibilities and wash away your sins against India. Today we are defying the salt law. Tomorrow we shall have to consign other laws to the waste-paper basket. Doing so we shall practise such severe non-co-operation that finally it will not be possible for the administration to be carried on at all.”

Notes on Delhi pogrom

March 27, 2020

Archiving my notes in Facebook on the Delhi pogrom

24, Feb, 2020

Even as Modi and Trump have been posing with the three monkeys and the spinning wheel of Gandhi, mob violence has been unleashed on Muslims in Delhi. The protests have been largely non-violent so far. Still I was fearing a police backlash after the Delhi elections on the lines of the violent police suppression of jallikattu protests. But this mob violence is quite shocking though enough dog whistles have been blown by BJP leaders all along. They have done it before and they are doing it again. There are very disturbing videos being posted on Twitter.

There are already reports of clashes but I hope the protestors remain non-violent despite these grave provocations. Meeting violence with violence begets more violence. Easy for me to say from a remote village but it is difficult for people literally facing the fire.

Whether you are for or against the protests, we should all raise our voices and demand that this calculated, pre-meditated mob violence is brought under control. Don’t allow more blood to flow with your name on it.

24, Feb, 2020

Even Yogendra Yadav individually has done more than what Arvind Kejriwal and his government have done on the CAA issue. Kejriwal cannot be hiding behind the Home Minister and Lt. Governor any longer. Elections are no more an excuse. He is the Chief Minister of that city, whether he has a police force or not. He has earlier created much bigger ruckus without the police force on much smaller issues. Youth of his state are burning shops and houses on the street and shouting Goli maaron and actually shooting golis. How are his fancy looking schools (with cameras to monitor the children) going to educate or reform them who are setting fire and those who are fleeing burning houses?

I am happy that AAP beat BJP in Delhi. They must be doing something right at the governance level to get such a huge mandate. (The SDG numbers don’t reflect it though – will post it another day.) But I have been deeply disappointed with their stance and actions on most of the important issues of our time – NEET, surveillance in schools, Kashmir, Ayodhya, CAA protests and now the attacks.

Of course, they are not the main culprits today and we should be focussing on the real forces – BJP leaders – who have perpetrated this. But as the Chief Minister with a huge mandate, it is not wrong of us to expect him to be doing more than ‘sincerely urging Hon’ble LG n Hon’ble Union Home Minister to restore law and order.’

25, Feb, 2020

I posted this quote in the morning. It did mean something of this sort then but I didn’t quite expect the day to be like this.

“Away, and mock the time with fairest show.
False face must hide what the false heart doth know. ”
– Macbeth, Shakespeare

25, Feb, 2020

What can Arvind Kejriwal do now, ask some friends. Here are some small things that come to my mind.

Form peace committees/Shanti Senas under his 60+ MLAs. Get them to roam the streets. Talk to protestors, talk to the mobsters and the police who indulge in violence. Offer to mediate. Gandhi has done this before, when he had no police or organization with him. Lohia had done this. JP and Vinoba had done this. People have given their lives to bring peace.

Knock on the doors of the HM. Offer to sit with him and travel with him and stay with him till this is ended. Gandhi did this too. You used Gandhi’s methods of protest to come to power. Use his methods to bring about peace in your city. You are not an anonymous blogger to plead helplessness. You are the CM.

Use the prosection and Tihar jail, which are under your government, to counter the central government’s wrong cases. Don’t ill-treat people like Chandra Shekar Aazad.

Visit Shaheen Bagh and other protest sites. Listen to the people. They trusted you. They voted for you. They hoped and still hope you will serve them. Don’t betray them. Be with them. If you can’t guide them, allow them to guide you.

Go to court, go to the streets, knock every door. Rest not till CAA is repealed, NRC is dropped, peace is restored. Schools can wait.

25, Feb, 2020

Horrible stories keep coming out. The enormous bravery of numerous women in these grave times is the only solace.

26, Feb, 2020

‘Hey Ram’ put off the disintegration of India by 72 years. ‘Jai Shree Ram’ is accomplishing it.

26, Feb, 2020

Good to see a BJP councilor doing it for his Muslim friends. The fact that he cannot be named says so much about his party.

26, Feb, 2020

How much more cruel can we become?

This thread throws a glimmer of hope amidst all the gloom. We need more such people standing up to this mob who have been voted to power.

(9.20 p.m., 26-2-2020)
I am at a protest site in Coimbatore , termed as Coimbatore’s Shaheen Bagh. There could easily be around a couple of thousand people…men, women and children. The crowd kept growing since 5 p.m. when I came in. Most of them are Muslims but there are a few from other communities too – some of them from the Communist party and the DK. It is the 8th day of protest here. It is 9:20 p.m. The crowd is staying intact. I am told many of them are staying for 24 hours. Quite a few women gave fiery speeches fluently and passionately. They are clearly not just a front for the men, as some friends accuse. When entire families and especially women are here, children are bound to be here. Many of the elder children are listening intently. The younger children are playing. The crowd is largely composed, clapping occasionally and never once booing anyone even when they spoke some uncomfortable truths.

There were no ad-hoc slogans. They were raised only at specific timeslots. Not all slogans were to my liking but were by and large unobjectionable.

Some of the Muslim youngsters spoke quite well. A young man spoke of the need for a library at the protest site and dialogues on religion and politics for the future. They were all claiming that their religion might have come from outside but they have been on this land from much before those who have brought this act. This assertion of ownership by Muslims over this land and nation is an unintended positive fallout of this sinister move by the government.

I went there to just participate and not to preach, but I was asked if I would like to speak and I gladly agreed. I spoke for about 20 minutes, covering many points I have been writing here. I spoke about my two favorite prominent Muslims in Pakistan who were persecuted there and had to live in prison/exile but would not fall under the ambit of CAA – Ghaffar Khan and Malala. I spoke of the nonviolence of Kudai Khitmatgars and Garhwal Rifles. I emphasized on the need to continue to keep the protests nonviolent, whatever be the provocation. When I mentioned that an unnamed BJP councillor saved a Muslim family, and even to see one such heart transformed is a victory for their peaceful protests, people welcomed it.

People want peace. And they want to assert their rightful claim over this nation and their citizenship in this nation. Any respectable government should reciprocate positively to this fair demand.

As for expenses to keep the protests going, you must be here to see and believe what is happening here. People spontaneously keep donating money. Children come and give away their savings in piggy banks. When the collection buckets were brought around, everyone put in 50s and 100s or what they could. I heard that women dropped their jewels in collection boxes. These are tales out of books on Gandhi though there is no such old man to coax the women and children. There is no greater slander than to say people are at these protests for money.

If we are to save Delhi and avoid Delhi-like violent mob attacks elsewhere, people of all communities should step out of their homes and stand shoulder to shoulder with the protesting people once and you may do it again. Or at least break your silences. Injustice for one is Injustice for all.

One may not agree with all that is said by so many different people with different ideologies in such leaderless mass protests and there are bound to be a few historical/factual errors in such emotional impromptu speeches. But what is important is I could see and sense that this is a determined, disciplined and nonviolent gathering making a just demand. There is no shame for a government in listening to the voice of its own people and rolling back an unpopular and unjust law. It is way better than sending mobs to provoke retaliation and use that as a pretext to destroy them. It will go a long way in creating a harmonious country. Else we will be left with radicalized populations on both sides.

28, Feb, 2020

Aruna Roy:
/ When it is stated that “Delhi is burning”, evidence points to a systematic and planned pogrom-like situation by Hindutva right-wing forces against Muslims. This is not simply a “communal clash between two communities” – the state and those it emboldens have been actively complicit in encouraging “Hindutva” attacks against Muslims. It is even worse that this is being done in the name of Hinduism. The violence of the last few days is reminiscent of the 1984 Sikh riots, it is reminiscent of 2002 Gujarat genocide, of the 1992 Bombay riots; and we have witnessed only too vividly how communities can be turned against one another by the state’s rhetoric and mainstream media’s biased narratives./

29, Feb, 2020

Headlines on the same day:
1. Sedition case: AAP government gives nod to prosecute Kanhaiya Kumar
2. Nalini files new writ petition against Governor’s ‘inaction’

Action and inaction are conscious political choices.

29, Feb, 2020

I just had a look at OpIndia. Scary. The likes of it may have more readers/viewers than all the other websites I have been seeing/people on twitter I am following. The majority of this country inhabit a parallel universe that is diametrically opposite to the one I experience.

OpIndia terms the violence and killings in Delhi as anti-Hindu riots. There is, understandably, a lot of coverage on the gruesome death of Ankit Sharma, whose dead body was found in a drain with multiple stab wounds.

Ankit Sharma is called in different reports on OpIndia as an IB sleuth, IB officer, IB official and IB constable. The photo ID card given in one of their own reports says ‘Security Assistant’. Every life matters. In life or death, a Security Assistant is no less important than that of an officer. But why create fake narratives with such glaring internal inconsistencies within their own reports?

Their reports are filled with news from unnamed sources. But for the lack of names and sources, some of the reports in OpIndia look like mirror images of reports in other sites critical of the BJP.

A person fed on reports from OpIndia and others of their ilk will be believing there are massive pre-planned anti-Hindu riots happening in Delhi and Hindu shops are being targetted and burned.

Do they actually believe these or pretend to believe these? Which is worse?


Then the editor of Swarajya, in a much circulated hate-tweet, calls upon all Hindus to commit to do their bit for a long term civilizational war. This is a website in which many Hindutva and ‘neutral’ intellectuals write and recommend.


Some friends ask me on what basis I conclude that news blaming the BJP is true. I try to verify with different sources. There are sites like AltIndia which expose fake news from both sides. But more often than not, as seen in the above cases, the best way is to hear it from the horse’s mouth.

I wasn’t sure if CAA-NPR-NRC-throwing into Bay of Bengal is evil till I heard a few speeches of Amit Shah, explaining the chronology.


B.L.Santosh, BJP’s general secretary, apparently posted a tweet, deleted and later posted a corrected tweet. He is said to be the point-man for RSS in BJP, and is high enough in the party to threaten Bernie Sanders and America, “How much ever neutral we wish to be, you compel us to play a role in Presidential elections.” Putin should learn from him. (Though Santosh later deleted the tweet.)

Take a look at these two old tweets and come to your own conclusion. Whatever it was, it was no game. But yes, he is right…it seems well-planned.

5, Mar, 2020

Once we brand, smear and put away the finest people in our nation as being seditious, where do we go from there?…/…

Do courts have the right to refuse to listen to those who criticize its actions? Even if it is seen as contempt of court, can they refuse to hear a different case brought up by that person? If it is legally permissible, it is a vengeful, regressive provision which must go. Courts are there to deal out justice and not personal vengeance.…/chief-justice-of-india-sa-bobde-seek…

A fine essay by Harsh Mander:

“Yet fraternity remains the least understood, least discussed, and doubtlessly the least practiced of the four pillars of constitutional morality spelt out in the preamble of India’s Constitution: justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity. It is forgotten not just by those chosen to uphold our Constitution, it is lost even in our public and social life, in which the aggressive use of oppositional identities remains, for most political parties, the most reliable instrument to harvest votes with. And prejudice and inequality are produced and reproduced in our hearts and homes.”…/fraternity-missing-link-indi…