Monday, 13 May 2013
So, if we turn a few pages of our mythology books, it is evident that whenever a demon attacked Heaven, the Devs chanted the name of the supreme power to save them from the terror. The Hindu Gods would then measure their steps to Heaven from their meditation and bless the creases on the foreheads of the Devs. The Asurs would thence be slayed to be parceled to the deepest pits of hell. Not once, but as many times as the Asurs dared to feast on the fears of the innocent Devs. Their mantra clearly would have been: You do evil, you get evil. Justice shall be delivered.
Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, we mortals face the perpetrators of evil every day. We become victims of the terror as there is no other way, or is there? So we look expectantly at the doors of the state to do something and end this torture. The state measures its steps rather irksomely, such that the dead from the attacks are dead and their families are left with their death anniversaries and the remaining unaffected mortals wait for the next terror attack to pick up the pieces of the memories left and carry on with this wicked cycle of terror. Sad state of affairs. The Gods above must be waiting for us to solve our problems by ourselves, I suppose. Therefore, no intervention. Therefore, the decrease of faith in God.
But I digress. A 2010 terror attack got headway with Mirza Himayat Baig, the lone convicted accused in the German Bakery blast case, getting sentenced to death by a Pune Sessions Court. Thinking about Baig, I wonder if he knew there would be so many sections that he would be held guilty under. I wonder if he were given the power to see his future once and had known he would be caught and convicted, would he still have assented to carry out the attack? I wonder if he were given a dark, aloof cell to be confined to for the rest of his life, would he have felt guilty about what he did – would he have apologized to the innocent lives and hopes he brutally murdered? I also wonder, though, if he really deserves a death punishment.
He wasn’t alone, after all, in this barbaric plan of attack. A conspiracy like this needs more minds and hands than one person’s. He is the lone convicted, yes. But there are many other names. The conspiracy that took place in Sri Lanka, according the police officials, has many other conspirators who haven’t been brought to court. What if he was not in Pune at the time of the blast as Baig’s counsel, Mr. Rahman, appeals? Of course, he could have been a conspirator and not have executed the plan but the possibility isn’t too obvious. There are others who are roaming free.
Not being an insider to the official reports, I have all the information a common citizen has. I reckon, if the state finds a criminal to be guilty without a speck of doubt and finds the crime unforgivable, the criminal should not be given an easy escape from the law. It’s unfortunate how many get away with nothing but minor charges on them because of high connections and good amount of money to bribe the hungry system. Those who find no way to escape get into the clutches of death. How is justice then delivered?
If I support the decision of a terrorist being hanged, it does not make me an advocate of violence. I don’t say it on some whim of ‘Kill all who are evil’ to save my head from thinking much. Deep inside, I do believe that death penalty leaves us morally bankrupt. I believe they will get what they give via their own Karma. I believe people can change. I believe ‘An eye for an eye turns the whole world blind’. I believe capital punishment is murder. I believe death is not a deterrent in cases like terrorism and rapes. I believe a death penalty to the convicts can bring a little closure to the case, but it cannot bring the dead back from the grave.
There are many who advocate that life imprisonment would have been a moral solution unlike death penalty. Their criteria are –
Two wrongs don’t make a right. They kill, we kill: what does that leave us with? Murders all around, for different reasons, of course.
The convict could have been innocent. There have been incidents in the past where after the execution was done, the innocence was proved. Now if it were a life imprisonment or any other punishment, the apologies could still hold good. After a person is executed, apologies cannot do any magic.
While I agree with the above points, one cannot deny the fact that the families of the 17 who were killed would find some sort of relief with Baig’s death sentence. German Bakery, one of the landmarks of Pune, would always remind the visitors and customers of the blotted day in history when Pune lost its title of a safe city. Even a refurbished bakery wouldn’t be able to capture that lively essence of the good old days when this city was not on the radar of terror attacks. Years go by, memories fade, lives are lived anyway, but the hollowness that a blast leaves shall be understood by the families that have lost not just a member but a bundle of hopes. The void that seeps into conversations shall be understood by their friends who can no more crack jokes on them as after a little mention of their names, a silent tear follows. Always.
Taking everything into consideration, I still don’t know if capital punishment is right or if it’s wrong. I cannot give my word. But ask yourself – if there were a wolf that lived on children’s mass and was hunting for your own child’s blood, would you let it roam free? Or would you cage it, when you know that it might get released someday, somehow, maybe by some unknown force? Or would you rather kill it so that your own child and the other little ones live safely?
Also published in Youth ki Awaaz
Wednesday, 17 April 2013
Fancy gulping down a glass of pure white milk or munching on some chopped salad of fresh, ripe fruits on a Saturday evening? I do. But it seems like a walk down the memory lane. I am yet to find a person who can vouch for the purity of the food he consumes. There is always the uncanny word ‘might’ sprouting up.
My aunt brought a huge basket of big, red Kashmiri apples with a smug grin on her face. Her answer to the possibility of adulteration was, “It’s not a kirana shop. Big brands don’t indulge in such follies. Look at the size of these apples.”
“Yeah, but can you give a word for them being 100% pure?”
“Of course not. There is always a possibility, you never know. But, nevertheless, they look so good.”
Mostly all food-items, today, come to us adulterated in various forms. You can line up fruits to vegetables to cereals to spices to dairy products that have adulterants mixed in shocking proportions. It’s common to come across dirt, pebbles and sand in the raw items purchased, as they are visible to the naked eye. But the story, as we all know, does not end there. Sadly, there are adulterants that are deliberately blended with the consumable products resulting in nothing but loss of health of the consumer and a profit for the adulterer. A profit. But at what cost?
The adulterers not only play with the color or texture of the products but with the life of those who consume them. These substances are harmful, they are undetectable by a common man and they are getting mixed in our diets in large quantities. News channels cover the facts of the chemicals that are a part of our daily lives. Dangerous chemicals, that is. You cannot rely on the festival sweets you lovingly offer the little kids at home because the milk has been diluted. You cannot be sure of the ghee on your chapatti because it must be a doctored version of a vanaspati. You cannot utter out “Oh, divinity” after devouring a large piece of mango because it most probably is injected.
Where does this take us? Should we really consider a life on Mars? Or is there a way we could get back the trust and health we’ve lost? Now I really didn’t have an answer to these till I came across the tagline of an advertisement saying, “Milaawat ke Khilaaf Jung”. The advertisement was no less interesting. One just had to dig into the matter – to know about what Subrata Roy led Sahara group had forayed into. It’s called Sahara Q-Shop.
Launched on Independence Day last year, this venture had caught many an eye and rose many an eyebrow, too. Who wouldn’t wonder if out of nowhere a big name like Sahara comes and promises to fight adulteration? Who wouldn’t be shocked to see the big guns, the star Indian cricketers, in an ad that shows them preparing for the next person’s funeral. That next person could be you, me or our beloveds. How endearing would it be to get our funeral rites from the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni?! A funeral much ahead of when it should’ve been. A funeral because there were toxic adulterants in the food on your table.
The message of the advertisement strikes hard because it’s true. But it’s in a negative light, cynical almost, plus the effect it might have on the mentality of the people could not be underestimated. Perhaps the reason why BCCI asked it to be banned. But, by the end of the same advertisement, Sahara Q-Shop comes with a promise that cannot be ignored. A simple look at their website would tell us of the achievable targets they talk about. Achievable AND effective.
Some of its advantages, as mentioned on the site, are:
● 100% commitment to quality
● Right weight/quantity
● 100% disclosure policy across all products
● Convenience of phone shopping
● 305 warehouses in 285 cities
With the availability of the Q-Shops in various localities and their public claim of reasonable prices with best quality, this venture is here to stay. It will get its customers sooner than later. And who knows if it might just change the whole retail picture. The positives it provides are most welcome in a time of deflating trust and inflating prices.
If Sahara can make its mark this time, it will have won a huge battle – not only for the society in general but for its own staggering reputation. This venture is a drowning man’s straw, in more ways than one. It’s a real challenge in a real world and no one is going to cut them some slack. One can only hope it works out the way it was intended to. Or else, there is always Mars to look forward to.
Also published on Youth ki Awaaz
Friday, 5 April 2013
As a kid, I remember, I was never allowed to wear shorts or sleeveless tops. “But Papa,” I’d try to reason, “What’s wrong with it?” He’d squint his eyes and I’d know that I needed to change into something ‘decent’ ASAP, never understanding why.
But, today, when I bring those distant memories and the daily encounters with reality together, the picture is much clearer but absurd at the same time. A woman’s choice of her attire is considered a man’s business. If the man does not find it socially acceptable, she is supposed to ethically withdraw from her ‘whims’ and get into something appropriate.
Defy it, lady, and you shall be called a slut. Sounds familiar?
This is the society that’s afraid to accept anything new. This is the society that will mock at you just because you care more about your comfort than their chiding remarks. This is the society that will try to disgrace you because you choose to ignore their mocking grins.
Isn’t it purely logical that if it’s my body, it IS my right to dress it up the way I choose? Why is decency weighed by the length of clothes and not by the intentions? How can clothes be a reason to justify a rape or harassment? Does the same society not think that if provoking men by clothes alone is enough, they are too easy? How then are we women the sluts?
Surely, reading about the Constitution of India, we were bound to understand that we have the freedom to express ourselves by the things we talk, the dresses we wear, the professions we choose, the ambitions we follow and the art we create. It’s too late to tell us otherwise.
Wednesday, 27 March 2013
A blanket of colors
on the road, in the air,
on their skins and everywhere
while I stand clean, craning.
A peculiar boy,
much my age
seems too alive
to drench even the sun.
His eyes spot me
his face masked in color dust
yet I see him smirk.
Shared with: Words Count With Mama Zen
Today in India we celebrate Holi, the festival of colors. Water guns, balloons filled with water and colors are a major delight for most and a nightmare for some. I like to watch people play Holi but you hit me with one of those balloons and you’ll get a pokerface from me. Nothing else. :D