On Budget 2015-16

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The general attitude towards this year’s budget has been quite similar to that of over the past few years: corporate enthusiasts are excited, middle classes are uncertain and puzzled and rest of the population is apathetic to varying degrees.

The underlying conclusion of this year’s budget is that of maintaining and extending the austerity measures, but to the magnitude that makes UPA look almost anti-capitalist. It proposes to abolish wealth tax and targets to reduce corporate tax from 30 to 25 percentage and also reduce direct tax by Rs 8,315 cr and increase the burden on “general public” through indirect tax hike of Rs. 23,383 cr.

I agree with Mr. Sitaram Yechury when he claims, commenting on the exceptions of budget’s gross tax revenues: “Expectations of ‘tax buoyancy’ by the financial minster is, hence, pure imagination”. But we are talking about corporate capitalism, Mr Yechury, “pure imagination” and fictitious capital is its live-blood.

There will be reduction in grants and loans to the states. Food subsidies will be sluggish. Health and family welfare will come down from Rs. 35,163cr (last year) to 29,653cr. Housing and urban poverty alleviation figures have dropped from Rs 6,008cr to Rs 5,634cr.

All this while the subsidies, “tax incentive” to the rich are more than the actual fiscal deficit. It should be quite clear that the deficit burden, for the most part, is due to subsidies to the rich, not the poor. In short, socialism for corporations and free market and its risks for the rest of the population.

It is also important to note that, “Taxing corporations and the rich would have consequences too, but they would generate far fewer social costs and fall mostly on those best able to cope with them.” (). Isn’t it quite obvious and why are all the measures that are being taken are exactly the opposite? And why can’t we do better than capitalism? Demand discussion, debate and democratic (in actual sense of the word) decisions – instead of being trapped by the invisible handcuff of capitalism?

Holes and Analogies

Would you like me as a sea?

Terrific on the outside
But deadly inside deep.
So when you come in, seeking treasures
Death would find you first.
Sweet poison, seeping out of me.

Or should I be like a tree instead?

Bearing lovely fruits of your desire.
So when you climb up ahead
Unburdening me of my juices
I would be the overdose, the high
The lucid whispers in your head.

Perhaps a film, of your taste.

Of sunken minds and heartbreaking lines.
Would your eyes be raised
to the screen of my skin then?
Carrying projections of your dreams
Disappearing words in sickening haste.

I need to tie my ends, flying loose.

Floating men with hearts hanging out.
Empty chests, lost lovers, placid hues.
Half eaten. Rotten. Of stories
Promises, lies and pending dues.

But you’re not the end of things.
And I am not a tree.
I’d drift off with my drooping limbs
As you pass out in your Bombay lanes
With younger women and heavier drinks.

So, I have read and written of you some
Of seas and films and empty drums.
Some nights were spared and left to bleed
Some stars too, and moons and few splendid suns.

For all the love and harm undone
I ask, to be my book, this once.
For you’re the book I’d like to read
In bed tonight,
And for the rest of my lonely nights to come.

Holes and Analogies

Till Death Do Us Apart

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I put the umbrella behind the door; it hadn’t really helped me with the rain. How could it? The rain, like so many other things I had been experiencing, was unreal. I locked the door and double checked it, hoping she’d stay out tonight.

“I’m real” she whispered in my ear.

I turned around, not a sign of her. But she was there, I knew it. Talking to an overpaid lady as she pretends to hear me out hasn’t helped. All the medicines I was being forced to chug down, haven’t either. If anything, they were making her stay. All this scribbling over a notepad, and that feeling of being strangled and chocked by an inter-mixing of chemicals. All it does, is remind me of her even more.

As soon as I sat on the couch, the armchair opposite it sank under her weight. I tried to look away, and my eyes were greeted by our picture on the side desk. She sure was a looker. And then I looked across the table, how decayed and rotten she had become. 
I loved her, anyway.

I turned on the television; it might help me stay sane. The man in the idiot box smiled. It was a smile of misfortune, even he pitied me. 
“She won’t go away till you do it. You know that right?”
I changed the channel.

“He killed me, butchered me. All while you observed in silence”. Her voice was getting colder by the day.

“Look at me. Look at me”, she demanded my attention. 
“Were you always lying…” her voice broke “…when you used to say that I’m the one?”

I was reminded of all the promises I had made, and she was quick to read my mind.

“Don’t you remember? We were supposed to be together. And it, it took me away. It separated us”

I hated it when she would call him an ‘it’. There was a cry from the master bedroom.

“Even now it wouldn’t let us have a moment of peace.” She snarled.

I looked at her. The skin below her eyes had dried and stretched to her lips. But her eyes, well they had remained as truthful as ever. She was right, as always. We were always meant to be. I had made her believe that I’d protect her, even in the most severe of times. And yet here I was, as helpless as I was then. I had failed myself. I had failed our marriage. But I could take all that, it was all the hate that she projected towards me that made me miserable.
A man can’t live a miserable life, can he? Not if he can do something about it.

I moved to the kitchen and opened the central drawer. I took out a knife; her smile visible at its sharp end.

She came closer to me, pulled me by the neck, and said.

“Do it. Avenge me. Avenge our love.”

I casually walked in to the master bedroom, where I had kept him, tied and bound to his bed. I leaned over and looked at him, the murderer of my wife. He looked back at me with his childlike innocence.

“Don’t let it get to you this time. Do it. And soon, we will be together again”. She whispered.

He cried. He cried for his innocence, for that is all he could do.

“Slice it. Slice it into pieces. Do it”. She shouted over my shoulder.

He looked at me with no remorse. He had no feeling of guilt, no sense of wrongdoing. How could he, that little devil.

I positioned the knife. He did not retaliate. In the background, I could hear her laughing.

I waited for it to say something, to convince me to stop. But how could he speak, he had been born barely days go. And so, I raised the knife and stabbed him thrice.

Her laughter faded away, and all that was left was a deafening silence. She had left me, finally. I wiped the grin of my face and proceeded to clean the blood that had dripped down the cradle.

Response To Remarks On Anarchism By Narendra Modi

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In January, during a poll address, India’s Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi, in reference to Mr Arvind Kejriwal said, “Have you ever seen a political leader calling himself an anarchist? If so, join the Naxals. Naxalism cannot be brought to Delhi. Delhi can’t be surrendered to anarchy”. I will be examining and responding to this from a Libertarian-Socialist perspective.

First problem with this remark seems to be that it does not provide us with any background what so ever about Anarchism. What it is and what Anarchists believe, and as matters relating to anarchism are quite deliberately driven out of mainstream culture, it is easy to mystify and distort its meaning. Also as we will see that anarchism has many variants and this attack does not even provide us any clue as to which school of thought within anarchism Mr Kejriwal associates himself with. And as I tried to find out for myself what type of anarchist Mr Kejriwal might be, I soon realized he never made that clear (in interviews). I confess I have not yet read his book ‘Swaraj’, which should be the basic text for understanding his philosophy. But I’ll nonetheless try to examine his anarchism on the basis that it derives from pseudo-anarchist theory and even more so superficial practices of Mohandas Gandhi, who himself derived it from the works of Christian-Anarchist Leo Tolstoy, Thoreau and Chinese and other anarchist movements that were taking place at the time. And also Pacifism which is not exclusive to any particular anarchist philosophy but varies in practice from person to person and situation to situation.

Mr Kejriwal is a member of a political party and an electoral candidate (and now the Chief Minister of Delhi). Anarchists are exclusively against parliamentary government as a form of action for social change (the only exception to this that I can remember are four anarchists who joined the Marxist party [PCE] and the central government during Spanish revolution in 1937). It should be understood that there are no doctrines within anarchism, therefore, Mr Kejriwal can very well be an anarchist and be an electoral candidate, which evidently seems to be the case. But I don’t see him supporting Trade Unions or utilizing any other form of anarchist methods. I therefore doubt him being an anarchist, at least not an Anarcho-Syndicalist. And as for his stance on capitalism and neo-liberal policies, they are not very clear as well. As anarchists are very critical of and hostile towards it, his clear views would have been helpful. Yesterday, while addressing his supporters after his victory in Delhi elections he proposed that “Rich and Poor in Delhi will develop together”. He does not even seem to be conscious of the class conflict. He also proposes “women empowerment” by first empowering highly authoritarian and centralized Police forces and increasing surveillance on general population. An anarchist would have rather preferred educating women and men on feminist and sex studies and providing women with means by which they can defend themselves, instead of making them dependent on police force. And more centralization of power and police control is counterproductive to any democracy and for anarchist any cause as well. Hence, it is very improper to portray what Mr Kejriwal is doing as anything “anarchist”.

Second and maybe the most important point in this post – Naxalites are NOT Anarchists. Naxalites are Maoist-Communist guerrilla , which is a fragment of Maoist Communism (movement), which in itself is very different and contradictory to any Libertarian Communist belief like Council Communism, of that of thinkers and activists, like Anton Pannekoek and Rosa Luxemburg. Anarchists oppose all sort of statist, authoritarian forms of Communisms like Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism, even more severally than we oppose representative democracy, as the latter is comparatively freer and desirable than any of the totalitarian State-Capitalism that call themselves communisms. The only similarity one can draw from Anarchism and Naxalism is they both are anti-capitalist in nature and oppose the state, but the alternative which both favor and the means by which they chose to bring the change about are polar-opposites.

Where Naxalites employ the use of violence and terror on the state and on civilians to remove the free market with state control over economy and representative democracy with totalitarianism. Anarchist favor trade unionism, peasants and workers movement, creating alternative economies to replace state control with federations of freely associating communes and capitalism with gift economies, participatory economies, mutualist markets etc. The difference between Anarchism and Naxalism is much more stark than that between the state and naxalists as both favor violence when population goes against their will.

I think it will be appropriate to draw out some of the key points on which anarchist and all Marxist traditions diverge. Both traditions emerge out of Workers movements and Socialist movements of 18th century. And both were part of the First International (International Workingmen’s Association) in late 1800s, where Marx was a leading figure. But soon the differences in strategy and aims grew deeper, where Marxist suggested a vanguard party should be at the front of revolution of emancipating the workers (it’s worth remembering that it was Marx who said “only workers can emancipate themselves”, but well…), the anarchists suggested the state and capitalism can only be abolished at the same time as state is very capitalistic in nature and the power of the state is corrupting. As Bakunin said, “Take the most radical of revolutionaries and place him on the throne of all the Russia or give him dictatorial powers . . . and before the year is out he will be worse than the Czar himself.” And either the State must be destroyed or one must “reconcile oneself to the vilest and most dangerous lie of our century….Red Bureaucracy.”
Some anarchists withdrew from the International while some were kicked out. Bakunin’s prophecy of red bureaucracy came true. Spanish revolution (a popular and widespread anarchist revolution) was crushed by combined forces of Fascists, Communists and Liberal democracies. In Russia Anarchists were killed as the Bolsheviks took power. It is quite clear that Marxists and Anarchists are not the same, neither believes in actions.

So the remark,” Naxalism cannot be brought to Delhi. Delhi can’t be surrendered to anarchy” is very misleading and aims to distort and provide a very violent image of Anarchism, at the same time belittling its radical yet humanist roots by associating it with Mr Kejriwal. I can almost appreciate the ingenuity of this propaganda. But in an already hellish environment for activists and social critics in this country, where student movements and activists groups are harassed and violently assaulted on regular basis (see [1][2][3][4][5]), labeling Anarchists as Naxalists and hence bringing them directly under the radar of Operation Greenhunt is devastating and, to me personally, threatening.

My appeal here is not to Mr Modi or Mr Kejriwal, but to the citizens of this country. It is something to be proud of, I guess, about this country that mass consensus still has some effect in decision making (at least when it comes to matters of Supreme Court) but this force can as easily be used by the state, which I would argue is the case, to form consensus based on misinformation and distortions and invoking nationalism and patriotism to repress the part of the population which does not agree with it. It is very crucial that the population has a clear understanding of the topics when the state (and corporations), for its own interest, want to keep them delusional about them, topics like alternative politics and economic theories like anarchism. When quite literally lives of activists depends on it.

Should We Raise A Toast To The Roast?

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For any nation to be considered as a democracy, freedom of speech is imperative and humour comes under the purview of that. Humour teaches you to shut the non-liberal and keep up the liberal in you. It could take many forms such as slapstick, satire, racist or even profanity. Humour based on profanity primarily makes use of cuss words to generate some cheap laughs. Now, what exactly are cuss words? Urban dictionary defines them as “Words that have been deemed inappropriate and you don’t normally hear in public or “normal” conversation. Fun to use and you get to watch people over-react when you scream “F**K” at the top of your lungs”. Now the definition in the internet didn’t really have the two asterix in the middle of the capitalized word in the above sentence. So, why did I censor it? It’s not like after putting two asterix, you don’t really understand the meaning of the word. Do you? So, what difference does it make if I write the complete word instead without any censorship?

All guys would definitely admit to having a circle of friends who use these cuss words among themselves to ridicule, mock, insult or humiliate each other but not in the actual intended sense of it. These expletives, when exchanged with someone, are not really meant in their literal meaning but just as a cool lingo. Now whether it is actually cool to mouth cuss words is a subjective and different topic altogether. But in almost every case these words are just used for friendly banter.

AIB uploaded their roast video on YouTube. There are loads of videos on YouTube that some people may find offensive. Do we take YouTube down? No, we choose to not see those videos. Now the reason for the uproar is that the video had dirty, explicit and demeaning comments which ironically the recipients of the comments were quite sporting enough to accept as humour and friendly banter. But, the very purpose of a roast is to insult. Saying a roast has dirty comments is like saying an adult rated movie has violence or explicit scenes in it. The question that everyone is asking now is “Does the roast genre itself demand profanity?”. Can an insult be sugar-coated in polite terms? Did the AIB roast actually degrade, corrupt or injure the public morality and morals”? I refuse to believe that culture, heritage, beliefs and religion are so weak in our country that they get affected by jokes and mundane comments.

Having said that, it should have been expected by AIB that topics that are discussed behind closed doors in our culture can’t all of a sudden be expected to be accepted with no sense of discomfort whatsoever. The 4000 people at the live event probably saw it coming but millions of viewers on YouTube were probably taken aback with the sheer audacity and openness with which cuss words were exchanged. I am not sure whether the concept of roast demands profanity to insult the protagonists but in my opinion politically incorrect and swear words should not be the whole prop of your humour. One needs to give the Indian audience time to embrace a paradigm shift from the form of humour it is used to accept.

As of today, every form of expression in this country is being corrupted by pseudo-intellectuals and neo-liberals. They feel that it is their birth right to tell stories, make films or even do comedy. The current generation has a sense of irony, a lot of cynicism and less self-importance which in all likelihood is not the case with our preceding generation. Hence, they get all defensive once anything breaches their comfort zone. Freedom of speech is an important topic for a society like ours, which at times, can be very archaic. Can we all just lighten up and laugh about how messed up we are?
To quote Ethel Barrymore, You grow up the first day you have a first good laugh – at yourself”.

7

You told me your secrets, would you like to know mine?
It’s always so fast, few words and fewer lines.

Let’s be friends, don’t you like the carousel?
Whirlwind craziness and you love it, I can tell.

But oh we could fall, with bodies so young.
One slip and have the wind knocked right out of my lungs.

What happened my love? This wasn’t your design.
Did you lose your balance from that blinding shine?

Spit out the blood. Pause. Brush off. Realign.
Broke some legs, that back and my mind.

Recollect, re think, and yes re-design
Them scars, do they bleed?

But oh very soon, you’ll be just fine.

Because I Love Carousels.

Delhi Deals!

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Delhi assembly elections have never been more interesting.

And the Delhi people, oh they are such political enthusiasts. Whether you want it or not they will always want you to bang your heads with theirs till the time you hail their favourite party or you remain conscious (Otherwise, Delhi hai to dil walo ki hi. Lovely people <3 ).

I definitely don’t blame them. They have persistent problems with limited options and in their heart they too are afraid that there is no immediate resolve. We have media to hype needless controversies and the political parties to create fresh ones every day. One fine leader (Shakespeare uncle said – What’s in a name, so I am not taking the name 0:) ) even demanded Mr. Kejriwal’s nomination to be cancelled because he had stated in it that he lived in B.K.Dutt Colony. Coming from an incompetent leader from an already defeated party it seems to me like a gully cricket match where children are seen appealing ‘Bhaiya ap mat khelo na, ap sixer marke ball gum kar doge’. Jokes apart, and seriously, this news is no news. It is the job of EC to verify all nomination details and take action based on the findings noted. The bloody job of these party jokers is to present forth their manifestos, plans, policies and roadmap for Delhi. All I see around is negative politics and mudslinging. Not to forget the intellectually enlightening debates on NEWS channels (:P) which turn into ‘who’s louder’ contests and have the potential to grow up to a blood feud any day. Even the very erudite and experienced journalists entertain these dumb arguments and relentlessly telecast these in chat shows. We can’t expect better from the common man. Whether media shows us what we want or we see what they show is a different debate and we can take it sometime later. My noble attempt, right now, is to give an argument (I’ll try to keep it logical!) and raise a few points which are not new but are rarely highlighted.

Before I go ahead I want to clarify that I am neither pro-AAP nor anti-BJP. I am a proud delhiite who has the privilege to choose their next Chief Minister amongst an IPS officer and an IRS officer. Whether due to threat or by choice, we finally have well qualified options before us that no other state has had. The competition is clear, the rules are clear, now we need to brainstorm if the agendas are clearly put too. There is some negative and misleading politics happening which we should not overlook. Check out yourself:

1) Campaigning on the name of Mr. Modi

During the Lok Sabha polls, we all knew who our favourite was. We gave a clear mandate as well. BJP might not have been our choice but Mr. Modi was the ideal Prime Minister candidate which worked perfectly well for BJP. Post that BJP also won elections using the same name and face in states like Maharashtra, Haryana and did fairly well in J&K as well.

Dear BJP top guns, we have chosen our Prime Minister and we request you to let him do his work. Modi is now India’s representative to the world and not merely a BJP face for state elections. Please respect his position and understand his bigger responsibilities. In the mean time you could tell us more about your candidates from Delhi and your plans for us.

Dear Mr. Modi, we would never want you to stoop to a level of malicious politics that your party is upto these days. Their being insecure of Kejriwal is natural, yours is irrelevant. We hope for your help and support to Delhi irrespective of which party wins here.

2) Blame games?? Oh please stop this menace!

Another phenomenon we see in these elections is the ‘Blame-game’ politics. All parties take a dig at their opposition. Balanced politics means you also present your agendas loud and clear. Coming from BJP, I see nothing innovative in this sphere. This party is riding on success of Mr. Modi and whenever needed it starts misleading Delhiites with the same old defamatory saga composed for their opponents, especially Mr. Kejriwal. Arvind Kejriwal’s being anarchist or quitting his CM position does not in any way tell BJP’s plans for us. Nor does their questioning the funding source of other parties prove their transparency. We expect to know their policies for Delhi, not their obsession with Mr. Kejriwal or Mr. Modi. Delhi has seen enough of allegations, we want substance.

Why is BJP so scared of AAP that the central ministers had to jump in? And to my surprise, they haven’t been deployed to defend BJP or prepare plans and election agenda but to attack AAP and Mr. Kejriwal. Ms. Kiran Bedi chooses not to debate because she says she believes in working. Dear Madam, we would definitely expect you to work once you are in power. This is the time to win the city and beat your opponents with your vision and strength. Your shying away from a discussion or confrontation only gives us more reasons to consider you weak and unprepared. This is the plight of BJP’s most reliable candidate. The most corrupt ones are however making it a point to throw five questions at Kejriwal daily. The questions, like ever, are meaningless and rotten. They are publishing new derogatory posters every day. All BJP has done in this campaigning can be medically termed as Euthanasia. It is not like throwing themselves from a cliff for suicide. This is rather asking your saviors to kill you because you have an ailment you can’t survive. We do not expect our Prime Minister to discuss ‘Kaali raat ke kaale kaarnaame’ with all those special effects and voice modulations. Obviously, it doesn’t suit a man of Mr. Modi’s stature to dramatize his speech in a way that defames others.

On the other hand, if we talk about petty things raised against BJP then there was the great goof up where students from North-east were called ‘Immigrants’. God save this nation! Calling them immigrants or not, as long as they feel safe and included here, they wouldn’t mind it. To my surprise and relief, unlike Congress and BJP, AAP did not try to use this or any other pathetic issue against any other party. They do make allegations, but they do have proofs. Luckily, those allegations are relevant and strike a chord with the ‘aam aadmi’. And the best part, they never mind excusing mistakes like this and the J&K referendum. Also, they never ask BJP or Mr. Modi about their governance of eight months. Needless to mention that we have all seen BJP spokespersons shouting like mad buffoons at rallies about Kejriwal’s 49 days and… they talk cons. (How sweet of them!)

3) Let’s talk Turkey!

Not only Delhi, but the whole nation has a history of forgetting and forgiving. We have been giving multiple chances to both BJP and Congress since decades. We will surely not hesitate in giving another chance to AAP as well. All we expect is good intent and revolutionary ideas. We want parties to understand concrete issues and come up with some immediate and long-term plans. Politicizing everything is not good nor does it appeal to us any longer. AAP emerges as a ray of hope for the educated class, the poor and the educated-poor. Issues like electricity and water bill have found top spots in BJP and Congress manifestos, thanks to the focus shift brought by AAP.

4) All you Modi fans, grow up!

Mr. Modi is a great guy. Trust me, I too voted for him some eight months back. His history in Gujarat, his work and his energy is worth appreciation. I do not say that he has achieved something great but I am sure that he has a vision and he is at least trying to do something. Besides, I am really pissed off by the illogical Modi fanatics who have some very unrealistic hopes pinned on Mr. Prime Minister. If you are one of them (okay, you may choose not to admit), please go through the points below and THINK!!

  • Mr. Modi has greater responsibilities on him. If you think that he will be working for Delhi then you, my dear, are a sweet innocent idiot.
  • I would have loved it if you had the guts to say that you support BJP or Kiran Bedi. You say you support Modi. Need I say more? However much you support him, you can’t make him the CM of Delhi. (No, I can’t give you any false hopes!)

5) Finally, the proactive BJP followers have guts to admit – ‘BJP being at Centre shall control and might as well prohibit any other party in power in Delhi. So, we don’t take a chance and invite monopoly instead.’ (Hmm… that’s intelligence, people! :P)

If central government being more powerful decides the fate of states then either Gujarat’s development model is a sham or the then central government (Congress, LOL :P) deserves equal and more credit for it than Mr.Modi. If you are saying that BJP will not approve of AAP’s plans even if they are in Delhi’s good then it defeats the very premise that they themselves are going to bring the changes we want. If BJP only plans to hinder the work and continue with their negativity then definitely Kejriwal is going to have troubles. Otherwise, if the central government does its job and state government does its own then we can hope all will go well.

Come on dude, BJP would not have been this desperate if they knew that Kejriwal will not be able to take actions after he gets the chair. If this muffler man comes to power with flying colours, they know their ‘black’ and ‘white’ lives shall be exposed sooner than they can imagine.

Anyhow, the least we should understand is that BJP should not be given complete power right now. Our constitution facilitates decentralization of power and there is a vision of diverse politics and governance guiding this provision. AAP in Delhi and BJP at the Centre is a fairly balanced combination. Let’s not get carried away by our sentiments for a person or party. Lets choose sensibly.

I started at a neutral note. In these elections the only thing I supported initially was that there should be a clear majority. If not AAP, then let it be BJP here. But as the campaigning progressed, AAP won my trust again. And more than that, I lost trust in other parties yet again.

My best wishes to all the parties!

Many thanks to Mr. Kejriwal for his efforts and courage. Thank god, he knows how to deal with them all.

And my dear Delhiites, the re-election is an opportunity to think again and choose better. This time, DOUBLETHINK!