Wednesday, August 30, 2006

High education, Low politics

Every other week there happens some thing or other that says that more the things change, more they remain same. The places may vary, the faces may change but the shock value, the insensitivity stays unchanged.

As if Jessica Lal, Neetish Katara or Priyadarshini Mattoo tragedies were not enough, Ujjain shot up for its claim to shame with murder of Professor Sabharwal of Madhav Singh College. Having spent my teen life in Allahabad where student politics in the University is as vicious as it gets, the violence in campus is nothing new for me. Indeed it was surprising if there was no news of bomb explosions or firing in campus or rampage in academic blocks didn't appear in newspapers for a month! (I am not aware of the scenario nowdays)

But this is something that I never heard.

On 26th August, members of BJP's student wing Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) threatened and ultimately beat Prof. H.S. Sabharwal to death. He was 62 and barely 6 months from his retirement. Eyewitnesses claim that Police did nothing except watching and they claim that this is not for the first time, the 'students' have misbehaved with teaching (or non-teaching) staff. Though for the first time they have killed someone. As I am writing this, ABVP leaders have surrendered but they have been charged with 'manhandling' instead of murder.Not that this is surprising. The complaint itself was lodged after intense pressure from media and opposition while Police kept on claiming lack of eyewitnesses till the librarian came on-camera and claimed that he has already appeared before Police.

This incident may come like a shock to many but this is just another example of lawlessness creeping in universities in the garb of student politics. In Delhi, victory in Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) election is supposed to be an indicator of victory in state elections. And needless to say that every candidate flays the rules set by election commission for an upper limit on expenditure. Those who claim that it is not possible to contest elections on shoe-string budget lie. Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) does that every year.

Political parties and student unions cried blood when Election Commission suggested an upper limit of 23 (or 25) years on contesting University elections. So you don't need to be Sherlock to understand the real motive of those contesting University elections. Crime is creeping in politics at its 'grassroots' level.

It's high time that someone cleans this mess.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Peace, Propaganda & The Promised Land

I think you too have got a mail comparing Indian and Israeli responses to attacks on them. Though I have replied to that mail with appropriate reasons, this video presents the other side of the story. Watch it, how the hunters are posing as hunted and this massive PR machinery is churning out complete lies.
The text below is courtesy Google Video.

Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land provides a striking comparison of U.S. and international media coverage of the crisis in the Middle East, zeroing in on how structural distortions in U.S. coverage have reinforced false perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This pivotal documentary exposes how the foreign policy interests of American political elites--oil, and a need to have a secure military base in the region, among others--work in combination with Israeli public relations strategies to exercise a powerful influence over how news from the region is reported.
Through the voices of scholars, media critics, peace activists, religious figures, and Middle East experts, Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land carefully analyzes and explains how--through the use of language, framing and context--the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza remains hidden in the news media, and Israeli colonization of the occupied terrorities appears to be a defensive move rather than an offensive one. The documentary also explores the ways that U.S. journalists, for reasons ranging from intimidation to a lack of thorough investigation, have become complicit in carrying out Israel's PR campaign. At its core, the documentary raises questions about the ethics and role of journalism, and the relationship between media and politics.

Friday, August 04, 2006

It's hot outside. We'll go on strike!

What is surprising in this demand? It's too hot and I don't feel like working so why am I being 'forced' to work?
What? How dare you suggest that I face a pay-cut for not working? It is my birth right to have a government job and even greater right to protest and go on strike for every will and whim of mine and since Left Front is in Government, no Government can dare to ban strike.
Supreme Court? Oh come on man, we Indians have a habit of flouting the orders of the court. It begins at highest level of Governance, when parliament amends constitution to go around every ruling of Supreme Court it doesn't like (read: comes in the way of its votebank politics) and continues to lowest level of judiciary when almost everyone (district administration,police,goons and any one who can) laughs at the order of district courts. So who cares if Supreme Court says anything about strikes. We will do whatever we like.
Am I serious about this issue? What else do you think, I am joking here? Well this is not the issue of my coming strike on 17th and 18th August. Now as you know I am an AAI employee and since we don't often get a chance to go on strike we just wanted to ensure that people of the country don't forget me and other unions don't laugh at us.
Yes, the issue is same old one. The airport privatization. Now we ourselves don't exactly know what are we doing it for, since Government had agreed to most of our demands of retaining most of our staff even after GMR and GVK had taken over the airports. But still as our union leader said "''We will be protesting against AAI employees being pushed to new joint venture companies which have been formed to modernise Delhi and Mumbai airports".
Yes, even I was thinking about that. We have known this for past three months that we are going to be employees of new joint venture. But just think about this, we have to start with the new management on a high note na!
Oh, don't give me that crap about inconvenience to public. Is this our fault that public starts expecting international standards from us? Public has to face inconvenience whenever someone strikes, so why single us out? We will do what we have to.
Ok. It's been nice talking to you. Inquilab Zindabad!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

An evening with Tiwi art

This saturday I went to an art exhibition. Ami was absolutely adamant about going but I convinced him somehow and after having savoured one vegetable biryani each (he ate a paneer paratha as well!), which ensured that our stomachs were more than full, we took an auto for State Gallery of Fine Arts. We had reached Jubilee Hills when I realized that we have come a bit too far, and the Gallery must be some way back. And after a call to Neelima and a nice 1 km walk, we reached the impressive Art Gallery.

We were in a bit hurry because it was 6 now and the exhibition is open till only 7. Let me be honest at this point, I had almost no idea about the subject, the artists or origin of the paintings. Not that it would have made much difference had I known these things, but still!

The exhibition titled 'Kiripuranjee: Contemporary Art from Tiwi Islands' has been brought to India by Art Bank, an initiative of Australian Government.The exhibition features paintings from three major art centres of the Tiwi Islands. The word 'Tiwi' means 'we people' (I thought, maybe Ashutosh Gowarikar could have titled 'Swades : We the people' as 'Swades: Tiwi')

Tiwi Islands are located in the north of Australia, separated from mainland by Clarence Strait. There are two main islands that form Tiwi, Melville Island and Bathurst Island, separated from each other by Apsley Strait.

I had carried my camera, but we were pretty sure that we won't be allowed to shoot, so it came as a great surprise when guard in exhibition hall allowed me to take pictures.

If you haven't, you can see the pictures here

Traditional Tiwi art uses only four colors: black (obtained from charcoal), white (from lime), yellow (from iron oxide) and red (by burning iron oxide). New artists generate more colours like blue or gray or maroon by mixing these colors. Some others use paints. Similarly variety is seen in case of painting brushes. So if older generation uses chewed twigs or body painting brushes, new artists use modern painting brushes.

Most of the paintings featured were on paper but baskets made of tree barks called 'tunga' were also featured. Painted tungas are used in religious rituals as well as daily lives.

What fascinated me most were the 'female' spears called 'Puruntatameri'. I couldn't understand that why these 7 ft. (approx) tall, ironwood spears were classified 'female'!

It was a really good experience. By the way, I am going there again next week. Wanna join me?