Lessons from the questions

The news of a Malayalam professor whose hands have been cut off by a group of Muslim extremists is the talk of Kerala these days. Professor Joseph’s right palm was cut off by a gang of six people while he was returning home from Church on a Sunday. Two Popular Front activists have been arrested in connection with this incident. Popular Front, of which the accused are members of,  is alleged to have links to Islamic terrorist organizations like Lashkar-e-Taiba and SIMI (Student Islamic Movement of India) as is read from their Wiki page.

The incident has to be condemned and the culprits should be brought to justice, as we cannot excuse any form of terrorism or extremism, regardless of which community it comes from – the majority or minority. But there are a couple of issues attached to this incident.

The problem arose when Mr. Joseph, a professor of Malayalam in Newman College Thodupuzha, included a narrative in a question paper that he prepared for the students of the college. The narrative was from an article written by film maker/politician P T Kunjumuhammed. Kunjumuhammed had written about the script that he wrote for his award winning movie “Garshom”. He wrote that the scene in which the protagonist of his film talks to God was inspired by a lunatic in his hometown. So the lunatic would call God and God would respond “what is it, you son of a dog“? (I am unsure that “Son of a dog” interprets it’s Malayalam usage “Naayinte mone” well though). The question that came with the narrative was to supply the punctuation.

P T Kunjumuhammed’s article:

Kunjumuhammed's article

The controversial part of the question paper:

Courtesy: Mathrubhumi.com

Prof. Joseph took the passage and instead of leaving the lunatic nameless (as in the original passage) he added a name (which he did not have to do) and the name he chose was Muhammed (which also he did not have to do as there are many other common Muslim names if he had to give one). This was really unnecessary for Prof Joseph to include such a twisted version in the question paper. When this became a controversy, the college management and Church apologized for having to hurt the Muslim sentiments and they suspended Joseph when the question paper became a controversy which was a rightful thing to do.

But this gruesome act of extremists leads us to another thing – how a group of radical Islamists have begun to unleash their terror openly in the Kerala society. They are in large numbers and comes in different names. They have infiltrated into the liberal, democratic and political spheres in disguise. And if they are not stopped now, Kerala will soon become an Islamist playground. The under current is already on.

Racism and Casteism

Raped Dalit girl kills self as cops let-off the accusedThe girl was raped by an upper caste youth on February 12 in their village.

The above news item shows up in the front page of IBN website. Whenever such news come up, there is not much rage in Twitter or blogs like it happens when Indians are attacked in Australia. Not many are condemning Casteism, like they condemned Racism. Not many concerns of security and the criminals being left unpunished because this is just another day and just another news item in India.

When Australians attack Indians, it is seen as a racist attack. When Indians attack Indians, people insist that it should be seen purely based on the crime aspect that caste and class have nothing to do with it.

Such is our time.

Cloud over Bhopal

A Cloud Still Hangs Over Bhopal by Suketu Mehta in New York Times is the best article that I read so far about Bhopal tragedy.

All over India, when misfortune strikes — when a child is ill, for example — people burn chilies to drive away the evil eye. The gas smelled like chilies burning, and people said to one another, it must be a powerfully evil eye that’s being driven away, the stench is so strong.

Fleeing the gas, the Bhopalis clutched their children. Some babies fell, gasping, and their parents had to choose which ones to carry on their shoulders. One image still comes up over and over in their dreams: in the stampede, a thousand people are stepping on their child’s body.

Read it in full here.

Bhopal: Never Forget

Amir Khan02

25 years on, and the poisoning in Bhopal continues…

Let us not forget…

  • A company that still refuses to take legal responsibility of the disaster, and to provide enough health damages (Rs. 25000 for life-long suffering?) and clean up the disaster site
  • Our politicians (planning to secure $1bn of investment from Dow) who want us to believe that the place is now safe, when the private institutional studies reports that the place is still highly contaminated by dangerous toxins
  • A company CEO who has fled India and was declared “untraceable” by Indian authorities although his address in a New York suburb is publicly listed
  • Generations of people, including many kids like the one in the picture above (I have excluded some very disturbing pics of the kids, go to bhopal.org to see them),  continue to suffer because of the disaster

Guardian article
Amnesty USA’s article
Riding the Elephant

(Image courtesy: Bhopal.org)

India: Homosexuality Legalized

In a historic judgment, the Delhi High Court has passed a ruling that recommends section 377 of IPC should be amended and any sex between two consenting adults should be legalized. This comes as a big solace to India’s homosexuals as it opens up the way to legalize consensual sex between two adult homosexuals. The Court has said that section 377, if not amended would be a violation of Article 21 of the constitution which states that every citizen should be treated equally before the law. I am happy that the Court has upheld the values of human rights and the right to live with dignity and equal opportunity (at least in the eyes of the law).

Chief Justice Shah and Justice Muralidhar said, “We declare Section 377 in so far as it criminalizes consensual sexual acts of adults in private is violative of articles 14, 21 and 15 of the Constitution. The provision of Section 377 will continue to govern non-consensual penile non-vaginal sex and penile non vaginal sex involving minors.” [Legally gay: historic court order makes it possibleCNN IBN]

The new ruling however will not be immediately implemented because it is now up to the parliament to take a decision to amend the law. And I am not sure whether the politicians would take a positive stand on the matter because there is strong protest from various religious groups including Christians, Hindus and Muslims (which also means “vote banks”). I have only one thing to ask them. You have time and again taken pride in saying that your respective religion has revised it’s teachings and text according to the times. Each of you claim that you are the most modern religion. Now is your chance to prove it. If you think that a supreme force like God(s) cannot be inclusive, what kind of love and tolerance do you preach?

As for the LGBT community, they have many challenges lying ahead. For the starters, they should begin educating people on homosexuality rather than keeping people off with the explicit symbols of sexuality. The homosexuals need to let the heterosexuals know that other than their preference in love and sex, they are not a sex-hungry group but normal people, just like the rest of us. They should also help others identify whether they are truly Gay or not. (I read an excellent post on this topic in Sam’s blog where he answered someone about the differences between feeling Gay and being Gay).

Anyways, the Indian society cannot live in denial. Homosexuality and homosexuals are for real.  Our denial only makes the whole situation worse, adding up to the failed marriages, sexual diseases and suicides. So no matter what an individual thinks of homosexuality, the Government and Law should uphold the rights of every individual. The Court has done it’s part. Will the Government follow?

Related posts:

Homosexuality and Our Perceptions
Indian Penal Code, Section 377

JANANEETHI needs your support

There is an NGO called Jananeethi in Thrissur that works in many areas such as micro-credit, self-help groups etc. and their primary focus is on bringing help to poor people for legal assistance. For the past 2 years, they are in a financial crisis and even the staff is working without salaries. They are looking for more project funds from government and other sources, but in the meantime to survive they need private donations.

Now they have come out with a plan and are looking for a contribution of Rs. 5000 per year and for 3 years. Those who would like to make monthly installments of payment can also do so. The bank account details are as follows:

SB A/c No. 9387, Catholic Syrian Bank, Main Branch, Thrissur – 680001.

Jananeethi is a charitable society registered under the provisions of the Travancore-Cochin Literary, Scientific and Charitable Societies Act XII of 1955, Reg. No. 193/92 TCR. All contributions can avail tax exemption granted under 80 G of Income Tax Act, 1961.

Here is their website for more info: http://www.jananeethi.org

An Indian non-Thamizhan’s take on SL conflict

I have never bothered to learn much about the Singhalese vs Thamizhans issue in Sri Lanka. Probably because it has been going on ever since my childhood and the news of the killings had become the news of “ordinary value”. There are certain issues which have come to an ordinary value as time passes by. Aung San Sui Kyi of Burma for example. Or “soon-to-be-of-ordinary-value” Dr. Binayak Sen. Anyways, the murder of Rajiv Gandhi brought the issue into the common public again, but I could not read more about it then because Internet was not available. Now as the news come out that the LTTE has been wiped off by Sri Lankan govt, I could read a lot more into the issue.

I have found out that there are not many indepent reports available on the issue, so that makes it hard to take a stand on this racial conflict. Both sides (LTTE and SL Govt)  have been releasing press notes that accuse the opposite side. The Sri Lankan government has not allowed the independent news agencies to report from the war zone. In an interview with Al Jazeera TV, the Sri Lankan army spokesperson said that it is to ensure the safety of the journalists. Then the Al Jazeera journalist promptly told him that they have experience of reporting from the war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq, so no need to worry about their security. This makes me believe that the Sri Lankan government is covering up the realities of war zone. Here we should also note the final editorial from the editor of Sunday Leader newspaper in Sri Lanka, Lasantha Wickrematunge, who has been murdered by unidentified gunmen. In his letter he has been very critical of the Sri Lankan govt and president Rajapakshe. Some interviews with Sri Lankan Thamizhans which I read in Mathrubhumi weekly (Malayalam), says that the segregation of Thamizh people have grown strong. But one of them claims that LTTE wasn’t helping either.

The Thamizh diaspora world over (apart from some lone voices) seems to be justifying LTTE in their support for Thamizh cause which I do not understand. The racial segregation of Thamizhans in Sri Lanka needs to be condemned and voiced about. But is LTTE the answer? Is Prabhakaran justified of his actions? The people from the interview which I mentioned above also tells that LTTE has been forcibly recruiting women and children. A Thamizh Muslim woman mentioned that LTTE have been segregating Muslims in the North and East provinces. Now that is something which made me google more in to the issue. Then I found out this:

1) In the North Sri Lanka, the LTTE forcibly expelled the 75,000 strong Muslim population from the Northern Province

2) The first expulsion was in Chavakacheri, of 1,500 people. After this, Muslims in Kilinochchi and Mannar were forced many to leave their homeland. The turn of Jaffna came on October 30, 1987; when LTTE trucks drove through the streets ordering Muslim families to assemble at Osmania College. There, they were told to exit the city within two hours.

The above incidents remind me of the Natzi era. The LTTE was segregating their own people just because they were born to a different religion. They later apologized and asked Muslims to return, but the scars of the event lead to another form of terrorism, it seems. Now there are extremist Islamist groups growing within the country, as per reports. So how can a leader like Prabhakaran represent the “Thamizh cause” if he exterminates his own people, who were born to a different religion? What kind of a leader is he?

The Thamizh Muslims seems to have been caught between the devil and the sea. One link that I read that tells the story of what Tamil Muslims face from Singhalese and a Wiki page that talks about what they faced from LTTE.

I am against the segregation of Tamils in Sri Lanka and I think the new government should ensure the Thamizh involvement in the government, army, bureaucracy etc. But I do not support LTTE in that process. LTTE’s struggle has not produced much good results. So many Thamizhans have lost their lives. Many have been displaced. Many had to flee their homeland. Many have been forced to join the LTTE and blow up themselves. Those who have been left out in the relief camps run by the Sri Lankan government are facing concentration camp kind of situation created by the Sri Lankan Army. And with the LTTE attitude towards the minority-within-minority, I don’t think LTTE is what the Sri Lankan Thamizhans need to keep on with their fight for dignity and pride.

Now that the Sri Lankan government claims to have wiped off LTTE, they have to prove their sincerity in the integrity of their country. But many Thamizhans who saw LTTE as their last hope have been disappointed. Mr. Rajapakshe has to ensure that the Thamizh people are involved in the functionary of the country. He has to stop the Army’s atrocities. The International community should keep a close watch and ensure this and the freedom of press. If the Sri Lankan government fails on that part, the International community should intervene and take action. To counter the violence in Sri Lanka is by ensuring the Thamizh people of their dignity and pride. And by making them feel that they are also a part of the country. Can Mr. Rajapakshe do that or will he let the racial segregation go on? We have to wait and watch.

(Image courtesy: Sangam.org)

(Thanks to Vatsan and Kajan for some of the links included in this post)

Homosexuality and Our Perceptions

I read about a “sexual orientation test” in Rediff’s website through India Uncut. The test is in promotion of an upcoming Hindi film and the film is not seriously about homosexuality. It is supposed to be a comedy. Well enough, but Rediff’s questionnaire is full of stereotypes as an online friend, who is Gay, points out. I think probably this is the right time to write about my views on the most tabooed topic – Homosexuality.

I used to have strong views against homosexuals. Just like many of us have or had, I thought it’s unnatural and as a society we shouldn’t let it happen. I always thought about it only from my point of view and never from the other. I thought of it as a mental illness as it is propagated by the society, even though Wikipedia says that medical science has removed homosexuality from the list of psychic problems long back.

In my teenage, I and my friends used to make fun of homosexuals. We used to gather together In the evenings on those days. So when a Gay teenager passed over (and we told them apart by their girlish notions), we would make funny and nasty comments on him and some would even shout at him. A friend even suggested that ‘we should softly invite him for a blow job and when he comes along we should beat the hell out of him to straighten him up’. However, that did not happen as most of us thought ‘let them be’. So homosexuals were easy preys upon whom you could prove your ‘masculinity’.

So for us boys, the Gays were boys who behaved like girls. And we couldn’t digest it, as their outer self and inner self were contradicting. I never thought of how it would be for them if it is this confusing for others. Growing up, I have had abusive experience from pedophiles in the crowded places. It was mostly older men but for me, they were Gays too. So there were more reasons to hate Gays – Gays are unnatural and they sexually abuse boys. I didn’t know about the term Pedophilia or the fact that Pedophiles abuse kids, regardless of their victims being boys or girls.

As I grew up and read more on the subject, I began to understand the different sexual orientations and stuff. I learned that being Gay need not be about being girlish. Or all Lesbians are not so masculine. They could be just like any other man or woman, except for their sexual or romantic orientation. I still couldn’t digest because in most of the homosexual blogs or in their pride rallies, sex is a celebrated symbol. I felt it nasty and wondered why they would display vulgarity in public or why sex is so important to them. But later I understood that their whole fight is about this one thing – getting the society to accept their sexual orientation, treat them as normal people. In that case, what else do they have to showcase or speak about?

I thought of myself, what if I was Gay? What if I felt only for men and never for women? What if it was not a disease? What if it was how I born? It is only then, when I put myself into their shoes, that I understood how helpless is the situation of homosexuals here. We cannot ignore the existence of homosexuality anymore. It only leads to more youngsters going into prostitution or worse, suicide.

I think as grown up individuals, heterosexuals should take part in the cause of homosexuals. For the equal treatment and legal protection for homosexuals in the society and country. We don’t need to be homosexuals to take part in this fight. It is like how we fight for freedom of expression here in the online world, regardless of our political leanings. We talk about equality everywhere – Gender based, Religious, Racial, Regional etc etc. Then why not join in this fight too?

To quote actor Sean Penn from his Oscar speech:

For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support.

We’ve got to have equal rights for everyone.

Let me end this post by linking to two Gay blogs that I stumbled upon. Sam‘s blog, he calls it “Straight-friendly Gay Blog”, for his posts that demystify the concepts that “Straight” world has about Homosexuality and Kris‘s blog for his music.

(Image source: Internet)

The Blogger Rights

Bloggers and blogging have come to the news again with a Supreme Court ruling on the latest case of Ajith, an 18 yr old blogger from Kerala. Ajith had started an Orkut community against Shiv Sena and the community message board had received messages alleging that Shiv Sena is trying to divide the country on region and caste basis.

Times of India reports on blogger Ajith’s case:

Reacting to these posts, the Shiv Sena youth wing’s state secretary registered a criminal complaint at Thane police station in August 2008 based on which FIR was registered against Ajith under Sections 506 and 295A pertaining to hurting public sentiment.

Ajith then sought an anticipatory bail from Kerala High Court and approached Supreme Court to quash the criminal complaint. But the SC did not favour the blogger. SC bench said “We cannot quash criminal proceedings. You are a computer student and you know how many people access internet portals. Hence, if someone files a criminal action on the basis of the content, then you will have to face the case. You have to go before the court and explain your conduct.” Now the boy has to face the court in Maharashtra, the home of Shiv Sena, and he is afraid of his life for obvious reasons.

One of the main advantages of blogging is that it allows you to express your opinion freely and fearlessly. Agreed that some bloggers misuse this, i.e. indulging in personal abuse, and such people should be brought to law if the offended person decides to do so and if there is a strong case. I emphasize on the word “strong case” because there should not be a situation where anyone can drag anyone to court based on mere allegations. In the light of new ruling, bloggers would resort to politically correct statements, which would not help much in open debates and discussions and it will take out the spirit of blogging and make it function like mainstream media.

Another sad thing is that the court now says that a blogger can be booked for the comments posted in his/her blog. It is true that mainstream media has such laws applicable to them, but blogging does not function like main mainstream media. Blogging is an opinion medium, not a reporting medium and should be kept at that and exceptions of law should be made in that line.

But bloggers are not above the law. Perhaps the discussions on Ajith’s case would make bloggers become more responsible in their writing. By citing proofs/data/references to backup their statements/claims, which is good in the long run for a maturing media like Blog.

Now let us look into what the Delaware Supreme Court (in the USA) ruled in a similar case back in 2005. They reversed a lower court decision that had required an Internet service provider to disclose the identity of an anonymous blogger who targeted a local elected official on a newspaper site. Following were the comments from Chief Justice Myron Steele:

“Given the context, no reasonable person could have interpreted these statements as being anything other than opinion. … The statements are, therefore, incapable of a defamatory meaning,” Chief Justice Myron Steele wrote in his ruling, noting that blogs are inherently filled with opinion.

Steele described the Internet as a “unique democratizing medium unlike anything that has come before,” and said anonymous speech in blogs and chat rooms in some instances can become the modern equivalent of political pamphleteering. Accordingly, a plaintiff claiming defamation should be required to provide sufficient evidence to overcome a defendant’s motion for summary judgment before a court orders the disclosure of a blogger’s identity.

“We are concerned that setting the standard too low will chill potential posters from exercising their First Amendment right to speak anonymously,” Steele wrote. “The possibility of losing anonymity in a future lawsuit could intimidate anonymous posters into self-censoring their comments or simply not commenting at all.”

Now compare this with our Supreme Court rule in Ajith’s case and think about it.

The Sene Sainik

Hey! What’s up? Haven’t seen you lately.

Yeah, I’ve been busy.

Busy with what? Work?

Yeah, work. But not the office work. I joined a cultural army and was busy protecting our culture.

Oh, you joined the Sene Sainiks? I heard you guys beat up some girls in a pub or something? Man, why would you do something like that??

We were actually protecting our women, silly! Did you know that Muslim boys lure away our girls and get them converted at Ponnani in Kerala? And it is not only our girls, but the Christian girls too. Christian girls man! Your tribe. Do you see the danger now? We gotta be together in this fight against Jehadi Romeos!

Oh! Didn’t know that. Hmmm… but hey! Wait a minute! Why would you beat the girls for what boys are doing to them? You were beating up them poor victims for the fault of someone else?

That is why we talk about culture saala! These girls did not consider our warnings about Jehadis and became a threat to our great culture.

So you beat them up in order to protect our culture?

Well, that too.

But what right do you hold to come in and beat up these girls? Shouldn’t it be left to themselves to decide what they want to do with their life and culture?

When they fail on their duty to uphold the culture, we come in and take care of that. See what a selfless service we do to our country?

Hmm… well, you remind me of someone else whom I’ve seen in the media. I can’t remember who it is, but you resemble him a lot.

Oh yeah? Who is it? Well, anyways, do you see what western culture is doing to us with all these?

Well, what is this western culture?

Immorality, that’s what the West is all about! They booze, they date, they always think about sex.

I’m just thinking who was that other guy I’ve seen on TV. You remind me of him a lot.


Forget it. Anyways, I think we had all of what you said since thousands of years back? We even wrote Kamasutra that explained… well.. you know… several ways of having sex.

That is part of the culture, silly! We taught the world how to have sex! And compare it to what these girls do in pubs! They get boozed and dances with men of other religions! What a horrible crime that is!!

Oh yeah, I can see that. And what is it that you have against Valentine’s Day?

Valentine’s Day is a Christian festival. And Christians imported such festivals from the West to convert people to Christianity!

Valentine’s Day is a Christian festival? I never heard of any Church in India celebrating the festival of St. Valentine.

You wouldn’t. Such are the tactics of the Christians!

I got it! I got it!!


The guy whom you reminded me of.

Who is it?

Osama Bin Laden! He too used to talk passionately about protecting his religion and culture from the west, the Christian west’s agenda to de-stabilize the Islamic countries, and upholding the culture by taking it on women and innocent people!

You bloody pseudo-secularist, Commie, Christian! I will see what to do with you!

(PS: Those who are interested can also participate in the Pink Chaddi campaign. There could be no better Valentine’s Day gift than a Pink Chaddi to send to the Sri Ram Sene folks! 🙂 )