Being Indian: My thoughts on being an agent of democracy.

I am writing this in the eve after shipping a relief consignment to Chennai. We (12 other good friends of mine) collected somewhere near 1.5 lakhs. My mentors and friends in my hometown (Batlagundu, TN) has contributed money and efforts in shipping it off.

There is something I wanted to share. Something I realized being a part of this.

A volunteer, a veteran teacher – headmaster from our group tells me that we are sending 50 blankets worth of 16,000 Rs to Chennai. The inadequacy hits me. 50 blankets? You mean we can only provide 50 blankets to the people that are suffering? To what end man? Its not even enough for a single file apartment, let alone a complex. Let alone an area. Why am I doing this? I know for sure that this isn’t survivor’s guilt.

Its not survivor’s guilt because I didn’t get this life easily as you did. I am now an engineer in a leading semiconductor manufacturing firm, at 27 years! I expected to be here an year earlier but screw that. What I have is not survivor’s guilt.

The point is, I am inadequate. I have always been blessed with wonderful friends and together we did what we could but what we did doesn’t even comes close to what needs to be done. Its a gargantuan task getting Chennai and Cuddalore back to its feet. But with a heavy heart, this is where we stop. Accepting our inadequacies.

But wait!

There is more. You and I can be inadequate. Moving on forward, Actor Siddharth and RJ Balaji has to stop at some point before politicians stop them. You and I need to stop asking these two wonderful men to step into politics. They will do it if they want to but by merely expressing your will for electing them to be your rulers makes them a threat to everyone else that wants to rule. You get it?

We need to stop. But what needs to be done remains undone right? I have been thinking about it. Some asswipe from Mumbai thinks its alright if we are dying. Reddit’s r/India thinks we brought this upon ourselves by choosing dravidian parties over a national party. But you my brother, you and I know, for all their faults, ADMK and DMK is all we have got. We certainly don’t want BJP’s crazies running this state. Do you know why?

We prided ourselves for Muslims helping Hindus and shared pictures of Muslims inside the temples right? I believe we only did that because of what is happening in the rest (read: most) of India. I don’t think this is an unexpected behavior. We have always helped each other. Muslims provide holy ashes to the pilgrims of Sabari Mala, in their Vavar mosque.

An excerpt from the wikipedia’s page for the Vavar mosque reads

“En route the pilgrimage to Sabarimala during the makaravilakku season almost all of the Ayyappa devotees will come to Erumely and perform the ritual. Pettathullal starts from the small temple situated at the heart of Erumely town known as ‘Kochambalam’. From there the dance procession advance to the Muslim mosque called ‘Vavar palli’ opposite to Kochambalam and the devotees worship ‘Vavarswamy’.

Hindus in and around Ramanadhapuram celebrate Santhanakoodu festival. Scenes like Hindu youths carrying a palanquin alongside Muslims and Hindus and Muslims feasting together are normal and is a recurrent event everyyear. If this state was run by BJP, I am not sure if we would have had those facebook posts of Muslim – Hindu solidarity to begin with.

I am not even going to insult my readers by explaining why we don’t need Congress.

All of this is to tell you guys that we are fine with DMK and ADMK. If there is a new power, I totally welcome it, but I bet my life I am never going to vote for a BJP or a Congress entity in my life. So we have reached a quandary. DMK and ADMK is all we have got and this flood, the aftermath and our inadequacy are still posing a big question. I honestly think I know where the solution lies, or at least a meek of a possible answer that could lead us towards having a better government.

It starts right here by you guys reading these two articles. It is not hilarious as a meme, neither does it come with a like button. But this is how we start. First article is personally written for his own oration by Raghuram Rajan, our RBI governor and a fellow Tamizhian. If you choose not to listen to your Government’s premier economical system’s (a guiding and controlling authority of this country’s bankers) chief authority, please don’t bother asking for a better government because you don’t know what a better government is. Raghuram was a “Chief Economist and Director of Research – International Monetary Fund”. If you are ever reading anything that you think is of value to India’s future, then you read this.

https://rbi.org.in/scripts/BS_SpeechesView.aspx?Id=941

Relevant Excerpts:

/ Strong government does not mean one that is only militarily powerful or uses its intelligence apparatus to sniff out enemies of the state. Instead, a strong government is also one that provides an effective and fair administration through clean, motivated, and competent administrators who can deliver good governance.
Rule of law means that government’s actions are constrained by what we Indians would term dharma – by a historical and widely understood code of moral and righteous behaviour, enforced by religious, cultural, or judicial authority.
And democratic accountability means that government has to be popularly accepted, with the people having the right to throw unpopular, corrupt, or incompetent rulers out./

If you read the article, which you should, you will come across this line.

/The rule of law is needed to prevent the tyranny of the majority that can arise in a democracy, as well as to ensure that basic “rules of the game” are preserved over time so that the environment is predictable, no matter which government comes to power./

What could he mean by the term “tyranny of the majority that can arise in a democracy?”. It could mean Maharashtra’s beefban. The government of MH was voted and backed by the majority and their tyranny is making beef consumption as illegal. Let’s not talk about the Mohammad Iklakh Saifi’s fate in Uttar Pradesh.

Raghuram proceeds to say
/By ensuring that all citizens have inalienable rights and protections, the rule of law constrains the majority’s behaviour towards the minorities./. We failed didn’t we?

When you realize how he connects this three pillars of democracy to his own turf, economics, you realize this man’s understanding. I love this guy. So should you, I think.

 So how does Raghuram displays this sort of comprehension and understanding of the problem statement? Because he was willing. He read Fukuyama. He thinks about the problem. He finds a path to a solution. This is exactly the essence of what I am going to ask you all to do here.

Okay. But how does this become relevant for our current predicament?

Excerpts from this article again.
/For instance, a business approval process that mandates numerous government surveys in remote areas should also consider our administrative capacity to do those surveys well and on time./

In our current flooding situation, the analogy breaks down to this:
Business Process – Buildings.
Government’s Mandate – Geographical Survey.
Administrative Capacity – Having enough surveyors to meet the pace of the business process, in this case, no                                                                 of permits filed. Administrative capacity also means that these surveyors are to                                                                     make sure they actually be present at the site, survey, make sure the building is in a                                                             legally allowed landscape. Follow up after the building is built to make sure it is                                                                     within the allowed limits like number of storeys and such.

In our case, the drowning of Chennai during December 2016, if there were enough honest surveyors doing their job, the buildings in the lakes and streams would not have had their permit. Now you can simply say “why bother to go into such details boss? If the government did its job means these buildings will not be there no?”. That’s the problem. You were not willing to demonstrate a structural understanding of the problem but yet you demanded to be taken care of, that too only after you have been hit. But see.. Raghuram said this before TN flooding. Not because he was a victim. But because he was able to structurally understand our country. Because he was willing. He thinks about the problem. He reads Fukuyama. He finds a path to a solution. He provided answers because he saw it coming. We are not Raghuram to read Fukuyama. But we definitely can read what our RBI governor says and ingest. This may not make us provide answers. But it will make us ask the right questions. So I am saying, it doesn’t matter if DMK or ADMK is in the power. If you ask these questions, any government will have to respond. Our collective insight guides the government because we hold the voting right isn’t it?

The second article is by Edward Snowden. It is a link to his answer during a reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything – a sort of interview where any one can ask him questions). There are reasons that we should read what Snowden has to say. Treason. That too against the United States of America. A CIA employee turned NSA contractor, has leaked documents that shook the US Government and people. But what does that tell us? An engineer, if he has to work for CIA and NSA, he had to be good. Super good. If he chooses to work for his government, as opposed to making money rain on him in a corporate jungle, it indicates he had good intentions. What makes a very decent human being(Buddhist, Ascetic) to commit a treacherous act against the world’s most powerful country? This is exactly why you read what he has to say.

https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2wwdep/we_are_edward_snowden_laura_poitras_and_glenn/courx1i

The first excerpt.
/Well, when we look back on history, the progress of Western civilization and human rights is actually founded on the violation of law. America was of course born out of a violent revolution that was an outrageous treason against the crown and established order of the day./

The second excerpt.
/Ultimately, if people lose their willingness to recognize that there are times in our history when legality becomes distinct from morality, we aren’t just ceding control of our rights to government, but our agency in determing thour futures./

The third excerpt.
/In such times, we’d do well to remember that at the end of the day, the law doesn’t defend us; we defend the law. And when it becomes contrary to our morals, we have both the right and the responsibility to rebalance it toward just ends./

There you have the reason for Snowden doing what he did. Make no mistake. His actions resulted in the death of several American heroes, who were deep undercover. It also exposed people who were helping America but were not citizens of America, resulting in their death and torture. Unacceptable. He has to be held accountable. But there is a lesson to be learned. Morality Vs Law.

Edward Snowden’s examples ranged from Alcohol Prohibition to Gay Marriage where some things that are considered illegal are actually moral or better, not immoral in case of Alcohol Consumption.

You see there is a clash of ideas here? A lack of a wonderland between what Snowden wanted vs what he did? Could all the deaths he caused be rationalized because of the wanting of morale? Isn’t there a hypocrisy? There are questions in that AMA and there are his answers. A dialogue. A dialogue that should have happened before Snowden caused all these deaths? And your reason to read all of this is to know that such dialogues need to happen in India, among us, before we have our Snowden’s choose to make martyr’s out of our country’s finest.

A great guy I know broke up with his insanely beautiful girlfriend because he chose to serve our country while she wanted to go to USA. If that guy ends up dead because an Indian snowden starts making his own call because us, the ‘garden variety’ – ‘meme sharing’ – ‘instantly emotional’ – ‘economically well fed’ – ‘Messiah expecting’ normal Indian youth were not engaging ourselves in a meaningful dialogue.

For a meaningful dialogue to happen, the following has to happen. We have to be willing, We have to read. We have to think about the problem. We have to find a path to a solution. Then, we engage in a dialogue with others about your solution. A dialogue where you express your solution. Hear their solution. Argue. Nurture.

There is one other problem I have seen among Indian youths. If I don’t share your belief, you start to attack me personally. I don’t watch cricket anymore. I am a Tamilian that doesn’t respect Rajini Kanth anymore. I am an Indian that doesn’t believe on Modi (photoshopped image? Seriously? ). I am a Tamilian that thinks Hindi can only be ‘my choice’ to learn and I love my language. I was born Hindu and an atheist by choice. I am a non – Brahmin in this sea of US – MS – corporate job Brahmins that still think it is cool to brag their caste #Tambrahm or to have an “Iyer” attached to their facebook name, despite it not being their registered name. Think about how many personal attacks I face every single day? I don’t give a fuck anymore but guess what. I am willing to engage in a dialogue with you telling why I believe so. I have always been. I can have a perfectly rational conversation with someone who believes in everything I don’t believe in without getting into personal attacks. I don’t not respect you based on what or where your stance is. I do so after knowing why you have taken that stance.

Instead of asking RJ Balaji to run this country for you, why don’t you start giving a damn.

Why don’t you practice being an active agent of democracy every single day?

If all of us read enough and take part in engaging each other in this decorum filled dialogues, we will build a better future, a better government. We don’t have to feel inadequate against these shows of natural disasters and such because we have been adequate enough on all the other days in such a way that we have built a system that prevents people from dying from Tsunami, Flood, Earth Quake or just a death of a 12 year old who lost his grip in an overwhelmed metro bus.

I mean celebrate Rajini, share CSK memes, post #Tambrahm selfies on instagram but also follow what is happening in your country. Talk about it.

Now let me rub it on you. This mindless devotion for your actors and cricket team. You know what that cultures? I am sorry I have to dig this again. One of you, a CSK supporter called Actor Siddharth “thevidiya paiya” (Bastard) because he tweeted in support of Deccan Chargers. I couldn’t find the tweet but there is a YT video. Now that you know who Siddharth actually is and what he did for Chennai and Cuddalore, I want you all to remember the guys who called him a bastard because he supported a different IPL team. Interestingly, a quick search on google to find the guy who did it back then yields this result.
https://twitter.com/ramuajithian/status/499474352522682368

I rest my case.
If you still think I have been wrong in my article, come over for a conversation.

One thought on “Being Indian: My thoughts on being an agent of democracy.

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