The killing fields & The enemy within  

Posted by Praveen in , ,

Pause for a second from the unstoppable coverage of the IPL masala that is going on. Fix the focus on Dantewada, that killing field where 76 of our young country men were mercilessly gunned down by the maoists. There were only 3 survivors in this gruesome tragedy. They managed to escape only because they acted dead as the maoists walked in the blood pool searching for survivors. And, it required some other officers from their camp to arrive after some hours to rescue them braving the maoist bullets. You might be thinking at this juncture that their ordeal had ended. Far from that, this was just the beginning. What followed this, wounded them more than the bullets that had pierced their body. They were taken to a worn down government hospital where the linen on the bed had stains of the previous patients. It was a hovel with a blocked toilet drain. And, to add to the woes there were no doctors or nurses. And there were no dignitaries too to visit, not one from the state or central govt or from the police. Only 2 CRPF SIs who came on their own kept watch over the wounded men. And, as P.Chidambaram arrived one day later for the photo-ops, there were docs, the linen was clean and the toilet was clean. The docs promptly left after PC left. Read more on this shocking neglect of our paramilitary men in this article from last week's Tehelka(which alas became more famous for a badly researched article). Another point to note was that more than half of these guys came here only 2 weeks back. It was a case of bad strategy all over as these jawans were pushed to the face of death.

Coming to the other side of the story, in another superb essay, Shoma Chaudhary has done a root cause study on what is wrong with the way we are tackling the maoist menace. No, its not of the 'Indian democracy is fake' kind of hollow statements that someone like Arundathi Roy makes. Shoma has given out a clear cut strategy for the future, one that may be slow but sure to yield results. The state has been on a witch hunt as far as fighting maoists are concerned. There's no intiative to study the forest using information from satellites or from the maoists who are captured alive. According to reports, the jawans are asked to just go out and shoot. Their strategy is best exemplified in the popular malayalam saying-"kattavane kittiyillengil, kittiyavane thattuka"(If you don't get the one who stole, kill the one you managed to catch). And as a result young boys were dragged out from their houses and charged with crimes like waging war against the state. At the heights of this operation, a bunch of 70-80 year old women who protested against the illegal arrests were also arrested under such charges. The special police officers(SPOs) known as the Salwa Judum in chattisgarh burnt down villages, raped women and killed the men. In Bengal, villagers were forced to leave their cattle and fields and go to relief camps. Those who refused were gunned down. Not surprising considering the leader of the state's words to these happless villagers- "you are either with us or with them".

The origins of discontent among tribals are in the underdevelopment and neglection on the part of the govt. And what government does in the name of development in these areas are further alienating them. The major problems that the tribals are facing now is from the land mafia, mining mafia and the number of SEZs that have sprung up. The govt and some politicians, in its greed for easy money sign MOUs with big corporations to lease out these tribal lands for the multi crore projects. In order to make these projects a reality, the tribals are driven out from their land. The mineral rich tribal forests are sucked of its resources. The tribals who are original owners of the land are not even given employment. They are given a paltry sum as compensation and dumped in some wasteland. This leads to discontent and its this discontent that the maoists carefully take advantage of. Some tribals fall in this trap and join the maoists and fight the Indian state. To prevent such occurences, Mani Shankar Aiyar advises the Govt to go back to the Indian constitution, specifically to the PESA — (Provisions of the Panchayat [Extension to Scheduled Areas] 1996). Two of the most important points in this provision are as follows-

1-"the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be consulted before making the acquisition of land in the Scheduled Areas for development projects and before re-setling or rehabilitating persons affected by such projects in the Scheduled Areas; the actual planning and implementation of the projects in the Scheduled Areas shall be coordinated at the State level"

2-"the recommendations of the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be made mandatory prior to grant of prospecting licence or mining lease for minor minerals in the Scheduled Areas"

With the help of this provision, no MOU can be signed without the approval of the village panchayat. Thus the ownership of the land goes back to the tribal. But, as of now this provision remains mostly in letters as MOUs are signed without ever consulting the villagers. They come to know of it only when they are driven out of their land. This has to change. The PESA has to be implemented strictly on a war footing. And, at the same time the local governments must make sure that the village panchayats are not like the infamous khap panchayats of Haryana which mete out jungle justice. The time is running out for us. Before we send in armies to kill the real enemy, we need to have our own people on our side. We shouldn't allow the terrible tragedy of our army's bullets killing our own people. Its time for simple non-violent steps. Hope voices like this are heard amidst the 'kill them, blast them' rhetoric. And lets not call this voices of reason with the same brand name as we rightfully call such traitors like Arundathi Roy. These deserves to be heard. Because, the idea of India is under question!


your crusader Praveen

The Moral High Ground  

Posted by Praveen in , ,

Everyone is on a moral high ground these days. Everyone except one Mr.Shashi Tharoor. No, this is not an excercise in justifying Tharoor. This is just a wonder filled gaze at the media and political circus going on for the past one week. And one image just flashes across my mind all the time. A purely imaginary image of a slightly corrupted Alibaba standing at the centre of a circular enclosure and 40(or more) thieves pointing their fingers at the man. They are shouting, they are accusing him of something which they themselves are not clear about. But they dont forget to point their fingers at him every other second. In between they take breaks to congratulate each other, laugh among themselves and celebrate the victory. Sometime later the camera zooms out. It was all happening on TV. Now the anchors continue the blabber and finger pointing. The direction of pointing is unmistakable. They seem to have missed the 40(or more) thieves standing around the enclosure. They point only at Ali Baba. The same cycle of accusations goes on. Zoom out. There sits one of those gentlemen who still believes that newsreaders cant lie. He also points his finger at the man and rejoices at the fact that Indian politics is cleansed.

Now the image changes. Alibaba and the enclosure fades out into the background. The 40(or more) thieves turn towards the camera. They look down from the high pedestal that they have perched upon. The finger pointing excercise begins. This time they are pointing at the naive gentleman, at you, at me. They slam their heads on the ground and laugh at the fools below them. Its the story of the moral high ground now overcrowded with people possessing anything but morality. Agreed, it was not a clean deal, what Tharoor had with regard to the kochi team. But was it so big a mistake so as to warrant the given punishment? What about the scam kings still in the cabinet? A.Raja, minister of communications and IT is the king of them all with a cool Rs.40,000 crore pocketed as part of the 2G spectrum auction sometime back. There was a CBI case against him and there were clear cut proofs. Higher officials of the BSNL came out in the open against him. All of them were transferred and Raja was left untouched. All because he's part of DMK, an ally the UPA can't live without. And with the 3G spectrum auction happening recently, we will have to get new 20 digit calculators to fully display the amounts that this guy and his cronies must've siphoned off.

Then there's Sharad Pawar of the NCP, another coalition partner of the UPA. With the food inflation almost strangling the lower class and part of the middle class, there was a strong case for his removal from the position of agriculture minister. But not even a whimper was heard. It was common knowledge that his ministry's policies were partly to blame for this disaster. And even if you leave that alone, what about all the dealings in the dark by the BCCI headed by this mighty man? No answers expected. There are guys like M.K.Alagiri(Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers), who is in that seat only because his dad found the task of managing him and his brother a hard one. So, the solution was to stop the barking of the elder by giving him a cabinet rank in the central govt. He barely ever attends the parliament, leave alone opening his mouth. He has more enterprising things to do like goondagiri in his hometown. More and more of this ilk are still sitting and laughing at you, me and Alibaba. Not to forget hypocrites like shobha de who dismisses the common man's support for tharoor with a wave of her finger. She finds fault with Tharoor's comments on business women being targeted in India and brands it sexist. So, madam de forgets that she lives and thrives on such sexist remarks she makes on tv and newspapers day in and day out. The hypocrisy of a self proclaimed feminist was on full view yesterday.

And so we are back to square one. The external affairs ministry can now function freely without the headache of a twitter account, the slogan of which was openness. Openness is a disease they say. Secrecy helps in the proper working of the democratic machinery. Afterall, its not anyone's business to know what the khadar and khadarless brigade does in their offices. Vote, close your mouth and watch tv for the next 5 years. Stay away from twitter and to hell with openness. Maybe, if Tharoor was part of one of those allies he might be still tweeting from his MEA office. Anyway, even without him, the moral high ground is certainly over crowded.


Shashi Tharoor's speech today in Parliament. A must watch-

your crusader Praveen

Head down to my photoblog for the latest updates-Myopic lenses

Tehelka, Leave alone Indian rock!  

Posted by Praveen in , , ,

Tehelka. One magazine that was 'different' from all the others in the Indian market. They spoke truth. They were fearless. They wrote with conviction. Their long well researched articles were a treat to read. They exposed atrocities which few others dared to talk about. They lived up to their slogan of being 'free, fair and fearless'. But, a small mistake in the structure can take down a big castle. And thats exactly what is happening to Tehelka. In the issue dated April 17th, they decided to carry a so called expose on the media's hysterical coverage of the Indian rock scene. Inder Sidhu writes a supposedly path breaking article on how the whole Indian rock scene is a sham and says that everyone is desperately trying to sell a scene that does not even exist.

The introductory lines tell us how 'well researched' the article is. Leave alone 'well researched', I doubt if he ever consulted anything other than his 9th standard geography text book while writing this classic piece. Spiced up with quotes from unheard of bands crying loud on how the Indian scene will never take off, the writer goes on to throw mud on the face of every Indian rocker and rock journalist. Starting with the most outrageous of comments where he says thus about the one and only Indian ocean- "That one of the most original bands in the country has been working within the same musical framework for 30 years is, frankly, shocking." This one sentence shows the thorough lack of knowledge of this 'journalist'. This is like saying Zakir Hussain been playing tabla all his life and never tried anything else. Only an unbelievably naive person can make such a stupid comment. And to say this about one of India's widely respected band which has given us some timeless music, takes much more than the presence of duplicate rubber balls inside one's pants and elephant dung inside one's brains.

"The vocabulary and context for rock criticism does not exist in India"-Thats another main point of the article. And this from a man who has mentioned the Rock Street Journal in the same article. I wonder if has ever read one issue of this magazine or visited any of the 100s of blogs providing in depth analysis on new releases and on the concerts happening around. He says this 'shoddy coverage' is a reflection of the shoddy music. This is exactly where the lack of research shines the most. He must've got his hands on a bootleg CD by some startup college rock band and wrote a whole article thinking that this is what Indian rock is all about. He talks about the lack of depth in lyrics and amateurishness in music, all the while keeping bollywood as a reference for the perfection of all this. He says that the homegrown rock lacks character compared to its original roots in the American 'protest music'. He paints the Indian rock musician as an upper middle class junkie, smoking weed and bankrolled by indulgent parents. Mr. Inder, if you can hear sounds with your seemingly non existent ears, do check out a band called motherjane, one of India's top most bands. Their lyrics have more depth than any music you ever heard till now, their music is truely Indian and truely international at the same time and they are all middle class Indians who stays away from weed and the like. There are many more examples like that including Junkyard groove, Indian Ocean, TAAQ and many more. And these are the guys who rule the scene, the same scene which you says 'does not exist'.

Next comes another blunder. Inder says Indian rock is concentrated in 'A-grade metros' like Delhi and Mumbai. The writer seems to be blind to Bangalore, the rock capital of India. There's only a passing mention of the north eastern states, where rock is there in every home and Bob Dylan is seen in as high esteem as Sachin Tendulkar. And while writing this article sitting in his a/c room in one of those A-grade metros, Inder seems to have also missed the rising rock revolution in small cities like Trivandrum, cochin, manipal etc. The young bands coming out of these places are so utterly creative and will surely carry the torch of Indian rock music forward. With this one article, you have mocked at all the hard work that these bands put to do what they like. You have mocked at the undying spirit and passion of an ever growing fan base. You have mocked at metal gods like iron maiden who have acknowledged the might of the Indian fan base. Just think about it, are these guys that foolish to come to our country 3 times in 2 years if we don't have a big enough fan base. And its not metal oldies alone who are flocking to our country. We had the progressive sensations 'opeth' and 'porcupine tree' coming down here last year. And this year will see one of the bands that defined this past decade in metal, 'Lamb of god' performing in Bangalore. I do wonder if you have ever heard of these names considering your knowledge in rock doesnt go beyond that stupid 'rock on' reality show in MTV.

A humble request to the media- Its ok if you don't cover Indian rock music. This movement has grown even without an iota of support from the mainstream media. And now that you've realised that this has grown much more than you ever thought it will, you are puncing on it so that you can also get a share on the big pie. Yes, even bashing can make the cash registers ring. Rather than writing such mis informed articles, you could spare us and let us live our own way. We were doing fine without you. And we will continue to be fine without you. And just like the title of your article screams-"Don't believe everything you hear". I'll think twice before I believe what 'fools without conviction' blurt out in the name of 'feature on Indian rock music scene'. You and your ilk of half baked heads may get orgasms over your careful wordplay deriding something mighty. But we just don't give a fuck for it. And it can't be said better than what was said by Thermal And A Quarter in that open letter to tehelka with that awesome quote from their own cult song 'Paper puli'- “Rock journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read.” PS- Wrote this because I was saddened at this shoddy journalism on the part of one magazine which I care for. If it was any of those trashy yellow mags, I wouldn't have cared a bit. We expect much better from tehelka. Hope they don't carry such crap in the future and live up to their old name. And, I won't stop my subscription just because you let one idiot into your pages!

Recommended reading for Inder Sidhu-Ten commandments of Rock journalism. Am sure you'll get a 0/10.

your crusader Praveen

A Goodbye & A Welcome  

Posted by Praveen in , ,

It all started on March 14th 2009, the start of my tryst with serious photography. Thats the day when I first laid my hands on the shiny new canon sx10IS. It started in automode considering my previous photography experience in the olympus film camera and sony erricson mobile. It was a dream come true to own that monster with 20x zoom. And on the second day the cam went straight to a concert with motherjane. Again, shooting a rainy concert in automode from the shades of the stage. Quite a few OK clicks and lots of shaky stuff. As I wondered how to get over this, Guru Vivek arrives. Over the next few days, he handed down several tips and lessons over phone and gtalk. And after few weeks, a hands on session at Trivandrum too. I was hooked to the art of photography. Over the one year, the cam travelled quite a few places, watched a hell lot of concerts and clicked close to 15,000 clicks. It has grown to be just an extension of me and it was a hard task to decide letting it go. That was around the time I decided to get more serious with this and buy an SLR.

And thus the big brother arrived after exactly one year, on March 16th 2010. Canon 500D with 18-55 kit lens and an additional 50mm lens. It was time to let go my first real cam. Financial constraints made it necessary that I let it go. And thus, last week I bid goodbye to my first real camera, the reason behind the photoblog myopiclenses. They say, don't get materialistic. But this particular material did have an emotional attachment, an attachment of having travelled together, having wondered at the same sights, having clicked the same I said earlier, an extension of myself. So, cheers to you my dear cam. Click a lakh more and bring smiles wherever you go :)

A selection of my favorite shots with the cam..(in no specific order)

The blackrider @Veli beach

The mystery man @Sulthan battery beach,Mangalore

Kathakali performance @onam celebrations, Infy Bangalore

Nehru trophy vallom kali @Alappuzha

Looking ahead... @Veli beach

most innocent smile ever @madiwala market

Perfect reflections @end point, Manipal

Ustad and the shishya-Sivamani all admiration for Zakir Hussain @Heartbeats concert,Bangalore

Drops... @lalbagh

Starfish @sulthan battery beach,Mangalore

bhaiyya..woh dekho... @Gateway of India, Bombay

Indian Ocean @octoberfest,Bangalore

Textures @Deccan rock fest,Palace grounds, Bangalore

Chaos @Manipal

Amon Amarth @Deccan rock fest,Palace grounds, Bangalore

Crushed childhood @Broken bridge,Madras

the photoshoot for the amajaniac T shirt...(Yes, though am in the photo. I clicked this:P..thanks to the 10 second timer and the window on which I hung the cam after the shutter speed and aperture settings)

butterfly @palakkad

roadhouse greens @Coorg

single.. @Bangalore DC

And Now to the cams
The old cam- Canon powershot sx10 IS..clicked by new cam:D
The new cam- Canon 500D+Kit lens+50mm /1.8 lens..clicked by old cam :D

Both cams together...clicked by mobile :D

More photography updates happening soon in my photoblog-