KAPIL ARAMBAM • In Pursuit of Freedom •

Anaphoric Movies: Repetition Is the Key

The term anaphora, in literature comes from the Greek for a carrying up or back, and refers to a type of parallelism created when successive phrases or lines begin with the same words, often resembling a litany. The repetition can be as simple as a single word or as long as an entire phrase.
—THE ACADEMY OF AMERICAN POETS

What do these films have in common—Vantage Point (2008), Edge of Tomorrow (2014), Groundhog Day (1993) and Source Code (2011)? The elements anaphora and anaphoric are a poetic technique / rhetorical device that uses repetition for effects and emphasis. In films, the concept could be slightly different but it is applied here for convenience and the ignorance of suitable terminology. There is no prize for the correct guessing but these four films employ the technique of poetic anaphora, using the most of visual replication and doing it quite well. In the same breath, it is much more complex than using flashbacks to tell or rather re-tell a story.

[Nota Bene Minimal posters of the anaphoric films customised for this blog] 



1.  Vantage Point (starring Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, William Hurt, and Sigourney Weaver) is a political action thriller. The US president is going to deliver a speech on the American war on terror. The responsibilities of the president’s security fell on two secret service agents. This film recounts the several perspectives that untangle an assassination attempt on the president. Critics have often compared this film to Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon (1950)—which fine-tunes the art of narrative style by employing multiple vantage points to a story.


2. Edge of Tomorrow (Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt) is a typical Hollywood us-versus-them sci-fi film, which is based on a novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. The Japs are everywhere! When all the military powers in the world become as good as nothing, a major is send on a suicide mission against a powerful alien onslaught. The main story is when the lead character is lost in a time loop.
 

3. Groundhog Day (Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, and Chris Elliott) is categorised under the genre of comedy fantasy. A weatherman goes to cover the annual Groundhog Day that heralds the arrival of spring. The American National Film Registry has labelled this film as ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant’. In this comparatively older film, the reporter cannot help but lose in a time loop. Soon he becomes a hedonist, who tries to kill himself several times until he finds his love of a lifetime.


4. Source Code (2011) a sci-fi, stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright. A celebrated soldier wakes up one fine day, but trapped inside a stranger’s body. He realises he is part of a team that plans to nab a bomber. He also finds he is a part of a government-sponsored program, called the Source Code. This program enables him to switch his body with anybody in the last eight minutes of his life. The soldier lives over the incident repeatedly to solve the puzzle when there is another threat of a bomb attack.

Of Kondoom Chicken Centre and My Hometown


Society highly values its normal man. It educates children to lose themselves and to become absurd, and thus to be normal. Normal men have killed perhaps 100,000,000 of their fellow normal men in the last 50 years.
RD LAING, The Politics of Experience 


OPENING HOUR       Earlier this month, three people were killed and 23 injured in a bomb blast in the landmark Khwairamband Keithel in the heart of Imphal town. The images in this post are from the particular market corner where the blast took place on 11 March 2015. Two armed organisations clarified that they had no hand in the tragedy.

There are a hundred more organisations up in arms, literally, against the state for full sovereignty of the erstwhile Manipur kingdom. By logic, any one of them can be responsible but the tale tells a different story. In a land where state terrorism is rife, many people are suspicious that the legal government has a hand in it—and the blast was evidently not a one-off case.


In another corner of the Earth where its masters consider they are the universal saviour of democracy, there have been comparative issues. Precisely, Malcolm X pointed out, ‘The capitalist police forces are paid to ensure that the ghettos remain full to the brim with exploited, brutalised, citizens.’

Replace the capitalist police forces with the provincial government and the ghettos with an Indian state and we get the exact equation in one corner of the largest democracy of the world. A mainland expert on the region had even acknowledged that New Delhi is satisfied as long as there is a loyal ruling class in Manipur and that the local ruling class is happy in their own world with freebies in the form of grants and funds from its masters. This was the gist of his lecture.

And, the government has company. The contractors, for sure, are its first bed partners, and then the sociopaths who have hijacked the ideals of so-called revolution and are enjoying a threesome with the government and contractors. This follows the numberless bomb explosions and murders and mindless killings are the handiwork of these people only. Who in their right mind and are claiming to fight for a public cause can jeopardise their struggle with madness like these bomb blasts? If not, it does leave some room—much to the delight of the incestuous government and contractors— for the stand-alone and factional communists who were born to disgrace Marx. Everything is possible and nothing is also possible; and we squander our collective life.   
  

BUSINESS HOUR       The Imphal Free Press, in its 25 March edition, mentioned: ‘A press release of PRO, (the) (p)olice (d)epartment said a team of Imphal West District Police Commando on March 22 arrested the man who had kept IED at (a) Murgi Bazaar (t)ea stall inside (the) (t)emporary (m)arket.’ (Police arrest man who planted bomb at Temporary Market, Imphal Free Press, 12 Mar Thursday) I’d like to emphasise on the name, Murgi Bazaar. Maybe IFP is too lazy to edit the press release or it simply does not care; and neither will it, until the MEELAL members with bombs fitted in their balls would come barging into their office and start its monkey business for using the loan words (read the mainland Indian terminology). At least that’s how things work in the town.   


CLOSING HOUR       Earlier this year, there was a score of blasts, yes, a score of them, around the Republic Day, which fell on 26 Jan. The deputy chief minister told the press that it was normal because he had taken up the necessary security steps and the Republic Day formalities took place with no untoward incident at the venue. That was the exact reason he gave—no wonder a couple of weeks ago, a mainland news channel headlined that ‘in just the last 80 days or so, Manipur has seen a whopping 35 grenade (and) IED blasts, a majority of these in Imphal. In addition, another 15 bombs have been detected and defused’ (NDTV, 13 Mar).

In The Abnormal Normals (http://www.calresco.org/lucas/normal.htm), Chris Lucas wrote: ‘Human societies are all about norms, correct ways to behave, standard ways to look, socially acceptable attitudes to all things. To be judged abnormal is to be rejected, to be regarded as faulty, in need of repair.’ Our life is sheer abnormal in need of repair—but how, that’s the question we have. 





Postscript

1 A chicken centre is a generic term for chicken and meat shops in Manipur. One: there is a tendency of following a trend. In a region where there is hardly any scope for business, people just grab any line of work that seems to be profitable in a sheep-like manner. Chicken centre is one of them. Two: the business of guns and bombs that leads from mass extortion and vision-less agenda in the name of social revolution looks no different. Everything’s fine!   

2 Phrases, proverbs and examples from The Free Dictonary http://www.thefreedictionary.com

Reading Hour

Emma Goldman, The Psychology of Political Violence
http://ucblibrary3.berkeley.edu/Goldman/Writings/Anarchism/violence.html

Uri Gordon, Anarchism and Political Theory: Contemporary Problems
http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/uri-gordon-anarchism-and-political-theory-contemporary-problems

RD Laing, The Politics of Experience
https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/en/laing.htm

George Orwell, Notes on Nationalism
http://orwell.ru/library/essays/nationalism/english/e_nat

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, War
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/war/




In Brief: Best One Liners

POLONIUS This business is well ended.
My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief: your noble son is mad:
Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,
What isn’t but to be nothing else but mad?
But let that go.


HAMLET Act 2, Scene 2
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, 1602


It is ironical to quote a longish statement to cite a proverb on brevity!

Since those Shakespearean days, English masters say the context has undergone a sea change. In the play, Hamlet, Polonius is a sort of sidekick of King Claudius, the uncle of the enigmatic and tragic hero. The king’s compadre is, in modern-day language, a sleuth who spies on the prince. At the cost of being self-contradictory, once he informs the king and the queen rhetorically in a long-winded way that brevity is the soul of wit, when he was passing information about Hamlet. For that matter he is never brief when he starts talking. His character is very similar to folks around us—those secret souls who keep telling us surreptitious stuffs but would add, in the same breath, that we should not tell anyone. Sigmund Freud described Polonius as ‘the old chatterbox’. The queen’s immediate reply to the informer is killing: More matter, with less art. 



BREVITY.
SOUL.
WIT.

One-liners text courtesy: Collected from several online resources. Most of them are in public domain. 


gutter-gab

i was born in a gutter and i see no reason
even after years of good smells i’d forget
the evolution of things in an olfactory order
and act like, like india, all along all along as if it belongs
among the strong, flashing guns, flashing cocks in the back
and in the front, standing atop some statue some shitstone
preaching what it takes to be a great land of all
—no, never, i know where i come from

i belong to the gutter
and i cannot hope to enjoy the palatial comforts
maybe it will be an exception
if the king dies of gonorrhea
and if his bastards kill each other off
but i do know the odour will stay on
i carry my root
not even the army boot dare ruin it

i’ll go back to the gutter
and play me no bloody farewell songs
only the gutter knows what it feels like to be a gutter
what it feels like to be in a gutter
what’s really in a gutter
and it’s already a tragedy in itself
there’s already enough of gutters
—supernumerary, just as the word is

ps: if we go by the western traditional meaning of a gutter, it might bring about a whole new definition, with its orderliness and all. but in our daily life, a gutter or a khongbaan, is a natural sort of drainage and it needs neither concrete nor planning. it exists because it does.







On Perspectives

A PERSPECTIVE ON HUMANITY
―George Carlin

We’re so self-important. So arrogant. Everybody’s going to save something now. Save the trees, save the bees, save the whales, save the snails. And the supreme arrogance? Save the planet! Are these people kidding? Save the planet? We don’t even know how to take care of ourselves; we haven't learned how to care for one another. We’re gonna save the fuckin’ planet? ...And, by the way, there’s nothing wrong with the planet in the first place. The planet is fine. The people are fucked! Compared with the people, the planet is doin’ great. It’s been here over four billion years ...The planet isn’t goin’ anywhere, folks. We are! We’re goin’ away. Pack your shit, we’re goin’ away. And we won’t leave much of a trace. Thank God for that. Nothing left. Maybe a little Styrofoam. The planet will be here, and we’ll be gone. Another failed mutation; another closed-end biological mistake.



An Ode to the Family


Father, why don’t you go fuck yourself?
Mother, why don’t you kill yourself?
Brother, kill some people
Sister, I surrender
I might as well hang myself to death.






diseased


is the sky concentrated in the horizon in its edges
in the zenith it is more dizzying, gazing up
when things press me hard towards the nadir
it is diseased:
a diseased mind, a diseased body, a diseased life
everything is diseased
it is obvious, pure, as pure as a believer’s deity
it does reek of irony when such purity is the reason
the sort of cause ― of a clearly diseased existence



Addiction 101 (Part 2)


“I admire addicts. In a world where everybody is waiting for some blind, random disaster or some sudden disease, the addict has the comfort of knowing what will most likely wait for him down the road. He's taken some control over his ultimate fate, and his addiction keeps the cause of his death from being a total surprise.” ― CHUCK PALAHNIUK, Choke


Sample this. You are a just a normal person: you have families to talk to, jobs to go to, kids to look after; and at times, you have to take major decisions to grow or proceed in life. However, none of these matters until you get a day’s shot. Even death becomes secondary when the most important thing, and which you have to get it any cost, is just the one and only shot of your chemical of choice. How would you approach when the nightmare extends to the morning day in and day out? Occasionally you have the money and the burden is comparatively lighter, but that is not enough unless you get the substance from one of the notorious areas in the town where the users, sex workers and policemen lurk around to rob you. Somehow, the day passed in your favour, nevertheless the last thing on your mind is to worry about the next day again. To quote a popular saying, you use to live and you live to use—‘abuse’ seems a better word than ‘use’. How will you tolerate that kind of life?

(Addiction 101 Part 1 http://kapilarambam.blogspot.in/2015/03/addiction-101_8.html)

It starts with a single shot. Just one single shot. As in life where the good is scarce and the bad aplenty as well as it takes ten steps to be good, just one to be bad—drugs are the supreme example of this relativity. They get better as much as they are worse. In a circle of users, it is common to find that prescription drugs are infantile when they compare it with heroin, so are the amphetamines when equated with marijuana, so on and so forth. In almost all the addiction cases, the abuse of a whole lifetime starts only with casual use. Which thief would want to admit s/he is a thief? Which user would want to be labelled an addict? In a way, it is quite a human nature. Every sane person wants the feel-good factors, the comfort, the satisfaction and all. Drugs, sans any morality or ethics, make people experience the feel-good factors, fly them to their deepest areas of comfort and offer all the contentment. When they can reduce the grief and grime of everyday life, it is no surprise to see addiction is a global phenomenon.


First Shot: In the Neighbourhood

The reasons for drug abuse are as varied as the number of users. It might make you laugh but some people want to change their lives and use drugs as the means to their ends. The environment also plays a crucial role. From families to friends, it does make a gigantic impact. Scientific studies have shown that genetics also has a push-button as evident from the traits a user inherits from their parents. In other cases, people want to go well with others and if not, escapism seems to unburden harsh living experiences. Alternatively, some people are just too rebellious and experimental. In some places it is just a perfect getaway from the world of ennui and nothingness, where the only tales of interest are those of social decadence and political impotency.   

For us, in a land flooded with social unrest, political conflicts and economic backwardness, the cocktail of the consequences of this bleak reality is a disaster. If we talk about my hometown, in Manipur, there is the added pressure of being located near the infamous Golden Triangle of Burma, Thailand and Laos, that is a haven for international heroin production and distribution. Our town is just three hours away from the Burmese border and it is an open secret that we are a main transit point of the smuggling chain that stretches out to the entire major black markets in western Asia, Europe and beyond. If just one percent of the total volume that sinks in along the Manipur route is sufficient to wipe out a generation. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Dec 2014, opium poppy cultivation in the Golden Triangle has tripled since 2006. Especially in Burma and Laos, cultivation rose to 63,800 hectares from 61,200 hectares in 2013. It also mentions that Burma is the main grower, with an estimated production of 762 tons of opium and 76 tons of heroin after refinement, coming from the Shan state.


Of course, there are some corners where the idea of addiction as a social disease is looked down. Moral weakness is the main reason, according to them, why there is rampant drug abuse cutting across border, gender and occupation. Again, their solution of dumping the ideas of the users that they should make rooms for changing their behaviours.

In the most beastly condition, like in Churachandpur, users are chained, tied and locked up, to help them get rid of drugs. It might sound like the conduct of a neighbourhood vigilante team—but no, it happens in the so-called rehab centres with rules of their own world. In this second largest town of Manipur, you can see in busy market areas where peddlers sell capsules and tablets in toffee bottles in broad daylight in main market complexes while heroin is a little more discreet. For that matter, in the valley capital town, Imphal, every kid knows that the notorious BOC (or North AOC) area is the centre point, with abundant flow of sex and drugs in the locality.   

Second Shot: Comfortably Clean

Drug-related institutions use two kinds of treatment for addiction: 1. Detoxification (or simply detox) and counselling, and 2. Substitution therapy.

Detox is the precursor to rehab, just like cottons swabs are there for fixing heroin with insulin syringes. It is a plain method of cleaning the body before making it anew so that things can start on a fresh note, literally. Once done methodically, it wipes out the traces of every toxin that a user has accumulated with the use of their substance of choices. Detox is not the end but just a means to recovery while reducing the rooms for relapse. It should be under a strict medical supervision but telling this to a user is tantamount to asking the government to be sincere. The necessity is not only for sincerity but an informed way to go through withdrawal symptoms, the madness of urge and other effects of going clean. Besides, users with their trademark habit of self-destruction need to follow a reasonable process too. Detox hardly takes long—just two to four days as the case might require, so it is worth the try. It is well established that as a drawback, once a user relapses after detox, things get worse with heightened tolerance to their chemical of choice that again implies more dependence than ever. It is actually madness, a detox process is madness—a user should do best under a professional care. If it fails at first, a user can try and try again to reach the goal of a life without dependence.

Another time-tested solution for healing addiction is oral substitution therapy (OST). Over the decades these two have been proven to be effective in treating addiction. OST is more of a process than a quick-fix solution: in which a user is administered with psychoactive substances (In most countries, buprenorphine and methadone are widely used in OST). These substances have identical features of heroin and morphine yet work synchronously to ease withdrawal symptoms and block the craving for one’s chemical of choice. OST is multipurpose in the sense that it discourages the use of drugs as well keeps a user away from the many troubles—ranging from those of HIV and Hepatitis to instinctive habits. In the same way, it shrinks the chance for relapse while stretching out the well-being of the users and their near and dear ones. Addiction isn’t about substance, Susan Cheever the American author wrote: you are not addicted to the substance, you are addicted to the alteration of mood that the substance brings.
    
In 2005, under the aegis of the UNODC, the Manipur-based Social Awareness Service Organisation started the OST with buprenorphine. Again in 2012, the UNODC collaborated with the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi) kick-started the Methadone Maintenance Therapy (MMT) programme at the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Imphal, Manipur.

Third Shot: No Social Users But Society’s Favours

On one hand, addiction is a serious public health problem: it affects both the users and their families that extend to a society. In our hometown, it is a common saying that drugs will kill half of our generation, while guns the other half in the prevailing milieu. Then there are other issues of crimes, society’s breakdown, economic stagnation, arrested development and so on. At the same time, a society is solely responsible for the problems in the first place. To cite an example, nobody in Delhi would question the union of India but for us, who belong to the peripheral provinces, it is the question of our daily existence. Similarly, cocaine is not available in Manipur so there is no abuse—this perhaps answers the issues of supply and demand indirectly.

Addiction is prevalent even in developed countries. There are numerous reports and statistics churning out from countries like the United States and England. The US-based Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), which states their policies are based on science, compassion, health and human rights, mentions that ‘the US spends more than $50 billion a year on the “war on drugs” with the goal of creating a “drug-free society”—yet there has never been a “drug-free society” in the history of civilization.’ On the same level, the London-based Express, in one of the news blurbs, headlined that ‘the UK is the “addiction capital of Europe”, with increasing drug and alcohol abuse leading to the breakdown of society.’

Last Shot of the Day: Addiction affects everyone, starting from the individual to the society. It makes no discrimination of the rich and the poor, man and woman, believers and atheists. Despite the rampant destruction only an addict will understand another fellow’s problem, except in rare cases when family and friends understand the problems. Nobody is born an addict; neither anybody is born with the power to tolerate the temptation of drugs. It’s all in finding the right solution. To conclude, William S Burroughs puts it succinctly: ‘Whether you sniff it, smoke it, eat it or shove it up your ass,’ he wrote, ‘the result is the same: addiction.’

Through the Grapevine


IDU declining in Manipur
Source: Hueiyen News Service/E-pao
Imphal, March 19 2015: The percentage of Injecting Drug Users (IDU) in Manipur has declined by 12.89%, said MACS Joint Director, M Abhiram at the district level sensitization and advocacy programme on HIV/AIDS held by DC, Imphal East in coordination with DAPCU, Imphal East and West and MACS NGO partners at Panchayat Bhawan, DC Office Complex, Imphal East.

Read Hueiyen Lanpao’s The Role of Society in Preventing Drug Abuse

Analysis: The Drug Problem – An Ongoing Political Challenge in Burma, by Zin Linn (The Asian Correspondent)

Books
  • The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia by Alfred W. McCoy   
  • The Truth about Addiction and Recovery by Stanton Peele

Fiction
  • A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
  • Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
  • Junky by William S Burroughs

Websites

Related Pieces on this Blog



Jantar Mantar Blues

“Democracy! Bah! When I hear that I reach for my feather boa!” —ALLEN GINSBERG

Set in the heart of the national capital. Jantar Mantar is an observatory built during the medieval Mughal Empire. In school, we read about its history, main purposes and areas like its architectural significance and as a landmark for astronomical studies—and this 18th-century building has been a part of our lives, thanks to the well-informed educationists of the mainland, who care about cramming into us the general knowledge of all the places and landmarks in the country, except those that are our own. In addition to the scientific purposes, I found that the place, not necessarily the observatory but its neighbourhood, is a haven for protesters. Precisely it’s the protest site with one or the other affected individuals and groups arriving here every day with their demands and grievances. This makes perfect sense so far.

News of the Days

A few news reports reflect the contemporary trend:

At Jantar Mantar protest, Modi’s brother Prahlad slams Centre ( Mr. Prahlad participated at a protest at the Jantar Mantar organised by the All India Fair Price Shop Federation, of which he is the vice-president, to press for their charter of demands where he attacked the BJP and its government.)
The Hindu, 17 Mar 2015    

Thousands of Farmers Have Come to Delhi Today to Protest Land Bill ( Thousands of  farmers from across the country who are  protesting the land bill at Jantar Mantar in the capital today, have vowed they won't move unless the government ordinance is withdrawn.)
NDTV, 18 Mar 2015

Solidarity Fast in support of Irom Sharmila at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi (A day long fast was organized here in Delhi on the call of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign, Association of Protection of Civil Rights, Lok Raj Sangathan and Students Islamic Organisation of India to support Irom Sharmila and to demand repeal of AFSPA. Many people participated and observed the hunger strike at Jantar Mantar.)
E-pao, 14 Mar 2015

Want to hold a protest, come to Jantar Mantar: Delhi Police ad [In the ad, which has appeared in this paper , police have asked all those who want to hold protests to contact Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi district) to get their venue assigned. ‘Want to hold dharna/ protest. Upto 5,000 persons. Welcome to Jantar Mantar’, reads the advertisement, which also has the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP)’s phone number displayed prominently.
Indian Express, 7 Feb 2014

Well, the point is with such predictability of action by the aggrieved party, how much is each protest going to be effective. Besides there are specific time frame for a day’s protest, stretching from 9am to 4pm. This completely robs of the essence of a protest, which actually exudes the ideals of opposition and resistance rather than those of compliance and conformity. Then there are other issues too.

In his article published by the Sunday Guardian, Protest at Jantar Mantar is a right, senior journalist Kuldip Nayar wrote: ‘The political rallies were organised by hiring people and hauling them to the city from nearby villages (in olden days). But now there is hardly any rally because political parties have made the two Houses of Parliament a boat club.’ He added: ‘The MPs do not have to sweat it out in the open any longer, they have their air-conditioned chambers.’ From recent observations, the hire-for-protest still continues. While they go for demonstrations for hikes in petrol price, we grew up doing the same thing for our existence.

Back at the Protest Site

Perhaps my upbringing makes me too skeptical because in our hometown, ravaged by multiple armed conflicts and unending social unrest for the last five to six decades, the solutions are obtained or negotiated only through force and coercion. This encompasses both the state’s command of submission from the general mass as well as the demands of the public from the state.

A trace of civility and social development is visible in such a protest at Jantar Mantar and all is in the name of democracy. Mr Nayar concluded that ‘the Government must realise the consequences that curtailing peaceful, democratic agitations will have.’

Mr Nayar was of course articulating with a different motive, like many of the protesters have genuine concerns and that the latter has every right to express opposition and get their demands attended to by the respective authorities. He also mentioned earlier, the protest site used to be Boat Club near Rajpath.
Image source: Imgur

Records show it was one of the peasants’ protests in 1988 that changed the venue. An official report from the New Delhi Municipal Council also mentions that the government had in fact created recreated this site, citing the place ‘is near Parliament, yet it is not so close that it would affect the routine affairs of the concerned authorities. [Also] The Government can easily take notice of the demand of the public from there.’ It is even more baffling that the confrontation can be so docile. This reminds me of the funny viral meme that shows a Canadian holding an ‘I’m-a-Little-Upset’ placard.

On the superficial level this is the part of a healthy democracy. So to say, issues ranging from corruption to sexual violence have found their calling at Jantar Mantar, including those of diverse environmental and political matters from other parts of the country. However, the ideas and the manifestations can afford to be selective—and the reality is quite contradictory because we grew up, apart from learning about Jantar Mantar as a site of science, that the country is the largest democracy in the world yet all along our lives have been toiling under a pseudo-military rule. It cannot be selective but as in the tragedies of our lives, it does. When on earth has democracy become this sort of selective?

If we look at the bigger picture, at its most rudimentary level, democracy is equated with regular elections, a participating citizenry, the rule of law plus established representative and accountable institutions, among others. Jantar Mantar, as we see, is more about offering a space for decent opposition, for creating a space in the heart of the centre to showcase its so-called national image over the ideals enshrined in this form of political system. On the downside, ‘seeing is not believing’, apparently. People from the peripheral Indian states will understand the connotation better.

Back from the Rally

I visited Jantar Mantar for the first time at one of the Nupi Lan’s (Women’s War in Manipur which occurred during the British rule) processions a few years ago. I was so disillusioned that I wanted to burn the banner down—I torched it with my lighter but there were many sensible human beings who put off the fire. Such predictability kills the soul that you are left with no option but to go by the natural animal instincts.

Earlier on that day, a policeman, on queried about the power to control the crowd, he replied it was just a routine task. One set of people come and they go and is replaced by another and the cycle continues without much harm. He did not even care to know the issues of the particular protest groups anymore, he added. Quite a sensible thing—and recently another policeman shared his nonchalance. This time, a few weeks ago on a weekend, it was at a nearby police station on Parliament Street. It was supposed to be a poetry-reading event but it turned out as a protest rather than poems. And the policeman’s apathy was more of an irritation—that these people are always thronging, fooling around out there on Saturdays and Sundays.

Protests are not implied to be violent. Still, the phenomenon of selective democracy plus the candle-light consciousness—or briefly, the conscience awakening of mainland Indian middle-class in response to socio-politico-economical issues, holding candles and rallying sporadically around Jantar Mantar and India Gate—is too hard to be taken as true. If we believe the optimists’ view that our voices are heard at Jantar Mantar, half of our existential crises will be over by next morning.   

—Concluded.


Related write-ups on this blog:

1 Democracy in the Theatre of the Absurd—and the Futility of Election
2 Reality Bites: The Possibility of Ending Democracy
3 Captain America Is No More the Man of Steel 
4 Capital Protest Pain and Rambles 



Slaughterhouse Blues

Kill me before my kind of plant-eaters come preaching
I did want to slug in the field, on my own feeding
Until the animal-eaters came out in prehistory
Then everybody was condemned to eternal misery
It matters not if you take my life or not
At least in dying I will be sought
The bastards in the dining area be served
In shanks and flanks—tho’ the herbivores will be as always unnerved
Kill me you’re just the right man
Kill me that’s how for life you make the plan
Eat and sleep and work and fuck and die
Kill me before the day-and-night-precised clock comes nigh
Kill me before the believers come with their harangue
Adieu—so long! You two do make an eternal fucked-up gang.



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