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Hawker bill proposes 6-month jail

Quietly, the Government has decided that Mumbai hawkers will be banished out of sight, without sound. It stinks of elitist power abuse.

Why fight? Collude …

It is amazing what political consensus (some call it collusion) can achieve. Quietly, in the Winter session of the Maharashtra legislature, this anti-hawker bill was passed. Without a word of protest. Every political party – Congress, BJP, Shiv Sena joined hands to ensure passage of this bill.

Political Santa Claus 'accept' gifts before distributing 'favors'. Welcome to the 'modern' Welfare State. Bought and sold, even before you can say 'Constitution of India'! (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; Pub: Dec 2009) Click for larger images.

Political Santa Claus 'accept' gifts before distributing 'favors'. Welcome to the 'modern' Welfare State. Bought and sold, even before you can say 'Constitution of India'! (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; Pub: Dec 2009) Click for larger images.

In a bid to control illegal hawkers across Mumbai, the state legislative council on Tuesday passed a bill that proposes a jail term of six months along with a penalty ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 50,000 for individuals indulging in unauthorized hawking.Any unauthorized hawker caught red-handed would be fined Rs 5,000 the first time. If caught again, the fine would progressively increase and a repeated hawker would attract the maximum fine of Rs 50,000.

The bill will now go to the governor for his assent.(via Hawker bill proposes 6-month jail).

According to estimates, there are over 2.5 lakh illegal hawkers in Mumbai, while only 17,000 vendors hold valid licences. Interestingly, the BMC has not issued a single new licence in the last 20 years, while the number of hawkers continues to grow with every passing year, sources disclosed.

As stated in the Tuesday bill, “It will be mandatory for each individual who wishes to start a hawking business to obtain a licence from the civic body. The definition of hawkers covers roadside vendors and persons conducting business on roads and artisans.” (via Hawker shocker, News – Cover Story – Mumbai Mirror).

With such political ‘unity’, when all political parties unite against the citizens, India will surely ‘progress.’

The Government must not stop at this.

Forget about questioning me. Have a TV to hear my answer ...? My only fear is that such an attitude may well be the reality. (Cartoonist - Kirtish Bhatt; Posted: Feb 18th, 2011). Click for larger image.

Forget about questioning me. Have a TV to hear my answer ...? My only fear is that such an attitude may well be the reality. (Cartoonist - Kirtish Bhatt; Posted: Feb 18th, 2011). Click for larger image.

Public interest

Further, the Government must acquire all hawking space. After acquiring the hawking space, roads must be broadened. These hawkers crowd roads and reduce the car-driving pleasure of the Uber-rich and the Unter-rich. The Uber-rich and the Unter-rich have a sacred right to the pleasure of comfortable car driving as per the latest UN’s Human Rights Charter.

Do not disturb

I would go further and recommend that the Government acquire hawking space so that the comfortable can remain comfortable.

Just like the Government acquires land for factories, so the rich can remain rich or become richer.

Discomfort to the Rich and Comfortable may turn these rare species into an endangered species. If the Rich and Comfortable turn into an endangered species, who will become the icons of Rising India?

The dirty, ragged hawker!

I command thee … Progress!

I am also not forgetting that the hawkers ‘snatch’ business from all the glitzy glass-and-chrome malls – a major crime.

After sinking thousands of crores in these prestigious glass-and-chrome malls, investors find themselves powerless in the face of these hawkers. Will the Government abandon these investors, who have invested thousands of crores for India’s prestige and progress.

So many poor people, in full public view is also bad, for the eyes. And bad for India’s image abroad.

The poor must remain quiet – and out of sight.

Make way for the bribe takers - These are not the bribe-tigers fighting corruption. (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; source and courtesy - bamulahija.com). Click for larger image.

Make way for the bribe takers - These are not the bribe-tigers fighting corruption. (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; source and courtesy - bamulahija.com). Click for larger image.

Only 6 Months in Jail?

The Government must not stop at just extorting heavy penalties and imprisoning these hawkers. This problem of hawkers will not go away by simple penalties and imprisonment.

I would suggest that instead of imprisonment or heavy fines, hawkers must face some light gun-fire.

By the way, most of these dirty, ragged hawkers are also dark brown or black in colour. Another good reason to shoot them. They should be shot.

Definitely, certainly, urgently.

Rohinton Mistry should be thankful to Sena, V-C for banning his book

November 1, 2010 Leave a comment
Shiv Sena has been ‘persuaded’, in the past, by artists and creators, to ban their own books and films – it is whispered.

   

Bal Thackeray (Cartoon courtesy by outlook.com).

Bal Thackeray (Cartoon courtesy by outlook.com). Click for larger image.

Media blows its own trumpet

There has been much talk of how Shiv Sena led by Bal Thackeray’s grandson ‘forced’ Mumbai University to withdraw a book from University syllabus. Now this story actually is a political comedy – and not anything about censorship, freedom, et al.

Mistry says that Thackeray’s action is in keeping with the Sena’s history of trampling on freedom of speech. “In this sorry spectacle of book-burning and book-banning, the Shiv Sena has followed its depressingly familiar, tediously predictable script of threats and intimidation that Mumbai has endured since the organisation’s founding in 1966. But it is the expeditious decision by Mumbai University which causes profound dismay.

Mass media has hyped up Bla Thackeray-Shiv Sena. (Cartoon courtesy - deccanherald.com). Click for larger image.

Mass media has hyped up Bla Thackeray-Shiv Sena. (Cartoon courtesy - deccanherald.com). Click for larger image.

After his long silence, the vice-chancellor has now stated that he, in fact, followed correct procedures, and the decision was taken by the Board of Studies. The outgoing Board of Studies, to be precise. But one thing remains: a political party demanded an immediate change in syllabus, and Mumbai University provided de luxe service via express delivery. The University, in the person of the vice-chancellor, occupies an exalted position in civil society, the champion of academic independence and freedom of expression. Instead, Mumbai University has come perilously close to institutionalising the ugly notion of self-censorship. The vice-chancellor knows what he must do to remove the stain.” (Read more via Rohinton Mistry hits back at Sena, V-C for banning his book – The Times of India).

Shiv Sena supports Congress in the Presidential election!

Shiv Sena supports Congress in the Presidential election! Click for larger image.

Mass media builds up the likes of Bal Thackeray-Shiv Sena types into larger than life figures because it suits them. This larger-than-life-portrayal helps mass media to portray itself as a victim, brave opposition to rightist stormtroopers, protector of freedom, etc.

Collusive democracy

2ndlook has always maintained that democracy breeds politics of collusion. Democracy creates a collusive polity where bad rulers conspire with each other, against us. There is no better example than this.

First, Mumbai University VC passes an express order removing book from the syllabus. Two- Soon after the book is withdrawn from the syllabus, the Maharashtra CM, Ashok Chavan finds the book objectionable.

The Congress has been playing off Shiv Sena and MNS against each other. Nett, nett - it keeps the BJP out of power in Maharashtra. (cartoon by Satish acharya; courtesy - cartoonistsatish.blogspot.com). Click for larger image.

The Congress has been playing off Shiv Sena and MNS against each other. Nett, nett - it keeps the BJP out of power in Maharashtra. (cartoon by Satish acharya; courtesy - cartoonistsatish.blogspot.com). Click for larger image.

“There is objectionable language in Rohinton Mistry’s book and we wouldn’t approve his book for students,” he said.

“Just because somebody asked the book to be introduced, without following procedure and formalities, it was just introduced at somebody’s behest,” Chavan told a TV channel.

The Chief Minister however said these were his personal views and that he would not like to interfere in the affairs of the Mumbai University, which has received flak from several quarters for withdrawing the book after the Shiv Sena made a demand. He also made it clear he was not siding with anyone.

“I have not gone through the entire book. Whatever paras were shown to me, I read that, the language is highly abusive…Do we expect our students to go through such books and use them in the educational curriculum,” Chavan told reporters in Mumbai. “However, I am not interfering into the affairs of the university. I leave it to the university to decide whether they would approve or endorse such a book,” the chief minister said.

The Congress immediately rushed in to distance itself from the Chief Minister’s views of the book, calling them personal and said the University was free to do what it wanted but that the party’s stand could not be the same as the Shiv Sena’s. In New Delhi, Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said the Chief Minister is obviously entitled to his views.

Tiwari said Mumbai University is an autonomous university and that it is not under the Maharashtra government. “If anyone has objections to the book, there are appropriate fora,” he said. “Shiv Sena and Congress can never be on the same page. Our idea of India is very different from their sectarian approach.”

Common wisdom - Shiv Sena bans help the victims many a time. (Cartoon courtesy - cartoonistsatish.blogspot.com). Click for larger image.

Common wisdom - Shiv Sena bans help the victims many a time. (Cartoon courtesy - cartoonistsatish.blogspot.com). Click for larger image.

Welcoming Chavan’s remarks, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, “If the CM of the state is with us, then you have to understand that we are right.”(read more via news.outlookindia.com | Ashok Chavan Agrees With Shiv Sena on Mistry Book).

Simple answers don’t sell

The media, author and intellectuals dive into censorship, freedom debate. This seems like simple collusion. Congress is cutting MNS down to size by creating ready made issues for Shiv Sena. Earlier Congress had tried to cut down Shiv Sena by propping up MNS.

"Ban-nees' have paid Shiv Sena to ban their books and films - it is whispered. (Cartoon courtesy - kajalkumar.wordpress.com.). Click for larger image.

"Ban-nees' have paid Shiv Sena to ban their books and films - it is whispered. (Cartoon courtesy - kajalkumar.wordpress.com.). Click for larger image.

Congress doing this is par for the course. MNS and Shiv Sena taking part in the collusion is surprisingly not being identified, seen, understood, discussed. Is it a wonder that these English-speaking, reading, writing, ‘intellectuals’ get such scant respect from lay public.

How Shiv Sena uses its image

If Shiv Sena is the ‘ban-ner’ and the victim is the ‘ban-nee’, it has been common wisdom that many a time Shiv Sena bans have been ‘arranged’ by the ‘ban-nee’. This immediately gets national media attention, government action, courts to come into play, politicians of all hues to start giving sound bites and a probable dud becomes a success.

Rohinton Mistry may have to thank Shiv Sena for their graceful attention – in case his books start selling more.

Fruits, Indians – and Naipaul

July 9, 2010 2 comments

In the twilight of his life, Vidia wants to come back to the home of his ancestors. Should India be so petty?

Naipaul has “given” India … three books —An Area of Darkness 1964, India: A Wounded Civilization 1977, and India: A Million Mutinies Now 1990.

And so what? Those are thought-provoking books, with some good insights, but also some facile, exasperating conclusions. India of the 1960s and 1970s was static in many ways, but Naipaul can’t see the humanity and dynamism of the millions around him. Looking at people emerging from the Churchgate station he feels intimidated. In his pithy essay, “Naipaul’s India and Mine,” the late Nissim Ezekiel’s review of An Area of Darkness, the leitmotif was: “Rubbish, Mr. Naipaul.” In India: A Wounded Civilization Naipaul revealed fundamental weaknesses of India’s “borrowed institutions”, which succumbed so easily during the emergency of 1975-77. But unlike Ved Mehta’s The New India 1978, Naipaul stays gloomy. In contrast, the night of Indira Gandhi’s defeat, Mehta is out on the streets, celebrating with his family. And in India: A Million Mutinies Now, Naipaul notes the rise of Hindu militancy, but is profoundly flawed in seeing that development as positive. (via An Indian called Naipaul – Columns – livemint.com).

Jamun fruit. The tree has lossy leaves and the jamun tree yields cheap hardwood, good for railway sleepers.

Jamun fruit. The tree has lossy leaves and the jamun tree yields cheap hardwood, good for railway sleepers.

Food as people

Coconuts are a pretentious fruit.

Brown outside and White inside. A ‘hard’ Brown exterior hides a thin Brown skin inside. But the flesh, seed, blood, is all White. One hard smash and they break into pieces – and show their true colours. I can eat coconuts for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I also like it at temples, where the ‘true’ colors of the coconut are exposed.

Help!

I wonder why coconuts remind me of people like Jagdish Bhagwati, Lord Meghnad Desai, Bobby Jindal, Nikki Haley, Dinesh DeSouza, etc. when I think of coconuts. Did you know that coconuts can’t stand fresh air? They go all soft, smelly, gooey, if fresh air reaches leaks into a cracked coconut.

Eggs I dislike. White outside, yellow inside, can cause acute infections (like salmonella) and full of cholesterol. Bad all round. I am not surprised when admirers describe Churchill as a good egg. Rice I like. White throughout. Unpolished rice is red on the outside.

Indian sapota - or sapodilla in English.

Indian sapota - or sapodilla in English.

The fruit I can recommend easily is jamun. No real name in English – except sometimes called a black plum. It’s sweet-sour taste can make you gorge on it. Lovely Purple colour, a large seed inside and full of hidden qualities – especially the medicinal benefits.

The fruit that is usually good is the sapota (also chikoo, or sapodilla in English). Rough, brown skin, Brown through out. Simple, and unpretentious. Sapotas have a big seed inside – which helps us get many more sapotas. I like the idea – though some may see that as a waste! But you got to be careful.

Some sapotas have worms inside.

Vidia Naipaul wants to come to India more often

Vidia S. Naipaul, somehow reminds me of a sapota. I have read his India trilogy, listed above. I also read his Among the Believers!

I love Vidia! He has his history all wrong. But you can’t hold him guilty for that. Descendant of an indentured labour family, transplanted to an alien land (West Indies), immigrated into a smug and racist British society of the 1950’s, for him to become a coconut would have been easy.

That he has never become.

India, A Wounded Civilization V.S. Naipaul, originally published in 1975 is my favorite.

India, A Wounded Civilization V.S. Naipaul, originally published in 1975 is my favorite.

Vidia on India

Vidia’s diagnosis is right about India’s ‘borrowed’ institutions, and how they don’t serve India well. From a pessimistic view in the early sixties (in Area of Darkness – Book I) to his rather concerned view (in India – A Wounded Civilization– Book II) to his optimistic book (India – A Million Mutinies Now – Book III), Vidia carefully tracks India’s struggle to throw off the ‘borrowed’ institutions. Naipaul’s theme in Book II, about Indian ‘retreat’ is right – though again, his history, derived from a colonial narrative, has gaping holes.

He carefully tracks, for instance, in Book II, how the Shiv Sena became a force by forming small self-help groups and cooperative institutions in Mumbai. Recently the Sena did a huge blood donation camp. They came up due to such campaigns – and they lose votes with their rabid talk and extortionate activities. Vidia’s books demonstrate how Shiv Sena’s marginalisation has happened with their marginal activities.

His trenchant journalism is good at diagnosis, bad at history, useless at prescription. Vidia’s fault is his history and his confused politics. Dimly, in the recesses of his mind, Vidia remains a sapota. Living in Britain, brought up in West Indies is not the best way to discover his Indic past. To his credit, he tries. Very hard.

He is bothered about the country of his ancestors.

VS Naipaul and his mistress, Margaret Murray, in the early 1970s. Photo from the Washington Post.

VS Naipaul and his mistress, Margaret Murray, in the early 1970s. Photo from the Washington Post.

A son wants to come home – more often

In the twilight of his life, Vidia wants to come back to the home of his ancestors. More often.

To someone who has kept a long and lonely vigil, frequently shouting सावधान saavdhaan, we should be more welcoming! We shouldn’t resent him for waking us up or disturbing our sleep. Everything said, Vidia has never been spiteful.

Vidia, any time you want to come to the home of your ancestor’s, there will be at least one man who will welcome you.

And many Indians who will welcome you, even though they don’t know you or your writing. Or your Nobel prize.

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