Swine flu and Pune

Pune’s swine flu cases, by now, stand at 86, out of which 66 are the students from seven schools situated in Kothrud-Erandwane area.

Me and Satyajit done some analysis of swine flu in the city and came out with the inference:

- Residents – be it students or adults - from Kothrud-Erandwane area are prone to swine flu.
- This area is a ghetto represented by one particular community; the reflection also can be seen among swine flu cases.
- They belongs to the same genes as their Konkani counterparts, who in turn finds root across the ocean, which is the worst swine flu affected region.

So if you are not from Kothrud, nor from the said community, worry not. The swine flu isn’t for you.

Liberalism and India

Eighteen years ago, or to be more precise, on July 24, 1991, India was ushered into new era of economic liberalism. Circumstances forced us opt free market over Fabian socialism.

Many of us fretted the decision. It drove us believe that decision was fatal to nation’s economy. Newspapers those days were full of reports pounding words like ‘Gatt’, ‘WTO’, ‘Swadeshi’.

I still remember: We had a debate organised at school. Whether or not conscious about the facts, participating in debates was my birth-right. I cajoled that right and entered into debate.

All participants opposed the so called liberalization. Everyone with more or less tone said, signing Gatt would push India into east India like company’s hands. The teachers applauded our understanding. And since there was no one to oppose our views, the debate, as a “debate” didn’t actually take place. With no clear winner, the prize then was distributed among all participants.

At playground, cricket followed discussions on why India should oppose “ghost of liberalization”. We did not either know what nationalism was but made us believe so by opposing liberalization.

Gradually liberalization brought in privatization, globalization and deregularization. The changes across the fields became discernible among certain class. Phrases like ‘License raj’ and ‘hindu rate of growth’ stopped cropping up in the discussions while trade unions – like the one I am associated with – partially reduced to cultural organizations. We embraced all latest technology.

As the economic liberalism made us prosper, libertian values quickly became sellable. We preferred calling ourselves libertians. Cultural block in the mindspace opened up. A new elite class was created Proponents of sex gathered momentum when they talked about open society. 'Pink Chaddi’ became sign of liberalism. Stories full of moralizing started getting secondary treatment.

On July 24, Manmohan Singh’s tiny? step completed 18 years. The man at the helm in the meantime has gathered more power. Clamor of opposition has reduced to zero. The left have already exited from the government. The right-wing RSS too is all “Jai ho” about open market – RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat recently said “Whatever is good in this world, is all swadeshi for us”. And while all this was happening, the Wall street bubble burst.

Some problems have been sorted out, some persist. We have prospered in liberalism yet we reserve our right to embrace it in its full form. We probably know it give us fruits, but with the bitter taste if eaten even before they are ripe. Not bitten yet shy, the India today is.

From reel to real life

Days after, I truly enjoyed writing a story. A colleague on desk made it further enjoyable while reading.

Whose Goa is it, by the way ?

The Portuguese invaded Goa first. Tiny land now faces another influx, if not invasion. From bhel-puri wallahs to construction labour, workers at ship building yard and farm labourers, bhaiyyas rule everywhere. And if there is any place where bhaiyyas have not made their mark, count it with Karnatakis or the previous intruders - Maharashtrians.

The Portuguese, the converted Christians, kolis, Saraswats and Karhades - all till now were scattered and lived peacefully - now ghettoizing. Perhaps the insecurity has driven them.

During my weekend Goa jaunt I experianced it all. While me and two friends enjoyed every bit of serene beaches, tranquil forts, the development on mainland Goa was bustling. July is off-season, but liquor was flowing like cola. We heard bambaiyya hindi too in Panjim market.

Many fear influx will soon change Goa’s demography and the land will lose its identity. I accept the market principle - free market economy has its mix baggage.

Interesting is while neighboring Maharashtra has given birth to political parties, who claim to protect rights of son-of-the-soils, why is Goa lagging behind ? . They may not be politically sensetive, but original Goans are concerned enough to return all the imminent SEZs.

But then, does Goa has its own son-of-the-soil ?

Covering the issues, Chinese way

While ethnic strife in China has given fresh breath to talks about country’s oppressive tendencies, I am little amused to see a subtle change.

Chinese media has always been state controlled, as we know it for a long. But ground reports this time do indicate that media has somehow defied state diktat to expose country’s underbelly.

My personal experience with the Chinese media stunned and forced me to exult for the situation I am working in.

Last December, on tour to Belgaum to covere Indo-China joint military exercise, I had a bitter taste of it. The incident acquainted me with the situation in which neighboring country’s media operates.

Reporters from state owned Xinhua agency and other organizations were at the place to cover the event.

The exercise began well in the morning. We saw Chinese personnel giving Indian army a lesson on combat operations, some airdropping events and exchange of fire.

Post military exercise, the press from both countries gathered for conference.

To our surprise, the conference wasn’t a conference where press asks questions – sometimes impromptu, sometimes informed by reporters in advance.

Not just the questions were chalked in advance by their military (of course in consultations with their Indian counterparts) and fed us but their answers too were ready.

What then left was a mechanical exercise. Three questions were asked by Indian reporters while other three by Chinese. Who will ask what and to whom was all fixed. The conference was reduced to another event.

Most of us protested. But they seemed quite normal.

Prior to the conference, my friend Prasad and Nadeem did try and get introduced with Chinese reporters. Much to their surprise, a lady Chinese reporter and her male colleague accepted business cards but refused to exchange theirs’ citing state policy.

I was shocked. But Very quickly that shock turned into gloating.

How free I am in my country, a thought surfaced. The subsequent thought was: Do I not sometimes exploit that freedom ?

Whatchoo talkin 'bout...

Arnod, the lovable character from Diff’rent Strokes will never be same from tonight when I will watch the show once again on Zee cafĂ©.

Through Gaurav, just got to know, Arnod (Gary Coleman) suffers from congenital kidney disease, that has halted his growth and he now requires daily dialysis for survival.

I take pains to ask Arnold, Whatchoo talkin.


Gay rights and minors

Non-consensual penile non-vaginal sex and penile non-vaginal sex involving minors is illegal. But the same with consent by adults is legal, says Delhi HC.

The HC further observes, “Discrimination is antithesis of equality” and cites article 15 of the Constitution, which prohibits any discrimination on grounds of sex, religion, caste or place of birth.

Er, now minors are crying. After all judiciary has kept them out of equality ambit.