Just another accident by the road…

Indians have a reputation world over as some of the most reckless drivers. The only rule that rules the Indian roads seems to be ‘don’t follow the rule book’. Unsurprisingly India accounts for over 10% of road fatalities in the world. My dad often jokes that road accidents are some of the most efficient population control mechanisms in India. Surprising number of Indian drivers drive like maniacs! Be it portly aunties executing sharp turns without the slightest hint or hormone overdosed teenagers whizzing by at 100mph in narrow bylanes.
Though it’s been over two months since I’ve moved back to India, I hadn’t given much thought to Indian driving conditions. For one, I’m one of those guys who don’t give a damn for things that go vroom… secondly I don’t even have a driving license. Moreover, given that the streets in my hometown resemble lunar surface, I don’t even hope to secure parental consent for obtaining one.

So why am I discussing this at this Tory-corner-of-otherwise-progressive-PP? I’ve come down to my ancestral hometown Alibaug over for B’bay for my Divali hols. This morning I was out in the town with my girlfriend at some cheesy ice cream ‘parlour’. My mind was fully concentrating on putting the pack of kamasutra condoms laying-expectantly-in-my-wallet for over month to good use, while hers on the ice-cream!

Just as we stepped out of the ‘parlour’, SCREECH…BANG. A helmet less motor cyclist at atleast 90mph had taken a headon with a rickshaw (tuk-tuk). He had apparently flown through the tuk-tuk’s windscreen. Predictably a crowd, nay a sea of onlookers had engulfed the tuk-tuk. Falling prey to my very Indian curiosity, I joined the crowed elbowing my way towards the tuk-tuk. The tuk-tuk driver though visibly shaken, appeared to be alright. But the motorcyclist wasn’t so lucky. He had been cut badly in the neck while his right cheekbone was gone… his handsome face ruined forever. In polite words it was not a pretty sight, though I’ll spare you the details. Fighting nausea i called the cops. But it turned out to be hardly necessary as the traffic cops were near by. The unfortunate guy was ferried to hospital even as the onlookers surveyed the damage.

It’s been over 4 hours since the incident, still I can’t get it off my mind. My girlfriend is perplexed on why I’m getting so worked up! Its was just another accident by the road.. after all. Moreover wasn’t it HIS fault, driving that fast without a helmet, she reasons. Hah just another accident… Life is so cheap in India. The more I think of it, the more angrier I get. But I don’t blame this guy for being such an idiot. Every year over a 100000 Indians die on roads. I don’t blame the lazy traffic cops for letting this guy ride without a helmet. I don’t blame the corrupt licensing authorities for licensing this guy. I don’t even blame the Indian state for being lax in ensuring implementation of road safety norms. I blame the people of this country including myself, for being apathetic towards the near genocidal rate at which my countrymen die on roads every year. I blame the people for cynically encouraging corruption in traffic regulatory authorities. I blame them for encouraging this negative driving culture in India. I blame the people for myopic and shortsighted, I blame them for the sab chalta hai culture that has become the defining trait of modern India. We Indians need to come together and form groups to pressurise government to overhaul the road safety policy. Road safety, i.e being able to use the roads without the fear of being killed is our basic human right after all. Its high time we demand it, lest we too add to the ‘road mishaps’ statistics of our country.

Update: The guy died at 6:30 IST, 7 hours after the accident.


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And some people *still* believe in BBC…

Nitin Pai at The Acorn takes Biased Broadcasting Corporation to task for well… biased reporting. I’ve long given up on Beeb to be impartial in its reporting of Middle East and South Asia. But this BBC article about protests over execution of Mohammed Afzal takes its basied slant to a new low (if such a thing was possible)…

If Mr Afzal is executed, he will be the second Kashmiri to be hanged for separatist activities.

Nitin points out

There’s a tremendous difference between hanging murderers who happen to be separatists and hanging Kashmiris for separatist activities. It is hard to believe that the ‘BBC’ with all its fact-checkers and editors can’t tell the difference. There used to be a time when people used to cite its reports as authoritative accounts. That was a long time ago.

I’d like to add one more point… further down in the article Beeb writes,

In 1984, the founder leader of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, Mohammad Maqbool Bhat, was hanged on charges of killing an Indian intelligence official..

The ‘intelligence official’ in question was Ravindra Mhatre, an Indian Foreign Service Diplomat who was abducted and murdered in Brumland by these ‘alleged separatist rebels’ in February 1984. Being partial with pretensions of impartiality is one thing while deliberate misinformation is an another thing altogether. Perhaps by misidentifying Mr.Mhatre as an intelligence official, BBC is trying to justify his murder (in retalition for ‘rape’, ‘murder’ and ‘torture’ by Indian army no doubt!). Given the fact this very murder took place in England, I suspect this more than just a goof up.

MSM Bias

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The rift between us…

India in many aspects is a world in itself. India is not a singular, homogenous entity. It is a place where many worlds and centuries co-exist, often unknown to each other. The glam and glitz of South Bombay malls is a far cry from the unmapped adivasi (tribal) hamlets in Western Ghats barely 100 miles away. Though India’s government likes to believe in the notion of “Unity in diversity”, in many cases these different Indias coexist out of need rather than genuine feeling of unity. Of these many Indias, the fate of Islamic India seems to be most tragic.

The fates of Islam and India have been intertwined for over a millennium. It took the harbingers of this alien creed to bring about the long overdue downfall of the old socio-political order. Though Islamic India was forged by sword, India was also the place where sword of Islam was blunted, where Islam mellowed down. Islam came to India as a foreign faith out of the deserts of Arabia in the 9th century, but by the time British arrived on the scene in 18th century, Islam had thoroughly Indianised. Islam was directly responsible for redrawing of the ethno-religious boundaries of the Indian sub-continent.

Yet today, Islamic India is nation in terminal decline. Much of its history, culture and even its language Urdu has been appropriated by the other competing entity in the subcontinent, a country born from its own womb, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Islamic India remains unsure over its part in India’s history, its role in India’s present and its stake in India’s future. Of all Indias, Islamic India remains most insulated from the mainstream. Muslims remain the most economically and educationally disadvantaged communities in India.

Ironically it is the same motley-crowd of myopic self-serving politicians of secular bent rather than the ranting Hindutvadis who have led to marginalisation of Indian Muslims. Secular India in its present form has been a monumental failure. The socio-religious autonomy granted to it by the constitution has the bane of Islamic India. For too long the self-proclaimed ’secular’ parties have promoted mullahs and maulavis as genuine ‘community leaders’. The voice of moderation in the community has been muffled by the subsequent cacophony of redundant sound-bytes coming from the likes of AIMPLB and Imam Bukhari. These maulavis backed by the numerous Saudi-funded madarsas have ensured that representative voice of Islamic India remains a slave to the passions and dogmas of the Arab world. As a result Indian Muslims come across as being more concerned with happenings in the Arab world rather than national issues. An Indian Muslim is more likely to send his children to a madarsa rather than a modern secular school.

Muslim nationalism first came into national prominence in the 1980’s. It quickly developed a complementary mechanism with its Hindu counterpart, Hindutva. If Rajiv Gandhi’s caving into mullahs over Shah Bano case qnd Haj subsidy sent RSS attendance soaring, the Ranjanmabhoomi movement and subsequent riots drove impressionable young Muslims into waiting arms of jehadis. But while the Hindutva movement is on the wane, the seeds of social schism sown by some Saudi-funded madarsas and their mullah cohorts have just come into fruition.

Take for example the little Maharashtrian city of Kolhapur with an unblemished record of communal harmony. From the ancient streets and alleyways of this city generations of Maratha warriors have marched out in the defense of Indian interests. The military tradition of this city continues to this day. Many streets of this city bear the names of its numerous sons who died fighting Indian Union’s conflicts. This May yet another of city’s son returned home in a coffin from Kashmir. But this time Hafiz Irfan Attar(19), a madarsa student died fighting for Hizbul Mujahedeen against his own country. Indian Muslim youths from the most inconceivable of backwaters are increasingly turning their backs on their own country. Even the 7/11 Mumbai blasts appear to be handiwork of SIMI. But nobody in the government or mainstream media seems to be asking questions that need to be asked.

Indian government seems to be unwilling to accept reality. With its smug, self-satisfied attitude, it only ends up betraying its citizens, Muslim as well as non-Muslim. Islamic India needs a helping hand. Let a thousand voices of moderation bloom in Islamic India. Indian nation better deal with the reality or the reality will deal with it. It can’t be propped up on this fragmented society for too long.

Race relations

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How Indo-Pak rivalry is harming Wikipedia

The dynamics of the famed Indo-Pak love-hate relationship may be familiar to many here at PP, afterall it periodically manifests here in form of flamewars and hottie girl talk! Unfortunately this very Indo-Pak jingoism is unraveling Internet’s biggest exercise in democracy ever, Wikipedia the free encyclopedia which anyone can edit. Wikipedia’s official policy states that in all articles, NPOV (Neutral Point of View) should be religiously maintained as far as possible with due coverage of POV of all concerned parties. But they didnt take Indo-Pak chauvinism and the emotions it evokes into account when they formulated the policies of Wikipedia! Visit any subcontinental history page (err… in these days of NPOV its strictly called South Asian history) and you will be greeted with a sign like the one above.

Brainwashed to their respective (distorted) versions of history, Indian and Pakistani nationalists are busy slugging it out over the wiki world. In the ongoing battle for ideological supremacy at Wikipedia, quality of many articles has suffered. These juvenile jingoists dont seem to realise that Wikipedia is an attempt at a serious encyclopedia not their propoganda soap box. At stake here is the credibility of South Asians and Wikipedia itself. With the ever so frequent revert wars at Indo-Pak articles, Wikipedia has become a place to read some of the most obnoxious, colourful and imaginative narratives of history. Pakistan article for example proudly proclaimed for months that Pakistan lies in Greater Middle East (wherever that is). It was only after a month long exchange of pithy insults between Indians and Pakistanis did they reach a compromise, according to Wikipedia Pakistan as of today lies in South Asia and overlaps into Greater Middle East. Indians on one hand donot seem to grasp that signifciant number of Hindu converts to Islam may have converted out of sincere belief while Pakistanis on the other hand cannot stomach that there might have been a darker side to their heroes like Aurangzeb hitherto untold to them while others are irked at the fact that linguists choose to club Urdu under “Western Hindi Languages”. Another issue that has become a bone of contention between them has been the persistent refusal of some Hindus to acknowledge the possibility of existence of Muslims belonging to their caste. Rajput article for example has seen comical revert wars with Hindu Rajputs editing out all references to Muslim Rajputs and Muslims retaliating in kind. 8 months, 3 RFC’s and an ArbCom hearing (a sort of Wiki Disputes Redressal Court) later the vandalisms continue.

With Hindu and Muslim fundamentalists engaging in one long macho repartee at Wikipedia, how can our Sikh fundys be far behind. Just a cursory glance at the Khalistan article gives one impression that the movement is much alive and kicking in India. Nevermind the fact that situation on the ground is more or less normal. Oh forgot… thats just another milicious lie spread by Congress and those nasty blood traitors (K.P.S Gill, Manmohan Singh & Co.).

To contrubte and edit in co-operation with others and develop a broader outlook and learning to appreciate others POV has been a guiding principle of Wikipedia. Sadly our South Asian editors seem to miss the point altogether. They are fast making a name for themselves as the most quarrelsome, chauvinist editors with an axe to grind in the wikiworld. Half the Wikipedia’s bureaucratic time is wasted in sorting out the mess created by South Asian editors. In past few months Wikipedia has really taken off with even a low-cost offline version in the pipeline, it is set to become a reference library of choice for millions. But unless South Asian editors learn to deal with each other and reduce the anarchy that prevails over most of South Asian articles, the articles may well be reduced to mere footnotes by the Wiki admins. And South Asians may well loose out on a chance to have reasonable portrayals of themselves in an internationally known reference library.

I am a self confessed Wikiholic with 750+ edits to Wikipedia. My wikipage can be found here.

Update: Thoroughly edited edition of this story can be found at Pickled Politics.


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