Thursday, June 26, 2008

Of sensitive student material

If you're from Kerala then you should know what's been going on this past week. If you're not, here's the gist :

Kerala is now governed by a democratically elected communist government. That's the backbone of this story. This year the government releases a social studies textbook for seventh grade students that is allegedly in tune with the central government textbook frameworks. There's a catch though, the textbook has a chapter that supposedly is trying to instill communist and atheist beliefs in its readers. In this disputed chapter a teacher pats the head of a boy because he wants to join a school without mentioning his religion or caste.

I don't see how this is atheist or communist but I must warn you: I have not read this chapter or the textbook and hence I cant make a sound opinion. That said, I don't see any mistake in teaching secularism.

This textbook has struck a nerve with a lot of people. The religious and conservative have denounced the book, calling it an attack on faith. The Congress party (ironically, this party is founded on the ideals of secularism) calls it communist propaganda. And since this is a student issue, student parties have taken to the streets in protest. If you've been following me on twitter you might remember me twittering about water cannon's and lathi's being used on students in the state capital last week. It happened again in my hometown a couple of days ago which resulted in a violent general strike that brought life to a standstill.

Two days ago, a Muslim student group called the MSF tore the pages and burnt scores of textbooks in a district called Mallapuram. Yesterday, the communist student wing, called the SFI, protesting against violence turned violent themselves and in the process beat up a news reporter!

What the hell ... ?

Again I'm watching ideology take a violent turn. People's lives are being affected for the belief's of others. I'm no sucker for communism and I have been vehemently anti-communist but I sure as hell wont fall for ideology. The Congress party is using this controversy as means to bring down the government and that is all. Believe me, they have no real purpose to satisfy the fundamentalists.

But the religious parties are a different matter. They want this textbook gone and they want it gone real bad. Why ? Because it tries to tell the future that they must judge each other as human beings and not by what they believe in ? What faith are they trying to defend ? The faith that makes them strap bombs onto themselves ? The faith that makes them grab a trishul and brandish it as a weapon ? The faith that has more blood on its hands than any mass murderer ever ?

The child in the textbook has a Hindu father and a Muslim mother. What religion must he jot down ? I think the fundamentalists are more incensed over this question than anything else.

As for the strikes, I cant help but chuckle. This state is in the midst of a financial disaster. We have starving people here. Corruption is rampant. Infrastructure is breaking down. There are animals in a zoo (the Thrissur Zoo) neglected and forgotten.

And what do the "political" parties - government or opposition - do ? The politics that is supposed to take care of its people fights over ideology. They fight over a seventh grade social studies textbook.

This state needs a cultural revolution. This state needs to watch Happy Feet.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Of tradition v/s progress

Among the couple of things that I cant stand, one of them is a world that cant keep up with the times.

A few days back while watching TV with my dad, a regional news channel aired a special report about the corruption of the youth by cellular phones. The report goes on to say that college kids were using mobile phones to watch and share pornography. You should know by now that this is nothing new.

Granted, its a worrying issue. But does it warrant a report that states its a conspiracy by mobile phone companies to increase their sales ? Yep, that's exactly what the said. They said that Nokia and other big companies are actually luring unsuspecting youngsters into buying their products by inserting porn into them and thus increase their sales numbers. They even have a woman agreeing with the theory in a very aggressive manner. If we were to take her word we shouldn't have mobile phones because she blames them for everything from terrorism to extra-marital affairs.

This has happened before. In a closed and restricted society like India modern products are looked upon with suspicion by those who are conservatives. When the Internet started to rear its head out here my uncle stated that it was immoral and evil. I still remember him standing in my living room proclaiming that it was used by loose women to snare young men in their lustful traps. One year later he was chuckling like a child over the fact that he could now pay his bills at home online without having to wait in line.

Heh. I bet he got snared by one of those loose women.

A women's magazine called Vanitha (which means woman) condemned the Internet as a device used by prick-for-a-brain men to seduce, bed and eventually cheat Innocent pure minded women. A mother wrote a letter to the magazine that told the story of her son being addicted to porn on the Internet. The magazine nodded its head and sympathized while warning the readers of the supreme evil called the Internet.

Two years later they gave its readers an email address for feedback.

For all those conservative minds out there : pornography did not come out with the Internet or cell phones. They came out the day man found a way to express his thoughts; be it pictures or words. Pornography has found a way to evolve with the times ... why cant you ?

And to all concerned parents : keep a better eye on your children. Blaming technology is just an escapist way of saying I have no idea what my children do.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A further delay

I'll be blogging via Twitter for a while now. I've set it up on my mobile since I'll be away from a computer for a while.

Follow me on Twitter if you have an account or subscribe to the RSS feed if you like. People who know me are aware that I'm looking for a job as of now so it will be some time before I return to the blog.

By no means is this the end, it just gone to a 140 words per post. :) See ya there !

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A bit of a delay

It's going to be a while until my next post. The time to leave Bangalore has come and I'm in transition.

I'll be posting regularly after a couple of days. Until then, Cheerio!