CORONAVIRUS: A CURE FOR INDIA’S SICKNESS

#JanataCurfew’s triumph exposed an irony. India may lack the gusto to buy a pack of Durex. But if it is Modi who is selling them during mass duress, India’s prophylactic bubble will be bigger than the dot-com’s to burst.

The coronavirus is India’s spa day, an opportunity for India to disembarrass its greasy wonts clogged deep in its pores.

The lofty mortality rates of India’s preexisting stigmatic diseases (before the dawn of the coronavirus) endure insubordination to the pride of millions of Indians who revel in their disdain towards degraded sanitation, impolite conduct and the dire requisite of an all-encompassing aura.

With one in ten deaths linked to poor sanitation and 23 million girls dropping out of school when they start bleeding, it does not take a rocket genius to state the obvious — there are darker evils in India that need exorcising and the coronavirus is the prophetic priest we have been praying for on our knees.

India’s paan-chewing addiction is a graver threat to its bridges than monsoons and floods. In 2013, the Calcutta Port Trust spent $20,000 to cover the Howrah Bridge’s 86 pillars with washable fibreglass. Its past metal casing half-eroded because of the acids in paan.

At peak hours, Mumbai’s local trains pack 400% commuters over capacity. A 12-car train with the capacity to carry 1,174 passengers carries 6,000 passengers at a time. Deaths caused by overcrowded trains are everyday fodder for local news channels. But cases of commuters passing out over armpit stink never inspire journalists.

The coronavirus is new to India. The concept of social distancing is very new to India. The concept of compromised personal space is well accepted in India. But the fact is, this time they understand that the rules are not theirs to break. At least, not to the extent they could get away with.

Indian men are distinctive. Very distinctive. When they check out women, they want the woman to know they are being checked out. Demand modesty and they will blame the woman for being “immodest”. Women in India were already covering their faces and hair with layers of scarves. This was way before the coronavirus could implode in India. The scarves prevented men from their trademark ogling to a certain degree. And the coronavirus mask came to be a sure-shot pandemic blessing.

Muslim women who wore burqas were fortunate. Their burqas were already head-toe pandemic-friendly. A face mask under a full-body mask, though a redundancy keeps up with the mood of the emergency. Needless to say the mask does not deter the temerity of an Indian man staring at a woman altogether. He will proceed to stare at her body, her feet and her eyes. The mask is not a foolproof reinforcement for women. It does not prevent the Indian man from frisking a woman’s body with his eyes. But it gives women a layer of security like protective caps for bicycle riders.

Asking Indians to wash hands is like asking the Fast and Furious team to stop making sequels. It is a wasted cause. Indians hate washing their hands. Some cultures of bacteria have even ceased to be a threat anymore to the human body. They have, in fact, becomes allies of the human immune system.

The coronavirus has turned India’s hygiene standards upside down. Before entering supermarkets, masked watchmen sprinkle sanitising liquid on your palms. At diesel and petrol stations, there are no-contact cash boxes. Those fuelling their cars and bikes must drop the exact amount of cash in the box.

Indians are limp in following rules in the long-term. They are afraid of the law, but are not afraid of defying the rules that lead to breaking a law. In metropolitan cities, there is no distinction between a footpath and a road. Each vehicle in India could be a self-certified all-terrain vehicle. People are listening to the government, because hysteria has got the better of them.

Much obliged to the coronavirus fear showcasing, Indians have gotten to be ‘The Aviator’ in washing hands. With the vast majority of Indian street dishes not designed to be eaten with a spoon or fork, the government must make it mandatory for street food vendors to wear hairnets and gloves while preparing and serving food. As for the customer, the vendor must provide sanitizer before serving or enable the dish to be eaten by a spoon/fork.

India required this virus. It may be hard to accept that. The coronavirus India’s antidote to cure itself of the infection it has welcomed with open arms and cheered its spread to every nook and corner of the country. We need stringent rules to maintain hygiene, cleanliness and decorum. We have already achieved that through this lockdown.

What we need to not forget is that this lockdown has taught us that Indians are capable of change and grooming when the times are devastating. The government needs to tame India’s filthy habits and change it now while it has the country by its collar and not later — when its people have gone astray and back to their aboriginal roots — the taproot of infamy and disgust.

PM CARES: AN AUTOCRATIC BLACK HOLE

As Fortune 500 brands continue to convulse on the lap of the coronavirus seism, one brand has defied the odds and earned itself a heavenly tip. The brand in the spotlight is PM CARES, Narendra Modi’s brainchild. At a time when companies are scrambling to retain ‘un-let-go-able’ talent and resist ‘inescapable’ losses, PM CARES received a staggering revenue of INR 6,500 crores in a week from its launch.

PM CARES did not reinvent the wheel. To achieve its marketing objective, it followed the marketing strategy of India’s perennial mascot — the beggar. The beggar in India begs at the same traffic signal every day. Sooner or later, every one who waits (even those who are aware beggars are enslaved by the mafia) at the traffic signal will hand out the money.

The fruit of Modi’s government, bearing the seed of PM CARES, did not fall far from that beggar’s tree. Banner ads for PM CARES flashed their messages repeatedly across all digital channels and media publications (any place with virtual traffic). Naturally, as with any strategy inspired by an original, Modi’s folks upgraded their online begging box and made it . . . donor-friendly.

With a specialisation in demonetisation and a doctorate in lockdowns, the Modi government had already made India very comfortable in not seeing hard money. Leveraging that newfound monologue of the ‘digital’ ecosystem in the country, PM CARES made its audience cheer through debit/credit cards, internet banking, UPI, and RTGS/NEFT.

Emblazoned in the regalia of a shell company, PM CARES is a moonlighting comedian who knows its business is not a joke. Precisely why Modi’s emphatic solidarity petition was not taken with a grain of salt by the billion-strong citizenry. Modi asked us to bang plates (another hallmark of the Indian beggar), turn off lights and light lamps; and if those were not enough he also commissioned the Indian Armed Forces to shower petals over hospitals.

These sardonic strokes of compassion barely justify the price of paint PM CARES claims is required to paint India’s grim canvas benign. The sound of banging plates, a flickering flame on a wicker dipped in oil or roses showered from the rectum of a chopper are not going to kill the coronavirus, let alone offer any rejuvenation to the frontline workers — who are as it is burning their candles at both ends! Frontline workers could use bonuses from the PM CARES fund.

The latitude of frontline workers not being as lenient as it is for the layperson, Modi’s government needs to understand that frontline workers can continue to prosecute the coronavirus fight only until they are turned into care seekers from caregivers. The nightmare is not beyond the horizon, as at the pace and intensity at which the frontline workers are made to work, their best incentive could be money.

Modi’s love for migrants beats a Spartan’s love for Greece. Time and again, he promises the sky to the homeless and the hopeless — his prime targets to secure votes. But all he has ever delivered are dumplings from birds (not the IAF helicopters) in the sky. PM CARES has the money to provide monetary refuge for migrants. The Modi government forced millions of migrants to walk thousands of kilometres back to their far-off villages during the lockdown. Migrants needed free train rides when special trains were launched, not “special” fares.

Every day, crores of rupees continue to be deposited into the PM CARES account. Yet, every day, hundreds of daily wage labourers continue to starve, as the lockdown has locked them out of their livelihood. If the PM genuinely cared, PM CARES would be used to keep their daily rations flowing.

The Modi government proudly and safely endorses its big words, because it knows its audience is filled with small people with smaller brains. While they assure us that they are doing the best they can, all they are doing is doing what is best for them.

Enabled for accepting funds from foreign countries, especially from Indians living in other countries, PM CARES has collected INR 9,677.9 crore as of May 20. Since the fund is not being used for compensating frontline workers for their hard work or giving free train rides for poor migrants or awarding unemployment benefits for daily wage labourers, let’s hope the Modi government at least uses it for performing the last rites of those who cannot give their loved ones a dignified goodbye.

With the coronavirus stigma sharing a bond with the HIV taboo, the bodies victimised by the coronavirus are wrapped in plastic and disposed off. Rabid dogs have better farewells.

This is not the time for Modi to be moody. Having taken money from the public, PM CARES has a moral and juristic obligation to be transparent with the fund.

An FIR is filed against Sonia Gandhi for rightfully demanding accountability of the fund and yet here we are — incapacitated from calling Modi on the carpet for violating the RTI act by withholding information on PM CARES.

Donating money to PM CARES might make us feel good, get publicity and help us save taxes. While the motive to donate at this point is secondary, we need to ensure the primary pledge for initiating PM CARES is indeed designed for greasing the wheels of our teetering economy during these harrowing times.

The PM CARES fund is a black hole. Once your money goes into the account, there is no way of knowing what happens to it. As the Indian economy continues to be smothered, the arrogance of the Modi government’s foolhardy splurging on “Make in India” ventilators for INR four lakhs a piece when the same is being offered for less than INR 2,500 a piece, is a glaring testimony to the staggering black hole that PM CARES is — a reality deeper than our darkest democratic imagination.

MAMA’S MILK

When a mother stuffs her breast in the mouth of a hungry young babe, the hungry young babe stops crying. That is all a hungry young babe needs – raw mother’s milk from its source.

We were all hungry young babes once. As hands got longer, legs got stronger, and the reproductive parts got their validation to formalise the genesis of another life in our form and kind, we stopped preferring the source of goodness. Glass-bottled foods and plastic-wrapped liquids appeased us, as it appeased a certain nutrition benchmark. Somewhere along the line we knew the glitzy brands that handled our nourishments with preposterous sums of sugar and salted them with life-threatening additives didn’t care about our well-being. They cared about the well-being of their companies. We knew that. But we upheld their dream to debase our own well-being, in any case.

As the steroids of human catastrophe pump the muscles of the coronavirus, our follies of consumption are coming to the fore. Our grocery lists are not filled with names of brands anymore. It has the names of essentials. It is no longer ‘Pepsodent’ toothpaste. It is ‘toothpaste’. It is no longer ‘Dove’ soap. It is ‘soap’. It is no longer ‘Nestle’ milk. It is ‘milk’. Soon, it will not be ‘Mercedes’ car. It will be anything with ‘four wheels’. With Flintstones having already shown us how to yabba dabba doo, our blueprint to the stone age is in place. The essence of essentials never revolved around the superfluousness of branding or marketing. A living being’s degree of dependency (uninfluenced by commercially-driven propaganda) on a product or service is what determines the dignity of an ‘essential’. If this smells like the spirit of socialism, it is. As long as it does not smell bad, there is no need to cover the nose (except of course for the curious case of corona).

Capitalism justified greed. As a result we ate and then we ate until our stomachs took longer steps than our feet. We now think twice of taking an unwanted bite or buying more than what is needed, since we don’t know what long-term holds for us and what may stay for tomorrow. Fat people can lose weight. Alcoholics can stop ruining their lives and the lives of others. Shopaholics can save money. The infection has constrained us to acknowledge the more guiltless delights of life. The time we are able to give our loved ones. The breath of fresh air we are able to introduce our bodies to when we work from home. The harmful pollution we are able to stay away from (not a probability before the corona era) – when we were paying tribute to the nine-to-five shenanigan.

The world is not desolate. It under no circumstances was. It will continue to breathe, as it inevitably has. This is our time for introspection. Do we need that car which guzzles so much petrol? Do we need that food which consists of so many synthetic ingredients? Lesser number of trees have to surrender their lives when there are lesser number of vehicles on road. We have been phony humans before. The coronavirus acts as the catalyst to aid us in being better human beings. Consume less, give more. It takes an effort. It should. How do you think the world got here?

CHINA: THE 21ST CENTURY JUDAS

Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” – John 13:27

The hallmark of betrayal and cowardice, the name ‘Judas’ is not likely to be less tainted any more than China is able to get the world off its back for putting the world on a cross any time soon.

Bearing 28.4 percent of the global manufacturing output in 2018, China is the world’s womb for incubating the eggs of capitalists. As the International Labour Organisation (ILO) predicts 195 million full-time job losses globally and 400 million informal sector workers falling into abysmal poverty, it is inhuman to be not mad at China — the 21st century Judas — for betraying the world into a mass recession. While the lungs of the global economy are closing tighter than Mike Tyson’s fists by the day, the ‘China virus’ (as Trump calls it) is opening up the lungs of our planet — by far the most lucrative consequence of the deadly pandemic. As Judas did Jews the favour of sinning for killing the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, and in return giving the world a new covenant, one filled with love and compassion, China is giving the world a chance to redeem itself from excessive industrialisation and relentless globalisation.

With aircrafts grounded and vehicles off the roads, greenhouse gases are finding it tough to make a living. The lockdown has helped lift up the spirits of the Ganges. Every day thousands of gallons of toxic waste is dumped into India’s holy river by hundreds of leather tanneries and textile industries doting along the line of the Ganges. The Ganges’ vacation won’t be for long. When the lockdown ends, it will go back to being the civilisation’s dumpster. Many exotic birds and animals we were never used to seeing in urban locales are coming out in the open and showing us what we were missing out on when we were busy sitting on rats and racing against time. Earning members (not applicable for frontliners who are part of mandatory services) are getting to spend quality time with their families — a rare treat to cherish. The lockdown caused by the coronavirus is giving us cleaner air, purer water, a better atmosphere and a wholesome family.

If it was not Judas, it would be another disciple who would have betrayed Jesus. Jesus had to be betrayed; there were no two ways about that. Jesus knew he was going to be betrayed. Jesus replied, it is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread after I dipped it in the dish. Then he dipped the piece of bread in the dish and gave it to Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son. – John 13:26. Judas was already misappropriating funds from the money box, which he was in charge of, for his own need. If Jesus knew who was going to betray him in advance, he also knew who Judas was and what he was capable of. The world masters knew very well of the probable dangers they would be encountering when they handed over their production duties to China, a country that has been nonchalant about its wet markets and their plausible threat to human life since the time its economy began to flourish. The health of people is not an unexpendable asset, only in so much as it is able to provide sustenance to the wealth of the nation. The health of the planet, however, is a non-negotiable asset. The planet has tried telling us in many ways before. We have interpreted them as earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis, but been adamant in accepting them as cries for us to lighten our burden on it. While the lockdowns are temporary, our consciousness (in choosing to do things that are not for our benefit but for the benefit of the planet as well in any way we can) need not be.

It is true that the coronavirus has taken away more from those who already had nothing more to give. It is true that the coronavirus is making the world an orphan and dumping it in an abandoned neighbourhood. It is true that the coronavirus will keep us miserable and anxious for a long time, not knowing what the future holds for us. But it is also true that we were keeping our planet on the edge, degrading it in every context and dimension. But it is also true that we took the liberty of taking away the planet’s aspirations for our future generations. But it is also true that we always took more and more from our planet and very rarely had the heart to give anything back to it. Judas learnt his lesson for betraying Jesus and hung himself. As we celebrate Easter under the liability of a lockdown, we cannot wait to see if China will entertain some remorse and do away with its wet markets altogether. Should China continue to have wet markets, it will not be betraying capitalists alone this time, but the whole of humanity itself.

INDIA’S LOCKDOWN: A DOG AND PONY SHOW

My wife was bothered that I was not bothered enough by the coronavirus. I told her, ‘Honey, that virus has not had its vaccine shot before coming here. Trust me, it won’t survive India.’

For a country that has mollycoddled its people with a variety of deadly infections and set unprecedented global benchmarks with some of them long before coronavirus could make its debut on the global stage, the 21-day lockdown in the country is nothing more than a goofy ‘long leave request to see my goldfish’s goldfather in the golden pond across the golden village’ application on an 8-year old’s school diary.

Boasting a stigma for killing 20 times more children under 14 than China for vaccine-preventable communicable diseases, and determined to lose to Nigeria by only a fraction when it takes another 1.7 million lives of children by 2030 for pneumonia, India surely loves its children to death. Not wanting the children to be lonely and lost in their graves, every year it sends millions of adult chaperones to accompany them. Hailed as the undisputed contender in the world for generating the highest number of Tuberculosis deaths, India’s 21-day lockdown, which is nearly not as vital as it is for the developed economies (and some of the developing economies), at best should have been a 21-hour lockdown.

By the time coronavirus had turned into a dystopic hashtag across the globe, 28 Indians had already been porked. The WHO-declared, 11-year old pandemic, Swine Flu (H1N1), between 2015 and March 1, 2020, had infected 128,722 (including 6 Supreme Court judges) and killed 7,899 Indians. If pigs were not enough to cause lethal damage to human lives, India’s insouciant open defecation was a patriotic insignia that daunted poorer countries until the terminating end of 2019, when Narendra Modi proudly declared the country to be ‘open defecation free‘. The sorcerous claim translated to half a billion stratum that had out of despair, been lineally defecating in the open, suddenly, on Gandhi Jayanti, having access to toilets. Five months after Modi’s declaration, in the thick of the coronavirus bug, Amitabh Bachchan joined his hands and implored Indians to use toilets and not defecate in the open. Other than the dynamism to cause infectious diseases such as typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, and trachoma, open defecation is reported to aid the spread of coronavirus through faecal matter. And with sex and prostitution continuing to be matters of taboo, India, as of 2019, holds the third place for the sheer number of HIV cases — 2,170,000 infections and 67,000 deaths. While some of these infectious diseases were eventually introduced to their poisons, none of them merited a lockdown during their heydays.

Despite an official list of services mandated by the central government to be functional during lockdown, many services arbitrarily turned off and went out of reach, forcing the average Indian to venture out and rummage around in his vicinities for bare essentials — exposing him to unrestrained police brutality, which in turn would cost him an arm and a leg or mostly his whole body itself. While cops are busy rewarding middle class Indians with blood clotting lashes and a trip to their graves, the daily wage labourers (migrants) are made to sing another sad song altogether. At a time where social distancing was crucial, the government got the migrants cooped up like bacteria in a beggar’s navel, increasing the threat of the virus spread. With those having to be protected being thrashed and killed by the protectors during the lockdown, the lockdown has turned into a bloodbath. Touted as the world’s largest lockdown, it is also the most disturbing lockdown, propelled by deliberate mismanagement and a flagrant violation of human rights.

While India’s lack of empathy for sunscreen emboldened the Union Health Minister of State for Health to claim sunlight had the power to kill coronavirus, the prime minister did not leave himself far behind. For a poverty-stricken country like India, finding empty plates was just as effortless as stepping on human faeces at Mumbai’s Versova beach. From asking people to bang empty plates and light candles, the prime minister is getting kookier than Trump when it comes to providing real and sustainable solutions to limit the spread of the virus and treat those infected by it.

I will be the bearer of the irony should the virus get me; in the meantime, the irony of more cases being reported day after day since the three-week lockdown is not lost on 1.3 billion Indians. While it is true that India continues to have its fair share of infectious demons (STH, visceral leishmaniasis, dengue fever, malaria, lymphatic filariasis, trachoma, leprosy, and rabies) to deal with, it got to know them in its own sweet time. With coronavirus, there was no time for foreplay; it was — drop your pants and hands up.

Having successfully eradicated two of the world’s most deadliest infectious diseases — smallpox and polio — India’s nationwide extirpation programmes — considering its geography, diversity and population — have earned worldwide respect and recognition. As the global economy lies unconscious in the gutter, India’s evitable lockdown, falsely parading to be honest-to-goodness in handling the current coronavirus crisis has put the equity of trust and reputation India has built over the decades (in its ability to deal with deadly infections in the past) at stake.

While the lockdown aids in flattening the curve, the superficial placebos offered by the country’s leaders and their affiliates are knocking up a false sense of achievement in the bellies of Indians. For a country that is forever ripe with overconfidence and conditioned to be misguided, we need qualified shepherds leading the sheep and not sheep leading the blind when it comes to handling the coronavirus situation in India. Now that our beloved “shepherds” have had more than their fair share of PR through candle lighting, plate banging, cow urine drinking, and sun bathing, we can only hope that a real solution to mute the virus is in the offing. Otherwise, God help us all.

SOCIAL DISTANCING: A DISTANT PANDEMIC UTOPIA FOR INDIA

The Modi government put the nation on a day-long curfew on March 22nd. Three days after the trial curfew, on 25th March, when the central government imposed a 21-day nationwide lockdown, my wife said, ‘Thank God, Modi is not following Trump in this matter. For once, he is doing something right. He has picked health over the economy.’ I couldn’t agree more. In theory, it was a textbook genius move. In practice, the lockdown as I am witnessing, is a gypsie prescription.

In a country where a substantial majority of the population live in houses that have less space between each other than matchsticks in a pack of an unopened matchbox, the government found it novel to impose a lockdown without first getting the country prepared for a three-week lockdown to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. According to the government, a one-day curfew success story that included staying at home between 7 AM and 9 PM on one Sunday was enough of an acid test to put an unprepared nation in a lockdown for three weeks, without first setting up reliable access portals for basic essentials.

While Modi joined his hands and sought forgiveness from the millions of poor migrants and daily wage labourers (from unorganised sectors across the country) for leaving them stranded and forcing them to walk hundreds of kilometres to their native places in his ‘we will fight coronavirus’ war, his government has been consistent in disabling its own lockdown mandate by forcing the middle-class Indian families to step out of their homes for essentials — essentials which were categorically promised to be door-delivered — so that the integrity of the lockdown could be better preserved. The government failed to realise that had it given people the time to stock up on essentials, the cases of non-essential lockdown violations would be fewer in number.

A hundred percent quarantine is impossible for the average middle-class family in India, unless the home is a supermarket. As many businesses in many significant parts of the country selling absolute essentials that were officially exempted by the central and state governments from being shut during lockdown continue to unabashedly exempt themselves from being open, the non-privileged Indian strives hard to not have his bones broken or his life taken when he ventures out to rummage around in his vicinities for food and essentials. The police and the military have been instructed to have no empathy or show no sympathy when it comes to following orders under section 144.

For those living in tier-1 cities, comparatively, life is easier. Their groceries and food deliveries are door-delivered. Areas where door-deliveries are not feasible, circles in white chalk (with a one metre distance between each) are drawn for people to stand in and wait their turn to enter the supermarket. For small towns and small villages there are no door-deliveries or white chalk circles for essentials — it is more of a ‘try-your-luck-at-random-places’ situation.

The Modi government, which has a predilection for ambushing the people of India with lockdowns and unwarranted impositions (if it deems necessary to fight the virus), will not shilly-shally to extend the lockdown beyond 21 days without further warning. That said, while India is absolutely not prepared to maintain social distancing not because of sheer carelessness but because of utter helplessness, it can benefit from distancing from the obsessively and compulsively shared coronavirus-related content on social media.

The coronavirus being a virus for the viral generation, is already the most talked about material in the world. With essentials being guarded and hoarded by the privileged classes (especially those affiliated with the political parties), hysteria will only do a good job of helping Indians trample each other and do a bad job of helping them save each other. While everyday essentials are running out or are deliberately being kept out of reach for the common Indian, the age-old phylogenetic essential that has never distanced itself from Indians — ‘jugaad‘ — needs to look out for them, now more than ever.

THE HOLY FELONY

Writing about death is hard. Writing about the death of God is harder. Writing about the suicide of God is the hardest. My involvement here is the hardest one.

Nothing scares man like death. Why wouldn’t it? It is the exact opposite of the very purpose of what we are designed to do. Live. We live to live. We beg to live. We yearn to live. We fight to live. We learn to live. We die to live. Then, finally, when all hell breaks loose, we live to die. As sometimes, when life cannot bear life anymore it moves on to find its heartbeat in the dark breath of death.

Death. A permanent solution to all temporary problems. An eternal liberation from all mortal obligations. Death might seem like an easy catch. But, it isn’t. Death is like that ugly girl in class. Nobody wants to ask her out. Nobody wants to bed her. Nobody wants to be seen around her. You push her as far away as possible and make sure you insult the very existence of her, by pretending like she doesn’t even exist.

Unfortunately for us, our nature of assessment of a person is inferior and void compared to the nature’s assessment of us. Therefore, our condemnation of death is void and does not deny death of its power to taunt us with all its might. Now, this doesn’t mean the ugly girl is kissed by a frog . . . turns into a beautiful princess overnight . . . and will come to haunt us about what we missed. It is in fact, the other way around. The SAME ugly girl will come to haunt us, wishing we had acknowledged her sooner and earned her favour than arousing her wrath to a point where she erupts and contaminates our world with her molten venom that feasts on the flesh of our souls until there are no lips left on our faces to pray for mercy.

Mercy keeps humanity spinning on its axis, regardless of how crooked the axis is. Sometimes, the easiest to dispense, is also the hardest to procure. If Aruna Shanbaug, instead of having to rot on the planet that gave her the dark side of the sun, every day, until the day she finally decided to bribe death to come take her home (wherever the hell that was), was shown some mercy and allowed to die, for whatever days she could bear, she could have lived her life by the side of the God who had abandoned her on the fateful night.

Teaching man the art of creating fruit wasn’t God’s dereliction. He is a foolish spirit, who, after thousands of years, continues to be too hopeful that his children would do no wrong and even if they happened to (because they are “human”, and “to err is human”), he is brainwashed into believing that they are incapable of asking for parole, before they are done serving time for their crime.

If it weren’t for blasphemy, man’s most notorious and celebrated crime upheld by men, every sixth child, since the dawn of evolution, would have doodled on the mysteries of the holy word, until it had enough manifesto to start its own path.

Our own path? Haha. Despite our atoms being so closely strung together and affirmed in the shape of the almighty, we have got to be careful about who we put our hands together to pray to. The dreadful bouncers on his payroll will, if you happened to stop grooving to the shape of the almighty and instead started dancing to your own beat, not think twice to kick you in the belly and throw you out of the club by your collar. Mind you, he owns every club on every street in every godforsaken nook of the world.

First he sends his own son. Then he sends men after his son to have him killed. All because his son had asked the people of his time to stop being holed up in the box his father had asked the people of his time to be in. What kind of father would go after his own son? Are you telling me, the earth will be parched and have no blood to run through its veins without a few good souls having to spill their own blood in order to bring humanity together? It’s hard to not pull the socks over the feet of this unfair paradox – he was born to die for the humanity that was raised to kill him on a cross.

Just as the day slips through the burrow of darkness to rise again bright and sunny, must man be grilled on a burning pit of suffering to ensure his meat is tender enough for God’s palate? Because, the mythologies and histories bear testimony to the evidence that the stairs leading to the ultimate paradise are riddled with sharp nails that are as tall as you. Only those who take the trouble to go through them and succeed will be rewarded. Fair. Else, there’d be no takers for hell.

Despite being the perfect species that awaits to create kingdoms based on other man’s fallacies, Jesus of Nazareth, a man from heaven, descended onto earth to teach the world the word of love and ascended into heaven after being put through hell. He could have asked for euthanasia or summoned the twelve legions of angels from his father’s kingdom, instead, he chose to suffer at the hands of men beneath him, all because his suffering was foretold and his crucifixion was crucial towards the tightening of our intellectual screws.

Let’s face it – the human gene is simply incapable of being perfect. Although it has earned a certain sense of credibility among other species as a connoisseur of perfection, it’s eventual inevitability to earmark “perfection” under the idiosyncrasies of bias and niche is crystal clear in the way we have come to appreciating and rewarding the imperfections as the perfect state of perfection. How perfect of God to make us so perfect in being imperfect!

The concepts of perennial sacrifice and suffering, endured not for your own self, but for the felicity of a random stranger, are above and beyond my courage of benevolence. As the son of God said, ‘The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak’, I believe, so long as man continues to walk the face of this earth, we will continue to sharpen our nails so we can drive them through the flesh of another, but we will not, at any time, volunteer to be the flesh that receives the nail. After all, our tombstone has to read, “#GloryBeToGod.”

THE HINDU JIHAD

“No beef. No pork.” My father said. His moustache was as bluntly dyed as his Hitleracious decree for the wedding. My wedding. My wife’s father, not wanting to conjure any complications, nodded along like a bobblehead toy.

Just as Stallone needed a special set of skills to escape from the most notorious prisons inEscape, to entertain an inter-caste/interreligious rendezvous in India, you needed an extraordinary fortitude. Believe me.

Now, this is not a cry about summoning India into squeezing its breast hard and dropping that last drop of milk in the mouth of the classified reserved sects of the unreserved classes and tribes. Because, luckily for India, Dr B R Ambedkar, the Chief Creative Officer of the Constitution Drafting Committee, came from a caste called Mahar, which was cast to be designated at the foot of the social order. Naturally, having an inside man helped the depressed chef up a revenge with class-reserved ingredients that had the toxins to suppress the progressed and possessed into bending their knees on the graves of their predecessors.

JINGOISM OF HINDUISM

The Hindus did not seem to have a problem with munching on yummy mummy cows, until Islam sat on the crescent moon and fished for prospects on the earth.

Hinduism is an aimless religion. Islam has a time sheet to fill when it comes to worshipping the one true God for five times a day. Christianity has made its mission to spread the word of God through its missionaries. Buddhism has the mindfulness to make your mind mindless in a newfound state of nirvana. What does Hinduism have, other than being the nation that offers 1.3 billion Gods on a rhodium platter!

Hinduism is so vigorous about procreating newer Gods every other day, since every beating heart is a God to it, it forgets what the previous God stood for and sacrificed his testicles for. Talk about being a hard-on disappointment.

BULLIED

The rightists are to be pitied. Their every attempt at getting us back to square one, culturally and ethnically, is for eternity riddled with landmines. Can you imagine having to fear to speak out in your own home? That is a trauma very hard to grow out of.

India was aboriginally home to the Hindus. Just as Israel was the deemed light at the end of a long, suffering, dark tunnel for the Jews. As for the Muslims, even though they rose from the desert, their mirage didn’t seduce them like a décolletage, and leave them deserted. Their fate changed for the better, because of an ill-fated kismet some other species had to endure sixty five million years ago. And Buddhism gets its good night’s rest in Cambodia. But what about India?

India has a nasty reputation for being an easy lay. Alexander of Macedonia groped her ankles. Islam grabbed her by the pussy. Trump, I know you heard that, but you got to wait in the line, buddy! The Portuguese and the British rubbed her tits and licked her neck. All on the first date. Now, wouldn’t you want to date her!

The sad thing about India, was that she was a naive village girl. She never really, fully understood her own potential. She constantly dreamt of the city outside, without realising that she was already living inside a diamond. That reckless inquisitiveness got her to blindly accept any date that came her way.

You have to understand one thing. India was wholesome and dusky and voluptuous. She had a lot to offer (sadly, a lot to lose) and most importantly she had the ability to become a virgin after every time she hit home base. Talk about divine gifts.

India was the swiss knife of resilience. She had all the tools to get back up in the wake of the most heinous adversities that were recurringly, prejudicially punctuated in her line of destiny, but no weapons of whatsoever capacity were ever amassed to protect her in broad light, even on the brightest day. A never-ending spell of darkness she has been cursed to cry in, since the last two millenniums.

BULLY

All deeds, as sad and tragic as they might have been, or as magical as logic might have begged to disagree with, are fortunately or unfortunately bound by a statute of limitations.

The real time for India to have pleaded her case was when the British had arrived. Even though the British weren’t honestly honest as day, they were certainly not as coarse as the previous invaders. Their only lust was for politics and economics. The British didn’t go after women or ask men to change their chants from ‘OM’ to ‘Hallelujah’.

Records indicate that India had lost over 400 million souls during her dating frenzy, putting the holocaust’s numbers to shame. Still, if we look at the duration/victim proportion, Hitler’s ethnic cleansing of the Jews is by no means a scanty misfortune.

No one had asked India to date the other cultures and be on top of the Tinder page. Pitiful, most of her dates turned out to be hardline fundamentalists, who couldn’t care to give enough time to understand her, find out what her likes and dislikes were, know what her childhood was like, instead all they were ever hell-bent on going after was India changing her maiden name, through a forced intercourse.

PAIN’S PLEASURE

Christian Grey taught us that inflicting pain can be addictive, while his submissive girlfriend-on-contract, Anastasia Steele, went on to corroborate enslavement as an even deadlier addiction.

India is a country numbed by pain. She’s had many heartbreaks. And it never seems to get any better for her. She could be bitten a million times, but she ain’t ever gonna get shy. She’s genetically coded to tolerate pain and communally activated to be intolerant to everything humane.

COWARD

Some families have a member who is always frustrated. They never need any reasons to speak with an anal breath. That member, is for the most part, for the lack of courage to face the outside world, pours all his energy into beating the shit out of his own family members. India has one such member. The sweet child of the infamous acronym – B J P.

BJP, the specialists in banning foods, goods, and dudes on dudes, are the misbegotten great grandchildren of the unbridled India. Their greatest challenge has been to avenge the malfeasance of their mother by the outsiders. In that blanket of blind rage and of course in an amazon of imbecility, they are conscientiously unconscientious of the fact that the butts of their arrows are indeed pointed at the mouths of our buttholes. Inevitably, unless we are primed to taking it in the back, we are going to get back at giving it back to them in full swing. The kind of infliction typified to trigger a macabre friction that even the best writer of nonfiction would shiver to render his two pennies worth of conviction. It is hard to not remember this. It was also the year my brother was born. 1992. Bombay riots. Once again, a sad little brainchild of BJP.

PAUSE

Hinduism, the oldest creed since the time man crawled out of God’s seed, had issues. Just as the deepest ocean has a culmination and just as we are born to die, every religion has a melting point. Islam is currently on an unpaid apprenticeship serving perimenopause, while Hinduism is wielding its cougar claws to make one last scratch before it retires to drawing pleasure from the sweet nectars of menopause.

The milk-obsessed, dung-dressed, anachronistic #MakeinIndia mothersuckers have come too far in creating a line of distinction between those who consume beef and those who don’t, pushing those who do off the cliff in search of a retribution, which will be nothing short of a hellish revolution.

REPLAY

History is an attention-seeking whore. It will do anything in its power to not remain a mystery. Even if it means writing itself with the blood of our children, bleeding from the nib of our fathers.

Cows to me, are not adorable like dogs or cats. It is ridiculous to put them on a leash and take them for a walk. Ever since the Brahmins decided to have a reboot, our Gods, dubiously, have gone into hiding behind the hide of Kamadhenu. Yet, we have never found none of these Gods when we cut into her. Either the Gods have taken Hide and Seek way too seriously, or our saffron zealots have sought to hide behind a very convenient truth, seriously.

So many Gods in so many cows and yet here we are, in a country ruled by so many bloody fools. I need to have a talk with these Gods and see just what the heck they have been smoking.

TO WHOMSOEVER IT MAY CONCERN

If cow is indeed your mama, stop suckling on her teats and bring her home. Who lets a mother wander on the highways. I know she is an excellent speedbreaker, but come on, son!

Sadly for you, we find your mummy yummy. You may like what comes out of her. We are interested in what is inside of her. If that is murder to you and you think you have the right to hang someone for being a “stone-cold mother killer”, then let’s hang each other, because frankly we don’t like the way your mother has raised you. You lack awareness, kid.

You see, the cow in concern is and was never really India’s Holy Cow. It was simply the fiction of a political author, fabricated to create a distinction. Like iPhones. They are just ordinary phones priced extraordinarily to boost the egos of those with small wieners and low self-esteem. When you have no bullet in your chamber, you start bragging about how shiny your gun is.

Clearly, India lacks the grit to be 100% secular. Being “nearly” secular is fuzzy logic. That little wiggle room is enough for Modi India Private Limited to pitch its tent with retrograde ideologies and ensure that there shall be nothing left of what’s right, and nothing right of what’s left. Thereby making what’s left of what’s right barely right, because there is barely any left to make it fully right. So in that clause, as ridiculous as it sounds, dividing the nation for cows can be mooing (sorry, had to say it somewhere). The south has already asked for a #DravidaNadu. Seems fair. Asking us to move to Pakistan is not.

Hurts me to say this, but India is still held tightly by the reins of the caste system, appallingly oblivious of the actuality that heavens continue to stay far away because we are (collectively) the untouchables. However, good news is that hell is a lot closer, as we continue to be just the kind of shit it likes to chew and spit out.

You and me, we share equal concerns. You worry about me butchering your mother, and I worry about slaughtering your obscurantism and setting your dumbness on fire. I still can’t fully understand your obsession with cows, for all I care, you can even make her the national animal and replace the four lions in the emblem with four cows, but you will not get me to pity our country, who you want us to think is a damsel in distress.

Before I withdraw my fingertips to grab a bite from my plate of beef chilly fry, here’s something you will relish.

Question: So a cow walks into a bar. What does it order?
Answer: Cows never go to bars. They are sacred.

PIRACY GAVE ‘GAME OF THRONES’ ITS CULT STATUS, SO WHY THE FUSS?

This morning, as I was heading to work, I saw a huge billboard that read ‘Torrents Morghulis’ (Torrents Must Die). I must admit, being a copywriter, the strong cultural association in the copy hallmarked in the infamous Game of Thrones font, combined with a smear of blood, made me ponder on the devious wonder of the message.

My adoration for the creative aside, I have got to raise my voice and call spade a spade. While the saviours of our media and entertainment maestros and corporations have vowed to behead piracy or manufacture seedicides that can kill it in the womb, piracy has time and again proved itself to be a real fighter. And for a damn good reason. While we are at liberty to engage in a pompous fist fight against piracy, we know it’s a farce, like the WWE—unless the moral fighters start concealing knuckle busters in their gloves.

If ignorance is bliss, then arrogance is India’s death kiss. India might have free wifi hotspots in a few blessed cities, but when it comes to average 4G data speed, at 5.14Mbps we are left in the dust by even Pakistan with its 11.71Mbps (for the record, the global gold medal is held by South Korea with a jaw-dropping 40Mbps).

Despite the brutal shortcomings, for the last two years, local as well as international over-the-top (OTT) content aggregators and creators have been setting their own pants on fire in a bid to disrupt the ripe market in India for on-demand and streaming viewing.

For far too long, until VCR, DVD and torrents happened, India was held hostage to appointment viewing, completely at the mercy of cable channels forcing you to watch your favourite shows and licensed blockbusters at time slots allotted by them.

When I learnt what Torrent was from my brother, who is six years younger than me, I thought it was the best gift that any person of any age and any gender could have. Forget mainstream movies. With torrent, I had access to content that I otherwise would never even have chanced upon.

What Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon and others like them in India do understand but act like they don’t (since they can’t afford to), is that their million dollar marketing efforts in containing piracy will never really come into full force, like ever.

Last year, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) set up a special committee to fight online piracy, which had companies like Hotstar, SET India, Eros, Netflix, Radio Mirchi, Viacom 18, and others participate to (in the words of the committee’s mandate) “safeguard the interest of the digital entertainment businesses.”

So, there you go. These digital businesses are not as interested in “combating” piracy of the content, as they are in protecting their profits. On the flip side, their fight against piracy is fair if the channel is also the producer of the show, like Netflix, which had 30 original series by the end of 2016. Then again, Game of Thrones, which has been setting the record every year since 2012 for being the “most downloaded pirated content”, is not threatened by piracy. If anything, it has benefited from it.

David Petrarca, who directed two episodes in the epic, felt that piracy helped spread the “cultural buzz” of Game of Thrones. The conviction is even backed by Jeff Bewkes, CEO of Time Warner, which owns HBO, who said, “…it all leads to more penetration, more paying subs, more health for HBO, less reliance on having to do with paid advertising.”

It is safe to say that piracy does not really make an impact on a show’s ratings or the monies it is expected to earn. The ones it does have an impact on, are the ones that aren’t capable of earning any profits, anyway. Nothing wrong applying the philosophy of “survival of the fittest” here.

Last season, GoT had an average of 25.7 million viewers per episode, and it cost the producers between $6 and $10 million to make an episode (very modest considering the cast, costumes, hundreds of extras, and exotic locations, especially when you compare it with another successful show like Friends, which cost $10 million/episode). As the show came without ads, HBO made its money through subscriptions. So if it took about $100 million to make a season, the producers were earning roughly $400 million in return through subscriptions and affiliated show memorabilia.

It’s time we exonerated piracy from its wrongful convictions.

Let’s say you heard a song (which your friend had not paid for) for the first time at your friend’s place. Took to it instantly. You googled the song, went to the artist’s Facebook page and liked it. You later went to the office, blasted the song and the other ones from the same artist. One year later, you heard that the artist was going to perform in your city, and you went. Not only did you go, but you also made sure your friends and colleagues went with you.

Wanting to be untouched by piracy is like expecting to live a life without bacteria. There is no life without bacteria and there is no bacteria without life. Piracy helps us help artists fulfil their dream — which is to reach the maximum audience. It’s an artist’s honour to have his art be seen, heard, watched, and cherished by as many people as possible. Piracy not only gives us access to them but expands their reach.

Game of Thrones is what it is today, because of torrents. The majority of people in this country got acquainted with the show through torrents and free streaming services. You can deny it, but it won’t stop being the truth. Therefore, if you are joining in the chant of “Torrents Morghulis”, then you might as well say “Game of Thrones Morghulis.”

DEAR MOM AND MAATR, LET’S HAVE A NARRATIVE WHERE RAPE IS THWARTED

Before I get the pot boiling, let me make myself clear by telling you that I have no beef with Sridevi. I adore her. She brings back fond memories. If Rajinikanth was my mom’s hero, then Sridevi was my dad’s muse. There is no denying that when she married Boney Kapoor, she broke the heart of millions of husbands across continents. So when I say what I am about to say, consider it in the perspective of a way forward, rather than picking the nose of this mouth.

Sridevi, in Mom, plays Devki Sabarwal, a cool teacher who uses a semi-nude Salman Khan to teach biology to her twelfth grade students, but also a very protective mother who is mentally hardwired to teach anybody a lesson, should they mess with her kids.

A REVENGE PLOT, SIMILAR TO MAATR

The fact that Devki is Arya’s (Sajal Ali) stepmother won’t bother you, because Devki is too devout and earnest in earning Arya’s love, despite Devki having her own daughter with her husband, Jagan (Adnan Siddiqui).

Arya is a rebellious teenager – at least with Devki – because, according to her, Devki has replaced her birth mother without remorse. Arya heads out to a party hosted by her friends. When Arya steps out to make a phone call to Devki, she gets abducted by her pervert classmate and his older friends who rape her in a moving car and dump her unconscious body in a gutter.

Devki and Jagan are running after justice. But, of course, the criminal bastards have a cunning lawyer who readily pumps money into the forensic expert’s wallet. In the end, there are no surprises. The victim is still a victim and the rapists high five each other and continue to party as the sun on their dark island never goes down.

Devki is pissed, and rightly so.

DK (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) comes to Devki’s rescue when a taunting Mathew Francis (Akshaye Khanna) turns out to be as useless as a pen in a sword fight in bringing justice to Arya. Devki, with the information provided by DK, takes justice into her own hands. She eliminates the rapists one by one in the manner she deems fit – until the moment a depressed Arya asks for a vacation.

The climax gets unnecessarily dramatic with one of the rapists still on the loose, but as you all know, eventually, justice will be served. I know there are a lot of spoilers in here, but this whole ‘rape-revenge’ genre is a spoiler in itself. Maatr, a Raveena Tandon-starrer, which came out barely two and a half months ago, despite all denials to any resemblance whatsoever to Mom, was a problem child of the same parent.

WHY SHOULD ARYA HAVE TO BE WEAK?

If the producers and writers are really burning the midnight oil in order to draw out the darkness in the minds of ignorant men, then it is high time that we started demonstrating women as beings capable of defending themselves.

I am not saying that not acknowledging a perpetual reality will help reduce rapes. But if the law of attraction is anything to swear by, then showing that women are stronger and abled and there are good men out who are prepared to come to the woman’s rescue when there is a need, will really earmark a hope for change.

Because frankly, India doesn’t need another movie to convince us of how crippled our judicial architecture is.