Why I still torment myself over the Delhi Gang-Rape case

Read this article today: ‘India Rape Victim’s Friend Describes Their Love Story

I don’t know why I do this to myself. But, I think, what kind of person would I be, if I didn’t even have the courage to read about the sort of pain that these two endured. People my age. Our age. What happened to them was wrong. Not unfair, not unlucky, just plain wrong.

A lot of people say that the men on the bus were monsters. And that they deserve the worst kind of death possible. But, I disagree. I disagree because these men were not monsters, but simply a product of OUR society. A society where even our irresponsible politicians irresponsibly throw around the words that even the rapists that night picked up on. “Why are you out alone at night?” “Why are you alone with a boy?”

It’s the sick sort of mentality that pervades our society. ‘If she can be with him, why not with me?’ It’s the attitudes of a million mothers when they justify their son’s uncouth, uncivilized behavior by saying, ‘If she was dressed that way/out at that time/with a boy without being married, she should have expected that.’ It’s a society where female nurses commiserate with new-parents over the birth of girl-children. The society where the boy gets the best, because he is the boy, no matter how much of an ass he might be as a person. The society where a woman has to keep her head down, cook food, and produce children. A society where a man has no incentive to be decent even to find a wife, because his maa will find him a rishta.

This is the society that raped her. The society that got so infuriated that a woman dared to tell those men to back off, and not touch her. The society that retaliated to a bite on the arm in the middle of aggravated sexual assault by using the iron rod in what would be a laughable demonstration of their own insecurities, were it not so horrible, brutal and tragic.

Men of India who rape, women of India who condone it, where is this coming from? What kind of culture permits you to be this way? It’s disgusting. It’s revolting. And it has gone on for far too long.

Enough.

That’s why I’m still following this case. Because, it breaks my heart every single time I learn anything new about them. The fact that she was a petite 23 yr old who held hands with a boy she called ‘The Perfect Man’. The fact that he insisted they stay back at the mall for just a few more minutes, but she was in a hurry to return home. The fact that the kid, the juvenile who penetrated her with an iron rod moments after, first called her Didi (elder sister) to entice the couple on to the bus. If what I need to keep this rage alive is to have my heart broken again and again by the same shameful incident, then so be it. Because, it is not the six men alone who brutalized this girl as old as me, and a Million times braver; It was our society. MY society. And, in the middle of all the shame, rage and guilt, it is her determination to live, on her terms, that I cling on to.

As educated citizens of this society of ever-growing filth, it is our responsibility to never turn away. And I won’t. I swear it, Sister.

I want to say, ‘Don’t rest in peace. Haunt us. I know you’ve done more than anyone should ever have had to. But, do this too. Don’t leave us in peace until we’ve fixed this. Invade our dreams, and turn them all into nightmares, so that no one can dare forget the cost of this fight, nor its value.’ But, on the eve before her final cardiac arrest that left her brain dead, she signaled to her family, signaled because they had hurt her so bad that she couldn’t even speak, that she was going to heaven. On Christmas. So, instead, all I have to say is that I hope you made it. And, that you don’t have to worry about us. Things will Change. I swear it. And, when they do, I hope we have the decency to remember you. Not as a nameless rape victim, but someone so full of life, someone who fought back so hard, someone so determined to live, that she shamed the rest of us into a rage fueled reaction. Late, and selfish, but a reaction nonetheless.

So, I guess what I’m really trying to say is.. Sorry. And, thank you. ♥

Live

I cannot keep up! Cannot, cannot, cannot! How can you? The World is spinning away and into focus at unimaginable speeds. Things are forming and changing and breaking and reforming. Everything is permitted because nothing is true. Then, why are we all stuck doing the same damn things? Over, and over, and over. Like mechanized robots with no sense of self or value or ideas of progress. Exit is not the right option, yes, but neither is conformity!

People keep complaining about how the World will never change. Well, we ARE the World. And, if it has to change, we have to be that change.

So, don’t wait for the New Year, or your next promotion, or the birth of your first-born child. Do something now. Be Alive. There shall be zillions of millenniums to be just another identity-less piece of the many. There shall be billions of centuries to be dead. This is your only chance to live.

So, Live.

The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place: Customary Holiday Post

Every customary holiday post needs a review of the trimester. However, the last three months of my life have been extremely strange, even more so than usual, and when I try to look back at them, there’s just this cold gust of wind that flows through me in a way that should hurt.. Instead I find its coolness is only refreshing.

I used to think many things. I was convinced of many things. I’ve seen these three months destroy so many of my convictions, and I’m too shaken up right now to form any new ones.

I used to have a room-mate who would travel to the ends of the World for me, and a relationship that gave me the sort of rare liberty that only security brings.. Now, I find myself with a crew full of human friends, with their own flaws and weaknesses and fears and songs. And, I love them all. This trimester has seen us Protesting and Partying from the first moment to the last. Protesting against all that is unfair, and celebrating everything in life that is still worth celebrating. [Literally so, as the first thing we all did together was protest the unfair conditions for women, followed by an evening at the new pub in town, and the last thing we did together was break a rule so that we could all drink together through the night].

I made some new friends too. And, began reading philosophy. Discovered some new places, revisited some old ones. Fell in love with Vivaldi’s Winter, and had the sort of Strawberry Fields that I should have been proud of, were I not only half there.. I’ve been half everywhere for a while now… Except for the night before the last. Then again, breaking the Rules always did help me feel alive faster than most other things could ever manage. And that’s always the kind of rebellion I enjoy the most; the kind that’s so fun, you want to yell out your adventures to the moon.

But, that was only the ending. For the rest of the time, I remember reading A Game of Thrones, and learning how to play the guitar, and attending a GBM drunk, but determined. I remember being part of a football team that was always top of the table, and a barbecue Christmas night. Orcs must die, and conversations that have been pending for years, and a life-altering moment that I have no recollection of whatsoever, with someone that I don’t know at all. I remember walking across miles and miles, alone in the rain, in a red coat. And, there were parties in rooms, on different terraces, in old and new places, with old and new faces. I attended wild quad parties, tried to launch a revolution, had my feet slip out under me only to fly into the air and have my head hit the ground so hard, I was sure I was lying in a pool of my own blood.

I did all the new things that have always been missing in my life; I missed a flight, broke up a fight involving a blind-side punch to the face and a broken nose, had time to chill at SF, won a football tournament (yay!), got over my longest relationship (finally) and started listening to the kind of music that my dog and I can trip out on together. (I think she likes Beethoven best.)

I went to college in October, certain to be miserable and coming up with all sorts of plans to keep my mind busy; Instead, for the next three months, I found myself in the middle of almost the most fun that I have ever had. I’d forgotten how terrifying and yummy freedom was. I’d forgotten how hard it was to feel alive entirely on your own, and how much more worth it. I’d forgotten how many hours there really were in a day, and how much of my brain, and how many corresponding cells, were caught up in solving stupid pointless problems rather than thinking about any sort of development or dealing with any real issues. Most importantly, these past three months reminded me what it could really be to be me.

And, I absolutely loved it.

~~~

These are the guys who made my trimester beautiful:

Plato, Socrates, Nietzsche, Vivaldi, Chopin, Beethoven, John Snow, the Targaryens, Walzer, Pink Floyd, Lounge Piranha, Puppies, sharp seniors, spirited juniors, dedicated professors and the kind of friends who you would fight all of hell to save.

Cheers!

On Freedom and Cruelty

If you ever want to be Free, you have gotta learn how to be Cruel. 
Or Apathetic. But, even that requires its own kind of cruelty.

In that, I do not  mean to say that to be cruel is to be free.

What is cruelty?

Willfully causing pain or suffering to others, or feeling no concern about it

What is Freedom, then?

Freedom is the State of being Free. It is “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants.

Since no two people are exactly the same, it is a fair assumption to make that all people say and do different things, and think in different ways, at different points of times in their lives. What you want to do or say or think shall often contradict what someone else might want to think or say or do. Since we live in a society, usually these people shall be people you know, and care about. And, if you want to be free, you must accept the fact that the decisions you make will hurt and upset them. No.. If you really want to be free, you must be willing to hurt and upset them.

And, that is why there is no Freedom without Cruelty.

Of course, to be cruel alone is not enough.

It is easy to be a cruel slave. It is far harder to be free and kind.

For, when you are kind, things are expected of you. Understanding, Mercy, Compassion, Justice. And the more things are expected from you, the lesser freedom you possess. Thus, to be free, you must either be capable of (1) Lowering expectations; (2) Disappointing expectations; (3) Lying to those that expect; (4) Lying to yourself. All of these acts also require a certain amount of cruelty.

But, as Socrates would remind us, Cruelty is bad, but freedom is good. Then how can cruelty lead to freedom?

And, more importantly, is it really cruelty that is required for freedom? Or is it in some sense, a perversion of the word, perhaps even just one single aspect of it?

Here, it would be useful to reconsider the very definition of cruelty: ‘Willfully causing pain or suffering to others’, which is definitely bad, or ‘feeling no concern about it’, which is not that awful a thing.. Is it? This is what I meant by my statement that when it comes to freedom, the only alternative to cruelty is apathy, but it turns out that apathy is itself a sub-component of cruelty.

Further, the problem with simply not caring, rather than actively causing suffering or discomfort, is that sometimes the people you care about, you will also love. And, love brings its attachments in chains. Freedom requires you to break out of these chains. Is this always cruel?

Perhaps then, a declaration would suffice. But, to someone that is beginning to like you, and form their own attachments, a declaration of your intent to never be bound by or to them, or by and to anything else, that is also cruel..

I am no closer to understanding whether cruelty is essential for anyone who wishes to be truly free. But, it makes it a lot easier, and sometimes, it does appear to be necessary. Further, even if you just don’t care (apathy), you are cruel to those that truly love you. Unless no one loves you, in which case, I guess you’re free. But, only in the way that you’re free when you’re lost..

It wouldn’t be enough to say ‘Only be Cruel when you absolutely have to’, because you can’t just wake up one morning and do the evilest act without harming your mind. You can’t only be cruel when every aspect of your freedom is threatened. No. For every threat, you must respond with equal cruelty. That’s because it’s the *only* thing that can cut through ties and bonds that other people have made with you. If the bonds are new, or weak, or not very valuable, apathy would usually suffice.

I know no real conclusions have been reached, but I’d still like to end this post now, on a slight bit of a tangent, with this quote that I find always worth considering when talking about any kind of freedom, even though I’m not fully convinced of its truth:

Who do you suppose decided birds are free? They can fly wherever they choose, it’s true… but if there’s no branch for them to return to they might regret having wings, don’t you think? Perhaps true freedom is having a home to return to.

Why belonging to Delhi should not be a Source of Pride

Note: It’s not like I loathe Delhi. Well, okay, I do sort of loathe Delhi, but the tone of this article, it’s only a rant. An angry rant that’s been bubbling inside me for years and years, after every 3 months that I spent in Delhi, annually. The City has its moments, I’m sure it does. But, when all of its people love it so very much, and express it so intensely, I can’t help but take the extreme opposite stance. I am the Devil’s advocate. Hypocritical, in that she only extremely pursues ideas she already believes in, but, give her an underdog in need of defending, and no one can ever go to more extreme or dramatic lengths. umm. It’s a flaw. So, anyway, no offence meant, Delhiites, except where it’s obvious. Yeah. You guys need to fix that.

I don’t like Delhi. It’s hostile and fake and the people who’ve lived there all their lives are so proud of the fact, it’s a mix of little-scary and very disgusting.

But, by all means, yay for the chaat and aalu parathas and all the monuments built a thousand years ago that smoke and pollution and people have determinedly destroyed! Love that culture, if you must, but let no one take pride in this city within a month of what happened.

If you all recall, the girl was lying, bleeding, on the side of the road for nearly two hours while people drove by, gawking and staring in that horrid way that people from that city believe they are automatically entitled to simply because they have eyes. The DELHI police refused to help her into the PCR van, and her injured naked friend had to do it instead, because the police didn’t want blood on their uniforms.

I mean, seriously, what is everyone from this city so proud of? The roads??

Well, I’m talking about the people! The undeniable truth! We’ve been to places all over this country! The kind of hostility that the Delhi gaze has, no other city in this nation compares. It isn’t about “a few rotten apples” or a “few stray incidents”. When we’re all being proud of things, isn’t it important to know just what we’re being so proud of? And, maybe we’re all being proud of the wrong things.

It’s a possibility, don’t you think? Just like the possibility that Delhi is actually a lovely, friendly, forgiving city that doesn’t worship clique mentalities and money and actually cares about each other on the street (to even a tiny amount over giving a fuck), and most importantly, is open to people who don’t fit in any of the ideas that the city has of the people who’re supposed to inhabit it. Or however the fuck that works. *shrugs* 

My point is, what I *loathe* about Delhi is just how proud people are for having lived in a territory for the longest time, about things that they have no control over. And how it changes everyone who *ever* lives there. It’s akin to being forced into a box, and if you resist, the City will cheerfully cut off whichever limb is in the way of fitting you in that box, and the people will cheer by the sidelines. That’s what I hate.

And, yes, I am not proud of India for the absence of the Rule of Law, I’m ashamed of how far the educated citizens of this state have allowed the Nation to fall as long as their immediate rights were protected, I’m disgusted by the kind of mentality that seems to be prevalent along the majority of its citizens. I’m horribly apologetic and deeply disturbed by the communal riots, and the State sanctioned anti-sikh riots of 1984. I’m saddened to think of the fact that while thousands died of hunger, food lay rotting in and around our godowns, bound by bureaucratic red-tape and feeding only rats. I’m offended by the reality of people from MY country pausing in the middle of slaughter to ask their victims what religion they belonged to. I’m ashamed of the way we treat our minorities, and the simultaneous pride we seem to take in our “diversity”.

But, I’m proud of the fact that we made a killer constitution that has actually held this fragmented sub-continent together! I’m proud of the leaders that sat together and conducted their constitutional debates wherein they laboriously went over every word, every concept, in order to ensure that their intentions could never be misunderstood! I’m proud of the fellow Indian who gave a jacket to the Tribal girl who was stripped naked and beaten up by other fellow citizens of ours, despite being turned on by the angry mob for doing so. I’m proud of every dead whistle-blower that our State could not protect, and I’m proud of the two authors who went ahead and read out portions of Salman Rushdie’s book despite fearing for their lives. I’m proud of the logic behind the colors on our flag, and the nice people of Delhi who give jackets to stray dogs on the Street in Winter. And, I’m proud to have access to first World opportunities despite living in a clearly third-world country. And, I’m proud of the changes my college, and people from my college (also Indians) are making in the World. I’m proud of the unrelenting activists, and the people fighting corruption, and all the outrage that this incident brought forth from the public.

But, until, as a people, we can feel ashamed of the things “our people” are capable of, things will never change. And, as long as we keep defending entire systems as a whole, on some level we’re legitimizing the wrong things that do happen. Especially when it comes to attitudes and mentalities.

I mean, be proud, na. Love it! Like it’s said, Everywhere you go, there’s lots to love and hate. But, the things that bother me about Delhi, they sicken and frighten me to my core. So, please understand if I can’t just sit down and swallow it when someone tells me how Delhi is a fabulous city, or how proud they are to belong from there.

Just voicing my polite dissent.

What I miss

Happiness
the real kind
which I didn’t even believe in.

But it exists,
i know,
because i can feel the space
where it used to reside

Not so much in the shape
of any heavy stone
as much as a heart of fire and air
that keeps you warm
no matter how much it rains
nor how dark, nor how cold it gets

And, you know, everything else is secondary;
even all the conversations we ever had 
that always meant something
because we were always
going somewhere,
even if it always
wasn’t.

You can’t hate the sun
when you live in a country
that’s perpetually frozen.

I’d rather burn than melt.
I’d rather burn than do anything else.
But, how do you explain that to the sort of coal
that chooses coolness over the truth of that fire?

We’re all only Moths, my friends
Pick your flames, and dance as close as you dare.
We’re only human, my Love
Pick your sins; it’s better to care than forbear.

I’m tired of explaining why I think what I do
and if there’s anything I miss more
It would probably be to be understood.

(But I still miss that fake construct of make-believe warmth and contentment that I have fought against for at least a decade.
Maybe I should be more concerned about missing my mind. Because, I have obviously lost it.)

The Importance of Aaron Swartz: The perspective of a layman

The SOPA – PIPA bill was not about piracy, but about control. As was ACTA. This short video puts across the difference between physical stealing and using ‘Intellectual Property’ quite nicely:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmQN93NqqDM. ‘SOPA itself was worded in a way that would send you “to prison for 5 years for uploading a Michael Jackson song to Youtube. That’s one more year jail than the doctor who killed him!!!” This is what Zuckerberg has to say about SOPA/PIPA: http://readwrite.com/2012/01/18/mark_zuckerbergs_not-so-surprising_view_on_sopapip

The whole thing about Aaron Swartz is that he was a long-respected genius in circles that have been fighting such instances of legislation that threaten to impede upon rights that the govt has no right impeding upon. The problem is that the MPAA, and the RIAA have enough money to “buy” whichever ‘representative’ they want to, and the entire copyright industry in America is full of these ex-Policymakers who now conveniently work as Directors or the like in these companies. 

Between our paranoid governments and greedy corporations, it is these mutually supported ideas of censorship and copyright that meet and threaten to punish citizens for literally victim-less crimes in a manner that shows nothing but the intent to control a population, and what they ‘dare say to each other’ over the internet.

The changes that the US govt. has tried to bring about with SOPA and PIPA, their underhanded threatening letters to different countries across the World telling them to enforce similar legislative standards when it comes to copyright, the relentless persecution of both children and grandmothers by the great RIAA, the unimaginable “losses” and “damages” often claimed by these agencies, the sneaking in of similar provisions along with anti-pornography laws, and their outdated, cheap, easily broken, completely *ineffective* technological measures used to ‘protect’ copyright – this is why people are angry that Aaron had to go off himself. Because, believe me, he was one of the good guys. A very intelligent and smart good guy, whose loss will definitely be felt as this War is carried forward.

This is very important. Yes, the issue is a whole lot more complex.. But, while it’s true that democracy is meant to guard against these wrongs, and third-party mediators can play a huge role in maintaining standards, the current publishing houses, and recording agencies, these are all archaic third-parties that once had an important role to play in information dissemination, got really rich and powerful doing it, and now cannot accept the fact that we’ve reached an age where they are more or less obsolete. Knowing this, and having a lot of money, these corporations are then using their resources to convince the government to hold back the inevitable technological advance that the internet has been bringing to the World since its advent.


But, that’s the general problem with our copyright laws today. However, it’s relevant in this instance, because what is protested against is the unfair bargaining position of the middlemen, and the damage this is doing to both the public as well as the authors. As you said, it seems like the assumption made is that all authors are willing/eager to have their content circulated. Well, in most cases, isn’t that a fair assumption? And, in cases where that isn’t true, wouldn’t it be better if the author had more direct control over who could and could not access that content? 

At one point of time, this was as inconvenient as it was impossible. Very. But processes which took months and months, now take place in minutes. These industries must evolve, or perish. But, the problem is that civil society must force this change upon the said corporations. The case of Grooveshark would be one such example of an external shove. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grooveshark> On the other hand, in the world of gaming, an internal initiative can be seen with the Valve Corporation, who’ve been making games and distributing them since 1996, and who launched their social distribution network Steam, allowing users access to an insane number of games, with offers ranging from free-to-play to holiday discounts and games from new-developers that you can give them direct feedback on. 

I’m not very sure how much differently things work when it comes to Scientific and Cultural content, but, when music and games make so much of a difference, and it’s only because their users are more likely to engage in civil disobedience, isn’t it unfair to assume that the existing state of affairs, when it comes to academic content, is okay simply because the vast majority of the world appears to be okay with it? When the truth is that it is blissfully unaware, would like to remain so, and the only people who may have a problem (Students of Universities) are given access to these worlds to keep us feeling privileged, and some highly intelligent people outside the system who can see it for what it is.

A better system will come into place. But, as it stands, it is unfair. And it is most benefiting people who have no right to be so benefited. At everybody’s cost. Information is Power, and if we want to live in a World that is even slightly equal, slightly fair, then this imbalance must not be tolerated.

When the World changes, I think everyone has their own role to play. And each move forces someone else’s hand. There are academicians and scientists already arguing for change from the inside, and there are surely parts of the government resisting this effort by the corporations, and there is Anonymous, dispensing vigilante justice and drawing society’s attention to both the dangers of a Free internet and those of a closed one (and the corresponding realization that the latter is usually worse). Aaron Swartz had his own role to play. And, it’s a damn shame that he killed himself, but he did it all in the name of something bigger than himself. 

The Zapista movement in Mexico (which is really interesting) has a slogan that comes to my mind: “For everyone, everything, for us, nothing.” 

Aaron Swartz didn’t get anything for his efforts, and his efforts were made in the name of information. Access to information. That’s sort of noble, isn’t it?

Here’s a link to his manifesto:

http://archive.org/stream/GuerillaOpenAccessManifesto/Goamjuly2008_djvu.txt.

Requiescat in pace, brother.

~ May the Rage be Relentless ~