Friday, June 17, 2011

Real Fast unto Death Doesn't Count In India

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee
Picture this – April 27, 2009 then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi sits on a fast unto death demanding a ceasefire in Sri Lanka when the security forces of the island nation had press the kill button against the LTTE. It lasted for 6 hours!  November 29, 2009 Telangna Rashtra Samiti chief K Chandrashekhara Rao sits on a fast unto death demanding a separate state of Telengana. Eleven days into it he breaks his fast thanks to the Centre’s diplomacy. June 4, 2011, Baba Ramdev sits on a fast unto death to bring back all the black money to India. Nine days into it he breaks the fast on Sri Sri Ravi Sankar’s call. Now of these people near death and Karunanidhi does what 90% Indians do every day keeping a gap of 6 hours or more between meals.

Now picture this – An unknown sadhu Swami Nigamananda goes for a fast unto death and dies in a Haridwar hospital on the 76th day. He was fasting to save the holy Ganga. He was demanding immediate stopping of quarrying in Ganga and shifting of Himalaya stone crusher from Kumbh mela area. Although this brave crusader’s battle raged over three months very little was done to save his life. And why should the district administration act? Afterall he was no Ramdev or Karunanidhi and his genuine cause could not be tolerated by the land mafia, the corrupt politicians in our country. And why about our 24X7 news channels, they couldn’t for a single story on this man as they were busy covering Ramdev’s circus.

Swami Nigamananda joins the list of Jatindranath Das and Potti Sreeramulu both of who had fasted and died for the cause they believed in. Jatindranath or Jatin Das as he was fondly known fasted in Lahore Jail along with Bhagat Singh and other freedom fighters and was protesting agisnt the poor treatment received by Indian political prisoners from the British administration. He passed away after 63 days into his strike. Potti Sreeramulu died after 82 days of fasting demanding for the creation of Andhra Pradesh with Madras (now Chennai) as the capital. Jawaharlal Nehru’s government did little to save this man who had also fought for the independence of the nation.

Who is to be blamed for the death of Swami Nigamananda? To be honest he died as he was nobody and the government and the masses of this country cared little for this man. What is the cost of an ordinary India’s life? Where was Rahul Gandhi as he is ntrying to create a superman like image for himself taking up the cause of ordinary Indians? Why Manmohan Singh government wasn’t aware of this man’s fast? Why the Uttarakhand state machinery lend an ear to this man’s fight? The reason – he was an ‘aam aadmi’ and no Baba Ramdev and meant too little for anyone in the corridors of power.


Monday, June 13, 2011

The Great Indian Tamasha

By: Reetasri Bhattacharjee

India knows its drama. The land has had many traditional forms of theaters be it in the forms of tamasha, jatra, nautanki or something else. Every part of the country has its own form of drama. Thanks to the Indian media and our very special politicians (and may I add the resurgent civil society groups?), there is never any dearth of drama in this country. I recently overheard a young boy telling that if you want entertainment watch the Hindi news channels! Probably nothing else describes the condition better.

The recent insurgence to fight against corruption has only heightened the drama. When Anna Hazare declared his resolution to fast, no one took him seriously. But within 24 hours, the real tamasha unfolded and immediately it became a media circus. I don’t want to go into the details of what happened. Too much has been said and written about the entire event. I will suffice by saying that everyone was entertained in process and probably the real fight against corruption got a true impetus.

However, if this wasn’t enough, came our very own yoga guru who changed the way Indians ate, drank, slept, etc in the last decade. He has taken it to himself now that if Hazare can fight against corruption almost single-handedly, he too can rake up an issue and fight it similarly. So came the issue of black money and our yoga guru becomes the self-appointed crusader for the ‘aam aadmi’.

Now this event has real drama. Usually it is said that films are inspired from real-life. But here is one exception where the opposite happened. A real-life event apparently seemed out of a film. Here I am mentioning Aamir Khan’s Peepli Live. The events of 4th June are a case in this regard. After midnight when the police attacked the sleeping crowd pof the Ramlila Maidan, one could literally feel the poor news channel crew hurriedly waking up to capture the events of a live tamasha. The shots that are now repeatedly shown on the channels are shaky (as was the case in the film), you could really feel the journalists and camera crew fighting to get the best shots. However, like in the film, the protagonist manages to escape from all this cacophony unseen. Can you believe 10,000 or more policemen, hordes of mediapersons did not see a single person escape!! And if this wasn’t enough, the very next day Baba Ramdev is seen wearing a salwar kameez in which he had apparently disguised himself to escape briefing the media about what had happened!! Now I say, beat this!! Impossible.

As I write this, the Baba’s condition is detoriating, the UPA is up in arms to protest the fight, the Sangh Parivar is dancing its way to support the Baba’s cause and there doesn’t seem to be a end to all this soon. As this drama continues, we the poor ‘aam aadmi’ can simply stay glued to our TV sets to see the tamasha unfold further. Who knows tomorrow, the Congress and Baba may declare to be long lost brothers!!!

This blog has been contributed by Reetasri Bhattacharjee a dear friend of mine. She is a regular blogger on blogspot and maintains the blog My Passing Moments


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