Long time no see…

It’s been a while since I wrote, okay fine, a long while.

Being overwhelmed is not my kind of thing, really. I usually work on a scale of Bored-Barely Functioning. And then suddenly, placements and CAT arrive, and it’s almost like having twin babies minus the 9 month gestation period to prepare.

You come to CBS wanting to get placed at companies like Bain and McKinsey. One year down, you realise that you are just ONE out of 250 people with the exact same dream as you, and pray that you atleast get placed. And then destiny shows you who’s the boss and you actually end up at one of those.

There are many things the Placement Season teaches you. Here are some:

1. Hours are put into making a CV. Being used to filling up 50 sheets in 3 hours (take a bow Indian Education System), never in my life had I thought that ONE sheet of paper could take 50 hours. Well, there’s always a first time.

2. One MUST always be on good terms with their seniors. The kind of advice they can provide cannot come from any amount of reading, practicing and the shizz.

3. All seniors turn very cool when you call them up to ask about their work, companies and other information. They do not say no to anything. How they do it, is in effect, beyond me. But still.

4. You will get help from the unlikeliest of places. All you have to do is ASK.

5. Being stuck up DOES NOT help. Unheard of people will get placed, and the most expected ones will not. Don’t fret. Keep Calm and feel bad for the company which didn’t take you.

6. Being someone you’re not and trying to outsmart the interviewer does not work. They may not look it, but they’re smarter.

7. You WILL absolutely definitely make it to one of your dream companies. All that conspiratorial universe stuff is in fact true.

 

I haven’t learnt in 2 years of college what I have in the last 2 weeks. Like they say, experience is the best teacher.

 

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Make Sexual Assault a Non Bailable Offence Petition | GoPetition

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A little here, a lot there

It must feel good to have your writing be appreciated…

But for someone who has always written for herself without feeling a need for acceptance or churning out a post every other day just to accumulate enough readers, its something very new.

Earlier in the year I had started a project (which did not have a name, but let’s call it Project 365). This was basically supposed to be a journal where I wrote everyday, about my life and my first love, Delhi. A little too ambitious, I must accept.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t the Delhi part which posed the major challenge. I could just get down at a new Metro station everyday and write about it. No, there aren’t those many stations, but I could have covered a different aspect of it in each post. (New project idea, hi5!) It was the writing-about-self part which made me lose sleep (no, not really, nothing really can make me lose sleep, except maybe a novel half-read) I am not the kind of person who would manipulate facts to make self sound cool, nor I’m a story-teller, who can make even the mundane sound fun. As expected, I dropped it within half a month of starting it. I feel really bad about it, to say the least. And I really want to take up writing on a regular basis, but it just Does Not Happen.

Everytime I sit down to write I draw a blank and whenever there’s stuff going on in my mind that I would like to write down, I don’t have the resources. Its a little bit like the whole Universe conspiring against me to prevent itself from being subjected to my writings. Or is it?

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Quarter-Life Crisis

There’s a time when we’re little and think about what we want to do in our lives. I’m sure all of us do.

And we have certain milestones set, which look somewhat like-“I will have done this by the time I’m 21″, “I should have achieved this by ________” and so on. In my opinion, someone who has never thought this way hasn’t really lived. Because expectations and hopes are what we live by.

I’ll be 21 in a couple of months, 5 and half to be precise. Whenever I look back at everything I’ve done and achieved or not, I don’t find myself remorseful; but yes it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t make me sad. 21 years gone by and what have I done with my life? What have I contributed to the society, or to the world?
I used to keep thinking how if I had got a certain opportunity, I would have done this or achieved that. I’m sure most of us do. But being here I realise, it doesn’t always have to be a big deal. You DON’T always need to start/work with an NGO, you DON’T need to donate a fortune. No really, you don’t.

A smile here or there, a line of gratitude could make someone’s day and if each of us passed it on to the next person, would it not emulate into something that you’ve done for the world! Isn’t that fabulous?

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The Hindu : Arts / Books : You can’t read this book

The Hindu : Arts / Books : You can’t read this book.

Who is afraid of the written word? Almost everyone it seems, from the State to cultural and religious groups. In spite of being a free society, we have a long history of literary censorship, says Hasan Suroor.

You Can’t Read This Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom is the somewhat self-consciously rhetorical title of a new book by British journalist and free speech campaigner Nick Cohen. Mercifully, nobody has yet called for it to be banned but it’s still early days and in the current climate of intolerance who knows when someone, somewhere might invoke “hurt feelings” to try and suppress it.

And it is this fear (that a writer could end up “offending” someone, somewhere) is what Cohen’s book is about: how in an age of supposedly “unparalleled freedom” and free exchange of ideas, free speech faces a grave threat from intolerant religious and cultural groups on the one hand and stifling pro-rich privacy laws on the other. So grave is the threat, he argues, that you can actually “end up dead” for simply writing a book.

“The traditional opponents of freedom of speech — religious fanaticism, plutocratic power and dictatorial states — are thriving, and in many respects finding the world a more comfortable place in the early 21st century than they did in the late 20th,” the book argues.

This is best illustrated by the continuing campaign of harassment and intimidation of Salman Rushdie over The Satanic Verses, published over 20 years ago. The ugly scenes witnessed at the Jaipur Literature Festival where he was prevented from making an appearance or even addressing it through a video link despite the fact that the book is already banned in India and he has not broken any Indian law are a chilling reminder of what we are up against.

Barely days later, there was a replay of similar scenes at the Kolkata Book Fair. The target of attack this time was Tasleema Nasreen as a Muslim group — the All India Minority Forum — accusing her of “insulting Islam”, forcibly prevented the release of her new book Nirbashan (The Exile). The line of attack was the same as at Jaipur. Nasreen, they said, was “anti-Islam” and her publishers had “deliberately” organised the release of her book at the fair to “hurt” the community.

Faced with fear of violence, the organisers of the Fair, like their Jaipur counterparts, were left with no option but to give in. As an official of Publishers and Booksellers Guild put it they could “not risk” violence.

Indeed who would? And that’s what has given sectarian groups and political agitators the licence to impose censorship at will. What happened in Jaipur and Kolkata is part of a wider and growing global culture of intolerance, though it’s more acute on the subcontinent and in culturally more conservative societies.

Rushdie and Nasreen became victims of a particularly virulent form of Muslim extremism that, it must be remembered, coincided with the rise of an equally virulent form of the Hindu Right. The row over The Satanic Verseshappened at the height of BJP’s often menacing campaign to build a Ram temple on the site of Babri Masjid which then still existed. It is not a coincidence that the Muslim “leaders” such as Syed Shahabuddin who pressured the government into banning the book were the same lot who were leading the rival campaign to protect Babri Masjid. They were also emboldened by the Iranian fatwa against Rushdie.

Nasreen’s troubles over Lajja were, in a sense, a fallout of the same phenomenon of which Rushdie had been a casualty: the rise of the mullahs on the subcontinent for a variety of reasons, both domestic and global. It is important to underline the context, especially of the Rushdie affair, because it is often assumed that Indian Muslims were always this intolerant. The fact is that until the Rushdie affair, Indian Muslims had not been involved in any major censorship row; and nor since then except over the Prophet’s cartoons as part of wider global protests.

The history of literary censorship in India precedes the Rushdie affair with books, magazines, maps banned on grounds ranging from the “hurt” sentiments and “obscenity” to “threat” to national security. In fact, India’s record in this respect is shameful for a vibrant, free and open society that it is in many ways.

Forget intolerant religious or cultural groups, it is the Indian state that has been the biggest culprit with its proclivity to ban anything that doesn’t fit the official narrative. In the 1970s, it is reckoned, the largest number of banned books related to perceived misrepresentation of India’s policies or its leaders. Books and foreign magazines such as Time and The Economist are routinely banned for depicting Kashmir as a disputed territory.

Indian customs have sweeping powers not to allow any printed material to enter the country that they deem “objectionable”. When the state itself is so illiberal and quick to shut out dissenting views, it can hardly be expected to act differently when confronted with illiberalism of others. No wonder the history of independent India is littered with banned titles, not to mention the books which were banned by the British and are still proscribed such as Hindu Heaven by Max Wylie. (1934); The Face of Mother India by Katherine Mayo (1936); Old Soldier Sahib by Private Frank Richards ( 1936); The Land of the Lingam by Arthur Miles ( 1937) and Scented Garden: Anthropology of Sex Life in the Levant by Bernhard Stern; translated by David Berger (1945). Together, they would perhaps take up a whole library shelf.

Here are some of the more prominent and lesser-known titles banned in India in recent years. The list doesn’t include language books except Lajja originally published in Bengali.

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie in which he uses magical realism to fictionalise one of the most controversial and disputed episodes in Islam. Banned in 1988 after Muslims protested that it was “blasphemous” and offended their religious sentiments. His 1995 novel The Moor’s Last Sigh was temporarily banned after Shiv Sena protested that a character in the book resembled its leader Bal Thackeray.

Lajja by Taslima Nasreen about religious extremism and set against the backdrop of anti-Hindu riots in Bangladesh as a reaction to the demolition of Babri Masjid was banned in 1993 for “offending” Muslim sentiments.

Such a Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry, shortlisted for the Booker Prize, ran into troubled with the University of Mumbai which dropped it from its English syllabus in 2010 after Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray’s family alleged that it contained “derogatory” remarks about Maharashtrians.

The Polyester Prince: The Rise of Dhirubhai Ambani by Hamish McDonald, an unauthorised biography making controversial claims about how Dhirubhai built his business empire was banned in 1988 after the Ambanis threatened legal action, calling it defamatory.

Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence byJaswant Singh in which he praises the founder of Pakistan was banned by the BJP-ruled Gujarat government in August 2009 claiming that it contained “derogatory” references to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Barely a month later, the ban was overturned by the Gujarat High Court which ruled that the government’s notification lacked “thinking and understanding” and there was no ground to ban it.

Nehru: A Political Biography by Michael Edwards, who makes sweeping comments about Nehru such as that his life was a “series of dependences (sic) on stronger characters than his own” was proscribed in 1975; and India Independent by French historian and economic Charles Bettelheim, critical of Indian Government’s policies, was banned in 1976.

Who Killed Gandhi by Lourenco De Sadvandor described as inflammatory and poorly researched was banned in 1979.

The Price of Power: Kissinger and Nixon in the White House by American journalist Seymour Hersh, who described former Prime Minister Morarji Desai as a “star performer” for the CIA, was temporarily banned in 1983.

An Area of Darkness by V.S. Naipaul, published in 1964, was immediately banned for its negative portrayal of India and its people.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence remains banned in India on grounds of “obscenity” more than 50 years after Britain lifted the ban in 1960.

The Heart of India by Alexander Campbell, who was Time magazine’s correspondent in New Delhi in the 1950s, is a fictionalised and often hilarious account of Indian bureaucracy and economic policies. Published 1958, it was banned by the Indian government in 1959 on grounds of being “repulsive”.

Nine Hours to Rama by Stanley Wolpert about how Nathuram Godse planned Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination was banned in 1962 for suggesting security failure leading to the killing.

The Ramayana by Aubrey Menen was banned in 1956 for offending Hindu sentiments because of the “liberties” he allegedly took with the sacred text. More recently, The Collected Essays of A.K. Ramanujan, and Paula Richman’s Many Ramayanas: The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia featuring Ramanujan’s controversial work were dropped by Delhi university from its curriculum provoking accusations of censorship.

Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India by American historian was banned in Maharashtra in 2004 for allegedly “promoting social enmity” after a violent attack on the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune by a right-wing group. Supreme Court lifted the ban in 2010.

The True Furqan: The 21st century Quran, originally written in Arabic as al-Furqan al-Haqq, is attributed to authors who go by the pseudonyms of “Al Saffee” and “Al Mahdee” and was translated into English by Anis Shorrosh who described it as “a tool to liberate Muslims”. It was banned in 2005 following claims that it mocked Islam and was the work of American evangelists as part of a US-Israeli conspiracy.

It is a long and depressing list and one could go on….Even as one writes this, one can imagine Indian customs officials poring over the latest book consignment and ready to wield the red pencil in their zeal to protect religious sentiments, national security and shield their fellow citizens from “obscene” material.

And you can’t watch this

It is not only the writers and books that are under attack from self-appointed vigilantes and hate campaigners. No form of free expression — theatre, cinema, art — is safe. Protests against plays, films, paintings deemed “offensive” are just as common — and often backed by threat of violence — as against books. There have been innumerable cases of plays being pulled, exhibitions being cancelled, television shows being dropped under pressure from Right-wing religious groups. Not long ago, Sikh groups in UK forced a Birmingham theatre company to abandon a play, “Bezhti”, alleging that it “demeaned” their faith because it was set in a gurudwara and featured scenes of rape and violence. The playwright, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, herself a Sikh, was hounded and accused of “betraying” her faith — a la Rushdie and Nasreen.

In another case, the fundamentalist group Christian Voice tried to stop the BBC from screening “Jerry Springer: The Opera”, an irreverent musical take on Judeo-Christian themes, and when the BBC refused, they sought unsuccessfully to prosecute it under the (now defunct) Blasphemy Law. But what they could not achieve through legal means they managed to achieve through intimidation. Many theatres across Britain which had planned to stage it pulled out after Christian Voice and the racist British National Party threatened to picket them.

In a sign of how publishers and broadcasters are censoring themselves to stay out of trouble — a form of pre-censorship — the BBC dropped an animation film, “Popetown”, amid fears of offending Roman Catholics. The film featured a fictional character, Father Nicholas, who lives in Popetown (Vatican City) and works as the cartoon Pope’s handler whose job is to “protect” the citizens from the “truth” that his boss is “stupid”.

A few years ago, the American online campaign website The Amboy Times published a “Blasphemy Collection” , a long list of some of the more high-profile cases of vigilantism, revealing that no group was in a position to cast the first stone — all having sinned at some point or the other.

Longer than you think

A list of books banned in India.

Hindu Heaven, Max Wylie (1934); The Face of Mother India, Katherine Mayo (1936); Old Soldier Sahib, Frank Richards (1936); The Land of the Lingam, Arthur Miles, (1937); Mysterious India, Moki Singh (1940); The Scented Garden (Anthropology of the Sex Life in the Levant), Bernhard Stern, translated by David Berger (1945); What has Religion done for Mankind, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (1955); Rama Retold, Aubrey Menen (1955); Dark Urge, Robert W. Taylor (1955); The Ramayana, Aubrey Menen (1956); Captive Kashmir, Aziz Beg (1958); The Heart of India, Alexander Campbell (1959); The Lotus and the Robot, Arthur Koestler (1960); Nine Hours to Rama, Stanley Wolpert (1962);Unarmed Victory, Bertrand Russell (1963); Nepal, Toni Hagen (1963);Ayesha, Kurt Frishchler, translated by Norman Denny (1963); Lady Chatterley’s Lover, D.H. Lawrence (1964); The Jewel in the Lotus (A Historical Survey of the Sexual Culture of the East), Allen Edwards (1968); The Evolution of the British Empire and Commonwealth from the American Revolution, Alfred Le Ray Burt (1969); A Struggle between Two Lines over the Question of How to Deal with U.S. Imperialism, Fan Asid-Chu (1969); Man from Moscow, Greville Wynne (1970); Early Islam, Desmond Steward (1975); Nehru: A Political Biography, Michael Edwards (1975); India Independent, Charles Bettelheim (1976); China’s Foreign Relations Since 1949, Alan Lawrence (1978); Who killed Gandhi, Lourenco De Sadvandor (1979); Understanding Islam through Hadis, Ram Swarup (1982); Smash and Grab: Annexation of Sikkim, Sunanda Datta-Ray (1984); The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie (1988);Soft Target: How the Indian Intelligence Service Penetrated Canada, Zuhair Kashmeri and Brian McAndrew (1989); The Polyester Prince, Hamish McDonald (1998); The True Furqan, “Al Saffee” and “Al Mahdee” (1999); Islam: A Concept of Political World Invasion, R.V. Bhasin (2007 – Maharashtra); Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India, Joseph Lelyveld (2011 – Gujarat).

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MR Project

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Manthan 2012- Baat karo Badlaav ki

 

India, an indifferent country?

India, a corrupt country?

India, a FAILED country?

 

India is MY country.

A must watch for every Indian.

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