Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cry, my beloved Mangalore

My dear students,

Ever since the troubles in Mangalore, last year, when fanatics had attacked Christian churches, and this year, when fanatics attacked a pub, Mangaloreans settled across the globe have been worried about what is happening back home.

Mangaloreans, including me, are a community that migrate easily. But their roots remain back home, to which they return during the vacations and where they have built houses on the small pieces of ancestral land they own.

My father was a railwayman, having left his native village of Sornad, in Bantwal taluka, some 50 miles south of Mangalore. Denis John Pinto migrated to Bombay and got married to Mary Therese D’Cruz on 22 May 1950. But through his many transfers in the Signal & Telecom Department of Central Railway, he kept returning to his native Mangalore, steadfast in the belief that that was the surest way to ensure that his children would keep their roots nourished.

Not only Mangaloreans, but every decent citizen in India is shocked by what is happening in Mangalore. Let’s listen to a son of Mangalore – Amith Prabhu.

*****

Hooligans today, terrorists tomorrow

“I had remained silent when the churches were attacked last September in my home-town of Mangalore. I had not woken up to the gravity of the situation, except for some still images of a community in pain.

But the Republic Day eve this year was different. As shots of the pub attack began flashing on national news channels, I was convinced My Mangalore was no more the same.

Having been born and bred in Mangalore, I have seen gradual changes in various spheres over the first two decades of my life there. The last eight years have been different: a sudden rise of mindless hooligans, backed by political parties.

The disturbing fact is that harmony is being destroyed in the name of religion. And many of the attackers are well-educated youth, who could use their potential in several constructive activities.

There is a direct link between these disgusting activists and the state government. This was expected after the last assembly elections. However, the level to which these self-styled moral police are stooping, and the way they are moving around scot-free, following these criminal acts, is appalling.

In the recent pub attack, the electronic media (forgive me this accusation) was an equal partner. In order to get cheap content, they chose not to inform the police, who could have caught these lousy miscreants red-handed by laying a trap.

While destroying property to protest unacceptable behaviour in a pub is pardonable, the beating up of customers, especially women and whacking them in front of cameras, is not just audacity but calls for public whipping. Unfortunately, our judicial system does not provide for such punishment. And news is already out that most of the dirty fellows, who were arrested, are out on bail.

Except for the magnitude and the enormous loss of life, I do not see a difference between the terrorists of Pakistani origin, who attacked Mumbai in November, and these cruel rowdies who vandalised the pub and assaulted men and women partying there.

These are no less than terrorists and are trying to gain free publicity, thanks to the news-hungry TV channels that encourage such acts by covering them with gusto.

That’s what the terrorists on 26/11 wanted in Mumbai. And that’s also what these sick men in Mangalore wanted on 24/1. Both of them got it on a platter.

NGOs usually end up as political parties or terror outfits. The roots of terror are sown during such organised programmes. Mangalore is being used as a ‘laboratory of hate’.

Thankfully, Mangalore is one of those Indian cities that are both tolerant and resilient. Mangaloreans may forgive, but won’t forget. Such violent attacks on harmless citizens will be given fitting replies.

A national movement against terror and hate is taking birth. Mumbai saw a glimpse of this campaign during December. Another “freedom struggle” is waiting to take off.

This time, against the hooligans of today, who are training to become the terrorists of tomorrow.”

*****

Amith Prabhu is an Indian communications professional, who has lived most of his life in Mangalore, and is currently based in Mumbai.

The next piece is by Kajal Iyer, who works with the electronic media in Mumbai.

*****

Men need to control women

“Isn’t Vijay Mallya from Karnataka? So is the state ready to give up its highest revenue-generating industry, at the whim of some group that thinks it is protecting Indian culture?

And pray, what Indian culture are they talking about? They surely haven’t read about how the great courtesan Amrapali was revered as a woman of learning and influence by this very Indian culture.

Have they read Bhasa, Kalidasa or Jaidev’s Geet Govind, which are our cultural heritage? They sure haven’t read any of the scriptures or maybe they have only read select paragraphs of the Manu Smruti, which is why they think they need to control women.

Every so-called culture in the world has this great insecurity about their women forgetting their culture. It’s strange, isn’t it, that men beat women, calling themselves the custodians of culture, and demanding that the women should ‘mend’ their ways so that they would give the correct cultural knowledge to future generations?

If these men are such great custodians, they should be able to impart all the so-called cultural values themselves, isn’t it? Why hold women responsible?

Tacit supporters of the attacks say that the liquor culture is spoiling our youth. Such incidents might help ‘correct’ some errant youth. Then shouldn’t they become volunteers with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)? Strange how even attacking someone’s personal space is interpreted as the constitutional freedom to voice a protest.

I don’t enjoy pubs much. But that doesn’t mean I have the right to judge my friends, who frequent pubs. Have these men ever heard the quote, “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend, till death, your right to say it”.

Oops, I forget, the quote isn’t Indian, na?”

*****

Kajal has her own blog.

*****

Where do we go from here?

We have seen a lot of petitions on the Net - sign them. Be active. Join groups. The main thing is action, not mere writing and discussion on the Net. Remember, the hooligans have to be faced on the streets. Like the terrorists were confronted in Mumbai.

Here, there is a lot of scope to act on our own. We do not have to rely only on the government or political parties.

Suggest action. Wherever you are, get in touch with like-minded persons.

Your support is my strength.
- Joe.

Pune, Tuesday, 3rd February 2008.

13 comments:

Mohan said...

What I am afraid of is some day, some citizen with a licensed revolver might retaliate in self defence, when he is having his drink quietly in a pub or bar and is attacked by these hooligans. What happens then?

Amrita said...

I am a Mangalorean and so is my 4-year-old daughter, as my husband's family is from Mangalore.

Have visited the place once and had fallen in love with it. And somewhere at the back of my mind had considered it as relaxation/retirement destination as good as my own city, Jamshedpur.

I share these details to say that my reaction is even more personal.

It is so difficult to explain these atrocious events to young minds. I would actually urge schools to broach these topics in a gentle way and advocate civil conduct as a primary duty of citizens.

I have known teachers to have a profound effect on beliefs, mine included. Whatever retribution the miscreants get for their hooliganism, it is a concern for me that kids hearing about what they did, UNDERSTAND that the actions were downright criminal and not something to applaud with a sanction of any kind (religious or otherwise).

Apathetic adult minds need brainwashing, young minds get coloured easy. A basic preemptive measure would be to instill a black and white sense of 'civil conduct' early on in life before fanatics dilute it for their convenience.

~A worried mother

Cilla said...

Women are always supposed to be the ones who impart cultural education and uphold tradition. But they are not supposed to apply their brains when it comes to this. They are supposed to impart the culture that the men want them to impart. Plain and simple slavery. All this is not about religion or culture, this is about their fear of losing importance in the social pyramid, because they know that it is the women who run their homes and tutor their kids.

Here is an interesting piece by Vir Sanghvi on the issue...

http://www.virsanghvi.com/vir-world-ArticleDetail.aspx?ID=212

feddabonn said...

all that needs to be said has, and i can add little. curious, though about this statement: "NGOs usually end up as political parties or terror outfits." usually?

Joe Pinto said...

Dear students,

By now, you must have seen and become part of the "Pink Chaddi" campaign. They have their own blog at thepinkchaddicampaign.blogspot.

Like me, Mohan Sinha, a dear colleague, has been taken up by the lovely and funny "Pink Chaddi" that mocks at the hooligans who hurt our sisters and daughters in Mangalore on 24 Jan.

See "Going pink on Valentine's Day" at the link: http://mohan-sinha.blogspot.com/2009/02/going-pink-on-valentines-day.html.

The "Pink Chaddi" campaign is a superb example of the kind of activism made possible by the Net.

Newspapers and TV are picking up the story and circulating it.

I admire the boldness and transparency of the campaign and I suggest we have a campaign among mass comm professionals to highlight this story.

Warm regards,
- Joe.

Ambaree said...

Kajal, Amit,

Good, provocative writing. Pitty that those who read it anyway agree with what you say and those who don't agree don't care much for others' opinions.

Joe Pinto said...

My dear students,

Shashidhar Nanjundaiah, a former director of SIMC and later founder-director of the Indira School of Communication (ISC), is a close friend of mine.

Recently, I found him on facebook, thanks to Amith Prabhu. Now we're in touch. Shashi has been through my blog and here are the comments he posted on my facebook wall.

*****

"Hi Joe,

I browsed your blog. Very impressive. Great way to stay connected.

I think personal responses to newsy items is a good way of documenting history.

The horrid Mangalore incident is brazen in its political-ness, and knowing how close Amith feels to the city, I can sense his heart bleeding.

(Didn't know you were from Mangalore!)

Smriti's personal "vignettes" are, of course, typical of her upfront nature.

But it is so difficult to get people to open up, and I must compliment you heartily on the effort.

I will continue to read your blog as we go along. I should be back in India in a few months.

Shashi"

*****

I am happy, Shashi, that you have noticed and appreciated our personal responses to a political attack on Indian culture.

Thank you, Amith and all the others who, in their own way and in the places and modes of their choosing, have spoken up and taken a stand.

Keep opening up.

Thank you, Smriti too and all the others for your "upfront vignettes" and wonderful personal pieces.

May I repeat the appeal I have been making through my blog?

Open up.

Speak out your mind whenever something happens that displeases you. Write your heart out. It may be just one of two words, a few lines.

The bad people, the terrorists out there -- beating wives and children in the privacy of their bedrooms (bell bajao!!!); the hooligans harassing couples clasping hands (pink them with a chaddi!!!); the two-wheelers not allowing old people and kids to cross the roads (gandhigiri, give them a rose!!!); and hundreds of bullies scaring the weak -- must know that the good people, like us, shall not be silent.

Open up.

Your support is my strength,
- Joe.

Joe Pinto said...

Akansha Yadav is one of my students, who has the rare ability to connect different incidents.

She is not the kind to excuse what police did to a 7-year old child in Etawah (U.P.) saying it's "isolated" from what Hindu fanatics did to educated women in Mangalore (Karnataka).

In her Notes on facebook, which you must read, (Akansha you ought to also start a blog), she unravels the links between different events and shows up what she sees as the underlying thread -- the human right to life with dignity.

*****

4 February 2009

"What happened in Etawah is shameful and despicable to say the least, it brazenly hints at growing intolerance, frustration, sadism and lack of sensitivity in our society.

"While I'm still not over what happened in the Mangalore pub, in the name of Indian culture and ethics ... this has added yet another blow!

What those cops did to a seven year old, is a blatant display of mal-adaptive power that one human has exercised over another and in this case over a child.

The presumption of whopping latitude in their authorized power while serving public is now reduced to a distinct blur. The whole process is confounding and makes me wonder how and when did we reach this far?

More so at this point in time when India is poised to make significant impact on world economy and compelling difference to core countries of the world...!

In the desperate attempt to weld post-colonial shambles together into a modern state, we are gradually losing the essence of human values and the most basic right - right to life with dignity.

These incidencts are more rampant than what most of us get to know, in all states in some form and degree. We cannot anymore live in denial and look through a parallel law & order set up by right-wing and those in power over and above the law of the land.

They are resorting to violence in full public glare in pursuit of their ends leaving democratic values on brink of extinction.

Their grievances may be genuine and heartfelt. But so are mine and many others ... So am I going to go on a rampage hitting and killing people?

Wasn't the essence of democracy to disagree with each other as much as we want but at the same time strictly defining the ground rules on how to do that?

No apology will redeem the public humiliation that the girl has suffered and nothing would bring back what she has lost.

I am NOT prepared to 'understand' and see behind the violence perpetrated on the child.

I'd understand if she grows up to become imperceptive & recalcitrant and in another few days all of us forget about her and get on with our lives... as long as we collectively understand that the damage is colossal to our conscience.

And freedom of conscience is not a negotiable right…

I am still wondering where were my RSS brothers when she was being tortured? Or is this within their definition of India culture?

Akansha Yadav.

*****

Can you see the issues Akansha is raising? Right to life with dignity. Freedom of conscience.

The Akansha asks, "Wasn't the essence of democracy to disagree with each other as much as we want, but at the same time strictly definine the ground rules on how to do that?"

Most of all, I admire Akansha for her bold uncompromising statement, "I am NOT prepared to 'understand' and see behind the violence perpetrated on the child."

That is why, when I was browsing facebook and came across her piece on Etawah, I took her permission to copy her piece and reproduce it as a comment to my post on Mangalore.

Thank you, Akansha,
Your support is my strength,
- Joe.

kanchi' said...

Thanks for posting my note on your blog.. Hope I was able to convey my point.

The whole agenda of 'I'm right & you are wrong and so you should not be allowed to live' is beyond reason, forget tolerance!

The underlying thread of Patriarchy, male domination, fundamentalism, red tape, criminal justice system, fundamental rights.. etc etc is what that child does not even understand (most of us don't) and why should she at all.. We as society have already made her so numb! She struggles from day to day to make ends meet at her age! The worse part -we do not even realize that!

If these jobless, insecure men from Shiv Sene so want to 'clean' this society in as outrageous manner as that, why don't they go out and castrate men who eve-tease, rape and molest women on road. How cultural is that?? How cultural is domestic violence and abuse... How cultural is to assault women in large groups leaving them helpless for self innovated reasons? Why did none of them say anything against police when they tortured this young helpless girl?

These are the kind of illiterate, primitive, mindless hardliners with selective reasoning who should be hanged (without any trial or delay whatsoever) or else they will end up eating our society like termites in the name of protecting it and restoring its 'values'... who have no conscience, qualification whatsoever but world of pretension and attitude of what is right and what is wrong....


Akansha Yadav

Yogesh said...

Great.

Yogesh

abd said...

Hello Sir, your blog is excellent.

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Send Flowers to Mangalore said...

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