December 1, 2015

Dear Friends

Here is another round of random reflections for your perusal.

  1. The general public mood in Catalonia region of Spain is one of hope for independence. Barcelona is full of international tourists, and its economy seems to be doing better than the rest of the country. But, independence from Spain may entail additional commitments, which may be harder for a smaller economy to handle. Devolution of authority, responsibility and public resources may well be a more sustainable option. In the meanwhile, subways and buses in Barcelona are happily displaying Chinese language, after Spanish and English. Power of Yuan!
  2. Every Diwali, large cities in India face the usual discourse about pollution and wastage by lighting fire-crackers; schools tell children to avoid fire-crackers, while various manufacturers, both Indian and Chinese, market them aggressively. This Diwali was no different. However, the night of Diwali in many rural areas does not bring much difference from any other night. There are hardly any fire-crackers, not much lighting either. Diwali lights, gifts, fire-crackers etc. are no more about celebrations and enjoyment, and much more about ‘show-off’ of wealth and power!
  3. The massacre of innocent people in Paris two weeks ago was another incidence of senseless violence and mindless brutality. It created fear in ordinary citizens to go about their daily life in the city. The fact that most of the young people involved in this act of terrorism were citizens of France and Belgium has further accentuated this fear, as it can be ‘one of us’, not ‘one of them’, anymore. What is most difficult to fathom is how youth in Europe are being so ‘brainwashed’ as to commit suicide bombing of innocent and unknown others. Power of new technology and social media?
  4. Much has been commented upon the results of Bihar assembly elections in India. The electorate of Bihar voted decisively. A larger proportion of decisive voters were women in Bihar. Is this an indication of quiet assertion of independent thinking and action by women of Bihar? Or is this a mere manifestation of deepening caste and religious identity taking over the gender identity of women in Bihar (and perhaps elsewhere too)? Male migration from Bihar may also explain higher voting percentages by women, pointing to a rural-urban phenomenon which has not altered much in this state over the past 4-5 decades?
  5. Not a day passes when major television news channels and national dailies do not devote substantial time and space to the ongoing saga of the Sheena murder case. It is quite disturbing to see how much of media attention is riveted on the mundane and frivolous. There must be several such intriguing family feuds happening in this vast country of ours every day. Murder, intrigue, grabbing property and money, illicit secret relationships—this is the stuff of every day life in many families around the country. It is of no public interest, please. I wish that time and space in mainstream media was devoted to daily struggles of millions of households in the country.

Best wishes

Sincerely

Rajesh Tandon