Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Eppur si muove

If someone was to ask me what phrase in the whole world nay universe, I love the most, I would turn around and quietly mumble 'Eppur si muove'. Legend has it when Galileo was asked to recant his proposition that it was actually Earth that revolved around the Sun, this great scientist boldly went - "eppur si muove" which loosely translates to - "And yet it moves."

Of course many historians have since debunked this theory entirely saying there is no actual evidence that Galileo, who was facing death at that point would risk his own life for his beliefs but the phrase has long struck an incredibly romantic notion in my head - that to have convictions is more important than going with flow.

Which of course is a huge problem for someone like me because I really like to be liked. More than anything in the world, I want to go unnoticed and be non-controversial...which is hard because I have always stuck out like a sore thumb ever since I was in school. I was not like most of my classmates. I didn't get their jokes, I didn't watch their movies and I was either fighting, lying or reading books under the table. I was also extremely outspoken which never helped my case with either teachers or the students. In short - I was really unpopular. While I had my friends (thankfully every school has more than one misfit), I still felt out of sorts and never able to be what I saw around me. Never really part of the gang. And if you want to be liked, you need to be part of the gang.

The reason I have been thinking about my school days and my own set of values is because recently I got into a rather nasty online fight with some former classmates. And it would have been entirely avoided had it not been for one tiny flaw in my own being - my conscience would not let it. I don't want to make this blog into an anti-Modi rant but suffice to say that I would not vote someone like him into any kind of office with power in my country because it will go against my own set of morals. He was there when the Gujarat riots took place. He was responsible for his people, their safety and as child, woman and man were slaughtered in what could only be comparable to a horror movie, I never thought I would see the day the man could possibly be voted into the highest office in my country. I find it shameful. But while I would never tell someone not to vote for someone specific, I also will not back out from voicing my own opinion.

And I did just that on my Facebook wall the day BJP announced that Modi would become their PM candidate. My heart sank and yet I only chose to make light of the situation and let it go. I didn't want to start a fight with anyone. If someone fought with me, it meant they didn't like me anymore and that would be horrible, at least in my own head. However to my greatest misfortune, the light tone of my status message quickly morphed into a nasty fight. The person who sat in the same classroom as me for years while growing up told me that once Modi became the PM, I would be tried for treason. I thought it was a joke. Surely someone who is educated would know that criticism was a central part of democracy and let him know just that. However it became more and more clear that no matter what I said, this person would not back down from his own views and his friends quickly joined in the pursuit. At this point to my own dismay (I blame lack of sleep and loads of irritation for what happened next), I stooped down to his level and became nasty myself for even though I begged him to leave the discussion, he would not.

Here's the thing that pissed me off the most about the discussion - it was never about the facts. He asked me if I was voting for the Italian and that made me very angry. Anyone who has chosen to be a citizen of India, gets to be called a citizen of India no matter where she was born and should enjoy the same rights as the rest of us. If we are not accepting of that, aren't we all racists ourselves? And then it became about how I am part of paid media. Another supposition without any facts. I write for a technology portal and I am too unimportant a person to be paid off to being a mouth piece for any party in the country. And by accusing me of selling my integrity for money, you reduce me to lowest strata of human existence and for me, my integrity is everything. If not anything, I am honest. I am not a cheap whore (in fact I believe prostitutes have more integrity than men and women who sell their values for instant gratification of money). His friends (and my former classmates I might add), joined it. It was a gang vs one and all I wanted to do was hide under the rock and cry for a while.

Which brings me back to Galileo. Whether he said it or not, he seems to have screwed me over. When someone asks me an opinion, I can't help myself, I have to seek out an answer within myself and reply. I can't just shrug and walk away. It's horrible but as much as I want to forget about Narendra Modi and be accepted by my peers, I know I can't. I have to say that he must at least acknowledge the riots. He must acknowledge what happened that time is a terrible affront to humanity. He must acknowledge he failed his people at that time. The thing is while there are many "leaders" in the country who were present for many riots and terrible acts that have taken place in this nation, none of them is standing up to become the nation's next prime minister. None of them calls themselves incorruptible.

The people who suffered and died? They are also my country men are they not? They are also human beings who deserve justice do they not? Who will stand up for them and their forgotten rights to human decency if not those who listen to their hearts? What face do I show the future generation when I tell them that I voted a man in simply because I wanted to become rich? What do I tell them when they ask me if human life is not as important as growth of industry?

Again with the Galileo. The world wants neat answers. They want solutions wrapped in a bow. Life for all its glory is unfortunately terribly messy. It's gross and ugly but beautiful at the same time. I struggle to find answers every day. I wrestle with the idea of what's right and wrong. And I know that at 25, I am more likely to be wrong than right. But I also know that if I live to be 50, I want to look back with some amount of pride. And that does not come with money. It comes with following Galileo into the gallows. So, while I want nothing more than to talk about Miley Cyrus twerking or Taylor Swift's latest song, I however will not stay quiet when someone talks about this man with praise.

I will acknowledge to them that while the industry in the state has grown, the human index has remained poor. Child malnutrition flourishes. Unemployment remains a huge problem within the state and the poor have remained poor. After which I would quietly point them to data and facts I have found during my research including Poverty amid prosperityGujarat’s Social Progress Yet To Match Economic Success, Mirage of development and Vibrant Gujarat: More Myth than Fact to make my case. I will be thrashed. I will be called names. I will be made fun of. There will be people who will hate me at the end of it. All of this makes me terribly sad to even think about. I want to be liked. Unfortunately I have Galileo sitting on my shoulder asking me to open my mouth and laud people like Amartya Sen and Amitavh Gosh (After Amartya Sen, author Amitav Ghosh says his vote won't go to Modi) and resign myself to the fact that my opinion unfortunately is not the popular opinion.

I remember reading Henry David Thoreau several years ago and being entranced by his words on civil disobedience. He said, "Can there not be a gov­ern­ment in which ma­jor­it­ies do not vir­tu­ally de­cide right and wrong, but con­science? — in which ma­jor­it­ies de­cide only those ques­tions to which the rule of ex­pe­di­ency is ap­pli­ca­ble? Must the cit­i­zen ever for a mo­ment, or in the least de­gree, re­sign his con­science to the leg­is­la­tor? Why has ev­ery man a con­science, then?".

I may not be right but I know I must follow my conscience. I also know the only way I can do that is by educating myself and arming myself with numbers which I do every day. Unfortunately none of that will help. Experience so far has taught me that people will only lash out at you. There will no happy ending at the end of this. No one will sit across fire and sing Kumbaya. Whatever happens in the next few years will divide the nation and its people and it breaks my heart. It will also lead to a lot more people hating me. But somewhere I hope the spirit of Galileo smiles and says - Eppur Si Muove...and yet it moves... 


  1. It is weird to see that a media person like you refuses to acknowledge the bias that certain publications/news channels carry for certain political parties. You must know better than to be quoting news articles when your audience will include fellow journos and expect them to take the story at face value without a pinch of salt. The second article you have quoted is a personal opinion of a man whom some people might worship and some might not, it is not binding on someone to follow in Mr. Sen or Mr. Ghosh's footsteps. The views of Mr. Varadarajan and those of the DC group are well known when it comes to Mr. Modi. Pity you should be trusting them without taking into account other sections of media. If you indeed have accessed the report yourself and have checked the facts then I stand corrected, else I would advise you to do that and run a comparison with other states. I believe what you do not want to grasp is the fact that while there are better people who deserve the post of PM, none of them want to stand up and be counted. And the whole idea of people not voting for anyone is only valid when there will be a result out of it. While ideals and all are good, a realist would never accept that people exercising their right not to vote for any candidate will have an effect in Indian elections in 2014. You might not like Mr. Modi, the fact is a lot of people do.

  2. The articles I have linked also come with cold hard facts. I never want to start a fight and nor do I want to right now. At the end of the day, more than the facts, I think people deserve justice and that was denied to those who suffered during the riots. Kindly do not put in the category as paid media. I write this as a human being and not a reporter. Ask me my opinion on DTH and cable connections and I will talk to you as a reporter. Ask me if those who died during the riots deserved better, you will get a response as a human being. Cheers and thank you for taking your time in reading this article.

  3. And I don't trust the media. I look at facts. And I trust my own conscience. I wonder what data you had a look at. What if the data you went over was fabricated by the other side? What if the media that praises Modi (such as the Times of India group) is also paid media? The argument goes both ways I am afraid. So at the end of the day, we should decide what legacy we want to leave for our children. Peace.