G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Institutionalised Racism Runs Deep amongst Middle and Upper Class Urban Indians

Indian media are rejoicing today.

Times of India January 30, 2008 screams: “Monkey off Bhajji’s back.” And then gives all five instances of Harbhajan Singh’s violation of the ICC code of conduct.

“But Bhajji won’t be racial. He’s our boy.”

Sounds like typical Indian parents defending their spoilt children.

The same paper asked for annulment of Sydney test.

I wonder if they will ask annulment of medals table of 2008 Beijing Olympics if- as is likely- India fails to get on to it and Indian athletes are found doping.

Economic & Political Weekly January 12, 2008 said:

“The hysteria in the past week over l’affiare Sydney Cricket Test has shown urban India at its sanctimonious worst; quick to don the robes of the victim and at the same time ready to flex its financial muscle to dictate its orders to the rest of the cricketing world. It is not the emotions that have been expressed in this cricket-crazy society that have been surprising. It is that most commentators have refused to use the opportunity to engage in any introspection or reasoned discussion – be it of matters cricket or Indian society’s attitude to racism and colour prejudice.

To begin with the more important issue of racism in sport: Here was an opportunity for the media and public opinion to use the following cricket has in India to confront the issue of prejudice on colour. Instead, the overwhelming response has been either denial or a resort to homilies about India’s record in fighting racial discrimination.

The first thing to note is that the moral high ground that urban India has sought to occupy compares poorly with the fair amount of diversity, self-criticism and condemnation of the national cricket team that has been expressed in Australian public opinion…

…The fact is that colour prejudice, if not institutionalised racism, runs deep amongst middle and upper class urban Indians. How easily we forget that skin whitening cream is the largest selling “wellness” product in India, that matrimonial advertisements need to draw attention to colour and at times hide the dark complexion of the bride-to-be by describing it as “wheatish” and that for a baby to be born with a fair complexion is a source of immense pride to the family. No black visiting India leaves the country without being horrified at Indian expression of colour prejudice. And in cricket, for years spectators have often taunted West Indians for being, yes, “monkeys”…”

From January 12-26, 2008, from time to time, I was amidst marriage party gathered at Pune. We had a few guests from US. Two of them were white females, one of them Anglo-Saxon. That gave me one more opportunity to witness colour prejudices in our society.

What are we as a nation capable of?


“…India says the UN should sanction any war on Iraq. Did India ask the UN permission for its 1971 war with Pakistan? Not at all, it acted unilaterally. It used its buddy, the Soviet Union, to veto peace moves by the UN. Officially, India claims that Pakistan started that war through an air attack on December 3. In fact the Pakistan Air Force was simply responding to the intrusion of Indian troops into East Pakistan on November 21, an invasion reported by the international press but blanked out totally by the tame Indian press…”