Tag Archives: Vinayak Hegde

‘No choice’ does not equal ‘Spirit of Mumbai’

mumbai attacksYou know why we all cringe when we hear a cliche? It’s because using a cliche usually represents the forcible application of a generalization or stereotype to a complex situation.

So here is India’s most cringe-worthy cliche – The spirit of Mumbai.

This concept, screamed up to the heavens by nearly all media houses and TV news anchors, has lost its sheen. It is beginning to resemble some sort of creepy badge that is affixed to those unfortunate innocents who suffer a terrorist attack, whether they want it or not. And it really needs to end immediately.

I have friends and family in Mumbai. I don’t want them to be ‘proud, defiant and bold’, stepping out of their homes the very next day after a terrorist attack to go back to school/college/work etc in the ‘spirit of Mumbai’.

I think I would just prefer them to be safe and not have to live in fear.

For the lakhs of daily wage earners in the city it’s either work or starve – a stark choice that does not allow for any leeway.

It’s not like being in the middle of the blasts is like being at a concert or an anti-corruption fast where participation in the event announces its success.

They are not asked for permission before they are attacked. And the next day, they have go to work -whether they really want to or not. Mumbaikars have to get on with their lives and they have no choice in the matter.

Equally grating is the coverage of the event. There is jazzy new-age music played over cuts of bloody bodies, flaming ruins and charred buildings. Loud roll-overs announce the death toll, snappy sound bytes intersperse the images before they cut to news anchors who, literally, scream out the news in lung-wrenching gusto with one adjective every three words on average.

Is it too much to ask that the news be covered in a simple sombre manner which reflects the fact that 17 innocents have been murdered? Is it too much to ask that information is put out without resorting to conspiracy theories, blame-games or even self-congratulatory phrases? And does anyone really care what unique angle each channel takes to cover the event? Just give us the facts and we will appreciate it.

Meanwhile once again we wait to see if we can figure out who committed the attack and make our feeble attempts to catch those responsible.

But those in Mumbai don’t seem optimistic on that outcome.

Vinayak Hegde


Why does Kashmir seem so far away?

Violence on the streets in Kashmir

Violence on the streets in Kashmir

A friend of mine made an interesting observation on Facebook the other day.

“Parliament suspended after two UP farmers were shot by police, 58 and counting in Kashmir,” she said.

My first thought was – “That is true, but practically everything matters more than Kashmir.”

To me (and I suspect to a lot of other people as well) Kashmir is just something I watch on the news channel for 15 minutes before moving on to watch Indian Idol. I guess you could call it viewer fatigue.

Oh don’t get all angry at my lack of sentiment.

I know I should care about Kashmir…and Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Chinese oppression, global warming, animal extinction, Greenpeace, Maoists and even the whales that Japan insists on butchering.

But right now what I really care about is dinner. It has an immediate connection (I am hungry), I am familiar with it (I eat a lot) and I know exactly how to solve the issue (the Dominos downstairs beckons me). That is everything Kashmir is not.

It’s too far away for any connection ( I am in Chennai), I am totally unfamiliar with it thanks to decades of censorship (Free press? Don’t make me laugh!) and when it seems Kashmiris themselves have no idea how to solve their issues,  what do they really expect me to do about it?

And most importantly – the only Kashmiri I ever met never spoke about Kashmir, is currently back in Kashmir and still not very talkative or in touch.

They say all that the young of Kashmir have ever seen is oppression and terror.

Well, all I have ever known is – Kashmiris are treasonous separatists, Pakistani puppets and always out on the roads throwing stones like barbarians.

Of course this is not the truth. Words like military rule, POTA, judicial murder, rape, theft, human indignity and others fight for space in my mind. But first impressions are everything.

What I should be reading are Kashmiri pamphlets handed out by my local chapter of “Free Kashmir,” frankly informing me about
the latest atrocities this nation has committed.

I should be listening to soulful ‘freedom’ songs composed by angst-ridden Kashmiris. 

I should be watching a Kashmiri movie about their plight. A movie made by Kashmiris,  not a bad Bollywood version.

I should leave the theatre so moved that my wallet loosens and I make a donation into “Free Kashmir Fund” box, helpfully placed outside the theatre along with “I support Kashmir” buttons and stickers. Kashmir needs a better, bigger campaign – one that doesn’t dishonour her name.

Ninety-five per cent of India is too far away from the valley and 90 per cent  of our people don’t care because they don’t know.

There is a difference between political movements and anarchy – a small difference.

After all, if you can get enough people to care, you change the world.

Vinayak Hegde