Saturday, June 30, 2012

Chinks In The Armour




Some enlightening laws that govern us have defined the past month. Legislated with noble intentions, most have become rather difficult to implement.

Smoking in public, storing a few liquor bottles and raising noise levels are not the only ones that ensure free ka khana peena in Tiharland. Come to think of it, considering the economic conditions a holiday behind the bars is not such a bad idea.

No bills. No income-tax. No mother-in-law. No wife. And no tele-callers. Absolute peace. The plan works.
No, it doesn’t?
Sometimes, only sometimes, the police are not interested in the common man. Go try lighting a ciggy in a public place. You may end up burning your lungs but the cops won’t bother. Unless of course, they need a bottle for the night. Legal notices will be slapped, only if you are a Shah Rukh or a Ranbir Kapoor. Kanoon ke haath bahut lame ..oops lambe hote hain.

Another way to enjoy a jail stint is to store liquor bottles at home. The Mumbai excise department raided the home of a 55-year-old Priti Chandriani for possessing liquor for making chocolates at home. Priti was detained and later granted bail. Making liquor chocolates is Priti’s hobby. She said, “I have never seen a raid in my life. We are law abiding citizens and to have excise officials turn up at our house and conduct raids is a trauma for us that we will never forget. And just because we have a bar, it doesn’t mean we drink every day.”

Even if she does, does it make her a criminal?

Not only did the Excise department seize bottles of alcohol, they also took away her recipe books. I have been rattling my brain and would appreciate any help from readers. Why do you think they confiscated her recipe books?

A. Being responsible cops they wanted to prevent Priti from making more chocolates.
B. They wanted to participate in the coming season of Master Chef.
C. They wanted to gift the recipe books to their wives.
D. They wanted to master the procedure for concocting drinks…especially Aamsutra.

Keep guessing. There are no prizes.
Interestingly there is another law which when put into practice can twist knickers. Under the Environment Protection Act, you are liable to be arrested if you raise noise levels above 55 decibels outdoors and above 45 decibels indoors. Considering the fact that Indians are infamous for their loud behavior, this appears to be the most sensible law of the land. Only the cops need to be equipped with decibel meters.
You can lose temper and scream at your spouse. If the cops arrive, say your noise level was 44 decibels, one short of violating the law. Let them prove it.

A caveat. This law does not apply:
A. In the 'Times Now' studio.
B. In Parliament.
C. To the noise created by horns, crackers, denting, drilling and loudspeakers. Religious places are also excluded. You can burst eardrums, create chaos, block roads, create nuisance in the name of religion. Anytime.Anywhere.
D. To Rakhee Sawant.

Forget about archaic laws, some new laws are equally difficult to implement. Kapil Sibal, the moral police commissioner has assured that anyone who refers to the North East residents as Ch***i will be put behind the bars. Fair enough. More power to his eyebrow… oops …. elbow.

Undoubtedly the C word is a deplorable racist slur and any such slur which demeans any citizen should be condemned. Racism against North East is a reality. In fact so ingrained is the racist culture that most college students and even teachers use the C word for people with mongoloid features.

How many of us can differentiate between people from Nepal, Meghalaya, China, Bhutan or Arunachal?
My problem is again with the implementation the law.
Let us say, a NE resident complains to Haryanavi cop about someone uttering the C word. For a cop who cannot differentiate between Bhaichung Bhutia and the King of Bhutan, the perils of comprehending the nuances of this law are insurmountable.

Ask a local cop if Mary Kom will win a medal for India, he is likely to retort, “Meri KAUN?”

The point is that sending people to jail will not solve issues of racial profiling. Perhaps integration and addressing other issues of development will. Also, five years is way too long for a slip of the tongue unless you are planning to complete your degree in jail by distance learning. And what about the Mallu, Gujju, Sardar, Bihari and Bhaiyya jokes?

Undoubtedly, banning, prohibiting and sending people to jail are options; but not necessarily the best ones.
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56 comments:

  1. Wonderful read!
    We don't like to own up but we are a very racist society. Skin colour is another thing that causes people to behave radically here.

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    1. Oh, yes we are. Racist and insensitive.

      Glad you liked it.

      Delete
    2. Sir , I live in UK and let me tell you I am more of a RACIST attck in India then here .. I have felt it more in india then here and that is saying something ...

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    3. That is indeed saying a lot Bikram. Even if we take away the term racial, the stereotyping or the parameters of profiling certain section of the people is something that stands out prominently.

      The first step should be to acknowledge that discrimination on the basis of religion, caste or race exists.

      Delete
  2. Alka, your stallions of satire and irony are galloping as ever. There is an abundance of exotic laws in our great nation and the cops are shrewd enough to sell them to unsuspecting customers in profitable markets. While some of the strictures are more than a century old and hence have become grossly irrelevant, the few new ones that we may have seem to be designed to address the symptoms rather than the problems. More than that, and it may sound weird, they seem to have been laid down with the law abiding citizen in mind instead of felons.

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    1. I was aghast when I saw this rattled woman who was arrested in your city on NDTV.Then came the news of Ranbir getting the summons followed by Kapil Sibals commitment to the people of NE which made me write this post.
      Yes, it is easy to treat the symptoms....the rot takes time to cure.

      Delete
  3. In India, a law applies to people only when it is profitable to the law-enforcing agencies.

    Just like one can zoom around without a helmet or a seat-belt anytime. But the cops seem to wake up to check on the traffic just before a festival. (obviously the cops need some quick bucks for the festivals too !)

    "You can burst eardrums, create chaos, block roads, create nuisance in the name of religion. Anytime."

    Absolutely true. Religion in India is way beyond any law. You can get away with murder in the name of religion.

    Sometime back, in Kanpur, a man complained to the police about the blaring loudspeaker in the religious structure (of his own faith) opposite his home after it went beyond midnight and his power of tolerance as his child was writing the board exams. The police came to shut down the nuisance. But the 'religious' devotees came out in huge numbers in protest against this gross disrespect to their religion. Finally, the complainant was arrested for creating public unrest and was only released after some elders of the community made him to publically apologise through the same loudspeaker !!!

    As for the racial thing, we create a huge issue when it comes to racism in western countries, but we tend to ignore it in our own country. Racism against the North-Eastern people and even the south Indians is so common in north India.

    In India, the same law applies differently to different people. But also, there are many things which cannot be curtailed by laws alone. You can put a person in jail, but you cannot jail a mindset.

    A very nice post from you as usual. :-)

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    1. Thank you Shobhit.

      You have narrated an interesting incident. Whenever there is such ruckus trust the local MLA to jump in and stoke the fires.

      Shobhit when I relocated to Bangalore in 2005, my Andhrite neighbor (working with Infosys) did not talk to me imagining me to be a rude Punjabi from Delhi. Boys in my sons orthodox Tamil Brahmin School teased him saying he was from the Dirty Porn School...DPS. So I guess, it works both ways. The root cause is ignorance and stereotyping.

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  4. Great read, Alka ... our laws are indeed applied in a warped way, at times!

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    1. :) Some new ones are equally ridiculous.

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  5. We know that most of the laws are applied in rarest of rare instances as we are a true democracy and each one does what he likes:) Nice writing , Alka:)

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  6. Call yourself underage and drink rum in front of hawaldaar. This is purely ingenious solution for a perfect summer vacation trip.

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    Replies
    1. Have you tried it? Let the temp climb down a bit and one can try it. If they have power back up in Tihar, then it sounds like a good idea.

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  7. Apart from giving them more avenues to pocket some bribe, most laws and their implementation are totally flawed. But, your post was wonderful!

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  8. Alka,

    Some laws are either only on paper or for use only when need for little money is felt by enforcing teams. I am so shocked by news about raid on her residence. I am sure it is on complaint by someone who is anti her. And FREE KA HOLIDAYS, well well.

    Take care

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    Replies
    1. True. I was shocked too, watching her on NDTV. It was ridiculous.

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  9. interesting, and extremely spicy as always :)
    i don't know about liquor storing, but smoking in public is such a common thing that i don't think people pay any attention to it whatsoever, including cops. I live in Kanpur, where this is more common than chewing pan.
    last point was spot-on. we make as many mallu jokes as the chinki ones, and all of them are equally demeaning. so targeting the C word isn't really a very heroic action, unless solid plans of racial integration(or at least honest intentions) are in place.
    keep writing alka :)

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    1. Mohit banning the C word was a transparent act of populism. And about smoking, the day a cop needs his 500, he will surely act.
      :)

      Delete
  10. Laws are only as good as its keepers. Sad that some laws you mention seem not to be thought through. As for applying them consistently and uniformly to all, that is only a pipe dream.

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    1. True...it will take decades to create awareness.

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  11. Well law in our nation is made to be broken and if we can get away with it WE will do it for sure .. and when has police made sure that LAW is upheld , it depends on how to make the most of the time :)

    Bikram's

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    1. So often I feel that you should have been here to contribute in some way to creating awareness on social issues. Come back Bikram....

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    2. I will probably end up dead somewhere :) if i come back.
      but god willing one day will surly do that , thats a promise ...

      Delete
  12. First I need to smile and then shake my head in frustration. True--we have always had great laws, some of the best in the world but we lack in implementation. The problem is that none of the laws emerged from the cultural ethos of this country. It is a product of a Western thinking style and cultural lifestyle. That is why there is a problem. I dont think our early leaders had the vision to develop something totally indigenous understand how our jugaad citizens work.

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    1. Bhavana, other than laws; policies, schemes, yojanas and plans ..all need proper implementation.
      You are right. Lack of leadership and to some extent democracy is pulling us down.

      Accountability and implementation should be the mantras in every field.

      Delete
  13. Superb read....

    "Bharat bhagya Vidhata".... is the phrase in mind...

    Please come up with something on term and concept "Green Economy" floated by UNEP wherein they are now presenting in nutshell marketization of NATURE & Natural Resources complete.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Prakash.

      Whether it is laws, schemes, 'Green Economy' plans or any yojana....all need honest implementation. What is delivered on the ground is just 25 % of what is on the paper.
      We need to change this.

      Delete
  14. Theatre of the absurd! aaaaarrrrrgggghhhhhh

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  15. I want "Right to happiness" to be included in the constitution. Since when did our lawmakers morph into moral police? Or it simply a diversionary tactic.

    And what's happening in Mumbai is simply ridiculous.

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    1. They will don any hat to abuse power. Where is the accountability in this country?

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  16. A thought-provoking post indeed :) :) We are all racists and putting people to jail will only stop the overt actions that characterize racism..We need to make amends and ensure that people do not form stereotypes and biases :)

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  17. I think if we consider the bigger picture, there is a pattern. The government is doing everything it can to take public gaze off the issues that matter- economy, policy paralysis and so on and so forth. This is what they did in Ancient Rome ( organised those gladiatorial games to divert minds of public ).

    But I would not say that the laws ,that you have talked about, are irrelevant. If they are banning the C word, it is putting "something" in public consciousness that the word will attract an adverse reaction ( however rare that might be ). It is not the final stage of societal integration but definitely the first step. Efforts in social sectors can follow up with this legal backing. Just because Dowry laws are not implemented does not mean that there should be no laws about that,does it ? Like everything, laws evolve and we can not start off with a perfect law in the first place. Onus is, of course, on the government to improve implementation as well as relevance of laws but there has to be a starting point ( which might not be so perfect ). It takes time and 'friction' to attain perfection.

    The same logic, I believe, applies to the other laws you have talked about here. Laws have been made keeping in mind the widest application and just because some elite metro-dweller, who has bar in her home, faced a minor mis-experience does not mean the law is irrelevant. Imagine what kind of relief that law will bring to a woman whose husband spends all her hard earned money on liquor ( a near perfect application of Gandhi's talisman ). Wouldn't that law benefit her at all-not even a little bit ? I believe it does provide a legal base for wider social intervention that could follow.

    You have reiterated that you only have problem with the implementation- but there is no magic potion or magic button which when pressed will give perfect implementation. Is it not ? So, no. What you have presented is not a balanced point of view. Criticism without providing alternative solution is basically arm-chair-theorising and that is basically what you have done here. Please suggest how one should go about the implementation part and only then all the joke-making will make sense.

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    1. This post is not a critical post. It borders on a genre called satire/ humour.
      And we can all agree to disagree. That is the whole idea of writing blog posts.

      True,the law would provide relief for a woman whose husband is a drunkard. But the law enforcers will not raid their house since there is nothing in it for the. My point is;
      1.most laws have become a way to make money by those in power.
      2.laws alone are not a solution for racial profiling.In USA the six letter word N****r has been phased out by creating awareness and not by sending people to jail. But then India is not US and we need to deal with our issues, our way.

      Delete
    2. I am truly amazed by your composure on the face of stupid,negative comments Ma'm :) Hats off to you !

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    3. You know why I value your comments is that, right or wrong, you have an opinion.

      However, not taking life too seriously also helps. Sometimes.
      :)

      Delete
  18. We are famous for letting the real criminals and terrorist go free or treat them like royalty and end up harassing the common man for silly misdemeanors. First of all, the laws are made as knee jerk reactions to events and then the enforcement is left in the hands of ill-equipped police who end up asking Meri kaun. That brought on what I thought was a smile but what I realised was a grimace. Your posts should be pasted in the central hall of the Parliament. At least then some might feel shamed into action, or is it hoping for too much?

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  19. I am ready to break law and go to a jail. Only they should ensure a kasab style treatment...

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  20. One hell of a post! Loved the comment MERI KAUN:P

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  21. I can take revenge on a few by sending them to jail for calling me a kanjoos marwari and a ghaati.At the same time I will hope for an amnesia attack on those I branded as kachchi,bongi,madrasi,panju boka etc.

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    1. Harish...That is a tall order.

      Cloud Nine...:)

      Sharmila...kanjoos is kinda sweet.You have listed a slew a of names...I never knew so many existed.

      Delete
  22. Nice read,

    awesome combination of satire and irony accentuating the obstinate prevalency of racism in our nation.

    Though i am reading your blog for the first time but it seems as if I knew you from ages.

    keep writing.

    God bless.

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    1. Thank you. This comment means a lot.

      Delete
  23. Beware of Sibal and Madam ji.... if they happen to read this post might be Sibal recommend to block all blog in the name of hate speech. :PP
    Weakest LINK

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    1. So far I have managed to evade the moral commissioners. Fingers crossed.

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  24. Another thought provoking post, Alka. I liked the picture a lot.

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  25. Hilarious and at the same time awakening. loved the combination :)

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  26. you did strike a fine balance between being Hillarious and Thought provoking ... My guess is that the Cops took the recipe book top participate in MasterChef :-)

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