Questions about Racism, Immigration


Racial Attacks in New Zealand

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I wrote the blog post about Racism . While that one was in response to Russel’s post about a year back, this one is about the cowardly attack on the 50 odd and rising people died in the racist attack in New Zealand few days back. While I knew things were and charged with Trump and the right or/and alt right is rising in Europe as well but didn’t know that the fire had spread through Australia and New Zealand as well. And before people point fingers, it isn’t as if India is any better in the current circumstances. I came to know of the news on twitter where a gentleman named Khaled Beydoun broke the story . I had not been well the day before hence after work had just slept and woke mid-afternoon. I usually freshen myself but that day either due to laziness or whatever, I opened and was shocked when I read the news on twitter. My eyes, brain must have not properly woken up as I urged Khaled, along with many others to share the stories of the victims so people might know about them. In India, it has been more or less characterised as something to celebrate with slogans like ’50 would-be terrorists slain’ and such nonsense, I did feel it was part of some larger scheme as then also heard that the shooter had a webcam and live-streamed the whole thing on Facebook. Around the same time or a little later, also came to know about Senator Fraser Anning who talked about ‘White Australia’ . The idea behind ‘White Australia’ has been mirrored by the Right in Poland today/yesterday.

Immigration

The idea is similar in many ways to what Brexiteers told to people living in Britain. In essence we see the following characteristics –

a. Immigrants are the problem of all problems – While time and again has shown that Immigrants have been the source of growth in all developed countries, they are still able to get that particular message across. We had movies like Pathemari from South and fortunately or unfortunately many more movies on the same subject pursued in Hollywood. Some of the movies which I have enjoyed and have also found challenging are Moscow on the Hudson, (one of the best performances given by Robin Williams, The Immigrant , Man Push Cart, The Namesake (the Novel first and then the Movie) , Brooklyn , Sugar and many more. To distill down, all the movies, it comes to a singular fact, we love the place where we are born. We learn the taste, the smell, the culture and are assimilated by it long before we know it. It is only when people go to a different place whether to visit or to live as an immigrant that a dissonance is created and people spend their whole lives trying to fix the dissonance somehow.

In fact, I know at least 10-15 friends and family personally who have been forced into being Economic migrants for life, many of them into IT or Information Technology or business. While I may have shared this pattern before, just a few months back, (without taking names), a friend of mine wound up going back to States. He had made good money in States, is and was at a high post, had made enough money to buy a bungalow in Pune. He sent resumes from United States to Indian companies in and around Pune where they promised him comparative earnings, But when he was back in the excuse of being with the family i.e. father, mother, sister et al he found that they were promising him now half or 1/3rd of what they had promised him before. And this is without any of the benefits which he was enjoying in States. His wife is also from Pune, India and a working professional. In the end, he had to sell his bungalow and say a tearful bye to his parents and sister. This is the case in almost all of Kothrud. I may have shared about Kothrud before. This is a place around 5-6 kms. from my place, where thousands of parents are living a good life as their children are abroad. They feel good that the children are earning good, but many or most of them miss the human touch, the love and care that children can give. There are now non-profits and even the police who do try to care of the old and the aged but there is only so much they can do.

Why people leave, the Brain Drain and Politics in India

Just to share some facts about the Indian Industry, the Indian Government has several plans and schemes on paper, but most of them are unworkable in real life. They have fallen flat as Startup India and ‘Make in India‘ which have been reduced to being mere logos within India. In fact, almost all economic indicators are at a record low. While except for mobiles, most electronic products are stalling, even Cars and Bikes sales which are known as bell-weathers of how the Indian Economy is doing tells the story well. In fact, the current stats. of unemployment should raise a cause of concern. The story does have political colors as now it has come to light that RBI had advised against demonetisation before it was announced and now we are fully into election mode. There is and was China-bashing without realizing we need them as we have no alternatives and even no plan. There have been accusations being made against Pandit Nehru for giving the UNSC seat without understanding the politics behind it. While I of course, need to read more of history, it does point to the fact that if Pandit Nehru had taken the seat, then India would have had war with China in 1955 rather than 1962 when it did. The reason I shared the above is at least most of the problems in India are of its own making, or at the very least, its leaders, the same I fear could possibly be said of many countries.

A hypothesis

There are couple of other painful truths which I feel we don’t want to face, we are all migrants if we believe and support the hypothesis and observation that anthropologists have made about Homosapiens, to the extent as to where they were found and how migration happened over generations. By the same coin, an argument can be made that all of us have our hands bloody. Either in the recent or waaay in the past, the history we don’t know, we either wilfully or tacitly killed whatever was native to each land, whether it was humans or nature itself.

Reasoning for fear of Immigration

b. Nationalism will solve all the problems – There is this wide-spread belief that either ultra-nationalism, or being ultra-whatever will solve all problems. It took more than 200 years for the separation between the church and the State if you read the article on Wikipedia and look up some of the links they have mentioned therein and less than 5 years with help of technology to try to have them together. The idea of one race, one thought has been peddled before and it has resulted into untold destruction. and there is no evidence to point that it will be anything different today.

c. The main crux though of the matter though is probably Immigration and jobs, security – This is where the actual fight is. Most people believe that the natural-born should have some sort of entitlement, more than the Immigrants and that Immigrants get favors which from at least my reading has not been true at all. One point though, I am talking about Economic Migrants here and NOT migrants who end up elsewhere from where they are due to war, famine, natural calamities. For such people who are the unluckiest because they are not in charge of their fates I have no clue as it is much more complex than Economic migrants. Any solutions should have humanitarian focus but is easily pulled into politics as has been seen in India and potentially is the same for other countries as well. It is very much possible that at some future date, we may find India culpable in Rohingya genocide if that becomes the case. This reminds me very much of the Komagata Maru incident in which Indians died and the Canadian PM later apologized.

There was only one advertisement from some European freezing country (climate-wise) which said they will provide or give a house to whoever migrates there (have forgotten the name of the country) but in most countries Immigrants have quite a number of issues. Last year when trying to understand about Taiwan, came to know about immigration issues within Taiwan, much of which is espoused quite nicely in the recent issue of thediplomat. I would venture other countries would have similar issues. I had shared before when I visited Qatar and came to know that in almost all Middle-east countries Indians and people from the sub-continent have a work visa and in many ways they are bonded labourers. Only last year they have made some changes. After coming back to India, Pune I was able to ask and know from many people both in Pune and elsewhere and all of them had similar stories to share. I remember reading some article about immigration laws to Australia in which it was said that if a doctor trained in India were to migrate to Australia, he would have to go through the residency period all over again. That would add another 5-7 years for learning medicine again when s(he) could have been helping. This was shared not just in the article but also shared by personal experiences of few friends and people I met, casually had a chat and so on.

Why not Ban Immigration At all

If Immigration is such an issue why not ban it ? The New Scientist ran a series of articles on the same topic couple of years ago. While I would recommend to read them all, the best one which resounded within me was this one . I had a coincidence to meet quite a few doctors, nurses etc. during my travels, also when I was ill in the hospital. My landlord too was a Doctor who served all his life in UK in NHS . While we have somewhat of a quarrel-some relationship due to renter and rentee, he has shared lot about NHS in Britain. Interestingly, lot of his colleagues were from India, apparently close to 30-40% of the doctors and nurses are from India. The same I have heard about Gulf Countries as well. There are also articles by Rukhsana Khan, I especially liked the article in which she shares about immigration in Canada which I found to be quite interesting. The comments much more so as it tells how much as a species we have yet to grow.

The Positives

While the cost has been high, there has been a net positive as far as inclusiveness for New Zealand is concerned. Jacinda Ardern, the world’s youngest female leader, as shared by Economist had been forthright, critical and called it a terrorist attack. This must have been really difficult for Jacinda to do politically especially when you see her background as shared by Economist, the reasons people chose her. But this is what leaders are expected to do, to lead and not be predictable. This is something our great leader has not been able to. The whole world has commended her for the way she has managed to lead, both with grace and empathy. While I did see some people commenting on her need to use the hijab, most people have complimented her for the way she communicated and foremore, bringing restriction to gun ownership esp. in automated rifles . This is something that United States has failed to do despite so many killings which have taken place 😦

While the post has turned to be long there are still many feelings yet to be expressed, the first one is from a person of whose work I am a fan of and make no bones about it –

TL;DR: The effects of the rise of right wing populism are not dramatic and visible. Often they just involve an excruciating micronegotiation of your body and its place in geographies of suspicion. Do you know what happens when you wear skin and body of suspicion? In a country that overnight feels hostile because of an abhorrent act of terrorism, and an election that exercised the democratic will of bringing into power a fundamental extremist political party, you scan your everyday modes of being. The routines and ruts of habitual living suddenly become unfamiliar, suspect, alien. You take on the double weight of the loss and grief of the victims and the shame and repentance of the perpetrator. You inherit pity and terror of the tragedy with no catharsis. And you see yourself change. Instantaneously.

1. You find yourself smiling more. Whenever you are in public, you make an extra effort to smile at strangers, to convince them that the bag on your shoulders only has your laptop and no other weapon.

2. When you see the increased security, you try to look small, wrapped up in a shrug, to convince the scrutinizing gaze that you are not a menace.

3. When you sit on the train you realise that you sit differently. Not taking as much space, Keeping all your limbs to yourself, breathing in self-defence.

4. Your phone vibrates while you are sitting in the train. It is your mom. You wonder if you should take the call, and speak in your heathen tongue, and if it will offend or alarm people around you.

5. You hear the couple sitting next to you, peering over a train time-table and trying to figure out where they should change trains. You pause for a long moment before you give them advice in a language that you only speak brokenly.

6. You pretend not to notice the raised eyebrows when you betray your outsider status by speaking the local language clumsily, and accept the reluctant thanks before trying to hide behind your phone.

7. You are hungry. There is a lunch box in your bagpack. It is the left-over curry from dinner last night. You hesitate opening it lest the smells of your food bring forth a reaction that you might not be able to digest.

8. As you walk to the building where you have a meeting, you see a group of people drinking beer and being loud, and you instinctively scan to see if there is another entrance into the building that you can detour to.

9. You find solidarity in the people who are angry and in shock at this changed electoral and cultural trend in their country. They lament about how things are going bad. You don’t join them and instead spend all your effort in assuring them that you do not blame them, that you are happy to have them as friends and colleagues; you swallow your feeling of vague dread and spend time consoling them about the fate of things to come.

10. You meet a friend. You sit in a café and talk. You see a small group of people in their older whateveragebrackets pointedly looking at you and looking away when you catch their eye. When you see it happening more than once, you talk your friend into going somewhere else. When asked why, you say, ‘this is just so loud’.

11. You sit through an academic discussion. People are talking about vulnerability and safety. Care and creativity show up. The smart, insightful, and inspiring conversations develop, surrounded by plenty and privilege. You drone out because you remember the 5 refugees that you are counselling, who have sent you messages that given the current political climate, they want to drop out of their education development programme. Now is not a good time to be visible, one 19 year old has said.

12. You enter the central station and realise that you are going to have to sprint to the train. You are used to this. But today you walk measured footsteps even though you are going to miss the train. You don’t want to be running in your body, on a late evening train station. You miss the train and wait in the cold wind plucking at your cheeks, for the next one that takes you home.

13. On the ride back, you compose your face in rehearsed pleasantness. You wear your Asian niceness on your cheeks. The tiredness of the day has no place on your face. You are good, you are not a threat, you are acceptable.

14. You put on your headphones and are going to switch to the usual Bollywood mix that you listen to when you walk home. Before you do that, you remove the headphones and play the music. You are checking to see if the music is too loud, and seeping out of the headphones, betraying its ethnicity in its foreign cadences. You lower the volume and decide to play an American pop mix anyway.

15. You walk home on routine routes when you see three people walking behind you. It is a public space. It is your everyday route home. There are people around. You slow down to let them pass. You find comfort in the bagpack snuggling your back, like an armour.

16. You are fumbling for your keys at the entrance of the building. Somebody walks out of the door at the same time. You are happy not to be fishing for keys, so you ask them to hold the door and scurry up inside. The person asks where you want to go. You tell them you live here. You have never seen each other. You nod, wanting to get home. You get out of the slow elevator and from around the corner you see the person from downstairs looking at you. She has taken the stairs to see you safe home.

17. You enter home and even before you have taken off the bag, or the double layers of coats on your shoulder, you feel a weight come off your shoulders. You stretch to your full height. You breathe deeply. In the solace of solitude, you feel the layers of the day strip off. You head into a warm shower and wash all the gazes that have scorched your body. You step out. While drying in front of the misty mirror., you realise that if this continues, it will soon become habit. When your body is a question, you live like an apology. And these are the experiences of a life that is well shielded, protected, and supported by privilege, mobility, work, health, communities of love and trust, and money. So for anybody who is more precarious this must be amplified multiple times. If you know somebody who feels that they are bodies and skins of suspicion, now you know the cruel algebra of life that they are constantly solving. If somebody tells you they are worried, anxious, feeling afraid because of what this populist verdict has delivered, don’t downplay their dread. It is theirs. Let them work through it. You cannot change it by merely offering your love and care. It helps, but this is not a personal question of feelings – it is a structural problem of survival. Their experience is not an accusation towards you. It is merely an apology for themselves. You might not have voted for this to happen. But you are still a part of the system, and the only way out of this is for us to challenge the normalization of hatred and violence.

https://nishantshah.online/ , Nishant Shah , Academic, Educator, Researcher and Annotator, Netherlands.

As shared by Nishant, while I have not met him, have had the privilege to have read many of the articles penned by him many a times in Indian Express and other places. We also have managed to near-miss each other even though I have been to Bangalore quite a number of times to CIS when he was part of CIS . Also this is not just about what he experienced and what many other people who are foreigners or migrants feel, it is also to shed a light to all those who think of migration as the geese which lays the golden goose but forget the cost.

The other is one of my favorite lyricist, poet, writer who made many marriages happen and also likely to bear the cross for the same (from either husbands or wives) Miyan Javed Akhtar Sahab –

To speak of that which everyone is fearful, of that you must write
The night was never so dark ever before, write!

Throw away the pens with which you wrote the odes
In praise of the true pen dipped in the heart’s blood, write!

The narrow circles that confine you, break all of them
Come under the open skies now, of a new creation, write!

That which finds no place in the daily newspapers
That incident which happens everywhere every day, write!

That which has happened finds mentions
But of those that should have happened, write!

If you wish to see spring return to this garden
Call out from every branch and on every leaf, write!

Written by Miyan Javed Akhtar Sahab, translated by Rakshanda Jalil for scroll.in where it first appeared digitally to my knowledge.

We are all racists

This is going to be in response of Russel’s blog post about Racism. But before I delve into that, I just want to take a side track towards audio in the PC world because –

a. It’s an easy story and maybe people can help me.
b. Racism is a tough subject to broach or talk about without possibility of hurting others feelings.

Few months back, I had shared about how I bought an Asus Intel motherboard .

Asus motherboard

Copyright – Amazon.in

One of the reasons which I probably didn’t mention probably at the time were some of the specs. which the motherboard had which sort of won me over. One of those features was the audio part .

From Asus’s own manual about the motherboard –

Audio – Realtek ® ALC887 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC
– LED-illuminated design: Brighten up your build with the gorgeous illuminated
audio trace path
– Audio Shielding: Ensures precision analog/digital separation and greatly reduces
multi-lateral interference
– Dedicated audio PCB layers: Separate layers for left and right channels to guard
the quality of the sensitive audio signals
– Premium Japanese audio capacitors: Provide warm, natural and immersive
sound with exceptional clarity and fidelity
– Supports jack-detection, and front panel jack-retasking

– Reference Asus

While I knew that the audio codec is somewhat middle of the road and has an analogue output as can be seen from green colored port which has been since the beginning I used a computer system. I was suggested to go for a dedicated sound card but as am not an audiophile decided to use the ALC887 connected to my 2 speaker setup from years ago.

I was expecting a better sound but couldn’t find any difference between the new system and the old system which left me a bit bewildered. I was/am under the impression that the newer generation DAC and the audio codec would have generated a slightly better output than the old system/motherboard but was not to be.

As luck would have it, the old speaker setup which served me for about 7 years (a low-end Philips 2 speaker setup) stopped working one fine day leaving me with no option but to get new speakers. I was looking for a 2 speaker setup when suddenly was offered a Creative SBS A120 at a pretty stealish price. The two speakers standalone unit were around 1k while the 2.1 speaker setup was for 1.3k/- . With having a sub-woofer and a wired remote control, it was too sweet a deal to ignore. I did see the SBSA120 was the most basic model in the SBS stable it was still an upgrade to the existing setup. I know that many people nowadays have 10 or more speakers and dual sub-woofers to go at their own homes. The whole positional audio is supposed to be the next big thing.

Few hours later, I was able to feel the difference that the sub-woofer bought to the whole sound experience. And this is while I am experiencing a slight hearing loss in my left ear for some reason. The tests told me I would have to re-listen at least quarter of century of music and movies all over again. I had my first brush with Dolby sound in a cinema theater in 1991 when the theater near my place ‘Mangala’ had the dolby sound with the film ‘Saajan‘. There was a bit of controversy which hasn’t been mentioned in either the article or the talk page. One of the major reasons for the enormous popularity of the movie was the Dolby sound, not taking the talent the playback singers and others did to make the music. There was lot of talk and rumors that ‘Saajan’ would not have been such a big hit if the Dolby sound wasn’t used as it bought the bass, the tonal quality that Dolby bought in.

It was then about few years later when I first heard about the ‘Osho Ashram’ which was in my own city. A chance trip and few experiences in the Ashram and heard the terms ‘noise cancellation’ , ‘shielding’, ‘sound engineer a profession I never knew existed’ both former terms of which I would hear amplified over the years 🙂

Needless to say they were using ‘Marshall which as I could come to know years later as one of the best amplifiers and probably never own. I was just impressed that none of the speakers emitted noise or static as they did then and are common even today in most public gatherings, even many technical events held in the city. While most people know the sub-woofer or mistake it as ‘booster’ as its known in common parlance most people are simply unaware about noise cancellation and EM shielding and how much that could help in how we hear things.

The only thing which I’ve yet to fix on the audio setup side is to get the sub-woofer on a separate stand or something as the woofer vibrates quite a bit. With that comes whole crazy train.

Unless I someday own my own pad and even then I probably would never get a second sub-woofer although hearing Eagles, Metallica, Aerosmith, GNR is never going to be same again 🙂 I did find a page somewhere where it shared how to make custom stand for the sub-woofer filled with sand something which would open the sub-woofer a bit more though but forgot to bookmark it and hence lost it. If somebody knows something like that, please share.

Now for the hard part.

Taking over from Russel’s blog post a bit, I think Racism is not just a color thing but also needs to be redefined and add casteism, sexism also into it. Over the years I had to make difficult choices and choose my own battles, some in which I had to acquiescence or agree for personal safety and other times where I could hold my ground. But I do see both people (the supposed victor and the loser) from ever growing or learning about the other.

There are just too many examples to share –

1. One of the first experiences I had was when I was in my mid 20s to take a workshop at a somewhat remote place. It was one of those early mashup unconference type of things where people from different backgrounds and shared the work so everybody shared something or the other and everybody learnt a little about themselves. One of the ‘presenters’ asked me if I knew my caste. My upbringing was not particularly religious as most people in my family were not strict about that. The only times we did idol worship was if there was an occasion like Diwali or something but otherwise we were content with trying to figure out everyday life details.

So naturally my answer was my surname which I thought was good enough. It was commented by the gentleman that I probably belonged to a forward caste. I asked why ?

In response he took me, turned around and gave the same question to a bunch of people who were part of the group, apart from one two persons who probably also were from forward castes, all the rest were highly aware of the caste, sub-caste and gotra and lot more details which left me completely clueless. Coincidentally or otherwise, all of them were Dalits . My schooling was done in Children’s Academy excuse for the fb link but there was never any casteism as far as I remember. The only casteism which was practiced was you were sent back if your shoes were not correct or the tie we wore was not of the proper shade. As I had shared earlier elsewhere and I had asked mother after seeing the soaring fees in today’s schools and we didn’t pay much. Hence it never entered my/our vocabulary at all. Hence I was under probably mistaken belief that racism wasn’t practiced in India, probably clueless about what was happening around me. Most of my school-mates and me looked up to ‘Robin’ a Christian but he was looked up for being honest, forthright, getting the best grades and of course was tall. I do know that lot of the girls were smitten by him as some of them did ask me to find a way to get introduced to him.

Similarly, the college I went to was an average college MMCC ours was the first or second batch when the commerce stream was opened so not so much of a hot college as its supposed to be now.

Few years later, I went to the Himalayas, partly for a project and partly because I wanted to travel. The work wasn’t much so the work afforded me to travel around a bit. In many places I saw that because I was from a certain caste I was allowed. This actually left a very bitter taste in the mouth as this was not something I had experienced in my hometown or surroundings. One incident in particular left such a bitter taste that even today I have no idea what would have been the right way.

I was in one of these family lodges. They were of the same ‘caste’ and hence I was given accommodation. They had questioned me why I wasn’t married. In my ‘caste’ most people got married even before the legal age no matter whether you were working or not working etc. I knew intuitively I was emotionally not ready for commitment but didn’t have the understanding or the words to tell that. I gave some excuse and that was end of that.

During my stay, I got friendly with some of the locals. One kid in particular I grew fond of because we both liked ‘Kulfis

matka kulfi

CC-0 Wikipedia.org

It is one of the things that you should taste if you ever come to India. Anyway, there used to be a bicycle vendor and if I was around he would shout and we would both get our kulfis together and at least for me for those moments I would feel like a little boy. I still enjoy kulfis today but not that much.

Anyways, one day he shouted and for some reason I was a little late and the vendor had already gone. Seeing that I had come he offered his kulfi to me, I said no. After a bit of back and forth we reached a compromise that we would each lick a little. The kulfi was little different than the one I have shown above, sort of like candy stick and we would take turns. After takinc couple of licks I offered him back and he said no. When I asked him why, he wouldn’t tell why. I offered him the money in exchange, he quipped something and then ran away.

Later, late night the head of the family called me in front of his family and asked about what had happened. Apparently he had overseen the whole incident. In my innocence I narrated the whole thing. Thereby I was given a lecture as to how the kid knew his place and I didn’t. I couldn’t argue that minute otherwise I wouldn’t have a place to find at that time of the night. Needless to say though, the next day I left the place.

I wish I could have handled it better but how is still a mystery to me.

One another incident which I had shared earlier was about the South African women with mixed parentage of Indians and Africans and how they had a hard time being accepted by either community for marriage. This was shared to me by some of the women themselves. But this as I have discovered afterwards in popular culture is not just confined to South Africa but also Japan, Vietnam and few other places in Asia.

At least in Vietnam’s scenario as so many American GI’s married or had relations with Vietnamese women and the children either within wedlock or out of wedlock were neither accepted by the Vietnamese Govt. or the American Government.

In another incident, sometime back, at a technical workshop/gathering similar to unconferences a bunch of us were sharing our expertise with other attendees. As it happens, we all got friendly and one of the women in one of those alone moments shared that she was unhappy because she was black. I tried to tell her she’s good enough being highly aware that she was 20 years junior to me. What I probably could have said is that if she were 20 years elder, I would have pursued her both for her looks as well as her intelligence and personality. I wish I could give her peace of mind but probably she needs to figure that one out herself.

See also an article about Jesus and Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong. It brings to my mind a TV movie I had seen few years back . In the movie, a gentleman is there who doesn’t seem to age in a decade. His friends are an oldish Catholic American woman, a University professor, a youngish woman who is obviously smitten by him and another young man. It was shared at the beginning of the movie that these five people have been close friends for over a decade, with the mysterious gentleman always being a bit of reserved and shy nature. One evening he asks all of them to come to his house.

Over the evening, as the conversation progresses, in a series of suppositions he reveals that he had been walking on earth through the dawn of time and was coincidentally ‘Jesus’ and the ‘Prophet’ at different times in period. He shared about the various professions he had over his extended life term and everything in that house was made by his two hands. From his perspective, he was the wrong man in the wrong place at wrong time. He did have healing powers but for those he has no explanations. Hearing the suppositions the old Catholic woman becomes highly aggravated and faints where our Jesus/Prophet uses his bit of power to heal her and come back. A sort of ‘Reiki’ healing as it looked in the movie. The University professor is amused and chuckles for he believes both in the possibility of him being the real thing and pulling a fast one. The young chap is excited with this supposed admission and tries to get the law, the papers so that he can get the record straight and even get some of attention on himself. Our hero has to make a quick getaway, the professor and the woman who is smitten by him help him to escape. They share a long embrace and a kiss before he has to go on for search of disguise and make a new identity for himself. Sadly, I don’t remember the name of the movie.

All of this just reinforces at least to me that the idea of religion, nation and state are partly if not fully responsible for racism to exist with companies co-opting with them for their own personal gain. To embellish my argument, I present a quora thread . And before anybody objects, I am aware that quite a few personalities alleged behavior doesn’t have enough citations looking from Wikipedia’s NPOV .

There is though another site which covers racism of all sorts with a slight satirical wit, for instance just today’s article . The reason for satire being not far-fetched as can be seen in couple of more mainstream articles such as Foreign hand in Sangh and the same happening across the border as well. From these articles it is evident that the same/similar forces are at work here which are elsewhere.

While I do hope for a Star Trek meritorious liberation model, am highly aware that presently the forces are quite strong. I do believe that the moment I think I’m better than a or b I might be falling into the same trap while at the same time by not speaking about what is happening around me, am also falling into the same trap.

Hence quite a bit of thanks to Russel to be able to get these thoughts off my chest.

Medical awareness, terrorism, racism and Debconf

Hi to all the souls on planet.debian.org 🙂 . I hope to meet many of you in Debconf16 which is being held at UCT (University of Cape Town), Rhondenbosch, South Africa and am excited to be part of it. I pushed a blog post about my journey to debconf till date.

I express my sympathy and condolences to all the people who died in the cowardly shooting spree done by a madman in Orlando 😦 . I have been upset about this development but as what’s done is done, it’s best to just keep moving.

Closer to my own reality, I was shocked to discover during my whole visa experience that nowhere there is any knowledge about vaccinations that people should have when they are traveling internationally. I was kinda rudely awakened by this mail which prompted me to take Hep A shot and also start a thread on the mailing list. The more comprehensive info. I got was at the CDC site . It seems to be a go-to site to find about what is recommended. While I will not be taking any shots now as it’s nearing to the date of travel, if I had known before, it would have been a valuable resource in itself. Definitely something to be bookmarked if you are going overseas and are worried or have health concerns.

On another note, About few days back, there was a discussion as recently, travel advisories have been issued about possible terror action in South Africa by various embassies due to the holy month of Ramadan.

And the recent attack just proves that it takes just one twisted personality with a perverse sense of justice or whatever s/he/ thinks as just to do what s/he did and guns and more security and not the answer.

My take on it some would describe as simplistic, there are things which you can control, there are things beyond your control. No security agency, no country can guarantee it. By being either home or away, you can’t wish you will not get bitten. Got images of Final Destination invoked when I was sharing that, for as an Indian, do believe a bit on fate and karma. Also, me being single also plays a part, perhaps I would have been more cautious or have different motivations if I had a family so I do understand some of the concerns which have been raised by people in that thread. At the end of it, it really is a non-choice in my book.

If you don’t take part due to fear,uncertainty of a possible attack, you have already given in to fear and uncertainty and I believe this goes against the very philosophy of what Debian stands for, being bold, taking chances and having trust in your fellow men. If we haven’t allowed proprietary, commercial software to win over us, how can we allow less than 0.1% radically motivated people to scare us ? And the recent attack just proves that it takes just one twisted personality with a perverse sense of justice or whatever s/he/ thinks as just to do what s/he did. More guns and more security are certainly not the answer here.

A more troubling part is not terrorism but caste-ism and racism which have been also making news (not in a good way) in India. Now while I cannot claim to have any knowledge about Africans apart from 2-3 conversations which didn’t go anywhere, two-three preconceived notions about them can easily be countered. As far as drugs are concerned, IF some Africans are doing drugs smuggling, it would be wrong to pin all of it onto them. India has been fighting drugs smuggling from the 70’s itself. From what we know and have learnt over the years from consuming media, India shares porous borders with almost all our neighbors. Of those, Pakistan is supposed to be the largest grower and supplier and then Nepal where young boys are used as Traffickers. The recent film ‘Rocky Handsome‘ and the recent upcoming controversial movie ‘Udta Punjab‘ are trying to explore these issues. As far as drinking in open is concerned, I have seen and been part of Punjabi parties where both men and women drink without abandon in farm parties. Russians, Germans and Israelis can also out-drink a person on their day/mood. As far as sexuality is concerned, we are the second most populous country in the world, so the less said the better 🙂 .

I believe though that underneath this racism is money, greed, phobia, language barriers and just maybe some lifestyle choices as well. I have seen North-Eastern, Chinese, Buddhist people being colored with the same brush. The more interesting case is with the Buddhist as can be seen in Himachal Pradesh, where locals feel they are deprived as Europeans come and indulge Buddhists for their monasteries and their way of life while locals don’t get much money from them. This is partly true, but also due to our own short-comings in dealing with westerners. I have never seen my own countrymen going out of their way to make westerners or any tourists for that matter feel welcome in a genuine way. More often, the behavior is between hostility, jealousy and a perverted sense of hero-worship due to the color of skin. As far as being racist and bigoted are concerned, it seems we are not alone, just day before came across this news from Malaysia which is interesting in the sense that how people from different communities frame their own history and people around them, forget that is false and misleading to what we in India know to be the truth, it probably is/would be interesting for somebody who does comparative history, myth and folklore analysis. I was actually planning to talk about some of the talks I am looking forward to hearing and seeing on Debconf but guess that will have to wait for few more days. Hope to publish one more before actually flying to Debconf. Till later.