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Geek by profession, thinker/writer/artist by passion. Part-time blogger,social media enthusiast and a tramp by nature :) A Man Of Mud

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Monday, December 28, 2015

Star Wars : The Force Awakens | Review (Spoiler free)

(Courtesy: Wikimedia)
A long time ago in a galaxy... well in our own galaxy and our very own planet Earth, George Lucas wrote and directed an epic space opera film called Star Wars which grew into a hugely popular franchise and a global pop cultural phenomenon with a cult following spanning generations. The first movie was released more than 32 years back and it's been 27 years since release of the last installment of the original trilogy (Episode VI: Return of the Jedi)  which is indeed "a long time ago" as sequels and prequels go, even the last installment of the much less appreciated prequel trilogy (Episode III: Revenge of the Sith) came out 10 years back but Star Wars franchise continued to command huge fan following. The announcement of the release of Episode VII: The Force Awakens and the huge marketing campaign made it one of the most anticipated movie releases in recent times if not of all times. However, one of the issues eager fans had to deal with was avoiding exposure to spoilers and leaks proliferating on the Internet. I assiduously avoided every piece of information that had anything to do with  Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so my review of the movie includes NO SPOILERS, or so I hope.

Posted By danish Ahmed 2:11 AM

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Decoding The Chaotic Syrian Civil War

  Diagram of Syrian theater of chaos
A rough diagram of all state and non-state actors participating in Syrian Civil War and the dynamics between  the actors in this theater of chaos (click on the image for larger view) .
Just as we thought that terror attacks in Paris, Beirut and the alleged bombing of Russian passenger plane over Egypt would bring about the global alliance against ISIS closer, the shooting down of Russian fighter by Turkey and Russian President Putin's strong statement including a warning of retaliation in some form has turned the tide towards an unfavorable direction. Yet, it was not wholly unexpected. Given the chaotic theater of conflict in Syria with numerous states and non-state entities fighting each other and a common enemy, such developments are not beyond realms of expectation. Turkey shooting down Russian fighter plane for straying into its air space for 17 seconds hardly seems a spontaneous response, especially when the Turkish President Erdogan says the order came from him. Turkey and its NATO allies have all along been alleging that Russia is not really targeting ISIS positions but anti-Assad rebels supported by them and there is every reason to believe them since it is apparent that Russia has intervened in Syria to primarily ensure that Putin's closest ally in the middle east, Bashar al-Assad remains in power.

It has also been reported that Assad and ISIS have been able to cooperate with each other in limited terms which is not the case with the other rebels whose only objective is to remove Assad from power. What makes Turkey's shooting down of Russian fighter seem as a premeditated action is the fact that the militants holding the region that the Russian fighter was targeting was not held by ISIS at all but by Turkmen rebels whom Turkey is not only supporting but considers them part of its ethnicity. Since Russia is unlikely to militarily engage a NATO ally, Putin's threat of revenge is most likely to be, as an immediate response, relentless attack on this particular group of militants also responsible for killing one of the two pilots and a Russian marine involved in the rescue operation of the downed pilots along with sanctions it has already imposed.

Posted By danish Ahmed 1:00 AM

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Salman Khan And Talwars

Posted by: danish Ahmed 3:10 AM

The recent acquittal of Salman Khan in 2002 drunken driving and running over five people,killing one of them and injuring four others has the media and social media talking about the judgement incessantly. While his massive fan following is celebrating the acquittal, a lot of people have been sorely disappointed with the proceedings and even the Judge pointed out the shoddy investigation carried out by the prosecution. In Salman Khan's case, not including Kamaal Khan, the other eyewitness and one of the persons inside the vehicle during the incidence as a witness before the court seems too callous. There are other lapses on part of the prosecution too but I don't intend to do an autopsy of this case, which the media has been conducting anyway. However I must confess that being a fan of Salman Khan I am not at all unhappy that he has been acquitted, besides I am not the kind of person who seeks personal gratification in punishment of individuals. Punishment through due process of law is a necessity to uphold the rule of law and dispense justice but I don't see any role of individual or collective passion in it (except in rare cases). At the same time, the idea that people can be subjected to rigorous punishment as a result of similar shoddy investigation is highly disturbing.

Posted By danish Ahmed 3:10 AM

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Is Modi's Solar Alliance At COP21 The Real Deal

(Image Courtesy: UNFCCC )
Quite recently I heard an eminent academic speak on the need for PM Narendra Modi to improve his relationship with the press. I think it was the economist Jagdish Bhagwati, a known Modi supporter but I could be wrong. Anyway, a recent event did make me think that perhaps he is right, by not directly engaging with the mainstream media, Modi is not only allowing his image being transformed to that of an opaque personality but also some of his real achievements get ignored and completely sidelined in the nation discourse.  But before that I must confess that though I see Modi the politician as a product of the RSS ideology, Modi the Prime Minister seems be too ambitious to be restrained by ideological shackles especially when it conflicts with his attempts to create his own legacy. This twin personas were especially evident when he was on election campaign in Bihar, his rhetoric being aggressive and almost uncouth and then his statesman like oration in the Parliament at onset of the Winter session which was way mature. However what really surprised me was the lack of adequate reportage by media as well as support from his own  supporters on social media on his successful launch of International Solar Alliance of 120 countries along with French President François Hollande during the Paris COP21 climate summit.

Posted By danish Ahmed 8:30 AM

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Intolerant India Narrative : A False Dichotomy

Courtesy : Indianexpress.com 
Now as the dust over AwardWapsi controversy seemed to be settling down, Aamir Khan appears to have opened up another can of worms with his statement on rising intolerance in India. Of course before that one of the most eminent Indian English poet and littérateurs (one of my favourites) , Jayanta Mahaptra had returned his Padma Shri award, citing his unhappiness over increasing "moral asymmetry" in society. Of course, it didn't make it to the 9 O'clock show, after all the Odia octogenarian may have accomplished a lot in the world of literature, his statement is unlikely to attract as many eyeballs as any statement made by Aamir Khan would. However, it is really irresponsible of the mainstream media to report that Aamir Khan wanted to leave India for whatsoever reason. In fact he was replying to a query by the interviewer (who himself was expanding the debate based on the finance minister Arun Jaitley's question to Aamir Khan).

When asked about AwardWapsi, Aamir was candid enough to admit that he supported the campaign which he saw as a peaceful form of protest. But while replying to the question if the level of intolerance was rising in India he agreed that over the past few months he did feel so and said his wife once even asked if they should leave India which according to him was a disastrous thing. He was merely presenting the worst case scenario or rather a situation which under no circumstances should be allowed to develop and was not expressing something he himself was thinking about or his wife may seriously be considering. But as the part about "contemplating to move out" seemed more sensationalist proposition, the media latched on to it, repeating ad nauseum until it did seem that Aamir had indeed said he wanted to leave India.

Posted By danish Ahmed 2:14 AM

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Paris Attacks: A Wake Up Call For International Community

The dastardly terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November hours after a similar attack in Beirut should wake up all actors in the Middle East theatre of proxy wars as well as the global Muslim community to the danger that ISIS now poses to the whole world. As of now, ISIS was seen as a region specific entity,  a quasi-state disconnected and autonomous but with a large number of fighters and more than adequate resources to continue expanding the size of its territory as well as attract more jihadis from across the world. What separated it from Al Qada both figuratively and literally is the fact that the latter believes in carrying on a long duration global jihad or prolonged war of attrition with Western powers and their allies in the region through decentralized network of terrorists or sleeper cells in key geographical centres around the world. It seeks to weaken and overthrow the global order through terror attacks like 9/11 believing the time was not ripe for establishment of the caliphate (read: gaining allegiance of majority of global Muslims community ). The ISIS on the other hand chose to declare itself as the caliphate on the basis of the territorial gains it had already made and with the ambition to conquer a sizeable territory in a short span. However, the attacks in Paris and the manner in which they were planned and executed indicate that ISIS may be adopting and improvising the modus operandi of Al Qaeda which is indeed scary given the number of recruits the terrorist group attracts from many parts of the world including Europe.

Posted By danish Ahmed 12:50 AM

Saturday, October 17, 2015

On AwardWapsi, Selective Outrage And Whataboutery


With more than 40 Sahitya Akademi awardees returning their awards, council members of the Akademi resigning and similar forms of protests by artists and intellectuals has been dominating public discourse since a week now. The most shrill arguments that can be heard in the din take the concept of whataboutery to a new high. The divide in the public opinion is indeed sharp but the acrimonious debates on television and rants on Twitter ignore some very basic facts which I believe is necessary to really understand why intellectuals (or pseudo-intellectuals if it suits you)  are so vociferous in their protests. Those criticizing the writers started with the argument that these writers were hardly popular as such and by making such a move they were only attempting to get bit into the spot light. When the numbers of rebel writers grew the argument was changed to them being beneficiaries of previous regimes' nepotism and were paying their dues to their original benefactor by turning this into a political campaign. This counter-charge has been aggressively made against them by some of the celebrities from the entertainment industry as well as the media though curiously enough, no questions are asked if they themselves are indulging in petty politics or not. Here are some of the charges made by the rebelling writers and intellectuals.

Posted By danish Ahmed 7:00 PM

Sunday, October 4, 2015

What Russia's Entry In Syrian Crisis Really Means

Image Courtesy: Yahoo Maktoob News 
Entry of Russia into the Syrian theatre of bloodshed and chaos could well change the dynamics of the conflict in the region, making it difficult to foresee the immediate future. In an already chaotic situation, among the very first things Russia did was carry air strikes against what US and its allies claim to being their coalition partners and civilian dissidents and not the ISIS which provided Russia with a justification to enter the war zone. Just few weeks  before Russian air strikes, Turkey carried out air strikes, apparently targeting ISIS terrorists but after the dust settled it came to light that the attack had killed several militants belonging to Kurdish groups, who apart from fighting against ISIS, are also considered hostile by the Turkish state since decades . Unfortunately, these are only reminders of the varying and sometimes diametrically opposite agendas of the  various actors participating in the  middle-east conflict and one of the reasons why ISIS continues to remain undefeated.

Posted By danish Ahmed 7:33 PM

Sunday, August 30, 2015

From Aarushi To Sheena : Trial Or Lynching By Media?

Image Courtesy: Youtube 
So the Indian media has latched on to the ghastly and extremely tragic tale of the murder of Sheena Bora with a zeal that falls somewhere between responsible journalism and savagery of a lynch mob screaming for punishment at a medieval trial. The latter part is of course disguised in more civil and self-righteous statements and opinions but criticism by various eminent and less eminent members of citizenry now and then rip off parts of this disguise.  But then there always two sides to a story. It is true that without media coverage, it is highly unlikely that investigation into this crime would been as prompt but the way it has been handled by the media can be described in milder terms as cheap and immature. However some television channels, especially (but not exclusively), vernacular news channels have indeed removed all stops and gone all facetious, dishing out murky details on an hourly basis. After all, this sordid story has more ingredients than a typical Bollywood potboiler and prime time soap operas combined. A mysterious murder in a rich and influential family, a web of lies and deceit and purported evidence of sleazy activities are things these news channels would give anything for and in Sheena Bora murder case, they only have to sacrifice a little journalistic ethics.

Posted By danish Ahmed 4:00 PM

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Book Review - Mandate : Will of The People

Vir Sanghvi's book Mandate: Will of The People was quite a revelation to me. I expected it to be yet another book chronicling post-independence Indian political history, but it turned out to be something entirely different and delightfully so.  For those of us who became politically aware in the 90s and later, there is a clear disconnect when our political leaders talk of the Emergency, Operation Blue Star, Indira Gandhi assassination, the genocide that followed and many other past events . Sure we can read it up in history books, look up Wikipedia and hear stories about them but frankly there is too much information to process and more importantly, it appears to have little value in the present age. But can we really ignore the past and still hope not to commit the same mistakes all over again?

Posted By danish Ahmed 7:26 PM

Saturday, May 23, 2015

China's Latest Cartographic Aggression

China's state-owned CCTV showing a map of India without Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh on backdrop of Prime Minister Modi's visit did create a controversy but not a significant one. The usually hyper-ventilating hyper-nationalist twitter users, television anchors/journalists were silent, perhaps assuming that any outrage would put the Prime Minister in an uncomfortable situation and not embolden him and that the issue has nothing to do with national interest. After all, these maps do not represent the ground realities. But then, why would China, which is not known to indulge in vanities when it comes to state policies, let this situation develop. Everything about maps in China is supervised by a special committee in coordination with 13 ministries, so the broadcast of this map being entirely the decision of a news channel producer or executive seems bit of a long shot. Especially so when seen in the context of China's history of cartographic aggression.

Posted By danish Ahmed 12:03 AM

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Net Neutrality: Is Your ISP Shaping Traffic Now



 In my previous post I have discussed about Internet censorship in India, in this post I wish to discuss bandwidth throttling and how to find out if your ISP is slowing down transfer speed despite you paying for it. According to The Hindu, Airtel and BSNL have been found to throttle Bittorrent traffic. However, this data is couple of years old and probably doesn't include your ISP information, so here are some tools to find out if your ISP is cheating you.

Posted By danish Ahmed 2:30 AM

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Open The Internet Please

The Times of India report says "telecom and information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad backed an open internet three days ago" which makes one wonder whether the minister really backs open internet or there was some shoddy reporting on part of the Times Group. But let us not get into the semantics now (though I will come back to it eventually), so as not to dilute the issue at hand. The current debate raging on has more to do with the concept of net neutrality, which thanks to the efforts of online activists, seems a certain victory now. If you are unaware of what net neutrality means and why it is under threat, the video created by AIB explains it best.
    


Also visit savetheinternet.in

Posted By danish Ahmed 5:30 PM

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Iran Nuclear Deal:Into The Shadow Of The Great Satan


The Iran nuclear deal reflects the changing geopolitical realities in the Middle East and is all set to determine how the regional dynamics play out in the future. Despite strong opposition from Israel, the Arab countries of the GCC and section of US Congressmen, the framework hammered out between Iran and the P-5 + 1, is being seen as a major diplomatic victory by the Iranians. True, the deal prevents Iran from developing nuclear programme further but it doesn't seek to completely destroy its technical capabilities to maintain it, including the ability to create nuclear weapons. Further, this deal is applicable for 15 years only and as a leading oil-producing country, lifting of sanctions against it could mean Iran's economic standing turn around really fast. Add to that the fact that it possesses a credible military force and a network of well-armed proxies, the anxiety of its regional rivals can be well-understood. But, the deal coming in the wake sectarian strife in the region, in which Iran is a major player does raise questions and hopefully offers answers too.

Posted By danish Ahmed 7:02 PM

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

China's Next Great Leap: Reincarnation, Resurrection and Hubris

Posted by: danish Ahmed 12:00 AM

The Communist People's Republic of China while extending its sovereignty over the afterlife of its citizens (both actual and Tibetans) plans to set up a department to deal with reincarnation and resurrection of its dearly departed dictators and generals, certain reports indicate. The very first batch of reincarnated or resurrected souls are likely to include that of Mao Zedong and other important Communist leaders of China. The inspiration behind this seems to be the strong stand China has taken on the question of the reincarnation of the present Dalai Lama.  The spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism has more than once indicated that he might not reincarnate at all, ending centuries old Tibetan Buddhism tradition.


 However the Chinese administration has severely criticized the statement and has ruled that the question of his reincarnation is not for His Holiness to decide. Rather, it is the Chinese administration which has the final say over the afterlife of Tibetan Buddhism's supreme leader.  The atheistic Communist Party of China member and current head of head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee, Mr Zhu, in classic Orwellian double-speak says
"Decision-making power over the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, and over the end or survival of this lineage, resides in the central government of China"
While the Chinese government has spared no effort to denounce the Dalai Lama as a traitor, opportunist, "wolf in monk's robes"  and labels normally applied to dissenters of Communist Party of China, the Chinese officials are hopeful that, under covert official supervision and manipulation, the selection by a sacred ritual involving participation of senior monks, visiting sacred Lake and divining dreams would be successful and the 15th reincarnated Dalai Lama would be selected following the sacred tradition. The only break from the tradition  would be that the new Dalai Lama would be ensured to be much more loyal to the party and the State.

Notwithstanding  the interest Prime Minister Xi Jinping has recently shown renewed interest in dialectic materialism of Marx and Lenin, the Chinese administration is completely devoted to continuance of the post of the highest spiritual leader of Tibetians Buddhism and vehemently insists that the current Dalai Lama reincarnate and more importantly, that the final authority over it rest with the  Communist Party of China. Speculations are rife that the party may not stop with the Dalai Lama.

Sources indicate that a new department is being constituted, which when roughly translated means "Department of Afterlife and Hubris",  to deal with reincarnation and resurrection of other people who the party thinks would further embolden their rising military assertiveness in the region and the world.

Of course Marx and Angel and even Lenin are out of question given their dedication to materialism, their souls, if they exist might refuse to take part in such intellectual heresy. But Mao and his more pragmatic as well as ruthless aides are said to be first on the line to be reincarnated.  Sources also indicate that applications are also being accepted from living persons but strictly from the members of the party only, religious people have been asked not to apply as the state is firmly committed to atheism and shuns all religions from matters of the State.


Posted By danish Ahmed 12:00 AM

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Is Political Demagoguery Back In Jammu and Kashmir ?

Freshly sworn-in Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has created quite a furore by immediately expressing gratitude to Pakistan, Hurriyet and sundry militant for allowing the election to take place in relatively peaceful atmosphere and then went on to release a well known separatist, Masarat Alam  followed by drafting a list of secessionists and terrorists to be released from prison in the near future. Experts opine that these steps were taken by Mufti to send a message to people of the Kashmir valley that he had not surrendered to the "Hindu Nationalist" BJP. The BJP on its part tried going slow and responded strongly only when the voices of protest across the nation attained a deafening pitch. It now emerges that the paperwork clearing the release of Alam had been completed before the government was sworn in and when the state was under President's rule or directly under the rule of the Union Government. It was also the period when the BJP and the PDP were negotiating hectically for two months to form the coalition government. Opposition parties and BJP critics see the long leash given to Mufti as a desperate effort by the party to stay in power in the only Muslim majority state of India but I don't quite agree to this point of view. With a strong BJP government in centre and the conditions in Jammu and Kashmir, PDP needs it more than vice-versa.

Posted By danish Ahmed 6:00 PM

Sunday, March 8, 2015

India's Daughter: Culture Of Shame

I so want to stick my head into the sand like an ostrich to show support for the Indian government's move to ban the BBC documentary India's Daughter. But I also want to stick my head into the sand out of shame, shame of having becoming such a reactionary and paranoid society that when an outsider tries to offers us a mirror which shows a very deep rooted malaise in our society we suspect it a conspiracy to malign India's global standing and despite being world's largest democracy we try to join the league of countries like North Korea, Iran, China, Saudi Arabia and other authoritarian regimes where the government decides what is fit for the consumption by the people. But most of all I am ashamed with the hashtag #NirbhayaInsulted.

Posted By danish Ahmed 4:54 PM

Monday, March 2, 2015

Open Source Politics And Aam Aadmi Party (beta)

Who would have thought even five years ago that a political party with all India appeal could coalesce as if by magic out of social activism by several thousand volunteers and supporters scattered all over the planet, connected only by the tenuous strands of an Idea ?

The above paragraph is actually taken from Eric S Raymond's essay The Cathedral and the Bazaar, considered as the Bible of the Open Source Software Movement, the highlighted words are substitutions I have made to suit the present context; the original text is as follows:

Posted By danish Ahmed 1:00 AM

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Interstellar : A Journey Through Human Minds

Interstellar Poster

One of the criticism Interstellar faces resulting in being snubbed in awards ceremonies, is the lack of character development. Most science fiction have little room for character development which is justifiable given the nature of the plots, it would be difficult to incorporate elements of emotional states people go through in every day life while narrating a fast moving story based in a fictitious world where laws of science are bended to accommodate thrill. Yet, Nolan doesn't do such a bad job in Interstellar,since the story is one about mankind's bid for survival by leaving Earth for another habitable planet and theme is an epic space journey largely based on real science, the characters are archetypes rather than regular people. In absence of character development, Nolan bases his story on philosophy and bare emotions, both simple and deep as well as with all their complexities.

Posted By danish Ahmed 3:25 AM

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Interstellar - Explanation And Summary

 The very idea of science fiction implies a narrative which does not fully conform to established laws of physics but its not fantasy either. In other words, laws of science have been bent or simply ignored to accommodate the storyline. Interstellar is different as the science layer added over the story is based  on real science. Kip Thorne, a scientist and a leading authority on astrophysics, especially on concepts such as black holes and  wormholes, as consultant and executive producer definitely helped. However, this doesn't change the fact that the human part of the movie is as powerful as the scientific one. Nolan's unique story-telling style includes non-linear narratives but within a symmetrical structure,archetypical characters and awe-inspiring visual effects have left permanent mark in cinematic history. Interstellar is as much a voyage through the minds, beliefs and priorities of different characters as much as it about the interstellar travel to another Galaxy.

Posted By danish Ahmed 8:08 PM

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Scaling Up AAP Model And New Politics

AAP Supporters

Picking up the thread from my last post, Aam Aadmi Party's tremendous success in Delhi polls and speculations on its ability to deliver dominating the public discourse indicates that AAP may be Delhi based party, it is now a pan-Indian phenomenon. Support for AAP all across India and even abroad suggest a positive anti-establishment sentiment. Mostly, anti-establishment moniker is applied to subversive elements,especially the Naxalites and secessionist which seek to overthrow the state but AAP's anti-establishment posture is more about going back to the fundamental principles the Indian State was founded on and against the predatory system that has now become the establishment. During the high decibel negative campaign against AAP,the competitors charged the latter for negativism which is both ironic and somewhat ridiculous, the Delhi voters interpreted it as such. The fact is, AAP is heralding new politics which is difficult to understand when looking at it from traditional point of view.

The country it seems, is ready for the new politics but Arvind Kejriwal has ruled out going national now. Yet, AAP already has dedicated volunteers in all across the country. So the most pertinent  question would be , is AAP's model of new politics scalable ? If the party itself doesn't expand aggressively, can other parties emulate its model of politics and electioneering , especially regional parties, some of which even openly came out in support of AAP, even though the latter never solicited it.  Can political parties reconcile their respective ideologies with that of AAP ?  Does AAP even have a neatly defined ideology ?

Posted By danish Ahmed 6:50 PM

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Can AAP Live Up To Its Promises ?


Within minutes of Arvind Kejriwal taking oath as the chief minister of Delhi NCR, questions on his ability to deliver his promises have started coming up. Undoubtedly his speech would undergo a lot of scrutiny, dissections and continue to remain in national discourse, even if he has categorically ruled out another pan-India "misadventure".  Why then are so many people not from Delhi so interested in Delhi affairs while political upheaval in  "proper" and far more bigger states of Bihar and government formation issue Jammu and Kashmir are almost sidelined in mainstream and social media? The obvious answer is AAP and Arvind Kejriwal have brought in something to Indian democracy that defies the traditional political narrative and threatens it despite the Delhi CM's statement on not going national.

 A narrative is being built that AAP's victory is largely based on freebies it has offered. This is untrue and insult to mandate people of Delhi. What AAP has offered and vowed, is to bring systemic changes and to do away with practices that are unnecessary, corrupt and benefit crony capitalists rather than people. Since every party that has been in power has doled out freebies starting from cycles, TV, laptops and free electricity to sections of population for electoral dividend, it is but expected a lot of people would see AAP's promises as cheap populism. But is it ?

Posted By danish Ahmed 6:20 PM

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

When The Unstoppable Force Meets The Aam Aadmi


What kind of political leader calls a truly overwhelming mandate, scary ?
"The people of Delhi have achieved something spectacular. It is very scary, the kind of support the people of Delhi have given us". Obviously it has to be someone who doesn't lust for power, who doesn't look at victory as merely laurels heaped on him but also responsibility entrusted to him and whose first thought is not to take victory laps but how to fulfil them. AAP and Arvind Kejriwal have not only swept the Delhi Assembly polls but have shattered many myths, including the myth of political ideologies being rigid frameworks but which can also be discarded for opportunism or its euphemism, political expediency. I am not sure if AAP has an ideology but it certainly is an idea in itself. An idea clothed in simplicity, based on universal ethics and on a single minded pursuit of helping people, resolving their issues or at least addressing them.

 With the mainstream media going orgiastic over the historical win there is little I can say in this post, avalanche of comments, reactions from veteran analysts, social scientists, journalists dominate the discourse over television and print media and the Internet already. I haven't written a single post on AAP since nearly a year mainly because AAP doesn't follow traditional politics, it innovates brilliantly as it goes along, brilliant because the motivation and intent are simple and real. My last post on AAP continues to be as relevant as before, except this time, the political dividend returned adds a lot of credibility to it.  So I wouldn't have much to say except in retrospection. It is incredibly interesting to find that nearly everyone has called electoral result as rejection of BJP and Congress (of course, Congress calls it BJP's rout and BJP labels it Congress' decimation) , except the AAP  itself, which views it as a positive mandate based on work they did in the 49 days stint as government and as volunteers/ activists since then. And the promises they  have made.

Undoubtedly, AAP faces enormous challenges and its not about fulfilling promises made, especially with BJP government retaining some key department and agencies under its control. The fact that the seemingly unstoppable Modi wave meeting immovable Aam Aadmi resolve has left the former train-wrecked, one can expect minor road-blocks on AAP's path. I say minor because the scale of mandate by Delhi electorate backed by a pan-India consensus is something even the union government cannot undermine as brazenly as they have done before, without expecting fresh backlash. However, expecting the Sangh Parivar to take the defeat graciously, especially when they have come so close to fulfilling their destiny, would be an enormous blunder. If at all any political party is likely to learn from AAP's electioneering tactics, it is the RSS cadres but most likely adapt by perverting them. Of course, one cannot rule out Congress cadres resurging and doing the same, the grand old party's roots go deep and wide.

However, ideologies of the Sangh, Congress and the Left occupy the political Right-Centre-Left spectrum, they are confined by it, AAP transcends it. Therein lies the hope. In a truly aspirational India the politics of ghettoisation, communalization and crony capitalism might not work. Indian democracy has emerged stronger and much revitalized after a period of tense political churning.

Posted By danish Ahmed 12:00 AM

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Birdman: Catharsis Through Flames

Flames... Sacrifice... Icarus.. 
This is the second part of my review of the movie Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance) by Alejandro González Iñárritu but this can also be seen as a separate post, an interpretation based solely on the protagonist's perspective. If you have seen the movie, you are aware of  the ambiguity throughout the story and especially the ending which has started countless discussion threads. There are no spoilers ahead, what follows is much more than that  !!!

Riggan Thomson comes across as a tortured soul, unable to draw a line between genuine aspirations and inflated ego, between reality and his world of delusion. He is trapped so deep within his mind that everything he sets out to do is doomed to failure, even the attempt to kill himself.  Yet a part of him knows that his liberation is possible through understanding and clarity which would come at a great cost.

Posted By danish Ahmed 7:26 PM

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Birdman : Smashing The Fourth Wall

I have long been votary of the idea that movies are new books and include finest literature, politics, philosophy and science of our time. Two recent movies I have seen, reinforce my belief further. Ironically, these are the only new movies I have seen in a long time -  Interstellar and Birdman. While a single post on Interstellar would be grossly inadequate, a review of Birdman has to be brief.  Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) by director Alejandro González Iñárritu and starring Michael Keaton, Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis  and Andrea Riseborough is a dark comedy about a washed up actor whose career has been in a downward spiral after his role as the iconic superhero "Birdman" and who is now trying to resurrect his career by directing and acting in a Broadway play.

This also is my first movie review, I have written on movies before but they can be considered post-reviews, attempts to understand the underlying meanings (my bunch of posts on Interstellar are pending in the drafts folder). So why do I attempt to review Birdman?  Because it's a new kind of movie, the most innovative part of it for me is, while some movies have tried breaking the fourth wall (technique of addressing the audience directly)  Iñárritu and the crew smash the fourth wall in Birdman. It involves the audience completely by not providing any explanations, events unfold on the screen as a single 119 minutes shot of the delusional protagonist trying to make sense of his life through art.  It is not just a black comedy, in truth it's a multi-layered narrative, the screenwriters and the director leave it to the viewer to understand it as they wish to. So my interpretation cannot be right or wrong, it can only be subjective.

Posted By danish Ahmed 4:34 AM

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Ancient Indian Astronauts Assault on Indian Heritage

Brahmagupta
7th Century Mathematician
Were the ancient astronauts aliens from another galaxy or our ancestors in space suits heading towards another planet amongst whose inhabitants they would be known as their ancient astronauts ?  May be it is both, may be neither. The previous statement is quite consistent with ancient Indian philosophy which had place for every strain of thought, even the seemingly contradictory ones. This gave abundant space for inquiry and assimilation of new ideas.  Over the last few centuries this space was being gradually eroded by dogmatism, today it seems we are regressing. Are efforts to gain respect for Hindu Nationalism leading to embarrassment of genuine contributions of ancient Indian Civilization ? Should we be gloating about ancient aviators which cannot be proved or about Brahmagupta, the first mathematician to use zero as a number and who laid down rules for a number of mathematical calculations.


Posted By danish Ahmed 12:56 AM