Tuesday, May 23, 2006

other people's writing

Matthias Matussek writes a nicely sarcastic piece in today's Guardian on England's obsession with Nazis.

I loved living and working in London and waxed lyrical to my German readers about everything from the Royal Shakespeare Company and John le Carré to polo tournaments and Indian restaurants. But I wrote about the country's strange and ghastly side, too. Namely, your insatiable appetite for sex scandals and even more insatiable appetite for Nazi folklore and German-bashing.

David Plotz' very interesting Blogging the Bible project, in Slate.

Chapter 3

The Lord—not so good at follow-through. In Chapter 2, He is clear as He can be: He commands man not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and bad: "for as soon as you eat of it, you shall die." No wiggle room there. You shall die. But then when Eve and Adam eat the fruit of the tree a few verses later, do they die? Nope. God punishes Eve with "most severe … pangs in childbearing" and curses Adam by making the soil barren. Any parent knows you have to follow through on your threats, or your children will take advantage of you. God makes a vow He can't keep—or if He did, He would undo all his good work. So, He settles instead for a half-hearted punishment that just encourages His children to misbehave again. Is it any surprise that we sin again? And again? And again? All the way down to the present day. You can call this "original sin," but maybe it's just lax parenting.

And via Vivek, Satish Deshpande and Yogendra Yadav in today's Hindu on reservations.

It is even more shocking that students from our very best institutions are willing to re-enact the horribly inappropriate forms of protest from the original anti-Mandal agitation of 1990-91. As symbolic acts, street-sweeping or shoe-shining send the callous and arrogant message that some people — castes? — are indeed fit only for menial jobs, while others are 'naturally' suited to respectable professions such as engineering and medicine. However, the media do seem to have learnt something from their dishonourable role in Mandal I. By and large, both the print and electronic media have not been incendiary in their coverage, and some have even presented alternative views. Nevertheless, far too much remains unchanged across 16 years.

O RLY? What amazes me about this piece, which seems really to just be laying the facts on the table, is one of maybe three pieces I've read - all incidentally in The Hindu - that haven't presumed that a) reservations are the work of Satan and b) everyone in India automatically assumes a). The whole week I spent in Bombay I was confronted by a barrage of newspaper and telly channel opinion that didn't even question the motives of the protests everyone was scrambling to cover in excruciating detail. I'm all for holding the government responsible for vote-bank politics, but I draw the line at sucking this up.

And really, in the end, at what price starvation? Those med students fighting for the future of their young open-quota brothers and sisters are still going to have to live with the failure of their brief burst of unthinking idealism (would it be wrong to wonder if there is any other kind?). The bottom-of-the-pecking-order disadvantaged who haven't benefitted from reservations in the last sixty years are, at a guess, still going to be screwed over. It is entirely possible that in five hundred years' time, Ram Vilas Paswan, as he claimed during Mandal-I, will be worshipped as a god.

You were sayin' something about fucking with the system? (But surely it likes it after all these years?)

current musix: patti smith - gloria


  1. Aervir (from LJ)12:40 am


    Thanks for the link to the Guardian article! I was much amused.

    But maybe I'm just a tad spiteful due to every time I, as a "kraut", had to cringe at German-bashing headlines in the British tabloid press while queuing at Sainsbury's...

  2. the broad assumption behind the whole 'merit should reign' argument is that present system is fair, and that the reservations are sops given to some, at the expense of the others.

    this logic implies that therefore, under the existing system, some people are just not smart enough to compete, which is why they are lagging behind. which is but thinly disguised casteism.

    i mean, 1/4th of our population appopriating 3/4th of the seats in higher educational inbstitutions either imples aninherent superiority in some castes, or a genuine inequality of opportunities.

    one only has to look at orkut communities which 'discuss' this issue (intelligently, of course).
    an excerpt and the relevant link (via Roswitha):
    Shoaib Akhtar should not bowl fast balls to our OBC player.
    Bowlers should bowl maximum speed of 80 kilometer per hour to an OBC player.
    Any delivery above this speed should be made illegal.

    Also we should have reservation in Olympics.
    In the 100 meters race, an OBC player should be given a gold medal if he runs 80 meters.


  3. but then again the consensus amongst the youth is overwhelming.
    (i never felt older than i do at the moment.)
    some of them even using Rang de Basanti as an inspiring example.
    quite scary!

  4. sorry. messed up with the link.

    here it is again

  5. @ aervir: i sympathise! and i hope you guys beat the hell out of them in the world cup, you fritzes you. :)

    @ v-boy: very glad you blogged about this. :)