Vantage point

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Better Comments Without Comments

In this post, Amit Varma talks more about why he will continue to run a comment-less blog. He also quotes me as having said that having such a blog is relaxing.

It certainly is. But there is another interesting aspect of this de-comment-isation that I had not accounted for. The quality of feedback that I have been getting after having removed comments is a lot higher now. Now, since people have to go through the effort of actually writing a mail to me, I think a lot more thought goes into it. So I don't get the perfunctory "I agree!!!" or "I disagree!!!" type comments, but well-thought-out mails which are a lot meatier.

Here are excerpts from some such select mails -

P.K responds to the "It's just a book" post -
Let them manage their affairs.No muslim is going to follow your advice.If he says a word against Quran then rest of his life will be spent defending himself.Hindus and christians are pretty liberal.You can say anything against their religion.But muslims have cleverly used Quran to promote fuedalism.What they practice-in the name of Quran/Shariet is different than what Quran preaches. Problem is more acute in India.We have most regressive Muslim Personal laws than any other Muslim Majority Islamic countries. Whether its due to Minority Complex or promoted by Votebank Politics is debatable. In last 1 week two petitions have been filed in Supreme Court against Dowry and Child Marriages.There are Laws in place against the practice of Dowrey & Child Marriage.But has anyone filed PIL against "Triple Talaq" which has no Quaranic sanction, and even AIMPLB is quite about it in Model Nikahnama. Even so called Firebrand leaders like Shabana Azmi and Javed are sielent !! They will say that the Law should come from within community.But then did anyone take refrandum before passing Dowry and Child Marraige act? Prevelance of Dowry indicates that in secret Ballot people might actually support Dowry!!.But than Thats Democracy for you.

Responding to "Bombay - Still Safe", someone who goes by the name "Vague A" writes
Quite agree with you.
"there is not a strong logical link between incidents of rape, and howsafe the city is for a woman"
I think the logical link (and an inherently unquantifiable one) is between the incidents of 'eve-teasing' rape and general misbehaviour to women, and how the people in that city react. This can be two things. -If a high profile crime against a woman occurs (for whatever reason- heinous crime, high profile person etc), most communities are likely to be up in arms
about it. The Marine Drive case in Mumbai, the diplomat and Medical student cases in Delhi...these are bound to be talked about, debated with much indignation. So while they give a glimpse into human psyche they do not, for me, reflect the 'character' of the city.

-What possibly does reflect this character is the way the city reacts or not, 'on the streets'. Like you say, if a woman (and forget reasonably attractive, *any*woman)can walk on the streets without thinking twice about it, that is a clear pointer to the place's character. If a woman knows, as she walks or commutes ina city, that she is being looked or leered at, could be teased or harassed (even if not to the extent of molestation or rape) at any given time...AND that she should not expect too much support from people around her, now that shows the place has no character.

If a woman can know that taking a local or cab at midnight in Mumbai is (mostly) safe, then the city is safe. But if a woman in Delhi knows that educated, 'well-off' men in big cars could slow down and roll the windows down when she is walking on the road at 7 in the evening; if a woman in Delhi knows that a car full of guys could follow her auto rickshaw at 9 in the orning, doing 'nothing' except leering and following her- knowing that this happens all the time, so nobody will do anything to them-, then...then, that plain sucks.

PS- I have lived all my life in Delhi, I love it. But this one thing really really frustrates me, infuriates me, depresses me. (and I am not a woman)

Sandeep Kumar offersan alternative solution to the Maharashtra power crisis -
i have reading all you mumbaikars blogging about the power situation in maharastra outside bombay of course!!! i wonder whether your netas apart from banning dance bars and asking girls to dress "PROPERLY" have they been thinking about cogeneration /biomass electricity (please dont think that netas in karnataka are from heaven all are land grabbers from deva gowda to d k shiva kumar)i been asking this because in karnataka we have only in district ,mandya where sugar production takes place in large scale in maharastra where Mr sharad pawar is sugar baron i am told , a lot of waste coming out of it can be used to generate electricity visit my blog if you care to know more about this

P.K also has some thoughts on Anantashram closing down -
I am a guju brought up in girgaon.You are wrong in assuming that sena has influence in mumbai only.Today in Mumbai marathis are in Minority & Sena has hardly any influence.On the contarary its growing in Konkan,Vidarbha and Marathwada.
Problems of Anantashram are from the mindset of Marathi businessmen who refuses to adapt to changes.Those who do are successful.There are marathi restaurants which are very successful.Anantashram was and still is a "Khanaval" where chakarmani who has come from konkan for job -leaving behind his family there- would eat his daily meals.Thats why it has no frills, but is very affordable..Who will have a restaurant in Khotachi Wadi? ( away from main road,in a lane so narrow that even Maruti 800 will be difficult to take.) Three decades ago there were quite a few hotels like Anantashram in Girgaum,Lalbaug,Parel area. But with increasing popularity of sea food in Mumbai they took a leaf from Mahesh Lunch Home and Trishna,and started catering to this clientle.Anantashram did not change for this new clientle.Anantashram is not for you and me-it never was-it is for that marathi manus from Konkan who returns from job at 6 p.m.and is standing in queue for his affordable meal.Today 'that'marathi manus is slowly disappearing from girgaon,lalbaug,Parel area.They have shifted to slums of Mumbai and many have brought their families as well.Anantashram can survive nay thrive if it caters to the new clientle but then it will have to abandon its present clientle.

Hetunandan and a lot of other people mailed me saying Kannadigas are actually a minority in Bangalore -
This is regarding your post on "Why Anantashram deserves to go out of business" From what I remember, Kannadigas in Bangalore are actually a minority. A google search gave me the following (see the statement about the languages spoken). While this doesn't seem to be an official website(a thorough search might find one), the numbers do look approximately correct.

Indrajeet Kanaglekar speaks about both the issues -
A few points:
Do you think Hindu is a religion which follows certain texts. I think not. I dont think we are supposed to follow Geeta, vedas etc, and if we dont follow that we go to hell etc.. Because Hinduism is not a monotheistic religion (One can argue that Hinduism is more of a philosophy than a religion or a amalgamation of pagan religions that have survived over 3000 years). The point being its easy for us to ignore stuff because we dont assume that we will go to hell if we dont follow certain rules.

Regarding Christians, most of the western europe is secular, they dont believe in religion (except italy and may be a few other nations.. but france, germany, ..scandenevian natiosn are not religious). If I talk to my friends from sweden, france etc, noone goes to church, and there is a distinct separation. They are surprised by the religious influence on american polity. BTW, another funny thing in the US is, when they talk about God etc, they assume the christian way. that is very unlike India!!
There are laws being passed to take out evolution from texts, to stop stem cell research and stuff like that.. its ridiculous!

In US its peculiar. I think majority population in the metros, dont buy into bibles etc or have reformed views (BTW, US is MUCH more religious than Europe). But the redneck states still believe in bibles. and so do a lot of hispanics. And they do believe in not using contraception, and abortion, and gay rights etc.. all that bible preaches. They still are far from "reformed" ..educated or not.

Religious people put their faith in something. Once they start believing in that, they have to work backwards. i.e. if you believe Quran is right, you will work backwards to justify every action because you cant argue faith with logic and science. Now a lot of people who call themselves christians etc. still to a large extent believe in "God" but not necessarily in the preaching of bible etc. For them its easy to rationalise and act accordingly. But it really depends on how much faith you entrust in certain document/s. And this is a problem with most religions, especially the monotheistic ones.

I havent read Quran, Bible or Geeta completely. So, I cant comment on them with authority. But I believe that some of your conclusions are very simplistic.


Regarding Marathi:

I think you are confusing between orthodox marathi people and support for shivsena. You are right in that support for shivsena stems from fear of outsiders. But orthodox marathi people are not in bbay. The shivsena supporter in bbay supports them for the supposed personal benefits they will have.. not for the love for orthodox marathi traditions. marathi people in dadar, dombivali etc might vote for shivsena. That might make them narrow minded but not orthodox maharastrians. These guys are predominantly in sadahiv peth, narayan peth, etc and to some extent in parla east. thats the only area in bbay i can think of.

I am just trying to distinguish between the 2. I think you are mixing them up.

Vedant Patwardhan shines some light on the divorce laws under the Sharia -
Regarding ur post on the model nikahnama...while i agree with u in principle, i wanted to add that divorce initiated by a woman is permitted by shariah...and it has quranic sanction as well. of course, divorce for a woman is not as easy as it is for a man. to divorce her husband, a woman needs him to assent to this. if he does not, then she can go to shariah court, and if there is good reason, she is granted divorce.

Sandeep Kumar thinks there is an overkill of Indo-Pak cricket these days -
I had made a vow to cleanse myself of cricket after the last ODI in delhi, last time i did that was during olympics watched even on much malinged DD i watched phelps swim hicham al gurroej run of course rathore shoot funily enough then there was some lousy tournament india was playing but today i have think about cricket again unlike the indian media which is more concerned about shoiab akthar than about champions league wat nonsense !!!! i read india might tour pak again in jan please dont get me wrong but honeslty cricket in india is sellers market not buyers else how can you explain 2 teams playing each other 3 series in 3 years talk abt over kill i dont know when india is going to play new zealand engalnd south africa but keep on playing pakistan we are going to other extreme playing as often as possible coz dont know when terror attack might happen and series is called off in future so now play 100 times a year ideally like ashes play once in 18-24months so charm is there but of course media will be more than happy especially electronic media coz then they can rope in sponsors who have priced out from "official sponsor tag" and make disgusting shows like "MATCH KI MUJRIM"(mujrim for hindi i know is criminal ) maybe next time they will announce who got shazaye- eh-mouth (death sentence )

Manish Manke lends support to the conspiracy theoryangle of the power crisis -
If you recollect that when helmets were being made compulsory there was a rumor that CM or his relavtives had a helmet factory. Similarly , probably some of the guys might be having a factory to make inverters or generators and these are the guys who are cashing in on these. 3-4 yrs back a 550KVA locally made inverter costed 3-4K but now they cost around 9-10K

Ranjit Nair agrees with the Sena-Taliban comparsion -
I like your duck analogy :).

Its eerie that my roomie and I just completed the 'Sena-Taliban comparison' argument a week ago. You've just reiterated
my points (and more) in your post.

I was watching 'Schindlers List' recently, and it struck me how similar the Sena and co. are to the Nazis...the clinging to old & archaic values, racist attitudes - its all there. Thakeray (and Modi, my pet hate) have even reiterated this in public interviews (what class our leaders possess, wah !!) - imagine somebody being proud on being called
a me.

I am not sure about things improving...although there are plenty of people who oppose such moral policing, there seems to be no updates to the law - and hence the police can still stop me walking with my girlfriend on a beach, if they have a mind to. Thatz a downer for me...hopefully some SC judge will have the guts to pass a ruling on moral policing soon..

To end on a high..this rapist chap who was 'willing' to do penance by marrying the gal he raped (and clawed the eyes out of)...not only was he turned down by the gal in no uncertain terms, he received a life sentence as well...hope he rots in jail.

While Vedant says -
I agree with your views on the Shiv sena. The Taliban and MMA at least have very sound religious reason for their beliefs. The Shiv sena does not even have that. The much bandied term used is the rather annoyingly vague 'corruption of Indian culture'.