Monday, January 23, 2006

A brilliant blogger

About six months back there was a blog post that moved me so much that the moment I finished reading it I had to link to it. I do not read too many blogs, especially these days, and chances of my reading a blog that I hadn't already noticed aren't great. But once in a while you do come across blogs, that were not on your radar, via friends' e-mails, comments or site meter. And I noticed a blog today and I would like to share with you the great reading experience.

The blogger in question, Ashish Thakare, is not a new blogger at all. It's just that I never noticed his blog before. Some of you could be Ashish's readers as well. After all, he's there in the blogrolls of a few prominent blogs.

There are a lot of bloggers in India today who try to listen to those who do a stupendous job in articulating the concerns of the underprivileged. These bloggers are keen to project the findings of these offbeat journalists and academics. Names like Uma, Vikrum, Shivam, Abi, Pablo and Krish immediately come to mind. Then there are journalists and writers who do admirable work themselves and blog about it. Dilip, Annie and Sonia and several others, for instance. And Ashish is a great addition to this latter category.

I was randomly reading posts from Ashish's blog -- Seeking Equipoise, it's titled -- and the impression that I get is that the blogger is candid, concerned and gutsy. I'll end with a few quotes from the blog and will request you to check it out.

    Koteshwar Rao cannot stop laughing at the irony of his name. His name means ‘lord of crores’. In reality he is struggling everyday for a meal. His only source of income is the two acres he owns. Last two years have been hard for Koteshwar Rao -- his cotton crop failed to get him profits.

    ... ...

    There are many such ‘Koteshwar Raos’ in the Palnadu region who are inching towards their doom due a severe agrarian crisis.

    ... ...

    As Koteshwar Rao starts spraying pesticide on his farm, he hopes the approaching harvest season will fetch enough money for the ‘survival’ of his family. The farmers in Palnadu today are caught in this vicious circle of ruthless moneylenders, failed crops and government apathy.

[ Agrarian crises in Palnadu region of Guntur district.]
    The popular perception that while travelling in areas with naxal presence, one faces a threat from them. But the fact is that the Naxals will never cause harm to civilians, villagers; they will strike only the symbols of the state-predominantly the police. I would rather say that one feels threatened by the police. (I was sort of interrogated by an inspector as I was waiting for my team to pick me from Veldhurti mandal. He was told that some ‘outsider’ was talking to people and officials in the Mandal office; and that was reason enough to ask me questions indirectly through a panwallah. It was a bit ridiculous to have the inspector first asking the panwallah the question, who in turn asked me. It was a weird three way conversation which ended with me walking up to the inspector and asking him to speak to me directly.)

    The night passed by and I wondered whether every night in Durgi was just like this one.

[The long cold night.]
    ... the media now seems to have lost its direction. (I say this in spite of being a media person and put myself under the scanner). Take the Gurgaon episode, where the employees of the Honda factory went for a strike and then were mercilessly beaten up by the Haryana Police (rather the goons of the Corporate giants). As the state terror was being unleashed, the news channels were debating the impact that the strike will have on the investor confidence. The remote foreign investor was more important than the Indian laborer who was struggling for his legitimate rights. It was easy to condemn the laborers for the strike, but then we all forget the fact that when a laborer goes on strike he/she never has it easy. At stake are the daily wages, the basic question of feeding the stomach and whether the next morning will dawn or not.
[Disconnected from reality?]
    An interesting aspect of globalization is that the nation state is pressurized ‘from above’ and also ‘from below’. Pressure ‘from above’ means pressure from global institutions like (UN, WTO, IMF etc), MNCs, NGOs (e.g. Greenpeace) etc. Pressure ‘from below’ means that citizens of a state now are able to connect and identify with their counterparts in other states more easily and intensely. Technology has rendered geographical borders redundant.

    ... ...

    There cannot be a denial of globalization. It is a true phenomenon which affects every society and state. The main question lies in how the states use globalization to deliver good governance and achieve the goal of welfare state.

[Globalization -- how has it affected Nation-States.]
    All the debates regarding the Gurgaon episode speculated about its effect on the Foreign Investment Scenario in India. The entire galaxy of experts did show concern but for the big corporate giants.

    The question that arises is -- for whom does the state exist and function?

    I do agree that labor reforms and concerned issues need to be resolved. And I also feel that labor reforms should keep in mind the inevitable forces of globalization. But what is happening now in India is disgusting. The Gurgaon episode epitomizes the predicament that India faces. What will emerge out of it will play an crucial role in defining India’s development.

[Whose 'India' is it?]

    In my personal opinion Arundhati Roy is a ‘one-book wonder’ who has been hyped up a lot. I tried reading her novel The God of Small Things but found it too boring and then just left it. Some may find that I am being too judgmental about her but I regard her as a socialite and a rebel (word used in a negative connotation) who rebels for the sake of it and raises questions without really seeking to answer them.
[The Socialite of Small Things ...]

Ashish is just 21 and I understand from his blog that he's currently a student at the Asian School of Journalism. His posts and his style show a level of maturity that's very striking. I wish he's going to be consistent and comes up with many more posts of the same quality.

In one of his posts he wrote about his joining the ACJ.

    With dreams in my eyes, hope in my heart and a promise to work hard I make a move to a new destination; and I quote the lines by Robert Frost which always guide me: miles to go before I sleep, miles to go before I sleep!
My best wishes!


At 9:03 AM, Blogger Ramanand said...

Ashish graduated from Fergusson College, Pune last year (which makes him a college senior of Kunal S's). He was also part of the Pune quizzing group, which is how I came to know him.

At 9:10 AM, Blogger kuffir said...

palnadu is a new addition to naxal territory actually..the area primarily is in guntur of the best irrigated districts in the country for the last more than a hundred years . it is also a major centre of production of tobacco and chilly in the state (and the country). apart from paddy.. the naxals used it as a transit zone earlier, to escape from repression in telangana but now things have changed..the area now has active dalams.. i believe the the growth of naxalism in guntur, one of the most prosperous districts in the country, is not surprising when one considers(with the benefit of hindsight) the hold of two powerful castes on the politics and the resources of the district since independence.
thanks for the tip anand, you do find some interesting material to read.. i think i'll follow your suggestion and discover what the writer has to say.. i have a post in my blog about naxalism waiting as a draft for the last three months. i don't know when i'll finish it..meanwhile i am trying to find out who else is writing, at least in an indirect fashion about the subject of naxalism.. i think it's a funny coincidence that i found one just yesterday.. the blogger, i think is originally from chattisgarh but is now a student ( i guess) in bangalore.. his views are interesting too.. in case you'd like to read him (anoopsaha@blogspot).
thank you again.

At 11:15 AM, Anonymous Anand said...

Thanks Ramanand. That's nice to know.

Thanks Kuffir. I hope you put up your post soon. Yes, I checked Anoop's blog. Very interesting read. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Your comments on the first post there were interesting too! Picked up a lot of new words! Posturing leftist, p.sainath-is-god-type, shallow left groupie etc. Other than myself, who all were there in your mind? (Just kidding!)

At 4:20 PM, Anonymous Krish said...

Thanks Anand for highlighting the blog of Ashish. I just browsed through it and I am amazed. I need to have him in my blog radar.

kuffir, thanks for the info.

At 9:42 PM, Blogger uma said...

Picked up a lot of new words! Posturing leftist, p.sainath-is-god-type, shallow left groupie etc. Other than myself, who all were there in your mind? (Just kidding!)

maybe i should take a guess, anand? :))

At 10:03 AM, Blogger kuffir said...

no anand, i don't think you are a 'shallow left groupie'. like i said in anoop's blog i may differ with some of your views but i think your cocerns are genuine and heartfelt..
remember, you had written a post on your first experience of an elections a few weeks ago ? i felt a sense of deja vu when i read it..
we do have certain things in common..

At 10:24 AM, Blogger kuffir said...

and you were not in my mind either.. you are on the top of my blogroll because i agree with you on a lot of things including salman khan.. and it's great reading you even when i disagree.

At 7:10 PM, Anonymous Ashish Thakare said...

Hi Anand,
Thanks a lot for your generous remarks about my blog. It is truly gracious of you. Your post came as a pleasant surprise. Thanks a lot.

Regarding Kuffir, comment on Guntur, he is quite right when he says that it is one of the richest districts in the country. But this prosperity is limited only to the eastern part of the region. The western part -Palnadu is deprived. No schools, no health facilities- total failure of the state administrative machinery. And inspite of being close to Nagararjun Sagar Project, this region is water scarce.

At 8:31 PM, Blogger Dilip D'Souza said...

Anand, I think I'm a shallow-left groupie. Any suggestions on therapists who will turn me into a deep-left groupie?

At 4:29 AM, Blogger R.Nandakumar said...

thanks anand for pointing out a very brilliant blog


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