This troll has a very long nose

Published in Outlook magazine, in the issue dated 21 January 2013.

IRONICALLY, the random arrest of people for tweets or Facebook postings made some of us happy—happy that, at last, citizens have started showing concern about internet censorship. But lock-up gates had to clang at night on the faces of a few people before we realised that, in our pompous democracy, the might of the state is Ctrl-Alt-Deleting opinion with such serious zeal. The arrests have been made under Section 66A of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008, notified in October 2009. This section makes punishable with up to three years’ imprisonment anything that is perceived as “grossly offensive” but does not set out the parameters of how to decide on that—even if we were to believe that could at all be done. Questions about these arrests are deflected: the government blames the police, the police says a vague law is the problem, and those who file the complaints that lead to such arrests say that they are free to seek enforcement of an existing law. Continue reading “This troll has a very long nose”

This Dirge Is Set To Dit Dit Dah Dah

For Outlook magazine, 29 July 2013

The other day I sent a telegram to H.M. Queen Elizabeth, c/o the British High Commission, New Delhi. RETURN KOHINOOR, I wrote. If it didn’t reach her, it is her fault. Her Majesty’s government gave us both the telegram and the Indian state that cannot do something as simple as deliver a telegram. Good that it’s dead.

Most of the telegrams I sent out to friends didn’t reach them, and this has been the experience of others too. One sent to me by a friend reached me three days later—so much for a medium whose raison d’etre is urgency. Another telegram a friend sent me reached me 10 days late—by ordinary post! Neither of them came with someone ringing the doorbell, so I could at least imagine the telegram era. They were just left outside. Continue reading “This Dirge Is Set To Dit Dit Dah Dah”

Tarun Tejpal’s spin doctors are trying to present him as victim rather than perpetrator

(First published in Kafila and Outlookindia.com on December 2013.)

Unlike Justice (Retd.) Ashok Kumar Ganguly, Tarun Tejpal’s defenders cannot cry innocence given that Tejpal has confessed to his crime, albeit disputing the degree of it. He has even confessed having told his colleague that suffering the sexual assault was the “easiest way of keeping your job”. Even his two decades old comrade Shoma Choudhury is unable to defend him beyond saying that he has two versions. Never mind Tejpal’s ludicrous retractions. Continue reading “Tarun Tejpal’s spin doctors are trying to present him as victim rather than perpetrator”