The samosa seller

I know a samosa shop near my erstwhile office. The vendor sells many samosas a day. I have wondered if he would make a few thousands of rupees every day. It is easily possible. He is a very hard-working man, who must work at least 12 hours a day, to earn what he does.

I am certain he will deal only with currency notes.

But no matter how much he earns selling samosas, unfortunately the scale of his enterprise is only that. By the lack of his own vision and the fear of the risks of scaling up, stuck forever being a samosa vendor.

He is not going to take a sabbatical, change career mid-way, he does not have Facebook or friends to guide him. He earns a lot but his quality of life is just that. He sits and stares at a big vessel with boiling oil every day.

I don’t even care if this man has stacks of 500s or 1000s lying around his home. At best, he probably could buy a house in some suburban locality.

I don’t have a problem if he evades taxes to earn a couple of lakhs on the side.

This man is actually small fry, and besides he makes great samosas.

I wanted the bigger crooks to be held to account. The power hungry politicians, the Corporate giant who feeds them money and power, the playboy millionaire who is sipping vodka in an UK mansion … bring them to account first.

Let the politicians clean their own act up first. Let BJP come ahead and announce it will stop receiving cash as party funds. Let them PayTm it. Let every one within BJP first open up their bank accounts, make all their transactions public.

Looks like Modi and Jaitley, like Trump, have started targeting the poorest first.

All deposits above Rs. 2.5 lakhs are being monitored by the Income Dept.

So are the Income Tax guys going to go to this samosa shop to go figure how many samosas he could possibly sell and how many clients could he possibly have?

Because looking at numbers won’t tell you shit about India.

Go eat a samosa, guys. Stop wondering who this scheme is going to hurt the most. I have absolutely no doubt where the pain is going to be most acute.

So stop telling me about the gains for now. Let us talk that a year later.

Addendum: *This is a story to highlight some things. I pay taxes. I am against corruption. I sometimes think about society, which I promise to stop soon.*

A letter to my rightwing, nationalist friends

Dear confused nationalist right wing friends of mine,

There are quite a few more than I imagined there would be.

And you guys are still my friends, no matter what absurd abuse you throw my way during course of conversations or debates we have.

First up, let me give you a few tips on the rules of engagement.

If you want to make a point, please make it on two very simple ground rules: do not abuse the person you are talking to. Now this may not be even so much as a direct abuse as it could be an under-handed compliment, say something like “intellectual” or “pseudo-secular” or “sickular”. Bear it mind that intellectual or secular are not bad words, and it is a self-defeating argument thereon. You are surely not going to be raising your children to be non-secular; secondly, please do not immediately attribute the unspoken and assume it as a given. Saying “Yakub should not have been hanged” does not mean the same as “give him state honours and make him a guest at Rashtrapati Bhavan”. If you have belittled yourself with such stupid arguments, neither me nor any sensible person will get down to such a level to keep the conversation going.

I would love to have more engaging conversations with the intelligent right wingers.

I am sure we can have more civil engagements, and agree to disagree without any abuse of any form.

Have a good day.

In response to Thulla’s letter

This anonymous ‘Open Letter by a Cop’ has been going viral on the Web recently and has become ready response by many of my friends who either dont have the time to apply themselves to construct their own point of view on why they support death penalty or are just plain lazy to do so.

Under normal circumstances, I wont even react to an anonymous letter because to me it shows a lack of conviction. But this letter is quite interesting because it seems to have swayed some of my friends.

Even after ignoring some of the trite abuses the writer makes at journalists and generally every one opposed to death penalty on the grounds that this is probably an emotional outburst, I still do not see any solid arguments he makes justifying Yakub’s death penalty.

But here goes my honest take on this.

Let us get one thing right straight away. Fighting terrorism to safeguard the nation and objecting to death penalty are two different things.

Yes, that is right.

Now if you are in an excited state of mind, with your fingers aching to type away something caused by a mind fog, let me put it again for you.

Opposition to death penalty does not equal a soft approach on terrorists.

Also, please, if you are a policeman or an armyman or someone belonging to any State constituted law enforcement agency, and if you are confronted with a threat to your life or the lives of those that the law has empowered you to protect, go ahead and use the best possible means to discharge that duty. Even if it means, shooting right between the eyes a terrorist or anyone intending to cause that harm to our nation or our citizens.

But things are not so black and white as it is in a field situation, once the said terrorist is apprehended, by force or by guile or by surrender, and is housed in a State prison.

Correct me if I am wrong, but prisons are correctional facilities first and foremost. A prisoner, whatever his crime may be, is a person whose threat is to be negated within a prison and if there is an opportunity for him to reform, it has to be provided.

The very State instruments that I expect to be even ruthless while defending its territorial rights I expect to show a great degree of benevolence while treating prisoners. Of course, there are going to be the rarest of rare cases where you one might find the justification to kill a person by way of death penalty.

But what bothers me is the “rarest of rare” case that most people refuse to talk about. If the rarest of rare cases might prompt the call for death penalty, then we might even have that rarest of rare cases where we might get it wrong.

To me, that possibility is disturbing.

People treat empathy as either a weakness or a strength.

But some mistakes cannot be corrected ever.

Also, there is this sweeping remark mostly from right wingers that those who are arguing against death penalty are waking up only now. It really does not matter when one wakes up, as long as one wakes up.

Personally, I have been talking about this a long time now. I have shared George Orwell’s brilliant essay ‘A Hanging’ several years back, and I dare say this is one issue where I have agreed unflinchingly with The Hindu and its edits over the years. (It is one thing that I was employed there but I don’t necessarily agree with someone or something every single time and those who know me really well know this.)

Also, this whole argument that the “intelligentsia” are necessarily elitists simply because they work out of an air conditioned office is so absurd, especially coming from an anonymous writer. It is not just this writer, but I find increasingly plenty of my friends being ruthless in their swipes against journalists in general and against the profession itself.

Most journalists I know just report. For every journalist who writes an opinion piece, there are hundreds that just report facts or events and do their jobs with an unreal sense of idealism.

(There is no denying that this new age online media driven trend of opinion pieces is leading to a lot of half-baked writing. But I would still say Indian journalism is in a state of flux. But this is a huge topic in itself and one of the things I will be blogging about soon.)

Thanks for your time.