Thursday, September 26, 2002

Transforming into the MASSIVE
My new article is posted on the Satya Circle. I basically am writing about this burgeoning South Asian culture that is growing both inside and outside India. While I focus more on the diaspora, I have begun to think how interesting cultural shifts are. Many of the immigrants who have come to the U.S. from India, for example, in the 70's have this convoluted vision of what India is. Mainly, and this is a real difficult change for people to accept, but many of these immigrants have a nostalgic view of India, that India has remained unchanged since they left, 20+ years ago.

But I digress, my article focuses on the shifts, and then on the Asian Massive Tour. An electronic musical collective, full of electric tablas, cd decks, computers, and turtables, among other things, that dlurs the line between South Asian sounds, and modern dance music. For me, this sound is brilliant. The core participants of the tour, are DJ Cheb i Sabbah, Karsh Kale, and the New Delhi duo, the MIDIval PunditZ, comprised of Gaurav Raina and Tapan Raj. I had an opportunity to speak with the artists last Saturday, and wanted to thank then publicly for their time. I thought we had a really interesting conversation, and it added a lot to the essay.

Links to all these sites, as well as the album reviews I did for Karsh's and Cheb i Sabbah's albums can also be found at my story on the Satya Circle.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Reckless and Idiotic?
I am reading with interest much of the coverage of the attack on Akshardham. Particularly, I am curious to see what the response from members of the Sangh Parivar will be. First I want to point out, how interesting it is to me that both L.K. Advani and A.B. Vajpayee were able to go to Gandhinagar immediately, while following Godhra it took Vajpayee, at least, a month before he made it to visit the victims of the carnage there. Also, interesting and scary story in todays Times of India. I used to be hesitant to label groups like the VHP as militant, extremist, and fundamentalist. In fact, I still hesitate to use the word fundamentalist, because the VHP does not beleive in the fundamentals of Hinduism. Extreme, and militant, and even terrorist are applicable however. To me, the VHP's religion is that of communalism, and the politicization of religion solely for political gains. Why hasn't the VHP been booked under POTA yet?

Now, this planned Bandh, a protest designed to "channelize feelings that could otherwise erupt in violence," as VHP leader Surendra Jain described it, will only foment communal conflict. Who are they protesting against, the Indian government, the Pakistani or American government, Muslims? No one even knows who was behind the attack yet!

"In a statement, VHP international general secretary Praveen Togadiya blamed the "hypocritical indignation of those leaders who expressed shame for the post Godhra violence for triggering the attack on Akshardham and the carnage that followed."
Togadiya warned that "the perpetrators of such crime as well as the political forces which support them will face Hindu retribution."

What exaclty is Hindu retribution, more violence, in what, the name of Hinduism? I really beleive people like Jain and Togadiya need to reevaluate their religious foundations, or perhaps seek some mental health counseling.

Surender Jain said: "Most Muslims in India support jehad and in doing so are helping Pakistan’s designs." He also described madarrsas as "terrorist factories" and criticised political parties for "insulting the Hindus of Gujarat" in their "pseudo-secularist attitude" which encouraged incidents like Akshardham.
At the same time the VHP resolutely refused to accept that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s controversial utternaces could have triggered the attack.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

The Growing Tide of Hindu Fundamentalism
I was reading today many articles about the attack on Akshardham in Gandhinagar, India--the capital of Gujarat. I found it quite odd, that the Times of India, on their webpage, had listed a warning of sorts to the citizens fo Gujarat. In a separate box, entitled TOI COMMENT the editors, I assume, of the TOI advise the people of Gujarat to "Stay calm and be alert. That is the only suggestion that could be given to the people of Gujarat at this point in time. Given Gujarat’s recent tendency of flaring up on communal lines, maintaining one’s sanity and not getting provoked are of paramount importance. The attack is definitely a body blow for the government, which has been focussing on combating terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. The condemnable attack is perhaps timed to US diplomat Christina Rocca’s visit to New Delhi."

I am sure they, much like the rest of India fears the revival of communal violence that marred Gujarat and India from February through June of 2002. This box attached to the story, and more so this article by Arundhati Roy in the Nation magazine has made me think of the current religio-political climate that has erupted in India in recent years. It seems that Hinduism is beginning to go the way of the Abrahamic traditions and begin to prosthelytize to others on the merits of Hinduism. To me, one of the most interesting things about this religion, is that Hindus did not push their religion on others, or try and convert others to join this faith. Slowly this is changing and one must ask the question why.

It seems that this rise is happening to counter the growing tide of both Islamic and Christian fundamentalist movements (more so, I would say Islam than Christianity), has contributed to the increasing militantcy of the Hindu's in India and around the world. I guess if one wanted to, they could make a jihadi comparison to the Bhagavad Gita--Arjuna, at the behest of Lord Krishna fighting against even his guru. Despite this, one of modern HInduism's greatest assets was its ability to be tolerant. What saddens me is that many of India's Hindu's have lost this vision. This not only saddens me, it scares me.

As Roy writes in her article,

"As many as 100,000 people, driven from their homes, now live in refugee camps. Women were stripped and gang-raped, and parents were bludgeoned to death in front of their children. In Ahmedabad, the former capital of Gujarat and the second-largest industrial city in the state, the tomb of Wali Gujarati, the founder of the modern Urdu poem, was demolished and paved over in the course of a night. The tomb of the musician Ustad Faiyaz Khan was desecrated. Arsonists burned and looted shops, homes, hotels, textile mills, buses and cars. Hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs.
Across Gujarat, thousands of people made up the mobs. They were armed with petrol bombs, guns, knives and swords. Apart from the VHP and Bajrang Dal's usual lumpen constituency, there were Dalits (untouchables) and Adivasis (indigenous peoples), who were brought in on buses and trucks. Middle-class people participated in the looting. (On one memorable occasion, a family arrived in a Mitsubishi Lancer.) The leaders of the mob had computer-generated lists marking out Muslim homes, shops and businesses. They used mobile phones to coordinate the action. They had not just police protection and police connivance, but also covering fire. The cooking-gas cylinders they used to burn Muslim homes and establishments had been hoarded weeks in advance, causing a severe gas shortage in Ahmedabad.

Like her, I am a secularist, and yes, I condemn the burning of the train compartments at Godhra. But, I condemn even more, the massive violence perpetrated in REVENGE by Hindu mobs against their fellow Indians. I condemn the inaction of the Indian government in allowing the violence to occur. I condemn L.K. Advani and the RSS and the rest of the Sangh Parivar for attempting to excuse the mobs' actions. There is a climate of hate growing in India, a climate that needs to cool, or else, the secularism that has grown to be a pillar of Indian democracy, will turn into the intolerance that was seen in Afghanistan.

Monday, September 23, 2002

September 11th Compensation
It has been too long since I have last blogged, but I have been extremely busy with school and other article writing. But, over the past weeks, I have been itching to express myself. So, despite not having too much time right now, I just want to pose this question. The anniversary of September 11, has just passed, and there has been some discussion of funds that were raised for the victims and the victim's families. Well, I was alerted to this article from the Satya Circle website, and when I read it, I was kind of saddenned. Entitled, Victims of Hate, Now Feeling Forgotten it is an article discussing the issue of 9/11 hate crime victim's families, and how they are coping with their September 11th loss. I wonder if these families too should be offerred some monetary support/compensation for their losses as well.

Robert E. Pierre writes,

"His motive for the crime -- less than a month after the terrorist attacks -- wasn't robbery, but retribution. Stroman said he wanted "to retaliate on local Arab Americans, or whatever you want to call them."
Patel, 49, was an immigrant from India. His murder was one of more than 80 hate crimes -- against Arabs, Muslims and others whose appearance made them targets after the terrorist attacks -- that authorities have prosecuted in the past year.
"If it wasn't for September 11, my husband would still be here," Alka Patel said from behind her counter. "Why shouldn't our families be treated the same? I feel like we all have the same story."

I am curious to see if any fund was set up for these victims?

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

UK Popstars Tryout

If you enjoyed popstars, you will really enjoy this clip. I cannot stop watching it and showing it to co-workers. Thanks to my friend Anand Desai for forwarding the link.

Popstars Clip--West Punjab

This should open up directly on your media player.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Racism in America and September 11 redux

A reader of my most recent column, Paul A'barge seems to have taken issue with my article in the Satya Circle discussing racism in American post September 11. While I don't like to directly comment on other people's comments of my writing, mainly b/c I feel everyone has a right to their own opinion, I think Mr. Abarge has blurred what my column was trying to achieve.

A'barge states, "However, how close to the truth do you have to be to acknowledge that the frequency of the occurrence of these incidents is virtually trivial in America. And, that frequency is even more trivial compared to the frequency of racist incidents in other countries, not least of which is India, where entire trainloads of people are attacked and murdered because of their religion. Or England, where people will call you "wogs" to your face?"

First of all, my column in no way compared freedoms or discrimination in America to that in any other country. And yes A'barge is right, India does from time to time engage in race riots, and I will stipulate that sure people in England call others "wogs" from time to time (what is a wog?). And, you know what you forgot, that until 1965, there was a quota on immigration to the United States, primarily based on peoples color; Rubin (The Hurricane) Carter was in jail for a crime he did not commit until 1985 because of his skin color; Rodney King was beat to a pulp by a bunch of police officers because of his skin color. Balbir Singh Sodhi was gunned down in Arizona because he wore a Turban. South Asians and Arabs to this day are called Camel Jockey's and Sand Nigger's because of their color. But, I digress as I really am not trying to compare the status of race relations in the United States to that in England or India. It really has nothing to do with my column.

A'barge goes on to say in this part 1 of 7 tirade,
"Here, in America, within literally hours of being attacked in the horrendous opening battle of America's current war against Islamists, the American President was on TV urging his countrymen to refrain from racist acts. Literally hours. Find me another culture on this planet, anywhere that can match by one tenth the willingness of America to fight racism.
You want an excuse for racism, Mr Gandhi? Keep calling us racists. "

Well, what I can tell you is this, it seems Mr. A'barge assumes that I am not an American, which is indeed a wrong assumption. I love America, I just want to help it improve! He also says this war is a war against Islamists, when I, much like the rest of the world am under the assumption that this war is against terrorrism? One fact that does not come into the public sphere too often in America is that less than 1/3 of all terrorist attacks in America have been conducted by people of Arab origin. He also falls into that trap, the us. vs. them trap that I do talk about in my article, both in this posting and in a following one.

Finally, I would just like to say two things to Mr. A'barge, never defend a point using a column by Ann Coulter, or someone elses opinion on a web log. It just doesn't cut it. Secondly, in response to A'barge's statement querying, "How can you be a guest in a foriegn country and behave this way? Why should we not equate this with the attempt to portray America as a den of bias? What are you doing here and whose side are you on?"
Sir, Never ASSume that someone, even if his name happens to be Gandhi, Waqar, or even Palit, that he is not an American. Remember those commercials, well, "I am an American."

If you would like to check out all of his rantings, and the rantings of others, go to the Satya Circle message board.

The Satya Circle has presented four (yes, including mine) really engaging articles to commemorate September 11, dealing with issues ranging from racism, to American Unity, to 9/11 as a defining moment, and finally a quite poignant article by Dave Sidhu on wearing a turban after September 11. I also want to welcome Suman Palit to the Satya Circle, his column, like his blog is thought provoking, to say the least.

Friday, September 06, 2002

Asian Massive Tour

A great idea has gotten even better. New York based DJ Karsh Kale, SF based Cheb i Sabbah, and New Delhi-ites, the Midival Punditz are going on tour to highlight this new movement of "Asian Massive" culture. Despite the fact that all of these DJ/Musicians combine electronic music with Indian sounds, all of them create totally different music. Kale's, Sabbah's and now the Punditz's music is released by the San Francisco based Six Degrees Records.

Racism in America and September 11

My most recent article has been posted on The Satya Circle. This article is based slightly on a posting I did a while back called Blowback and the War on Terror. My main point, or what I think I wanted to achieve was this: I think many immigrants, especially those of color, are just standing by and allowing discrimination veiled under the guise of September 11. I also wanted to highlight some of the injustices, or just crazy actions that officials have done, supposedly as a result of September 11. Obviously I don't think everyone in America is racist, or that all those in America that are actually racist, know they are, but I think this is an issue, a whole year after the fact, that still needs to be addressed. As always, comments are moer than welcome, either on this blog, or on the Satya Circle message boards.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Dr. Dre and Truth Hurts: Updated
It seems Dr. Dre and Aftermath Records are being sued by Saregama India (Ok this hapenned in July, but I just found it today, after doing some investigating) for copyright infringement. I have been wondering for some time if Dre actually got permission for the Lata track, especially since without it, the single "Addictive" by the artist Truth Hurts, would really not be anything special. Actually, I think the song would be pretty horrible.

The message below was found on Dr. Dre's website. I am glad they are giving full credit now to Lata and the film "Jyoti," but Dr. Dre's website has succumbed to one of my pet peeves. If you look at the text below, they call Lata a "Hindu" singer, and while she may follow the Hindu religion, she sings in the HINDI language. There is indeed a difference, as it is like saying so and so is a Roman Catholic singer, or a Muslim singer. I also have no idea how Dr. Dre thought he could get away with sampling from the Songstress of India without giving credit to her. There are too many desis in the world to even attempt to do such a thing.

" Dre being sued for copyright infringement Posted Monday, July 15, 2002 by AftermathMusic
Back in late May attorneys for Saregama India Limited filed a lawsuit against Dr Dre's label Aftermath Entertainment and it's parent label Interscope Records for copyright infringement, claiming that Dr Dre Illegally sampled pieces from a Indian movie soundtrack. The song sampled was "Thoda Resham Lagta Hai," by Hindu singer Lata Mangeshkar, from the movie "Jyoti." Dre's legal counsel said that they couldn't find the original copyright holders."

While I am glad that the Desi's will be getting a piece of the pie, I think it is kind of ironic that Indians are suing for copyright infringement.