Hark The Rich Bitch Speaks

3 Dec

Late last night, I received a forwarded email that contained this piece and an individual’s response to it. I recommend skimming through the piece before you read any further. The individual who responded to it is a friend of the acquaintance who sent it to me, one Rasika Gaikwad, who wrote the following:

skimmed thru the article….in a harried/hurried way
but i totally agree
i mean the whole thing is hyped because its bombay and the rich died
not to belittle anybody’s grief, but if the affluent and the
educated speak out only when their tail is on fire, this country has no hope

ULFA is a terrorist organisation…..which has caused enough mayhem
who cares abt the north-east problem though?????????????????
hell…i m sure way more than 200 people die in police custody each year
and many of them innocent… they are just poor and generally muslims
fucking hell…. i means lakhs and lakhs of femles infants are killed every year in India…

9/11 killed 3000 americans..and these people (english spouting, drug lapping zombies jolted by a fire at their favourite hotel) extol america’s reaction???
it fucking bombed the wrong country and killed thousands of children…
bush continued to pal up with the bin laden clan for oil….
is this wht we r supposed to learn from america?????

india loses so many more lives to terrorism than any other country except Iraq and we r not even at war…….
military men at the border face fire routinely

point is….we just react to drama
damn ya… we need to evolve beyond prioritising on the basis of what provokes visceral shocks
we r not even identifying teh problem correctly
or rather are not focusing on the right ones
how on earth are we going to solve them???????

i was driven crazy by what happened this week (my sis was out almost all night till it lasted..we barely slept)
but what incapacitated me were the 2006 train blasts.. i still can’t bear to think abt them for more than a minute
no minister resigned then….

if the ‘more important’ people getting affected makes news; so be it…
news is business…. its about TRPs , not truth…
(and what fucking imporatnt people…. no big scientist or artist or leader died as far as i know (correct me)
what shocked the crap abt of these people is that even money can’t buy safety..
i mean..’WE CAN’T BE SAFE EVEN AT THE TAJ!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHOA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The country really is in deep shit..’

bombs have been going off in crowded market places across the country for teh whole of last year…

1 billion plus people…and the newspapers are full of people telling us
how taj was like a second home to them… well maybe so..these are the sentiments of a miniscule section of society and they expressed it..genuinely too ….(and oh my god..heritage be damned..when did we start caring abt that..???
many old, beautiful buildings in bombay are in ruins… ratan tata will take care of taj… teh govt needs to worry abt CST)

the govt. needs to treat its subjects equally… even if the media doesn’t.
(atleast now we need to be more sensitive towards the kashmiris
imagine living in mortal fear for decades…. !!!)
no one fucking called for the ISI chief in the last 60 years…
not enough evidence of involvement of pakistan there, is it?????????

i sincerely wish though that not just families bereaved (and not just because of yest’s attacks but because of every single cruel, violent act), but all of us start caring about what happens sround us when the grief settles down as a natural part of our system

**********

I could not wait until the next day to respond. Propping matchsticks between my eyelids and seething with anger, I dashed off the response below to my acquaintance. Plenty more arguments occurred to my fresher mind this morning, but I will post my response exactly as it was sent:

*********

This sounds almost resentful–both the original article and your friend’s response. It is natural that some events and actions hit closer home than others and we choose to react to the ones that hurt us with their intimacy. I am not indicating that all the points made are invalid, but to show righteous outrage about equality at a time when persons are deeply grieving their private losses unveils a small, disgruntled mind that refuses to grant a moment’s reprieve that is basic human decency. It is clear that both the writer and the respondent are far removed from the current situation, and therefore unaffected. Hence they can afford the luxury of going all moralistic on somebody else’s pain. I strongly object to the sweeping generalizations made about (sic) RICH SPOILT KIDS WHO WOULD DRIVE THEIR VEHICLES OVER SLEEPING AAM AADMIS ON THE PAVEMENT. Not everyone who goes there is rolling in wealth and certainly not everyone who visits is a murderer. But of course, the person writing this wouldn’t know that. He’s too busy trying to prove an “original” point to verify facts. Yes, CST did not get as much coverage. But there are understandable reasons for that act:
1. It did not devolve into a hostage situation, unlike the other 3 locations, and was a limited time-frame episode that did not involve engaging continual resources. It is but natural at times like these that social fair play takes a back seat and more pressing priorities are dealt with.
2. The very NATURE of these attacks is different from the boom-and-it’s-over tactics that we’ve grown immune to. Here, the enemy had a face, a voice and a sustained plan of action. We weren’t left picking up the pieces because it was hell bent on ripping the shards to shreds and the targets in question had to be wrenched out of its control. A little consideration toward this all-important differential fact would have gone a long way in making the writer and respondent’s arguments worthier of attention.

Please send this to both, if it is possible. And have them know that they disgust me. Humanity clearly isn’t missing from just terrorists.

*********

It’s back. The you-have-means-and-are-therefore-less-deserving-of-sympathy argument. The deeply erroneous assumption that the better off care only about their immediate environment and don’t move a facial muscle when the lower economic stratas are impacted. It makes for a good social justice essay. And probably acts as a feel-good, oh-I’m-so-uniformly-fair kick. But beyond its initial hook to make people stop a while and rethink their view of the world, the premise and its arguments both ring hollow.

Firstly, WHERE is the empirical evidence to prove that people with fatter paychecks felt no anguish at other attacks on their city? Yes, there have been a thousand November 26s in Kashmir since militancy ravaged the valley. People who can afford tea at the Taj do have a basic level of education and don’t need Sankaran to do the math for them.

Secondly, IN WHICH RULEBOOK is it written that all human beings must feel equal anguish at all events? In the years since independence, India has been at the receiving end of enough terrorist aggression to fill a book, and at some point, our shock and horror have been muted by the regularity with which these events occur and the intimacy of the situation to our own lives. What is so sinful in realizing that I will absolutely feel more devastated when the attack is closer home than when it is in a part of my country that I haven’t had the privilege of visiting? Why does my deeper reaction to something that holds more meaning for me make me a callous bitch who cares squat for more distant wounds? And no one demonstrates this better than the writer of the original piece, Mr. Gnani Sankaran, who would be sobbing a very different tune, were he not sitting in faraway Chennai, removed from the immediacy of our latest nightmare.

Thirdly, WHY do we have to prove our allegiance to our fellow Indians by expressing equally rationed quotas of outrage every time a terror strike occurs? Why is my integrity toward my fellow citizens and country questioned because I didn’t howl like I am doing today? Must I shout from the rooftops that 7/11 was as heartbreaking? Must I tell you all today that I had friends waiting on streets to hand out bottles of water and juice to commuters stranded on the way home? Must I prove my love for Delhi by announcing at this juncture that I wrote letters to editors, sobbed into my pillow and grieved for my nation’s beautiful capital? Should I be assuaging Mr. Sankaran’s righteous indignation by assuring him I would be as horrified, were a similar calamity were to befall Chennai?
The reasons for the sustained focus on the Taj and the Oberoi have been mentioned by me in the email. The novelty of the attack, the demands of the situation and length of the assault all contributed to the five-stars receiving increased attention. The CST, fortunately or not, was not put under the same kind of lengthy torture as the other 3 locations, the third one being conveniently omitted by Mr. Sankaran, save for a fleeting mention.

He then goes on to lambast the moneyed by calling them swindlers, spoilt rich kids and even murderers, who supposedly cruise over bodies without a care. Mr. Sankaran, Salman Khan, to the best of my knowledge was not at the Taj Mahal Hotel that night. Would you bother to point out who else it is that can’t differentiate between a pavement and people? If Cafe Leopold is, in your clearly superior opinion, also the hang-out of spoilt, rich, murderous kids, why was that not given coverage after the initial rounds of firing, Mr. Sankaran? The media, the commandos, the intervening authorities, though far from perfect in intent or operation, clearly had more common sense than you, who, blinded by your misguided moral outrage, targeted the first punching bag you could set your unfocused sights on.

This is not a volley to defend the media. Neither am I speaking as a representative of the rich and powerful. No Page 3 person is my friend and the two people I lost were both upper middle class men who worked hard to feed their families. I needn’t scream until I’m blue in the face that this time around, it was different. The audacity, the means, the end goal, the target populace. It is but natural that this twist in our usual terrorism script will bring about more volatile reactions. Yes, South Bombay is the home and haunt of fatter wallets, better educations and greater entitlement. It is also the contributor of much to the city and the nation. Take a walk down our streets, Mr. Sankaran, to see what India can be like. I say this not with arrogance, but with the pride I carry within me for my amazing city within a city. Deriding its people for what they have and the media for its first-time coverage of such an episode is hateful, small-minded and downright pompous. It belittles our pain and serves no purpose but to further torture our already shattered spirits.

At a time when we look to our nation (and, to an extent, the media) for strength and resources, this rant peppered with search-friendly phrases and textbook ideas of equality and social justice reeks of injustice to the sufferers of this tragedy.

Shame, Mr. Sankaran. Shame, Rasika Gaikwad. I have nothing but loathing for your petty, unworthy sentiments.

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32 Responses to “Hark The Rich Bitch Speaks”

  1. gooddaysunshine December 3, 2008 at 11:12 am #

    I think the reason why the outrage is increased now is mainly because the whole event has unfolded in front of our eyes. We have participated so to speak to some extent in the trauma. I really believe that the same anguish would have been there in my mind if the hostage situation had played out say at VT Station or some office building.

    The reason why VT was not covered immediately was because the action there was over and was playing out for days in the Taj and the Oberoi.

  2. D December 3, 2008 at 3:43 pm #

    Also, the staff of Taj and Oberoi that died that night wasn’t of the rich-spoilt variety either. So would these people grieve more for them and less for the guests who also died there?

  3. Chandni December 3, 2008 at 3:48 pm #

    From Rasika’s Mail:

    aahhh…

    What have i gotten myself into…!!!!!!!
    Nonetheless, criticism it is and i have to deal with it.
    I’d be loathe to get personal about things
    and wouldn’t in any way want to resort to name calling.

    before i begin, thanks to everyone for responding (there was insight in the agreeable as well as the disagreeable mails)

    My response was not meant to upset and reading ‘that humanity is missing not just from the terrorists’
    partly shocked me.
    My rant more than anything else is a revulsion against the
    way the media handled the issue as well as the response of the government.
    Most importantly, something i should have included in my initial response
    is that i absolutely would not want to generalise about any section of society.
    and i vehemently agree with the following ‘Not everyone who goes there is rolling in wealth and certainly not everyone who visits is a murderer’…
    at the end of the day, some action has been taken and i am glad that things are moving
    but i still cannot help but push out the thoughts out of my mind that there really is nobody
    to hear your voice if you do not have the clout.
    For me the whole idea was to look at the bigger picture of india.

    (I, with my entire being, hope I have the courage to think about the ‘bigger picture’ if I am unfortunate enough
    to encounter a personal tragedy of this nature)

    I did mention that i would not want to belittle anybody’s grief..
    How could one be so insensitive?
    And that exactly is my point.
    We all feel what we feel regardless of our social status.
    This is the very reason we need to care about the wider mass..
    this is the very reason that the the government needs to respond to
    human tragedy regardless of who is involved or affected….

    I personally haven’t been affected by what happens in kashmir or the north east
    or even the 7/11 and last weeks events, though the last two did hit
    closer home because it was bombay.

    Isn’t the whole point of empathy to understand someone else’s problems???
    and not just your own….???
    I am extremely concerned about bombay’s security
    i mean …. i could walk out tomorrow and be killed.
    i do not pretend to be a regular at the taj, but i did end
    up being at colaba causeway, at the taj and at gateway of india with a dear friend
    a few days before the 26th….
    i could not help but think that the attacks easily could have happened that night….

    however, i also very very deeply feel about the situation of my fellow countrymen
    who have not known a life of security…. and continue to lose their dear ones

    once gain, i have nothing personal against any individual…
    and least of all against the bereaved….
    it is not up to me to allow anybody or disallow anybody their
    personal moments of grief…..
    and neither do i secretly expect them to not speak out against
    the attacks because there are worse things happening in other parts
    i do not consider it as selfish to mourn one’s loss….far from it…..

    my anger/anguish/ problem is with the media and the government
    2 of the most important cornerstones of democracy which
    are in a state of rot…

    i still fail to see how my response indicates that i would not want to give
    enough space for those affected to deal emotionally with their loss
    i explicitly mentioned and i reiterate that i do not want to belittle another
    human being’s feelings..

    i do not want to think that an ideal society is one which reacts equally to all tragedies….
    different individuals are going react differently to different situations…

    however, the government prioritises the problems it deals with
    and it has to act in a manner which gives the people confidence
    tht the government does not mete out preferential treatment and that
    all Indian subjects are equal in its eyes…..

    and we live in a democracy….
    the government and the people are in tht sense enmeshed entities.
    we, who are educated, are in a privileged position and if it isn’t us
    who think about larger issues, then who will????

    i, with all conviction believe my stand to be more sensitive and one that
    pushes people to be more involved with governance….

    and i did end my earlier mail with ‘ us collectively caring about our surroundings after the grief has settled’.
    this was not a push for shifting of the agenda to other issues than the current one…
    but rather a wish that the future should behold more equality and justice
    and i do not see what’s wrong in that…

    i sincerely want to believe that the criticism was not a personal attack,
    but a response to disagreements with my views.
    I would want to believe also that it in part was due to misunderstanding (the earlier mail i admit is hardly what i would call a well
    expounded response)
    and lastly, that I hope I have cleared a few of it if not all..
    just as 1 mail is hardly all of me as a person, and neither does a single mail from others
    give me a thorough idea of their personalities or ideologies, i would refrain from being judgemental….

    On my part, it would be a decent thing to be apologise for the unpleasantness caused.
    That was not the intention.

    do mail me … i am in fact strangely heartened by even the negative responses….
    1. it tells me that people do care
    2. there is nothing more natural than multiplicity of attitudes
    2. well, i am more than open to re-shaping my ideas in light of compelling arguments

    which i believe is the whole point of sharing one’s opinions..

    regards
    rasika

  4. nits December 3, 2008 at 8:35 pm #

    Comparing and contrasting tragedies while avoidable OJ, I have to say contrasting reactions and remedies is well, natural and I would argue, must be done. I speak not so much from a social strata POV but from trying to understand, empirically if you will – when do we as a populace get numb to these things? when do we ask for tangible action from the govt.? when do we care enough to insert ourself into the process? so in that, i don’t think comparing is so shameful but unfortunately it will get shrouded in the “if the rich are hurt then of course there’s a brouhaha” resentment. I know you are speaking about the sentiment of loss and grief which is not and should not be quantifiable and I agree.

    Secondly, I am sorry but I am not allowing the media any benefit of the doubt or the govt. in abetting them/ letting them show the circus that was the coverage. Yes we need to know status and plan of action but seeing the couple in the ABC interview I cannot allow myself to forgive them. They said how when the media talked about evacuation procedure of hostages and showed the NSG, the terrorists point blank shot hostages in the Taj (the hostages we thought alive till Friday). At this point, my unquantifiable grief takes over.

  5. nits December 3, 2008 at 8:37 pm #

    PS: thanks so much for your email, i will be in touch.

  6. CrazyDiamond December 4, 2008 at 10:32 am #

    Oh wow…I was, or rather am, or really was going to write a post in the same vein as this. I totally second exactly what you wrote.

    Pain is always relative. You can’t feel the same amount of pain at everything and thank god for that…and other such things.

  7. Monali December 4, 2008 at 11:42 am #

    I think the point Rasika was trying to make hit home yesterday when the RDX at CST was discovered, a week after it was planted there. Yes there was no hostage situation there or the battle was not as prolonged, but fact remains that the same care didn’t go in to securing CST, which is undoubtedly one of the lifelines of Mumbai, after the attack and could have caused a huge calamity.

    I hope this news helps the people who had a problem with her point of view see things in perspective or maybe just understand (not necessarily agree with) her perspective.

  8. Nino's Mum December 4, 2008 at 12:19 pm #

    I did mention this somewhere myself too: how the media had totally chosen not to depict the VT tragedy – ofcourse the print media took it up, and we got to read/print it.
    I’ve come to realise that a lot of people – sometimes even me – use this ‘socialist-communist’ attitude like a badge of honour, a sentiment that perphas inspired Sankaran, and perhaps Rasika. And it is pseudo in the sense that socialism and communism both aim at treating all people equally, no matter what they have or don’t have to begin with. The fact that both the writers chose to pick one part of society and label them, is at cross-purposes with the ideology they’re propagating.
    How is this any different from racism? A bunch of militants makes Islam violent, a rash driver who happend to be rich makes all rich people insenstive?

    We, the citizens of other cities and states, may raise a stink over how terror attacks in our provinces are not given the kind of intensive coverage that Mumbai’s many attacks are given. Fact is, the city remains the nerve of the country – financially and emotionally – hell it is the singularly most diverse city we have – you’ll find atleast one person from every bit of India there. And it has sustained more bloodshed than any one single city.

    And I really agree with ‘D’ in the second comment – most of the stories of heroism coming out are of the working class in South Bombay – deriding this tragedy is deriding their heroism.

    Because of what happenend and how it happened, and also because of who it happened to, this has changed the way we look and deal with terror. And hopefully, it will change the way India functions as well.

    I know, you probably know this, but you don’t need to explain why you feel so strongly about this – more strongly than anything ever before – this time terror came home and there’s no need to justify that fear, pain and anguish. It is your right.
    And while ‘you don’t need to be a woman to disapprove of rape’, it always helps if you are one.

  9. Nino's Mum December 4, 2008 at 4:42 pm #

    And I’m sorry for the two friends you lost. hugs.

  10. wordjunkie December 4, 2008 at 6:02 pm #

    Hey OJ, I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Gnani and especially Rasika, have said some deeply hurtful things and this made me so livid.To equate the genuine grief expressed by people across all stata of society, with the media’s own lopsided handle on things- which they conveniently choose to endorse – is myopic , and self serving.

    Nor is this the first time the ‘educated have spoken up’ and it won’t be the last… but clearly deafness goes with myopia when you’re into recreational socialism.

    This level of attack, this prolonged trauma playing out before us – this has devastated us. What both writers failed to see is that we, as a people, have finally lost that last shred of faith in our leaders, that we have held onto all this while. Those candle lit marches protest a lot more than just this one attack, it is about the systemic rot we are in today. (Though to read Rasika, you’d think we were mourning the antique carpets lost in the Taj fires. )
    I would like to think too, that some of that rage we direct at ourselves, for being part of that system and the rot we let set in.

    And apparently, our rich-bitchness and lack of sensitivity is the only hurdle between Kashmir and its happiness – this is almost as good as the Pakistani onspiracy theory about the Mumbai attacks being caused by Hindus and Zionists.

  11. disha December 4, 2008 at 9:52 pm #

    In some ways i agree with Rasika and with u OJ. But isnt this as far away from the point as can be. Well so what if lacs turn up to mourn this attack and the north-east goes unnoticed. Are we slipping into yet another division? Theres india vs. Pak, hindu vs.muslim, rich vs. poor, south bombay vs. suburbs…..
    isnt this the exact reason we r vulnerable to attack?
    i dont want to sound all preachy and self-righteous, but this isnt any solution. it is precisely the problem

  12. D December 5, 2008 at 1:01 pm #

    There’s an award waiting for you on my blog.

  13. Nino's Mum December 5, 2008 at 2:01 pm #

    How was the vigil on Dec 3? Did the tears help you heal?

  14. Orange Jammies December 6, 2008 at 1:30 pm #

    gooddaysunshine: Exactly.

    D: Probably. It’s fashionable to bash the ‘haves’. Thanks for the award. Will hop over in a bit.

    Chandni: I see plenty of backtracking in Rasika’s email. Some of it, I grant, is due to her self-admittedly badly drafted response, but the sheer vitriol she’s spewed against certain societal sections in the form of cuss words and poorly-thought out arguments makes secondary explanations that much less credible.

    nits: I think we’re looking at alternative targets, since we obviously can’t get to the primary ones. If only we’d recognize that instead of venting our ire at convenient punching bags, we’d go a long way in doing what needs to be done by securing our borders. Ultimately, it’s our foreign policy and anti-terrorism stance that is of critical importance. The media, while important, is somewhat dispensable. And we need to realize that they didn’t follow guidelines because we’re in the frightening situation of not having any. I’m as un-enamored to Barkha Dutt as the next person. But do read her response (link 3 in my next post). At least some of it, if not all, makes sense.

    CrazyDiamond: Pain is relative. The opposite is also entirely true. I have a couple relatives who are absolute pains. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Monali: The issue of why the CST did not receive the same attention as the other locations has already been covered in this post.

    Nino’s Mum: Hugs, hugs, hugs for articulating so lucidly what I tried so hard to. Will write about the vigil soon. I so needed that, girl.

    wordjunkie: My point exactly. Understandable anger, very wrong target! I sincerely hope both writer and respondent were at the December 3rd Gateway rally to realize that this indeed was our last straw.

    disha: And that is precisely what I and some others are trying to say here. At a time like this, when solidarity is the need of the hour –and of many, many people– self-righteous prigs come along flashing their bearer-of-social-justice badges to achieve absolutely nothing but a sense of smugness at having been supposedly ‘fair’. And if they’re not called on it, they’ll go about feeling very proud of themselves for this crap they’re propagating. We can’t change their mindset, but I’ll be damned if I don’t let them know that there are people out there who won’t take it lying down.

  15. Anon December 7, 2008 at 4:39 am #

    I am so glad u wrote this. Similar sentiments when I read his post. The sheer novelty of this attack, the fact that they could hold forte for so much long definitely are reasons this was covered more. This does not mean one life is more valuable than the other.

    There were countless people who worked there as the staff who lost their lives. There were people from my sisters company who frequented the area as a hangout and I can assure you they are just kids who have started working. I am sure there definitely must be people who save up Taj for a special occasion to visit and can not afford to go there on a daily or even monthly basis. It is wrong to generalize and it is even more appalling to find fault with the coverage.

    It is more like taking a step backward than forward by starting comparisons about which act of terrorism or calamity warrants more attention.

  16. vvaish December 7, 2008 at 11:35 pm #

    I happen to live in South Bombay, however quite accidentally, not one my means really justify.

    What is closer, has certainly more reasons to garner response, particularly when emotions are to run high not the rational. Nor do I agree completely with the rational and particularly the sentiment of the mails and articles (and there are many, if you would read!) you are talking about.

    This isn’t meant to justify them – but to hopefully provoke you into perceiving another view point – what you perhaps already understand.
    I happen to have just the same thought of ‘rich-vs-poor’ when the events were unfolding (right within my earshot).
    Here are two of the things that provoked it:

    1. Times Now had an evening discussion, even as the events were unfolding. Someone in the discussion (forgive me for not remembering who – I have a tendency against names – but he was a certain ‘bigshot’) made a statement in a tone rightly outraged – “Mr. P. Chidambaram talks of 8% growth. Tell me what use it is for someone whose family had just died in Oberoi …” (or something meaning the same).
    I hope you would know exactly this argument has been since years and years being made by people displaced from dams, commonwealth game sites, mines or – perhaps the biggest party since Independence now – SEZs –“What is development and growth for us if we aren’t included”
    And the people in media – and the babus ( and pardon me, but mostly under influence of the rich upper middle class – thats my personal feelings in least) have been so utterly dismissive of those …

    2. Taj was suddenly a heritage building – a building ‘so close to people of Mumbai’. Indeed it is a beautiful sight!
    I have been to Taj (even after the gatekeeper quite assumed me unwanted – perhaps because of the dress my price tag could afford – and I had to really justify my presence via an ID – it was a rather official visit).
    I assume it was just an error from a media quite wanting of words for its 24 hour feed. That is the rational. Not the emotion.
    But just as events closer home to yours are more likely to provoke your response, the denial closer home to those who had experienced it – it would indeed sound quite ironic that the all accepting CST is a forgotten icon – its the selective Taj that would force itself most imposing!

    And then a fear seized. What all now can be justified in name of terror? Right now one is talking of ‘border’ and ‘foreign policy’ and its not so bad a feeling right away, but – for example – the Rajasthan governments’s last response was quite an indignation to the poor migrants.

    With governments who had been unwilling to even acknowledge certain people lest some middle class activists join in (eg before NBA govt estimates of people displaced by Sardar Sarovar Dam were certainly not more than twenty thousand – now it stands at two lakhs in least!) — one wouldn’t be surprised if some of the terror security would fall heavily on the poor [last time, they even declared ‘a compulsory I card in delhi for everyone on street’. Except that for most migrant people it would just mean no more terror-free street. (Though I guess to be fair, I should mention that wasn’t heavily implemented)].

    The ‘rational’ in me, is even less sobered up. In places I have associated with, chickenpox or malaria should perhaps kill half an entire village before government decides its worthy of attention. [Look up for WHO reports if you are interested – particularly around how the health spending is one of the prime drivers for poverty]. Would more defense deployment mean even less budget for Primary Health Centers?

    There are a lot – indeed a LOT – such questions that pop up randomly. Of course, to even pay attention to those, I need to switch my heart of and let my brain talk.

    Heart is too shattered for that, a friend’s friend died at Oberoi, and a friend just survived at Leopold – loosing two of his friends who were visiting Leopold along with.

  17. Orange Jammies December 8, 2008 at 9:11 pm #

    Anon: Thank you for voicing your opinion. For some reason, people are afraid of being labeled elitist and so would rather express solidarity with the other end of the spectrum without giving it reasonable thought.

    vvaish: I’m sorry about your friends and am certainly not impervious to the argument that some classes/groups/regions get the short end of the stick. But reverse discrimination is not the answer and resentment toward a group of people cannot be the basis of any justification. Not all of us can afford designer labels, but I’m sure we can afford some empathy.

  18. Chandni December 9, 2008 at 1:18 am #

    OJ:
    “Not all of us can afford designer labels, but Iโ€™m sure we can afford some empathy.”

    I wish this “empathy” had been offered to Rasika as well.

    As far as I’m concerned, your responses to her mails have spewed unjustified vitriol against her as well…

    It’s a pity that the decency she showed in clarifying and elaborating on the points she raised has been seen as “plenty of backtracking”.

    Oh, and I’m pretty sure her mail to me (that I shared with a few of you on email) would not have been so “badly drafted” (because it’s expletives-laden?!) if she knew it was going to be posted on a blog.

  19. Orange Jammies December 9, 2008 at 9:43 am #

    Chandni: You’re speaking from the standpoint of a friend. And I see your need to defend her because you know her as much more than an email. It’s absurd and short-sighted to ask people to afford sympathy to a random ranter when their emotional resources are already stretched to their limits.
    Do you really want to get into exactly HOW badly drafted that email is? I think not, because you’ll just see it as “spewing vitriol” again. She was clearly venting to a friend and probably didn’t know you were going to circulate her email to all and sundry either, which is why she didn’t bother with logic or fact-checking. I could pick her piece apart line by line to prove it, but I’m done saying what I had to say. If we can move past the tragedy we’ve been put through recently, we can certainly put a Rasika Gaikwad behind us.

  20. Chandni December 9, 2008 at 10:22 am #

    BTW, I did check with her before circulating her mail to a few people. I don’t like to either circulate mails or post them on a blog without checking with the person…

    And no, I didn’t send it to “all and sundry”… unless you were referring to yourself as “all and sundry”.

    And oh yeah, I do want to move past all this, especially since I don’t really see much openness in trying to understand what the other person is saying… and a great deal of inappropriate labelling.

    Well, it’s been a good learning experience anyway!

  21. Ramya December 9, 2008 at 10:24 am #

    While I can empathize with anger, this specific blog post has just so much of it, it scares me… Both have made very valid points…but we must remember even in our grief…it’s lack of tolerance for another’s view point and rage that started with this whole mess in the first place. Every life…rich or poor, able or otherwise, Indian or otherwise counts…as long as it did not take another…

  22. Orange Jammies December 9, 2008 at 10:44 am #

    Chandni: Chandni, I don’t know Rasika Gaikwad. I had no clue she existed before you thought it appropriate to send me a complete stranger’s response to you without as much as an introduction. Unless you count the “I love you, Rassi” line as one. If you circulate reactions, be prepared for them as well. She is welcome to her opinions, but then so is everyone else. So if I see the need to speak up, I absolutely will. I’m glad it’s been a learning experience. I hope we can say the same for Ms. Gaikwad.

    Ramya: Oh don’t be afraid of piddly little blog posts, girl. Save your fear for larger things. Tolerance is stating your views on a blog. Intolerance would be trashing Rasika’s house and banning her right to speak. Of course every life and every voice counts. Which is why I’m wondering why mine is being questioned on my own space. If you actually expect me to keep shut and listen mutely to allegations like “we just react to drama” and “what fucking important people”, “the educated speak only when their tail is on fire” and “when did we start caring about heritage”, you have another think coming.

  23. Rex December 9, 2008 at 7:26 pm #

    Quoting your post above: “Secondly, IN WHICH RULEBOOK is it written that all human beings must feel equal anguish at all events?”

    And yet, you seem pissed because the anguish Rasika G & Gnani Sankaran feel is not equal to your personal anguish. Aren’t you contradicting yourself by writing this whole rant here. Ms. Gaikwad does feel anguish; she starts her mail with “not to belittle anybody’s grief” and she also has felt a personal fear which she talks about here: “i was driven crazy by what happened this week (my sis was out almost all night till it lasted..we barely slept)”

    What you have done is taken an email you received in good faith and an online article, combined both their authors into some super-villanesque figure and then shredded both their reputations to bits on your blog.

    I won’t even point out how you did not even have the courtesy to ask permission from either the person who sent you the email or the original writer of the email, before posting their email on your blog.

    Instead I warn anyone who writes you an email, be that a friend, acquaintance or even ‘The Boy’. For who knows, it might end up on your blog for everyone and their aunts reading pleasure.

  24. Amrita December 9, 2008 at 7:33 pm #

    Oh, OJ, I’ve been hearing this POV more and more from people (Shatrughan Sinha in the TOI yesterday even managed to pull in the N. Indian angle into the VT massacre) and I feel sort of confused about it.
    There’s a big part of me that feels the way you do and then there’s another part of me that wonders if the politicians would have been this defensive if it had been “just” the poor folks who came under fire. The main problem with the whole “this is the rich being attacked” angle is that none of these places were exclusive domains of the super rich. I don’t know whether any of these people are Mumbaikars or even have a nodding acquaintance with the city but if they did, they’d know different. Similarly the impression seems to be that all the people who’re going up to the Taj in the days since the attacks to light candles etc must be really rich folks. Which is simply not true even if you look at random footage. But then there’s a part of me that feels abashed at saying these things because I am a person of privilege and I know the advantages I enjoy are leagues beyond those of my fellow countrymen. So… I don’t know. I need to think about it.

  25. Orange Jammies December 10, 2008 at 12:02 am #

    Rex: You’re funny. ๐Ÿ˜€ Now run along and try that someplace else.

    Amrita: My response isn’t aimed at the political class. Or the media. It is a direct outcome of the verbal lashing and stereotyping a certain socio-economic class receives for merely being itself. And that’s what I’ve been getting emails about, from people who feel angry at what was implied by the piece and its response but also experience guilt at having what they have, never mind that fact that it may not have come easy like the stereotyping would have us believe. So what we believe to be true lives in the shadows of somebody else’s righteous outrage only because they “sound correct-er”. To that I say we can’t spend our lives apologizing for what we have and let that cloud our grief or responses to pompous baloney. Do think about it. We are no less sensitive because we’re better fed or clothed. If anything at all, we can afford the luxury of grief, but that certainly doesn’t make us spoiled brats or murderers.

  26. AKM December 11, 2008 at 4:59 pm #

    A bit overheated, the debate.

    The original article was of course stupid. (A gent who can’t get the ATS chief’s name right after all this media overload … how much attention can you pay to him ?).

    However, the point from the mail you posted was not about the outrage of people. Nobody can account for contexts/predilections of people : who grieves for whom and how.

    It was about the mainstream media who went way, way overboard.

    Unless, of course, you are in the media and that’s what you are defending.

  27. Orange Jammies December 11, 2008 at 10:33 pm #

    AKM: Oh, you’ll be surprised at how many people thought this “stupid” piece was worth a thought, conditioned as we are to be politically correct.

    I don’t believe statements like “the whole thing is hyped because its bombay and the rich died”, “we just react to drama” and “what shocked the crap abt of these people is that even money canโ€™t buy safety” are aimed at the media at all. They’re clearly targeting a specific social class that is then construed to be uncaring and mercenary. And it is precisely this attitude of created divisiveness at a time like this that I have a problem with.

    I have already mentioned in this post that this is not a volley to defend the media. My work is far removed from the media, so I’m certainly not “one of them” if that’s what you mean.

  28. Enduring Spirit May 24, 2009 at 3:32 pm #

    Being from the army myself , I thought the situation would change after mumbai !. but nopes It hasn’t..

    Coverage on mumbai .. was well justified..the characters in the letters are armchair critics.. Manipur and Kashmir are quite diffrent from what happened at the taj!..

  29. Orange Jammies May 24, 2009 at 5:30 pm #

    Enduring Spirit: I was horrified at the election turnout myself, but I can’t be completely certain we’ve lapsed into post-terror lethargy this time. Yes, we’ve moved on, but there is a sense of danger that we’re not letting go of so easily this time. And even as some of us continue to work with 26/11 victims and/or their families, we can’t help wondering what security measures, if any, have been put in place since that day and whether we’re just sitting ducks all over again.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The rationing of outrage at Blogbharti - December 6, 2008

    […] Orange Jammies responds to the criticism that the rich seem more outraged now because their haunts like the Taj have been targeted, and to the attack on the media for ignoring CST: Thirdly, WHY do we have to prove our allegiance to our fellow Indians by expressing equally rationed quotas of outrage every time a terror strike occurs? Why is my integrity toward my fellow citizens and country questioned because I didnโ€™t howl like I am doing today? Must I shout from the rooftops that 7/11 was as heartbreaking? Must I tell you all today that I had friends waiting on streets to hand out bottles of water and juice to commuters stranded on the way home? Must I prove my love for Delhi by announcing at this juncture that I wrote letters to editors, sobbed into my pillow and grieved for my nationโ€™s beautiful capital? Should I be assuaging Mr. Sankaranโ€™s righteous indignation by assuring him I would be as horrified, were a similar calamity were to befall Chennai? […] […]

  2. Mumbai: Before and After - 5 « IndieQuill - January 8, 2009

    […] like to examine today is the one with which I’ve been grappling ever since I ran across it on OrangeJammies‘ blog: privilege. Itโ€™s back. The […]

  3. More Rich Bitches « Wisdom Wears Neon Pyjamas - January 14, 2009

    […] January 14, 2009 by Orange Jammies So you thought I was done expounding on the issue of resentment toward the privileged? […]

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