Padmaavat – why the controversy?

Padmaavat

I watched Padmaavat yesterday.

Nice direction, great camera & lighting and fantastic action by Ranveer Singh. Deepika and Shahid Kapoor too did not disappoint.

At no scene, the Rajput dynasty and its subjects were shown in a bad light; instead the movie reinforces the courage, might, values and wealth of Rajputs.

It also clearly portrayed the vicious, cruel, and deceiving nature of Alauddin Khilji. Other than Khilji’s queen, I couldn’t see a single person on Khilji side shown in a positive light.

So what is Karni sena protesting for? In what way the history is distorted in this movie – even though the movie makers never claim it to be an factual representation of history?

I too in school days have read and heard about the Muslim emperor who was fascinated by the Rajput queen after seeing her reflection in a mirror.

Bansali being Bansali, and Ranveer being a bit overacting hero, this obsession became a prominent part of the movie. I also felt the movie ended a bit abruptly. Other than these two glitches, I enjoyed the movie.

I do not agree with rituals similar to Jauhar or Sati.

That said, to give benefit of doubt to Bansali, the movie did show the Rajput women unsuccessfully attempting to stop the enemy by throwing fire.

After several months (Diwali to Holi and more) of blockade, war and the men using all available weapons to fight the Khilji’s might army, I can empathize with the decision of the Rajput women to self-immolise themselves.

It should not have happened, and again, I am not supporting Jauhar, but Jauhar might have been the last resort for the women of a proud dynasty of a long gone era – to not allow their enemies to touch them, or even see them, even after they are dead.

To those who are against Padmaavat: please watch the movie once; you might re-consider your criticisms.

Advertisements

Passive Spectator or Active Participant?

I generally don’t share star views, but here’s one from Randeep Hooda for the day.

While I like the good part of this tweet, feels a bit uneasy to accept it in its entirety.

Should we just look away from “youth on drugs”?

Should we stay away, while people are being marginalized due to their faiths or believes?

Instead of being a passive spectator, we should actively discuss the current topics and happenings with friends and people around us.

Instead of stop watching news, we should demand for truth and facts; we should hold media accountable for what they broadcast.

What do you think?

Pune Violence – is it an isolated incident?

Mumbai_violence

I am far away from the happenings at Pune and Mumbai in last few days.

Per available news, the Dalit organisation’s event to mark the 200th anniversary of Bhima Koregaon battle in Pune district was disturbed by Hindu-extreme-right wings.

Stone-pelting and violence followed; someone died.

In protest, the Dalit organisations declared Maharasthra-wide bandh, which again was marred by violence.

I do not agree with any violence – whether it is done against people or properties, anywhere in India.

 

At first look, the bandh day protests and violence appears to be a retaliation to the latest violence against Dalits.

But, in my opinion, it goes deeper than that.

To me, it is a retaliation by India’s oppressed, against the continuous happenings for past several years, instigated by extreme elements in wider Sangh parivar.

 

The demolition of Babari Masjid by Sangh parivar alienated and scared the Muslim minorities in India.

Modi’s ban on cattle slaughter has virtually stopped the leather industry, traditionally operated by Dalits and other minority castes.  Illiteracy, poverty and ban on raw materials have pushed them to a corner.

On top, numerous mob killings similar to those at Bisara, Alwar and violence similar to Una flogging worsened the crisis.

It went even further; the Una accused projected the Dalits as Muslims.

Another example why the minority Dalits and Muslims might feel they’re jointly targeted.

These organised attacks by Sangh Parivar were not limited only to Dalits and Muslims.

They even went against students who were protesting in campuses.

The courts could not prove any evidence against JNU students; in fact, police have not even filed a chargesheet against the students.

On the contrary, forensic tests proved that JNU videos were tampered to add anti-national voice over to portray a complete different picture of JNU students.

The talented, mostly scholarship-winning higher-studies students re-elected the left leaders in 2017 with even more majority at JNU – in BJP ruling Delhi.

 

In all of above cases, the Sangh Parivar and its media slaves tried to portray the victims as anti-nationals and terrorists.

Where were these cries on India’s integrity when Babari Masjid was demolished?

Was it not a terrorist act, similar to the destruction of Bamiyan Buddhist statues by Taliban?

Why there is no outcry on India’s image when people are routinely murdered in different parts of India accused of eating beef?

Is it any less barbaric than ISIS be-headings?

Why are the JNU students still accused as traitors?

All of these events reveal the horrific, bullying, violent nature of Sangh Parivar.

 

The threatening message is: join us, or be silent – if not, be ready to be silenced.

 

Let’s come back to Pune and Mumbai.

As I said, I do not agree with any violence, anywhere – whether it was committed in Mumbai by Dalits in last 2 days; or against Dalits, “Madrasis” or UP/Bihar migrants by Shiv Sena, MNC and other right wing extremists in last several decades.

It is a fact that BJP and Sangh parivar used the religion/caste card to come to political prominence in India.

They are still using the same card to instigate hatred between Dalits, Muslims and upper castes – to bounce back from their vote-loss in recent Gujrat elections.

Hence the stone-pelting and violence against the Bhima-Koregaon celebrations.

 

The day we stop mixing politics with religion, the better for us.

The quote from 1884 is more valid for present day India:

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people”.

£1Bn for a chair, but no money for pencils?

 

Have you read the news about schools not having enough money?

Not enough money to buy “glue, pencils, paper, tape and reading books”?

Per BBC News, the latest plea is from Robert Piggott CofE School in Wargrave, Berkshire.

A school, which is in the Maidenhead constituency represented by Mrs May since 1997.

What a sorry state of schools in constituency of the PM of world’s 5th biggest economy!

This PM had no money issues while agreeing for £1bn DUP-Tory payment – to cement her Prime Ministerial chair.

Chair that is even more wobblier now, is another sad story.

There is only one reason for not allocating enough funds to schools.

It is part of wider, deliberate attempt by this nasty, minority government to destroy UK’s public services.

How could we trust this PM and her gang to conduct Brexit negotiations, if under their rule school’s cannot even afford to buy essential items?

If there is still some dignity left, it’s time for Theresa May to admit failure and leave her post.

Mrs. May owes at least that much to the next generation.

The generation who are in schools, still waiting for their pencils and reading books.

Yanis Varoufakis and Brexit speech …

Yanis Varoufakis, I admire your books and the brave stand you take in world politics.

 

Talking to My Daughter About the Economy” is one of the greatest books that I have read on economics, which nicely explains world market conditions and capitalism in simpler words.

 

That said, pardon my shallow knowledge in economics, I politely disagree with your Brexit recommendations at the Royal Society on 7th Nov.

 

Why should the UK be part of a failing institute? If – as you mentioned – even in 1990s it was a bad idea to join the EU, why  should it now be better for Britain to self-harm itself by continuing in this relationship?

 

As you rightly mentioned in your speech, the money just reaches the Deutsche Bank either way.  So why should the UK continue in this mess knowingly?

 

Why should it not take this opportunity to be strong, independent and have a direct relationship with rest of the world, without the EU bureaucracy that mercilessly treated (and still treating) Greece?

 

I agree with you that the UK, like Indiana Jones, is running fast on a disintegrating bridge;  running as fast it can, away from a bureaucratic monstrosity.

 

The only way is forward and away.  Going back to EU or standing still is just not an option.

 

 

Tax havens – and question on who contributes to a country’s growth?

I hope you’ve heard about the leak on money invested in offshore tax havens.

Per BBC, those invested include powerful, ultra-wealthy and even the Queen’s private estate.

I read total investments could be approx. £10tn – even in conservative estimates.

That’s a lot of money.

Money that’s siphoned off the country; to avoid taxes.

Taxes, that could be used to improve the standards of our schools, hospitals, roads, rails, community services,…..

Money, that could be used to build a better country, a better future for our children.

Which means, each of the participant – either direct or indirect – is working against the nation’s growth.

What powers do we (who pay taxes on however small income we get) have to stop these tax evaders?

United Against Terrorism

closed eyes

Yet another terror attack has taken lives in streets of the UK.

A small number of extremists have yet again murdered innocents.

My thoughts are with the injured and families who lost their loved ones.

Election is the last thing in my mind; this post is not an attempt to score points either.

Instead, here are my opinions, in no particular order, from the moment I came to know about the brutal attack last night near London Bridge.

  • Nuclear weapons are not the answer for all threats; in fact, they were least useful yesterday – in all senses.
  • We need more police, more nurses, more doctors and even more emergency facilities.  Reducing these positions and services will only weaken our responses.
  • “Strong” words have little impact on radicalised, vicious minds.  Publically defeating terrorist ideologies via thought provoking discussions will have much better impact than “strong” words of retaliations – which only fade away as victim’s angry words coming from hurting sentiments.
  • Public sector services respond to terror situations and need more attention and investments.  Businesses and private sector focus on profitability, not terrorism.  Let us not forget the learnings we had from G4S scandal during Olympics.

Major parties have done the right thing by suspending election campaign for a day.  Hope a day’s deviation will make our political leaders think about priorities and considerations. If it could stop terror related deaths and carnage from our streets, that will be the best outcome of the day.

 

UK Elections Topic #3: Corporation Tax

Have you decided whom to vote in this General election?

Hope you were able to watch today’s TV debate.  It was a good eye-opener, which provided clear choice on whom to vote on 8th June.

On one side you have Labour that is standing for the many with a fully costed manifesto.  Its leader was democratically elected within the party with a very high grass-root majority, and also have a honest, sincere image.

On other side, you have the austerity party, which threatens the country with more cuts in all sectors including education, public services and NHS.  They also offer a leader who won the party leadership via walk-over, has been called a “weak and wobbly leader” who don’t even have the courage to meet common public on a national debate on serious issues.

This post is on Corporation Tax.

Here as well – there are clear choices between the main two parties.  Labour is asking for your vote to increase the corporate tax, while Tories promise to further reduce it.

Before proceeding, let me clarify:  I am not an economist and do not claim expertise on the subject.  I use the data available from government and independent organisations and apply common sense to arrive at conclusions.  If you have valid points to disagree with my deductions, let me know and I am happy to update this post.

 

So, what is this corporation tax?

To put in simple terms, it is the tax corporations pay on their profits.  That is, tax on real profit, AFTER all expenses (purchases, bills, salaries) have been paid, AFTER all tax credits have been consumed.

Let us compare this tax with income tax of an ordinary salaried person.  A salaried person pay tax on salary BEFORE his/her expenses.  I mean, the net salary they get in hand is after deducting tax at the source itself.  On top, they also pay VAT on purchases; in contrast, corporations pass on the VAT to consumers.

That is a real difference!

Now, let us compare the tax rates as well.  If you are lucky enough to be in the higher tax bracket (£45,000 – £150,000) in UK, you will pay 40% as income tax.  In contrast, current, single bracket, UK corporation tax is 19% – whatever be the profits!

Corporate (who enjoy other tax credits as well) pay flat 19% AFTER their profits (no limits), while you and me pay 40% tax on gross salary.

Do you think this is fair?

It is this rate that Tories want to reduce even further to 17%!

They justify that a reduced corporation tax rate will attract more investors.  Tories and their economists argue that if UK raises the corporation taxes, the businesses will look elsewhere to shift profit.

Is that argument true?  Is corporation tax the only way to attract businesses?

Independent, non-profit, World Economic Forum reported in Oct 2015 that the top 3 most attractive countries for investments were India, China and Brazil – with corporate taxes 34.61%, 25% and 34% respectively.

All of above mentioned countries have a higher corporate tax than UK’s 20% at 2015.

Here are the graphs on these statistics:

World Economic Forum report on world’s most attractive investment markets:

WEF-attractive investment markets

KPMG Corporate tax rates tool:

KPMG- corporate tax rates

In short, the statistics negate the Tory theory that by increasing corporate tax, businesses will leave the UK.

Instead, making UK a great place for investment is the key to attract corporations.

How can that be achieved?  By several factors, including by having:

  • talented workforce
  • educated youth
  • quality of life that educated and ambitious have come to expect
  • Attractive infrastructure investment
  • A strong industrial strategy

Labour manifesto have policies for each of above factors.

Will try to post on each of these topics in coming days.

Let me know your thoughts…..

 

 

 

UK Elections Topic #2: Free School meals for all pupils – is the policy justified?

Catching up with general election topics….

In early April, Labour had indicated that they want to extend free school meals to all primary school pupils in England, by charging VAT on private schools fees.

Though yet to evolve in its entirety, I think this is a policy in right direction.

Studies confirm that extending free meal to all will improve overall pupil performance; this IFS report says students made 4 – 8 weeks more progress over a two-year period.

The policy will help the students, teachers (with improved pupil performance) and parents (by not only saving money but also knowing that their child will get a healthy meal in school).

As for any policy, there are critical comments on this idea as well, the prominent one being “why feed rich kids?”

I would like to look at this topic not from a rich-parent’s viewpoint but from that of state, which has an obligation to offer the best care without any discrimination to its future citizens – whether the pupil is coming from rich or poor background.

One of the other benefits of primary-wide free meal is that it will stop the “supremacy” claims in classrooms, similar to “my family is feeding you free meal”.  Free school meal to all will bring an end to these class-based boasts – which of course do not originate in kid’s minds;  these feelings  are injected in a very few kids from somewhere else.

Another argument is why make private schools pay for public school free meal?

Private schools are ultimately business establishments – businesses with aim to make profit; it is only fair that they are taken out of the subsidies they now enjoy – to provide facilities including equestrian centres and recording studios in some cases.

Instead of subsidising private education, it will be much more beneficial for the state to create a more equal level playing field for all the students by strengthening main, public education system.

Let me end this post with a comparison of education with health.

Vast majority in UK support public, free health/NHS for all.  We overwhelmingly believe that a person’s bank balance should not dictate his/her eligibility for the best available health care.

Now, replace the word “health” with “education” in above line – what is your opinion now?

 

UK Elections Topic #1: Ensure your vote counts …

In coming days, I will post my thoughts on critical polices that are being actively debated.

Let me start the subject with a news clipping from BBC; hope you have already seen this.

Nurses, police, teachers, fire service.. professions that are backbone of any community; professions that face cuts under present government.

My kids were born in NHS hospitals; they study in local schools, and I am proud of these professionals.

If these professionals are not paid enough to live a decent life, then we should be very worried about the future of our society.

Ensure that your vote counts, for your community.
Ensure that your vote counts, for yourself.