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The Old Man And The Pee

With age, comes incontinence.

A commonly known fact, the ramifications of which have been discussed everywhere from Gray's Anatomy to Garcia Marquez's Love in the time of cholera.

Of late, however, the problem has hit closer to home, here in India, for readers of Outlook magazine, thanks to editor Vinod Mehta.

With depressing, metronomic regularity, this geriatric gasbag garrulously generates graph upon graph of gibbering garbage. Halcyon days in Lucknow, for example. (Or was it something equally inconsequential about Kanpur?) And that ode to some editorial crony of an insignificant tabloid that enjoyed an existence of no pith, and even less moment, in the '80s. (But then, they were the '80s.)

Of course, when he's not slathering us with septugenarian syllogisms, Mr. Mehta sees fit to turn his magazine over to the ravings and rantings of pseudo-socialists, pseudo-secularists and just good, old-fashioned pseudo-intellectuals.

Outlook used to be a good magazine.

Now it seems to be a collection of pages spasmodically splattered with sepia splotches and suspicious stains, such as last week's cover story on the Indian youth's renewed lust for the English language. Is this really the most important thing that happened anywhere in the world over the last fortnight?

Might as well read Time.


Listening to Arundhati Roy...

... one gets the feeling that impassioned concern, has now been patented, trademarked and copyrighted. By Ms Roy, of course.

Is Ms Roy truly the only Indian horrified by the ease with which the pogrom has been powdered, primped and rouged into progressive Gujarat? Is she the only writer on the sub-continent with a socialist conscience? Is she the only one possessed by a slow burning anger at the pandering of succesive central and state governments, to the ultra-rich and the elite? Is she the only one who sees the burgeoning apathy and self-centeredness of the middle class as worrisome? Is she the only one worried about the rather tottery foundations and bizzare judgements of the nation's courts?

I don't think so.

What I can say for sure, is this. Arundhati Roy, seems to be the only one who uses the privilege of regular access to national (and international) soap boxes, to rant.

Immediately after the Gujarat riots, when we were flooded by political posturing, right-wing propaganda, and patently unbelievable statements from police officials, the need of the hour was fact.

Ms Roy, responded with a piece in Outlook, that later proved to be (at least) partly fictional.

One of India's most recent "shining moments" - Nandigram. Once again, investigative journalism, is what was required. Someone to dig down deep enough, to tell us precisely what happened, and more importantly, who was responsible.

Ms Roy, provides a long-winded diatribe and blames it all on big business and capitalism, with a few grasshoppers thrown in, for literary effect.

There are a few hundred thousand concerned Indian citizens. (A reasonable assumption, given that there are about a billion of us infesting the globe.) Many of us, are equally concerned. Many, feel the need to express this concern. Some, do all they can, and are more effective. (Tarun Tejpal, for instance.) Some, through actions, bring about change. (Medha Patkar, for instance.) Some persist in battling on, largely ignored. Some use the system, to improve the system. Some, ineffectively, just blog and rant. (Myself.)

If Ms Roy does not accept that objective reasoning, or an unbiased autopsy of the facts, will help change the minds of a lot more people, perhaps she would be better off confining herself to a blog.