Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hashtag activism

Four words wrapped in a hashtag has brought the world’s attention to the abduction of more than 300 teenage girls in Nigeria. Although these innocent teenagers were abducted on April 14, it got traction recently after the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls showed up in tweets almost every single day. It’s outrageous that the whole episode was kept under wraps for more than two weeks, until some brave Nigerian activists launched an online campaign using the hashtags #BringBackOurDaughters, #BringBackOurGirls. These hashtag campaigns went viral in no time and pressurized Nigerian President Goodluck Joanathan to take action. 

After abducting the teenagers, those maniacs who call themselves Boko Haram had the cheek to come back into the city and abduct more girls right from their homes. And to add more to it, they sent videos of the girls they abducted. In those nerve-wrecking videos, some weird looking men dressed in military gear- supposed leaders of the group - vow to sell the girls as “wives” for $12 each. I mean what on mother earth is happening.

For those many mocking the hashtag campaign, I think you folks need a reality check. If critics just can't do anything, at least they should stop mocking people who want to save the girls. Because eventually it is the online campaign that has fired up the Nigerian government to act. Sure the hashtag won't bring back the girls literally, but it will stir up local pressure, increase international support and eventually something will be done to bring back our girls. 

The abducted girls remind me of Malala Yusofzai who in spite of knowing how dangerous it is to attend school advocated the power of education for girls.  The school in which these Nigerian girls went to had closed down because of threats from extremists who believed education is sin. But this school was only recently reopened so that the girls could take their final exams. Surely these are a few brave girls who had the gumption to get out of their homes to take their final exams. 

The group who call themselves Boko Haram, the name which nearly translates as “western education is sin” is terrified of education. So are other extremists groups, like the ones in Pakistan who shot Malala in the head for standing up for education. I don’t know where these young teenagers get that fighting spirit from. It also makes me wonder how we take our freedom for granted. Everything comes so easy to us. But not everyone has the same good fortune that we have.  

So it’s not guns or ammunition that can really kill evil. In fact looking at the way these satanic extremist groups heinously react to the very concept of education, highlights that education is the weapon that will ultimately thrash terrorism of any kind. So let’s keep the fight going. And hell yeah, hashtag activism works.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

India's Modi creates ripples globally

The largest democracy on earth concludes its five-week election cycle in which a whopping 537-million people came out to cast their votes. It was not only the voter turnout that was mind-boggling, but the results of India's 2014 elections swung in large numbers in the kitty of the political party called the BJP (Bharitya Janta Party). It already looks like the Indian voters have bid a firm goodbye to Gandhi-led political dynasties that have been governing the nation for decades now.With the 2014 election results, Narendra Modi from the BJP will be sworn in as the 15th Prime Minister of India. 

So when the majority of the 66-percent of eligible voters voted for Modi and his party, why do we have so many people – nationally and internationally - jumping the bandwagon concluding the gloomy fate of the minorities of India which accounts for 20-percent of the population. Well I belong to the minority population in India, but have never ever experienced any kind of disparity from that of the majority. It has always been a level playing field. 

Besides the inequality in India has never been about the religion that someone follows, but more between the haves and have nots. Some folks in India are counted among the billionaires of the world and they seem to only be getting richer while the majority of Indians still live in absolute poverty and this is the inequality that we need to talk about. The inequality of religion is a perception and perceptions never really change, no matter how much you try to change it. But the large divide between the people who live in glass houses and those who still live on the sidewalks need to be bridged. And “development” which is the theme of Modi’s agenda will not only create jobs but will help bridge the gap between the have-it-all and the have-nots. And right now, this is what India really wants. 

Modi has not even been sworn in as the Prime Minister of India. So why not allow this man to take charge first. Give him six-months into office and then perhaps we can shoot out our opinions and prejudices about the way he handles the second largest population on earth. And well, India is more than 60-years into its democracy and people have gotten used to being independent, are used to speaking their mind, and are used to pinning down and thrashing indecisiveness at the top, that’s even if it’s the prime minister of the country. Taking crap, was never and will never be our middle name.

The world is talking about India elections and I’m enjoying the perspectives and analysis of the world. But there was this one column that likened Modi to Putin that raised an eyebrow. But then I stopped worrying because Modi does not have that chiseled body to ride shirtless on a horse. So lets forget about it.

On a signing note I want to thank Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh for being such a great guy. He must have not been an awesome orator or have a super-awesome personality but he is the guy who opened up the Indian market to the rest of the world and helped transform India. Singh is the king of liberal economics and we owe it to him. I just wish Dr. Singh a good life ahead.