Thursday, December 26, 2013

चूँकि सरफरोशी की तमन्ना हर दिल-ए-क़ातिल में थी

चूँकि सरफरोशी की तमन्ना हर दिल-ए-क़ातिल में थी

सच भी झूठ से नए-नए नुस्खे सीख रहा था
बार-बार दुहराने पर अब वो झूठ में बदल जा रहा था

चलो, अँधेरे पर से सदियों का इल्ज़ाम हटा
अब षड़यंत्र रौशनी में ही तैयार हो रहा था

दौर-ए-इश्क़ था ही कुछ ऐसा
हर जा़लिम महबूब में बदला जा रहा था

अब भूखे पेट मरने में कोई शान नहीं बची थी
दंगाईयों के हत्थे चढ़ना ही नायाब नज़र आ रहा था

चूँकि सरफरोशी की तमन्ना हर दिल-ए-क़ातिल में थी
देखना है ज़ोर कितना बाजु-ए-मुल्क में है--बस यही भाव ज़ेहन में आ रहा था.

कुमार विक्रम 

Friday, December 20, 2013

नदियों में मानो सागर का पानी वापिस आ रहा है

 नदियों में मानो सागर का पानी वापिस आ रहा है

हवा के रुख को मापने का उसके पास कोई सामान नहीं था
शायद उसे देखकर ही बदलने का अरमान नहीं था

सूरज का निकलना तय है पूरब से
पश्चिम से उगाने का उसे ईमान नहीं था

छाती पीट पीट कर वो बंद दरवाज़ों में रोता रहा
अब उसके पास आने जाने के लिए कोई मेहमान नहीं था

चिठ्ठियों को फाङ कर उसने फ़ेंक दिए थे
ज़रूर अब देने के लिए कोई पैगाम नहीं था

क्यूँ न टकटकी लगा कर आहटों को मैं गिनू
क्या शोर का दबदबा सरेआम नहीं था?

नदियों में मानो सागर का पानी वापिस आ रहा है
क्या यह कुदरत का खुद सबसे बड़ा इम्तहान नहीं था?

कुमार विक्रम

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

From ‘People’s Court’ to ‘People’s Khap Panchayat’: Taking the ‘Popular’ Route to Circumvent Issues of Political Morality

Insulting the Electorate

Till recently, political leaders and parties tried to, and continue to, justify their acts of political immorality, by taking legal recourse, but it appears the new political outfit of Delhi, AAP, wants to take ‘popular’ route to circumvent issues of political morality. The standard procedure to deal with the issues of political morality or morality of a political person has been that if you have been pronounced ‘not guilty’, you can overcome, whatever moral guilt you may be having. Hence, a political leader, caught in a scam, or in some criminal case or sexual harassment case, has always taken a stand that he is innocent till proven guilty. This may be technically and legally correct position, because there can always be issues of political entrapment embedded in such cases. However, in an ideal system the basic political morality would demand that the concerned political leader steps aside till the cases are cleared. But human beings, like  human societies, do not function in isolation from social moralities, and hence a convenient ‘legal’ route, which is generally long drawn one in India, helps a tainted or perceived-to-be-tainted political leader to circumvent the issue of political morality.

This scenario, of course, concerns with the issues where a political leader is involved at an individual level. But there are cases of political choices and decisions, which apparently would not stand scrutiny of strict political morality, but leaders and parties have been able to circumvent the same by taking the legal/constitutional route. Under this category, such cases would include defection from one party to another in mysterious circumstances, but ‘constitutionally’ found correct by the Speaker of the concerned Legislative House. On a broader scale, a political expedient alliance struck by a political party (umpteen cases in the coalition era), perceived to be politically immoral, is supposed to be cleared at the ‘people’s court’, if such alliances win at the hustings. Now, this has been part of the political culture in the country irrespective of the colour of politics.

In the case of AAP seeking opinion through sms, internet voting or perhaps response to a written letter to the ‘people’ of Delhi on the issue of its taking support of Congress to form a government at Delhi, one can say that it is another experiment and innovation in justifying the issues of political (im) morality. AAP came to the forefront on an anti-political class plank (anti-all parties) with lot of sermons on honesty, morality and good politics interwoven into it. It is to be expected that with such a surprising support and confidence expressed in them by the electorate of Delhi, the yardsticks of morality will be strict for them, if not stricter. Their much-hyped stance of ‘neither supporting any party nor taking support from any body’, reiterated many a time during the campaign, and even after the results, thus required that concrete push when it mattered. But they faltered, and have taken the route of seeking ‘opinion’ of the ‘people’ on the issue. Naturally, a ‘No’ result will mean a reality check for them, and a ‘Yes’ result will give them that ‘moral’ edge to say yes to the formation of the government. 

But these are just theoretical facade.  First, as in Scandinavian countries, the genuine ‘referendums’ are carried out under a Third Party agencies or watchdogs with transparency. In the present system adopted by AAP, all the omissions and commissions of ‘booth-capturing’, ‘intimidation’, ‘multiple voting’, ‘proxy voting’ ((you may fancy prefixing an 'e' to these ideas, like, e-booth-capturing')—the bane of democracy—are clearly encouraged, hence one can not know if the response are true, and if at all such response should be taken seriously, thereby insulting the electorate which has already expressed its views through adult-franchise conducted by the Election Commission of India.

Further, any other issue of political morality like scams, personal misconduct of political leaders, politically expedient alliances and policy making can be easily justified by taking this ‘popular’ route—which looks to be just sophisticated versions of Khap Panchayats because of the rather non-transparent manner in which they are sought to be conducted. Hence, if you wish to support a communal party or a policy which is non-inclusive, a political party can take a majoritarian view through such referendums and thus justify the same at the alter of the ‘wishes’ expressed by the  ‘people’, thus simplifying complex larger issues and ducking the element of political morality in a democracy which implies equality and respect for all and all opinions.  To tell frankly, it is like treating 'people' as political cönsumers and turning serious governance issues into something like TV reality shows, or reducing them to social media ‘Like’ buttons. 

Turning serious governance issues into something like TV reality shows, or reducing them to social media ‘Like’ buttons.

Actually, the idea of holding 'refrendums' and deciding issues through majority opinion is very dangerous. No social or cultural or religious reforms have taken place in human society because majority opinion wanted them, rather on the contrary, they have taken place despite that. There is certainly a difference between democracy and mobocracy. When a government gets elected, it is presumed that the political outfit would have gone to voters with certain programmes and policies and ideologies and hence its election on that basis is a broad acceptance of the same by the electorate. But despite getting a majority of seats, the government has to contend with the opposition and other organs of constitution to make its programmes work. 

So under democracy, it is under a continuous critical scrutiny of even those who may not have voted for it to power. But seeking referendums on issues mean that one would like to circumvent the critical scrutiny of those who are in the minority opinion, whereas a government is supposed to respect and also accept minority opinions and issues in a multi-cultural and multi-lingual democracy like ours, because minority opinion can also be saner opinion. In this context, this needs to be underlined that “opposition to the referendum has arisen from its use by dictators such as Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini who, it is argued, used the plebiscite to disguise oppressive policies as populism. Hitler's use of plebiscites is argued as reason why, since World War II, there has been no provision in Germany for the holding of referendums at the federal level.” (

Thus, some very basic constitutional and democratic concepts are being challenged and I would say being challenged for worse, and thus should not go unchallenged.

Kumar Vikram

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Meditation Upon a Broomstick

A Meditation Upon a Broomstick is a satire and parody written by Jonathan Swift (30 November 1667 – 19 October 1745), the writer of 'Gulliver's Travels',  in 1701-1703. It begins with the narrator’s lament that he used to know “this single stick” when it was a part of a beautiful tree, and now it is used to make things clean by getting itself dirty. The fate of “this single stick” is ultimately the fire. The narrator reveals that his subject is a broomstick. He declares that a broomstick is like a man. He is born upright, with all his hair, but is turned upside down, then relegated to a “withered trunk” as he ages. Man lives according to the whim of maids, much like the broomstick. Man reveals abuses, sweeps up dirt, and participates in the very pollution he pretends to want to eradicate. Man’s fate, like that of the stick, is either to be kicked out of doors or to be used for criticism by others.

Jonathan Swift
Portrait by Charles Jervas
Image Courtesy:
The main purpose of “A Meditation Upon a Broomstick,” a short piece in just two paragraphs, is literary parody. Swift is mocking the writing style of Robert Boyle, whom he considered to be a “very silly writer.” The specific book that Swift is parodying is Occasional Reflections Upon Several Subjects, which Swift considered a silly title (almost as silly as “A Meditation Upon a Broomstick”). Swift’s attempts to poke fun at Boyle’s language are apparent in his woeful, lamenting tone, in such lines as, “When I beheld this I sighed, and said within myself, Surely mortal man is a Broomstick!” (p. 231).
Swift also presents a piece that is humorous in itself. It turns out that man is very like a broomstick, often being upside-down and irrational, sweeping up and raking up dirt as people criticize one another, and becoming soiled in the process.--Courtesy:

 A Meditation Upon a Broomstick

Jonathan Swift

This single stick, which you now behold ingloriously lying in that neglected corner, I once knew in a flourishing state in a forest. It was full of sap, full of leaves, and full of boughs, but now in vain does the busy art of man pretend to vie with nature by tying that withered bundle of twigs to its sapless trunk. It is now at best but the reverse of what it was: a tree turned upside down, the branches on the earth, and the root in the air. It is now handled by every dirty wench, condemned to do her drudgery, and by a capricious kind of fate destined to make other things clean and be nasty itself. At length, worn to the stumps in the service of the maids, it is either thrown out of doors or condemned to its last use of kindling a fire. 

Image Courtesy

When I beheld this, I sighed and said within myself, surely mortal man is a broomstick: nature sent him into the world strong and lusty, in a thriving condition, wearing his own hair on his head, the proper branches of this reasoning vegetable, until the axe of intemperance has lopped off his green boughs and left him a withered trunk; he then flies to art, and puts on a periwig, valuing himself upon an unnatural bundle of hairs, all covered with powder, that never grew on his head. But now should this our broomstick pretend to enter the scene, proud of those birchen spoils it never bore, and all covered with dust, though the sweepings of the finest lady's chamber, we should be apt to ridicule and despise its vanity, partial judges that we are of our own excellencies and other men's defaults.

But a broomstick, perhaps, you will say, is an emblem of a tree standing on its head. And pray, what is man, but a topsy-turvy creature, his animal faculties perpetually mounted on his rational, his head where his heels should be, groveling on the earth? And yet with all his faults, he sets up to be a universal reformer and corrector of abuses, a remover of grievances; rakes into every slut's corner of nature, bringing hidden corruption to the light; and raises a mighty dust where there was none before, sharing deeply all the while in the very same pollutions he pretends to sweep away. His last days are spent in slavery to women, and generally the least deserving, till, worn out to the stumps, like his brother bezom, he is either kicked out of doors, or made use of to kindle flames for others to warm themselves by.


Monday, December 9, 2013

मैं मिजोरम हूँ--एक क्षणिका

मैं मिजोरम हूँ

(मिजोरम और अन्य उत्तर-पूर्वी राज्यों अथवा देश के 
अन्य दूर-दराज़ कस्बों के प्रति राष्ट्रीय विमर्श में बेशर्मी 
भरी उदासीनता से प्रेरित) 

देश में मेरा वज़ूद
दिल्ली के प्याजों से भी कम
हाँ, मैं मिजोरम हूँ
और जब तुम्हे कोई न पूछे
जब तुम्हे बस में जगह न मिले
जब खाये पीए अघाये लोग
हर जगह चबर-चबर करते हुए
तुम्हे धक्का देते हुए
तुम पर कोई भी ध्यान दिए बगैर
सारे सोफे पर खुद पसर जाएँ
तब मन ही मन सोच लेना
आज मैं भी मिजोरम हूँ

-कुमार विक्रम

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

संवाद की प्रतीक्षा में एक बाचाल प्रार्थना



A Work of Art Titled ‘Noise Pollution’ at 
Kala Ghoda Festival, Mumbai, 2013
Image Courtesy:

संवाद की प्रतीक्षा में एक बाचाल प्रार्थना

अभी तुम शायद और बोलोगे
पानी पीने के बाद,
एक लम्बी सांस लेने के बाद
कुछ और उपदेश या ज़हर उगलोगे.

मुझे पसंद है तुम्हारा बोलना
तुम्हारे उपदेशरूपी ज़हर
ज़हररूपी उपदेश
और तुम्हारा दूसरों का हर रहस्य खोलना.

यह करता है मुझे आश्वस्त
कि मनुष्य के मनुष्य होने के सारे दावे
अभी भी हैं पूरे खोखले या आधे
दूसरों के पापों को खोजने में अभ्यस्त

पर चीख-चिल्लाकर तुम पहुँच नहीं सकते
खुद तक भी
दूसरों के दरम्यान क्या जगह बनाओगे
बस लौट आओ अपने मन में यूँ हीं बकते बकते

देखो अभी अभी मैं भी लौटा हूँ
कुछ बक कर, कुछ फेंक कर
पर  मेरे शब्द ही अब मुझे नकारते हैं रह-रहकर
सच कहूँ, अपने सामने हीं मैं बहुत बड़ा छोटा हूँ

या फिर हूँ खुद का समकक्ष

और जब तुम लौट जाओगे अपने पास
मैं भी खु़द-ब-खु़द
आ जाऊंगा तुम्हारे ही इर्द-गिर्द
कुछ गंभीर शब्दों के मतलब ढूंढने ख़ास

और फिर मैं और तुम
इस बाचाल समय में
करेंगे कुछ संवाद
ज़रा होकर गुम-सुम

---कुमार विक्रम