The Jugaad Nation: DeMo takeaways

In a corporate funded theological dynastocracy called Bharat, the poor man is not even a footnote. Hundred plus people died in queuing up and in the inability to pay for medical treatment. The plastic money elite is finite with functional ATM’s even more scarce. Only Mr. Sharma, can rap his way to the bank, oops that he he has a payment bank now and talks about past poverty to justify anything and sugar coat it with national progress.

Demonetisation would not be relegated to the archives soon. In the spirit of Big Bang decision making, justifying the majority in Parliament, reform cannot mandate taking the people for a ride.

In the Jugaad Nation, you can get away with almost anything including DeMo.

BMKJ. Jai Hind.

DeMo Quip: A Still Child After Nine Months

As per the latest statistics released by the RBI, Demonetisation has been a successful political program as economy wise it is a disappointment. The lived experiences of deprivation cannot be washed down by an intoxicating brew of nationalism. The entire meta narrative belittles the experiences of the poor and marginalised especially farmers, who protested and died a few months back.

As a digital paradox/paradigm, DeMo was an earth shattering move, with the tax net expanding. But the project was an exercise in optics rather than radical reform. In a month where it has been a sombre August for the government from Uttar Pradesh to Mumbai, this is the last thing the spin doctors required. BMKJ.

The Migrant Transporter from Chittagong: Reflections

The guy who takes me to work here is a high school drop out from Chottogram. He is a man Friday by career and has worked previously in Doha as a house boy. He has family here, as is mostly the case with Bangladeshi families in Probash, with remittance riyals fuelling the household economics in many districts. He is multinational in character as he holds driving licenses of three countries; two in the GCC and one back home. Economic mobility has many nuances that cannot be comprehended over a scotch at Tolly Club.

He speaks in a dialect which is barely comprehensible tonne when he talks to his elder brother on the phone. He is young and brash with colourful shades as he zooms his ageing car across town. He thought I would be an uppity Kolkata bong who would sneer at his lack of refinement. Little did he know that i am a child of migrants myself, and am at ease in Hamriya rather than Shatti.

He was taken aback when I started chatting with him on the latest tv soaps on Star Jalsa and the songs on Sangeet Bangla. The migrant feels at home in the few moments he connects with his cultural milieu via the music and the cultural consumption through the smart phone. The ice broke when both of us hummed to the tune of 2010 hit film ‘Autograph’ track by Anupam Ray ‘Amake Amar Moto Thakte Daoo’. Human emotions are universal, from Chottogram to Kolikata to Masqat.


Mumbai and Climate Resilience

Climate Resilience is not mere rhetoric to green wash annual sustainability reports when Mumbai and Houston are global headlines. However, attention spans are short and normalcy will reign and wet Infrastructure shall be relegated to the digital back pages, while some celebrity interview takes over.

Mumbai’s spirit is over glorified, the ‘chalta hain’ attitude is mere primordial survivalist instinct. Until cities have executive and financial power aka New York, very little can be done across a soup of stakeholders from the Mayor to the MP.

However, analysis is way elementary to executing real policies and programs which have a long term horizon to short term electoral and budgetary constraints.

Digital Archives: Technologies of Memory and Power

Archives are nodes of Memory, Nostalgia, Remembering and a narrative power. This power is hardly interrogated by the common reader. In this distraction led post truth era, the Archive is hardly a major concern for the listicle reader, mostly of the tech class genealogy.

Billions of data points of perspective and persuasion are circulated through social media through hashtagged debates on contemporary issues. Automated Bot led Propoganda is a critical limiting factor towards authentic conversations online. Or what is authentic in the social media discourse? Social media draws exciting conversations on issues and they do have the power to frame content in real time mode. But, when the issue has died down, the discourse is lost in the dark matter of the cache.

Here is where technology and historical narrative intersect, fuse, deflect in the form of the digital archive. Interesting projects to capture Memory are being curated across the world from Dakota Adventures in Singapore to Jewish Calcutta to an Instagram project to document old Calcutta buildings to the vagaries of real estate sharks.

All of these projects are led by independent scholars and professionals who attempt to disrupt mainstream narratives through voices which would be lost under the bull dozer of late modernity. P Sainath’s People’s Archive of India or PARI is doing a fascinating job to record arts and disappearing languages for the future. The traditional register of the colonial archives is a state driven intellectual project, where these digital archives are decentralised, ‘non state actors’ (pun intended) that are determined to add to history with a small ‘h’.

These Digital archives can suitably be leveraged as vehicles to retain social media conversations which are lost, unless Facebook reminds of them as memories! Algorithms curating memories can be powerful. But, who determines who remembers what, is the curatorial question. This is the operative probe that historians have to deep dive critically, to unearthed biases in the method. Power undergirds instruments/institutions of Memory.