Author Archives: usindiamonitor
Before 2019 the only serious US presidential hopefuls of Indian ancestry in history were unimpressive politicians whose main purpose in life was to hope and pray that you forget that they are even Indian-Americans: Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley. You can read my fascinating opinions about these drawlin’ Dixieland Republicans Bobby here and Nikki here. Those brown folk failed pretty miserably and unceremoniously on the national stage and deservedly so.
Along comes California Senator Kamala Harris, the next viable candidate for President of the United States. Half-Indian and half-black- a cocktail I like to call “Blindian”- Kamala is largely considered by the mainstream media to be black, like Barack Obama, despite an Indian mom who carried her in the womb for 9 months and seems to have instilled many values in her daughter. Kamala has decided to join the oppressively crowded 2020 race, which promises to feature the most Democratic primary candidates in history. No clear frontrunner has emerged so far, and numerous others expect to throw their hats into the already crowded ring soon.
She certainly isn’t the only minority in the field- we have heard announcements from Joaquin Castro and Corey Booker. Kamala isn’t the only woman either, as Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and more are in the game. She also isn’t the best known, or the most liberal- Bernie and Elizabeth got her beat on both those counts. She’s youngish, but not the youngest or most youthful. Like many Democrats, usindiamonitor is struggling to decide who to root for this time around- an unprecedented personal phenomenon. I’ve ALWAYS known who I wanted to win in any given presidential race since 1988. Perhaps one factor matters more than any other in 2020 for me and millions of other voters: can the candidate knock Trump far, far out of the White House if he’s still eating cheeseburgers and tweeting in it? We just may need to wait until the debates begin to suss out the question of electability- and hope the left coalesces in unity around the brawler who emerges from the primary alive.
It’s very early, but Kamala just may be that person who survives the gauntlet. I am not firmly on the Kamala Harris Express, but I’m hanging onto the side out the door, like so many commuter train passengers in India. That’s more than I can say for any other candidate. Here’s why.
Electability. At this time it’s a most dangerous game to guess at how voters will act in 2020. In fact, I often lament the sheer length of presidential campaigns that waste our time, money, and attention for over 2 years each cycle- a truly barbarian practice for both candidates and citizenry, when just 3 months would suffice as in most civilized nations. But Americans live (and die) for the horse race, hardly caring to learn about which candidate favors what policies. Many a meal ticket are stamped over these months too in the nests of political operatives, pollsters, journalists like yours truly, hookers, and event managers to name a few. To this atmosphere of Idiocracy reality, Kamala brings a strong combination of intelligence, calm demeanor, attractiveness, elocution skills, optimism, energy, and charisma to excite voters. We have already established she isn’t the candidate who stands out for her race, youth, leftist credentials, name recognition, or gender. She isn’t the frontrunner for big money donors or establishment Democrat support. She isn’t the Senator who has been on the forefront or spotlight in the vanguards of battle. I also believe that she truly fumbled during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, inflicting no lasting damage on the drunken brute. But if you line her up on each criteria and add up the scores, she would do rather well indeed.
Policy. The first Indian-American Senator in US history grew up in the prosecutorial ranks, eventually climbing up to the role of San Francisco Attorney General and California Attorney General. It’s appropriate that the liberal bastion state and HQ of the Resistance produced Kamala Harris.
The chief criticisms of her record on the left come from her tough reputation for putting criminals away for long periods of time- or “jamming them up” in prosecutors’ parlance. As per the Kamala Harris official website:
Over the course of her nearly two terms in office, Kamala won a $25-billion settlement for California homeowners hit by the foreclosure crisis, defended California’s landmark climate change law, protected the Affordable Care Act, helped win marriage equality for all Californians, and prosecuted transnational gangs that trafficked in guns, drugs, and human beings.
We can add voting rights, childcare expansion, and raising wages to the progressive list of her priorities. As far as bona fides go, that’s pretty good. She is strong on climate change, the existential threat of our time, and healthcare expansion. We have yet to see how well this will all play beyond California though.
Personal History. Like Obama in the 2008 election cycle, Harris is a first-term Senator with a thin record. This has its advantages and disadvantages. A light Senate resume makes it harder for opponents to pin her down and label her for positions taken, while policy wonks like Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown will rightly point to the national battles they have fought that Kamala hasn’t. Kamala doesn’t have as many scars, for better or worse.
Meanwhile, we will find out if Kamala’s status as a married woman will help her or even matter in the modern age. Corey Booker’s distinction as an unmarried bachelor would certainly have damaged his candidacy in any race up till 2016 under endless discussions of “family values,” whatever that means. Not having a spouse or kids should not disqualify a candidate, but voters seem to connect better with those who have an active family life that they can flaunt in magazine features.
In conclusion, the field is crowded and growing. Usindiamonitor does not claim unbridled excitement about any of the candidates yet. But if the election were held today, I’d pull the lever for Kamala Harris. She would make for a good president- measured, calm, capable, and progressive. Kamala represents the future, while many candidates are dug deep in their past. She’ll certainly be better than the current occupier of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and just maybe the campaign will prove her to be the best of the 2020 parade.
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
Decency and integrity are two items which appear to be in short supply in modern America. There is no other way to comprehend how we have a GOP controlled Senate and a Fat Nixon in the White House, one who is far worse than the original Nixon who resigned from office in disgrace in 1974. Fortunately, I believe 2019 will be the year this charade of a shambolic government ends.
The rest of us who possess any modicum of decency and integrity have shown a great deal of disgust and dismay at our current predicament of having a president who is a crook entirely unfit for office. The man has damaged government institutions, raped the environment, grabbed the pussies, enriched himself off the office, emboldened violent lunatics and pea-brained racists, obstructed justice at every turn, damaged America’s standing in the world, ruined the institution of the presidency, and perhaps worst of all, cheated with our enemies to steal the 2016 election.
But mark my words: in a short span of time we will all be thanking our very stars for bringing us Fat Nixon. Bear with me here. Yes, America, we are facing an unprecedented stress test with democracy itself at stake here and around the world. But soon America will show the world, and Fat Nixon’s master Putin the stuff we are made of. There are positive consequences we aren’t thinking about enough yet. Here is why we should be grateful this mess happened:
This is What the Last Gasp of American White Male Supremacy Looks Like. I wrote about this in great detail before Pervert Orangutan won, but here is the gist of it: 2016 brought all of the racist termites in the log of America out into the light, so that we can see what we are dealing with, deal with it, and admit to ourselves how racist America really is- and has been throughout. This is the first step toward progress. Many, myself included, were fooling ourselves by thinking maybe, just maybe, the Obama presidency would usher in a post-racial world. We were optimistically idiotic.
Fortunately for us, we are at the apex of racist thought. Fat Nixon’s downfall will be devastating for the bad guys. As I wrote in 2016, “The white supremacist is today, instead of working to advance himself, educate himself, and acquire the requisite skills that will make him more competitive in the new global environment full of opportunity, watching Fox News and waiting for Donald Trump’s teeny little magic wand to make everything better for him. If Trump loses in November, at least the fantasy of these simple, uninformed people will come to an end for good, and the tandem of Trump and Clinton will have done us all a favor. If Trump wins, the fairy tale reverie will simply continue until the unfulfillable hopes of the white supremacist are much more cruelly dragged along and dashed into the ground. The reckoning comes either way.”
Women Rising: The Fat Nixon administration has turbocharged women to get involved in politics and gain political power. Just look at how women, many without rich donors, powerful families, or political experience wiped so many good old GOP boys off the map in November 2018. The 2018 class looks like Rush Limbo’s worst nightmare! Women of color. Women of different religions. Native women. Lesbian and transgender women. The current Congress represents America at a much more granular level than the presidential races, which for centuries depended on an outdated, nonsensical, and corrupt electoral college system and antiquated ideas such as superdelegates. There are more women in Congress than ever before. This is awesome news.
Many conservative Neanderthals lament the ascension of women toward power careers and political muscle. What is wrong with you people? Let’s do a quick survey of why women MUST be in the halls of American power:
- Women rape, molest, or sexually harass people less than men, including at the workplace
- Women get into bar fights less than men
- Women shoot and stab people less than men
- Women start less wars than men
- Women are less likely to be terrorists or Neo-Nazis than men
- Women are less likely to be addicted to alcohol or drugs than men
- Women are less likely to drink and drive than men
- Women are more likely to find solutions using empathy than men
- Women GIVE BIRTH, among the most difficult challenges faced by our species.
This isn’t just about the apex of power, such as in Congress. It’s about the soccer moms and grandmas and middle school girls who are knocking on doors to support political campaigns, and the Women’s Marches, and the housewives running for school board or County Treasurer for the first time. It’s about black women becoming judges in droves in Kentucky and Texas for the first time- shaping jurisprudence in those areas for decades to come.
The jewel in the good guys’ crown (and thorn in Fat Nixon’s side) is Nancy Pelosi, who I believe will become president by default in 2019 after Fat Nixon and his lunatic bible humping lapdog Pence are taken down. Sorry Hillary, Kamala, Tulsi and Elizabeth: Nancy will beat you all there without even running for it.
Minority Report. I mentioned a whole lot of diversity when it comes to women. But there’s diversity of all types on the up and up thanks to Fat Nixon. Comedians like Hasan Minhaj and Aziz Ansari, who are Indian Muslims, are thriving in the age of Pervert Orangutan, partly by beating the crap out of him with humor and raising awareness of their backgrounds as a mechanism to enlighten and entertain. Pro athletes such as LeBron James are way beyond woke right now, and using their influence to do good while epically taking down the president. They aren’t shying away from political conversations. We are seeing the Deep South, of all places, cultivate powerhouse black politicians like Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams in towns where Scarlett O’Hara’s ghost still roams from ball to ball with her house slaves in tow. And someone like Kamala Harris, a most unlikely presidential hopeful, now seems like a top tier candidate as an antidote specifically to the historic trash heap of Fat Nixon.
The High School Revolution. High school kids are more woke than at any time in the last four decades. Some of them are putting down their Pokemon Go long enough to march in the thousands hand in hand with the Parkland students, who are my heroes. Young people are engaged and energized, and there is no question that they are animated by the corruption they see projected by Fat Nixon and his goons.
Of course, this cuts both ways. Dipshits like the smirking Nathan Phillips and his classless Covington High Kavanaughs seem to be feeling frisky these days with their boy in the White House too. But that’s better than the apathy that has defined generations of high school kids when it came to politics. Whether it’s for love or hate, the 16 year olds seem to have a fire lit under them.
Cities and States Step to the Plate. I say this more as a citizen than as a City government official: the resistance has resulted in awesome leadership by mayors and governors, and the cities and states they represent. Look at how New York state shut down the corrupt Trump Foundation and is giving the Trump spawn’s finances a long-overdue colonoscopy. California state has created a blueprint for our environmental future, and will be Ground Zero for the new “Green New Deal” which is coming. Over 400 mayors have signed on to a pledge to battle climate change together with electric vehicles. When the federal government is deadlocked and led by an autocrat, the other wheels of democracy can still turn.
The Only Wall Going Up will be Around the Presidency. Both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of letting president run amok, and some serious guardrails are called for. Presidential power has been swelling beyond the levels anticipated by the founders of the United States of America. Nobody thinks of the judicial and legislative branches as co-equal anymore. That’s because their power has been steadily eroded over time in relation to the executive branch. The White House has too much power to commit acts of war, acts of treason, or unilaterally dismantle the will of Congress and the people on specific policies.
Here are just a few recent examples of executive over-reach:
- Fat Nixon has refused to administer sanctions against Russia for months after Congress had voted to implement them- simply to protect himself. This should be part of the articles of impeachment in itself.
- The threat to declare a national emergency to fund a border wall, which has nothing to do with any sort of emergency, while deploying 10,000 troops there over the holidays, using specious arguments
- Brett Kavanaugh corruptly embedding himself in the White House for days of confirmation fight drama as a judicial nominee, as if he was an executive branch employee
- Three consecutive administrations (W. Bush, Obama, and Fat Nixon) have decided that extra-judicial assassinations, often resulting in civilian collateral damage, can take place by remotely piloted drones anywhere in the world the president pleases.
- Fat Nixon on one hand decides to bomb Syria, and on the other hand decides to withdraw from Syria, without any Congressional debate or a national conversation. The American people should NEVER allow these decisions to be made unilaterally.
Too many of the guard rails around the presidency are currently “norms” rather than “laws.” That needs to change. The good news is, change is coming in this area, and it will protect both conservatives and liberals from being subject to a wannabe dictator again- so that Fat Nixon will be the last of his kind.
Presidential candidates must release their tax returns or drop off the ballot, by law. The emoluments clauses around the presidency must be beefed up so that a president’s business interests around the world may no longer subjugate America’s national security for Rubles or Riyals. Nepotism laws should be strengthened so that a president’s daughter and son-in-law can never again receive a security clearance so obviously at the nation’s peril. Cabinet Secretaries should be immediately terminated for $50,000 desks or use of a government plane for vacation. Executive orders and other forms of unilateral action that can harm the country must be shut down once and for all. It’s not about benefitting Democrats or Republicans, but strengthening our democracy.
Rejoice, Americans. We have witnessed a dark period indeed in US history, and at times I lament my fate in having to see kids in cages, separated from their parents in response to racist fears and cruel hearts, all paid for with my hard earned tax deductions. The dark period will soon come to an end, and from what we can see so far, what comes next shall be glorious.
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
With so many serious things going on in the world today I thought it was time to cover something on the lighter, more brainless side. For some years I have thought that certain Bollywood actors and Hollywood actors look remarkably similar to one another. In this column you will find the ones I consider to be the TOP 5 dopplegangers in #BollywoodHollywood. While I am NOT the first to make up any of these connections, this top 5 ranking is brought to you by usindiamonitor.
How awesome would it be if these guys actually met and we could see pictures of them shoulder to shoulder?
5) SAIF ALI KHAN & CHARLIE DAY. I’m not sure that either actor would appreciate being compared with the other on looks. After all, Charlie Day is a pure slapstick comedian who gets pushed around and ruthlessly made fun of in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia or movies he appears in. Meanwhile Khan has attempted to be a serious actor, landing parts such as in Netflix’s Sacred Games where he is an unsmiling, brooding cop. No matter. These guys look so eerily similar, when I did image searches of one I wondered whether it was the other.
4) KATRINA KAIF & COBIE SMULDERS. By no coincidence, I have a huge crush on both of these ladies. They are most notably different in skin tone, but otherwise they could practically be sisters. Why are my hands shaking as I type this???
3) HRITHIK ROSHAN & BRADLEY COOPER. Shout out to my fellow Georgetown alum Bradley Cooper, who has some smarts and even singing chops to go along with those good looks and awesome acting. There can be no question that Hrithik is just as much of a heartthrob for Indian women everywhere. My Indian bias notwithstanding, I think Hrithik wins by a… hair.
2) PARIS HILTON & KAREENA KAPOOR. This unlikely pair have similar features through and through. Their sultry lips are practically interchangeable. The resemblance is undeniable, which gets these ladies into the #2 spot. I really do wonder what Kareena thinks about this…
- AAMIR KHAN & TOM HANKS. I think it’s only fair that the top honors should go to the best actors in the entire group. Aamir is easily the best Bollywood actor on this list with a long and illustrious career. Not to be outdone, Tom Hanks has been killing it in Hollywood for many decades as well.
Many American soldiers served and died in the various bloody theaters of World War II. They were called upon by the people of America and the wider family of civilized nations around the world to defeat burgeoning, horrific threats to the global order. They enjoined what history has widely judged to be a just and necessary war. Hundreds of thousands of these heroes’ remains were duly brought back home to be buried by their families and friends in somber funeral ceremonies across the 50 states. While those war dead represented the greatest possible sacrifice to country at a critical moment in history, and also a tragic loss for countless communities, at least upon paying the terrible price they received the proper honor they deserved in a final resting place chosen by those who loved them the most after earning victory. In the 1940s and beyond their headstones would be adorned with inspiring inscriptions, soaring monuments, and beautiful flowers, or they could lie next to their brothers in arms in dignified venues such as Arlington Cemetery, their heroism to be cherished by the generations to come and most importantly, never, ever forgotten.
Yet the remains of too many of these brave souls unceremoniously languish even today under remote corners of Indian stone and soil, in the incongruously scenic mountains and fields of Arunachal Pradesh, a Northeastern state riven by contentious territorial disputes between the rising superpowers, China and India.
They were US Airmen whose planes crashed in the heat of battle, and the Great War is still not over for them at all. We have a good idea of exactly who they are and where they lie, but the descendants and friends of approximately 400 men have been innocent victims squarely caught in the crossfire of endless bureaucratic disputes between nations- *nations whose soldiers fought alongside them as allies in WW II, no less.* Government bureaucracies are preventing even basic access to the sites where these men lie, forever young. Meanwhile, challenging and complex as the solutions may be, the United States government has not fought hard enough for a clean resolution, which should disturb all Americans who still benefit from the fruits of the MIA soldiers’ ultimate sacrifice.
As an Indian-American in particular, I feel the pain and helplessness suffered by the wives, siblings, and children who are living and over time, dying without the simple satisfaction of closure that society owes them.
What will it take to right this injustice? Previous editorials in this space by Gary Zaetz, the leader of Families and Supporters of America’s Arunachal Missing in Action paint a picture of tireless efforts, promising breakthroughs, productive archaeological surveys and digging expeditions, and minor victories on the rare occasion where a limited expedition turns up a small fraction of a soldier’s strewn body parts over 70 years after World War II ended.
The Pentagon has even sponsored a few ceremonies for a few of them. Many journalists, government leaders, and concerned citizens around the world have encouragingly offered support for the cause. But what sticks out most cruelly are the reams of red tape thrown forward by the halls of power in Washington, New Delhi, and Beijing which are stifling progress. Please read these moving editorials by Gary Zaetz here with critical updates to the story published here and here. Please take a few moments to scan the photos of the pilots and crew members, and look straight into the eyes of these young men and their families.
So what are the main challenges today? The key roadblock is the fact that China and India disagree about who the land belongs to, along with thousands of other miles of far-flung border lands throughout the Himalayan Mountain region. The two nations themselves have fought major wars in the 20th century over various little pieces of this turf in tragic pissing matches, with China defeating India badly, along with numerous smaller skirmishes that continue to this day. None of these have served to permanently settle the disputes over territory between these two nuclear weapon-tipped rivals. Hundreds of thousands of troops from both sides uneasily patrol the disputed regions in an ugly stalemate. The United Nations and the international community have been helpless in helping settle the disputes. Under the current postures of the involved nations, China will not allow peaceful expeditions to search for the remains safely behind a security cordon. India, viewing its role in the matter as subservient to wider engagement priorities in dialogue with China, has been unwilling to support the expeditions despite claiming outright that the territory is Indian. Perhaps understandably under the harsh realities, neither China nor India have decided to lead the discovery of American bodies. More vexingly, successive United States governments under administration after administration both Democrat and Republican have not taken full accountability for their own war dead either.
This should not stand. In fact, there is a duly appointed Pentagon office called Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) whose entire mission and reason for being is to find, recover, and repatriate the US military’s MIAs around the world. Unlike MIAs in Vietnam and elsewhere, where it may seem like finding them is sort of a “cold case,” there is more accurate information as to where to look in the case of Arunachal’s MIA soldiers. However, since 2004 communications and efforts of the Families and Supporters for Arunachal’s Missing in Action with the DPAA has resulted in limited progress.
The group has also earnestly reached out to US Senators, Representatives, State Department officials such as multiple US Ambassadors to India over time, senior Indian government officials such as retired Indian military officers, the Chinese Embassy in Washington, media groups, and others. Unfortunately, these communications have largely resulted in finger pointing about who is responsible for the lack of accountability in leading the long-overdue MIA discoveries. Over the last several years I have felt increasingly hapless due to the sea of red tape that has risen up.
We can certainly do better! I have contemplated what simple actions can be taken by concerned readers, regardless of where you live in the world, your politics, culture, or your religious background in the face of what seem like insurmountable challenges as large as the Himalaya mountains themselves. After all, this is purely a humanitarian issue with a potential solution in sight, a light at the end of the tunnel. You can join in by doing the following:
1) Join the Facebook page for the latest updates and offer your support in any way you can to this nonprofit organization, including financial.
2) Reach out with targeted messaging to the relevant government authorities individually, or as part of an organization you belong to such as local VFW or American Legion posts. Feel free to use the content from this editorial or others we have shared here as a guide, such as copying and pasting into emails, letters, or social media:
* The US Embassy to India https://in.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/new-delhi/
* The Indian Embassy to the United States https://www.indianembassy.org/
* The White House https://www.whitehouse.gov/
* Your Senator and Congressperson
3) Publish these letters and emails in local newspapers, newsletters, or social media outlets that you have access to.
4) If you can, set up meetings with government leaders who may have the power to assist in finding and bringing home the MIAs of Arunachal Pradesh.
5) Communicate any fresh ideas you might have to usindiamonitor or to Gary Zaetz, as you may think of new angles not yet considered for achieving elusive progress.
If enough people join this fight, the Arunachal Pradesh expeditions can continue apace once again with the approvals of all the relevant authorities- a long and hard slog in its own right so far led by a team including Clayton Kuhles, despite the government resistance. Indian-Americans, other NRIs, or Indians residing in India itself can join with this cause in solidarity. But of course, all comers would be most welcome.
The saddest aspect is that the loved ones of the US war dead will themselves be buried without the satisfaction of burying their own hero family members. This suffering is unnecessary and unacceptable, if there is something that can be done about it.
To some I understand that this may all appear to be such a small and unimportant priority from a long bygone era, when there are so many active problems going on in the world of today. To those, I would respond that if we patriots can’t take care of these little things as a society, then how can we possibly hope to tackle the grand global challenges society faces today?
I look forward to hearing from you on this conundrum.
Unlike most of you, I was born in a dictatorship country, and spent some additional formative childhood years in a different dictatorship country in a different region of the world – a far crueler monarchy at the time. Which particular countries they happen to be, or how good life was for me or my family in either are irrelevant.
I learned at a young age not only the positive aspects of absolute strongman power, of which there are a few, but also the darker sides- like not having free speech in public, in newspapers, or on TV; having your religious trinkets thrown into the garbage by airport security; watching religious police roam the roads with canes, free to beat any man, woman, or child they wanted, whenever they wanted, legally, gleefully, out in the open.
I bring up these childhood memories for only one reason: to ring a loud Code Red Alarm Bell for all of you Americans out there who have never lived under a dictatorship or studied one. Wake up. The transition is happening right now, in 2018, before our very eyes.
Also unlike most of you, I also took an oath of loyalty to the United States at age 9. As an American by choice, this is an especially confusing time.
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindamonitor
While browsing the quite engaging war scenarios by the Infographics Show, I came across a video that describes in advanced level of detail what could happen if a potential US-India alliance came to battle a Russia-China offensive. This video is relevant for several reasons. Most importantly, many have come to believe that these two sides present the front lines of the new 21st century “Cold War,” which needs to be recognized as a new world order slowly replacing the previous Cold War and its unstable aftermath we are living through today. This is in fact even the topic of an upcoming novel by usindiamonitor. Secondly, the world needs to prepare for these new alignments.
Is this terrible war scenario likely in the near future? We don’t think so. But we foreign policy mavens should get mentally prepared for what it would look like, and this video does a very good job of laying out the likeliest possibilities in the heat of a battle involving millions of soldiers and affecting billions of human beings. It’s worth watching! If nothing else, you will learn what the capabilities are of these four powerful militaries when thrown onto the chessboard in a time of grave peril.
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
For close to 25 years Tool has been considered one of the mightiest bands in the rock music universe. Rightly so- who else better encapsulates the intellectual lyrics, the genius mathematical precision, the mesmerizing vocals, heavy personal journeys, punishing drum solos, guitar riffs and bass lines, the deeply spiritual and even religious overtones with genre-bending orchestration?
Nobody, that’s who.
In a previous post about the best Western music ever inspired with Indian influences, unsurprisingly Tool made the top 5 list of Indo-American fusion songs of all time with Right in Two, a song about humanity’s own predictable demise.
Separately, we have talked about the blistering hot hard rock/ metal scene which is taking hold in India, especially among young people. Some ferocious bands who have mixed metal with Hindu religious influences in the last few decades deserve to be heard around the world.
Today I would like to introduce you to another little pleasure bomb: an engaging acoustic cover song recorded live by talented Indian dudes of the aforementioned song, “Right in Two.” This is a homage within a homage, as an Indian band covers an American band that deftly utilizes India’s ageless somnambulance perfectly back in America for the whole world to enjoy.
And what better way than with a tight video by Beard of Harmony & Yann Phayphet where you can see an Indian neighborhood and hear Indian background noises like nowhere else in the world?
CAN YOU DIG IT:
Can you grin and bear it?
The debate about whether Russia is running the Pervert Orangutan White House Reality Show Zoo along with the entire Gutless Orwellian Party (GOP) from top to tail is entirely moot. It’s over. Done. The takeover is complete. There’s nothing to debate, for anyone with half the IQ of a fancy bear. Which apparently is not too many of us. Our dumb, misinformed, and uneducated asses have been ripe for a rapacious takeover for a while now, and the descent towards authoritarianism shockingly took as long as 242 years before we exchanged the Tory Loyalists of King George III for the Trump #MAGAts of Comrade Putin I. And if we are to be the least bit honest with ourselves, the only real questions ever were whether Russia or China took us over first, and how long that would take- for all that needed doing was easily exploiting above all our glaring inability to protect ourselves in the cyber arena. Because, you know, we isn’t don’t be so good at math and computer stuff, and stuff, or even English, and we sure as hell wouldn’t allow enough Asian immigrants into the country in time to save ourselves. Thanks, decades of retrograde anti-immigrant GOP! Enjoy your gulags of borscht, #MAGAts.
We are at least fortunate that the suspense is finally over. The answers to the takeover race questions are: Winner/2016/Russia. It’s all because to most Americans, science, technology engineering, & math (STEM) are as foreign a concept as shitting into a latrine hole in the ground in the sticks of Djibouti while pirates stand around and watch. We are inured to the realities of the outside world, foolishly thinking that an excessive, clumsy, and creaky 20th century military machine of nukes, ships, tanks, jets, drones, helos, and broken toy soldiers were going to forever protect us when foreign countries’ bad hombres actively lurk in our social media, emails, power grids, military systems, corporate servers, and political party infrastructure in a dystopian tentacle porn equivalent of ass rape. America is super well prepared to fight the next great war using 1973 technology, and decimate all comers! Thanks so much, GOP! Gracias for the trillions of dollars in debt-exploding defense spending, eroding our privacy and freedom, bogging us down in Afghanistan and surrounding countries into year 17 with no mission, no plan, and no end in sight. All the while remaining highly vulnerable to penetration by hostile countries and terrorists while screaming about Muslims. Because, America!
Editor’s Note: The following is a real firsthand account of unfortunate events involving someone I know, which happened in summer 2018. I have watched her grow up since she was born, and this story has filled me with anger. Even worse, she was not the only one. But her response deserves attention. She has courageously fought back against the holy priest and the management of the otherwise outwardly beautiful Mangueshi Hindu temple pictured above, visited by no less than former US Defense Secretary Ash Carter himself (!)
The story has received national media attention in India (links below).
It is high time that India sees the rise of its own powerful #MeToo movement and we are beginning to see the saplings grow as victims bravely engage the patriarchal and supposedly religious systems stacked against them. Ultimately, there is an uplifting future embodied below, if others are inspired to act.
A monumental victory was achieved yesterday, all thanks to my family for fighting tirelessly over the last month for my rights, a lot of strangers for their support, the media all over India who shone light on this issue, and the Indian legal system for ensuring that justice was served against a perpetrator who wronged me. I’m not one for sharing intimate life details with everyone on Facebook, but by my sharing this experience, I hope that others can avoid the same situation.
This past June when I was in India, my family and I made a day-trip by flight to Goa to visit our ancestral temple, as we have been doing at least once a year for as long as I can remember. Single women are not allowed in the innermost sanctum, so I have always sat and watched my parents and brother perform the rites inside. On this particular trip as I was sitting outside the sanctum, our family priest in his 50s, Dhananjay Bhave, beckoned me to the side, grabbed me, and attempted to kiss me. I turned my cheek and body away just in time to avoid him. I told my parents what had happened, and they confronted the priest who then admitted it and requested us not to escalate the matter.
Finding this to be completely repulsive and unacceptable, and yet wanting to preserve the reputation of our family temple, I sent a formal complaint to the management committee of the temple charging Bhave for his behavior, demanding he be fired, and pointing to the CCTV security footage from that area of the temple as evidence. THREE WEEKS later the committee responded saying they would not be taking any action and we were free to take up this case with the ‘relevant authorities’. During this time, we found out by chance that another 20-year old girl from Mumbai had filed a complaint against the same priest for a nearly identical incident 8 days prior to my visit, and had received the same noncommittal response from the temple management. The day after we received their response from the management, my mom filed a police report/ FIR on my behalf with the Goa Police, and a few days later the other girl also lodged another FIR.
Around this same time, the formal complaints which the both of us had written to the temple management went viral on WhatsApp to everyone in the community, and news sources picked it up. Overnight every regional news source in Goa and every national paper all over India was carrying the story. 10 days ago the matter went to court for the first time for Bhave’s bail, where his defense argued that me and the other girl must be conspiring together for publicity and to tarnish the reputation of the temple, and we had mistaken his gentlemanly affectionate behavior for something more sinister. Our public prosecutor argued that me and the other girl had never met (and have still never met) and could have no ulterior motives, and Bhave was already a HABITUAL offender and would possibly target many other girls while out on bail. Yesterday, the judge in Goa gave her verdict of DENYING Bhave’s bail. As of now, Bhave is ABSCONDING from arrest and is yet to go to jail where he now legally belongs. I don’t know where this case will go in the years to come, but for now this court ruling is a big victory for everyone who has been fighting for me and the other girl, and for all the girls who have undoubtedly faced similar experiences at his hands in silence, and the many more who would have suffered in the future if not for this ongoing case.
A few points that I want share about this entire experience for other girls who hopefully won’t, but one day may find themselves in a position similar to mine:
1. A lot of people asked why I didn’t yell or even hit him right when it happened. Or why my family didn’t file a police report in Goa the same day. In the moment, I reacted with shock because I have been raised to have utmost respect for the temple and our priests, and not question many practices associated with them. I was genuinely shocked about what was happening given that this is someone I have seen once a year while growing up. I needed time to process the incident, and my family needed time to decide on the best course of action. In hindsight while I could have reacted differently, I also believe that the actions that have taken place in the last month will have a more permanent impact on the running of the temple and putting a stop to such behavior.
2. “Is this honestly really even a big deal? These things happen all time. Why don’t you just forget about it and move on, that’ll be much easier.” This is actually what makes me the saddest, and is something I’ve heard mostly from women. The bottom line is that nobody can touch me ANYWHERE without my permission. Yes, it would have been easier for me to forget about this incident and move on, but the complacency we’ve come to have as women from facing these sorts of incidents regularly from passersby on commutes etc. is truly depressing. As a result, many women have become desensitized to being taken advantage of, and because most of the time no action is taken at all, repeat offenders continue to get away with it. In this case, Bhave’s perverted behavior stops with me, and I hope in due time, that we develop a no-tolerance policy to such behavior.
3. I have been very fortunate with a lot of factors in my favor: the good judgement to recognize that what was happening that day was in every way wrong, the education and support to take steps to stand up for myself, and that my family has taken this forward. I recognize that not everyone who experiences these things has these resources, but I HIGHLY encourage everyone to at least tell someone they trust. Information is power, and it is only because the secretary of the temple confused our two cases and accidentally told us about the other girl’s complaint that we were able to connect with her family and our case became twice as strong with our joint police reports. It was also by reading the Facebook post of another acquaintance a few years ago, that I remembered that perpetrators are discouraged from doing such acts not by harsh punishments, but by the fear of being caught. It is imperative to trust your gut about how a situation is going and call out such behavior.
4. “It’s a pure reformist attitude and these girls have links to America, and are broad-minded. They are not village girls. This is the new generation of girls” — If you can believe it, this was part of Bhave’s defense attorney’s statement AGAINST me in court. I never imagined these words would be used in a negative connotation, because honestly they sound like the biggest compliment anyone could have paid me. However, what he was implying was that we were too educated and too bold for our own good. Little did he expect that these are the very factors that have now determined that his client belongs in jail.
5. This point should not even bear mentioning, but since it has become a point of debate: A lot of people have questioned what I was wearing that day. Just to clarify, whether it was a prom dress or a saree, Hindu priests never, ever touch any part of a woman’s body. As it happens, the priest’s traditional dress is a simple silk cloth around his waist, and I was wearing a traditional salwar kameez and was covered from head to toe as I am when I visit any holy place, but as I said this detail is totally irrelevant to the case. On a similar note, many (including Bhave’s defense) questioned the caste of the other girl and whether she should have been allowed into the temple in the first place. I can’t even bear to get into how it doesn’t change the actions that the managing committee should have taken when they first received our formal complaints.
6. Lastly, although I took the first step of writing a formal complaint to the temple committee, every step taken in this process since then has been by my parents, my dad’s brothers, and the rest of my extended family in India who have been working round-the-clock to ensure justice. I have been back at med school for the last 3 weeks, and if it wasn’t for their indignation on my behalf and unconditional love, I would probably have given up a long time ago. Countless others have been instrumental in working towards this. Also, in every article about this incident, I have been referred to as a “victim” or the “U.S. based medical student”. Part of the reason I am sharing this whole experience is because I refuse to be the anonymous victim to someone else’s wrong doing. Instead, I will claim ownership over this incident, have ensured that the guilty party has been shamed and punished, and then move on with my own life.
Once again, I am writing this to raise awareness that unfortunately incidents like these are commonplace, even when you least expect it and from people you least expect it. Some people have reacted to my story with disbelief because the perpetrator was a holy priest in the most famous temple in Goa. Many people also expressed doubt that this case would go anywhere because of the power and money behind the temple (ironically donated by many families like ours over many decades). Unfortunately evil can lurk anywhere, but regardless of who it is, you ALWAYS have a voice, options and the rights to never let anyone take advantage of you.
photo credit: alchetron
The FBI recently tweeted about the history of its famous, or infamous, 10 Most Wanted list. Out of curiosity I went online to check out who the current fugitives from the law on the list are. I was surprised to learn one of them is Indian-born Bhadreshkumar Chetanbhai Patel, a man who brutally murdered his wife by repeatedly stabbing her at the Dunkin Donuts where they worked in Maryland, and made a run for it, potentially abroad. Please see video above for more details.
I know that a lot of Indians and others around the world visit this site and don’t like these kinds of headlines giving us all a bad name. If any of you have info about Patel and are willing to call this one in, there is a reward of up to $100,000 waiting for you. I would love one of my readers to be the one to help nail this alleged monster’s ass to the wall.
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor