India’s Criminal Noise Pollution

Noise Pollution in India

Calcutta, Delhi, Mumbai, Benaras, Lucknow, Hyderabad…big cities. Asansol, Howrah, Ranchi, Aligarh…midsize towns. Or, no-name places in the middle of nowhere…everywhere you go. Across India. Across the subcontinent. Terrible noise. Filthy noise. Noise that makes you sick to death. Noise that keeps you sleepless at night.

I remember how my grandmother cried in fear on the eve of Diwali. Why? because local machos would explode loud firecrackers right in front of her ground-floor shack. A very religious person, she never enjoyed Diwali that coincided with Bengali Hindus’ annual worship of Goddess Kali. She would cringe. She would faint.

I remember how my father slowly went deaf. Yes, it was because of his old age. Last year, he passed away around this time at the age of 93. But over the years, his hearing sharply went down, also because of the unbelievably loud microphone blasting in his neighborhood. He was confined in his home, and even after shutting all the windows and doors tight, there was no escape for him from the horrendous noise 24/7.

And those are two minor stories, compared to the gravity of the situation. Media never talks about it: they have other pressing stories to report. Like, a film star’s third divorce. Or, a cricket or football player’s million-dollar purse. Or, the chief minister’s new antics. Or, the prime minister’s helicopter tour above the flood-stricken areas. You know, the usual routine.

Nobody is dropping dead in front of you, because of noise pollution, right? Nobody is bleeding to death. Therefore, as one of my Columbia University journalism professors used to say, “If there’s no dead bodies, and if there’s no blood…it’s not even news.”

But people are dying every single day in India — across the country — because of the grotesque violation of human rights. And it’s both Hindus and Muslims and capitalists and communists — who are responsible for this criminal violation.

Microphones blare any day, any time. Anywhere. Randomly. Unexpectedly. You don’t know what the reason is, and when it will start, and when it will stop. It’s pure nightmare.

Noise. Full blast. No questions asked. If you are a club member in the neighborhood, you can decide to turn on the pathetically high-decibel loudspeakers — on any occasion. It could be somebody’s marriage, it could be the local politician’s birthday, it could be a temple or mosque’s three-day festivity, it could be the death anniversary of a poet, or it could be one of the countless holidays. It could even be France’s winning the World Cup.

It doesn’t matter. If I have the microphone and loudspeakers and high-volume stereos, I shall turn them on. Electricity — I can steal from municipality. Any day, any time…and I shall not comply to anybody’s requests to turn it off, or turn it down.

I belong to the ruling political party. I belong to the opposition. Police would not touch me. Media would never bother to report on it. I am the king. I can do anything I want.

And I would not care if there is a sick patient. I would not give a darn if there is a group of young students studying for the final exams next day. I couldn’t care less if small children can’t sleep. Let alone the countless, hapless innocent people who do not want to be subjected to this gross atrocities on their humanity, and their right to live a quiet life at home. A small but powerful, violent and illiterate group of people has taken over.

There are rules of law. And there will be new rules of law. But in India, if you are a political mafia, you rule above all rules. Nobody can touch you.

Criminals run amuck across India. Ordinary people fear them to death.

Extremism has reached a new level — with zero action from the government, police and media. Along with many other grotesque flays of human rights in India — brutality on women and children, barbarism on poor Muslims and “low” castes, rampant destruction of the environment…etc., noise pollution and noise barbarism have become a “normal.”

There is no escape from this brutality.

India is not a civilized country. I know it’s not, however much I love my motherland. I can’t do much about it because I have no power to change things there.

This expression of my anger, frustration and hopelessness is my only power. And I know very few people actually care to read today. Or, do anything about it.

Totally aghast,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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Photo courtesy: Hindustan Times (for one-time, educational, non-profit use).

 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — Nonviolent Revolution in America

Photo courtesy Cultura Colectiva

A nonviolent, grassroots revolution is happening across America. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old woman from the Bronx, New York City is one of the frontline leaders of this revolution.

Corporate Democrats are fuming in anger.

If you follow media stories, you’ll find out quickly how angry they are. Either they are subtly expressing their disapproval — read today’s New York Times article here. They are busy to prove how “leftist” these leaders are.

Or, the other side — the Trump-variety far right-wing side — is doing their best to help their establishment Democratic buddies to bring this courageous, people’s revolution down. Read today Fox TV story here.

Or, worst, known corporate politicians such as Joe Lieberman, who won his last senate election first by losing against his Democratic opponent in the primaries, and then managing to win as an “independent” going to bed with Republicans (he went to bed with Republicans many times before) — is openly endorsing Joseph Crowley, the ten-time well-known congressman whom Alexandria defeated in the primaries. Joe Lieberman is sabotaging his own party, and Clinton Democrats are not too unhappy about it. Follow the Lieberman sabotage story here. He is endorsing Crowley over Ocasio-Cortez.

And because the above corporate powers I hate are working against Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, I’m going to be throwing my support 100 percent behind her. When I see evil forces trying to bring a young leader down, I know this leader is a people’s leader. I know she represents me, and ordinary, working-class Americans and immigrants like me.

I have never met Alexandria. And honestly, I was not following the Democratic Party’s primary elections, as they are always boring to death. Fact is, incumbents always win in New York. They have millions of dollars to spend, they never keep in touch with their people, and they take both the voters and election system for granted. My long activist experience is that in the primaries, 5 to 10 percent registered voters bother to come out to vote. It’s a disgrace for democracy. And media never talk about such apathy. They are happy with the deeply entrenched status quo, where by default, nothing changes.

And honestly, even though the ten-time incumbent Democratic bigwig Joseph Crowley took the primaries for granted, and lost to this young woman, I have worked with Crowley before. Sure, he belonged to the Clinton-Obama corporate establishment party. Yet, he came out to help us after 9/11 when we were organizing on the ground against anti-immigrant hate crimes. Crowley also was a friend of our vast Bangladeshi immigrant community. He has been a friend of our labor union. I have no personal ax to grind. He is a decent man whom I have never disliked.

But I am very excited that a young immigrant woman, who worked as a bartender and waitress (and whose her mother cleaned houses and drove school buses as they struggled to fight foreclosure of their home after her father died of cancer), caused one of the biggest upsets in recent American politics.

And also the fact that she got the second highest prize in the Intel science competition doing research in microbiology. And the fact that she did a bachelor’s degree in economics and international relations.

(Wow, an immigrant activist switching from science to humanities and politics? That’s like me — twenty years later!)

Oh yes, the other reason I’m supporting her is because she is a Democratic Socialist, and on the team of my inspiration Bernie Sanders. 

I do believe taking over the corrupt and degenerate Democratic Party — one seat at a time — by young, energetic, brilliant, honest, people’s leaders like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the ONLY way to eventually take America back from the cruel and inhumane clutches of the richest of the rich. Democracy must be returned to the people.

I do believe this is the ONLY way to save America from Trump’s fascism, and a total destruction of the world peace and environment.

I hope you understand the critical importance of this election victory, and support leaders like Alexandria across the nation.

Together, we can make this revolution happen. Let the lying status-quo cringe.

Sincerely Yours,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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(Photo courtesy: Cultura Colectiva. For one-time, educational, non-profit use only.)

[NOTE: I wrote this article on my own — on my personal blog.]

Croatia’s Lady President…and India’s BJP

Final France vs Croatia

I got a Whatsapp message this morning from a longtime acquaintance in Calcutta.

This man — a good man otherwise — is a diehard BJP and RSS member, and runs a party newspaper too. He was passing on a message, praising Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, the woman president of Croatia, and her on-field gestures after the World Cup football final in Moscow — gestures that became viral instantly.

[If you didn’t watch it, She and France’s president Macron were standing there on the field, soaked with torrential rain, and she was hugging each of her players with a big smile and admiration.]

Now, this Calcutta newspaper man’s message said, “Did you know that Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic speaks five languages, and spoke with Putin in Russian and Macron in French, during the prize distribution?”

The message continued, “Did you know that the highly educated lady who charmed men all around the world by her beautiful body (verbatim, I’m translating from Bengali) is also a trained commando, and a sharp shooter?”

Etc. The praise went on.

In case you didn’t know, BJP is the Hindu fundamentalist party ruling India now with overwhelming majority in the parliament, and is a strong supporter of Donald Trump. BJP’s mentor is the grassroots social movement organization RSS, of which the ruling BJP is the political front. (Also, RSS’ former member Nathuram Godse killed Mahatma Gandhi, but that’s another story we’ll talk about later.)

So, BJP is using the now-famous Croatia president’s World Cup gestures big time. What is the substance of the social media propaganda? That a “conservative” leader, she spent her own money to travel to Russia, sat in non-VIP gallery, and her ability to speak five languages, etc. And “her beautiful body to charm men” everywhere. Etc.

Why are they doing it? Because it helps them to blast “communist” Russia [communist Russia — what a joke!] and Putin and “leftist” France and Macron.

I thought I’d let you know where the hypocrisy was in circulating their well-organized message on social media.

First, in stark contrast with what the Croatia president did, BJP’s Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has been traveling all over the world spending billions of rupees of Indian people’s money. (That is, not his own money.)

Second, in stark contrast to Kolinda’s attire, Modi after his inauguration proudly wore a million-rupee suit presented by corporate India, and justified it when media started to criticize.

Third, Modi and BJP leaders don’t want to speak anything but Hindi, and are adamant about imposing Hindi across India to be the official language, replacing and downgrading many rich and historically precious regional languages and dialects.

Four, Modi and most BJP leaders have no idea what football is. As I said before, their mentor is Hindu supremacist RSS, and RSS doesn’t believe in “foreign” games. When I was with them for fifteen-plus years as an active member, our leaders forbade us from playing cricket or football. Foreign games were denigrated.

Five, and this is the most important thing, contrary to what they say now about the Croatian president, RSS and BJP do not want women to be so free, confident, and out on the field by themselves in the first place. And a woman hugging men, in front of the entire world, soaked in torrential rain? Ask BJP leaders, and you will find out.

Hypocrisy, lies and brainwashing all have assumed a new level. Here in the U.S., we have Trump. And back there in India, we have their counterpart.

With a deep sigh,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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Photo courtesy: New Strait Times (for non-profit, education use.)

World Cup Football: Final Thoughts

Child labor 1Photo courtesy: for non-profit, educational use — The National.

World Cup: Thoughts on the Finals, and Some Final Thoughts.

Okay, wonderful. International Labor Organization (ILO) says Pakistan eliminated child labor in their football (soccer) manufacturing industry. If you didn’t know, small boys and girls used to make most of the $140 billion products — for very little money. I don’t know how much the adults are making now.

But I read a report in The Guardian that the ban on child labor in Pakistan football-making industry has driven the poor children into worse jobs. But nobody talks about it.

Now, Even if that ILO report is truthful assessment (which I do not believe will eliminate poverty for these families, unless there is supportive economy and government, and there isn’t any), then why can’t they use that model to end child labor in other sports and entertainment areas?

Why are they still allowing Disney to make toys and costumes in other poor countries, and in China, violating human rights? Here is a 2018 report.

Why are they not stopping child slavery in the fishery and seafood industry? Here is a 2018 report.

The chocolate industry in Ivory Coast? Here is a recent study.

Garment industry in Bangladesh? A 2016 report is here.

Firecrackers industry in India? Here’ another 2016 report.

Why is there zero media coverage on the enormous sex trafficking and porn industry? Read this 2016 story by a young woman who was a sex slave to Europe’s elite at the age of six.

Did you know that next to weapons and drugs, sex- and porn-related business is the third largest?

Before watching the World Cup final game on Sunday, can you think about the 2000+ migrant workers who already died building the football stadiums in Qatar, site of the next World Cup in 2022? Oh, you didn’t know? Okay, read this 2017 report.

Qatar’s human rights record is absolutely miserable, and they don’t care about activist pressures.

I’m telling you that unless you come up with an alternative, sustainable, humane economy, the so-called elimination of child labor and slavery — like the one in Pakistan’s football-manufacturing industry — would not work. I don’t care what ILO says.

Find out what is going on. As I tell my students every time I teach, “Don’t believe a single world I say. Do your own research.”

That is, of course, if you care. If not, have fun. Don’t even bother. Watch you finals.

Sincerely Yours,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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Football, Cricket, or Politics: Why I’m Never Going to Support England

Bengal Famine 1943It is the biggest lie that England invented football. Or, soccer.

I mean, do you believe that in five thousand years of glorious history of China, Egypt, India, Inca, Maya, Aztec, Arabia or Africa, nobody ever knew that playing a ball with feet was possible? With a set of rules?

Like in Bengali we say, “Shala, what garbage!” This white supremacist violent axis of evil killed us in the stomach, looted our countries, made us poor, and put our brains to sleep too. And we praise them!

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A labor union leader here in New York whom I respect a lot just told me he read about the British-created famine in Ireland, driving mass exodus of Irish immigrants, who were treated in USA like animals.

So, I told him how we read about the biological aspects of the Irish famine back in Calcutta: the fungus causing Late Blight of Potato, etc. But we didn’t know the political history then. They never told us.

We thought maybe, it happened out of thin air. Actually, we didn’t think anything. Thinking was not a part of our education. That is, the education British shoved down our throats. Or, down other body parts.

What we knew though is that British powers violently colonized India in 1757, and in ten years, we saw a historic, unthinkable famine that killed millions. And five years before they left India in 1947 after sucking our blood, we saw another Great Famine caused by Churchill that killed three million people only in Bengal.

Bengal and India never knew what hunger and death out of starvation was. British powers in two hundred years transformed one of the richest countries into one of the poorest. They never apologized for their tyranny. There was never any demand of reparation the South Africa way.

Our “independent” rulers sucked up to them, and later, to American powers.

FOOTNOTE: Shashi Tharoor’s book Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India says that in 1703 (before their violent occupation), India was 24% of the world economy. One and a half centuries of occupation, 1903, India was reduced to only 4% of the world economy. The British plunder was unprecedented in history. But Indian history books don’t discuss simple arithmetics.

If you are even thinking of supporting the British supremacist, violent, looting, lying hegemony, please, you are not my friend. I shall never support any British hogwash.

Is it important to talk politics during the 24/7 World Cup fun? You bet it is. This is the best time to do it. Especially when Indians and Americans are going gaga with British football.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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Women and Immigrants Rising in America. Can India Learn?

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A new social revolution is happening in the United States of America. It is exciting, and I hope you notice. I hope you participate. This is history in the making.
Minority and immigrant women are winning in mainstream elections. Yet, this is not news in India or countries that copycat USA. People in India, in particular, are totally uninformed about this new nonviolent revolution. Media never highlight them.
The people of power never allows them to discuss about women’s empowerment, and they use corporate media as a brainwashing machine. They never inform people about how middle-class, working-class women are fighting back in America — how they are rising at home, on the streets, at schools and colleges.
Big media never tell us especially in a country like India how these brave women are fighting elections from city councils to congress — against all odds. Why? Because it may be dangerous for the ruling class.
Of course, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh all have had women prime ministers, but these are three countries I know that have fallen way behind the rest of the world, when it comes to overall empowerment of women. The situation is pathetic, with the rape epidemic, acid throwing, bride burning and dowry deaths, and massive domestic violence — major and minor.
Yet, even Muslim countries like Morocco, Tunisia, Indonesia, Malaysia, or even Saddam Hussain’s Iraq, and Latin American countries like Uruguay, Columbia, Brazil have better social and economic situation for women. We are never told that in these countries, women have more economic freedom and equality than what we have in India.
We have  a strange misconception that only Muslims are responsible for the population explosion in India. Our social leaders have told us that Muslims have four wives, wearing hijab, and they have too many children. And we have always blamed Muslims, without any reality checks.
I have hundreds of Muslims friends. As a rights activist and labor educator, I have attached with hundreds of Muslims — both men and women — from Bangladesh to Bolivia, Iran to Indonesia, Pakistan to Peru. That “four wives, countless children” propaganda is bogus. I am sure some backward places, they still practice it, but so do orthodox Hindus, Christians and Jews. In many areas here in the U.S., ultraconservative Christians are against any scientific family planning.
But many of us fall for propaganda and rumor, and they are brainwashed by media talks and newspapers and social media. Over time, many people have completely lost their ability of thinking rationally.
America is changing at the grassroots level. On one hand, ordinary people are standing up against Trump, his white supremacist administration, and their corporate power.
On the other hand, a revolutionary change is happening in the world of women and immigrants. Black leader Stacey Abrams is a strong candidate for the governor of Maryland. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28 year-old young Latina, defeated big Democratic party congressman Joseph Crowley, here in New York City. She is a Democratic Socialist from Barney Sanders’ camp. I have worked with Pramila Jayapal, recently-elected Congresswoman from Washington state. A young Muslim woman Ilhan Omar defeated another Democratic Party big boss in the state of Minnesota. These are the bright faces of hope and modernism. They help us believe in a progressive, revolutionary change unfolding on the ground.
True, fascism, hate politics, gun violence and such extremism are overwhelming us. At the same time, bright young women and immigrants are rising up, assuming political power.
I keep my torch of optimism aflame.
Sincerely,
Partha Banerjee
Brooklyn, New York
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