Sunday, 30 July 2017

Movie Review: The Big Sick

(Some mild spoilers ahead, although this isn't really a mystery story that can be ruined by spoilers.)

I first heard about this movie from a friend's positive post on Facebook, and I saw it at the movies earlier tonight.

The Big Sick - if you haven't seen this movie, do so at once

To most people, The Big Sick would seem to fit into the rom-com genre, but to me, it was much more than that.

For a start, it's not fiction. Not only is this the true story of Pakistani-American comedian Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon, the cultural conflict that strikes at their relationship is one that is playing out right at this moment across thousands of immigrant families in Western countries. That cultural conflict is something that fills me with indignation, and I'll return to that later after I've discussed the movie itself.

Rarely have I seen such a tight script, because the movie moves from scene to scene without a single boring moment. There's humour, there are witty conversations, there's emotion and there are some important questions to ponder, and they're all seamlessly blended together into a smooth-flowing narrative. My only disappointment was when the movie ended. I wanted to keep watching!

As a South Asian myself (although importantly, not a Pakistani or a Muslim), I was able to emotionally straddle both the worlds depicted here - the Western and the non-Western. I must say that Western societies are relatively guileless in the way they approach the world. The older, non-Western cultures may seem to be richer in their traditions, but they're also saddled with baggage that only they believe to be a strength. The depiction of the Pakistani family's superficial integration into Western society was authentic (they all spoke fluent English and used Western cultural idioms effortlessly), as was the line they drew at intermarriage.

Kumail's character developed as the movie progressed, and he was a pleasant surprise. Initially, he seemed to be just a smooth talker with no more than a physical interest in bedding as many girls as he could seduce. But as time went on, he displayed a more serious and caring side. Zoe Kazan as Emily (with her surname changed to Gardner for the movie) was extremely cute and endearing. She seemed somewhat young for her character, and this vaguely disturbed me. Anupam Kher struck the right note as Kumail's father. I personally dislike Kher for his political views, but have to admit that as an actor, he's reliably pitch-perfect. Adeel Akhtar as Kumail's brother was convincing too. However, Zenobia Shroff as Kumail's mother seemed more of a caricature than a three-dimensional character. That was probably the one tiny flaw in the movie.

Kumail Nanjiani, who plays himself and tells his own real-life story

The endearing Zoe Kazan as Emily Gardner

Ray Romano as Emily's father Terry, and Holly Hunter as mother Beth, portrayed such realistic and believable characters that I believe they did more than Kumail to make the movie gripping and authentic at the same time. They were amazingly real people.

Ray Romano and Holly Hunter in a masterful performance as Emily's parents

Something that may slip past unnoticed is the heartwarming camaraderie among stand-up comedians, even though they are in competition for recognition and career progress. I really liked the scenes of interaction between Kumail and his comedian friends.

One minor character I had a lot of sympathy for was Khadija played by Vella Lovell (who surprisingly is not of South Asian descent in spite of her convincing appearance). If Kumail had not been involved with Emily already, Khadija would have been a good match for him. Arranged marriages are terrible when taken to extremes (coercion and in-breeding are two obvious negatives), but they can also make for some excellent matches between people who would not otherwise have met. The brief and poignant scene with Khadija hinted at a possible alternative pairing in a parallel universe that could have worked out very well.

Vella Lovell as Khadija - Ms Right in a parallel universe

And now to return to my feelings of indignation.

I cannot understand why people would migrate from their native countries to a Western one if they aren't open to the possibility that their children may marry someone from another community. If they're so closed-minded, they should simply stay home! It strikes me as terribly selfish and bigoted that many immigrants look upon Western societies as existing merely to provide them a safe, stable and comfortable living, but not as an equally respectable culture that could influence them. I've personally seen this attitude among many Indians in Australia. We want homes in the most upmarket areas, and we expect to experience no discrimination in our careers, but we want our children to marry only within the Indian community. I have no hesitation in calling this attitude bigotry.

And it's this question that is left unresolved at the end of the movie. Sure, the couple have a happy reconciliation, but Kumail is estranged from his family. We don't see them come around, and so they don't learn anything valuable and grow as people. This is one of the worst aspects of multiculturalism as it is practised. It's all take and no give. I have to marvel at the tolerance of the West towards its insular immigrants.

As I said, this was much more than a movie or a simple rom-com to me. It addresses a very real and disturbing phenomenon - the bigotry of immigrants towards their adoptive society, which is far more prevalent but far less spoken about than the racism that immigrants may face from Westerners.

For a rivetting tale, authentic and endearing characters, and a thought-provoking set of questions, I give this movie 4.5 stars out of 5.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Saving Safe Schools From The Bigoted ACL (Australian Christian Lobby)

An innocuous-looking item appeared in my Facebook feed yesterday that told me a protest was being planned today against the Australian Christian Lobby's conference on "Gender Theory: Casualties and Consequences". The ACL has attacked the Safe Schools initiative, a program meant to protect young LGBTQIA persons in schools from bullying and harassment. As is usual with religion-based ideologies, the human issue of vulnerable young people needing support at a difficult period in their lives takes a back seat to religious dogma.

Maybe there's something to Facebook's profiling technology, because I was fired up to go as soon as I learnt about this.

I used to be a hot-headed idealist as a young man, and one would think I would have mellowed with age or become more jaded. But for some reason, I seem to get angrier about injustice today than ever before. As a humanist, libertarian and atheist, I feel very strongly about this particular topic for many reasons. One, I empathise with children and young adults struggling to make sense of their identity and feelings during a phase of their development that is confusing and an emotional roller-coaster even to straight and cisgender people. Two, I believe that people have a right to live their lives free of harassment, bullying and the forced opinions of other people on what is right and wrong for them. Three, I have absolutely had it with irrational superstitious beliefs being given sanctity and used to legitimise plain bigotry.

Gay teenagers and young adults are known to suffer higher rates of depression and suicide than straight people, and a major cause of this is social opprobrium, not to mention outright bullying and harassment. High schools are hotspots of discrimination against kids who are "different". There are also studies that show that 46% of transgender men and 42% of transgender women attempt suicide in their lifetime. It's absolutely heartbreaking in addition to being unacceptable, yet it's completely preventable if society can only accept people of different identities and orientations openly, without a hint of discrimination.

I felt I had to be part of this protest.

The protest was to be at 1830 in front of the St Barnabas Church in the city. So I went there straight after work and found that I was among the earliest at the site. I saw a few well-dressed, middle-aged people hanging around outside. I also saw a police van parked on the road opposite the church with a few policemen standing around. Obviously, the police were well aware of the controversial nature of the church conference, and were standing by to ensure that things stayed peaceful.

St Barnabas Church on Broadway

Can't say I envy these guys. Every time anything controversial happens, they have to be on alert to keep things from getting violent.

I waited for a while and then thought of asking one of the well-dressed people outside if they were there for the protest, but then thought better of it. That was a good decision. A little later, I saw a girl in her twenties standing there to one side, and something told me she was more likely to be there for the protest, so I went up to her and asked. My hunch was right. She was there for the protest too, and was as mystified as myself that no one else seemed to have turned up. A couple of minutes later, a man dressed in a suit like an usher or security person came up to the general gathering with a list of names clipped to a pad and asked if there was anyone waiting for a ticket, because there were some left. A ticket to what, someone asked. To the conference, he replied. Many of the well-dressed, middle-aged people went up to him to show him their tickets, and I realised that they were from the "other side". They were there to attend the ACL conference. It was a good thing I didn't ask one of them about the protest!

The usher then led the well-dressed bunch into the church. I was a bit disappointed, thinking the other side had the strength of numbers while the ones protesting their bigotry hadn't even bothered to show up. The girl had already started walking up the road, so I thought I would leave too. But when I reached the street corner, I realised that the protest was on, merely on the other entrance to the church on the adjacent side. There was quite a lively gathering there. A couple of people made speeches, to be greeted by periodic cheers from the crowd. There were slogans raised, and I remember a few of them:

"When gay rights are under attack,
What do we do?" "Stand up, fight back!"

"ACL, don't you dare!"
"Safe schools everywhere!"

"We're here! We're queer!"
"We're fabulous! Don't f*ck with us!"



I signed a petition, and struck up a conversation with one of the young people there. I couldn't tell their gender, and I noticed that they had a lot of facial piercing. I'm a square on the outside, but shockingly liberal on the inside, so we had a nice conversation. At one point, this person tried to pass me a pamphlet on socialism, and I declined with a laugh. I told them that I had been a socialist sympathiser as a student more than 30 years ago, and had moved left and right like a pendulum more times than I could remember.

I signed a petition

Sometime later, the crowd moved back to the main entrance to continue the speech-making and slogan-shouting there. There were more middle-aged, well-dressed folk entering the building past a line of police, and being let in by security guards. I realised that almost all the people protesting outside were young and dressed informally. It was such a contrast. All the decent-looking folk there were lining up on the side of bigotry, and the scruffy crowd shouting rudely and lewdly was fighting for actual decency.

The genteel folk making their way in to hear bile (just take the second 'b' out of 'bible' and you get the idea)

I was born 30 years too early. This is the crowd I belong in.

Every time a new set of well-dressed people made their way up the stairs to enter the church, the protesters would start chanting, "Shame, bigots, shame!" One man shouted at the churchgoers, "Jesus would be ashamed of you!" I couldn't help thinking that if Jesus was a real person and everything he was cracked up to be, he was more likely to be out on the street with the protesters than with the decently dressed people inside the church.

At one point, one of the speakers asked if anyone from the crowd wanted to say anything, and a couple of people went up and said a few words. Stage fright has never been one of my fears, so I volunteered too. I got my recent friend to take a few pictures of me while I spoke. This is roughly what I said (although I may have been just a little less coherent):

I'm straight, I'm cisgendered, and I'm part of the older generation. But I support marriage equality (cheers from the audience), and I'm here to stand up against homophobia (more cheers). I support the Safe Schools program, because it helps the most vulnerable members of our society - children and young people struggling with questions about their identity. I think they deserve all the support they can get at this time, and they absolutely don't need to be made targets of bigotry and hatred, such as what the ACL is engaged in. I just wanted to show my support. Thank you.

Me saying my piece, under the watchful eyes of the law

I was happy I had stood up and said that, and it felt like a big weight off my chest. I'm tired of watching impotently as self-styled moral guardians do the most immoral things and get away with it with the help of powerful politicians.

The crowd then moved back again to the original venue for some more of the same. Another young person who looked male but introduced themselves as April then struck up a conversation with me. April was a student at Sydney University, and after a while, also tried interesting me in the socialist movement! I had another laugh at that.

As the cheerful slogan-shouting was going on, an earnest man in his thirties was weaving his way among the crowd, handing out hellfire and brimstone pamphlets. One of the girls in the crowd enthusiastically grabbed one of the pamphlets with "HELL" written in big letters, gesturing to it and herself as if to say, "Yup, I'm going to Hell!" Another man in the crowd engaged him in conversation, and I overheard the earnest chap telling him "...I believe the Bible is the word of God..." I couldn't bear to stand around and listen to his self-righteous drivel, and walked off.

This experience of taking part in protests is actually new to me. I haven't had this experience as a student, which is probably the best age to experience such a heady rush of revolutionary fervour. As Felix Paturi described it in The Escalator Effect, in my student days, I was one of those who "neither studied nor rioted, but simply wasted time". The only protest I remember was when I was in my first year as an engineering student, and a fourth year student fell from the top floor of his hostel. It was alleged that the institute's hospital had been insufficiently responsive, which resulted in his needless death. A large number of students then skipped their classes to gather outside the hospital. I was there too. People shouted slogans, made speeches, and got the doctors to stand there uncomfortably while all the invective was being hurled. After this show of rebellion which lasted for perhaps an hour, everyone quietly went back to class. (This was IIT Madras after all, where every student knew which side of his idli was sambar-ed.)

Today felt a bit different. The generational divide between the people inside the church and those shouting outside said it all. Bigotry is rapidly becoming something of the past, and the future is about tolerance. The ACL has already lost, whether it knows it or not.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

The RBI's Silence Means Modi's Demonetisation Was An Even Bigger Miscalculation Than Anyone Realises

On July 12, 2017, almost 8 months after the announcement of demonetisation, RBI Governor Urjit Patel told a Parliamentary Standing Committee that the RBI was still counting the money that had been received by the banking system, and hence he could not state how much money had actually come in.

This was doubtless an extraordinary admission. It speaks pretty poorly of India's banking system that there cannot even be a rough estimation of this amount, since all exchanges were stopped on December 25, 2016, giving the banks more than 6 months to count the cash.

I'm going to make a bold guess here and say that the RBI Governor is lying. Yes, you read that right. The RBI Governor is lying. He knows exactly how much money has come back into the system, but is unable to reveal it. Why?

Urjit Patel - Stuck between a rock and a very hard place

At the time of the demonetisation announcement last year, the amount of money in circulation in 500 and 1000 rupee notes was estimated to be 15.5 lakh crores. There was talk that the government was expecting about 13 lakh crores to come back into the banks as a result of the forced exchange, and that the remaining 2.5 lakh crores was "black" and could not be returned in the full glare of publicity. It was thought that black money holders would throw these worthless notes into the river (some of that did happen). This was how black money was going to be "hit".

Further, since 2.5 lakh crores of (in essence) promissory notes ("I promise to pay the bearer") were never going to be presented, it meant that the RBI would be absolved of 2.5 lakh crores worth of debt to the general public! This extinguished debt was going to be a one-time windfall that the RBI could transfer to the government as a huge budget surplus that could then be used to fund so many initiatives.

Now here's my theory.

I believe that the expected shortfall in currency returns did not materialise. On the contrary, I believe more money than the expected 15.5 lakh crores has come back into the system. It implies that far from demonetisation having struck a blow against black money holders and counterfeiters, the system has been cheated, and it has been cheated in more than one way.

1. Black money has been effectively turned white using demonetisation, since virtually all the deposits made have been under the no-questions-asked limit of 2.5 lakhs per bank account. A lot of private deals between black money holders and ordinary account holders must have been struck to enable this laundering, and the government is none the wiser. Minus a commission to the account holders, the original owners will eventually get back all their money. The whitewashed money will therefore largely return to the black economy, and the taxman will remain empty-handed.

2. Counterfeit currency in 500 and 1000 rupee denominations has been successfully exchanged for genuine currency in smaller denominations. Think about it. If the money that returned is more than what the RBI had put into circulation, it only means a large number of counterfeit notes have also been submitted and exchanged for genuine notes in smaller denominations. Demonetisation has unwittingly devalued the currency. By how much is anyone's guess. The RBI surely knows but is not telling.

3. Not only has the government not got its bonanza from the RBI in the form of the expected extinguished debt of 2.5 lakh crores (and hence no funds to spend on its pet initiatives), it is now in greater debt because of the demonetisation exercise. The increased deficit, as any economist will tell you, will add to inflationary pressures.

4. It means poor people have suffered for nothing. It was remarked during the months of November and December 2016 that the Indian people were demonstrating exemplary patience. Poor and lower middle class people underwent great hardship during these months, standing for hours in bank and ATM queues, and managing their lives with a chronic shortage of cash. Yet the thought that it was all in a good cause, and that holders of black money were suffering even more, kept them in relative good humour. But now, if it turns out that black money holders have managed to have the last laugh, and that common people have suffered for nothing, won't the voting public be outraged?

5. Paradoxically for a move that caused such widespread suffering, demonetisation boosted Modi's personal popularity. He was seen to have struck a blow for the common man against corruption, and the people were willing to suffer to see his efforts successful. The word "masterstroke" was often used, along with the phrase "He has delivered!" Modi seemed like a clever and decisive leader who had outwitted the enemies of the country and placed India on a path to growth and prosperity. Now everything has been turned upside-down. Modi no longer looks clever. He looks like a fool. The crooks have taken him for a ride.

Outwitted - an uncharacteristic look for a perpetually smug politician

This is politically explosive stuff. If it becomes common knowledge, Modi will be politically weakened, perhaps so badly that he may lose the 2019 election.

And that is why I believe RBI Governor Urjit Patel is trying to dissemble, obfuscate and delay his way out of the mess he has been forced into. His political masters have forced him into this sorry situation.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Four Things That Indian Hindus Must Understand About Their Muslim Compatriots

I've been reading a lot of highly polarising stuff on social media, and it has slowly been dawning on me that a lot of Hindus, even nominally educated ones, have been intellectually lazy in not taking the time to analyse the facts about their Muslim compatriots.

Many of them have strong opinions that seem to be backed by facts, but their logic is a bit dodgy.

I would like to spell out the four fundamental flaws in their logic.

1. Worldwide Islamic terrorism has little involvement from Indian Muslims

2. The Kashmir problem does not concern Muslims in the rest of India

3. Bangladeshi Muslim immigration is different from the population growth of Indian Muslims

4. Mediaeval Muslim invaders have very few genetic links to modern Indian Muslims

Let me elaborate.

1. Worldwide Islamic terrorism has little involvement from  Indian Muslims

Since September 2001, the world has rudely awoken to the problem of Islamic terror, and Muslims are now looked upon with suspicion worldwide. Acts of Islamic terror in Western countries have been carried out by Muslims from many countries. However, hardly any have been from India. 

The curious case of the Indian Muslim and terror did not escape the notice of Time Magazine, which carried an item in its April 10, 2015 issue - "What India Can Teach Us About Muslims And Assimilation".

Since the rise of ISIS in Syria and the establishment of a putative caliphate, Muslims from around the world have travelled there to become part of the group, with a couple of notable exceptions - India and Indonesia. There are hardly any ISIS recruits from these two countries.

Perhaps the best certificate, though, is the left-handed one from Zakir Musa, a former member of the Hizb-ul-Mujaheddin who joined Al Qaeda. He called Indian Muslims "shameless" for not joining the global jihad.

There is thus sufficient evidence that the Indian Muslim is a breed apart, and deserves a greater degree of trust and reciprocal goodwill.

2. The Kashmir problem does not concern Muslims in the rest of India

Kashmir has been a simmering problem for India ever since independence. Part of the problem has been fomented by the Pakistani army, but that doesn't fully explain it. Part of the problem has been the periodic dishonesty of the Indian government (rigged elections in 1987, for example), and a heavy-handed approach to security (AFSPA and the human rights violations it condones), but those don't fully explain it either. An unspoken aspect of the Kashmir problem is a fairly widespread desire for an Islamic state, and the readiness of the more extreme separatists to simply eliminate their moderate counterparts.

So there definitely is a hardline Islamist element to the never-ending violence in Kashmir, and a major part of it is local in origin. This can be frustrating and infuriating to the average Indian, who sees Kashmir as always getting favourable treatment (both through the protections of Article 370 and the investments made by the Indian state into J & K). The expulsion of Kashmiri Hindus (the Pandits) from the valley during the 1990s also exacerbates this feeling.

However, Muslims in the rest of India have nothing to do with Kashmir. There is hardly any support for Kashmiri separatism expressed by Muslim groups in the rest of India. The non-Kashmiri Muslim voice has been remarkably muted on this issue. Hence there is no reason for any frustration that Indian Hindus may feel about Kashmir to spill over towards Muslims in the rest of India. Apart from the accident of sharing a religion, there is nothing in common between the latter and the separatists in Kashmir.

3. Bangladeshi Muslim immigration is different from the population growth of Indian Muslims

There is a serious problem of illegal immigration of people from Bangladesh into the northeastern states of India and West Bengal, and from there, into the rest of India. Some estimates put the number of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in India at 20 million. Not only is illegal immigration indefensible, it also threatens to rapidly change the demographics of Indian states, turning many districts and electoral constituencies into Muslim-majority ones and potentially shifting the balance of political power within India. Clearly, this is a serious national security problem that needs to be urgently tackled.

However, the problem of Bangladeshi immigration is not to be conflated with the population growth rate of Muslims in the rest of India. In this context, I have often heard the scaremongering message that "Muslims will outnumber Hindus in 30-40 years".

I found this such a remarkably precise and potentially falsifiable statement that I immediately got to work with a spreadsheet, and the last four decades of census data. I saw that over these four decades, both Hindu and Muslim growth rates have been steadily falling, and also that the Muslim growth rate has always been higher than the Hindu growth rate. I extrapolated forward for the next 40 years, by factoring in continuing falls in both Hindu and Muslim rates of population growth, but also ensuring that the Muslim growth rate remained above the Hindu one throughout. I also had to keep my growth rates from becoming too high, because otherwise the total Indian population would exceed reasonable limits.

As I had pretty much expected, the highest percentage of the total population that my model projected for Indian Muslims in 40 years was 19%. A more realistic set of growth rate figures put this percentage at 16% (at which time the total Indian population would be about 1.7 billion). This is a far cry from the 50+% that the term "outnumber" implies.

The myth of a soon-to-be Muslim majority is precisely that - a myth. Fortunately, it's extremely easy to refute with a spreadsheet and some independent thinking

It's clear that Indian Muslims are in no position to threaten the numerical dominance of Hindus any time in the foreseeable future, so the majority should stop thinking of itself as a threatened minority.

4. Mediaeval Muslim invaders have very few genetic links to modern Indian Muslims

Genetically speaking, Indian Muslims are virtually identical to their Hindu neighbours. The overwhelming majority of them are of Indian stock and are descendants of converts to Islam from Hinduism. With some (highly diluted) exceptions, they are not descendants of Turks, Mongols, Persians, Afghans or any of the other Muslim races that invaded, conquered and plundered India centuries ago.

Treating Indian Muslims as "Baabar ke aulaad" (children of the Moghul invader Baabar) is not only not based on fact, it is needlessly harsh. If the forefathers of Indian Muslims were originally Hindus (who were probably converted at swordpoint), they were probably victimised to an even greater extent than the Hindus who managed to hold out. This understanding should lead to greater empathy and a feeling of oneness, rather than alienation.

So, to repeat what I said at the beginning of this post, I believe many Indian Hindus have been intellectually lazy in not thinking deeply enough about the four distinctions I have made here. That may explain the flawed reasoning and needless paranoia that I see on social media. A cool head and the application of logic can lead to a much more reassuring worldview than an ideology based on fear and suspicion.

In addition, it would not just be unfair, but also needlessly self-defeating, to treat a loyal group of fellow Indians with suspicion. Continued "othering" of a group of people can cause alienation, and perhaps even radicalise a few in the process. It would be a tragic irony if the myth of the "enemy within" turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Monday, 3 July 2017

India's Entitled, Privilege-Blind Elite And Their "All Lives Matter" Counter-Movement

Those reading the news from India would have heard of the "Not In My Name" protests, which were recently held across more than 10 Indian cities. This movement was the idea of liberal Indians to protest the increasing attacks on their Muslim compatriots.

The "Not In My Name" protests, with the hashtag #NotInMyName

Since then, I've come across outrage from many educated Indians against the "Not In My Name" protests. This chart circulating on social media got my attention.

One of the popular reactions to the "Not In My Name" protests

I found this quite remarkable, and it made me think about some parallels.

How many people believe that US cops are biased against black people? (Indians shouldn't be sanguine. Indian grandfather Sureshbhai Patel was assaulted and left partially paralysed by a white policeman, Eric Parker, and Parker was later cleared of all charges.) There have been many such cases. White people who commit crimes are led away in handcuffs to face trial, while black people in far less extreme circumstances are often shot dead on suspicion, and the cops get away scot-free. Some of the victims have been just children, but their families get no justice.

Anyway, those who believed that blacks were being unfairly targeted started the movement called "Black Lives Matter."

Shortly thereafter, another group of people, mostly white, started a counter-movement called "All Lives Matter." They may have honestly believed that they were correcting an imbalance, but to the rest of the world, including to many in India, they just came across as entitled, privilege-blind people. After all, what the original protesters were trying to say was that "Black Lives Matter Too", not that "Only Black Lives Matter".

Now a similar situation is playing out in India, and the irony is that many of the same people who could clearly see that the US system is biased against blacks have now taken on the role of the whites when it comes to their own country.

The injustice is startling. Take the earliest example. A man (and it is significant to add that he was Muslim) called Akhlaq Khan was lynched by a (Hindu) mob on the mere suspicion that his family had beef in their fridge. Today, it's still not clear whether or not they had beef in their fridge. But that shouldn't even matter! Even in states where eating beef is illegal, the law does not prescribe the death penalty, and definitely not through mob justice! His lynching is clearly a crime. Yet it's the victim's family that was slapped with an FIR. His assailants got away. Not only that, when one of those attackers later died of unrelated causes, a union minister attended his funeral, and his body was draped in the national tricolour as if he had performed a great sacrifice in the service of his country. To an external observer, this would seem to indicate that India had taken leave of its senses.

Full state honours for a member of a lynch mob

Not only that, even when the case gathered international headlines, the prime minister, who tweets about every inconsequential thing, remained silent for days. When he finally spoke on the issue, it was to utter a platitude: Hindus and Muslims must fight poverty instead of fighting each other. He reduced a mob lynching to a case of two groups fighting each other!

This is why Modi is considered a dog-whistling weasel.

Since then, there have only been more such cases, and they have garnered (unfavourable) international attention.

In response, we have a peaceful, home-grown protest movement called "Not In My Name". It shows that not all of India has fallen prey to this "mad cow disease". Yet even this peaceful protest seems to have outraged some people.

The chart in the image above is India's equivalent of "All Lives Matter". And it's mainly Hindus who take this position that the whole issue is being overblown, and everything is hunky-dory.

Well, they may think they are correcting an imbalance, but to the rest of the world, they come across as entitled, privilege-blind people.