My latest book is The One Who Swam With The Fishes.

"A mesmerizing account of the well-known story of Matsyagandha ... and her transformation from fisherman’s daughter to Satyavati, Santanu’s royal consort and the Mother/Progenitor of the Kuru clan." - Hindustan Times

"Themes of fate, morality and power overlay a subtle and essential feminism to make this lyrical book a must-read. If this is Madhavan’s first book in the Girls from the Mahabharata series, there is much to look forward to in the months to come." - Open Magazine

"A gleeful dollop of Blytonian magic ... Reddy Madhavan is also able to tackle some fairly sensitive subjects such as identity, the love of and karmic ties with parents, adoption, the first sexual encounter, loneliness, and my favourite, feminist rage." - Scroll

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10 April 2014

Vote with your conscience: reading material for election day

Ah man, election day in Delhi and I am far away in Bombay. I'm going to choose to vote by reproducing my friend Smriti Lamech's Facebook status, something that already has over two
hundred shares since she posted it yesterday. I think it says it all.

For the last year or more I've posted links, given data, opinion pieces and a lot more on one of our PM candidates. I've engaged with you, debated and persisted. 

Tonight I'm going to stop because it won't matter once you've cast your vote. 

I am deeply shocked and horrified by those who choose 'development' over human rights. Mostly because we're all educated people who can read the data, watch the video clippings and make up our own minds. Yet some of us have chosen to be brainwashed by the Modi PR machine.

Which leads me to wonder if its not brainwashed but a deliberate choice to turn a blind eye towards Modi and his Hindutva agenda. If in fact it's not just a blind eye, but at some level a belief that it is justified. That 'those people' need to be put in their place. 
If it is, perhaps I have made poor choices in my friendships. 

Please don't allow yourselves to be turned into cold, compassionless people. Please don't believe that development is a higher goal than secularity and humanity. They're not mutually exclusive. 
Please don't be a part of the horrible history that our children are going to look back at in disgust, like Hitler's Germany. 
Please don't believe that 1984 cancels out 2002 - every life is precious. An eye for an eye makes us all blind. 
Please remember that we have a Sikh PM at the moment and the community has never been persecuted again. 
Please remember that every riot is something to be ashamed of. Don't justify it as a reaction. 
Please remember that the BJP has shown its corruption too (Adani, land allotment, petrol pump, Kargil coffins...) and really can't be the first one to cast a stone. 
Please remember that you're voting in corruption again, this time with the added topping of fascism. 
Please remember that you might be a smug majority today, but someday and in some way you won't. Once they're done with the Muslims, they will, like the Shiv Sena, come for the South Indians, the women, the queers.. the list is endless. When they're done with everyone, they'll come for you, as the old saw goes. 

We have a history of bloodshed and to reward the man who masterminded one of the worst, is something our country should be ashamed of. When we talk of inventing zero and yoga, please remember we're wiping out all our past glories with one fell swoop. We'll be the country that voted a murderer in to the PM's seat, not inspite of his failings, but because of them. 

If anything, this election has shown us up for the people we are. Shown up our prejudices and our deliberate, wilful denial of what is. Yes, it is important to have friends from every walk of life, with differing points of view so that we can have a dialogue, learn. 

But there are some non-negotiables and this, is one of them. It's a shameful display of power and just the sort of thing cowardly bullies indulge in. 

Elections are fought every five years and everyone has an opinion. This is the first time there has been such vitriol and polarisation and it's for a very good reason. Rarely do you get to see the face of evil so clearly and rarely do you see people you like and respect, go over to the dark side.
Am I going to cease to be friends with those who've shown their inclination for this sort of thing? I suppose not. But things will never be the same. We'll see each other in a different light and it's not going to be pretty.

If you've ever felt defenceless, ever felt marginalised, ever felt like a minority, ever felt vulnerable, have family who live in a country where they might be minorities, think twice before you vote for Modi. 
If you've ever thought of yourself as fair, compassionate, open-minded, just, think twice before you vote for Modi. 

On a different note, I wonder if there's any hope of them giving us someone else as their PM candidate. That would be too much to hope for, wouldn't it?

And lest you accuse me of being unfair and whitewashing over the 1984 riots (though in my books--the excuse "they rioted, so we can riot also" is wrong. Also the Congress has apologised for the 1984 killings, whereas a certain Mr Modi can't even bear to be on TV for two seconds let alone take any responsibility for his party. Oh my god, you guys, PLEASE let this not be our future with a PM who refuses to answer any questions!) /endrant

Another friend in the DNA, Pragya Tiwari speaks to survivors of the 1984 riots about their voting choices this year. It's a gorgeous piece, full of little takeaways of sorrow.

This sense of immediacy pervades Kawaljeet’s entire narrative – his loopy, terrifying, sometimes incoherent narrative of what happened in those three days. There is something disturbingly child-like about him. It is as if he could turn a corner and find himself back in 1984 in a heartbeat. The beatings left him broken, mentally and physically.
Read the whole thing here. 

And if you're in a position to, vote goddammit.


  1. After the result of the State elections was announced, I had sworn not to vote. But when I read that the EC was enrolling the Muzzafarnagar riot victims in their make-shift tents, I decided that maybe the migrant labourers and beggars, illiterate and indigent must find a voice in thousands like me. I will vote, for whatever it is worth because I am educated and know better than to be cheated in broad daylight.

  2. Thanks for that pearl of wisdom. So you are not voting because you are in Bombay? And why exactly? Are you registered to vote? Was this an unexpected trip? Did you check the polling dates before you scooted off? What entitles you to preach about 'vote goddammit', when you didn't give much of a toss about doing so?

  3. "If you've ever felt defenseless, ever felt marginalised, ever felt like a minority, ever felt vulnerable, have family who live in a country where they might be minorities, think twice before you vote for Modi.
    If you've ever thought of yourself as fair, compassionate, open-minded, just, think twice before you vote for Modi." Sums up exactly how I feel. Smriti Lamech's piece is truly some of the most sensible election related stuff I've read so far. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Looks like this was written for the heck of it..

    This post reminds me of facebook patriotism/ armchair patriotism.. Fighting/ debating/ sharing articles and when it matters... "I am far away in Bombay"

    " something that already has over two hundred shares since she posted it yesterday. I think it says it all"
    Is that how you judge a successful piece?

    Not so impressed!
    Btw, I have been reading your blog for a while now..

  5. It is so sad that someone as opinionated as you about the elections did not vote..and what is worse is that many like you will not end up voting but yet complain about the system

  6. Appreciate all your comments, as always. As much as I was planning to vote, I'm in Bombay for unavoidable reasons.
    But even if I weren't, even if I were in Delhi, in all honesty, I'm not sure how much difference a vote makes anymore. Mulling upon it, voting makes US feel empowered, but in the end, the government will be someone that (probably) you and I didn't choose. You know it's already kinda there in place already, all waiting in the sidelines.
    It will be a fucked up thing if Modi wins, but we can still be engaged with the system even after our votes are cast (or, in my case, not cast). This is not the last time I will be talking about the elections and our role in it, or the last time I'll be putting forward my two cents.

  7. What ever be your unavoidable reasons for not voting, that comment was really demoralizing... Its not just feeling empowered by casting your vote, You voice your opinion with the hope that it wil be heard, may be i might vote for a candidate who fails but still, to know that atleast a few didnt want a monster as PM is the point

  8. No, you don't get to implore everyone to "vote with their conscience" and then say that there's no point in voting. The whole point of democracy is that it is the vote of the masses, of the people.
    I dislike Modi's human rights record. I dislike the BJP and their Hindutva agenda. But if I were to vote, I would vote for them, because India is facing a crisis and it needs development. Whatever you can say about Modi, he is not corrupt. We have come so far in the past ten years. We cannot stop at 4% growth now.

  9. It really is amusing how you post ''vote goddammit" and "I'm not sure how much difference a vote makes anymore." on the same page. And for the rhetorical hyperbole you decide to share, may I please suggest your friend or yourself to share this convincing evidence with the courts that gave Modi a clean chit. I would very gladly change my vote preferences then.

  10. Would go away, but I realized that voting is not giving up a right acquired.
    There are people, disadvantaged who need representation, and therefore need my vote.


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