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Monday, May 24, 2010

The Necessity of Blasphemy - 1

I try to understand the phenomenon constituting of violence, power, truth and justice in the daily happenings. Blasphemy is must for progress of the civilization. Ideas behind traditions must be challenged to know if they are true and relevant — and if we cannot challenge an idea, we cannot know validity of following the traditions in the society. Today, I want to publish without fear or favour and look at the world without the filter of 'faith'.

USA administered Guantanamo Bay or Abu Ghraib in Iraq, Soviet suppression through Gulag, Hitler's cruelty in the Holocaust, Islamic persecution of Bahai faith, Ahmadiyya community and non Muslims, discrimination in hindus on the basis of caste, Israel's action against Palestine, South African apartheid with root of racism, fight of Christianity against evolution theory and countless other struggles shows the dark side of the world in last 60 years only.

They are the recent events existing in the minds of last generation. They are still not tampered enough or vanished out by the propagandist of religion or patriotism. Milan Kundera was spot on in observing this: The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting. It's a pity though that argument doesn't cut it - we have to wait for inhumanity to reach its crescendo (Spanish Inquisition, Slavery, Holocaust, Apartheid, Guantanamo) before the scales fall from people's eyes and they recognise the error in their dogma.

There can be no democracy without secularism, since only under secularism can one free oneself from religious or sectarian mentalities, and as a consequence think and choose with one's mind. What is happening is that extremist leaders who have absolutely no clue about solving the country’s problems are promising a heaven that they cannot deliver, on condition that a certain section of the country is either eliminated or pushed into the ghettos.

Any statement or work of art may be good or bad, the essential test is whether they are worth seeing or not and the authority to decide lies with the viewers and not with any self proclaimed leaders of the society, state or religion. Its not one cause which makes one a terrorist but ones method which makes one a terrorist.

The plea that nobody should offend the conservative elements’ sensibilities should be thoroughly discussed. Up to a point the argument is valid, then its used to drag down backwards to the society where power dictates. There is a ridiculous 'respect' demanded by religious people for their unsupportable superstitious beliefs.

Take the Burqa case only. Societies having people with diverse religious backgrounds are bound together partly by informal chance relations between strangers – people being able to acknowledge each other in the street or being able pass the time of day. The anonymity of the burqa takes the uniqueness of face away from the woman. That is my greatest objection to it. Burqa is a symbol of submission in the eyes of progressive religion (progressive on the basis of emergence of people who questioned authority of religion over an individual);

Women's choice should be governed by their own will. And the right of choice comes through free and rational thinking. And a person avoiding rationalism due to belief in an unquestioned faith is harmful for society, be it christian or any other religion. And don’t justify anything because its written in the religious books thousand year ago. The rational education given to you has led for this ability to question own’s logic, experience and prevailing circumstances. A decision should not be governed by the blind faith and ideological enslavement to a society, state or religion of the birth and upbringing.

I don’t see this as a ban but the freedom of woman to overcome a barrier thrown by a stone age society; We all owe Europe for its secular notion and rational thinking. And they had history of bitter fight with church and life of many good people were ruined along the way in order to define for human rights, equality, freedom and other cherished values of European enlightenment. And, That's why these value are precious; The organic growth and spreading of European secularism happened through out the world due to its universal appeal. I will end this part of essay with a dialogue from the movie Agora : You don’t question what you believe, or cannot. I must.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

In the age of reason

We defend peoples right to say something, it doesn't mean that you have to agree with it or even respect it. Culture and religion is much too important a matter to be disposed of in ritual routine or lost in an inconclusive debate. This post is dedicated to the Indianhomemaker conclusion on the free speech demand : Whenever we think we are stopping someone from hurting our sentiments by curtailing their freedom of expression (right or wrong), we also empower someone (e.g. the government, extremists, or even religious leaders) to shut our own mouths.

1- Olivier Roy is professor at the EHESS and I was quite impressed by his insight on the religious issues in this article . It emphasize that everyone is faced with the need to invent, define, and objectify what religion means to them. Olivier points out some interesting facts on the dependence of religion on the culture.

Today's religious revival is first and foremost marked by the uncoupling of culture and religion, whatever the religion may be. This explains the affinities between American Protestant fundamentalism and Islamic Salafism: both reject culture, philosophy, and even theology in favour of a scriptural reading of the sacred texts and an immediate understanding of truth through individual faith, to the detriment of educational and religious institutions.

In the countries of origin, religion is always embodied in a culture, and it is difficult, for the believer, to distinguish between what belongs to the cultural tradition – and to some extent to social conventions – and what belongs to dogma. A distinction between religion as a corpus of beliefs – as theology – and culture is not usually made by the man in the street, that is, by ordinary believers. But immigration has suddenly created a divide between religion and society, between religion and culture, to the extent that religious belief is lost sight of.

The first significant aspect of this phenomenon of people moving from one country to another, therefore, is the uncoupling of religion and culture, and the need to define a religion with criteria that are purely religious, and totally internal to the religious domain.

The real question is not an intellectual or a theoretical question about Islam; the real issue here is about the tangible practices of Muslims. What forms and religious beliefs are in circulation among young Muslims today? The forms of religiosity witnessed in Islam today are transversal, they are more or less the same as the ones found in the most popular Western denominations: Catholicism, Protestantism, even Judaism. In our contemporary world we are now witnessing the uncoupling of religion and culture, in other words, contemporary believers put far more stress on faith, on spiritual experience, on individual and personal rediscovery of religion, than on legacy, culture, transmission, authority, and theology.

Religion is easy to define: the corpus, the revealed texts, the interpretations, the theological debates, the dogmas, and so on. As for religiosity, it is the manner in which the believer lives his relationship to religion. And, today, religiosity, everywhere, is far more important than religion.

For example, in the United States, 80 per cent of Americans say they are believers and practicing churchgoers. At the same time, preachers, be they Protestants, Catholics, or Muslims, all say the same: "We live in an atheistic, materialistic, and pornographic society...", a society where 80 per cent of the people say that they are believers. Thus, either there is a contradiction, or they are right. And in my opinion they are right. In fact, societies are no longer religious, even if believers represent a majority in society. Societies are built on other forms of cultural representation, of modes of consumption, of norms, of values, of economy, of anything we care to think of. There is no religious evidence any longer, even in societies with religious majorities.

2- Let's Keep God out of Ethics have very good reason to support their view on morality:

There are two reasons behind dismissing religion in general and theology in particular from ethics: 1) there is no reason to think religion, god, holy texts are necessary for morality (indeed, I think they are often retarding of ethical deliberation) and, 2) religion only clouds already diluted waters.

Further Christopher Hitchens give us a challenge: Name an ethical statement or action, made or performed by a person of faith, that could not have been made or performed by a nonbeliever.

3- The Pope, the Prophet, and the religious support for evil by Johann Hari: It debates on this enforced 'respect' that has now extended from ideas to institutions.

Only you, the religious, demand to be protected from debate or scrutiny that might discomfort you. The fact you believe an invisible supernatural being approves of – or even commands – your behaviour doesn't mean it deserves more respect, or sensitive handling. It means it deserves less. If you base your behaviour on such a preposterous fantasy, you should expect to be checked by criticism and mockery. You need it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

One life can change the world.

Motivation is the factor that keeps us going in hard times. I am not good in writing on serious topics with metaphorical sentences. I work hard on compiling an article, when I have something to say. It’s a hybrid of response to a moment of the life with what I read, heard or viewed previously to what I want to express. There are so many thoughts to tell. That’s why I edit the writeup may times until it make any sense. But an urge to improve content and flow is taken to engage readers in the reading process. There should be continuity and increasing depth as the article proceeds. Not everyone knows how to express creativity, but everyone has the capacity to be creative.

Now, turning towards real heated issues. Always in the human history, the sense of realism is overtaken by popular notion of mindless entertainment and belief system. Until, we realize the truth by questioning the popular practices, we are bound to be caught in the circle of violence and intolerance. We use religion, culture and tradition to justify anything that common sense might refuse to accept in first place. And, the habit of taking orders without questioning has further dampened the human spirit.

We simply do not realize that simply ignoring serious issues as boring topics will not make the inequality and unjust practices go away. We deal with serious issues by ignoring them until they happen, and then overreacting. We tend to regulate for that very specific event and close the eyes towards the root cause. Rare are the events that raise opportunities to look at whole systems and get the will and public support to do something about it. That's why I write like mad person to give all a glimpse of the darkening culture of our times.

I have to look at a frightening thing head-on to defeat its ability to cause fear in us. I rely on the double edged sword of reason and love to enlighten myself and others. Reason is the question & love is the answer to all the existing problems in the world. Hoping that you got my point. One life can change the world.

Thought of the Day: All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become. - Buddha

Lets end with a YouTube video. Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

Ten Issues - 2

I am not interested in sensationalism in these sensitive times. I talk about phenomenon in the state of cultural stagnation and political apathy. Reading and education is do ours bit to build democracy as effectiveness of democracy depends on the awareness of its citizens.

1- Indianhomemaker tells us: What do men need liberation from ?

2- Half of India doesn’t even have access to the judiciary. what do courts mean to them? Lawyer Prashant Bhushan speaks to Amit Sengupta of Tehleka on Who is a public intellectual, who can pass for one in India?

3- Amrita Preetam Imroz : A love Story of a Poet and a Painter. Just read to understand the intimacy of the love and poetry.

4- Dubai for a common purpose: to make money as smoothly and painlessly as possible, even if that means turning a blind eye.

5- Greg Satell explains: The Difference between Social Media and Social Networks.

6- From fields to a BPO in 6 months : A first-of-its-kind women-only BPO started by 'Harva' in a Haryana village is all set to harness the rural talent while changing the rigid mindset of the people, transforming rural economy, writes Hemlata Aithani.

7- Author of this post said - If truly good cinema is what survives the test of time, then these three were my first encounter with good world cinema that subsequently attracted me into the good world of cinema! Go on and read - World Cinema : Dark is Mine.

8- By mollycoddling their charges and telling them how to fix each problem, coaches end up creating players who can't think or act for themselves. Is that what has happened to RP Singh and Ishant Sharma? Go figure it out yourself by Harsha Bhogle

9- The Envelope, Please: From Eight Great Innovative Tools, Which Ones Are the Winners? published by April 22, 2010 in India Knowledge@Wharton

10- Who is easily manipulated? A valid question asked by Seth Godin on advertisements.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Eat, Drink and Sleep. Is this a life ?

One more autobiographical account expressed in quotes and personal experiences. Alas ! I wish to look into the nature of things but with no idea, with no prejudice, with no presupposition. Just putting here thoughts that is fabricating my existence at present ---

Can I start from scratch ? If I am thrown out of my job with no family support, could I achieve my goals even then ? This thought is roaming around my mind. I have no practical knowledge of realities except few times what I observed in my limited social life. That's why wanted to pursue the unknown path for an urban youth.

Am I really living ? I always feel like an old soul in a young man’s body. Now, an intensely moving exploration of identity has been halted by newly acquired wisdom. I see the futility of every intentions through duality of actions. Nature is half reveal and half conceal the soul within. So what is this idea of living in an eternal recurrence of hate and love.

If I love you, what business is it of yours? The way to love anything is to realize that it will end next moment. I look to her wondering what she might be thinking but never had courage to say a word. I also have a lot of cupid tales to tell and its always one sided and tragic. This lead to another quoatation: Every Jack has Jill. But I am not Jack :-P

Play it safe: Obedience and blind attachment to the social environment has made me to go for secure life than a risky adventurous trip. Playing safe is out of fear and it is call sacrifice for future and security in the life. I am not victim of my circumstances but a warrior against it...

Loss of an Identity: I want to be free from obligations, bonds and relations. They are appearing burden to me. I am reading Osho's book on Tao from 2 months. It has killed the traces of ambition, sense of morality, urge of an identity and even comparative spirit. I want to become empty and useless then nobody can use me.

It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me : I write to express myself freely in diplomatic world and not to entertain the public. In solitude, my writing has become better. If I’d got diverted to thinking about publicity, my creative powers become weakened. Unhappiness is a natural consequence of a split personality inside me. I want to do what I love !

A past to be erased: I'm a person that always looks back on my life, and it isn't that all pleasant to me. I have a lot of great memories to share; Also, there are really dark memories too and I don't go there. So much overburdened by guilt feeling. Does saying sorry amend the wrong doings ?

Looking backward, walking forward: I had said and written many wrong things about girls in the past. I realized now how wrong and arrogant I was. New insights can't change past, but hoping for forgiveness from everyone.

Independent Life: I fear the habit of subservience is as deeply ingrained in our society as the desire to give orders or to become a follower. A very grave danger to a person’s life is the habit of giving orders. To be bounded by any set of moral rules will make one immoral. I don't say yes or no to morals. They just don't exist for me !

Success breeds confidence: I am avoiding the concept of success or failure as it .I wanna be a living lesson that while slow and steady may not hit the target always, it sure does make the ride worth taking. Unwavering belief in myself and passion to keep striving till very end will help in the life.

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People : Aliveness comes when you are alone. Solitude is the blessing that comes with the curse of loneliness. I love people but without hope. And all of us know expectations hurts. A deadness occurs in relationships when people are no longer willing to share with each other how they really feel. Result comes out as draging burden of responsibilities to avoid confrontation. I came to understand that labeling a relationships don’t allow any freedom. Relations are dynamic in nature...

Touching the Void: Where is the life I have lost in living? The closer I feel to death, the more I realize as alive. I want to sense everything now. The secret for fun in present is to enjoy life and beauty all around but never to want to possess them. As it is said that life is not what one lived but how one remembers it...

Thought of the Day: So often, we give in to our fears because we are afraid of the consequences of our righteous actions. Every time we give in, we lose our dignity little by little, and after a while we lose our self-esteem because we believe in the lie that there are powerful people who have control over our lives. We fail to realise that we can stand up for the truth. - By Mahesh Dattani

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Two Poems

1- When mind speaks :-

Condemn me
You will know the weak points in my thinking.
Let the mind open to ideas
Let heart be open to love.
I will write and speak words
Let myth and logic guide me home
I am on the journey of life
A lone ranger deep inside

Surreal and dreams are intertwined
Comfort is the zone of mind
The heart transcends all boundaries
The border of origin and faith be fallen
Hoax of god should over now
This prank is making me schizophrenic
Identity crisis rises again and again
Let there be end of this elliptical loop of suffering
Let I be reborn or embrace the death !
Alas, nothing changes in passing moments.

2- When heart speaks: -

O Baran (Rain in persian) ! tu kahan hai ?
My eyes are thirsty for you
Waiting for the shower of love
Yah ek tadptaa hua aashiyaan hai.

O hawa! tere rah mein dekhoon
Want to smell the earth after the rain
To become mad in that fragrance
Kitne paloon se tera intezaar hai.

O Minnale (Thunderblot in tamil) ! tu ek jhalak de de
Want to lose identity in our union
I saw beloved in the mirror of clouds
Zindagi mein sohbat yaar ki kara de.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I don't walk Left

Question- How do society cope with its problems ?

Answer- In the first step, Intellects of the community discover the malpractices going in the society. They are noticed by all but not viewed as problem in the general conscious of the group in the authority (monetary and political in charge). Intellects present the problem so that its long term ill effects can be understand by the individuals. Then in final step, they modify or replace the practice with the new one. Hence, society moves from one processing system to other till the existing one corrupts. But this minority of intellect of the society breeds in the environment where rational voice is not suppressed by the fear of violence of authority or extremists. Thus how society evolve and their idea of justice expands. All human rights & social equality movements have given value to this freedom and democracy of the human life.

The basic condition of the peaceful co existence in diverse society (each group is diverse in the nature) is the free flow of the knowledge. The society barred from the information flow is doomed to rise in confusion and paranoia. Conspiracy theories arise in the closed community and dissent is taken as disloyalty. The state will try to push only single voice with false propaganda through news network, intelligence agencies and rewriting history books. The environment of fear soon spreads epidemically and vociferous supporter of new propaganda theories become associated with the party.

The reality will collide with the narrow closed assumptions of state and religion. A state governed by too much closeness wants to avoid terror of 'globalized world under capitalism' in name of protecting the weakened. The deep belief that everything—especially anything pro western (capitalistic)—is already and by definition an intervention is part of the very identity and ideology of the Communist and Islamic theocracy. So even moderates are regards as corrupts and betrayer in their own society.

An abolished censorship, tolerated artistic freedom, eased travel restrictions and allowed new civic movements to come into existence, they merely created a virus that threatened the communist system. The absurdity of the ruling system could be counted on; what was necessary in the meanwhile was the refusal of the lie and the willingness to display civic courage. Theocratic or communistic regions are absolute in the nature. Communist regimes become oppressive with the time. The gradual transfer of Bolshevik revolution into Stalin's dictatorship regime destroyed the spirit of revolution in the name of itself. And in theocracy, Iran is the prime example of progressive society and stone age thinking political authority.

There is a deep link, not only of shared experience that people share a view of the world, the commitment to social equality and freedom. Leftwing intellectual mafia still hangs on the theoretical aspect of communism instead of falling to see why communism fall in the trap of dictatorial type governance. Unfortunately, loyalty to an idea rather than its purpose is a recipe for disaster. And that's why the Communism fail to solve the problems. Communism is an institution works best in opposition. It checks the absolute concentration of capital in the hands of few individuals. It is an instrument of distribution of wealth but not the generation. That's why It fail to generate money or to encourage entrepreneurship skills in the people.

I think that it's the responsibility of those writers and intellectuals who are still alive to talk about the past openly so to avoid the dangers in the future. The tendency of outside analyst like me should not be to focus excessive around state sponsored person or religious clerics, rather than consulting the writers and poets of the country. Analyst has to learn and avoid sensationalism in reading the issues. And the issues should be seen as an happening phenomenon to observe and re mediate the problem in the society.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My Childhood and Bambi

I started this post to write about ideas. And abruptly, the mood changes. I was lost in the illusory display of childhood days. Imagination weaved reality of our lives daily and archive it as memories. I have also my share of the memories. I had a pencil box with the cover of Bambi movie imprinted on it. It always come in front of my eyes whenever thinking about my life. The sense of surrealism has taken over on my imagination.

When I was 3, then my father lived in Oak Park area at Mallital. I have fainted memory of the school where I did my LKG education. Its name was St John and was established in 1844 and is located near Mallital. I visualize big images of Jesus on the church glasses, LKG class on the first floor and UKG on the ground floor. And I remembered myself baffling with alphabets.

I have good memories of Buck Preparatory School, Nanital. I have completed my UKG from this school. The school was converted into hotel in 1994. Googled about the founder and got the name of Cynthia Buck. She at the age of 91, passed away peacefully on December 26, 2008, in Houston, Texas. Cynthia was a lifelong teacher. She favorably influenced countless lives through the private, preparatory school that she owned in Nainital, India for more than 40 years. Don't know about her few moments ago, now feel almost connected by an invisible thread. Retrieval of the images gives enjoyment. Hand filled with blood cut by rusty iron or getting prize in the dictation test from the principal.

My father is in the forest department. Hence, I grow up at remote places in Nainital for the first 5 years of life. Places were far from the city. I remember wooden houses, fear of going into surrounding jungle, playing with ice and algae or jumping on the terrace landscape; Mother used to remove leeches from my legs whenever I return home in the rainy season. I always watch hawks flying in the sky and myself pissing on the valley side edge of the mountain road. I don't remember faces or name of the people anymore and lot of experiences are lost with the time.

Life appears distant in reality and close in memories. We mature daily and one day few memories just return back and making us to feel like old. 20 years has passed since leaving Nainital and suddenly this nostalgic childhood experiences comes on the surface. People say that memories are deceptive truth. They drag us back in the past that doesn't exist. I disagree.

Memories reflect on the life of the person. Sometimes an inconsequential event, face or news sticks to our mind. It keeps on appearing and disappearing despite however irrelevant or mundane, it is or was. Few things captures moments about past and future. All they appear as dreamy, nostalgic or as if they never occurred to me. The person in the memory seems completely different and full of innocence...

What was there in the past has been lost somewhere along time. The myth is laid on the flimsy framework of reality. Everything is possible and probable now. I gaze everywhere in the room to capture a second forever. And suddenly moments pass. It just cease to exist. And I am new person in the present. The past was/is experience or hallucination... just don't know. Is there any need to know also ?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ten Issues - 1

The first step in solving any issue is accepting the presence of the problem. A man convinced against will is of the same opinion still. So let us broadened our opinions about issues here -

1- Before the home ministry raises new paramilitary battalions, it needs to ask why the old ones are quitting in droves. raman kirpal reports on a brewing crisis : Soldiers of Misfortune .

2- Taking offense an be a competitive sport. Islam is forefront runner in this game : Not Even in South Park?

3- Opposition to reservations for women in Parliament have centred on at least four points. Step by step Vaijayanti Gupta rebuts the arguments and re-iterates the case for reservations. Women’s reservation Bill – the 2010 story .

4- Need tribal voices for their rights to counter corporate propagandist nationalism. The Fall Out Of Dantewada By Vidya Bhushan Rawat.

5- David Mumford reviews Kim Plofker's Mathematics in India ;

6- In this interesting paper [PDF], Lant Pritchett argues that India, despite its economic strides and democracy, is a "flailing" state:

7- Micro-foundations of Inclusive Growth [PDF]: The aim of this chapter is to go beyond these short-term and sector-specific concerns to broader questions of policy making in India and, at the same time, to focus on the relatively neglected subject of the micro-foundations of macroeconomic policy.

8- Remedial Education : Research by J-PAL affiliates has shown that providing remedial tutoring for children who have fallen behind academically can improve learning outcomes. Evidence from their study has contributed to the scale-up of NGO Pratham's Read India program in 19 states in India. In 2008-09, 33 million children benefited from remedial education through the Read India program.

9- Dropout engineering a hundred orphan dreams. Society needs person like Rajesh Singh as their role model. Thanks Vivek Padmanabham for the weblink.

10- Selections from Dalit Writing ; Let me close 10th section with an old Indian tale which maybe has some insights. A father used to read his child bedtime stories. One day the child asked the father, ‘Dad, how come in all the stories you read, the hunter always bags the tiger.’ The father thought for a moment and replied, ‘When the tiger learns to write you will hear that story.’

Thought of the Day: Conversations have three levels : people, incidents and ideas. The lowest form of conversation is about people. When we go up one rung we reach incidents which have a slightly larger spectrum than talking about people. But the conversation which really matters is when we talk about ideas, because they are universal and live beyond time and space. - Javed Akhtar

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