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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ten Issues - 4

1- Half-life of the Coal Child : Not many know that the dangerous and suffocating rat mines of Meghalaya are worked by 70,000 child miners. Following them into hellish pits, Kunal Majumder exposes the dark veins of an exploitative industry.

2- Glory, piety and politics : With Pakistan’s two main political parties looking exhausted by being made to play a continuous game of cat and mouse with the establishment, the new generation of young Pakistanis began to look elsewhere.

3- A Short History of Rebellion" : TSI discovers that most fade away or come back ‘home’. Some do make history–for better or worse.

4- Interview of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad given to the famous journalist Shorish Kashmiri for a Lahore based Urdu magazine, Chattan, in April 1946.

5- Of grids and groups: An alternative view of "open" and "closed" societies.

6- Over 200,000 Narmada Dam oustees still to be rehabilitated; A crime that goes unpunished for 25 years.

7- Killings of Ahmadis unleashes fresh soul-searching over Pakistan’s identity : The soul-searching is particularly acute given that the suppression of the Ahmadis is officially endorsed by the state.

8- The 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective People : The thing about habits is that for good and bad they require no thinking.

9- Invisible environmentalists : They forage the city, collecting and sorting often hazardous waste when the city sleeps and by day they are gone. Most of them are women and we have no long-term policy in place that looks at their welfare or health, writes Kalpana Sharma.

10- The Great Bhopal Killing : Read here complete history of Disaster.

In Between, Abhishek Singhvi who is the spokesperson of Congress is also the legal representative of DOW Chemicals (the company that purchased Carbide). Not only that, he is also a member of the committee that is supposed to investigate the Bhopal incident. So on the one hand he is an investigator, and on the other, he protects the legal interests of DOW. What a wonderful world !

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Necessity of Blasphemy - 2

For Starters, Abhrahmic religions are primary monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam practised in the West. They are more based on faith and blind submission than free will. Eastern religions have Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism,Shinto, Taoism and Confucianism.

Let us start over with an analogy. Eskimos have nine names for snow because they know different kinds of snow. Now no other language can have nine names for snow; Same is true for Eastern religions. That's because they have deep understanding due to analysis on the human consciousness and religion. Now the West has all the words for science. In the East we have to coin words for scientific terminology; East don’t have it. Since a lot of metaphysical scrutiny has been done on human consciousness and nature, eastern religions have evolved more than their Western counterparts.

As far as religion is concerned the whole world will have to follow the East, because East has worked deep down into the interior most being. The 2nd evolved phase of scrutiny will start then after. There is nothing like Blasphemy in Eastern religions. If blasphemy was considered as a crime, then Buddha would be hanged in the first place. West regards any attack on religion as a sign of sin. That's why eminent atheist like Richard Dawkins, Sama Harris, Bill Maher and Christopher Hitchens attacks on Abhrahmic religion with logic and rational reasoning. Since human nature has not been studied by theirs religious priest, they look completely out of place in defending institutions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

I don’t have anything against any specific Muslim, Hindu or christian individual.I hold my defiance against Islam, Hinduism and Christianity. A society where one lives as an individual and not as a community is the answer to several of our social ills. Its the struggle between Individual Vs Institutions. Eastern religions are individual oriented while Western religions defend Institutions. An individual is a basic unit that can be changed with love, tolerance and compassion. The institutions have to be made, demolished and recreated with the time. People defend their faith without analyzing it completely and gives no place to doubt. Doubt is the important part of human nature through which trust is developed by testing the nature of person or religion. West waits for Judgement day at the end of linear time and East goes on the cyclic nature of time. The circular nature of time makes Eastern religion dynamic and rigidity in the interpretation is lost.

Any religion must be tolerant enough not sticking to a yardstick principle. You can criticise your own kind, but not foreigners, because they are unbridgeable different to you. The argument that outsiders should not be allowed to criticise any religion is being used more and more to thwart campaigns for reform. Hence, abolition of blasphemy laws and human rights should be included in interpretation of any faith based teachings. People everywhere, it turned out, want the same basic rights – and in every culture, there remain thugs who will try to take those rights away.

*Orthodoxy does not protect truth — it protects lies, for only lies need protection. Truth can stand on its own.*

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sine die at BHU

How many of you have heard this Latin word sine die (which means without a day or postponement for an indefinite time)? Well, it was a buzzword around BHU three decades ago during our time. Between 1967 and 1975, there was a period of violent demonstrations, resulting in closure of entire university for about 2-3 weeks every year. Till 1967, our university was known as internationally reputed central university. Students flocked to the university from all over India as well as from abroad. The political trouble started when Vice Chancellors were political appointees by ruling (Congress) party. To challenge the government,opposition Bharatiya Jan Sangh/RSS) party started violent demonstration.

A typical sine die ran like this: Just after Diwali vacation was over, there was daily political speech given by a local street leader. Sponsored by the opposition, he stood just outside university’s main gate and delivered profane against, govt., VC and university administration. A small passerby crowd collected at the scene, while others sensed the upcoming sine die in the air. After few weeks, sensing trouble, the administration called in Provincial Armed Constabulary to patrol the campus area. This was enough to provoke the militant students, who were usually from other (arts, science and agricultural) faculties. Although small in number, they had strong backing from local opposition leaders. Soon there was heavy brickbating between police and students around arts and science faculties. The part of the campus was littered with bricks & small bush fires. No one could venture out of his hostel, and everyone listened to news mixed with rumours. Sometimes police chased miscreants to their hostel rooms and beat them up. Fearing loss of student life, proctor decided to declare sine die, or indefinite closure of the university till further notice. Everyone glued to radio and waited for news.

In the early morning, BBC broke the news that authorities have declared sine die and all students are asked to leave the campus immediately. Students packed their luggage and boarded buses to railway station for onward journey. Families and neighbours were surprised to see us again immediately after Diwali vacation. National newspapers came out with screaming headlines such as “sine die declared at BHU; violence mars BHU campus”, etc. After about 2 to 3 weeks, we got letter from university that now the sine die is over and it is safe to return to campus for study. The classes started normally as if nothing had happened.

In 1974, we witnessed one of the most shocking and gruesome incidents outside Morvi hostel. As the violence continued between students and police in other parts of the campus, we saw two unarmed policemen traveling in a rickshaw in front of our hostel. Some of the troublemakers had blocked the road with cement pipes. Others lay hiding with bricks in hand. As the rickshaw stopped near the roadblock, miscreants came out and hit the policemen on their heads with bricks. Needless to say, they died on the spot and attackers ran away. Within minutes, a PAC truck arrived and they cordoned off our hostel. Using presence of mind, the hostel warden closed all the gates and denied entry to policemen.

Another reason for yearly violence by students was to cancel exams and receive mass promotions in arts and other faculties. Although IT was not involved in any way, its image suffered due to constant negative publicity. The degrading quality of students prompted IT director Dr. S.S. Saluja to take students from JEE pool from 1972. The sine die occurrence stopped in 1975, when ruling government cracked down on mischiefmakers during emergency rule. It is a great relief that the dark age of sine die is behind us.

---Yogesh Upadhyaya
Chemical Engineering 1977
First Published in Annual Issue 2004 – 2005 of REVERBERATIONS: The IT-BHU Magazine.

Thanks to Shashank Jain (Mech 08) for mailing this issue to our mech08 group.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Idea of Justice

This article give my crude ideas on justice at this point of time. For clarity, I have neither read the book "The Idea of Justice" by Amartya Sen nor "A Theory of Justice" by John Rawls.

Justice is both personal and social in every aspect. Both of aspects are interdependent and produce effects that change the path of society and individual respectively. The rule of law is directly taken by man from nature. Hence, it always go in hierarchical structure rather than equality for all. Hence, providing justice to all is a complex phenomenon.

We have to know the difference of revenge and justice. People want a scape goat as the front face to accuse swiftly and get a justice. One can certainly defend domination in the name of freedom, but those oppressed by such a view or practice of freedom would say that not all freedoms are equal or equally worth defending. Oppressed has more sense of justice than oppressor, hence concept of justice should be studied always from the victim and the neutral point of view.

Social justice needs to be fought against and an absolute value needs to be accorded to human dignity the realisation that my own dignity cannot exist without the dignity of others. The struggle for social justice is against those that produce resentful domination in power distribution in society. Moderation and tolerance are essential prerequisites of development of the just society.

Nasir Aslam Zahid, the former judge in Pakistan said that the common citizen’s view of justice was not formed by the superior judiciary’s decisions in constitutional cases as much as it was based on an innocent man’s failure to obtain bail from a magistrate, or another innocent person’s inability to escape illegal detention for his failure to bribe an SHO, or when he sees a privileged person enjoying a facility that is denied to all others.

So even steps done in the name of development can lead to the violence. That is better discussed Development and Violence: Some Clues? by SouthAsianIdea.

The usurpers and dictators don't like any form of justice. They view justice in the terms of and judge persons or ideas on the basis of loyalty. The contents of which the authorities are totally ignorant of, is terned as treasonable.

Christopher Hitchens summarises dictatorship governance as : The true essence of a dictatorship is in fact not its regularity but its unpredictability and caprice; those who live under it must never be able to relax, must never be quite sure if they have followed the rules correctly or not. (The only rule of thumb was: whatever is not compulsory is forbidden.) Thus, the ruled can always be found to be in the wrong. The ability to run such a "system" is among the greatest pleasures of arbitrary authority,

I had already given my points on the concept of justice in the democratic system long ago : Justice and Democracy. The religious and cultural background of the country affects the lawmaking and judicial process. With the migration and increasing diversity, the idea of justice changes drastically. Today, I have not clue what will be the idea of justice in a future pluralistic society.

Partly, I assume to conclusion that Justice can be easily achieved in democratic form of governance than a dictatorship. Yet, there is no sense in retaining a regime that had lost a democratic legitimacy and operated based solely on violence and deception. The social norms will be violated and evolve gradually.

Law and order forms the backbone of the Justice in the society. Prevailing justice through laws is essential part to maintain justice in the society. How worse may be the order, prohibition laws doesn't solve problem in any field, be it literally, religious, political or economic sanction. So justice done in the name of prohibition will give rise to perpetual cycle of violence and injustice.

The core value of the liberal society to get an idea of justice is free speech, critical thought and tolerance. It will enable an individual to stand up to the dictates of power and to the embrace of wealth, even to the seduction of popular prejudice. And, then the society cope with its problems and rule of the wild is tamed by the civilized world. In any time, I am only asking you to be critical of authoritarian power to get an idea of justice.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Divine Reading Trip

Religion should improve the life of mankind. The war on religious purity will fail if warrior fail to underestimate the power of humanity and love. Too much stress on morals make us immoral. Prohibition produces duality in us where our mind says 'No' and sub conscious says 'Yes' luring us into the addiction of things. So, let the life flow in the reigns of mystery, spontaneity and be full of love.

I have just finished 17 pages of  book written by Osho on Tao and completely feeling ease with my inner soul. See this beautiful paragraph --- One rule of the mind is, when you try very hard to do something, that something loses its edge. This is how we lose the edge of our happiness. What happens is instead that the edge of our unhappiness remains razor-sharp. We suffer so much misery in the world not because there is so much misery but because there is a fundamental error in our way of life. We do not want to touch unhappiness so its edge remains razor-sharp; and we are so eager to touch happiness that we blunt its edge in the process. In the final analysis we find nothing but misery all around and no sign of happiness anywhere. Then we say, ”Happiness is difficult to come by. It is only a dream. Life is a long stream of misery.”

This flow of misery and pain is entirely of our own making. One who keeps feeling the edge of misery and does not worry about happiness at all gradually finds that the edge of misery becomes dull and all of life becomes a fountain of joy. Whatever you touch is destroyed; whatever you desire is lost. You never attain what you run after. Life is not a mathematical equation but a riddle that defies solution. He who takes it to be a calculated science finds himself in difficulty. He who looks upon life as a riddle, a mystery masters all its secrets and attains the highest existence.

The experience of reading is like elixir to the heart and eases mind into nothingness. It is giving me confrontation with my fears, not any shallow consolation. You can also read them. Thanks to Rajjo for making me aware of these books.

Index of /Beloved_Osho_Books/
Tao_The_Golden_Gate_..> 04-Mar-2008 16:00 589K
Tao_The_Golden_Gate_..> 04-Mar-2008 16:00 547K
Tao_The_Pathless_Pat..> 09-Dec-2009 19:02 873K
Tao_The_Pathless_Pat..> 04-Mar-2008 16:01 938K
Tao_The_Three_Treasu..> 04-Mar-2008 16:02 561K
Tao_The_Three_Treasu..> 04-Mar-2008 16:02 540K
Tao_The_Three_Treasu..> 04-Mar-2008 16:03 527K
Tao_The_Three_Treasu..> 04-Mar-2008 16:03 515K
The_Secret_of_Secret..> 04-Mar-2008 16:04 1.0M
The_Secret_of_Secret..> 04-Mar-2008 16:05 942K
The_Way_of_Tao_Volum..> 04-Mar-2008 16:06 1.3M
The_Way_of_Tao_Volum..> 04-Mar-2008 16:11 1.1M
When_the_Shoe_Fits 04-Mar-2008 16:08 563K

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Understanding Islamic Culture -1

Today Muslim world is deeply divided along the lines of separation between passionate liberalism and firm conservatism. Most of the Muslims do not debate with Non believers on Islam. They react and then huddle up behind flimsy and lopsided historical and national narratives about what being a Muslim is all about. That doesn't solve the problem of stereotyping of Muslims. I personally assume, Muslims as individuals capable of accepting cultural norm of others very easily and Islam as an institution going towards reform very slowly. This article is not be beginners guide for learning about Islamic cultural aspect. It is the first part of our essay that is focusing on current cultural environment in Islamic world. For beginners [History of Islam]

Arab world is the cradle of Islam and all the problems emerged in Islam can be studies better by understanding the mindset of Arab region. Arab countries are depending too much on religious books and have failed to educate a generation on rational and scientific thinking. When there is no cultural, political or social movement in a country, alternative forces emerge. That's the reason the Arab's secular renaissance has failed to take hold. Let us begin with few interviews :

1- In an exclusive interview, Tayyib Tizini, Professor of Politics and Philosophy at the University of Damascus, holds the view that the current strength of radical Islamist movements in the Arab world is the product of a lack of freedom.

2- In an exclusive interview, Tariq Ali, author of "The Clash of Fundamentalisms" and renowned critical intellectual, talks about Islam and the West and about reforms in the Islamic world.

3- The Arab world is marked by polarisation: between the elites and the masses, between town and country, between rich and poor. Development will not be possible as long as this polarisation exists. As the Lebanese writer Karam al-Helou notes, this blockade of progress threatens to destroy the Arab world from inside.

4- In a January 2008 interview with the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Georges Tarabishi, a prominent liberal Syrian intellectual living in France, spoke about democracy in the Arab world, the fundamentalist challenge, and secularism. He argued that just as secularism emerged in Europe as a remedy to Protestant-Catholic sectarianism, so it is needed in the Arab world to overcome sectarian divisions and pave the way for a democratic future.

5- Are Sharia Laws and Human Rights Compatible? In their correspondence, Emran Qureshi (journalist and expert for Islam and human rights) and Heba Raouf Ezzat (lecturer for political science and womens' rights activist) discuss the role of the sharia in Islamic countries and in how far sharia laws are compatible with human rights.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Status Updates

Life is seldom dull for the dissident like me. With too much energy combined with weak concentration forming restlessness is the disease thriving in me. So the seasons of either extreme energy or laziness surrounds my aura. I assume that mine cultural, social, economic and national background takes away the liberty to define myself. I will always be bounded by my social network, no matter what happens in the future. This identity question is really big and complex.

I always think my past and say: Here lives a man amongst us who will stand up and question thyself " Who will right the wrong?" ; There was a man who dared to inspire change or spoke his hearts out while hurting the beliefs of his friends and strangers.

Blog has become a part of my identity now. I love to write but unable to write or read these days. These days, I love my status updates on facebook. Entertainment is huge component of Facebook but its thinking component is much less than in blogging. Twitter is much shallow and works only for those having veil of mystery or stardom. Hence, I don't tweet.

If everyone had a job they loved, entertainment as a concept wouldn’t have been born. Without comparison one doesn't loose own soul in the rat race. Also, no reason to hell bent and prove an identity to society. Few lines to reflect on my attitude towards job is enough.

Today, I must confess that I am scared of the uncertainties the future holds. There is a little bit of hope as the future doesn't fit in the containers of the past. I will end this post with a poem :

Men look to the East for the dawning things,
For the light of a raising sun;
But they look to the West, to the crimson West,
For the things that are done, are done."
from "East And West".
-Douglas Malloch (1877 - 1938)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ten Issues - 3

1- The Dance of Indian Democracy covers about a democratic form of governance, a liberal constitution, and secular public institutions in India since 1947.

2- The email Interview with Anupama Rao is largely about her new book, The Caste Question: Dalits and The Politics of Modern India. Anupama Rao is an Associate Professor of South Asian History at Barnard College, New York.

3-The Southasian Idea debates intensly on Development and Violence: Some Clues? : How does one characterize the Indian state and understand its actions on the issues of development.

4- Over at An Academic View of India, Vikram highlights key differences between the US and India in the way their higher ed institutions interact with the community at large . Extending the discussion with more opinions by Prof. Abi at nanopolitan and Rahul Siddharthan at Universities and cities ;

5-Contract Workers at IITK: A Response to Commonly Held Misconceptions : Rahul Verman is attempting to understand various aspects of the problem about Contract Workers at IITK and what can be the possible ways of addressing them as have understood personally with all its biases and limitations.

6-One Country, many Worlds..and a forgotten Manipur: There is a state in India that is hit by 60 days blockade and government is unable to do anything. And our fellow patriotic countrymen haven't even noticed this issue seriously. Also check Living in a Blockade: A first-hand account from Manipur for getting a non political view on the problem faced by Manipuri people. Added Late: Economic Blockade In Manipur State.

7- Sick Man Walking: Satyam’s Raju has been in hospital for nine months, evading trial even via video conferencing. Pushp Sharma got himself admitted into the same hospital and found the former IT czar ill, but fit for trial.

8- David Brooks voices his opinion in History for Dollars on the positive side of study of humanities. Studying the humanities will give us a wealth of analogies....

9- Britain: The Disgrace of the Universities: Author has an argument that Slow scholarship—like Slow Food—is deeper and richer and more nourishing than the fast stuff. But it takes longer to make, and to do it properly, you have to employ eccentric people who insist on doing things their way.

10- The Global University in Crisis-I: Knowledge Struggles in Europe and USA : This is the first part of on the politics of global higher education today. In the first part, it is a discussion of the Euro-US movements against the University.


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