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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Waiting for Ayodhya Verdict

Using Hinduism or Islam as a badge of cultural identity rather than acting from the tenets of humanism has sown seeds of bigotry and hate in us. We misguided look at the past for golden age to prototype our utopia of the future. Faith dilutes the ratioanl thinking of  the people and destruction of Babri Masjid was one shameful incident of independent India based on such blind faith.

Under the evil ideology, people lose humanity & descend into organized homicidal insane savagery. I sum up religious glorification concept in this line. One has to unsubscribe to ours polite cultural belief of respecting religions. There is circle of violence in the name of religion going on and there is no pin point for me to mark origin point. Sometimes we evaluate history using contemporary reasoning and perhaps misrepresent the events in our minds. But, the overall look on the development of religion as institutions will help in seeing the corrosion of its principles. Religion must mainly be a matter of principles only. It cannot be a matter of rules. The moment it degenerates into rules, it ceases to be a religion, as it kills responsibility which is an essence of the true religious act.

Repetition, a lack of awareness around sound practices and varying degree of commitment inevitably creates different rate of success. We don't have to go for entire cycle of suffering before we look for relief. Crisis gives chance to innovate and make a society to seek and make a fundamental changes in its thinking and policies. There is always an alternative route to the social justice that is more sustainable than the other societies chose. Reforms require key controversial steps but without compassion and love, all the efforts will go in the vain. This judicial verdict is the moment in our history that will shape up the future of this secular country.

There is a fear of reasoning in faith issues as it is the fear of hearing two voices in our head while to submit blindly to the authority for protection is easy. Understanding gives us more reason to co exist together than to falsely pretend of respecting each other. Unity in diversity has to be the principle of those who genuinely wish to build a country of variety of languages, cultures and beliefs. Only a society that tolerant opinions and attitude different from its own will be able to create an where people of diverse traditions and aspirations can breathe freely in an atmosphere of mutual trust and understanding. We have to give way to love and reasoning than to go for easy labels, stereotyping and violence. Stereotyping have to go away otherwise how much I raise the voice, it will be dismissed as pseudo secular and veiled middle class and upper caste opinion rather than a sound view of citizen.

The ability to empathize is directly is to put yourself in the place of another through consciousness and share the sadness and joy of fellow human. This random virtue will pull you in the category of revolutionary. I am a revolutionary due to my love to deadly truths than noble lies. In the words of Che Guevara - “Above all, try always to be able to feel deeply any injustice committed against any person in any part of the world. It is the most beautiful quality of a revolutionary.”

Today, Indians think as partisans, not citizens. Today Ayodhya verdict will be delivered by the judiciary. I don't know future of the nation, but it heavily depends on our reactions and wisdom. We have to be right than righteous in shaping our attitudes towards each other. We all want the world to be free from the conflict and wars haunting us from nomadic times. Let the peace prevails...

"For a successful revolution it is not enough that there is discontent. What is required is a profound and thorough conviction of the justice, necessity and importance of political and social rights." -B. R. Ambedkar

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On Writing

Only a fool writes for anything but money, the compassionate and learned can share his knowledge about anything under the sun for hours. One should write for what one stands for and not what the people demands. Writing helps in facing our fears, aspirations, perceptions and illusions about ourselves with a frankness that makes the portraits and stories as engrossing as they are disturbing.

There were three basic parameters for good writers considered by me. They are command over language, observation power and experience.

1- Language is natural fracture across communities and it will always be. I can't boast of proficiency in a foreign language like English without having a good command over my own mother tongue. Learning metaphors in a language is like deep water diving into clean ocean. Gradually, one enjoys subtle humor in generating charm through understanding of medium.

2- I was advised by a reader to observe at least for 10 minutes. I started this in local transport and found faces and hand movements beautiful. This observation was dropped by me further as I only tried to be receptive and become aware of the world around me.

3- I am a poor writer in the fiction genre. The experience is missing in the life, a statement that was aptly put by Werener Herzog about film making. It was just opposite to the world of Thoreau that takes the path of thr woods.

Go out to where the real world is, go work as a bouncer in a sex – club, a warden in a lunatic asylum or in a slaughterhouse. Walk on foot, learn languages, learn a craft or trade that has nothing to do with cinema. Filmmaking must have experience of life at its foundation. I know that so much of what is in my films is not just invention, it is very much life itself, my own life. ---  Werner Herzog

The cultural part is hugely reflected in our writing as it embarks our search of identity. There is a constant state of euphoria in the name of entertainment and dose of reality is always injected to come out of it. Also describing this in words of Czech writer Milan Kundera, an individual need to keep intact personal narratives that the state tears apart by violence, undermines by erasure, and unravels by substituting personal testimonies with official documents.

We should never underestimate power of story and myths. Story-telling, history and memory play vital parts in building this 'whole' Identity of the Individual, society and Nations. That can be the power of fiction in the world full of lies and deception.

There is a quote in Shakespeare play, King Lear : We will all laugh at gilded butterflies. A butterfly is already something of great beauty and functionality. Gold leafing it is an example of human arrogance in thinking that gilding a butterfly makes it better when in fact, it would destroy both its great natural beauty and its ability to fly. In the pursuit of fame and success, save your true nature within...

I will quote Jigna Kothari's article from PFC to end mine opinions:  To sum up what everyone was trying to point out when you don the hat of the writer is:

-Know your culture and stay true to it.
-Don’t be ashamed of your roots because that’s what made you. Reflect that in your story.
-Be sensitive to whats happening around you and try and reflect that in words.
-Don’t think global, think desi. It is not about reaching the audiences far and wide it is about reaching the heart of the person you are narrating to.
-Don’t slot your stories in commercial or off beat arena.
-Write in the language that you understand.
-Believe in what you write.

Caste in India

I was reading an article about casteism by Aditya Nigam published under Caste Politics in India in an South Asian journal. Quoting a paragraph on Mandal commission will be necessary :

"What was interesting about the agitation and the highly charged public debate that followed, was that it was entirely conducted, from the side of the opponents of the Mandal Commission, in the most immaculate secular and modern language of ‘merit’ and ‘efficiency’. The question was posed as one of dilution, if not the elimination, of merit at the cost of getting in ‘unworthy’ and ‘undeserving’ people simply because they happened to belong to certain castes. 'Would you like to be operated upon by a doctor who had became one through reservations?' 'Would you like to fly by an aircraft that was piloted by a reservation pilot?' Such were the kinds of questions that were asked by the anti-Mandalites in these discussions. Not once was the question of upper-caste and brahminical privilege ever articulated as a question of caste-privilege. Even more interesting was the fact that the more sophisticated among the anti-Mandalites were prepared to accept that there was a question of privilege involved here but that should be addressed in terms of ‘class’: that ‘economic’ rather than caste criteria should be made the basis of reservations. The question was really one of poverty, they argued, rather than that of caste."

A village, normally speaking, is backward intellectually and culturally and no progress can be made from a backward environment. Narrow-minded people are much more likely to be untruthful and violent. - J N Nehru.

This quote about rural areas will take our discussion further.  While chacha Nehru was right in his analysis, he did little to provide basic infrastructure of primary and secondary education in rural areas. Democracy introduced before an industrial revolution takes hold, dramatically tilts power to rural areas. Indian movies of those times where protagonist from cities where evil and villainous if not then unreliable confirms stereotyping ;

Land is an assest in the villages that shows the hold of any caste in the region. The green revolution had come to India and turned many mid level peasant castes into prosperous communities who will form a localized group aspired for political voice matched with new economic strength. Now, this group emerges as more powerful faction and higher caste movement towards cities for better life style started with the backup of resources at the country side. So inequality prevails even after abolition of Zamindari system and rise of service class as reach of education was mostly limited to GE and OBC groups.

More can be read on this issue in Ramchandra Guha book : India after Gandhi; However the political impact of this was visible in UP in 1993. Going with Aditya article only ---

"The problem however, began after the first alliance of the BSP and the Samajwadi Party led by Mulayam Singh Yadav, representing the backward castes formed its government in UP in 1993. Within a short time it became apparent that as soon as the political pact that was forged between the parties moved toward the countryside, sharp conflicts between the two groups began playing themselves out. It was during the panchayat elections that the conflicts became really serious and many Dalit leaders and intellectuals realised that much of their present conflict in the villages was with the dominant backward castes who had consolidated their hold following the post-independence land reforms. In many states, it was these castes, comprising the erstwhile tenants, now become landowners, who were their main oppressors. And they were not willing to change their attitude towards Dalits in everyday matters, even in the face of the political alliance at the state level. In many areas it was they who had been preventing the Dalits even from casting their votes."

Urban areas are politically catalyst for political reforms till now in India. It was in cities that political dissent against imperial rule emerged and where educated middle class began to migrate after the independence. Primary centers of new ideas, intellectuals and university across all fields of art, science and economics are currently working in urban areas. Our romantic and aesthetic view of village is wrong as change in economic conditions of Dalits has not much affected their social status in villages. It is not that urban areas are immune the caste factor but it is less in comparison to our villages. Only political equality has been established through reservation in government, the social equality is a far distant dream today.

Urban or Rural societies much like many other human attributes, occur along a continuum ranging from the dysfunctional to the good. Not all of them in all their aspects are good. Many advantages are inherited than inherent in the upper caste who lives with an air of superiority. Also, norms of quality, merit and talent are governed by market forces not through the idealistic notion of merit and talent.

I have written a poor quality write up on such a serious issue. On Caste Privilege by Namit Sir will explain this caste mentality in a superb way.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My World

I sit in the solitude to become aware of the world and I was preparing in the silence to sail around the world. Brief spot of consciousness has zero thoughts in it. Imagination complete the illusion and fabrication of the memory fills the void of time, it is just wonderful. And when one is faced with the prospect of death very soon, one begin to think very much about everything. One become very creative, not in a survival sense but in a exploration sense. One need to understanding own nature, as many times one can know too much to be able to have a sound understanding. Even good ideas are sometime encumbered by conventional wisdom.

I learn and teach creativity and dissidence. It's not about exchanging one individual for another individual. To change the basis of the system, the basis of patriarchy, the basis of class, there needs to question authority and provision of the solution as well.

Anybody if knows Mark Twain's dictum: "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme." I bother about culture and various issues because we choose to go into the issues deliberately blind stumbling in the very places the persons, countries and societies before us did, and repeating their mistakes one by one. We can already see from where we stand and can innovate new model for avoiding conflicts.

Naming limit the person, relations and crushes the soul search of identity within. Yayaver is name where one moves and observe life in an unattached way. That may be the path of philosopher, but the greater one is the musings of the poet. As there heart precedes mind and there is only deep peace after a long wandering !

“I'm a stenographer of my mind. I write down what passes through it, not what goes on around me. I'm a poet.” - Allen Ginsberg

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Development of India - 2

I like three points in the recent reading material on the Internet. I don't know source of them but they are quite hard to pass by without a glance.

1- A market-led urbanization policy is the accepted norm in developed countries and one that is recommended in theory. However, we should not fall in the trap of making a fetish of markets. It is often the case in developing countries that the markets that exist are incomplete or legacies of past colonial regimes whose objectives might have been at odds with those of present governments.

2- India is facing a challenge that the developed world never did - of driving growth around an entirely new energy model. Coal based manufacturing or oil led industrial revolution. Here everyone competes to destroy as those natural resources don't clearly belong to any individual or community. That is why it will be over exploited since conserving them is of no individual's interest.

3- Acknowledging the existence of every single citizen, for instance, automatically compels the state to improve the quality of services, and immediately gives the citizen better access. No one else can then claim a benefit that is rightfully yours, and no one can deny their economic status, whether abjectly poor or extremely wealthy. More than anything else, this recognition creates among all parties concerned a deeper awareness of their rights, entitlements and duties. It becomes far more difficult for both the citizen and the government to dodge any of these.

Nandan Nilekani's ideas for India's future:-

Nandan Nilekani, the visionary co-founder of outsourcing pioneer Infosys, explains four brands of ideas that will determine whether India can continue its recent breakneck progress.

Web links on Development :-

1- The Poverty of Plenty: In Punjab today, almost every conversation has a mention of someone ruined by alcohol and drug abuse. Because, everything Punjab does, it overdoes.

2- In an Interview of Dr. Kaushik Basu, India's Chief Economic Advisor makes a strong case for overhauling the subsidy mechanism, even as he cautions against over-interpreting growth numbers.

3- Steps in a Stages-of-Progress Inquiry into Poverty and its Causes; Rationale and Methodology.

4- Commercial Micro nance and Social Responsibility: A Critique by T Nair

5- Look into Orangi Pilot Project and Comilla Model.

6- Malin Mukti Plan : Look into sanitation scheme applied by Kerala state government (malinya muktha keralam in PDF).

Quote of the day : We've had a nirvana of anarchy in infrastructure. It's where we need the government the most, but where our government has present the least. By default than design that is the nature of growth in India It was a decision taken at the hour of crisis when only one way was left. - Nandan Nilekani

Development and HDI

Statistician Nic Marks asks why we measure a nation's success by its productivity -- instead of by the happiness and well-being of its people. He introduces the Happy Planet Index, which tracks national well-being against resource use;

The Happy Planet Index

Weblinks On Developemt :-

Multidimensional Poverty Index: OPHI and the UNDP Human Development Report launch the Multidimensional Poverty Index or MPI – an innovative new measure that gives a vivid “multidimensional” picture of people living in poverty.

Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Index : The GNH index was created using the Alkire Foster method for multidimensional measurement. The 2008 GNH index took a strong view and identified any person who has not achieved sufficiency in all dimensions and all indicators as unhappy.

The Alkire Foster Method : An Innovative Technique for Multidimensional Measurement used for measurement of the poverty.

Index of Economic Freedom World Rankings : India is ranked 24th out of 41 countries in the Asia–Pacific region, and its overall score is below the world average.

Corruption Perceptions Index 2009: The CPI score indicates the perceived level of public-sector corruption in a country/territory. India ranks 84;

Statistics of the Human Development Report : The HDI provides a composite measure of three dimensions of human development: living a long and healthy life (measured by life expectancy), being educated (measured by adult literacy and gross enrolment in education) and having a decent standard of living (measured by purchasing power parity, PPP, income). The index is not in any sense a comprehensive measure of human development. It does not, for example, include important indicators such as gender or income inequality nor more difficult to measure concepts like respect for human rights and political freedoms. What it does provide is a broadened prism for viewing human progress and the complex relationship between income and well-being. And overall India ranks 134.

The Art of Writing

I assume myself as a scholar and dreaming to become a revolutionary’. I am willing to infuse soul rather than image in writing. Even after listening the lecture embedded below, I don't know what invokes creativity. Creativity might just be a term to describe accepted dysfunction of the norm.

A bad phase in writing has been going on as I am becoming compiler these days. One blogger commented also : Once you start getting 'inspired', you may never realize the extent of your 'inspiration' . The tilt between adaptation, copying and original ideas shifts from one end to another. I am writing for awareness of the whole world and gathering all existing knowledge.

I have been advised to generate some positive wave. Otherwise there are hell lots of things wrong in world and we have to pick the priority. Still, a positive news should be balanced with showcasing negativity around. Its very hard to maintain a truly moral perspective on anything in the writing. The ambiguity and randomness changes ours perspective each moment. When it comes to taking stand on the issues, I tend to focus on intention rather than outcome. That is to say, the 'attempted harm' scenario seems worse than the 'accidental harm' version. The ability to make this distinction seems to develop throughout the understanding events, however. Writing only refines in orderly way.

That Facebook and Twitter are like junk food just before dinner that blunts the desire to blog. They may be our instantaneous response but don't give us answers for the phenomenon. Blog is like a patience way of observing and documenting the world. With everything in the life, there is a place of balance. That I am seeking...

Novelist Amy Tan on creativity : She digs deep into the creative process, looking for hints of how hers evolved.

Loved final summary of the video:
As from nothingness comes something.
In randomness comes chance.
In chance comes finding but also loss.
In replacing the observer with the participator there indeed comes responsibility.
In participating with a true heart comes balance.
As seeking balance is survival.
In survival there is creativity.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Development of India -1

Anil Gupta: India's hidden hotbeds of invention

Employment, Investment and Entrepreneurship can change the future of India.

The institutional reform in India is usually the outcome of pressure from the middle and educated class. Opinions of poor are under represented due to their illiteracy and lack of access to information in judging good and bad systems and demanding reforms. Under representation of weak gender and lower caste is hindering inclusive growth. We have to form new partnerships on the basis of equality and not on the basis of domination. In democracy, political parties are learning it. In business and educational sector, its still out of scope.

Our government believe that they could direct economic growth in top down model. The state of India typically encompassed two aspects : as provider of goods and services and as a regulator and decision maker. But a country's economic structures are finally run by people, and power held in a vacuum- either by the state or by markets- allows them to circumvent rules and tilt decisions in their favor. That causes corruption to grow

Ignorance of ability brings disability. To be effective and sustainable, there is no need of political compulsion. Extrapolate only from what happening in present, we can expect transformation. When we start thinking of solutions in terms of the future, rather than just the present our past, it unlocks the imagination and energizes people.

Here's a simple management lesson that I follow with the money: borrow money to buy things that go up in value. Bad policy is the result of bad lobbying. In a limited and closed (localized) market, increased productivity only resulted in surplus goods and falling prices and there is no legal limit on how little you could offer a human being for their labor. Avoid both glitches to see the new incentives at grass root level.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Sanctity of human life

I am not talking about human rights today. I am asking a burning question : Do some Lives are less worthy than others? Today, an American life is equivalent to thousands Iraqi lives. Genocide in Iraq and Palestine is taking place. And all of the world is mute spectator. Do I have to rephrase the cynical quote from Animal Farm to describe about human lives in tis situation : All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.

The article War and the American Republic by Namit Sir has prompted me to write on this issue. I detest military as it shows brute force in countering the intelligent arguments. The ultimate purpose of a military is as a primarily destructive force to be utilised in only the direst of circumstances. But, as the authority resides in fewer hand in any society or world politics, military power is used to constantly wage war or to exploit millions for elite few. Embed here is the lecture of Noam Chomsky to understand power structure at global level (mostly American).

Obama, the Middle East, and the Prospects for Peace
Watch this video on YouTube

In the interest of human civilization and progress, ideas must be subjected to logical and empirical scrutiny. They must be challenged and rejected when warranted. Idea of questioning policy of the state in in the times of war is treated as a sign of betrayal. Every ultra and irrational act is not only done and justified but also glorified in the veil of nationalism and security of religious identity.

In politics we often mistake stubbornness for strength and ideology for idealism. And we pay heavy price for that. In the words of Thucydides: "The nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools."

The price of liberty has never been cheap in any part of world. But, no idea is greater than human life. Even the blood of martyrs was to protect future generation, it had not flown to nourish the belief and life of the 'holy' war. Only hate and war grow on such wrong notion of ideas of nationalism and identity. Unfortunately, loyalty to an idea rather than its purpose is a recipe for disaster.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Blind Faith - Prohibition

I will start the first part of trilogy on the blind faith. Trilogy will be composed of the essay on Prohibition, Denialism and Irrationality. This is an attempt born out of my anger on the ignorance, intolerance and indifference surrounding us. The need to confront violence and injustice began through questioning taboos and rituals. Overall, I am not here to worship what is known, but to question it.


When a small authorising groups such as state, businessmen or priestly class of a given population disapproves of and/or feels threatened by an activity in which a smaller group of that population engages, and seeks to render that activity legally prohibited. Most of the Blasphemy Laws, censor rules on piece of art like books, movies or music form in this category. Prohibitions are used as a tool to maintain status quo of the authority in the power.

Authority wants everything to be governed and monitored by too much closeness. It is all done in name of protecting the weakened from external harmful elements. They put prohibition by depicting falsely to inception of 'alien idea'. The deep belief that everything — especially anything open and external is already and by definition an intervention is part of the very identity and ideology of the image of the authority (state or religion).
Religion and state has always used prohibition masked as social customs to the majority. These victims of prohibition are mostly society's marginalized or uneducated working class member.  Legally disadvantaged position of women, poorer sections and religious minority helps authority to put violence, oppression and discrimination against them.

Let us take example of Islamic theology. Today, Islamic Prohibition is not solving any problem of the Muslims. Millatfacebook & are way to grow in isolation than to confront others with reasons on world wide web. There is dearth need to question hypocritical religious laws that prohibit a wide range of normal human pleasures. Curosity of human nature is irrepresible by any laws. Take case of war on drugs. And only legalizers are the people who can bankrupt and destroy the rackets of prostitution and illegal alcohol and drugs. Only the prohibitionists can keep them alive as they try to repress the need of others. Demand and Supply principle is the axiomtic principle of the human nature.

The affinity for bans suggests the increasing prevalence of a worldview that wants to eliminate perspectives that are repugnant, rather than develop intellectual arguments against them. It is always more productive to engage with, rather than censor. Prohibitionism based laws have the added problem of calling attention to the behavior that they are attempting to prohibit. This can make the behavior interesting and exciting, and cause its popularity to increase. These prohibitionists made a serious miscalculations: they reacted to their failure by demanding the laws be tightened even more. When trying to block information backfires, it gives rise to the Streisand effect.

A conscious individual in this society has to constant tightrope walk between tradition and emancipation, between freedom and censorship. Today, there are many people that have been killed or persecuted, through bigotry, intolerance and iniquitous blasphemy laws. Hence,I am raged to ask this question: Is all and anything justified in the name of faith ?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Understanding Islamic Culture -3

Continued from the Part 1, 2 -

Islam is the answer to most of the Muslims for a wide range of questions, whether they're social, or political, or personal, or spiritual. Within the sphere of people who have that view, and it's a large number of people in the Muslim world who disagree with bin Laden in his application, but agree that Islam is the answer. Islam represents a way of engaging the world through which one can achieve certain desirable goals. And the goals from the perspective of Muslims are, in principle, peace, justice and equality, but on terms that correspond to traditional Muslim teachings.  I am proceeding on 3rd part of essay series to understand the reason behind such views with these three interviews of the leading reformers in Islamic society ;

1- Q & A with Shereen El Feki: A glimpse of Arab society in a globalizing world :- Shereen El Feki is based in Cairo, where she works on issues related to health and social welfare in the Arab region. In the whole discussions, two paragraphs struck me too much (In Underlines).

Largely, the model in the West in society is the autonomous individual. The individual is almost like the atom of society. It’s the unit of society. And that’s how Western society has developed over the past few centuries. It’s very different in the Arab region. People don’t necessarily conceive of themselves as individuals. They really don’t see their place in society in that way. They see themselves as part of a collective. And that has really interesting implications on a number of levels, but it is also one of these really big differences between the West and the Arab world.

While she has worked in regional media, as a presenter with the Al Jazeera Network, and continues to write on social issues in the Arab world, her passion lies in the many projects in which she is involved which aim to better understand, and surmount, the social challenges facing Arabs, particularly young people.

It is interesting if you look at the Arab region, the majority of the population is young, as I mentioned, but most of the people who actually call the shots are much older and so they’re actually not part of an Internet generation. So for them, often when they react to the Internet or there are forms of censorship, it’s often because you’re talking about a generation that doesn’t get the net, that doesn’t adapt easily.

2- Interview with Hamid Dabashi : "Islam Is an Abstraction"

The US-Iranian intellectual Hamid Dabashi is among the most highly respected scholars of Islam in the US. In this interview with Lewis Gropp, he explains how Islam in Europe will change as a result of the influence of European culture and European Muslims.

"If in Europe, you have a – not secular but – cosmopolitan context, it is not out of the goodness of the heart of Christianity, but it is because the social context that has created an organic environment – particularly during the era of Enlightenment – forced Christianity to accommodate non-religious sentiments. The same holds true for Judaism, and a fortiori for Islam.

When people ask whether Islam is compatible with modernity, they have an entirely essentialist concept – not a historical, not a material conception – of Islam. If you leave it to Muslim theologians, the Muslim jurists, the clergy, the Mullahs – of course they want the whole world according to their vision. But the same is with the Christian clergy and the Jewish rabbis!
" says Dabashi.

According to Dabashi, Islam in Europe will be transformed not by Muslim intellectuals like Tariq Ramadan, but by social forces. I was thinking about abstract concept of Islam that will adapt to the Europe and will still be promoting concept of diversity.

In my conception of religion, which is Durkheimian, religion is an expression of a collective consciousness. You have a group of people here, and whatever it is they believe – metaphysically, religiously, and in terms of what is "sacred" to them – constitutes the religion. So forget about Europe for now – if you go to India and go to Saudi Arabia and go to Morocco and go to China you have four different kinds of Islam. Islam is not quintessential. It is a sacred language spoken in different dialects by people living different lives. So by the same logic when Muslims come to Europe, they will redefine Islam. And there is nobody on planet earth who can tell them, what you're doing is not Islamic, you're losing your religion. The successive generations will redefine Islam.

3- How to become a real Muslim- A media reliant on scandal has colluded with self-promoting but marginal Muslim clerics to create a cycle of self-reinforcing myths around the Mohammed cartoons, writes Kenan Malik. The fear of causing offence has helped undermine progressive trends in Islam and strengthened the hand of religious bigots.

Monday, September 13, 2010

G for Government

When the state is ruled by a mob, good lives are at risk. That's where a government is born in the state. A government is the organization, or agency through which a political unit exercises its authority, controls and administers public policy, and directs and controls the actions of its members or subjects. I am always amazed by the working nature of the government and its obsession with the authority and power.

Mikhail Bakunin, the 19th-century Russian anarchist, put it best : “A very grave danger to a person’s moral life is the habit of giving orders.” That habit of giving order and following it without questioning is trade mark of our governmental organization. Myth : The old structures are simply untouchable. This is the one of myths that prevail in our government corridors for outsiders.Even Lord Curzon has complained, "Round and Round like the .... revolutions of the earth goes file after file in the bureacratic daily dance, staely, solemn, sure and slow".

Regarding South Asians obsession with governmental power and aspiring feudal as a role model, Pakistani bureaucrat Irfan Hussian expalins : The essence of the feudal ethos is the conviction that he is always right and that he has a God-given right to lord it over his tenants. This attitude has seeped into much of our society to such an extent that when somebody is promoted to head a state organisation, he immediately flexes his authority and reminds everybody who’s boss, quickly forgetting his own days as an unappreciated subordinate.

A government is always personified form of all the people in the nation. So is ours Indian government. Indians have old mindset of scarcity and risk aversion. We accumulate huge foreign reserve and emphasizing stock piles in food grains. We have an obsession with government jobs that give access to social security without any accountability. Our public issue has been focused on privatization and reservations; No one talk about efficiency or accountability here.

The outmoded bureaucracies are incapable of identifying creative solutions. There is simply no alternative to information flow and dismantling the iron curtain.  The essential culture of government is always pervasive, new incentives or not. Much of dynamism and the risk taking is there because there had no set example to follow.

Change is always painful and hard won if it comes through public debate. A people driven transformation of a country holds a particular power; it is irreversible. Idea of making government transparent in processes has been inserted in common mind. It is happening slowly in India through RTI and huge media coverage.

Clean water, good schools, libraries, theatres, cafés, parks and public transport are clearly public goods – and the planet and its people need more of them. Yet no country has ever pursued an economic policy informed by this concept of maximizing public good while eliminating ‘positional goods’. Nothing happens in the world until people involved wanted it to happen.

My Role: I want to give a voice to society, to take up people's emotions and desires and make them resound in sublime form. This idea can prove explosive as soon as society rises up as a unified force. The collective consciousness as the voice of a deeply rooted, suppressed and yet lively humanism always exist in the background of all noises. Among the many insights Bakunin has left us with, here is a gem I have come to hold at the centre of my personal belief system: “To govern is to exploit.”

FootNote : Those who want to know about Indian bureaucrat, there is a blog: babus of India. About The Blogger (Self Description): Its A journalist with over 15 years of experience in covering economics and politics of India, babu blogger passionately follows every lead in India's Raisina Hills. He is now aided by an enthusiastic team from Indian Admin House, a non-profit trust, created to document various facets of Indian administration. A follower of white ambassadors 24X7, he spends quality time in power corridors of Delhi and elsewhere.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Importance of Unbelief

It is easy to blame individuals without tracking down the institutional, historical and analytical manner of his/her brainwash. IHM pointed out our default problem solving approach : we seems to think we can solve problems while we cherish and protect what’s causing them.

When it is said that terrorist has no religion, speakers are grossly wrong. Most of the terrorist activities are done in the faith and name of religious supremacy. Each religion has to necessarily take the blame for its extremist. And same bunch of speakers also believe their religion slightly better than others. This attitude has come from the upbringing in a religious environment that even if individual gives space to other religion, never treats them equal. Roots of activities of Terry Jones and Osama bin Laden are hidden in their religion only.

Tolerance is lacking in religion in terms of tradition and they are intolerant enough in raising wars. There will be attacks on physical structures and cultural fabrics will be blown out slowly and slowly. We are bound to get only ruins and ashes in this religious wars. Attacking somebody else because of his or her convictions and faith would be a betrayal of what we stand for: Value of our own life. So I believe very strongly in co-existence with rationality and love. It is high time to question what we believe or to be blown away by wars based on religious differences.

Religious insanities are the logical outcome of the faith. Religions are institutions that demand loyalty and justifies each wrong deed by quoting dark ages scriptures. Follower fails to investigate due to iron curtain of faith. Institutional thinking harm humans as its hinders uniqueness in him for homogeneity through hegemony.

At last, we work together in the same space, the same world, breathe the same air, hopefully dream the same dreams. It's about the common weakness that makes us susceptible not just to any bigotry but to political polarization: our propensity to see one another as members of groups rather than as individuals. Human rights, rational thinking and secular principles have evolved through lot of public debate. And it should not be compromised for bleak and violent past based on religious hatred.
Let me explain religion through an analogy of Economic Rent .

In the early 19th century, David Ricardo postulated that a society expands more land is cultivated to support it. However, since the best land gets used first, the owners of that terrain earn excess profit. This is the essence of economic rent.

Brands are, in truth, an attempt to extract economic rents. That’s why Internet start-ups invested billions in the 90’s in the hope of gaining enough “eyeballs” to achieve a sustainable advantage. The idea was that once you have enough people devoted to your brand, network effects will kick in and you will have a dedicated market for your product or service.

Many believe that is what is going on today. Companies like Apple and Facebook have attracted such a large and dedicated following that they can earn rents from the rest of the Internet. Moreover, they will wall themselves off in order to extract maximum value from their powerful position.

Replace facebook and Apple with the religions that have new consumers (followers) by the virtue of default( birth ). When some one start small group of product boycott (atheism), one is not welcomed in the market. Even if the product is harmful in long usage, the stickiness and loyalty factor comes as hindrance. And even it has positive virtue for short time like drugs. Fanboys of the product act as soldiers of their religion in quite violent way. Fanboys (extremist) arguing to use product in most older and faulted versions are wrong as they even don't care about the ultimate sanctity and value of a human life. A product (religion) should evolve to remove vulnerabilities rather than covering up the issue by quoting high number of current users.

Businesses may come and go, but religion will last forever, for in no other endeavor does the consumer blame himself for product failure.” – Harvard Lamphoon

Friday, September 10, 2010

Questions of Identity & Caste

Questions of Identity, Caste & State has bothered me from long time. This article is mine stand at present moment on these issues. I will start this article on the caste matters with the opinion of two prominent bloggers.

1- My friend Apocryphal pointed correctly about mentality of upper caste Hindus: For them, Caste is passe. That is no longer a problem, the problem of course is ‘reservation’. All problems radiate from ‘reservation’ playing it out through ‘vote bank politics’.

2- Namit Sir on famous Shunya blog was telling his experience on this issue : An upper caste friend recently complained that reservations are socially divisive and instigate disharmony. I had to laugh. Isn't the caste hierarchy all about social division? Caste identities have been strong for ages, since folks marry within their own. If caste now also shapes political consciousness, it is because, in part, its members share a common experience of discrimination and inherited disadvantage. If the db level in society has gone up, it's because the lower castes are unwilling to put up with the "harmonious" arrangements of the past. They want a greater share of the opportunities and resources they think is their due, and the primary tactic open to them is via political alliances and lobbying for favorable government policies. So it's easy to understand why caste politics has gained prominence in India.

Dignity comes from choice and recognition in the society. It is the reason of emergence of caste identities and their relation with honour. Every leader of independence has been reduced into mere representative of their caste group - ex Sardar Patel or B R Ambedkar. A breaking away from the past in the search of new identity had began and now, each caste based community is outraged by any reference to the downtrodden past. Shyam Benegal pointed out this phenomena very poignantly:

In the process of dismantling caste equations, some of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Dalit communities give themselves identities that no longer associate them with their traditional professions. The new identity requires a reworking of community histories and mythology. Any reference to the old identity can only seem offensive. As part of the mainstream, they are likely to lose their special identity.

It is largely for this reason that it becomes important for them to adopt dominant forms of expression so that others may hear or understand their points of view. Even more important for them is to establish their view as the last word. Any expression that they perceive as an attack on their identity is responded to with considerable vehemence.

Take the case of caste census. There is huge uproar in liberal minded higher caste Indians to ignore census based on caste and put their identity as Indians only. They are already privileged part of society and don't need caste labels for their growth in any field. I feel data is needed to see through caste based system arrangement in vast country like India. The national census is the only source of primary and credible data in India and is used not just to formulate government policies but also by private sectors. Groups will always raise their voice for the sake of stake in the reservation and trail towards more caste based society. There is dire need of the restructuring of society and informed stats will be more helpful in the era of vote bank politics and social engineering. We need to count caste in this census to annihilate it.
Prof. Kancha Ilaiah has explained this in his article: Who’s afraid of caste census?
"Caste culture is all around us. In the dalit-bahujan discourse, the upper castes are being shown as constituting less than 15 per cent. This could be totally wrong. Even within the lower castes there are several false claims about numbers. Every caste claims that it is numerically the strongest and keeps asking for its “rightful” share. How to tell them that their claims are wrong? When caste has become such an important category of day-to-day reckoning it is important to have proper data at hand to tell communities that they constitute this much and cannot ask for more than their share.

It is true that we cannot distribute everything based on caste. But caste census is the right basis for statistics such as literacy rate and issues like the proportion of representation. Once we cite the Census data there cannot be any authentic opposition to that evidence. The upper caste intelligentsia is afraid that once detailed data on number of people in lower castes is available it would become a major ground for asking for accurate proportional representation in certain sectors, such as education and employment. "
George Orwell's warning that a corrupt system will if unchanged, stay corrupt even if power shifts hands from its tryants to its past victims - and soon enough, as he wrote, ' it's impossible to tell which is which ' ; When a long abuse of power is corrected, it is generally replaced by an opposite violence. In the new dispensations, all that was good in what went before is tarred indiscriminately with the bad. Those who have to face political or social persecution become highly polarized.

Power shifted from the hands of the Brahmins to low caste will have bad affects till few decades. It is bound to happen and politics of revenge than cooperation will prevail for few decades. Slowly, caste will take back seat and new identites based on new parameters will emerge in the society. This help me to understand importance of democratic & political model in this upheaval of Hindu society. Democracy was never meant for electoral representation of all, it was there to annihilate the destructive and violent outbursts of groups against each other through people consensus. It's about the common weakness that makes us susceptible not just to any bigotry but to political polarization: our propensity to see one another as members of groups rather than as individuals.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Daniel Everette’s Deconversion

This video confirmed my trust in the lectures of Osho on Tao. Daniel Everette 's deconversion from chiristianity to tribal way of life is quite heartful. Influenced by the Pirahã's concept of truth, his belief in Christianity slowly diminished and he became an atheist.

I don't subscribe to the theology of the westerners. There theology like culture is so limiting and binary –its always a choice between atheism or faith. Issues of epistemological justification are outcomes of theological pursuit of truths in eastern religions, that is completely missing in the western religious discourses. Here, there are remarkable quantity of intellectual theories and philosophies like world view concepts of Dharma, Karma, Nirvana and ideas of reality.

A true religion teaches man to aspire to that which is “higher” in him. Buddhism emphasizes individual “willing” to the “better” in man and does not rely on grace of God, prophet or any scripture. It believes in transforming the mind and using it to explore itself and other phenomena. For Easterners however, there are transcendentant principles without believing in the supernatural –this is the difference.

I will say today a valuable lesson learned by me on the path to discover about faith : Trust is not the same as faith. A friend is someone you trust. Putting faith in anyone is a mistake.


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