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Showing posts from September, 2012

Gomukh and all

When I took up my present job in Delhi at the age of 41, leaving my previous job in a romantic place like Shillong, what I really wanted was a nice place to live and enough money too.   It didn’t take me much time to find the present place and job which fulfilled both conditions.   An excellent campus (a school) with more greenery than most schools in Delhi can afford.   What Providence (I am an agnostic, please) gave me was better than what I had expected.   A green campus, enough place to move around even in the kitchen of the accommodation that was provided, and – best of all – a cool environment all along the scooter ride from where the city ends (Chattarpur).   I used to love those scooter rides.   Even my wife did! That was 11 years ago.   Today, I wouldn’t like to go out of the campus.   The moment I step out it’s the devil of a dust that greets me anywhere.   Gone are the days of a nice environment.   The environment has been killed.   The marble industry took over the

Reliance-kind of theft

The wicked grow like the palm tree.   Grow taller and higher and mightier.   The Bible says that, though not in the same words.   Reliance Communications has been awarded the ‘Best Quality of Service Award’ for the 2 nd consecutive year at ET Telecom Awards 2012.   Thank you . The above message landed in the Inbox of my Reliance mobile phone which connection I’ve been sticking to out of necessity for eleven years.   I added a line to that message and sent it as many friends as possible.   The line I added is: Not much money was reqd to buy d award! Reliance must have bought the award.   Capitalism is about buying and selling, and not quality of service or professional ethics, let alone moral values. While I cannot complain about the services of Reliance mobile phone, I have a whole lot of complaints about the company’s internet services.   I wrote earlier too about it.   For example, Corporate Greed – Reliance Style .   I have a Reliance 3G net connection.   This co

From a Teacher's Diary

I am a teacher in an exclusively residential boy’s public school in Delhi.   The parents of each of my students pay an annual fee of about Rs 200,000.   That’s nothing much compared to the fees charged by international schools in Delhi. Yet that’s quite a lot compared to the annual per capita income of an Indian.   So I, as a teacher in such a school, would expect certain standard of behaviour from my students.   For example, I would expect that the students want value for the money that their parents are paying ( paisa wasool , is that the right phrase?)   I would expect my students to gain as much as they can from the classes, from the sprawling playgrounds (which most Delhi schools cannot afford), and from the very routine of a residential school. What do I, as a teacher, actually see?   I see my students trying to bunk off from classes.   Ok, you can blame the teacher for not trying to make the classes as interesting as Kapil Sibal’s CCE envisages them to be.   I see my stud

Religion is here to stay

In 1978, the Catholic theologian Hans Kung raised a few pertinent questions in his book, Does God Exist?   “Has religion any future?   Can we not have morality even without religion?   Is not science sufficient?   Has not religion developed out of magic?   Will it not perish in the process of evolution?   Is not God from the outset a projection of man (Feuerbach), opium of the people (Marx), resentment of those who have fallen short (Nietzsche), illusion of those who have remained infantile (Freud)? …” The decades that followed proved that the theologian’s anxieties were ill-founded.   Religious fundamentalism of all sorts flourished in the 1990s all over the world.   The communist USSR collapsed politically as well as ideologically, and people began to flock toward religions perhaps in order to fill the vacuum left by the Marxist ideology that had vanished.   Samuel P Huntington says in his book The Clash of Civilizations and the remaking of world order , “In 1994, 30 percent

Women and Religion

The team that was supposed to make an inventory of the treasures stored in one of the cellars of the Sri Padmanabha Swami Temple in Thiruvananthapuram was prevented today (20 Sep) from executing its job simply because there were women in it.   When some members of the team pointed out that the earlier inventory was also done by a team consisting of women, they were told curtly that it was a serious mistake and the purification rituals would be carried out soon. Why are women impure?   Most religions have considered women as the source of much evil.   The very beginning of the Bible shows Eve as the cause of man’s Fall .   Neither Judaism which gave birth to the Old Testament nor Christianity which adopted the Old Testament as part of its sacred scriptures has ever given women equality with men.   For example, there are no women priests in both religions.   The most telling verdict on women was passed by one of the Catholic theologians, Tertullian (160-220).   He said, “Do you

FDI

A busy shopping complex.   Everyone is busy.   Everyone is in a hurry. Everyone is shopping.   Everyone is shopping with credit cards and debit cards. An old woman was in the queue at the delivery counter.   She had the debit card given by the FDI outlet. “Your identification number, madam,” said the counter-boy. “But… Ramu, I’m your mother!” said the woman.

Sanctity and Cartoons

When The Satanic Verses went about kicking up more dust and storm than a (commercial) publication could afford to, Salman Rushdie, the author, wrote many an article about freedom of expression.       In one such article he argued that the freedom of expression necessarily implies the freedom to hurt feelings.   Otherwise it wouldn’t be freedom.   And he’s right.   More or less at the same time he wrote another article titled “Is nothing sacred?”   For him, said the article, only bread and books are sacred: food for the body as well as the mind. Sanctity is almost always an attribute; it is attributed by us human beings to certain entities.   There are 330 million gods in India.   Apart from them we have rivers, mountains, caves, trees, and umpteen other things which are supposed to be sacred.   Is India sacred?   If it is, which India is it?   Is it the India represented by the Parliament (the elected leaders)?   Is it the Constitution of the country?   Is it the national symb

My Romanticism

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I’m quite convinced that I am a Romantic.   The last of the Romantic poets (William Wordsworth) died in 1850.   He was the first of them, in fact.   Yet I call him the last simply because he lived longer than the others. Most of the Romantic poets died young.   P B Shelley lived 30 years.   John Keats died at the age of 26.   Byron managed to make it to 36.   I often wondered why they died so young.   One of the books of Will Durant told me a few years ago that the Romantics died young because they dreamed too big. Durant was not a literary critic.   Literary critics are not supposed to look at the biographies of writers; they are only supposed to analyse the written discourses.   Durant was a philosopher and so he was free to look at the biography (just as he would have been free to look at anything else).   He thought that the Romantics died young because the world they dreamt of could never be materialised. The Romantics tried to run away from the society, from the city, f

From Sivakasi disaster to Celebration of life

The recent disaster in Sivakasi is not an exception.   Not a single year passes without similar disasters in the cracker-village called Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu.   Right now there are about 3000 living martyrs in and around Sivakasi who inherited burn injuries from the disasters and were rendered impotent for living normal life.   The hundreds who sacrificed their lives to the industry and the delight it gives to Diwali-celebrating Indians as well as the profit-reaping industrialists are always forgotten history. The crackers industry makes an annual turnover of about Rs800-1000 crore.   But the worker in the industry gets a daily wage of Rs100 to Rs200.   The industry employs about 40,000 workers directly and 100,000 indirectly (ancillary jobs that cater to the needs of the labourers).    Two questions arise. 1.       Is the industry required at all? 2.       How to find alternative employment for the workers who depend on the industry? The second question is not likely to

Perils of expertise

Isaac Asimov was a celebrated science fiction writer.   His IQ was 160, according to a test whose average score is 100.   Once a mechanic demonstrated to Asimov how a dumb person would ask for nails from a hardware shop.   Then the mechanic asked Asimov to demonstrate how a blind person would ask for a pair of scissors.   Asimov made the gestures of cutting with a pair of scissors.   The mechanic laughed and said, “The blind man would ask for it; who told you he’s dumb?”   [Courtesy: B S Warrier’s note in today’s Malayala Manorama ] It seems that the mechanic went on to tell Asimov that he was sure that the latter would fail in this test.   “Why?” asked Asimov surprised.   “You are too learned,” said the mechanic, “so you aren’t likely to be smart .” The trouble with the learned people is that their knowledge tends to act like the horse’s blinkers: they tend to think in a particular pattern.   The parable above may not be the best example for that.   This parable shows how our