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Showing posts from May, 2013

Village

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Arikuzha is a relatively small village in Kerala.   It is the village in which I was born and brought up.   The lush green that undulates in the rolling landscape is not unique to this village.   Kerala is blessed with the bounty of nature in many ways.   Hills and valleys, rivers and backwaters, and the whole coastal area on the west make the state a palette of variegated offering. Here are a few pictures from Arikuzha.   Road through the village River through the village Temple on the river bank Yesterday while I was walking along the village road I met an elderly person (74 years) who asked me whether I had any problem in my leg.   I was limping slightly due to the fracture I had suffered in my foot three months back.   I explained the matter to him.   In the afternoon he came to my home with a herbal medicine he prepared himself.   He advised me how to apply it on the foot and assured me that in 5 days time or even before that my limping would van

Organic Food

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I'm continuing with more pictures from my home where much of the food is prepared in the backyard plots. It's all organic food; no artificial fertilisers or insecticides used. Yam Tapioca Tapioca was the staple food of Keralites in the bygone days, the era before McDonald, KFC, etc. Cattle feed Rain Kerala depends much on the monsoon for its water supply and even electricity supply.  The monsoon seems to have marked its beginning this year. May the showers bring a lot of blessings to the plants, animals, people... Let there be joy all around.

Holiday

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Some pictures from my home in Kerala where I'm on a month-long vacation... My Home Some innocent friends More friends So many more... More pictures and friends to follow...

Kingdom of Evil

Sreesanth has a lot of fans in his home state of Kerala.  Some of his fans took out a procession to show their support as well as to solicit others’ sympathy.  A few of them seem to think that the cricketer is innocent.  The thinking of quite many of them,however, may deserve a serious scrutiny. That thinking was reflected in a TV programme presented by the Malayalam channel, Asianet, yesterday.  The crux of the programme’s argument is: There is rampant corruption in India.  There are politicians as well as others who make crores of rupees through fraudulent means.  Why single out Sreesanth?   There’s a similar issue being discussed in Kerala these days.  A Malayalam actor, Kalabhavan Mani, was involved in a drunken brawl with some forest guards.  Mani beat up some of the guards and is now absconding.  Yesterday the ADGP of Kerala’s Intelligence Bureau, T P Senkumar, came out with an interesting argument.  He asked whether the police would have dealt in the same way with a

Good Life

I introduced A C Grayling’s book, The God Argument , in two earlier posts.   This post presents the professor’s views on good life.   Grayling posits seven characteristics of a good life.   The first characteristic is that a good life is a meaningful one.   Meaning is “a set of values and their associated goals that give a life its shape and direction.”   Having children to look after or achieving success in one’s profession or any other very ordinary goal can make life meaningful.   But Grayling says quoting Oscar Wilde that everyone’s map of the world should have a Utopia on it.   That is, everyone should dream of a better world and strive to materialise that dream, if life is to be truly meaningful.   Ability to form relationships with other people is the second characteristic.   Intimacy with at least one other person is an important feature of a meaningful life.   “Good relationships make better people,” says Grayling.   Broken relationships are one’s own mak

Uncomfortable People

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It’s when I went to buy some dress for the month-long holiday I’m planning that I realised the stupidity of what’s called fashion.   I couldn’t get a single readymade pair of trousers which made me feel comfortable.   Fashion has got rid of pleats from trousers altogether.   Get into the showrooms of Pantaloons or Raymond or even my usual, humble Big Bazaar and you will realise how uncomfortable they want us to feel in the trousers they are offering.   I asked the Pantaloons boy whether they had any pair of trousers with pleats.   And which were fairly loose.  He looked at me as if I was some creature descended from another planet.   I explained to him that pleats were invented in order to make the wearer feel comfortable around the loins with a lot of air circulation.   Thank my stars, he didn’t ask me what my profession was.   Instead he asked me whether I had heard of anything called Payback cards.   He said he could offer me one which would entitle me to some reward poi

The Banality of Sreesanth

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The Hindu editorial [May 17, 2013] invokes Hannah Arendt’s famous phrase, ‘the banality of evil,’ in order to underscore the corruption that has infiltrated Indian cricket, particularly the IPL.  In simple words what Arendt meant by the phrase was that monstrous evils are not usually perpetrated by fanatics or psychopaths but by ordinary people who fail to think deeply or seriously enough. Failure to think seriously enough is a very common trait of our contemporary civilisation.  Ours is a civilisation which has nearly killed philosophy and serious literature.  It is a civilisation built up on the single premise of materialism and propagated assiduously by the United States of America using institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank.  It is a civilisation which encourages consumerism and superficial pleasures of life.  It is a civilisation whose singular password is commerce. Trade greases the wheels of our civilisation.  And everything is a commodity which can

The Origins of Religion

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Shades of gods Every normal human being desires to understand and have a control over his environment or surroundings.  Science and technology are the tools that help us achieve that understanding and control.  Religion was the earliest science and ritual was its technology. I’m continuing with my reading and interpretation of Grayling’s book introduced in my last post.  Grayling argues that the earliest science and technology were “stories, myths and supernaturalistic beliefs.” The stories, myths and beliefs gave purpose and meaning to life’s experiences.  For example, the Ramayana gave us the meaning and purpose behind the battle between good and evil.  Krishna of the Gita taught us to kill irrespective of our personal relationships so long as our duty mandates the killing.  Let’s forget for now that the same religion which evolved out of these scriptures later taught us the superiority of vegetarianism over killings of human beings. We are discussing the origins of

Religion: Do we need it?

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Just moved from one to the other Religion has never ceased to fascinate me.  Probably because I have often been a victim of religion and the attitudes it breeds among people with whom I have been condemned to live. It’s no wonder then that I placed a pre-publication order for A C Grayling’s latest book, The God Argument: The Case against Religion and for Humanism . The book was delivered promptly yesterday.  I have just started reading it.  And here are some of the thoughts that the book provoked in me. “Religion is a pervasive fact of history, and has to be addressed as such,” says the author right on the first page. I loved that.  We can’t ignore religion, whether we are religious, agnostic or atheistic.  By the way, Grayling is a professor of philosophy at the New College of the Humanities, London, and author of many books. In the introduction to his latest book Grayling argues that religion has contributed much to the suffering in the world.  Individuals ha

Gulmohar in Bloom

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The entrance A school usually looks like a haunted place when there are no students on the campus.  It's all the more so when it comes to a residential school with a fairly big campus. My students have left for their summer vacation.  And I work in a residential school.  With a fairly large campus.  In the capital of the largest democracy in the world. Drive along I used to consider myself lucky to be working in such a school.  But can such a school continue in NCR (National Capital Region)?  As a school? Isn't the land worth much more than the returns to be gained from a school?  Even the parking lot in the city gives much more returns in terms of money!  What else matters?  So why not convert the campus into a parking lot, for example? Or a star hotel?  Or something equivalent to that for the people who matter?  If an entrepreneur is tempted by this campus, no one would be surprised. What about an ashram?  Wow!  A swami would be tempted too. It's a t

Leap of Faith

A friend sent me the other day two articles on Soren Kierkegaard which reminded me of the bicentenary of the Danish philosopher’s birth.  Philosophers, probably, belong to a species that’s becoming extinct.  Nevertheless, it’s worthwhile, if not necessary, to take a glance at some of the old philosophies.  Kierkegaard’s most famous phrase is “leap into faith.”  The philosopher argued that there is a profound insecurity in human life.  Life is one contingency after another.  The only certainty is death.  The other certainties or truths have to be created by each one of us as we move through life. What is required in the process is the willingness to risk a leap of faith.  Becoming human is a project , argued Kierkegaard.  Our task is not so much to discover who we are but to create ourselves at every moment.  Kierkegaard identified 3 stages of life experience. 1.        The aesthetic : This is the stage at which we search for fulfilment in activities such as romanc

Connect India Thieves

There’s a website called connectindia which describes itself as “India’s biggest mobile and internet plans destination.”  They provide various services related to mobile phones and the internet connection.  I am one of the hundreds of victims of their fraud. A certain problem in my foot had made me partly immobile when I ordered a Tata Photon Plus data card from connectindia, not suspecting in the least that it was a fraudulent company. Within a minute of entering my name and phone number in the relevant rectangles on their website I received a call from them.  They promised to deliver the data card at my residence within a couple of hours.  I thought that was what one would call excellence in service and efficiency.  I paid them instantly using my credit card.  A couple of hours later, one connectindia thief (I find no other word for them) came to my residence and handed over the data card and a receipt.  He promised me that the card would be activated within a couple of

The NaMo Story

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Book Review Author: Kingshuk Nag Pblisher: Roli Books, Delhi (2013) Pages: 188       Price: Rs 295 Politics, like administration, is much about managing people.  While an administrator usually has to deal with people of a particular kind or profession, a politician has to deal with people of all kinds.  Dealing with people of all kinds requires a special art or skill.  Can that skill be described as ‘a criminal mind controlled by a superficial legal framework’? This was the first thought that struck me as I put aside Kinshuk Nag’s biography of Narendra Modi which I borrowed from a student of mine.  Nag does not describe Modi as a self-controlled criminal.  He quotes an anonymous officer who had served in Modi’s intelligence set-up, “He (Modi) is well versed in Chanakya niti and the techniques of saam, daam, dand, bhed (equality, enticement, punishment, and sowing dissension) and uses them to good effect.” It is precisely such people who become successful polit

Chinese Games

China is at its usual games once again with India.  I have written so much about that country earlier that I don’t feel like saying anything more.  So let me only give two relevant links here from my earlier writing. The Chinese Dragon on the Move In this blog written more than 2 years ago, I argued that China had betrayed India a number of times in the past.  Right from 1962 when India lost Aksai Chin up to now when a part of Laddakh is being swallowed up, China has stabbed India from the back.  I have given a brief history of those backstabs in the above-mentioned post. Imperialism – Made in China In this Sep 2009 post, I argued that China was practising a new kind of imperialism – based on economic domination.  I took examples from Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia.  I also wrote: “In accordance with the String of Pearls doctrine, China has already encircled India technically by forging military ties with Sri Lanka and persuading the Maldives, Seychelle