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Showing posts from July, 2016

Towards Hindu Rashtra

We become like our enemies. The Sangh Parivar is proving the saying right if the latest issue of Outlook is to be believed.  The Parivar which never tired of accusing the Christian missionaries and the Islamic fundamentalists of converting people into their respective religions is now indulging in the same activity much more ruthlessly and heartlessly, according to the Outlook cover story.  Children between the age of 5 and 12 are weaned away from their parents under fraudulent promises and with fake documents and taken to institutions in Gujarat and Punjab.  Most of the children belong to various tribes in Assam and other North-eastern states.  According to the Outlook reports which quote official sources, about 5000 children were taken away from Assam alone in 2012-15.  These and other similar children from other states are sent to the various institutions run by Sewa Bharati which was set up in 1978 by Balasaheb Deoras with the purported goal of promoting the welfare

Wi-Fi Relationships

The three girls grew up together right from primary school.  They studied in the same school and lived in the same premises.  When schooling was completed, they went to different colleges.  But they met every evening for some time in an open area near their homes.  They would sit together and chat while their fingers moved dexterously on the keypad of their smartphone.  The occasional giggle or  peel of laughter that was let out did not considerably affect their engagement with the phone.  Now that they live in different places, the relationships must have turned entirely virtual, I guess.  In the same city, I have noticed people, especially those not old enough to dye their hair, engrossed totally with their mobile phones while travelling in the metro trains or buses, while talking to people in various places, or even while looking after a patient in a hospital.   I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone posing for a selfie with the dead body of his/her grandfather or an aun

What do people want?

Conduct a survey on what people want and you may be surprised to find that god(s) don’t figure in the list of choices.  People don’t want god(s). They want: 1.      Happiness 2.      Money 3.      Freedom 4.      Peace 5.      Joy 6.      Balance 7.      Fulfilment 8.      Confidence 9.      Stability 10.             Passion This is a list of things that people want, in that order of priorities, according to a survey conducted by Kathy Caprino, a leadership trainer and apparently a feminist, and whose results have been published here . The choices may change if a similar survey is conducted in India.  Food, house, clothes, and other basic necessities like toilets may figure in the list in Indian surveys.  I’m sure god(s) won’t.  Conduct the survey in China (most populated country) or Pakistan (apparently most religious country) or Qatar (the wealthiest country currently) and you will still get similar results. God(s) won’t figure in people’s choices.

A brief history of gods

In the beginning were bacteria. They were bored. Millions of years of life will bore anyone. Even bacteria. They wanted escape from boredom. In spite of volcanic eruptions and other entertainments. In spite tectonic plates shifting whimsically. In spite of falling comets and asteroids. Boredom is the most powerful agent of change. It can kill you. Or it can make you create new life. New life came. In various forms. Plants. They were bored soon. They longed to meet mate. And the mate was born. Dinosaurs. They found it difficult to mate. Snakes crawled around and cockroaches flew around.  Some mated. Some devoured some others. The lion came claiming kingship. The lion was soon bored. The ape came mocking his boredom and running around on trees that the lion could not climb after mating and eating or eating and mating. When the lion was insulted enough into genetic humiliation, the ape descended from the tree and became man. Man was bored sooner than all others. In spite o

No future without the past

Is it possible for anyone to shed the ‘baggage’ of the past and turn a clean, new leaf in life? A few years back, some eminent psychologists studied this and came to the conclusion that our ability to envision the future is strongly influenced by our memory of the past. In other words, we tend to use memories of past experiences to predict what our life will be like in the future. Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist who won the Nobel Prize for his contribution to the field of behavioural economics, uses an example to illustrate how our memories shape our thoughts and feelings. A person had dinner at a restaurant. Everything went well. The food was delicious, the wine wonderful. Memorable dinner. You would recommend the restaurant to anyone. Just then something goes wrong. The waiter spills some coffee on your elegant suit. Odds are that the coffee spill will taint your memory of the food and the wine. What lingers on is memory rather than experience, argues the psychologist. Fu

Companionship and some smiles

One of the paradoxes of human life is that society corrupts but isolation destroys.  While critiquing Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness , J H Stape points out a number of related paradoxes.  Civilisation is a hypocritical veneer over savagery; yet it is a valuable achievement to be vigilantly guarded. Morality is a sham; but without it human beings become sham humans. Awareness is superior to ignorance; yet ignorance can be bliss in many ways. A person who sells his soul does at least have a soul to sell, while most people who try to redeem their souls through quotidian religious practices do not have a soul at all.   The latest Indispire theme [ Human beings need someone in their life. At least a person to ask occasionally, how one feels now. What's your say on it? ] brought to my mind these paradoxes. The theme is essentially about relationships. It can be rephrased as: Can we live alone? Do we need at least one companion? Hermits live alone. However, their god(s) an


“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of all?” The Queen stood before the mirror and asked as usual.  The response was also the usual one: “My Queen, you are the fairest one of all.” The Queen was never tired of this exercise which went on ad infinitum, ad nauseam.  But the nausea was mine.  Only mine. The Queen, like most people, relished the flattery mistaking it for truth. “You accuse me wrongly,” complained the Mirror. No, it was not a complaint really. I took it as a complaint because I, like most people, judge others according to my own nature. I have a tendency to complain and so I think others also are like that. But the Mirror is not like me. It merely makes statements and not opinions stained by emotions. It tells the truth, in simple words. I don’t tell too many truths, like most people. But unlike most people, I can’t flatter. When I see something unfair or unjust I am tempted to point it out though I, like most people, learnt that it was wise not to t

Is the Supreme Court being saffronised?

Why is the Supreme Court so anxious to make Rahul Gandhi apologise for telling the truth?  What Mr Gandhi said was that “RSS people killed Gandhiji...”  What’s wrong in that statement?  The apex court says that it is “a collective denunciation.” It is. And what’s wrong in that? Wasn’t the RSS opposed to the Mahatma so thoroughly that it wanted to eliminate him? Nathuram Godse, Narayan Apte and Vishnu Karkare who hatched the conspiracy and planned everything meticulously sitting in the Retiring Room number 6 at Old Delhi Railway Station were all RSS people. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Union Home Minister when Gandhi was assassinated, wrote to Prime Minister Nehru that it was a fanatical wing of the Hindu Mahasabha directly under Savarkar that “[hatched] the conspiracy and saw it through.”  Both RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha celebrated Gandhi’s assassination by distributing sweets. Yes, Rahul Gandhi was absolutely right: it was RSS people who killed Gandhiji.  It was the organisation

Jenny, the Witch

Fantasy The witch looked like somebody I knew.  That’s why she didn’t scare me though I should have been scared since she resembled the woman whose hobby was messing up people’s lives.  No, the witch wasn’t wearing a sober-coloured sari like this woman I knew.  Nor was her hair silver grey.  In fact, her hair was red.  And her teeth were green unlike the pearly white teeth of the woman she reminded me of. She wore a ragged gown which smelt of cremation grounds.  In fact, there was nothing about her that matched this woman I knew. But she resembled her. It was her smile.  Yes, that smile was deadly.  You knew the smile was meant to kill.  Whenever this woman I knew smiled, somebody’s end was sure.  End does not mean physical death.  This woman was the boss of the institution where I worked for some time.  Whenever she smiled, somebody lost his or her job. And this woman made sure to fabricate some charge against the employee so that the latter wouldn’t dare to fight back.  He or

Delusions of Truth

Shamsudheen Fareed, a Salafi preacher in Kerala, has decided that Onam, Christmas and other such celebrations are haram.  A lot more things are haram in his version of Islam.  Movies are haram.  Even trimming the beard is! When a person convinces himself that he possesses the ultimate truths, he is destined to live in a bundle of delusions.  Simply because there are no ultimate truths.  Except in science and other rigid systems.  Even in those systems, truths are amenable to corrections.  An Einstein corrected a Newton.  Einstein’s theories are also not ultimate truths.  When it comes to human life and affairs, truths are never ultimate.  We keep learning and understanding them in our own way.  Source Joseph Conrad’s celebrated character, Kurtz ( Heart of Darkness ), is a good example of someone who deluded himself with his own ultimate truths.  He thought he possessed the ultimate truths and he wanted to civilize the native Africans by giving them those truths.  The re

The Romance called Childhood

Put a few children on an island with no adults to supervise them.  Watch from a distance what they do.  In no time you will have to intervene in order to save them from themselves. William Golding wrote a novel on that theme.  Lord of the Flies , the novel by the Nobel laureate, tells the story of some children who were marooned on an island.  Soon savagery dominates their life.  The benign Ralph loses to the bullying Jack.  Evil triumphs.  There is no childhood innocence.   There is only the savagery that marks humanity essentially. Three years before Lord of the Flies was published, American literature was blessed with J D Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye (1954) which told the story of a 16 year-old boy, Holden Caulfield, whose dream was to preserve children’s innocence from the necessary corruption of adults.  Holden ends up in the loony bin.  One has to lose innocence if one is to remain sane in the human world.  Growing up is necessarily to embrace evil or at least

Create, not Produce

There is too much productivity in our world.  We are bombarded with commodities.  Half of the TV time is dedicated to advertising commodities most of which are not necessary in anybody’s life.  Half of the newspaper space is similarly dedicated to redundancy. Shopping malls and popular markets bring us a lot of commodities which we don’t need really.   Suppose we change our focus from production and consumption to creation.  Suppose people start spending some time every day on creating something like a flower vase from waste material, a poem about the agony left by the religion of bombs, a short movie on the mobile camera... Well, each one of us can create something according to our taste and skills.  Create, not produce.  Creation is an act of love.  Production is mere commerce. The world will be a different place.  Qualitatively different. There will be more beauty than vulgarity. More refinement.  More happiness.

Devika's Dreams

Fiction Devika's dreams were filled with flying reptiles.  Crocodiles and serpents soared heavenward on diaphanous wings.  They disturbed her sleep night after night.   "She wants the best of both worlds."  That was her father's interpretation of her dreams.  Seeing her swollen eyes in the morning, mother asked her what disturbed her sleep.  She told mother about the crocodiles and serpents with diaphanous wings that visited her night after night. Mother dutifully reported the matter to father.   "Both worlds?"  Mother did not understand.   "The reptiles belong to the earth.  Too much to the earth.  The wings belong to the heavens.  And diaphanous wings!"  He paused.  "Hmm... They belong to angels, I suppose."   Devika was reading a poem by Sara Teasdale when mother was trying to decode the link between the terrestrial reptiles and the celestial angels.   Stephen kissed me in the spring,   Robin in the fall,   But Colin onl

Little Prince and a lot of megalomania

One of the persons encountered by Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s peripatetic Little Prince is the King of a tiny asteroid.  The King teaches Little Prince that “Accepted authority rests first on reason.  If you ordered your people to go and throw themselves into the sea, they would rise up in revolution.”  The King claims that he has the right to require obedience because his orders are reasonable.   Read the book here From whom will the King demand obedience, however?  Little Prince had noticed that the only inhabitant of the asteroid was the King.  He asks the King, “Over what do you rule?”   “Over everything,” the King answers promptly and makes a majestic gesture which sweeps everything including the stars and the planets.   “And the stars obey you?”  Little Prince is dismayed.   “Certainly they do,” tells the King.  “They do instantly and I do not permit insubordination.”   Little Prince makes a request.  He being very fond of sunsets would like to see one

Nothing and Something

There are days when you don’t want to write anything.  Today is one such day for me.  I would normally have followed the instinct blindly and written nothing.  But I realise I have to write something today because I promised that to a friend: that I would participate in the WriteTribe’s weeklong Festival of Words challenge .  My last two posts were submitted at the site with due compliance and loyalty.  The fact is neither of them was written for WriteTribe or any other specific purpose.  The naked truth is that I don’t write these days with any purpose.  Writing just comes.  Whatever I write is born of the thoughts that spring in my mind irrepressibly.  Nothing was coming today. Nothing irrepressible, I mean.  But I wish to keep the promise.  Some friends are valuable. That’s how I realised that I still value some friends. That’s also how I realised that I don’t have any motive for writing.  I breathe.  I eat.  I write. I’m not trying to influence anyone in any wa

Imaginary Paradises

Imaginary Paradises and Real Hells Fiction Aziz raised the machine gun and pumped a million bullets into the heart of his frustrations.             Firoz lay dead in a pool of warm blood which exuded a smell that strangely reminded Aziz of the chemistry lab in his college.  Soon he would be lying in a similar pool of blood, his own blood, Aziz knew.  He had killed one of the top leaders of the organisation and he would be a fool to hope that he could get away with it.             What would be the smell of my blood?  He asked himself.  Will it smell of the deodorant whose seductiveness is what first drew him to Miriam?             “Miriam will be a suicide bomber,” Firoz had decided.             Miriam was Maria.  Maria Joseph of St Antony’s College whose humid corridors carried various odours one of which was the seductive fragrance that wafted whenever Maria Joseph of B.Sc. (Bio) came along.  Aziz was a B.Sc. (Chem) student of the same batch.            

The Call of Islamic State

A year ago, the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT) reported that about 4000 people from the West left their homes and countries to join the Islamic State (IS).  Many of them are women.  The reporters had made a special study of the women who joined the terrorist outfit and found that it was difficult to categorise which type of women were particularly drawn to IS. “While most of the girls are young, some as young as fifteen,” says the report,  “there are also mothers with young children who make the trip. Some of the girls have difficulties in school and are said to have an IQ below average,  but there are also women who are highly educated. It also appears that even though a relatively large portion of the girls had (or still have) a troubled childhood, there are some who come from families with no known problems with the authorities. Most of the girls come from religiously moderate Muslim families,  yet some converted to Islam at a later age. While som