Posts

Showing posts from November, 2016

Black Money and Black Hearts

Image
Thomas Jefferson who drafted the famous American Declaration of Independence which contains the oft-quoted phrase that “all men are created equal” owned about 200 slaves when he wrote that and never set them free even upon his death .  It doesn’t mean Jefferson was a fraud or even a hypocrite.  Rather it points to certain bizarre truths about social systems and the beliefs which create them.  The Americans during Jefferson’s time did not even consider Negroes as human beings.  Negroes were subhuman, according to the beliefs that upheld the American social system of the time. All social systems are built upon certain beliefs most of which may not stand up to rational analysis.  The ancient Indian caste system or many other social practices such as Sati were not based on any objective truths.  Social systems are created by certain individuals in order to protect their interests by subordinating the interests of others.  It was not mere selfishness either.  More than selfishne

Colorful Notions

Image
Book Review Colorful Notions: The Roadtrippers 1.0 by Mohit Goyal is a unique novel insofar as it combines masterfully travelogue with fiction.  The novel tells the story of three people in their twenties who give up plush jobs and secure life in order to embark on a three-month long journey across India covering 25 historic destinations.  Their personal stories are intertwined with the journey and present dramatic scenes making the novel a gripping read.  The reader also travels along with them from Delhi to places such as Ladakh, Kanyakumari and the Sundarbans.  Abhay, Shashank and Unnati are the travellers.  Abhay hails from a broken family and there is little love lost between him and his parents.  He longs for relationships.  The massive Shashank is a businessman whose weakness is food.  Unnati is his fiancĂ©e and the journey offers her a few occasions to rethink her romantic attachment. The personal stories of the three characters appear at relevant places and ti

English and Personality

Image
“Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech: that your native language is the language of Shakespeare and Milton and The Bible; and don't sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon.” Professor Higgins tells that to Eliza Doolittle in Bernard Shaw’s play, Pygmalion . “Does speaking well in English add a sparkle to one’s personality?” asks Indispire Edition 145.  I have seen the foulest of souls speak the best of English.  And they came in the name of a religious cult and its sanctimonious morals and mores.  I have seen rustic people with no knowledge of English behave with poise and sagacity.  The opposite is true too.  All generalisations verge on falsehood and the assumption that speaking well in English can make one a sparkling personality is at best a pretty joke.  The theme is listed under “humour” at Indispire and so this post of mine is perhaps out of sync.  Personally, I am a lover of English simply because it i

We are born to gossip

Image
“Do you think that history professors chat about the reasons for the First World War when they meet for lunch, or that nuclear physicists spend their coffee breaks at scientific conferences talking about quarks?”  Yuval Noah Harari raises the question in his fascinating book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind .  His answer: “Sometimes.  But more often, they gossip about the professor who caught her husband cheating, or the quarrel between the head of the department and the dean, or the rumours that a colleague used his research funds to buy a Lexus.” Evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar argues that human language evolved for gossip.  Harari says that “The new linguistic skills that modern Sapiens acquired about seventy millennia ago enabled them to gossip for hours on end.”  There is no human life without plenty of gossiping.  Gossip, among other things, makes the human beings quite different from other animals.  When a monkey sees a lion, it can communicate the pot

I am a Palimpsest

Image
Every narcissist loves to leave a mark wherever possible.  Writing is the easiest way to produce marks.  Ink is indelible.  That’s why democracy uses ink to brand every voter.  And now I have a ruler who uses the same ink to brand anyone who takes out her own money from the bank.  Source I have had so many rulers that I am not surprised by anything anymore.  They came from all sorts of places crossing oceans and mountains just for leaving their marks.  They left their marks in the wombs of my women too.  That’s also a kind of writing; a rewriting of history.  The deepest marks are made in history.  The Mughals did it best, I think.  Long, long before them came somebody who wrote in Sanskrit.  They were the best, perhaps.  They wrote the Vedas.  Then they wrote the end of the Vedas and called them Upaniashads though Vedanta was a more logical name.  But the Vedas never ended.  The Vedas continue to live even today while the Upanishads died natural deaths.  Religious ritu

Black Money and other Demons

Image
Farmers' Protest in Surat Source: The Indian Express The farmers in PM Modi’s own state poured litres of milk and threw kilograms of food grains on the road two days back in protest against the non-availability of valid currency.  There are protests in other states too against the restrictions put on cooperative banks on which farmers and small traders rely heavily. If we analyse the social media including blogs, we’ll discover that it is the middle class that supports Modi’s tilting at the windmills of black money.  The middle class has its own morality whose hypocrisy was exposed brilliantly by Bernard Shaw in the character of Alfred Doolittle.  The middle class pretends to be moral while it is far more immoral than any other class.  It will discover all the loopholes in any given system and use those loopholes for their most selfish purposes all the while assuming that they are the most patriotic, religious and righteous people in the world. The middle class is t

Punishing the Innocent

Image
Ten days are over after the Prime Minister’s overnight reform of demonetisation.  There’s no sign of adequate valid currency reaching the people.  On the contrary, works are held up, workers go without money to buy food, medical treatments are affected, farmers are unable to buy seeds and cultivate their lands, those who have agricultural produce at home cannot sell them because traders don’t have valid money to pay...  How long does the country want this situation to prolong? The Supreme Court has already expressed its apprehensions about possible riots in the country if adequate valid currency is not made available.  The country can’t expect people to die of starvation when they have their hard-earned money lying in the banks. Moreover, do Indians deserve this situation?  80% of Indians live on less than Rs10,000 per month. They don’t have any black money.  But it is they who actually suffer from the current situation.  The innocent are punished.  The really guilty know

Labour

Image
Fiction “We can’t postpone the delivery anymore,” Shiv Kumar told his wife. Lakshmi’s labour pain had started long ago.  A week ago, to be precise, the day after the Prime Minister had declared all high denomination currency of the country invalid.  There was only one private hospital in the small town near their home where delivery cases would be entertained.  That hospital flatly refused to admit patients who didn’t carry valid currency. “We can pay by debit card,” pleaded Shiv Kumar. “Sorry, we don’t have that facility yet.  Take your wife to the government hospital.  They will accept invalid currency.” Lakshmi flatly refused to go to a government hospital.  “I won’t have my son born amidst filth and that too paid for by invalid currency.” Son, yes, they knew it was a son and not a daughter they were going to beget.  Lakshmi had conceived after they had undergone the Divya-Putrasanjeevani treatment carried out by Gurudev Baba who had miraculous cures for

Blood in the Paradise

Image
Book Review We live in a world in which “fair is foul and foul is fair” much more than in Shakespeare’s time.  Good people often become victims of foul systems or villainous individuals.  What if some good people are also shrewd enough to understand the hazards underlying the system and come forward to help the good but helpless people? This is an interesting question raised by Madhav Mahidhar’s murder mystery, Blood in the Paradise – A tale of an impossible murder .  The book is a straightforward murder mystery, a suspense thriller and a tremendously gripping read.  It is literally unputdownable because the police questionings and the court trials are riveting.  Madhumitha who has an unhappy married life as her husband Vikas Nandan became an alcoholic and womaniser decides to end her life along with those of their little twin daughters.  She survives, however, and the children have not been administered the poison yet.  But the husband dies absorbing the same poison

Exhortations are good, but...

Image
When the going is tough, exhortations are the cheapest. In the wake of the currency crisis, Baba Ramdev has asked us to starve for a week like the soldiers at the borders .  “ When there is a war, soldiers face many hardships and starve for weeks. Can't we, for welfare of the nation, endure this hardship for a few days?" Ramdev asked. The donation box opened in a church in Kerala A church in Kerala opened up its donation box to the public.  People were allowed to take the change available so that they could meet their urgent needs.  That’s better than doling out exhortations.  What’s religion if it only preaches?  Ramdev is a man who owns a business empire whose assets run into thousands of crores of rupees.  Could he not set some examples by providing medicine and food free to some deserving people instead of merely dishing out an exhortation?  Every good deed spreads more positive vibrations than a million exhortations? My personal experience with the demonet

Currency and Politics

Image
Money is a game changer.  Is PM Modi playing a big game with the currency MODIfication?  West Bengal BJP deposited Rs 3 crore days before PM Modi declared high denominations as black money .  We can be quite sure that PM Modi’s friends such as Ambani and Adani were also informed about the deal earlier.  Ambani, for example, opened up Jio with a lot of freebies a few days prior to PM Modi’s announcement. Nothing comes free in this world. Our Conqueror Congress had too much money in the black.  It became the most corrupt party in India under the leadership Sonia Gandhi and her Amul Rahul.  Rahul goes around attracting media attention (media is a bunch of gossipers wearing the latest cut of the coat) posing in front of some crowded ATM counter and saying that he can’t change his 500 rupee notes.  His party’s assets were burned on the banks of Ganga and Yamuna, the most holy and most polluted rivers in the world.  That is the real game.  You burn the enemy in/on his/her own hol

The House on the Hill

Image
Source The house on the hill had always fascinated Rahul.  But he never dared to go there.  No one did.  Because they said it was haunted.  Haunted by fairies. “Miss, aren’t fairies wicked?”  Rahul asked his teacher one day.  She, the English teacher, had just narrated a fairy tale in the class.  It was the story of a beautiful fairy that went around playing little mischievous tricks on people in order to teach them a lesson.  Her name was Pansy.  She also helped people when they were in need. “Fairies are not wicked,” answered the teacher.  “They are just mischievous.  Like children.” Rahul decided to visit the house on the hill and meet the fairy who lived in it. His heart was pounding when he stood in front of the house.  The house looked like an old palace.  Old it was, yet clean too as if someone had been maintaining it regularly.  But the fountain in the front yard gave the impression of desolation.  It was not working.  Probably it never did in the last man