Saturday, September 30, 2017

Name Game

Names matter much.  How can, for example, the road which houses the Prime Minister of Bharatvarsha be called Race Course Road?  Since the welfare of the masses is the PM’s primary concern, the road of his residence was rechristened as Lok Kalyan Marg.  Many roads in Delhi underwent such baptisms after Mr Modi became the Prime Minister of Lok Kalyan.

Aurangzeb Road became APJ Abdul Kalam Road.  Dalhousie Road became Dara Shikoh Road.  Akbar is all set to lose out to Maharana Pratap.  While we can understand BJP’s hatred of the British and the Mughals, it may not be easy to understand why the Teen Murti Marg had to be given an Israeli name: Haifa Marg.  

National Girl Child Day programmes Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Yojana
Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
Rajiv Awaas Yojana Sardar Patel National Urban Housing Mission
Indira Awaas Yojana Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana
Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation

“All seagulls look as though their name were Emma,” said the German poet Christian Morgenstern.  Under BJP all welfare schemes look as though their name were Narendra Modi. 

PS. Written for Indispire Edition 189: #NAME

Friday, September 29, 2017


Once upon a time there was this godman who called himself Paramanandaswamikal.  He appeared from nowhere on a day that stood drenched in a cloudburst.  A few trees had collapsed in the storm that accompanied the cloudburst.  This man with shabby clothes and criminal looks was sitting on one of the fallen trees when the rainstorm abated.  The villagers were as suspicious initially as they were of any stranger. 

“I am the poem of the almighty,” he said very solemnly when the village elder asked him who he was.

The villagers thought that he was a lunatic.  Then the stranger said, “Your children are not your children.”  The villagers were amused.  They nudged each other.  Marital fidelity was not considered a particularly great virtue in that village since many men were working in faraway places and came home to embrace their wives only once in a blue moon.  “Your children are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself,” the stranger went on after a solemn pause.  “Life is the greatest miracle worked by the almighty.  You are the greatest miracle of god.  Each one of you is a miracle…”

More villagers gathered.  They loved to see themselves as some great miracles. 

Food and money began to move from the village huts to the stranger who called himself Paramanandaswamikal.  In return for the food and money Paramanandaswamikal gave profound spiritual lessons to the villagers every evening.  Since the name Paramanandaswamikal was too long, the villagers decided to call him simply godman. Godman is a good name.  Easy to pronounce.  Highly fashionable too.  The people were very happy that their village was blessed with the physical presence of a godman. 

Those were the days when the villagers didn’t have much work to do.  Those were the days when petrol prices zoomed sky-high taking the prices of all essential commodities along with it.  GST and SGST and many other mysterious ghosts were haunting the village.  People were falling prey to depression, melancholy and opium.  Opium made them think that they were living in achhe din.

The godman brought them a new kind of intoxication.  He made them believe that each one of them was a miracle.  The people inhaled the fumes of paramanandam delivered every evening by their own godman.  They surrendered themselves to the greatest bliss that flowed like honey through the eloquent utterances of the godman. 

Words have the greatest power.  Paramanandaswamikal had learnt that while he served his prison term for a rape.  He was a fervent devotee of the television in jail.  He watched the channels that brought spirituality live to the prison. 

“Surrender, surrender yourself to the divine,” he preached to the villagers who found a new meaning in life when they had lost everything else in the process of what their government called ‘nation building’.  They surrendered themselves and their wives and their children and their little lands to the godman. 

“The kingdom of heaven is within you,” godman taught the villagers as he built up his kingdom in the village with the lands surrendered by the villagers.  The people were happy.  They were building the kingdom of god.  They had an occupation, a divine occupation. 

Everyone was happy. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Children and Suicide

Every suicide is an admission of a failure (except the euthanasia one chooses as the ultimate, inevitable option).  It becomes the failure of many persons when the death is chosen by young people.  Recently a national English newspaper reported that “Every hour, one student commits suicide in India.”  8934 students opted for suicide in the country in 2015.  The reports says that “These deaths result from poor relationships with parents, excessive expectations, the feeling of being unwanted, poor understanding of their peer/romantic relationships. These result in an impulsive decision or a long thought-out deliberate suicide.”

Life is never easy.  It has never been.  Even those who were born with a golden spoon thrust between their jaws have had to struggle much to keep the spoon from being snatched away.  “Life is one contingency after another, with no guarantees beyond the certainty of death,” as Gerald Corey puts it in a book for students of psychological counselling.  Life is a protracted pain with a fair deal of comic relief in between.

Unfortunately, the present generation of youngsters are not taught that.  On the contrary, they are brought up to imagine that the world is a hunky-dory place as long as they maintain what is being sold very conveniently as ‘positive thinking’.  Parents go out of their way to bring up children without ever experiencing the inevitable hardships of life.  The children are given the best of what parents can afford.  The best of everything, even if that means tremendous hardship to the parents themselves. 

That is a big mistake made by the parents.  A terrible mistake.  Children should be made to realise that life is tough.  That success has to be earned through the necessary struggles.  Students should realise that there is no magical formula for success.  No coaching centre, not even the most expensive ones in Rajasthan’s Kota, can guarantee success to anyone.  Success depends on how hard you are ready to push yourself through the quaggy mire, across the turbulent waters, up the foggy creeks. 

Source: lovethispic
Children should experience the dreads and horrors of life as they inevitably make their apparitions at the relevant times in relevant forms.  Don’t hoodwink children with the comforting illusions of positive thinking.  Show them the reality.  Teach them to face the reality.  Teach them that becoming human, let alone becoming a roaring success, is a project which demands that they create themselves, not just discover themselves.  Teach them the value of the occasional tear drop. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Happiness is a choice

In Richard Bach’s novel, Illusions, there is a question: If God appears to you and commands you to be happy, what will you do?  The novel doesn’t give any explicit answers except that happiness is your choice.

The novel is about a man who is an incarnation of God.  Donald Shimoda was sent by God to be the messiah of the modern world.  But he quits the job.  He doesn’t want to drink that bitter cup.  Anyway, saving the world is just another illusion.  People don’t want salvation.  If they did, the world would have been a paradise long ago.  Isn’t every religion worth the name teaching its believers salvation?  Yet why have the believers not saved themselves?  Because they don’t want salvation.  They want miracles.  People come to Donald for miracles.  He becomes a prestidigitator and that’s not his job.  So he quits.  “It’s not my will, but yours, that matters,” God tells him. 

Donald chooses to be happy.  He is happy with simple things.  “If you really want to remove a cloud from your life, you do not make a big production of it, you just relax and remove it from your thinking,” he says.  Change the way you look at the cloud.  Change your perspective.  Look at the wild flower that is growing at the end of the slag heap on which you are sitting.  Pick up the flower.  Follow its trail.  You discover a different path.  You choose your cup instead of letting God impose one on you.  You drink the cup of your choice.  You savour it.  That’s how you choose happiness. 

The world won’t be happy with you, however.  But making the world happy is not your job.  Living your life is your job.  Picking your chalice and drinking from that is your job.  “Anybody who’s ever mattered, anybody who’s ever been happy, anybody who’s ever given any gift to the world has been a divinely selfish soul, living for his own best interest.  No exceptions.”

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Vice President’s Vices and Myths

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu is incapable of distinguishing between mythology and history.  Speaking at a leadership summit at the Indian School of Business the other day, Mr Naidu said that goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswati were India’s finance and education ministers respectively.

Source: OneIndia
Gods and goddesses belong to myths.  Myths are important but not for teaching history.  Myths have been used by every culture to teach certain religious and moral lessons to the children.  They have also served well to help man deal with the demons in his subconscious and unconscious minds. 

Joseph Campbell, arguably the best scholar on myths, said that myths provide a cultural framework for a society to educate their young.  Even as we grow older myths may help us to deal with certain problems of life.  The function of myths remain, however, at the religious level. 

It is dangerous to mix myths with historical facts and events.  India is already going through a crisis caused by the mingling of myths with facts particularly in the last three years.  A person who occupies such a high position as Mr Naidu should exercise his brain a little more if India is to continue as a single nation of diverse faiths and myths and all such stuff which are as inevitable as the demons that occupy the deeper recesses of human minds.

“All the gods, all the heavens, all the hells are within you.”  Joseph Campbell.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Fun of Blogging

It’s been a pretty long liaison with blogging now.  I started it way back in 2001 when I bought my first desktop.  It was with Times of India’s blogging space that I began.  Soon I switched to Sulekha which offered many incentives.  Apart from the gift vouchers that came from Sulekha, there were quite a few committed bloggers there whom I really liked.  I got a fairly good share of readers too there.  But the love affair with Sulekha ended when a team of Right wing bloggers dominated the whole platform and started posting unsavoury comments with malicious intent.

Wordpress hosted my blogs after that for a few years.  Then something went wrong.  Apparently someone hacked or tried to hack my site.  It stopped working properly.  Then I migrated to Blogspot where I have remained for all these years.  But many of my fellow bloggers whom I read without fail stopped blogging for various reasons.  Some are in the family way, some immersed themselves totally in their careers, and some just gave up.  Maybe serious writers and thinkers lose interest in blogging because there are very few serious readers in that sphere.  My personal observation is that frivolous writing gets more readers in blogosphere.  I may be wrong, however.  Maybe I have not sought far and wide enough to discover serious bloggers.

Apart from those readers, I miss also the Happy Hours that IndiBlogger used to provide a few years ago.  Happy Hours brought a lot of gift vouchers with which I bought countless books from Flipkart. I wonder why that concept of Happy Hours died.  Maybe, some bloggers didn’t make use of it with sincerity and authenticity.  Maybe, the business concerns which provided the gift vouchers didn’t find it worth.  Maybe, there are other reasons.

Blogging, anyway, is personal writing to a large extent.  It is a personal gratification, at least.  It still remains that for me.  That’s the fun I have discovered in blogging.

PS. Written for IndiSpire Edition 188: #Blogging

Thursday, September 21, 2017

God’s Loneliness

I feel so lonely
though I have quite a few billion fans
on the earth, let alone the other planets
in other galaxies.

After creating all the creatures
who would obey my laws without questions
I created these silly things
with a brain that can think
as well as feel affection
because I wanted affection,
affection rooted in understanding.

But they created religions in my name
political parties in my name
terrorist organisations in my name
retreat centres in my name
schools and colleges
hospitals and asylums
brothels too for selling affection
All in my name
But without me anywhere around

I wanted affection
So I created these chosen animals
But they created their own gods
and left me out in the cold.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Déjà vu

How many times will you keep repeating the same old story?

You keep meeting the same kind of people
wherever you go
whatever you do
because you are what you are
And you are your worst enemy.

That is Déjà vu.

PS. Written for Indispire Edition 187: #DejaVu

Gods on the rampage

Lying on this cold tomb stone
I cannot even rage
Against the memories
That rage within me.
Memories that have driven me
From home to the relief camp,
And thence to this cemetery.

I saw the madness of gods
Dancing in frenzied orgy
Over the corpses of my offspring
Lying in pools of hate and lust and greed.
The gods are now ravaging
The benumbed relief camps
Looking for bombs in gruel pots.

Lying on this cold tomb stone
I await with dread in my bones
The arrival of armed gods
To enlist me in their creed.

PS.  I wrote this poem many years ago.  I don't remember how many years ago and what the occasion was.  But it is so relevant even today. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Economics Simplified

Ram wants to start a business.  He needs ₹1 million.  Desh Bank is a new bank where Shyam has deposited ₹1 million on completion of a recent contract of his. The bank is ready to give Ram a loan and transfers ₹1 million to his account.  Ram gives the contract for his new building for his proposed business to Shyam who demands ₹1 million for the job.  Ram gives Shyam a cheque for ₹1 million.  Shyam deposits the cheque in the bank.  How much money does Shyam have in his account now?  Answer: ₹2 million.  How much money is there actually in the bank?  Answer: ₹1 million.

Som similarly gets a loan of ₹1 million from Desh Bank.  He too employs Shyam as his contractor and gives a cheque for ₹1 million to Shyam who deposits it in the bank.  There’s now ₹3 million in Shyam’s account although the actual amount in the bank remains the same original ₹1 million.

Now Shyam wants to take out his ₹3 million to start a business of his own.  What happens?

Desh Bank seeks government assistance.  The government agrees to help so that the bank won’t collapse.  Where does the government get the money from?  It can raise the price of petrol and diesel by a few paise and a few millions will be materialised within minutes. 

This is just a parable adapted from Yuval Noah Harari’s book, A Brief History of Humankind.  Replace the names of the bank and the persons with some real names, make it a little more complex with more people and bigger amounts, and you will understand the way our economy works.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Dance in the eyes

The dance in your eyes
never ceased to fascinate me:
a tender chiaroscuro
that veiled volcanic flames
whose intense fervour did not scorch
the quaint cadence of the heard music.

What is it that you seek:
an oasis in the desert?
the alchemy for transmuting pain?
the touch that releases the music
lying captive in tortured veins?

Whatever that be,
I love the God
you created
or discovered
in the little space
between you and me.

Pessimism of the gods

There is a romantic at sleep in my heart who likes to believe that people were better in the good old days. The people I saw as a child we...