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Showing posts from May, 2018

A Response to Chetan Bhagat

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Lesson No. 1 from Karnataka: There’s no ethics in politics , stupid is the title of Chetan Bhagat’s article in today’s Times of India , a newspaper that has sold itself to Bhagat’s beloved political party. I am among those whom he has labelled as “stupid” but I refuse to accept the label. Here is the reason.    Bhagat’s only argument in the verbose article is that in “desperate times” political parties can resort to unethical practices in order to win. Winning is more important than ethics. The end justifies the means, in other words, and that is a somersault from what the Father of the Nation had taught us. We have indeed come a long way, too long a way, from the Mahatma and his ideals.    What is ironical is that the party which created the “desperate times” is indulging in practices which Bhagat (or Bhakt, as many people have begun to call him) has adjudged as unethical. Leaving aside ethics for a moment, plain logic will tell us that the party which has created the

The Cat

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French writer Anatole France was of the opinion that until we have loved an animal a part of our soul remains unawakened. Among the many parts of my soul that remained unawakened was love for animals. I would admire them from a distance and quite a lot of them are far more admirable than many human beings. The ‘fearful symmetry’ of Blake’s Tiger and the ‘shining tail’ of Lewis Carroll’s Crocodile move me to wonder but I wouldn’t get too close to them anyway. Why, for that matter, I wouldn’t get too close to the loyallest of dogs or the cutest of cats just because I couldn’t tolerate some of their habits like the dogs leaving their signature piss all over the place or the cats licking their paws narcissistically.    A cat walked into my soul a few weeks back, however. Someone was tired of the cat’s intemperate love and hence abandoned it in the farm behind my house. Maybe, he was abandoned on the roadside in the night and he just strolled into my farm. I saw it roaming round

Life’s Magic

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Happiness has to be discovered. It has to be created especially since we live in a world that ineluctably takes a perverse pleasure in injecting misery into our veins relentlessly. There is a political system which impinges on us with its taxes and taxonomies. There is the society with its unforgiving creeds and codes. And there is our religion with its insatiably hungry gods. Then there are our personal sorrows and anxieties. Our very genetic makeup can be our worst enemy. As one writer (whose name I can’t recall now) said, “There is a man within me who is angry with me.” I have had tremendous problems confronting that angry man within me. I have struggled with myself for years and years. I never liked me and I always found it difficult to believe if someone told me that I was a loveable person. My wife’s boundless patience with the angry man within me helped to tame the anger. Her patience with me taught me to be patient with my students. Her love taught me the real magi

Why religion should be tamed

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While reading Shashi Tharoor’s latest book, Why I am a Hindu , I got stuck at a quote from Swami Vivekananda. “Unity in variety is the plan of nature, and the Hindu has recognised it,” goes the quote from a speech delivered by the great Hindu in Chicago. “Every other religion lays down certain fixed dogmas and tries to compel society to adopt them.” Swami Vivekananda then went on to compare religious teachings to a coat. Truth is like a coat of a fixed size for most religions. The size is fixed by the Rabbi or Pope or Mullah or Godman. Whoever you are, you have to wear that coat. Never mind the hilarious look it may give you because it just doesn’t suit you. You have to wear it if you want to belong to this religion. The meaning of religion is accepting the given truths blindly. Don’t question. Don’t dispute. Don’t doubt. Just accept. Accept what is shoved down your throat. “The Hindus have discovered that the absolute can only be realized, or thought of, or stated through the

Fortress of Falsehood

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Image courtesy Truth is rather banal and often ugly too. Falsehood is so charming that it spreads like wildfire through gossips and rumours via social networks as well as so-called national television channels newspapers. Quite many people in India have sold their souls to falsehood, it appears, as the media channels have sold themselves to the government. When a national leader of the stature of Amit Shah (whether he deserves the position or we deserve him there is a different matter) professes shamelessly that the fate of Karnataka would have been different if the Congress-JD(S) MLAs were not locked up in a resort throws a blinding light on the fortress of falsehood erected by the Kaliyuga Chanakya and his loyal emperor. The claim is not very unlike a burglar’s declaration that your possessions will be his if you leave your door unlocked. Perhaps too many Indians are indeed leaving their doors unlocked. Not the doors of their houses but the doors of their judgment.

Narcissus

I sit in the centre of a black hole, thwarting Light rays and science laws, charting Joys and sorrows of the universe, mixing Memory and desire and love, longing To draw the universe to my core. I am the nucleus of a singularity; And my love surpasses infinity Flowing from the plenitude of my being And bounded, alas, by a black horizon. Nothing can ever go beyond the horizon. Love is a great conqueror. Echo was the best of all    that I ever drew to my core. She was    the distil of the finest mist    the ardour of the deepest hope    the sigh in the sweetest dream    the pearl in the saddest tear Echo was the best of all    that I ever pinned with my love. Hurled into the whirlpool    that swirled inward       from the brink to the core          by the charm of my warmth Echo was the best of all    that ever pined for the best.  I am the best. I am the core of the fire   that burns in the human heart I am the he

The Great Indian Garden

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Image from Xinature Last year during Onam Amit Shah greeted Malayalis in the name of Vamana Jayanti. The Malayalis not only pooh-poohed him but also trolled him left and right, up and down, so much so that the BJP President was left black and blue in the social media. Wishing the Malayali Happy Vamana Jayanti on the occasion of Onam is like asking the Bengali to celebrate the Durga Puja as the martyrdom of Mahishasura. There are people in India who worship Ravana as a divine entity. Imagine telling that to the North Indian who burns the effigy of the ten-headed villain during Dussehra. In short, India is a country with an infinite variety of festivals as well as cultures. Hinduism is not at all a monolithic religion. The gods worshipped in one part of the country may be demons in another and vice-versa. That is the fantastic diversity that India is even within the single religion of Hinduism, let alone the diversity contributed by other religions such as Islam, Sikhism, Ch

Innocence

Fiction You don’t know how much I miss you though I chose to keep you far away from me. Was I saving you from me or me from you? I don’t know. I don’t know whether either of us stands in need of such salvation. You are one of the finest persons I have ever had the fortune of coming across. Sam looked at what he had just typed into his Facebook status update. He read it again and again. What’s the use of this? He asked himself. He had not only unfriended her but also blocked her. How would she ever see this even if he posted it? Why is it that we have to suppress certain loves? Sam wondered. He knew there was nothing, nothing whatever, wrong about his love for her. It was pure friendship. Maybe something more than friendship. Love? There’s something wrong with the word love, he mused. The moment you say that a man loves a woman, the world turns pink. The clouds rumble. The sand grains on the seashore metamorphose into chastisements. You were sheer delight to be wi

Shashi Tharoor and Crime in India

I don’t know if Shashi Tharoor abetted Sunanda Pushkar’s suicide. I don’t know whether it was suicide or natural death. I know one thing, however: India today is a country where anyone can become a criminal overnight and anyone can become a saint overnight depending on which political party you belong to or get support from. We have a Prime Minister whose complicity in the 2002 Gujarat riots is not a secret at all. You can kill hundreds of people, drive out thousands from their homes and sow the seeds of communal hatred in the whole country and still be a hero in India. The most powerful person in the country after the PM, Amit Shah, was notorious as an encounter killer until he put on a saintly halo round his fat face after his best friend became the most powerful man in the country. Yogi Adityanath just wrote off all the criminal cases against him when he became the Chief Minister of the most crime-ridden state in the country. 20,000 cases against politicians in Uttar Prade

Slave's Distance

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Image from World Future Fund Technology is offering us more and more means of coming closer. There are chat sites, friendship sites, messaging apps; moreover, phone calls have become cheaper than ever. Has the distance between persons decreased, however? On the contrary, it seems to be increasing. The reasons for this are complex like in any social problem. I would like to draw your attention to one aspect of that complexity: increasing totalitarianism in government. Through a lot of means like the Aadhar, the government has taken over a tentacle-like grip on citizens. Do you know that every single bank account of yours is open to government surveillance? The government can, if it wants, monitor your internet usage, your phone calls, and even your personal life if it comes to that. On top of that intrusion into our personal affairs, the government is feeding us with a lot of lies and distortions. Already the textbooks in many North Indian states have been modified to t

The King and his excreta

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Whenever the King wanted to excrete his devotees would compete with one another to carry the chamber pot. It was very rarely that they got an opportunity to carry the excreta of the King since the King was mostly abroad spreading the cultural greatness of their country far and wide. Whenever the King returned from abroad the devotees gathered outside the airport to receive him. They jostled with one another and elbowed out one another. Those who managed to get near to the King in spite of the Z+ guards (by bribing them, in fact) all had a chamber pot with them. “Do you want to excrete, Your Majesty?” They asked the King. “Please excrete, Your Majesty.” TV channels were ready with OB vans that had helicams which would record the King’s excreting. They telecasted the whole process under various names such as Bowel ki Bath and Swachh Rashtra. The finest industrialists of the country competed with one another to sponsor the TV shows. The leading banks financed the national enter

The sins of a holy man

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Book Review Title: Dera Sacha Sauda and Gurmeet Ram Rahim Author: Anurag Tripathi Publisher: Penguin Books, 2018 Pages: 198        Price: ₹299 When criminals are attributed godly stature, depravity spreads among people like a malady. Gurmeet Ram Rahim is one of the many godmen who attained godhood in India with the help of politicians, businessmen, goons and sub-mediocre common people. Anurag Tripathi’s book shows us how depraved a man Gurmeet was though he extracted worship from millions of devotees among whom were also powerful politicians and wealthy capitalists. “Gurmeet’s philosophy was far from spiritual,” says the book. “It was oriented from the beginning towards acquisition and accumulation of power.” When Gurmeet became the head in 1990, the Dera owned some five acres of land. By 2017 his empire in Sirsa alone extended to over 700 acres of land excluding the many benami properties belonging to the Dera. The book explains in detail the various strate

Rewinding

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Some time back Maggie (my wife) asked me whether I had any regrets about my life hitherto. “A lot of things were wrong,” I said. “Some mistakes were due to my own nature and quite many more were because I didn’t know how to deal with other people and the games they played.” “So if you are given another life, you’d live it quite differently?”   She persisted. “Of course. But that doesn’t mean I’d toe the lines drawn by others. It just means that I’d make new mistakes.” I paused and then continued, “At least they’d be my own mistakes. They are preferable to other people’s truths.” We can’t go back and correct the mistakes of the past. When I find the dominant political party in the country trying to correct the mistakes or perceived mistakes in the country’s history, I get hiccups.   We can only act in the present. We can only move forward. The past offers us lessons. The mistakes of the past can teach us tremendous lessons, but they cannot be corrected. We shape our f

Why I stopped writing politics

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Image from Wikipedia When you are confronted with a situation that is irredeemably hopeless, what do you do? I would choose to avoid it and walk on. In the less sophisticated parlance of the village that I have chosen to live in now, if you step on shit you will stink. Three months before Mr Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India, I made a prediction in my blog: “Modi will engender a civil war in the country if he becomes its Prime Minister, my instincts predict.” Within months of his becoming PM, many Christian places of worship were attacked in Delhi and peripheral regions. Eventually Muslims and Hindu Dalits became the targets of hydra-headed attacks. People were killed in the name of cows and other totems.   Women were assaulted, raped and killed. The tragedy goes on. Most of the promises made in Modi’s election manifesto have remained unfulfilled though the country is marching towards the next general elections. Development, job creation, corruption-fre

Love makes all the difference

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Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novella, Memories of My Melancholy Whores , is about an old man who wishes to gift himself “a night of wild love” with an adolescent virgin on his 90 th birthday. The nameless narrator never found time to marry because whores kept him too busy all his life. He never loved anyone, in fact. “Sex is the consolation one has for not finding enough love,” he says. He is a mediocre writer until his perverse desire on his 90 th birthday changes him radically. The madam of a brothel offers him a 14 year-old girl who is a virgin. Poverty leads her into this venture. She has been drugged by the madam because she is terribly scared of what may happen to her. One of her friends died of bleeding after having sex with a man from Gayra with whom she had run away. The “men from Gayra are famous for making she-mules sing,” says the madam. The narrator’s sexual prowess is well-known to the madam. The narrator sees the girl sleeping under the effect of the valerian