Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Make them feel good

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“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” said Maya Angelou. Making people feel good is an art. I confess I don’t possess it. Not that I didn’t try to learn it. It just doesn’t come to me naturally. So I chose the next best option: stay silent when you don’t know what to say and just give as sweet a smile as you can. A smile makes people feel good.

My Christian upbringing and the Malayali cultural background have much to do with my inability to make people feel good. Neither Christianity [the version I was taught or learnt] nor the memes I was condemned with congenitally ever made anyone feel good about anything. Life is evil, according to Christianity. We are born evil with the original sin. And then came the typical Malayali cynicism which added colours and nuances to the original sin.

Wait. It’s not all that negative. Don’t judge yet. My best friends are my students who are young people and most of whom are Christians and all of whom are Malyalis.

I think the new generation in Kerala are transcending the original sin and its hypocrisy. They want someone to tell them what life really means. They know that neither their religion nor their culture means anything more than the interests of certain privileged groups which make up the rules of the game.

Why should we go by those rules? That’s the question they seem to be raising. My answer to them has been: ‘Make them feel good’. How? By our character, our views which should be informed enough, and most of all by our attitudes which should go far beyond the impositions of religion and politics and culture and whatever.

How did Jesus make anyone feel good? How did the Buddha do the same before Jesus? How did Gandhi do it much later and quite near to our own times? Why don’t we have similar teachers today?

PS. The latest topic at Indispire prompted me to write this. I had a personal interaction with a few of my students today who told me that I inspire them. I don’t know how. But I know that the topic of Indispire Edition 240 is: #Inspiration

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Success without Character

In the former half of 2000s I suggested a topic for an inter-school declamation competition. I was teaching at Sawan Public School, Delhi at that time and the competition was an annual event. More than 30 schools from different states of North India participated. My suggestion was: “Success without character is hollow.” It was an adaptation of a quote from Albert Einstein: “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”

My suggestion elicited a few dissenting murmurs. “Is success possible without some compromises?” A senior faculty member asked me. The others desisted from articulating their dissent. For some reason the Principal nodded his assent and as was the practice the topic was displayed on the stage of the auditorium where the competition was to be held. You can see it in the picture below.

It was an interesting competition with more than 30 brilliant young speakers from some elite schools of the region trying to enlighten a few hundred listeners about the importance of character. Narendra Modi had presided over the genocide in Gujarat a year before that and eventually went on to secure a massive victory for his party in the assembly elections that ensued. Nobody mentioned that victory in the declamation speeches, but what prompted me to suggest the topic was what had happened in Gujarat.

As years passed, I watched with consternation how Modi went on to conquer the country like a medieval marauder. As soon as he conquered the most coveted seat of power in Delhi, the country began witnessing a bewildering assortment of crimes: attacks on certain religious institutions and people, lynching, sporadic assaults and murders even of writers and dissenters, inane claims made in the name of the country’s ancient culture and so on.

We have now reached a stage when everything from mindless violence to mind-blowing corruption is justified so long as it is done for the sake or benefit of the ruling party or persons somehow associated with it.

Success with character is impossible, it seems, today. The entire foundation of the country’s morality and even spirituality has undergone a radical change, a change for the worse, and the downslide has gathered a formidable momentum.

In the last few weeks, Kerala has been witnessing an unusual strike. A few nuns took their grievances to the streets, something unprecedented in the history of Christianity in India. Their protests ended only with the arrest of a bishop. The arrest seems to be unwrapping too many scandals within the Church.

I wouldn’t go to the extent of suggesting that there is any link between the political corruption and the religious one. The truth is that moral corruption is like a cancer: it spreads rapidly to all parts of the organism sooner than later. Even if there is no such connection in this case, the case itself reminds me that success without character is hollow. The bishop had conquered great heights but without character. It is possible that he will come out of the charges unscathed except for a temporary prison term and minor inconveniences. Already action has been taken against one of the nuns for disobeying the laws and restrictions imposed by the Church by hitting the streets in protest. Finally the villain will become the saint and vice-versa. I had suggested this long before the nuns had taken to public protests.

Every system has a self-correcting mechanism, however. The decay won’t go on forever. There will be an eruption before the reformation begins. There is no lasting success without character, in short.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Beef Janata Party

One of the communities I like and follow on Facebook is Beef Janata Party. Though its sidebar proclaims “Just for Fun”, it isn’t fun at all. It is a consistent, devoted and knowledgeable resistance to what the Right wing in India is doing. It has a good share of friends and followers: 270,149 people like the community and 273,606 follow it. The comments that appear below their posts show that there is a sizeable section of people in India who are frustrated with Narendra Modi’s governance.

Beef Janata Party does not launch cheap attacks on anyone. They are serious about their mission which ostensibly is to make people aware of the mendacity and duplicity of the Right wing in the country. It questions all forms of falsehood, chicanery and assaults on citizens. It mocks silly claims made by the so-called Modi bhakts.

Beef Janata Party has a mission and a vision. It is a concerted effort to cleanse the political atmosphere in the country of hatred and malice. It exposes falsehood, mocks goofiness and affirms justice and fairness. They highlight worthwhile write-ups from sources of an enviable variety. Every weapon from satire to hard hit finds a place in the Beefunists’ arsenal.

Below are some of their recent posts on Facebook:

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Love Marriage

The latest victims of bigotry

“If we had a daughter and she came home with a boyfriend, how would you react?” Maggie asked me a few years ago. The context was a love marriage that had taken place rather too privately. We knew the girl whose parents were staff of the residential school where Maggie and I worked. The parents were opposed to their daughter’s affair and rightly so. That girl was found dead in her husband’s house a couple of months back.

“I would be amused,” I answered Maggie’s question. I explained that love was the most natural feeling between a young boy and a young girl. It should not, however, divert their attention from their career aspirations and life’s goals. On the contrary, love should invigorate their goals and aspirations.

Maggie sighed. The sigh probably meant how naively idealistic I was. But she persisted with her questioning. “Suppose the boy belongs to a different cultural, linguistic and religious background?” She asked.

“None of those things matter,” I said. “The only thing that matters is that the boy should deserve our daughter.” I assumed that Maggie and I would be ideal parents, so ideal that our daughter would know how to make the right choices.  

I remember telling Maggie that day that the success of marital relationships owed to only one language, the language of love; only one culture, the culture of love; and only one religion, the religion of love. “How have we lived together as a happy couple for so many years?” I asked her. She goes to church and I even drop her at the church, but I don’t enter the church. I don’t believe. I have never questioned her faith and she has never questioned my faithlessness. We are friends. We continue to be friends. We are not husband and wife who try to dominate each other; we are friends who try to understand each other incessantly. That is the secret of happiness in married life. That requires no religion, no culture, no language.

Every honour killing in cases related to love marriages is a failure of love and success of absurd things such as religion, culture and other forms of bigotry.

“What if our daughter’s choice is bad?” Maggie questioned me that time.

“I’ll try to make her understand first. Then I’ll try to make the boy understand that. Of course, I would have made him a friend by then.”

“What if that doesn’t work?” Maggie persisted.

“I believe in destiny.” That was my answer. Yes, I would leave that to destiny. But I would do whatever I could to make sure that my daughter, my daughter who refused to take my counsel in spite of my love and understanding, would live happily with her choice. I would do whatever I could to make her life happy. That is love. How can love wish anything else?

When I read reports about killings in the name of honour – which is always associated with religion, culture and such absurd things – I know without doubt that there is no love involved in the murders. Love cannot murder. Love cannot harm anyone. Love can only do good to others. Religion kills. Culture kills. Bigotry kills.

My religion is love. My language is love. My culture is love.

Can you say that? If you can, you are creating a better world. All the best to you. If you are not sure, check yourself.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Mark Twain’s God

Mark Twain

Mark Twain had a quaint sense of humour. Someone who says things like “Go to heaven for the climate, Hell for the company” and writes stuff like Huckleberry Finn cannot but be freakishly funny. When it came to God, however, he was more incisive than humorous. Much of his writings on God were not published because he knew that even his heirs would be burnt alive if they published if “this side of 2016 AD.” He wrote that in 1906 and those writings were published before the century wore itself out with the kinds of irreverence even a Mark Twain could not imagine.

He believed in God, a heartless one whom he called The Great Criminal. Even an ordinary human being is a far more benign entity than God, according to Twain. If you came across a suffering being and you had the power to cure him of his suffering what would you do? Obviously you would cure him. You will remove all evil from the world if you have the power to do so. God is omnipotent. Then why is there so much evil, so much suffering, depravity and misery in the world which is just a “potato” in the whole vast cosmos?

“To find the one person who has no pity for [the suffering people] you must go to heaven,” wrote Twain. “To find the one person who is able to heal [the sick] and couldn’t be persuaded to do it, you must go to the same place.” God is a father-figure in Christianity which supplied Twain with his God. What kind of a father! “There is only one father cruel enough to afflict his child with horrible diseases – only one,” Twain asserted. Not all the eternities can produce another one, he went on.

Using an analogy Twain argued that the inventor of a machine is responsible for how the machine functions or malfunctions. God is responsible for man’s sins, in other words. But God’s own morality is horrendous. For example, He tells Moses to hang the leaders of both Shittim and Moab because the men of Shittim committed whoredom with the daughters of Moab. “If the people of New York should begin to commit whoredom with the daughters of New Jersey, it would be fair and right to set up a gallows in front of the city hall and hang the mayor and the sheriff and the judges and the archbishop on it,” derides Twain.  

I wonder why Mark Twain believed in a god at all. Maybe he loved to deride Him. It’s good to have someone out there on whom we can cast all the blame. Maybe Twain was not very serious about it. I don’t know. At any rate, there are places where Twain suggests that many of the supernatural things are man’s inventions. What a heaven man invented, for example!

Man invented a heaven from which he kept away the one thing he loves the most: sex. Then he included in it a whole bunch of things he usually avoids: “harp playing, endless group singing, and prayer.”

Funny people, bizarre spirituality and a cruel god. Thank you, Mark, for the concoction.

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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Metaphysics of the Masses

Image from Cartoonstock

Philosopher Schopenhauer called religion the metaphysics of the masses. Schopenhauer did not believe in God. He did not set much store by science either. Art is a better way to understand truth, according to him.

Religion, science, art and philosophy are all ways to understand reality and communicate that understanding to others for their benefit. Science understands reality in a very rigid system which is of not much interest to the average man. It makes no difference to the ordinary man whether there are 8 electrons in an oxygen atom or how hydrogen and oxygen can combine to form water. The waters in the rivers of Babylon which set the psalmist crying nostalgically for their lost Zion continue to interest the ordinary man though centuries have passed since the Captivity which created the biblical poem.

Philosophy is the ideal way to understand life and reality. But how many people are capable of thinking philosophically. Very few. A few more will care to understand the thoughts of philosophers. What about the others, the vast majority? They also have a vital need to understand the reality around them, create order out of its terrible chaos, and make life bearable if not delightful. Religion does that job quite eminently for them. “Religion is the metaphysics of the masses; by all means let them keep it,” declared the atheist-philosopher magnanimously. 

I am not a believer. But I stopped questioning the validity of religions long ago for the same reason as Schopenhauer suggested. Let people have their own consolations, or “opium of the masses” as Karl Marx called it, or “comforting delusions” as many psychologists viewed religion.

The problem is when religion ceases to be a way to understand reality and to navigate its “valleys of tears” [a phrase from a Christian prayer]. Very often religion has been misused to control people politically or organisationally. Religion becomes a monster when that happens. We may recall the burning of heretics and witch hunts, terrorist attacks and violence triggered by bigotry, blatant mendacity and exploitation of the gullible.

Aren’t religions monsters today? There are good people in religions even today, no doubt. I admire those few good people who have managed to retain their sanity and goodness in spite of the monster that is taking giant strides in their backyards.

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Love Matters

Lover, Prince, Dictator

Love makes the world of a difference to the way we see others, even animals.

Kittu walked into my life a few months ago. He was a little kitten at that time. He appeared in the rubber farm behind my house on a morning. I thought he had wandered into my farm by mistake and ignored it. When I returned from school in the evening and went to the farm for filling some grow bags with soil for planting some spinach saplings, the kitten sleeping in the shade of the rubber trees touched a soft corner in my heart. I guessed that someone had abandoned him in the farm at night. He looked famished and baffled. “Come,” I said as I took up the first bag I had filled with soil. He had been watching me gingerly all the while and I had thrown a few furtive glances at him which had not escaped his attention.
He arrests my movement!
As soon as I said ‘come’ he got up and followed me. I asked Maggie to give him some food which he ate ravenously. Maggie was amused and fed him to his heart’s content. Both Maggie and I were no lovers of animals more because we were both sticklers for cleanliness in and around our house than out of any aversion. We had imagined that the cat would go away after eating the food. Instead he accompanied me to the farm. He continued to accompany me wherever I went.

He shared our meals from that time. We didn’t let him inside the house, however. Our acute sense of cleanliness kept him out. He found his place outside until he won Maggie’s heart and stepped into the kitchen while she was cooking. His journey from the kitchen to the dining room and then to any room in the house was quicker than I could believe.
Waiting for me to finish my work
I had named him Kittu in the meanwhile. Initially Kittu slept on the carpet in the drawing room. Then he made himself more comfortable on a sofa. Soon he started dictating terms to us. He insisted on a menu comprising rice and fish. He refused to eat any other food except for satisfying his hunger and that too with ostensible distaste as if he was condescending.

He revolutionised our diet. I was never fond of fish though I ate it when it was offered to me. Yet Kittu made fish a regular item on our daily menu! “You love the cat more than me,” Maggie complained. “You never used to buy fish for me!” I smiled. “We have better choices, don’t we?” I rationalised. Kittu has by now tasted all the varieties of fish available in my local market enriching my knowledge about seafood in the process.

As soon as my wake-up alarm sounds much before sunrise, Kittu waits at my bedroom door to greet me with a sleepy meow. He accompanies me to the kitchen and waits patiently for me to drink my first glasses of water of the day. As soon as I replace the glass on its rack he will demand his morning bite of biscuits or a little lukewarm milk.
Waiting for Maggie to finish cooking
He is there to see me off as I drive to school in the morning and waits like a lover for my return in the evening. He is there with me in the garden grabbing my hand every now and then as I am weeding or playing with the hose pipe while I am watering the plants. I who never loved animals am a lover today. Kittu has become my little prince, my benevolent  dictator, my ardent lover.

However, he often makes me jealous with the attention he showers on Maggie when she is in the kitchen. After all, he knows that his favourite food comes from her.

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My earlier post on Kittu: Company in Hell

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Writer’s Dilemma

I don’t feel like writing these days. No, it’s not the writer’s block. It’s a kind of disgust I’m beginning to feel towards what’s happening in my country. Honest people are being arrested and put behind the bars. Or they are harassed in different ways like raids or political repression. Goodness has no place in this country anymore, it looks like. An Empire of Evil has established itself firmly and unassailably.

Such things have happened in the past too in many countries. But what is alarming in India is the majority support to the Empire of Evil. Quite a lot of people are convinced that this is the right way of governing the country. They think that certain sections of the population deserve to be eliminated. They are convinced that the end justifies the means.  

Worse, they think that it’s not at all evil; they are convinced that this is a holy war, a crusade, on ‘evils’ such as secularism and freedom of expression. They justify everything from the marauding hikes of petroleum products and almost everything else to the murders of innocent people in various forms of public assaults like lynching.

Who is a friend and who an enemy in this country? If you question the Empire of Evil, the supporters of the Empire hate you for obvious reasons and the victims of the Evil also hate you out of cowardice.

Shall I go into a self-imposed exile? I ask myself. A political system which masterfully subverts justice and uses the taxpayer’s money to defend bullies and criminals is not the place for honest writers.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Satanic Netas

Image from Scoopwhoop

In Dostoevsky’s novel, The Karamazov Brothers, Ivan Karamazov tells the story of Jesus returning to the 16th century Spain where the Catholic Church ruled the roost with the cruel diktats of Inquisitors. Jesus heals the wounds of the people while the Inquisitors seek to eliminate the perceived enemies of their religion. He is arrested soon, however, by the Grand Inquisitor’s guards. The Cardinal who is the Grand Inquisitor tells Jesus to leave the earth since it is the Satan that guides the Church and not the teachings of Jesus. People wouldn’t be able to put Jesus’ teachings into practice. People need their daily bread, occasional miracles and a readymade conscience. These are what Satan had offered to Jesus during his temptations described in the Bible. Satan was right and the Church has been performing the work of Satan ever since it took over the Roman Empire, not because the Church is evil but because it seeks the best and most secure order for mankind.

The best and most secure order for the people is what all religious leaders who seek power profess to provide. The Bharatiya Janata Party, under the leadership of Mr Modi, is offering precisely that: the best and most secure order to the people of India. That is the claim, at least. Quite many people in the country believe that the claim is not only legitimate but also the need of the hour. Mr Modi has been eminently successful in convincing a sizeable population of the nation that he is the nation’s Messiah. People have always loved Messiahs.

Genuine Messiahs have been eliminated by the same people who loved them once. Genuine Messiahs become inconvenient after a while. But Mr Modi is the contemporary counterpart of the Grand Inquisitor. That is why human rights activists get arrested labelled as urban Naxals or whatever, innocent people get lynched by mobs, and absurd claims are accepted as scriptural truths. That is also why Mr Modi will go on becoming more and more powerful as days go by.

This post is triggered by the latest Indispire prompt thrown by Arvind Passey:

So my focus should be on the scriptural truths created by the #IdiotsInParliament. However, the protracted introduction above was unavoidable because I wished to make this post as intelligent as my worthy antagonists are crooked.

The prime antagonist was the one who initiated the creation of the current scriptural truths. He set the game in motion with claims like: “We worship Lord Ganesha. There must have been some plastic surgeon at that time who got an elephant’s head on the body of a human being and began the practice of plastic surgery.” Mr Modi told this to no less distinguished a gathering than the doctors and other professionals at a hospital in Mumbai a few months after he became the Prime Minister of his country which he had promised to take to eminent heights of “development”. He went on to cite other similar examples: “We all read about Karna in the Mahabharata. If we think a little more, we realise that the Mahabharata says Karna was not born from his mother’s womb. This means that genetic science was present at that time. That is why Karna could be born outside his mother’s womb.”

Soon Mr Modi’s party members competed with one another in offering the nation similar scriptural truths. Vijay Rupani, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, acclaimed Lord Rama’s “engineers” who built the Ram Setu [also known as Adam’s bridge, it is a chain of limestone shoals connecting India to Sri Lanka]. Lord Ram’s engineers were able to enlist the help of even squirrels, claimed Rupani.

Shankarbhai Vegad, a BJP MP from Gujarat, taught India that “Cow dung and cow urine can cure cancer.” The excreta of cows, both in solid and liquid versions, became sacrosanct in India soon after Mr Modi ascended the throne in Indraprastha, so much so that quite many Indians lost their lives for the sake of that holy excreta. The education minister of Rajasthan, Vasudev Devnani, discovered that “Cows exhale oxygen”. The cow is the new goddess in India, the holiest of holy, in any-which-way you look at it.

Even Darwin has not been left alone by these new legislators of India. Satyapal Singh, India’s Minister for higher education, declared Darwin wrong. “Nobody, including our ancestors, in written or oral, said they ever saw an ape turning into a human being,” he said. As simple as that!

Another BJP MP, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, made Maharshi Kanad [c600 BCE] the father of the nuclear bomb. The Maharshi “conducted a nuclear test during his time,” said the MP.

Radha Mohan Singh, the Union Minister for Agriculture, taught us that Yogic farming [whatever that is] would “empower the seeds with the help of positive thinking.” He exhorted farmers to “enhance the potency of seeds by rays of Parmatma Shakti.”

Soon pseudo-sciences like astrology will become scientific courses in Indian universities.

Well, one could go on and on with this sort of jokes which are actually gaining currency in the country as science. The question raised by Arvind Passey is: “Why do they make such ridiculous statements?” My answer is: “It’s a power game.”

When Christianity took over the Roman Empire with the blessings of Emperor Constantine, one of the first things it did was to rewrite its hitherto subaltern theology. The First Council of Nicaea recreated Christianity. Mr Modi is recreating Hinduism in India.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

My Teacher’s Days

My first colleauges in the profession

When I took up my first teaching job in Shillong, it was more because I needed a job than because I wanted to be a teacher. I had already attempted a career in hoteliering and failed. My first days at St Joseph’s School in Shillong didn’t turn out to be very promising either. The people were good but I wasn’t quite sure whether I was on the right turf.

The people were too good, in fact. The headmistress was a nun who went out of her way to make me feel comfortable at the school. She even took the trouble of finding me an accommodation. The colleagues were the unassuming Khasi tribal people whose geniality was very disarming. St Joseph’s was a convent school and my students were all girls which made the job all too easy.

I don’t think I was good at the job initially though I had some experience in it earlier as a tutor at an institution in Ernakulam where I did my graduation. The truth is that I didn’t like the job really. My first Teacher’s Day was just a couple of months after I joined the school in 1986 and I felt rather embarrassed when my students offered me a gift. I thought I was in a wrong place.

Eventually, however, the job became less unappealing. In fact, I began to enjoy it as I mastered the tricks of the trade. I came to be known as a good teacher and the reputation went to my head. Since my colleagues as well as students were a convivial lot, my conceit didn’t show itself too much.

Joining St Edmund’s College later as a lecturer in English was the biggest mistake I made in my life. It undid me entirely. The management, staff and students there conspired with my own conceit to make me feel as out of place there as they could. I began to hate the job. I hated myself, in fact, so much so I would have destroyed myself had I continued there. Fight or flight was the only option I was left with and I chose the latter having become incapable of the former.

Delhi’s Sawan Public School revived my spirits soon enough. It was a boy’s residential school and I, like all other staff, stayed on the campus in constant touch with the students. When those students voted me for the Best Teacher’s Award after a few years of my circus there I was both amused and amazed. In fact, my Edmund’s experiences had shattered not only my conceit but also my self-respect so much so that anything good happening to me was like a gratuitous miracle. Sawan was quite a miracle, in fact. It presented me a renewed love for life. I enjoyed my job once again.
Good things happen too!
Good things don’t last, however. As Narendra Modi rose to power in India, a godman transgressed into the school campus. Within a year the godman’s women ensured the demise of the school. Those two women were teachers by profession but witches at heart. I learnt from them what a teacher should not be.

Now I work in a village in Kerala. I know I’ll put an end to the career soon not because I don’t like it but because I feel I belong to my own private world more than anywhere. I find myself withdrawing from the active world, the world out there. Solitude enchants me.  

Teaching is one of the noblest professions and I am blessed with some of the finest students who offer a stiff resistance to my longing for solitude. The profession has taught me more lessons than I have taught my students. The profession has been my teacher. My students have been my teachers, in other words. Maybe, I should wish them Happy Teacher’s Day!

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Saturday, September 1, 2018

Sins of Omission

India's Sin

There are sins of commission and sins of omission, my catechism teacher taught me when I was young. Theft and murder are sins you commit. There are infinite sins of commission from feeling jealous of your neighbour’s possessions to worshipping a god other than the one your religion gave you. I was more fascinated by the sins of omission. When you omit doing the good that you should do, that’s a sin too: the sin of omission. A grave sin.

Our world would have been a much better place if we all did what we could do. We can do so many good things and yet we don’t do them just because we are afraid. Afraid of our boss at the workplace. Afraid of our religion and its god[s]. Afraid of the dominant political ideology.

Cowardice is the gravest vice. Fear withholds us from achieving what we want to achieve. Bullies rule today’s world merely because most of us are cowards who don’t dare to stand up to bullying. Contrast today’s political leaders with those of a generation or two back and you will immediately understand the difference between bullies and statesmen. Why have we given all the power to bullies? We are cowards, that’s why.

That’s not only why, however. We are selfish too. We think that our gods are the only legal entities in the supernatural realms. We think that our caste is the only one that deserves the privileges. Our language is sacred because its ancestry goes back to some divine revelations.

Our selfishness is even more practical, in fact. Otherwise we wouldn’t lynch people for herding their cows home. We wouldn’t garland rapists and at the same time cry for the blood of social activists. We wouldn’t shout slogans for a system that oppresses certain sections of the country’s population.

Our selfishness makes us communal. The word communal has highly positive meaning anywhere in the world except India. In India, we have made communities mere tools for personal aggrandisements. We have mastered the art of using people for our own personal benefits. Consequently we have a few individuals who are becoming gods on the earth. Idiotic as we are, we are ready to kill for the sake of those few individuals who live in palaces that would make our ancient Maharajas blush with envy. The palace can be more metaphorical than Antilia. It can be even imported mushrooms.

Ignorance is a grave sin of omission. Even the law would tell you that. You won’t be able to escape by pleading ignorance if you have broken a traffic rule, for instance. It’s your duty to know certain rules. Most Indians are ignorant even about their own rights. Hence they are exploited by silly politicians who wear religious robes but are actually born criminals. Ignorance is a grave sin that is succoured by people who wear religious robes.

A much more cardinal sin is the sin of the intellectuals and knowledgeable people in India. They choose silence because that is expedient. In a system that arrests honest people and throws them into jails, it is understandable that the intellectuals choose to be silent. Is it cowardice? Is it selfishness? Or is it expediency?

If only the honest and intelligent people of India come out of their safe nests, this country would be what the Father of the nation dreamt of: a nation of free citizens. Citizens who are free from cowardice, primarily. And then, free from the other vices. A nation of happy citizens, honest citizens, cooperative citizens.

“Silence is not always a virtue. When there are serious wrongs happening, it is our duty to speak up. Otherwise we become part of the wrongdoing.” This is the theme of In[di]spire’s latest edition. This post is dedicated to that edition. India is passing through a dangerous phase when honest and intelligent people have chosen silence out of cowardice or selfishness. Hence we have the reign of bullies. Lynching has become a national pastime. Other crimes are even more vocal. Your silence may be adding to the spreading venality. Come on, come out, and speak up. Refuse to support evil by speaking the good word. Speak up. Speak up.

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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...