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Showing posts from March, 2019

India needs a good leader

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The leader makes a world of a difference in any organisation or nation. It is the leader who gives direction to the organisation or nation by formulating policies and strategies. The people go where the leader takes them, leaving aside a few who will always have their own vision and opinions stemming from that vision. Narendra Modi came to power in 2014 with a resounding victory. The majority his party enjoyed in the Lok Sabha could have been used to transform India into one of the best nations in the world: best in every way – economically, politically and morally. Instead the 5-year Modi reign has left India a caricature of what was promised in the powerful rhetoric of Modi which won him the popular votes. Let us take just a few examples. Modi promised to create 2 crore new jobs per year. The fact is that more jobs were lost in the country during Modi’s rule. In the first four years of Modi’s reign, a meagre 18 lakh jobs were created and most of these jobs belong t

Aging Gracefully

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My cat who is wiser than me When I was a boy I used to think that anyone who hit the age of 30 was middle-aged and anyone whose hairline showed shades of grey was antique. Maybe that’s why I refused to grow up. When I hit 30 I continued to behave as if I was 18 and now that I have no black hair left on my pate I behave as if I was 30.   My school closed today for the summer break. My students met me personally to wish me “Happy Holiday” and some of them threatened to visit me at my residence during the break. I felt like 18 once again. What people call maturity is something I never learnt. I think I was incapable of learning it. I think the child in me is hyperactive. I love to play with my cat like a little boy until the cat gets bored of the game. I feel sad when he is bored. Even the cat thinks I’m too silly at times. I cannot grow up, I’m pretty sure. I have always been immature, quite silly by the world’s normal standards. Do people change really as they grow

Modiesque anti-climax

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We are used to people taking credit for works done by others. Their tribe is larger than what one may normally expect. They generally belong to the rank and file of any social group. One won’t normally expect a leader of any worth to do that. All great leaders give due credit to what their followers do. They are generous with appreciation so that more work will get done without unnecessary hassles.   Credit-seeking is the business of the inefficient people. Those who cannot achieve anything great but want to appear great nevertheless take credit for the achievements of other people. When a person who is occupying a very eminent position in any society creates a huge suspense and huger hype about his silly credit-taking, it becomes farcically hilarious. Just imagine the Prime Minister of a country like India which has a population equal to that of the entire Europe and North America put together creating a hype and suspense about an announcement he wants to make to the nation

Parenting

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I have never been a parent. But having been a teacher for more than three decades, I have had ample opportunities to interact with young students and their parents. One of the things I can say confidently is that by observing a student, I can make certain predictions about his or her parents which turn out to be pretty accurate when I personally meet the parents. Children are what they are largely because their parents have made them that. The personality of every child is moulded in the first few years of its life and parents do that shaping. Teachers, the society and other entities add quite much to that personality, no doubt. But what these latter entities do is only to add certain dimensions to the edifice already constructed by the parents. In other words, parents play a very important role in the formation of a child’s personality. I’m fully convinced now, having observed hundreds if not thousands of young students and their parents, that the first thing every child

When no one misses you

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The last week and a half kept me so engaged that I couldn’t even find time for writing. Rather, the outstation duty enervated me so much that I couldn’t even care to switch on the laptop. When I got time today, being Sunday, I turned to my laptop. Quickheal antivirus was very prompt to warn me that my software had gone outdated. Just a week is enough for things to become outdated in our world where everyone is in a hurry. Will I become obsolete or redundant if I stop writing? The question hit me with a pang. The hit counter of my blog showed readers coming though I was not writing anything for a week. However, no one except a good friend from Delhi bothered to ask why I was not writing. That friend was kind enough to text me that she “returned from the [blog] page slightly disappointed…” Curiously, I got an unexpectedly large number of friend requests on Facebook during the week so much so I remarked in an FB update that “When I stopped writing I started getting a lot of f

Writing is a sacred act

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“Is nothing sacred?” Salman Rushdie raised this question in one of his essays with that title. He started off saying that he “grew up kissing books and bread.” Food and knowledge are arguably the most sacred things: one nourishes your body and the other your soul. I would add writing to that list. I began writing in my youth in order to get people’s attention. I was an inveterate attention seeker. As I grew up, I realised the futility of public attention. In fact, Shillong, the place where I took my toddler steps as a writer, gave me so much unsavoury attention that I began to hate both the attention and the place. But the urge to write never left me. Blogging became my passion eventually and I used the medium seriously to express my views on various topics ranging from literature to politics and psychology to religion. I have rather strong views on whatever affects the welfare of the species. Many of my views refuse to fall in line with conventions and social niceties. Wh

Superwoman

The biblical god stopped his creative spree with the manufacture of Eve. Eve put an end to god’s creative imagination apparently. At any rate, Eve was quite a force to reckon with: she changed the history of the entire human species. She upset the entire divine apple cart. It’s a different matter that men used this tale to control women for millennia. The fact remains that women were essentially superior to men. Probably one of the major purposes of the Bible was to rein in that superiority and set up man as the patriarch. Not only the Bible, but also lot many other scriptures elevate man to a higher pedestal and subjugate women to the missionary position. When Nietzsche regarded Jesus and Buddha as effeminate in contradistinction to the macho conquerors in history, was the philosopher missing a point? I think so. The conquerors have lost the limelight and the effeminate Jesus and Buddha have ruled the hearts of the faithful for centuries. Nietzsche’s great error was to

Yours Sportively

I never imagined sports and games as “a crypto-fascist plan for repressing (my) sex-drive” [Julian Barnes’s phrase in The Sense of an Ending ] or any other particularly intriguing conspiracy. When I was a young boy, life was much simpler an affair because people didn’t play a fraction of the games they do today. At any rates, games and sports never caught my fancy. As a school student, I didn’t even care to step into the playground. I idled away the games period standing on the side line and watching my spirited friends run after an inflated piece of rubber as if their whole life depended on kicking it in some particular direction. The institution where I studied after school insisted on everyone playing one game or another. I remember standing with M in the corner of the football ground and chatting away while the others kicked the ball around frantically. M could drop names like Jean-Paul Sartre and Ludwig Wittgenstein which sounded game enough to me. If the ball ever reac

Social Media Monsters

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An innocuous ad by Surf Excel stirred up unsavoury controversy the other day. Tens of thousands of Indians protested against the ad and demanded a boycott of the detergent. The ad seeks to promote communal harmony and the blood of too many Indians boiled! Why has India become such a place, a place full of hatred? It is a sad outcome of the ruling party’s policies and vision (lack of that, rather). “[E]ntering the social media space in India has become like stepping into a mud-wrestling pit,” said Shashi Tharoor in his recent book, The Paradoxical Prime Minister . There are far too many Indians in the various social media who openly advocate violence against certain communities of people. The dominant political party in the country is spending millions of rupees to spew venom against certain people in these media portals.   By Amy Apollonian, a Facebook user There are also people who question such spreading of hatred. There are a lot of Indians who still retain their

Holy Love

“You are what your profession is. Your primary duty is what your profession demands.” Joseph was stunned. His principal, Rev Fr Lawrence D’Souza, bluntly refused to grant him leave from job for a couple of days. Okay, more than a couple by three days. Round off and fuck off. Five days. And a Sunday in between. He was entitled to that much by all the laws in the world. A week. A week, man, is gonna make no difference to anyone in the college or anywhere. Except to God. God can make a whole world in a week. “This is the examinations time and how does your conscience permit you to take leave now when you should be preparing your students in their final moments?” Rev Fr Lawrence was relentless, indomitable… Joseph wished he knew more adjectives. In spite of being a lecturer in English in the premier institute of higher education in the city .   Town , not city , man. He reminded himself. His wife’s pregnancy had gone into the eighth month and doctors suggested some res

My Cashew Tree

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My yard: a view Cashew boughs overhang my front yard screening the morning sun’s intense rays. Summer in Kerala is not what it used to be. It penetrates the marrow of your bones and saps you dry. Nature metamorphoses into something like an obscene speech from a querulous politician who is obsessed with menstrual blood or murderous patriotism. The cashew tree stands just outside the yard wall spreading its graceful foliage over the yard. The sight has a rare charm especially because some of the branches bend low, almost touching the ground, in unabashed humility; absolutely unlike our politicians. It has not been easy to create the natural charm around home though the cashew tree did not ever demand my attention as did most of the smaller plants. As I stood admiring the cashew tree this morning, I realised how much time I spend every day with my plants. They require tender care particularly in summer. They need regular supply of water and protection from pests of all so

Emptiness

Fiction “Hey, aren’t you Karia?” The question woke up Scaria from his reverie. He looked at the intruder for a while. “Hello, Jose.” They were meeting after many, many years. Scaria had left the village half a century ago when his family migrated to North Kerala. He was a migrant ever since. As soon as he completed his plumber-electrician course, he left home to take up a job in the Gulf where he lived most part of his life. He married Cecily who was a nurse in the hospital where he worked as the plumber-electrician for a while. In the autumn of their life, they returned to live in Kerala. Their only daughter was married and Cecily spent most of her time with a Charismatic prayer group which was eminently active in the village and nearby towns.  Scaria was very religious too. Religion helped fill the emptiness which he experienced time and again in life. But God alone could not fill the void. That’s why he decided to visit his old village, the place of his childhood memor

Dear Boy

Dear Boy, The first time I saw you was in the Kabir House of SPS. I was on my usual evening tutor [counsellor] duty and the House Assistant pointed you out to me. You were sitting on one of those few chairs in the small office and weeping like a child. You wanted to meet your mother. You were new to the residential school system. I was quite surprised to see the tears flowing down your cheeks because you were quite a big boy. Physically too big for class 8. I understood soon from the little conversation which I had there that you had been pampered too much by your parents since you were their only child. You were their treasure. You took advantage of that and misbehaved so badly that your parents were forced to send you to a residential school. I noticed the book in your hand, however. Harry Potter . Your personal copy. Your precious personal possession. Your identity mark in a residential school where most students didn’t bother to read even the textbooks for completing

Is your god with you?

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“Leave this chanting and singing and telling of beads!” Rabindranath Tagore admonished the bhakts long ago. We seek god in wrong places. That’s what the poet implied. We look for him in some “lonely dark corner of a temple.” But God is “there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground and where the path-maker is breaking stones.” The poet bluntly tells the bhakt to put off his “holy mantle”, “leave aside [his] flowers and incense” and meet god in the “toil and sweat of [his] brow.” God is not an abstract entity waiting somewhere beyond galaxies to allot fortunes to us after measuring the flattery we send to him in the form of prayers and rituals. God is the sweat of your brows, the blood in your veins, the love in your heart. God is the work you do, work which adds to the beauty and goodness in the world around you. God is the soil beneath your feet and the air you breathe. God is the person next to you. God is you. As long as you don’t rise to that level of religion

Anatomy of Terrorism

Terrorism is an attitude. It is a cognitive distortion. Every terrorist perceives reality inaccurately and hence behaves or acts deviantly. But the terrorist believes that he is doing the most right thing which has a divine sanction to boot. Osama bin Laden believed that Islam was the only right religion and Sharia the only right way of living. The USA was the evil empire with its orgies of fornication and intoxication, gambling and usury. It had to be destroyed in order to create a better world. So his terrorists fought against it and went to the extent of ramming passenger airplanes into the World Trade Centre and a few other buildings. Osama bin Laden is just a specimen of the vast species of terrorists. But he provides us with a rewarding anatomy of terrorism. Terrorism is , in very few words: 1.      A belief in certain absolutes like God, scriptures, etc; 2.      Intolerance of those who refuse to accept those absolutes as truths; and 3.      Violent struggle