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Showing posts from November, 2022

Mind without borders

  Image from here If you feel that you belong to the whole human race rather than a particular nation or religion or any such relatively smaller community, you have a more evolved consciousness. Nationalists, religious bigots and terrorists, linguistic chauvinists and such people possess a low-level consciousness. There is something called ‘terror management theory’ in psychology. It says that when people are made to feel insecure and anxious they tend to cling to narrow affiliations. Remember how the slogan Hindu khatre mein hai captured the psyche of a whole nation a few years back? The Hindu is in danger. What danger? In a country where the Hindus were what is today commonly and significantly labelled as “brutal majority," what danger did they face from the tiny minority? It was a danger fabricated by certain clever politicians for the sake of winning elections. They won too. They rule the country today. And they keep the whole country at a very low level of consciousness.

Creating Winners

  These are busy days for me and that's the reason for the irregularity of my presence here. What keeps me busy is the state level cultural competition of CBSE being held in my school. The event started yesterday and will go on till Sunday. About 7000 students from 1400 CBSE schools of Kerala are here on the campus of my school participating in events like singing and dancing and acting being held on 21 venues . These are all winners from their respective zones. The purpose of this Kalotsav is the all-round development of the students of CBSE schools. It is based on the conviction that every student is a precious individual with immense potential. Events like this seek to provide the students with a hierarchy of platforms where their potential can be materialized, skills honed, and personality unfolded to its ultimate fulfilment. Education is not all about textbooks and the labs. In fact, there is more that should happen outside the classrooms. The writer and the musician and the

Why religion baffles me

Sunday meditation “Didn’t you cut open the womb of a woman and eat the foetus?” It was Kadammanitta Ramakrishnan, a celebrated Malayalam poet, who put that blunt question to a Gujarati trader who was travelling with him on a train. Kadammanitta was returning to Kerala after a visit to the post-Godhra Gujarat. The poet had seen the agonies of thousands of people living in Gujarat’s refugee camps and heard their heart-rending stories. The Gujarati trader on the train had asked the poet a question: “Are you a non-vegetarian?” “I’m not very particular about food,” Kadammanitta answered. “What about you?” The Gujarati’s brag was: “I’m a Vaishnavite. We are pure vegetarians.” It was then the poet asked him the question about eating the foetus. Later Kadammanitta composed a couple of poems on what he had seen in Gujarat of 2002. One of them was about a group of pure-vegetarian Vaishnavites setting fire to a banyan tree under which a boy named Kamrem Alam had taken shelter. The boy became

Let Trails Blaze

Socrates drinks death Jesus was a trailblazer-philosopher. Some religious bigots killed him. And then they made him a god and thus killed him again. Gandhi was a trailblazer-philosopher too. Killed by a religious bigot again. He would have become a god had he been killed a few centuries earlier. Not all philosophers become gods, of course, even if they are assassinated by bigots. Socrates is an example. This philosopher had more brain than heart as most philosophers do. (More importantly, he was not killed by religious bigots.) Religion is all heart and no brain. You try to bring brain into it and you are a gonner. Unless you are in present India where both the brain and the heart are redundant in religion. Our leaders have created a new religion which can justify whatever you do provided you shout the right slogans. You can plunder, rape, kill. Do whatever you like. But your slogan must be right. Our new gods have eyes which see only what they like to see. Same with the other organs t

Liberating Hyderabad

Book Review Title: Hyderabad Author: Manreet Sodhi Someshwar Publisher: Harper Collins, 2022 The last Nizam of Hyderabad was the world’s richest individual of his time. The gold and jewels he owned would require trucks for transportation. If each person of his state “took one of a jewel or gem or pearl or gold bullion,” as this novel says, “how different would their life look!” But they wouldn’t storm the King Kothi Palace. They loved their king. Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last Nizam of Hyderabad, was loved by his people for many reasons. He looked after the welfare of his people. In the words of this book, “Osman Ali Khan’s rule was a rule of progress and reform. Under his direct rule, the revenue department was reorganized, judicial reforms introduced, communal harmony cemented. He had founded Osmania University, Osmania General Hospital, the new high court, built dams… Wasn’t Hyderabad the first city in India with a reliable supply of drinking water? Hadn’t Nizam VII banned t

A blogger community

  Indiblogger was a blogger’s paradise once upon a time. The bulk of my readers came via that platform. Each of my posts used to get over a hundred votes in those days. Now the posts feel nostalgic about a double-digit vote which comes rarely. Quite many bloggers have abandoned this community. Understandable. There isn’t much happening here anymore. Back in the heyday of Indiblogger, hundreds of bloggers thronged the platform every day. There used to be a lot of activities and gifts too. I got gift vouchers worth thousands of rupees. There was a time when I didn’t spend a single rupee from my pocket to buy all the books I loved because Indiblogger’s gift vouchers kept coming like an endless bonanza. Good days don’t last long. The gift vouchers stopped altogether. The regular meets of bloggers arranged by Indispire in different cities stopped too. Soon the platform metamorphosed into the ghost of its earlier being. It continues in existence and a few bloggers like me have retained

Faith without smile

“Devil is the arrogance of the spirit, faith without smile, truth that is never seized by doubt,” says William to Jorge. William and Jorge are respectively the protagonist and the antagonist of Umberto Eco’s novel, The Name of the Rose , which sold over 50 million copies since its publication in 1983. The original was published in Italian in 1980. William and Jorge are both Catholic monks. One is a hero and the other is a villain. You can be a hero or a villain irrespective of the system you belong to. The problem is not with the system but with you. That is the quintessential message of Eco’s novel. The novel begins with the journey of William and his young disciple Adso to an abbey in Italy in Nov 1327. William is a monk and Adso is a novice. They belong to two different congregations: Franciscans and Benedictines respectively. It was the time when Pope John XXII and King Louis IV were at loggerheads with each other and the Franciscans had the support of the king while the Benedi

Political Lepers

Isolde was exceptionally beautiful. She paid heavy prices for that beauty. Accused of a crime that she had not committed, Isolde is consigned to the stake. She will be burnt alive. As she ascends the stake, some lepers appear with a request to the king. “Give us Isolde,” they cry. The lepers are people shunned by everyone. They are detested outcasts whom nobody even wants to look at. Horrible people with rotting flesh. Give us Isolde, they cried to the king. Burning at the stake is not enough punishment for her, they argued. She had betrayed the king’s love. She dared to love another man when the king had chosen her for himself. Give her the punishment she deserves, the lepers clamoured. Send her to us. We will sleep with her one by one and sate her lust. The king’s inflated ego was pleased to send the snowlike purity of Isolde to the embrace of the rotting lepers. The lepers were delighted. The lust that was burning in their veins would get the best prey it ever could. The

An Encyclopaedia on Khasi Tribe

Book Review Title: Funeral Nights Author: Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih Published by Context, 2021 As I reached the last page (1007) of this book, a sigh of relief escaped from my chest. I had begun reading it months ago. I read many other books in between, but this one continued to be as charming as it was daunting like an arduous mountain peak that at once beckons you and intimidates you. But never did I feel that I should abandon reading it altogether. After all, it is about the people of a place where I lived 15 years: Shillong. Let me confess right away that I wouldn’t even have bought this book had I not had a personal connection with its contents. The Khasis were my first colleagues and first students. This book is their history. Written in the guise of a novel, this is more an encyclopaedia on Khasi people, their history, folklores, myths, and even behaviours. What is said about the Mahabharata can be adapted for this book too: What is not here is nowhere else in the Khas

Obsolete Idols

When the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China was launching world’s first 6G satellite , India’s Prime Minister was inaugurating the renovation of Somnath Temple. Temples and statues are India’s PM’s priorities. Kashi Vishwanath Corridor Project was inaugurated by the PM two months before the UP assembly election. Of course, there is no link between the two events. Our PM is above silly sectarian thinking. He is a globe-trotter, we all know. Nay, he is the Messiah of the world, Vishwaguru. Nevertheless, let us not ignore the fact that he is the chairman of Somnath Temple Trust. He inaugurated the renovation projects of that temple in August 2021 though the temple had been renovated after independence by the then deputy PM Sardar Patel. Soon after Modiji became PM, he launched the renovation project of the Kedarnath Temple. Now that work is over. You are welcome to Modiji’s Kedarnath. The grand Ayodhya Temple’s foundation stone was laid by Modiji in Aug 202

Retirement Politics

80-year-old men call a meeting of 70-year-old men to decide the retirement age of some 60-year-old people. This is what’s happening in India. My state of Kerala recently raised the retirement age to 60 for people working in the state’s PSUs. There were immediate protests from the Congress which recently elected an 80-year-old man as their president and the BJP which worships a 72-year-old Prime Minister who is all set for another term in the next election when he will be 74. There is a serious unemployment problem in Kerala and hence hampering the opportunities of the youth for employment by raising the retirement age of existing staff is unjust. That is the argument. But Kerala’s life expectancy is 77 and why should one retire at 56? Instead of asking people to retire, the government should discover/create new job opportunities for the youth. If politicians can continue to work at the age of 80, why can’t the common man too? Karunanidhi was in office at the age of 87. So was Jyo