to judge or not to judge

The dictionary too has two contexts to judge the word judgement. One is secular, the other one is religious.

The secular meaning of the word is : the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions, a couple of the synonyms associated being discrimination &  discernment. In practical world judgement is necessary to make choices.

The religious definition is: a misfortune or calamity viewed as a divine punishment. In stead of feeling  sympathetic to another’s suffering  one can have a little devilish pleasure without feeling guilty by believing in this definition. Maybe, that is the reason the biblical injunction warns us: judge not, lest you be judged.

All judgments are based on certain facts. But. do the judges get all the facts? Is it possible to get all the facts?

After getting all the facts, the judgement is worked out based on certain premises. Then, how to decide whether the premises are not questionable?

judgement hammerIn my earlier post I see you as you are I have narrated how forming prima-facie opinions and labeling people can some times lead to funny situation and sometimes to disastrous consequences.

But, in society, judgments have to be delivered. The guilty needs to be punished. The social structure needs to be preserved. No doubt quite often the innocents get punished while the guilty go scot-free. But again, who am I to judge as to who is really guilty?

The fallacy of  wise judgement is illustrated best by this Zen story:

Once upon the time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Maybe,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“Maybe,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“Maybe,” said the farmer.

If nations brought in Zen and Budhha into their judicial system all the jailers would be jobless. Nevertheless,  the Buddha story about the angry man who spit on his face illustrates the futility of judging people solely based on their past deeds.

Maybe, that is the reason the Nobel committee awards Nobel Peace prize not based on the awardee’s past  but, the future. While Mahatma Gandhi, inspired by whom many got the Nobel prize, was not considered for the prize, Obama got it.

Obama was nominated for the prize just nine days into his office and was awarded the prize, to the surprise and shock of many including himself, when he had barely finished nine months in his office.

Then, of course, you always have the excuse in hindsight – the error of judgement, when the irreparable damage has already been done.

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Indian Bloggers

being woman

 

On one hand, in our ancient literature, we deified her, put her on high pedestal as the female version of God calling her the epitome of power as Durga or, the bestower of wealth as Laxmi, or the dispenser of wisdom as Saraswati.

On the other hand, in two of our most revered epics we held her responsible as the root of all conflicts. We gave her less rights and enormous responsibilities, in one case to manage five husbands and in another, to pass through fire to prove her fidelity.

Indian BloggersIn China women were not considered to be possessing a soul so that they could be treated and traded like any inanimate object. In the gambling episode of Mahabharata an impression is given that women could be put on bet like any other material object. Thus, treating women like an object has been the bane of all ancient civilizations. Even in a so called progressive free thinking country like US, it was not untill 1920 that women got voting rights. Even today, in certain religions, it is perfectly legal to treat women as dispensable objects.

Has the situation in India changed much?

Large segments of Indian population still are uneducated, underfed and live in backward areas.  Fetal killing of potential female child is still prevalent in man y parts of India. No doubt many positive steps have been taken by successive governments like reservation in the local bodies and the latest campaign- “beti padhao beti bachao“. But, unless the mindsets of majority of people change, there will not be much change in the ground reality is spite of incentive schemes.

In the context of today’s India I would suggest the following six point program to empower women. I know a few of the suggestions  are too serious to be implemented. Nevertheless, please do not laugh these off.

  •  Beti padhao and beti bachao should not just remain a slogan and should be implemented across all segments of society.
  • In family settings it is seen that women act against other women. Many elderly ladies give preferential treatments to male children giving the impression that their female siblings are children of a lesser god. Thus, since early childhood wrong impression is given about gender parity.
  • Even if women are give positions of power, quite often they are just used as proxies, as happened with Rabri Devi in Bihar. Ultimately, it boils down to the mindset of people. The society must be comfortable with women enjoying all kinds of rights at par with men. No discrimination should be made by the family or society or the state in terms of opportunities and compensation.
  • The time has come for women themselves to come forward. I think it will be a mark of true feminism when women consider the plight of the less fortunate ones and fight for women of all part of the society in stead of restricting their movement to a few fashionable or intellectuals issues.

Now the more serious ones –

  • All the feminists should come forward united at least for this issue. Now a days, a lot of wife bashing jokes are in circulation in social media giving it the impression that women are already empowered and there is not need to do anything further. They should call for a blanket ban on all such jokes and if required file a case in Supreme Court like it happened sometime back when someone filed a petition against Santa Banta jokes. (To hell with your sense of humour, you male chauvinists)
  • Last but not the least,  Modiji should create a separate ‘women empowerment’ ministry. As the minister for this department he should choose … no no not Sushma Swaraj,  …….. no no not Smriti Irani…. but Rahul Gandhi himself. You may say that he does not belong to his party. Nevertheless, Modiji should show some compassion. After all,  Rahul Gandhi is the only politician who has used the term ‘women empowerment’ more number of times than his biological age. Moreover, this is an opportunity for Modiji to compensate for all the jibes he has taken at Rahul till now.

dharmic nature of aggression

Are the non-aggressive, tolerant attitudes of Hindus a liability, so much so that many of them have become victims of apathy, conspiracy and forced displacement in their own homeland. Ref: Kashmiri Pandits, Col Purohit, Sadhwi Pragnya. #hindusvictimised – Thus goes the topic for Indispire Edition167

The premises are definitely wrong. I say this not only in the context of Hindusim, but also in the context of any other religion.

Indian BloggersIn the western media and intellectual circles, the liberal use of words like ‘Islamic Terrorism’ and ‘Islamophobia’ has become fashionable these days. It gives  an impression that any adherent of the religion must match such characteristic. Thus, the vast majority of Muslims who lead their life as normal responsible citizens get tinged with these negative characteristics. It also undermines the humanistic and mystic contribution of many liberal groups like the Sufis.

Terrorism and other aggressive means are used either by an individual or a group of individuals, quite often for their own vested interests. However, these individuals or groups associate themselves with a religion or a few selected tenets of religion (twisting the tenets out of context)  to give their activities a kind of legitimacy. This does not mean all the followers of that religion or ideology subscribe to such hardliner views.

In fact, it is India that has been the victim of ‘jihadi’ terrorism much  more than the west. Yet, in our country, neither in mainstream media, nor in intellectual circle do we use the word ‘Islamic terrorism’. It may appear this shows our maturity as a democracy.

But the double standards of our so called secular intellectual circles are evident. Of late, there has been liberal use of the word ‘Saffron Terror’ and ‘Intolerance’ to indicate as if the country is infested with Hindu Militants. Such double standards show that the mainstream media is subjugated to some forces that want to give an impression, ‘Look, this religion as a whole qualifies to be associated  with negative attributes associated with extremism and intolerance’.

In fact a campaign has already started to bring words like ‘Hindu Militancy’, ‘Hindu Phobia’ , ‘Hindu Intolerance’ and other such terms to mainstream narrative so as to tinge  the religion and all its followers with this negative connotation. It is in this context that I have used the hash tag  hidusvictimised.

Once again, to make my stand clear, I strongly feel that it is never the whole of the religion (let it be any religion) that is to be blamed because a few adherents of the religion, to fulfill their own megalomaniac tendencies and other human afflictions like excessive greed and lust,  use violence in the pretext of religion or some of its tenets.

This said, it is also worthwhile to examine specific allegations made against Hinduism to prove its nature of intolerance and tendency of  violence. Those who bring these allegations, like the proverbial elephant judging blind men hand pick a few partial events that suits their preconceived notions and ignore the vast body of evidences and  events that would depict a different story.

One important factor that should be kept in mind while making any evaluation concerning Hinduism is that it is a dynamic religion, or, what Rajiv Malhotra in his book ‘Indra’s Net’ calls a religion with an ‘open architecture’.  It means the tenets and practices of Hinduism are not frozen across time and space. Hinduism today is vastly different from the Hindu practices and principles that prevailed even a couple of centuries back. All the Dharmic religions (religions that originated in India), due to close interaction with one another, assimilated many elements of each other over a period of time and these religions still continue to evolve, discarding certain elements and taking up new ones.

If Chandashok was the epitome of violence, Dharmashoka was the epitome of compassion. Had there been no transformation of Ashoka in the aftermath of the Kalinga war, the war itself would have been forgotten being just another war of an ambitious emperor. Kalinga war gained prominence in history because of the transformation of Chandashoka to Dharmashoka.

How many rulers in history went through such transformation? Did it happen with the Alexanders of that era whose hunger for power continued till their last days. Did such transformation happen with any of the Islamic rulers  whose violence both at the time of conquest and during their rule surpassed all inhuman treatments imaginable.

The Hindu aggression that we see manifested in the form of Shivaji and other warriors of the Mughal era  was a secondary and defensive aggression in the sense that it was in response to counter the aggression and atrocities of the Mughal rulers.

It may be worth while to note that, during Military campaigns,  Shivaji forbade his soldiers to kill women and children and destroy Mosques.  This was in contrast to the aggression of the Mughals and their predecessors who killed indiscriminately and destroyed thousands of temples. In fact many of the Mosques that stand today have been built out of destroyed temples.

Same way, when events like Godhra are discussed, our so called secularists conveniently forget the events that led to the incident. To be specific, the incident of the burning of innocent Hindus in the railway coach is kept out of discussion, as if loss of Hindu lives do not matter. The issue of the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits and their displacement from their homeland is not given as much importance in our national narrative as the loss of lives post Godhra incident. Same way, the regular destruction of thousands of temples, post independence, not only in Pakistan and Bangladesh, but also in our own country do not find mention even in the eighth page of our newspapers. These activities continues to happen even to day. On the other hand, the destruction of a dilapidated unused Mosque in a prominent place of pilgrimage for the Hindus, continues to drive the anti Hindu debate in our mainstream narrative.

Our journalists continue to target Hindu religious and spiritual leaders, blowing out of proportion any seeming error committed by them, quite often without even verifying the facts. Going by the trends in the last couple of years, it seems Bollywood too has joined the bandwagon of Hindu bashing. This is evident not only from the statements made by some celebrities, but also from the kind of movies being made. In some of the block busters of last couple of years, criminals, terrorists and Pakistanis have been shown to be somehow more humane than Hindu spiritual leaders.

Quite often the ground reality may be quite different from the picture attempted to be projected by a section of our intellectuals and  journalists.  No doubt these groups have their own vested interests clothed in secular ideals.  When the debate about intolerance was at its height of attention in the mainstream media, I went around the streets of India, like the jesting Pillate searching for truth. But, I was as disappointed as the Pillate of ancient Greece. I could not find any trace of intolerance among the common men in the streets of India.

I have put forth some facts and historical contexts to bring to light those sides of the events that we pretend to forget. Now, it is for the reader to decide – considering the tenets of Hinduism and taking into account its overall history, are the Hindus as intolerant as the so called secular intellectuals would like us to believe?

no romeos please, we are indians

 

It is not that only celebrity authors like Chetan Bhagat mutiliated beautiful words like girlfriend to make it half girlfriend. India has a glorious tradition of debasing beautiful legends.

Romeo was a great lover and a faithful one. The love between Romeo and Juliet was mutual. It is tragic yet, legendary. In the east too, we have such legends like Majnu and Laila,  Sohni Mahiwal,  Sirin and Farhad and many others.

Laila oh laila, aisi hun laila, har koi chahen mujhse milna akela – there goes a popular Bollywood number downgrading the legend associated with Laila to the lowest level possible. Of course, we have made the legend of Romeo to meet with the same fate.

Indian BloggersShakespear’s Romeo does not have the least bit resemblance to the roadside side badchalan laundas of India who are the inspiration behind our anti Romeo squads. Thank God, neither did Romeo live, nor did he leave any progeny behind to see this day. Had he been a little less tragic like the hero of De Caprio Titanic, his descendants would have commuted mass suicide after coming to know the down-gradation of his legend to such base levels.

These badchalan laundas stand at street corners passing lewd comments and teasing each member of the opposite sex, who dares to pass by. Sometimes things take uglier turn when they try to gain physical proximity and they create nightmare for girls who are not escorted by any male member.  Wholeheartedly, do I support the action of the so called Anti Romeo squads who are out to make public places safer for women.

Then, there are these true followers of the glorious tradition of Romeo and Juliet. I mean the romantic part not the tragic part. I do not have any objection to two consenting adults coming together in response to certain emotional and biological stimuli provided, they are as faithful to each other like the legends whose footsteps they follow. Neither is it unlawful.

Of course, there is thi minor irritant what in technical jargon is called – PDA, which is Public Display of Affection in its expanded from. Quite often, such Romeos could be spotted with their Juliets in public places like Parks and Cinema Halls, busy in PDA activities as if being oblivious of the people around.

To counter these PDA activities, some self styled preservers of public moralities in India have come up with anti-Romeo vigilante groups, in line with the cow vigilant groups. While I condemn the activities of such vigilante groups who have no right to take up their own romantic failures on such romantic achievers, I appeal that even the official Anti Romeo quads should not take any action against them.

Rather, we should come up with innovative ideas to save and encourage such couples who are the preservers of the beautiful traditions set by the legendary Majnus and Lailas.

My suggestion is that we should enact a central law to make it mandatory for parents with children afflicted with Romeo Juliet Syndrome  to give their children enough pocket money so that they can afford Private Display of Affection.

Alternately, we should have Romeo Lounges in every public place in India in line with the Smoker’s lounges at airports and elsewhere, so that the public is not the least bit affected by the cultural pollution spread by these Shakepearean Romeos and Juliets.

😀 😀 😀

(In response to Indispire Edition #166 at Indiblogger )

pda.jpg
Image source: Newtimes

JNU – all that buzz non academic

jnuJawaharlal Nehru University – a premier educational institute of India, has been in regular news over the last couple of years.

Unfortunately, for reasons not academic.

Not because its students or professors achieved anything remarkable connected with higher studies, research or anything related to learning for that matter. But, because of the battle of supremacy of one idea over the other accompanied by violent protests and clashes bordering in anti national activities.

Jawaharlal Nehru, after whom the university is named, was a free thinker and welcomed criticism of his own ideas. While he advocated secularism, he has also written books about the lofty heritage of this country. By no means he would have been delighted by the attempt to propagate anti-national ideas on Indian soil.

Healthy debates and discussions and free expression of opinions are the bread and butter of a citadel of higher learning. Even though the university was dedicated to the memory of Jawaharlal Nehru, it was the leftist leader Prakash Karat who formulated the major policies related to the University. Moreover, the student politics of the campus has been mostly left dominated. Hence, it can only be expected that the university propagates and zealously guards a particular point of view.

An ideology is just a notion. As a prodigious student, in stead of probing the origin or relevance  age old ideologies, it is unfortunate that  a citadel of learning has been a stage to propagate particular ideologies.

A student should be a skeptic, questioning everything. The faculty should engage in producing and encouraging that spirit of inquiry and should not in any way bring their own ideologies  to influence their commitment for the intellectual growth of the students.

According to the Wikipedia page on JNU, while it is ranked third best university by India’s Ministry of HRD, it ranks 1177th in the world by an international study. Academically speaking, the university has still a long way to go in spite of attracting some of the best minds of India.

The events at JNU also raises serious questions as to whether student politics should be allowed across educational institutes in India. By the way, elections were banned in JNU from 2008 to 2011. At the age when students in India enter campus politics, are they mature enough not to be used as pawns? Moreover, by indulging in active politics, do not they lose precious student time  that they would have devoted to learning? After all ,educational institutes are not meant to give hands on training about the nitty- gritties of winning elections. During my college days I witnessed classes being postponed frequently due to student activism over trivial issues.

As the JNU events  show, students are used as pawns to push forth particular ideologies or carry on certain types of propaganda not at all related to the curriculum of study. The situation becomes dangerous when anti national propaganda are carried out in the name of free speech. Somewhere a line should be drawn between free speech that genuinely encourages spirit of inquiry and self reflection on one hand and  propaganda by vested interests that questions the very fabric of a nation that after all gave them an opportunity to study in that university with a generous subsidy out of her citizens’ earnings.

Indian Bloggers

Views as News

Media has always been an instrument of propaganda.

I remember in my childhood days listening to the Hindi Programs of BBC and Radio Moscow. Even in a Hindi program by BBC, if at all India was covered, it would be in connection with something bad that happened.  Radio Moscow was all about the glory of communism and the evils done by countries like the US.

I think nothing much has changed since then. Unless there is a rape,  cyclone or a starvation death, the western media hardly mentions India. The TV Channel RT (Russia Times) focuses on the evils of American politics and society while, in a subtle way trying to establish the supremacy of the Russian leaders.

In fact the whole story of the James Bond movie – Tomorrow Never Dies – is centered around the controlling power of a media Moghul. It shows to what extent the head of the media house could go to create sensational news.

Of course, in real life media houses may not go the extreme extent of creating war so as to be one up in covering  sensational news. However, it may be remembered that most of the media houses are owned either by the government or, by big business houses. Ultimately, the owners impose their vested interest in some form or the other.

In our country, particularly in South India many of the media houses are owned by the political parties. While some of remaining ones have their own political or ideological leanings, the rest have their business interests at heart.  In such a scenario how can you expect the media house to be neutral and non-sensational in covering and presenting news?

In our country, particularly in South India many of the media houses are owned by the political parties. While some of remaining ones have their own political or ideological leanings, the rest have their business interests at heart.

The bias of the media can be visible particularly in election times. Propaganda material is peddled as news. Even on the day the election results are announced, till the last moment TV channels would be showing inflated numbers for their favourite political party.

Another irritating feature of Indian TV channels is the number of advertisements they show. Sometimes you feel, it is an  advertisement channel with little bits of news nuggets thrown in as fillers.Of course Doordarshan and regional language channels are way better in this respect.

Another irritating feature of Indian TV channels is the number of advertisements they show. Sometimes you feel, it is an  advertisement channel with little bits of news nuggets thrown in as fillers.

Then of course there was this Arnab Goswami. I think he is still there somewhere in invisible mode planning his next strike.  He has started a whole new trend in imposing a particular point of view.  One can see the influence of his Tughlaqi andaz on other channels where some go to ridiculous extents to imitate his style.

Another disconcerting fact that is noticed not only in the case of Indian journalists but also in the case of international ones is that, even senior and renowned journalists do not take stands based on the merits of each issue de-linking it from their personal bias towards a person or a group.

The press in general touches a low point when journalists go to any extent to serve biased news for pecuniary benefits and other favours. This has given rise to a new word that is in vougue now a days. Presstitutes. The interesting thing is – this is out and out an Indian contribution to the English vocabulary.

It is unfortunate that the press,  which is termed as the fourth pillar of democracy, is on shaky grounds.

     presstitutes-india

Indian Bloggers

Love is in the Air

love
American Bald Eagles during mating season

To associate love with sacrifice is divine. To mix love with pleasure is human. And to make business out of love is American.

According to the Greeting Card Association of America 25% of all cards sent are valentines. Of course, now it is a global trend.

Well, love is in the air. In India it is the Spring season which has been traditionally associated with harvests, festivals, flowering and romance. Then of course, now a days we have caught up fast with this international tradition of celebrating the legacy of St. Valentine.

At this age I cannot join the the young enthusiastic valentine brigade. I cannot ‘beat’ them either by joining the moral brigade in India who are suddenly on a Swadeshi hype. I am still a fence sitter. Maybe, there is no harm in just ruminating a bit on various aspects of love.

Flavours of Love

Love is something that everyone experiences in some form or other. No amount of talk or preaching about love can transfer one’s experience of love to another.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “Love is that glue that holds everything together”. Going by this definition, everything is love, expressed in its various flavors or distortions. No one is devoid of love. Even the so called loner loves his loneliness, disregarding the love poured on him by nature from all sides.

Gurudev also says that the negative emotions like anger, lust etc are distortions of love. Love for the objects becomes greed, love for perfection becomes anger, love for one’s own supremacy becomes jealousy. Taken to extreme, coupled with a sense insecurity, one’s love for one’s religion, race, language etc.  may make one a chauvinist, bigot or extremist depending on one’s intensity and stupidity.

Transcending Relative Love

When love  is relative, all these flavors and distortions are experienced. Love for parents, love for one’s own children, love for siblings, romantic love etc. are all different flavors of love. Then there is love of the highest order, when all these relative flavors are transcended. That is what Maharshi Narada calls in His Bhakti Sutras parama prema rupa or the ultimate love or the absolute love or bhakti. Bhakti may start as a love for the divine in form or formless. But it flowers to its ultimate state when love remains without its distortions. Then one becomes love and one’s being permeates love.

The Legend of St. Valentine

Somewhat similar to the eastern concept of Bhakti is the Christian concept of ‘Agape’. Four kinds of love are described in the Bible. The lowest being the erotic love (Eros) and the highest being the Agape, exemplified by the love of Jesus Christ to humanity and God. In between are Storge (family love) and Philia (brotherhood or love between co-followers of Jesus) .

Many scholars trace the origin of  Valentine’s Day to the ancient pagan ‘fertility’ festival of Rome celebrated on 15 Feb. Later on, along with the people of Rome, the festival too was Christianized and renamed as Valentine’s Day, to commemorate  agape. Towards 14th century the term came to be associated with romantic love. Fourteenth Century English Poet Chaucer extended Valentine’s Day beyond human beings, when he wrote:

“For this was on St. Valentine’s Day,
When every fowl cometh there to choose his mate.”

By the way, nothing is known for sure about the St. Valentine- the inspiration for the Valentine’s Day. There are many versions of the legend of St. Valentine. However, according to the majority of scholars and theologians, this day is associated with the St. Valentine who, performed secret marriages in 3rd century Rome against the dictate of the emperor to debar young men from marrying  so that they became better soldiers.

The English Church removed the feast Day associated with St. Valentine in 1969 citing his questionable origin.

P.S. – I Love You

This expression is commonly used to express love, particularly in western countries and the westernized in other countries. Even a romantic movie has been made by this name. As we know, P.S is abbreviations of ” Post Script”,  written at the end of a letter when someone remembers to have forgotten to write something in the main script.

I wonder what kind of love it is that comes as a post script, some kind of an afterthought. If there is love, it is there at the beginning, in the middle and at the end, it is a continuum. If you love something, you do not make it a side issue or forget it.

Some say, the expression is used to remind the other how much one loves the other. It is like saying – “By the way, do not forget that I love you”. Do real lovers keep on reminding expressly how much they love each  other? Like everything else, as we progress in the name of civilization, is love also becoming formal, superficial?

Indian Bloggers

Wear Your T-shirt to Humanity

The other day my social activist friend said,” Come on we have to start doing something some where”.

“Where exactly do we start? Do you have an action plan”, I asked in a friendly voice, even though he would often term me,  in as unfriendly manner as possible, as a speed breaker.

“It is like this. We go and raise funds. Then we buy fifty thousand T shirts”.

Being a born skeptic, I asked, “T Shirts?”.

“I mean these will not be ordinary T shirts. We will get the slogan -Save Trees – printed boldly on both the front and back of the T shirts. If needed we will go for another fund raising to organise a grand function. We will invite a celebrity I know to inaugurate the T shirt”.

“Great”,   I said. “Why can’t we use the funds to plant trees. Directly. As simple as that”.

My friend was agitated. Annoyed. I could see the passion of social service burning in his eyes. “You people will never appreciate my subtle ideas. You will never understand. First it is important to educate people. You know, educate people. Create awareness. You know, create awareness”.

He went on and on till I surrendered. His idea was that writing ‘cigarette smoking is injuries to health’ was the only way to eradicate smoking from this earth once and for ever.

We are a people of symbols and gestures.  It is in our DNA. That is why events and campaigns about social ills start with a bang and fizzle out in a couple of months, till another grand even after a couple of months comes up to cover up for all our callousness.

Occasions like campaigning for swatchh bharat are great opportunities for schools to improve their brand value. It also provides an opportunity for the teachers and students to upgrade their social media status. You may clean something in the morning and by evening it is back to square one. That is why one should not make one’s hands dirty and preserve their cleanliness to to utilise for a fantastic selfie.

During those initial days of swatchh bharat mania, it was a usual sight to see a duo or trio of  school teachers  driving a herd  of school kids holding placards and shouting slogans. They also held brooms and stopped every now and then for selfies and photo ops. I was so much swayed by their enthusiasm I also joined them. (Not because one of the teachers was pretty, mind you). At the end of the rigorous ritual lasting for one hundred and twenty minute, each child and teacher, on an average, must have spent one hundred minutes in selfies and photo ops. One teacher confided in me, “There is strict instruction from the principal. The photos must be of good quality. This event will be a watershed one for our school magazine. We will also go for a press release”

Social media like whatsapp have created another brand of social activists. You can feel the fire in their fingers. They are experts in forwarded as received messages. They do no have even time to read the messages. Because in a day they have a set a target of 10, 000 messages to be forwarded. So, you cannot accuse them of not understanding the messages.  However, it makes them appear more humane than you are. They even threaten you and emotionally black mail you. “You must forward the message to hundred others, or else you are not a patriot/ your are not a human being / you do not love your mother and so on”.  By the way I have lost a couple of close old friends because I dared to exit from such non sense groups created by them to spread socially bullshit messages. On their part, such virtual activists are absolved of all the social responsibility that comes up with being actively associated with the issues on the ground.

In the ultimate analysis, it makes sense to wear your T shirt to humanity.  You might have erroneously and unintentionally (and very humanely, because to err is human) killed a couple of animals and human beings, but wearing a T shirt is regret enough to absolve you of all your sins, because now you appear more humane than your fellow human beings and animals who choose not to flaunt such a T shirt.

being gandu

image source: https://teespring.com/shop/beinggandu#pid=6&cid=619&sid=front


Indian Bloggers

Alone in the World of Technology?

After their adaptability to the mobiles, social media apps like Facebook have become a rage. On these very social media platforms quite often we get ‘forwarded as received messages ‘ ringing alarm bells as to how real relationships have taken a back seat as people spend more and more time on Facebook, Whatsapp etc. .

This week’s Indispire topic too raises questions linked to the above propagated fears. It says, “In this world so connected with technology, we have actually lost our real connections. Technology has actually surpassed human interactions. Real time conversations became texting and feelings became status updates…. “.

I am reminded of an often repeated theme in twentieth century Bollywood films. The hero would go to a foreign country for studies. When he comes back after twelve years  no body is able to recognize him. Sometimes, the story would take a ‘comedy of error’ twist.  Now you cannot present such a story to the present skype generation. It is a great loss to the Bollywood script writers.

Barring the above notional loss, I do not think there is any real cause for alarm. Rather three are reasons enough to rejoice.

We can look at it this way. Now we leverage technology to save a lot of time.  No more do we travel 20 kms to a railway station and stand in queue for two hours to book that vacation ticket. We do not have to visit a post office to send money or a letter or a telegram.  Some even do not go to office to their official job. This in turn gives us more time for creativity, productivity or have real life fun.

Even though my wife is very active on social media, she does not miss her daily quota of enlightening and philosophical  face to face conversations with her neighbours. Now there are more topics for discussion. Like, why her dress from Amazon cost more than her neighbour’s.

Jokes apart, now she is able to connect with her daughter in Switzerland on a daily basis almost at no extra cost. Sometimes during the video chat my daughter closes in on the dinner plate and they both cry. In a way it has deepened the feelings. Imagine how we would have interacted ten years back. Maybe once or twice a month a phone call. Or, an international mail. Hardly can our daughter be out of sight, to be out of mind.

There has been no let up in my face to face interactions with my family members, my neighbours and  my colleagues, even though I use technology a lot.  Now, due to these latest developments in communication technology, I am able to make connection with those with whom I would not have been able to do so if these latest developments were not there. In fact technology has helped me to connect more with real people, far and near.

Thanks to their status updates, now I feel being connected on a daily basis to hundreds of my school/college mates and ex- colleagues.  Many long lost friends have been found. Those who are nearby still come physically to express their feelings whenever the occasion demands.

The fear that the virtual world created by  technology has taken over the real world is over exaggerated. Especially in the case of India. Or else, every year you would not be seeing larger crowds at public events and holiday places with their friends and families.

In fact technology is providing me less and less excuses to be alone. The virtual reality provided by technology is only a medium. The people I interact with through this medium are real. Does not matter if they are far or near. And sometimes even if I have never met with them.

What about our blogging activity and our real time interactions over so many bloggers from India and outside?

Before the era of computers and BPO did you hear of someone earning a salary in one year, the equivalent of his father’s life time earnings in a private or government service?

Or the senior citizens (and the non-IT guys) attributing all the ills of present Bengaluru, including cost of living and heavy traffic jam, to ‘those IT guys’.

Well, that could be a kind of loss to those attached to the idea of good old Bangalore.

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Indian Bloggers

Note Ban – probable long term impacts

 

Right decision is that which may bring short term misery but benefit in the long run. Wrong decision is that which brings short term pleasure but pain in the long run – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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In reaction to the government’s demonetization move, the mainstream and the social media are full of pro and anti sentiments. While the government insists that such measures will kill the black money, terror funding  and bring transparency to the financial dealings, the opposition’s hallabol is only about the hassles faced by the people in long queues in front of the Banks. There is hardly any reasoned and in depth debate about the long term impact of such a measure.

No doubt, getting legal tender notes has become a big hassle for the common man.  The troubles to get  back one’s own money parked in the banks are definitely worth taking if,  it ends the era of black money and the parallel economy and heralds a new economic and social order without adversely effecting the economic growth.

Remember the purchasing power is not dependent on the colour of money. Whether black or white, the loss of purchasing power is a loss of purchasing power. So it all depends upon how quickly the purchasing power is restored. If it continues for a long time, the sales of goods and services will be hit, leading to a domino effect. When the sales are hit, it will result in lower production of goods and services, lower GDP, lower employment and ultimately a recession of the economy.

Even at the cost of being politically incorrect, let me explain it this way. Let us say:

Purchasing power before demonetization (P1)= legal tender (x1) money + fake currency or illegal tender money (y1) + plastic money in the form of credit (not debit) cards  or other kind of credit instruments (z1). Here black money is already factored in as either these will be in legal tender or illegal tender.

Purchasing power after demonetization (P2) = x2 + y2

Now when I say the purchasing power should be restored, P2 must be made equal to P1, or x1+y1+z1 must be made equal to x2+z2. In simple terms to restore the health of the economy to its status before demonetization, Govt should replace (with new legal tender) not only the demonetized legal tender money, but also the fake currencies which were in circulation. And the sooner it is done, the better. If the cash crunch position persists for a prolonged period, the sales of goods and services will be adversely effected  leading to long term negative economic consequences.

Taking India towards a cashless society will be the final nail in the coffin of the parallel economy which threatens the stability of not only the economy but also the society in the form of terror funding and erosion of the value of the rupee. In a country like India the hurdles will be many considering, the average education level and the large rural population.

Then, the first step has already been taken.

Indian Bloggers