Sunday, October 23, 2011


A strong civilization has an innate ability to overcome its ills and take it along that way which the wise show... Does India need to wake up in matters concerning Facism...?

When the Gujarat election results came through it came as a surprise that Modi came back to power with such numbers. A sense of apprehension naturally arose how could the citizens of a state look away from the hell that broke loose just a few weeks back. Was the Gujarati nation at a loss to read the soft peddled Facism that was used? Have the Gujaratis so drastically shifted from the philosophy that produced the greatest leader of modern India and possibly the world at that time? The answers were not forthcoming...

Besides, reports of efficiency in the state’s administration, effective prosperity… were reflected by most leading papers… Does it mean that India needs a fascist force for inducing prosperity? Does it mean that we need society to be divided on communal lines (or along any other available divide) for prosperity to set in? Does it mean that a fear Psychosis has to be induced for a nation like ours to get on to its feet?
Looking back, it is instructive to note that Germany, under the Fuehrer, rose like a Phoenix from the ashes of the world war I. The achievements were outstanding and prosperity was knocking on German doors… and yet all was not well in Germany… the nature of the system demanded that some small group had to be isolated in the social structure, to be precise it had to be a group at which venom could be easily spat at. The Jews served as the guinea Pigs; and then there were the physically and mentally disabled, the gypsies… and the fear psychosis lay in the fact that some one, anyone, branded by the government authorities as ‘traitor’ would receive the same sentence as these groups that were singled out.

What that group is doesn’t actually matter, what ideology that minority ideology has also only matters in as much as it should aid, or support, or react in due course when the perpetrator is spitting venom.. In effect it is a matter of creating a cold war amongst the citizens of a single nation. Create a majority out of any divide available, and use reckless threat or systematic fascism as a magic wand to create a charged atmosphere for motivated socio-political activity; all under the cloud of mortal fear.
Going by this, it becomes incumbent on the powers-that-be in Gujarat to keep the Muslim Vs Hindu pot boiling. Witch hunt Muslims were ever possible: work with a big brother attitude, sometimes showering mercy, other times pour venom, talk amity sometimes and other times issue warnings against neighboring countries and traitors who oppose death sentences… And in the meanwhile ‘enjoy’ power. The ploy is very simple; take for instance what the Shiv Sainiks affected in Mumbai… sometimes whip out Hindu sentiment by likening the Muslim fraternity to the ‘terror Jihad’ mentality. And other times whip out a Mumbai for Maharastrians sentiment. Or some other times enact a moral police on ‘foreign influence’. The Gujarati nationalism, for instance, is being evoked in the issue of the Sardar Sarovar Project. Any one that speaks for the poor in the hinterland of the dam project is then a natural enemy of the state; he is witch hunted. Is Aamir Khan the real target of the recent developments, hardly, what is really happening is that the fear Psychosis is being pumped up. It is a veiled threat to any one who dares to say anything against the powers that be… If Aamir Khan can be sorted out, then what about the petty salesman who lives next door, the one who has set shop in Gujarat, the industrialist who has his factory there…?
The point is, ‘is this the way forward?’ Is the fear psychosis the way to live? Do Indians want a nation in which individuals must be under constant pressure to ‘belong’, to the ruling elite? Do the citizens really want a nation which wants to bottle up one group or the other so that prosperity may come the nation’s way? That is surely not what the constitution seeks for the nation. And surely Hinduism does not ascribe to this either. Every Indian should breath free in this nation, Hinduism does not brand people on the basis of their affiliations and then prejudge them on the same. A true Hindu nation judges one by his actions… It is his present Karma that should decide his status, his standing, his rewards and his punishments—his label or his badges or his professed beliefs should not decide that…
The Hindu equivalent for rule of law is ‘Dharma’. Every hero of the Hindu pantheon teaches the brave to uphold it… that is the victory of good over evil. When fascist forces pump venom into the system, it is the upholders of dharma that have to give the reply. Can the police force reinforce the constitution in Gujarat? Can the political forces rise up to uphold that which is righteous, that which has been established by law? For a start, can the establishment enforce Faana’s right to be shown in the theaters at Gujarat?
When it all started with the fighters of the Indian struggle of independence, their motivations were far away from what happened at Gujarat. And to blame a peoples for a folly of this kind is akin to blaming the entire German race for the accident of Fascism that happened to them.
To an extent the Gujarat fiasco was also an error of the Congress… The Bible is not wrong after all when it says that the neutral are on the side of the good. But the Gujaratis did not find the good with whom they could associate. It is evident that the Gujarati was given no alternative to Modi. The unfortunate part is that the faith of the Congress in the ideology of its forefathers has become shallow.

When Hitler’s ideas ruled the roost in Germany, nothing organized could stand the force of the crushing system, but many Germans did not fail their consciences; there were instances of heroes that stood up in small ways and defied the fascist forces in whatever small way they could… There were such heroes in Gujarat, even in the Congress, (and in the BJP surely) but the Congress as a system has failed. Where is the courage of conviction—that truth will prevail in the end?

The Congress had the responsibility of standing up for the India of the Ancients, and present that alternative to the people of Gujarat, it had to count on that conviction in it’s founders’ ideals to give the average Gujarat citizen the alternative way forward… but instead it soft peddled a diluted version of Hindutwa: it did not vociferously speak of the alternative; the extent to which its senior leaders campaigned in Gujarat could be equated to a little more than nonexistent.
The Congress has totally succumbed to the ideology of the dividers. It almost seems as if they know that the Hindu sentiment would be hurt if one stood up for righteousness in Gujarat— how ironic. The Gujarat citizen has not been successfully convinced that the brand of Hindutwa that is being projected is just a political tool and not real Hinduism…

And this in turn really raises a major question, have the Indians lost the voice of sanity that can upstage this divide and rule policy?


What it is to be inspired by those deserving of everlasting life; inspiration for soldiers...

Way back in 1952-53 a group of 50 odd youngsters from the Gujarat youth congress, set out on a national tour; to see the temples of modern India… Bhakra Nangal… Bhilahi steel… NDA…. Those were heady days indeed; a new found freedom, Pandit Nehru at the helm, and the toddling nation was looking into the horizon; a period when things were still driven by the idealism of the freedom struggle. And there he was, Mr. Gajendra Joshi Rajkot, a young lad of 15 then, stars in his eyes, visiting a monument in the making; which was to groom leaders for the defense of the motherland.
Fifty five years had passed by, and having retired from an active career of an entrepreneur he now had the opportunity to visit the academy yet again. It was a company of four, the two of us and his two charming daughters, moving around on two bikes, taking a look at the great sights the academy has to offer. In the 8000+ acres of land and by the 72 odd Kms of road within the estate there is a lot to see indeed. As we went around the academy, I showed them the imposing buildings, the cadets’ mess where more than 2000 people can be served a synchronized ‘n’ course meal, the huge machines in the kitchen where everything is cooked with electricity, the Super Demona motorized gliders in which the cadets get their training, the commandants barge, the huge amount of equipment in the peacock bay, 165 odd horses in the stables, the two Olympic class swimming pools, the stadium where Tiger Pataudi and his team practiced, the museum and a few of the 32 odd football fields. It took some time and I showed them my home too – quiet extravagant by city standards…
And as we went around doing all this I kept observing what he was looking at, the photos being clicked, the questions he was asking, his reactions when I called their attention to certain things… He gave the impression of a person who had planted a sapling a long time back and had come around to look at this huge tree, wondering how it all turned out.
This got me thinking too… Indeed, if we take stock of the last 59 years where do we stand? The buildings are impressive and the scale is huge but that is just the shell of it… what about its substance? Does the NDA meet the requirements of its mission? Is it producing the leaders which the nation requires?
These are not the best of times for the forces; huge American salaries are there for the taking outside, while perks and privileges in the government are still ‘Indian’; the result is that best of talents don’t seem to be really keen on joining vocations like the armed forces. It is rumored that even officers’ children do not want to join the forces. In all this the question asked is: ‘are the young would-be-officers, passing out of the academy, really of that standard and quality that is required to deliver for the nation?’
Youngsters that they are you come across all kinds of mischief that is characteristic of youth of their age. A bunch of talented and smart youngsters they can take you for a ride if you are not too careful. Tired from all the training they would have all the excuses they need to justify why they want to sleep in class. You get the entire spectrum of them, some interested in what you are teaching them others totally convinced that all this academics is of no use… At the Habibullah hall you find quiet a few of them trying to catch that wink of sleep; the moment the lights in the audience goes off there is a synchronized creaking of chairs signifying that they are adjusting themselves snug into the comfort of their chairs. I can assure you that they can drive people to their wits end if they want. And yet you see what stuff they are made up of only when you deal with that which is close to their hearts.
When the ‘Academy Honour Code’ was being implemented for the first time, it was difficult to understand. There was no dearth of comments poking fun at it. When, however in a general assembly address it was explained how all warriors from time immemorial had codes which drove them; from the times of the Mahabharat to the modern times… How Salaria and Kethrapal two of the highly decorated alumni, who once sat in the very same seats they were occupying, had codes too and how were they were in no way different in bravery from Abhimanyu of the Mahabharata fame… It went down well with them; the joking stopped…
In a hall where 2000 persons are assembled at a time, one can take it for granted that there will always be some noise… but whenever the topic of discussion is a war hero… an eerie silence descends on that audience… Everyone listens with rapt attention. It is as if entire audience was frozen and you could literally hear a pin drop. Take up a similar topic in a class room, and a sleepy class can suddenly come out alive…
The academy does not manufacture brave men… but it does collect and nurture them. Most of those that join carry a passion for bravery and have an innate ability to deliver. One can easily see amongst them zest for life, passion to fulfill and determination to excel in what is dear to them. I am sure that the NDA is there where it wants to be… in the heart of heroism, playing in the gaze of immortals… The young broods that have passed out of this academy have fed themselves on the passions of the brave…And they have great achievements to show… I have no doubt that those passing out now are no different…
As we went about our visit to the academy I kept wondering, ‘what is there about this place that I can show to them, which I can really stand up for with unblemished pride…?’ At the central lobby of the famous ‘Sudan Block’, on stone panels, in golden letters, are painted the names of those who have done the nation proud; the alumni whom the nation has honored as the bravest among the brave. This list of decorated soldiers includes many who have laid down their lives for the cause of the nation. Even as I explained to the guests why those names were there I could feel a mixed sense of awe and pride. And it also gave me a feeling of immense satisfaction; I could stand tall and say, with all my heart, that indeed the academy has shouldered the legacy that was thrust upon it all those years back.
There is a ‘Hut of Remembrance’ in the academy built by the cadets, a memorial dedicated to alumni – heroes who have laid down their lives for the nation. The cadets who pass out pray at this memorial that ‘when the call comes they may have the strength to rise above their personal weaknesses and emulate the brave whom they honor’ there… Its environ feels like a temple and there are genuine prayers made here. It is the academy itself, the association of the brave with the NDA has hallowed the portals. This indeed is a cradle of military leadership.
I did not ask Mr. Gajendra Joshi how he felt having visited this place… but he did express delight and gratitude. He later presented me with a small wall piece which tribals from the Rann of Kutch had made under his daughter’s guidance; “it is part of a process of trying to empower them” he said. And his other daughter, I found, had a picture of the Sudan Block as the wall paper on her computer.


The issue of Darvin's theory being pitched against the contents of the Book of Genesis of the Bible came up in a court in the US. Is it not a funny predicament...?
The gravitational force is not a subject of one’s opinion: how does it matter what who’s opinion is, it is there and that is it, it is a law of nature. Will it matter if a judge rules that the theory is false? That is exactly the problem in this queer case about Darwin’s theory which is subjudice in the American system. Apparently the contestants are expecting a ruling on matters related to teaching the theory in the educational institutions, but waiting for a judge to give a ruling on the validity of the Darwin’s theory… !?
Everyone must be familiar that Science has its basic proposals which are based on empherical facts. They can be experimented upon. Non existence of evidence to the contrary leads to the proposals ending up as laws. Then the so established ‘laws of nature’ lead to very natural conclusions. As long as the laws hold to the validity of experiment the conclusions that follow also hold … and the conclusions themselves can be verified if one is imaginative enough to device experiments to demonstrate them. These of course go under the technical name ‘corollaries’.
Darwin was a pious man; the results of his study put him into deep spiraling thought. His find was a difficult thing for himself to digest. But a discovery is a discovery and if that is how the laws of nature are – as God has made it – then it was his duty to share that find with others.
Mutation is an established fact – by experiment (indeed freaks are born in all species). The principle of natural selection is another established fact – by experiment again (positive freak qualities tend to survive down the generations). These can be demonstrated to any straight thinking person who is not a pack of wild dogs in his mind and mannerisms, who is genuinely interested in uncovering facts, in looking at the world without colored glasses. Who is interested in knowing how God has constructed this beautiful world.
And yes, once these principles have been established… corollaries follow – that man came from monkeys – and when it is something which a dogma cannot digest then who is at fault..? Who, then, is not accepting what God is presenting before him? Who, then, is being untruthful… or to be precise avoiding the truth..?
But then again shouting rationalists are not angels either.
One of the most basic principles of experimental science is the fact that a law has a perimeter of influence – a boundary region in which it is valid….. For example, the laws of Newtonian mechanics are valid at low velocities, but the laws break down at high velocities… Applying Newtonian laws in the Einstinian realm of fast speeds is a mistake of the one who is applying it. The law is still a law, yes, but pushing it into relativistic speeds and saying that there can be nothing like E=mc(squared), that mass cannot be the same as energy… If someone holds this view then that is not an index of a scientific attitude…
Darwin’s theory deals with the physical and the biological, and is a true representation of what we find there… but why apply that to the Meta-physical? Yes, Darwin is right in his sphere, but the meta physical is a different subject all together. The Bible, especially the chapter ‘Genesis’ (creation), deals with things that are beyond the five senses. Shouting down the Bible on the basis of Darwin’s theory is indeed unscientific.
In truth the followers of the Bible and the church should be grateful. Thanks to Darwin we can now focus on the grain in the Bible and not the chaff… What then is the true meaning conveyed through the story of Adam and Eve…. It is a gate that God has opened for his faithful...
The most convincing pointer that I have yet encountered in this matter is from an American Theologian—calls himself Joe… Let’s say that in a Kindergarten poem it is said “And the cow jumped over the moon”
The likely response…?
“What rot are you teaching children?” “You know what is a cow? And do you know what the moon is? Are you nuts?” and to counter this there will be equally spirited faithful, who, so disturbed by the accusation and so motivated to defend, will be yelling back their own responses. And wild dogs easily catch our attention. Public forums meant for the exchange of wisdom get reduced to ego battle zones and the casualty is progress in truth.
The solution to the cow and the moon is so very simple, a poem is meant for its poetic value. A question “how a can a cow of ‘x’ size jump over a moon of ‘y’ size and billions of miles away …?” is just a waste of time. The question itself is ill directed and meaningless. You cannot ask science questions to a poem, can you? If Darwinian truths are used to counter Adam and Eve theory, and if Adam and Eve theory is used to counter Darwin’s theory, in both cases the researcher is barking up the wrong tree...
There is no conflict: to be blamed are the attributes of lack of comprehension and a compulsive defense of Dogma. And the best way out is to look with open eyes and watch God’s world with an open heart.
Really, can the logic, reason and scientific attitude of the greats of humankind like Ved Vyas, Valmiki, Jesus Christ, Mohammed the prophet, sage Vashist, the authors of the Bible, the Vedas, the Granth… and honest thinkers like Darwin be doubted? If this fact is missed then is it not a reflection of the fact that people are either too busy to find out the truth or they have the tendency to be content with the little gets fed to them?
Wasting useful court time on such a matter is probably just a game for lawyers to make money. One wonders what will happen if the American court ruling goes one way or the other…


When I sought to apply for a post at the UN, I had to fill up a column which asked whether I was ever booked for a traffic violation. Too bad that the truth disqualified me... check this out...

It is midnight and Zero, from the Sad Sack comic strip, is returning to base alone in his car. The car stops at a red light that is unfortunately stuck on red. Zero is in a big dilemma—well no, it is not whether to go or not to go, it is that his out-pass expires at 5.00 AM.
The solution is only too obvious, how does a red light apply in a deserted crossing at midnight..? If you want some good advise here it is, ‘don’t apply this logic on Pune traffic rules’. You are likely to bump into a policeman, who is strategically placed at one of those points which make you apply the ‘obvious’ logic.
Take this point close to the Nal Stop, on the Karve road. On taking a turn towards Swargate and proceeding about three hundred meters you reach a circle with a traffic signal. You are standing at the circle, the signal having just turned red on your arrival. You watch one road empty into the circle and then it is the turn of a small lane coming from the left. The wait seems like an infinity because you are held up by a lane starved of any traffic (probably leading into a desert); and the urge to use the ‘obvious’ logic builds up, especially when you are racing against time… The temptation is too much; you take off. You might not have crossed twenty meters and you are flagged down by a policeman… It becomes apparent that the policeman had stationed himself strategically behind a huge tree. The tree was his camouflage: masking him from your view when you were battling with the dilemma at the crossing.
So there I was, flagged down, and he asked me for my license. I showed it to him. And he said it’s is a learning license… Where is the ‘L’ sign? Legally speaking I had to have had that on, but with a great deal of practice on dad’s geared scooter (the one that I drove was a gearless one) I felt that it really did not matter. But then rules are rules… There was a pregnant pause and he said that would be 200 Rs. 100 for each mistake. Another pregnant pause, then he said, Ok come with me, I will ride with you to the police station… That was about a mile back on the way in which I had come. At the police station he made me pay a fine of 100Rs for which he duly made the clerk give me a receipt. An electrical shop nearby, a bit of creativity, a piece of red insulation tape and the ‘L’ sign was in place. And then he said good-bye...

He surely knew how to get a ride back to his station.


It is the fun of this moment that really matters... celebrate it in a game of football...

The Red officers team and the blue officers team were lined up facing each other ready for a fun battle. Before we get any further it is advisable that I set some points straight in the beginning itself. Just try to figure this out. The red team wore blue and yellow T-shirts and the blue team wore black and white. The goalkeeper of the blue team wore red…. So you should try to imagine what it was like when the commentator referred to the teams as blue team and red team…. Red meant blue T-shirts and when he said blue it meant the team, which was not wearing blue and whose goalkeeper wore red…. It must have tortured the commentator no end, especially when he was a novice at the job. So then, a rather crucial decision was taken mid-way in the game and the teams were re-christened as yellow and white respectively. Now that we have taken care of the confusing part we can get on with the game…
The due formalities were completed with the Deputy Commandant’s arrival and everyone settled down for the commencement of the match.
I would have been otherwise on the field (hopefully) but I was constrained to sit out due to an injury. That did not prevent me from wanting to go to witness the match. I was indeed keen to go, but I couldn’t avoid a sense of irritation when I found that I was also 'detailed' for it… To witness the proceedings there was a small gathering of officers, a fair representation from amongst the spouses and some children as well. It was a colorful setting.

Judging by the assembly of forces on either side it was apparent that there was a balancing act in motion…. Or else you know the norm … the choicest players usually are lined up on the commandant’s side against the Dy Commandant’s side. This time the OIC football did not seem to have any decided advantage on the field. Of the players I knew very well we had Sqn Ldr Rauthan and Lt Nair on the same side (yellow) OIC 2IC combination, that is formidable indeed, but we had Lt Col Sheron and Lt Cdr Ramanathan on the side of the whites; the main forces were therefore balanced…

It started as a sedate afternoon. Except for Lt Gupta’s enthusiastic cheering of the whites and a few officers running around energetically for the ball it seemed quiet a tame affair—for some time—in the beginning. But life has its beautiful ways… soon the tempo picked up. From the initial OLQ (Officer Like Qualities) type of cheering and complementing it soon picked up into some involved cheering and enthusiastic clapping. We had Col Bava rooting for Lt Nair (Bn loyalties) but of course he was trying to egg the audience to life… and to make things a bit more merry, he turned around and “detailed” the two hapless officers sitting behind him (Lt Nitin and Capt X; sorry forgot his name) to “volunteer” for commentary. The commentators began with the slow start of toddlers but then got to be more comfortable, eventually they came up with some wise cracks. They definitely pepped up the atmosphere good…
Lt Col Christopher sported a kneecap but did an impressive job on the right flank for the whites. His diagonal passes were most penetrating, and strategic, and well timed; seems to have played at a very good level. He had his daughter Jeenu rooting for him from the sidelines… Gr Capt Siani was covering the goal on the yellow side. And Lt Pyla from his battalion was covering for the whites. From the way the Group Captain covered the angles his having played the role earlier was self-evident. The opposite was the case with Lt Pyla. He was relying more on his will power, guts, enthusiasm, reflexes and presence of mind for doing his job. Playing hockey for the services team and being a goalkeeper, he would have realized, are two different ball games (literally). But he did his bit. Maj Sirari stood out for his streaks of solo runs coupled with his characteristic high-pitched josh type cheering.
The whites drew first blood within a few minutes of the start of the game. The under dogs had taken off. A ball lobbed in by Lt Col Sheron from just out of the ‘D’ found the net. Past half time Lt Nair and Maj Balyan were found contesting for the ball in a manner, which for a moment, appeared like Rugby. The referee was not impressed and duly awarded the yellows a free kick. The wall in place, it was our Beckham’s turn for some strategic thinking. Who better than Sqn Ldr Rauthan would understand the situation better? He found some gap towards the top portion of the goal to one side keeping in mind the small frame of the goalkeeper. And it was a beauty. It went in grazing the bottom of the cross bar. Lt Pyla had no answer. The score read 1-1.
Not very late after that it was Lt Nair’s turn. The blinder that followed a small solo effort went in like a bullet. I’m sure Lt Pyla would not have seen what went past him into the goal. Some lusty hitting from Maj Balyan with Lt Gupta and Lt Cdr Ramanthan on either sides and an aggressive Lt Pyla at the goal behind, kept the whites hungry.
An interesting contest to watch was between Maj Takhur and Sqn Ldr Noor Mohammed who in turn was defending for yellows on the right flank. Maj Takhur impressed with terrific speed on the left flank. The josh with which he was going for the ball—I’m sure the militants had a tough time with him at Kashmir. Sqn Ldr Mohammad was very clear with his fundas. When I asked him later ‘so you were using get-the-ball-or-the-man strategy...?’ he replied with a twinkle in his eye. “You should know how to use your weight where you lack in skill…” Hmm that was wise… even Maj Takhur had a tough time trying to get past him.
There were about 10 minutes to go, the spectators were giving their bit for the game. Maj Abhijeet was doing a fine job for the whites. One couldn’t escape his never say die approach to the ball even in the dying moments of the game. The yellow defense had their hands full. Just moments after I was paying complements to him in my mind he was rewarded with a goal. The ball lobbed awkwardly over the goalkeeper and landed into the net. The score was tied at two all.

The whistle was blown. It became apparent that the two teams thought of settling scores with a shoot-out. They were just about maneuvering for the goal when there was an announcement on the PA system “And as the PTO (Physical Training Officer) says, that brings us to the end of the game.” The players got the point. They trooped out grinning amongst themselves.

Some tea and snacks, and a few moments of mirth and laughter followed and then we packed for the day.

Was it a waste?
If you asked me what was the purpose of the whole exercise what could I say? Made any money?…. no…. wasted some time?… maybe… Sat there looking at 22 people running behind one ball?… yes… What did you get from all that…? Nothing…! And yet the most beautiful things in life are just nothing… Just moments that have to be lived and shared…


Goody is no more, but the happenings of that time have lessons for us; how do we respond...?

The racial remarks controversy from the ‘Big Brother’ reality show in Britain was well highlighted in India. Eventually Shilpa Shetty won and besides fame she also made some money. A few weeks later Goody too visited India and she was well received—forgiven and forgotten.

In a reality show a participant needs to survive in order to win. In order to survive he would make the most of the arsenal at his disposal. Arsenal meaning the array of interpersonal skills at his disposal—could be bouquets or could be barbs. It depends on what he thinks is ‘good strategy’ and what he thinks is ‘fair’ in order to win that prize… Goody and her mates were found using barbs… Whether by design or by default, they went about hounding Shilpa; and Shilpa Shetty on her part was found susceptible to racial slur.

Two important questions that get highlighted here are these:
1) Is it gentlemanly (lady like in this case) to use that tone and strategy on someone?
2) And next, need such a behavior be condemned as legally, ethically or morally in-appropriate in a community or society or nation?

Behind British mannerisms of gentlemanly and lady like behavior there is actually a big heart. Even though at times people all over the world use ‘high class’ mannerisms to claim exclusivity and aloofness, in essence good mannerisms are built around having dignified, comfortable and caring relationships with people. The spiritual essence of good mannerisms it that ‘living water’ should flow between people as they do things together… Therefore it is easy to recommend that people must be gentlemanly or lady like in their ways—use bouquets—for then they could win hearts, achieve more and be happier all along too…

As for the second part, as to how the society should react to it, being ‘politically correct’ doesn’t seem like the best way out. ‘political correctness’ puts people under constant pressure that the correct words need to be used, that in-correct words should not be used, and only acceptable behavior is allowed. Such an attitude is embedded in the concept of ‘tolerance’. And tolerance in itself is a state of ‘tension’.
Jesus Christ did not tolerate the Jews, nor did Mohammed the prophet ‘tolerate’ the infidels (he cared even for them and wished their welfare), nor did Lord Krishna tolerate the many characters in the Indian epic ‘Mahabharata’. There is a need to look for a response that is based on adherence to an even higher ideal—higher than ‘tolerance’.

Situations of conflict are bound to arise when people live together. On such occasions of conflict, if people leave the nasty behind and take a loving approach, and still hold fort on their issues of concern, then their relationships are comfortable and they are happy… In comparison to others, who have poorer approaches to life, they gain—if not immediately surely eventually. And this produces a ‘high quality’ existence for that individual and the society to which he belongs… Keeping this in mind, a society seeking welfare, would coax its people into taking a pleasanter approach to life. The call to gentlemanliness and lady like behavior is hence a call for successful encashment of life’s potential.

Coming back to the Big Boss issue, there are two things that society may take up for handling a controversy of racial slur…
a) Apply the rules and laws as is appropriate.
b) Take whatever steps possible in the direction of education of people towards a pleasanter approach to life.
Therefore, if Big Brother has violated norms, the rule of law should act. Censor boards or institutions dealing with public decency should play their part according to rules. Opinion makers should make their views heard. And then leave it at that.
The alternate strategy of hounding those responsible into making apologies is meaningless and distasteful. In such an approach there is an element of one-upmanship trying to assert oneself as being tolerant to a greater extent than another and that needs to be taken out from the society’s response.

The essence of human nature would set things right in its own course. Shilpa’s winning of the competition and the fall from grace of the others is that natural course of human nature. And the attempts made by those fallen from grace, to patch up, should be credited to their good sense and humaneness.

So how does one look at this episode at Big Boss objectively…? If one is scientifically disposed then the issue can be looked upon through the perspective of ‘group dynamics’. In ‘Group Dynamics’ inter personal relationships and power play happening in small groups (2 upwards) is studied. A possible situation in groups of individuals consists of a process of ‘hounding’; one person gets singled out and a whole bunch of others pounce on him. It happens in groups of all kinds. It can be an issue as simple as brunette Vs blonde, a nerd, someone ‘different’… anything different. And in ‘Big Brother’ Shilpa’s alien status was used to single out a person. Such reality shows are good laboratories for psychologists…

In other words the situation was a problem of individuals and not of nations. A group was not familiar, or did not want to familiarize itself, with the customs of a person—never mind what the motive was. And people all over the world sometimes refer to nasty approaches. Even India is no exception; the mother-in-law daughter-in-law conflict is legendary in India. And it is also true that for every Shilpa Shetty who can maintain a dignified posture one can also find others who would have retorted on equal or nastier terms…
The viewers obviously loved the dignified approach from Shilpa as against the nasty approach from Goody. Even so, could Shilpa have done better?

There are indeed a few (not many) who would have taken it all like water on a ducks back, never shed a tear, and happily gone through with it… many nerds get past taunts as if nothing ever happened, little people, out-of-the-group types… Think of Eddy Murphy in the same situation… He would possibly have made such a huge joke of it that the ‘group’ would have found themselves silly. Or may be Orpra would have done a great job in her own characteristic style. Let us say if David Beckham was to be cornered thus with some or the other issue issue he would get away with a disarming smile. Even from the starlets of Bollywood there are quite a few who would possibly have gotten away playing the fool…

The secret behind this is that one’s happiness does not really depend on external factors. Definitely Goody (or anybody) could create a hindrance but such a one cannot come in the way of someone’s happiness… An individual is said to be complete in himself—a fountain of joy unto himself. If he digs into his heart, as Jesus Christ says, living water would flow out of him… So adverse situations, like the one that was created in the 'Big Boss', should not matter.

The British public must let Goody be… if there is a law she has broken let her face the consequence, otherwise there is no need to hound her for apologies or with demands of political correctness…


Why do we need to get hyper with being politically correct?

When people start throwing books of law at each other, it can be taken for granted that they have entered the phase of intolerant shouting where it is meritorious to be ‘politically correct’ and to be ‘tolerant’. Nice as these terms seem, it is important to see the littleness of it. There is a need to raise the consciousness of the Monkey debate to another level.

Going back to the Australian tour of India… there was not one rather there were two monkeys that day; the two were in the stands looking at the player on the field and behaving like monkeys.

What is so bad about being called a monkey after all…? Humans look more like bears rather than fish and look more like monkeys than like bears… and if we were to include black and white monkeys then the farer of the human lot look like white monkeys and the darker look like black monkeys… so what’s the great deal?

The real issue is whether one has made a monkey of you!!!

Some nitwit called someone else monkey and a monkey is born in everyone’s head… can’t we break free from that… be free… look at the monkeys and laugh at them… they are not to be taken seriously… And much less spend so much print and energy, and BCCI and ICC time on such issues…

You will be serious about it only if they have succeeded in making a monkey of you…


How Hinduism got its name and is it a religion in the first place?

It is fashionable to say that all paths lead to God, that there is only one goal and that the whole world is one family. But how much does one understand the significance of this truth (?) in real life.

Samuel Huntington a Harvard Social Scientist has forwarded a theory which he calls “Clash of Civilizations” in which he expresses that the world is distained to be at war with itself and this clash is to take place along fault-lines that define the boundaries of various civilizations. He summarizes that Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists and everyone will either be making truce or fighting with everyone else based on compatibility or lack of it respectively.

But then Hindus have this term ‘Vishwamevakutumbakam’—the world is a family. Now then, are ‘world family’ and ‘clash of civilizations’ not contradictory points of view?

As of now the spiritual world is referred to in terms of conflicting ‘religions’. So there are ‘n’ major ‘religions’ of the world and they are listed as Judaism, Christianity… and so on and in that list is added Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. And that leads to the next conflict—there is a claim among some Hindus that Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism are part of Hinduism while followers of these religions themselves claim that they are separate religions. Without stopping there the debate stretches into questions about dogmas, about conversion, about terrorism, about tolerance/intolerance and so on…

To get to the root of the debate it is useful to take up an important issue: "the world thinks of Hinduism as a ‘religion’; what does Hinduism think of itself…?"

The answer is as strange as it is interesting… and the best way to unravel its secret is to get to the origin of the word Hindu itself…

It is folk lore now… a Persian traveler came over to India, saw the great land, went back and said that there is a religion which is difficult to understand because of its multiplicity of gods and so he said those that lived there were ‘Hindu’. Why ‘Hindu’? Because he could not pronounce ‘Sindu’, for that is what he wanted to imply—the religion of the land where the river Sindu flows. This goes to imply that looking upon Hinduism as a religion springs from the conclusion of one individual who could not understand Indian Spiritualism.

The absurdity of it all is that the average Hindu today looks at Hinduism through the eyes of this foreigner—that it is a religion…! This also means that the brand of Hindutwa communalism spawned in the Indian nation is based on a perspective of religion which is essentially not Hindu in origin. It is based on a world view which is basically Huntingtonian in nature… The Hindu today refers to himself in the language that is alien to his own traditions of essential global unity.

What then is this alternate Hindu outlook on religion…? Strange it will seem but the answer is that there is no such thing called religion in the Indian Milieu… Gandhiji complicates it further when he says, “There are as many religions as there are individuals in this world”.

What the Indian system of spiritualism recognizes, which is close in content to the term ‘religion’, is the term ‘Guru-parampara’.

Indian Spiritualism recognizes an ‘essential truth’—and then it recognizes ‘enlightened masters’ called ‘Gurus’—and it recognizes the ‘Sishya’ who seeks to find oneness with the divine through and in the Guru.

But of course, as of now this word ‘Guru’ has been corrupted rather badly, so much so that someone who teaches the other to tie a shoelace is called guru—not to mention the use of the word to say ‘hey pal!’ In truth however, even Dhrona who taught Arjun everything he knew in respect of his legendary skills, was only an ‘Acharya’ to Arjun; it was lord Krishna who was the Guru.

So what is Christianity? Is it not a ‘guru parampara’ with Jesus Christ as a Guru?

What is Islam? Is it not a tradition that has sprung from following a ‘Rishi’ called Muhammad the Prophet?

This perspective, when taken further, leads to a point where the absurdity of ‘clash of civilizations’ becomes obvious. Whether one follows Jesus Christ or follows Guru Nanak… the end of the journey is mergence with the same divine so where is the conflict…? Without a doubt, that conflict lies in ignorance—in the inability of the sishya to merge in the Guru…

So then can it be said that proof of success in spiritualism lies in the fact that a truth seeker has risen above ‘religion’ and entered the service of the whole of humanity? Only journeying students, stuck with matters of chaff in the ‘guru-paramparas’ end up fighting with others… once mergence with the divine is achieved through their respective Gurus all quarrels become meaningless…

So then if Jesus Christ is a Christian’s Guru, then, being a person living in Sindu-land, does he reserve his right to choose Jesus Christ as his Guru…? But of course he does… Lord Krishna had 64 different Yogas to achieve mergence with the divine which he learnt from 64 different Gurus. So the why should a citizen of Sindu-land not accept Tej Guru Tejparkhiji as his path to salvation? Or then why should he be denied the path of Karam Yoga, taught by lord Krishna to Arjuna, on his path of finding everlasting life… or any other legitimate path…?

In fact the Indians have a task at hand. It is inappropriate to live in the land of the Bharatas and look at the world in terms of ‘Religions’. In the land of the Bharatas there is no clash, only oneness… Vishwamevakutumbakam is its creed and there is respect for all Guru Paramparas…
Hindus taking the western world view and fighting amongst themselves is one thing… taking the Indian world view and making the others stop fighting is another… What does one choose?


Life at the National Defence Academy; stretching towards the highest

It was a pleasant NDA morning. The nip in the air had just gone. The sun, in all its glory was warming up all and sundry. The lush green tree tops, which the monsoons had left behind, were basking in the glory of the late morning sunlight.

I was at my desk in the little office on the first floor of the Manoj Pande Block. There were books and papers spread out on my table, with the open cupboard asif saying “Need any help? Try these books.”

In front of me, ten feet from where I sat, was the only door to the room. The morning sunbeams that had come in through the door and window were long gone. But the bright morning light left nothing to want, the room was as filled with light and it warmed the spirit to as full as full could be.

As I poured over my work I suddenly sensed a presence at the door. Looking up i saw an old man at the doorway between me and the light that was coming through. He was dressed in white and was also wearing a white turban. He was looking around the office space and seemed to be measuring the insides of the room. When our eyes met, he gestured as if to say… "so then, is it all OK?"

I had never seen him before; slightly stooped with age, he could have passed off as an elderly Sarpanch of a nearby village.

My first reaction was to look on puzzled. Is he looking for some favour? Did he want something from me?
And playing the role of a ‘Chota mota’ officer (I was an officer and lecturer appointed on an ad-hoc basis and was already working at the NDA for at least eight years when this happened) I asked him “Yes what is it?”

I probably sounded that wee bit harsh—I wouldn’t be able to say—but I was sure I had a question mark of suspicion on my face.

If he felt any discomfort it did not show on his face and he said, “No, I just came here to take a look.”

Guess he saw a puzzled expression on my face; he clarified “I had a very long service here and I retired some years back. I used to sweep the floors of these rooms… I just came around to see how it all is now and how you are all doing.”

Even as he was saying this I noticed that his clothes had paled with age but he had made every attempt to come neatly dressed. He had a quiet sense of dignity around him. Somehow in his manner and purpose and in his expressed concern I could unmistakably see a man who had done is job with a lot of love and affection. He definitely had a deep sense of belonging to the place and had this sense of pride in what he had done.

Having perceived all this my disposition changed; the ‘Chota-mota’ officer got to his feet to pay his respects. And before the conversation could go any further he took leave and all I could do was to greet him with folded hands. As soon as he left I walked up to the door and saw his back fade away into the next room.

As I went back to my seat and tried to get back at my work, I could not take my thoughts off him, and it remained so for some time. Somehow I could feel the love and intensity he felt for the place he had worked in. And my heart warmed at the thought of his sense of pride in the work he had done there for years.

These are the gems that one gets to pick along the way. Then there was this bearer who used to stand wait over us; he had rendered fifty years of service to the Academy; dedicated, responsive, faultless… Col Joshi would call him an ‘institution’. "They come but rarely and they are old-timers, a dying breed" he used to say…

A dying breed... I did hold on to that thought for some time; indeed there is too much skepticism around and it does not seem that a certain idealism was not there any more… It is all about power, pelf and prestige, is it not? But i then I guess I was wrong… Admitted that my respected senior colleague must definitely have seen much better days, and standards have indeed fallen, but I have grown to realize that the underbelly of inspired living still lives on…

I know of this cadet; he was feverish and he had an important role in his squadron’s cross country team… he ran so hard that he breathed his last on the cross country route! (There are proper medical checks now) That might have still been a few years back, but in my association with cades, as a counselor, I have watched closely many who have worked themselves to the edge while making some point or the other, doing their job, doing for their squadrons, standing up for the others… a medically unfit cadet, low in hemoglobin count, putting in everything he had in him to keep pace with the others; another almost ruining his knee in doing for his squadron what his body was not willing to concede.
Yes, I admit that the border line between courage and foolishness is very narrow, but the cadets’ sincerity could not be faulted. I have seen countless amongst them work at their games, their duties, their training, their teams—withholding nothing for themselves… in fact in almost every cadet I met I saw, in some deep corner, in some obscure field of activity, that fire to do well—that love for an ideal, that earnestness to deliver…

And I saw leaders amongst them, reaching out to those depths in their team mates, so as to make their teams deliver…

I still remember the address of then President of India Dr. Abdul Kalam at the passing out parade which he had reviewed. He addressed that inner fire in the cadets… no wonder then that he is this inspirational figure who still seems to be enjoying the status of another President of India.

I had seen it in my colleagues too, they do hold on, somewhere deep inside, to this love for what they are meant for. In some cases it is expressed, in others it even comes as a cribbing against the lack of freedom to play their part. But I guess it is this that pulls the academy on.

Skepticism will always be there, like fashion it will come and go; but this love for the highest, that one can achieve within himself, the thirst for excellence, will for ever remain. And it flows as a strong undercurrent in the environs where I spend ten fruitful years of my life. And I am thankful for it.


Dear Messers NDTV, (kind attention Mr. Prannoy roy)

The issue that you debated on TV in the big fight was actually disturbing. And the worst part is that you have left the issue hanging in an uncomfortable position.
The Indian society is still composite. There are communities that train their children to different approaches to life…
And everybody has a life… A prostitute has a life, call girls have theirs, bar dancers, nuns and priests, homemakers… even those who jump several partners through life have theirs… The question invariably is about where each individual would wish to pitch in respect of his wards.
The way the issue was debated, it was heavily loaded towards “Breaking Free” “experiment” “advanced” (as against ‘primitive’) “ Modern” (as against Victorian) “Open” … one should realize that all these have nothing to do with the mechanics of sex… these are approaches to life…
The real problem is that on one hand there is the “physiology” that a medical student studies but in the process of hoping to teach children about it, the “forwarded minded” exponents of the debate who were “scoffing” at the conservatives were loading it on a platform that was trying to convey that “experimenting” is normal and sex is “enjoyable”. The old gentleman was shouting hoarse against exactly this.
Resolve these two things as separate… medical science on one side and mind since on the other. Teach hygiene, teach physiology, even make them doctors of the human body but spare their minds… what approach the children should have to intercourse and to relationships are better dealt with in families, communities and religions…
I am not going into the debate whether the conservative value system or the liberal one is better… but I would also insist that it is improper to give either one the platform to pass judgments on the other in a public forum such as education of children.
Your compeer and almost all the rest were mocking at the tsunami that the elderly gentleman was talking about, the truth is that he is right, there is a huge battle being waged in the mind of the youth. The English media is taking the lead in a particular direction which could pitch the children away from a life that can give the benefits of a conservative society. Your debate was another blow in that same direction and that is what is disturbing.
Explaining how a penis and a vagina behaves independently and together is one thing but loading it on a culture that pitches our children towards a life culture of multiple partners is another.
Any one who works with a premise of “advanced” western society should NOT be allowed to talk Sex to children… unless those children are their own… Such people should never be made teachers in the first place. Don’t, for heaven’s sake, hand over the initiative to such persons in society who are falling head over heals to sound politically correct, in a society that is assuming ‘liberal’ to be the ‘in’ thing in fashion.