Monday, June 27, 2011

Impotent Boys Better Than Girls

Docs turn baby girls into boys by Amrita U Kadam of Hindustan Times is a great story. A tragic story.

The story says: “Girls are being 'converted' into boys in Indore - by the hundreds every year - at ages where they cannot give their consent for this life-changing operation.” The procedure used here is genitoplasty (under normal circumstances it is used to correct genital abnormality in fully-grown patients).

In Indore, however, this procedure is used for a very different reason: love for male child. It is absolutely disheartening and disgusting to me that there are people in this country who prefer infertile son to a healthy daughter. Girl converted by the procedure into boy, leaves him infertile, but not impotent.

It is an insult to the humanity. The government of Madhya Pradesh and all the agencies concerned have to take very strong step here. If they do not have a strong monitoring mechanism in place, they should just put a blanket ban on genitoplasty till the time they have effective monitoring.

This brings us back to the question of whether technology has done good or bad to the humanity. The technology is market driven. And market is misleading. The misuse is rampant. Technology is a manipulation that disturbs the ecological balance. And it will have repercussions, some of them long term and severe.

The problem is that technology manipulates living organism with an intended effect in mind. In this case turning girls into boys in circumstances that are inhuman, not just immoral. But technology is completely unaware of the unintended effects a certain ill thought intervention like this causes.

Now we know, thanks to Genetics, that the unintended effect of technological intervention that tends to manipulate nature’s design could be much more severe, quick and unmanageable than the intended benefit that would come out of it.

The Hindustan Times Report


Of course reality is absolute and the amorphous and abstract concepts of honesty, corruption, fair play are relative and open to interpretation.

Reality is not abstract at all. Reality is the sum total of sets of events that are taking place around us.

But in the absence of perfect information or selective dissemination of information or due to limited perception, the reality gets coloured and clouded. I repeat perception of reality is relative not the reality itself. I agree we don’t or might not understand reality because it manifests itself in complex forms.

Reality is not limited by sum of all our senses, physical and intellectual. We can perceive a limited range of visible spectrum that does not mean reality does not exist beyond the visible spectrum, it is just the we cannot perceive it. We can now see minutest organism by aid of microscope, but when we couldn't, it didn't mean that it did not exist or was not part of reality.

As our ability to probe reality grew, the false perception about reality got cleared in the light of new facts and discoveries.

If two people cannot ‘see’ or perceive reality in the same manner does not make reality amorphous, it is just that that two perceive reality differently.

It is like taking picture of the same object at the same time but from different directions, the images will be different but the reality is the same.

The lesson is that we should accept reality as it is. It is difficult to deal with reality objectively. I wish reality was a dream.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Today in the morning I read home minister P Chidambaram advice the nation that they should forget the atrocities of Sikh Carnage of 1984 and move on. It is fine that no justice is done to perpetuators of organised slaughter of 3,000 Sikhs in the capital, which had the support of the youth Congress caders in the capital, and police remained a mute viewer.

It does not matter to him that some of the accused are now his brother ministers in his cabinet.

I wonder would he give same advice to the victims of Gujarat Carnage of 2002.

Would he like the same advice given to him if all the male members of his family were slaughter in a carnage like this.

His own election to the Lok Sabha is questioned by none other than the chief minister of Tamil Nadu Jayalalitha demanding his resignation.

He is sadly our home minister, a controversial one, who allegedly spy his own colleagues.

Justice has been denied for 25 years. In the 26th year, the home minister advice to move on, if he can't do anything, at least he should not insult the victims.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

PAID NEWS: paid lie

I was reading about paid news and how bad it is for host of reasons.

The paid news is old news, and not as recent as it is made out to be. at best there could be a new version of the old practice of influencing editorial on consideration that is not the merit of the matter.

There are ways possible, if there are adequate means to support, to get things published, in media houses that have a reputation of clarity, rigour and truthfulness, stories that send wrong message, create misleading pictures.

Ideological affinity for a news magazine is nothing new, but it is still objectionable, because it clouds objectivity.

But now there is something much sinister happening. You can influence editorial in a manner that reveals half-truth, or selective truth, if done craftily, give a wrong picture convincingly.

The editor’s guild in India condemned this paid news business, as if they were taken by surprise, and that things like this exist came to them like a rude shock. Well that cannot be true. It has not happened overnight. It now seems to be the popular culture.

There are many reporter and editors who are strongly identified with a corporate entity or a political party or ideology, to the extent that they cease to be journalist, they write and talk like activists.

There are basically two ways to influence content coming out from a publication. One: buy the stakes/shares and become an owner. Two: if that is not possible, get few senior and some junior staffers on the payroll, they will spy for you, forewarn if something is happening editorially that has the potential of making material difference on their masters.

I am not surprised that this happening. Publications reflect the society; they cannot remain isolated to the pulls and pressure of the society. The concept of ‘non-satiation’ (it is an economic jargon which presumes that rational beings, referring to humans, can always benefit from having additional spending power) applies best on the hard cash. There is never enough cash. And journalism is still not a very paying profession.

Apart from the greed factor, it is a smart thing to do. Lets look at the success curves of editors who have done well in short time, without naming them, or even doubting there journalistic skills, tells that collaboration helps, even if these collaborations weigh heave on judgement and objectivity. It is better to be successful editor who is identified and to that extent compromised, than an upright reporter who is stifled and his objective interface with the world, reportage, is edited, and manipulated, in the name of giving it the right perspective.

The fact that you write well and can dig beneath the surface to embarrass government and corporate are the basic qualities that is not difficult to acquire. There are some people who have mastered these qualities but are stagnating in the wings, frustrated and bitter.

But then there are smart cookies. They have deployed their talent to befriend with the powerful lobbies within and outside the government, instead of antagonising them. They are the ones who become editors; host fat parties where high and mighty congregate to celebrate. They have acquired this great skill of presenting skewed picture objectively.

They are never caught. Who will catch them?
Those who are like lakir ke fakir (go about the same old beaten path) suffer, stagnate, frustrate.

There is no doubt that there is a business angle to all social enterprise, and journalism is no exception, and there is no bravery in perishing, so all the publication would do kind of life sustaining shit, that would allow them to breathe and operate, and find occasions to do sporadic good journalism, that is about being upfront, and not confusing issues by layering it with the irrelevant.

So there is no moral judgement here. But the paid news is in thing. There will be public outcry about it, but behind doors written reality will be manipulated for considerations that are extraneous.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sting King

Sting journalism is controversial and ethically instable. It is controversial because it is the most potent weapon in the hands of a journalist to bring truth out in the public domain. There is a deep ethical concern and objection here: people are fooled into being witness against their own self.

The ethical objection can only be satisfyingly addressed if, and only if, sting journalism is used as a last resort, when all other conventional methods of journalism fail to bring the truth of the matter out.

The whole process has to responsible. And to me responsibility in the case of sting journalism is not some amorphous concept; it is clear and precise: it should be carried out in the public interest, in public spaces, never enter into anybody’s bedroom.

The third issue is that of impartiality or non-selectiveness in its use. It is incumbent upon the news agencies that do sting operations to make sure that it is issue based and not personality based. And they should not be even seen to be deploying this potent weapon selectively, or targeting, against a certain political outfit, individuals or even ideological incompatibles.

The moment sting journalism is even perceived to be used selectively against certain inconvenient outfits or people; the moral right to use of sting operation is lost forever.

So, there are certain unequivocal NOs as far as sting journalist is concerned to me. If these certain NOs are practiced, and it passes the quality test of responsibility and impartiality, sting journalism will never become voyeurism.

It is not so easy to be clear on these counts when in the field. But, as a sting journalist, I can tell you, you always know that a cause is worth a sting operation or not.

It is also a concern that since you are risking your life to do a story, after all it is just a story, a big story, it should serve some larger public interest, in the interest of justice, a harbinger of change for better in the way we deal with issues, but not to settle scores with somebody.

I am glad that sting operation was used to fix responsibility of the Gujarat government's active role in fomenting the violence against Muslims in 2002 and to secure justice to Jessica Lal, who was murdered by Manu Sharma, son of an influential industrialist-politician from Haryana.

But, I fail to understand, it could not be a mere coincidence, why similar stories were not even attempted to expose 1984 Sikh carnage in Delhi, 3,000 Sikh men were killed in three day as a retalsiation to Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her ‘Sikh’ bodyguards, when it is open secret that the youth Congress leaders of the time (now some of them are senior ministers in the present government) were actively involved in instigating the carnage with the help of active inaction (which makes it connivance) of the police. Similarly, in the case of Aarushi murder, why sting option is not explored.

More soon.

Monday, June 20, 2011


This is the Photoshop-ed version of a self-portrait taken after a long jog at 2:00 hours, it was a warm evening in the month of May last year.

The idea of putting this picture is random, or it is a thoughtless act, perhaps to gain attention, perhaps not, I can’t even think of a reason now, will try manufacture a reason and let you know.

The reason for putting up this picture is random. It is not a random reason.

But, since, now, I have decided to display my artwork, as ordinary as my writing, I will start with my own doctored picture.

Yes I am being confronted by my ordinariness.

This picture is indicative of my life today. It is anyone’s guess!

i get No. No. No.......for all my Yes! Yes! Yes!!!!!!!! This is not random.

This fact of life: I am getting unequivocal No from the world that I am extremely affirmative with, at my own cost, at my own peril. I will continue to be affirnative, nevertheless, because I know no other way, since I can't stem the tide, I hope, soon time will turn the tide.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Was Gandhi a Politician?

It is a political season of fasting or Satyagraha. The Gandhian method of peaceful resistance powered by individual moral courage that has the potential of making the powerful government make concessions in favour or for welfare of masses. The moral courage comes from the justness of the cause and purity of conviction.

It was a great political strategy to deal with the British, hemmed on their sense of fair play.

Gandhiji wrote a letter to every English(wo)man in India in October 1920, addressing them as friends. “my faith in your good intentions is gone,” he wrote and added that “I know that what you will not yield to justice and reason, you will gladly yield to bravery.”

Gandhi explains, “You have ensured our incapacity to fight in open and honourable battle. Bravery on the battlefield is thus impossible for us. Bravery of the soul is still open to us. I am engaged in evoking that bravery.”

In the same letter he listed what British Empire means to India:
1. Exploitation of Indian resources for the benefit of Great Britain.
2. Ever increasing military expenditure, and a civil service most expensive in the world.
3. Extravagant working of every department in utter disregard of India’s poverty.
4. Traffic in intoxicating liquors and drugs for the purpose of sustaining top heave administration.
5. Progressively repressive legislation in order to suppress an ever-growing agitation seeking to give expression to a nation’s agony.
6. Degrading treatment of Indians residing in your dominions amongst others.

In the second letter of the series, Gandhi writes to every Englishman in India, on July 13, 1921, “I am trying to show one may detest the wickedness of a brother without hating him.” He claims to “be a fairly accurate student of human nature and vivisector of own feelings.” “I almost feel tempted to invite you to join me in the destroying of system that has dragged both you and is down.”

This was not a passive approach to seek change; here in this case freedom, it also brought about a change in the psyche of the whole nation. Mai-bap (subservient) outlook of the desi people was transformed into self-belief that we native Indian can take charge of our destiny. Gandhi used moral force to end political slavery and for social emancipation.

That got me thinking. Was Gandhi a politician? Or a social reformer? Or a morality crusader? The answer to this question is not easy. He successfully lead 30 million people towards the common goal of freedom, a political movement that was very liberal and all inclusive in nature, with deep understanding of economical, social and psychological aspects of how masses behave.

Fundamental was the understanding of the extent to which a Congress worker will be able to make personal sacrifice for the cause of freedom of the nation. As the personal sacrifice demanded of Satyagrahi, was putting family to risk, earning to dry. Given prevalent abject poverty, such movements were just not sustainable for more than a couple of weeks. And to garner that kind of courage in ordinary Congress worker required years of preparation. Gandhi did that well. He knew when to quit, as well. In 1922 Gandhi called off the entire Satyagraha, apologized, dubbing it as a “Himalayan blunder” as a mob of Satyagrahis burned down a police station in Chauri Chaura. Two dozen police officers were burned alive inside.

Gandhi was not an active politician but was active in politics, using morality, not pragmatism, or right mix of moral pragmatism, as a tool to great effect because he was aware of strengths and weakeness of Indians as well as of the British. He held no office but handpicked Congress Working Committee members. He enjoyed the veto power in Congress party proceedings. The only person who did challenge Gandhi's authority within Congress party was Subhash Chandra Bose. Though, others like Maulana Azad, did ventilate their differences, never did anything against the will of Gandhi.

Bose became Congress President for a second term in 1939 defeating Gandhi-nominated candidate Pattabhi Sitaramayya. Gandhi was not pleased, he made his displeasure public, "Subhash' victory is my defeat," Gandhi is reported to have said. But this victory was no respite to Bose. His life in Congress became very difficult due to non-cooperation of Gandhi's loyalists, he had to rescue himself by tendering resignation. Gandhi's supremacy over Congress was reaffirmed..

So Gandhi was obstinate, for sure, practiced politics unlike a politician. This needs a qualification. He was His obstinate, that was an outcome of some higher realisation of how to get ignorant leaders to agree to him and comply,  how massess behave, how long can they be pushed for a cause. Gandhi's knew what he was talking about. His understanding of non-violence as a strategy to defeat the British empire in their own game of colonialism was complete. Others in the Congress party argued that this was not pragmatic, almost utopian.

Save the Prime Minister from Lok Pal

The debate that the prime minister should or should not be under the ambit of Lok Pal is misplaced. To me the answer is an unequivocal YES. Is there need for a debate here for something as obvious as this?

Why should the prime minister be exempted? Is it because he is the most powerful government functionary? It does not make him above the law. Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely; so more power at the disposal of a government functionary, greater is the scope of corruption. Corruption is authority plus monopoly minus transparency. The prime minister, therefore, should be the first one to be included in the Lok Pal's ambit, not last, followed by other ministers, judges and bureaucrats.

This does not mean that we have no faith in the prime minister. But if there is no hanky-panky happening at the prime minister’s office, there should not be any problem to be open to scrutiny. In any case the Lok Pal decision is not final, it can be challenged at the higher judiciay: high courts and supreme court.

The fear is there for everyone to see. But that has not been forwarded the reason for the exemption of prime minister from this specialised scrutiny against corruption.

It is important to point out that corruption is not all about money chnaging hands as they say "under the table". I like what Eric Hoffer, an American social writer and philosopher, has to say on this: "It is perhaps equally important to realize that weakness, too, corrupts. Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many. The resentment of the weak does not spring from any injustice done to them but from their sense of inadequacy and impotence." Our prime minister has been referred as the 'weakest' and is a political light weight. Lack of strong leadership is part of the problem of failure to stem corruption.

This will create another power centre outside government, argue some in civil society who seem to be jealous of what Anna Hazare accomplished in quick time by Gandhian methods, also tongue wagging Congress party spokespersons make a similar point. If the prime minister and his/her office is clean in its dealings, Lok Pal will be just a mute viewer. There will be no other power centre.

The other argument is: The prime minister and his cabinet is only responsible to the people of India via the Parliament. There are ample institutional mechanism in place, already, to deal with corruption, why add to the bureaucracy in name of Lok Pal, another source of drain to scarce public resources.

This objection is stupid to the extent that it is actually funny. It is a blatant lie, not an excuse. If the existing institutional arrangements are effective: How come three trillion dollars worth of black money from India is stashed in the foreign banks? There are hundred equally compelling examples to make this point, let’s not bother to list them.

Now, we have entered this strange phase in our parliamentary democracy where it is possible for a ‘clean’ prime minister to head a ‘corrupt’ cabinet. This was taught to me in class five: cabinet is collectively responsible to the parliament, cabinet does not exist or function in the individual capacity of ministers, all the work done by the government is the collective decision of the cabinet, and prime minister as per the Constitution has no special privilege vis-à-vis ministers, he is just first amongst equal.

So, as per the Constitution, clearly prime minister cannot be ‘clean’ if even one member of the cabinet is found corrupt, because his corrupt dealings has the sanction of the whole cabinet, presided over by the prime minister. That is why I feel sorry for A Raja, the former telecom minister who has made home in Tihar jail, what he did is wrong, but that happened with the full knowledge of the ministries of Law and Finance and the prime minister’s office. Prime minister Manmohan Singh in writing raised certain issues of propriety with A Raja, when the latter insisted on pursuing the policy without incorporating the suggestions made by the prime minister in writing, the prime minister office replied in one line: “acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated….” Which was a tacit go-ahead. Now, under these circumstances, why should Raja be languishing in the jail alone?

The prime minister being a cabinet member holds many portfolios, like Manmohan Singh is also cabinet minister of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Railways, Planning, Culture, Atomic Energy & Department of Space. Now if prime minister is out of the ambit of Lok Pal, these ministries will too be exempted from corruption centric scrutiny. There is no reason why this special privilege be extended.

The move to create effective institution that will cease corruption to be a safe crime is methodologically mislead by pegging it on the prime minister. There is a much more basic question to ask here: is government serious to deal with corruption?

The reply to this question is also unequivical NO.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Allahabad: Hometown Rundown

I visited my hometown Allahabad for a few days in the beginning of this month, a nostalgic trip.

This was very close to 20 death anniversary of my father and also me leaving Allahabad for greener pastures in Delhi. I am not sure how green my pastures turned out to be, but Allahabad looks ominously dull and brown. Not a blade of green grass.

It is not just that roads in Allahabad is dug up into deep trenches to facilitate the most ambitious sewage laying project this city has ever seen, will ever see.

The slow paced, musical and intellectual, holy city of Allahabad is fast turning into a concrete jungle, devoid of any character. Just tall, loud houses have come up, with nouveau riche ugliness, on the plots thats had huge bungalows where joint families lived in harmony.

I paid visit to 4, Strachey Road and 30 Muir road, two bungalows with fond childhood memories, they still stand, though deviod of any denizens, rich past, lonely present, staring at uncertain future, remind me, all good things must come to an end.

I remember as a kid, I would wander in the compound, aimlessly, in the scorching heat of May and June, when we would visit my grand parents for a month.

There was a big theaft, I remember, all the wrist-watches were stolen, they were all lined on the chest of drawers, some ten of them. The thief was never caught.

Over the next two decades some ten elders died in the family.

The structure remains, furnitures are there like timesless constant, dull and collecting dust. It seems like just yesterday, I, the naughty kid, running around, hiding behind a furniture for hours to cause alarm, sleeping under the tall beds, stealing my great grandfather's cigar boxes, climbing trees, fighting cousins, ganging up against neighbours grandchildren and routinely sleeping before the dinner was served.

There were people in this extended household that I hated, now dead and gone. I miss them the most.

Now I don't have any friends in Allahabad, they have all left the city like me, just some aging relatives and their young kids who are trying hard to reap greener pastures.

Sometimes I feel, the way things are in Delhi, the professional world, inflated egos, sinister motives, agendas, intolerance, that I need to rescue myself, quit everything and go back to Allahabad, and make a hunble living, and do things that I like doing, in the way I like doing. But that might not happen ever.

The Allahabad I visited is not like the city I grew up in. But my sister-in-law continues to make great food for us, sweating in the kitchen.

In picture: Shradha, Arthur, Mihir and Yash
4, Strachey Road
Photo: Arthur Dudney

30, Muir Road
Photo: Arthur Dudney

Friday, June 17, 2011

Immoral Market Hazard

Thomas Friedman calls Michael J Sandel, the Harvard University political philosopher “a rock star in Asia” as people in China, Japan and South Korea scalp tickets to hear him.

Sandel’s book Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? has sold over a million copies in East Asia. He talks about morals, or lack of it, in present capitalist set-up. His debates have engaged young East Asians, as they are tired of “dry, technical aspects of economics, business or engineering,” argues Friedman.

Sandel argues that ‘market’ has profound limitations. Though, he is not a communist, he explains eloquently, market norms crowd out non-market norms. There are ample situations where market erodes, corrupts values. These values are more important than market. Morality is one such value. He stresses: economic issues have political, and more importantly, moral implications, that needs to be understood.

Is justice and market at loggerheads with each other? Is it fair to raise the price of snow shovels after a snowstorm? I have better example: owners of functional cars, which survived devastating tsunami and earthquake in Japan earlier this year, fleeced huge amounts of money from stranded people to transport their family and goods to safer locations. Is this okay? It does not require a Harvard professor to tell “unfettered markets create inequality and social discord.” India is a standing example. It is a poor country of filthy rich people.

Sandel popularity is pegged in the disillusionment of youth in East Asia with market and its capitalist ways. The realisation is getting deeper and more distressing with time. They are ready to confront that ethical question attached to plain economics and market at play. “In recent years, seemingly technical economic questions have crowded out questions of justice and the common good. I think there is a growing sense that GDP and market values do not by themselves produce happiness, or a good society. My dream is to connect students across cultures and national boundaries — to think through these hard moral questions together, to see what we can learn from one another,” explains Sandel.

I am perplexed that amorality can be so rewarding. The capitalist system favours the rich, it is about controlling critical natural and other resources, which is same as snatching the whole humanity with the right to use these critical resources, unless can pay for it. The resources we are talking about here are as basic as water and soil. The local communities have been alienated from the forests, land, minerals that they used in a sustainable manner for many centuries. These resources has been MOUed to big private players, for, as is now coming to the fore, huge kickbacks to politicians and bureaucrats, and paltry license fee to the government. Millions of displaced rural denizens are paupers; they steal and beg to pay for the produce of their own land and resources.

Millions of rural, landless poor are rushing to various cities in search of livelihood. They are deskilled, displaced, dispossessed and highly marginalized people. This could be one of the key reasons for the recent surge in urbanisation in India. This aspect needs to be investigated, explained. I am sorry to say, this is not a success story of !ncredible India, where an agrarian society is graduating to become industrialised, urbanised society, propelled by growth, and to tap further growth potential. There are pockets of excellence and riches, and it is growing, that gives this impression of all-is-well, but the huge backlog of poverty, issue of depravity, and injustice cannot be pushed under the carpet for long.

But, the market forces operate unaffected by this grim reality. Market provides pecuniary incentive that seems to be the strongest motivator. Need for money is a reality that cannot be underestimated. But there is a need for what I call a moral adjustment. There should be agreeable, basic to life spheres where the market should not be allowed to run amok.

I think government has a great role to play here. They have to ensure that market forces are less fierce to the marginalized. The government has to play a crucial role in ensuring equitable distribution by fiscal and monetary policy means. But the tragedy is that even the government is overawed by the market forces. The monetary value, or the cash involved in these anti-people projects colour their vision.

Morality is about the need to introspect, adjust, and humanise the growth process. Sandel has a valid point: moral decisions are inherently about justice. I was reading some of his writing and utube videos of his lectures, comments he gets are interesting, some were very nasty, like: “we are still debating similar questions is because we produce retards at a higher rate than we do produce smart people.” another comment was: “Free market, or free exchange according to free wills of individuals, is the most moral thing in the entire universe --- compared to any other mechanism.” That would hold true if the 'free' will/market/exchange has not come out of subjugating a community.

It is ample clear, Sandel, is a rock star in Asia, not in the US.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


How come a hardcore investigative journalist is so pompously emotional?

My last few posts discuss love or withdrawal, their merit and demerits, and that emotions make the strongest weak, meek and weep. It does something to the mind. Emotions churn up your intellect. Cloud your reason. And make you a wreck.

So what is new about it? Who does not know about it?

I am experiencing new things in me. I am doing things that was not known to me. I am trying to be brave, and patient. I am trying to reason out to me. Sometime, I feel it is a disaster that I am dealing with. Sometimes, I see light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes, I hate what is happening to me, on other occasions, I thank God for putting me through this; I want to see how good I am when going gets tough. So basically I am confused.

What has happened to me? I look hale and hearty. I have done well for myself others tell me. But, I know, I am leading a life of being denied, that should have been mine, that I crave for, what I love. The tragedy is that I have no else, but me, to blame it on. I am kind of become a loner. I like my solitude and freedom. But, also crave for companionship.

I am not complaining. I am blessed with great friends; they are kind to me despite my indifference. I cannot ask for a better family.

There is a lot happening in my life, but there is no progress. I am taking concentric circle. I am pivoted to my own shortcomings. The world around me takes me lightly. At least it appear to. That means that either: I am too good or too bad. The extremities of happenings are kind of pulling me apart. I am jinxed.

Does these rambling make sense? They do not. But they have kept me in good stead.

Ghalib has come to my rescue:

Koi Ummeed Bar Nahin Aati there is little hope
Koi Soorat Nazar Nahin Aati there is no way out
Maut Ka Ek Din Muayyan Hai death is inevitable one day
Need Kyon Raat Bhar Nahin Aati why then sleepless nights?
Aage Aati Thi Hale Dil Pe Hansi earlier I could laugh at the state of my heart
Abb kisi baat par nahin aati now nothing makes me smile

Kyon Na Cheehkoon Ki Yaad Karte Hain why shouldn’t I yell that I remember+miss you
Meri Awaaz Gar Nahin Aati if my voice does not reach you

Marte Hain Aarzoo Me Marne Ki dying of my desire to die
Maut Aati Hai Par Nahin Aati even death evades me,
Kaba Kis Munh Se Jaoge Ghalib how will you face Kaba, Ghalib
Sharm Tumko Magar Nahin Aati you should be ashamed!

It is just a melodramatic phase in my life that is compelling me to make some strong decisions, spur me out of my zero-sum existence.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Withdrawal Is No Syndrome

Withdrawal is a great spiritual experience. Especially when you wanted something really badly. Withdrawal: would it constitute defeat? Or is it acceptance of the fact that it is in the best interst of all to withdraws. Sceptics would call withdrawal: dil ko behlane ke liye Ghalib ye khayal bhi achha hai(this thought is good to placate +explicate+manipulate heart after something unpleasant).

Ego sends wrong messages. Superego complicates the situation further. 16th century Spanish poet, Miguel De Cervantes said what I want to hear: “To withdraw is not to run away, and to stay is no wise action, when there's more reason to fear than to hope.” It is a difficult act. Some say withdrawal is great strategy: lose battles to win a war.

At a more spiritual plain, withdrawal is acceptance of reality. The reality that you seek was never yours; will never be realised. And to accept that simple fact is the first step towards withdrawal. The reason in you beckons: don’t give up, you have conceded defeat even before the battle is started. But, then, you have to tell the reason in you something reasonable: there is no battle to be won or lost. The issue here is: is it a cause to fight for? Or there is a need to take flight? Or is it just the inherent need to keep mind occupied with something compelling in this world that is punctuated by long phases of boredom and satiation.

Withdrawal is also about being witness to one’s own self. The problem starts when we participate in the games people play, we play, as an ardent player. To be fair we even do not know that games are being played, or lets put it like this, involuntary worldly games we play. Detached people have the ability to understand the larger picture, that is they can look at situations from a standpoint that is not their own subjective calling.

Even if you have something great to offer to others, and you feel it can do wonders, it is still conditioned upon whether the one or many offered needs it or not? Even if s/he needs it, does s/he want it? It has to be mutual. Or there cannot be anything. Withdrawal is not an option, but sometimes a solution, in such unilateral situations.

Some disagree. Like for instance Steven Brust, an American fantasy and science fiction author argues: “The struggle is always worthwhile, if the end be worthwhile and the means honourable; foreknowledge of defeat is not sufficient reason to withdraw from the contest.” But he is put a couple of conditions, which is subjective, and open to interpretation. ‘If the end is worthwhile’ is akin to saying that the end is desirable in quantifiable terms, but many a times you cannot put a figure or worth to desire, some desires are worth more than the life itself, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi Ki Har Khwaish Pe Dam Nikle (thousands such desires I carry, each fatal to realise), so I really don’t have a worthwhile understanding of what is worth in this constantly changing world, where emotions have become a liability to carry. Really, I am unable to put worth to my desire. But still I argue, that despite having desire as intense as it can get, and more worthwhile than anything else present in the world, it should pass the test of mutual compatibility or partnership. There are certain things that you cannot just snatch forcefully from people: like cooperation, friendship, love, and more. It comes with mutual consent or it was never there.

The second qualification is the ‘honourable means'. So lets look at the spectrum of 'means' available towards achieving ends: from genocide and homicide to pleading and persuasion. Americans bombed Afganistan for 9/11 has ushered a ways and means debate in the rest of the world, as Muslim community sulks. The word ‘honourable’ is so subjective. A uniformed army regular kills someone dubbed as 'enemy' is a matter of honour, and when an armed mercenary does the same to his perceived enemy, in the same manner, is called sinister affront to humanity. But the two acts are the same.

I am for withdrawal, rather than getting killed for some false sense of honour or victory, in the process, subjugating or tormenting others. Withdrawal, where there is no mutual acceptance, is the best policy. It is about acceptance of reality as it is. It is also about being tolerant. It is also about being spiritually strong to make a conscious decision not to react (though withdrawal itself is a reaction). It is about drawing a line somewhere, before it is too late. It is also about not being self-consumed and self-seeking. It is about not giving in to your emotional surges that make you do unreasonable at the cost of others.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Love you take is equal to love you make!

Love you take is equal to love you make!

I am sitting alone in my room thinking about the most potent emotion of love. Ye na thee hamaaree qismat ke wisaal-e-yaar hota; agar aur jeete rehte yahee intezaar hota . I am not destined to meet my lover; it will be a life long wait {is not correct, the right interpretation is: if i had another life, it would be worth the wait as pointed out by my Persian scholar friend}.It is interesting, because wait is about hope to meet again. And hope is sometimes is all one needs to spend a lifetime.

Lao Tzu, ancient philosopher who is considered the father of Taoism, explains the act of loving interestingly: "Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage." To love somebody madly needs exceptional courage; it needs even greater courage to accept that love will never be reciprocated and still continue to love with mad devotion.

Love is beyond control. It takes control of the lover. Here I am reminded of a couplet by Ghalib who defined love as untamed fire. Ishq par zor nahin hai ye woh aatish 'Ghalib' Jo lagaaye na lage aur bujhaaye na bane (the is no control over love, it is like a fire that cannot be lit or extinguished). Fire is an appropriate metaphor for love, potent, give warmth, it brings light to life; it also causes heartburn and incinerate too.

Akbar Allahabadi (from my home town) says that love by its very nature is unconditional, reciprocation is welcome but not necessary: Mohabbat ho na ho unko mujhe kya main to aashiq hoon; Na hone se hai uske kya, agar hoti to kya hota…I don’t care whether s/he loves me or not, I am a fanciful lover. It immaterial that s/he does not love me; I wonder what would it be like if s/he had loved me!!? The desire so intense that it becomes a kind of lifeline, and meeting a partner is like dream come true, but dreams are not meant to be true, mostly, that is why they are dreams, at best a perceived reality, mostly perception is sadly illusionary. But this perceived reality becomes the only reality for some.

The desire for lover becomes so integral to the life that it becomes life threatening. Love is a potent desire that is a constant pain that one falls in love with. Jigar Moradabadi puts it beautifully that love is not bed of roses; it is about enjoying pain: Gulshan parast hoon mujhe gul hi nahin azeez; Kanton se bhi nibah kiye jaa raha hoon main.

Love is spiritual. It overwhelms the conscious and the subconscious of the lover, completely and absolutely. It makes the strongest most vulnerable, vulnerable strong, it is blissful to surrender to the will of the loved, here ego cease to interfere, devotion is absolute. That is why Thomas Mann, Nobel Prize laureate, famously said: “It is love, not reason, that is stronger than death."

Love is madness too. The 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist Nietzsche is of the view that: "There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness." The reason in the madness could be in ‘some’ measure but madness about love is bountiful. It is illogical. It complicates being; the emotion of love is so strong it engulfs every other faculty in mind, and hangs thick on the mind like ominous, dark clouds.

Love defies reason; it is now a proven fact. Do you know love and obsessive-compulsive disorder (is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations or obsessions; or behaviours that make them feel driven to do something or compulsions) have a similar chemical profile in the brain? The origin of both has been traced to serotonin imbalance. H.L. Mencken, famous American journalist, essayist, satirist, says the same thing differently: "To be in love is merely to be in a state of perceptual anesthesia."

Mind is captured, so is every other faculty of life. This couplet by Momin Khan “Momin” is my favourite and so of Ghalib who announced he would give up all his poems to have written this one: “Tum mere paas hote ho goya/Jab koi doosra nahi hota" you, my love, will remain with me even when nothing else is there.

People have expressed love in their own very interesting ways, common is the intensity and passion about it: Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired. To love is to receive a glimpse of heaven. Your words are my food, your breath my wine. You are everything to me. Even a very small degree of hope is enough to cause the birth of love. You're nothing short of my everything.To fall in love is awfully simple, but to fall out of love is simply awful.

Famous English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, literary critic and painter D. H. Lawrence implores people to fall in love: “I am in love - and, my God, it is the greatest thing that can happen to a man (and woman too). I tell you, find a woman (man or both) you can fall in love with. Do it. Let yourself fall in love. If you have not done so already, you are wasting your life." "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make” is a cosmic, philosophical song by Beatles credited to John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

How much love am I going to take?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Baba Ramdev's political gamble

Dead Baba Ramdev will be far more difficult for government to handle than when he is alive. His media officers inform: he is now been shifted to special intensive care unit in a local hospital, his blood pressure plummeting low.

Given that Baba Ramdev is an astute politician, he is unlikely to die fasting. Like all great politicians, he will find a way or a reason to call off his fast just in time to rescue himself.

I have no doubt in my mind that he is a politician, and not a yogi carrying out a selfless act in the larger interest of the society. A yogi has to stay away from the affairs of the state, and not become a rallying point for political power.

So there is a reason why he is doing this satyagraha against kaala dhan (black money), in the way he is doing it. It is a predictable and a scripted act. And he has the support of a political outfit. Role of RSS is not just that of a passive supporter. But I don’t think there is anything sinisterly wrong about Ramdev seeking RSS support. There is nothing profound about it, either.

He has a political ambition, a big one. He needs an issue potent enough to capture the imagination of the whole nation. Yoga and Ayurveda has provided him a huge platform, a pan India recognition, a celebrity-cult status, and also enormous wealth, officially in excess of a thousand crores. But Baba Ramdev is not sure whether this larger than life image will transform into ready votes for him. He needs more potent issue, with deeper political ramifications, with much higher propensity to cash in as votes.

Corruption is the political issue that Baba Ramdev needs to garner votes. It is a touchy issue; the masses are the worst sufferer, individually and collectively.

He has vowed to form a political party in near future. He is founded Bharat Swabhiman Andolan (India’s Self-respect movement). As the name suggests the idea is to revoke ‘swadeshi’ sentiments of early twentieth centuries. Akin to RSS ideology, Baba Ramdev plans to accomplish: nationalist vision to the extent of boycott of foreign goods, a cent per cent Yoga-oriented nation (perhaps that is the way he will get the top job), also fight corruption which has acquired ‘alarming proportion of the country’s economy’. This is a political agenda of a rich yogi.

Initially, he joined hands with Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal. The association was not pecuniary. He attended few of the public meetings and agreed to educate people to say no to corruption in his yoga-lessons telecast that has millions of viewers.

Anna Hazare’s fasting success took everyone by surprise: government, people and the civil society themselves. The government was forced to give in, a 10 member joint committee was formed, with equal representation from civil society, to draft a bill for creation of a strong institution of Lok Pal that would create an effective deterrence against corrupt judges, politicians and bureaucrats.

Baba Ramdev was not made the member of the committee. He was not happy, unofficially. But he now knew the power of satyagraha (self denial of food for a cause). He was obliged to go on fast broadly on the same issue, but his focus was on the black money from India stashed in foreign banks, an obvious fallout of a corrupt society.

Unlike Anna Hazare’s movement this was not spontaneous. Baba Ramdev got lot of media attention, and when he arrived Delhi to lead Satyagarha at Delhi's Ramlila Maidan, red carpet was rolled out for him, he was received by the senior cabinet ministers who were the members of the Lok Pal bill drafting committee from government's side.

I had a feeling that government using Baba Ramdev to neutralise Anna Hazare and gang who were turning out to be tough negotiators. Thorny issue of whether Prime Minister should come under the ambit of Lok Pal was unresolved. Baba even before he started the fast, gave government a huge concession, he agreed that Prime Minister should not be in the ambit of Lok Pal.

The government seemed happy, but not the Congress party. The party has openly criticised government for bending backwards in dealing with Baba Ramdev. The party perhaps realised that Baba is an RSS plant, should not be allowed to become an anti–corruption messiah. He had to be stopped. The orders came from the highest in the party, which was later vouched by the home ministry, a huge contingent of Delhi Police reached the Ramlila Maidan in the middle of the night, ended Baba’s grand satyagraha with use of force in flat two hours, he was detained and deported to Hardwar. Where he has continued to fast and get sicker, but also managed to reveal financial details of his Yoga and Ayurveda empire.

The government made a mistake. Baba Ramdev was shifted to a BJP run state, Uttrakhand. Here he will get all the support of the local government and with media giving him the kind of coverage, it does not matter whether he is in New Delhi or somewhere else, to create a nation-wide stir. Now it is the battle of nerves: who gives in first, the government or the Baba, presuming that the latter will not settle for an untimely death.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Not A Vain Sacrifice!

Not A Vain Sacrifice!

Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad 40, is murdered. His body was found some 200 kilometres from Islamabad a couple of days after he went missing on Sunday. He reported an inconvenient truth about the Pakistani establishment just a week ago: links between Al- Qaeda and Pakistani Navy.

It is an open secret that religious fanatics call the shots in Pakistan and moderate voices are stifled, and people like Shahzad who dare bare murky dealings of the armed establishments with mercenaries is silenced. With more than 100 Nuclear warheads and capacity to send it far and wide, Pakistan, a failed nation (in terms of economic growth, welfare of the people etc), is the become the most dangerous place in the world for themselves and those who are in their striking range. India should be most worried; it is very difficult to deal with a rouge state.

The dark clouds of suspicion are hanging thick in the sky: Shahzad is killed by Pakistani intelligence, though ISI is formally denied it, but it is known to exist in denial, as Mumbai 26/11 investigations reveal.

So WHY does the state apparatus, or as Pakistani’s popularly refer to as ‘state players’, react so vehemently to kill any voice of sanity or reason, as if a traitor. Shahzad and before him Punjab governor Salman Taseer had to fall to the bullets, just because he supported liberal and progressive ideas in a company of religious fanatics?

The message is clear to journalists: do not poke your nose into the affairs of ISI if you have to breathe in this country (that anyways stink intolerance!).

Killing Shahzad is no big deal for intelligence agencies, he was a closed chapter the day he carried the story. It is perhaps true for all countries, even democratic state like ours, where intelligence agencies are obliged to kill renegade elements. But what is peculiar of Pakistani state is their inability to face and deal their own truth. (As Albert Einstein said: Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.) They have to shoot the messenger because there is always more to hide. They are in the business of deceit and cheat as a state policy.

Pakistan foreign policy is a reflection of their philosophy of nationhood, at least from the point of view of those who run the government. Their supply of help to dismentle terror is available for a price. The price is humongous, but there are takers for it. They also get elaborate, hi-tech infrastructure to kill efficiently almost for free in return for being a paid-partner against terror.

Behind the scene they foster terror, or rather blatantly, see Osama lived in a mansion in an army town of Abbottabad. So do Dawood and Choota Shakeel in Karachi in their palatial houses, and there are 47 known terror mongers enjoying Pakistani hospitality.

Pakistan’s relevance is that they are needed to dismantle terror as we define it today. The moment that mission is accomplished, Pakistan loses its relevance to the outside world, and they almost become pariah. So it is logical that they work hard to protect their relevance. It is a catch-22 situation: fund and arm Pakistan to deal with terror, which is actually feeding in terror. Pakistan is pivotal of a vicious cycle of deceit propelled by religious fanatics inside and outside of the establishment.

My thoughts go to Shahzad who I met briefly when he was in Delhi about a year ago. He did what he was supposed to do, and did it well. His work is like a mirror to the establishment; they seem to hate their own image. His work helped us understand Pakistan better. His work bared the true nature of Pakistani state. His sacrifice will add to the critical mass that will depose this despotic setup in Pakistan, if Pakistan is to survive.

Pakistan’s survival in a more tolerant avatar is critical to test of the world.