Wednesday, July 28, 2010


History is precious and makes us smile ever so often.

I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: "As the different streams having their sources in different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee."

The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: "Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me."

-Swami Vivekanand, Chicago's World Parliament of Religions in 1893.

May be we should send out this message to regional fanatics threatening violence at the rustle of a peaceful leaf.
O wait, I have something for the stupid Sainiks...

Mughal historian Khafi Khan: Shivaji "made it a rule that wherever his followers were plundering, they should do no harm to the mosques, the book of God, or to the women of any one. Whenever a copy of the sacred Quran came into his hands, he treated it with respect, and gave it to some of his Mussalman followers."

The problem with religions is that as time progresses religions, or rather, the idea of religions is metamorphosed to something that suits a particular set of people. The people who decide are the people whom other people look up to. Power is desirable and through the medium of religion people can contort a fundamental idea such as 'tolerance' to something akin to 'fighting to maintain our identity and pride'.

Special thanks to Shashi Tharoor

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


When I was studying in the US I found it difficult to explain India and Indian-ness. We are a queer lot and I am extremely proud about being Indian. Am I patriotic? I wouldn't say so.
But let's expand that shall we... If somebody were to blast India's external affairs decisions or talk about India being a poor country I wouldn't be a fanatic sitting to pounce on anything 'anti-Indian'.
However, if something derogatory is said against Indians and our Indian-ness - that is something derogatory against me. I am forever ready to poke fun at my Indian-ness and everything said in jest will be well accepted :)

Shashi Tharoor has done an outstanding job at capturing this Indian and has tried rather well at defining an Indian in his book: India: From midnight to the millennium.
It is a miracle that Indians co-exist together when we are, in fact, very very distinct, but I see something changing now. A large portion of urban Indians tend to be rather similar and define themselves as Indian, Mumbai-ite or Bangalore-an than as Hindu, Muslim, blah.
Asking for a person's religion or geography or mother tongue is first-nature to us because we love stereotyping and we love creating an opinion about a person without knowing the person. That is something quite Indian.

Another thing that is quite extraordinary is our history. The Babri Masjid fiasco supposedly started in the 1500s when Babar demolished an Indian temple, which makes me think - America was only just discovered in 1492.
The oldest Christian community outside Palestine is in India - Kerala. I tend to be abrupt in the way I write and my point is this...
As Indians, we have a very fruitful history behind us with the Panchayat system, Business System, Accounting System and Sciences. As Indians, we have allowed a multitude of external 'forces' to influence us: Aryans, Romans, British, Mughal, Mongolian, blah...

There is something intangible that is immensely powerful about being an Indian but when we are faced with confident white-skinned people we tend to take a step back. Some of you may frown at this comment and say, "Hey!! That is not true!!!" But I am confident that when they choose to mock us or show their superiority or enthrall us with their personality or looks we are influenced.

Be proud and stand your ground :)

Saturday, July 24, 2010


A country that has decided to protect itself from probable careless tourists, especially backpackers who may litter in uninhabited places.
Mountaineering is banned and Gangkhar Puensum - the highest peak in Bhutan - remains the highest unclimbed peak in the world.

Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley once said, "We are losing our humanness to become robots programmed to be productive through endless labour so as to earn to consume more and more without satisfaction."

Beautiful article written in The Mint - Lounge, July 24th 2010.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Changing Indians

The Indian woman / mom of yesterday used to wear Indian clothes so even when swanky restaurants and sports clubs started opening up they would wear Indian clothes while escorting their husbands / child(ren).
What I saw noticed today is the Indian woman in her late 20s / early 30s wearing 'western' outfits - an upgrade from the drab t-shirt and jeans. What I noticed next was a woman (rather hot) with great hair and well dressed, carrying a school bag and sports bag that belonged to her child.
Is this what I will see my friends as some years from now? We shall wait and see :)

Man - tall, athletic built, and pretty well groomed. Will the new 'fit' Indian metamorphose into a paunchy, tired, yucky looking man - the kind we see quite often?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

OMG!! It's soooo beautiful!!!

There is an infantile joy in travelling. Even though I have been to many places, I remember only a few. In the recent past I have seen London, Paris, Hong Kong, Chicago, Red River Gorge, Murud-Janjira and Korlai Fort (rather magnificent); may be this is more than what most people might see even in their lifetime and more than many people might have seen in their recent past but I don't want to stop.
I have friends in Kazakhstan, Taiwan, Greece, South Korea and I want to go to these places even if for a few days, but more than these places I want to go to nature. Being from Mumbai, nature is rather elusive and getting away from the city is pleasurable.

I wish to visit Patagonia, Antarctica, Hawaii, East India, North India, South India, New Zealand, Scandinavia, South Germany and may be I will. May be I will find my treasures in other locations...
The structure of society is such that soon I will want to 'be' with somebody. I hope that that somebody likes travelling (at least almost) as much as I do and the odds are that she will.
What does bother me (yes, I can't sleep at night because of this thought!!) is the wresting away of my independence for I wont be able to just leave my home on a whim... Life is beautiful :)


Fear of that which is not but which may be.

Where death is, I am not; where I am, death is not. - Epicurus

We face it everyday and it shall not cease to amaze me :)
We are afraid of that which has not yet come by and that fear moulds each one of us differently.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


When we hear of ill-equipped hospitals, cramped localities, discontinuous or non-existent energy supply, atrocities committed by people with unbridled power or apathy towards a better whole who do we choose to blame?

Is India just too large a populace to be cared for properly? Are the capitalist tycoons answerable towards uplifting sections of society around them? Are the bureaucracies of various systems to be blamed?
Today, I choose to blame the untouchables.

The untouchables of the past were determined by lineage.
The untouchables of today are determined by their lineage and their decisions. They decided to act in their own interests during their ascent to their respective positions.
The IAS officer, the police inspector in a faraway village, the customs officer, the tax inspector, members of political parties - particularly those related to religious propaganda, the 'babu'.

These people are rarely 'touchable' or accountable. Of course, generalizations are evil but generalizations are based on a clear majority based on hearsay and actual experiences.

The capitalist system is such that it makes a richer man richer and in turn, more powerful. I see that, as a man becomes richer he drags or rather pulls towards him, directly and indirectly, sections of society.
What the aforementioned people do is, most of the times, beyond the scope of the system and beyond the reach of the law. A lack of transparency and the continuous focus of people towards their own lives are the root causes of such 'distance' and power.

Because I am a product of the capitalist world, it pains me to see power concentrated in the hands of people who are unwilling to share it or distribute it.
If a business tycoon has amassed a fortune it is his call, whether or not to disburse his riches because he has legally (for the most part) created his personal wealth.
If an official (the list of people I mentioned earlier) has amassed wealth, it will largely be illegally, immorally and laden with guilt (I hope).

The larger effect of the 'babu' is his domineering demeanour and conversely, the inability of a subject to voice concern or opposition. I call it helplessness... which is why even I have to succumb at times to being a part of the system. It is also because of my illiteracy regarding my rights and my selfishness pertaining to my free time which I want to be as hassle-free as possible.
I disgust me and I am a part of the people - for now.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Bandh = Shut = Strike. Today, a national bandh was declared in India. Cause: Fuel Price Hike.

The government in India used to control fuel prices such that it retailed at the same price in a particular region. Some days ago the government decided to put an end to its fiscal burden by taking steps to free up the market to competition.
Short Term Effect: Run-up in prices of many goods
Long Term Effect: Good for all as a sustained fiscal burden which would normally manifest itself in continual inflation is put to an end.

Poor Man: Everything is expensive - the government isn't doing anything to alleviate our pain!!! The government sucks!!! Opposition - Attack!!!!
Intelligent Man: I want to work!!! Why is there a bandh??!! Wait, hmm.. I could use a break :) But I believe the government did the right thing for all of us, especially the next generation.
Opposition: Daym!! I've been bored for so long, finally there's some action!!

People are entitled to object to government policies and political parties are the medium to voice supposed opinions. Is India a dysfunctional democracy? Is there anything like a functional democracy?


It's a Sunday and I was watching a movie - The Great Indian Butterfly.

"Happiness is a rare insect."

As that statement reached my ears, I smiled for I was sipping on tea and watching this movie - was calm and at ease. Life is pretty simple if we only take a deep breath.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Law of Karma

Laws are/ were created by man. Laws of Sciences are proven to a certain extent. Laws of Religion and Spiritualism or Metaphysics are heuristic in nature.

The Law of Karma - A fantastic concept to make people feel at ease and withdraw to an answer which cannot be proven. I would have liked to call it a hypothesis, but a hypothesis pertains to observable phenomena.
By creating the law of Karma, followers of the law were governed by a certain legal system. The law was created before any real justice or legal systems as we know them today, in effect it helped create order in a chaotic society.

If a man wanted to rape a woman, based on his brute strength he very well could; the law of karma instilled fear in him as the law said that if you do this today, nature has a way of coming back at you and punishing you for your foul deeds.
O and by the way, in case your quota of bad deeds has not been rewarded with similar poor fate unto you, nature is going to carry forward this quota of bad deeds and punish you in your next incarnation. Beware O wrong-doer!!

Frankly, it's a beautiful concept - one which can never be proven and one, if believed would rid humanity of many of its pains. Through this law and the fear it instills, man becomes a more peaceful and altruistic being. The other thing I like about this law is the consequence of doing something good.
The more good you do, the more good you reap :)
Awesome!! Ain't it?

This law is also used by some to believe that if something bad happens to them, something good will happen to them in the future - but wait, if something bad happens to you, shouldn't that be a culmination of a prior bad deed by you? Hmmm...

I remember that when I was first introduced to this concept in school, I decided to stand at the window sill after school and pass everybody's water bottles back to them. And everyday I would think, 'Daym!! I am a great guy - hope my good Karma is accumulating :)'
O! How I love kids and their puny, simple and honest minds :)

I thought of this once while studying Indian Management Thoughts and Practices - The Law of Karma - You do things. Period. Things happen to you. Period.
Most of everything lie beyond our locus of control - what is within our sphere is our reaction to events and our need to base our actions in anticipation of certain events. It is irresponsible to harm another being in whatever way for whatever reason but if we are harmed in any way, it is up to us to take a step back, relax and fight.

You do things. Things happen to you. There is nobody to keep a tab on what good or bad you may have done. Although it is favourable to believe in such a concept.
I wonder if there is a place in (fiction starts:) hell (fiction ends) for me...

Thursday, July 1, 2010



"Men like Jawaharlal with all their capacity for great and good work, are unsafe in democracy. He calls himself a democrat and a socialist, and no doubt he does so in all earnestness, but every psychologist knows that the mind is ultimately a slave to the heart and logic can always be made to fit in with the desires and irresistible urges of a person. A little twist and Jawahar might turn a dictator sweeping aside the paraphernalia of a slow-moving democracy... His conceit is already formidable. It must be checked. We want no Caesars.

This powerful vilification was published under the pseudonym 'Chanakya', after an ancient political philosopher, and caused great outrage among Nehru's followers. What they did not realise was that 'Chanakya' was actually Jawaharlal Nehru himself. Introspection, honesty, wit and mischief: few other politicians in history could have written such a lucid essay in self-deconstruction. "

- Indian Summer by Alex Von Tunzelmann
Great work :)