Sunday, October 31, 2010

Nationalism and Militarism is our worst Enemy

Their was a fantastic Indian band called "Rock Machine" ("Indus Creed (?)", later on). If it was a Western (American) band they would've been as popular as U2......they were that good!

In one of their songs, the lyrics go:

".....And the politicians played their game.
How come they never die for their country?......."

Pankaj



Dear Brian,
This nationalistic mumbo-jumbo is nothing but paranoid narcissism of the neurotic. It's a very clever ploy by the ruling elites(all over the world) who comprise not more than 1% of the world's population to enlist the have nots in their personal battle to kill their own brethren.
We need to beware of this nationalistic jingoism of the elites. The poor have no nationality or religion. They just want a dignified life which has been denied so far to them.I love the defence forces, all over the world, even the Chinese and the Pakistanis. They are certainly sacrificing a lot. But it's high time one realizes that they are just a tool in the hands of the status quo.
The world is one large family, as beautifully expressed in the concept of Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam. And all of us need to LIVE to make this a reality.The martyr suffers from a huge victim complex, which is a complete delusion.Our only mandate is to leave the world a better place than we found it.And killing each other is certainly the last thing to achieve this objective,no matter how lofty? the ideal.
I'm sorry, my friend, to be spoiling the party. But how long can we go on fighting, rather than LOVING, each other.



________________________________

Spare a thought for Indian soldier
By Vir Sanghvi .... 10 Oct 2010

I was watching British television news last week. A big story
concerned the death of a Lieutenant Colonel in Afghanistan.
Apparently, some British soldiers carry video cameras strapped to
their headgear and so the shooting of the officer was recorded on
videotape. It made for gruesome viewing.

The story was about the lack of facilities that led to his death. The
Colonel commanded a small detachment of men who came under fire from
the Taliban. When the attack began, they tried to radio for help but
found that they could not get a signal in the covered space they were
taking refuge in. So, the Colonel went out to try and get a signal.
This made him an easy target for the Taliban who shot him. The bullet
entered his shoulder and severed an artery.

His horrified troops then radioed the base and asked for a helicopter
to pick up the Colonel and to take him to hospital. According to the
TV channel, it took 40 minutes for the despatch of the helicopter to
be approved once the message had reached. The helicopter took some
time to reach the Colonel and overall, it was over an hour before he
was placed in the helicopter to be taken to hospital. Though doctors
did their best, he died three hours later.

It was a horrific story made more poignant by the demands for an
enquiry from the Colonel’s mother. Why hadn’t the radios worked
properly? Why had it taken so long to approve a helicopter?

The defence ministry was asked to respond by the TV channel. That
response made the point that a) the radios were working fine, which
cannot be right because no soldier would risk his life and expose
himself to hostile fire trying to get a signal out in the open if he
could simply use the radio from his secure, sheltered spot and b) even
if the helicopter had reached earlier, the Colonel would still have
died. The Taliban bullet had severed a key artery and death was
inevitable.

That response was clearly unsatisfactory. At the time that the base
delayed sending the helicopter nobody knew how serious the Colonel’s
injuries were or whether his life could have been saved by rushing him
to hospital. It was not as though some officer said, “Oh, he is going
to die anyway,” and therefore decided to dilly-dally over sending a
chopper.

That same day, Prime Minister David Cameron was asked to comment on
the incident. Cameron made all the right noises, but essentially his
response was that British forces in Afghanistan did not have enough
helicopters or helicopter pilots. However, the Colonel had died when
Labour was in power. Now that the Conservatives had taken office, the
British army had been given the choppers and pilots it needed.

It would seem to me that the army behaved scandalously. But that is
not my concern this Sunday. What struck me while watching that report
was how seriously the British took the death of a single officer in
war time. Months after the event, it was the lead story on
the news and the Prime Minister was being asked to explain the
circumstances of the tragic death.

Contrast the British example with the way in which we respond to the
deaths of our soldiers — both army and para-military — even though we
know that they have given their lives so that we can be safe and
secure.

First of all, we would have no video-recording because nobody bothers
to give our soldiers cameras.

Secondly, no soldier would believe that he was entitled to get a
chopper to come and pick him up from the battlefield once he had been
shot. We simply don’t extend that sort of facility to our troops.

Thirdly, the circumstances of the death would never be made public.
The video-footage would never get out. We would never hear about how
long it took for a rescue to be organised.

Fourthly, we in the media would never dare question the Prime Minister
about the death of an individual soldier. We would act as though the
PM was too important a man to bother with the death of a single
officer. And finally, the reason why none of this would happen is
because at some basic level, we simply do not care enough for the
lives of our fighting men.

Consider the news items we come across every day. Soldiers are killed
trying to do a job they have no business to attempt, imposing the law
of the state in some insurgency-ridden
part of India. Soldiers die in pointless clashes — during peace time!
— on the border with Pakistan. Soldiers are ambushed by Naxalites and
killed by the dozen.

Go through the newspapers for the last year and try and add up how
many lives have been lost. Now, we are so brutalised by the constant
litany of deaths that they no longer necessarily make page one. The
killings are buried in some small item on some inside page. And yet,
much of what we are as a nation is due to the sacrifices of our
troops. It is easy for you and me to sit at home and criticise the way
in which the CRPF is battling the Naxalites. But it is not so easy for
the sons, daughters and widows of the hundreds of men who have died in
this battle to bother with armchair criticism. Poorly-led,
inadequately armed, insufficiently trained and bereft of accurate
intelligence, our soldiers are sent off to their deaths. And when they
fail to come back, only their families weep. The rest of us do not
even notice.

The difference between India and a Western country is that we still
have people willing to die for us. In the West, citizens are no longer
willing to risk their lives in warfare. As long as battles are
conducted with missiles and drones, the population is
content to watch the spectacle on television. But once lives begin to
be lost, the public turns against the war and demands an immediate
pull-out.

Consider the US and Vietnam. Until the body count became high, Lyndon
Johnson was a popular President. But as more and more soldiers began
to die, he was vilified, the war lost public support and the US’s
priority became to look for a way to get out. So it was with Tony
Blair. History will remember him as one of Britain’s more successful
prime ministers. But within his own country, he is treated as a
villain or a ‘war criminal’ even, because he risked British lives in
Iraq. And now, Barack Obama’s principal priority is to pull troops out
of Afghanistan even though the consequence of a US withdrawal would be
a certain return to the pre-2001 situation.

No Western nation could live with the casualties we suffer each week
in the battle against the Maoists. By now, public resolve would have
crumbled and there would be calls for some kind of deal to avoid
further bloodshed. And no Western nation would have had the stomach
for something like Kargil, where each hill was recaptured after
close-proximity combat and many officers lost their lives.

The reason we know that we can fight challenges to our sovereignty and
to the rule of law is because we are sure that we can count on our
armed forces. Time after time we ask them to risk their lives for us.
And they never ever let India down.

So, spare a thought, this Sunday, for the Indian soldier. We never
give him the facilities that are his due. And we never greet his death
with the respect or concern it deserves.

But all of us recognise that one reason why we are still a free and
sovereign nation is because he is willing to die so that we can live.








__._,_.___
R

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Culture or Criminality

To the women of Afghanistan
October 29th, 2010
Sally Armstrong , NYT
Share
Buzz up!


Women of Afghanistan, it is time to go to the barricades. Now is the hour to claim your rights. Negotiations are under way in earnest; the Taliban are at the table, so are the warlords and bandits, tribal elders and the President. There’s not a woman in sight. Yet everyone knows you are the ones who can yank Afghanistan into the 21st century.
Even ├╝ber-economists like Jeffrey Sachs of millennium-goals fame are saying there is a direct correlation between the status of women and the economy — where one is flourishing, so is the other, where one is in the ditch so is the other. Every indicator says it’s the women who can lead Afghanistan away from the abyss. So go ahead and claim your space.
Send in the women members of Parliament, the leaders of non-governmental organisations like the Afghan Women’s Network. Call on the commissioners at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. Round up the rural women and the women journalists and the students to stand with you and alter the status of women. Together you can throw off the shackles that have bound you to second-class citizenship.
The men got away with hijacking religion for political gain. You are the ones who alerted the world to the facts: There’s scarcely a word in the Quran to support the violent and oppressive views of the Taliban or even the slightly less misogynist demands of the men seeking power at your expense today.
What’s more, it is the women of Afghanistan who have examined the past to create a better future. The Women and Children Legal Research Foundation surveyed 5,000 Afghans and found that 86 per cent are against polygamy. Of the 12 reasons given for practicing polygamy; eight are illegal according to the Quran. They also did studies to show that tribal law is illegal. Even Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government didn’t know that.
And despite the fact that the United Nations doesn’t follow its own Resolution 1325, which says women must be at the negotiating table, it’s women who know how to cobble together a peace plan. They don’t have blood on their hands. They are more interested in policy than power; they want peace rather than a piece of the turf. And women have long known that a sense of community is far more valuable than a sense of control.
You’ve been denied everything from human rights and jobs to healthcare and education. You refer to your illiteracy as being blind because as one woman said, “I couldn’t read so I couldn’t see what was going on”.
To be a woman in Afghanistan (and much of the world for that matter) is to be a target for religious extremists, an object of so-called cultural practices. It’s to be the child who is fed last and least; the one who is denied education. It’s to be sold as chattel, given away in a forced marriage as a child bride, and used in any manner that benefits a father and brother.
During a game of buzkashi — the traditional polo-like sport in Afghanistan that uses a dead goat as the ball — one player’s horse was injured. Rather than miss the rest of the game, the player traded his daughter for a new horse so he could finish the match.
For a very long time people from the outside world chose silence lest they be accused of interfering in someone else’s culture. Now we know that what continues to happen to the women and girls of Afghanistan — even while these peace talks take place — isn’t cultural, it’s criminal.
To murder your own daughter and call it honour; to give your blameless child to a man knowing she will be sexually assaulted; to send your girl back to her husband when she comes pleading to you with her broken arms and blackened eyes; to shroud her in garments so she will avert the eyes of men who strut about with impunity; to ask her how she was dressed (Was it modest enough?) when the rapist defiled her; to suggest that her loss of chastity is her own fault, that a man can’t help himself: These are the norms in the lives of women who are controlled by so-called religious men. It’s time to change those malignant presumptions.
Afghanistan has signed the same United Nations covenants and conventions that most of the rest of the world has signed. Although there’s no iron fist of accountability in those documents, they are by and large the politics of embarrassment. Use them to demand the rights your Constitution gives you. Tell the negotiators you won’t back down. Remind them that you’re 50 per cent of the population. Be prepared to march; to go to the barricades. The women in the rest of the world are with you.
* Sally Armstrong, a Canadian journalist, is the author of Bitter Roots, Tender Shoots: The Uncertain Fate of Afghanistan’s Women.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

From Personal Mind to Universal Mind

Mind Over Matter
Dr Deepak Chopra

Elizabeth Gilbert’s story in Eat Pray Love, of dropping everything and hitting the road to find herself is the archetypal tale of the hero being called to a journey of self-discovery. Gilbert’s genius is in making this ancient lesson feel real, accessible, and relevant.
Sometimes a lesson has to be repeated for thousands of years, not because it wasn’t learned the first time but because new people arrive on the scene. The lesson I’m thinking of was Siddhartha’s, a prince on the Nepalese border of northern India. He dropped everything and hit the road, becoming the original, or at least the most famous, dharma bum. He travelled from master to master with his begging bowl, seeking enlightenment. As Gautama the monk, he became impressively austere. Instead of a loving wife, a warm bed and feasts, he tried the opposite: Solitude, sleeping by the wayside, and whatever scraps of food he could beg for.
It’s still an appealing choice, because we equate austerity with virtue. If the stress of a chaotic world is too much, perhaps harmony lies along a different, quieter, more solitary road. But the moral of Siddhartha’s tale led a different way. Leaving home didn’t bring enlightenment, nor did austerity, poverty, starving his body, or trying to force his mind to be still. Instead, Siddhartha became someone entirely transformed — the Buddha — when he hit upon a new road, the one called “the pathless path.”
The pathless path isn’t a straight line; it doesn’t even lead from point A to point B. The journey takes place entirely in consciousness. A mind overshadowed by fears, hopes, memories, past traumas, and old conditioning finds a way to become free. This sounds impossible at first. How can the mind that is trapped by pain also be the tool for freeing itself? How can a noisy mind find silence? How can peace emerge from discord?
The Buddha offered his answer, which is a variant on an even more ancient answer from the seers or rishis of Vedic India: Transcend the personal mind and find universal mind. The personal mind is tied to the ego, and the ego is forever swinging from pleasure to pain and back again. But if you look at awareness when there is no pleasure or pain, when the mind is calm while simply existing, a fascinating journey begins. You have made the first step on the pathless path.
Which is not to dismiss the other path, the one that takes you away from home into a retreat, ashram, meditation centre, or holy place. They have their own atmosphere; seekers have stopped there for a long time; therefore, the mind can breathe a different kind of air, so to speak, an air of tranquility and peace. When you arrive at such a place, two things usually happen. You soak up the peace, enjoying the contrast with your busy life at home. But at the same time you notice how loud your mind is, how much chaos it has absorbed. So these holy places cannot do the work for you. They can only suggest what the pathless path is about.
The inspired Indian poet Kabir points a finger at all spiritual travellers:
There is nothing but water in the holy pools.
I know, I have been swimming in them.
All the gods sculpted of wood or ivory can’t say a word.
I know, I have been crying out to them.
The Sacred Books of the East are nothing but words.
I looked through their covers one day sideways.
What Kabir talks of is only what he has lived through.
If you have not lived through something, it is not true.
These lines don’t deny the worth of spiritual journeying, but they tell us that there is no substitute for first-hand experience. Where you go to find it is irrelevant. In reading about Buddha’s life, or Gilbert’s story we may still be tempted to believe that leaving one’s present geography and associations is the key to self-realisation, when in fact the path is entirely within consciousness, and the environment is the extraneous scenery.
Nevertheless, the journey is always unfolding in our current life and surroundings right now. The true seeker after truth discovers, sooner or later, that truth has been seeking us all along.





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From Personal Mind to Universal Mind

Message from Sender:
Food for thought this Sunday morning.This inner journey is of the essence since it makes our lives so much the easier.Gone is the rush of endless running around to prove a point. I would also like to add that without understanding our universal minds,we don't get closer to solving any of the problems, either personal or societal.That's why I am a marketer for this journey.For once we have understood our inner grandeur, the rest will be a piece of cake.
Mind over matter


Elizabeth Gilbert’s story in Eat Pray Love, of dropping everything and hitting the road to find herself is the archetypal tale of the hero being called to a journey of self-discovery. Gilbert’s genius is in making this ancient lesson feel real, accessible, and relevant.
Sometimes a lesson has to be repeated for thousands of years, not because it wasn’t learned the first time but because n
Click here to read more on our site

Grandeur is just a thought away

Grandeur is just a Thought Away
From:
avinash sahay
View Contact
To: anandmayee@gmail.com; premkumar.sinha@gmail.com
Cc: anand.sahay@gmail.com; anjani.sahay@gmail.com; amar sahay ; ranjanavipin@hotmail.com; purnimaranjan@googlemail.com; sulaysinha@hotmail.com; Pankaj Sinha ; najmieqbal@hotmail.com; kumud prasad ... more
Dear Annir di,
You have gone through some very trying times and,like in the case of Maya and Bhaiya too,I have been completely unaware of your plight. Had you talked to me,perhaps, your burden would have been lighter.
I wish all of you could share my vision of grandeur.Ninety per cent of the world is deprived of the life that the rest,people like us,have got used to and take for granted. CK Prahlad, the great management thinker, famously said that there is a fortune to be made at the bottom of the pyramid(BOP).I completely agree with him. For this we have to reestablish our links with the countryside and mofussil India.
Fortunately for us we have about 40 acres of landed property.We can relocate and create our base there, create prosperity and be co sharers in that prosperity. Tuntun is already selling ten tempos a month and he says he can sell twenty if he has the capital.Sanjay, in Raipur and Indore, is selling 2crores of paints. He says he can sell 5 crores if he has the capital. Aparajita's beautician in Chennai does not have the capital to invest for a small biryani and kabab centre in Chennai for which there is a huge pent up demand.
I would urge you to read the book called Stay Hungry Stay Foolish. It's the story of 20 entrepreneurs who had the courage to pursue their dreams and made it big.For those who will give quality and good service,it's my conviction that all doors will open for them.
We may be unhappy because we aren't working for ourselves.It's a mediocre life to remain at somebody's beck and call.Opportunities lurk in every nook and corner.We have lost the courage to believe that we are up to the task.
I urge all of you to think afresh and think big.Annie di, we write our destiny by each thought we think in every single breath.We just have to awaken that awesome entity that is just a thought away.I must also mention that there is nothing outside India that we can't create here that is relevant for our people.After all, it's completely unnecessary to become copy-cats.
All love,
Abbu



Best regards,
Avinash
http://poshanin

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Socrates-A Man for our Times?

Two thousand four hundred years ago, one man tried to discover the meaning of life. His search was so radical, charismatic and counterintuitive that he become famous throughout the Mediterranean. Men — particularly young men — flocked to hear him speak. Some were inspired to imitate his ascetic habits. They wore their hair long, their feet bare, their cloaks torn. He charmed a city; soldiers, prostitutes, merchants, aristocrats — all would come to listen. As Cicero eloquently put it, “He brought philosophy down from the skies.” For close on half a century this man was allowed to philosophise unhindered on the streets of his hometown. But then things started to turn ugly. His glittering city—state suffered horribly in foreign and civil wars. The economy crashed; year in, year out, men came home dead; the population starved; the political landscape was turned upside down. And suddenly the philosopher's bright ideas, his eternal questions, his eccentric ways, started to jar. And so, on a spring morning in 399BC, the first democratic court in the story of mankind summoned the 70-year-old philosopher to the dock on two charges: disrespecting the city's traditional gods and corrupting the young. The accused was found guilty. His punishment: state-sponsored suicide, courtesy of a measure of hemlock poison in his prison cell.

The man was Socrates, the philosopher from ancient Athens and arguably the true father of western thought. Not bad, given his humble origins. The son of a stonemason, born around 469BC, Socrates was famously odd. In a city that made a cult of physical beauty (an exquisite face was thought to reveal an inner nobility of spirit) the philosopher was disturbingly ugly. Socrates had a pot-belly, a weird walk, swivelling eyes and hairy hands. As he grew up in a suburb of Athens, the city seethed with creativity — he witnessed the Greek miracle at first-hand.

But when poverty-stricken Socrates (he taught in the streets for free) strode through the city's central marketplace, he would harrumph provocatively, “How many things I don't need!” Whereas all religion was public in Athens, Socrates seemed to enjoy a peculiar kind of private piety, relying on what he called his “daimonion”, his “inner voice”. This “demon” would come to him during strange episodes when the philosopher stood still, staring for hours. We think now he probably suffered from catalepsy, a nervous condition that causes muscular rigidity.

Putting aside his unshakable position in the global roll-call of civilisation's great and good, why should we care about this curious, clever, condemned Greek? Quite simply because Socrates's problems were our own. He lived in a city-state that was for the first time working out what role true democracy should play in human society. His hometown — successful, cash-rich — was in danger of being swamped by its own vigorous quest for beautiful objects, new experiences, foreign coins.

Fundamental questions

The philosopher also lived through (and fought in) debilitating wars, declared under the banner of demos-kratia — people power, democracy. The Peloponnesian conflict of the fifth century against Sparta and her allies was criticised by many contemporaries as being “without just cause”. Although some in the region willingly took up this new idea of democratic politics, others were forced by Athens to love it at the point of a sword. Socrates questioned such blind obedience to an ideology. “What is the point,” he asked, “of walls and warships and glittering statues if the men who build them are not happy?” What is the reason for living life, other than to love it? For Socrates, the pursuit of knowledge was as essential as the air we breathe. Rather than a brainiac grey-beard, we should think of him as his contemporaries knew him: a bustling, energetic, wine-swilling, man-loving, vigorous, pug-nosed, sword-bearing war-veteran: a citizen of the world, a man of the streets.

According to his biographers Plato and Xenophon, Socrates did not just search for the meaning of life, but the meaning of our own lives. He asked fundamental questions of human existence. What makes us happy? What makes us good? What is virtue? What is love? What is fear? How should we best live our lives? Socrates saw the problems of the modern world coming; and he would certainly have something to say about how we live today.

He was anxious about the emerging power of the written word over face-to-face contact. The Athenian agora was his teaching room. Here he would jump on unsuspecting passersby, as Xenophon records. “One day Socrates met a young man on the streets of Athens. ‘Where can bread be found?' asked the philosopher. The young man responded politely. ‘And where can wine be found?' asked Socrates. With the same pleasant manner, the young man told Socrates where to get wine. ‘And where can the good and the noble be found?' then asked Socrates. The young man was puzzled and unable to answer. ‘Follow me to the streets and learn,' said the philosopher.” Whereas immediate, personal contact helped foster a kind of honesty, Socrates argued that strings of words could be manipulated, particularly when disseminated to a mass market. “You might think words spoke as if they had intelligence, but if you question them they always say only one thing . . . every word . . . when ill-treated or unjustly reviled always needs its father to protect it,” he said.

When psychologists today talk of the danger for the next generation of too much keyboard and texting time, Socrates would have flashed one of his infuriating “I told you so” smiles. Our modern passion for fact-collection and box-ticking rather than a deep comprehension of the world around us would have horrified him too. What was the point, he said, of cataloguing the world without loving it? He went further: “Love is the one thing I understand.” The televised U.K. general election debates earlier this year would also have given pause. Socrates was withering when it came to a polished rhetorical performance. For him a powerful, substance-less argument was a disgusting thing: rhetoric without truth was one of the greatest threats to the “good” society.

Interestingly, the TV debate experiment would have seemed old hat. Public debate and political competition (agon was the Greek word, which gives us our “agony”) were the norm in democratic Athens. Every male citizen over the age of 18 was a politician. Each could present himself in the open-air assembly up on the Pnyx to raise issues for discussion or to vote. Through a complicated system of lots, ordinary men might be made the equivalent of heads of state for a year; interior minister or foreign minister for the space of a day. Those who preferred a private to a public life were labelled idiotes (hence our word idiot).

Socrates died when Golden Age Athens — an ambitious, radical, visionary city-state — had triumphed as a leader of the world, and then over-reached herself and begun to crumble. His unusual personal piety, his guru-like attraction to the young men of the city, suddenly seemed to have a sinister tinge. And although Athens adored the notion of freedom of speech (the city even named one of its warships Parrhesia after the concept), the population had yet to resolve how far freedom of expression ratified a freedom to offend.

A scapegoat

Socrates was, I think, a scapegoat for Athens's disappointment. When the city was feeling strong, the quirky philosopher could be tolerated. But, overrun by its enemies, starving, and with the ideology of democracy itself in question, the Athenians took a more fundamentalist view. A confident society can ask questions of itself; when it is fragile, it fears them. Socrates' famous aphorism “the unexamined life is not worth living” was, by the time of his trial, clearly beginning to jar.

After his death, Socrates' ideas had a prodigious impact on both western and eastern civilisation. His influence in Islamic culture is often overlooked — in the Middle East and North Africa, from the 11th century onwards, his ideas were said to refresh and nourish, “like . . . the purest water in the midday heat”. Socrates was nominated one of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, his nickname “The Source”. So it seems a shame that, for many, Socrates has become a remote, lofty kind of a figure.

When Socrates finally stood up to face his charges in front of his fellow citizens in a religious court in the Athenian agora, he articulated one of the great pities of human society. “It is not my crimes that will convict me,” he said. “But instead, rumour, gossip; the fact that by whispering together you will persuade yourselves that I am guilty.” As another Greek author, Hesiod, put it, “Keep away from the gossip of people. For rumour [the Greek pheme, via fama in Latin, gives us our word fame] is an evil thing; by nature she's a light weight to lift up, yes, but heavy to carry and hard to put down again. Rumour never disappears entirely once people have indulged her.” Trial by media, by pheme, has always had a horrible potency. It was a slide in public opinion and the uncertainty of a traumatised age that brought Socrates to the hemlock. Rather than follow the example of his accusers, we should perhaps honour Socrates' exhortation to “know ourselves”, to be individually honest, to do what we, not the next man, knows to be right. Not to hide behind the hatred of a herd, the roar of the crowd, but to aim, hard as it might be, towards the “good” life. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2010

Keywords: Seven Pillars of Wisdom, The Source, Athenian agora, Western philosophy

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Narcissism of the Neurotic

Commonwealth Games were no showcase, but a mirror of India 2010. If they presented anything, it was this — Indian crony, casino capitalism at its most vigorous.

The Commonwealth Games over, we can now return to those of everyday Indian life. For all the protests, though, there was nothing in the corruption that marked the Games that does not permeate every town and city, all the time. Just that, in these Games, it got concentrated in one very high-profile event, under constant public and media gaze. Much of the agonising — over what was routine corruption — was occasioned by “what the world will think of us.” For ‘world' read Western world. We care little about what Tuvalu or Tonga or Papua New Guinea think of us.

The corruption — or its public manifestation — hurt us because it messed with our self-image and our need to be accepted as special by the Western elite, in every way, even at sports. After all, we are knocking at the door of the G-8. Else, there were no surprises in the corruption. Shocking, yes. Surprising, no. Dirty contracts handed out to sleazy builders? That's business as usual in Mumbai, any day in the past three decades. Most of the city's 36 MLAs are builders or contractors, which is its own comment.

Shoddy construction? Footbridges that collapse? We figured out how flimsy were the buildings in Gujarat's cities after the 2000 quake. Yet we continue to build huge high-rises in high seismic zones — because there's money in that. It was logical for the authorities to say of the collapsed footbridge in Delhi that — it was meant for ordinary citizens, not athletes. (Read: It's okay if ordinary citizens fall off it.)

Kickbacks for the boys? Conflict of interest? You're more likely to win the lottery than find the citizen surprised by these. Appropriation of the resources of the public, particularly of poor people? Well, Maharashtra shows you how. You can grab adivasi land — inalienable in law — for your private city and hill station. The Revenue Minister will “regularise” these violations for you. Contrast this with the daily struggle of people in Mumbai's slums for ‘regularisation.' Their massive contribution to the city's economy counts for nothing.

Shady banking and money transfer practices? The Enforcement Directorate has traced slush accounts involving IPL-linked entities to perhaps a dozen countries. Overpricing for car hire, for catering, for other services — all staples of Indian life. And speaking of contracts and food, it's begun with the ICDS. Watch how midday meals, too, will steadily move from the hands of SHGs to those of private corporations in the name of “pre-mix” packages. Even as India falls to rank 67 (out of 84 nations) in IFPRI's Global Hunger Index of 2010. A rank driven by high levels of underweight children. As the GHI report tells us: “India is home to 42 per cent of the world's underweight children and 31 per cent of its stunted children.”

Lying about objectives? Like saying the Games residential area would later become university hostels? When in fact several hostels were emptied during the Games (partly because of the water crisis the event entailed). And when the flats are being organised for sale, with prices already in crores. Well, low-cost housing was the excuse used during the 1982 Asiad. And we know who lives in Khelgaon now. There are those who see the Games as a ‘Triumph' of the Private Sector and a Public Sector failure. Facts count for little in matters of Faith. Who messed up the Metro Line? Public Sector. Who built the crumbling village? DDA. In truth: that sector of the Delhi Metro which did not get completed in time for the Games was the only line (probably the most profitable) that was privatised. And the giant private corporation failed to deliver. The Games village was not built by the DDA, but by a private entity. In any case, it's simple: every single private scam and racket of our time is introduced through government, in the name of the poor.

Displacement of people in and around The Games areas? Find a city, town, urban periphery or rural region where this is not an everyday fact of life. At any given moment, millions of footloose migrant labourers wander across the country, quite unsure about where the next meal comes from. Throwing out construction labourers when our work — their labour — was done in Delhi? Tens of thousands of migrant labourers, whether the Oriyas from Ganjam in Surat, or the migrants in Tirupur (owed backwages for months), or millions of others, experience this all the time. Contrast this attitude with this week's good news — the anxiety and joy over the rescue of the Chilean miners, also in a society also beset by problems.

A cheering elite, telling us how wonderful we are and how we have “showcased Indian talent for the ‘World'?” You can find that in most Indian newspapers or channels any day, any time. “India has showcased for the world,” declaimed one television anchor, “that we can and have and always will in the future organise and run world class events.” Let alone not looking beyond the world of the White and the western, what millions of Indians, including those thousands adversely affected by The Games, think, bothers us not a whit. Another TV channel ran a programme on “What makes Indians world-beaters?” This, about India's win over an Australian cricket team that has lost Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne, Glen McGrath and Matthew Hayden. Interestingly, all the panellists gently dissented from the proposition that we could call ourselves world-beaters. That in no way fazed the anchor, though.

Bad conditions? Athletes attending state and district level sporting meets have slept in disused railway wagons, and worse. These Games, anyway, were more about commerce and elite ego than about the athletes or their performance. The fine showing of some athletes came despite their organisers and sports bodies, not because of them. Now, they return to the bondage of bodies driven by profit, corruption and greed.

It's another matter we should never have organised this ‘mega-event.' In all cities holding such events over the past four decades — a tiny elite has made billions. The city has gone bankrupt — and ordinary people then pay the bills. Los Angeles is a good example. The ‘City' (i.e. Big Business) made huge profits. Residents paid the price for years afterwards. As did people in Montreal. As will those in London after the next Olympics there. Imagine, instead, if we had spent our billions on having playgrounds in all our schools? That way, you would really widen the sporting gene pool.

The point simply, is this: The Commonwealth Games were no showcase, but a mirror of India 2010. If they showcased anything, they showcased Indian crony, casino capitalism at its most vigorous. To build such a society and then expect The Games won't reflect its warts and sores is high optimism. But never in our history have an elite been so in love with themselves, so soaked in narcissism; so anxious about what ‘the World' thinks. So contemptuous of what our own people think, about anything. (Though the Commonwealth wouldn't exist without them. Indians account for over 55 per cent of all people in the Commonwealth.)

There is one anomaly, though, where the Games do not typify the Indian model. The Minister of Sports, shortcomings aside, is a person of integrity (as was his outspoken predecessor). He tried cleaning up various sporting bodies and was humiliated for it. He tried curbing the number of years a person could head a sporting body. Some, in their seventies, have been around decades (a couple in their eighties, too). That bombed, as well. On the other hand, the OC was about Organised Cronyism. Many of the tactics by which sporting bodies are run originate in Maharashtra. Sporting-politicians from there have headed more associations than they can count. Everything from kho kho and kabbadi, to wrestling and cricket. In some senses, the Games reflect the national expansion of the Maharashtra model. It's the way this state runs its cooperatives, their banks, its education. The Games, like Maharashtra, were a snapshot of primitive accumulation at work.

Meanwhile, may we suggest a modest alternative to Rahman's theme song: Jeeyo, Utho, Badho, Jeeto (Live, Get up and ready, march forward, win)? It didn't click too well, compelling the maestro to return to his ‘Jai Ho' from Slumdog Millionaire at the opening ceremony. There is some irony in that. That film outraged the same Indian elite and India Shining crowd. Leading Bollywood personalities spoke and blogged on how it had upset them. Yet the song found greater acceptance. It won an Oscar — showcasing us to the ‘world' — and that overrode disquiet about the film. Fact is: Jeeyo, Utho, Badho, Jeeto didn't quite grab us. So how about: Jaao, Loot-oh, Utho, Bagho? (Go ahead, loot, get up and scoot).

Keywords: Commonwealth Games

Related

Sunday, October 17, 2010

India-A Dysfunctional Anarchy

Dear Brian,
I have great respect for Jug Suraiya as a very engaging writer and I'm sure he's not romanticisizing the corruption and inefficiency rampant in the ruling elites in our country.Indians are smart, they can work long hours.If you have seen the crowds up and about at seven in the morning in any meropolis,even in mofussil towns, you'll understand what I mean.
But the ruling class of this country is an absolute disaster. Otherwise the cost for the CWG wouldn't have gone up to 70,000 crore from the estimated 15,000 crore. And,for God's sake, let us not blame Kalmadi alone. We are all collectively responsible.And we hanker for the small crumbs thrown at us and endlessly obsess about our children's futures. We have no other agenda in life.
And that is why we are condemned to bear the cross of 10,000 children dying everyday because of hunger, Nero fiddling while Rome burns.

Best regards,
Avinash
http://poshaning.blogspot.com/


----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Brian Fernandez
To: brianowhere
Sent: Sun, October 17, 2010 11:17:02 AM
Subject: Improvised India

if you haven't read this earlier, well worth a chuckle: bf
Improvised India

The CWG has shown how India wins by not playing by the rules

Jug Suraiya

The Commonwealth Games have shown – yet again – that India has a knack of winning by the simple expedient of throwing away the rulebook. The harvest of medals reaped by our sportspeople was garnered strictly by the rules of the different disciplines involved. But where India, typically, snatched victory from the laws of defeat was in the run-up to the Games: the preparations – or rather, total lack of preparations – that made almost all commentators predict that the event would be a total fiasco and bring shame and ignominy to Brand India. And, true to type, Brand India – this time in the jaunty avatar of Shera – proved the critics wrong by pulling off a largely acceptable CWG, a few downers notwithstanding: empty stadia, tickets sold as raddi and cops behaving like thugs. And it did this by resorting to what it’s always been best at: improvisation.
India – both as the ancient civilisation and the modern nation which coexist not just side by side but within each other – can be said to be improvisation incarnate, having elevated ad hocism not just to an art form but to a philosophy. Other cultures and countries, particularly those belonging to the western world, do things by rules and regulations, in a systematic step-by-step manner. India does its unique number by ignoring the rules and getting it all together at the very last moment by an instinct for improvisation, by working the mystery of the makeshift, as it did in the case of the CWG. Horrific images of collapsed footbridges and filthy toilets suddenly morphed into an eye-catching opening ceremony that raised the curtain on the Games. India had confounded its critics by pulling the rabbit out of the hat of the unplanned, the messy, the make-do and the extempore.
The extempore is part and parcel of the Indian ethos. Indian classical music is innocent of musical notation; there are no score sheets, no laid-down rules which have rigidly to be followed. Indian music is pure improvisation, grounded not in a pre-determined set of rules but on spur-of-the-moment inspiration guided only by the flexible grammar of the raga in which it is being played. No two performances can be identical; each is made distinct by the individual improvisation of the performer.
This is equally true of Indian cooking. Other cuisines follow recipes, detailed rules which tell you exactly how much of what to use, so many grammes of this, so many teaspoons of that. In India, recipes follow the cook’s spontaneous estimation of the use of a particular ingredient based on andaza, a term that can’t be translated into any other idiom. How much of this spice, or that? Just use your andaza. It is the creative use of andaza, this celebration of spontaneity and improvisation that gives Indian food its unmatchable zest and flavour.
India has famously been described as a functioning anarchy, and we see evidence of this everywhere, where impending disaster is staved off by a whisker. The horrors of Partition seemed to confirm the dire predictions of those who – like the ach-imperialist Winston Churchill – prophesied that independent India wouldn’t last 10 years, and would fragment into warring states. According to the rulebook, with all its social and economic disparities, India ought to have disintegrated. But despite largely foreign-inspired divisiveness in Kashmir and the north-east, and Maoist militancy in tribal areas, multilingual, multi-religious India has survived its many predictions of doom, thanks to its seemingly endless ability to reinvent or re-improvise itself as and when occasion demands.
Perhaps nowhere is this creative interpretation of rules more obvious than in India’s chaotic traffic conditions in which everyone invents their own rules as they go along. Yes, tragic collisions do take place. But considering the chaos of Indian streets, these are far fewer than anticipated. Indeed, perhaps the safest way to navigate Indian roads is to follow the advice of the veteran driver to the novice: don’t follow the rules; if you do you’re certain to cause an accident.
In improvised India, the rule is that there are no rules. But what if ruleless improvisation itself becomes a rule? What rule then shall we follow – or break?
-----------------------------------
p.s.
Jugaad philosophy

With reference to the Second Opinion ‘Improvised India’ (Oct 13) by Jug Suraiya, it reminded me of an interesting conversation i had about three years ago with a Japanese friend at Honda. He said: “Murad San, when we came to India we tried to introduce Japanese management philosophies. Sometimes they work. Most times they do not work. We tried to introduce JIT (Just In Time) philosophy. Difficult! But we found that India has a philosophy that works better. SHIT…Some how in time.”

Murad Ali Baig, VIA E-MAIL

Saturday, October 16, 2010

India- A Celebration of Anarchy

[IT-BHU-BatchOf1982] India-A Celebration of Anarchy
From:
avinash sahay
View Contact
To: IT BHU
Cc: Avinash K. Sahay ; Atul Pranay ; Devashish Roy Choudhury ; Anuradha Mukherjee ; Durga Charan Dash ; Mahendra Singh ... more



----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Brian Fernandez
To: brianowhere
Sent: Sun, October 17, 2010 11:17:02 AM
Subject: Improvised India

if you haven't read this earlier, well worth a chuckle: bf
Improvised India

The CWG has shown how India wins by not playing by the rules

Jug Suraiya

The Commonwealth Games have shown – yet again – that India has a knack of winning by the simple expedient of throwing away the rulebook. The harvest of medals reaped by our sportspeople was garnered strictly by the rules of the different disciplines involved. But where India, typically, snatched victory from the laws of defeat was in the run-up to the Games: the preparations – or rather, total lack of preparations – that made almost all commentators predict that the event would be a total fiasco and bring shame and ignominy to Brand India. And, true to type, Brand India – this time in the jaunty avatar of Shera – proved the critics wrong by pulling off a largely acceptable CWG, a few downers notwithstanding: empty stadia, tickets sold as raddi and cops behaving like thugs. And it did this by resorting to what it’s always been best at: improvisation.
India – both as the ancient civilisation and the modern nation which coexist not just side by side but within each other – can be said to be improvisation incarnate, having elevated ad hocism not just to an art form but to a philosophy. Other cultures and countries, particularly those belonging to the western world, do things by rules and regulations, in a systematic step-by-step manner. India does its unique number by ignoring the rules and getting it all together at the very last moment by an instinct for improvisation, by working the mystery of the makeshift, as it did in the case of the CWG. Horrific images of collapsed footbridges and filthy toilets suddenly morphed into an eye-catching opening ceremony that raised the curtain on the Games. India had confounded its critics by pulling the rabbit out of the hat of the unplanned, the messy, the make-do and the extempore.
The extempore is part and parcel of the Indian ethos. Indian classical music is innocent of musical notation; there are no score sheets, no laid-down rules which have rigidly to be followed. Indian music is pure improvisation, grounded not in a pre-determined set of rules but on spur-of-the-moment inspiration guided only by the flexible grammar of the raga in which it is being played. No two performances can be identical; each is made distinct by the individual improvisation of the performer.
This is equally true of Indian cooking. Other cuisines follow recipes, detailed rules which tell you exactly how much of what to use, so many grammes of this, so many teaspoons of that. In India, recipes follow the cook’s spontaneous estimation of the use of a particular ingredient based on andaza, a term that can’t be translated into any other idiom. How much of this spice, or that? Just use your andaza. It is the creative use of andaza, this celebration of spontaneity and improvisation that gives Indian food its unmatchable zest and flavour.
India has famously been described as a functioning anarchy, and we see evidence of this everywhere, where impending disaster is staved off by a whisker. The horrors of Partition seemed to confirm the dire predictions of those who – like the ach-imperialist Winston Churchill – prophesied that independent India wouldn’t last 10 years, and would fragment into warring states. According to the rulebook, with all its social and economic disparities, India ought to have disintegrated. But despite largely foreign-inspired divisiveness in Kashmir and the north-east, and Maoist militancy in tribal areas, multilingual, multi-religious India has survived its many predictions of doom, thanks to its seemingly endless ability to reinvent or re-improvise itself as and when occasion demands.
Perhaps nowhere is this creative interpretation of rules more obvious than in India’s chaotic traffic conditions in which everyone invents their own rules as they go along. Yes, tragic collisions do take place. But considering the chaos of Indian streets, these are far fewer than anticipated. Indeed, perhaps the safest way to navigate Indian roads is to follow the advice of the veteran driver to the novice: don’t follow the rules; if you do you’re certain to cause an accident.
In improvised India, the rule is that there are no rules. But what if ruleless improvisation itself becomes a rule? What rule then shall we follow – or break?
-----------------------------------
p.s.
Jugaad philosophy

With reference to the Second Opinion ‘Improvised India’ (Oct 13) by Jug Suraiya, it reminded me of an interesting conversation i had about three years ago with a Japanese friend at Honda. He said: “Murad San, when we came to India we tried to introduce Japanese management philosophies. Sometimes they work. Most times they do not work. We tried to introduce JIT (Just In Time) philosophy. Difficult! But we found that India has a philosophy that works better. SHIT…Some how in time.”