Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Going Beyond All Limitations

I want to share this essence of Hinduism,if I may add,indeed, of all religions, before it's most ardent advocates tear it to shreds. It is brief, but impeccably to the point.
The world is such an unhappy place,with scams galore,WikiLeaks,Radia Gate, 2G et all, precisely because humankind has yet to realize its highest potentials. That was our mandate,the raison'd'etre for our beings. But our inheritance lies in tatters,with unimaginable misery for the human race.
But we ought to understand that we never run out of options. Everything is in our hands, because it is us that has created everything, including God, whom we foolishly chase all over except in the depths of our own souls.
With that power unleashed, in all of us,the well being for all will not look as distant as it does now.

Best regards,

Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev
One fundamental thing that must be cleared up about the Hindu way of life is that with the term Hindu there is no “ism”. Today the word Hindu has taken a different meaning because of the so-called Hindutva and other such organisations, but the word Hindu essentially comes from the word Sindhu. Anybody who is born in the land of Indus is a Hindu — it is a cultural and geographic identity. It is like saying “I am an Indian”, though it is a more ancient identity than being an Indian. “Indian” is only about 60 years old. Hindu, on the other hand, is an identity that we have always lived with — we call this country Hindustan and whatever we did in this culture was Hindu.
Being a Hindu does not mean having a particular belief system; there is no particular God or ideology which one can call as the Hindu way of life. You can be a Hindu irrespective of whether you worship a man-God or a woman-God, whether you worship a cow or a tree. If you don’t worship anything you can still be a Hindu. So you are a Hindu irrespective of what you believe or don’t believe in. At the same time, there was a common line running through all these — in this culture, the only goal of human life is liberation or mukti; liberation from the very process of life, from everything that you know as limitations and to go beyond that. God is seen as one of the stepping stones; God is not held as the ultimate thing. This is the only culture on the planet which is a godless culture in the sense that there is no concretised idea of God in this culture. You can worship a rock, a cow, your mother — you can worship whatever you feel like because this is a culture where we have always known that God is our making.
Everywhere else people believe that God created us. Here we know that we created God so we take total freedom to create the kind of God we can relate to. If you like the tree in your garden you can worship it and nobody thinks it is absurd. You can worship a stone on the golf course and nobody thinks it’s absurd. If you can relate to that, that’s what you worship because what you are reverential towards is not important; being reverential is what is important.
There is so much misunderstanding about these things because there is a certain dialectical ethos to the culture where we want to express everything in a story or in a song; but in a way, it is a science of how to take a human being to his ultimate potential.

— Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, a yogi, is a visionary, humanitarian and a prominent spiritual leader. An author, poet, and internationally-renowned speaker, Sadhguru’s wit and piercing logic provoke and widen our perception of life. He can be contacted at www.ishafoundation.org

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ruling Establishments-Rotting Cadavers?


Dear Friends,
You may perhaps like to read this lead article in The Hindu of 29th Nov by Siddharth Vardarajan.He points to the deep nexus existing between the ruling establishments,the corporates and the popular media whose bytes and words we hang on to so seriously.
India may be a poor country where almost 78% people have a daily income of less than a dollar. But, as evidenced by the Swiss Bank report, the stash of 280 lac crore only in Swiss Banks, not to speak of other tax havens,a section of this unholy trio will put even Bill Gates and Warren Bufet look poor by comparison.
This report should also be juxtaposed with the WikiLeaks disclosures which will show how venal,bloodthirsty and shortsighted are the ruling establishments not only of the US, but the world over.
The governance of this world has hit rock bottom and I don't think it can go lower than this.In situations as these, all of us need to introspect deeply. After all each and every one of us is paying some price for the rottonness of our ruling establishments the world over.

As squeamish schoolchildren know only too well, dissection is a messy business. Some instinctively turn away, others become nauseous or scared. Not everyone can stomach first hand the inner workings of an organic system. Ten days ago, a scalpel — in the form of a set of 104 intercepted telephone conversations — cut through the tiniest cross-section of a rotting cadaver known as the Indian Establishment. What got exposed is so unpleasant that several major newspapers and television channels that normally scramble to bring “breaking” and “exclusive” stories have chosen to look the other way. Their silence, though understandable, is unfortunate. Even unforgivable.
After all, the tape recordings of Niira Radia's phone conversations have come to light against the backdrop of the recent Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report on the allocation of 2G spectrum, which demonstrated how the rules were arbitrarily bent by the then Telecom Minister, A. Raja, in order to favour a handful of private companies at government expense. Among the beneficiaries of Mr. Raja's raj were Anil Ambani. And also Ratan Tata. In one of the tapes, an unidentified interlocutor asks Ms Radia, whose clients include both Mr. Tata and Mukesh Ambani, why “you people [i.e. the Mukesh Ambani group] are supporting [Raja] like anything ... when the younger brother [Anil Ambani] is the biggest beneficiary of the so called spectrum allocation”. “Issue bahut complex hai,” Ms Radia replies. “Mere client Tatas bhi beneficiary rahein hain (my client, the Tatas, have also been a beneficiary).”

Apart from telecom, the tapes also provide valuable insight into the gas dispute between the two Ambani brothers. This was a dispute in which Mukesh Ambani made skillful use of the “gas is a national resource” argument with a pliant media even as he used his influence with individual MPs to try and orchestrate a massive tax concession for his company from the same national resource, Krishna-Godavari (KG) basin natural gas.

In an interview to NDTV and the Indian Express on Saturday — two media houses that have so far avoided covering the tapes — Ratan Tata has called the recordings a “smokescreen” designed to hide the real truth. He is wrong. Utterly wrong. No doubt we know very little about who leaked the recordings and why these were cherry-picked from a wider set of 5,000 recordings the Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax authorities made as part of their surveillance of Ms Radia. But even if the story they tell is partial and designed to expose only a fraction of the corporate lobbying which has been going on, we would be naive to ignore the contents of the tapes or be dismissive about their significance.

In the science fiction film, “The Matrix”, Morpheus tells Neo, “You're here because you know there's something wrong with the world.” The Matrix, he says, is the world that has been pulled over everyone's eyes to blind them from the truth that they are slaves. He offers Neo the choice of a blue or red pill. “You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill ... and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”

The Niira Radia audio archive loaded on to the Internet by Open and Outlook magazines last week is the red pill of our time. It reveals the source codes, networks, routers, viruses and malware that make up the matrix of the Indian State. The transmission of information, also known as “news”, between different nodes is vital for the system to work efficiently. The news is also the medium for reconciling conflicts between different sectors of the establishment. If you hear the recordings, you begin to understand the truth about the Wonderland that is India. No wonder there are many amongst us who would rather swallow the blue pill. For once you go in, the only way out is to keep digging. And yes, the rabbit-hole runs deep.

So deep, for example, that we hear a Member of Parliament, N.K. Singh, who is meant to represent the people and the state who voted for him, brazenly batting for a single-man corporate constituency, Mukesh Ambani.

In one recording, Mr. Singh tells Ms Radia of the firefighting he is doing on behalf of Mr. Ambani to ensure a tax concession the finance minister had announced in the 2009 budget for gas production is made applicable retrospectively. Ms Radia says she has killed news stories about the Rs.81,000 crore super profit Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) would make were that to happen but Mr. Singh is more concerned about what happens in Parliament during the debate on the Finance Bill. His fear is that if Opposition MPs make a noise about a largesse being given to one company, the finance minister would be on the defensive and the prospect of extending the concession retrospectively would not even arise. Mr. Singh accuses BJP leader Arun Shourie of being on Anil Ambani's side and reveals how he has managed to get Mr. Shourie replaced as the BJP's lead speaker by Venkaiah Naidu. How well does Mukesh know Venkaiah, asks Mr. Singh, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from Bihar on a Janata Dal (United) – JD(U) ticket. Ms Radia replies that a senior RIL executive, P.M.S. Prasad, knows Mr. Naidu well. “Then I am going to get him flown in today to talk to Venkaiah,” Mr. Singh says, “because if he is the first speaker, and he already takes a party line, then it will be very difficult for Shourie in his second intervention, to take a different line. Then we have to orchestrate who will speak, you know, this is the immediate problem right now. Because, frankly, if this doesn't go through, this tax thing, then it's a major initiative taken that then fails to materialise.”

We don't know if Mr. Prasad flew down and met Mr. Naidu as N.K. Singh wanted him to do. But the BJP leader's speech in Parliament two days later has this telltale suggestion: “The Bay of Bengal has become the new North Sea of India. Government departments should not be seen quarrelling whether mineral oil is a natural gas or not. Whatever concessions [are] needed for infrastructure, exploration ... are connected with the energy security of the country.” This was a veiled reference to the Petroleum Ministry's letter to the Finance Ministry asking for natural gas to be given the same tax concessions available to oil retrospectively and not just from the New Exploration Licensing Round (NELP) VIII round which would exclude RIL's KG basin output. A request the revenue secretary had turned down.

In other recordings, we see journalists and editors, who are meant to report and analyse what is going on objectively, offering to become couriers and stenographers and foot soldiers in the war one set of corporate fat cats is waging against another. We also see a political fixer, Ranjan Bhattacharya, whose USP once was his familial proximity to the Bharatiya Janata Party, seamlessly open a line to the Congress and go about his business as if election results don't matter. He boasts about his proximity to Ghulam Nabi Azad and his ability to send a message to “SG, boss”, a reference to the Congress president. He then quotes Mukesh Ambani telling him the Congress party is now “apni dukan”. Mr. Bhattacharya may have been lying about his influence but then the formidable Ms Radia is anything but a dupe.

We also hear in the tapes an iconic businessman, Ratan Tata, who today makes sanctimonious statements about crony capitalism and the danger of India becoming a banana republic, lobbying through his PR agent, Ms Radia, for A. Raja to be given the Telecom portfolio.

If the allocation of spectrum by the Manmohan Singh government in 2008 and 2009 is one of the biggest scams in independent India, then the involvement of businessmen like Ratan Tata, Sunil Mittal and Mukesh Ambani in lobbying for their choice of telecom minister when the UPA government returned to power in May 2009 is surely a very important part of the back-story. But it is a story none of the journalists who liaised with Ms Radia during this time chose to report. More than the squabble within the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) or between the DMK and the Congress, the involvement of India's biggest companies in the process of cabinet formation was the story that should have been headlined. Ms Radia talks of Sunil Mittal and AT&T using Times Now to push out stories about Dayanidhi Maran being the frontrunner for telecom and Mr. Raja being in disfavour. Her own strategy appears to have been to use her relationship with Barkha Dutt and Shankar Aiyar to get the opposite message out onto news channels like NDTV and Headlines Today.

Instead of using Ms Radia as a “source” for covering the DMK, her role, and the role of her principal clients, in trying to push for a minister who was seen even then as tainted ought to have been exposed. But then Delhi is a hothouse of power, and proximity to power deadens one's reflexes and weakens one's nerves. What Indian journalism needs more than anything else today is distance. From both politicians and industrialists. It is never too late to swallow that red pill.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


clear clutter.pps (2502KB)

Sent: Mon, November 15, 2010 12:21:45 PM

Paradoxical as it may sound,uncluttering,rather than accumulation,is the road to prosperity.These slides are powerful and explain the concept beautifully.I have heard people glorify planning as an end in itself. But if we give our 100% to the job at hand, with love for all, we have really "planned" for an eternity.
Existence takes care of everything. We just have to be in harmony with it.Pl take time to see the attachment. It is overwhelming and enriching.If practised with love, not scepticism,it'll open windows to an opulence we may have never imagined.

Best regards,

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: sai kumar
Sent: Sun, November 14, 2010 5:17:45 AM


Thanks & Regards,
Personal Secretary to BRAHMARSHI PATRIJI
Contact : +91 98490 96111
eMail: saikumar_pyramid@yahoo.com, saikumar.pyramid@gmail.com
Website: www.pssmovement.org

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mushaira in Bahrain

Dear Sushil,
I must congratulate you for this ethereal experience.Your narrative is immaculate and compelling.I thank you for sharing this with us. But I'll "doubly" thank you if you could get this DVD for me.
I,too, have experienced the etherealness of such a kavi sammelan in Chennai and Mumbai. So I can relate to what you say.Yes, it is sad that neither the SBI nor the Indian Embassy was represented there.And, mind you, the top brass in both these hallowed institutions is supposed to be among the best and the brightest of this superpower in the making . Urdu poetry is integral to our culture and it ought to be promoted.I'm also convinced that the ordinary Muslims and Hindus are one and the same.But there is a deliberate propoganda to keep them as "the other". While he was in India, Mr Obama lamented the forces of extremism in Islam. I would like to ask him who is abetting these forces for the last hundred years, especially in the last twenty after the demise of the "godless"communism in the erstwhile USSR.
But, my friend, we have to keep the torch of hope burning in its fullest splendour. Let us not be overwhelmed by the forces of ignorance and darkness which dispels simply by lighting a candle.We have to be doubly alert, active and clever to outlive and outsmart the unscientific way of life.

Best regards,

From: Sushil Prasad
To: prasad.sushil@gmail.com
Sent: Thu, November 25, 2010 5:00:52 PM
Subject: Mushaira - A Preview of my next blog - for comments please.

Mushaira – An Evening of Poetry

One of my major regrets is that I discovered poetry very late in life. When I was younger , I used to associate poetry only with rhythm and metre. That was the way poetry was introduced and taught in school. It was only much later that I discovered the power of poetry in disentangling troubled emotions and as a means for exploring the depths of human feelings and psyche. A poem by Harivansh Rai Bachchan (Kavi) beautifully illustrates the role of poet in society where he elaborates that the poet’s solitary pursuit of finding means to disentangle emotions help others at large. Poetry is also described as the spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions recollected in tranquility.

These thoughts come to my mind as I think about the lovely Mushaira – a poetry reading / reciting session - that I was extrmeley fortunate to having recently attended. The Mushaira was organized by AMUAAB (Aligarh Muslim University Alumni Association of Bahrain) at the Cultural Hall located on Al Fateh Corniche , Bahrain .

The Mushaira was billed to start from 8 pm . I managed to reach the venue by about 8 pm , with the hope that I was not late. But I was surprised to see that there were hardly a handful of people in the auditorium. I initially put the low attendance to lack of people who would appreciate Urdu poetry in Bahrain . As the evening progressed with little development to show as to by when the programme would start, doubts started building up in my mind on whether it was worth while spending more time here. Since, I had already cancelled my other engagements for the evening I decided to stick around and at least experience some portion of the session before passing any judgment on the programme. It turned out that I was doubly lucky. First time lucky in having decided to come for the session and second time lucky on having stayed around.

The programme finally started a little after 9.15 pm , with the first half hour being spent on introductory speeches followed by reading from the Koran. And then the Mushaira took off and continued for nearly 5 hours to nearly 3 am the next morning. Five hours of exhilarating , exquisite poetry. Poetry sung , recited , clarified , reiterated , made up extempore to suit the occasion or exemplify or elaborate a particular thought process. What sublime thoughts. What oneness of spirit and bonhomie between the audience and the poets. Poetry was used as a collective experience to enable each individual to examine, reorder, and cleanse his or her personal emotions.

By about 10 pm the auditorium was overflowing with people who I assume were largely Indian Muslims. Though I expect there were a fair sprinkling of people from Pakistan and some also from Bangladesh . As the mushaira progressed, the audience and the poets merged into one organic whole with its own life, breath, thoughts, and mood. There were about 14 odd shaiyars (poets) on the stage with one leading poet introducing and commenting on the shaiyars and also compeering the show. There was quite some variation in age, social background, thought processes and styles of the shaiyars. Of the assembled poets, 3 were women and about 10 men. The language used extended from very formal, highly Persianised / Arabicised, difficult to understand or appreciate Urdu to common, easy to listen and understand Hindustani.

There were some light, side moments too, to the evening. As I was entering the venue, a young man accompanied with two young women (or was it the other way round – two young women accompanied with a young man) also reached the Cultural Hall. Their immediate query to the person there was if there was provision for separate seating for women in the auditorium. They seemed to be quite surprised if not also crestfallen to be advised in the negative. Another thing that I noticed was that while nearly all the women in the audience (I assume Indian and Pakistani women living in Bahrain ) were heavily Hijabed, the three women poets on the dias were not Hijabed, though one of them was constantly though unsuccessfully trying to drape her head with her dupatta (scarf?).

The most important realization or understanding that I carried back from the evening has nothing to do with poetry. We as a society, not just in India but also the popular world media have a tendency to look at our Muslim brothers and sisters as backward , semi literate, religious bigots , rooted in medieval irrational thought processes etc. But here was a group made up of nearly 100% Muslims from the middle and lower strata of society getting together to sit and appreciate poetry which was without exception completely secular in thought and content!

During the nearly 5 hours of poetry, there was not a single instance where the content of the outpourings was remotely religious in nature. Yes, there was plenty of romance, a lot of irony, some very deep angst. But of religion in terms of identity or means of support – there was no mention. What one saw was something which was against all stereotypes. Nearly 5 hours of poetry where the topics were strictly secular. I have not attended any other mushairas , but I suppose this would be the general atmosphere of mushairas and not specific to the one I had attended.

It is sad that there was such limited involvement in such a festive, joyous, and enriching experience. It was sadder to note that this event was not attended by anybody from the Indian Embassy (at least officially). Moreover , there was no representation from State Bank of India , one of the main sponsors of the programme.

A couple of weeks later, while I was still feeling the after glow of the experience, I came to know that the entire programme had been videographed and was available as DVDs. I immediately got myself a copy and spent the next 3 evenings reliving the experience at my own pace. This makes me third time lucky.

I consider myself really blessed that I got a chance to discover poetry in this lifetime.

Sushil Prasad
Designated Credit Officer
Credit Management
P.O. Box: 597
Kingdom of Bahrain
Tel: +973 17 207271
Fax: +973 17 212120

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Keeping the Rabble Away from Decision Making

Dear Friends,
You may check out this interview of Noam Chomsky published in the Outlook magazine of 1st Nov.Prof Chomsky,a sprightly 82 year old Professor of Linguistics at MIT is, in my view, the greatest public intellectual after Karl Marx.In this article he exposes how the elites use the mass media to MANUFACTURE CONSENT and thereby keep the RABBLE(read gullible public such as us)away from the decision making processes.
It's time we understood that the public at large is never safe in the hands of big governments and big corporations. These assiduously feed the megalomania of the elites in being a superpower either past(Britain), present(USA) or in waiting(China, India).Big govts will always be the perfect vehicle for the insecure power elites- military and the corporations.And we need to beware of their militaristic and superpowery numbo-jumbo. Any kind of dispute is grist to their mill and the right thinking people in both India and China need to guard against repeating the cold war of the 20th century.
If we wake up and organize ourselves in smaller city states(like in the ancient times) or like the Scandivanian countries of today, we can have more participative and responsive polity.In the interregnum we have to be vigilant, active and learn to cooperate with each other for the common good.

Best regards,

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: "avinashk.sahay@gmail.com"
To: asahays@yahoo.com
Sent: Sat, November 13, 2010 8:27:10 PM
Subject: www.outlookindia.com | “Media Subdues The Public. It’s So In India, Certainly”


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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Keeping the Rabble Away from Decision Making

“Media Subdues The Public. It’s So In India, Certainly”
The man NYT called “arguably the most important intellectual alive” finds the media in Pakistan more vibrant than it is in India
Special Issue: Media In Crisis

Noam Chomsky has a veritable cult following among those who are sceptical about views the liberal media espouses and government propaganda machinery spawns to suit their often overlapping agendas. Compelling is his criticism, breathtaking is his knowledge, persuasive is his voice, and deep runs his humanity. This 82-year-old Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, has written over 100 books and is considered the doyen of modern linguistics. To the world outside the academia, though, he’s more famous as America’s leading dissident intellectual whose instinct it is to expose the hypocrisy of the powerful. His awesome credentials inspired The New York Times to describe him as “arguably the most important intellectual alive”.

On the 15th anniversary of Outlook, Ajaz Ashraf and Anuradha Raman talked to Chomsky over the phone on aspects of the crisis plaguing the media. These included the questions you readers have often wondered about: Is the media really free? Or is it the handmaiden of the elites, the state? And how does one distinguish propaganda from news? Speaking with the candour and brilliance typical of his writing, Chomsky says the crisis in the media is not a result of its declining revenues as much as its intellectual dishonesty. He also sprang a few surprises—for instance, he finds the media in Pakistan more vibrant than it is in India. Excerpts:

Why do you say the idea of a liberal media is a myth?

I don’t. Some of my friends and colleagues do. My own view is that the media, the major media, the New York Times and so on, tend to be what is called liberal. Of course, liberal here implies highly supportive of state power, state violence and state crimes. I, though, don’t deny that liberal means, more or less, being in favour of civil rights, social programmes, roughly what’s called social democratic in much of the world.

Do you think the so-called liberal media really serves that purpose?

Yes, to some extent, but their major commitment is to the centres of power—state and private. For example, there are major attacks on civil rights today but because those are coming from the Obama administration, the liberal media barely discusses the violations.

Statuary Warning" ‘All of Iraq’s current chaos is the result of the US invasion. But one can’t say or think that.’ (Photograph by AP)

“The task of intellectuals and the media is to ensure the public is quiet, obedient. That’s the liberal viewpoint.”

You have in mind America’s recent wars?
As soon as the plan to invade Iraq was announced, the media began serving as a propaganda agency for the government. The same was true for Vietnam, for state violence generally. The media is called liberal because it is liberal in the sense that Obama is. For example, he’s considered as the principled critic of the Iraq war. Why? Because, right at the beginning, he said it was a strategic blunder. That’s the extent of his liberalism. You could read such comments in Pravda in 1985. The people said that the invasion of Afghanistan was a strategic blunder. Even the German general staff said that Stalingrad was a strategic blunder. But we don’t call that principled criticism.

You once said, “Propaganda is to democracy what violence is to totalitarianism.” Do you mean that propaganda enables the elite to dull the will of people, depriving them of the capacity to make political choices?

That clearly is its goal, in fact its stated goal. Back in the 1920s, it used to be frankly called propaganda. But the word acquired a bad flavour with Nazism in the 1930s. So now, it’s not called propaganda any more. But they were right in the 1920s. The huge public relations industry, for example, has its goal to control attitudes and beliefs. Liberal commentators, like Walter Lippmann, said we have to manufacture consent and keep the rabble away from the decision-making. We are the responsible men, we have to make decisions and we have to be protected—and I quote Lippmann—“from the trampling under the rage of the bewildered herd—the public”. In the democratic process, we are the participants, they watch. And the task of intellectuals, media and so on is to make sure that they are quiet, subdued and obedient. That is the view from the liberal end of the spectrum. Yes, I don’t doubt that the media is liberal in that sense.

What is the mechanism through which the media becomes the voice of the government and elite?

It is very straightforward. In his introduction to Animal Farm—virtually nobody has read the introduction because it was not published—George Orwell writes that the British (the audience for which he was writing) should not be too complacent about his satire on the crimes of the totalitarian enemy. He said in free England unacceptable ideas could be suppressed voluntarily, without the use of force. He says the reasons are that the press is owned by wealthy men who have every reason not to want certain ideas to be expressed. In the more modern period, generally, the media are either big corporations or parts of mega corporations or closely linked to the government. The other reason—maybe more significant—is just that if you have a good education, you would have instilled into you that there are certain things that it just wouldn’t do to say.

Guantanamo: ‘The invasion of Iraq: criminal aggression of the kind for which people were hanged in Nuremburg’ (Photograph by AP)

“Western media submits to an intellectual culture restricting any analysis and criticism of state action.”

Like what?
For example, you don’t say or even think that the invasion of Iraq is a criminal aggression of the kind for which people were hanged in Nuremberg, that what you say was a strategic blunder was precisely what the Communist party said in the 1980s. They were under coercion. In the West, it is not coercion, it is just voluntary submission to an intellectual culture which remains overwhelmingly within narrow limits that restrict analysis, reporting, and condemnation of government action. Take this morning’s (October 5) New York Times. There is an article by a good correspondent, Steven Lee Myers, who says that Iraq is having serious problems with sectarian conflict, with chaos, which are all the results of democracy. I don’t think so. I think it is the result of the American invasion. But you can’t say or think that.

So, in a sense, the structure of the media is basically reflecting the unequal structure of our society.

Yes, it’s reflecting the structure of power, which is not surprising.

In such a scenario, do you think the truth is bound to be elusive?

Take the same New York Times article. Anyone who has paid serious attention to what has been happening in Iraq the last seven years can see, for example, that the sectarian conflict was stirred up not by democracy but by the invasion and atrocities after the invasion. But that’s not what you are going to read in papers. When you read day after day and watch television day after day, a certain picture tends to sink into an overwhelming majority of the population. They don’t have the time to do research projects.

Do you think the people in the West—and it is now happening in India as well—are giving up newspapers and turning to the internet largely because they do not believe what the newspapers say?

In the US, it’s partly true. But that’s also part of a much broader phenomenon which you can easily see in polls. A large majority of the population is disillusioned with everything. They are anti-government, anti-business, opposed to the political parties, Republicans even more than the Democrats; they dislike Congress, they don’t believe the professions, the scientists. It’s as if their lives are falling apart. So, yes, they don’t like the media. Then there is also the propaganda—how the media is socialist and so on.

There are lots of discussions about how the media won’t be able to survive in the days of internet. I am very sceptical about that. I was in Mexico last week—and Mexico, mind you, is a poor country. The second largest newspaper in Mexico, La Jornada, is a very high quality newspaper, one of the best I know. It gets almost no commercial advertising because the government hates it, business hates it. They survive on readership support. Why can’t it happen in a rich country? That’s because people in Mexico trust La Jornada. They are doing their job, you can see people reading it on the streets. You learn from it.

I spent three weeks in India and a week in Pakistan. A friend of mine here, Iqbal Ahmed, told me that I would be surprised to find that the media in Pakistan is more open, free and vibrant than that in India.

In Pakistan, I read the English language media which go to a tiny part of the population. Apparently, the government, no matter how repressive it is, is willing to say to them that you have your fun, we are not going to bother you. So they don’t interfere with it.

“Liberal media doesn’t discuss attacks on civil rights today, for they are coming from the Obama administration.”

The media in India is free, the government doesn’t have the power to control it. But what I saw was that it was pretty restricted, very narrow and provincial and not very informative, leaving out lots of things. What I saw was a small sample. There are very good things in the Indian media, specially the Hindu and a couple of others. But this picture (in India) doesn’t surprise me. In fact, the media situation is not very different in many other countries. The Mexican situation is unusual. La Jornada is the only independent newspaper in the whole hemisphere.

S.M. Krishna faces Pakistani media ‘No matter how repressive, Pakistan’s government leaves the media alone’ (Photograph by AFP, From Outlook, November 01, 2010)

So what is the solution to all this? Is the internet the only way out?

What has to be done is not really specific to the media. It is to develop a more functional democratic society, a more democratic culture. As far as the elites are concerned they want the public to be disciplined, passive, obedient and directed to other things. Take a look at the history of the huge public relations and advertising industry that we have today. It developed in the freest countries in the world—England and the US—around the time of the First World War. Incidentally, that was the time Lippmann was writing. It was developed very consciously, out of the understanding that enough freedom had been won by popular struggle and the population could not be controlled by force. Therefore, it was thought necessary to control attitudes and beliefs. In the business press of the 1920s, you can read very openly about the need to divert people to what they call the superficial thing in life like fashionable consumption. If we can direct people to that, they will keep out of our hair, we can run things. You see that in India, certainly.

“From what I saw, the Indian media is very narrow, restricted and provincial. It leaves out a lot of things.”

Family-owned concerns dominate the Indian media. Some people believe it is an advantage because you can play upon the vanity of the owners to have them take up important issues. For instance, the way Katherine Graham took risks by featuring the Watergate scandal in The Washington Post.
The Watergate scandal was just a cover-up. It was almost nothing. Right at the same time as the Watergate exposure—and this tells you a lot of about the media and the culture—a state terrorist government operation was exposed in the courts. It was called Cointelpro, it was essentially an fbi programme that ran through the Johnson, Kennedy and Nixon administrations. It began with targeting the Communist party, Puerto Ricans, the anti-war movement, the women’s movements, the entire new Left....It was a very serious thing, going all the way to political assassination, literally. That was exposed at the very same time as Watergate. No attention was paid to it; it was too serious. Cointelpro really told you something about the government. Therefore, it was basically suppressed, it is still suppressed so that people don’t know anything about it. Watergate, on the other hand, was a minor scandal. The main scandal about the Watergate was that Nixon went after the relatively rich and powerful people.

Nixon/Obama ‘Watergate: a mere cover-up. The extent of Obama’s liberalism: he said Iraq was bad strategy.’

So Watergate was akin to intra-elite fight?

It was a kind of small intra-elite fight that became huge. The Washington Post did a good thing to write about the Watergate scandal, but I can hardly regard it as requiring great courage.

But are family-owned newspapers better in comparison to the corporatisation?

It is hard to choose. Take Rupert Murdoch. He owns a good part of the press. Is that a good thing? What would be a good thing is democratic control.

How do we bring about this democratic control? Do you have in mind community-based ownerships or community-supported media?

Perhaps the period of greatest real press freedom was in the more free societies of Britain and the US in the late 19th century. There was a great variety of newspapers, most often run by the factory workers, ethnic communities and others. There was a lot of popular involvement. These papers reflected a wide variety of opinions, were widely read too. It was the period of greatest vibrancy in the US. There were efforts, especially in England, to control and censor it. These didn’t work. But two things pretty much eliminated them. One, it was possible for the corporate sector to simply put so much capital into their own newspapers that others couldn’t compete. The other factor was advertising; advertiser-reliance. Advertisers are businesses. When newspapers become dependent on advertisers for their income, they are naturally going to bend to the interest of advertisers.

If you look at the New York Times, maybe the world’s greatest newspaper, they have the concept of news hole. What that means is that in the afternoon when they plan for the following day’s newspaper, the first thing they do is to layout where the advertising is going to be, because that’s an important part of a newspaper. You then put the news in the gaps between advertisements. In television there is a concept called content and fill. The content is the advertising, the fill is car chase, the sexy or whatever you put in to try to keep the viewer watching in between the ads. That’s a natural outcome when you have advertiser-reliance.

Of course, these things affect the tenor of the newspaper. Suppose a newspaper started publishing the truth—that the invasion of Iraq was a criminal invasion that destroyed the country. That newspaper or the TV station is not going to get any ads. We, again, come back to Orwell’s point—about an intellectual culture in which elites and great universities are inculcated with the understanding that there are things that just wouldn’t do to say.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet

On Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 4:25 PM, avinash sahay wrote:
Dear Ananya,
What a coincidence. I was about to forward this article to all of you . The message seems to be that we have seen nothing yet. The world is getting wired to the last mile in this global village, and I see a great future for humankind.Prosperity is the birthright of every being and that they shall have.
You must also have read of the 38 year old Governor-elect, Nikki Haley, from Amritsar. I'm glad all of you are getting great education.You must absorb and be great learners. We must not shut out genius by our two pence worth of judgements. Beyond each sky another sky beckons. History has not ended with our present state of knowledge.If we are curious, persistent and humble, we'll rise to heights beyond our wildest imaginations.
This is precisely my wish for you on this auspicious Diwali.

Best regards,
http://poshaning.blogspot.com/On Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 4:25 PM, avinash sahay wrote:
Dear Ananya,
What a coincidence. I was about to forward this article to all of you . The message seems to be that we have seen nothing yet. The world is getting wired to the last mile in this global village, and I see a great future for humankind.Prosperity is the birthright of every being and that they shall have.
You must also have read of the 38 year old Governor-elect, Nikki Haley, from Amritsar. I'm glad all of you are getting great education.You must absorb and be great learners. We must not shut out genius by our two pence worth of judgements. Beyond each sky another sky beckons. History has not ended with our present state of knowledge.If we are curious, persistent and humble, we'll rise to heights beyond our wildest imaginations.
This is precisely my wish for you on this auspicious Diwali.

Best regards,


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Islam Hijacked by Status Quo

Fw: Culture or Criminality

Those more interested in the subject will do well to read the works of Asghar Ali Engineer, in particular the book entitled, Qur'an,Women and Modern Society. This book will make clear how secular and progressive Islam actually is contrary to it's practise which has been completely hijacked by retrogade elements,not only of Islam but of all religions,who are bent upon preserving the status quo which dehumanises not only it's women,but also 90% of the human race.
We must respect all religions because all religions are meant to essentially help us live in peace and brotherhood and in seeking the truth.Alas, the practise is in stark contrast to theory.But, in the final analysis, it all boils down to us. If we are smart and knowledgable,we'll easily resist the dark ideology of the tyrants and live in bliss , harmony and prosperity for all.

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: "avinashk.sahay@gmail.com"
To: asahays@yahoo.com
Sent: Fri, October 29, 2010 2:55:14 PM
Subject: avinash sahay has forwarded a page to you from Deccan Chronicle

Message from Sender:
This article advocates the tremendous benefit that can accrue to society if women were to find their voice in the running of the affairs of the society. Religion and politics have been traditionally misused by men to retain their stronghold over power.It's high time the dispossessed and the oppressed come together in a communitarian spirit to demand a life of dignity, so far denied to them.
To the women of Afghanistan

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 mill
Click here to read more on our site

Know the Light Burning Within You

Fw: There are lights everywhere except in the minds of men....Let us light the Inner lamp this Dipawali

Our brain is a grand receiver of various frequencies from the Ocean of Consciousness that we inhabit. The problem is that we start believing that the various thoughts are us.That's a folly. Thoughts are merely traffic of this grand Ocean.Whereas the real Self, the Charioteer within,lies buried within reams of Maya and false consciousness.
If we will just start with this working hypothesis of ignoring the many thoughts arising in the mind,and fervently wishing that whatever work is on hand we are doing brilliantly with the utmost ease, and which also promotes the common good,we'll start connecting with that great Charioteer within, and then we'll awake to a new life and freedom.Our harsh judgements about people and things in this world is the cause of many of our unhapiness.
There's a saying that if we always do what we are doing, we'll always get what we have been getting.We are all earnest peoples moving heaven and earth for happiness.And, somehow, that peace and happiness always seems to elude us. Friends, that brilliance can only begin with identifying the real bottleneck. Only then we'll be taking that first step.
This is dedicated to our first step on this auspicious Diwali.

Best regards,

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Prof V K Chilana
To: Prof Vipin Chilana
Sent: Thu, November 4, 2010 1:07:56 PM
Subject: There are lights everywhere except in the minds of men....Let us light the Inner lamp this Dipawali!

There are lights everywhere except in the minds of men.......
Let us light the Inner lamp this Dipawali!

Lighting The Inner Lamp

Shri Nath Sahai

The sun rises every morning. It lights up my house, my surroundings – everyone, everything, animate or inanimate. My mind and heart, however, remain clouded by ignorance and doubt. I recollect Herbert Read’s words: “There are lights everywhere except in the minds of men.” And mind is a jungle of cravings, greed and material desires. Diwali, the festival of lights, is a good occasion to re-examine ways to remove darkness from within.
Both Krishna and Rama are central to Diwali celebrations. While Krishna overcomes demon Narakasura, Rama overthrows Ravana. Hence the importance given to Naraka Chaturdasi and the return of Rama to Ayodhya. The celebration with lights symbolises the removal of darkness of ignorance.
During Diwali, diyas or oil lamps are lit inside the house as well as outside. That is, you get illumined from within, and also spread the light of awareness outside, so that one lamp lights another to dispel darkness everywhere. This is in keeping with the philosophy of caring and sharing.
The festival speaks for plurality; it celebrates diversity that is ubiquitous everywhere in the world, reflected in the various traditions and cultures, faiths and beliefs. While in northern parts of India communities celebrate the safe return of Rama to Ayodhya after having dealt successfully with Ravana and his army, signalling the dawn of light and positivity, it is also an occasion to welcome prosperity in the form of Goddess Lakshmi into the house, a sign of the good times ahead. For Sikhs it is the day of return of their sixth Guru Hargovind Ji from captivity; for Jains it is the day of Lord Mahavira’s nirvana; and in Bengal, it is time to adulate Goddess Kali, a manifestation of the Female Principle, Shakti.
The mind is capable of shutting itself in, closing its doors to enlightened living. But by consciously opening the mind, we let in freshness of understanding and the light of wisdom, thereby expanding our horizons and broadening our vision. Light is symbolic of the purity of agni or fire that is essential in our progress towards attaining to enlightenment.
Another symbolic ritual that really refers to cleansing the mind is the tradition of taking dip in the Ganga, washing off past misdeeds and negative thoughts to emerge fresh and receptive to wisdom and knowledge, to nurture fresh hope and make new commitments. While cleaning the external dirt, we need to also remove internal stains as well, for it is believed that Goddess Lakshmi enters only those homes that are clean and illuminated. By discharging the inner dirt that has accumulated with anger, lust and greed we make room for divine attributes that will enhance the quality of life and enable seekers to find the Truth.
We live in a world terrorised by violence and deceit, corruption and cunning, fundamentalism and atrocity. However, it is never too late to exorcise the ghosts of the past and forge a new world of understanding, love and joy, by spreading the light of wisdom from insight and connecting to all with love and gratitude.
“Which else shall beautify a home/ But the flame of a lovely lamp/ Which else shall adorn the mind/ But the light of Wisdom deep,” wrote a poet, and the verse sums up beautifully the spirit of the festival of lamps.

Prosperity for all is a Realizable Dream

New Delhi

Josh Haner/The New York Times
Thomas L. Friedman
The Hindustan Times carried a small news item the other day that, depending on your perspective, is good news or a sign of the apocalypse. It reported that a Nepali telecommunications firm had just started providing third-generation mobile network service, or 3G, at the summit of Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain, to “allow thousands of climbers and trekkers who throng the region every year access to high-speed Internet and video calls using their mobile phones.”

I can hear it already: “Hi, mom! You’ll never guess where I’m calling from ...”

This is just one small node in what is the single most important trend unfolding in the world today: globalization — the distribution of cheap tools of communication and innovation that are wiring together the world’s citizens, governments, businesses, terrorists and now mountaintops — is going to a whole new level. In India alone, some 15 million new cellphone users are being added each month.

Having traveled to both China and India in the last few weeks, here’s a scary thought I have: What if — for all the hype about China, India and globalization — they’re actually underhyped? What if these sleeping giants are just finishing a 20-year process of getting the basic technological and educational infrastructure in place to become innovation hubs and that we haven’t seen anything yet?

Here’s an example of why I ask these questions. It’s a typical Indian start-up I visited in a garage in South Delhi, EKO India Financial Services. Its founders, Abhishek Sinha and his brother Abhinav, began with a small insight — that low-wage Indian migrant workers flocking to Delhi from poorer states like Bihar had no place to put their savings and no secure way to send money home to their families. India has relatively few bank branches for a country its size, so many migrants stuff money in their mattresses or send cash home through traditional “hawala,” or hand-to-hand networks.

The brothers had an idea. In every Indian neighborhood or village there’s usually a mom-and-pop kiosk that sells drinks, cigarettes, candy and a few groceries. Why not turn each one into a virtual bank? So they created a software program whereby a migrant worker in Delhi using his cellphone, and proof of identity, could open a bank account registered on his cellphone text system. Mom-and-pop shopkeepers would act as the friendly neighborhood local banker and do the same.

Then the worker in New Delhi could give a kiosk owner in his slum 1,000 rupees (about $20), the shopkeeper would record it on his phone and text receipt of the deposit to the system’s mother bank, the State Bank of India. Then the worker’s wife back in Bihar could just go to the mom-and-pop kiosk in her village, also tied into the system, and make a withdrawal using her cellphone. The shopkeeper there would give her the 1,000 rupees sent by her husband. Each shopkeeper would earn a small fee from each transaction. Besides money transfers, workers could also use the system to bank their savings.

Since opening 18 months ago, their virtual bank now has 180,000 users doing more than 7,000 transactions a day through 500 “branches” — mom-and-pop kiosks — in Delhi and 200 more in Bihar and Jharkhand, the hometowns of many maids and migrants. EKO gets a tiny commission from the Bank of India for each transaction and two months ago started to turn a small profit.

Abhishek, who was inspired by a similar program in Brazil, said the kiosk owners “are already trusted people in each community” and are already in the habit of extending credit to their poor customers: “So we said, ‘Why not leverage them?’ We are the agents of the bank, and these retailers are our subagents.” The cheapest cellphone today has enough computing power to become a digital “mattress” and digital bank for the poor.

The whole system is being run out of a little house and garage with a dozen employees, a bunch of laptops, servers and the Internet. The core idea, says Abhishek, is “to close the last mile — the gap where government services end and the consumer begins.” There is a huge business in bridging that last mile for millions of poor Indians — who, without it, can’t get proper health care, education or insurance.

What is striking about the small EKO team is that it includes graduates from India’s most prestigious institutes of technology who were working in America but decided to come home for the action, while the chief operating officer — Matteo Chiampo — is an Italian technologist who left a good job in Boston to work here “where the excitement is,” he said.

India today is this unusual combination of a country with millions of people making $2 and $3 a day, but with a growing economy, an increasing amount of cheap connectivity and a rising number of skilled technologists looking to make their fortune by inventing low-cost solutions to every problem you can imagine. In the next decade, I predict, we will see some really disruptive business models coming out of here — to a neighborhood near you. If you thought the rate of change was fast thanks to the garage innovators of Silicon Valley, wait until the garages of Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore get fully up to speed. I sure hope we’re ready.