Thursday, June 21, 2007
What does president of
The point is that nobody in this country would knew her just 2 weeks back and suddenly she is in limelight and has already put her foot in her mouth by commenting about veil and how it was enforced on women during Muslim rule. So she needs to get her history and PR right, and the moment there was limelight on her, she came out with controversial statement also! Why not choose Abdul Kalam for another term! He is popular, one of greatest Indians, is apolitical, is tremendoulsy knowledgeable and importantly has by and far topped all the media polls for popular choice as president! If we are a democracy then why not give second term to a highly popular president even if it is just for namesake! Why to elect a little known person just because she happens to be a pliable woman close to a certain family.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
I think these days everybody is in good humor, or how else would you respond to this news that "
Now call it clash of civilizations or whatever and enough has been said and written on it. But what these guys protesting over Rushdie do not perhaps understand that countries like UK are free, tolerant , liberal societies where an individual enjoys rights and freedom of speech and opportunities which most of people in countries like Pakistan, Iran etc. can only dream of. These countries also dont persecute people based on religion as much as other supposedly slef-righteous countries do. I will give an example from my own experience. Couple of years back when I was working in UK, on one of lazy Sunday afternoons I happened to be in city square in Birmingham where about 3 dozens Muslim (quite visible form skull caps and beards) protestors were gathered to protest against I don’t remember exactly what. There were half a dozen Policemen watching the whole proceeding from distance and a thin crowd of curious onlookers mostly made up of weekend shoppers. One of the protestors, on stage was lecturing and bemoaning the persecution of Muslims in
Monday, June 18, 2007
Just been involved in IT a bit more than I usually. A usual topic of discussion these days among guys who keep abreast with technology is about Web2.0. People keep asking what it means to us and how our company (I don’t mean place where I work, but generally) can use Web 2.0. Web2.0 could be a larger discussion and simply put it is another milestone in Internet's evolution from a simple network of interlinked pages to whatever it is going to become in future, but what lots of us fail to understand, specially in IT companies, is that web 2.0 is also about a mind shift. It is democratization of information, more participation; everybody is welcome kind of thing. Ok may be not. That’s a separate discussion. But, essentially it is about tools which have reduced entry level barriers to internet and IT for those who know or care nothing about PHP, Java etc. I mean take blogging for example. Even grandma can blog and have her recipes shared on internet. How easy has it become really. And imagine what it can do (not blogging but open approach) industries which rely so heavily on knowledge and know hows of its people. Call centers, IT companies to name a few.
But try telling this to traditional thinking, control freaks at work who talk about knowledge management and take the management part bit more seriously than the knowledge they seek to manage. They would not understand. They seek to control knowledge as this is what gives them power they can wield. What does Web 2.0 means for enterprises where bosses communicate to employees through emails which are written by them and sent to their secretaries for forward to employees, as if they never heard of thing call mailing list!! Can any employee be open to approach his boss who communicates to him through email sent by his/her secretary! And anyway, email is so heavily misused. I mean how many times have you got important documents, newer versions of processes, templates, resumes, umpteen numbers of communication delivered through email! And then you would have scoured through your mail box to find them when needed. I have seen departments launching portals with fan fare, portals where all you find is some crap about what department does, as if nobody working there knew what it did anyway! And then there would be flurry of congratulation mails and some people would be happy and portal would be forgotten. It is ironical but most of IT companies which earn their bread and butter by claiming to have skills in solving their clients’s information management problems, can not manage their own information and knowledge which keeps getting scattered all around employee mail boxes and lost soon enough in cyber black hole. IT companies are slowest when it comes to adopting the technology they preach their customers. One can argue that it is about putting heads to job and for internal work that is a problem, problem of who is going to foot the bill. But I think it is more about poor leadership and lack of understanding that little investment in their own IT systems can give them huge benefits, even impacting their bottom line. And then it is also about making fewer managers and lessening barrier to information. How many companies have simple system where they can go and check what were new projects in what domain in what department when they were on bench and looking for suitable projects. This simple information would be locked in couple of guys heads and you need to chase them to get these million dollar information. It is about controlling information. That’s what power is about and unless that changes Web 2.0 is a nice topic for discussion among bunch of people who like to be addressed as architects and not engineers as if being engineer was a lesser thing to do.
But before we understand that or change ourselves, we need to get used to emails a bit more. I mean if you can type your email then surely you know how to send it too unless it makes you feel powerful and important. Web 2.0 till then can wait and grandmas can share some recipes even as some people in bar camps ponder over what humanity would become because of blogging. But that’s for later.
These are my personal views which I dreamt last night and have no connection with my profession.
Friday, June 15, 2007
9.45am: Have to fill my timesheets for week today. Have to log timesheets in 3 different systems. Same information , three sytems, three different passwords, 10 differnt codes, for three different set of people to look. I do it on two systems successfully and feel good.
10.30am: Enough of seeing JS and HTML errors, I quit firefox , open my IE browser and remember that IE wasn't working for quite few days and anyway I dont like IE that much. Employer's policy is to use IE. I log trouble ticket to get IE fixed on my system. Ticket 2.
10:45 am: I see my mails and find 2 mails from guys claiming to report to me and asking me to create thier goal records. I login in to another system with another password and find out that I dont see them in my records in that system. I am confused. I call them. They tell me I am thier supervisor as per another system. I check that another system and find out that it is indeed true. I am confused. Which system is right. I raise another trouble ticket. Ticket 3.
11.30 am: I get mail for trouble ticket 1, saying it is fixed. I check it, it doesn't work. I call up the guy. He checks something and tells me there is perhaps problem updating database. I reopen ticket 1.
11.45 am: I have to download this software I want to evaluate, from internet. Site is blocked. I am confused. It is a tech site run by a freelancer!! His name is adam so his site is adambalahblah.something. Adam==eve==Sex. Proxy doesn't like it (!!). I raise ticket to download the software. Ticket 4.
12:30 pm: I am irritated. I need a break.
1.30 pm: I check my mail. I have a mail. Ticket 3 is fixed. There is system A and there is System B. System A has same information , system B has same information. Both exist for two differrent departments. You update A, B has to be updated You update B, A has to be updated . Manually. Sometime we miss it. So we create tickets.
2-6pm: Meetings, meetings and calls. 2 min work takes 30 min. Tickets open and tickets close.
6:30pm: Time to go home. Big traffic jam. BMC is digging road to replace underground wires. This is for 10th time in as many months. Same road, different holes. 20 people working on it for weeks. 10 dig with primitive instruments, 5 carry the soil and dump and and rest 5, well they rest.
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Recently around 140 countries agreed to make October 2 as international day of non violence to respect Mahatma Gandhi and his philosophy of non violence. In his own home country though, what we have witnessed last week was not only shameful shameful but also made a mockery of rule of law. Gujjars, who are some sort of caste and tribe in Rajasthan, went on massive protestation throughout the north India to demand them being categorized as Schedule Tribe (ST), so that they could get benefits of reservation in education and jobs meant for other lower castes listed as SC and ST. If we ignore violence which these men resorted to, I find it funny that there are people who so vehemently want to be categorized as lower caste tribe. Talk about upward mobility here! I am always perplexed by staggering number of castes and sub castes we have and how we keep sticking to them instead of making such archaic ideas redundant. I don’t know if Gujjars deserve to be listed as ST and given benefits of reservation or not, but what really stands out from the whole episode is the utmost disregard these men showed to public property and other citizens who had nothing to do with Gujjars getting into ST list. Crowds of these men went on rampage, blocking highways for days, burning, looting and destroying public property at will. Many of high valued machinery used for
How stupid it all sounds. Gujjars were demanding listing in ST category and Meenas (another one of 10 million castes) who are already in ST bracket started opposing it fearing that thier benefits from reservation would be diluted if Gujjars were also to be listed as ST and we
How stupid it all sounds. Gujjars were demanding listing in ST category and Meenas (another one of 10 million castes) who are already in ST bracket started opposing it fearing that thier benefits from reservation would be diluted if Gujjars were also to be listed as ST and wealmost had a caste war between Gujjars and Meenas. What will be next! Would it start a race where someone would be trying to prove that they are more backward than the others and others would fight back saying that only they are backward! So utterly ridiculous. A social problem, instead of being socially mended has been hijacked by politicians and lines of divisions are being further accentuated. May be it is not right to blame just the politicians alone as the fact is that we don’t have leaders in this country anymore, we just have men who are doing business of politics, otherwise so called leaders of Gujjars would have known that they can only lead their community into next century by making it aware of education and opportunities beyond few government jobs which they want to get through reservations. But regardless, all those who indulged in senseless violence and destroyed public property should be caught and put in jails.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Ambedkar, the first dalit leader of modern
The mass conversion of dalits and tribals can perhaps be termed as political stunt by certain dalit politicians of Maharashtra but it is important to see it from another perspective which is that of emergence and assertiveness of dalits as political force in
Sunday, May 27, 2007
On a recent visit to Delhi, I noticed every taxi and autorickshaw displaying "athiti Devo Bhava" sticker. "Guest is like God" goes the ancient indian time honoured custom but like many of our culture's lofty traditions , this one also remains but a phantom from the past. It means nothing. It is one thing to force (by ministry of tourism) taxis and autos to use these stickers on thier vehicles, but what happens in reality is a starkly different story. Delhi's taxi and autowallahs represents to a large extent what Delhi is about. These guys are rude, unfriendly, foul mouthed and have scant respect or regard for any rule. They blatantly refuse to take pessengers, overcharge them almost everytime and never use electronic meters. Their meters are always broken. You have to haggle with them about rates if they agree to take you to your destination depending upon their mood. And this is regardless of wheather you are a native of city or an outsider. In fact if you are a tourist and insist on using the meter and meter starts working miraculously, be assured that you will be driven all around the city even if your destination was few streets away. Even in case of prepaid taxis, it is not unusual for driver to demand a tip from passenger as if by driving safely he has done a great service to the passenger. The old "bakshish" syndrome in a new avatar. One can imagine what foreigner tourists must go through in Delhi. Their travails start very much at airport when they are swarmed by dozens of touts.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
To our surprise and to consternation of one of guys, who hates dogs with same intensity as dogs hate him, we were suddenly joined by two uninvited dogs who became our guides on their own will. They jumped, pranced and climbed the rocky terrain with ease, surefootedness and grace which only they are capable . Only the professional trekker between us could give them any semblance of competition. Later we were to find out that these two dogs are constant on this trek. They live in the Khireshwar village and accompany trekkers who come from outside, taking the cue from back packs they carry. They never accompany local villagers. Undoubtedly, we had a great time with these two animal friends and I would personally any day prefer a friendly and understanding dog trekker guide than a serious, boring human guide. Atleast dogs can be cajoled into resting by inciting them with little scratching under their neck.
The first halt was at Tolar Khind, where rocky but shady paths ends and steepest climb on a virtually vertical rock face starts. This is most interesting and enjoyable part of entire trek. The view after reaching the peak is breathtaking and one is tempted to shout for no apparent reason to hear the echo from surrounding hills. A little inane fun doesn’t do any harm I guess. Trek through the Harishchandra Kalsubai wildlife sanctuary is rather easy but enjoyable. The spectacle on reaching Harishchandreshwar is awesome with old temple ruins and caves carved in mountains suddenly becoming visible. Imagine, many thousand years back, some people climbed these hills and built temples and caves and lived there to meditate and seek Gods. I preferred to stop there for a while and soak in the ambience of the place as others went on onto scale Taramati peak to test their endurance and fitness. The place has its origin around 6th century with caves built around 11th century. The temple, dedicated to lord shiva is beautiful. I don’t understand architecture but I like those intricate sculptures on the ancient temples. They tell you a story if you are willing to listen. And you can feel the people who built them there many thousands of years ago. The caves are etched in the rock face on Taramati hills and like any other historical place in
From Harishchandreshwar, we walked to the Konkan Kada, a breathtakingly beautiful place and a nice culmination of trek. Konkan kada is a sheer rocky cliff, vertical and concave in shape overlooking Konkan region. Rock climbers must get a adrenaline rush from it. As I read on wikipedia about it "it is an overhang, almost like a cobra's hood. It has been climbed twice so far". We spent some time here and soon decided to start the trek back to Khireshwar as afternoon soon was beating down heavily and rocks were getting mercilessly hotter. On way back, I parted away from the group, something which professional trekkers never do and I am not one. The trek back to village was wonderful. It gave me some time alone with my own thoughts, to feel the heat, the silence and wildness of the place and to get into a rhythm I enjoy the most during treks. Rythem is essence of life, like music, like working, walking. I had run out of water and was dehydrated but the rhythm got me going. There is a strange satisfaction one gets when one is pitted against elements. It is then that you find the hidden strength and resolve from within you. Nothing has ever tasted as good as water I drank when I reached the village. Priceless Moments.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Corrupt System: The fact that there is something rotten with our judicial system is hardly a secret. Poor who can't afford lawyers for themselves, keep lodged in jails for years for petty crimes, as their court cases keep piled up for years, waiting to he heard. Rich who do wrong "by mistake" easily buy their way out of legal system. Witnesses turn hostiles, or are bought, important evidences can be misplaced and entire case weakened. ”At almost every point where citizens are governed, at every transaction where they are noted, registered, taxed, stamped, licensed, authorized or assessed, the impressions of being open for negotiation is given" Pratap Bhanu Mehta, India's political scientist has noted in his book "The burden of democracy". We can easily include the whole machinery of justice dispensing in this list of "open for negotiations" label. In a city where majority of police force is over worked and under paid, and where bribe and hafta have become almost a legitimate source of income for policemen, it wouldn't be very difficult for a rich man to buy few policemen to weaken the case by deliberately ignoring vital evidences. Investigations could easily be made perfunctory and persecution could be slack as perhaps happened in Pereira’s case also. Why is it that some cases involving rich are put on so called "fast tracks" when other poor accused keep languishing in jails for years awaiting their cases to be heard, is a question which needed to be asked. Do we have different yardsticks for poor and rich when dispensing justice! Must it be that every case where rich and privileged are involved, justice can only be safeguarded and ensured when there is constant media attention and public outcry! Is it now required for public to constantly do a Rang de Basanti! May be yes, the reason is that corruption is not rotting the system, but it has become a system itself. Most of us from middle class who work in private sector and live their life mostly outside the sphere of governmental controls are not affected by corruption but that is not true for most of Indians who are at mercy of "the System".
Is Judiciary also to be blamed: In case of Alistair Pereira, fingers can be pointed at the judiciary as well. The judge convicted Pereira, of rash and negligent driving and handed him over just 6 months of prison. Was it of no significance that his "rash driving" had killed 7 people? Judge said that chemical analysis report mentioned alcohol levels in blood of the accused but no witness was produced to prove that accused had consumed alcohol! Wasn't the report itself proof enough that Alistair was driving under the influence of alcohol! RTO inspector had testified that car didn't have any mechanical failure and judge himself noted that if a car as sturdy as Toyota corolla had suffered such extensive damage where its engine was ejected due to impact, then it must have been driven at very high speed! Pereira was also accused of acquiring forged papers to obtain license when he as just 15 years old. People who were killed were not walking on the road but were sleeping in their huts along the pavement. Is punishment for driving drunk and rash and killing 7 people, mere 6 months? I don’t understand law in its nitty gritty, but the judgment defies the common sense and logic. This is a travesty of law and justice.
Media Trials: While speaking to DNA after the verdict, Pereira did not express any remorse about what he had done and almost blamed media for his 6 months prison term. "I will have to go in for six months, all thanks to the media." He said. It has been debated for quite a while that there has been a rise in cases where accused are tried by media and public and opinions are made about guilt even before cases are deliberated by court of law. This is obviously a wrong course for law and justice. Accused is innocent unless proven guilty, but the way so called justice seems to be dispensed when it comes to rich and mighty, it is quite easy to understand why media has to take up the cudgels and why punlic at large feels cheated. In Jessica Lall case, the accused was almost but hanged by public opinion and media outcry. Ram Jethmalani, one of topmost criminal lawyers of country fought his case in high court and was highly critical of media's role in the entire case. His point was that it is only law which can decide whether a person is guilty of a crime or not, not the media. But his arguments stood on tenuous ground by the very fact that he almost ended up showing how well this law functions and how law has been hijacked by black coats who use every trick possible to win a case. Where is the truth! Who fights for truth! Truth it seems can easily be fabricated by arguments. See what Pereira's lawyer told to the media after the verdict:
Pereira’s lawyers feel that the six-month imprisonment is too harsh and have decided to appeal against the order in the Bombay High Court. “He is a 21-year-old boy and an accident like this could have happened to anyone,” Majula Rao, his lead lawyer, told reporters.
Bollywood movies for all of their flaws, can be taken as indictor of reflection of our society. In decades of 80 and 90s it was a common theme in various movies where hero of the movie had to take law in his own hands and deliver the justice himself because courtrooms couldn't do that or justice was compromised by scheming lawyers and compromising Police. The images still linger on.
Justice for laborers :Are we going to see "Justice for poor laborers" campaign as we saw it for "justice for Jessica Lall"?. Hardly seem likely but I would be pleasantly surprised if it happens. Jessica Lall had her family fighting for her justice. In present case, poor and perhaps illiterate families of killed laborers were most likely already brought for few thousands of rupees. "Jo hona tha ho gaya, ye sab to unke karm the" They must have said. As for Pereira, his family would stand by him as he is a nice guy and whatever happened was just a mistake. "He is a nice guy, a gem of a person." Some of his neighbors have said in media. Unbelievable, but we do seem to have this logic where if a person is good and perceived as nice guy, we are tempted to pardon him for "mistake". Even if that mistake had caused death of 7 innocent people! As for family, family always stands behind you regardless how severe your crime be. In great epic of Mahabharata, King Dhritrashtra knew that his son Duryodhna was wrong and had caused the battle by insulting wife of his brother, but he opted to be silent.bk_keywords:India books, The burden of Democracy
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
(Source: IPCC and The Economist)
(Cartoon Courtsey: Monsing)
What Can an Individual Do About Global Warming
Individual Action about Global warming
Monday, April 9, 2007
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Monday, April 2, 2007
An old debate of implementing sex education in Indian schools has raised its head again with couple of state government banning sex education in schools even before it could be implemented. We Indian have a strange connection to this topic of sex. On one hand we have produced masterpiece like Kamasutra, on other hand, we squirm in our seats at the very mention of word sex. The debate as such is not new and has been happening for quite sometime even in liberal western countries where topic of sex is not a taboo and where sex education has been implemented for quite sometime. Even after that, they have had their own problems with teen pregnancies and unwed young mothers and this is something we need to learn from. On the contrary, in our Indian society, which is largely conservative, we tend to take a very moralistic and idealistic approach even though we know that we hardly live in ideal conditions and that man by nature is fallible. As always, the solution could be somewhere in middle, but for that to happen there needs to be a healthy open minded discussion based on facts and reality and not on just moral and high sounding cultural arguments and preconcieved notions which are are set in distant past. We can not teach kids in school that go have sex and produce babies but we can not keep pretending that they think that it is really about birds and bees and that babies fall from sky. In the whole debate on whether sex education in Indian schools is needed or not, there are couple of arguments which are extremely annoying. Those who vehemently argue against implementing sex education in schools usually say that:
- It is against Indian culture
- We need to implement yoga education and not sex education.
1. My reservation against first argument is that it is a big debate killer. The moment we don't want to confront a subject or even want to talk about it, we hurriedly term it as against Indian culture and want everybody to keep quite. It could be anything. It could be a movie showing an ugly slice from our past or it could be a festival celebrated by young couples. And nobody, I mean really nobody can perhaps substantiate what this Indian culture is, especially those who use it at drop of their hat. Has this so called Indian culture documented anywhere, engraved anywhere? Is this Indian culture a solidified object which has not changed since it was created, whenever it was created! What is the starting point of this culture? 5000 year back or 100 years back? Has this culture not changed since then! I believe that culture is like a flowing river and not like a pond where water stagnates and starts stinking. If there is anything which is part of Indian culture, it is that we are argumentative. We induge in arguments, we question, reason and try to understand things. This is how our ancestors were able to create some magnificent piece of philosophical literature many thousands of years back. Why do we now don’t deal with the questions just because they are little uncomfortable to our sensibilities? Is khajurao not part of Indian culture! Is kamasutra not part of Indian culture? If Indian culture is about beating young couples who are merely holding hands in public, if it is about vandalizing shops which are selling cards and flowers because young couple wants to buy them, if it is about honor killings where daughters are killed by their own fathers in full view and support of village because they married guys from lower or other caste, if it is about dowry killings, if it is about wanting to have sons and killing unborn daughters, if it is about a being piously hypocritical, if it is about trying to be a saint and not being a human, if it is about being poor yogi sitting in Himalya then I will happily say that I would prefer to be a westerner.
Friday, March 30, 2007
For first time in 36 years, Mumbai (read south Mumbai) may be subjected to scheduled power cuts. BEST general manager said that BEST would ask all the cinema halls in south Mumbai to cancel their noon shows to beat the power crisis. He said that "it won't make any difference if people don’t watch movies in the afternoon". What an absurd argument. I understand that there is power shortage and some power saving measures is need of the day. But what I find absurd is the way BEST manager is asking consumers to save the power. He doesn't show any concern or remorse that consumers would be affected by shortage in power and is almost insinuating as if watching movies on afternoon is a sort of frivolous activity which can be done without, almost as if watching noon shows is causing power shortage and by discontinuing these shows we can save power. If we have to extend the logic, we might as well say it won’t make any difference if we don’t use our TV sets during the day, stop using air conditioning, just use fans, and open shopping malls only during day. Some one might suggest that this would be good since it would make us free from our dependence on various machines gadgets and devices. It will be in keeping with Indian culture which has always encouraged frugality. BTW, how much power can we save my stopping noon movie shows!! Phenomenal? Or is it mere symbolic! I suggest that everybody voluntarily switch off lights in their house by 10 pm and sleep. After all, it will “not make any difference” .
One might say I am harping on power cuts in Mumbai when for most of rural Maharashtra, power cuts are way of life and has been like than for a long time. Unlike Mumbai which had power distribution in private sector, rural Maharastra is at mercy of government controlled MSEB and has been reeling under long hours of power cuts for many years now. So it was only inevitable that citizens of Mumbai also face the heat .Untill 1992, Maharashtra was a power surplus state and was selling power to other states. After Enron debacle, the state government lost the plot entirely and power situation since then has been deteriorating. What was government doing and thinking all this while! The problem is not that we are suddenly consuming more power; problem is that we are not producing enough power. Problem is with inadequate planning. When you are growing as fast as 8-10% annually and when you are dreaming of becoming a superpower, you would know that you would need power. Industries need power, cities need power, agriculture needs power, and economy needs power. It can not happen that we suddenly wake up one day and find that there is a shortfall of 4000MW of power. The power deficit has been increasing every year and state Governments hardly did anything other than distributing power free of cost to framers who are anyway finding it hard not to take their own lives. Today state of
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
I was watching Australia South-Africa Group world cup match the other day.
No doubt, the way we lost was shameful, but it was coming nonetheless. We just had to cut the media hype before the cup to see that. Media in
Also, we must be the only people in world who would invoke God to beseech him to let us win the cup. How many Yagnas and sarpdosha yagans were performed before the cup! If Gods really did played their part in sports, then we would have been world champions in every sport, considering how religious we are and how many varied gods we have. And we share this trait of invoking God in sports with Pakistanis, proving that two people are not really different. Pakistanis always say that "It was Allah's will and grace" when they win the game but don’t say same when the lose it. Before team was to travel to West Indies, most of channels ran programs where "leading" astrologers and tarot card readers were invited and were asked to predict the fate of team. These chaps did some crystal gazing and most of them predicted that team
Then the great Indian cricket fan is so emotional and fickle minded Same batsmen who couldn’t move the bat against Bangladesh, become heroes all over again when they butchered poor , first timers like Bermuda, Bermuda which is country of 60,000 people and whose cricket team is made up of amateurs like doctors and school teachers. Why do these fans think that we lost because our players are more concerned about advertisement money than the game! Because money is bad!!. Money is sinful!!. Just because players are earning more money they should be made to feel guilty about it. May be it is true that cricket players in India are spoilt with the money and once they become stars, they start behaving more like movie stars than sport stars. May be our fielding is bad because these stars think it is beneath them to slide on the ground to stop couple of runs. May be. But I think the real reason is that we are week in mind. We are not aggressive and competitive. We don’t understand that sport is all about competitiveness and about winning. Sport is about skills and fitness. Sport is about testing. It is about testing the real men. It is about testing physical endurance. It is about testing the belief and courage. It is about rising to occasion. Whoever told us that it is more important to participate than to win was merely consoling. Obviously we can not win every time, but when we start thinking that we can’t win every time, we certainly legitimize possibility of losing in our minds. This is why current team of
Friday, March 23, 2007
A Bollywood actress participated in a
Raj Thackeray is not alone in this kind of divisive politics and he is merely following on footsteps of his mentor, Bal Thackeray who has made a political career by promoting “Maharashtra for Maharashtrians" brand of politics. Shiv Sena first captured power by running a hate campaign against South Indians in Bombay, then they targeted migrants from UP and now it is turn of Biharis who are everybody’s favorite whipping boys as is happening in Assam also where ULFA kills poor Bihari migrants at will. I wonder why Raj Thackeray’s statement against Biharis is not same as what Fascists said about Jews. Does it not amount to racism and hate campaign, of spreading hatred and fear against another set of human beings! Then why is that we made such a big noise about Shilpa Shetty being racially targeted when we are targeting our own people in our own country! But that perhaps is quite understandable since we don’t like others to behave with us the way we behave with our own people. I mean, is caste system not the biggest institutionalized mechanism of discriminating against people anywhere in the world! We accuse white skinned of being racist against dark skinned people like us, even when we would prefer half of our population to be of fair skinned (look at Indian matrimonials). And we know how easy travelers from Africa find their stay in
I believe that fundamentally all of us are racist. And without exception perhaps. Only degree of basis on which we chose to discriminate varies. Racism is only one form (though more sinister perhaps) of inter social group conflict. Social groups, which could be based on language (as Marathi, German), religion (Hindu, Muslim) , culture (French, British) or territory.
Social Groups and Conflict: To understand genesis of racism better, we have to look closely at inter social group conflicts. One way of looking at these conflicts is to look at them from biological and evolutionary point of view as Desmond Morris had done in his superb book called "The Naked Ape”. We know that, we humans started our civilization as Apes, a kind of animal species. When we evolved from fruit eating apes into flesh eating hunter apes, we suddenly had to fight with other predator animals that were much more advanced in their hunting skills. Only way we human apes could compete with those hunter animals and survive was to stay and hunt in tighter groups. We depended upon the group for safety and food, the two vital things required for survival. We also became territorial because as co-operative social hunters we had to create base or a territory which could mark the group as a separate unit (most of hunter animals are territorial, like lions). We also had to defend the region of fixed base or the territory and because of our co-operative social nature we had to do it on group basis than individually. Also prolonged dependency of our young (children) for survival and rearing, forced us to adopt pair bonded family units within the fixed social group, where a male member of family defends his own individual home within a large home base or social group. So a family became the fundamental unit within a territorial social group. Hence, from biological point of view, it is in our genes to form social groups and defend them (territories). Cultural, political, social and many such changes which have happened after our ancient days of social-cooperative group hunters have not necessarily curbed our inherent instincts of belonging to a social group and defending it. And what have also not changed are the inter-social group conflicts. Hunt now is hunt for resources and jobs, and modern man has various overlapping social group identities. We have not changed that way since our ancient days. We must need to believe in something and we must need to belong to a group which we must defend against other social groups or perceived or real threats. Due to incredible improvements in healthcare and scientific advancemans over last century, a gross over crowding and migration of our species is happening which is leading to social stresses, tensions and inter social group conflicts. From Tribal systems which are still found in some countries like
Nation State, above other social groups: Desmond Morris says that one way of reducing the inter-social group conflict is to "de-patriotize" the group, break the cohesion of a group. But this goes against our genetic need of belonging to a tribe, a group. If relationships are broken in one way, they must be formed somewhere else. In this view, concept of a secular democratic nation state is interesting one. Even more so in Indians context where we have such an amazing array of diversity in terms of languages, religions and customs, not to mention the castes. In a secular democracy like ours, a nation state is thought of as most important social group and all other social group identities which a citizen of nation-state might have are seen as lower and subservient to identity as citizen of nation state. This includes linguistic as well as religious identities. Even though state lets an individual has his/her social affiliations, state practically ignores them when dealing with the individual, at least in principal, as is also enshrined in our constitution. A citizen of Indian nation state has fundamental right to live and work in any part of the country regardless of whether he is from Bihar or from