Monday, December 31, 2007

Benazir II

I want to address some of the objections raised in my previous article, Benazir Bhutto, Victim of Home Grown Terror!

One commenter writes:

You seem to have a custom-made lens on your eyes. Anything happens anywhere in the universe you do not forget to see a lesson for "hindus" through your lens. One makkhi kills some macchhar and you would not forget to mention a lesson for how hindus could learn from the incident.

Yes, I would like to see if we can learn from those incidents because they are very relevant to our future. For far too long, we have stopped learning from examples already set in history. Our myopia never allowed us to think far into future to know how our actions would affect us. And we have not read our histories to learn from them but only to pass the next exam. We chose to ignore episodes from our contemporary history that sound distasteful to us (1984 riots, Kashmir struggle, IPKF involvement, etc). We have created an image for ourselves that we are so superior that all our actions, including those which are seeped in hatred, will entail the best results.

These commenters love it when I criticize Pakistan and their policies, because they see it as criticism of ‘Islamic’ nation, which according to them rightly deserves criticism. However, they disagree with my final paragraph where I talk about ‘Lessons for India’. They detest such lessons for them because they don’t like to be equated with ‘Islamic terrorism and extremism’.

So, to rubbish my ‘Lessons’, they propose the following:

There is nothing called Hindu terrorism.

Just like Modi, who keeps repeating that there is no such a thing called Hindu terrorists, this guy wants to rule out the possibility of Hindu terrorism FOREVER. Most Hindus have started to develop a theory that Hinduism, by its innate nature, does not create terrorists. Even if Hindus do get involved in such ‘terror’ activities, it’s only a ‘natural reaction’ to fight ‘Islamic terrorism’ engulfing them. [Or they do not brandish their religion while killing people (ex. LTTE).]

It’s very easy to argue that every act of terrorism on this planet is a ‘natural reaction’ to an action that preceded it, and thus going back all the way, we can only blame Adam and Eve for all terrorist activities. This way the present generations can shirk all accountability

All terrorism (Hindu, Muslim, Casteists / Reservationists or Blog insinuationists) in all its forms should be condemned EQUALLY.

This guy wants me to concede that people who support reservations in India are also terrorists. And those who write blogs, the way I do, are also terrorists. They want me to equate myself with Islamic and Hindu terrorism that is engulfing India now.

And to sound just and fair, they throw in the word – ‘EQUALLY’. So, if you put 20 Hindu arsonists in jail for certain action, you should also put 20 Muslims, 20 reservations supporters, and 20 bloggers in jail to ensure ‘EQUALITY’.

The basis for a lot of your articles here is hatred (or your so called "concern") for hindus and right-wing (whatever that is).

If educated Indians are good at something, I began to believe, it is sophistry. Playing with words! In another discussion, one author argues that fighting ‘hatred’ is morally equivalent to ‘hatred’ itself and therefore should be equally repudiated since fighting ‘hatred’ involves ‘hating hatred’.

Say, an observer in USA writes: ‘If George Bush invades Iraq, tens of thousands of innocents will die’. Is that statement a ‘threat’ or a ‘word of caution’? The commenters here take my ‘words of caution’ for ‘words of threat’ and then come to a conclusion that it will lead to ‘terrorism’.

I get to hear such convoluted logic all the time. Here, the commenter equates my ‘concern’ with ‘hatred’ and then equates ‘hatred’ to ‘terrorism’ to get the final result- this blog will eventually lead to ‘terrorism’. What gets missed in the whole scheme is that the very basis of this blog is fight terrorism and all forms of violence by using dialog, discussion, and bold actions, instead of resorting to propping up one terrorist organization to fight another.

The core idea of these commenters is to obfuscate, confuse, use specious logic to dismiss my arguments. Lessons will never get learned that way.

Related Posts: Benazir Bhutto, Victim of Home Grown Terror!, Lessons from Pakistan

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Benazir Bhutto, Victim of Home Grown Terror!

Yesterday, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in the city of Rawalpindi in Pakistan. It is very sad news. Very sad and very unfortunate! Pakistan is seeing the effects of fomenting and fostering terror against its neighbors. It has come back to hit them in their own belly.

Pakistan is good example of what goes wrong when a nation identifies itself on the theme of ‘hatred’.

From the beginning, Pakistan has identified itself on ‘anti-India’ stand which incorporates ‘anti’ as its core element. For many years, this element of ‘anti-India’ was handled at the state level, involving the secret services, the army and the administration. It had not involved the general population. But after 1971, when Pakistan lost the war decisively against India, and after Pokhran of 1974, Pakistan had to drop its carefully manufactured illusion that it could take on India in a conventional war. Using a previous half-successful experiment of 1965, the new warfare for future was designed to use incursion tactics (which resulted in Kargil, once again a failure). Meanwhile, another experiment was underway. USA had used Pakistan as a platform to fund mujahideen to kick out Soviet Union. That also led to Pakistan creating an apparatus of Islamization in the background to have an influence in Afghanistan even after the Soviets left. That led to Taliban in power.

This experiment of using religious fervor and extremism, which again had some precedents in the past, was also fueled to use against India. Religious extremists were fawned upon as heroes who would win back Kashmir from India. Many experiments were created to ‘bleed India’. Pakistan saw an opportunity to do a ‘Bangladesh’ against India when Indian Punjab flared up. That experiment failed too. Then came another opportunity in Kashmir when Indian government messed up its long standing equation of keeping peace in the valley. That unconventional war of attrition and bleeding worked well. For a long time, it looked like it was succeeding. The dual advantage was clear- Islamic radicals can torment and control both Afghanistan issue and Indian issue.

This led to a massive operationalization of madrasas which will create these radical elements. These are the soldiers who would be created on one theme only – hatred. Their hatred will be so much that they will not stop till they kill or die. Their hatred was focused on achieving two goals- the control in Afghanistan, and getting back Kashmir from India.

For a while, it looked like their strategy worked. There was an all round celebration; and congratulations were abound. India was bleeding and the situation in Kashmir was getting ‘internationalized’. Afghanistan was duly ‘under control’ through a puppet regime.

Post 9/11, USA toppled Taliban in Afghanistan and roped in Pakistan as a friend and mate to check the problem of ‘terror’. Now, Pakistan couldn’t do what it was doing anymore in Afghanistan with heavy US presence there. On the Indian side too, it was not working out anymore. Massive Indian Army in the valley kept a check on the infiltration. Also, after Kargil debacle, Pakistan could not think of another covert war with India. It had to ensure the trickling of infiltrators was kept to a minimum.

What do you do with all the pent up hatred?

It imploded.

Pakistan is now reeling itself under consequences of their failed experiments. There are thousands of religious extremists who are trained to kill or die. And they will do that no matter what, if not against India or in Afghanistan, then in Pakistan. Benazir seems to one of the victims.

Lessons for India:

The glee and the celebration amongst Indian Hindus that its Hindutva forces are winning is momentary. It’s ephemeral. Soon, the same guns will be targeted back at us, all of us, including the very Hindus who are celebrating now, and soon these pent up forces, built on hatred, will seek an outlet. That usually involves killing and dying. Unfortunately!

Related Posts: Benazir II, Lessons from Pakistan

Monday, December 24, 2007

When majority is not right

Many Indian Hindus hail the victory of Narendra Modi for putting together a Hindu brigade to fight the evil Muslims who are terrorizing this country.

5.5 Crore Gujaratis cannot be wrong. - writes one commenter.

The fact that Gujarat has voted Modi back to power with overwhelming majority is a clear sign that he cannot be wrong. If so many people voted him back, naturally he is not wrong, isn’t it? If he is wrong, why would people vote him back?  Many Indians do not understand democracy. They think an electoral vote will decide everything. If a majority in a nation votes to put the minority to death, is that right?  

Take Rwanda, for example, Hutus (the majority) felt it was OK to kill Tutsi (the minority) and that ended up in genocide where nearly million people died within 100 days. Can we say, ‘few millions of Hutus cannot be wrong?’  Take Serbia, for example, if majority Serbians felt it was OK to kill minority Kosovans, does that make it right?

If Hindus of India vote as a majority for exterminating Muslims of India does that make it right? Is majority right in these cases? How do we deal with it when certain majority wants to discriminate, prosecute, traumatize, terrorize, marginalize, kill, or exterminate a certain minority?  That’s why we have constitution and judicial system to safe guard rights of humans even when they are marginalized, even when they are a minority, even when they are pushed to a corner. We need to take legal recourse no matter how emotional or sentimental an issue is. And that’s NOT what happened in Gujarat.

What is wrong about Gujarat?

What’s gone wrong in Gujarat is very simple. (I am not sure why many Indian Hindus are not able to see this.)  A state or an individual in an official capacity cannot abet, support or participate in targeted killings of certain people based on their identity, no matter what. Such actions cannot be condoned, tolerated or excused, no matter what.  When an Islamic militant blows up a train, he is considered a criminal. When is caught, he is put in jail. He is not allowed to walk scot-free. He is not hailed as a hero and voted to power. So, when a Hindu political leader does something illegal, he should be arrested, prosecuted and put in jail. He should not be allowed to walk scot-free, and definitely he should not be allowed to hold power.

India going fascist

Educated and elite Indian Hindus have started to engage in a rationalization exercise to excuse Modi’s actions saying that what he did was indeed right, as clearly seen by his electoral wins.
Democracy does not mean majority prevails all the time. It means it prevails as long as you stick to legal methods as provisioned by Indian Constitution and legal code. When you subvert them, even your electoral wins have to be trashed to uphold the law of the land.  Indian Hindus have gone blind in their hatred for Muslims. So much so that, they are not only ready to excuse Modi of his culpability, they are ready to hail him as their leader.  And that’s when I start fearing the trends and ask myself- How long before we become completely fascist?

Rejection of Rationality V: Vegetarianism

[This is the fifth part in a series. The first four are at Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV.]

The minor trace of vegetarianism embraced by few people of the West is celebrated by Hindus as vindication of their longstanding habit of vegetarianism. Indian Hindus quickly quip, “We have always been vegetarian for a long time now, and you have come around in full circle to embrace it!”

Though this rejection of meat-eating may show certain similarity between the behaviors of the West and the Indian Hindus, there are two big differences. One, this phenomenon is a fringe movement in the West, where only certain people of yuppie crowd have renounced mean to embrace vegetarianism it as a fashion or a lifestyle, while in India there are millions who have never tasted meat in their entire life. There is no other country on the planet where there is such huge population of complete vegetarians. Most of the world is invariably meat eaters. Two, the underlying reasons for practicing vegetarianism are completely different. I will be discussing the second difference here.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

First they came for…

First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left
to speak up for me.

[Time magazine on August 28, 1989]

The Indian version of the story is:

First they came for the Sikhs, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Sikh.
Then they came for the Muslims, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Muslim.
Then they came for the Christians, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Christian.
Then they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Liberal Hindus, and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a conservative Hindu.
Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left
to speak up for me.

Here’s what one of the perpetrators of Gujarat killings has to say.[Bhatt] [emphasis mine]

… pick up AK-56s because if you have to develop Hinduism, it is clear who the enemies are… There are two who are against Hinduism… Muslims, who are open… but the Christians… they are like a bacterial virus … and there’s a third, the Communists, who are developing now… red waale… If you have to fight them, you need power and that power will not come from the lathi… only the bullet will do… we go to RSS shakhas … pick up the lathi and use it… All that is fine but now they should be replaced with AKs and a Hindu brigade should be formed…

Sad day for India

Today, Narendra Modi and his BJP party have won the elections in Gujarat, once again. Evidently, I am sad. It is not a good sign for India. This election has only confirmed some of my worst beliefs, that India is reeling itself towards creating a fascist society.

Why did Modi win?

In a nation which only puts up dishonest and corrupt leaders who are blatantly hypocrite, a murderer and a criminal who is honest comes out as a winner.

Congress or Left of India holds no moral authority over BJP. Their accusations sound hollow bereft of honesty. These parties don’t know what it takes to set an example to gain a moral high ground. Indian people clearly see through their charade of taking a high moral ground without having done anything in that direction. When these parties accuse Narendra Modi or his goons as ‘merchants of death’, they do not back it up with evidences nor do they follow it up with action. India has missed the opportunity to use one of the best revealing stories in Indian journalism.  History will not condone us for this.

The opposition lacks moral authority

Yes, Modi allowed the carnage that followed Godhra train incident where Muslims were selectively chosen, rounded up an killed, while the administration and its machinery, stood by, abetted and participated in that carnage.

What did Congress do after Indira Gandhi’s assassination? Its leaders went to the street in New Delhi, rounded up Sikhs and burnt them alive, where thousands lost their life, just because they belonged to an identity. And Rajiv Gandhi purportedly reacted, rather coldly, “When a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it does shake a little...”

After those killings, a commission and its report which looked into those calculated-and-methodical killings was rubbished and completely ignored by the Congress. A book that detailed those riots was banned forever.  Even recently Congress has not acted on Sri Krishna Commission Report which looked into riots that followed Babri Masjid episode where thousands of Muslims were killed.  Indian Left has no stance of its own on such issues, and when it gets a chance to make a stand, it does a Nandigram, riddled with hypocrisies only an Indian politician can conjure up. 

When the nation cannot bring honest leaders to the front, the criminals, thieves and goons who confess their crimes openly in front of millions are lauded and hailed as strong and honest over the weak and corrupt leaders who are blatantly dishonest.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Homicide in Louisiana

Lot of tragedies keep happening on a daily basis- People get shot, people get killed in an accident, many bad things happen to good people. We keep hearing news of such bad things happening to ‘other’ people. They always happen to ‘other’ people. It doesn’t happen to us.

What happens when it happens to one of us?

Yesterday, a very close friend of my family, Chandrasekhar Reddy Komma, was shot and killed in Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge (USA). He went for a quick visit to his friend Kiran Kumar Allam. During that time, it looks like few guys entered the apartment of Kiran Kumar Allam. Exact details are not known but looks like there was some struggle. Chandrasekhar was found shot dead with one bullet in his head (along with Kiran). Chandrasekhar was strangled with computer cable before he was shot.

Chandrasekhar, known to us as Bujji, is a very close and dear friend of my brother. They studied together at LSU in Baton Rouge and they visit each other’s families on a regular basis. Bujji is a good friend to all of us including my parents. Bujji’s sense of comedy is unique and he can split you in laughter with his most amazing banter. I came back from my recent visit to Louisiana where we spent good time with Bujji to tell my wife that he has one of the most wonderful ‘sense of humor’ – he keeps cracking you up all the time.

He was on the verge of finishing up his PhD and was looking forward to many new things. He got married recently. And just few days ago, he bought a new car so that he can go around with his new wife. My brother was looking forward to their more visits .

Gun Culture in USA

Of late, we have been hearing many shooting incidents from US. The main reason, though some people do not admit it, is the easy access to firearms.

The USA qualifies as one of the weirdest countries on the planet when it comes to their second amendment of their constitution. This has been the most controversial amendment in their constitution and most retrograde. No other country in the developed world has similar attitude or laws towards owning and operating firearms.

So many killings have happened, so many shootings, snipers using their weapons to shoot innocent people from far away, students killing their mates in their schools and so many other crimes, and yet US continues to keep this controversial amendment going on because of a very strong and rich gun lobby.

Today, we are all sad, deep in grief. My brother and my family are not able to reconcile to this news – we have so many memories with Bujji. And yet, I write here on this blog. I am outraged, at how much this country is ready to endure, how many more people it is ready to sacrifice before they mature up, and stop their gun culture.

Links: [1], [2], [3], [4]

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Great Indian Culture

Indians are the greatest. Indian culture is the greatest. While our ancestors were writing Vedas, flying planes, creating atomic theories that can build nuclear weapons, and using monkey armies to build bridges, the Westerners were dwelling in caves, hunting and scavenging.

Indians are not only the greatest. We are superior too. Our race is superior. We descended from Aryans, a perfect and pure race, where people are fair (and white).

We are the best in everything. Our Vedas are incomparable. There is no text written which can equal Vedas, our Ramayana or Mahabharatha. Our science is advanced, more advanced than the Western Science (also called Modern Science). In fact, our science is holistic. It takes into account the harmonies between the man and the nature, looking at them as one single wave, connected; a disturbance here will cause a ripple there. Hence, a benign planet hovering silently across the space is not just idle, it is disturbing the cosmic patterns affecting individuals, selectively choosing them by the time they were born and the place they were born. Each of those planet remembers where each human is born and when he is born and then accordingly does complex mathematical calculations to come up with various scenarios to affect his life. It decides his destiny, as to when he will get married, how many kids he will have, what kind of love life he will have, whether he will be bold or meek, good or bad, on whether he will have lots of money or not. It also decides what kind of marks he will get in an exam. It may even decide that you will fail the exam. But of course, if your chant a shlok to Goddess Saraswati, that planet will change those destinies and give your better results. Ah, those wily planets!

So, how great are we?

[I will be quoting from Meera Nanda’s article “India in the world: how we see ourselves. All quotations are from her article]

The Pew poll asked people in 47 countries if they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: “our people are not perfect, but our culture is superior to others.”

Indians topped the list, with a whopping 93 per cent agreeing that our culture was superior to others, with 64 per cent agreeing completely, without any reservations.

And what is this Great Indian Culture?

For some it is spirituality, for some it is our morals, for some it is great Indian family values, for some it is our religion. For some it is our traditions, rituals and customs (called Sampradaya). All in all it is called Bharat Sanskruti (Great Indian Culture).

So, let us look at our Great Indian Culture a little closely.

Indians are spiritual. It only means they are less materialistic (unlike those in the West). Hence, they go to spiritual gurus and donate money so that they can wash off their sins to go back to making more money. These spiritual gurus travel in swanky cars, own private planes, and wear really thick gold chains, and preach spirituality.

Indians are highly moral. Morality in India is everything to do with sex. Morality has nothing to do corruption, cheating, bribes, or dowries. Sex is bad. Hand-holding is bad. Discussing sex is bad. Kissing is bad. Indian families look down upon sex (though they happen to make so many babies). But then they sit as a whole family in front of a TV to watch soft porn on a daily basis. Body gyrations, pelvic thrusts, and other sexual innuendos are all lapped up. Newspapers like TOI bombard them with nude women on a daily basis. But sex is bad. And Indians are highly moral.

Indian morality also includes non-alcoholism and vegetarianism. Drinking alcohol is bad, in all forms and shapes. Those who do not drink alcohol look down upon those who drink with utmost contempt. Vegetarians look down upon non-vegetarians as killers and murders of poor animals. Of all the animals on the planet, cow is the greatest. We are like cows, bovine, peaceful, lazy, walking around on the roads, idling away our time.

Indians have great customs and traditions. They include widow burning, untouchability, dowry deaths. They will go to any extent to defend their customs. They also come up with many rituals and practices that result in ill-treatment of lower castes, women, and people of other religions. They take pride in celebration of the womanhood. They have goddesses unlike some Abrahamic religions whose gods are all men. But again, they don’t like it when they get a girl child, they would like to abort it.

Indian customs also include doing everything the way stars and planets tell them. Complex Vaastu Shastra tells you that if your plot is in the shape of a turtle then you are going do die. Therefore, one takes pains never to carve a plot in the shape of a turtle. Also, there is an obsession with a direction. Some directions are good for you and some are bad (And nobody dares to ask why, but would spend millions to correct it).

India has great family values. It means the kids will listen to the parents all through their lives without protest. Even if it means the son has to burn his wife. When he burns her up, he fulfills the grand old Indian tradition of always following the orders of one’s parents. Great Indian family means suppression of individual creativity and freedom forever.

And we are proud of this culture.

Usually people would assume that a culture so vibrant and superior will easily be taken up by others (who are currently practicing inferior culture). One would assume that it would very easy to sell this culture to others (since it is so superior in every respect). One would assume that this culture will be secure and fearless (because it is so superior in every respect).

However –

The strange thing is that for a people who think so highly of our own culture, we are terribly insecure. A startling 92 per cent of Indians — almost exactly the same proportion who think we are the best — think that “our way of life needs to be protected against foreign influences.”

One starts wondering, if our culture is so great, does it need that much protection from foreign influences. What do they fear here? Who do they fear here? Do they think the young Indian lot and the uneducated lot cannot value this great Indian culture and hence will easily get tempted by other influences?

If it is indeed so great, why the insecurity?

That’s when you have to wake up and realize that it is nothing to with our strength. Our perceived greatness is actually our weakness. We have an unnecessary and completely unrealistic grand opinion of ourselves – a sense of greatness which is completely hollow – an artificial construct so delicate it will burst like a bubble created from soap water, a castle made of pack of cards which will crumble with a small gust of wind.

Our greatness is translation of our innate inferiority. We have a hunch that we are inferior. And this is a major cover up to hide that inferiority.

Xenophobic and racist Indians

I wish this survey (cited by Meera Nanda) had done some studies on racist attitudes, because I am quite sure we would top that list too. I am quite sure that we will turn out to be the most bigoted and racist people on the planet. We are already the most discriminatory people on the planet, capable of discriminating people based on color of the skin, caste of a person, religion, ethnicity, language, gender, which high school you went, which kindergarten you attended, what accent you speak, etc.

We also happen to be highly xenophobic. Does that come as a surprise?

Indeed, we feel so embattled that 84 per cent of us want to restrict entry of people into the country.

We don’t want Bangladeshis. We don’t want Black people (they face outrageously blatant discrimination, starting from airport to all walks of life and our record of treatment of Black people in Africa is notorious). We don’t want ‘Chinese-looking’ people (Mizos and Manipuris, though Indian, face constant discrimination and ridicule in a city like Bangalore). We don’t want Pakistanis (they are found only in Indian jails).

Our racist attitudes take the form of our caste hierarchy. We see ourselves superior to the neighboring Muslim nations, all Black people, all Mongoloid races, but somehow see ourselves lower than all White people.

The only reason why Sonia Gandhi is the most powerful person in India is because Rajiv Gandhi married a White Italian woman. If he had married a Vietnamese or a Black woman, we would have booted her out of the politics the minute Rajiv got killed.

Related Posts: Vedas and Science, Astrology Vs Science I, Pseudo-science: Vaastu Shastra, Indian Media and Adult Content

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Why Indians think Religion and Science are the same?

In many discussions, it comes out clear that many educated Indians believe Religion and Science to be the same. According to them they are two sides of the same coin. They think that Science is not much different from Religion; Science and Religion are equally dogmatic; Adherents of Science and adherents of Religion both believe they are on the right path while continuing to believe the other party is on the wrong path. They believe that Science starts with the premise that it is right, not very different from basis of a Religion. These Indians find Science ‘dogmatic and unyielding’, resolute in promoting its belief systems, trying to convert people into its ‘faith’. Just like Religion.

And most Hindu Indians believe their religion is on par with Modern Science in explaining the workings of the Universe and sometimes is even better than Modern Science. While Modern Science fails to answer some of the metaphysical questions, Hinduism comes right in to dispel away all the doubts.

Many learned and senior Hindus talk about Hinduism as if it is a Science or as if it is a ‘meta-Science’. They say, ‘Well, not only does Hinduism include all the topics covered by your Modern Science, it also explains many things which your Modern Science does not’.

They talk about spirituality, they talk about cosmic energies, they talk about some chakras in our bodies, they talk about harmony with nature, balance between mind and body, and so on. And to aid them all, Hinduism provides tools like Astrology, Numerology, Vaastu Chastra, and Ayurveda. Many Indians continue to believe that these tools are actually tools of Modern Science. In case the West does not use it in its conventional practices, it’s only because they are dumb. Our ancestors were always wise. [Deepak Chopra, et al, is now educating the West of the superior Indian tools].

According to these well educated people, Science continues to fail in many respects. It is completely vague, not sure of itself, always shifting its stand on explaining various issues. For example, Science believed that Universe was static, and then it believed it was expanding, and then for a while it didn’t know whether it was contracting. Science didn’t know if the age of Universe was 8 billion years or 20 billion years and each new discovery keeps changing that date. Also, Scientists are never sure when Man came into existence – was it 200,000 years ago, or a 1.25 million years ago? According to them, the different dates that Science throws at them on creation of Universe, creation of life, creation of man, etc, are as ludicrous, ambiguous and inconsistent as the dates thrown at us by Religion. Why should one believe one over the other?

Also, Science does not explain so many miracles, which are integral part of this Universe. For example, a person got cured of Cancer when one Baba touched him with a stone. Can you explain that? A person fell from three storied building chanting name of Shree Ram and he was completely unhurt. Can you explain that? I read Hanuman Chalisa 80 times before I went to write my exam, and I got exactly 80 marks in that exam. Can you explain that? Sai baba brings objects into existence out of thin air, like an egg from his mouth, and fire in his hands, etc. Of course, magicians do all that, but that is magic. When Sai Baba does it, it is a miracle. How do I know that? Because, first, Sai Baba clearly says that it is not magic and that it is a miracle. And why would he lie? Second, everyone who saw the event clearly said it was not magic and that it was a miracle. Why would so many people lie?

The list goes on.

But there is a fundamental reason why most Indians think Religion and Science are the same and that there is not much difference between the two. And I think the answers lies in the way Science is taught in India.

Indians are taught their lessons not through discourse, not through investigation, not through empiricism, but as a dogma, where a set of beliefs are shoved down your throat, unquestioned, just like the way a religion is taught. Indians learn their subjects by rote, by heart, and then reproduce them verbatim in their exams - word to word. It is as important to reproduce their texts in Indian education as it is in Religion.

Just look at the way History is taught in India. It is always a collection of facts, dates, and names. Nobody knows why it is important to know that Battle of Panipat happened in 1526. There is no background, no premise, no context, and no analysis. Nobody discusses the events or writes about significance of those events.

Science is taught the same way. Nobody knows why F=ma. It is so, because Newton said so. Why do we have volcanoes? It is so because the textbook said so. Why do planets revolve around the sun? The teacher says, ‘Because I said so’. Not very different from how religions treat such curious questions, saying ‘Because Bible says so’. No discussion, no debate, no explanation, no reasoning, no construction of argument, Period.

Look at my Law of Indian Idiocy I (Knowledge depletes with each generation). The teachers berate the kids when they ask questions. They forbid the kids from asking questions. They shut their curiosities saying ‘I said so’.

A kid has to mug up Science and its formulae the way he mugs up Sanskrit Poems. He doesn’t understand either of them. Such mugging up activities are done to pass the exam, go to the next level, win the fist rank. A parent whose kid scores first rank is happy – he doesn’t care or bother to know if the kid really understands the subject. As far Indian education is concerned it is happy as long as the kid is a good Xerox copy machine with Terabytes of memory. They don’t need an intelligent and thinking machine.

Given such education for fifty years in this country, what you get is globetrotting, suit-wearing, English speaking, elite-educated Indians who have not imbibed the scientific or rational temperament but who can spew forth all the words and sentences useful to give one a successful job, career and lot of money.

Education in India is not to impart rational thinking or induce scientific temperament or to induce universal laws or inculcate a mature discussion capability. It is not to make law-abiding citizens or better humans. It is treated as a cumbersome but necessary exercise that one has to go through to earn more in life, get material goods, buy homes, get a good career, buy cars, travel world (nowadays), showoff and feel happy about.

No wonder Indians completely lack scientific temperament, even those who attend top colleges in the world, even those who do their PhD in Physics, even those who launch rockets into space, even those who do research in medicine. When they go back home, after finishing their ‘job’, which is done only to go the next level in social and economic hierarchy, they go back to their gods, their blind beliefs and their superstitions. They go back to the safe abode of secure irrationality where once again Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter become real. The Hanuman and the monkeys who build bridges become real. Where Shri Ram is not just real, but is hyper-real. Where Physics is not just enough, one needs meta-physics to explain things. That’s where Indians continue to find their Hinduism superior to Modern Science.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Hypocrisy comes easy to those who believe they are morally upright

We see many people who are blatantly hypocrite. While most of us (observers) seem to notice this in them, these people are somehow oblivious to it. They continue to flaunt their hypocrisy without shame or embarrassment showing no signs of remorse or guilt.

For example, USA, while continuing to discard the Kyoto Protocol, coerces India and few other countries to reduce their carbon emissions. Again, USA, while continuing to stockpile huge number of nuclear weapons dictates other countries, and sometimes goes to war against other countries, who aspire to build nuclear weapons. India, while continuing to support independent movements against colonial powers and supporting assertion of sovereignty and freedom in many international forums, goes on to suppress all freedom movements within its borders.

Many tax-evaders in India, while continuing to blatantly evade taxes, using corrupt and illegal means where necessary, flaunt their other virtues, which happen to be daily prayers, non-alcoholism and vegetarianism, thus holding a morally upright position in the society.

Hindutva groups of India do not believe they are being hypocrite when they extend protection to Taslima, who has allegedly ‘hurt Muslim sentiments’, but then they go onto ransack and kick out MF Husain for allegedly ‘hurting Hindu sentiments’.

Indian Left in Bengal does not think it is being a hypocrite when they throw goons to rough up and beat up the opponents to promote their industrial and development projects, while they continue to fight similar projects in other parts of India.

These people who are blatantly hypocrite do not see themselves as such because they are usually supported by a very strong sense of moral uprightness coming from other virtues.

Narendra Modi has no qualms when he says he has killed the ‘terrorist’ in his state using illegal methods of encounter. He is actually on the ‘morally right side’ when he says that because there are many Hindus and Indians who believe it is OK to kill someone using illegal methods to save the nation! This message is conveyed again and again by many Indian movies where the protagonist (called Hero) takes up illegal methods to kill the bad guy (called villain) [Famous example being Rang De Basanti]. The message - to kill someone who is deemed harmful to the nation using illegal methods is heroic - is a virtue that Narendra Modi is holding onto here.

Tax-shirkers, there are many of them in India, are not ashamed of evading taxes. They have no compunctions about paying bribes to escape conviction. The message that our government is corrupt and that the politicians eat up our hard-earned money (paid as taxes) has been conveyed in so many ways that it is has now become a virtue to avoid paying taxes to this government. Hence you don’t see remorse or guilt in these tax-evaders.

If there is any trace of guilt of wrongdoing while conducting his business using illicit methods, he erases that off by constantly praying to a goddess, donating paltry amounts to the temple nearby, and fasting on a day in week; and if he thinks he is sinning more fleecing other people or cheating people too many times, he will turn into a teetotaler to appease the gods.

There is a research here which suggests that ‘Ethical people become worst cheats’.

People’s sense of moral superiority might lead them to rationalize bad behavior, turning them into cheats. In fact, some of the best do-gooders can become the worst cheats.

For example, somebody could rationalize cheating on a test as a way of achieving their dream of becoming a doctor and helping people.

When the line between right and wrong is ambiguous among people who think of themselves as having high moral standards, the do-gooders can become the worst of cheaters.

“The principle we uncovered is that when faced with a moral decision, those with a strong moral identity choose their fate (for good or for bad) and then the moral identity drives them to pursue that fate to the extreme,” said researcher. “So it makes sense that this principle would help explain what makes the greatest of saints and the foulest of hypocrites.

Why would a person who thinks of himself as honest cheat? The researchers suggest an “ethical person” could view cheating as an OK thing to do, justifying the act as a means to a moral end.

As Reynolds put it: “If I cheat, then I’ll get into graduate school, and if I get into graduate school, then I can become a doctor and think about all the people I’m going to help when I’m a doctor.”

I like to stay away from people who tend to talk morals. According to me, morals are relative, subjective and tend to change with time and place.