Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pakistan: Should it celebrate?

Now that the much-awaited elections of Pakistan finally took place and now that the results have clearly positioned ‘democratic’ parties to take power sidelining the much-hated military dictator, Pakistan and its people are in a jubilant mood. ‘Yes, we are once again victorious!’ they celebrate.

But should Pakistan celebrate? Is this change permanent or ephemeral? Will the old habits die so easily?

Pakistan was victorious many a times before in its history. Pakistan, very much like India, is bereft of grand achievements. While Indian media continues to artificially construct achievements for us here, Pakistan’s polity also creates its own achievements that are quite flimsy, which usually shatter within a short period of time at the first whiff of wind called reality.

When the first dictator Ayub Khan came into power in 1958, Pakistanis were victorious too. Pakistanis celebrated it as a victory against unstable democracy that preceded it. And when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto came to absolute power through democracy and started to indulge in some of the most undemocratic ways, Pakistan was victorious once again. It was revenge against the inept military that allowed the humiliating defeat of Pakistan against India (1971) and led to breakup of the country. Pakistan celebrated when Bhutto became an elected dictator.

Later on, when Bhutto was hanged, Pakistan was victorious once again, because General Zia-ul-Haq from the Army had negated the wrongs of the past coming from an elected leader. When Zia-Ul-Haq died in a plane crash after a spell of long Islamic autocratic rule, Pakistan was once again victorious because now they got rid of a wily dictator. When Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto came onto power, Pakistan was victorious once again partly because they were a continuation of experiments with democracy.

But when General Musharraf deposed Nawaz Sharif to install his military regime, Pakistan was victorious once again, because Musharraf’s regime kicked out extremely corrupt democratic leaders, Benazir and Nawaz on charges of blatant corruption.

A good friend of mine, from Pakistan, celebrated when Musharraf came into power. When I asked why Pakistan is welcoming a military ruler, he explained that democratic rulers were really corrupt, and hence they needed a ‘benevolent dictator’ to clean up Pakistan’s system. And he believed Musharraf was the man for the job.

Pakistan has a bad track record of celebrating its victories before the results actually come out.

Another friend of mine, a Pakistani, who was in his teens during 1971 war with India, described his own story of how Pakistanis celebrated their victories. Before the start of this war, owner of a café in a Pakistani city put the total number of Pakistani and Indian planes on a black board, and after each day’s battles he would subtract the number of planes shot down by each side, as reported in their media. Within few days, it was clear that Pakistan was winning every day. India was losing its planes in huge numbers. One day, the total number of planes shot down clearly put India’s numbers in negative, but the war in the air was going on. It was absurd. Something was grossly wrong with those reports. He just erased the whole board that day.

Pakistan was winning all the battles on each day of the war, except the last day, when they lost the whole war in a grand letdown. What followed next was sheer humiliation. They lost East Pakistan, and did not gain an inch in Kashmir. 90,000 of its soldiers were now POW.

Time and again, Pakistanis were left disillusioned. They always celebrated their supposed victories too soon and too early.

Let’s come back to the present

Benazir Bhutto, supposedly one of the leaders of ‘democratic’ parties, has appointed herself the head of her party for a lifetime. When she was killed, a will came out in which she appointed her husband as the leader of the party. Why isn’t anyone finding this funny?

How can a democratic party be a family heritage? How can one appoint oneself its leader for a lifetime? How can she bequeath the power to someone in a will as if it’s her property?

Asif Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, et al, have now come together to defeat and sideline the evil dictator Musharraf. So, in an effort to combat the greater evil in Musharraf, they are ready to ignore the petty differences between them. That’s fine! But then they go overboard. They have dropped all corruption charges against Zardari. Now, is that democracy?

Populist democracy and Constitutional democracy

Many people in Indian sub-continent think elections alone constitute a democracy. They fail to realize that even dictators conducted elections.

They do not realize that elections alone DO NOT have the power to condone genocides, crimes against humanity, murders, corruption cases, plunders, etc.

Indian sub-continent has a funny way of exonerating its criminals. As a criminal, all you have to do is stand for elections. If you get elected, you are automatically pardoned of all crimes. People will say, ‘Look! So many million people cannot be wrong. Accept the results of democracy!’

Nobody stops to bother and ask, do elections alone make a democracy? Is legal recourse subservient to electoral process? Don’t we need a constitution, a legal system, election commission, and other institutions that make it a constitutional democracy?

The reason why Pakistanis keep getting disillusioned is because their fundamentals are wrong. They believe in miracles, quick fixes, and short cuts. They have never spent time to institutionalize democracy.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Indian Feet and National Flag

Sacred Flag

For a long time Indians did NOT have access to their own national flag. There were so many DON’Ts that people didn’t feel free to even wave their own flag. Even after Jindal’s efforts, the flag still remains a sacred symbol. Looking at the number of ‘Insult to National Honor’ cases these days, I feel it’s better to lock it up in some museum and restrict it to hoisting on government buildings. Anything you do can be considered sacrilegious.

Sania Mirza and Indian Flag

Sania Mirza, India’s celebrated tennis player was accused of insulting the national flag, when in a recent photograph she was seen putting her feet up in the background with India’s National Flag in the foreground. It has become common these days to accuse every celebrity of insulting national symbols making the whole charade ridiculous.

First, we don’t even know if those feet were close or far away from that flag. Because it is quite probable that the photographer thought it was a nice shot and hence framed them in the same picture, though apart.

Second, many cultures and societies in the world would not consider propping one’s feet up next to their flag to be an insult. Indians are one of the rarest breeds who have funny notions on how to use their feet. They think that touching someone with feet, showing your feet to someone, or even waving them around is a gross insult.

My books and my feet

I love my books. I am an ardent reader. I read everyday and I buy lots of books. And I hold onto them as if it’s my treasure. I take good care of them. You will see my books in their original condition even after many years though they may have been read many times. I love them and respect them for what they are – source for information and entertainment.

At the same time, I move them around with my feet. If there is a book on the bed, I move it with my feet, nonchalantly, without feeling remorse or guilt.

However, it does not go very well with people around me. They always tell me that I am disrespecting my books. And I get this remark even from people who never read books. Their reading stopped when they graduated from college long ago. Yet, they make it a point to instruct me not to touch books with my feet.

It’s not that they care for the books or what is written in them. They never bother to know its contents or value the contents. Yet, they feel they can tell me what I can or cannot do with them. And my peeve is – ‘who are they to tell me how I should be taking care of my books?’

Books are sacred

For most Indians, books are sacred. What it means is these books will be prayed to, honored and put on the same pedestal where their gods stand. For many, books are incarnate of Goddess Saraswati. Some people believe this so strongly that it also means they are NOT going to question what is written in those books. They learn by rote the contents, to memorize them, to spew forth in one continuous incantation, verbatim. [You can also see why they remain idiots even after reading their books.]

Feet are impure

And also, for most Indians, feet are impure. If you touch something with your feet, you defile that thing. Many Indian habits come out of this belief. Touching one’s feet is showing your obeisance. To throw oneself at the others feet is to convey your subordination and sometimes extreme respect for the other. Many Indians get offended when you touch them with your feet or show your feet to them.

Many in India will do some weird action if they happen to accidentally touch you with their feet. They blurt out a sorry or use their hands to show a sign of praying to ask for forgiveness. I grew up in India, but I found this ritual rather amusing since I was a young boy. Unlike most others, I don’t feel guilty, ashamed, apologetic or embarrassed when I touch my near or dear things with my feet.

I like to use my feet

I find that using my feet gives me more than two limbs to move things around. I am completely comfortable using my feet for various purposes.

Many people find that objectionable, and some of them give me some silly ‘scientific’ explanations- that feet are unclean since you go around in the world, full of shit, waddling through the pile, with your feet. Hence, the impurity!

My feet are usually clean. I never go out of home without wearing shoes even when I go on a short errand. Many a times, I feel that my feet are cleaner than my hands. So, my response was, 'well, since I keep my feet clean, can I touch my books with my feet?' Even after this explanation these people would object to it. They cite more reasons why it should not be done- like, what kind of example I would set; like, certain things should always be sacred no matter what etc. No matter how you explain, the end result is – one should not touch books with feet. It’s a blind belief at the end of the day.

Feet are discussed in mythology too!

According to some Indian mythology, Brahmins came from head of Brahma, Kshatriyas from his torso, Vaishyas from thighs, Shudras from his feet, and untouchables from the soil below the feet. Even in this characterization it was clear why Shudras and Dalits were considered inferior- they have something to do with the feet!

Head is OK, hands are OK, torso is OK, even the penis is prayed to. The breasts of a goddess are prayed to. No mention of assholes, so I don’t know its status. But the feet are NOT OK. They are impure, disgusting, and filthy.

Therefore, Sania propping her feet next to Indian flag is akin to putting impure things next to a sacred thing. Therefore, it’s an insult. No arguments!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Pilgrimage subsidies

AP Government headed by a Christian Chief Minister and a Christian Governor thought it was an act of good faith when it announced a package to sponsor Christians to visit their Holy Land in Israel.

I am not even sure if most Christians of India consider Israel their holy land. But I guess the Indian politicians want to create one for Christians since Muslims have one in Mecca.

So, the Christians and Muslims of India get to go visit their Holy Land in some foreign countries through subsidies. Why is that so important for the government of India?

Is visiting Holy Land a luxury, privilege or a basic necessity?

Hey, my religion says that my holy land is on the Moon. Can the Indian government sponsor my trip to Moon?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Vedic Science Vs Modern Science II

[This follows the first part - Vedic Science Vs Modern Science I.]

Debunking one such Vedic Science

Here’s one such document on the web. It’s called “Modern Science and Vedic Science: An Introduction” by Kenneth Chandler, from Maharishi International University, Fairfield, Iowa, USA.

Most of these attempts are aimed at mimicking scientific documents by using similar style but making no sense. Instead of making it simple and easy to understand, these impostors try to make their arguments complicated and complex so that the reader is lost somewhere in between, to resign himself to accept what the author says. Just because someone uses mathematical equations, it doesn’t make it mathematics. Logic, deduction, rational explanation, and other tools of mathematics are also quite necessary. All these tools are completely ABSENT from this attempt. I have taken some quotes from this Vedic Science.

#1 …and which can be explored not only through objective science but through a new technology of consciousness developed by Maharishi.

There is no such a thing called “technology of consciousness”. Technology and consciousness are two completely different fields with almost no overlap. Using such sentences, the author is trying to make you believe that somehow there is technology involved when there is none.

#2 Many thousands of years ago, the seers of the Himalayas discovered, through exploration of the silent levels of awareness, a unified field where all the laws of nature are found together in a state of wholeness.

There is a state of awareness, but there is no such thing called ‘silent level’ of awareness. Notice the heavy jargon. By using such jargon again and again they like to confuse the reader into believing that it is some serious topic.

#3 This unity of nature was directly experienced to be a self-referral state of consciousness which is unbounded, all-pervading, unchanging, and the self-sufficient source of all existing things.

This is what these pseudo-science people do. They like to invent new words, sentences and terminology. What is ‘self-referral state of consciousness’? Its all hocus pocus and mumbo jumbo packaged in nice words.

More such hocus pocus terminology is given below (4A-4I), you can skip them if you want to:

#4A They experienced and gave expression to the self-interacting dynamics through which this unified field sequentially gives rise to the diversity of all laws of nature. That experience is expressed in the ancient Vedic literature.

#4B The technology for gaining access to the unified field is called the Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field, and the science based on this experience, which links modern science and Vedic Science in a single unified body of knowledge, is called the Science of Creative Intelligence.

#4D They perceived the fine fabric of activity, as Maharishi explains it, through which this unity of pure consciousness, in the process of knowing itself, gives rise sequentially to the diversity of natural law and ultimately to the whole of nature.

#4E The ancient Vedic literature, as Maharishi interprets it, expresses in the sequence of its flow and the structure of its organization, the sequence of the unfoldment of the diversity of all laws of nature out of the unified field of natural law.

#4G Gaining intimate familiarity with the silence of pure consciousness, Maharishi holds, one gains the ability to experience within that silence an eternal "fabric" or "blueprint" of all laws of nature that govern the universe, existing at the unmanifest basis of all existence.

# 4I One of Maharishi's most important contributions to Vedic scholarship has been his discovery of the Apaurusheya Bhashya , the "uncreated commentary" of the Rig Veda , which brings to light the dynamics by which the Veda emerges sequentially from the self-interacting dynamics of consciousness.

In all the above statements, there is a heavy dose of newly constructed jargon, which tends to make people believe that it is indeed something serious, such as science itself. Pseudo-sciences like to pass on themselves as science by using sophisticated terminology. Just by emulating scientific documents and its usage terminology, a pseudo-science cannot become science. However, this tactic seems to go on well with some ‘educated’ folks! Notice how the author keeps repeating the same terms, like, sequential, self-interacting, dynamics, unmanifest, unfoldment, silence, etc? By repeating such terms hundred times, they wish to pass their hocus pocus as truth. Can anyone tell me what ‘unmanifest’ and ‘unfoldment’ means?

#5 The knowledge of this ancient science that Maharishi has brought to light is known as Maharishi's Vedic Science.

Didn’t Vedic science reveal all truths already? If so, how can Mr. Maharishi take credit for it?

#6 Maharishi's Vedic Science is to be understood, first of all, as a reliable method of gaining knowledge, as a science in the most complete sense of the term.

First, you don’t even prove it is science. Second, you ask for faith in this system. Isn’t this how religions are dictated? “First, you believe, then, we reveal the truth?”

#8 Maharishi's work in founding Vedic Science is very much steeped in that ancient tradition, but his work is also very much imbued with the spirit of modern science and shares its commitment to direct experience and empirical testing as the foundation and criteria of all knowledge. For this reason, and other reasons to be considered below, it is also appropriately called a science.

So, we have come to conclusion that it is indeed science, through sheer leap of faith. No scientific argument is provided in the above deduction, but somehow we have arrived at the conclusion that this Maharishi’s work is in fact a science.

#9 This experience was not, Maharishi asserts, on the level of thinking, or theoretical conjecture, or imagination, but on the level of direct experience, which is more vivid, distinct, clear, and orderly than sensory experience„perhaps much in the same way that Newton or Einstein, when they discovered the laws of universal gravitation or special relativity, enjoyed a vivid experience of sudden understanding or a kind of direct "insight" into these laws.

This is where it becomes sheer nonsense. First he says that this method is based on gaining knowledge through “exploration of consciousness”, which we have no clue what it means. Next, he says that this experience is not theoretical or based in imagination, but is direct experience, more orderly, distinct and clear than the sensory experience. I don’t know what more direct experience than a sensory experience is.

Then he goes onto say it is very much similar to what Newton or Einstein went through. ‘Hmm... really?’ The only common element between this hocus-pocus and science is imagination- one is seeped in fantasy while the other is in understanding the universe as perceived by direct senses. While Einstein and Newton may have applied their minds to conjecture and imagination, they actually went back to their notebooks and blackboard to actually prove their conjectures through rigor, which had direct bearing on the observed universe! Their theories were verified hundreds of times and have proven to be standing true to the observed universe.

#11 All knowledge of the Veda is contained implicitly even in the first syllable "Ak" of the Rig Veda , and each subsequent expression of knowledge elaborates the meaning inherent in that packet of knowledge through an expanded commentary.

Hmm... What does this mean really- knowledge is contained implicitly? Is knowledge implicit? Can it be contained in one syllable? What is packet of knowledge? Is there a limit to utter depravity in using sophisticated language? The gobbledygook continues:

#14 Modern experimental science and Maharishi's Medic Science could now be seen as two diverse yet mutually complementary approaches to knowing the same underlying reality - one through the empirical method, the other through the exploration of the least excited state of consciousness.

This is how Vedas dismiss empiricism as an artificial construct of the West. All they need to send rockets into space is ‘excited state of consciousness’!

#15 The unity of nature is not a mere hypothetical unity, nor a unity of intellectual understanding or interpretation. It is a unity of direct experience that has been described in almost every tradition and every historical epoch.

#17 This global influence of coherence generated through the group practice of the Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field has been called the "Maharishi Effect."

And all the references to this technology are made to their own works, which nobody knows other than Maharishi and his sycophants.

Well, you get the point. The whole text is the repetition of the same thing. Using the same previously-undefined words, terminology and new constructs, they keep on harping on achieving one goal: How Vedas reveal the answers concluded from Modern Science and how spirituality and some kind of deep meditation will give you the same answers as Modern Science.

There is no merit to such attempts. Such attempts are pastimes of charlatans, scam artists, and pretenders. There is no science in such attempts. There is a strong and urgent need to discredit such attempts and show them what they are- a sham and a deception. Instead of investing in learning science, inculcating rational outlook and thought, conducting research and experimentation, developing credible and verifiable theories, we are taking a step backward by encouraging such lazy and escapist attempts.

What is worrying is that many academicians, technologists, and elite of India are embracing such attempts. Such supporters are creeping into the bastions of intelligentsia and academia, holding key positions to be an influence on what our kids and future generations will learn.

Related Topics: Vedas and Science, Decline of Science in India II, Astrology Vs Science I, Pseudo-science: Vaastu Shastra, Science and Mythology: Ram Sethu, ABC of Ram Sethu,Rejection of Rationality I: Indian Hindus and the New Age

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Vedic Science Vs Modern Science I

Vedic Science??

Is Vedic Science really science in disguise? Is it some kind of archeological find of something very sophisticated and highly advanced science and technology? Did our ancestors have all answers to our questions? Did we have access to nuclear technology, did they understand atomic physics, and could they cure any disease? Did they fly planes?

Many Indians are enamored with their ancient history. It gives them a hope and confidence which they lack in the modern world. Trying to find some glimmer of achievement, they go back into distant past and find solace in unraveling the mysterious conundrums and cryptic statements from ancient texts. Some so-called scholars, who seem to have monopoly on interpretation of these documents, invest great deal of time and energy to ‘prove’ to us that indeed our ancestors had all the answers – that their science was more advanced than the modern-day Quantum Physics.

Though no remarkable achievement has come from these studies into our ancient books we continue to attribute undue credit to them. No breathtaking scientific theory or a simple contraption that actually works has come out of those studies. Yet, we continue to be enamored of our ancient texts, touting them as alternate science. What is sad is that there is a big school of thought in India, harbored by our intellectuals, scientists and physicists, that continues to cripple our scientific temperament, leading to celebration of blind belief, superstition and irrationality.

One may ask, why so much obsession with these ancient texts? What purpose does it serve?

It actually serves two purposes.

One, it gives most Indians a reason to feel proud of themselves. If West could arrive at the same conclusions using the path of modern science through Age of Enlightenment, toiling in labs and conducting elaborate research, our ancestors have in fact discovered all of them, thousands of years ago, only by meditation under banyan trees and by experiencing it through deep consciousness. This allows Indians to say to the West- “Look we were always ahead of you. And we don’t need your empiricism, rigor, and scientific methods to arrive at the same conclusions. We have our own methods. Our practice of looking at the world spiritually is as relevant as yours, which is based in lowly materialism.”

Second, it gives some Indians a taste of ‘pure Indian’ achievement, in which there is no participation or involvement of Muslims, Christians, and other invading people. It gives them a taste of what they were originally- great and supreme beings that had answers to all the problems of the world before they got corrupted by alien forces. They relish in ‘pure Indian’ discoveries and inventions that preceded all advances made in the West. Now, they can find reasons for Akhand Bharat and Hindutva, and give legitimacy to Aryan supremacy.

Finding more than what Vedas says

Many of these new age Indians are fascinated with their ancient achievements. They try to find meanings and achievements in those places where there are none. If there are no achievements, they want to create them. Trying to read into poems, calling bears and wolves and bosons and fermions, these studies make a mockery of our intelligence. Instead of spending time in developing modern science by spending time in research, they want to sip chai and equate the modern sciences with the poetry of our ancient folks.

I discredit most of these attempts, this fascination with ancient texts, deciphering them, creating new terminologies and concepts to explain them, making fantastic and completely ridiculous analogies to prove them as alternate science. I like Vedas, for what they are- for the mythology with a dose of philosophy. There are many mythological documentaries in each civilization. Mythology and even philosophy of olden days should be read as such.

If one were to analyze “Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien few thousands years from now, this future man may conclude that we actually had Middle Earth, elves, dwarfs, etc, and that we could conjure up the dead and use them as armies, and that some of us were immortal, etc. Such books should be read as mythology or as fiction. Trying to solve the hidden puzzles to come up with theories that indeed we had middle earth would be foolish. That’s exactly what we are doing each time we utter the word ‘Vedic Sciences’.

Vedas are Vedic. Let them be. They are ancient. There is nothing scientific about them. However, we see many trends in modern India which suggest the contrary. There is an attempt to glorify these ancient texts as alternate science. I could go on and take many examples. Instead, I thought I will concentrate on one such attempt and see what merit it carries. [To be continued.]

Related Topics: Vedas and Science, Decline of Science in India II, Astrology Vs Science I, Pseudo-science: Vaastu Shastra, Science and Mythology: Ram Sethu, ABC of Ram Sethu,
Rejection of Rationality I: Indian Hindus and the New Age

Monday, February 11, 2008

Germans teach their kids history

According to this news item:

German students are getting a colourful insight into the darkest chapter in 20th century history, in the form of a graphic novel on the Holocaust.

A far cry from your average history textbook, Die Suche (The Search), uses bold graphics to chronicle the fictional story of Esther, a woman who unearths the truth about her Jewish family which was deported to Auschwitz.

This is what I mean when I say we don’t teach our kids history. We don’t tell our kids what happened in this country – that for thousands of years, certain majority of population was confined to poverty, misery and wretchedness just because they were born into a certain caste. We never own up this thousand-year-long discrimination and persecution that happened in this country.

We don’t discuss the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 where certain people were targeted and butchered because they belonged to an identity. We don’t discuss Partition or its gory details. People come up with various reasons why more than half a million people Indians got killed during Partition – they blame the British, or our leaders, and in some warped logic, Gandhi. Nobody blames the actual reason- the hatred that each of us sow on a daily basis to reap such catastrophes.

Recently, I met a young man who hates Gandhi. When asked why he hates Gandhi, he said, Gandhi divided the country. ‘Gandhi divided this country?’ I asked myself. No person who knows a little bit of history can come to that conclusion. That’s the state of our history – filled with too many myths and misinterpretations.

This news item adds:

“There is definitely a huge knowledge gap among teenagers. Most know about the Third Reich but there are lots of myths, prejudices and misunderstandings.”

We don’t seem to realize the importance of teaching our kids history which details some ignominious pasts. We are not mature enough, even as adults, to handle some of the controversial pasts of our ancestors. We don’t know how to deal with the topics such as caste-based-discrimination in our classrooms discussion. For that matter, we are not even mature to handle sex-education in our classrooms.

This news item concludes:

In Germany, which this week sees the 75th anniversary of Hitler becoming chancellor, many fear that young people are disinterested in or misinformed about this important chapter of history.

Related Posts: To Better India II: Primary Education, Reservations IX: I apologize

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Guide to E=mc^2 Blog II

This follows the Part I. Here’s a guide to this blog in chronological order.

Reservations XIV: Corporate responsibility- mandatory?

I do not see any voluntary action on part of Indian industry. I don’t see a single action from them that suggest they are going to embrace this voluntarily. Indian industry is not even ready to disclose their numbers- on how many backward communities are on their payroll, how many women, how many Muslims, Christians, etc.

Islam vs. Rest of the World IV: Steps to Embrace

Conceding to these demands, which also happen to be the demands of terrorists outfits like Al Qaida, is not tantamount to conceding to the coercion tactics of terrorists. Just because Noam Chomsky asks for statehood to Palestine and Osama Bin Laden also asks for the same does not equate these two individuals.

End of Rickshaws in Kolkata: Should we miss them?

Antara Das seems doesn’t seem to think it is inhuman. She goes nostalgic about it… She thinks ‘sturdy’ men run these rickshaws. This is how Indians rationalize all inhuman acts in India. Soon, another author will write the glory days of cleaners of night soil. She will miss those days when those lower caste kids would plunge themselves into sanitary tubes to clean the mess.

Are Indians creative and original?

…while we are ready to accept a new idea only if it has already been proven to work and is firmly established in some western nation, we never allow any revolutionary idea from our own people… we do not take risks, we sanctify everything, and we say ‘chalta hain’ to everything.

Decline of Science in India I

Science is on the decline in India. There are not many scientists in the making. It is not pursued as a career. It is not pursued by the government and its agencies. It is not pursued by the multinationals and private companies of India.

Decline of Science in India II

By shunning the pursuit of science, we are curbing the free thought, creativity, and the ability to question and reason. By treating our ancient texts as alternate science, we are bringing in sanctity, orthodoxy, to justify ignominious rituals and practices of this country.

Indians and plastics

We have been given the fruits of modern science and technology without having to go through the pains of attaining it. It was first imposed on us, then we just inherited it, and now we borrow it. Technology is not a solace or answer to all our problems. It has its own byproducts which could be distasteful. It all depends on how we use it.

Astrology Vs Science I

The reason why many think it [Astrology] is science is because it deals with stars, constellations, mathematical calculations which are the tools or ingredients of the prevailing sciences… Using goat’s entrails to predict whether it would rain does not make it biology or meteorology. Stopping oneself from entering the street because the cat has crossed your path does not make it zoology.

Sexual Practices in Nature

Understanding nature helps in understanding humans. It helps us in realizing that this nature has all kinds of sexual practices and that our notion of normal sex is just one of many other possible ‘normal’ practices.

Pseudo-science: Vaastu Shastra

The educated people do not like to be seen as gullible people- they never want to admit to themselves or to others that they are gullible. Instead, they like to be seen as those who ‘question’, then ‘verify’, and only then ‘accept’, just like in real science. Such educated people, while growing up, study science as if it is a complicated subject, never actually question what is taught, but accept it as another dogmatic notion.

Peevish Indians

So, please don’t tell us anything negative about us… We get really pissed off when someone does that. We will call you a traitor, an enemy, a fool, and abuse you, and threaten you to shut up. If need be, we will come to your home, raid your works, burn up your paintings, shut down the theatres, and run around the streets with a sense of accomplishment. Yes, we are peevish, and we are proud of it. After all, we are Indians!

PSLV launch: why we need more such symbols

In addition to the real benefits these rocket launches provide, they give us these symbols- of hope, of achievement, and of success. We all need those symbols. If the nation can generate that hope, desire and ambition in its youth, the price we pay for these launches is worth it!

Astrology Vs Science II: Linda Goodman debunked

Is she telling me that I am supposed to correlate myself with a sign that is laid out on the stars and constellations which some primitive man out of boredom called it a ‘balance’ in the night sky? Actually, there is no limit to the number of constellations. There is no reason why it can’t be 1024 constellations instead of just 12.

Guru: Why I didn’t like the movie!

I didn’t like the movie for the message it conveys- Do whatever it takes to succeed, even if it is the corrupt or illegal means. The message is dangerous and it epitomizes the attitudes of the new generation of India- inimical to itself.

Indian Actors

To be an actor in India, you should either be related to someone who is already in acting business or a politician, or be a beauty queen… It looks like Arts is completely hereditary or is related to being a beauty queen. Are we dynastic in nature?

One ‘Area of Improvement’ for India

When one clean his own shit, he will feel responsible for his own shit. He will not blame others when things go bad. To be able to clean shit, he will own up responsibility, he will join politics to clean it up; he will join industry to clean it up. He won’t say- ‘I won’t join politics because it is dirty’. Instead, he will say, ‘it is my shit, I will clean it’.

Why do we drive with high-beam on?

What is it about us that don’t allow us to practice something that makes sense right away? Is government involved here? Is the system wrong here? Are the politicians corrupt here? Is it caste-politics or communalism here? What is it in play here?

Why I am happy that India lost

Losing the only sport on which the entire nation is over-obsessed is not good for the morale of its youth. Except cricket, there’s no other game and no other sport to rely on. Add to that, the Indian cricket team has this amazing proclivity to disappoint most of the times. The supposed heroes fail to perform almost consistently whenever India is in dire need of heroism.

Are Humans vegetarians or meat-eaters?

…to say humans are ‘originally 100% vegetarian’ is patently wrong, because there is no valid case to suggest this. Also, to say humans are completely meat eaters is also wrong, because there is no strong case for this either. Most studies suggest we are omnivorous. We tend to eat what is available.

Narayana Murthy and National Anthem

If you understand the culture that is imbibed in most software-services business in India, you will realize that there is this amazing habit of bending over backwards to accommodate the customers (who happen to be foreign companies). The respect for customers is somehow mixed with respect for foreigners and soon one doesn't know why we are being obsequious to these foreign companies- is it because they are the customers or is it because they are foreigners?

Women in India

The woman is discriminated against, harassed, insulted, berated, and discouraged, by both men and women. By singly focusing on one enemy, that is the man, we are defining the problem statement wrongly. It is not ‘man vs. woman’, it is rather ‘society vs. woman’ and the society consists of both men and women.

Back to ‘Land of Idiots’

This attitude- to fight the battle tooth and nail but to lose the war- is seen in almost every sphere of Indian life. Either it is construction of our new house, or a new road, or a new product, we try to make gains in the near term and lose out on the long term.

Why bash up Hinduism?

Sanctity has reigned for far too long. The attitude of 'Don't criticize, don't question, don't ask, don't insult, don't denigrate' has reigned for far too long. Hinduism has remained on the sacred pedestal for thousands of years and it needs to be brought down from that position to be questioned with reason and rationale.

The Beauty of Hinduism - If there is any

The beauty that I see in Hinduism is not found in the holy books, scriptures, or its mythology. It is not found in Vedic Sciences or Vedic Mathematics, its purported achievements of having built nuclear bombs or an airplane. I do not see beauty in its purported complexity of stanzas, slokas, hierarchies of castes, and detailed description of rituals such as ablution… I think it is found in its simplicity and diversity.

Trying to find beauty in India

That shard of courtesy which they donned in a foreign nation is now completely absent… They brazenly lunge their bodies and luggage into others without apologizing. The lady on the plane speaks over the intercom- ‘Welcome to India! Hope you have a great stay’ and I prefer to read it as ‘Welcome to Land of Idiots! Ugliness starts right here’.

President Drama in India

The worst punishment you can give to a very dynamic and effective individual in India is to make him/her a President. Once he or she becomes a President all action stops… He becomes a rubber stamp, a ‘face’, a mannequin in a window of a big shop. He smiles, shakes hands and throws some clichés in speeches.

Sethusamudram Project

Archeology in the post-colonial world has become more of a propaganda machine than real science. The post-colonial world, waking up after missing the Scientific and Industrial Revolution, has started to posit their own versions of science and technology. It gives them a satisfaction to know that their ancestors were really great- greater than these western scientists who came later in time… These reports and articles are ego-boosters to aggrandize our non-existing achievements, and nothing more!

Bad Parenting- Insensitivity and Indecency

The more I think about it the more I believe that the state of India – and all its ills are due to one single reason- bad parenting. It’s not the population; it’s not the economy; it’s not poverty and its not bad politicians either. I think it is everything to do with bad parenting.

Reservation XV: OBC Issue

To most detractors of reservations, OBC issue is one of those flaws. By making you concede that this system of reservations-based-on-caste is not perfect when it comes to OBC issue, they want to cast a doubt on the entire reservations issue. The detractors of reservations-based-on-caste love the OBC issue the way the creationists love the supposed gaps in the fossil records of humans. This gap alone seems to make a case for creationism in spite of all the evidences which suggest otherwise.

Of Child Doctors and Child CEOs

Many Indian parents nowadays try to see accomplishments and their successes through their kid’s performance and achievements. These parents having reached midlife see a plateau in their career. They now compare their kids with others and feel proud only through the achievements made by their kids.

Atheists - Video
Bad Parenting: Creating Terrorists I

This religious teaching of Islam first starts with complete abandonment of logic and reason. It’s like teaching a kid that Santa Claus visits every home on Christmas night to give presents. How a single person can go to so many homes on a single night traveling on a sled is not something that a kid doubts. Even if he doubts, a reason that Santa is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present would clear up all those doubts.

Spirituality in Hinduism: Video
Shashi Tharoor on MF Husain
Indians and much-sought after achievements

…was a classic case of how India looks at itself – 'We don’t need your Western education, your Modern Sciences, we have our own Heritage, our own Vedas, our own homegrown alternatives which can bring about miracles, much bigger and surprising than those of yours'.

Supreme Court: Wrong precedents

Such precedents, ‘capital punishment to satisfy national conscience’ and ‘conviction based on oral testimony of the victim without any forensic evidence’, cast a doom for judicial system in this country.

India bans ads

Indian audience is really quite immature, and so are the movie makers, the ad makers, and of course the journalists. The list also includes the government leaders, the teachers, the professors and businessmen. Immaturity is no excuse for deepening the ills of our society.

Wrong Heroes

Yes, India desperately needs heroes. Our propped up heroes have failed us consistently. They have gone onto disappoint us all the time. Gandhi, Nehru, et al, of independence time is long gone. We have even punched holes into their personalities to make them more of villains than heroes. So what are we left with? Wrong heroes!

Reservations XVI: Why elite lower castes do not support

This is not very different from elite Blacks in US who do not wish to be seen as ‘those who got help’ from affirmative action. Once you have made it, you don’t want to extend any help to others of your kind with a pure selfish interest – 'not to be seen as incompetent by your peers'. Any such support to such affirmative policies is seen as ‘lack of competence’ by others.

India Curbs Freedom of Expression I

There is always a downside to freedom of expression. It comes with the ability to handle criticism, insults, and ridicules with maturity. It comes with an ability to allow individual creativity, even if it means we all disagree to the products of that creativity. It comes with an ability to allow one to berate, vent their anger, speak against the pillars of authority - government, religion, justice department, state, institutions, etc.

India Curbs Freedom of Expression II

All zealots are alike. All fanatics are alike. All sympathizers of such fanaticism are alike. All those Hindus who denounce M F Husain’s paintings and those who justify his persecution are no different than all those Muslims who attack and denounce Taslima Nasrin and her works.

Reservations XVII: Bad Jokes

I am not sure why people keep floating such stories. They are not even amusing to start with. It actually shows their true nature which is quite disturbing.