Blind Choices..

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Last night, I saw this image and the colour red got to me like a bullet piercing right into my heart.
The child you see was not crying for an ice-cream, an expensive toy, or over a sibling fight.

Developed powers are trying to win a race without looking at what’s happening behind.
Or maybe they are and this is what they want; victory must look like blood and tears to them,
Shining like stars in the night-sky, without having any more little fingers pointing towards them.

There are humans in some random global corners crying over pictures from Syria,
But mind you, it is not the over-exploited word ‘genocide’, the victims are not from a specific community like Rohingyas.

We may sometimes not like a neighbour because of who he is born as; as if it was his choice!
It is a legacy that comes easiest to a human, without doing anything to wear the badge of honour.

How good or bad a power is, depends on who talks about it, someone who has the time and medium to do so.
Because a suicidal farmer, a poor mother, a starving child or a Dalit rape victim don’t talk…
They suffer!

Humans fear, fear leads to religion, religion creates a divide, the divide is to rule and rules are policies.
The world has countries, countries have borders, borders need security, security means weapons, weapons is money and money is power.

We discuss politics not to find solutions but to prove ourselves right,
If only we knew the context in which the word ‘right’ should be used, and who should it be used for!

We are curious to see who takes pride in singing our national anthem at a cinema hall,
Without bothering if the pride being sung goes to trash with every empty bucket of popcorn.

As long as it’s done by the stronger, the whiter, the saffron, the celebrities.. crime is OK!
Cos humans, you see, think war is a solution. Solution to a problem that was purposely created.

We choose, we choose people at the top just like we choose to close our eyes
Eyes that can filter the news it wants to read and the colour it wants to see.

Why is the right power merging with the darkness failing our sight?

Is the proof of victory in silent suffering?

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New Girl in the City

‘Khaman’ was how Gujarat was introduced to me, before I knew where it was on the political map of India. This popular Gujarati snack justifies the taste of Gujarat, ‘khatta-meetha’. Needless to mention, Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel also played their significant roles in my formative years.

My roots and relatives are from western Uttar Pradesh but I was brought up in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand (yes it was the northern and better part of UP, thankfully only tillthe year 2000). There are  diverse reasons for which I dislike UP as a state, as a culture. The biggest yet non-progressive state boasts of casteism, patriarchy, illiteracy, crime, no infrastructure, corrupt authorities, open sewers and closed minds. My ancestors said and I do believe them that we are Brahmins. Most Brahmins are extremely proud of their caste and used to looking down upon others. Whether it has any bearing on their political choices or not, I can’t recall a single government in UP that made sense. I loved the Ganges, mountains, winters and the fusion of adventure and spirituality in Rishikesh yet I wanted to move out of North India. In all likelihood for better career prospects and growth, a new perspective, self-reliance or something more in life.

One not-so-fine day in 2007, I was searching for a topic to write about for a college magazine article. While reading and watching news, I heard a sting audio clip from Gujarat riots. It was a telephonic conversation where the executor was describing to his senior how he cut across the womb of a heavily pregnant woman with his sword. To my utter disgust, there was a monstrous pride and content in his voice. Pride, an emotion that led to the ‘Gaurav Yatra’. I decided to research and write about incidents of communal violence in India and that audio stuck with me forever, so did Gujarat Riots. At that time, khakhra, dhokla, Narendra Modi, Zahira Sheikh, Hindu-Muslim, Sabarmati, Babri, Sohrabuddin were the new words in my Gujarati dictionary. It was 2012 when I was in a distance relationship with a man from Gujarat and was confused about our future in 2013. These two were also decisive years for the socio-political shape of India. A part of every state, other than Gujarat, was screaming for ‘change’. Gujarat was rather cheer leading its then CM for PM candidacy. There wasn’t just one but millions of proud, swollen chests. I had heard about the good roads, uninterrupted power supply, chaniya clad girls roaming freely at night as definitions of developed Gujarat. Irrespective, I had a picture in mind far better than the realities of my region. The primary elements being a good job and an open minded society. 2012 was also when the heart wrenching Nirbhaya case happened and the evil Asharam was exposed. Narendra Modi visited him in jail to get his blessings for Lok Sabha elections. Not many may know that Asharam was close to Modi and had also funded Gujarat riots. In 2013, the intuitive Uttarakhand was left miserable by the fierce rains and Modi ji promised Ma Ganga to nurture it if he became the country’s chief. I was destined to begin my journey in Gujarat in the same year.

I liked the touristy nonchalance I felt on roads, no one recognised me. Unfamiliarity, just like ignorance, is more comfortable at times. I had presumed language would be an issue but all the sabjiwalas, autowalas and kirana store kakas could communicate in Hindi. Of course they did, what was I thinking! We are a proud Hindu Rashtra, aren’t we! I found strangers helpful and respectful. A notable consolation was no eve-teasing, cheap comments or bikes following in outdoor life. I also don’t remember seeing incidents of road rage, Gujaratis are not hostile. Perhaps they save their aggression for business and bargaining. My first Ganpati Pujan and I had a chance to mingle with other residents of our society. Food, extra maritals, late night visitors with details of cars and clothes were the favourite topics. Some days later I was added to the society WhatsApp group and so started the pro-hindu, anti-muslim forwards, messages on why girls should dress up in a certain way etc. Summer of 2014 was lucky for Modi just like 2002 was lucky for him and Salman Khan. They both flew kites and discussed potential life partners on Uttarayan, months before Salman Khan’s innocent verdict. While searching for a new apartment in developed parts of Ahmedabad, we faced more questions about our caste, marital status, F&B habits and late night parties than financial status. I had expected Ahmedabad to offer great job opportunities after hearing much ado about development and foreign investments, but I hardly found MNCs here. My second job in the city was with a Real Estate broking firm and my profile required me to meet builders often. The conversations sometimes began with the communities they would not sell their properties to.

People dislike Delhi here but love to see their beloved Modi sitting in Delhi; he’s never in Delhi is a different story altogether. Coming back, AAP may be at the receiving side of criticism for air pollution in Delhi, but this problem is not recent in the first place. Delhi air has been polluted since late 90s, it has just worsened now like every other problem in India. It is not a phenomena that can happen overnight right? Secondly, Ahmedabad is a highly polluted city itself. What’s more, water here is much worse than that of Delhi. I faced several health issues during my first year here, thanks to air and water pollution. Two Climate Change Summits have already been attended by our home grown PM and third is in the sewer-line. Higher GST on diesel cars and a liberal tax on petrol cars would have been more sensible than 12% GST on sanitary napkins. The little water poor Sabarmati has is dangerous to drink and Narmada water is the only saviour. Having said that, 65 percent incompletion in Narmada Project is a fiasco in itself. Power supply is regular only in Ahmedabad because of privatisation. Many other parts of Gujarat face power cuts on a regular basis, along with shortage of water. Remember ‘Toilets before Temples’? Been four years, I still struggle on Ahmedabad roads, let alone other Indian cities and states. Contrary to my pre-wed beliefs, Gujarat has serious education issues, much worse than many other states in India. No wonder half of them take solace in the US. Other than countable exceptions, schools here can be well classified as bad schools, brat schools and international board Schools. The state government has had 22 glorious years to make a difference yet it believes 6 percent of the total budget is sufficient allocation for education. Out of this only 3 percent was actually put to use and the remaining 3 was probably donated to paid trolls. Recently I attended an event on macro and micro state of education in Gujarat and what I learnt was disturbing beyond imagination. Forget the poor infrastructure, shortage of teachers, senseless curriculum and exorbitantly high fee in private schools; there’s caste discrimination even in Anganwadis. Yes, in 2017! Dalit kids in many regions of Gujarat do not get glasses to drink water, they have to use hands. The plates for Anganwadis are numbered for kids of socially acceptable communities. Government may bluff many by screaming the number of girl enrolments and teachers recruited, but are they talking about a much higher rate of retiring teachers or girls dropping out at puberty? All the 8 speakers seemed highly frustrated with the current state. One of them made an observation, “People in Gujarat may be enterprising and risk takers, but they never protest. They sit in their living rooms and blabber but they never walk on roads and make their voices heard.”   

When I visit doctors here, my full name, age, marital status etc are taken for record. I haven’t changed my surname after marriage, given a chance I wouldn’t use it at all. Forget just the surname, the receptionists would ask for a middle name too. When I tell them I don’t have any, they would still ask my husband’s name and put it as my middle name. Why? I mean what business do doctors, nurses or anyone for that matter should have in adding names to my name? What are names for? Speaking of doctors, the lower, middle and upper middle class hardly has options for an affordable healthcare. Despite Ahmedabad being the hub of medical tourism, the masses have to either spend a bomb or suffer because of extortionate healthcare.

Whenever someone asks how I like Ahmedabad, my first reaction is that I find it balanced. It does look and feel like a tier-2 Indian city yet is not as maddening as Delhi or Mumbai. It may not have night life but late nights are safer. People may be communal but not criminal. Education is not good but people are enterprising. Ahmedabad is not cosmopolitan but cultured. What specially interests me is the small yet genuinely concerned, creative, intellectual and open minded beings I have had the chance to know through work, events, interests or ideologies. These people are the only relief amidst an otherwise rigid and confused urban population. The fearless people who think and protest through art.

Looking at the past and present, I have realised that rural population has more clarity than its urban counterpart. City dwellers may crib about issues but do nothing to solve it. Stagnation is comfortable. It makes me wonder at the impact of leadership, or that of worshipping the wrong leader. 2002 is done and dusted, but Muslims can still not buy or rent properties in any developing/developed part of Ahmedabad. There have been murders of muslims carrying beef despite having a good chunk of Hindu beef eaters around. No matter how much it is portrayed as a predominantly vegetarian state, at least 60 percent of Gujarat’s population is non-vegetarian. Why should food, clothes, opinions and beliefs of common man bother the government? Don’t they have other problems to take care of? On one hand they are silent at mob lynching and on the other, political babas advise people on the number of kids they should have. The violence on Dalits hasn’t moved the urban millennials. When Gujarat government makes double the revenue through prohibition in the name of Mahatma Gandhi or uses it to appease minorities for votes, then why should Jawahar Lal Nehru be blamed alone? Why not discuss the cronyism and protected corporate interests of Adanis? A Sardar statue worth three hundred crores against his own ideologies or a bullet train is the pseudo development that can compensate well for basic and real development. 

Let alone Gujarat, ever since Narendra Modi has come to power in Union government, there has been more of decline than development in India in ways more than one. Disregard for recognition of human rights, controlled mass media, paid trolls, caste politics, disdain for arts and intellectualism, fraudulent elections, suppression of labour, pseudo nationalism and hindutva have fabricated a delusional democracy. Give me one speech that seemed like a PM’s speech from NaMo. Isn’t referring to Shashi Tharoor’s partner as a ‘girlfriend worth 50 crores’ below the belt? Which PM talks like that? Other than that of Philippines who joked about wanting to be the first to rape a woman who was gang-raped and killed during a campaign. He was after Congress and Rahul Gandhi as Gujarat’s CM and so is he as India’s PM. What went wrong in the past 70 years has been his discussion since 2012 when Rahul Gandhi has never even been the PM. Complete negligence of Parliament in desperation of Gujarat Elections is a grave matter. The whole country cannot be ignored for their home state. Whether it is for Vidhan Sabha or Lok Sabha elections, BJP never gives a mandate till the 11th hour. But visiting temples, talking communalism, crying and bragging about his poverty are always high on his agenda. Don’t people think before voting? The government has nothing to say about what it promises to do on winning yet public should vote for it. We are not badgered with the failures of this term for union or of past 22 years in home state, are we even thinking about what we want now? Or we have accepted their dictatorship and ceased to want at all?

Just like the political Babas in India, Modi government is trying to become a cult and is sadly succeeding. Indians don’t like him, they worship him. That, is his win! The illogical, poisonous devotion; like that for Ram Raheem and Asharam. The difference between Hinduism and Hindutva is the difference between patriotism and nationalism. Forget the country, there is no democracy left in WhatsApp groups with radical Hindus. Venom spitting BJP devotees are welcomed in a family group but there was intolerance towards my factual articles barring personal biases. Not just that, I was also given a call next morning asking why I hate Modi. When I asked my uncle why he worships him instead, he had no logical answer. First he said what ‘ever’ he is doing is for the good of this country and because Rahul Gandhi is dumb. Then followed the wrongs done by Muslims. There is a big chunk that elects BJP only because it hates Muslims or Dalits, they will just never confess. I am not a Rahul Gandhi fan but I find it injudicious when people say that they vote for Modi because RaGa is stupid. Were these people his classmates? How can they judge him when he has never even been a CM or the PM? More importantly, even if the option is as simple as choosing between a party that’s corrupt & a party that’s both corrupt and murderous, isn’t the answer obvious? The reason UP could never develop despite it’s size and resources is this casteism. Now that BJP is in-charge of the entire nation and insecure in Modi’s home state, are things going to change in 2019? Will demonitization, miscalculated GST and 2G Scam verdict have any influence? Or are we happy becoming a country where the government is shameless enough to decide which castes should not marry, which movie should not release, which esteemed university should discontinue or which tribes should die? People who re-elect Yogi Adityanath in UP will be silent supporters of the dead children in Gorakhpur. People who re-elect BJP in India in 2019 will be supporters of killing people born to a faith they never chose.

There is no justice, only conquest for this government. They don’t fight to win, they fight not to loose. And here we are, working at OUR cost for the presumptions and privileges of their victory. This mad man leading the blind is not obliged to convince but overpower, control and leave us at his mercy. We don’t have to loose to make him win. Absolute power is an end in itself. The urge to prevail, even more destructive! Questions on lips of the haunted have been sealed while the loudest voices have been hunted to graves, their whispers still echo. Resolutions are nothing more than failed decisions. 2018 is important because 2019 will follow. Will we shield it this time or will we become spectators to a monster dancing on the skeletons of our democracy?

Idiosyncrasies of the Temple Generation

Unlike the generations I am hereby referring to, I would avoid shooting in the dark and be more focused in my approach. Millennials born in 1970s and 1980s have had grandparents contributing their bit to the national population between 1930s-1950s. Those were the years when couples easily had 7-10 children on an average. And those were also the years when a major part of adult population was poor, or lower middle class. Without trying to underline a classic ‘hen and egg’ case here, I would like to highlight the miseries these baby boomers welcomed with open arms.

Women kept bearing children till their 50s so men were the only bread earners. The amount of money earned and food procured was distributed between so many members that food consumed per person was insufficient. Irrespective of the difficulties, we never compromised on our traditions. Women fed the elders, the males and the children first and ate only at last, whatever little food was left for them. This, along with a high fertility rate (total number of births per woman) resulted in undernourished, overworked, weak women and society tagged them as ‘the weaker sex’. Some first wives died while giving birth and the men had a chance to bear more children with their second wives. While China is taking strict measures to control their population, we have some political babas lecturing Hindus to have at least 6 children per couple to outgrow the muslim population in India. Ever wonder why? Because population obviously has nothing to do with other social/physical evils like poverty, hunger, pollution, crime, illiteracy, unemployment, global warming etc.

The children of these couples, our parents, are people obsessed with temples. The concept of tourism in India would have seen the dawn much later, had it not been for thousands of temples we have in every jungle of the country. Our government feels no need to develop an infrastructure for tourism, temples have given them enough monopolistic assurance! Raise your hand if you were denied a toy to avoid unnecessary expenditure, only to see a generous amount going to a God in the same family outing.

Our temples have been wealthy since the age of monarchs, i.e., before the birth of independent India. That was also the time when only the kings were rich and their people were poor; farmers, peasants, masons, artisans, soldiers. So it isn’t incorrect to conclude that the tax collected by kings (‘kar’) mostly went to their treasury and temples when it could have been utilised to provide basic education, nutrition and sanitation for the people. Not surprisingly, wealth of our temples invited multiple invasions and that left India as a slave for centuries. Despite being the third largest economy, India is still struggling for foreign investment and currency appreciation.

The total amount of wealth our temples have can easily exceed the total amount of tax collected by the central and state governments. It has the potential to combat poverty, hunger, sanitation and make basic social reforms for the entire nation. The donation index is still soaring high with people either trying to hide their black money, fulfil wishes, empower their community or religion, or feel empowered themselves! Some corporate tycoons donate huge sums to their favourite places of worship; for example, Ambanis, Goenkas and Nira Radia regularly make donations at Badrinath temple in Uttarakhand. There are 10-15 kinds of aartis that pilgrims can book between 4k-21k every single day, with most days being houseful. This means that the poor do not have the privilege of witnessing these aartis, and the elderly, underprivileged will be pushed and hurt in the common, aggressive crowd. So much for religious justice!

Now, out of all the rich temples, there are very few with big kitchens/big hearts or the intentions to feed the starving, shelter the needy etc. So what happens to the wealth? The trustees, temple committee members and staff becomes rich, corrupt and insensitive. Insensitive to the basic duties they have towards visitors from all over the country; potable water, rest rooms, comfortable spaces for long waiting queues, first aid or basic medical aid for senior citizens etc. Many will have no information counters or signages and the rudest staff possible. There are temples on narrow, hilly roads, tiny enough to restrict even an infant to enter. Built on blind curves, if you stop there for darshan, you will be hit by a vehicle and go down the valley for sure. I have always failed to understand how donations and gold crowns please Gods, if there are any. Pardon my usage of plurals, there are too many Gods to be addressed as one!

This year, within 2 months, there were around 35 casualties during Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand alone. Vrindavan, the Krishna- Nagari of India, has maximum number of widows living in destitute.

The onus is on us, to think and reason, to look around before closing our eyes in front of an idol. Being religious and visiting temples is fine, but the huge donations to temples doing nothing is so not justified! You can always use that money for a more sustainable purpose. Its not a sin to reason with commercially or politically inclined religion, its the need of the hour, a dire one! Prayers over profitable propaganda, Amen!

 

Deceptions of War

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“There is nothing that war has ever achieved that we could not better achieve without it.”

Those who fight a battle never win it, those who win never participate in it. Can victory and defeat be any more subjective, rather misleading, than in the context of war?

I saw ‘Dunkirk’ this weekend, and since then have been thinking about wars. I also must admit that it is a very unsettling feeling. Although I haven’t seen many war movies, this wasn’t the first. Yet it had a snowball effect, just like the progression of this brilliant creation of Cristopher Nolan. It is inclusive, just like a war that devours all of its individual objectives; small wins, bigger losses, thousands of lives and their value. Individual terms of those who declare wars, are subject to destruction of countless dreams and purposes. Who wins and who looses, is just a matter of where you stand.

Dunkirk led to a mental chain reaction and I ended up watching two documentaries on Britain’s multiple invasions in Afghanistan in the 19th century. Why were these wars declared? Because of the power struggle in Central Asia between Britain and Russia. One of my favourite authors, Ayn Rand (hated by most Americans and Russians) says, “Statism needs war; a free country does not. Statism survives by looting; a free country survives by producing.” Precisely the ideology of Britain at that time, like a vulture clasping India tight in it’s claws. Why India gave in, is another story of social weakness and political communalisation altogether!

I often hear people justifying war, sitting in their cosy surroundings. They say it paves way for a much needed cycle of destruction and re-construction. Some Indians wish that their government and military forces should declare a war on Pakistan. India and Pakistan have had 4 wars in the past, did it make anything better? Do we even understand war or the purpose behind it? We hate British because they ruled us, we hate our cricket team when it looses to Pakistan, we hate Donald Trump; but we love the idea of war. How convenient is it to hate facts, ignore weaknesses and love to blame and kill others?

Are the soldiers fighting a war or dying in a war the ones to declare that war in the first place? “It only stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there’s someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking to you of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master.”- Ayn Rand. War is a choice the governments make. Declaration of war is a secret of failure to make other choices. And what choice does a soldier fighting that war has if he survives? The freedom to either hate or forgive the decision of war, and live his second life in between.

Why did Britain go around colonising countries including India? Because  instead of producing its own resources, it made a CHOICE to invade and loot other countries. The thing about evil choices is that they are a conscious act; they have a pattern and they always have a substitute, a lesser evil one! Some people take pride in their power to make those wicked choices and may also justify the same, but its always the innocents who have to reconcile for the wrongs of others.

The common man, especially in a democracy, has some options too. Primarily, when they decide who they want to give such powers to; and secondly, to tolerate or change those powers. We also have a choice to distribute powers between what we see and hear, and what we comprehend and feel. We don’t have to submit our weakness to their selfishness, but our voice to their reason.The very concept of democracy fails if its people sit helpless and surrender to the evils of leaders they choose. All we need to do is remember, that it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird!

 

Constructive or Destructive – The Power of Human Mind

Abdul Rehman, Abdul Rehman Chhota, Abu Ali, Fahad Ullah, Ismail Khan, Babar Imran, Abu Umar, Abu Sohrab, Shoaib and Ajmal Kasab; 10 young men in their early twenties who executed the Mumbai mayhem 26/11.

These attackers travelled by sea from Karachi, Pakistan and hijacked a Indian fishing trawler. They killed its crew of four and forced the captain to sail to Mumbai, who was killed on coming ashore at the Arabian Sea in Colaba at 20:00 IST on November 26, 2008.

Their target were Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), Leopold Cafe, The Taj Mahal Hotel, Oberoi Trident and the Nariman House. Also, there were shootings near St. Xaviers’College, Metro Cinema, Mazagaon Docks, Vile Parle and Cama Hotel. An attack began at CST at 21:30 when two gunmen, including Ajmal Kasab, entered the passenger hall and opened fire using AK-47 rifles. The attackers killed 58 people, injured another 104 and ended the assault at about 22:45 followed by the arrival of security forces and emergency services. After CST, Kasab and Khan faced firing by a team of Mumbai Anti Terrorist Squad in which Khan and 5 Police officers were killed, and Kasab was caught alive.

Leopold Cafe, a popular bar on Colaba Causeway, was one of the first sites to be attacked with around 10 killings and many more injuries.

The Taj Hotel had 6 explosions, 1 in the lobby, 2 in the elevators and 3 in the restaurant. On the night of November 26, around 200 hostages were rescued from the windows using ladders by our fire-fighters.

Meanwhile, 2 other attackers took over the Nariman House where 9 hostages were rescued but 6 hostages and a National Security Guard Commando were gunned down. Both the gunmen were shot dead as well.

The operation finally ended at 8:00 am on November 29 after killing 9 terrorists. In total, the NSG rescued 250 people from the Oberoi, 300 from the Taj and 60 people from Nariman House.

These attacks were planned and directed by Lashkar-e-Taiba militants in Pakistan, carried out by 10 young armed men trained and sent to Mumbai and directed from Pakistan via mobile phones and VoIP. This massacre was planned several months ahead of time and the attackers knew some areas well enough to vanish and reappear after the security forces had left.

These 10 attackers were out of the group of around 24 students who were trained in marine warfare at a remote camp in mountainous Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir. A part of training was also taken at Mangla Dam reservoir. The stages of training, as reported by the US n Indian media reports were psychological (atrocities suffered by Muslims in India and other parts of the globe), basic combat, advanced weapons and explosives training supervised by retired personnel of the Pakistan Army, survival training and commando training that also included marine navigation. There were also lessons in swimming and sailing and before boarding a small boat for Mumbai, the attackers stayed and were trained by the LeT in a safehouse at Azizabad near Karachi.

Blood tests on the attackers indicate that they had taken cocaine and LSD to sustain their energy and stay awake for around 60 hours. Rowing with weight on their shoulders did not tire these young terrorists. Within 90 mins of reaching Mumbai, they had started with their shooting spree, that lasted for around 90 hours. The basic needs of a human being are water, food, sleep and release of urine and stool. Without breaks these 6 attackers injured and killed so many people. According to some witnesses, there was a smile on their faces while shooting innocent targets.

Our soldiers are trained for years and months, unfortunately they may or fortunately they may not face a war. Shooters who have done our nation proud by winning medals take their own time to shoot a dot. A little hectic day may want us to rest for the whole weekend. A little weight may wear out our muscles for 2-3 days. Its not the effort and strength of these 6 boys I admire or selflessness or determination of our soldiers and sportsmen I don’t value; but it’s the functioning of our minds and the intensity of it’s will that amazes me. Men have done great things due to their dedication. A man in a remote village constructed a whole mountain and made a road all by himself. It’s the power of human mind that’s so intimidating. It can invent things and demolish places of worship, it can start a revolution or plan a war, it can save life amidst danger or kill people in cold blood.

The mind in the end, is ours ! We train it, we exploit it. We argue with it, we convince it. The mind conceives an idea because we want it to. It can either be a saviour or a monster, who gets to decide?

Unity in Diversity- The Indian Paradox

  • A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death. ~ Albert Einstein

Paradox, as the term generally applies, is an apparently true statement or group of statements that leads to a contradiction or a situation that seems opposite. It simply means that the two premises cannot be held as true together.

We Indians used to feel extreme pride in portraying an example of ‘Unity in Diversity’. I used ‘past tense’ because we are not united any more. In the current scenario, ‘Diversity’ is the only word to describe India. It is a land of opposites, where rich and poor stand side-by-side; shanty towns built-in front of 5 star resorts; the beauty of The Taj Mahal juxtaposed to the slums of the Taj Gunj; Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and many other religions co-exist. This diversification itself has become a threat to humanity. Since past few decades, we are fighting in the name of ‘religion’; religion, that is considered to be our moral foundation. Such an irony!!

There are certain teachings common in every religion like love, compassion, sympathy and gratitude. So if we are actually religious, then why can’t we carry out these principles instead of proving other religions or their followers as wrong? The Holy Bible itself claims: “God has written a law on the hearts of all. Everyone has a conscience, and although the outer ring of our conscience may be influenced by religion, the inner core is universal and unchanging.”

For instance, there isn’t a human being alive who doesn’t know the good and right of love, and there isn’t a human being alive who doesn’t know the evil and wrong of murder. In the Biblical view, if we are confused about such things as sex, selfishness, abortion and euthanasia, the problem isn’t so much that we don’t know about right and wrong, but that we “suppress what we do know” about them.

We consider ourselves to be very open and adaptable when it comes to accepting someone from a different land. Then why can’t the Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen, who was forced to leave her country, is given refugee in India by our politicians? Are they scared of being revolted against by the fundamentalists? Or they want to keep this minority in their favor for getting votes? Even in her worst nightmares she had not thought that she would be persecuted in Bangladesh by the majority and in India by the minority, but persecuted just the same. What good would it bring to kill her? No benefit to Islam at least!!

Why should a barbed wire keep families and friends apart even though they share a common language and culture? What hurts the most is that this wire has been secured by religion. “All religions are ancient monuments to superstition, ignorance and ferocity”, said a French philosopher Baron D’ Holback. Religion has been described as the root of human misery and conflict – that more people have been killed in the name of religion than in any other cause.

Is Politics, a worthy cause to pull out a partition and divide a nation? Is Race, a worthy cause to burn human beings alive? Some may say yes and be proud about it. There is absolutely no way to prove them wrong. But the fact remains, they have become violent and in being so they are violating the natural state of Peace. Gandhi’s non-violence approach may have definitely affected India’s freedom fight, but it has surely saved Humanity.

We talk too much about excellence and we forget to talk about being good. But the word “good” means everything; it means righteousness, morality and perfect alignment. Aren’t these the things we really want to have in our lives? This is an era of globalization and liberalization. So why can’t we liberalize our acceptance and openness to everyone? Why can’t we globalize one common religion, i.e., ‘Humanity’?

We can continue with this madness or we can simply start asking ourselves – is the fight really required? Can’t we let go of our want to fight? The purpose of religion should be love and peace and not hatred and revenge. It depends on us, how we use it and in which direction we take it. Don’t let Humanity become a Monster!

“Tu na hindu banega, na musalman banega, insaan ki aulaad hai insaan banega.”

The Uprising of ‘She’- A Truth or Myth

Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams reaching the space; Kiran Mazumdar Shaw becoming the richest Indian woman through her biotech enterprise, ‘Biocon’; Indira Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi Ltd. making her nation proud; Indira Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi reaching heights in their political careers; Mother Teresa, a name everyone reveres; P.T.Usha or Sania Mirza taking Indian sports to a new dimension; Kiran Bedi or Kanchan Chaudhary, women to whom the whole nation salutes ! This is a brief and broad picture of todays modern and successful, but few fortunate women.

The phenomenon of women empowerment has attracted massive attention in recent years. So much has been said and so much has been heard to uplift women economically, politically and culturally. But, is the woman of today socially empowered? If not in it’s literal sense then at least in the eyes of men?

We, the women of today are entering into diversified fields with great determination and enthusiasm. We try our best not to leave any stone unturned. Whether it be taking care of our families, managing the workplace, or both, we are striking just the right balance everywhere. But what hurts here is to see that a large section of society is still not open enough to welcome this change in favor of women. Its attitude towards women has still not changed; in fact, things have indeed gone from bad to worse after Independence. Despite law, such reprehensible practices as female feticide, female infanticide and child marriage are still prevalent in many parts of the country. Dowry is a plague that stalks every family having marriageable daughters and like AIDS it has no cure. Incidents of sexual harassment, eve teasing, sexual abuse of female children and rapes are on the rise. Women form a sizeable percentage of the workforce in the unorganized sector, but most of the labor laws do not cover them. Those who have been to the pilgrim centers of Mathura, Vrindavan and Varanasi would have noticed the large number of widows living in hopeless destitution.

Emotional or physical abuse in relationships is not uncommon. And it’s not only the illiterate or the ignorant that are the reasons behind such violence; what surprises is that quite often such abusers are well-read, intelligent and educated men. Convicted IPS officer R.K. Sharma, in the journalist Shivani Bhatnagar murder case is one example. Another such shocking incident was of Bangalore-based software engineer Amit Budhiraja, asphyxiating his wife with a pillow on suspicion of an extra-marital affair; he later committed suicide on knowing his wife was innocent.

Kidnappings, black mailings, acid attacks have become a routine in our society. General rise of aggression in the society has resulted in increased cases of emotional disorders. These often go undetected. Why are men increasingly becoming abusive? The reasons could be suspicion, jealousy, ignorance, dissatisfaction or anything. Increased stress and fast-paced lifestyle has reduced the tolerance level. Increase in infidelity has given rise to insecurity, therefore one finds it difficult to handle rejection and hits back. Decreasing influence of the community and family in one’s life, at times of distress, is also responsible for the plight. There is no emotional outlet and thus, this gets translated into violence or aggressive behavior.

It also has to do a lot with the upbringing of men in our society. They have been taught not to cry or express their negative feelings in any positive manner leading to such outbursts. It is the urge for proving male supremacy that ends up over-riding all other sensibilities. Thanks to the patriarchal society we live in, man feels woman is his property. It is true even today, despite having more working women on the scene. Economic empowerment does not necessarily lead to social empowerment.

It’s saddening to see that even after proving herself in every sphere, a woman is not given the respect she deserves in our society. She seems more like a play-thing to the opposite gender, devoid of emotions and feelings. It’s for all to see in which direction is our society moving, and it’s only in our hands where we want to take it. A man’s thinking that women are weak will not actually make them so. We have always been fighters and will fight out this plight as well. Women have got to make the world safe for men since men have made it so dammed unsafe for women.

Health, Fitness, Food and Well-being

Did you know that just walking for 30 minutes, 3 or 4 times a

week is enough to combat aging?

 

To reduce the strain on your heart, sleep on your right side, or on

your back. This simple technique will add years to your life.

 

If you smoke, you can greatly reduce the risk of contracting

cancer by drinking carrot juice.

 

A placebo study has shown that asthmatics who consume 1 gram

of vitamin C per day had 4 times fewer attacks.

 

Pakistani women have an amazing trick they use to stay slim: they

keep a string permanently tied around their forearms. According to

Dr. Drupas, a gentle but constant pressure on the nerves in the

forearm stimulates certain glands, particularly those involved in

weight control (thyroid, suprarenals).

 

 

To treat diarrhea, avoid all solid food on the first day. Drink

liquids like water, apple juice, meat or vegetable boullion and tea.

These will compensate for your loss of water – dehydration being one

of the main dangers of diarrhea – and will give your intestines a

period of rest.

 

Did you know that half a teaspoon of ground ginger is more

effective than chemical medication in suppressing motion or sea

sickness?

 

Heat relaxes the muscles and ligaments. When applied locally, for

example, with hot towels, it can ease muscle spasms. It can also

reduce arthritic pain. Heat dilates the blood vessels, which in turn

activates circulation.

 

Drinking 2 glasses of orange juice daily can help lower blood pressure and cut the risk of heart disease.

Toasts and croissants can speed up aging.

 

For over 45s, an aspirin a day can cut cancer risk.

 

Soy milk is naturally low in saturated fat, and because it’s plant-based, it’s cholesterol free. It also offers up some nutrients that cow’s milk does not, including heart-healthy omega-3 fats.

 

Mustard paste can be used for general muscular relief and to help “cure” toothaches. It also became known to stimulate appetite and digestion, help clear sinuses, and increase blood circulation.  Mustard flour can even be sprinkled in your socks to help prevent frostbite.

 

Olive oil has lots of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory activity to fight rheumatoid arthritis.It is the only vegetable oil that can be created simply by pressing the raw material.

 

Eating yoghurt on a regular basis can help you absorb the nutrients in other foods.

 

One cup of pineapple has about 135 calories and 33% of the RDA of Vitamin C.

 

Limit the consumption of white sugar, white bread and oil to avoid cardiac risks.

 

One of the special things about the way oats work unlike any other fiber is that it lowers only bad cholesterol while keeping the good cholesterol (HDL) remain unchanged.

 

Green tea contains significant amounts of folic acid and can reduce clotting of blood, providing protection against cardiovascular diseases.

 

Barley is a good source of ‘beta glucan’, a water soluble form of fibre that retards fat and cholesterol absorption by the intestine.

 

Cabbage juice has ulcer healing capabilities, however, patients with gas trouble should avoid it.

 

Cucumber juice cleanses your kidneys, lowers blood pressure and improves skin problems.

 

Beet juice cleanses the blood and strengthens the gall bladder and liver.

 

Carrot juice is an excellent source of beta carotene, potassium, trace minerals and anti-cancer nutrients.

 

Garlic acts as a natural antibiotic and blood thinner and can reduce cholesterol level.

 

Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and will also protect the stomach from irritation. Migraines and motion sickness can also be relieved by ginger juice.

 

Wheat grass juice is used as an enema, It helps detoxify the walls of the piles. It can be mixed with spinach and lime.

 

Bitter gourd juice is used as an anti-diabetic medicine. It also helps in purifying the blood.

 

Bottle gourd juice is used in the treatment of stomach acidity, indigestion, ulcers, epilepsy and other nervous diseases.

 

Drinking water charged with solar energy everyday can curb the headaches.

 

Flax seeds aid in weight loss.

 

Wheat grass can counter the adverse effects of sunstroke.

 

Finger millet helps in strengthening bones.

 

Sunflower seeds help in the prevention and cure of arthritis. It provides a natural glow to the skin and hair and combats heart related ailments.

 

Drink chilled water/lemon, ginger and honey in cold water or chew roasted fennel seeds to be stress free.

 

Consumption of walnut and cow milk paste can enhance memory.

 

Seeing is Healing

Red hibiscus, yellow goldenrod, red gulmoher, white/pink bougainvillea, light blue/purple morning glory, white roses, lift your mood. Keep them in your vicinity.

 

What keeps you Cool

Keep rock slt at four corners of the house to ward off negativity. Change it everyday.

Paint walls in the colour of yellow sapphire.

A crystal multicolour tree works wonders.

Crystal kailash Yantra is beneficial.

Spend time with pets as it can relieve depression, reduce blood pressure and triglycerides.

 

Express your Emotion

Tai Chi, Yoga, Meditation, and massage are stress busters. Listen to your favorite music/ read your favorite author/ tend to your hobby/ catch up with friends.

A good chuckle works your stomach muscles and takes care of your tension.

Being positive and appreciative of little things in life are great mood uppers.

Laughter anytime will work wonders for you, It is an instant way to unleash the pressure and it makes you feel light.