Sunday, November 07, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

On Being an Indian

Today is supposed to be the grand day when my country achieved it's Independence from the British Rule. Everywhere around there are celebrations big and small. The common people are probably unaffected by this day after they pass out from schools and colleges. Politicians are perhaps thanking God for making them Indian because perhaps no where else can one gobble down large sums of the country's money and still be able to have a free run. Thanks to the ever-forgiving Congress. I often imagine the 'Congressis' holding on tightly to each others' underwear. The deal is that, 'you try to pull down mine and I will pull down yours too'! So no one is threatening or questioning anyone else.
And of course, the country is so screwed by the politics of religion, mis-placed feelings of patriotism and Indian-ness. Where else in the entire World can a former Italian waitress enjoy the status of the 'daughter-in-law' of a Holy Land called 'Hindustan', who is silently running the show behind a puppet of a Cabinet. We are still ruled by white-skin in a way.
No other nation in the world humiliates and mocks at the culture, religion and spirituality of the people who form the majority. How does the humiliation happen? Very simple and subtle. By simply denying privileges that are handed over to the minorities. There are heavy subsidies for Haj travellers, for instance. But when a riot ensued when the majority asked for a subsidy for the annual Amarnath Yatra. In the North-East, Hindus...whatever are now left, are converted at gun-point to Christianity. Hindus are a minority there. So it's logical that the minorities would get special subsidies, right? Wrong. Hindus do not enjoy any such 'privileges'.
Well, my grouse is only that if the Congress proclaims itself to be "SECULAR", why not at least be religiously neutral??? This is definitely not secular.
I would rather have my country to be called 'Hindu-Land'. Because for me, being Indian equates to being Hindu. And being Hindu means taking pride in India's true riches: Yoga, Philosophy, Ayurveda, Culture, Tradition and Teachings. This land is the cradle of my religion: Hindu. And how can I separate the two.
Also, being Hindu for me means being one of the most knowledgeable, yet tolerant, all-accommodating people. And Hinduism is not only a religion of peace for namesake, we practise it as well! To test it, simply send a Christian missionary to carry out conversions in a purely Muslim mohalla by telling them how great Christ was and that if you are not Christian, you are going to go to hell. And if Hindus were not peaceful, we would have had a riot every day for the way Hindus are being torn apart from all sides.
The tragedy of our minds is that we take pride in Hinduism only after we discover how 'cool' it is. And it is far more than just 'cool'. It's not without a reason that it is one of the greatest and oldest religions of the world! What is needed is just a bit of an effort to understand it's depth. So, the next time you are tempted to rubbish a particular idea, ritual, concept or philosophy that is essentially Hindu, think twice. Our Rishis and Sages were some of the wisest people to have descended on the planet. And if they have exhorted something, it's with a good reason. Look deeper with openness in the mind and you will see!

Jai Hind!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Our Chance to fight Corruption

Dear One,

Jai Gurudev !

My dear, If you are an Indian national, I invite you to fill up the nation-wide Survey on Combating Corruption which will eventually be presented to the policy makers of our country. It may take you about 20 minutes to complete and it would be good learning and great awareness as well. Its ideal to send this to a few of your friends or colleagues or get it filled up by your mom and/or dad and if possible, your maid. This is 'cos we need representative samples from various sections of society. The survey is available online till 15th June midnight, but may I request you to fill it up before it becomes Urgent and Important, which is basically NOW :-) ! Kudos for being proactive and being a part of the solution to the problems of our people!

For the Survey on Combating Corruption, please click on the following link...

Warm Regards,

Dinesh Ghodke
Director, WAYE
World Alliance for Youth Empowerment
The Art of Living Foundation
Blog -

Friday, June 11, 2010

Questioning the Questions

Churning is good. Churning of the ocean had brought forth the Divine Nectar. Churning of the mind brings forth insights, I feel. The entire drama created by the "literary terrorist" Mrs. Shobhaa De and her minions has got me thinking a lot about whether we are abusing our right to 'freedom of expression'. Does freedom of expression mean: open mouth, shoot words? Or is there some kind of code of conduct that one must observe on one's own?
We give far too much importance to our opinions. Being highly opinionated is supposed to be intelligent! And I feel it's really silly to have an opinion about any and everything and regard that as the ultimate truth. Shobhaa expressed her opinions about Sri Sri from a handful of second-hand experiences which, for her have negated all the rest of the life-transforming first-hand experiences that more than 20 million people have. And that, I think is truly silly. Very myopic and impulsive.
There are these four ways of answering questions. Which four? There are questions that should be answered categorically [straightforwardly yes, no, this, that]. There are questions that should be answered with an analytical (qualified) answer [defining or redefining the terms]. There are questions that should be answered with a counter-question. There are questions that should be put aside. These are the four ways of answering questions ~ Budhha

The journalists of today think that the fact that they ask questions is almost like doing service to humanity. But what's the point in asking questions when one is not even interested in knowing the answers! Isn't the process incomplete?
And many people on Shobhaa's blog also have asked a lot of questions like "why does AOL charge money for courses?" or "why does Sri Sri need new utensils for the food to be cooked?"(yes, someone has also asked THAT!) or "why are spiritual retreats held in Zurich?" or Shobhaa herself asked Guruji in one interview, "How can singing and dancing at Satsangs solve problems in one's life?". Well, it's like this: Imagine a kid going to a rocket scientist and asking him/her questions. "Why is the fuel tank on the outside of the craft?" or "Why does the acceleration have to be more than 9.8m/s2?" or "why do you people wear only white lab coats?" or "why do you travel in a Toyota Corolla when you are already wasting so much fuel?" and such other questions. Now the first two questions are still warranted. But even if the scientist were to offer a superb explanation for the same, will the kid understand anything at all?! To receive an answer too, one must have a certain cerebral capacity, some basic development. The latter two questions are the typical Shobhaa De kind of questions. She asked Guruji about his hair, his clothes, his lifestyle, money etc. And THAT is supposed to be intelligent. HOW?! It's like you are with the rocket scientist and asking him/her why they wear white coats instead of some other colour! How is that NOT silly?

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” ~Naguib Mahfouz

So questions can be endless. And even after receiving an answer, the mind does not stop questioning.
What should be encouraged in genuine enquiry. It is at least honest in the sense that it begins with an urge for knowing something and not with an assumption that 'I already have an opinion about this which I know is true, so whatever answer you give it doesn't make a difference'. So, in turn, if one already has a firm opinion, why ask?!
On a parting note, I did find the question about 'why are retreats held in Zurich?' question quite amusing! Where else will people from Zurich go for the retreat if not IN Zurich?! To Jhumritalaiya?! But spiritual retreats would also happen in Jhumritalaiya if there were such a place to begin with. And why not? Because it also happens in places like Botswana, Jammu, Patna, Faridabad, Phaltan, Kolkata, Sydney, Siberia, Baghdad, Jerusalem, Kazakhstan, Durgapur, Rio de Janeiro, Vidharbha, Latur, Tokyo, Pakistan, Kosovo, Osaka...well you get the picture! Not JUST in Zurich.

Jai Guru Dev!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Seeing the Good out of the ugly

I have been very surprised and at the same time disappointed at a certain article which Shobhaa De had written about His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji. Not only was it in very bad taste but it seemed to stem out of some kind of venomous hatred against this great man of wisdom and peace. I wonder HOW she could have penned those words!
I personally have witnessed the enormity of Guruji's work not only in India but even abroad. And one of the most important things that attracted me to Art of Living was that it does not speak of religion, rituals and rites. It speaks of Indian-ness. There are no "shoulds" and "should-nots" whether one is male/female, Indian/Pakistani, Hindu/Muslim/Christian/Jew/Parsi/Atheist. In fact one of my course teachers is Parsi! And he chants our mantras, does Pooja, meditates, teaches this Great Knowledge and is yet Parsi- has not "converted"! There is NO need to convert.
Guruji in all his talks and discourses highlights the greatness of every religion. He speaks of Buddha, Jesus, the Holy Quran and of course the great wealth of Knowledge that our country holds.
His "lifestyle" is something that a mere mortal cannot live upto! He travels incessantly around the world talking to people, resolving conflicts, giving discourses, teaching breathing techniques and meditation and visiting troubled areas be it in cities or rural areas. He has visited Kashmir,
Kosovo, Bihar, Nagapattinam, Vidharbha, Iraq, Pakistan, Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Dharavi, Gujrat...the list is endless. So, what do the skeptics think He does with "so much money"? And look at Him; He wears a white Kurta and Veshti and Angavastram- not brands like Armani, Satya Paul, D&G, Boss etc. What WILL He do with the money???? He is the Master. Money means only a means to an end. And the end for Him is the upliftment of all sections of society. That's all! Does Shobhaa De really think that walking for 3 km in Bihar flood waters(see pic) is a part of glamorous lifestyle?
I hear people often complain about why Art of Living charges fess for their courses. Well, firstly charity never happens with an empty bowl. The money that's left after course expenses(hall rent, food, sound system etc.) is then used for service projects. Art of Living is fully dedicated to serving society. In India itself, it has completely adopted more than 10, 000 villages till now and numbers are increasing. How is it possible to serve without money? Secondly, NO education is ever free. Don't colleges, schools, institutions charge fees? Then why should the Highest Knowledge about the secret of the breath be free? And the tradition of Dakshina has been prevalent since ancient times so that there is value for Knowledge received. But still in Prisons, rural areas etc., courses are conducted without charging a single rupee. And who conducts the courses? Our Volunteers. Isn't it fair that they get paid some travel expenses AT THE LEAST? It's funny how people would pay more than a 1000 rupees for grand Pizza dinner but when it comes to acquiring spiritual knowledge about their own self 1000 rupees seem like a lot of money. I think we REALLY need to re-prioritize things!! :)
One simple question for all the people who think that Guruji should not be treated like God: Don't you respect your own teachers? Either from school, college, or teachers who have taught you some form of art, dance, music or spirituality... The answer would be hopefully "yes". And if such a respected teacher were to visit you, would you offer them a normal chair that every tom, dick or harry sit on or would you offer them the best possible seating? Wouldn't you offer them food in your best crockery? Wouldn't you want them to be as comfortable as possible? Perhaps switch on your air conditioner, offer them a cooling drink if they are get the idea? Well for around 20 million of us who have been touched by Guruji's wisdom and love feel the same way about Him. He is our teacher. Our beloved Guru. And a Guru's place in our hearts is inexplicable! And therefore WE do the best possible for Him. He never demands it. He gracefully accepts a drive in a BMW of one of His devotees just as happily as He accepts a flower or even a chocolate from poor farmers from Siberia. And I have witnessed it. There is NO difference in His love for everyone.
The painful part is that such a great Master is not respected in our own country. The media does not even want to call Him Ravi Shankar "ji". It's too hard for them to accept that an enlightened Master walks on earth today. So they do everything possible in their capacity to not show Him in positive light. And so I think in that sense Kaliyug has set in for sure in India at least. Whereas in places like Iraq too He is revered and welcomed as a Master should be!

But it's understandable I guess. When even someone like Jesus could be crucified, this is not any different! And even when Jesus spoke, there were people who did not believe Him. But whose loss was it? Jesus'? No way! Same is the case here.
But I have total faith in one thing: Satyameva Jayate- "Truth always prevails".
Let the media and the Shobhaas of India do what they do best: Barking like rabid dogs. While the Master and us-His grateful devotees from all over the Globe have a lot of work to do. People are waiting for this Knowledge, for Sudarshan Kriya.
Jai Guru Dev!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pseudo-Secularism-a curse in disguise

Let's first look at what the dictionary tells us about the word "secularism":
sec·u·lar·ism (sěk'yə-lə-rĭz'əm) Pronunciation Key

1. Religious skepticism or indifference.
2. The view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education.

sec'u·lar·ist n., sec'u·lar·is'tic adj.

Is this what is really happening in the country then? Different laws for different religions, different standards of education for certain religions? Is this secularism at all? The answer is a RESOUNDING "NO"!!

The Congress wants reservations in the private sector for Muslims. Is this secularism?

Dalit Catholics want reservations too! And why not? Muslims get it, so must Christians. Isn't this religion based division? Is this secularism?

Madarrsas getting CBSE certification. Is THAT secular at all?

The Government has been shouting "Minorities! Minority must get RIGHTS!". Fine. Let's talk about minorities.
What about the minorities in J&K?
What about the Hindu minority in Nagaland, Tripura? Are there any special rights or reservations for minorities there???
The answer is NO! There isn't and there never will be.
That's because the Government is anti-Hindu. It's not pro-Muslim or pro-christian either. It's very anti-Hindu for sure.
One Babri-Masjid is demolished and the Media and the Nandita Das', Barkha Dutts, Nafisa Alis of the country come out in solidarity.
Has anyone talked about the 28000 temples destroyed in Andhra Pradesh?
When will the media be interested in covering the innumerable temples destroyed in Kashmir? This is not fair that when the Hindu sentiment is hurt, it is quickly dubbed as "communal" and something close to hatred. Muslims can have sentiments, Christians and Sikhs can have sentiments. Hindus cannot?
I dare these fashionable secularists to come out and talk about, make films about the plight of Kashmiri Pandits in the Kashmir valley! I dare them!
I want to ask what would happen if MF Hussain were Hindu and he would have portrayed an "artistic" but NUDE Prophet Muhammad or a Jesus. Suddenly there would have been shocked eyeballs popping in disbelief over the blasphemy! And so by that principle why is it wrong that Hindus feel extremely offended by a nude portrayal of Goddess Saraswati?
This is aimed at all the people out there to look within once if indeed you march around feeling glad about yourself for being "secular".

The Hindus will wake up. They are already waking up. I have for sure and gladly enough I know many others who have. They are all young and restless but grounded firmly in the Ancient Knowledge which India has gifted to the rest of the world. We are unbelievably tolerant and peaceful. But we are not sleeping. And one day Truth will prevail. Satyameva Jayate!
What we have today in India is not secularism but "religious inequality"! Please stop deluding yourself. And others too.
There are Indian Muslims and unfortunately even Hindus in the country today who hesitate uttering the words "Islamic Terrorism" when the whole world is talking about it. Why? Because Muslims sentiments could get hurt. Why? Don't Hindus have sentiments when the obnoxious NDTV shows the holy symbol "OM" when it is talking about "Saffron Terror"??? Such blatant disparity!!
And even about the alleged Church attacks in Orissa: A big hue and cry is being made by Christian organisations! An 80 year old Hindu saint died because of a brutal attack by Christian Maoists! No one talks about that. Why? Is a Hindu's life cheaper than that of Christians?? And I would like to ask the "peace-loving" Muslims: If the Christians had even tried to convert a Muslim by telling ill about your great Prophet Muhammad, what would you do? Give lessons on Secularism? Really?

By being soft on terrorism with the fear that Muslim sentiment are going to get hurt, the Congress in putting ALL our lives at stake. A terrorist strikes at PEOPLE. An Islamic Terrorist will also kill Muslims, Christians, Jews, Sikhs. Look at the sorry state of Pakistan! Taliban is in Islamabad and it is killing everybody- most Muslims since there are mostly Muslims in Pakistan. Had Pakistan been tough on terror, it may have averted this situation. Terrorism must be dealt with sternly! There is no question of appeasing any religion. And if a Government is unable to provide security to its citizens, it need to be given rest. By propounding sick and distorted ideas about secularism, it poses a threat to the cultural, spiritual and peaceful heritage of India. If terrorism is not dealt with strongly, it will kill us and our loved ones. I implore all to think hard and vote for a change in Governance.
Voting for the same government AGAIN is akin to saying: I am ok if the Muslims are "appeased", I am ok with religious discrimination, I am ok with a government who "talks" to Pakistan after every terror attack, I am ok with the 51000 crore rupees that have vanished from the government treasury, I am ok with a form of secularism which does not acknowledge the needs and emotions of the majority-that's Hindus, I am ok if my children die in a terror attack- atleast the Muslims are not getting hurt, I am ok with Pakistani flags are hoisted in Assam, I am ok if Taliban takes over Kashmir, I am ok if my country's soldiers are dying at the borders because of a Government that REFUSES to take any action!!!
The country has become like SWAMP! And that's why it gives rise to a hope inside me: A Lotus always blooms in a Swamp :) :)
Satyameva Jayate!
Jai Hind and Jai Guru Dev!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Why you should not believe the Media...

Allow ME to share BREAKING NEWS with you today...
A certain Political Party has allocated 1000 crore for election propaganda and advertisements in print and televised media. The effect thereof is that to ensure that such a big sum of money comes to their coffers, media will never speak or publish a word that goes against this political party. No marks for guessing which party! This way the hand may crush the lotus.
One cannot help but notice the one-sided negative propaganda against Varun Gandhi. It boils my blood to see the Government hesitating to initiate the implementing of NSA against clear perpetrators of bombings in the country, but hastily putting Varun Gandhi behind bars! What did he say anyway? That he won't tolerate anything injustice against Hindus? That's it? Compare it with planting bombs in trains and marketplaces and killing hundreds of innocent victims. In reality, these two acts are not even comparable! And of course the pseudo-secular media will laud the swift and "secular" action of the Government.
Do you know how much GOOD is happening in Gujarat? Of course you won't! No one from the Media is interested in reporting it.
Do you know how much work Art of Living is doing in remote villages in India( WITHOUT CONVERTING THEM TO HINDUISM- I should add here ) by empowering farmers? No way! Who wants inspirational stories about farmers?!
Do you know that a certain Dr. Pol is contesting elections from the same constituency as Sharad Pawar's? Dr. Pol has been working tirelessly from the last 7-8 years for the upliftment and self-sufficiency of villages around Kapshi, Maharashtra. Which newspaper or channel has mentioned this?
How many of us know that a ridiculous amount of OUR money amounting to more than 51000 crore has disappeared from the Government treasury?
How many of us know that in the last 5 years more than 5.5 crore Indians have slipped below the poverty line?
Do you know that absolutely NOTHING has changed in Maharashtra and Mumbai after 26/11? The Police have got DISCARDED SLR rifles from the army. The police themselves personally admit that should 26/11 happen again, the situation would just be the same. So in effect you and I STILL have danger lurking around the corner.
Do you know that on every 14th of August Pakistani flags are hoisted in Kashmir? And on every 15th August Indian flags are burnt there.
Do you know that a few months ago, Pakistani flags were unfurled in 6 districts of Assam?

The Media which claims to be fair and secular reports only THAT truth which it wants. It's too busy otherwise bringing out exaggerated one-sided stories convenient to the Congress.
The Media nor the Government cares about the country or the people. But it's time we open our minds and our eyes and SEE THROUGH just the projected truth.
I say, let's boycott newspapers and newschannels! It's time we started a revolution which makes it clear that we are not in slumber. It's time we DEMAND for the truth. The truth which IS.
Jai Hind!!

I will tell you what SECULARISM is NOT!!!

Secularism is not a new concept for Indians. I know it. You know it. We all follow it in our daily lives. Hindus have Muslim friends, Muslims have Christian or Buddhist friends. In fact many of us wish each other on Christmas, Id, Diwali, Dassera, Hannukah, whatever else! And the best living example of TRUE Secularism lies in the Art of Living Family. "One World Family"- that's what Guruji has taught each one of us.
But the UPA, our current government has devised a totally perverse version of Secularism-it should aptly be named "Sickularism"
Secularism means " sarva dharma samabhava Equality of all religions/beliefs/faiths. But it certainly does not and should not mean unreasonable and unjustified preference to JUST one religion!
Secularism certainly does not mean this:
1. Appeasement of only and only ONE religion in the country. That's Islam. As though no one else exists!
2. Giving Madarsa graduates certificates equating it to CBSE certificates enabling them to get government jobs! Why can't the government encourage them to have secular education like we all do? As against this, Pakistan has taken a move to close down 6000 madarsas in their country.
3. Reservations for Muslims in the private sector. What about a deserving Hindu candidate from a really poor family?
4. "Conversions" are the most non-secular thing happening around and the Government thinks it's Constitutional! Belittling another religion to emphasize the importance of your own is NOT Secularism!!!! I would like to ask evangelists what exactly they tell innocent tribals, poor people, villagers when they convert them just to increase the herd.
5. Talking about the greatness of Hindu culture or Hinduism is not COMMUNAL! Hindus are treated like step-children in their own country.
6. Some years back when Dr. Murali Manohar Joshi had proposed that "Astrology" or "Jyotish Shastra" be introduced as a subject formally in Universities, there was a huge hue and cry about how "regressive" it is and about how "blind faith" has taken over the BJP! Hahahah! Has anyone watched some "progressive" TV channels like "God TV"? You will know what I am talking about. People getting miraculously healed, People falling down while praying because they were touched by Jesus is somehow more acceptable as "miracle of Jesus" but we Hindus are ridiculed as being regressive?!

Why such disparity? Why so much discrimination? If there is anyone more dangerous and potentially poisonous to the country's secular fabric it is the Congress.
This country has gracefully accommodated and assimilated numerous cultures, religions and sects from thousands of years. We don't need this perverse version of secularism at all. For the UPA, secularism is "HINDU BASHING".
But by favouring Muslims blindly like this, it is alienating them even more from the mainstream. For being truly secular one needs an open mind. One needs to accept and respect all cultures and religions and acknowledge the good in all and not fight for religious supremacy! "Mine is the only right religion and the rest of you are god damned idiots"- this attitude is not going to help anyone. But for that children should be introduced to various cultures and influences right from childhood and taught to repect all. We all proclaim that "God is One". But how many truly follow that?
Think hard.
Speak up.
Vote Definitely.
Jai Hind!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

And sending pink underwear is a way to tackle a problem?

We Indians have a disease of reacting in the extremes. Or a variation could be acting in extremes. Right now it was this "pub-culture" issue. Now it's the glorification of an inane campaign which involves collecting and sending pink coloured underwear to the offending party.
The truth is that everyone of us wants to be a part of a movement which takes on some tyrannical establishment/party/association head-on. Somewhere we all want to fight against some system gone wrong. Essentially it's a good sign that the people of India are awake and have the will to be a part of some Movement. But Pink Chaddis? Come on!
Yes, Sri Ram Sena is SAD. I am a very glad and proud Hindu. I feel lucky to be a part of Hindu Culture. Now by "Hindu Culture" I mean not just traditions but our ancient sciences of Yoga, Pranayam, Ayurveda and our reasons for doing a lot of things which till sometime ago were rubbished as being too archaic or even superstitious. I love the reason for putting chandan( sandalwood paste ) on the forehead or even the reason why we take blessings of elders by touching their feet! And this is Indian/Hindu culture for me. And adhering to that, I regard my body as a temple in which the living-breathing God resides. So, I do NOT drink or smoke or dope. Nor do I think of being ABLE to drink, smoke or dope as a sign of "freedom". But I still maintain that Sri Ram Sena is a very sad chapter and I feel disheartened to see "Hindus" or right-wing candidates being blamed as a whole for the dastardly acts of a handful of people. SRS is wrong, un-democratic, un-constitutional AND un-HINDU.
But on the other hand I don't think I can support some random chaddi campaign too. I would like to see the campaigners fighting for a true cause like the issues of farmers for example. Are we so cut of from the rest of our country that we are fighting for a "right" to be able to booze at a pub whenever we want rather than standing up for another countrymen who are losing lands, water, crops and harvest and most importantly LIVES? The gusto with which pink chaddis are being sought out from cupboards and bought in dozens is appalling. If only we could have that zeal in sending help in whatever form to truly needy people of the country.
We all dream of an ideal India. But treating only one insignificant part of an entirely diseased body is not going to restore health complete health.
We expect tolerance. But can we tolerate intolerance? We react to intolerance with our intolerance.
Can we be tolerant? The answer is absolutely "YES". We will be peaceful and tolerant when we are peaceful from deep inside...when both our bodies and minds are in harmony.
India has been a land of wise and spiritual people and that's exactly why despite numerous attacks and invasions, the lifeline of spirituality still beats strong in the country's heart. This is the only Golden Path to peace within us and without. Demanding a right to celebrate some day or right to drink is hardly a movement! It's surely not a campaign!
There has to be an upsurge of Human values. A wave of spirituality. A wave of Yoga-the science of uniting with the source-uniting the body and mind. A wave of recognising India's true spiritual wealth.
That's a Movement.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Pub Culture-Vulture Hai Rabba!

There's an extremely interesting controversy-cum-debate raging in urban India today: Whether or not pub culture should be encouraged...whether it goes against the Indian values of what culture should be and so on....
As expected the Media is twisting facts, putting words in mouths and basically fanning the fire to see to it that people of India have a completely deluded picture of what "freedom" means, what exactly is "responsibility" and what "moral" or "immoral" constitute.

And now, my two cents...

As far as my memory goes, I don't remember anybody being lauded or hailed as a hero or even someone to look up to if he or she visits a pub, exercises his/her so called "freedom" by drinking and splurging moolah by going regularly to pubs/discs/whatever. What freedom are we fighting for over here? Freedom to get drunk? Freedom to put oneself in smokey bars and pubs to inhale carbon monoxide( and God knows what else)? Freedom to be out "partying" with inebriated men and women? Is this the freedom that young Indians are fighting for? Ridiculous. And this is apparently a "choice". But these very bunch of "freedom fighters" do not realise that after they become parents, their kids are going to be out "partying" too. I cannot somehow imagine a parent not being concerned or in fact mighty worried about his/her kid out in a pub, exercising "freedom" and making a "choice" by going and drinking at a pub/bar/disc! Is this generation THAT myopic??
Now one might argue that one has complete "freedom" to spoil one's own health by drinking. What has the moral police got to do with individual choices. But in any case the "I, me, myself and mine" syndrome has swung now to the extreme end! One does not stop to think that every action and inaction has an effect on the society as a whole. No matter how much we disscociate ourselves from society, the fact remains that all individuals are a part of society and we are interdependent. Just one person alone without assistance and encouragement from others can't do nothing! So, it's only sensible that one is aware of the choices that one makes. And I fail to understand how health is not an issue in the mind when one chooses to indulge in pursuits which are clearly harmful! Healthy individuals make a healthy nation. It's so simple. And a healthy nation means a prosperous nation.
It's really not about Indian culture against western culture. It's just about beind sensible. Atleast little sensible to start with.
Yoga, Pranayam, Secularism, Hospitality, seeing Omnipresent Divinity, Respect for elders, Ayurveda, regarding the body as a temple...these are a part of the amazing Indian culture. How about starting with atleast the first two in the list as a primer to our ancient culture?
Personally I don't even regard going to a pub as "culture" of any sort. But maybe it's time for Urban India to experience Indian culture too. That way they can make a more "informed" choice.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Maharashtra and the Educated Idiot

This article is about my beloved home state, Maharashtra. So if you think I am going to please your mind by talking ill about the "Marathi Manoos" cause, then do turn away this moment.

Now that we have that "pressure" out of the way, we can begin talking...
Gone are the days when people of India could safely distance themselves from anything that was political or nationalist in nature. The bigger issues of today are staring into our faces and sometimes breathing down our necks. Let's accept it: Whether we want it or not, we ARE all involved in the happenings around our country.

Take the issue of Maharashtra for instance. It indeed should not have become an "issue" to begin with! To insist that Marathi be spoken in the whole of Maharashtra( including Mumbai...some people refuse to accept that for reasons largely vague) is quite beyond my understanding. Is Tamil spoken in Tamilnadu? Is Kannada splashed all over in Karnataka( including's better to make it clear that the capital of the state is not an exception to the rule)? Is Bengali spoken in West Bengal? Shouldn't Marathi be spoken in Maharashtra? The answers are a big "YES". It's so simple. I fail to know why it is undemocratic, unconstitutional and unfair. 
Let's ignore Raj Thakre and the other Thakres for a moment. The Marathi banners in shops should have been made compulsory by the B.M.C. and the State Government. It is their responsibility. But that they have been sleeping on the issue, a Raj Thakre had to rise and threaten to implement it. Funny how hastily people termed it undemocratic. Mumbai is not independent of Maharashtra. How can it be? Intellectually impotent people who revel in blatant displays of "sophistication" want Mumbai to be given an autonomous status. Ok. Then let Maharashtra stop supplying power, water to Mumbai. Let Mumbai produce it's own power. Is it possible? I am not even beginning to talk about Samyukta Maharashtra movement! Was it for nothing? 
Now let's turn towards the "educated idiot". There are lots of them around in the guise of our own friends. I know one such 29 year old woman. She is an Engineer and has been working for a VERY reputed software firm from many many years...has lived in the USA( that somehow gives her the prerogative of growing horns on the head) and her mother tongue is not Marathi. Just yesterday we had an argument about this entire issue. Needless to say that she is dead against Raj much so that she wants him dead.
Well but as far as the next national hero "shaheed" Rahul Raj is concerned, she had some very interesting arguments. For example:

1] "He just had a gun. He at least didn't kill anybody. Had he wanted to kill, he would have...but he didn't. He just shot someone in the leg. So why did the Police have to kill him?"

Rahul Raj was an infuriated young man WITH A GUN who COULD have easily killed somebody. Nobody in with a sane mind would trust someone with a gun who is shouting like a mad man, "phone lagao! Main Raj Thakre ko maarna chaahta hoon!", and has hijacked a BEST bus, has grievously injured a passenger(am sure there are people out there who would argue about what exactly amounts to being "grievously injured" ) and had the potential( owing to the gun) to injure many others! And the Police did talk to him asking him to surrenderbut of no avail. So the Police should have captured him alive. Even I would have liked that. After all he was a young man of 23 with a life ahead of him and much more potential than just wielding a gun. But the Police have done their job. And if that hurts "sentiments", well nothing should be done about it. Rahul Raj was no freedom fighter, nor a soldier. At least don't doubt the integrity of Police each time who actually run the risk of losing their lives...and they regularly do. But if anyone thinks they can come to Mumbai and threaten the citizens here with life-threatening tactics like these, they should be and they will be shot down. 

2] "Even Guru Nanak had a weapon. So did Rahul Raj. But they didn't hurt anyone."
Honestly, I am at a loss of words. My "educated" engineer friend said this. Hating Raj Thakre is one thing. But putting Guru Nanak Dev and Rahul Raj on a similar platform is an utter lack respect for life, spirituality and goodness. And somehow posthumously everybody acquires a halo of sorts. Rahul Raj has suddenly become the new-age "martyr". I feel ashamed of people who defend Rahul Raj's actions. Or may be he should have killed 5-6 people on the roads of Mumbai for giving the Police enough reason to kill him. What a shame is this kind of thinking! 

3] "Lalu Prasad Yadav is not at fault if he gives advertisements for the Central Railway Board Exams only in regional dailies of U.P. and Bihar. If candidates from Maharashtra, Karnataka or elsewhere want to appear for it, it is THEIR responsibility to find out if exams are happening or where and when they are happening. It's not Lalu's responsibility to play it fair."
At exactly this point my brain and all the other faculties had practically gone numb.  Somehow there is a perception that people in Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra are rolling in luxury! How poor is public memory about the dire straits of farmers from Vidharbha. We are not living luxuriously. The past CMs of Maharashtra have worked towards making Maharashtra what it is today. Maharashtrians have a legacy of culture, language, music, history and art which we are extremely grateful for and proud of. Maharashtrians are hard-working and honest people which has taken Maharashtra to the position that it is today. But my point is that because I love Maharashtra, I don't hate other states! Obviously not! If all of us start thinking a little more about "how can I help my home state some more?" and start objectively looking at whether my Chief Minister is really doing his job well, then won't we all progress as a Nation? Shouldn't people from Bihar question the CM: Why don't you ever talk about supporting the dying farmers of Bihar instead of encouraging us to "attack" Mumbai in scores for Chhat Puja!Where are our jobs in Bihar? Why are there no jobs in Bihar? Where are reforms? Where is the infrastructure? Where are the basic necessities of life?
If we all start looking towards our home states and start asking these questions, it will have an effect. The only solution to unemployment in other states does not lie in coming to Maharashtra. And it's not fair on the local people here. In fact it is a funny sight to see "bhaiyas" selling fish instead of the local Koli women. 

Really, if I get a transfer to Coorg or some Tea or Coffee plantation area, I will not bring thousands of Maharashtrians one by one and start working as "tea pickers" and "snatch" the livelihood of the local Kannadigas! It's not right. 

This is not called "drawing borders". This is not regionalism. Everyone is welcome here and everywhere else. We are not dividing. Come here, buy yourself a home( but surely not a shanty on the footpaths of Mumbai!), work here( earn your job), enjoy the culture and diversity with your own culture, adapt, contribute, respect( the language and customs) and we can all live happily ever after! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What is the Solution???

If only people would choose to call a spade a spade...things would look quite different in India today. All the muffled voices of the diminishing's about time that they are heard.
Can we turn to the Media to get an untainted glimpse of reality? Not any more!

We are all waiting for the next news of another bomb exploding somewhere. Then our pretty little Home Minister will come out in his pretty suit and denounce the bombing(s) in the "sternest" words and also reiterate that it does not mean that Intelligence had failed. Then the Police will start the search operations and when the alleged terrorists are finally apprehended or shot down; sometimes at the cost of their own lives like in the case of Late MC Sharma, some university or some Minister or some newspaper will stand up in support of the deceased "innocent civilians" and also fund their lawsuits! And the infamous bastard of India Arjun Singh, called this a step in national interest! These people should be put behind bars for siding with those who support terrorism in India. But WHO will bring them to book? Unless one more person from the Gandhi monarchical family dies in a hideous terrorist attack, their eyes won't open. The Congress gets an unnatural surge of sympathy for the alleged terrorists but never for people like you and I who die like dogs on the street!

I am sick of the Media, the spineless Government and the so-called "oppressed minority" who doubts the integrity of the Police Force but are totally convinced about the innocence of the guilty. Why?? Just because they belong to a particular community? What kind of governance is this? Till date in all the terrorist-attacks around the country, maybe by some weird kind of coincidence if we may assume, names of only people from a certain community come up. The entire rest of the world including the USA, UK and parts of Europe and Australia has denounced "Islamic fundamentalism" which now has assumed the proportion of "Islamic Terrorism". Why does the Muslim community in India has to be angered by that? Are they the only Muslims in the world? No other Muslim in another country takes an objection to that. And of course the Congress fans this controversy even further with help from the pseudo-secular media. Isn't the onus on shoulders of the Muslims in India too to ensure that their children don't become fundamentalists? Again the age-old allegation of Muslims not being integrated into mainstream India...well, send your kids to cosmopolitan schools, teach them to appreciate other religions and cultures, imbibe in them "Indian-ness" before "Muslim-ness". If Muslims under an imaginary threat from the extremely "ruthless blood-hungry Hindus" want to huddle close only to one another, how the heck are they going to be assimilated in the mainstream. And interesting point here is that Urdu is recognised as one of our National Languages. In which other country in the world will a language of "minorities" be made a National Language except in India? Haj subsidy is given to Haj Pilgrims from India EVERY SINGLE YEAR. But when even Amarnath pilgrims don't have access to subsidies and resources even till date! They had to fight for that RIGHT! And Hindus have no Godfather sitting at the Centre. There is infact no hope for Hindus in this country. What an irony!

By putting up a farce of "protecting" the minorities by not allowing Police to "exploit" Muslim youth under the name of Investigations, the Congress government is putting everyone's lives at stake. The simple fact is that when a bomb explodes, everyone dies including Muslims. If the Congress keeps delaying introducing stricter and harsher laws to deal with terrorism, more people will die.  And it will not help anybody! Is this kind of appeasement right? I urge ALL of you to think. Is appeasement warranted? What is anyone gaining by not introducing a bill against terror-activities? The Congress has been fooling people-especially the Muslim community- by acting as if they are the saviours of the community. 

We need a change in governance. Desperately. 

Monday, October 13, 2008

Being Hindu

I have been wondering lately about things happening around in the country. How at regular intervals religions are made to assume center-stage and then invariably one religion is made to look down in shame by the English Media and Politicians. Want to take a guess? Yes, it's Hinduism. But today Hindus are step-children in their own country. The intelligentsia gladens itself and thinks  of it as a great act of secularism to come down heavily on Hinduism and Hindus every time: either a Masjid falls, "benevolent" missionaries are attacked or talks of dealing with terrorism in a stern way is talked about.
I was telling a "secular" friend of mine:

Talking about victimisation of Hindus somehow equals to being communal or "anti-nonHindus". And that is sad. I am not against Muslim citizens but I AM against terrorists being portrayed as heroes. The Jamia Milia University has decided to fund lawsuits for the alleged muslim students; apparently they are innocent. Then perhaps Inspector MC Sharma must have shot himself. You know Parth, this mentality is like these new age child psychologists where suppose a child makes a mistake, throws a horrible tantrum or demands for something unreasonable, or is utterly rude, these pyschologists REFUSE to reprimand the child out of the fear that it may hurt the child's psyche! Even the parents are not allowed to rap the child for its obvious mistake. Suddenly for the child now the friendly Psychologist Aunty is dearer and nicer than it's own Mother. Because Aunty (like Smt. Sonia Gandhi) spoils and Mommy scolds. It's the same here. A mistake is not seen as a mistake. All terrorists are innocent/Pakistani/Bangladeshi/and now Students?? Why was POTA revoked? Because the Congress wants to play it safe. No one wants to hurt the minorities. Is no other law ever misused? I say, if Bajrang Dal is proven to be involved in raping, arsoning, burning and sabotaging national property and nationals themselves, they should be given the strictest punishment in law books. But I wonder why not a single terrorist has been ever brought to book? 

And let's not be hypocritical. If there is no "Islamic Terrorism" there cannot ever be a "Hindu Extremism". Same logic: terrorists are only a handful, not the entire community therefore extremists are also a handful and not the entire Hindu community. They are just youth misled by communal forces. They cannot be called HINDU. This is where the bias and the ulterior agenda of Media kicks in. "HINDUS ATTACK CHURCHES IN ORISSA". It's splashed all over newspapers and TVCs. Really? Have "Hindus" attacked? Come on! One has to be blind to not see the hypocrisy. And then all the intelligentsia indulges in self-blame and how disgraceful it is for Hindus to do such dastardly acts and then we begin questioning "Is my religion really the greatest?" Have we stopped to consider how many Muslim youth live in poverty and how perhaps Islam in India is not really doing a great job. Is it not a discredit then? Is it not time to consider whether Muslims should send kids to schools or Madarsaas?

But I will tell you what. We have no guts to ask OR to answer these kind of questions because it requires one to introspect.
And the reason for this is quite clear. NO other international community is ever going to criticize the Goverment for attacks happening on Hindus. Which other country spoke against what happened on Godhra station? No one. A couple of Christians die and then France, Italy and the Pope and of course the USA condemn it. And then our spineless Prime Minister apologises! He doesn't have the guts to ask them to shut the hell up because it's a matter within the boundaries of India and no other country has a reason to poke their nose in our matters. So it all just boils down to appeasement.
And by this I don't mean that all Hindus are saints...just to make it clear.

Coming to conversions...let me narrate a very curious incident. I was studying at XIC, Xavier's Institute of Communications, Mumbai. It's one of the premier Institutes in the country. There was a fellow in my class of Advertising and Marketing-ultra-cool (or so he thought-he took pride in eating beef. Seriously!), drummer, funny and co-incidentally, Catholic. One day he told me that he would not eat the prasad that I had got from Siddhivinayak Temple because he was forbidden by Church. This occurred in MUMBAI in the year 2005. Quite disturbed, I narrated this to another Catholic friend of mine. His name was Luke and was fairly open-minded than the one with I-am-so-cool-because-I-eat-beef attitude. Luke told me that in some Churches, it was openly told that Hindu Gods and Goddesses were demons/Satananic. The Pooja that Hindus do is form of Satanic worship and therefore the Prasad is from Satan himself! So, ABSTAIN!!! Why go far in the interiors of India to know what methods missionaries could be employing to increase the "herd". If an educated Mumbai resident can be brain-washed into believing that Hindu Gods are demons, what can one say of innocent, hapless villagers. Is voicing an opinion against such methods of fraudulent conversions anti-secular? And conversely, is calling another religion names, secular?
No one will ask these questions. Because it requires one to introspect. And that needs courage. And no Shashi Tharoors or Anil Dharkers or Times of Indias or NDTVs or any pseudosecularists will provide the answers. 
The answers lie within all of us...only if we choose to delve inside.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Gone to soon

There are people in my life I know
Of some I have managed to let go
But some linger on in blood and sinew
Ever crisp like the morning dew

Time is the best healer they say
And all the memories will turn gray
I don't know if it's a bane or a boon?
What we had is gone to soon

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Lights, Camera, Action!!

Sometimes I think that in my head, my teenage is not yet past me! Yes really. I would teenagers as thinking of their lives or a particular situation to unfold like a movie scene...with all the slow motion and wind blowing through the hair and dialogues...the works!
I still do that!
Many times I find myself thinking of a situation in the most un-realistic, movie-like, melodramatic, dramatic way! I plan and rehearse my dialogues. Imagine that this particular person to whom I wish to deliver my killer lines is going to "co-incidentally" meet me in a Mall for example and then time would stop and the camera would zoom in on both of us, all the OTHER 'insignificant' people will go in slow motion and out of focus, electric guitars or violins will play in the background...and I will deliver my lines in an orchestrated confident fashion and walk away in style while putting on my Ray-Ban sunglasses!
It's funny when I catch myself doing that! But at the back of my teenage mind, there's still a little hope somewhere that the situation will exactly unfold in the way I have imagined it.
Does it happen to any of you? Sometimes? At least occasionally?