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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Dictatorship and Democracy -1

It's a great myth that democratic nations support democracy in other parts of the world. China and India are on the same page in the case of maintaining relationship with Burma's dictatorship government. Both of these developing nation will eevntually walk on the same path of USA i.e. supporting puppet dictators for its own development. There is no doubt on the rise of US economy after 2nd world war. Let's have close look on foreign policy of American government in last 60 years.

Pakistan prominent newspaper, Dawn covered a pin pointing editorial on relationship of America and Dictators : Would Pakistan in the 21st century be wracked by militancy and terrorism if the US hadn’t supported Gen Zia and pumped millions into the Afghan ‘jihad’?

The point here is that America has long been hand in glove with military dictators and varied despots, not just in Pakistan but across the globe. In Central and South America it has even engineered coups to oust democratically elected administrations. Bloodbaths followed but that did not deter the US from throwing its full weight behind regimes that were answerable to no one but Washington. US foreign policy inflicted grievous harm on countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Chile and Nicaragua in the Americas and Indonesia and the Philippines in the east.

Then there was the generous support for the likes of Saddam Hussein, the Shah of Iran and of course every single Pakistani dictator dating back to Gen Ayub Khan. A lot of this had to do with the exigencies of the Cold War. But the fact remains that the US itself has derailed democracy throughout the world.

I am not asiding the era of cold war in dealing with the issue of American interference. Yet, the moral policing of American government has not stopped post soviet era.

The Southasian Idea commented long back on the backdrop of USA in Iraninan youths protest against forged elections: This is not the first time that an election is being stolen in Iran. Only American citizens remain uninformed of what happened in 1953. [There was a 1953 CIA coup against Iran's democratically elected prime minister.] And that was not an aberration: leave aside Chile (known in Latin America as the first 9/11) and the banana republics of Central America, the US government has even intervened in elections in Greece and Italy during the 1960s. There is need to ask the question: Why? Why has even the American government been so scared of democracy? And why does it desire democracy in Iraq but not in Saudi Arabia?

In the coming blog post, we will discuss that there is huge relation between development and mode of governance in the state. Till now, the readers would have easily guessed the answer of question : Why does USA desire democracy in Iraq but not in Saudi Arabia? Oil.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ten Issues - 6

1- Transparency and Poverty in India:  It is interview of Aruna Roy a prominent leader of the Right to Information movement and and Nikhil Dey.

2- Indian Culture: How does one define “Indian Culture”? And more importantly, why is “Indian Culture” always defined in terms of what women should and should not do?

3-A World Split Apart by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: Commencement Address Delivered At Harvard University published June 1978. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is a writer and Through his writings he helped to make the world aware of the Gulag, the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system – particularly The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, two of his best-known works.

4- Food security - of APL, BPL and IPL : The official line is simple. Since we cannot afford to feed all the hungry, there must only be as many hungry as we can afford to feed. The truth is the government seeks ways to spend less and less on the very food security it talks about, writes P Sainath.

5- The Longest Take of Their Lives: This is related to much talked movie Peepli Live making news due to Amir Khan marketing skill. This article is about director Anusha Rizvi and her casting and co-director husband Mahmood Farooqui. Their families wounded each other from opposite sides of the literary wars. Now with their debut film Peepli Live, Anusha Rizvi and Mahmood Farooqui are ready to take the fight to low culture.

6- Central Bureau of Investigation : It is Central Bureau of Investigation in JK, Elsewhere, Congress Bureau of Investigation. Hard question asked by Reporter on the credibility of CBI.

7-For the Children : For a parent, there is a lot to learn too – understanding the underpinnings of Hindu mythology and more importantly how to introduce children to it. Dr. Pattanaik gives a elegant answers to all.

8- India Today: Cultural Intolerance among Fundamentalist Hindus.

9- Why Adding Followers Alone Won’t Build Your Community : Understanding about social media following where the evidence is clear: the quality of the communities you build is much more important than the size of your following.

10- Knowledge is not a shovel: The primary aim of education, however one understands it, must be to nurture the ability to reflect, to develop new ideas, and to implement these collectively, writes Gesine Schwan. Cognitive multilingualism is the only way to prevent the specialization of knowledge narrowing our horizons to an extent that results in structural irresponsibility.

Quote of the Day: Bush's foreign policy was very simple: fuck the world. Obama's is very simple, too: talk pretty and do nothing. -by Evert Cilliers (aka Adam Ash)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Why the world needs WikiLeaks !

I often blog about culture but partially global politics. I do care about injustice, but the global scale and systematic nature of it has left me stunned. There is so much attempt to curb our freedom, liberty and public information in the name of secrecy and security. This blog post is compiled in the span of 30 minutes as soon as I became aware of about Wikileak.

Wikileaks is an international organization, based in Sweden. It publishes anonymous submissions and leaks of sensitive documents while preserving the anonymity of sources. It has set a new standard in free information flow across the world. Afghanistan War Logs, Baghdad airstrike video, Guantánamo Bay procedures, 2008 Peru oil scandal and Toxic dumping in Africa: The Minton report are few important leaks of the secret government documents. You can read more about them in encyclopedia.

It is more productive to engage with, rather than censor. There is an intimate and indissoluble link between intellectual and political freedom. There will be no security for dissidents and their families as long as freedom of thought and freedom of political action are guaranteed by the law of the land. Now I will rest my case and will not write anything. Just watch this TED interview of Julian Assange, Editor in chief and spokesperson for Wikileaks.

Why the world needs WikiLeaks ! (MUST WATCH)

Afghanistan War Logs : More than 90,000 secret military records of the US war in Afghanistan were published online Sunday providing new evidence that Americans have been misled for years about the war in Afghanistan. And, The White House and its international partners today sharply condemned the action like all authorities do while undermining the new facts raised by the document. Check 'The Afghan War Diary'  for full details.

Baghdad airstrike video: A secret video showing US air crew falsely claiming to have encountered a firefight in Baghdad and then fired blindly. This footage of July 2007 attack made public as Pentagon identifies website as threat to national security. See yourself full version of this disturbing video.

An article in Guardian describes the video. To quote a few lines: "The lead helicopter, using the moniker Crazyhorse, opens fire. `Hahaha. I hit 'em," shouts one of the American crew. Another responds a little later: "Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards." The article goes on to say "The behaviour of the pilots is like a computer game." and that's absolutely true, as you'll see.

But, I am here for something more than that. I am here for Bradley Manning, the person who chooses his consciousness to  reveal these secrets to common public. Manning allegedly told journalist and former hacker Adrian Lamo via instant messenging that he had leaked the "Collateral Murder" video (of the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike), in addition to a video of the Granai airstrike and around 260,000 diplomatic cables, to the whistleblower website Wikileaks. He is the whistle blower that we should be proud of and take inspiration in fight against injustice. Kudos to Wikileaks also for their endeavours !

In May 2010, a 22-year-old American Army intelligence analyst named Bradley Manning was arrested after telling Adrian Lamo he had leaked the airstrike video, along with a video of another airstrike and around 260 000 diplomatic cables, to Wikileaks. As of June 7, Manning had not yet been formally charged. Manning said that the diplomatic documents expose "almost criminal political back dealings" and that they explain "how the first world exploits the third, in detail".  Wikileaks said "allegations in Wired that we have been sent 260,000 classified US embassy cables are, as far as we can tell, incorrect". Wikileaks have said that they are unable as yet to confirm whether or not Manning was actually the source of the video, stating "we never collect personal information on our sources", but saying also that "if Brad Manning [is the] whistleblower then, without doubt, he's a national hero" and "we have taken steps to arrange for his protection and legal defence". (citing from wiki)

Julian Assange says that Wikileaks has released more classified documents than the rest of the world press combined:  That's not something I say as a way of saying how successful we are - rather, that shows you the parlous state of the rest of the media. How is it that a team of five people has managed to release to the public more suppressed information, at that level, than the rest of the world press combined? It's disgraceful. [Source]

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Nothing to Write !

Mental idleness leads to aimlessness and eventually despondency. To be a contented and creatively-active person, one has to keep doing something that keeps your zest for life alive and inspires you. For me it is blogging, it makes me feel alive. Today, Nothing to write but a zeal to express is there in the heart.

I am observing that there has been shift towards how much you own, how much you can get paid for some skill that you have, and bargain hard to get the most you can. We've been culturally brainwashed to believe that the average products for average people, compliance, focus on speed and cost (the factory approach) is the one and only way. It's not the ideal situation. People deserve more and have more potential within. I feel that capability rather than domain knowledge is more important;

Today, I find a beautiful paragraph on creativity by a famous poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz. In 1951 Faiz and a number of army officers were implicated in the so-called Rawalpindi Conspiracy case and arrested under Safety Act. The government authorities alleged that Faiz and others were planning a coup d'etat. He spent four years in prison under a sentence of death and was released in 1955. That is where he wrote about his experience on solidarity. Faiz on himself  --- 

Prison life, like love, is itself a fundamental experience which opens up a new vista of thoughts and insight. The first thing is that, like the dawn of love, all the sensations are again aroused and the mistiness of the early morning and evening, the blue of the sky, the gentleness of the breeze return with the same sense of wonder. And the second thing that happens is that the time and distances of the outside world are negated; the sense of distance and nearness is obliterated in such a way that a single moment weighs on the mind like the day of judgement and sometime the occurrences of a century seem to be like the happenings of yesterday. The third thing is that in the vastness of separation, one gets more time for reading and thinking and for decorating the bride of creativity.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Understanding Islamic Culture -2

Continued from the Part 1,

When there is no cultural, political or social movement in a country, alternative forces emerge. That's why I believe that the intellectual life of the Islamic republic has virtually ground to a halt. The fear of causing offence has helped undermine progressive trends in Islam and strengthened the hand of religious bigots. Secular Muslims have come to be regarded as betraying their culture, while radical Islam has become not just more acceptable but, to many, more authentic. There is less need to quote Quran and Hadith again and again for better understanding of Islamic doctrines. This trend has led to cherry-picking whichever paraphrase or translation supports whatever point one attempts to convey through holy book.

Here, we have to understand the relationship between the Muslim and the non-Muslim world. The idea of two separate worlds divided from one another is wrong and violent repression is the seed of terror and militant Islamism in the Islamic world. Let us continue with more practical deabtes happening about Islam in different part of the world.

1- Understanding Islamic Feminism: Interview with Ziba Mir-Hosseini. In this interview with Yoginder Sikand she talks about the origins and prospects of Islamic feminism as an emancipatory project for Muslim women and as a new, contextually-relevant way of understanding Islam.

2- Has Islam a Place in a Modern World? : Bettina Robotka  discuss about the question of whether there is any positive role for Islam or for religion as such in a modern world is gaining urgency in the light of an ongoing “War against (Islamic) terror” and the spread of militant and conservative interpretations of Islam.

3- Democratic Change Must Come from Within: The prominent political scientist Amr Hamzawy tells Bassam Rizk why democratic change and the strengthening of civil society in the Arab world can only come from within. Interview by Bassam Rizk.

4- The Acceleration of History: Contrary to the European experience, secularization in the Islamic world preceded a religious reformation – with profound negative consequences for political development in Muslim societies. An essay by Nader Hashemi on Islam and democracy.

5- Re-Inventing the Taliban: Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, a young director originally from Pakistan, traveled back to her country to document the growth of Islamic fundamentalism there. Silke Kettelhake reports.

6- Mr. Tarek Fatah joined Globe and Mail opinion piece to take questions about Islamic radicalism, the doctrine of jihad, Pakistan and the global tide of extremism.

7- Full Equality before the Law for All Religions: French political scientist Olivier Roy is one of the foremost European experts on Islam. Eren Güvercin spoke with Roy about the current Islam debate in Europe;

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Udaan to Infinity and Beyond

Udaan is touching chords of nostalgia of growing up amongst adults and charming the young with hope in the eyes. The undecisive youth wants time and emotional support to pursue his/her dream career. Udaan is going to be more than teenage success in coming years, a benchmark for coming of the age film. Udaan is going to be our own The Catcher in the Rye, an expression for the teen angst.

Udaan was selected in the competitive section in the prestigious Cannes film festival. And the mainstream media and bollywood reaction: silence. Unforgivable! Such efforts need encouragement in an early stages so that Udaan could have good outreach to global audience. Mainstream media and bollywood fails us in great way. Now, when Amitabh Bachan likes the movie, everybody is hailing it as masterpiece. Udaan is a cinema based on real life and that has touched us in our lives. And people must watch it as its the voice and angst of mature teenager. I find ~uh~™ 's review enchanting and rational to support my view :

At 17, most people don’t know what they want to do with their lives. At 35, most people realize that they should have done something which they loved to do at 17. The rest, just a handful, takes a path of their choice. Udaan is about realizing that choice in life. Though, Udaan is definitely not one of those ‘protagonist is a winner’ tales, but just a hint of the force to win. As they say, an end is always the beginning of something.

Many people raise this question, ‘why should we watch a movie like Udaan and waste our quota for weekend entertainment, which doesn’t solve any problem, but just shows what we already know?’ or ‘ The story did not end properly’. Well, Cinema is a medium of expression by which a writer/ director expresses his feeling, makes a statement and leaves it to the interpretation, acceptance or rejection to the audience. The more real the story is , the difficult is to end it. Is there any ‘ending’ to real life stories ? As Satyajit Ray said – Cinemas of the world were not meant to change a society. The audience is. But Cinema has created sensible audience. What a cinema like Udaan probably does, it uses the language of cinema to educate and inspire many young Rohan’s to take off on the right direction, at the right time.

I don't know about other times. The motivation, self-realisation for energies happens more in company of friends than family these days. Thanks to the Indian family environment that averts risk tendency for more stable and well traveled path. Generally, we often seek jobs for position and prestige, not passion or drive. Our aversion for patronizing good cinema can be well understand by analogy forwarded by Bq on ours attitude towards study of liberal arts : [Source]

"Regarding education in the liberal arts, you have to admit there is a certain class element to those who chose to/are able to pursue serious study in its various fields. For example, someone who is a first generation college student, i.e. first in his/her family to pursue education beyond high school, would much rather choose a ‘safe’ field such as engineering or medicine or aim at clearing the IAS exam, simply because it makes the most economic sense to do so. I would even go so far as to argue that for a country to have a vibrant intellectual environment in the liberal arts, a substantial middle class is pre-requisite; the liberal arts being a more likely choice of perhaps the 2nd or the 3rd generation college student.

I’d imagine something of the sort applies to the US as well if you look at period such as the 60′s, when a new generation not only revolutionized the the popular discourse but also the intellectual one in various disciplines and departments across liberal arts colleges in the US. A generation, I would add, that was considerably better off than the previous one, considering most of them were born in the booming post WWII era. Now whether the second or the third generation born in India post the 1991 reforms demands better avenues for education in the liberal arts remains to be seen."

This movie reaffirms my belief that content is the king. Movies like Udaan are flying high and are capable of taking Indian cinema to infinity and beyond. The perspective of the dreamers are raising and there will always be several flights of 'Hope' in the sky!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Role of Media

1-  One grey issue needs our attention :  The real tragedy of the media’s surrender to the state is that journalists have stopped reading books, especially history books. Speaking at the Fifth Al Jazeera annual forum Robert Fisk laments the state driven semantics that take over and alter grave debates:  Journalism and 'the words of power' ;

2- Media does not act out of grief or out of some sense of compulsion at the death of any celebrity. Media is merely pandering to the lowest common denominator for commercial considerations as the stories that combine sex, glamour and death find a ready market. So its like justification of drug peddler for giving drugs to victims as given by media on defencing its coverage of sensational gossips and celebrity lifestyles.

3- Let me remind you, there is a public service broadcast also in this mob of news channels for serving citizens of this  nation. That is called Prasar Bharati.

B G Verghesse covers necessity of public service broadcaster in telling news :What ails Prasar Bharati ?

The “public” it serves embraces the entire diversity and plurality of India, men and women, aged and children, rural and urban, tribal and dalit, illiterate and elites, the differently-abled and disadvantaged, belonging to all regions and professing all the multifarious languages and cultures of India. Its role is to inform, educate, empower and entertain these many publics, not privileging any above all others.

Further, he focus on the difference of commercial and public broadcaster:
Commercial broadcasters are perforce dependant on ratings and necessarily compete for audiences that relate to the advertising that sustains them. They therefore primarily woo the “customer” and not the “citizen” who, for the most part, still lives below or perilously above the poverty line. The public service broadcaster's duty on the other hand is first and foremost towards the citizens of India, many of whom live in remote or backward areas, experience myriad difficulties and exploitation, speak “minority” languages and dialects and seek knowledge and empowerment to fulfill their varied needs and aspirations. There is no other agency to fulfill this supreme obligation. A nationalized broadcaster, serving the Union government of the day (for even the State governments and panchayat institutions have been deliberately excluded) simply does not fit the bill.

Reputed Journalist, P Sainath puts that responsibility if media is - to signal the weakness in society. That remains a minimum duty of a decent press. A society that does not itself, cannot cope. The focus is on the spectacular. The long term trends that spell chaos does not make good copy.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The 400 Blows

This is mine 400th post on the 'Sparsh'. It’s an eve of expression and celebration for me. I have a long journey of “unlearning" prejudices to gain insight of human nature. Also, the explosion of the blog phenomenon has exposed youths like me to a multitude of opinions. I had read, written and discussed about social, economic, and political opinions of importance and enjoyed sharing views on cinema.

I read several bloggers but follow ritually for new updates on these blogs : Nimmy, Nimmy2, Indianhomemaker, Rashmi Bansal, Atanu Dey, Devinder Sharma, TheSouthAsianIdea, Prof Abi, Sameer Bhat, anindianmuslim , Winds From The East , Calamur Harini, Vikram V Garg, Diptakirti, aPocRyPHaL, Anu, The Rational Fool, Nita, The Religious Policeman, kufr, Roshmi, Jaya, Santosh Desaijoie de vivre and Rajjo;

I read and like works of these Public Figures : Osho, Nadeem F. Paracha, Bill Maher, Christopher Hitchens , Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, P. Sainath, Namit Arora and Pankaj Mishra ;

We as a whole shun social scientists but there is a deep urge among many to understand what is wrong with our country and society. There is a need to examine deeper causes because denial and inertia are easier than rational, analytical debate. We need  writers who can bravely give voice to what people had been wishing- but not daring to say for many a year. I aspire for that role.

I love Internet as it has been able to blow lid on the cheating systems set in pre Internet era. Internet gives me blog space to publish my views without any censor. Internet is a wonderful place and offers endless opportunities for individuals to connect with the rest of the world. So why restrict yourself to the boundaries of ours geographic region? Step out and explore.

I enjoyed writing all these four hundred posts. I view each blog post as a blow to the moral fabric of society by an individual. I am in the search for the elusive individual buried behind the cultural , national, colonial and global sentiment. This blog is now a crazy obsession, its about finding a new instrument true to the one's spirit. I will write more and more till there is passion and curiosity kicking inside me...

Sunday, July 11, 2010


I have became a big appreciator of Bill Maher for his commentary on various social, political and religious issues. Here is his brilliant take on apocalyptic vision of religion in the must watch documentary Religulous:

It seems peaceful, but this is where a lot of people believe the world will end. The irony of religion is that because of its power to divert man to destructive courses, the world could actually come to an end. The plain fact is, religion must die for mankind to live. The hour is getting very late to be able to indulge in having in key decisions made by religious people. By irrationalists, by those who would steer the ship of state not by a compass, but by the equivalent of reading the entrails of a chicken. George Bush prayed a lot about Iraq, but he didn't learn a lot about it.

Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It's nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith, and enable and elevate it are intellectual slaveholders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction. Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don't have all the answers to think that they do.

Most people would think it's wonderful when someone says, "I'm willing, Lord! I'll do whatever you want me to do!" Except that since there are no gods actually talking to us, that void is filled in by people with their own corruptions and limitations and agendas. And anyone who tells you they know, they just know what happens when you die, I promise you, you don't. How can I be so sure? Because I don't know, and you do not possess mental powers that I do not. The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt. Doubt is humble, and that's what man needs to be, considering that human history is just a litany of getting shit dead wrong.

This is why rational people, anti-religionists, must end their timidity and come out of the closet and assert themselves. And those who consider themselves only moderately religious really need to look in the mirror and realize that the solace and comfort that religion brings you actually comes at a terrible price. If you belonged to a political party or a social club that was tied to as much bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, violence, and sheer ignorance as religion is, you'd resign in protest. To do otherwise is to be an enabler, a mafia wife, for the true devils of extremism that draw their legitimacy from the billions of their fellow travelers. If the world does come to an end here, or wherever, or if it limps into the future, decimated by the effects of religion-inspired nuclear terrorism, let's remember what the real problem was that we learned how to precipitate mass death before we got past the neurological disorder of wishing for it. That's it. Grow up or die.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Necessity of Blasphemy - 3

“Those who cannot attack the thought, instead attack the thinker.” (Paul Valery 1871-1945)

A true questioning spirit is always introspective in nature, not accusatory. Verified doubt is scientific and it lays the foundation for merit-based trust. The advantage of a questioning spirit is that it is the opposite of an inquisition. Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against errors and dogma. Voice of reason asks for the justification of each a religious doctrine that is proclaimed as true without proof. This creates a conflict in the society as people wants to be in their comfort zones of tradition. It is falsehood alone which needs the support of religion. Truth can stand by itself.

The Judeo-Christian tradition began with the Hebrews but the goal was to extend the "faith" to the entire world over time. Judeo-Christian tradition has taken civilization back many years when scientific records and journals were destroyed in the name of being blasphemous. Christianity has a long history of persecution of non believers. And West has came through Dark ages through Renaissance, Reformation, Scientific Revolution and Age of Exploration. Despite major challenges to Roman Catholic dogma, however, enlightenment occurred in Europe.Today, Christian Theology - excluding those fundamentalist churches whose aim is to reassert doctrinal truths - has likewise softened many of its ontological claims, due to increased exposure to both scientific insights and the contrasting theological claims of other faiths.

Dissent is taken as disloyalty and infidelity in Islamic nation these days. And, such reformers are forced to exile and degenerated as declared a ‘blasphemer,’ ‘liberal apologist’ and an undercover [CIA, RAW, MOSSAD] agent. Like, Egyptian Farag Foda, who was killed by an Islamist group in 1992, or those of the Sudanese scholar Mahmud Mohammed Taha, who was hanged in 1985. Pakistan’s outstanding, moderate Islamic scholars, Javed Ahmed Ghamdi, has had to fly out of the country into a self-imposed exile. Ghamdi was facing a number of threats from certain puritan and violent Islamic groups. His sin? He stood out as a mainstream Sunni Muslim scholar who banked on reason and an interpretive take on the Quran, eschewing the myopic literalism of the puritan groups that espouse a violent, political view of Islam.

Today, progressive countries like Malaysia and Turkey are developing due to western education. And the Arab culture, the cradle of Islam is lacking any scientific development. A simple question of liberal mind : why are liberal Islamic (Malaysia and Turkey) or non Islamic nation moving forward while strictly Islamic nations are being left behind? And the answer lies in the concept: “the resignation of the mind.”

Koran should be openly, freely and publicly subjected to the kind of historical and philological scholarship. There are hundreds of [Koranic] psalms and hadiths urging Muslims to value war and to fight. It doesn't mean that all Muslims literally follow them. Instead of taking decision based on the logic, experience and prevailing circumstances, when we see through the eyes of a Koran only things go wrong.

When same book is quoted again in both ways to inflect war on non-believers (infidels) and proving Islam as religion of peace, something is wrong with the book only. The contradictory teachings are not discarded and taken with the matter of absolute faith had damaged the image of Muslims everywhere. The same religious text is interpreted in two different ways. Some interpret it to preach peace while others interpret it to preach hate and both the sections are convinced about their interpretations. When people are mere loyal to the words in the thousand old year book, there will be wrong done in the name of good also.  Those defending religions has got fair share of  rational education that led for this ability to question own’s logic, experience and prevailing circumstances.

When everyone wears their religion on their sleeves, making callous remarks such as comparing gods, and that "my god is better than your god", the kind of mockery and insults thrown around that is bound to warrant irrational responses, even if they are thrown about today by careless groups seeking to provoke. There is oft quoted verse “There is no compulsion in religion”. From the behaviour of most religious people, it seems that there is supposed to be compulsion on everyone to follow what the upholders of religion want them to follow.

Today, there is an urgent need for creating an environment in which people feel free to ask questions, and in which diverse reactions are tolerated, is essential to social debate and paves the road for the acceptance of diversity that is so desperately needed in all our societies. A firm ‘no’ to all forms of bigotry and discrimination – religious, ideological, regional and sectarian – is an imperative. Until theologists had to saw the questions raised by Blasphemer as a challenge, not as a threat, the problem of religious conflicts is not going to be solved.

 Hence, I will end my essay on the necessity of blasphemy with words of Rational Fool who concludes correctly about religions : It's disingenuous, therefore, to claim any religious origin for scientific advancement. Crediting Islam with Algebra, or for that matter, Christianity with the Copernican revolution, is like crediting the Czar with the Bolshevik revolution.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Ten Issues - 5

1- Who pays the price for paid news? : In mid-June, the Election Commission of India directed Chief Electoral Officers of all states and Union Territories to enforce the law against "paid news" during elections. The institutionalised racket has been running into hundreds of crores of rupees. Ammu Joseph brings you up to speed.

2- Lokayukta stand on illegal Bellary mining has put Government of Karnataka in trouble. Santosh Hegde, the Lokayukta (ombudsman) for Karnataka gives first hand account to Tehelka Magazine.

3- Why you must read this censored chapter: Raman Kirpal reports, When the truth about the flouting of tribal rights in the Red Corridor struck home, the government dropped a whole chunk of damning material from a report it had itself commissioned.

4- Living with the Enemy: Applying the ideas of Holocaust survivor Jean Améry to present day Rwanda, our author argues that reconciliation after genocide is just another form of torture.

5- How Goldman gambled on starvation: Speculators set up a casino where the chips were the stomachs of millions. What does it say about our system that we can so casually inflict so much pain?

6- Why You Shouldn’t Leave the Web to the Web Guys : Here are a few simple rules that will help you get the most out of your web development and digital strategy.

7- “10 Ways to Run a Banana State” ; Kopach, a columnist for the independent portal, published a list translated at Global Voice Online.

8- Size of the Public Domain : The basic take away from the analysis was the finding that, based on library catalogue data. A take on copyright issues.

9- Narayana Hrudayalaya: A Model for Accessible, Affordable Health Care.

10- The Narcissism of the Small Difference: In ethno-national conflicts, it really is the little things that tick people off. Check conclusion of article here only :

One of the great advantages possessed by Homo sapiens is the amazing lack of variation between its different "branches." Since we left Africa, we have diverged as a species hardly at all. If we were dogs, we would all be the same breed. We do not suffer from the enormous differences that separate other primates, let alone other mammals. As if to spite this huge natural gift, and to disfigure what could be our overwhelming solidarity, we manage to find excuses for chauvinism and racism on the most minor of occasions and then to make the most of them. This is why condemnation of bigotry and superstition is not just a moral question but a matter of survival.

Thought of Day : When an ordinary farmer unable to feed his family commits suicide, it is not even a footnote. When a model, no matter how faded, kills herself, it is in headlines on all television channels. That is corporate media for us.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Islam and Muslims

Does an innocent Muslim has to share blame of terrorist activity if it was done in the name of Islam ? Absolutely not. And people shouts that Islam is the religion of peace and these persons are doing this for their own greed and evil motives. This is where I didn't agree a bit with all of them. Then, you have to see countless videos on youtube with people proclaiming their religion as best and elimination of Jews from the earth in the name of Islam. The point of difference is that these so called terrorists don't act barbaric for their own good but perform it voluntarily for bringing reign of Islam. Don't even get me started over hate teaching education to next generation.

Of course, one has to distinguish between Islam and Muslims. The source of the problem is in Islamic doctrine, and not in cultural accretions. Stereotyping all Muslims as backward thinking is wrong way to have an opinion on Islam. Islam became rigid in hands of Mullahs that want to define every walk of life through religion only. The identification with Islam have became in such an ethical orientation flow pattern, which is largely about the theological concepts haram - the Forbidden - and halal - the Permitted - structured. These prohibitionists made a serious miscalculations: they reacted to their failure by demanding the laws be tightened even more.

It is the fear of understanding the other and eventually becoming the other. For if Muslims understood their motivations, they would have to accommodate their worldview in themselves and that would be very problematic indeed for Mullahs army dictating Koran. Mullahs calls for punishment or at best, forgiveness, but never understanding.

When Mullahs ban a popular addiction (sex, alcohols) that millions of people want, it doesn't disappear. I have not even started about books, painting, kite flying or any other entertainment stuff. Instead, it is transferred from the daily life into the hands of criminals. Even the attempts done on moralistic approach fails because they were, beneath all the blather, a war on human nature.

We must not forget that too much divine power in a priest’s hands would corrupt him as much as that in any other individual’s hands. Zealous priests who can preach deliverance cannot rule.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

We Live Cinema!

I have quite "diverse" movie watching and reading habits. As someone who feels equally comfortable watching Kurosowa and cheaply-made B grade movies, the principle of diversity holds good. The fundamental principle of aesthetics is to acquire truly good taste one has to be able to recognize both ugliness and beauty, is applicable to the whole range of human experience. It is important to understand what should be accepted and what must be rejected.

Cinema is there for reflecting our lives, dreams, ambition and hidden desires on the celluloid. Reality and Myths can't be separated but diversion towards one will lead to an uneven balance of the world view. We don't watch cinema for consumption only but to refresh ourselves with an entertainment or get reflection of our lives.

It took great efforts to create the art by a artist. It is so much greater than what it cost us to consume only. The experience may be greater than consumption but the film maker is giving us gifts without doubt. Film maker is an artist create an uneven exchange, bring himself closer to the recipient, create change and do it all with the right spirit.
While one of the great joys of cinema is the ability to be transported into another time and place with the theme of universal appeal. Looking at Indian Cinema all these years, we ought to have produced some directors who could have captured our imagination and brought crowds to watch cinema of world standards.

Cinema is deeply personal like any other form of arts. The western expectation of Indian cinema continues to be exotic (read "poverty porn") and according to defenders of bollywood fare, it should be infused with song and dance aka Broadway style. Such an expectation of West from every bit of non Hollywood cinema will tend to distort the cinematic vision of ours own. The originality will disappear when we always want to prove our quality without rooting our films in our own culture.

Originality and dareness to speak truth is prime responsibility of any artist. Even Kafkaesque cat-and-mouse game of promotion and censorship holds on the content of the art. No cinema loving film maker will finish his piece of art as a propaganda film. And even in the threats of hooligans groups, its responsibility of each artist to take a stand. We need to be inspired by the stand taken against institutionalised oppression of government by Chinese, Iranian or Russian filmmakers.

A new generation of film makers in India is now engaging with the most varied facets of a society that is oddly locked in the tension between optimism and stagnation, between attraction towards the past and fascination with the computer age. And the high point is that these new generation of filmmakers are embed with a socio economic confidence perhaps lacking in the previous generation. We are living cinema with these film makers. By questioning the conformist and norms of society through medium of cinema, I will live the life of cinephile. I am here due to a pure love for cinema, a middle ground between the ignorance of the mobs and the pseudo intellects with an attempt to drive their film loves to this new horizon.


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