Dr. Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life are Not Meant to be Broken!

If you have followed Dr. Jordan Peterson’s trajectory closely, you would agree that if nothing, he has at the least gotten under the skin of the shallow, lazy intellectuals who have been enjoying an extended honeymoon in the marketplace of intellectuals. Right from their stranglehold on the academia to their presumption of privilege to be heard first on all matters significant or otherwise, the foundations have been shaken. Now, some of them have gone to their study to revise the fundamentals of their worldview and the ones who were there only by the virtue of intellectual nepotism have unwittingly come out in open with their lack of depth and understanding about matters Dr. Peterson speaks of. Faced with such a situation, I have seen them doing, one of these two things – either they keep talking to the straw-man their professors had created for them back in their schools or they keep throwing off meaningless personal allegations against the man. This is such a common streak in Dr. Peterson’s interviews (mostly, the ones that have been taken by the flag-bearers of lazy intellectualism) that most of the time, he is not being heard. What we see instead is some sort of passive listening while their active brain is busy stitching its next net to trap him. On the other hand, Dr. Peterson doesn’t shy away from taking his own sweet time to listen so as to draft better responses and throw in an honest question at the end of it which even though seemingly honest, pops up only by design . In a few minutes, aware or unaware, the interviewer is choked for space and starts following Dr. Peterson’s streak. So, while the interviewer is already zoned out, Dr. Peterson is still in the ring, ready to land his knockout punch.

 

 

I heard of the book 12 Rules for Life in one of his talks on YouTube. Since, the subjects and delivery of his YouTube lectures had me hooked on to them already, I didn’t have much questions about going ahead and buying his book. Typically, you would place this book on the self-help shelf in a bookstore but even if the book is kept in the autobiographies section, it would make equal sense, if not more. This is because Jordan Peterson is not into empty lecturing and tall tales. He draws heavily from his own life, his struggles, and his attempts to understand the ever-elusive meaning of life to explain his rules. This works in favour of the book because a book that is meant to help you should have at least helped the author before taking birth as a book.

 

 

One must increase one’s strength by sadhana; otherwise one cannot preach. As the proverb goes: ‘You have no room to sleep yourself and you invite a friend to sleep with you.’ There is no place for you to lie down and you say: ‘Come, friend! Come and lie down with me.’  – Sri Ramakrishna (Gospel/Vol2/34.html)

 

 

Jordan presents the book as an antidote to chaos. What chaos is he actually talking about? Before he starts explaining the rules, while telling us about the title, he says, “Perhaps if we lived properly, we would be able to tolerate the weight of our own self-consciousness. Perhaps, if we lived properly, we could withstand the knowledge of our own fragility and mortality, without the sense of aggrieved victimhood that produces, first, resentment, then envy, and then the desire for vengeance and destruction. Perhaps, if we lived properly, we wouldn’t have to turn to totalitarian certainty to shield ourselves from the knowledge of our insufficiency and ignorance. Perhaps we could come to avoid those pathways to Hell-and we have seen in the terrible twentieth century just how real Hell can be.”

 

Now, if I had to count the attributes of today’s individual that contribute to the chaos Mr. Peterson is talking about, they would be the following –

 

  • Loss of Self-Esteem

    Too many in this world are being brought up with a sense of criminality about the human race. While a bunch of people keep working to make this world a better place, there are so many individuals who really believe that humans are not good enough for this planet. Add to this, the deliberate divorce from one’s own history, culture, and heritage being effected by the academia and popular media, our youngsters grow up without any self-esteem. They only know to loathe themselves and others with increasing intensity every day.

 

  • Playing the Victim Card

    We have become too touchy, we like flashing the victim card all the time to outshout others and make ourselves heard. We play the victim card when we are on the wrong, we play it when we have wronged someone else. This has far reaching consequences. One, nobody is ready to take responsibility for their actions. Two, the real victims are almost never heard or ignored and they keep suffering. Three, we end up living a life based on lies and deceit. We reduce ourselves to mere actors and manipulate our own worldview to see the world as a stage and everyone else as fellow actors.

 

  • Loss of Purpose

    This point in part is connected to the first point. Our world is more connected than it has ever been. With 24/7 internet life, online profiles, avatars, the need to flaunt or fake your happiness and success has migrated from our neighbourhoods to the World Wide Web. That world is naturally more fierce, less forgiving, and changing at a breakneck speed. So, individuals end up making stories and exaggerating their experiences instead of living a truly meaningful life with any sense of purpose.

 

  • Envy

    This is one aspect of our chaos that is not always addressed openly. This feeling is not unnatural but what we let it do to us is very much our own choice. While some people let it drive them to lead a meaningful life, most of the people let it destroy them one sad day at a time.

 

  • No Respect for the Other Person

    This other person can be your friend, family, parents, sibling, teacher, colleague, or somebody you don’t agree with on political issues. The lack of respect has made all our exchanges a zero sum game where either you are with me or against me. If you are with me, good. If you are against me, you are a fascist. The middle ground of mutual respect has perished. What am I talking about? Check this piece by Dr. Shashi Tharoor – am-i-a-closet-sanghi-for-mourning-demise-of-an-rss-man-somethings-terribly-wrong-tharoor

 

  • Handling Grief

    For all the interconnectedness chatter in the world, we are not really doing ourselves proud when it comes to making real connections. More families are going nuclear, people have fewer friends, we seldom know who our neighbour is, and trusting colleagues has become an impossible thing at work. While solitude can be empowering when exercised by choice of time and place, compelled loneliness leaves us terribly vulnerable in times of grief. When something happens to somebody close to us, we are caught helpless while trying to deal with our grief.

 

Now, this is of course not an exhaustive list, so you may add to it whatever you feel brings chaos to our life. Just one word of caution, when you start adding to the list, do not begin by thinking of the society at large. Instead, begin by thinking about yourself and your own life. Start by including the chaotic aspects of your own life. Human beings are not too different from each other. What you find in 1, you fill find in n. It is for this reason Dr. Peterson highlights the importance of changing the world by changing the self. In his Rule No. 6, Mr. Peterson says, “Don’t blame capitalism, the radical left, or the iniquity of your own enemies. Don’t reorganize the state until you have ordered your own experience. Have some humility. If you cannot bring peace to your own household, how dare you try to rule a city? Let your own soul guide you…”

 

 Be the change you want to see in the world. – Mahatma Gandhi

 

Mr. Peterson has addressed all the points mentioned here and more through his 12 rules. Every rule picks on one thing that he wants you to start doing. For each of his rule, starting from ‘Stand up straight with your shoulders back’ to the last one – ‘Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street’, Mr. Peterson explains the fundamentals, his reason for framing such a rule, the positioning of the rule in his own life, and the biological, psychological, and historical context to the rule. All these rules are an attempt to help an individual live a meaningful life. It’s not that all of these rules will sound new to you. On the contrary, you must have heard most of them at different points in your life. Many of the points Mr. Peterson identifies are in fact ancient wisdom of our sages. However, Mr. Peterson with this book lends a new seriousness to these rules that they deserve in modern times. A new teacher is good only if he helps you understand things that the previous teacher could not. So, if you have heard about these rules before and could not understand their import or function in your life, Mr. Jordan Peterson makes an excellent new teacher.

 

 

The world is the great gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong. – Swami Vivekananda

 

 

The book doesn’t end where the 12 rules end. The author adds a beautiful chapter titled ‘CODA’ to conclude the book. The chapter features a ‘Pen of Light’. Mr. Peterson received it as a gift from his friend. I would leave out the details of this pen for you to read in the book. However, I must tell you that this book seems to have been written with the help of this pen of light, metaphorically if not literally. This book is an attempt of the most sincere kind to help individuals become stronger. Our popular culture values victimhood more than strength but it is your strength that helps you escape victimhood. By strength, one doesn’t refer only to the kind you use to thrash your enemies. Strength means something far deeper than that. Strength of character, of conviction, of intellect, of emotions, and of spirit is what today’s individuals need and the book, through stories of our author’s own struggles in his life, is an attempt at leaving you stronger that way.

 

My Maa passed away on 31st January, 2019 after hoping for about 14 months that she would be able to defeat pancreatic cancer. I have not been able to come to terms with her absence in my life. Perhaps, that will never happen. However, I wanted to look at other people and their grief in order to understand mine better. I began to read a lot of personal blogs of people to understand how other people have handled grief and how do they see the helplessness that comes along with it. Thereafter, I stumbled upon C.S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed. Jordan’s 12 Rules for Life reached me after that.

 

In the last chapter, Jordan narrates the story of his daughter Mikhaila who was diagnosed with polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) when she was about 6 years of age. He writes, “…it begins with a question, structured like a Zen koan. Imagine a Being who is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. What does such a Being lack? The answer? Limitation… If you are already everything, everywhere, always there is nowhere to go and nothing to be. Everything that could be already is, and everything that could happen has already has. And it is for this reason, so the story goes, that God created man. No limitation, no story. No story, no Being. That idea has helped me deal with the terrible fragility of Being. It helped my client, too. I don’t want to overstate the significance of this. I don’t want to claim that somehow this makes it all OK. She (talking about his client) still faced the cancer afflicting her husband, just as I still faced my daughter’s terrible illness. But there’s something to be said for recognizing that existence and limitation are inextricably linked….”

 

Something supersedes thinking, despite its truly awesome power. When existence reveals itself as existentially intolerable, thinking collapses in on itself. In such situations-in the depths-it’s noticing, not thinking, that does the trick. Perhaps you might start by noticing this: when you love someone, it’s not despite their limitations. It’s because of their limitations.  – Jordan Peterson

 

The healing perhaps never happens, or maybe it does. I’m not so sure about it at this point of my life. However, to ‘notice’ that there are many others trying to understand life and its ways just like I am, gives a meaning to my own struggle. Mr. Jordan Peterson, like many other teachers of the past, reassures my belief that my struggle is not irrelevant, it is not insignificant. That belief according to me is ‘strength’ and that’s what 12 Rules for Life – An Antidote to Chaos is about.

 

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Read Your Friends Close And Your Enemies Closer

While he was still a student, Swami Vivekananda had already read Herbert Spencer, John Richard Green, Immanuel Kant, Schopenhauer, John Stuart Mill, August Comte, Aristotle, Wordsworth, David Hume, Percy Shelley, and Charles Dickens among other writers. Dr. Ambedkar, during his lifetime, had collected more than 50,000 books at Rajgruha (his house in Mumbai). On being asked to furnish a list of books that influenced him, Leo Tolstoy sent an age-wise list of 50 books that influenced him through his lifetime. We can make a list of the most original thinkers and leaders in the world and barring a few exceptions, we will invariably find that they were and are the most avid readers you can find. They never shied away from reading ideas that challenged their own perceptions of the world. Now, in a world where our habits are defined by the ways of the internet, thanks to the algorithms that track our preferences and reading history, we keep reading what we keep reading. As a result, forget the ideas we do not like, we don’t even understand the ideas we actually like.

 

Reading is a different space in the mind, a battleground where ideas meet. Some ideas mingle and sign treaties while some meet only to fight and decimate each other. Now, if this open field keeps hosting only one particular kind of idea and never lets other ideas anywhere near the battleground, the mind becomes a complacent place. It forgets how treaties are signed, it forgets how battles are fought and won, and most importantly, it forgets how a battle of ideas is lost. It is therefore, the duty of a reader to keep the battlefield alive and bloody, so that the ideas may sweat more during peace and bleed less during the war. If that duty is not taken care of, a stronger idea keeps coming at you until you are annihilated and you surrender without putting up a fight! It is at this point that you make a choice between – getting co-opted by the stronger force or remain exiled till you prepare for the battle anew. Sadly, most of us get co-opted.

 

Apart from their personal struggle, a lot many change-makers of this planet took their own sweet time to understand their own self better. They read ideas from different corners of human development. They examined them first hand and reached their own conclusions. They sieved out things and kept what they needed. They strengthened their ideas by putting them to rigorous tests and only then, came out to talk about them to people. These people had minds of their own. It was impossible to co-opt them. It was impossible to overshadow them. It was impossible to disagree with them in totality. This happened because they were sincere in their efforts and they all found one or more element of truth for themselves. An easy identifier to mark such people is that you will find otherwise completely divergent groups trying to appropriate their ideas after they are gone. That happens because of several reasons. One, these men and women were not afraid of revising their ideas from time to time, so one group cites from one phase of their lives and another from another without understanding the context. Two, these people have already done the hard work of reading and filtering of ideas, so the appropriating groups have it easier if they just accept them as their Heroes and follow whatever they like in their repertoire.

 

Now, things would have been still better if people just did not want to read about ideas they disagreed with. However, we have people who do not even want to read ideas they like, ideas that appeal to them, and people they adore otherwise. This is partly their own laziness and partly peer pressure.

 

“Ambedkar was a great man”
“…yes, Ambedkar was a great man”
“why?”
“because he drafted the constitution?”
“ok, so have you read the constitution?”
“What? No! How can one read the constitution?”

 

This population bifurcates at the point ‘action’ comes into the picture. Case in point, a protest march in the name of Ambedkar. One set will stay at home and the other will join the march with all their zeal. The ones staying at home are more or less a harmless set. The one on the street is capable of burning buses and hurling stones at trains in peer pressure or on the command of the leader who has studied Ambedkar but knows what to conceal and what to reveal to effect a nihilistic vandalism. That’s why I wonder why people are so surprised to find protestors in Anti-CAA and Pro-CAA marches not knowing what CAA even stands for. The lot that doesn’t want to read but is eager to burn is the injurious one and the growth of such set should be a cause for worry for all of us. People who have read 2 more books or a few more wiki links than these gullible people are able to preach to them and drive them according to their own fancy. The gullible warrior is too lazy to do his own background work and hence, walks behind people who do it or at least pretend to do it.

 

This is one reason for the widespread reach of fake news. Any influencer puts out a piece of news that might be fake (intended or otherwise) and his followers start sharing the piece without a care for its authenticity or consequences. The followers do not like the idea of reading, they do not like the idea of fact-finding, they do not like the idea of getting corrected – what they like is – does that shared statement help them ascertain their own beliefs? If it does, click retweet. If not, hurl insults. The reading and the contemplative population remain a minority. It is  common to see someone who has not read Ambedkar swearing in his name, someone who has not read Gandhi speak about Satyagraha all the time, someone who doesn’t know Sanskrit talk of protecting it with all their might, someone who has never read Karl Marx dismiss him nonchalantly or fight for him tooth and nail.

 

If you have read this piece till here and if you know you belong to this set, there is nothing to be ashamed about. The systems of our world make it easier for you to fall prey to a bigger fish and get co-opted. We like people who agree with us. Online bookstores suggest you books on the basis of your reading history, streaming channels show you show suggestions based on your viewing history, news aggregators show you news according to what you have clicked before on their site, and friends gift you books according to your taste. It is a difficult arrangement. The battleground of mind is a difficult place by itself and that space should not be up for co-option by anyone anywhere. Start making the change today. Dust your armoury, sharpen your swords, and if you want to bring about a revolution of ideas outside, bring it inside your head first. To begin with, read. Then, come out of your ideological silos and read some more.

 

CAB Protests and Our Grammar of Anarchy

The first thing in my judgement we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives. It means we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. It means that we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and satyagraha. When there was no way left for constitutional methods for achieving economic and social objectives, there was a great deal of justification for unconstitutional methods. But where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for these unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us.

 

When we do not use the constitutional devices made available to us and begin to disrupt our own society to get what we want, in my opinion, there can be arguably two chief driving forces – first, we have lost all faith in our judiciary. After all, just a few days back, a lot amongst us wanted the men accused in Hyderabad rape case to be lynched in a public spectacle and a large part of the country celebrated when they were killed in a police encounter. The defenders of the law are still having a hard time explaining what was wrong in such an act by the police. When you hear Nirbhaya’s mother speaking about her wait for justice for the last 7 years with one ‘juvenile’ already walking free, there is not much left to defend about the systems that were designed for justice but have almost become impediments to the same. Like any other pillar of democracy, our judiciary has become a prisoner of its own laws.

 

However, a large majority still fights with its self-doubts and conflicts with the system to rush to the court when needed. There is a reason that we have more than 3 crores cases pending in our courts. In absence of faith, most of these citizens involved in litigation would have become vigilantes themselves. This brings us to the second force – a lot amongst us do not believe in the institutions of the country, including the judiciary. So, when we are not busy fortifying our beliefs or absence thereof, we take to the streets to bring theory into practice. This set holds the constitution holy in public and burns it with the other hand in private and when provided with an opportunity to be their private self in public, they burn the constitution in public too. They are the ones who have carried out the so called ‘hijacking’ of the Citizenship Amendment Bill/Citizenship Amendment Act protests.

 

Hijacking of protests is not a new phenomenon. When you venture out to protest on the streets through your voice or your pen, you must begin with the assumption that there will be attempts to hijack your movement. If you don’t start with this understanding, your movement will be corrupted in no time. Now, if you do have that understanding, it is also incumbent upon you to prevent it from happening. However, if you consciously want your protests to be hijacked so that it becomes viral and you can extract a career out of it, you are not solving any problem. You are the problem.

 

 

The Question of Group Identification

A lot of people, including most of the media agencies, have betrayed their ignorance in the last week. There are individuals who have claimed that India does not share a border with Afghanistan, many have claimed that they live in India and not Bharat (ignorant about the adoption of the name Bharat in our constitution). There are individuals who have confidently tried to fact-check people who have been using the term ‘CAA’ instead of CAB after the bill was passed in the parliament. Then, there were people who took a week to understand that they cannot support the anti-immigration protests of Assam and the inclusion of Muslims in the Citizenship Amendment Act at the same time. Such people ranged from a few lazy but opinionated people, a few celebrities and their followers, a few small-time opinion makers on social media to some high and mighty so called intellectuals of the country and abroad. That such ignorance could be displayed with such confidence without even a reluctant look at our country’s history, geography, official documents, and most importantly our constitution, has amply proved that Indians don’t like details, we hate to read, we hate to understand our surroundings, and we absolutely abhor being questioned. Ignorance is not the greatest sin, believing that ignorance-is-bliss is.

Between being ignorant and believing that ignorance-is-bliss, lies a greater folly – the desire to play ignorant for the optics. This happens when you know what you are saying is wrong but it sounds politically correct and you can get claps for it, so, you go on to say it anyway. 

When presented with a question – If you had the option to take liberties with some facts and crack a really funny joke or being accurate with the facts and risk dishing out a bland one or no joke at all, which one would you choose? A populist choice makes you dishonest. An honest choice makes you less popular or even unpopular. Many intellectuals in our country however, choose the first option and divide the society into groups that carry one chief value that they decide to label them with. So, if a woman slanders you and you slander her back, they will come at you saying things like ‘how could you talk to a woman like that’ because even when they know that the woman in question is an individual first and the response to her was in her individual capacity irrespective of her gender; for these people, using the gender crutch helps them project themselves as feminists and also perhaps agreeable to a lot of people. 

 

One such oversimplified group in question in the ongoing protests is ‘students’. You will be hearing a plethora of generalizations flying across from both the warring sides – “these students are anti-national”, “a student doesn’t burn buses”, “JNU students are enemies of the nation”, “students like to study”. The absurdity of the arguments have reached such incredible heights that it appears that students are aliens whom most of us do not know and a few of us know too well. A student can be anything – nationalist, anti-national, sub-nationalist, ethno-linguistic fanatic, fascist, communist, sexist, homophobe, islamophobe, xenophobe, or even a terrorist. When the BHU protests happened over the appointment of a Muslim scholar and professor to teach Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vigyan, students were called out as bigots. A student can burn buses, another can douse the fire. A student may not want to study, a student may only want to study and do no politics. Being a student is not a qualification for righteousness. Depending on their life choices, it might prove to be the path to it. So, it would be a pragmatic thing to stop enjoying and promoting such oversimplifications.

While group identification is necessary for administrative purposes, our society (including the government and law enforcement agencies) will do itself a great good to stop assigning moralistic and ethical values to these groups. They can only be assigned to individuals irrespective of the group he or the government thinks he belongs to. 

 

 

The Question of CAA

The major protest to the bill came from Assam where certain groups want all illegal immigrants identified and sent back. Other groups in other parts of the country took the cue but changed the message and objective. They successfully carried out the pejoration of the Assam protests and went public with all their prejudices and politics. The issue was quickly turned into a Hindu-Muslim question and concerns were raised about the exclusion of Muslims. In that sense, this was the complete opposite of what the indigenous Assamese wanted. If you change a few variables like the party in power or the state in question (say, Maharashtra), the same set of people would have attacked the agitators for ‘complete exclusion’ for being xenophobic and fascists. So, instead of doing any good, the political protests across the country (more specifically Bengal) have in effect diluted the protests in Assam and when there should have been a rigorous debate over the process of identification, implementation, and impact on the Assam demographics, we got brute-braked on the usual Hindu-Muslim speed-breaker.

The group in favour of the Citizenship Amendment Act is happy with its current form and a few among them also want Sri Lankan Tamils, Atheists, and Apostates to be included. If India were to be morally one, then, only one of these sets is right and everyone else is wrong. But that is not true. Every region has its own problem and a state like Assam has a lot more than those which do not share a porous border internationally. So, the moral question changes with our vantage point. Kashmir has a different moral question than New Delhi and hence the same moral compass can’t be applied to the entire country. Then come the existential questions. Can we allow the migration to take place to an extent that the very purpose of migration is lost? That’s the question Assam is battling right now. On the technical aspect, everyone seems to be having a strong case, hence, I will be keenly following the court proceedings to be held in January 2020. The questions I will be looking for answers to are – 

 

  1. The Act does not mention the term ‘Religious Persecution’ but only minority religions in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. These two terms do not mean the same thing. So, what exactly is the basis of the amendment – ‘minority-status’ or ‘religious persecution’?
  2. If the basis is ‘minority-status’, then why have Jews, Atheists, and Apostates not been included?
  3. If the basis is ‘religious-persecution’, how will the government ensure that all Pakistani Hindus in India claiming citizenship have been persecuted on religious grounds?
  4. Mr. Amit Shah has mentioned in his Rajya Sabha speech that the bill will bring relief to lakhs (sometimes crores) of people. According to our Intelligence Bureau, “a total of 31,313 persons belonging to minority communities, including “25,447 Hindu, 5,807 Sikhs, 55 Christians, 2 Buddhists and 2 Parsis” will be immediate beneficiaries of the amended Citizenship Act”. Which number is correct?
  5. Will CAA be used to grant citizenship to people who have not found their names on the NRC list? If no, then how will the act bring relief to lakhs of people? If yes, then how will religious persecution be determined?
  6. Since, the persecution clause itself is not mentioned in the act, will it not become just an optional check for the government?
  7. One of the points supporting the amended act says that Muslims can still apply for citizenship using the preexisting channels. However, that is true for other minorities too. So, why the new amendment?
  8. How will the government prevent the evergreen bureaucratic lethargy and corruption of our country playing a role in this exercise and implementation?
  9. What is government’s defence for the Kargil veteran not finding his name on the NRC? How will such cases be avoided in the future?  

 

 

The Question of Our Neighbours

What is the reason that a secular state like India is surrounded by theocratic states that prioritise one religion over others? If we are hopeful of solving all our domestic problems while they remain theocratic, we are set on a fool’s errand. Of all the geopolitical realities of South Asia, this is perhaps our biggest failing. When a Hindu nation (Nepal) can become a secular state and the world can welcome it, what is inspiring our neighbours to remain Islamic in nature? Why are the secular forces in these countries not able to effect a constitutional change or escalate their agenda into a mass movement? Perhaps, mass movement is not the answer. When the government swears by a particular religion, raising a voice in protest becomes blasphemy. So, either the leaders of South Asia can sit down and have a conversation on the subject or we would have to wait for a popular government that sees secularism as an aspirational value to adopt. Even though Indian constitution valued secularism without declaring India a secular state, the process of officially becoming a secular state was a top-down action when the Indira Gandhi government brought the forty-second amendment. Do our neighbours have the necessary political will to effect such a thing?

 

 

The Moral Question

On the moral dilemma, what is more humanitarian, to shelter a few (minority who have been persecuted consistently according to reports from reputed organisations) or shelter none? Who is to be given a safe home, the persecuted or the persecutor? Should the act then be seen as a great humanitarian step that not many nations are ready to take? It is interesting to note that the act includes Christians too. The BJP has been accused of being against the Christians in the past and will be accused again even if a bird poops on any church in this country. But then, while religious persecution is a reality in our neighbouring countries, can groups alone define who is persecuted and who is not? Could there be only one Muslim who would have escaped and entered India because of his sectarian differences or apostatic persecution? Will it be moral to send that one person back? What details must this person furnish to prove religious persecution? What are the safeguards our government has put for such people? These are relevant questions, so I would suggest you to keep away from people who are straitjacketing this issue into Hindu versus Muslims battle. While people are throwing up on social media because they are habituated to, very few have seriously considered all aspects and tried to find answers. Fewer have even gone on to read the bill in detail to understand what it is and what it isn’t. Lazy citizens do not bring revolution. They just bring misinformation and a resultant bloody violence, upon others and in the end, upon themselves.

 

 

Three Warnings of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

In Indian newsrooms and public discourse, there are people who use Mahatma Gandhi’s name whenever they can’t make their own point. “Gandhi said this, how can you go against our Bapu”, is the favourite catchphrase of such lazy intellectuals. Since, they swear by Gandhiji’s name, I am sure they know why the Non-Cooperation movement was withdrawn. Using their favourite rhetoric, I can confidently say that Gandhi would have withdrawn from the so called anti-CAB movement at the first sign of violence. Invoking Gandhi is a hogwash most of the times – just a thorn to take out the existing thorn. Once, the existing thorn is removed, the Gandhi thorn will be thrown away without a care.

On the other side, if one is to believe that the BJP and our Prime Minister have nothing to gain from the Hindu-Muslim polarisation, it would be repeating the mistake. Mr. Modi lost the moral battle the day he referred to the clothes of the protestors during one of his speeches in Jharkhand. So, now we have one side referring to saffron colour to identify the criminal and other side referring to skullcaps and kurtas to know the criminal. In doing so and not able to see the problem, we have already ignored the 2nd warning of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (another utility thorn of our lazy intellectuals, always discarded once the point has been made)-

The second thing we must do is to observe the caution which John Stuart Mill has given to all who are interested in the maintenance of democracy, namely, not “to lay their liberties at the feet of even a great man, or to trust him with power which enable him to subvert their institutions”. There is nothing wrong in being grateful to great men who have rendered life-long services to the country. But there are limits to gratefulness. As has been well said by the Irish Patriot Daniel O’Connel, no man can be grateful at the cost of his honour, no woman can be grateful at the cost of her chastity and no nation can be grateful at the cost of its liberty. This caution is far more necessary in the case of India than in the case of any other country. For in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.

 

The focal points of power must be checked. Government, political parties, media, academia must be asked questions when they want to remain unquestioned and unaccountable. Anarchy is not the answer. Anarchy is nothing but dictatorship at the level of an individual. Soon enough, power centres more devious than what we set out to demolish will rise again. Democracy is still the best solution we have in our hands and a strong democracy needs an opposition with a spine. That is partly our misfortune and partly our own doing. The present opposition doesn’t inspire confidence. The arsonists can never make a good opposition. 

 

I should put out a disclosure here. The first paragraph in this article is the first warning of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. Please read it again if you did not pay enough attention for the first time. As the Nirbhaya rape convicts have their review petition rejected, Kuldip Sengar stands convicted of rape, CBI gets yet another thrashing by the court, and the court decides to hear petitions regarding the CAA in January 2020, I would still like to believe that our judiciary keeps showing signs of life every now and then. In the absence of an intelligent opposition, the judiciary of our country has been holding better and much more informed debates on matters important to us and just by doing that, it gains the right to become our first resort to justice, of course, only if we believe in our democracy and our ability to plug the existing holes. Otherwise, individual and group dictatorships are already exhibiting their designs on the streets. Decide.

 

Nithyananda is Inevitable and His Kailasha Solves a Real Problem

The Dalai Lama and HDH Nithyananda Paramashivam are incontrovertibly two of the most powerful spiritual figures of the present times. Both are outspoken, against the tyranny of the establishment and are working towards a new world order – one where divisions disappear and people live in peace, powerfulness and prosperity. Both are exiled from their homes and have hence become citizens of the world. Both are ancient beings who have re-incarnated to bring back order into the chaos that the world has become today. (Source – kailaasa.org)

 

Apparently, cancelling someone’s passport in India ensures that the person will be found tweeting from a different country the next day. If you appear stupid enough to be deemed harmless to the government, the government will let you continue with your stupidity for as long as you want. However, if the party in power has over-promised to its people and you suddenly start doing less stupid things like ‘inspiring terrorist groups’ as in the case of Zakir Naik (who otherwise kept parroting scriptures with exact coordinates of verses) or ‘kidnapping’ and ‘employing child labour’, in Nithyananda’s case, you start to become an eyesore. The government then, cancels your passport.

 

So, who is a citizen of the world? Trash all your pretentious concepts of cosmopolitanism and culture-assimilation myths. The first thing you would need to do is escape (not exactly escape, just book with an airline and fly, nobody is chasing you) from India to start your journey of attainment. Expand your operations to other countries. You keep spreading your deeply spiritual operations of radicalization, kidnapping, extortion, and sex carnivals. Only when you become the most-desired in most of these countries, you have a shot at becoming the most-wanted. Of course, when you are wanted everywhere, you have attained world-citizenship. Since, he can’t be everywhere till such time that he seriously, and not ‘casually‘, tests his teleporting and cloning machines, Nithyananda has created a new nation. The exact location of this new country is not ascertained yet but let’s trust Mr. Vijay Mallya to mark the place on google maps once he arrives. Mr. Mallya must have realized that buying an island and creating a nation out of it are two different things, much like how Mr. Fadnavis realized that having the largest number of MLAs and forming a government in Indian politics are not the same.

 

Nithyananda means business. He is a thought-leader, a spiritual giant of his time who discusses ideas and world problems with his fellow thought-leaders like the former CFO of Infosys – TV Mohandas Pai. In the past, he has also discussed the future of science with Mr. Rajiv Malhotra. The stakes get higher if you look at the website of Kailaasa (his new Hindu nation). It gives you a point by point comparison between Dalai Lama and Nithyananda. Having some experience as his audience on youtube, I was able to separate the chaff from the wheat, chaff being the parts written by some freelance content writer (the boring stupid parts) and wheat being the parts blessed by His Divine Holiness. By the end of these impeccable comparisons, it was obvious that Dalai Lama and Nithyananda are the same person. Dalai Lama is the Bruce Wayne. Nithyananda, the Batman! The only difference is – Nithyananda, the arch-nemesis of Einstein, knows more physics than Batman can ever know. (Refer E=MC2 ≠ E=MC2).

 

Nithyananda’s country – Kailaasa or ShriKailasha serves an important purpose. While the BJP is concerned about persecuted minorities from only our neighbouring countries, it has given no thought to the Hindus persecuted within the country. Thanks to Nithyananda, persecuted Hindus of India too have a home now. Now, when the courts ban crackers right before the next Diwali, the persecuted Hindus of India can #ChaloKailaasa.

The price of onions in our country is sufficient evidence to prove that in any case, all Indians, are a persecuted lot and a lot of non-Hindus will also try to sneak into Kailaasa for the free-food Nithyananda is offering. If he wants to prevent this illegal immigration, he must direct his department of health to reach out to Nirmala Sitharaman for her onion-free recipes and to make her their brand-ambassador! We will console ourselves with radish instead and suffer in our own country.

Savarkar: Misunderstood Messiah?

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar commonly known as Veer Savarkar has attracted renewed academic interest in the country thanks to the highly successful biography by Author and Historian Vikram Sampath. While Savarkar has always been a device for shrill disputes in our country’s polity, this rare academic revival brought him and his biographer to the festival. Vikram Sampath, who is one of the founders of the festival was deftly interviewed by veteran Journalist and SwarajyaMag’s Editorial Director Mr. R Jagannathan. 

 

Mr. Sampath while replying to Mr. Jagannathan said, “The proponents as well as opponents of Savarkar know very little about him. He is discussed during every election for political gains and to some extent both the so called Left and the so called Right have misunderstood him. There are many positions that Savarkar takes which will make the current Indian Right uncomfortable. For example, his position on caste system, divinity of cows are things that today’s Right might not like. Also, a bulk of misunderstanding comes from the history books written by the Left historians.” Mr. Jagannathan went on to ask about the ensuing debate after the demands of Bharat Ratna upon Savarkar. “Ofcourse, this was done with an eye on the elections. In fact, Uddhav Thackerey set the cat among the pigeons in his book launch. Thereafter, the BJP picked it up. Now, both parties have together won the elections, so it remains to be seen what happens of the demands. Also, it is true that these awards of national importance have been the preserve of one particular ideology and family. Our freedom struggle has been narrated in a monochromatic way which is not true. So, maybe it will be some kind of recognition for him. Although, even if it is not bestowed, it won’t make any difference to him or his family.”, Mr. Sampath answered. 

 

Mr. Jagannathan asked several other questions pertaining to Savarkar’s shift in his outlook from when he wrote about Hindus and Muslims fighting together in the first war of Indian independence in 1857 to his idea of Hindutva and also his time in the Cellular Jail at Andaman. Mr. Sampath went into detail and explained how Savarkar was actually the one to start the first secret society in India called Mitra Mela which was later called Abhinav Bharat to create disaffection in the armed forces. For his book on the 1857 revolt, Savarkar spent five years in London, researching in libraries. He understood the Indian perspective of the mutiny and reinterpreted it as the First War of Indian Independence. The book was so popular and effective amongst the revolutionaries that Bhagat Singh got the second edition published. Similarly, Rash Behari Bose and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose too got the book republished.

 

Savarkar was somebody who spoke of different communities being rainbow on Indian sky and in Mr. Sampath’s opinion, two particular events – first, his experience at the cellular jail where the British played the game of divide and rule and got the Muslim jamadars to convert the Hindus and second, Gandhi’s role in the Khilafat movement to mobilize an entire community to fight for a movement thousands of miles away that resulted in riots across the country, affected his positions and ideas. During the Moplah riots, Gandhi praised the rioters as great warriors fighting for their community and addressed Abdul Rashid, the killer of Swami Shraddhanand as his brother. Savarkar thought that Gandhi needed an intellectual counter and a small book called ‘Essentials of Hindutva’ that he wrote from Ratnagiri jail should be read. Mr. Sampath also stressed that the allegations of him being a coward because he wrote mercy petitions were unfair to him. Petition was a legitimate legal recourse available to the prisoners then and even Gandhi himself on requested for help by Savarkar’s brother, asked him to write a petition and wrote one himself. Also, the petitions were for the prisoners and Savarkar was ready to stay in the jail if others were released at his expense.

 

The discussion was brought to a close with Mr. Sampath explaining many points where Savarkar’s views would differ from the current Right of our country. There on a subject like caste system, his ideas were more like those of Ambedkar and not Gandhi. Savarkar believed that the cow must be treated as a utility animal and not a divine being and his idea of Hindutva was more cultural and nationalistic where allegiance to the country was the only identity marker. With a couple of questions from the audience members, Mr. Sampath explained the inclusive nature of Savarkar’s Hindutva and his idea of ‘equality for all, appeasement of none’.

Parading Your Empathy Brings No Good to the World

Empathy plays out in our world in different forms. If you are someone who plays by group identities and the sufferer belongs to one of the groups you like, empathy certainly takes deeper colours. It is not impossible to empathize if you do not know the group identity of the individual victim but it just gets more difficult from there. From anonymity of group to a sufferer who belongs to a group you detest, empathy keeps fading till it becomes the exact opposite of itself. Magnitude matters too, although inversely. The expression of empathy is most intense when the victim is one and can be identified with markers like name, age, employment status, proximity from the observer, or photographs. When the sufferers cannot be identified as such and number in hundreds or thousands, a cursory sense of empathy appears but yields to indifference in quick time. Empathy manifests with deepest emotions when the object, event, or individual to be empathized with has an element of immediateness to our lives, for example, our family members or friends. However, as gaps of time and distance widen, empathy starts to come in short supply.

 

But is empathy in itself enough? Can empathy alone provide solutions? While many who have come to be known as ‘armchair activists’ would argue that it can, the history of humanity shows that technological progress right from the invention of the wheel has done more to take people out of their sufferings than empty empathy. Here, it is important to distinguish between people who use empathy as their driving force to act for the good of others and the ones who take credit for all the good happening in the world because they empathize for the weak and the sufferer.

 

A scientist working for the cure of a deadly disease may or may not be guided by empathy. If he is not guided by empathy, he might be driven by any or all of the following things – an obsession to solve problems that are difficult to solve, fame that would lead to greater wealth and personal well being, or peer competition. If at all such an individual is driven by empathy, he does not stop with expression of that empathy in words. He gets up everyday, walks up to his work, and channelizes his empathy with the help of his intelligence and skills towards solutions. If this individual lacks skills or intelligence, he will either stop at empathy with a whimper or make a living out of empathy exhibition. 

 

Though feeling true empathy is a great first step, we err when we stop ourselves at empathy. Empathy can play the role of a catalyst but a catalyst without reacting compounds can do little. True sympathy needs the reactants to come together in order to produce something more effective. Unfortunately, what we have today amongst  us is ‘manufactured empathy’ that is a product of media plots and schemes. What passes as empathy is often just a jolt out of our routine and a reckless expression of fear. Then, the engines of this artificial empathy – the news media and the social media among others take you on a guided tour of your favorite show that you missed last night or throw cute cat memes on your timeline and you are unconsciously driven to a ‘manufactured routine’.

 

Empathy in isolation is an exercise in self-gratification where you make yourself feel better by thinking that you think about XYZ cause and somehow that makes you a better person than everybody else. Some people who have taken to empathy as their full time job have it even worse. I see them on the front pages of the Internet, TV, and Print, showcasing their empathy as some sort of object to be revered and celebrated. They come, they display their empathy, and then they blame the entire world for the situation. That is their solution. Such empathy can lead you to dark places, mostly towards blaming the system and the society. True empathy will lead you to act to do something for the empathized apart from putting up a self congratulatory facebook status. If your empathy ends at empathy, it is veritably a manufactured empathy that has been cultivated from the outside, cultured for the external world, and waiting for a beholder. That empathy is not enough and it does no good to the world or even you.

 

Empathy doesn’t work in isolation. Empathy alone doesn’t make you a good person. It may hint at your goodness but it doesn’t mean you are good to the cause or individual you empathize with. All the empathy of the world couldn’t save the two-year old boy Sujith Wilson who died stuck in a bore-well. If empathy could solve problems, he and many others like him in India who die in bore-wells could be saved every time. Empathy must wed intelligence, skills, and action towards solving the immediate problems around you. An intelligent act is to either keep your bore-wells covered or keep your toddlers under supervision all the time. Another intelligent act is to not let your own child drown in a tub while you are busy letting news channels aggrandize your empathy for Sujith Wilson. 

Howdy Modi and Why They Hate the NRIs

There was a time when crossing the seas was forbidden in India for the fear of the mlechhas who if mingled with, could disturb the purity of character of the sanctimonious Indian. Out of this fear, many never dared to go to the foreign lands but the traders had to travel to do their trade, so, they would come back and undergo some sort of atonement. However, the worrywarts of the community would still continue to enforce the prohibition and condemnation. As decades and centuries went by, these stopped mattering to people, or at least to most of the people. Most, because, it seems the regressive trend has made a grand come back.

 

After the NRIs put up a commendable show with ‘Howdy Modi’ at Houston, a set of descendants of mlechha-haters has surfaced on social media to profane at these NRIs who according to them are enjoying all the perks that a developed country offers and yet want Modi to continue at the helm in India. This according to them, is a bad thing. Since, these NRIs have already left the country, they can no longer have any views about India. The US immigration department, it seems, has kept brain scanners at the airports that scan and delete any opinion on India from the NRI’s brain on arrival.

 

Let’s understand this with an example confined within the boundaries of our country. If an NRI cannot have an opinion on India or a stake in Indian story, why should a Kashmiri studying in JNU or a Bengali settled in Bangalore have any opinion on Kashmir or Bengal respectively? In fact, when all the hotshots of Indian media can spend weeks of prime-time discussing US politics and their favorite Satan Trump, why should the austerity of self-censorship be forced only on the NRIs? Or perhaps NRIs are not the problem. It is not the NRIs who generate the hate.

 

Just a few monsoons ago, Kangana Ranaut was the Iron Lady of Indian feminism, hailed and cheered from all corners of self-declared woke media. Then, she made a mistake and professed her liking for Mr. Modi. This was a gobar-on-the-face moment (gobar is cow-dung) for many people who were looking for a new member for the Modi-Haters group on whatsapp.  This was not the only time they had gobar on their face. Ranvir Shorey was a greater disappointment. Considering his filmography of off-beat and critic friendly cinema, he was to receive a wild-card entry to the group. Alas, he too spoiled his chances by backing Mr. Modi and was castigated by leading lights of the group on Twitter. The trend became predictable at one point after people like Kabir Bedi, Shekhar Kapoor, Anupam Kher, Vikram Sampath, Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Maurice Obstfeld voiced their confidence in Mr. Modi and were hounded by the touchy people who deactivate their social media accounts for a day and skip their leg day every time Modi gets an award outside the country.

 

Your enemy’s friend is your enemy. Your enemy’s nobody is also your enemy. The hate originates, primarily for Mr. Modi and after travelling a distance of about 14000 kilometers now, seems to have reached Houston. This anger is mostly for the NRIs in the US and not the other countries like Saudi or the UAE. A reason could be that one of the admins of Modi-Haters group was beaten fair and square in a full house wrestling bout by the NRIs at the Madison Square Garden in 2014. However, I wouldn’t count on that as the primary reason. The NRIs in the US are somehow amazingly tantalizing at displaying their affection for Mr. Modi and with their money and political muscle, they manage to organize these colossal shows that give Mr. Modi global platforms to laugh at people who effected his US-Visa denials while he was the Gujarat Chief Minister.

 

It is not only Modi who is hated with such gusto. His supporters are told to drink Gau-Mutra (Cow Urine) and eat Gobar (Cow Dung) by almost all of these self-appointed custodians of India’s secularism. You are told to not talk to Modi supporters, not have Modi-supporting friends, not marry a Modi supporter, and push the Modi-supporting old woman crossing the street under the bus. For this set of people, either you shouldn’t have a political opinion so that they have a shot at washing your brain and injecting hatred for Mr. Modi or if you have one, it must conform to theirs. If it is neither of the two, then either you would be requested to drink cow-piss or in case you happen to speak English, you would be shouted down at literature festivals. No matter how many trees you have planted in your lifetime or how many people you have helped with your abilities, if you like Modi, you become Public Enemy No. 1. Unfortunately for Modi-Hate hags, the Houston event was not a literature festival. It was a display of the growing power of India in global decision making. At such events, only a leader who is democratically elected and has the backing of a majority of his countrymen can make a mark. It is a far cry from a literature festival of the self-proclaimed intellectuals who lecture on moral standards during the day and entertain with their drunken fights during the night. There are so many individuals in our country today who have Modi-Hate as their only claim to fame.

 

I was on an author’s panel once. One of the panelists had published his first novel and even though the book was grammatically holding fine, he struggled while speaking in English. That notwithstanding, he went on about his book at length. This was not received very well by a lady poet sitting beside me who continued to smirk at his struggles with grammar and accent. Once the event was over, she ran up to me to share her opinions about this author and all she had were words of insult and condescension for this writer. Of course, I was expected to join her in her circus of snobbery. To her disappointment, I had only respect for this guy who could complete a book in spite of his limitations with the language. Of course, in an instant, I became an NRI-mlechha to her. If only I had conjoined my sur (tune) with hers, I could have been part of some non-native-speakers-haters group. When you find out that the person next to you is not thinking like you do, hate begins to unfold. When you find out that a majority is not thinking like you do, you start turning into a fanatic.

Rajagopal

More Lessons from Dosa King Rajagopal’s Death

How dear is your reputation to you? If you are an individual who is reputed and well respected in the world, and if it comes to a situation where you get to keep either your life or your reputation, what would you choose? It is not a trivial question, you’ve heard stories of men and women who died for their honour! I would like you to take some time and ponder. You may reach a point in your reflections where you will want to remember your actions that took you there. Take one-step further and now think of this – you are not going to die, that is not your option now but you lose your reputation and you would need to live without the dignity you had earned with mountains of efforts. Would you feel relieved to have your life spared? A fine line separates the two situations. In one, your life choice is in your hands where as in another, someone makes that choice for you. You must have heard a lot many people say that an honorable death is better than an ignoble life, but are you sure you would not choose that life over a death that promises to cover your sins?

Shift some gears. How would you see the situation if the imminent death is as ignoble as your life would be? You are not sure about things that happen after death. However, in life, you know you can control a few things even if people do not like you. Does it become easier to live then? You believe in God, so, you make him a promise – “let me live, I won’t kill anyone again.” You also know that God does not operate in your currency. You do not get a reply. Nevertheless, he is ‘your’ God, you know him well enough to believe that he will forgive you because you have atoned. God has done his work. Now, you need to come out and manage a few things in a world that is up for sale. You have powerful friends; you have wealth that injects fuel into these powerful friends. You may not know the other world but you know your way out of the incarcerations of the world-of-the-living. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. You and your powerful friends make your ignoble life a comfortable one. Slowly, you make yourself forget the reasons for your fall and buying time becomes a contest for you. You have won all the games of the world before this one. You are confident you will win this one too. So, you keep buying time until one day, you have spent all your money. You realize you were buying time from your own store. Your storekeeper throws you onto a hospital bed and whispers in your ears – “of course, you will not kill anyone again”. Your heart stops beating.

Dosa King Rajagopal evaded jail-term for 15 years before being sentenced to life-term. He surrendered with an oxygen mask on his face, developed heart problems, and went to a hospital before he died. In the face of his life and actions, how should we define ‘justice’? Is it nature doing what the oft-fallible and corruptible humans could not do? Does that mean a life sentence was not enough for his actions and he needed to die? Or should we come from the opposite side to say that it became all too easy for him in the end? A life term might have perhaps put him in a situation closer to that of the Prince Santhakumar’s family.

It may take some time for our society to understand this phenomenon. We are so bored of seeing criminals dying their natural death before the courts are able make up their minds that it comes as no surprise any longer. To me, death is not justice. Death may wear the mask of poetic justice but poetic justice does not care for time and proportion. In effect, poetic justice is not justice at all. It is the consolation prize of the losing side.

Rajagopal did not serve his sentence. He was never going to be living behind the bars but he has died with all his dignity crushed and ground to dust. The winds of the coastline that carried his fame to far-off lands have now drowned themselves in the sea. The chaos of renown has turned into a lull of condemnation. Saravana Bhavan’s story will always carry the blandness of vanity and the vapidity of overcooked lust. Its success tale will always carry the rancid odour of the ghost and that might remain our only consolation.

लिंच होने से बचने का रामबाण

कल जब घर से निकलना तो कुछ मत बोलना, सच तो बिल्कुल नहीं। ये पुराना वाला इंडिया ही है, इसे सच से एलर्जी है। इसके लिए सच वो कीड़ा है जो एक दिन अजगर बन कर तुमको ही निगल लेगा। ये नया इंडिया भी है, यहाँ सच का डेमोनेटाइज़ेशन हो चुका है। सच लीगल टेंडर नहीं रहा। यहाँ झूठ के अलग अलग ठेकेदार हैं, सबका अपना अपना यू.पी.आई. है। किसी के साथ भी खाता खोलो और झूठ के लेन-देन में शुरू हो जाओ। महफूज़ रहो।

कल जब घर से निकलना तो चुप रहना। कल जब बाज़ार में कोई जेब काट ले, दो गालियाँ परोस दे, धक्का दे दे, या सामने से आकर घूँसा ही बरसा दे, चुप रहना। ये वही पुराना इंडिया है, ये घर में घुसकर मुसलमानों को मारता है, ये बाहर निकलकर हिंदुओं को जलाता है। यहाँ आज भी वो सब मुमकिन है जो पहले मुमकिन था। ये नया इंडिया भी है, ये अब मारते वक़्त रिकॉर्डिंग भी करता है और 4जी स्पीड पर लाइव स्ट्रीमिंग भी क्योंकि ये इंडिया एक भीड़ है, कभी हिंदुओं की भीड़ तो कभी मुसलमानों की भीड़। इस भीड़ का कोई चेहरा नहीं, सिर्फ मज़हब और जात होता है। इस भीड़ को सबूत होते हुए भी गिरफ्तार नहीं किया जा सकता। भेड़ियों की भीड़ में तुम जज़्बाती मेमने – चुप रहना। आज ज़्यादा मिमियाओगे तो फिर कभी नहीं मिमिया पाओगे। शाम को घर वापस आ जाना, बिना कोई नयी दुश्मनी मोल लिये। समाज को ठीक करने की ज़िम्मेदारी जिसे दी थी वो बैट लेकर समाज को पीट रहा है। तुम कौन से समाज-सुधारक बनने निकले हो? चुप रहना सीखो, आदत डालो, आईने के सामने ख़ामोशी की प्रैक्टिस करो।

ये सब इसलिए बता रहा हूँ कि कल जब घर से निकलो तो लिंच न हो जाओ। हो सके तो भीड़ का साथ दे देना, उसमें सेफ्टी है। लिंच करने वालों में शामिल हो जाना, लिंच होने वाले तो कमज़ोर होते हैं। असली इंडियन लिंच करता है, होता नहीं। इससे पहले कि कल किसी लिंच मॉब के हाथों तुम्हारा फ्री एकाउंट खत्म कर दिया जाए, आज किसी लिंच मॉब के पेड सब्सक्राइबर बन जाओ। ये नया इंडिया है, पुराने इंडिया वाले अपने बाप वाली गलती को मत दोहराना। वो मेम्बरशिप टालता रहा, इसलिए लिंच हो गया।

और तुम – जो आज अपने घर वापस नहीं जा पाओगे, कहीं किसी चौराहे पर लिंच कर दिए जाओगे, मुझे माफ कर देना। मुझे ये हिदायतें आज सूझीं, वरना शायद तुम्हारी मदद कर सकता। पर ये सिर्फ हिदायतें हैं, इनसे किसी की जान बच जाये, ये ज़रूरी नहीं। वैधानिक चेतावनियाँ जारी करने का अधिकार सिर्फ सरकार को है, उसी सरकार को जो वैधानिक शराब का ठेका चलाती है। मेरी बातों को कौन मानेगा? मैंने तो कभी एक पान भी नहीं बेचा। सो तुम चिंता मत करो, ये नया इंडिया है। तुम कोई आखिरी लिंच होने वाले इंसान नहीं हो। लिंचिंग वायरल हो चुका है। वो भी ऑर्गनिकली। बस ऊपर जाकर न्यू इंडिया वाले चैनल को सब्सक्राइब कर लेना। सारे लिंच अप्डेट्स मिलते रहेंगे।

अल्लाहू अकबर। जय श्री राम।

More Lessons from John Allen Chau’s Death

Last year, the members of the Sentinelese tribe killed John Allen Chau, an American missionary. Apparently, John wanted to take his religion to the tribe to bring them peace and harmony. A few months later, as I take one more look at the unfortunate incident, I am compelled to wonder – in the death of this adventure blogger and the messenger of Christianity, do human beings have a few more lessons than originally understood?

 

Instead of going to the Sentinelese, what if John had come to me? I have never killed anyone, so this is a difficult thought to entertain. Of course, the constitution gives me the right to practice my religion and if John had come to me to proselytize, my first reaction would have been to ignore him. If John had persevered, I would have indulged him in a debate. Had I turned out to be a tough nut to crack, John would have perhaps quit accosting me. That would be the end of the meeting with John. I would have continued the chaotic life I had been living. However, John would not have stopped. John had a mission. He would have knocked on the doors of my neighbor. The neighbor, if gullible or genuinely impressed, would have converted to Christianity, or would have tried what I did. If this hypothetical neighbor were my friend, he would have called me to help with John. You would think John would have given up here and gone back to his home. However, John knocks on the third house. At this point, the entire community gets to understand John’s motives and they come together to drive John away. John goes back. Where? A different city. John is a committed missionary. He does not stop!

 

So, where does John stop? Sadly, John stops only where the Sentinelese stopped him. In a world where evangelism is not a crime, it might become difficult for some people to draw red lines for themselves. It is terrifying to see the scale of power the church wields over these promising young men who could have done anything else in their lives but chose to civilize the world and bring Jesus to ‘Satan’s last stronghold’. The Sentinelese people perhaps do not engage in debates with people they do not know and are smart enough to understand the dangers posed by such attempts to ‘civilize’ them. They fear obliteration of their race. They perhaps know that the meeting with Christ does not end with meeting with the Christ. They know that Jesus Christ will bring in a lot of not-so-Christ-like Christians to their land. Sentinelese might not have a Penguin or a HarperCollins but they remember their history well.

 

If I had killed John, I would have been, according to Indian law, sentenced to death or life imprisonment. This would be so because I am part of the civilized world and I had other means at my disposal to stop John. John, like me, was also part of the civilized world. In the civilized world, John has the freedom of speech and expression and I have the ability to forgive and forget. In our civilized world, John also has the responsibility to understand that people like their own kind of ‘peace’ and ‘civilization’, Satan is at best a philosophical idea, and if at all a Satan exists, he lives in and off the church.

 
John was just an innocent face of a much deeper crusade to create a world order controlled by the church. This order has the money and muscle power to allure people who are not ‘tribal’ enough to resist violently and not ‘civilized’ enough to resist peacefully? Fortunately for us, the ‘Satan’s last stronghold’ is still intact. But the church has an army of Johns operating to civilize the lesser Sentinelese of the world who do not kill at first contact. John Allen Chau has left us but the church lives to fight another day.

Why Kejriwal Wants a Free Ride to the CM Office?

A lot of how our life shapes up depends on how we are born. One of the more defining birth factors for quality of our future life is the financial health of the parents. There are more factors of course but I have picked finance and put it aside to start with because it is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult to get rid of. To the financial mess, add a mix of caste and gender, and things become a lot more complicated. I do not mention the hierarchy of caste or gender here because we are living in an age where any permutation and combination of this set has its own disadvantages. A poor and discriminated-caste born individual has to tide over his social suffering in addition to the wealth crisis. A meritorious upper caste but poor individual has no advantage over the reserved category candidate (financial status notwithstanding) who is inferior to him in intelligence and effort. Add gender here and we get into a whirlpool of problems.

 

Now take out all other factors and see the female case exclusively, women face discrimination for being born a woman in many social spaces. Now, here lies their problem. While you can still outgrow your caste or migrate to a more egalitarian society, you cannot get away from your gender. As gender is a biological truth, the discrimination takes a more hideous turn and can affect a woman of upper caste as severely as it can affect someone from the lower caste. From the first challenge of not getting sacrificed for a male child and ‘getting a safe birth’ to do everything that comes a tad easier for men, in our present society, women have to battle hundred things to earn a livelihood and lead an independent life. This becomes even more challenging if she is born to poor or discriminated-caste parents. Some do not try, some try but fail, some do not want to try, and then some try and succeed. During this struggle, these women ask many difficult questions to the society. They make themselves aware of their rights and then demand that their rights be protected.

The answers are more difficult than they seem to be at first sight. Therefore, our leaders promise many CCTVs to see the problem more clearly. Then, they realize that the metro fare hike has hit women the worst.  They throw a free bus and metro ride pass at them – “please take this free bus pass, you are safer now in Delhi buses. I am hereby buying your vote!”

Arvind Kejriwal is not the problem. He is just another politician who has mastered the art of milking the rotten ecosystem of bribing the electorate before every election. If our politicians had the integrity of thought, there would have been more and better buses on roads, panic buttons and GPS tracking on all buses. There would be more street lighting and better last mile connectivity for commuters, male or female. There could have been free public transport systems for all Indians without burdening the exchequer. Mr. Arvind Kejriwal likes to tell his voters to take the money other parties offer them and still vote for the broom, his party’s election symbol. Times can change quickly. Sadly, he is the one offering that money now. The voters will keep it, just the way he prefers. It remains to be seen whom they vote for next year. A party’s rhetorics and manifesto for the upcoming elections can easily posit themselves as the report card of its manifesto from the previous elections. A dropped promise means that the promise couldn’t be delivered as the Government was busy begging alliances and fighting other elections in the country.  A promise added with freebies means that the promise fetched votes last time around but couldn’t be implemented because they were never supposed to be implemented but have the potential to work again if made with some free gifts.  A promise finding a place again without any progress or addition means that the party is waiting for a majority in the Rajya Sabha.

 

The 2015 manifesto of AAP speaks about CCTVs in all buses. Delhi is going to vote again in 2020. AAP has promised to install CCTVs again. Of course, just CCTVs will not be safe enough for the AAP to secure their seats this time. They need some free passes to ride their luck in 2020.

What to Expect from Namo2.0?

Elections are over. The new government is set to arrive. As the Congress party keeps itself frozen on the cusp of change from where it can choose to advance into an acceptance of the changed realities to progress or just fall back into the pit of regression, the postmortem of election results will perhaps be an unending process. While the media and political pundits can spend all their time and efforts in this operation, the Government cannot afford to venture there. After the 2014 victory, the Prime Minister had shared his vision of ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’; the 2019 victory should be a reason for renewed focus on deliverance of this aspirational vision. Keeping this in mind, I have a list of preliminary expectations from my government of 2019. This is not exhaustive and I might add to it as we move ahead in the year.

 

A separate budget for the agriculture sector

This can help in better allocation of resources for the necessary reforms in agriculture and help improve the implementation of government projects. Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for about 58 per cent of India’s population. Gross Value Added by agriculture, forestry and fishing is estimated at INR 18.53 trillion (US$ 271.00 billion) in FY18. Considering that and the kind of loan waivers each party has to announce every election season, the demand for a separate budget holds ground.

 

Reward good citizens

Rewarding good citizens can encourage a change in how citizens contribute to nation building. Citizens, who segregate waste, pay their loans in time, do not use plastic, follow traffic rules should get incentives with better interest rates on loans, better benefits on retirement, subsidized payments on insurance schemes etc. This can bring about a big shift in how we engage the electorate post the election season.

 

Invest in government schools and higher education institutions

A major failure of independent India has been its unwillingness and inability to bring up the standard of education in government schools. It is time that these schools accept the competition from their private counterparts and deliver the best in class education to their students. This competition will also substantially bring down the cost of quality education for Indian students. The monopoly of private players on cost of education will break.

 

Invest in government hospitals

Most of the patients wanting admission in a hospital of AIIMS have to wait for a good number of months, in some cases, a year to get their turn. Not having any way, patients take to private hospitals and clinics. In additional to the disease itself, the high costs break the patients and their families, both financially and psychologically. The government needs to invest big in structural reforms for its hospitals. Once again, the government must accept the challenge posed by the private counterparts. If that is not possible, a public-private partnership should be explored.

 

Establish better centers of education and healthcare in industrial belts and other neglected areas

While such areas earn huge revenues for the country, the state of most of these places remains miserable when it comes to education and healthcare. The industrial belts of India need their favor returned so that while citizens brave the not-so-comfortable lives, they can at least avail better healthcare services and send their kids to schools that are on par with any school from the urban centers of the country. All aspirants should have access to a benchmarked quality of education.

 

Encourage cancer research in the country through better facilities, improved funding, and enactment of research friendly laws

While celebrities and politicians can afford to skip levels and travel to other countries for their treatment, the common mass of the country has to make do with whatever is available in our country. While we have some good centers for cancer in the country, the waiting queues at such centers paint a gloomy picture of our patient to doctor ratio. Official data only corroborates this picture. By 2014, we had only about 1000 trained oncologists in the country and the ratio of oncologist to patient stood at 1:2000. This ratio in US is 1:100. Modi 2.0 should understand what creates this stark and disappointing difference and work towards better cancer research and training in our country. (Source)

 

Curb corruption in government institutions

Why should a Member of Parliament get priority over a common citizen for admission to the AIIMS? Why should the street hawkers must pay daily hafta to the Police to keep running their business? Why must the village mukhiya be paid INR 500 for the LPG cylinder which is coming free of cost from the government? There are a lot of low hanging fruits to pluck when it comes to corruption in government institutions. My government must be up to the task without losing any time.

 

Judicial reforms to deliver justice, in time

Indian courts have about three crore cases pending between them. Case AST/1/1800 of the Calcutta High Court was filed in the year 1800. The last hearing date was 20 November 2018. Appointment of Judges, insufficient number of courts, archaic laws are the areas I would like my government to look into.

 

Resettle Kashmiri Hindus in Kashmir valley

The ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus carried out in the valley remains a blot on the democratic ethos of independent India. The government must carry out this task with the seriousness it deserves.

 

Societal harmony as pet project

No blame games here. The law must take its own course but I believe that much like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, societal harmony should become a pet project of our Prime Minister. He should avail all the platforms available to drive the message of unity, harmony, and peace throughout the country. It may not deter the criminals as such but might just prevent the conversion of an otherwise reasonable individual into a hate machine.