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October 27, 2008

Heed the voice of God, and you will never go wrong

Desh kya hai? desh drohi kaun hai?
desh ka gaddaar kaun hai?
lekin, yeah desh, sansaar mien ek hissaa hai?
Tho isko adhipathi kaun hai?
Hum kisko sune? desh ko yeah sansaar ko ya iski adhipathi ko?

THESE ARE the questions which confront an individual many times in his life. There is a constant conflict between an individual, a person and man. Questions about religion and politics often stare in his face and many times he has no answer.

I have purposely chosen to use the word individual here because it looks very similar to the word independent. An individual is a person who is independent when by himself or with others. He is not influenced by others either in his actions or thoughts. Nobody can force him to do anything against his own will.

I do not think it matters at the end of the day who you are or what you did. What matters is that you are you. That you are comfortable with yourself. So what is the logic of staring with ‘desh’ desh ki janta? The country’s population after all comprises individuals like you and me. We are constantly adjusting, rejecting or accepting individuals.

But what is the underlying factor for doing so? Are there any guidelines for this.?
Many of you might have heard the phrase ‘nobody is perfect’. I have to but I have my own views about it.

I can accept that we may not be perfect by ourselves but we can be nothing but so when we align with Him, the Almighty. Be holy as the one above is Holy.

My friend you are right, you cannot see him for he is inside each one of us. He may be invisible to the naked eye but he walks with you, stands by you and above all for you
Without God nothing is possible. Then how politics could be possible? Individuals only rule for Him. In reality, it is God who rules. Has it not been said, “If He is not guarding the city then soldiers are of no use’.

Many are of the view that religion should be separated from politics. Yes I accept that you should not use it wrongly. Spirituality should be the guiding force behind any politics. But it should not be like US which launched a ‘crusade’ against Iraq. All they did was to loot and ruin a nation. The innocent blood of the Iraqis cries for the doom of US. In this case America misused the term of holiness. They said they fought for Christ but in reality they championed the cause of Satan.

I pray God comes to the aid of not just Iraqis but everyone on this planet who is struggling to overcome these evil forces.

Is the police framing Pragya for Malegaon blast?

THE RECENT incident of Pragya Singh Thakur’s arrest in connection with the Malegaon blast has raised many eyebrows. Various political parties started pointing fingers at certain Hindu outfits. Some people went to the extent of blackening the faces of the party workers in their office. A student outfit’s office furnitures was also destroyed.

All these incidents took place within three days. It’s very shocking considering that the the majority community too has a right to make representation, which was not allowed.

Now the government is blaming some Hindu outfits, saying that they are radical. A few stray incidents can’t blemish the entire community as ’radical or violent’.

The only answer is that because the motorcycle that was used to plant the bomb belonged to her. The other thing that the police ascertained is that she attempted to hide or destroy the identity of the owner of the motorcycle. But the police didn’t explian how she tried to destroy the proofs.

But are these valid reasons to allege Pragya’s link with the blast? Her father informed the police that though the motorcycle was sold, its ownership was not changed. Police didn’t even investigate this angle, he alleged.

We want the real culprits to be caught, rather than some innocent person being framed by the police, it was opined by some.

If any blasts occur, it is the responsibility of the government and the police to investigate the incident, rather than blame innocent person for it.

Cheating Themselves

TECHNOLOGY IS here to address two of the biggest issues that education in India is facing- leakage of question papers and forgery of mark sheets and certificates.
Institutions like Bangalore University and Visveswaraya Technological Institute are considering a technology that will enable them to print question papers at the examination venue just an hour before the test.
According to a private research, 68 per cent of middle class students and 75 per cent of high school students cheat in general during examination.

Why is cheating so high? The only way to get to the bottom of this problem is by analysing the problem from the students point of view.

What motivates him to cheat? The decision is guided by his emotions. Cheating cause a feeling of guilt, yet, securing good grades and marks gives one satisfaction.

If the feeling of guilt exceeds the feeling of satisfaction, the student does not cheat. Emotions rise on one’s values and ideas. The basic idea behind cheating is that morality is a dichotomy of self-interest versus self-sacrifice. Cheating is considered to be a “selfish” thing to do, which leads to an advantage of rising in life.

The ’rational’ thing to, either justified by godly rewards, effective considerations, or a gauche appeal to social harmony, requires an instantaneous personal sacrifice.

In this situation of moral clash, the choice is understandably difficult for students to justify. Without rational ideas to justify honesty and integrity, hard-working and ’practical’ students believe that morality only holds them back from success in life, and that they can “play by the rules” once they are out of school, and give lip-service to morality when it comes to more abstract and non-practical matters.

It is a dreadful fault created by bad and irrational philosophy. The concept which students need to understand is that the choice between the practical and the moral is a false dichotomy. Morality is the rational way for a successful life, not an impediment.

Teaching the practical ’selfish’ value of honesty is the best way to discourage cheating. Students must understand that it is selfish and hence beneficial for them to be honest, and to cheat is selfless, wrong and irrational.

The first and foremost purpose of education is to inculcate the practical knowledge and thinking abilities that allow success in life and career. Cheating aborts both goals. In a career, success or failure has materialistic consequences on one’s work and the people it affects. A percentage in biology exams is just a number, but a doctor like Munna Bhai M.B.B.S who takes shortcuts with patients, or a construction engineer who takes shortcuts with buildings, or a politician who takes shortcuts with the voters endangers both his career and other people’s lives.

The vital aim of education is not a mark sheet, but practical skills and knowledge, and cheating dispossess oneself of that knowledge. The short beneficial consequences of cheating are outweighed by the long-term harms. Teachers are required to stress on the rationality of the practical values of their lessons, and the harm the student do to themselves when they forfeit their education.

Student thinks, they deceive others by cheating and gains profit, but cheating is a form of self-deception, it is self-destruction. Cheating in future will cause oneself to lose a grip of what his skills actually are. Someone who cheats during the mid-term exams will find out that he is unprepared for the final exams.

Those who cheat at entrance level competitive exams will find themselves helpless during the higher class exams. The more a student cheats, the more of a moron and ignorant he becomes of his actual knowledge, though he feels like he is very smart! Its simple self-destruction and hence immoral, while ’selfishness’ is to be honest, and ’selfishness’ is a virtue, the morality of life.

The more forward a student gets by his falsehoods, the harder he has to work in order to maintain his unearned position. Even if his fraudulently earned degree or diploma may get him a dream-job, he will still be unqualified and undeserving for it, and forced to continue his deception and cheating at work. He will attempt to hide his inadequacies and worthlessness from his co-workers and bosses just as he hid it from classmates and professors.

Cheating is an addictive habit like alcoholism which turns out to be a sickness that will surely destroy a career even if it does not destroy the cheaters fraudulent and unearned marksheets.

Honest students compete on the basis of their skill and hard work.

Their mutual excellence inspires and motivates among themselves to success and brilliance. On the other hand, the dishonest classmates and co-workers who cheats. Compete by the standards of who is the better liar, better cheater.

They lose the ’selfish’ goal of education to gain practical and actual brilliance in the chosen subject and their career. Their peers do not inspire and motivate them, in stead it increases the peer-pressure as they create a constant threat of having their lies and cheats unmasked. As the cheaters lose the concentration of their goals, they slip behind.

The solution to the rise of cheating is not technological advance, nor is it to attempt to instill a vague sense of moral guilt, but to explain and prove that cheating is counter-productive and self-destructive. Honesty does not require guilt or the threat of punishment. Instead, selfishness, ambition, integrity, and pride should lead one to success. To be successful is selfish, and honesty is the key success. To be honest is to be selfish!

October 24, 2008

Is Raj Thackeray a terrorist?

EXACTLY FIVE years ago, in November 2003, a Railway Board exam was disrupted in Kalyan, Maharashtra. Candidates from other states, mainly North Indians, were prevented from appearing in the exam. The demonstration was by supporters of Shiv Sena. Raj Thackeray, considered those days to be heir-apparent to his uncle Bal Thackeray, led the ‘sainiks’. Raj later broke away from Shiv Sena in a leadership tussle and founded Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).

Five years down the line, it is obvious that nobody cared to prevent such occurrences in future, by addressing the issues sensibly. For, MNS did a repeat of 2003 last weekend, on a much wider scale.

Hundreds of its workers attacked 13 railway centres in suburban Mumbai, protesting against alleged inadequate representation of Maharashtrian youth among the examinees. They disrupted the program, tearing test papers. More than 30 MNS activists were arrested and charged with pelting stones on candidates. Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said his government "will not tolerate the goondagiri (hooliganism)” by the rather small political outfit.

Today, the who's who of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), which Deshmukh’s party heads in New Delhi, are having sleepless nights over Thackeray’s antiques. That should be an indication that Raj Thackeray has something that most others, including uncle Bal Thackeray, lack. Even the Communist Party of India (CPI) has claimed that Raj must be "immediately arrested and prosecuted" in the interest of "unity and integrity of the country."

There is widespread resentment that the railways is increasingly being packed with Biharis particularly in white-collar jobs. The Commies, whose trade union tactics have ruined the economy wherever they have reigned, are comfortable with the exercise. They have been calling the shots in railways' manpower policies and are obviously perturbed at the erosion of their fiefdom. The party discovered that the attack on exam centres was 'pre-planned' and part of the 'continued parochial and divisive' campaign launched by the MNS.

Is Raj a terrorist? No person in senses would concur with the irresponsible outburst of a Bombay High Court judge dubbing him as a terrorist. The HC itself has apparently realised its folly, obviously committed in a moment of irrational rage. It kept mum as he taunted, "We are forcing to make signboards in Marathi as per law, but the court raps the state over failure to curb my drive and described me as a terrorist!” It cannot be denied that the Shiv Sena, which groomed him and never opposes his crusades, has been in the frontline courageously against anti-social forces like the D Company. The so-called national leaders quivered like cowards or even connived in terrorist activities of the underworld.

RR Patil, the state home minister, who is from a 'courageous' outfit Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), could do nothing more than giving a ridiculously tall promise to north Indian candidates, who got prevented from appearing for the exams. Mrityunjay Pandey, chief of Uttar Bharatiya Cell (UBC) of BJP (Bhartiya Janta Party), who led a sit-in staged by about 200 persons in front of his residence, was satisfied with the assurance. That Maharashtra government would give jobs to these candidates, as if he would start a railway for that!

Most 'national' leaders hailing from the Hindi belt have not taken the latest MNS campaign lightly. Congress leader and Union minister for food processing Industries, Subodh Kant Sahay, demanded that the Congress-NCP coalition government of the state should treat those responsible for the attacks as criminals. Ram Vilas Paswan, the billionaire chief of Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), did not want be left alone. Currently Union steel minister, after he silently joined the ruling junta to escape probe, Paswan said that he would raise the issue in the cabinet meeting.

Railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, whose Rashtriya Janta Party (RJD) is a partner of UPA that gives orders to the Congress CM of Maharashtra, 'admitted' that the coalition government in Maharashtra has been soft on the MNS so far. Lalu said, “I have spoken to Vilasrao Deshmukh and asked him on the goondaism that is going on in the state. . . The party should take action, as too much has already happened there.”

The Bihar politician is ‘reputed’ for swallowing more fodder than all the cattle of Bihar put together. He took the occasion to take potshots against the saffron brigade, saying, “They are not workers. They are looters. Organisations like MNS, Bajrgang Dal, VHP and RSS should be banned.” Noted for having made his state synonymous with goondaism , during his rule (directly or by proxy through Rabari Devi!), he demanded, “There should be strong action against that party...MNS should be banned. Thackeray family has become a chronic problem for Maharashtra and Raj Thackeray, in particular, has become a mental case!”

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, predecessor of Lalu in the Union railway ministry and successor to his wife Rabari in Bihar, reportedly had a a telephonic conversation with his Maharashtra counterpart. He represents Janata Dal United (JD-U), which has been no less ‘famous’ for leaders engaged in extortion, kidnap, murder and siphoning off huge public funds in UP (Uttar Pradesh), Bihar and Karnataka. Kumar demanded stern action against MNS and asked principal home secretary Afzal Amannulah and additional director general of police (DGP) to talk to their counterparts in Mumbai and ensure the safety of Bihari students. Nitish Kumar too termed the MNS activists as 'divisive forces'.

Interestingly enough, none of the worthies from the cow belt tried to address the real problem: Why do hordes of people from places like Patna, Allahabad, Varanasi etc, travel long distances to come to Maharashtra to take their exams? There indeed is some base in the retort of MNS spokesperson Shirish Parkar to the railway minister's vitriol. He quipped, "Lalu is an uncultured person. What more should we expect from someone who failed to improve the situation in Bihar? . . Had Lalu worked for developing Bihar, so many candidates from his state would have no need to come to Maharashtra for the exam.”

All these ‘Ek Bharatwalas’ (One India protagonists) have only been raising loud noises and have been busy siphoning off massive development budgets to amass wealth for themselves.

Even if they deploy their ill-gotten wealth in their own states for productive purposes, rather than dead investments, massive internal migration that creates conflicts could be avoided.

While Raj Thackarey has been 'democratically and judicially' restrained by authorities from reacting in public to all the mudslinging, an MNS spokesman Shishir Shinde wanted to know, “What is wrong if they are protesting against the inadequate representation to locals in the exam?” He added, “Railway bosses should understand the meaning of our protest and allow more Marathi candidates for the examination. . . MNS activists would meet railway officials soon.”

Deshmukh admittedly is the 'weakest chief minister ever' in Maharashtra, a matching counterpart of Manmohan Singh, fine-controlled by the elusive ‘dynasty’. He had shamelessly remarked sometime ago that Raj Thackeray is running a parallel government. The MNS chief retorted, “I am not interested in running such government, but will run government in future.” Given the rapid growth in the support base of his outfit, even after losing the patronage of the ‘Maratha lion’, it may become reality soon!

is nationalism an illusion?

THE ATTACKS on North Indians by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) under the leadership of Raj Thackeray has once again triggered the debate that ’Is nationalism in India a mere a illusion’? Celebrating the victory of Indian cricket team in a cricket match shows that we are together by the strong bond of nationalism. As kids, we were taught that our country has a unique culture of ’unity in diversity’. In spite of diverse religions, regions, languages and culture; we are united. But today, in the light of recent situations in Mumbai, I feel that it wasn’t true at all.

Mumbai- a cosmopolitan city, the commercial capital of India and the city of dreams; where people from all the parts of India come to earn their bread and butter and to turn their dreams into a reality. It is saddening to say that just for their political interests; politicians like Raj Thackeray are destroying the cosmopolitan culture of Mumbai. The police, the government, and everybody knows that he is the culprit. But yet, no severe actions have been taken against him. Whenever these kind of tension erupts, we; the common people are the sufferers on the emotional front as well as the financial front and politicians are the numero uno gainers.

I wouldn’t consider politicians alone as guilty. We all are guilty.
Somewhere the feeling of regionalism resides within us. Being a person from Odisha, I have never experienced any discrimination. But whenever I meet any new person, the first question I am asked is to which place I belong. This clearly shows that my identity as an Indian is not enough for them.

How come the regional interests have become more important than the national interests. Sometimes even the educated and elite folk participate in this regionalism. And few others sit on the fence and just point fingers.

All those who support regionalism should think that if Bhagat Singh would have fought for Punjab alone, Mahatma Gandhi for Gujarat alone, Tilak for Maharashtra alone and so on, then on the world map there would have been no existence of the nation called India. For how long we will nurture the feeling of regionalism in us? When will we be able to listen to the voice of our own conscience? Keeping the selfish regionalism aside, let us bring that nationalism within us once again.