India celebrates freedom, returns to war with itself

Pic source: thebollywoodgallery.com India is such a vast country, a country of countries in the past, that it would be impossible to say anything definite. Its traditions go down ages past. Its multicultural structure makes a genetic treatment slippery, especially today, when we find ourselves in the middle of a fast changing world. Still, below I make a half-baked attempt, a casual, free shot, on the eve of the Republic Day. India has progressed, because of, or despite itself We have heard the ‘India story’ of the last decade – its GDP growth, its prowess in IT and outsourcing, its migrating professionals, the purchasing power, and the markets flooded with electronic goods. We are also not behind on the cultural-technology front. We have adopted, rather selectively, every new technology, fashion, manners of language and lifestyle that have sprung up in the last decade. Yet many people display a sense of chagrin. As was always the case, we decry many aspects of modernity (fast paced life, no...
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The good old art of ‘doing nothing’

Imagine this conversation taking place in the office: Boss: What are you doing? You: Mmmm… nothing. 🙂 The smiley is for real. If you don’t smile at the end, get ready for some more action! Our psychology teacher once informed us during a lecture, that it was impossible for one to be doing nothing. Even during yoga, one does something. I am not going to embark on a discourse on the karma theory here. That for some other day! But it is a fine art, this activity of contradictions. They did say, contrary forces and conflicts move the world. The state of doing nothing often results when you are recuperating from an illness. Let me figure out just some of the salient features of what it involves: – It’s a state of repose. Not indolence. Not inaction. A state of observation and rambling thoughts. – The bed becomes the centre of your day’s work. – You observe things that you never found an inclination to do on other days:...
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Can Gandhi still save us?

Gandhi and Nehru (Photo credit: taruntej) No Indian name in the world today is more familiar than that of Gandhi, besides that of Mother Theresa (who probably owes her popularity to the beauty pageants.) Non-violence and peace are not new concepts in the Indian tradition. Entire creeds are built around these. Making them into the central axis of a political movement was a new phenomenon. There are still undercurrents of dislike for the great man. And everyone has something or the other to testify against his goodness. Some common topics include his sleeping with naked girl attendents, his role in the partition, the Bhagat Singh affair, his kind gestures towards Pakistan at the time of partition, his drinking of fruit juice to break his fast during the partition violence, etc. This last one generated a lot of emotions in the play based on his assassin. Is the dislike due to his ascetic and other-worldly personal ethic? Do we accuse him of hypocrisy? Or are...
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Quitting Cigarette smoking isn’t a big deal

Cigarette smoking ought to be self-controlled, not state controlled There is no doubt that we are in the middle of a sustained and multi-pronged attack on the freedom to smoke. From government to NGOs, medicine to municipality, every quarter has some good ground of opposing this age-old habit. But is it really worth it, and do we really need this outside help? By now every single chemical component of tobacco might have been analysed for its adverse effects on the human body. The chemicals have been counted as well, thousands of them, and over 10 considered carcinogenic. The medical spent on fighting these illnesses is said to be 10-12% more than the tax revenue earned in India.Yet, the share prices of cigarette companies have soared. With work stress perceived to be at an all time high, what will we turn to for relief? ‘A woman is a woman, but a cigar is  a smoke,’ so said Kipling. Those were the days when even...
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In a country like India

The cliché is to be encountered every now and then, in Indian newspapers, magazines, during talks and conferences, and now on the Internet. It goes something like — “In a country like India ___” — fill up your pet complaint or anomaly in the blanks. It is anyone’s guess what the phrase really points to, when used without qualifications, which is the case many times when the underlying assumptions of poverty, backwardness, etc, are often left implicit and unsaid. There is even a popular song that goes — “This happens only in India.” What kind of country is India? What makes it so different from others that certain things can only be expected here and nowhere else? The phrase, even when qualified, seems to serve its own purpose of highlighting this country as a special case that stands out from the rest for some peculiarity that makes it one of its kind in the world. A Google phrase search for this phrase returned over 68,000...
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Youth, freedom and life – an alternative view

A very interesting and bold article written by Suvechchha Poudel and titled ‘Being a good girl’ was recently published by the media site Kathmandu Post. The ideas expressed in the essay hit the very bottom of the issue — the growth and development of teens who are old enough to live their own independent lives. In her very frank and bold views, the connotations of being good serve more the interests of the guardians than those of children. The author begins by questioning what ‘being good’ means in the context of bringing up children. Does it mean being honest, fair, telling the truth, and imbibing a value system based on them? Or does it mean becoming a conformist, never being seen as a threat to authorities, and not being considered responsible for one’s actions? She then goes on to say that although parents may want the best for their children, in reality, a life in the comfort zone of one’s home and family goes against the purpose of life, which she defines as growth....
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Confronting reality, media’s way

All new trends and behaviours in society immediately pass through the watching lenses of the media, which knows very well what matters are to be pushed into which court of justice. So it is that matters like singles living alone, live in relations, use of explicit content on gadgets, suicides, alcohol related driving accidents, subjects that immediately rattle the ‘normal’ senses of the journalists are transferred to the courts of psychologists, social workers, sociologists, psychiatrists, teachers, etc – the ‘courts’ that deal with such behaviour. It is a smart move, but puts a question mark on why such features are being printed at all and whose side is being taken. Apparently, interviews taken of the people involved would appear as if the media is objectively reporting a new trend or describing an interesting issue, like a democratic medium would. The involvement of these professionals mentioned above, at a later stage in the report, shows the report in a different colour –...
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Filling the web with junk – by article spamming

It was inevitable that the billions of pages that now comprise the web, a rapidly growing and fast changing, massive collection of web pages, would need a powerful search engine to get the required information and filter out the rest. For this search engine to be fast and efficient and produce the most comprehensive results, it was also important to automatically crawl and index the web, and rank the pages using automated procedures based on objective criteria to produce the right information on the first page itself. A direct consequence of this has been the competition among websites, or rather among people trying to make money over the internet, to get their sites seen on the first few pages to receive maximum traffic and public exposure. This has given rise to the search engine optimisation (seo) industry, and a major aspect of this business is that of writing and publishing articles in bulk on a daily basis for web promotion, that...
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The workplace of tomorrow

Buzz words like leaders, leadership, and training leaders of tomorrow are very popular and can be encountered everywhere, from schools and colleges to large corporations. Work is now seen as being done by teams led by team leaders rather than an individual completing a fixed job in his or her individual capacity. The idea behind team building and leadership seems to be that work can be done rightly and efficiently by gathering a team or group led by a leader. If there is a group then there must also be someone who is their leader – who supervises a team of followers, provides goals, shows the way, takes action, solves problems, keeps the morale high, resolves internal issues, and gets the work done. So fashionable is the term leader that its corollary, followers, is seen by some as unrelated, associating it rather with a team. What properties or abilites describe a ‘leader’? A leader is someone who takes the lead, normally in...
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The play of passions

“As for me, my business was his money. The passive jade thinks of no pleasure but the money.” – Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe Freedom is a basic necessity of man. If there is any worth and dignity to be have in being a human being, it lies in being free. So much so that, for all crimes the simple punishment consists of taking away this vital element of life. Constraints and necessities too rob us of this precious element. Yet, freedom itself brings along with it a mortal enemy which, given a free reign, reduces man to a mere animal governed by his own instincts. The enemy is pleasure. The dersire to be free comes instinctively to every one of us, and its opponents are easily identified too, dictators of all types and anyone in a position of authority over others. The control exercised by them comes from outside. Inside us there are forces at work that can have a similar effect,...
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