Did Facebook give identity to millions of people?

This is a question I would like to ask all of you. Apart from the networking deluge that social media caused, becoming a virtual internet by itself, did it also along the way serve a useful social purpose? That of putting a face, and giving a palpable identity to millions of people, in all corners of the world, who otherwise would have struggled in their restricted spaces. That it served a latent but all too powerful desire to be known and seen in public. Faces that we would otherwise never have seen. ...
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Is there an Information Tsunami on the horizon?

A few thoughts on the go. Before the internet there was print, and media publications gave us most of the content we consumed. There were distinct producers and consumers of information, the latter most of us. And then a revolution occurred: the user became a generator of information. Through blogs, forums, mailing lists, comments and websites. Add to the above – organisations becoming producers of loads of information. Digital made it cheap. It made it available to anyone with access or connection. So we had an information overload. Which means limits of how much can be produced and consumed in the time available. Now the natural processes of adjustments obviously kick in. So we get three things: Creative content that stands out, greater user selection for limited time, and much greater obsolescence. The more the quantity, the greater the junk. There is obviously no recycling of information here. Everyday we can have new content created, and the unused info sinks into the digital trash pile of search...
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Sartre and the human reality of existentialism

I know it’s a funny topic to write on, when the world around is running after profits, cuts and commissions, jobs and promotions, and cashing in on every opportunity to capialise on every conceivable difference in caste, class and status, and its jealousies and low self-esteem. Human reality – For the poor, it’s two difference concepts – man and reality. To the middle classes, an argument or a joke over coffee. For the rich, another excuse to get richer? No one, I assume, will bother to ever look inside, until they get banged on all sides by reality itself. This is the true world that we can now witness in the making. A vast school for scoundrels, that it always was. So if we are to believe Sartre, man can “exist” before he is anything at all. And where he goes depends on his will and actions. And the paradoxical conclusion of this: that there is no such thing as human nature. That’s...
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Wendy Doniger and the Hindu revisited

A reviewer refers to the book ‘The Hindu’ as ‘one experimental hippy-trippy toke-toke giggle-giggle sprawl’. It should not hence ruffle feathers with readers browsing book shelves lined up with dozens of other works devoted to the glories of this religion. It would, if this turned out to be a closer to truth, non-sugar coated pill. I gave my young niece a copy of the Mahabharata when she visited us last year from UK. Written by a renowed author, it had an introduction by Ruskin Bond. Was I giving her a tome full of ancient wisdom, a compendium of folk tales, characters and myths that every Indian knows and ought to know? Or had I handed over, unwittingly and in utter naivete, a tale of no other than God preciding over mass genocide, and a chapter (Gita) that is “dishonest”? I do believe we are utter naives when it comes to our religion. We are happy to splash colours and burst crackers and observer the...
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Bar life – 2

Bombay bars are where tired minds and bodies find rejuvenation. And jokes that would not go down well even in irreverent media columns get their peanut-truth sized worth of appreciation. This conversation happened about two weeks ago with a bar friend – we had met over drinks and he had spilled out his love life. In the spirit of true friendship, many times he had offered to bring his local men to my aid when I happened to mention that someone had been troubling me. I knew his company of friends was into raada making as part of business, and so I put him on hold. There is nothing I can’t handle by myself. His first affair had been a failure, and now he was recently and proudly married. So what was he doing there at an odd hour? Wouldn’t his wife mind? “Not really.” What if she argues? “Let her.” And if she kuestions how much you love her? “I never tell her how much I love...
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Wendy Doniger and the controversy over Hinduism

This is a controversy that had been brewing for over a decade (mainly on the internet), but came to mainstream media attention after the book, ‘The Hindu: An alternative history’ by Wendy Doniger, a US academic, was recently withdrawn from circulation by its publisher. I wished to know what Doniger had to say about Holi, and found this reference to a now retracted note, which used to be on the Microsoft Encarta encyclopedia. “Holi, the spring carnival, when members of all castes mingle and let down their hair, sprinkling one another with cascades of red powder and liquid, symbolic of the blood that was probably used in past centuries.” The problem with Hinduism, based on whatever I know, is its own syncretic history — it appears to have accumulated countless layers and sub-spheres within itself to lend to a single framework. And Tantric practice is a sphere where few tread. So practices like the rooster sacrifice of Kerala become a problem if it were...
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